27 Apr

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along: part 11 — Pau!

Project Introduction here

Part 1 (supplies) here.

Part 2 here.

Part 3 here.

Part 4 here.

Part 5 here.

Part 6 here.

Part 7 here.

Part 8 here.

Part 9 here.

Part 10 here.

“Pau” means “finished” or “done” in Hawaiian and that’s pretty much where we are with our Aloha Pineapple quilts! After tying the three quilt layers together, all that’s left is binding. I’ll post photos of the process below, but there’s already a glut of excellent tutorials on the web, so links may suffice. First though — to the quilts!

Mine looks great on daughter’s bed, but I have a family in mind I’d like to give it to.
Aloha Pineapple Quilt -- finished!

Jason’s turned out great and really honors the Aloha shirts that gave their lives for the project. I hope he enjoys many happy years under this quilt. (You gotta click these photos to see them big.)

Katie’s bold man-quilt will be for her guy when he returns from deployment. What a great reminder it will be of their time here in the islands.

Lynn brought her top, but has the backing and batting already laid out at home so I know she’ll be done soon. Her’s is a gift for a friend who loves the soft, country colors. I hope that it too, provides years of enjoyment.

I am so incredibly proud of my students. Deb and Kathleen are still working diligently on their quilts and I can’t wait to see their finished masterpieces. We’re already talking about the next class in September. We are going back to a variation of the last project class. It will probably be a pillow and a tote or table runner. One applique project and one pieced project. Yo-yos will be involved. When I teach these classes, my main goal is to familiarize my students with some basic construction skills so that when they see a pattern in a magazine or store, they can say, “that’s applique and I do/do not like that,” or “I see the half square triangles in that design and am confident I could do that,” or “paper piecing sounds daunting, but I actually like it.” What really excites me is when my students take the skills I’ve taught them and branch out on their own.

Katie and I put our heads together to enlarge the half square triangle pillow and make an Aloha baby quilt for a fellow service member and new mom:
Aloha Baby Quilt

Flush with her baby-quilt-making skills Katie also went off on her own and whipped out this blue pineapple quilt for another baby friend:

Jason’s working on a quilt for his niece who’s about to have a baby too. Pink, brown, and butterflies were his instruction. It’s gonna be adorable when done!

So, on to the binding. I usually just cut 2.5″ wide strips from the width of my fabric and sew them end to end (at a 45° angle to reduce bulk), but I hear anecdotally that bias binding wears better in the long run. Marcia Hohn’s Quilter’s Cache (a great resource in and of itself)  has a nice tutorial for both methods and two ways to sew the binding on as well.

Start with a square of fabric and put two pins in opposite sides. Cut the fabric on one diagonal.
Continuous binding 1

Pin together those two sides with the pins, right sides together, and sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Continuous binding 2

Starting on one long side, mark the wrong side of your fabric with the desired width of your binding (I like 2.5″). I use pencil on light fabric and chalk liner on dark fabric. If you have a skinny strip left at the top, just cut it off.
Continuous binding 3

Pin the two short ends together, lining up your drawn lines, but offset by one row. Also be sure you are lining up the lines not at the edge of teh fabric, but 1/4″ down, where the seam will be sewn. Sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Continuous binding 4

Starting with one of the off-set end rows, cut along your marked lines to make a continuous strip of bias binding like magic!
Continuous binding 5

Iron your strip in half and you are ready to sew it on to your quilt.
Continuous binding 6

I like french binding sewn on with mitered corners. It looks good and it pretty much the default method. Heather Bailey has a nice graphic tutorial here. She talks about glamorous corners, and I have to say, I think mine are more glamorous these days, but that’s just years of practice. The more accurate you are at the corners, the more square they will be.

To sew your binding on, first mark or trim your edges nice and straight and make sure your corners are square. I was confident that the edges and corners of my quilt top were where they wanted, so they are my guide. The batting and backing are left rough so that they don’t accidentally pull back and not get sewn into the binding on the back of the quilt. If I do have to trim the top of a quilt, I tend to cut all three layers since, in general, your quilting will hold everything in place. Align the raw edges of your binding strip with the raw edges, or marked line, of your quilt top. Start somewhere in the center of one side. Leave about a 6″ “tail” and sew 1/4″ from the edge. I’d basted my border 1/4″ from the edge, so I moved my needle position a few clicks to the left to make sure I would hide that basting in the seam allowance. Oh, and if you have a walking foot for your machine, now is the time to use it! Stop sewing 1/4″ from the corner (see my pin). The more accurate this stop is, the more glamorous your corner will be.
Sewing Binding 1

Pull the quilt out from under your needle, but you don’t necessarily have to cut the thread — just give yourself a little room to work. Fold the binding away from the quilt making a 45° angled fold. The raw edges of the binding will now continue the line of the next edge of the quilt.
Sewing Binding 2

Fold that binding back onto the next side of your quilt, making sure the fold aligns with the raw edges of the first side. It will cover up that pretty little 45° fold underneath.
Sewing Binding 3

Rotate your quilt 90° and continue sewing your binding, starting from the fold, along this next side of the quilt.
Sewing Binding 4

Continue around your quilt like this until you approach where you started. Stop about 10,” or even a bit more, from where you started and remove the quilt from your sewing machine — this time cutting the threads. Lay your binding tails smooth on your quilt top and overlap them. Cut the end of one tail square, and cut the other one so that their overlap is the width of your unfolded binding (in this case 2.5″).
Sewing Binding 5

Pin those squared binding ends, right sides together, at right angles.
Sewing Binding 6

Sew corner to corner across that overlapped box of binding. Test it to make sure you sewed across the correct diagonal before you cut off the excess fabric!
Sewing Binding 7

Trim excess fabric 1/4″ from your seam line and finger press the seam open.
Sewing Binding 8

Fold the biding back in half and sew this last section onto the quilt. You’re now done with the sewing machine work.
Sewing Binding 9

Cut off any excess batting and backing, leaving a nice 1/4″-ish of quilt material in the binding seam allowance. Fold the folded edge of the binding over to the back side of your quilt and sew it down by hand near or on the machine stitched seam using a blind stitch. Some people machine stitch this too, and Ricky Tims has a very schamncy way of doing this, but I like the clean, invisible hand sewn method and find it a quiet way to spend and evening or two on the couch.
Sewing Binding 10

When you get to the corners, sew your first side down all the way out into the seam allowance of the next side, making that boat-like angle fold as close to 45° as possible. Folding over the next side will bring that angle over what you’ve just sewn down and should make a nice mitered look both on the front and on the back. Tack that fold down and then continue on blind stitching the next side. I think that traditional quilt show competitions want that miter tacked down on the front side too, but I never bother since they seem to hold up just as well for me this way and I like to just power away at sewing the back side down.

Your quilt has been handled a lot at this point and might want to be washed. I use the gentle cycle on my top-load machine, cold water, and a textile friendly soap like Eucalan. A bed quilt I will more often than not put in the dryer too, on a low-ish heat and finish off the drying outside on the rack. An art quilt that has surface design that can’t handle the stress of the machines, I will soak in the tub and dry flat on towels on the floor.

Enjoy your quilt — you are PAU!

11 Apr

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along: part 9


Project Introduction here

Part 1 (supplies) here.

Part 2 here.

Part 3 here.

Part 4 here.

Part 5 here.

Part 6 here.

Part 7 here.

Part 8 here.

Since it had been two weeks since the last installment, and we worked on two phases of our quilt construction, I’m posting TWO parts. The basting probably went pretty quick, so the next task is to hold teh layers of the quilt together permanently.

These pineapple blocks have a lot of seams in them, which could be difficult to hand quilt over. They are also visually quite busy, so free motion or pantograph designs could get lost and therefore not be worthy of the time spent creating them. I’d suggest simple straight line machine quilting, like diagonal lines X-ing through the centers of the blocks, or in-the-ditch quilting.

Almost done!

OR, you could tie the layers together like was often done on old utilitarian quilts. I’ve decided to continue my scrappy theme and use up some of my embroidery floss bits and bobs. Jason plans on using deep blue for his, and Katie will use black to match the solid color in her quilt.

Tie 1

Use a large eye needle embroidery or chenille (and a threader to make life easier) and thread it will a long length of floss. Stitch from the front of the quilt, through all three layers, and back out the front, about 1/4″ away. Pull the floss almost all the way through, but leave a tail 1″ to 2″ long.

Tie 2

Put the needle back into the quilt right next to where you did the first time and, again, back out 1/4″ away, near where you came out the first time.

Tie 3

Pull it taught, but not so tight it puckers or pulls the floss all the way out (then you’d have to start over).

Tie 4

Tie a square knot with the ends.

Tie 5

Looks good!

Tie 6

Cut the tails (mine are on the long side, but don’t cut them so short they could pull out of the knot) and move on to the next tie. I tied my top in the center of each block and at the intersections of the blocks.

I think it is smart to use a batting with some polyester in it when you are tying a quilt. You want something that doesn’t need to be stitched too closely. If you want to use a more delicate batting, that might clump over time, then machine stitching closer together would be the way to go.

All that’s left is to bind the quilt!

Just for fun, here’s a real pineapple. After more than two years, the pineapple top in my back yard has finally decided to fruit. At this young stage, I can almost see how it inspired the quilt block.

Real Pineapple (baby)

11 Apr

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along: part 8


Project Introduction here

Part 1 (supplies) here.

Part 2 here.

Part 3 here.

Part 4 here.

Part 5 here.

Part 6 here.

Part 7 here.

Our progress is really showing now! Most of us have pieced our tops together (pineapple blocks + borders), and are at some stage of getting our three layers together.

Deb’s pile of blocks is looking wonderfully colorful and Hawaiian. Once the blocks are done, then they need to be laid out in a pleasing arrangement.

Laying out the blocks

Here Jason helps Kathleen lay out her beachy blocks. She’ll label the backs and then sew them together (see Part 7 for a tutorial).

Basting 1

Then comes the layering and basting. Here’s Katie’s backing laid out, face down, on the floor. Tape the fabric smooth, but not so taught it’s pulled out of shape.

Basting 1.5

Taping works well on a smooth floor like this, but you can use straight pins to secure your layers if you have a carpeted surface.

Basting 2

Lay the batting on top and smooth it out, starting in the center and working out towards the edges. Depending on how well your batting “sticks” to the backing fabric you may or may not want to tape it to the floor too.

Basting 3

Center the quilt top, face up, on top of the batting. Smooth it out, again from the center, and tape the edges in place.

Basting 4

Use safety pins (curved ones are easiest to use) to pin all three layers together, spacing them about a hand’s width apart. Start in the center and work your way out to the edges. You could also baste with needle and thread using very big stitches and a thread color that contrasts with your top. Once the layers are basted together you can remove and dispose of the tape. Now you can take your quilt anywhere to stitch or tie the layers more permanently.

Here’s Jason’s basted quilt, showing off his pieced backing that is dramatic enough to be a quilt on it’s own.

Katie’s color just glow!

And here’s Deb’s blocks — almost ready to be sewn together!

My friend Kim has found an effective way to baste quilts without crawling around on the floor. Click here for the video she learned from and a tutorial with her own adjustments to the method.

27 Mar

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along: quilting along!

Intro here.

Part 1 here.

Part 2 here.

Part 3 here.

Part 4 here.

Part 5 here.

Part 6 here.

Part 6 here.

Not exactly Part 7, but I wanted to share some more pineapple blocks.

Commenter DianeY was actually the one who encouraged me to take on this project. She thought Aloha print Pineapple blocks would be fun, and while she couldn’t make it to my side of the island for morning classes, she was definitely up for some sort of group push. So, following along with her stash of red and neutrals, here’s a taste of what DianeY’s been up to:

I like how the limited color palette allows her to mix up the arrangement of the lights and darks in each block and have it still look very cohesive.

On the other end of the spectrum is Laura’s free pieced and polka dotted Loco Piña! If Betsy Johnson and Freddie Moran made a quilted collaboration, this might be it! Laura was a little apprehensive in including her version with the rest of the group, but I just love how it shows that there’s a lot of leeway in these traditional blocks. You can be as controlled or as crazy as you want. It’s all good!

Mahalo DianeY and Laura for Quilting Along with us, and for allowing me to share your quilts in progress!

07 Mar

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along: part 6


Project Introduction here

Part 1 (supplies) here.

Part 2 here.

Part 3 here.

Part 4 here.

Part 5 here.

It’s been a few weeks since the last check in and everyone except me has been very industrious.

Today we talked a bit about borders. Borders are an interesting thing. Many a traditional quilter thinks that a quilt is not complete without a border. And many quilts are not. But borders are not always necessary. With our traditional Pineapple Log Cabin design, borders are a nice way to enhance the colors, frame the design, and add a little size if needed! I brought examples of quilts with no borders, plain borders, thin and thick multiple borders, borders of half square triangles (since most of my students are already familiar with this block), and piano key borders. My idea in presenting all these options is to get us thinking about what we each want for the next step in our project. Our next class is in two weeks and I’m excited to see what ideas (and fabrics) everyone comes back with after mulling this over for a while.

I’ve been very lethargic, and not made any blocks. However, Deb and Kathleen previously of one block each, now have quite respectable piles!


Deb is aiming towards a slightly smaller 5 block by 7 block quilt with a large border. She loves the hawaiian laua’e design and has featured it strongly in her fabrics, so I thought it was natural to showcase the design in the border. The white fabric is what she had on hand to test the idea. She’ll be shopping around for the perfect fabric — maybe a yellow one….


Kathleen is going to push herself to make the intended 63 blocks. Here’s what she had last week, and she had twice as many today, so we’re confident she’ll make her goal. She’s got a nice watery feel going on here, like a tank of tropical fish.


Jason is powering away on his 8 x 10 block Ode to the Aloha Shirt. He’s over half way there. We auditioned multiple borders for him. He likes the way the butterscotch border extends the pineapple design, and we’re excited about the possibilities of the turquoise fabric that he’s used for his block centers. I could also see a wonderful, scrappy piano key border on this one with more of the shirt fabrics.

Katie’s jewel of a man quilt is progressing as well, but I don’t have any new photos.


Lynne stopped by for a few minutes but didn’t stay to sew, so I’m not sure where she stands. Though, last week she was having fun using cute little bunnies and kitties in her centers! Her quilt is going to be such a warm and wonderful gift.

16 Feb

Aloha Pineapple Progress


Project Introduction here

Part 1 (supplies) here.

Part 2 here.

Part 3 here.

Part 4 here.

We are making progress. In order to make a lap/crib sized quilt with 63 blocks in ten weeks, we estimated that we should be making ten blocks a week. That should give us some time to add a border and finish up the quilts. We’re not exactly on schedule (myself included) but we are all picking up speed and confidence in making these blocks.

And, I remembered my camera this time!

Lynne has a bunch of small prints she’d like to use up. She also has a recipient in mind, who would like this softer palette instead of a bright one like mine.

Jason is happily cutting up all his Aloha shirts. He had a revelation that though he loves them very much, he’ll be able to enjoy them more as a quilt than hanging in his closet where he never wears them. Look closely and you’ll see that he’s also arranging every other four block set so the corners meet with the same fabric. It will add a secondary focal point to the quilt and the bright block centers.

Katie chose black for a man-friendly quilt. Her rainbow inspired color combinations are showing up beautifully against the black background!

Kathleen and Deb are showing off their first finished blocks. They were both slow to get started, but now they’ve got the hang of it and are sure to return next week with piles of finished blocks.

Now I need to go make some more blocks and catch up with my industrious students.

07 Feb

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along: part 4


Project Introduction here

Part 1 (supplies) here.

Part 2 here.

Part 3 here.

Today’s will be a short post. I had grand plans of showing off everyone’s progress, but I forgot both my camera and my phone with it’s camera.

Here’s my own progress though:

Aloha Pineapple Log Cabin

And DianeY’s progress (since she’s following along online and emailed me her photo). Check out those cute little pineapples in the center of each block:

The rest of the class has a wonderful variety — Kathleen’s has a beachy feel, Katie’s is bold and jewel toned, Deb’s reminds me of a hula festival, and Jason’s is a quilt version of a Kahala or Reyn Spooner shirt.

A couple of tips we discovered along the way:

• when trimming up for the next round, look for the line where your stitching converges in a corner or almost-corner.
• if your fabrics are bunching up when you start sewing, use a longer strip that extends beyond the feed dogs.
• Jason, Katie and Deb like to work each round by sewing fabrics on opposite sides. Kathleen prefers to work each round clockwise.
• paper piecing is for people who can’t sew straight!

Next week we’ll have more to show — I promise!

02 Feb

Aloha Pineapple Quilt Along: part 3


Project Introduction here

Part 1 (supplies) here.

Part 2 here.

Now that you’ve got your foundations printed and your fabrics cut, or at least piled nearby, it’s time to start sewing.


Take a look at the foundation. The center block is labeled #1. The next round, shaded triangles, is labeled #2 — and that number applies to all the pieces (or logs) in that round. Round #3 is white logs, and so it continues. You will work each round before continuing on to the next one.


Place the 2″ (or thereabouts) square of fabric you’ve chosen for your center, face UP, on the un-printed side of the foundation. Hold the paper and fabric up to the light to make sure that your fabric extends at least 1/4″ beyond the edges of the printed square (these are your seam allowances). I find it helpful to secure the fabric in place with a dab of glue from a glue stick. Now, take your secondary fabric that you already cut into 1.5″ strips (the solid green in my example) and cut a log a tad longer than the base of the triangle. Place this, face DOWN (some solids don’t have a right or wrong side, and in that case it doesn’t matter which side is down) along one side of your center square. Pin this in place if you’d like.



Set the stitch length on your machine to shorter than normal. Small stitches will both perforate the foundation paper, making it easier to rip off later, and makes the stitches sturdier to hold up to the ripping. Now flip your foundation paper over and sew along the printed line of the side of the square on which you placed your second piece of fabric. Start a little before the beginning of the line and end a few stitches after it ends.


Remove your project from the sewing machine. Finger press your secondary fabric open so it now covers the shaded shape.



Cut and place another bit of the secondary fabric, face down along another side of the center square. It doesn’t matter with the pineapple block if you go clockwise, counterclockwise, or opposite sides when working each round. Flip the foundation to the printed side and sew along the printed line of the side of the square on which you placed your third piece of fabric. Remove from the machine, finger press the fabric open, and add the next log to the third side of the center square. Flip, sew, press open, and add the final log in the same manner. (I’ve kind of skipped ahead in this photo and trimmed a few logs before adding the last one. You should sew on all teh logs in a round before trimming.)


Once you’ve finished a round, I like to go to the ironing board and press the fabrics with a dry iron to make sure everything is in place. Now place your foundation fabric side down on a cutting mat.


Place the straight edge of a stiff piece of paper, like a postcard, along one of the lines between round #2 and round #3 (between the shaded triangles, and the white logs). Fold back the foundation paper, exposing the fabric below. Place a rotary ruler 1/4″ over the folded edge and cut off any fabric that extends beyond that 1/4″ seam allowance. This sets up a perfect edge for you to place the fabrics in the next round!


Rotate your foundation and fold back on the next line that is also between rounds #2 and #3 (use the postcard to make the folding easier). Place your ruler 1/4″ over the folded edge and cut off any excess fabric. Do the same to the remaining two sides. Now you are ready for round three.


Place a piece of your primary fabric (scrappy aloha prints in my example above) face DOWN along one of the edges you just trimmed. You can rotary cut your fabric beforehand to 1.5″ by a little longer than the longest side of the #3 white logs, or just snip a scrap that’s about the right size.


Flip the foundation over and sew along the line between round #2 and round #3. Remove from the sewing machine and press open the fabrics. Continue the round in the same manner.


When you’ve finished the round, press it with an iron and place your foundation fabric side down on the cutting mat. This time, fold along the printed line between round #3 and round #4.


This will be across the corners of round #3, not parallel to the logs you’ve just sewn. Cut off excess fabric (leaving the 1/4″ seam allowance) as with the previous round.



After trimming all four sides, it’s time to sew on the next round, which is the secondary fabric. The logs in this round will not meet each other at the corners. That’s OK because the next round will cover those corners.


Continue sewing, flipping, pressing and trimming in alternating rounds of solid and scrappy fabric until you get to the eighth (shaded) round. Make sure that your fabrics extend at least to the dashed line (seam allowance) on this round. The ninth round are those big corner triangles of your dominant fabric. This is a great place to use those odd shaped scraps; just make sure that they too extend at least to the dashed line.


Press your finished block so all the fabrics lie flat and then trim the block square along the dashed lines. Make more blocks, using a new paper foundation for each one. The goal is 63 blocks total.

Next Monday(ish) we’ll see how everyone in class did with their “homework” and answer any specific questions that may have arisen.