Make Your Own Portable Pressing Surface

Every quilter needs some type of pressing surface. Some like to use their ironing boards, while others prefer a more rectangular surface. I used my ironing board for quite some time, until I decided that I needed a better type of pressing surface. So I decided to make one!

I actually have two different pressing surfaces, both of them portable: a large 24" x 48" one that is my main pressing surface and another smaller one that I take with me on retreats and that you've probably seen in my YouTube videos. Both are made the same way.

 
Kim and pressing surface.jpg
 

To make your own pressing surface, you'll need:

  • MDF (medium-density fibreboard) for the base, cut to the size you want your pressing surface to be
  • 100% cotton batting, cut about 2" - 3" larger on all sides than the MDF
  • 100% cotton fabric to cover the top of your pressing surface, cut about 2" - 3" larger on all sides than the MDF (I love Ikea fabric for this as it is 100% cotton and quite thick)
  • Wood glue or staple gun

The process is fairly easy to do and my favourite part of this type of pressing surface is that if (when!) the top gets stained, you can take the fabric and batting off the MDF and recover it.

To make the pressing surface, just lay you batting out and centre the MDF on top of it. Fold in the sides of the batting and glue or staple them to the MDF on all four sides. Cut off some of the excess batting at the corners and mitre fold the corners in and glue them too.

 
You probably won't get a perfectly mitered corner, but at least it will look neat

You probably won't get a perfectly mitered corner, but at least it will look neat

 

You'll repeat this process with the fabric and once you're done, that's it! Your pressing surface is already to go! 

 
Pressing Surface back.jpg
 

To see how I made a smaller pressing surface, just click on the image below to view a video on my YouTube channel that explains the entire process.

What do you use for a pressing surface: your ironing board or something else? Leave me a comment below to let me know.

Creatively,

Kim's signature small aqua.jpg
 

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Wavy Line Walking Foot Quilting

Recently I've been exploring walking foot quilting on the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9400 QCP and have been loving the results!

 
Walking Foot quilting top.jpg
 

When you talk about quilting your projects, most people think that you are talking about free motion quilting, but that isn't always the case. You can get great results by using your walking foot to do your quilting.

In one of my previous blogposts, I showed my readers how to make a no binding self-metered placemat, perfect for setting your table or for gift giving. If you haven't read this blogpost yet, you can read all about it here. I quilted the centre of these placemats using my walking foot and I was thrilled with how quick and fun it was to do!

 
No binding placemat staged.jpg
 

I chose to do a wavy design both vertically and horizontally on the project. This was so easy as I really couldn't go wrong with this type of design.

 
No binding placemat full.jpg
 

I started by stitching a wavy line vertically in the centre of the placemat and then continued to stitch wavy lines on either side of it. Once I was finished stitching in this direction, I repeated this process horizontally. I didn't mark my lines, but just eyeballed the distances between each line. 

There are so many variations possible with just this wavy line quilting:

  • you could vary the waviness of the line to be tighter or looser
  • you could vary the distance between the lines vertically
  • you could vary the distance between the lines horizontally 
  • You could do wavy line quilting diagonally across your project

There are just so many possibilities with this simple quilting design.

 
Back of top after quilting.jpg
 

To see how I quilted the placemat, just click on the image below to watch a video on my YouTube channel that provides more information.

Do you use your walking foot to do your quilting or do you prefer to free motion your quilts? Have you tried wavy line quilting with your walking foot? Leave me a comment below to let me know.

Creatively,

Kim's signature small aqua.jpg
 

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Easy No Binding Self-Mitered Placemats

Valentine's Day is fast approaching and I've got a sweet project for you - that won't add any extra calories to your diet!

I like to make a special meal for my family on Valentine's Day and love to set the table with all things Valentine. This year I'll be setting my Valentine's Day table with a set of easy to make placemats that I created using my Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9400 QCP.

 
No binding placemat staged.jpg
 

The AccuFeed Flex system on my Janome 9400 made it super easy to do the wavy line stitching I used on this project. It’s easy to see where I’m stitching and using the AccuFeed Flex system evenly feeds my fabric and batting together without any stretching of the top fabric. It’s one of my favourite features on the Janome 9400 and I know I’ll be doing more walking foot quilting with this machine.

These placemats are so quick and easy to make, but the best part is that they don't require any binding. 

Let me explain what you'll need for this project:

2 Fat Quarters - one solid fabric and one patterned (preferably with a heart-filled fabric)

Batting – I would suggest 100% cotton low loft batting

That Purple Thang or similar to push out corners (include Amazon link)

Usual quilting supplies

That's about it! See, I told you it would be simple! 

You'll also need a good sewing machine, of course, which in my case is the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9400 QCP. It was my best helper as I used the walking foot and AccuFeed Flex system on the machine for the quilting.

Since I wanted to make a set of placemats for Valentine’s Day, I used a heart-patterned vintage feeling fabric for the centre of the placemat and the solid fabric for the borders and backing (it’s all one piece).

You'll need to decide on what you want the finished size of the placemat to be and cut the fabric you’ve chosen for your placemat centre and your batting to this size. In my example, I used a 12” x 14” piece of fabric and this would be the actual size of my placemat.

Now, let’s get into a bit of math: don’t worry, it’s really not that complicated – believe me, if it was, it wouldn’t be me telling you about it!

To determine the cut size of the backing/border fabric (solid fabric in my example), decide on the size you want the borders to be. I wanted the borders to be 1½” wide. I then multiplied this number by 4: 1½” x 4 = 6” and added this amount to the length of the centre fabric. This was 14” + 6” = 20”.

I then did the same calculation for the width of the centre fabric, which was 12”. There were also 1½” wide borders on the top and bottom, so I multiplied this by 4: 1½” x 4 = 6” and added this to the centre fabric width of 12” for a total of 18” (6” + 12”).

Still with me?

The figures that we just calculated are the size that you’ll be cutting from the backing/border fabric. So, in my example, I cut a piece of fabric 18” wide by 20” long and this would be the backing and borders on the placemat.

Just to review: the centre fabric and batting were cut 12” x 14” and the backing was cut 18” x 20”.

 
Top and Batting cut to 12" x 14" with Backing cut to 18" x 20"

Top and Batting cut to 12" x 14" with Backing cut to 18" x 20"

 

The next step in the placemat construction is to quilt the top and batting together. I used the walking foot on my Janome 9400 to do this and did some wavy line quilting vertically and horizontally. This was fun and so easy with the help of the AcuFeed Flex system on the Janome 9400. No bunched fabric and it kept both the batting and fabric together without even using pins!

 
Quilting the top and batting with the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9400 QCP's amazing walking foot with AcuFeed Flex system

Quilting the top and batting with the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9400 QCP's amazing walking foot with AcuFeed Flex system

 

After the quilting is finished, it’s time to centre the quilted top onto the backing and then stitch everything together ¼” in from the outside edge of the quilted centre. You may find pins helpful here to keep everything in place.

 
Be sure to centre the quilted top and batting when you are pinning it to the backing

Be sure to centre the quilted top and batting when you are pinning it to the backing

 

This next part is when the mitered corners are created and it’s almost like magic! Trim off all 4 corners of the backing on a diagonal to remove excess fabric. Be sure that you are ¼” away from the corner of the quilted centre.

 
Trim off the excess batting on a diagonal

Trim off the excess batting on a diagonal

 

Fold in each of the sides (the backing) to meet the quilted centre and press them to keep them in place.

 
Press the sides to keep them in place

Press the sides to keep them in place

 

Flip the placemat over and match adjacent sides, being sure to line up at the corner and down the side. Pin to keep in place.

 
Line up adjacent sides and pin to prepare for stitching

Line up adjacent sides and pin to prepare for stitching

 

Once everything is pinned properly – don’t make the mistake I did – you can stitch the seam at each corner with a ¼” seam.

 
Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end to hold the seam in place

Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end to hold the seam in place

 

When you have finished this stitching, you can trim the excess fabric and batting on the corners and then flip the corners out to the front and push out all the corners using That Purple Thang or similar tool (be careful not to poke too aggressively or you may end up with a hole in your corner!).

 
Push corners out gently with That Purple Thing or similar tool

Push corners out gently with That Purple Thing or similar tool

 

Press the placemat down and then topstitch the open edge all around the interior of the placemat with a ¼” seam or you could use a decorative stitch. If you want to do additional quilting in the border, you could do that too.

 
Topstich 1/4" in from edge to complete the placemat

Topstich 1/4" in from edge to complete the placemat

 

Now that you’ve seen how easy it is to make one of these placemats, keep going so you’ll have a complete set of 4 or 8 or…?

I think that a set of placemats would make a perfect wedding or house warming gift and with this pattern you can design them to any size you want.

 
Top View.jpg
 

This was the first time I’d used the walking foot for quilting and I was pleased at how easy the AcuFeed Flex system on the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9400 QCP made it. I’ll definitely be doing more walking foot quilting on future projects. 

Click on the image below to view a video on my YouTube channel that shows you the step-by-step process to make these easy placemats.

I hope you'll try creating these easy placemats on your own. You could make a set for every holiday!

Creatively,

Kim's signature small aqua.jpg
 

P.S. This blogpost may contain affiliate links which means I will receive a small compensation if you purchase by clicking through in the links in this post. Thank you for allowing me to continue providing you with free content.

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Suggestions for Quilt Panels

What's the easiest way to make a quick quilty gift? By using a quilt panel, of course!

You may've heard them called cheater quilts, but I prefer to think of them as "helper" quilts since they help a quilter to whip up a baby quilt, a lap quilt for a sick friend, or any have-to-have-a-quilt-made-now project. 

Quilt panels come in all different sizes and some may need a little extra help to get to the size we might want them to be. With some panels a border or two will suffice, but others may need to be cut up and have some fabric added to make it large enough.

Some quilt panels are really just too small to be made into a bed-size quilt - the panel would get lost in all the fabric that you would have to add to it to make it large enough. Keep this in mind when you are trying to decide what to do with your quilt panel. Not every quilt panel was made to be a king-size quilt!

 
This panel is so small that it is really only ever going to be a wall hanging.

This panel is so small that it is really only ever going to be a wall hanging.

 

A larger panel may just need a border or two added to them. That's a really simple way to quickly make a lap quilt or even a bed quilt.

Some panels can be cut apart and you can have lots of fun with these ones! You can add additional fabric vertically or horizontally - or both! If you think that it would add to the panel, you could add pieced blocks, rather than just solid fabric. This would take a bit more time to do, but could be quite effective.

 
This panel would be easy to cut up and insert some coordinating fabric.

This panel would be easy to cut up and insert some coordinating fabric.

 

If you are cutting up a panel and adding additional fabric, consider where you want the main part of the quilt panel to be so it will be highlighted to its best effect.

Click on the image below to watch a video on my YouTube channel which gives more information on options with quilt panels.

Creatively,

Kim's signature small aqua.jpg
 

P.S. Did you know that you can sign up to receive FREE emails full of quilting goodness? Just click here to receive FREE content directly in your email inbox every few weeks from Chatterbox Quilts. I know you'll be glad you did!

How to Organize Information in Your Quilt Studio

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “Out of sight, out of mind”. If you don’t have something right out in front of you, you forget that you have it or where it is. This is certainly the case in my quilt studio: if a project is packed away in a cardboard box, I can completely forget that I have even started it. Okay, this may be because I have so many WIP”s that I have trouble keeping track of them, but it’s definitely because they are not easily visible.

It’s the same way with information that I want to have in my studio. Maybe it’s notations about changes I want to make to a pattern or an idea for an upcoming YouTube video. While I eventually will enter video ideas into a Word document on my laptop, this isn’t the case for information about projects I’m working on. I often write out this information on little pieces of paper which are then scattered about my office or studio, which makes them very difficult to find again, and very easy to lose. I need a better system.

 
These notes could be managed much more efficiently.

These notes could be managed much more efficiently.

 

Enter my favourite place to get quilting furniture: Ikea! I love how Ikea designs a product for a specific purpose, but then we quilters dive in and use it for something totally different! Product in point: cork trivets. These come in packages of 3 and are quite inexpensive, not to mention handy. I like to use these for mini cork boards. I find that they fit on the back of the doors to my cabinets – I just stick them up with double-sided tape – and I can then pin up little bits of information or reminders about projects. They are hidden inside the door, but every time I open up the cabinet, there is the information I need. I could also put them up on the wall, so they are more visible, and I have done that too, but they are less distracting when hidden inside a cupboard or cabinet.

 
This is what I'm talking about!

This is what I'm talking about!

 

While these cork hot pads are fantastic for pinning small pieces of paper to them, I also like using a Peel & Stick whiteboard product that I found. These are repositionable sheets that you can write on with a dry erase marker. Once you’ve no longer need this information, you just wipe it off. I really like these to keep track of daily tasks and they can be put up on the wall or – yes, you guessed it – inside cupboard doors. If you want to put them inside doors, be sure that they aren’t touching fabric as the dry erase marker can rub off on it.

 
4 sheets to a box and easy to stick on and peel off!

4 sheets to a box and easy to stick on and peel off!

 

Both of these methods work well for me, because they are “out of sight, but NOT out of mind”.

For more information on how you can use both these items, click on the image below to watch a video on my YouTube channel.

Organizational Tip.jpg

Let me know your best tips for organizing information in your quilt studio. Write your helpful hints in the comments below this post. I’d love to hear your ideas.

Creatively,

Kim's signature small aqua.jpg
 

P.S. Did you know that you can sign up to receive FREE emails full of quilting goodness? Just click here to receive FREE content directly in your email inbox every few weeks from Chatterbox Quilts. I know you'll be glad you did!