Tips And Tools Tuesday – Secrets For Making Micro-Mini Quilts

I’ve designed a tea cozy with an appliqued scene of what, I think, a gnome’s homeplace might look like.  (I will have the pattern for this tea cozy available in PDF form soon.)

Here’ a glimpse of my imaginary gnome’s front yard on laundry day  with quilts hanging on the line to dry.

These quilts are about 3/4″ x 1″ in size.

As I was picturing this design in my head, those quilts were actually pieced! When I started to make them, the thought of cutting out and sewing such tiny pieces intimidated me. I decided to make them “whole-cloth” quilts, and found some fabrics with colors that blended with the scene.

As I progressed in writing and illustrating the pattern for this design, I felt more and more strongly that these little quilty treasures needed to be pieced!

So, I set out to come up with a way to do it!

The thought occurred to me, “Why do I have to cut out tiny pieces and sew 1/8″ seams?” Why can’t I cut out larger pieces that I can handle, sew a 1/4″ seam that I’m comfortable with, and trim things down as I go?”

We do it all the time when making 4″ finished Half-Square Triangle (HST) units. Cut two oversized squares of fabric somewhere around 5″ to 5 1/4″. Draw a line corner to corner. Sew 1/4″ away on both sides of the line. Cut them apart on the line and press them open. Then trim to 4 1/2″ and they are exactly the right size to be sewn into our block.

So, I did just that!

I knew I wanted my finished quilts to measure no more than 1″. Preferably 3/4″. So I started with two squares, pink and blue, 2  1/2″ each. Implementing the method I always use for making eight HST’s at a time, I marked two diagonal lines and sewed 1/4″ away on both sides of each.

I cut them apart vertically and horizontally, first.

Then, cut on the diagonally drawn lines.

I held the pieces up and trimmed each end at an angle.

I finger-pressed them open,

and then, pressed them flat with an iron.

Then I trimmed each seam allowance to appx. 1/8″.

I took four of the eight HST’s and laid them out in a pinwheel design and sewed them together in the usual manner.

I did not trim these seams, but left them at 1/4″.  My thought was that it would act as a filling, giving it the illusion of having “batting” inside.  It worked! They do feel like miniature quilts!

I cut a piece of matching fabric, a little larger than the quilt top, for the backing.  On the wrong side of the quilt top, I marked the exact size I wanted the finished quilt to be.. I wanted to allow for some of the measurement to be taken up with the fabric after turning.

I, then, placed them right-sides together.

I sewed all the way around, not leaving an opening for turning. I figured that would be impossible to sew closed!

I did not sew straight into the corners! I learned a long time ago, that if you want sharp corners, sew two stitches across the corners. This allows enough room for the fabric of the seam allowance to go.

Then I clipped the corners and trimmed the side seam allowances to 1/8″.

Making a small slit in the backing fabric near one end, made turning it easy. I used a point-turner, starting at the end farthest from the slit and pushing it out of the opening. Pulling the rest through was easy after that.

I whip-stitched the opening closed because it’s going to hang on the gnome’s “clothesline” and won’t be seen.

The gnome’s clothesline holds two quilts, so I used the other four HST’s to make an hourglass quilt. These pieces, because of the extra seam in each, just became too small too quickly and it became difficult to maneuver the fabric under the presser foot.

So I started again. This time I started with 3 1/2″ squares, again, making eight HST’s. That was just right! Below are the other four triangle units.

Now, you might be thinking, “Wow, there’s a lot of fabric waste with this method.” And, you’re right. But, to make something so tiny, without frustration, was so worth it!

Here they are next to a quarter.

I hope this might encourage you to give a micro-mini quilt a try. If, for no other reason, just to be able to say,  “I did it!”

Today is a good day to make something! Make it a micro-mini!

Diane

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