Notes from Haley Studio

Alphabet Applique Quilt Tutorial

Stay tuned for pictures and more complete instructions.  Steps so far:

Audition fonts and choose the font (I chose one similar to Futura).

Figure out the block dimensions.  To end up with a toddler-bed quilt size I chose a finished alphabet block size of 5.25″ x 8.25″.  I will have 30 blocks: the English alphabet plus 4 animals.

Print the letters out on scratch paper so they will fit comfortably on a square. 

Work out the tone scheme (light, medium, dark) in a sketch.

Decide on colors: I chose green, brown, beige, purple, and some misc. floral and wacky patterns.

Audition fabrics for backgrounds and narrow down selection.

Match fabrics to tone groups and choose backgrounds for each quilt square.  Wash your fabric if it hasn’t been washed before.  I’m using only my stash (except for the borders & backing) so everything’s been washed already.

Rough-cut all the backgrounds.  I made a template out of some mat board so I could quickly determine whether a given scrap of fabric was large enough to be a square.

Don’t cut precisely yet — edges may fray with too much handling, and you want enough excess fabric to fit into an embroidery hoop.  This is a good stage to swap out backgrounds that you are unsure about.

I decided not to use some of my wackier fabrics (like the large green fish on a white background); they were just a bit out of scale with the rest of my patterns, and their tones and colors didn’t blend smoothly.  I’ll have to find some other project where they’ll work better.

Choose the foreground fabric to match each background piece, following the quilt tone layout.

Rough-cut each foreground fabric to the shape of the letter, and pin once to the background fabric so they don’t get separated.

Now it’s time to sew!

Make a sandwich of the foreground fabric (right side facing the muslin), a piece of muslin, and the paper letter (printed side up).

Sew through the whole sandwich, following the printed letter outline.

Note: for letters with “holes” such as Q, O, A, B, P, etc, only sew along the outer edge.

Carefully rip off the paper.  Cut away excess  seam allowance.  Cut a small hole in the muslin and turn the letter inside out.  Voila!  While you’re working on the other letters, just pin once again to your background.

When they’ve all been sewn and turned, pin a letter to the center of your background and sew down.  I sewed each letter by hand using blind stitch.

Cut all the blocks to size.  I used an Olfa rotary cutter and self-healing mat, and I made my large clear ruler into a jig.

Next, draw designs for the four extra blocks — I chose a cat, fish, lizard and butterfly. I forgot how much I like drawing!  You could also choose a heart, star, building blocks, log cabin squares, or any other applique or quilt pattern you like.

Your extra blocks could fit into the same tone scheme as the rest of the quilt (I hope mine do) or you could make them stand out.

That’s how far I’ve gotten so far!  I started on February 10th and have been working pretty steadily.


Sew blocks together into rows

Sew rows together into quilt top

Add border(s) and corner blocks

Trip to the fabric store for backing & to find long-arm quilting service

Sign and date