Rescuing Old Quilt Blocks with English Paper Piecing

08 May 2013

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This tote bag represents an alignment of planets. It started with a pile of old quilt blocks I grabbed at a thrift store four years ago, only to get them home and discover that they weren't in good enough shape to sew back into a quilt. After a long time sitting in my stash, something even better happened to those blocks: they got to become part of a guest tutorial for one of my favorite-ever craft blogs, Michele Made Me.

I used one of my favorite techniques, English paper piecing, which turned out to be a nice way to handle the blocks and created this cool pinwheel design. (I actually made two totes! Here's the other one:)

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So, head over to Michele's blog to see the how-to. While you're there, check out all her amazing tutorials, in which she does wizardly things with recycled materials.

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It just so happened that I had a handful of those blocks leftover, so I made coasters. Here's a tutorial-ette for those!

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First, use the process in the guest post to make your octagon patches. Then, cut a same-size piece of felt and a slightly-smaller piece of batting. …And finally, remove the basting and paper from the octagon patch. Press it nice and flat.

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Place the batting on the wrong side of the patch, centered. Use some Wonder Clips, which are the handiest tools known to man, to hold them together.

I stitched in the ditch along the patchwork lines. You can quilt the two layers together however you like. A walking foot on your sewing machine will make you very, very happy.

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Pop that felt on the back now, and stitch about 1/8" away from the edges. Make sure you're catching all layers in your stitching.

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If you like, add another bit of quilting through all the layers. Worry that your ditch-stitching is too wonky in this photo. Then, forget to retake it until after you've used up all your quilt blocks. Process your frustration by eating chocolate.

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That's it! These are already deployed around my house. Now, go take a look at my totes, willya?