December marks the end of our year long Mini Quilt of the Month series. It’s been such a fun and informative project for all of us here at The Purl Bee. We’ve learned how to machine appliqué a garden of vegetables, stitch together a bevy of yoyos, and even draft a quilt from an inspiring photograph. It’s a little sad to see it end but I know we will be referencing many of these skills and techniques for a long time to come.
Since this is the final mini quilt we wanted to combine our favorite aspects of all of the previous project into one last effort. To that end we think December’s Golden Wreath Mini Quilt has it all: an unusual technique, a fun exploration of color, and a small approachable size! As an added plus, it’s a playful reinterpretation of Joelle’s Color Wheel Quilt from her now classic book, Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts.
We used the golden “Sunbeam” spectrum bundle for this project because, in this blustery cold season, it reminded us of the warm colors of the hearth. However, you could make it in any color spectrum you like, from calming blues to Christmas reds! It’s straightforward and fun to sew even though it involves curved seams, which really aren’t as daunting as you might think.
Thanks and happy sewing!-- Molly
ps- If you’d like to take a look at all the other quilts in this series please click here.
To make one 21-inch square mini quilt:
- A Sunbeam Spectrum Bundle of twelve fat quarters (or any spectrum bundle of your choice.)
- 1 1/4-yards of Natural Muslin
- A craft sized Request weight cotton batting
- 100% cotton thread in color 1040
- A Golden Wreath Mini Quilt Template (available for free download here) printed, cut out, and taped together as instructed on the template.
Please note that all seam allowances in this project are 1/4-inch unless otherwise noted.
Creating the Wreath Pieces
The wreath shape on this quilt is made up pieces that have been cut from a master of strip pieced colored fabrics. This first set of instructions shows you how to sew that strip pieced section.
Assign each the twelve fat quarters a number in a pleasing color order, the lightest being number 1 and the darkest being number 12. You will have to keep track of these numbers as you go so you might want to write each number on the corresponding fabric with a pencil in a corner.
This quilt is made in 4 square sections which are sewn together in the same way. Each section uses 5 colors:
- For Square A (which is pictured in the instructions) you will use colors 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5
- For Square B use colors 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7
- For Square C use colors 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10
- For Square D use colors 10, 11, 12, 1, and 2
Select the colors you will be using for the square you are sewing. The example photos are of Square A so they will show colors 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
From each of your 5 colors cut:
- 1 piece 9-inches X 1 1/2-inches
- 1 piece 9-inches X 3-inches
- 1 piece 9-inches X 4-inches
Sew these pieces right sides together along their long sides going starting with a first number in your series and gradually alternating the pieces until you get to the last number. You don't need to use every single piece just make sure your length reaches 24-inches long. Alternate the widths as well so you get a nice mix.
I have numbered the pieces in the photo above just to give a sense of how they should be pieced but you can get creative with this step. They don't have to alternate that strictly but there should be a sense of movement along the spectrum.
Starting at the bottom of and moving up trace four wreath templates vertically onto the master length. Make sure all of the colors are represented. Cut out these four pieces.
Piecing the Squares
From the muslin cut:
- 1 Center Piece
- 1 Outside Piece
From the pieced master length you should have:
- 4 Wreath Pieces
Arrange the wreath pieces in order, with the one cut from the lowest piece of the master length at the left and the one cut from the highest piece at the right.
Note (Just a quick geometry refresher): A convex curve bulges outwards, a concave curve curves inward. In curved piecing you are always sewing a convex curve to a concave curve. It can seem confusing at first but once you actually do it it's really neat to see how it works.
Sew the wreath pieces together along their long sides in the order you just laid out, from left to right, with their right sides facing. This will yield a larger pie-wedge type of shape pictured above. You will now be sewing the center piece to the inner curve of the pie wedge.
Finger press the center piece in half so that its straight edges meet up. Unfold the piece and you should have a small folded mark at the center of the curve.
Pin the center of the curve to the center seam of the pie wedge, right sides together, with the raw edge of the center piece's convex curve just touching the raw edge of the concave curve of the pie wedge.
Next pin the left and right edges of center piece's curve to the left and right edges of the pie wedge's curve, right sides together.
Now pin the two curves right sides together all along their raw edges. Use lots of pins. The two curves should fit together without puckering the fabric of either the pie wedge or the center piece.
Carefully sew the two pieces together with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. If either the center piece or colored fabric gets gathered or puckered in this seam rip it out and start again.
Press the newly stitched together piece flat with the seam allowance facing towards the center piece.
Finger press the outside piece in half in the same manner as you did the center piece making a little fold at the center of its concave curve.
Once again pin this marked center to the center of the convex curve of the pie wedge shape right sides together with their raw edges flush with one another.
Pin the left and right ends of the outside piece's curve to the left and right sides of the pie wedges curve.
Now pin the two curves together along the the entire length of the curves. This larger curve should actually be easier than the small curve of the center piece. Use a lot of pins and make sure neither of the fabrics are puckered along their pinned edges.
Sew the two curved edges together along the pinned edge. If any of the fabric gets gathered or puckered in this seam rip it out and start again.
Press the piece flat, with the seam allowance facing towards the outside piece and you're finished with the square.
Repeat these steps to make all four squares, A, B, C, and D. They are all put together in the exact same manner. To review here is a list of the colored fabrics used in each of the four squares:
- Fabrics 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5
- Fabrics 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7
- Fabrics 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10
- Fabrics 10, 11, 12, 1, and 2
Piecing the Top
Arrange the squares as shown above clockwise starting at the upper right with square A. They should blend together to give a color wheel type of effect.
Pin the bottom raw edge of A to the top raw edge of B, right sides together. The seam between the center piece and the pie wedge as well as the seam between the outer piece and the pie wedge need to meet up exactly with their counterparts on the opposite square. You can pull the fabric a little or get creative with the pinning just make sure these seams meet up exactly before you sew.
Sew the squares together and press the seam allowance towards square B.
Pin the top raw edge of square C to the bottom raw edge of square D right sides together. Again, be very careful to match up all the seams exactly.
Sew them together along the pinned edge. Press them flat with the seam allowances facing towards square D.
Pin the two halves together along their inner raw edges. Be extra extra careful to line up all of their seams exactly.
Sew the two halves together along the pinned edge and press the top open (you can press the seam allowance to either side.) The quilt top is done!
Basting, Quilting, and Binding
Cut a 25-inch square of batting and of muslin.
Tape the muslin down flat to a smooth surface. Lay the batting on top of the muslin. Center the quilt top, right side facing up, on top of the first two layers.
Using bent arm safety pins pin the three layers together every few inches across the entire area of the quilt top.
Quilt the three pieces together in the ditch along the major seams of the quilt top. Trim the batting and backing fabric to meet up with the square edges of the quilt top.
Here is a back view to see the quilting stitches better.
If you want to keep things simple you can just bind this quilt using the natural muslin. You will need to piece together a strip that is 2 1/4-inches wide and 90-inches long.
Or, if you want to do a multi colored binding cut 2 1/4-inch wide strips from each of the twelve colored fabrics in various lengths, from 4-inches to 12-inches.
Sew the strips together (if you've never pieced together binding strips or bound a quilt please check out the "Binding" section of this previous Mini Quilt journal to learn how.) Make sure the resulting binding strip is at least 90-inches and bind the quilt with it.
Voila! You're all done!