Have you noticed all the panel quilt prints springing up in quilt stores lately? We have! Since we like to include a panel quilt pattern in every issue of Easy Quilts, we’re always on the lookout for fresh, innovative ways to work with them.
At the last spring market in Portland, Oregon, we did a double-take at the World of Susybee booth. Among all the whimsical quilts and fabric, we spotted some of the most adorable quilt panels ever seen. But one of them looked kinda . . . fluffy!
The fine ladies at World of Susybee shared the secret to making the sweet, soft playmat—and they sent along four ‘Lal the Lamb’ panels so I could give the chenille technique a try for this panel quilt pattern.
Yep, four panels are required for this quilt project, plus a backing fabric, and some binding strips. The effect you get is like nothing else.
How to Make Chenille
To get started, I carefully aligned and layered all four panels (right side up) over the backing (wrong side up). It’s important to align all four of the lambs from layer to layer. So I gave each panel a light spray-baste, and (to be safe) I also used a few safety pins throughout.
With a long strip of blue painter’s tape, I marked a diagonal line across the top panel. This was the guide for my first sewn line.
My machine’s walking foot helped keep all the layers together as I stitched. Then, using my sewing foot as a guide, I proceeded to sew lines parallel to that first line to create channels about 3/8” wide until the entire panel was stitched. (This can take some time, so a few good podcasts were in order to keep me company.)
While you can use a pair of scissors to cut through the layers, like I do in the picture, the tool I liked best to take it from flat to fluffy is a chenille cutter. Sliding a chenille cutter through the sewn channels to cut the top three panels was like a running a hot knife through butter. (After every seven or eight long cuts, I turned the dial to expose a new blade edge and repeated the process until all channels had been cut.)
To complete the mat, I trimmed it up, slapped on a binding, tossed it into the dryer, and ta-da! Fluff!
What a great little gift to share with a loved one. (My husband insists that it doesn’t coordinate with our bedroom décor. Pshaw!)
Eileen Fowler is Editor of Easy Quilts and Quilting Quickly.