For the past few years I've chosen a word of the year to help inspire me and remind me of what I want to accomplish and learn during the year. This year I've chosen "brave." I wanted a word to inspire me to have the courage to take chances and remind me I can do hard things. This word seemed to tick all those boxes for me.
Words have always inspired me. I often surround myself with inspiration words and sayings and even have some favorite jewelry with special words. Given my love of words, using them in my creative work has been something I've been doing more and more. This inspired my Word of the Year Mini Quilt. With this project I combined two of my favorite things - fabric (my favorite medium) and a favorite word. I wanted something I could hang close to my desk that I could see when I’m having a tough day or teetering on the edge of a big decision wondering if I should really go for it. My desk is command central for me and I keep an inspiration wall above it. A WOTY mini quilt was the perfect addition.
For my quilt, I chose the word “brave.” I felt like out of all the words on my list this year, that’s the one I really need to remember the most. It was also shorter than most of my other words, making the word a good candidate for a mini quilt.
To make my quilt, I used my Cricut Maker to cut the letters for appliqué. Using this die cutting machine in my sewing is something fairly new for me. I’m loving how precise the Cricut Maker cuts fabric and how the machine cuts some things that would be difficult or even impossible to cut by hand. I learned a few things about making fabric applique pieces on my machine I’m happy to share. Please note, I am not a Cricut affiliate, but a happy consumer who is learning by trial and error.
Iron on fabric adhesive before cutting your fabric. To adhere the fabric letters to my quilt panel, I used Thermoweb’s Heat and Bond Lite. I cut a 12”x12” piece of the iron-on adhesive, the same size as the fabric piece for the letters and ironed it to my letter fabric. I made sure the adhesive as firmly attached before I put the letter fabric piece on the Cricut cutting mat. I used the pink fabric cutting mat specifically for cutting fabric.
Place the right side of the fabric down on your cutting mat, making sure the adhesive side is on top, facing you.This is super important! You want the fabric down on the sticky part of the mat and the adhesive far away from the sticky side. This prevents the adhesive from sticking to the mat, which it does really, really well. In fact, you want to avoid getting any adhesive on your pink fabric cutting mat as will not come up easily. One of the first mistakes I made using fabric and adhesive with my Cricut Maker was to place the adhesive side down. It was a disaster! The fabric separated from the adhesive and I had to scrape the adhesive off my mat, which ruined the mat’s sticky finish in some places. So, from now on, I make sure the fabric side is down on the sticky side of the cutting mat.
Use a roller or brayer to help fabric stick better to your cutting mat. I inherited this great acrylic brayer from a friends that is perfect for rolling fabric down on the mat just before cutting. This helps the fabric stay in place smoothly with no wrinkles to get a better cut. You can use any clean roller like this brayer. Cricut also has some rollers in their accessory line that would work well, too.
Cutting your fabric and Heat and Bond Lite piece separately is not recommended. I tried this too, on an earlier project that didn’t work out. I thought I could cut the fabric first and then the adhesive pieces separately and then iron them together after they had been cut. It was really tough to accurately place the adhesive piece onto the fabric without any overlap. With the adhesive if you have any overlap, it will stick to your ironing board when you iron it on unless you are using a silicone ironing sheet. Even then you’ll likely have to trim extra adhesive from the edges and that can be messy and time consuming, too.
You can leave or remove the paper backing from the adhesive before cutting. I’ve cut pieces both ways and found I don’t really have a preference yet. For now, I’m leaning towards taking the paper backing off as I’ve found that leaving it on during cutting can cause the fabric and adhesive to separate more during cutting if the adhesive is not ironed on well.
Carefully lift fabric off the mat using a weeding tool. If your Cricut pink fabric cutting mat is newer and really sticky, this really applies. You’ll want to carefully lift the edges of your cut fabric applique pieces to prevent raveling on the edges. It’s trickier to do on newer, sticky mats. To help with this, I carefully lift the edges of the fabric with a weeding tool and touch up edges trimming with scissors when needed.
Make sure to mirror your image in your Cricut Design Space software before cutting. This will reverse the letters so that when you cut them the right side of the letter shows on the fabric side. You can do this during the phase right after you select the button “make this” and the previews of how the machine will cut the pieces on the matt pops up. There is a small button on the left that you can select to mirror your letters. Once you do this, just double-check that they have been reversed before cutting.
If you have a Cricut Maker and you love to sew with it, I hope these tips will help you get the most out of your experience!
If you don’t have a Cricut Maker and want to make your own WOTY Mini Quilt, here are some tips to make your own special mini quilt!
Use your computer and a text application to create your own word pattern. I like to use Microsoft Word and usually use thicker serif fonts. Some of my favorites to use are Copperplate Gothic Bold, Century Schoolbook, and American Typewriter. The font used for my WOTY quilt is Copperplate Gothic Bold sized at 350 points. When making letter patterns this way, I usually use a minimum size of 350 points upwards of 600 points depending on the size of letter I want. I also usually change the text color to black ink to a light gray to use less printer ink.
Next print your pattern out on cardstock paper and cut the letters out. I like using cardstock paper for a thicker and more durable pattern to trace the letters. You can use any weight of cardstock you have on hand.
Iron on the Heat and Bond Lite to your fabric before tracing and cutting. If you are hand-cutting your letters you may be able to use a smaller piece of fabric and adhesive since it often takes more fabric when using your die cutting machine. Just make sure your letters fit onto your fabric piece.
Flip your letters over so the wrong side is facing you.This is important! You are manually mirroring the letters, so the right side of the letter shows up on the fabric side once the letters are cut. Place the letters on the paper side of your fabric piece (remember to have the wrong sides facing you) and trace around them. Next, hand-cut the letters out.
Iron your letters onto your quilt panel and applique using your favorite method. I like to use a small zig zag stitch on most of my applique projects.
I hope this inspires you to make your own word quilt! Let me know how it goes and what you make!