Saturday, July 25, 2009

Have a Sherri Berry Holiday! ~ Learn to make “Prairie Points”


Project: Sherri Berry Holiday Lap Quilt, with Prairie Point & Rick-Rack Trim (Click here to purchase the quilt kit). Click here to see the complete Sherri Berry Holiday fabric collection.

Pattern: A DCQ original design by Laura & Rose

Finished Size: 32” x 50”

Skill Level: Confident Beginner

Technique: Framed Panel, “Stitch in the Ditch” machine quilting, “Prairie Point” construction, Binding with Rick-Rack accent.

Let’s Get Started!

Depending upon the manufacturer, focus panels usually measure approximately 24” x 42”, and can be easily trimmed & framed with one or more border fabrics to create quick quilts. The panel in the Sherri Berry collection is “dual purpose”: it can also be sub-cut into quilt squares measuring approximately 4 3/4”, or it can be used as a single unit.


I determined that my brown border fabric would look best if sewn directly next to the multi-colored stripe, but I wanted to preserve as much of the stripe as possible. Therefore, the flat brown that was printed on the edge of the panel became my seam allowance.

Start by trimming the panel 1/4” away from the edge of the striped accent. Lay a ruler on the panel fabric, and carefully trim away excess fabric.


Measure the size of the trimmed panel, and add 4.5” borders to fit each side. As you stitch the borders in place, be sure the panel is on the top, and the border fabric is on the bottom. As you stitch, you’ll be able to see the 1/4” seam allowance you created in the previous step. Stitch right along the edge of the stripe, hiding the unwanted edge print in your seam allowance.


Frame the panel on all sides, pressing each seam toward the outer border.


Layer your quilt top, batting, and backing fabric on a large table or clean floor. Use quilting safety pins to secure the layers (click here) , or spray with quilt basting spray (sorry, we don’t sell this online, because we can’t ship aerosol cans… check at your local quilt or craft store).

Using a coordinating thread, machine quilt as desired. I simply stitched along the horizontal & vertical lines created by the “quilt blocks” in the panel. I used 28 weight Variegated Aurifil thread because it is a heavier weight thread for topstitching (it shows up nicely on the background). I chose color 4661, but both 4654 & 4647 would have looked nice too. Variegated thread is great for machine quilting, as it moves from light to dark, creating a decorative accent.


Click here for our selection of Aurifil 28 weight. I recommend using a quilting needle for machine quilting (Click here for variety pack of Schmetz quilting needles).


When I finished the simple machine quilting, I also “stay-stitched” 1/4” away from the outer edge, to secure the layers in place for the prairie-point trim.


“Prairie Points” are decorative folded fabric points, most commonly added to the outer edge of a quilt, although sometimes you see them incorporated into borders. They can point either toward the center of the quilt, or point away from the edge. Click here for great book by Darlene Zimmerman regarding “Prairie Points” and other decorative “borders, bindings, and finishing touches”.

To create a prairie point unit, start with a square of fabric:


Fold the square in half, wrong-sides together, and press:


Fold the triangle in half, and press:


Repeat, making a “whole bunch” of prairie point units… I ended up using 46 in this quilt. Prairie points can be scrappy, or uniform, depending upon your preference.

Because I decided to orient my prairie points inward, I didn’t want them to nudge up against each other at the corners… I thought it would be too bulky & wanted a strip of border fabric to peek through. I drew a chalk line from the corner of the panel to the corner of the quilt top, then 2 more lines 1/4” on either side of the central mark.


The edges of the prairie points should touch the top & bottom lines:


Align prairie point units along the edges of the border, opening each unit to tuck the folded edge of the next between the layers:

(Note: the tucked in effect is optional… you can also do an “on top/on bottom” pattern as you overlap the units)


Once you have arranged the scrappy points, and are pleased with the appearance & alignment, pin in place, and stitch a scant 1/4” away from the outermost edge. The alignment doesn’t have to be exact, because depending upon the dimensions of your prairie point units, and the width & height of your quilt top, you have to adjust the spacing “to fit”. However, each unit should overlap with the next by approximately the same amount.


The quilt top will look like this, when you have added the prairie points to all four sides.


Coming soon… Rose will add a binding to the quilt top, including a rick rack accent.