Staccato pillow and a fussy-cutting hack
I'm excited to show you my latest pillow in my Bar Quilts pattern pillow series. The Staccato pillow turned out just as fun and bright and colourful as the other three pillows did.
Staccato is an easy geometric quilt pattern with a modern, pared-down vibe. It can go super sleek with a monochrome colour palette, or be whimsical and fun with a bright collection of fabrics like the ones I've been using for my pillows.
This pattern is another fun and fast make that uses strip-piecing techniques to make the assembly easier and more accurate.
The Staccato quilt pattern is available in the pattern shop.
For the pillows I played around with some Kona colours to find a combination I liked, then pulled these prints from my stash to match the colours. I knew I wanted prints for the pillows because I was already using solids for the cover quilts of each pattern, and I wanted to get a bit more movement and fun into the pattern.
The navy budgie print is from the Promenade collection by Figo Fabrics. The light blue is part of Zen Chic's Breeze collection. The yellow is a Quilter's Combination from Stof Fabrics and the two pinks are both from Kristy Lea's Create collection for Riley Blake.
Bar Quilts series pillows
Staccato is one of four quilt patterns in the Bar Quilts series that is being released this year. They are all bold, striped patterns that are easy to make and a quick, satisfying project for the limited sewing time a lot of us have these days.
I decided to make a series of pillows - one for each of the Bar Quilts patterns, using the same fabrics for each one. The backing of each pillow is a different colour from the front, with a matching zipper in the bottom seam. I love how they're all turning out, it's going to be a fun addition to my couch.
I stuck with the cross-hatch quilting for this pillow since I had used the same quilt design on both previous pillows. I really like the cross-hatch as a simple design that doesn't take away from the overall design of the quilt, but still adds enough depth and squishy-ness to make it feel cuddly.
I also used white thread to quilt so that the quilting would mostly just blend into the background. The thread I use for this kind of quilting is Essentials thread by Connecting Thread. It's a 50wt thread, but a three-ply so it's a bit thicker than Aurifil 50wt (it actually looks a lot like Aurifil's 40wt threads once it's quilted). It's the perfect weight for quilting to be visible, but not so visible you forget to look at anything else.
This pattern uses strip-piecing to speed up sewing the squares. This technique also helps to make piecing more accurate.
For strip-piecing, instead of cutting individual squares and sewing them all together to make a long strip of alternating white and blue (in my example) squares, two long strips of the fabrics are sewn together first and then cut apart into smaller units made up of two squares. Sewing little squares together individually, especially the size needed for this pillow, can get wonky really quickly. Sewing the strips together first, then cutting across the width of the strip to cut it into units of two squares really helps with accuracy.
Fussy-cutting hack for strip-piecing
I knew I wanted to fussy-cut the budgies in the navy blue fabric. Since they are not lined up evenly, or straight across the fabric, I knew cutting a long strip could result in some of the squares having barely any of the design, or just the feet of a budgie for example. I wanted to cut them so that most of the bird would be visible, and every square would have a bird (one ended up bird-less after all).
But, cutting each individual square meant I could not use the normal strip-piecing technique I would use for all the other stripes on the pillow. I wasn't thrilled with the idea of having to cut lots of little white squares in addition, and try to keep the strip straight when sewing all these tiny seams, however.
So, what's a quilter to do? Hack it, of course!
There is a technique I knew from crumb* quilting that I thought would work perfectly here, and it turns out, it did!
I filmed a short video tutorial for my Instagram feed. You can watch it right here. But, just in case, here's a short photo tutorial for you as well.
Cut all your fussy-cut squares plus a long strip of the background fabric. Cut this strip longer than the measurement given in the pattern, because you'll be leaving some extra room on it.
*crumbs are all those odd little bits and bobs of scraps that may not be square, or are too narrow to be a useful strip, etc.
Now sew all your squares to the strip, right sides together, one right after the other with only a little bit of space between the squares. Press them all open, with seams open or to the dark side.
Cut the strip apart between each of the blue squares. Cut even with one side of the blue square, leaving the extra background on the other side. Line up one of the lines on the ruler with the seam to get a perfectly straight cut.
Now that all the blue squares are separated, trim off the extra white fabric from the other side of each two-square unit.
And there you have it. All the squares have a budgie in it, but I still got some of the speed and accuracy benefits of strip-piecing.
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