I’ve written a lot about the community quilts I have made. But I have never actually written about how you, too, can make a community quilt using the NO-SEW method I use. NO-SEW means anyone can contribute to the quilt.
Here is how it works. For those of you who think primarily as artists consider this an exercise in surface design. For those of you who primarily think as quilters consider this as an exercise in fusible appliqué.
First, you create a selection of foundation blocks. I like to use fabrics that read as solids in a wide assortment of colors. I usually make them between 8 to 12 inches wide by 8 to 12 inches long–in both rectangular and square shapes. I usually rip these foundation blocks on the grain instead of cutting them, but you can cut them using a ruler if you prefer. Here are the forty foundation blocks I made for Moore Place.
While the name sounds a bit like a foundation garment, it really is a heat activated (aka the iron brings it on) fusible. There are two sides to Wonder Under–1. the actual fusible which feels sticky to touch and 2. the release paper which protects the fusible until you are ready to activate it with heat. I have used up all my Wonder-Under except for this small piece, but it still gives you an idea of what it looks like when there is no fabric fused to it.
I select a wide assortment of printed and solid fabrics to adhere the Wonder Under to. I particularly like prints that have images you can cut out and make into other things. For example, big dots can become flowers, clouds, wheels, logs, you get the idea. Here is an example of using the images in the fabric to create flowers. You can read more about this quilt here.
Cut both the printed fabric and the Wonder-Under to be approximately 7” by 17”. Using a hot iron, I iron the Wonder-Under to the backside of the fabric. I let the fabric cool and then use my rotary (but no ruler) to trim the fabric so that the Wonder-Under goes all the way to the edge of the fabric piece. The front side of the fabric looks like a regular piece of fabric. The backside looks like paper. In fact, the Wonder-Under makes the fabric feel like paper which makes it much easier for non-quilters to handle.
Several pairs of little scissors–pointed Fiskars are inexpensive and work well. I also like the Gingher, Kai, and Olfa five inch scissors.
I enjoy having everyone come together to make their blocks. I believe in the power and goodness that comes from making things together. As you can tell by these photos, people quickly become focused on making their blocks.
It is helpful to remind everyone that you will be stitching these blocks together, so their design needs to fit inside the foundation block. If the design goes all the way to the edge, part of the design may be lost in the seam allowance.
Once a participant has cut out their design and is ready to iron their block, they should carry the block AND the pressing sheet to the ironing board. Trust me. I’ve seen more than one block fall apart when it is carried all by itself to the ironing board.
At the ironing board, they should peel the adhesive paper away from the backs of their cut out design. Once the paper is removed the fusible is exposed.
It is important to check the pieces and make sure that ALL paper backing is removed and that the fusible is indeed attached to the fabric and not to the paper. If the fusible ends up sticking to the paper instead of the fabric it can be fixed. Put all three layers–fabric, fusible, and backing–back together again and iron them. Let them cool. Then carefully try and separate the backing from the fusible.