Today's Featured Tutorial!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Today's Featured Tutorial -- Bear's Paw Checkbook Cover

You can find the directions for making a Bear's Paw quilt block here:

I use 4 1/2" x 7 1/2" as a goal not an absolute measurement for the whole top. This includes any sashing and borders. You can make yours a bit bigger but I wouldn't make it any smaller. I ended up using a 4 3/4" by 7 3/4" for this one. It is a bit bigger than absolutely necessary to fit the checkbook cover the bank gives you but I usually stick papers (used checks receipts credit cards etc) behind my checkbook so it takes up space in the checkbook cover.

So if you are using the quilt block you made from the above tutorial you can go back and cut down the sashing to 1/2" instead of 3/4" or you can use 5/8" if 1/2" Is too scary sounding. But since it is already sewn on before you cut down it isn't hard to do. I like the look of the 1/4" finished sashing or border.

You can use the quilt block just as it is and add a 1/2" to top and bottom for a border or you can leave it just the way it is and not add any borders. I like the look of the border because it stops the eye and creates a finished look. But it is entirely up to you.

I am posting other ideas for extending the sides of your checkbook cover so you might want to check them out before you make this one. The only thing I did differant ly in them was to repeat one half of the center block on each side or I used combination triangle or square blocks. Or I used a row of hsts along the edges on each side. Easy to do if you want a differant look than the one I chose today.

I will show you how I did mine. Any way you would like to make variations feel free to do so!

So today I took my quilt block and I recut the sashing down to 1/2". Then I reassembed the quilt block.

For the sashing
I cut two strips that were about 1" wide by a bit more than the length of the side of my quilt block. I don't like to rely on accurate measurements here because the side of my quilt block might not be exactly the same as the other side no matter how much I trimmed my quilt block.
So I prefer to cut the strip and then pin it on and sew it on so the ends of the strip are longer than the side of the quilt block.

I did that for the other side too. Then trim the ends even with the quilt block.

Quilt block with sashing on left and right side
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I don't like to use exact measurements as every time I make one it may be slightly differant measurment due to seam allowances might be a bit smaller or wider and I might have had to make the top a bit wider or longer to accomodate the design I chose to use, So I prefer to turn the top over face down onto the fabric and trim it to match the top. This will be the back of the checkbook cover.
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I cut strips and sewed together alternating strips. I sewed them on each side to make the top wider. I also added more of the light blue strips at top and bottom for borders or sashing. I cut the botton blue strip 1/2" and the top one I cut 3/4". I like to allow a bit more room where the checkbook cover is going to bend. Make sure at this point that your top is squared up.
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Sew the two together on the sashing you cut slightly larger. This is the body of your checkbook cover.
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Turn this over and lay it face down onto the liner fabric. Again trim it to match. Be careful you don't catch the top and cut it accidently when you trim.
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I cut 2 pieces of fabric 8 1/4" x 8 1/2". Fold them in half right side out. Iron them flat. Make sure the edges match. Lay one on one half of the liner. Baste it across the bottom and along both sides. Do the same for the second one. Then turn the whole thing over and trim the pockets.
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After trimming the pockets pin the front and the liner with the pockets together
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Starting at the bottom backstitch and then sew around the edge until you get back to the bottom again. Leave an opening about 2" to turn the cover with.
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Turn the cover right side out and poke out the corners. When you tirn it make sure you have the pockets on the right side. Then iron it flat. I then sew a finishing seam around the edge. I start at the bottom and that will close the opening.
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So here is the finished Bear's Paw Checkbook Cover!
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You can make the sashing wider and add a row of small HSTs
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You can add some squares on the sides
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You could use HSTs in a flying geese variation. I make my flying geese with two HSTs
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Or you can repeat half of the center design on each side of the sashing. One of the first checkbook covers I made was a Bear's Paw and I repeated the Paws on each side. It is really cool looking!
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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Today's Featured Tutorial -- Cell Phone Case


    If you like patchwork and need a cell phone case that is pretty enough to show off your quilting skills this is for you! Here I will show you how to make a cell phone case using a quilt block for interest.

     Pieced top front         


   You will need:

        Usual sewing supplies
           • Sewing machine - thread - pins etc.
           • Cutting mat(mini) and a rotary cutter
           • Small ruler


    You will need a 1 1/2" acrylic template or use your own method. Just make sure you end up with 1 1/2" HST squares however you choose to make them! You can use any template, but if you want to use one of mine, just email me at (Rhonda) and I will send you a free template. You can find more information about the templates and see the picture here.

Small print cotton for the Half Square Triangles(HST)

You can use scraps or any print you want.

You are only making 8 - 1 1/2" half square triangles, so you'll need a med. Green strip and a contrasting (I used a light here) strip.

I cut mine 11" by 2".


   Here you can see how I cut out the HST's from the center. After you cut out down the center then pull the strips apart and sew the other sides together so you can continue to cut out squares from the center.

 If you do scrappy, I use swatches instead of strips and cut each one out.

Small print cotton fabric for the case

Dk Green - 1 swatch - approx. 4" by 5"
Dk Green - 1 swatch - approx. 4" by 2"
Dk Green - 1 swatch - approx. 4" by 8"
Dk Green - 1 swatch - approx. 4" by 5"

You need to cut one square for the center out of whatever fabric you want.

Make sure you have a straight edge on one side of all the fabric swatches and strips. It is better to have a piece that is larger than you need and trim down than find you cut the swatch or strip too short!!

Batting - traditional is best

1 piece about 5" by 8"
1 piece about 5" by 5"

These sizes are only suggestions. I cut larger than I need, and then I trim to the size I need after I have sewn things together.

Also you need to measure your cell phone and adjust the math to fit. Adding borders is another way to make your top bigger without changing the size of your template when you make the HST's

Putting the quilt block together!

We are using half square triangles in this quilt block.

  Lay the HST's in rows as shown. Then sew each row together and then sew the rows together to get this quilt block. Make sure you trim your quilt block so it will look square.



When my blocks don't match up as well as I'd like I look to see where I can tighten up the seam. Sew along. On the inside of the seam to make your seam more straight.

Completing the cell phone case!!

Pin the pieced quilt block to the dk green 4" by 2" swatch. Sew the swatch onto the quilt block. Open and iron the seam open.


Pin the Dk Green 4" by 5" swatch to the opposite side from the one you just added. Sew the swatch to the quilt block. Open and iron the seam. I trimmed the smaller swatch to 1" You can make it whatever size you prefer.

Trim the added swatches to the same size as the quilt block.
Backing the halves

Lay the top for the cell phone face down onto the dk green 4" by 8" swatch (liner). Pin it in place and trim the liner even with the top. Lay this top face down onto the larger batting piece. Pin the three layers together. Trim the batting even with the top.

Now you should have a top (with the quilt block) backside down onto the batting and the liner should be face to face with the top so you should see the backside of the liner at the top of this sandwich.

(Obviously do as I say and not as I do -I just noticed I forgot to put the pieced top into the middle of the sandwich!!. I usually do because it is easier to sew where there are no seams to go over. Oh well!! Do it how you want!)

Repeat the step with the other dk green swatches. You won't have a quilt block to work around and the swatches should be 5" not 8".

Trim the back half even with the front half.


I used a DVD to trace the round edge. Just mark with a pen and trim. You could use a plate or glass or a plastic lid etc.

Begin at the bottom about 1 1/2" from the left side and backstitch. Now sew around the edge of the top until you get back to the bottom. Stop sewing 1 1/2" from the other side-- leave an opening to turn the top right side out and backstitch!


Turn the top right side out. Use a turning tool to poke the corners out or if the corners look OK just leave them. Iron the half. You can poke in the fabric at the opening so it is even with the rest of that edge.

Repeat the step with the other swatches to make the back half.
Now you should have two halves of the cell phone case put together. Sew a finishing seam around the outer edge of the top half. And across the top of the back half. I closed the bottom here also.

Now you should have two halves that look like this.



Pin the back to the inside of the top and sew from the top right corner down to the bottom across the bottom and back up to the left upper corner. Backstitch several times at both top corners to withstand heavy use. I like to sew across the bottom at least twice so it will not come apart with use.

   Now add the velcro to your cell phone case. I just whipstitched it on. If you add it before you put the halves together you can machine stitch it on. Mine is a little off center but oh well!! I took it off and redid it once and I am not going to do it again!!

I added a longer strip of Velcro so the case could be closed at different places. Some phones are bigger than others.

If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.
 You can email me at

I hope you find this tutorial useful!  Rhonda

Friday, September 28, 2012

Today's Featured Tutorial -- Bear's Paw Quilt Block

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Accuracy equals success. Not perfection but being aware and taking steps to prevent problems before they happen.

1 Straight seams (use a drawn line to sew on if straight is hard for you).
2 Cut accurately (Trim where needed for a square square)
3 Measure constantly
4 Check each step and if it needs redone do it now not later.
5 Look at seams as you join pieces together and make sure your overall look is straight with the other seams

If you are accurate when you cut and if you are accurate in piecing the squares together you will have a good Bear’s Paw. But you have to be able to have all 4 Bear’s Paws the exact same size to make them fit together so the lines are all in line. I don’t like to see a Bear’s Paw quilt block where the Paws don’t line up across the sashings. Maybe this is a bit picky of me but I think it breaks the picture up like a cracked mirror when lines aren’t across from each other. So I am going to show you how I use my cut down method to make this happen to create a good picture.

Now there will be some waste but to get a good accurate Bear’s Paw I think it is worth it.

The second reason to use my cut down method is really probably the main reason I started using this process. It is hard to work with small pieces and this way you have more to hang onto and still get the size you want. You can use this method for larger quilt blocks or smaller quilt blocks.

You will need:

1 strip of light 1 ½” x 6 ½”
2 strip of light 1 ½” x 9 ½”
1 strip of light 1 ¼’ x 10”
2 strips of dark 1 ½” x 9 ½”
1 dark square 1 ½” doesn’t have to be exact as you will be cutting it down

Ruler and a 1 ¼” template. I like to use a 2”( or whatever size is required for the size of quilt block you are making) template to cut the paws but you can do it with a ruler. A template is just a smidge more accurate and less trouble to do.

1 sew strips
2 cut out HSTs
3 trim HSTS
4 sew pairs of HSTs together
5 sew one pair HSTs to corner light
6 sew second pair HSTs to center dark
7 trim each set of joined fabrics
8 sew center set to corner set
9 Trim both sides of HSTs to 1/4" seam allowance
10 Trim the center to square it.
11 measure

Your measurement should be based on having a good ¼” between the point and the edge. If you don’t have that then you need to fix it now. This is the place most people have trouble because they just do the steps without paying any attention to whether the fabric pieces are where they should be.

You need the HSTs to be in the same place on the center in all 4 paws. I use to just put them together and then I would find some paws would be right and some paws would be off a bit here and there. You need to measure and you need to compare the paws as you go along so they are all the same size.

So here we go!!

All the strips and square you need
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Sew 2 strips together
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Lay your 1 1/4" template on the seam on point. Make sure the corners are on the seam and that they don't move off of the seam as you cut
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Continue to cut out the squares. When you get to the end you can pull the leftovers apart and sew along the other side to have another set of joined strips. You can continue to cut out the squares
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After you get all the HSTs cut out then you need to trim them all to 1" But half of them are cut from the left side
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The other half are cut from the right side. This is easier to do if you turn them upside down.
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Here are two of the claws. A left and a right. This method is designed to allow you to cut smaller but because the length is still 1 1/4" you aren't handling a 1" square. More to hang on to and this will allow us to cut down later for better accuracy.
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Place two HSTs together and tack a stitch on the ends where the seam will go through
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Here are the pieces of the first paw laid out. I cut the 1 1/2" x 6 light strip into 4 pieces. And the dark strip was also cut into 4 pieces The traditional way is to cut out each piece accurately with a template. That is fine but I found it hard to get everything to line up. If I cut it too small then I had to start over. This way you will cut down and have better accuracy and no starting over if something didn't fit
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Sew both sets of HSTs together and then sew the white swatch to the left set of HSTs and the right set of HSTs to the dark swatch
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Trim both sets on the sides that will be sewn together. The right side of the set with the white swatch and the left side of the set with the dark swatch. Again I turned it upside down to trim it as it was easier.
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Now you are ready to sew the two sets together. Place the two seams in the center together. I like to tack them together to keep them from shifting. You can bend the fabric down to make sure they are lined up right
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Ok here is the first paw untrimmed
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Using a ruler or a template trim the claws to within a 1 1/4" for the seam allowance. If you like you can add a 1/8' to that or so for when you trim the whole quilt block you can get a more accurate square quilt block. One of my paws wasn't quite square. so leaving just a bit more at this step might help later on.
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Here is the first paw. Measure the dark center to determine the exact size it ended up. Mine was 2 1/8" . So when you do the other 3 they need to be the same size. You don't want them to vary more than a hair as it will make it impossible to get them to square up in the whole quilt block.
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Continue to make the other 3 paws. Keeping in mind that they need to be the same size as the first one. I turn each one over and place it on the first one to make sure it is the same. Now is the time to trim if you need to so they match. Now you need to cut the 1 1/4' x 10" strip into 3 pieces. This is the sashing that goes in between the paws
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Sew the sashing strip to the left hand paw. Don't start the strip even with the top of the paw because you will get a more accurate cut if you trim it instead.
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Trim the top even and then trim the sashing to 3/4" from the seam. When we do the check book cover we will trim it to 5/8" instead. So if you want to use this for the checkbook cover next week you should trim to 5/8" now.
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Sew the dark center to one of the sashing strips.
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Sew the other paw to the sashing strip. Make sure your lines of the top of the dark center are in line with each other. I didn't show it here but you will need to trim the bottom of the joined paws too.
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Trim the dark center to 3/4" or the 5/8" whichever you are using.
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Trim one straight side
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Sew the sashing to the first two paws
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Sew the second half to the sashing. Make sure you line up the seams on each side of the center dark square with the seams on the second half. Also make sure your dark centers line up with the first half of the paws
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Tack where all the seams connect with the sashing, this will help to keep your lines in place as you sew
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With using tacks in stead of pins you can open the pieces and see whether the lines of the dark centers are going to line up with each other. As you can see I didn't have it quite right so I had to fix it.
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Here the dark squares line up much better. The blues are all the same fabric. I have no idea why they look differant.
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Here is the quilt block all sewn together. As most quilters I can point out the things that aren't right. In the center the top left and the bottom right seams don't meet up right. They are overlapping just a tad. But oh well! It's by no means perfect.
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Yeah!!!! We are at the end!!! Here is my Bear's Paw Quilt Block hanging from one of my nails on my shelves. Now I need to decide what to do with it.
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