July 01, 2024

Merry Mini QAL - Week 1 - Text Block

Let's get this Christmas in July party started! It's week 1 of the Merry Mini QAL and we're starting in the middle of our mini quilts, with the text block.
Merry Mini QAL - Week 1 - Text block | DevotedQuilter.com
If you haven't already joined the QAL, we're just getting started, so you're not even behind! You can pick up your pattern here. From now until the end of July, the Merry Mini pattern is 20% off with the code MERRYMINIQAL, which should already by applied if you click on the link. Once you have your pattern, enter your email address here to have the weekly emails sent to your inbox so you don't miss any of the QAL blog posts.

As a reminder, here's the weekly schedule:

July 1 - Make the text block 
July 8 - Make the alternating squares borders
July 15 - Make the tree borders
July 22 - Quilting
July 29 - Binding

Week 1 - The text block

The Merry Mini pattern is written for that text block to be embroidered by hand, which is how I made both of mine last year. I love the bit of texture the hand embroidery adds, and how delicate the text looks. You can't achieve that with applique or piecing, that's for sure!

Not everyone wants to do hand embroidery, though, so I have a couple of other options to share, too.

Hand embroidery

First, let's talk about transferring the text for hand embroidery. When stitching on white fabric, you can simply trace the design onto the fabric using a pencil. It's easy and cheap, two of my favourite things! The stitching hides the pencil lines, so no need to worry about using a special, removeable pencil, either. Most of the time this can be done on a table, but if you can't easily see the template through your fabric, you can always use a lightbox to make it more visible. If you don't have a lightbox, tape the template to a window, tape the fabric over top and voila, you have a lightbox (I've done this more times than I can count!).

This time I'm trying a new-to-me product from Sulky called Sticky Fabri-Solvy. It's not a new product, but I haven't used it before. It's water soluble, so you stitch through it, then submerge the fabric in water and the Fabri-Solvy dissolves.
Merry Mini QAL - Week 1- text block | DevotedQuilter.com
 You can print directly onto the Fabri-Solvy, but I chose to just trace the text, since I already had the template printed out. Once the design is traced (or printed), you simply peel away the paper backing and stick the Fabri-Solvy onto the fabric. This would be the perfect method if your background fabric is too dark to see the template through.
Merry Mini QAL - Week 1- text block | DevotedQuilter.com
I've made a start on embroidering my letters, and I'm looking forward to working on the rest this week. Hopefully I'll get to do some of that stitching out in the backyard with a cup of tea.
Merry Mini QAL | DevotedQuilter.com
I'm doing chain stitch with three strands of DMC embroidery floss, number 816. I love that chain stitch gives a fairly thick line, especially with three strands of floss. I do find the Fabri-Solvy makes it harder to pull the needle through the fabric, so I've been using a thimble to make that easier. Other than that, there's no difference when using the Fabri-Solvy.

Here's a link to a chain stitch tutorial from someone more experienced than me at embroidery. Alternatively, you could also use a simple backstitch. Backstitch will give a thinner line, but it would absolutely work.

Fabric marker

Instead of hand embroidery, you could use fabric markers for your text block. I bought a set of Ohuhu fabric markers to try. The colour is wonderfully vivid, as you can see. I started off using the broad end of the marker, but quickly switched to the fine tip, which gave me a lot more control.
Merry Mini QAL - Week 1- text block | DevotedQuilter.com
There's a slight bit of colour bleeding at the edges of the letters, but it's not bad. I did have to be careful not to hold the marker in one place at all, though. These are the only fabric markers I've used, so I don't know if the bleeding would be less with another brand, or if this is pretty standard. Whatever brand you use, I recommend testing the marker on a piece of scrap fabric first.
Merry Mini QAL - Week 1- text block | DevotedQuilter.com
These markers claim to be washable, but I haven't tested that out. Since this is a Christmas wall hanging, I doubt the finished quilt will ever be washed, so I'm not worried about the washability. I did set the ink with a hair dryer, though, as recommended by the manufacturer, just in case I do ever need to wash it.


If you don't have fabric markers, you can also use crayons. I've used this crayon technique for quite a few projects now, and I have a full tutorial for it here. This time I chose not to trace the letters with a pencil first, so they don't have the dark outline my other projects have had. 
Merry Mini QAL - Week 1- text block | DevotedQuilter.com
The colour is a little softer than with the fabric marker, but still plenty visible.
Merry Mini QAL - Week 1- text block | DevotedQuilter.com
I thought of the Merry Mini QAL as a way to help motivate me to make myself a Merry Mini quilt...and now I have three started. Ha! Here they are together. The question is, will I finish them all during the QAL? We'll have to see how the  month goes!
Merry Mini QAL | DevotedQuilter.com
Which technique will you use for your Merry Mini text block? I can't wait to see! Be sure to use the hashtag #MerryMiniQAL when you share on social media. Happy stitching (or colouring!).

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