Thursday, June 30, 2022

Make it Miniature!

As my blog readers know, I am an avid miniature quilt maker and teacher. I have written almost 60 blog posts about making miniatures. Most of these little treasures serve no practical purpose, although sometimes they are special gifts, or they become mug mats or placemats. But the most important purpose is that it makes me feel great happiness, which is a good enough reason to spend lots of time doing it!

I recently watched the series called "Best in Miniaturewhere artists created dream homes in miniature size. 

My favourite episode was week 7 when the artists made hand sewn miniature pillows. This series validated my love of all tiny things, and the importance of pursuing your artist dreams. This show is casting now for the second season if you know anyone who would be interested (apply online here).

I will never use the true miniature scale of 1:12 that is used on the show. That means that a 12" block would become a 1" block which is too small for my enjoyment.

But I really enjoy making smaller projects, and this month I made a 4" berry with 49 pieces (pattern by Jackie MacDonald).

I love cutting the little pieces, and in this project the blocks are 1". 

Here are some tips for sewing miniature quilts:

1) Be precise in cutting and sewing. When you need a 1" square it must be exactly 1". When you sew the seam allowance is must be exactly 1/4".

2) Use a 50 weight thread for minimal bulk in the seams.

3) Keep your block layout right beside your sewing machine. This is my sewing station to the left of my machine. The layout is on the far left cutting mat and as rows are sewn, I pin them to the soft pressing mat right beside the machine.

4) Never use a steam iron, and only use an iron to press the finished block. Use a seam roller to flatten the seams as you go along. On a small block like this I press the seams in alternate directions for each row, and then press the row joining seams open.

5) Carefully check your seam allowance and fix every mistake as you go along. An incorrectly folded seam allowance is not a problem with regular blocks, but it makes a big difference with small blocks in terms of how flat the block will be. See how on the first seam the corner is folded back and the seam is pressed the wrong way?

6) Pin your rows to a soft pressing mat and double check your layout as you go along. I make at least one mistake in every block I sew. See how easily it happened?!? This is not a berry shape! It can easily be fixed at this point, but once rows are sewn together it's a little harder to fix.

7) Use lots of pins. This photo shows how I double pin a 1" square. It's amazing how much little pieces can shift between getting them accurately together between your fingers and how they end up under the needle. Don't let the feed dogs drag the pieces up to the needle (which causes shifting). Instead put the needle down at the beginning of the seam and then put the presser foot down.

8) Once the block is sewn, I use an iron to press the block carefully on a wool mat, and then move to a regular ironing board and use Best Press for a second pressing. Pressing is an up and down motion only - never drag the iron on the block/quilt, and never ever twist the iron on top of your precious block as it will distort the project.

9) Miniature quilts need minimal quilting. 
Instead of quilting this mini, I stitched some yellow french knots to hold the layers together which adds a texture element which looks a bit like the seeds on the outside of a strawberry. 

10) For mini quilts I use a single binding strip cut 1 3/8", machine stitched to the front and rolled over to the back, folded over and hand stitched. 

And drum roll please... here is the finished mini berry! So sweet!

Finished size: 4" x 4"

If you would like to make your own miniature berry, click here for the pattern in 2 sizes.

Hop over to Constant Quilter to see more mini quilts made in June.


Karla (ThreadBndr) said...

That is SO cute!

Cheryl D. said...

Kathy. Cute strawberry block. Thank you for the tips on making miniature blocks. I really enjoy reading your posts. Have a great day.

Mtntop Quilter said...

Thank you for the very useful tips. I will try them out. I love miniatures but do get frustrated with my sewing skills.

ButterZ said...

That’s a fun little mini. Thanks for the tips. I can see I do a lot of things that would cause it to be a bit out of shape.

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

Kathy, what a great post! I, too, love making mini quilts, and appreciate your tips. Your strawberry is adorable!

Cynthia@wabi-sabi-quilts said...

Wow! This is mind boggling and so cute. 49 pieces! Really mini mini and yes so sweet!

gladiquilts said...

Your mini is wonderful and I especially like the French knot embellishments. Thanks for the detailed description of the process.

Anorina @SameliasMum said...

Wow, wow, wow! Absolutely beautiful work.

Laura said...

Super cute! Thank you for sharing these helpful tips! :)

Janet O. said...

What a pretty little berry. I enjoyed your mini tutorial.
I also don't do the true miniature scale, but enjoy the challenge of shrinking things down.
We do so many of the same things in our mini construction, but I do tend to cut a narrower binding. Just my preference.
I like the way you used the French Knot "seeds" instead of quilting. Very clever.

Debra said...

Wow that's awesome.. I enjoyed your tutorial too... I've made a postage stamp quilt with 1" squares.