A bed topper brings a blast of color to your bed linens. It’s designed to go across the foot of your bed like a narrow quilt. We felt it would be the perfect canvas to highlight some of the designs from the pre-printed panel available in Marjolein’s Nature’s Palette collection. Pre-printed panels are becoming a more and more common part of fabric collections. Marjolein’s style is perfect for them, because the individual panels become like miniature paintings. Traditionally, you may have seen these panels used to create cheater quilts. But the newest trend is to produce a panel with ready-to-cut pieces, which can be assembled into a simple project. Nature’s Palette has two quick and easy pillow designs. However, always ones to color outside the lines, we chose instead to use half of the panel designs as part of today’s Bed Topper project, saving the second half for a matching lumbar pillow coming up tomorrow.
The feature panel is a painting by Marjolein of an adorable yellow bird nestled among the flowers of a little thatched birdhouse. We made it the center point of our bed topper, selecting coordinating Caning and Floral Chain prints down the center along. A bold Trellis motif creates the borders, highlighted with lace edging hand-dyed to perfectly match the soft purple tone of Marjolein’s motifs.
We used another section of the pre-printed panel design as the base for an embroidered signature block on the back of the topper.
Our thanks to all our friends at FreeSpirit for selecting us to create the debut project collection for their new Marjolein Bastin collection. Nature’s Palette ships this month to in-store and online retailers. Click here for a complete FreeSpirit Dealer Locator. Not all dealers receive and/or display fabrics at the same time. And remember, if your favorite retailer doesn’t carry Nature’s Palette you can always request a special order.
The Bed Topper finishes at approximately 88″ x 28¼”, excluding the lace trim. This is sized for a king or queen mattress, and the sample is shown on a king; there would simply be more drape down either side on a queen.
If you are new to quilting, you shouldn’t be afraid to take on this project! It’s a good way to practice your skills in a smaller format, and you’ll end up with a useful item that can be displayed each and every day. Below are links to all the articles within our Quilt Basics Series, which give you the tips and techniques you need to get started right away.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine – one with embroidery function if you wish to embroider the back signature panel (we recommend the Janome Memory Craft 9900 because it does it all!)
- Quarter Inch Seam foot (optional, but helpful since all the seams in this project are ¼”)
Fabric and Other Supplies
Click here for the Nature’s Palette Swatch page at FreeSpirit fabrics, which shows the entire collection in all colorways.
- ONE panel cut from the Nature’s Palette collection by Marjolein Bastin for FreeSpirit Fabrics; we used the Green colorway and selected two of the four designs for this project: the center feature panel and one of the small horizontal panels as our back signature block.
- 2 yards of 44-45″ wide cotton fabric for the center triangles and the backing, we used Floral Chain in Purple (006-Purple) from the Nature’s Palette collection by Marjolein Bastin for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- ½ yard of 44-45″ wide cotton fabric for the center diamonds; we used Caning in Green (008-Green) from the Nature’s Palette collection by Marjolein Bastin for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- 1½ yards of 44-45″ wide cotton fabric for the side borders; we used Trellis in Jade (005-Jade) from the Nature’s Palette collection by Marjolein Bastin for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- 2½ yards of 30″ wide (minimum width) batting; we used a low loft cotton batting
- 7½ yards of ½” – ¾” wide lace for the edge accent
NOTE: You could purchase lace from your favorite outlet to match, or for a perfect match, try our method: buy a natural cotton or cotton blend lace (polyester doesn’t hold the dye well) and dye it to match with Rit Dye. If you choose this method, buy enough extra lace so you can experiment with the intensity of the dye before creating the final length. We used Rit Dye powder and a blend of equal parts Denim Blue and Purple to create our lovely lavender. We watered down both and reduced the recommended time in the dye to get the best look. Again, get some extra lace so you can experiment.
- All purpose thread to match fabrics
- Embroidery thread for optional embroidery on the back signature block; we used lavender
- Tearaway stabilizer for the optional embroidery as specified by your machine’s manual in a size to best fit your machine’s hoop
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Tape measure
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
- Large safety pins
NOTE: For all the blocks, take the time to fussy cut your fabric to center a pretty motif in each. If you are new to fussy cutting, check out our tutorial.
- From the panel, cut the following:
The center Bird Motif panel is 19½” x 19½” including the green border. It should be trimmed down to 14¾” high x 17¾” wide.
The Lilac Motif panel should be trimmed right along the outside edge of the printed green border.
- From the fabric for the center triangles and backing (Purple Floral Chain in our sample), cut the following:
FIVE 11″ x 11″ squares. Cut THREE of these squares in half on the diagonal to create TWO large triangles from each square, SIX large triangles in total.
Cut the remaining TWO squares in half on the diagonal, then cut each resulting triangle in half again to yield FOUR small triangles from each square, EIGHT small triangles total.
And… THREE 30″ x 31″ rectangles for the backing
- From the fabric for the center diamonds (Green Caining in our sample), cut FIVE 10½” x 10½” squares.
- From the fabric for the side borders (Jade Trellis in our sample), fussy cut SIX 7½” high x 32″ wide rectangles squares; the fussy cutting is important for these as you want your motif to match and your joining seams to disappear.
- Cut the batting into ONE 30″ x 90″ rectangle
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Because you will have a bias cut, your triangles will have a tendency to stretch. Be careful when pressing to not stretch the fabric.
Block A – make four
- Find four green diamonds, all eight small purple triangles and four large purple triangles.
- Place one small triangle right sides together along one side of one diamond. Pin in place.
- The tips of the triangle should extend beyond the ends of the diamond by ¼”.
- Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance. We’re using our Janome Quarter Inch foot to maintain accurate seams throughout.
- Place one large triangle right sides together along the opposite side of the diamond. Pin in place. Again, the tips of the triangle should extend beyond the ends of the diamond by ¼”.
- Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance.
- Place the remaining small triangle right sides together along the side perpendicular to the side to which you sewed the first small triangle. Pin in place. Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance.
- Repeat with the remaining pieces to create three additional A blocks.
Block B – make 1
- Find one green diamond and two large purple triangles.
- Place one large triangle right sides together along one side of the diamond. Pin in place. As above, the tips of the triangle should extend beyond the ends of the diamond by ¼”. Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance.
- Flip and place the other large triangle right sides together along the opposite side of the diamond. Pin in place. Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance.
Sewing the blocks together
- Find two A blocks. Place them right sides together so the diamonds are point to point.
- The seams should be aligned and the seam allowances should be going in opposite directions. This allows your seams to lay flat and your points to match up.
NOTE: As mentioned above, if you are new to these type of quilting techniques, check out our Quilting Basics tutorials listed and linked in the introduction.
- Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance. Press flat.
- Find the center Bird panel. Place it right sides together with the double-A-block piece, aligning one 14¾” side. Pin in place.
- Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance.
- Press flat.
- Find the third A block. Place it right sides together with the remaining 14¾” raw edge of the center Bird panel. Pin in place. Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance.
- As you’ve done previously, press seams in the direction they were sewn and towards the less bulky pieces where possible. In this case, both center seams should be pressed towards the Bird panel.
- Find the B block. Place it right sides together with the single A block. Pin in place. Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance. Press flat.
- Find the final A block. Place it right sides together with the remaining raw edge of the B block. Pin in place. Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance. Press flat.
- Find the six 7½” x 32″ border strips. Separate them into two sets of three.
- Stitch each set of three together end to end, using ¼” seam allowances.
- Take the time to perfectly match your motifs so the seams virtually disappear. These strips are cut a bit long to allow for this adjustment. When each set of three is sewn, place the completed strip against the center unit and trim away any excess from the border so it exactly matches the center.
- Pin one border strip right sides together along each side of the center unit.
- Stitch together along both sides, using a ¼” seam allowance. Press flat.
Backing and optional signature panel
- Find the three 30″ x 31″ backing rectangles. Place them right sides together, end to end along the 31″ sides. Pin in place. Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance. Press the seam allowance flat.
- Find the signature block. Following your machine’s manual, set up for embroidery and hoop the panel. Embroider a name, a date or even a short quote. We chose a date.
- Remove the embroidery panel from the hoop and tear away the stabilizer. Press well.
- Fold under the green border on all sides to create a finished edge on all four sides. Press well. Pin the block on the backing in one corner, approximately 1″ – 2″ from the raw edges.
- Attach the block with your choice of stitch. We chose to appliqué our block in place with a satin stitch.
Final layers and lace trim
- Place the batting flat on your work surface (or the clean floor).
- Place the bed toper on the batting, right side up. Center the topper on the batting; the batting will extend beyond the edges of the fabric on all sides. Place large safety pins across the topper vertically and horizontally about every 3″ – 4″, pinning through both layers.
- Trim the batting close to the edge of the topper on all sides.
- Find the lace trim, cut it in half into two lengths.
- Place the lace on the right side of the topper. You will need to futz with the exact lace placement based on the lace you select. For our daisy chain lace, we wanted over half of the flower showing beyond the seam. You’ll be using a ¼” seam allowance, so set your seam gauge to ¼” and adjust the lace below this mark until you have the reveal you want. In our case, the top edge of the flower was ⅛” from the raw edge of the fabric.
- Pin the lace in place on both sides, then machine baste in place. Start ¼” from the end of the topper and continue all along the side, trimming away the excess so the opposite end of the lace also sits ¼” from the end of the topper. Stitch slowly and carefully to insure the lace stays straight.
- Place the topper right side up and flat on your work surface (or that clean floor again).
- Place the backing on top of it so the two layers are right sides together. Pin in place. Trim the backing as necessary so it is flush with the topper on all sides.
- Leave an approximate 10″ opening along one end for turning.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch around all four sides, pivoting at the corners and remembering to lock your stitch on either side of the 10″ opening. If you sewing with the topper facing up, you can following along just to the left of the lace’s machine basting line.
- Clip the corners at a diagonal and turn right side out through the opening. Push out the trimmed corners from the inside to make nice, square corners on the outside. Use your finger or reach in with a blunt edge tool, like a large knitting needle or a chopstick.
- Press flat, turning in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Slip stitch the opening closed.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild