Man Sewing: Mandala Quilt Tutorial

Rob Appell

Man Sewing: Mandala Quilt Tutorial

Rob demonstrates how to make a stunning Mandala Quilt using the Large Orange Peel Template for 10" Squares, the Small Orange Peel Template for 5" Charm Packs, Michael Miller Cotton Couture, fusible web, and Ombre Magenta Yardage by V & Co. for Moda Fabrics. Learn how to satin stitch around applique.
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video transcript

Hola! Hombres. You’re going to love today’s tutorial. That’s right we’re using an ombre fabric to make this awesome two fabric quilt. Let’s get started.

That’s right, this has got to be one of the most simple quilt I have ever created. Not only is it all glued together with fusible applique. But it’s only two fabrics. Check this out. Now this cool variegated fabric is from Moda. It comes in a variety of colors but I just love it. So all of the mandala work you see is from one cut of fabric. And then the background is my favorite cotton couture from Michael Miller. I love the way it quilts and things. So I want to show you how to create this quilt project. It is, like I said, super super simple. So a couple of things you may need. We have our large and our medium size MSQC orange peel templates. In the description below there’s a link to a free printable if you don’t have these templates, you can print it out on paper. Trace it onto to some mylar. Trace it onto some cardboard and you can use those that way as well. The big one is on the fold in the printout so you’ll see how that works for you. And then you’re going to need some fusible web. And I have a yard and a half of the variegated fabric. And I have a yard and a quarter of the blue fabric that is the background because I wanted it to be a square, 45 by 45, right?

So the first thing we actually did here is I went ahead and I created my binding strips. So these are 2 ½ inch wide strips by the width of the fabric or the length of the fabric, 45. I’ve made four of them for myself. And I’ve cut them and set them aside. And look at the quilt again real quick here. You’ll see that we have the binding. And it’s the variegated and it goes all the way around real nice that way. So all four strips will do that for you very simply. Once those four strips have been cut free of your yard and a quarter of the variegated fabric then I went ahead and I put my favorite fusible on the back. So I’m going to flip this over. You can see all the paper backing on the back side of the fusible, or excuse me. On the back side of the ombre or variegated fabric, right? Guess what? I’ve been drinking coffee. I’m all excited about this. This is a project I’ve been dying to show you for a long time. But I had to make it first, right? So we’ve got our Heat N Bond featherlite on the back. And it runs the entire piece of the fabric. And then what we’re going to do is we’re just going to flip this over. And I’m going to fold it in half, selvage to selvage. So both of my selvages are over here on this edge. And that way you see my dark fabric here. And then watch this as I flip it over, the dark fabric is lined up right there as well.

We’re going to make a series of large and small orange peel cuts. And I like to start down here at the base basically with the large orange peel. Because it’s folded I’m going to get two cuts with every stroke that I do here with my rotary cutter. So I’m taking this right here. And one of the things I’m really doing is I’m looking to make sure that my template is lined up straight. I don’t want this bending or doing anything odd because I’m going to cut each one of these the same, if at all possible, ok? So I’m going to scoot it up a little way from the selvage in case something is going weird on the back. I’ve got my large rotary cutter here, my 45 mm rotary cutter. I’m started in front of the template and I’m coming around. I don’t want to cut too far past the template though because I’m going to need all of that extra fabric for my light colored large pieces and my small pieces. You really felt like we shouldn’t cut like this at home however.. If you have a lazy susan you could have spun it around. I’ve  been practicing. But watch what I do here. I stop for safely. Then I’m going to come back around on this other side. So I’ve really never cut under my arm. However, that’s still very dangerous so if this is the first time you’ve used your rotary cutter, please take the time to spin your fabric. I just wanted to show you how we are able to cut not only one but two of our perfect, oop make sure they’re correct way, right? Whoa! Sorry, hope I didn’t make you seasick. I should have warned you to take your dramamine. Ok so we’ve got these upright and not only did I do that in the spin cycle there. But. I also went ahead and I cut out all the rest. So you’re going to need, because it’s double folded, a total of five of these cut outs. And you can see I put them nice and close together. And a reminder I’m going to try to keep them nice and straight up and down so that all of them look very very similar as we go. So those are my large dark ones. I have a total of ten. I’m going to set those aside.

Then I’m going to go after my light  big ones. And I really only need a total of five of them altogether. The easiest way is on the single layer. And I’m actually looking at this as we enter the lighter part. And so what I have, actually what I’m going to do is I’m going to position down here low so that I’ve got more of a medium pink here and a light pink. And I’m going to cut this one. Let me show you this way. If you want to slide this deeper down to get more light at the tip you are certainly encouraged to do that. This is a very easy cut to make position wise. And I’m just going to remind you one more time that these are now single layer. So I’m going to cut them through and cut five total big white versions. And here you can see they are still considerably different from each other, right? So that’s going to give you a really nice, I want to say variety of colors in your wedge pieces there we’re making, ok? So when I do this I’m going to come here, there’s two, three, four, five I’ve got the room across there.

And now with our small templates you’re going to be able to come up here into this other section and park these nice and deep in here like that, ok? And I’ll show you how to cut these with smaller ones. Same thing. Oh and you know I found the neatest trick recently while cutting against templates. I’ve learned, and I don’t know you probably all know this already, I’m new to the party here, right? If I come around I’m actually angling my cutter a little bit away so the edge of the blade is up against the bottom of the template. And what that seems to do for me is it keeps me from trying to push the template out of the way. So I’m not pushing against the template. The pressure of the blade is actually becoming below the template. It makes for a really nice easy cut. The coffee doesn’t make for a very good steering however but you can see here we’ve got one of our very small pieces cut out like that, ok? So as I go as I go through, let me just give you the rundown again of all your pieces. You’re going to need a total of ten big dark ones. You’re going to need a total of actually five of the big light ones. At the quilt you’ll see them. One, two, three, four, five. You’re going to need seven of these what I’m calling the dark small. And then you’ll need five of what I’m calling the light small. Of course you can do this in any kind of layout you want to do. But I want to show you how I did my layout. Let’s get this stuff cleared off and zip over for that.

So obviously those cuts were super easy. Save that swiss cheese of ombré fabric for other stuff. It will make great for landscaping and backgrounds and things. Don’t get rid of it. It’s got the fuse on so just set it aside. Now what I’ve also done is I’ve taken and laid out a nice big piece of batting. I have my square which is going to be 45 square. So my yard and a quarter of my background fabric. I’m not sure if you can see or not but I actually, after I ironed it to get all the major wrinkles out, I folded it in quarters and I pressed it. Because I wanted to be able to kind of grid out my background because as I start building out my pieces starting with my large dark ones, there’s ten of them. I want to try to be able to keep it as symmetrical as possible.

Now some of you have not used fusible web before so you still see the paper on the back. To remove the paper I often just kind of roll at an edge. And I start to peel. And right now I actually got lucky. I grabbed one that the glue hadn’t bonded fantastically to. When you’re doing a whole big run of fusible like that the iron will start to cool. So if you hear your iron starting to kick back on and reheat stop trying to fuse. Let your iron heat up and then keep fusing. So if this happens as it is, the glue is sticking to the paper not the fabric. I then come around to the other side. Hey, if the front door doesn’t work let’s try the back door. That one is not working so this trick I love. You can take a regular straight pin from your pin cushion and give a scoring. I’m hoping you could hear that. I actually kind of cut through the paper so I can now fold the paper. And what I’m going to do is I’m going to get it real gently and now you see the sheen of the glue on the fabric. So now as it happens, I’m going to peel slowly out towards those edges where I was getting my start. And all the glue is right where I want it. Now if a little bit of glue comes out of the middle of even on the edges of these pieces, they’re so big the glue is going to hold them down. And as soon as we finish our layout we’re going to press this and we’re going to show you the satin stitching today. And that satin stitching is certainly going to hold everything down and actually make it a washable project if you’d like it to be.

Ok so we’re going to start with these. Let’s take one last look at the quilt at the back wall here. As you come over, I want you to notice what I was working to do was put my darker edges of the individual pieces down and towards the center and the light sides up on the out. So as I come to my layout board what I found was the easiest to do was I just started kind of playing with my dark pieces. I’ve already peeled all the paper off of these other ones. And I’m going to use all ten of these. And I literally just started playing at first. And if you look real carefully my other piles are still stacked up over here, right? And you can see and that crease will iron out no problem. Then I’m going to kind of start going ok there’s four pieces. But I want to put in ten. So how’s that going to happen? Do I put one straight out here? Do I put one straight out here? And when you’re doing something like this it is completely fluid, ok? Meaning you can do it however you want to. You can do a design like this and then start laying your other pieces over the top of it. This is completely up to you and how you want to do it. What I found because after I’ve done this layout based on quarters I still had two extra pieces left. So then what I kind of wanted to do was I wanted to kind of come down here and shift two here, two here like this. And what I’m starting to look for is this negative space to pop in as I go through. And if I shift this here. And right now I’m just playing and I’m actually not even looking at the quilt behind me. I can’t even remember if I made these pieces touch like this or if I left a little gap. I believe I left a little gap. Maybe I need to take pre photos. But you can see how my crease lines are helping me. And I’m going to go through here. I’m not going to spend a ton of time.

So after I’ve got everything kind of laid down in my base format I was not only thinking about design but I was thinking about finishing. And I want to talk a lot about satin stitching today. Satin stitching, I want to try to make my edges touch so that I don’t have as much transition within my satin stitching. So once I got everything kind of laid out what I’m going to call symmetrically, if I can say that word fast ten times. Now I’m just kind of pushing all of them back towards the center. And again we’ll adjust all of this at the end. But now I’m just trying to kind of look to see if I can get my edges to get really close together because that will really facilitate my transitions when I’m satin stitching. And then if you get it, I”m also looking at this star that’s kind of formed in the center and that’s how I’m balancing  my layout in negative space. We can always trim the excess if we need.

So I went from my dark pieces my larger ones. Then I started to bring in here, let’s bring in one that doesn’t have a crease in it. Started to bring in some of my small, or my lighter of my big pieces. And this was really fun because I played with it here. And as I started to set this on here I didn’t feel like it had as much impact as I wanted. So then I rotated it this way and you can see how much more energy comes out that way. So now I’m going to go ahead and make that decision. And if I remember correctly I kind of left two seams in between because I’m going to use five of these light large ones. So there’s the seam there. Now because we’re putting odd numbers on top of even numbers we’re going to have to just visually make it work a little bit. So we kind of play as we go through. Something like this if we like. I also, let me show you, this is probably be a better camera angle. I didn’t want any to lay it right on top of each other. So I played and I love to design. So this was like the best quilting day ever because I got to just set and play and play and play because the construction was so easy, ok? Now these blue gaps we’re going to start to fill in with some of the darker pieces.

So I just kind of, you know I’m like the guy that’s always going around fidgeting and decorating. I always want to kind of play a little bit more as I go. So now I’m going to come back in here. And you can see this is getting a little bit lost in here on the dark. So I’m going to bring it out because we’re going to fill that center actually in with those last few light pieces. We’re just kind of working and I want to make sure everything shows up as I go. There’s one that’s got a little more impact that I like. I might even want to rotate that one out like that to help cover that seam a little bit. These ones, the smaller ones don’t have as much square footage so you don’t see as much of the variegation or the ombre of the fabric, right? So you can actually be a little more creative if necessary with this as we go. Like yay. I love the way that dark pops on top of the light. Just kind of play a little bit. Then I brought in my last of my five light ones. Now this one, let’s not even worry about what’s happening out here anymore. This one I’m going to bring in a little closer for you. This one I really paid attention to what happened with. So as I started to lay in my five overlapping pieces, I really did, I tried to make it look so that when I satin stitch it would finish almost like the center of a Hawaiian flower. Like this. And so what I ended up doing, so if you look real close hopefully you can see this. This is over this, this is over this. But this is over both of them. So in this one situation I actually turned and twisted and brought that one up on top. So that is the basic layout. Of course you’re going to make sure that everything is organized. If you have any little blue spots showing through you can either scoot. You can  move things around. I like to use a little stiletto or a pair of tweezers to shift things.

I’m going to bring you back to the quilt real quick to show you the satin stitching and then I’m going to show you how to do that on the machine. So the part I was just working on was in here. And this is that section I wanted to get the overlap of each of the petals so that it really looked like a flower. Then with the satin stitching you can see the satin stitching actually runs along the edge and finishes the edge of all of our petal pieces in our mandala. So for a satin stitch I have the width set up. It’s a zig zag and the width is 3.0 mm on this machine. And the length to keep it really tight is a .4 mm zig zag. And in order to do that I’ve also got a foot with a nice wide presser foot system. And in just a second I’m going to bring the camera in real close and walk you through some of the satin stitching. There’s a couple of tips I want to point out before we get started.

First of all, on satin stitching, it really shows up. So if you’re going to do a really long run like this I want to try to start right here and not stop movement until I get over here. The more starts and stops I do the more kind of bumps in the satin stitching that could show up. I”m using the same color thread in the top and in the bottom of the machine. And right here, let me show you this awesome variegated thread. I love variegated thread. It’s actually what I use to do all of the machine quilting in the background of the, of the mandala. However you do not generally want to satin stitch with the variegated thread because it started to candy stripe for you. So this is a perfect match but it’s not a perfect choice for satin stitching because of the texture it starts to create. It becomes very rigid looking in my opinion. So I did my variegated fabric out here to go with, variegated thread to go with the variegated fabric. But I’m going to use a standard, I’ll just pull it up here from the top of the machine so you can see. I’m using a polyester thread. The polyester thread is a bit stronger and the polyester thread is going to handle some of that fusible web a little bit better that we need. I’ve got a sharps style needle in the machine so the microtexture sharps size 80. And the other thing with the satin stitching is we always want to use needle down if it’s available. And once we bring it to the machine I’m going to teach you how to count out those satin stitches. So the last step before we can get over to the machine is I’m going to get my iron, right? I’m going to get it nice and hot. And it’s a dry iron because it is for the Heat N Bond featherlight so we don’t want any steam. And as that happens then I’m going to come in here and I’m going to press straight down. I don’t want to glide at all with my iron because I don’t want to shift any of the pieces. So I’m going to press straight down and hold for about two or three seconds. And then I’m going to lift up. I’m going to secure everything and then I’m going to satin stitch just through the petals and the quilt top. There will be no batting, there will be no backing for the satin stitching. We do that after the satin stitching is done. So we’ll be right back at the machine.

Ok so here we are at the machine. I’ve got everything dialed in. My needle is already in the down position. And this is going to be a zig zag so it’s going to stop on one side or the other. We need to keep that in mind. My foot has a groove right down the center. That center is where the two petals meet and I’m going to begin slowly zig zagging over the top. If you’re new at zig zag you could go with a wider format. It takes a little bit longer but that’s ok. You want to go nice and slow. And if you look at my hands here a little bit next to the needle I’m not rushing the machine. I’m letting the feed system of the machine do its job. And I’m just watching that distance at the center of the foot. Right up there. Go between my light and dark fabrics I can see as that variegated fabric of the petals coming together. I’m going to try to keep a nice smooth movement all the way up to the tip of this petal. And I will tell you right now even though I shouldn’t embarrass myself  my beautiful wife and I were discussing if I should try to satin stitch this or not to teach all of you how to satin stitch. And you know what she said to me? She says, “Can you make it camera worthy?” Because she knows I really struggle with satin stitching. And you know what, there’s a million other ways to secure your quilt. If you don’t love to satin stitch you can do blanket stitch. You can do standard free motion. I did this to learn and to improve my skills for all of you because we’re all learning together. So the corner was where I got a little confused and a little, because I had that wide little tip. But what I learned to do is I just kind of drifted into the corner to make it look nice. And I’m kind of now over bending the fabric or shifting the fabric faster. When I said not to rush it. Now I rushed it at the corner a little bit. And now I’m going to bring the whole girth of the quilt around. And then the other thing I wanted to talk about, so I was talking about counting our stitches. So the needle right now is on this side. So when it starts to swing, it’s going to swing back into the petal right where I want it. I don’t want to pivot with the needle inside of the applique piece because then when I go around it’s going to swing to the outside and I’ll probably miss the edge. So as I’m coming I’m on the outside edge on my needle drop. Then as I swing in I”m still in my applique. When you rotate your whole body of your project you want to make sure you didn’t accidentally put in any of the other part of your project under your needle. And we’re just going to run this satin stitching through. I did every petal with an independent start and stop. Having an independent start and stop on each petal break gave a really ease of my brain. I didn’t have to plan on how to get to the next side. But once I had satin stitched over one seam like I’m getting into right now. There’s another petal right here, I’m going to finish out that petal this way. So I just went from petal one to petal two in my satin stitching. And as I come across the bottom I’m going to anchor. I’m going to use my thread cutter because I love it. I’m going to pull this out. And let’s bring you over to the overhead cam, ok? The blessing of the top cam is you can see I’m not perfect on my satin stitching. But that is ok because I love the process. And I’m getting better all the time that I practice, right? We all do together.

So here is that first petal I stitched all the way around. You see me coming onto the second petal right here. Now when I start satin stitching the second petal, I”m going to start here. I don’t want to start back here and bulk up that seam. So I’m going to start here. I’m going to travel around that petal. And do the same throughout the whole process. Like good quilting we’re starting in the middle on the petals and satin stitching our way out to start pushing all the excess that might happen. And as a reminder there hadn’t been any batting or backing yet. So once all the satin stitching is done that’s when you get it basted. We’ve got a great tutorial if you need to learn how to baste. And check out this quilt behind me.

Now as you know I’ve been doing a lot of these free motion skills and drills and motifs. And this one here is actually modified from our swirls and swoops and our rainbows gone wild. But I just made it more pointy to demonstrate the same shaping of the applique I used using that orange peel template, right? So I just like to go ahead and do quilting on my quilts that gives a little bit of voice, fun texture but doesn’t steal from the fabric. Because I really want to show off this ombre fabric today. And now only that but I love looking at other ways to use tools. So have I got a show and tell for you.

Now one of our very first projects we did on Man Sewing was called the Burst Block. And it was a very fun pieced quilt. So we created, because it’s been so popular. We’ve created this cool template to help you with the piecing work. But while I was thinking about using my orange peel templates on the mandala you see behind me, I started thinking what would happen if we did this using the burst block . So check out this quilt, but you can’t hate on my for the wrinkles because they just came out of the suitcase and I can’t press it right now because it’s just fused. But here you go. Voila! I think I want to call it kryptonite because love the green color. And that’s also another one of those Moda ombre fabrics. But check it out. If you, in the comments below, ask really really nice I promise to go home and quilt it and come back with a whole other tutorial for you and we’ll figure out another way to finish those applique right here at Man Sewing.

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