January 1, 2014

DIY Fabric Alphabet Letters

This project for my niece Hannah began with a photo I found on Pinterest.  My "Pinspiration" (as my sister calls it) had a dead link and no original source.  Pinterest has plenty of fabric alphabet photos, and the quality of craftsmanship....well, it varies.

Using this tutorial as my starting point, here's how I made my fabric alphabet -- and how you can make one too.

Tools and materials:
Printed letter templates (see Step 1)
Paper-backed fusible interfacing (I prefer Heat 'n Bond)
Cotton batting
26 assorted fabrics
Pinking shears


1. Print letter templates.  I used font Arial Black 500 point on regular printer paper.  Cut out each letter and set aside.
2. Cut two 7-inch squares from almost every fabric.  Cut two 8-inch squares from one of your fabrics, to accommodate the wider "W."  (Tip: After you cut out your first 7-inch square, test your paper templates on it to make sure it will be big enough for each letter.  Increase the size of the square as needed.)
3. Cut fifty 6.75-inch squares from the fusible interfacing. Cut two 7.75-inch squares of interfacing for the wide "W."  (Adjust the size of your interfacing squares to match any adjustments you made to the fabric squares.)
4.  Cut 52 squares of batting, larger than the letters.  This is a great opportunity to use batting scraps, particularly strips left over when sandwiching and trimming a quilt prior to quilting.  If you use strips, you don't need to cut them into 52 squares first (see Step 7).
5.  Trace each paper letter template onto a square of interfacing using a pencil.  Flip the letters over and trace them again, so that you have two squares of interfacing for each letter -- one oriented correctly and one reversed.

6.  Fuse the interfacing squares to the wrong side of the fabric squares, following the instructions for the interfacing.  Cut out each fabric letter.

7.  Fuse each letter to a square of batting, and cut it out.  I used batting squares in the first picture, and scrap strip of batting in the second picture.  If you use strips of batting, you can fuse a bunch of letters to one piece and then cut them out with less waste.
Use precut batting squares
Or arrange multiple letters on a strip
8.  Use quilt basting spray to adhere the two sides of the letters together (batting to batting).  Basting the letters minimizes shifting when you stitch around them in the next step.
9.  Stitch around each letter with a straight stitch and 1/4-inch seam allowance.  I used my 1/4-inch foot and switched to my applique foot to handle the internal cutouts on some letters (the A, O, and so on).

10.  Use pinking shears to finish the raw edges, cutting close to but not into your stitching line.
Pinking in progress...
11.  Collect and admire your finished alphabet! I picked up a small plastic bin at the $1 store so that (hopefully) the letters all stay together.

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