Coming Home Quilt Tutorial

coming home quilt web

This is a special tutorial that Rob has done!  He originally created the Coming Home Quilt for Quilted in Honor, a fund raising initiative for Operation Homefront, one of the top military fund raising organizations, and is intended to harness the collective power of the quilting industry to give back to the ones that need it most.

So, now you can make this quilt for yourself!  Click here for all the details to make this:

Video Transcript (Downloadable PDF Here): 

Hey everybody, it’s Rob from Man Sewing. And I am so jazzed with the feedback we got on our first block tutorial we’ve done a while back. And those of you who have seen it, you saw the awesome quilt. Now you see it behind me. This is called “Coming Home.” And that’s where I originally learned how to do my burst blocks, right? And so this quilt you see was done with Island Batik fabrics as a veterans support initiative to help get funds for Operation Homefront. So we actually have a pattern for you on this one. You may purchase it if you like and 10% of all of those proceeds go right back to Operation Homefront. If you choose not to purchase it, I’m going to try to give you the information. We have a couple of these different little downloads here. And you can print those out from the description below and follow along. You’re going to have to do a little bit of enlarging work. But again those are free print outs so enjoy those if you want to do it that way. I’m going to break this quilt into two  major parts for you today, ok? We’re going to do the background piecing first. And then I’m going to walk you through the applique. And the applique for me is my favorite. It’s super fun and I think I’ve got it really organized for you.

So the only thing we’re going to need for that is our wonderful pile of fabric, ok? And these are all from, using new versions of Island Batik fabrics that are going to be awesome. The original Quilted in Honor Island Batik fabrics are kind of a theme. Let me just say, they’re a treasure if you can find them. At any rate, colors are the same. The actual prints from the original one you saw the first time are different, so follow along. This is going to be awesome.

Now, if you have the pattern, you’re going to have this very large template which is the print out from the pattern. It is full-sized, right? If you’re not using my pattern, what you want to know is that the angle we’ve got here from this little tip all the way down to this tip is about 47 inches. The other thing, and the most important about all of our piecing here, right? Is, let me get my big square, both of these corners are the 90 degree. So this is one of those kinds of quilts where I’m going to piece it, then I’m going to trim it, then I’m going to mark it, then I’m going to cut it, ok? Keeping this always 90° keeps the quilt nice and square. So there’s 90°here, and 90° down here, alright?

So the first step is going to be take your red fabric utilizing your template and cut that to shape. Once that’s cut to shape, let me get that out of our way, all you’re going to need from that point on, is I have four strips. These are going to be the width of the fabric so let’s call it 45”. And they’re going to be seven and a half inches wide. So there’s four of them that are white. And then I also have four of them that are the red fabrics also. The same fabric that I used for the center piece. First step is, with a quarter inch seam allowance, and I’m going to show you how to do that right now. We are going to sew on one strip to each of our white sides. Er, excuse me, one strip of white to each of the red sides. Now you’re working on the bias so while I’m getting myself organized, I want you to be thinking, when you’re on the bias, you want to take your time, go a little slow. If you have a dual feed system on your machine, definitely use that. If you have a walking foot, definitely use that. I’m also cheating here. You can see that I’m not starting right on the edge because when I open this up, I want to make sure I have enough length or distance that I can make my first trim. You’re going to see that here in just a moment. So over to the machine. I’m going to do a couple of simple quarter inch seam allowances but I’m taking it nice and slow, even though I’ve had way too much coffee this morning already.

Alright, so yes, I’ve just finished sewing on the second side as well, but I want to point out I really do both sides before I go to the ironing surface. And I also don’t need to really backstitch at the beginning or end because I’m just going to cut that off there in a second anyways. And one of my tricks I’ve always enjoyed doing here, no matter how long the seam is, when I get over to my ironing surface, I haven’t started to open up my seam yet. I haven’t started to organize the fabric yet because I’m going to stick the iron up underneath here first. And I’m going to start to open that seam at once. And that makes a really nice crisp seam. It’s a really good way to iron that out that way, ok? Now also while you’re doing this, I want you to take a real hard look at your seams. If they’re puckered, rippled, doing anything weird, because of the bias, this would be a really, really good time for you to, I hate to say it, take out the seam ripper and let’s start again. Because if it gets rippled or gets too rippled maybe I should say, it’s not going to lay real flat and real square. And I want you to be really excited about your quilt when you’re finished. So take the time to make sure your seams are cool before you move on to the next step. Because once you do the next step, which is our trimming, we’re not going to be able to go back.

Ok, so you can see how fantastic the seams are laying, even though we did it on the bias. That’s just taking it nice and slow. And like I said, the next step truly is to trim. And this is funny. I actually have gotten emails and phone calls because remember, I said these were seven and a half inch strips. One of the next things we’re going to do is we’re going to mark eight inches and everyone says, how do you get eight inches marked on seven and a half? Watch, that’s part of the magic. We’re going to trim both sides at the same time because it’s easier that way. Now, I have always, as I said though, I’m watching to make sure we’re really at 90° because we can trim this slightly and it really will not affect our project in a negative way. So we’re going to trim the big corner. And then we’re going to spin it around and we’re going to trim our small corner. And this is why I wanted you to make sure you really liked your seams before you moved on.

Alright. Now let’s roll this back. We’re going to start on our big corner. And here’s the deal, we’re going to measure across here eight inches, excuse me, I said eight, I meant to say eight and a half. And I do that just by putting my eight and a half inch marker right where the seams come together. And then I use a little sharpie because we are going to cut this off. And I’m just going to make a mark, right there, ok? So that was eight and a half and the bottom is going to be two and a half. And you don’t even have to write that down because that’s all in the printout for you. So I’m going to spin this. And now I have my two and half mark lined up right here. I’m going to do a sharpie here. And now what we need to do, if you have your carpenter’s tool belt handy, why don’t you grab your chalk. And we can snap a line. See I used to build houses so I can say I’m just going to snap a line across there. But if that doesn’t make any sense to you, you could always use a couple of rulers. We’re not going to cut this line. We’re just going to mark it so that we have a pretty darn straight line. And then we’re going to use our one ruler at a time when we cut. I don’t like to cut with two rulers. This is just for marking. I’m going to make sure those line up. I’m going to kind of pull some of the excess if I have any puckers in there. And then I’m just going to put a few hairline marks so I can see where my ruler needs to go as I’m starting to cut. Once that happens, now I’m ready to do my cutting, ok? So I’ve got a couple marks on there I’m going to line up. And for those of you who saw our quick tip on our ruler management, you know that I really, I’m going to try to use a majority of my ruler now along the rest of that straight line so that I’m getting as accurate and as straight of a cut as possible. If you don’t make a nice straight cut through here and you’re on the bias, you might be forming some sort of three dimensional sphere or something like that at the end of this thing, ok? And then you’re going to go ahead and do the same marking and same cutting to the other side. But due to the magic of the internet television, we’ve already got that done for you so let me show you what’s going to happen next, right?

So I’m going to disappear for a second and magically I’m going to reappear with all of my sewing almost done. What do you think about that? And it really only takes a few minutes to get all the stitching done if you’re prepped out. But let me give you the rundown. Now, as I said earlier this white strip had an eight and a half at the top and the two and a half mark, then it was cut to size, right? This red one here is seven and a half and three and a half. This white one down here is six and a half and five. And then in the pattern it says cut to square. And a lot of you go, what does that mean? So cut to square looks like this. I’m going to take that ruler and I’m going to lay it along the edge that I’ve been working with and I’m going to cut it off here. And I’m going to rotate here and I’m going to do the same thing. I’m just going to start that cut here so I’ve got all of my ruler along that edge I’ve been working with as my square. And now I can just finish my cut. If you would rather keep extra fabric for your stash you possibly can get both of these sides out of one of your seven and a half inch pieces but this is the easiest way to do it. And then you can do other things down the road, right? But that is all it takes to create your single burst block to create your background as you see here. Once this is finished by your stitching and your trimming, I would also like you to take a moment and just double check to see if it’s as square as possible. So by folding it in half, you can check it that way. You could also fold it into fourths, if you wanted to. If when you go to fold it over, I’ve just done this real quick so I’m not sure if this is accurate or not. But let’s say you had one corner that was way out. I’d like you to take the time again to just look at it. You can shave this down. This is just a single block. There’s nothing else it has to match to this. Shave it down and get it real crisp and square. And if you have any weird seams still, you can do what’s called blocking. Which is when you take something like this and you would pin it to a nice foam board or your design board. Mist it and iron it overnight. Mist it and iron it. And let the moisture help your fabrics pull themselves into shape, right? You want it to be as square as possible because from here on out, it’s going to be business as usual for us quilters. We’re going to put our inner border on. This was cut at one and a half inches, right? And we’re going to put our outer border on. And if I remembered right that’s cut at four and a half. Better check the pattern for that one. But once you get that inner border on, the quilt is going to become square and putting the outer border on will be very simple. So it’s that easy. Take your time. Go a little slower than Rob always goes and you’ll be just perfect. Once the background is built it’s time to do the applique. And that’s the part I love the most so I’m going to excuse myself for a second and get ready for the applique, I’ll be right back.

Ok everybody, here I come flying back in to show you how to do the eagle. And it’s super, super simple but if you’ve never used any kind of fusible web to create your raw edge applique, let me give you a couple of steps. When you’re tracing, you want to trace onto the paper side of your fusible web versus the sticky, shiny glue side because that will be what actually adheres to the wrong side of your fabrics, right? And in my patterns, I’ve already transposed the design for you so you don’t have to flip anything over. I want you to just trace from the printed side of your pattern, ok? You’re going to trace the outline of the shapes and I also want you to put the number system on. So for example this one here, it says 07-1. So 07 is the fabric choice or the color choice. So fabric seven and this will be piece number one. And we also have over here like 07-2. So that’s going to be fabric number seven, piece number two. And those are where we’re going to actually start when we’re building the background of our eagle. Most all of the rest of them are going to lay out in sequential order. So when I’m organizing my pieces before I begin my applique, I actually lay them out in order. Let me show you that. So I’ve got all my numbering system. Let me show you again. Ok? So I’ve got all of my numbering system and everything kind of in order so it just makes it more organized when I’m putting it together. The other thing I want you to point out. Look at the quilt here with me if you will. See the giant background of that blue silhouette you see here on the table also? Well what that is it’s the whole piece so when we’re done we can move the entire eagle around as one unit. And as we lay things out, we’re giving ourselves roughly a quarter inch gap or reveal in between each of our pieces. So the wing itself kind of becomes the layout or template for all of this as these pieces will start fitting into the little hips and valleys as we go.

Now, like I said, we’re going to start with the eagle wing. And what I would like you to go ahead and do is take from your tail piece and peel up at the part where the tail hits that body of the wings. Peel back a couple of inches worth of your fusible web. And you can see, the caffeine is definitely flowing today. Or the earthquake pills. I was hanging out with my buddy Wile E Coyote yesterday and he had some extra earthquake pills and I think I might have had a few too many. At any rate, that’s going to slide in. And the reason I’m doing this is I want the paper and the paper to allow me to iron this down but keep the paper on the back. Because that paper is going to keep me from fusing it to my ironing board. I’m going to say that a second time so I don’t get any nasty emails. I am leaving the paper on the back of the big blue piece, the tail piece and one of these head pieces when it comes in like that. So that when I iron everything else to it, I haven’t ironed this to my ironing board. So please hear that twice because I don’t want to, I don’t want to frustrate anybody. You can adjust your angle of your tail slightly so that it feels lined up with the head as you go, like that, right? Nice and easy. You’re also going to peel back the head piece at the little feathered edge. And in your pattern, yes, there are two head pieces and this is why. The way I’ve laid out my eagle, there is red fabric behind part of the eagle head and there’s white behind the rest. So whenever you’re using light fabric on top of dark fabric with fusible web, you could have a bleed through situation. So that’s why I actually created two head pieces. If you were making this maybe on a cream colored background and a cream colored background or something like that, it wouldn’t be necessary. Now one of my tricks, always, when doing applique quilts is I put out all of my pieces first and then I fuss over the individual layout as I go. So right now I’m just going to go ahead and layout all of my pieces and then I’m going to take a second look with a stiletto in my hand. And I’m just going to just adjust each piece to make sure I like the way it looks. So follow along as we build this bird. See wasn’t that fun and easy. I’m so glad you’re following along here. And as I said, you know the pieces here for the wings were in sequential order so I just laid them right out as you saw. You’ve got your big blue pieces. There’s a couple of key pieces I want you to look at. As I said earlier, make sure your tail and your head is in a line the way you like because you can do a little shifting. The way the head cuts out, you want to make sure you don’t have any fabric showing through. So that’s one of the areas that’s a little more crucial. Ok, so I’m organizing that. Now I’m beginning to work with my stiletto to make sure everything looks the way I like it. As I’m pulling it around there is supposed to be a little extra white in the background behind that beak that gives you a little easier stitching area for later on. I want you to make sure your feet look natural. If it doesn’t look correct, just move them around. And now I’m using one of these cool little stilettos so I can literally push and pull my fabrics as I need without really affecting all of them. So I’m just going to come through here and I’m going to shape and look. And I’m going to get this close. And I guarantee your pieces will not be exactly where my pieces are because I’ve made four or five of these quilts now and all of them are just slightly different. So all you’re looking for is just a nice amount of reveal when you’re looking through your pieces here. And then, like you can even see where because I’ve been transporting this, there’s a little bit of a lump here. I’m going to iron this side down first and then I’m going to iron the middle of the bird. And then I’ll be able to pull that tight right as I’m hitting that lump.

So we’re just going to take it nice and slow. At this point, because I’m using the Heat N Bond Featherlight, the iron is at a dry setting so no steam. And I’m just going to push down for a couple of seconds and then move on. I said no steam please. What are you doing over there? We’re going to take a second and let him cool down a little. But what I’m going to say is we’re just going to go ahead and we’re just going to press and move, press and move. But not every manufacturer has the same iron instructions as well. So make sure you’re checking those before you start to set down. If you’re using steam when you shouldn’t, you’re going to get some waffling texture, and I don’t want that to happen to you. Ok, are you behaving yourself? Are you ready to do this? Ok, let’s go. So now I’m just taking one last look, making sure my reveal is just the way I want. And I can set it and lift. Press and lift. Right? Some of you may be thinking of the old bend and snap if you’ve seen Legally Blonde. If not, look it up. One of my favorite scenes, right? And you’ll never forget the press and lift. Now the reason you’re doing press and lift is if you start to glide your iron, I guarantee pieces will move. And if they go missing, I will also guarantee they’re going to be folded upside down and glued to the bottom of your iron. Not a great place to be. I’m off of the edge of my board over there a little so after I get everything else secured, I’ll come back and slide that over a bit. And you probably noticed, because of the way I do my applique patterns, you don’t have to be incredibly accurate with your tracing or with your cutting because they’re not a jigsaw puzzle. So I’m just going to finish this off real quick here, and then I’ll show you how to position it.

Ok, now that’s all done. And there’s one last thing I want to point out. In your printable template there, I have a red mark and a green mark. And those marks denote the distance between the tips of the wing and the edge of the quilt. Basically just where I laid mine out. And what I did to figure out where I wanted it, and the reason I had you  have the paper on the back also, is so you can fly your eagle over and you can angle it or position it however you like. I’m just telling you where I’ve laid mine. Once you know where you want it, at that point, you’re going to go ahead and start to peel the paper off of the back. Get a hold of it. And you peel the paper off of the back, you put it down onto your actual background, right? And then you’re going to do the same thing: one last press and lift across there. It’s going to anchor it all nice and good. And we are ready to go ahead and begin basting the quilt. Once the quilt is basted with its backing and its batting on it, that’s when I come through and I do the free motion machine quilting. I don’t do any satin stitching or blanket stitching around my edges first. I literally have all of the layers together and then I just free motion machine quilt. Here’s one of my favorite tricks. I’ll go around the outside of the eagle first. It’s still kind of the center of the quilt, right? Which follows some of our old, traditional rules of quilting from the center out. What that does though is it gives the bird a little extra loft because now everywhere I stitch through the lines that’s causing those highlights of the feathers to lift up and create some wonderful textures and things. In the background, you can do flames. You can do swirls, something that looks like wind motion. Whatever you like. It’s also a great place to just practice some of your free motion motifs. I’ve done circles. The original one, I actually have done a series of Betsy Ross stars that are trapuntoed into the background. And I really hope a lot of you got to see that when it traveled around with all of the national show and some of the quilts that all of the other artists did for the Quilted in Honor and the Operation Homefront. So there it is. That is Coming Home. A fantastic quilt that was really designed to help all of those who have served all of us. So I’m going to end today with Thank You to all of our veterans out there, all of the men and women who are serving our country to keep us safe. We love you. We appreciate you. Thank you very much. We’ll see you next time at Man Sewing.

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  • Amy L Appleton

    Love this will try when more patterns are available.

  • Angel

    Where can I get the pattern? My husband would love this and I would like to purchase the pattern.

  • Lori Chambless

    Thank you Rob for posting this tutorial! I purchased the kit when you were at Kerrville, Texas and have my pattern pieces traced but that is all the further I have progressed with this surprise for my husband. Now that I run across your tutorial I can’t wait to get started. So glad you have joined the group at Missouri Star Quilt Company