Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Tutorial True Colours/Colors Mini Quilt

This idea came to me when I was driving to a beach for a weekend away a few weeks ago.  We had the Glee soundtrack on in the car and Lula sang along to True Colors and her voice sounded so lovely- she will never sing in public, far too self conscious!- and it made me all emotional.  I loved the song when I was younger in the 1980s, Cyndi Lauper of course.

I could see the design in my head and when I drew a quick sketch and started making, it came out exactly as I imagined- hmm that doesn't always happen...

I made it for Ayumi of Pink Penguin  She showed her true colours with the time she spent translating and checking translations for a fabric order and is a truly lovely person!  When I randomly found the penguin fabric on etsy I knew it would be perfect for her.  It is a bit of a long post for the tutorial but here goes (or use the PDFs instead)

PDF pattern details download here
PDF applique letter templates here

True Colors/True Colours Mini Quilt

You will need:

Half a yard or metre Plain background fabric (I used Kona cotton in Coal) Cut a piece 14 x 9 inches plus 2 sashing strips 17x 1½ inches and 2 strips 12 x 1½ inches. There will be plenty left over.
Scraps –I used 11 strips 1½ x 12 inches which is enough for 46 squares and a different bit of fabric for each letter. Or you could use an assortment of scraps.
Heat n Bond Lite
Fabric for binding- I made a pieced binding, a strip that measures 1½ x 70 inches is easily long enough to bind with.
Fabric for backing – approx 18 x 15 inches
Batting -approx 18 x 15 inches
Basting Spray – I use 505
Embroidery or cotton Perle thread- for hand quilting and making hanging loops
Sewing supplies- piecing thread, needle, pins etc

1. Print off the appliqué letter templates and cut out. They are already reversed so place on to the back of heat and bond and draw around. I draw the arrows on for orientation on the l o s u. Cut roughly around the letters. ‘Colour’ or ‘color’ depending where you are from!

2. Arrange fabric strips (or scraps) into the desired order for the letters. I found the fabrics needed to be on the lighter side to contrast well with the background. I had to reject a few favourites that just didn’t show up enough- the middle 2 in the pic below had be abandoned and choose again! Press a heat n bond letter on the bottom of each strip (on wrong side of the fabric). There might be a bit of fussy cutting involved in this stage- up to you!

3. Cut fabric letters out, embroidery scissors help for this especially the space in the e. Find the centre of the background fabric. I use a Clover ‘Hera” creasing tool- very useful for marking any straight lines on fabric e.g. straight-line quilting. I drew a centre cross on to the fabric.

4. Peel paper backing off the letters and arrange on the background.
Check they are centred and the fabric borders at the sides and top/bottom are even. Press on letters according to adhesive instructions.

5. To decorate and give a bit of security to the letters I used a running stitch and 2 strands of DMC stranded embroidery cotton/floss. Shade 317 co-ordinates beautifully with Kona Coal! I used a quilter’s knot (if this is new look on YouTube for how to do this) and fastened off threads behind the letters.

6. Take your 46 1½ inch squares. Arrange around the edge of the mini quilt. There will be 12 across top and bottom and 11 for each side. The quilt will be too big for them at the moment, don’t panic! You will trim it down in a later step.

7. Stitch the square strips together- you could chain piece here.

8. Press the seams open. I use a wooden chopstick to hold the seam open so I can get the tip of the iron in the right place. They are a very useful sewing tool e.g for turning out fiddly things.

9. Trim the mini quilt, it should be trimmed to measure 12 x 9 inches but you can trim to match the length of your square strips. Sew top and bottom strips first and then add the sides. Press your seams- I like them open but you could press to one side if you prefer.

10. Now add your sashing strips, sides first and then top and bottom. They will be plenty long enough and you can trim of any excess.

11. Cut out batting to fit the mini quilt plus 1 inch extra all around. Do the same for the backing fabric. The finished quilt should measure 16 x 13 inches approx to give you an idea of size. If you want to add a label to the back now is a good time to do it especially if you are going to machine sew it on.

12. Sandwich the quilt layers together. I like to use 505 basting spray for this. It doesn’t clog the needle, holds everything and I hate pinning! I lie the backing facedown, spray one side of the batting lightly and lie it on top. Now lightly spray quilt top and position on. Spray basting allows you to reposition relatively easily.

13. Add any quilting stitches either by hand or machine. I used the same thread and hand sewn running stitch as the letters but a little bigger to go through the layers. I used the creasing tool to mark a ¼ inch line from the seams to sew along.

14. Prepare a binding strip. I wanted narrow binding so my strips were 1½ inches and pieced together using diagonal seams, but you could go wider, do a double binding etc. The binding strip needs to be 70 inches to allow for corners and joining ends. I pressed ¼ inch along each long edge of the binding

Then bring the folded in edges together pressing down the centre.

I like to zig zag around the edges of quilts before binding, it helps to keep everything still.

15. Bind using your preferred method. I sewed it on using ¼ seam on the front, mitred the corners and hand stitched on the back. I have a tutorial for mitred corners here if they are new to you.

16. Finish with embroidered hanging loops.  You can just see these in the top corners of the pic below.  Aneela at Comfort Stitching has done a great tutorial for this and has given permission to include it, take a look here  and do look at her other lovely patterns and projects,  she is a very talented individual.

17. Stand back and smile! Any queries or problems please let me know x

If you make a True Colors mini quilt- do send me a pic,  I would love to see it.  I am now finishing off mine.  Ayumi has hers safe and sound and I have even seen a pic of it hanging in her sewing corner.  The internet is a wonderful thing!

(Tutorial for your use- to make for yourself, for friends, for charity fundraisers but not to sell)


  1. Fab fab fab Kerry!!! and very well explained!
    My only question is where did you get the basting spray from? and do you use it on larger quilts too? (ok I know that is actually two questions but I need to know!!)

  2. It's gorgeous Kerry! Lovely! xx

  3. A bit of info about 505 basting spray. I buy it at my local craft shop- which is a pretty standard sort of place. I have seen it online
    Because it is 'temporary fabric adhesive' it doesn't gunk anything up so you can hand sew, machine sew no problem and reposition fabric if it needs adjusting. You do have to protect the surface you are spraying on, I usually put loads of newspaper down and do it outside, the propellant smells but not the stuff itself as it would be a nightmare to get off a wooden floor and I can't even contemplate carpet. You don't need much. I have used it on a baby quilt and loads of other items and I'm only just running out. I find safety pinning such hard work- even on small items and I always stab myself and get sore hands Hope this helps x Kerry

  4. I love the borders to the quilt and some perfect hand stitching!

  5. Oh wow that choked me when I saw it, that song is mine and my husbands special song. Ayumi will be delighted!
    Kandi x

  6. I love, love, and love this mini quilt so much, Kerry! Looking at this daily makes me smile because it's made of such beautiful colors - true colors!! I have to sew up one myself!!

  7. what a darling little quilt! And such detailed instructions! I love your choice of colors in the quilt.

  8. Such a lovely little quilt! And the most understandable instructions even for me, who cannot quilt a bit - thank you for sharing!

    Happy and sunny greetings from Finland!


  9. Thanks for the basting spray info Kerry!
    Will have to give it a try.


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