When Tammy Silvers of Tamarinis asked me to participate in her Tuckerize your Quilting Blog Hop I knew I was going to talk about mini quilts. Minis are one of my passions, and I’ve made about a dozen using the Studio 180 tools. They are so adorable to look at, yet they can be so intimidating. All those tiny pieces that need to be exact! But they aren’t too scary if you approach them the right way and use the right tools for the job. Studio 180 tools make it so much easier to piece minis. Paper piecing up to now has often been promoted as the preferred method to make a great mini. With the Studio 180 tools, you get the accuracy of paper piecing without having to remove the paper when you are done. That’s a winning method for me!
Look at the two photos below. Can you tell which version of Freelancer is a queen size quilt and which is the Mini?
One of the signs of a great mini is not knowing the size of a quilt when looking at a photo. To create one, there are all sorts of things to think about and plan even before you get to trimming the units and putting it together. Photo number three above shows the true proportion of the projects, the smallest uses 3" blocks and the largest uses 24".
Because there are so many tiny pieces in a mini the best fabric prints to use are solids, tone on tones, and very small-scale prints. Avoid large prints with a lot of color variation, because once you chop it up each piece may look different and can result in a less than satisfactory finished product.
Color gets the credit but value does all the work. The best minis have high contrast between the fabrics being used. The higher the contrast, the better the design shows, especially from a distance. If you aren’t familiar with value, you might want to do a little reading to learn more about it. Your minis will thank you for it!
There are so many tiny pieces in one area of a mini that it is also important to consider the weight/thickness of your fabric and thread; they can add bulk and difficulty in your piecing. Batiks and tightly woven cottons work best because they won’t fray or stretch too much as you manipulate them and are thin so they don’t add a lot of bulk to the seam allowance. Flannel is way too bulky for miniature piece work.
When choosing your thread a 50wt fine cotton works, but if you can find a 60wt or 80wt thread that is even better because, again, it’ll add less bulk to your seams.
Don’t forget your stitch length - a stitch between 2.0 and 1.5 works best as the tiny stitches won’t pull out as easily when you are trimming and then manipulating the unit during construction.
When I make a mini, I cut and piece everything according to my tool and/or technique sheet instructions. I don’t try to stitch with a ⅛” seam allowance, I use my normal ¼” seam. But what I will do if I feel the seam will be too wide is trim it to ⅛” before I press. More often than not I leave my seam allowances at ¼” and press them open to reduce the bulk. You need to think about what works best for you and the mini that you are working on. You might find that trimming your seam allowance after stitching is what works best for you.
Studio 180 tools and techniques are a great way to approach your miniature quilt making. All the tools contain size options that allow you to downsize quilt projects to mini status. And because each unit is accurately trimmed, the high precision required when constructing minis comes automatically. You'll find, as I have, that accurate units fit better, align easily and stitch together beautifully.
A mini quilt looks so amazing when it’s well constructed. Don’t be intimidated by them. Using Studio 180 Design tools makes it easier to make minis precisely and without a lot of fussing.
Be sure to check out the other blog post happening this week for more great tips and suggestions.
Monday, July 15th
Can you believe we've been doing the BlockBuster series for seven years?
2022 was a great year for our BlockBusters. We’ve got a little bit of everything for you, from simple one tool blocks to more complex blocks that use multiple tools and technique sheets. We’ve gathered up all of the blocks here in one post to make it easier to find what you’re looking for.