How to make a Square

It takes 42 embroidered squares to make a Quilt, that’s a lot of sewing.

You can help by making a square for one of our quilts.

Materials and Tools:

  • Cotton Fabric in a plain(ish) colour
  • Iron & Ironing board
  • Cutting tools (Scissors, rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat)
  • Frixion Pen, 2B pencil or erasable fabric marker
  • Contrasting Embroidery thread
  • Embroidery needle
  • Embroidery scissors
  • Thread Conditioner
  • Threader
  • Embroidery hoop (14cm or 5.5″)
  • An envelope and stamp
  • Paper and pen

You need a piece of good quality cotton, sometimes it’s called Quilting cotton. If you only plan on making one square and never sewing again (aww, that’s not good) then you can ask in the fabric shop for a ‘Fat Quarter’ instead of buying a whole piece of fabric.

If you are embroidering words on the fabric you need to think about the pattern on the cotton. Too much colour and fancy patterning can hide the words you want to say, try and find a piece with one shade of colour.

Ironing the washed fabric to prepare

Ideally you should wash an iron the cotton before you work with it, but if you don’t want to do that we’ll not tell anyone!

The finished squares are 5 inches square, but we ask that you cut them 6 inches square for hemming and any emergencies on the way. If you have cutting tools, great, but if not you can measure your piece of cotton with a ruler and cut it out with scissors, as long as we can trim it down to 6″ you’re ok.

Fancy Cutting tools (but you can just use a ruler and scissors)

Now the real fun begins.

Some folk know exactly what they want to write, others find it tough to know what to say. Inspiration comes from many forms.

Here’s a list of places you could look for inspiration:

  • Song Books and lyrics
  • Your Bible
  • Searching Pinterest or Instagram for quotes
  • Search Bible Journaling on the internet
  • Ask friends what they’d say
  • Imagine what you’d like to hear
  • Have a look at the posts on this website and copy a previously made square

If you still can’t think of what to say, you could simply embroider one word like Love or Hope.

Some of the quilts are used by people whose first language isn’t English, so consider sewing a heart shape on a square, since it seems to be an international symbol of love.

Finding inspiration can be something that does your soul good.

Whatever words or quotes you choose to write spend some time writing them on paper first. This will show you how large or small your writing needs to be before you mark it onto the fabric.

Think also about the person reading the finished quilt. Do they want to be told about sin? Politics? other Countries? Using the Bible is a great source of inspiration, but the odd passage taken out of context can seem quite offensive.

When you’re ready to write your words, use a 2B pencil or an erasable fabric marker. I use a Frixion pen from Pilot, these pens are great for marking on fabric because the ink disappears when ironed.

FriXion pens have ink that disappear once ironed, but 2B pencils are also good.

Choose an embroidery thread which will stand out against the cotton fabric. Choosing a colour on the opposite side of the colour wheel is often a good option. If in doubt choose a dark thread on a light background and a light thread on a dark background.

Choosing the right colour thread can make a huge difference.

Use a sewing needle that is sharp and has a hole large enough for your thread. You will also need scissors to cut your thread. Other things you might need are thread conditioner and a threader.

When using the embroidery thread, you might notice it is made up of 6 strands. You need to separate the strands to the number you want to use. The more strands you use, the thicker the lines you stitch. I use three strands, but it’s up to you.

I also condition the thread by pulling it through a conditioner. This keeps the thread from tangling as much. If you don’t have conditioner or Bees wax, don’t worry. Just remember to let you thread unwind every so often.

A threader helps you to thread the needle, it really helps!

You might also want to use a smaller pair of scissors to cut the thread.

Your Sewing tools

An embroidery hoop holds the fabric taut to let you see what you’re doing. You can embroider without one, but I find my hands hurt when I don’t use a hoop.

Some people don’t tie knots in their thread, but I do.

Tie a knot to stop your thread coming loose

And off you go…

You might be an exceptional embroiderer and most of what I’ve said has been really boring. You can make your square in whatever stitch you like, but if you’re a beginner you might want to stick to the back stitch.

Backstitch = Come up just past the last stitch
Then go down at the start of your stitch.

If you need more help on sewing the back stitch, YouTube will help.

When you’ve got about 10cm left on your needle, think about securing your thread and starting a new piece.

Don’t forget to secure your thread at the end

When you’ve finished your text you can add extra bits to your square if you like. Again, have a look at the previous squares for ideas. You can add buttons and beads, but not too many (please!) and make sure they are stitched on thoroughly!

Add a little detail to make it stand out.

Then when your square is finished, pop it into an envelope.

Its a nice idea to add a note saying who made the square. We’d like to add names to each square we get. Also add any other information you’d like to tell us. Maybe thoughts about making the squares. It’s always nice to know where the squares came from.

Address the envelope to

Quilts of Hope, 45 West Grange Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 2AP

Post it to us (Don’t forget a stamp!)

Don’t forget your details so we know who made the square!

We need more squares than ever, so please consider making a square for us.

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