Hissyfitz Designs

A Light-hearted Look at Appliqué Quilts by Sandy Fitzpatrick


Make it Merry Holiday Coasters

UncategorizedSandy Fitzpatrick2 Comments

img_4903 The Christmas music is playing softly in the background, the fireplace is aglow, and the decorations are finally up. If your holiday shopping is complete, you can take some time to relax. In my world, however, there is always that one last gift that needs to be completed. If you are looking for a quick and easy gift for a special friend, I've got you covered.

For instructions on making these cute little coasters and to receive your FREE pattern, read the rest of my post on BERNINA'S, We All Sew blog, here.


Hope your Christmas is merry and bright!


Make Your Own Design Wall!

UncategorizedSandy Fitzpatrick1 Comment

Image As far back as I can remember, I've always had some type of sewing space in my house. My DH is retired from the Air Force and for 29 years we moved about every 3-4 years. When my kids were small there was very little extra space to allow for a dedicated area to sew. I often would set up my sewing machine at the kitchen table, make a huge mess with fabric scraps and  pattern pieces scattered all over the place, and then try to push everything aside to allow enough room to eat at the kitchen table. After dinner, everything would be returned to the previous chaos until that sewing project was completed. At that point everything would be cleaned up, machine  and ironing board put away until the next sewing project.

Eventually we moved to a house that had a downstairs family room which allowed me to take over a corner of the family room. This allowed me a little more freedom as I was able to leave the sewing machine set up between projects which also meant that I got more sewing done because it wasn't as hard to haul everything out to start a new project. I became so used to having my own space that I continued to commandeer a corner in the basement of the next house. With the next move we ended up in a house with no basement and no room in the family room for me to have my own little corner. By this time my three kiddos each had their own room so I convinced the girls that it would be a great idea if they would share a room and I took over one of the bedrooms for my ever growing sewing supplies. I can't begin to tell you how many fights I had to referee over them sharing a room, I think there were a few months of actual masking tape down the middle of the room so that neither of them stepped in the other's space (but that's another story in itself)!

When the girls were in high school we lived in yet another house that had no extra room for me so I ended up taking over the dining room for my space. This actually was not the best solution because it was in the main living area and one of the first things people saw when they came to the house. Because of that, I had to clean up quite a bit when I finished sewing for the day to keep everything looking presentable. Several moves later I now have a dedicated sewing studio of my own! It's the bonus room over the garage. I can start a project, leave everything as messy as I want, start another project, etc. etc, and I am the only one who has to deal with the mess.

We've lived in our current house for 11 years now. Ack! That's like a lifetime for someone who was used to moving every three or four years, so occasionally I get a little itchy to move things around.

Recently I realized that the design wall I had been using for a few years just wasn't hacking it anymore. I had a sheet of styrofoam insulation from the local hardware store which I covered with flannel. It leaned against the wall and was stored behind a large chair which manages to stay covered with piles of fabric. Whenever I needed to use it I hauled it out from behind the chair and propped it against the storage cabinets at the end of the room.

Eventually I began to want a larger design wall, something a little more permanent so that I wouldn't have to move things around whenever I needed to use it. I decided that the only way to accomplish this was to move all the shelves and storage cabinets to another wall so that it would "free up" the wall I needed.

Since my original design wall wasn't quite large enough I added another covered sheet of foam insulation next to the original one. It wasn't until they were covered and nailed to the wall that I realized that the color of the insulation makes a difference. The original one was pink and the recently purchased one was blue. You can see a little difference in the color now that they are side by side but I've gotten used to it. When I use this wall to take photos of quilts I crop out the background anyway so it really doesn't matter.

If you have been yearning for your own design wall, here are a few pointers...

Depending on how large a wall you want, you will need one or two styrofoam insulation sheets from your local hardware store. Measure your wall to determine the finished size of your design wall area. Since I rearranged my room to accommodate a large wall I used two styrofoam sheets.

To cover the styrofoam I purchased some heavy duty flannel. It wasn't large enough to cover the styrofoam so I sewed two widths of the flannel together and made sure to allow enough fabric (about 6 inches) to be able to fold over to the back side of the styrofoam board. After sewing your flannel together be sure to press the seams open.


You may need a helper at this point. Lay your flannel out on the floor or use a large table with the wrong side of the flannel facing up. Then lay your styrofoam sheet over the flannel. Make sure the fabric is flat and begin turning the fabric to the back of the styrofoam board. Staple a couple of staples on one side and then pull the fabric slightly from the opposite side and staple. Continue alternating sides, stapling as you go until you have secured each side. Next, staple the top and bottom the same way.


Since the styrofoam isn't strong enough to hold the staples in place for an extended period of time, use some type of wide tape (I used duct tape but packing tape will also work) to tape over the edge of the fabric and staples. Tape all four sides.


I used two pieces of styrofoam and wanted to keep them aligned so I added additional tape to make a "hinge" between the two boards.


Now you simply need to attach the finished design wall to your wall. I rested the bottom of the design wall onto the baseboard and used small nails and nailed through the styrofoam right into the wall.


If you are limited on wall space, you could always make a design wall like this, hinge it together with tape and store it somewhere, maybe under a bed, until you actually need it.

Once you begin to use it, though you will love it enough that you will want it out all the time!

How to Add a Flange to Your Quilt Block and Mount it on a Canvas Frame

UncategorizedSandy Fitzpatrick1 Comment

16Finished-block Many of my patterns have an additional little design element that's called a "flange". This is actually just an additional strip of fabric in a contrasting color to add a little zing to the design. However, it not only adds that little pop of color but also has a very useful purpose! It allows you to lift up the flange on your finished project to begin free-motion quilting in an area so that no one call tell where you began. After you have done all of your wonderful quilting, you can then end your quilting by lifting up the flange again and secure your stitches underneath. Again, no one will be able to tell where you ended your quilting! AMAZING, I know!

I decided to add a little tutorial on my blog so that you, too, would have the knowledge to add a flange to your projects and give them a little extra personality. The design I'm using is called "Stitch" and can be purchased on my webpage.

The first thing you need to do is complete the stitching on your particular appliqué block.


For this block I decided to stretch it over an artist's canvas. I purchased a 12" blank canvas from my local art supply/craft store.


Since I started with a 12 ½" finished block, I needed to determine how much to trim off the block in order to add the flange and have the block wrap around to the back of the canvas. I wanted my flange to be 1" inside the edge of the canvas so I trimmed my block to 10 ½".2Trim-Block

Next, I cut one strip of fabric 1" x wof (width of fabric).


I then placed this on my ironing board in a little pile and added spray starch to it.


Next, iron this little strip of fabric, wrong sides together, to create a long strip of fabric that is ½" wide.


Now, cut four of these flange strips 10 ½" in length.


Line the raw edge of the first strip up with the raw edge of the top of the block and sew it on with a ¼" seam allowance. Then continue to sew the flange strips onto your block. I usually sew the top and bottom on first and then the two sides.


When the flange has been added, you need to determine how wide to cut the border strips to add to your block so that it will wrap to the back of the canvas. Center your block on the front of the canvas and measure from the edge of the block to the back side of the canvas and add ¼". My measurement was 3" so I cut two strips of background fabric 3" x wof (width of fabric).


I then cut two strips 10 ½" in length because that is the size of my block, and I sewed one border to each side of the block, again using a ¼" seam allowance, encasing the flange between the block and the border fabric.


Remember to press your borders away from your block each time you sew one on. The folded edge of your flange strip will be towards the center of your block.


Now that your side borders have been added you need to cut two lengths from your border fabric to measure 3" x 15" and add these two borders to the top and bottom of your block. When all the borders have been added, it's time to layer your block with backing and batting and do some fun quilting. If you aren't sure about free-motion quilting, you can always do some straight line quilting or cross-hatch quilting.


After quilting is finished, trim your block to 15" square and staple it to your canvas.

15Staple-to-canvasCenter your block on your canvas and pull the fabric to the back a little at a time and staple with a heavy duty stapler. Start in the center of each side so that you can determine that the block is centered and square and pull the fabric tight. The corners can be a little tricky, so fold the corner up at a diagonal and then fold the sides over it. Then continue to add staples around the block every couple of inches.

What a quick and easy way to give a block more personality. You can also add a flange to an area on your quilt that needs a little extra pop of color!

How to Use an Applique Press Sheet

UncategorizedSandy Fitzpatrick11 Comments

Since all of my applique designs are done using the fusible method, I thought a post on how to use an applique press sheet might be helpful. If you like to applique by machine using this method you already know how valuable an applique press sheet can be. I will admit that as I am sewing and working in my sewing studio it usually looks as if a tornado has passed through!  However, I can usually lay my hands on my applique press sheet at any time. It is a tool I can't live without so I always put it where I can find it. The main advantage of this wonderful product is that it has sort of a "teflon" finish to it that allows you to press all the pieces of your applique design together as one unit, let it cool, and then peel it off and place it in the proper position on your background fabric. If you have ever fused a design down, one piece at a time, on your backgound fabric you may have run into issues of it not being centered or in the specific place you wanted, or maybe it wasn't straight and was leaning one way or another!

Hopefully these instructions will help you to understand the process and make your life easier. 

First of all you will need an applique design...

Trace your design onto fusible web, my particular favorite is Heat 'n Bond Lite. 


Be sure to leave approximately 1/2 inch between each pattern piece. Number each piece accordingly just inside the drawn line of each piece. It may also be helpful to write the fabric color on each piece along the inside edge.

 Roughly cut your fusible web pieces apart, leaving about 1/4 inch outside the drawn line.

I like to trim out the center fusible area on large pieces so that there isn't a build up of fusible which can make your design too stiff.  To do this, simply cut the center from your fusible web, leaving approximately 1/4 inch from the inside drawn line.  (This is why you label your number and fabric color close to the inside drawn line so that it won't be cut away during this trimming process.)  Be very careful with larger pattern pieces so that you don't distort your design when you begin to iron this "strippy" piece down.

Lay each piece on the WRONG side of the appropriate fabric and fuse.   Be sure to check the iron settings for your particular fusible web as they sometimes vary.

Cut each of your pieces out on the drawn line.

Although my patterns are reversed for you to trace your design onto fusible web, you do need to flip your pattern sheet over and use a light box or sunny window to trace your design on the back of the pattern sheet for the next step.  This will ensure that your design will look the way it should when you are ready to fuse it to your fabric and you can place this under your applique press sheet as a guide for fusing.

Lay your applique press sheet on your ironing board and place the pattern sheet underneath so that your drawn design can be seen through the press sheet. 

Remove the paper backing from your pieces and begin layering your design by placing the piece that is the farthest away from the top down first, lightly press in place.

Continue to add pieces , making sure that no gaps are showing.

When all the pieces have been fused in place, let your design cool and then peel it from your press sheet.

Now lightly press your background fabric down the center both horizontally and vertically. 

This will give you lines to center your design.  When you are happy with the placement, fuse in place.

My favorite applique press sheet is by Bear Thread Designs. It is sturdy and has served me well for several years.

I hope you find this little demo useful and begin your own love of fusible applique!

Coasting Along

UncategorizedSandy Fitzpatrick22 Comments



Have you ever used a coaster to keep condensation off of your table and found that the water just accumulated on the top of the coaster and when you  picked it up all the water just drained off onto the floor? Come on, what good was the coaster when you end up having to grab something to wipe it up after all?! I decided to take matters into my own hands and make a few of my own to eliminate the hassle of cleaning up after myself.

I try to keep a glass of water handy during the day because I realize I don't really drink enough. It's sort of a vicious cycle, if I drink enough I have to stop what I'm doing and go to the bathroom and I think going to the bathroom is a HUGE waste of my time...guess I better get over that though and keep drinking more water.

Anyway, there's no reason to spend money on coasters when you can make your own.  Here's how...

Start with a small group of scraps


Using your rotary cutter and mat, cut the scraps into random strips, I used 1", 1 1/2", and 2" strips.

Sew them together with 1/4" seam allowances in your choice of patterns. I made a couple of log cabin blocks, a triangular log cabin, and simply sewed a few strips together in rows. 

 I was a little concerned about pressing the seam allowances to one side as you usually do when piecing blocks because I didn't want glasses to be unstable when they are sitting on the coasters, so I tried pressing the seam allowances open for one of the blocks. In the long run it really didn't make any difference, the glass doesn't wobble on either one.



For the backing fabric I pressed Decor Bond to the wrong side of the fabric. Decor Bond is a heavy weight fusible interfacing by Pellon that is great when you want to add a little extra body to something.


Since I wanted to make a couple of different shapes, I needed something circular just a little larger than the base of a glass. This roll of tape seemed to be the perfect choice. For the square coasters I just used a pencil to make a square the size I needed and then rounded the corners using the base of a spool of thread.

 Once I had the circle traced on the Decor Bond, I cut it out and used it as a pattern to make a circle of Timtex the same size. You can also use Fast 2 Fuse instead of Timtex, this just happens to be what I had on hand. If you don't have either of these, you can make your own rigid base by pressing several layers of Decor Bond on top of each other. I tried to make a coaster without this additional piece of stiffener and it was more difficult to sew a nice finished edge. It was also a little floppy when it was finished.

 This photo shows the order to layer your fabrics and batting. I placed the backing fabric on top, then the Timtex, next a layer of Warm 'n White cotton batting, and finally the finished quilt block.


After all of these were layered together and BEFORE I trimmed anything away, I stitched very close to the edge of the backing fabric and Timtex. If you have an edge-stitch foot use it now because it will make this step so much easier! 


 Here is a photo of the square coaster with the edge stitching done and  all the extra fabric and batting trimmed away.


Now, using your edge-stitch foot again, line the edge of your coaster up with the guide of the foot and sew a satin stitch around the edge. Even with a very good sewing machine you may not be able to get the stitching as close as you would like so just stitch around the coaster once again. It will give you a very nice finished edge with this double amount of stitching. If you don't have an edge-stitch foot use your regular zig-zag foot or open toed zig-zag foot.



After stitching around twice.

 Ta daaa! Four finished coasters, quick, easy, and cheap since everything was made with leftover scraps!  Make some for yourself. I think these would be great made up in holiday fabrics and would make great gifts.

No more sweaty glasses, dripping all over my sewing cabinet!