Welcome to our Fancy Forest Quilt Along!
We first saw the Fancy Forest quilt at Quilt Market last fall and fell in love with it, along with the rest of the quilt world! Elizabeth Hartman designs fun-filled quilts and this one combined new and previous motifs to create an exciting new quilt that we knew you'd love, too.
We joined forces with our friends at Hoffman California and used their Me+You batiks for the entire quilt. It turned out so well, we thought maybe our customers would want to make it for themselves. And boy, have you! We sold out of 42 spots in our in-store classes and decided we should offer some of the same tips to our friends and customers around the world right here on blog and also on our Fancy Forest Quilt Along page on Facebook.
Let’s talk about organization. Elizabeth Hartman is a stellar patternmaker and the Fancy Forest Quilt is no exception. To work our way through it, it’s very important to stay organized.
• Grab yourself 8 large (gallon-size) ziplock bags, six for the different animals, one for the sashing and one for scraps. Mark them clearly with a permanent marker to so it's easy to find the block that you'll be working on.
• Divide your fabric into the eight color groups you are using, stacking them light to dark. While in these piles, snip out small, roughly 1/2" squares, from each fat quarter. Using either the chart on the second page of the pattern, or a photocopy of that page, lay your fabric choices out, following her instructions. and tape them down. You will use this chart several times in the construction and it can prove invaluable if you forget which fabric went in which order.
Let’s talk tools. To keep the construction as easy as possibly, you’ll need a variety of tools, some of which you may already have. for cutting, marking and sewing.
Cutting Tools: You’re going to be doing a lot of cutting for this quilt, so make sure you have a 45mm rotary cutter that you find comfortable and start out with a new blade. There’s nothing quite as frustrating as a dulling blade! Safety is super important with rotary cutters, so please keep blades closed and fingers away from the edge of the ruler.
We recommend both a long (8 1/2" x 24 1/2") and short (6 1/2" x 12 1/2") ruler for ease of cutting. You’ll be making some very long cuts and the beginning and many short ones, so having the right length of ruler for the job will result in better cuts. Why do we recommend the 6 1/2” ruler instead of the 6” ruler? Because the blocks finish at 6 1/2” making your final trim quick and easy.
You’ll be trimming lots of threads as you go, so keep a nice pair of snips nearby as you piece. Teresa wears them on a lanyard so they don't get lost in the shuffle.
An 18" x 24" cutting mat is best for this project since it fits the full fat quarter on the mat, but is small enough to not need it's own table in your sewing are. You will want to keep it nearby when you start sewing so you can easily trim your seams.
Marking Tools: The Fancy Forest quilt, as well as Elizabeth Hartman’s other patterns, depend on lots of straight seams and 45-degree angles. There are a few ways to do this, including the technique Elizabeth suggests in the pattern book. Teresa chose to use Marti Michell's Perfect Patchwork Corner Trimmer to cut the strips before stitching which allowed her to use a 1/4"-foot with a flange to piece everything.
If you prefer to mark the stitching line, you'll want to grab a 45-degree triangle ruler and a marking tool that suits you best. We recommend the Chaco-Liner for it's thin, precise line. Other choices include water-soluble felt tip pens and mechanical chalk pencils.
Sewing Tools: Once you have everything cut and ready to go, it will finally time to sew! The need for precision continues and that includes having the right tools to get you a scant 1/4” seam. The most important step is measuring your seam allowance, whether you are using a 1/4" foot or a guide. Quilt designer Amanda Leins shares some tips on why and how you can make sure you're getting an accurate seam allowance.
Make sure that you are using quality thread and fine pins when piecing, as well. Even if you are normally not a pinner, you'll want to secure your blocks with pins to keep those seams and angles as perfect as possible.
Let’s get started. The first step in making Elizabeth Hartman’s Fancy Forest quilt pattern is prepping all the fabrics. This might have included pre-washing your fabrics, but it might not. It’s up to you! There are pros and cons to each. Teresa prefers to wash fabrics and then spray the fabric with Best Press or Flatter while pressing to give it added stability in both cutting and stitching. This includes the background, detail fabrics and fat quarters.
Grab your long ruler, your rotary cutter and your pattern so we can get started! You'll work through the various color stacks, carefully following the cuts for each as outlined in the pattern. In our class, we are adding 1/4" to all the cuts and then will trim as we go, giving us some wiggle room in piecing and cutting.
Go ahead and start cutting, dividing the fabrics between the labeled ziplock bags as you go. Next week we'll be back with tips on making that adorable Fancy Fox!