When in quilt shops, I frequently find myself drawn to the fabric panels and all of their fun, coordinating fabrics. I always want to buy some but what will I do with the panels after I buy them?! In years past, sadly, fabric panels have sat in my stash unused due to the limited wall space I have for displaying in my home – until recently when I decided to come up with some more creative ways to use panels without simply quilting them and hanging them on a wall.
Several years ago I discovered Sandy Gervais and the fabulous fabrics she designs for Moda. At a cute little quilt shop in Pueblo, CO I found Sandy’s fabric panel entitled Essence along with several coordinates. I had to buy it of course and as usual, added it to my stash.
As happens periodically, earlier this summer I told myself once again that it was time to go through my stash and try to finish up all my smaller UFO’s (lofty and perhaps unrealistic goal I know!). The Essence panel was the first project in my endeavor. Originally I had thought that I would cut each flower “square” apart and quilt them individually in order to create a series of mini-wall-hangings, but given my wall space situation I had to reconsider. As I was searching my mind for ideas, I glanced around the room and saw my lovely, but naked, dining room table. A table runner was the answer!
I began by cutting all of the flower squares apart, I re-arranged them and then I pieced them back together in one long strip to achieve the right shape and length for my table. I then added borders to frame the flower squares and make the overall size of the table runner proportional to the size of my table. I added another fun, floral coordinating fabric to the back, some Warm & Natural from The Warm Company for loft and then outline quilted the squares as well as the flowers to give them some dimensionality. I sewed on binding and voila! I was done – right?! A nice, quick one-day project and one more UFO completed. But wait, not so fast. I love to embellish and fabric panels are the perfect place to load on the embellishments. My table runner was screaming BEAD ME!
So my quick little project became a bit more time consuming, but it was well worth it. I added beads to the flowers and leaves and a few beads scattered through the border to add a little more sparkle. It turned out beautiful and now I have a stunning table runner that is the centerpiece of my dining room.
In my continuing quest to find creative uses for the fabric panels that I impulsively purchase, I took Margie Ullery’s Creative Quilting & Sewing with Fabric Panels course at Craft University. She demonstrates a variety of different projects that can be sewn from panels including pillows, tote bags and picnic accessories.
One of the panels she uses in her course is Pippa the Hen from Susybee. The Pippa panel includes 1 large hen and chicks “portrait” and 6 smaller portraits.
Margie combined the portraits with coordinating fabrics to create an apron, tea towels and potholders. I decided to take the same fabric panel and see what I could come up with. After playing around with the fabric for a while, I began to see a vision of a gift bag for a baby shower. How cute would a little fabric mother hen bag full of baby gifts be?
I carefully cut out four of the smaller chick portraits, leaving a ¼” all around for seam allowance and then:
- I sewed the 4 portraits together to form the 4 sides of the bag.
- I then cut a piece of Warm & Natural and basted it inside the side fabric to add some “body” to the bag.
- The panel had a lovely grey spiral on white background fabric that I used for the bottom of the bag and backed it with batting as well. After joining the bottom of the bag to the sides, I sewed a bag liner using the background fabric in the same method but without the batting.
- The large hen and chicks portrait on the panel had a fun mini-chicken border around it that I fussy-cut and padded with batting in order to create a handle.
- Once the outside of the bag, the liner and the handle were constructed, it was simple to sew them all together that the top edge of the bag, turn right side out and I had an adorable gift bag.
- I did a bit of ¼” topstitching on the handle and around the top edge of the bag for stability and to add a bit of design detail.
All said and done, this project took me an hour to cut, sew and complete. Not bad for a very unique and re-usable gift bag. Now of course, given my penchant for embellishing, I will probably add a few beads and bows to my gift bag in the days to come but it’s cute to gift away with or without the extras.
Think “Off the Wall” next time you fondle a fabric panel at your local quilt shop. Yes, you DO have a use for that panel. Buy it, take it home, pin it on your design wall and let your creative juices flow.
Associate Editor, Quiltmaker