Rescuing Old Quilt Blocks with English Paper Piecing

08 May 2013


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:)


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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