Have you seen my quilt pattern State of Mind? I put together a photo tutorial of how I made it so you can see how fun it is to make this easy fall panel quilt. I finished State of Mind a week ago and haven’t had a chance to take it to the quilter yet but you can see why I am loving it.
Fall is my favorite season of the year because of its colors. When I saw the panels (yes, this quilt uses two different panels) I had to design a quilt using them.
Read all the details on the post I wrote about this easy panel quilt when I released the pattern a short while ago. The panels and fabrics I used for this quilt are from the Nature’s Narratives collection by Hoffman Fabrics.
A lot of people ask “What can I do with a fabric panel?” You need to trim the panel and add borders to it. Many times, the borders are made of quilt blocks. For the State of Mind panel quilt, however, I decided to simply add strips of fabrics as borders to make the center photo pop. As I was making it I took these photos and you can see the steps and read my tips.
How to cut a fabric panel
The fabric panels have different dimensions. Also, after they are printed, sometimes you need to trim off quite a bit to straighten the edges. When designing your own quilt with a fabric panel, you need to figure out if you will add blocks to the borders or just strip borders so you can determine what to trim off the panel before you do anything else.
If adding blocks, make sure the measurements of the center panel will accommodate the width of your blocks. If you want to add 6″ blocks, for instance, be sure the panel measurements are divisible by 6, then add 1/2″ to both the length and the width of the quilt.
This photo panel is on landscape orientation. First, I trim the bottom and top of the quilt. Say I need to trim off 2″ total of the length of the quilt – I trim 1″ from the top and one from the bottom.
Then, I fold it in half twice horizontally so I can trim off its width. By folding it in half (twice, in this case, because the panel is long) I now have a panel size that is manageable on my cutting table.
Cut the first border strips
Next, I need to add the first narrow border. I followed the cutting instructions in the pattern to cut the correct number of strips from the light green fabric (I did cut all the strips for borders 1 and 3 as I try to touch a fabric only once when cutting). Usually, we stitch the border strips together with a diagonal seam. However, sometimes the panel measures less than 42″ so one strip for each side works well, and then we just sew the other strips together to add the top and bottom borders.
I know the measurements of the panel because I just trimmed it. So, I trim the side borders to size, pin them, and stitch them to the quilt center using a 1/4″ seam. The pins are thin so I can stitch over them, and I sew with Microtex needles which are also thin. You will also notice that I use a neutral thread to stitch the quilt – I only match thread to the fabric when stitching together dark border or binding strips.
The seams are pressed toward the border strips after each addition. But, be careful – do not iron them like you would clothes because you will stretch them. Gently place the iron over them, then lift the iron and set it down on the next section.
Measure the quilt center for every border
After adding the side borders you need to measure the width of the quilt center. You may ask: “Why not just do some math and be done with it?” Because you may think you added, say, a total of 1.5″ to the width of the quilt based on the width of the border strips. However, what if your seams were not exactly 1/4″? So, I measure the center of the quilt then cut two strips that length. If, for some reason, the length is over 42″, I just stitch them together and trim to size).
This is what is likely to happen: the border strip you just cut (to the quilt center’s measurements) will be a tad shorter than the edges of the panel, which may have stretched when pressing. Just ease the panel edge to fit the border strip. What does that mean? Well, do not stretch the border strip to match the length of the panel; instead, use the Easing method.
I like the Professor Pincushion’s definition best: “Easing is a method of taking the excess length of one fabric and trying to evenly distribute that excess throughout the length of the shorter piece as you’re pinning them together. The end result should be a perfectly smooth seam with no puckering and the edges of the fabric pieces should be aligned.”
When easing, I pin liberally to prevent puckers. Stitch these top and bottom borders as you did the side borders, and press open with the seams toward the center.
Yeah! The first border is done. All the other borders will be stitched in the same manner. This easy fall panel quilt will be done in no time!
For this pattern, though we need to cut borders from two more panels like the one below:
So your quilt will look just like mine, the next border is lighter than the wider border. I will cut the outer edges of this panel according to the cutting instructions and save them for the wider border, then I will cut the next strips – with the lighter hues. These lighter strips I will add now as the second border.
I cut the darker, outer edges from both panels by first cutting the top and bottom strips, then the side strips. In the end, I have 8 strips – 4 taken from bottom and top of the panel, 4 taken from the sides. I repeat this step to cut the next, narrower, strips which I will use as the second border.
I am left with the center of two panels which I will use to make two pillows for the room where the quilt will be hung. You can also turn these panel centers into one more easy fall panel quilt or table toppers by repeating these steps with other coordinating fabrics.
I added the side strips (the lighter strips from the panels above), now I am measuring the center of the quilt as I did before – notice that I fold the quilt in half to make it easier to handle. I will need to stitch the remaining strips for this border together and cut them to this length and add then to the top and bottom of the quilt center.
I added the third border which is the next narrow light green, then the wide border. Lookit! Serendipity worked on two corners of the quilt and the leaves look like they were carefully matched!
Yes, there are two more borders to add after the wide one: the pine cones and the dark brown but now we are finished! This is a large wall hanging, or you can use it as a lap quilt.
I hope this tutorial will inspire and help you make this easy fall panel quilt. Three panels and a little bit of yardage is all it takes. The pattern for State of Mind can be found on my Etsy store PiecedBrain. You can find the panels online (you can pre-order at Fat Quarter Shop) or at your favorite local quilt store – they will be shipping in April.
Have fun sewing,