Monday, April 1, 2013

Jennie's Block Keeper - a 2013 FAL tutorial

she can quilt

When Jennie from Jennie's Threads posted pictures of her block keeper to the Emerald Challenge group and on her blog, I had never seen or thought of such a simple and useful thing. I have blocks from bees and from UFOs sitting in drawers and on shelves, getting all rumpled up. When I asked her if she would make a tutorial for the FAL, she said sure. Read on, it is just a great idea.

Hi there! I'm Jennie and I blog over at Jennie's Threads. I live in the UK and I've been quilting for about three years now. This year I have got rather addicted to BOMs (Block of the Month) - I'm sewing along with three, designing my own, and I'm very very tempted with a couple of others. I'm also making a few long term quilts, so I have loads of blocks knocking about in boxes, rolled up corners and folded in piles. This isn't a great way to store them, so I've made myself a block keeper. And Leanne was lovely enough to ask me to write a tutorial for you all.

You will need:
Some pretty patchwork 18.5" x 38.5"
Batting approx 40" x 20"
Piece of calico/unloved fabric  40" x 20" (you won't see this in the finished keeper)
2 pieces of Bosal 17.5" x 17.5" (this is a thick interfacing - mine was fusible)
Velvet 38.5 x 18.5"
6 pieces of ribbon each 10"
Fabric for binding (about 130" of binding)
Basting spray.
Normal sewing supplies.

I started off with two lovely blocks: ET Phone Home from Lynne at Lily's Quilts and Lone Starburst from Anna at Six White Horses. You could use orphan blocks, do some improv piecing, or just pick your favourite print. I know that the biggest block I'm going to make is probably about 16"x16" so I made my block keeper slightly larger than that, but if you know you are going to be making 24" blocks, then you could go bigger to avoid folding them. For a keeper for 16" (ish) blocks you need to have a "quilt top" 18.5" x 38.5". I added some borders to build the size up and then added a piece of fabric 18.5 x 3.5" between the two blocks - this will act as the base.


Add some wadding and some backing fabric and quilt as you wish. You won't ever see the backing fabric in the finished piece, but I know my machine doesn't like wadding directly on the feed dogs, so don't pick a favourite - a piece of calico (muslin?) is just fine. On the section that will form the base, densely quilt straight lines about 1/4" apart, so it will hang nicely when the block keeper isn't full.

Lay the quilt sandwich you have just created face down and position the ribbons as shown in the diagram.
The dotted lines show the position on the blocks and base, but these
are on the front and you'll be working from the back.
Allow about an inch of the ribbon to lie inside the quilt and the rest to hang over the edge. Pin in place from the underneath (the front of the quilt) so you can remove the pins later. With the final two pieces or ribbon, pin in place at the ends to create a loop for hanging/carrying.

Take the two pieces of Bosal and place centrally over the two patchwork blocks. This will leave a gap in the middle over the base section - make sure it doesn't extend over the seam lines of the base section. The Bosal is a heavy weight interfacing about 1/8" thick. It has some give to it but provides structure to the block keeper. What I used was fusible, but by the time I'd layered everything up, the heat of the iron through the layers wasn't sufficient to melt the glue. This is where the basting spray comes in. Be generous and stick the Bosal in place. Lay the piece of velvet over the top of the Bosal and again spray baste. The velvet prevents the blocks from slipping down and ending up in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the block keeper.

Set your machine to a long stitch length and stitch 1/8" across the top and bottom and over the ribbons on the sides.
A nice wonky line.... but it does the job

Remove the original pins and repin the ribbons well inside the keeper against the velvet.

Put your machine back to a regular quilting stitch length, and stitch through all layers at either side of the "base" section - I did this from the front to make sure I stitched directly on the seam line. Bind your quilt in the normal manner. I bound mine by machine, sewing the binding on the back then folding to the front and top stitching in place, but the Bosal makes the whole thing quite inflexible so some of my lines weren't very straight.

Fill with blocks, tie up the ribbons and hang on the wall - pretty and practical!


Thanks for taking a look at my tutorial and if you have any questions, just let me know!

Thanks for asking me to join in Leanne!

And thank you Jennie!

Don't forget to link up your Q1 finishes - the Q1 post-quarter link is open and it will close at midnight MST, April 7, 2013. And if you still have some UFOs I hope you will join us for Q2 of the FAL, Q2 FAL lists can be posted starting on April 8.

16 comments:

  1. I know years ago, ladies at my quilting classes had these type of thing to 'keep' their blocks tidy and organised! It's a lovely idea! Thanks for the tutorial!

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  2. Thanks for the tutorial. I have been considering making several for all the BOMs I am doing. This is a good nudge.

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  3. What a good idea! So easy to grab a project on the go this way too.

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  4. Oh what a fab idea! I ned to remember to pick up some of the thick interfacing next time I'm 'home'. Thanks to Jennie for the tute.

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  5. It just so happens, I have some orphan blocks laying around! Love this!!! I need one!!!!!!

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  6. oh this is such a great idea! Thank you much!

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  7. What a cool idea! Thanks for sharing it with us :)

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  8. I love this ideal. I have several BOMs going and i willl be making a couple. Thanks

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  9. I am a Newbe. I have never heard of Bosal.

    where do I find it. Thanks for the help. Wanda

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  10. Great idea and great tute Jennie! Who knew I needed one of these? But I really do!!

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  11. I am so embarrased. I found this while looking at the too cool mug rugs...then I lost it. 3 days later, I have found it again. I hope Jennie does not mind if I use her tutorial as a Guild Challenge. I will certainly give her credit or whatever the proper thing I need to do would be. I also saw a wonderful tutorial on designer walls....that will be another 3 days I am certain!!! You ladies are awesome and although I am not smart enough to join you in so many of the areas....I would like to THANK YOU for sharing so many unique items for those of us who are so computer challenged that we are limited.

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