Our twitter feed was full of Harry Potter related tweets yesterday with it being 17 years since the first book, so we got chatting in the office about memories of childhood books and stories that we used to (and still do!) love. One favourite that came up was Little Red Riding Hood which made us think of a lovely quilting project in the forthcoming book, Little Quilts.
As an improvisational piece, the authors Sarah Fielke and Amy Lobsiger have created the most adorable small-scale quilt which summarizes the famous story of Little Red, and in the book they guide you through making it step-by-step. While you may be following their instructions, the quilt you end up with will be entirely unique as you’re not following a template and can use whichever scraps of fabric that take your fancy! So we thought that this project was pretty fitting as we’re all thinking about our favourite childhood stories, so we wanted to share it with you as a sneak preview of the book!
Little Red is off through the woods to Grandma’s house but doesn’t know that the wolf got there first! Try your hand at improvisational piecing to make a fun, one-of-a-kind quilt.
Approximately 211/2 x 151/2 in. (54.5 x 39.5 cm)—exact size will depend on sizes of pieces used
Note: Seams are stitched with right sides together using a 1/4 in. (6 mm) seam allowance unless otherwise stated.
• Scraps of at least four different green print fabrics for trees
• 25 in. (63.5 cm) dark blue print fabric for background
• Scraps of brown print fabric for tree trunks and chimney
• 4 in. (10 cm) white print fabric for house
• Fabric scraps for windows and door—the quilt pictured includes novelty prints to put a wolf and gnomes in the windows
• 8 in. (20.5 cm) square of brown print fabric for roof
• Scrap of green fabric for bottom left-hand corner—the quilt in the photograph has a unicorn in the forest.
• 6 in. (15 cm) red-and-white polka-dot fabric for cape and word “red”
• Scraps of white and brown fabrics for Little Red’s face, dress, hands, and legs
• 4 in. (10 cm) light blue print fabric for sky above house and strips below and at sides
• 15 in. (38 cm) dark brown print fabric for binding, cut into 3 in.- (7.5 cm-) wide strips
• Approx 29 x 23 in. (73.5 x 58.5 cm) backing fabric
• Approx 29 x 23 in. (73.5 x 58.5 cm) cotton batting (wadding)
• Cotton thread for piecing
• Crewel embroidery no. 9 needles for hand quilting
• Aurifil Cotton 12 thread in green, orange, and red for hand quilting
• Rotary cutter, mat, and ruler
• Sewing machine
• General sewing supplies
For the improvisational piecing technique, pieces of fabric are cut as needed, without using a ruler. This allows each quilt to be a one-off. Suggested cutting instructions for fabric pieces are given in the steps, but remember that these are guides only. Use a ruler to trim each unit straight.
1. Cut a rough 3 in. (7.5 cm) square from each of three or four green fabrics, without using a ruler. To make longer, flatter tree pieces, cut rectangles instead of squares.
2. Sew a strip of dark blue print fabric to opposite sides of each square or rectangle (see Diagram 1). Make sure that the background fabric pieces will overlap at the point by at least 1/4 in. (6 mm) or the tree will have a flat top (see Diagram 2). Trim away the excess green fabric behind the blue fabric, 1/4 in. (6 mm) from the seam to reduce bulk. Make three to five of these units depending on the size of the fabric pieces. As long as the units are around the same size, they can fit together in height by adjusting the trunks of the trees.
3. Trim the top and bottom of each of the units from step 2 so they are straight (see Diagram 3). Sew them together in a vertical strip, one on top of another (see Diagram 4). Trim the sides of the tree strip straight (see Diagram 5).
4. Cut a 11/4 in.- (3 cm-) wide strip of brown print fabric for the trunk of the tree. Sew a dark blue print strip to the opposite sides of it. Trim the piece straight at the top and bottom and then sew it to the bottom of the largest tree.
Press the piece and trim the edges square. Make two trees (or three or four if you want to change the quilt—that’s the whole idea). It doesn’t matter at this stage if they are different heights.
5. From scraps (or novelty prints, as in photograph) cut two pieces approximately 3 x 2 in. (7.5 x 5 cm) for the house windows. Cut a strip of the white print house fabric and sew a piece of it in between the two windows, and two more pieces of it on either side of the windows. If you wish, add a strip of fabric beneath the windows to make the house a little taller.
6. Cut a piece of scrap fabric approximately 2 x 31/2 in. (5 x 9 cm) for the door. Cut two pieces of white print house fabric roughly the same size as the door and sew them either side of the door.
7. Trim the edges of the windows and the door and then sew the pieces together. Press the house and trim the edges straight.
8. Sew a wide piece of dark blue print fabric to opposite sides of the house. Don’t worry about trying to make the strip straight—it is supposed to be wonky. Trim the top and bottom of the house straight (see Diagram 6).
9. Cut a piece of brown print fabric for the roof, a little wider than the house. Make a pointed or flat-topped triangle with the brown print fabric and two pieces of dark blue fabric in much the same way as the tree triangles in step 2. Add a chimney, if you wish, by sewing it into the piece of background first, then attaching the background to the house roof at an angle.
10. Sew the roof to the top of the house and trim the whole piece straight (see Diagram 7).
The word “red”
11. Cut four or five 11/2 in. (4 cm) strips from the dark blue print fabric and a rectangle approximately 2 x 11/2 in. (5 x 4 cm) from the red-and-white polka-dot fabric. The size of the rectangle will determine the size of the space underneath the “r” and therefore the height of your letter (see Diagram 8).
12. Sew a strip of dark blue print fabric to each side of the top of the red-and-white polka-dot rectangle, making sure they overlap in the center (see Diagram 9) and trimming the excess from the first strip before attaching the next one. Press the seams toward the letter.
13. Sew a piece of red-and-white polka-dot fabric to the top right-hand side (see Diagram 10). Trim the excess, and then sew a piece to the left-hand side (see Diagram 11).
14. Trim the left-hand side of the piece straight; press. Cut a piece of the dark blue print fabric long enough to be the straight edge of the “r.” Add a piece of the polka-dot fabric to the top of this so that it is as long or longer than the curved part of the “r.” Sew the piece to the left-hand side and press (see Diagram 12).
15. Add some extra strips of the polka-dot fabric around the “r” so that it “floats” in the background fabric. Leave at least 1/2 in. (1.2 cm) of polka-dot fabric on the right-hand side of the “r” so that the next letter can be attached.
16. Make the “e” and the “d” in the same manner.
17. When you have made the three letters, trim the right side of the “r,” both sides of the “e,” and the left side of the “d” straight line, 1/4 in. (6 mm) from where you want the seam to be. Don’t worry too much about the letters being the same height. If there isn’t enough room for trimming, just sew an extra piece of dark blue print fabric to the top or bottom. Sew the letters together to spell “red” (see Diagram 13).
18. Trim a straight line around the edges of the word. The lines do not have to make a rectangle—they just have to be straight. Decide how you want the word to sit, and then sew extra fabric strips to the edges where needed and trim the word square. Sarah’s “red” is approximately 41/2 x 71/2 in. (11.5 x 19 cm).
If you are concerned about how to make the letters, try writing each one down before you begin to sew it. The letters are sewn the same way as you would draw them, for example with the “d” you would make the round part first and then add the straight side. Don’t be afraid to add extra pieces of fabric to fill gaps—that’s all part of the charm of this project. Your letters may look different to the ones in Sarah’s quilt, but that’s the fun of improvisational quilting!
19. Little Red is constructed in the same way as all the other components of the quilt—by adding pieces of fabric until the motif takes shape. Cut a face about 11/2 in. (4 cm) square from a white scrap, and sew red fabric around it to make a hood. Sew pieces of dark blue print fabric around the head and then trim the bottom edge of the head (along the neck) straight so it is ready to sew to the body.
20. Cut approximately 31/2 x 11/2 in. (9 x 4 cm) white print fabric for the dress. If you wish, add hands by inserting a 3/4 in.- (2 cm-) wide strip of brown fabric in the center of the dress fabric, with a scrap of the white print in the middle of the brown strip.
21. Sew a piece of red-and-white polka-dot fabric on a diagonal to each side of the dress for the cape, and then a piece of dark blue print background fabric on each side of that. Trim the top edge of the dress straight, center the head on top of the dress, and sew the pieces together.
22. Cut two 1 x 2 in. (2.5 x 5 cm) pieces of dark brown fabric for legs. Sew a small piece of dark blue print fabric between them. Sew a strip of the dark blue print to the outside of the legs, trim the top straight, and then sew them to Little Red’s body. Ensure there is enough dark blue print fabric all around to square the unit, adding more strips if necessary, and then trim the edges straight.
23. Referring to the quilt photograph, arrange the pieces of the quilt. You may decide to put your house on the other side or have more space above the trees—it’s your quilt so anything goes. Cut strips of light blue print fabric for the sky and a strip to go along the bottom of the quilt.
24. Sew pieces of dark blue print fabric to fill the gaps between shapes, and add extra pieces of the appropriate fabric to make the trees higher or to make Little Red match the height of the house. The pieces in the quilt will join in straight lines as long as you find the straight lines that suit your design (see Diagram 14).
25. Sew all the units together and press.
Backing, quilting, and binding
26. Using the rotary cutter, mat, and ruler, square the quilt top, if necessary.
27. Layer the backing, batting (wadding) and quilt top.
28. Using Aurifil Cotton 12 thread in green, hand quilt lines across the background, spacing them 1/2 in. (1.2 cm) apart. Using green, orange, or red thread, quilt around the outlines of the trees and the house.
29. Bind the quilt.
(for more detailed instruction on the backing, quilting, and binding techniques, please see the book)
Little Quilts by Sarah Fielke & Amy Lobsiger is available here. For more information about the book please check out the details here!
Have a great weekend everybody, whether you're going to quilt this wonderful design, reminisce about childhood favourites, or pick up that battered old copy of Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone for some weekend reading! Happy Friday!