Today's Featured Tutorial!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Boston Bookmarks

Today's Featured Tutorial!
Boston Bookmarks
by Rhonda Woodsmall

The Cut Down Method -- a shortcut to making "Blocks"

Traditionally quilt blocks are made by cutting out fabric shapes - squares /triangles/etc. and then sewing them into quilt blocks which are then sewn into quilts. With my method you can make units I call "Blocks" This makes it easier to work with small pieces.

Boston Block

I call this a "Boston Block" because it forms part of a quilt block called a Boston Star This unit or "Boston Block" can be made in quantity and in any color combination then used in any quilt blocks or project that has this shape. It can be used in any size to make quilt blocks as well as small projects.

What you need for one bookmark:

Basic sewing supplies, sewing machine, pins, scissors, etc., and
 one 1 1/2" template
 12-14 dark scraps at least 2" x 3"
 12-14 medium scraps at least 1 1/2" x 2"
     a swatch at least 3 1/2" x 8 1/2"
 12-14 light scraps at least 1 1/2" x 2"
 mini cutting mat and rotary cutter
 ruler -- preferably a small ruler -- I use a 2" x 9"

E-mail me with your postal address if you need a template. I offer those templates for sale, but I'll send one for free to each newsletter subscriber who is interested. My e-mail is (Rhonda)

Now let's make a "Boston Block"

Sew a medium and a light swatch together. Trim the long side with a ruler.

Open and iron the seam open -- the fabric lays flatter if the seam is ironed open instead of to the dark side. That's more important in miniatures than big quilts. It's more noticeable.

Put the dark fabric swatch face down onto the two joined swatches and sew them together.

Iron the seam open Make sure you iron both the front and the back so it lays flat.

Lay the joined swatches on the cutting mat.

Place the template on the swatches so the corners lay on the seams.

With a rotary cutter cut out the square. Don't let the template move while you cut. Turn the mini mat after each cut and don't let go of the template. Keep it firmly in place while you turn the mat.

Check to see if your corners are clean. If you have a little more on one side than the other you can gently trim the fabric so the fabric is even at the corners. This will help you have good points.

Choose which bookmark you want to make. Make the Boston Blocks with the colors you need for the bookmark you chose to make. Make sure your medium is on the correct side. If you want your bookmark a little longer -- add fabric to each end and trim to the size you want.

These bookmarks will vary in size. I aim for a 2 1/2" by 7 1/2" but it can be whatever you want.

Lay your "Blocks" in rows and sew them together. Iron every time you sew something and iron it open and as flat as you can. It will lay better. My seams don't always want to stay open but I prefer it because you get less bulk that way.

Now let's put the bookmark together

In these pictures you will see borders. I am using these pictures to show how to finish the bookmark but it is optional whether you use borders or not. These steps are the same whether you use borders or not. It depends on the size you want. If your bookmark is too short or too narrow then add borders.

Lay your pieced top face down onto the back fabric. Pin it in place. Trim the back fabric to match the top. I do not use any batting.

Fold back one long side so you can see the pieced top. Sew along the edge on one long side. (just the top not the back fabric)

This is so it won't come apart when you turn it. The seams have a tendency to come apart if you don't baste them down.

Straighten it back out and starting on the side that you basted sew around the edge of the bookmark. When you get back to where you started leave an opening of about 1 1/2" -- to turn the bookmark with.

I stick my finger inside and with my other hand push one end through the opening. You will have to work it through. Then do the other end the same way. Poke the ends out with a turning tool. I use the tip of one blade of my small scissors but you have to be really careful you don't poke a hole through it as I have many times when I am not paying enough attention!

In the picture on the right you can see how I sewed around the edge to give the bookmark a finished look. It makes it look more complete. It is actually a tailoring touch.

Here is the layout of the bookmark I used in the directions:

Boston Braid Bookmark

Now this bookmark was made with 1 1/4" blocks to get the 2 1/2" x 7 1/2" size I like. So you can make your bookmark with 1 1/2" blocks and use only 6 rows to get the 2 1/2" x 7" size. You can add fabric to the ends to get the 7 1/2" or you can use it as is. It's all up to you.

Enjoy making the bookmarks! I think they are quick and easy.

If you have any questions or need to request the free templates - you can email me at (Rhonda)  I send out the 2 1/2" and the 1 1/2" for free. the 1 1/4" is available on request.  Please include your postal address as these have to go through the snail mail.

If you'd like to learn more about using and designing with Boston  Blocks you can check out my Playing with Boston Blocks Ebook here - Patchwork by Rhonda

Butterfly Magnets

  1. Here is a tutorial for making my butterfly magnets. I have them on my online site and I was asked if I would show how I make them. You can use them for magnets or you can use them to applique to a background square for a quilt block.

    I draw my own designs and I want to show you how to draw a butterfly wing. It is really easy.

    Just draw a half circle. Then draw a squiggly line from one corner to the other. Don't make the squiggly line too full of hills or it will be too hard to sew later on. A nice gentle line with a couple or three hills will work well.

    Then cut out the wing and lay it on cardboard. Trace around it and then cut out the cardboard wing for a template.
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  2. Now you need to have some swatches of fabric. I chose some lights to use for a butterfly.

    Now we are going to sew them in a confusion pattern(crazy or crumb).

    Yiou can do this any size you want to. If you want to do some small ones make sure you keep your swatches close together so they will all fit under your template.

  3. When you have your fabric all sewn place your template on the fabric and move it around until you have a look you like. Then trace around the template.

    Repeat this again for the second wing. What I forgot to do was to turn the template over so the second wing would be a mirror image of the first. If you give your wing a tail on one end you won't be able to put them together if you cut them out the same side. I realized what I had done and I sewed across the long tail I was going to use on one end so both ends on the one wing were reasonably the same.
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  4. Now if you are going to use these as applique you are done.

    To continue on with the magnets

    lay your wings face down on a backing and cut out around them. You can trim them now or wait til after they are sewn.
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  5. To sew this wing on you need to fold back the backing fabric and baste along the edge to set the seams so they won't come undone when you are turning the wing right side out.

    Then let the backing fabric go back into place and start at the end of the basting that you just did. Make sure you backstitch.
    then continue sewing around the wing following the edge. If you like you can clip the fabric in the hollows but I didn't. It can make it easier to turn the hills inside out. Make sure you remember to backstitch when you end. Leave an opening to turn the wing right side out.
    Attached Images Attached Images      

  6. Now everyone thinks it is hard to turn a small item inside out. but it isn't if you know the technique.

    Here I stick my finger into one side of the wing. Then I put the tip of my scissors against the end of my finger. If you don't want to use scissors you can use any turning tool. I have seen people use a straw if you don't have a tool. Then I slowly pull the edge of the wing down over the tip of the scissors. Til you have it all the way turned.
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  7. Now you are going to have to turn both sides of the opening. But once you have the one side turned you can just stick a finger into the other side and push it up inside.

    Then take your scissors tip or a turning tool and smooth the edges out as much as possible so it goes back into the wing shape. This is where the clipping in the hollows will help. If you get some pulling inbetween the hills you can ease that by turning it wrong side out again and clipping if you didn't already do that. I didn't clip this time and it was ok. So it is up to you.
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  8. Ok you should have two wings now.

    Lay them face to face. I should have put the backing fabric on the inside but I did it backwards. Which is ok if that is how you want it to look. You will see one later on that I did the confusion on both sides so it didn't really matter which side I put on the inside.

  9. Sorry a few of my pictures are not as clear as I would have liked but you get the idea.

    So to create the body and to sew the two wings together I use a black thread and whip stitch the openings together. W

  10. Ok I want the body of the butterfly to look like a bug body so I keep whipstitching til the opening area gets completely covered. You don't want any fabric showing through the black stitches.

    Now to add antennae -cut a length of wire that is as long or as short as you want. I like to curl mine so if you want them to curl cut the length at twice of the lenght you want them to end up as.

    I cut mine 12" and folded the wire in half.Then I twisted the end a few times to create a circle of wire at the end.
    Hold the folded wire up to the black thread as shown in the picture and take a stitch or two through the circle so it will not pull out when it is sewn in.

    Then continue to whipstitch over the wire onto the body part until you can't see the wire anymore.

    You can find gold craft wire at any craft shop. It is more easily manipulated than a regular wire but you can use any wire you want. The thicker the wire tho the less you will be able to curl it.
  11. After you have the body done then I curl the antennae. I use a pencil or pen and wrap the wire around the pen.

    I like to put some feet on them so I just tack some thread on where I want the feet and then I trim them.

  12. So here we have a newly hatched Butterfly!!

    If I had put the yellow fabric to the inside then the confusion would be showing more when the butterfly was open. It is entirely up to you.

    One note - I have tried various types of bodies such as a cone shaped piece of fabric rolled into a long cone and it is harder to do. So this whipstitch is the easiest way I have found to do the body.

    Attach a piece of magnet to the back side of the butterfly for a magnet.
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  13. Here are a couple of butterflies I did awhile ago.