Friday, October 10, 2014

Mini Braid Quilt

My Instagram feed is abuzz with pics of cute and colourful mini quilts right now. They are all the rage among quilters, and now that I've made a few I can see why.

Fast to make, mini quilts give us a chance to try out lots of new designs and techniques without taking too much time, and they're small enough to decorate a wall. 

You might recall my post on August's St Mark's Quilters workshop, where Di B showed us how to make a mini braid quilt using foundation paper piecing. 

I thought this would be the perfect scrap-eater project, and after a rummage in my scrap bin I cut strips and grouped them into four colours, graded from light to darker hues within those colours.

As usual, I had to over-think this one, and instead of picking random colours I found myself making an ombré-shaded braid in pink to start.

I liked it! So I added a second braid in yellow.

And another in blue, but with the stronger shades grouped in the centre of the braid.

Then I did the same when I played with my greens.

Although my original plan had been to make just four braids, it was obvious that now I needed a fifth to balance out the design, so I pressed my purples into service.

By now the quilt was looking a little wider than I wanted, so I added tiny floating half inch wide bars at the top and bottom of my braids, to give it some height.

Mini quilts are also excellent for practising machine quilting. Not as daunting as a large quilt. I started by quilting wavy half feathers between the braids.

Then I echoed the chevron shapes of the braids each side of those little colour bars.

Finally I took my courage in both hands and quilted my very favourite feathers along each side border. Just 6 months ago I could never have done this, but with the help of an Angela Walters class on Craftsy, and lots of practice, I'm starting to feel more comfortable with feathers.

I took this photo in low light deliberately so the quilting shows up.

If you look closely in the pic above you'll see that there are long threads sitting on the surface. These needed to be buried deep in the batting layer, and the easiest way to do this is to use a self-threading needle (I use MatildasOwn).

 Beats trying to push that short thread through the eye of a needle dozens of times, and as long as you pull the needle through carefully, perhaps at a little angle, the thread won't pop out of the eye. I take the needle through the batting for a short distance (an inch or so) and then out again, and snip off close to the surface of the quilt, being very careful not to snip the quilt!

My little quilt turned out much fancier than I had envisaged, and took much more work than I had intended, but I love it.

It used a wide variety of scraps, but at half an inch wide it was rather a frugal eater, and made little impact on my scrap stash.

I used foundation papers designed by the late Julie Wallace of The Quilter's Barn in Victoria to piece together my braids, but her shop is closed now. 

However, if you want to make your own version, you can download something similar (free) from Nikki M's Buzy Day blog here.


  1. That is just lovely! Very pretty colours and beautiful stitching.

  2. that is so pretty Di - what wonderful color selection and with paper piecing it turns out so nice and neat - I had not heard of the self threading needle. One thing I do not like about machine quilting (haven't had a lot of practice) is tucking all those threads in. Nice to see you blogging - you took a little time off :)

  3. Hi, Di :D It was fun reading your post, as I *just* put down my self-threading needle after an hour of tying and tucking threads on my double wedding ring quilt. I really like the effect you got with the fading colors in each braid. It made such an airy, happy quilt.

  4. That's such a lovely little quilt.....finding out its secrets is so interesting!

  5. Adorable quilt! Love the ombre of the braids!!! Your quilting is lovely and your feathers look quite professional!!! Love Angela Walters as a teacher and her books are great! I love the self-threading needles and use them all the time with I'm LA quilting.

  6. It's good to see the entire review of how you made this adorable quilt. You were spot on with the colors you picked, and making them ombre was completely inspiration. As for your quilting... all I can say is, "My goodness! How you've grown!" The designs are wonderful. I too have become a self-threading needle user, though I find that with large quilts, I'm unable to wait until the end of quilting to begin burying threads. I tend to quilt for a while, then bury threads for a while. I guess I like keeping the quilt looking neat and tidy. So glad to read on IG that this quilt won at a store show. You deserve the accolades!

  7. A delightful post about a delightful mini quilt!! I absolutely love how you put it together.

  8. I haven't made a mini, so I'm yet to understand the fad. I love your braids, and using such tiny pieces does make them look like tight, neat hair braids to me! Your feathers look beautiful. I have Angela's book, but I really think I'd enjoy her Craftsy lesson too. Then it's just practice, which I don't spend time doing. What little time I get sewing each week is spent constructing quilt tops.

  9. Not sure why I am just now reading this, but your "little Quilt" is delightful and you your quilting is to super!


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