Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Letter Tile Garland Tutorial

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Another day, another project....
I rather enjoy doing projects that are finished in a day or two.
Today I made a garland,
Yes, it says "fun with fabric", but that's just the start.
I got the idea from these paper tiles that I recently purchased at a paper shop. The box contained 80 tiles, so that there were multiples of many letters. There were also a few picture tiles to place at the beginning or end of whatever you want the garland to say.
The  box also had 5 m of a black grosgrain ribbon to string the tiles on to.
Of course my mind started churning with the possibility of making my own set of letter tiles from fabric. 

This is the process I used. 
If you would like to try it as well, these are the things you will need: 
1. Fabric scraps measuring 5 in. Square or larger

2, Fusible web, such as trans web or heat and Bond.  (By the way, if you are wondering what on earth happened to Steam a Seam this is a link to the companies website that explains what has happened and when the product will be back on the market.

3. a stiff interfacing such as Peltex or decor bond or timtex, but not a real thick heavy one, a more lightweight one that is easy to stitch through with your sewing machine.  I'm not sure what I used, -I had it in my closet for a couple of years.

4. Colorful threads in a heavier weight such as 40 weight,  30 wt or heavier

5. Freezer paper

6. Circle template, this could be something like plastic yogurt container or some other item to trace around to get the right size of circle that you will need.

I first made two practice tiles just to see how it went.
1. For each tile you need a fabric for the front, fabric for the back, and a middle layer of the stick interfacing.  Cut them all 5" x 5", Or even a little bigger on each side, I was aiming for finished tiles of 5 inches in diameter

On a light colored fabric, you can just trace around the template with the pencil, but this might be hard to see on a fabric like the dark blue in the picture.
So for dark fabrics, I cut a five inch circle of freezer paper, and then cut it down in size to about 4 3/4 inch and ironed it shiny side down onto the fabric. ( With freezer paper, when you iron it like this the wax on the shiny side sticks to your fabric temporarily.)

2.   On the light colored fabric, stitch through all of the layers about 1/8 inch inside the pencil line.
On the dark colored fabric, stitch through all of the layers just outside the edge of the freezer paper template.

Now you can trim them into a circle shape, cutting about an eighth of an inch away from the stitched line.
they should both be about 5 inches in diameter

3. Find something else to use as a 4 inch circle template. You will make a colored accent for the center of the tile.   
I used a metal jar lid.
If you haven't used fusible web before, it's not that hard. You just have to remember that it is like a two-sided tape that will stick two pieces of fabric together. You first have to apply it to the wrong side of the fabric that you want to fuse down onto the right side of your base fabric

So in the picture above, you can see that I had a large piece of yellow fabric, with fusible web ironed onto the wrong side. Then I traced around the metal circle with pencil on the paper backing.  
When I cut it out, I cut a wavy line instead of just the solid pencil line to add a bit more interest.
Peel off the paper from your shape and stick it down onto your base circle. Iron well so that it sticks.

4. Then you make the letters out of fusible web and black fabric
Letters are directional, and you are working from the back of the fabric, so you will need to reverse the letter when you trace it on the fusible web.   Then when you stick it down, the right side facing up will be the pointing in the right direction
To do this I drew a letter 3 inches tall on to some graph paper and cut it out.  Just turn it over and trace around that onto the paper backing of the fusible web. You can See the letter A has been flipped over, and traced around in the photo above.  The paper G has been cut out from the paper, but it needs to be flipped over backwards when you trace it on the fusible.

I like to keep little paper templates like this, because they take some time to make and they might be  needed again some time.  I store them in clear plastic page protectors in a binder
5. Cut letters out and peel the paper backing from the fabric, position them on your tile and Fuse them with the iron

6.  To string the tile onto the flat ribbon, you have to cut two slots in the top of the tile. 
For the first tile with the G on it I tried making two buttonholes. For the A tile I just cut two slots with an X-Acto knife. I decided that the X-Acto knife cuts looked best

7.   Stitch more lines onto the tile with different colored threads to make it look more festive.
If your machine does decorative stitching patterns, this is a perfect time to use them.  Have fun with the colors of the thread.

When I made more of the tiles, I waited to cut around the stitched circle line until everything had been fused down. This just made it a little easier to stitch the decorative thread work.
So the tiles can be reused to make other word banners. I'll just need to make some other letter tiles to have on hand.

If you do hand embroidery these would be a fun project to make with handstitching on them. Just imagine the name of a child for their room,  
I also think they would be really nice made out of felt


  1. look fun! anything fabrics is always fun isn't.. Thanks for sharing your making process!

  2. What great tiles. I luv alphabet letters. These are so cool!

  3. Sweet! I love this! Thanks for the tutorial!

  4. This looks like quite a lot of work, but so worth it in the end! It would brighten up any room.

  5. That banner looks great, Michelle! Thanks so much for sharing your process.


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