Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Envelope in a Quilt Block

Back to Maria's quilt. I decided I really wanted to include a personal note of some kind to her, and what better way than to have it in an envelope? 

After a bit of thought I went for a fabric 'card' rather than a note. 

So, I'll try and give you an idea of how I made both. But please be warned, this is going to be very lengthy, so if you have no interest in making anything along these lines then just skip through to the end!

But for anyone interested, I'll start with the 'card'. Two pieces of plain fabric, ironed in half to create the crease of my card...

I wrote in my message with a water soluble pen, ready to sew it.

I sewed the words through both layers of the fabric, to give it a bit of stability and to give an extra layer so that the reverse of the stitching didn't show through, particularly when starting and finishing the words.

Then to create the front of the card, the 'picture' part. I had decided on a rainbow heart (of course!) and some reverse applique to create it.

I sewed my rainbow strips on to the front of the card - ie the section above the written message and on the flip side, so the side where the reverse of the writing had come through. But this time I made sure I only sewed through the top layer of the fabric. 

It's in roughly the heart shape I want.

Just through the top layer, so there's no messy stitching going to be showing inside the card.
Then I cut a piece of plain, blue fabric the same size as my card

Drew on my heart shape to line up with my rainbow strips, and then cut it out carefully, starting in the middle obviously.

Once it was cut out, I checked it lined up with the rainbow strips, and then pinned the blue fabric to the plain fabric - 'right sides' together. This is slightly counter intuitive - or so it seemed to me anyway! It felt right to pin the blue so that the cut out heart revealed the rainbow underneath. But in fact you need to position the blue on top of the inside of your card, ie the writing layer, but with the cut out heart on the section above the rainbow fabric on the flip side. I hope that makes sense, it's not easy to show it clearly in a photo.

So the blue fabric is covering my writing at the top. My blue fabric didn't have a 'right' side, if you were using fabric which did, then you'd want to be looking at the wrong side of your fabric in this picture.

Once you have it neatly pinned then sew around 3 sides...

Here's the underneath side of the picture above,  but with my 3 sides sewn.
 Then turn it right way out. Miraculously your cut-out heart is above the rainbow strips!

I left this bottom side open.

Then I ironed under my final side and sewed a border all around this half of the card to close up this side and give it a bit of decorative detail.

So this border shows through on the back of the card on the blue fabric.
Then turn to the front of the card and carefully sew all the way around your cut out heart section, I just sewed several rows of a straight stitch, but you could go for a tight zigzag to get rid of your raw edges. I kind of like raw edges!

So this heart shaped stitching will also have come through to the inside of your card - but I like that, particularly with rainbow variegated thread!

I realised I wanted to insert a ribbon in too, so I had to unpick a little section, poke in my ribbon and resew it down.

Phew, and that's just the card part! I did warn you! On to the envelope. Starting with the opening flap. Two pieces of fabric, this shape:

Sew them right sides together, leaving open the long, horizontal edge (the bottom of the flap - although, sorry it's the top in my photo!)

Turn it out the right way. Cut a strip of fabric which will be the top section of the border around your envelope - so it needs to be a little longer, and can be as wide as you want.

I'm going with QAYG, so I've also got my backing fabric on here, but you could work without this.

Sew the envelope flap on to the border strip. Remember to have the inner fabric face up as in this picture.

Then I'm going to add the back of my envelope. Just an oblong of fabric, right sides together with the flap and the border fabric - hopefully you can make sense of that from the photos.

So when it's sewn you can iron it back down and your envelope is starting to take shape and look a bit neater.

I got to this point ages ago and then wanted to find a little bell to go with it. 

So both the card and the bell (when I'd finally found one) now needed to be sewn down securely before moving on to the next step.

Then on to making the front of the envelope. Two more triangles of two pieces of fabric. I played around with some paper templates to get the right size and shape for me - and obviously this was determined for me by the size of my card. 

And at this point I'm slightly short on photos! Next step was to pin and sew those green triangles together into that shape - ie sew an X shape across both diagonals, but sew this purely on the green, away from the envelope backing at this stage. And then put the envelope front back in place, as above, and sew down all 3 sides. No need to worry about raw edges at the sides, but I did just tuck under those top two raw points.

Then carry on with the rest of your log cabin sides as normal - which will cover those side raw edges, very much as I did with my lift the flap blocks. And build up the quilt block as desired. 


The bell has a proper little 'clapper' so tinkles very sweetly. 

It's hard to put into words why I went for the particular message I did in the card. One of the things I cherish most about Maria is that she is completely and utterly Maria all the way through. She's very transparent and solid at the same time! There are no complex layers to peel away, never any hidden agendas or guile. Which is not to say that Sam, Theo and Venetia are complex, devious creatures who somehow manage to hide their true selves! Quite the opposite! Which is why I find it hard to put into words why I went for this message specifically for Maria. There's just something about her that makes me feel that this is a really important, defining quality about her, and I hope she keeps it throughout her life.



  1. I love it! Such a clever idea. :) And I love the message, wise words to hang on to our entire lives!

  2. What a great tutorial / method for your block; I especially like how the heart rainbow peaks out. I did wonder at the message, but it sounds like it is just right for Maria.

  3. I think it's gorgeous! And a very special message for a lovely girl - it's very sweet to have the tiny bell there too!

  4. Such a lovely idea, can't wait to try it out!

  5. That's a lovely message. I particularly like the rainbow heart, reverse appliqué, rainbow colours even including rainbow variegated thread. Perfect.

  6. So clever Sally, and what a precious message X

  7. Love the message, and quilt block. This is going to be one amazing quilt :)

  8. I love everything about this, Sally - the envelope, the bell, the reverse appliqué heart and the message. Something Maria will no doubt truly treasure.

  9. This takes the idea of a quilt label to a whole new level. Great tutorial......thanks!!!

  10. This takes the idea of a quilt label to a whole new level. Great tutorial......thanks!!!

  11. Every block you make offers a sweet surprise. Maria is sure to love this quilt, and I'd venture a guess that it will become one of her most treasured possessions. And when it is worn out, it will become part of her most treasured memories of her childhood...and of you! I still treasure the quilt my grandmother made for me - my first ever. It is worn to shreds, but I am cuddling under it right now, thinking of my sweet grandma. When I was little I would have walked through fire to save it, if it had come to that!

  12. That is just beautiful... Pinning this right now! You always have such amazingly thoughtful ideas. So much love. xox

  13. Good detailed instructions. I think I could do this on an upcoming special quilt. Thank you so much,


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