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Snowman Seeds for Sale - FREE Pattern of the Month

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Witches Pickets - Free Pattern

Witches Pickets is the first in a series of skill builders toward the Seamless Piecing technique. There are some skills I want to make sure we all understand so we can relax and enjoy the freedom of Seamless Piecing. More about that in next week's post. 

Making this cute table runner will give you experience in two important skills required for successful Seamless Piecing:
  1.  Using fabric strips as foundations 
  2.  Working angles without seams 
This darling table runner will go together so fast you'll still have time for tasting all the Halloween treats before you decide what to give the kiddies. At our house we buy the candy early and whatever is left on Oct 31st goes to the Trick-or-Treaters. That may be why we only had 10 kids come to our house last year. Hmmm... something to think about.

OK, I'm just joking about the candy. But no joke about this runner. It's fast like a runner should be. It'll be the perfect place to park your pumpkin, contain your cauldron or guard your goodies.

Ready? Grab your brooms and let's fly!

Witches Pickets

Finish size: 12" x about 56" 
You can make it shorter by clustering your strips more closely.

What you'll need:

1/2 yard of background fabric
a good variety of Halloween theme fabrics. Fat quarters are great.
1/2 yard black fabric for hats
Ribbons, buttons or other embellishments (optional)
1 yard Backing fabric
an adventurous attitude

Press and starch all fabrics. I use Mary Ellen's Best Press Starch alternative. If you tend to stretch fabric while handling, a heavier starch product might be useful.

Tip: Did you know washable school glue is Spray Starch concentrate? Put some in a cauldron spray bottle filled with frog water and... With a wave of your wand...Poof! Super cheap spray starch! You can make it as heavy or light as you like. Shake well to distribute each time you use it. To remove the glue: Let the finished item soak in eye of newt cold water for 10 minutes, then launder as usual. Magic!

Cut the background fabric into 6 strips 2 1/2” x WOF.
Cut the Halloween prints into 2 1/2” strips of varying lengths. You'll need about  15 strips, 6” - 15” inches long. The longer they are, the fewer you'll need.

Note from RB: If you look at the finished sample photo you'll notice I used 5 strips of different widths to accommodate larger prints on some of my fabrics. The runner still finishes at 12" wide. 

 We are going to “picket” the ends of the (Halloween) print strips. This is similar to making Dresden wedges. Fold the strip in half lengthwise, right sides together. Lower your stitch length to 1.5 and sew the short ends straight across. Feed the raw edges into the machine first. Chain stitch these leaving about 1 inch of stitches between each strip. Picket both ends.

Clip the corner at the folded edge then turn the pickets right side out. Just fold the seam over and flip it to the inside. GENTLY use a stylus or scissors point to make the picket pointy. Be careful, don't poke through the clipped corner.

When your pickets are turned, press them so they lay flat. They are Witches Pickets, so the “shoulders” don't have to be even.

Lay your background strips side by side and arrange the picketed prints on top. Align the raw edges of the background strips and pickets . Overlap some (most) of the pickets, try to stagger them so there will be no seams to match up. 

This is my starch board so it looks kinda gross.

Any picket point covered by another can be clipped off.

Leave 6 -8 inches of the background showing on each end. This is how you adjust the length of your runner. Cover more background for a longer runner, cover less for a shorter runner.

When you are happy with the arrangement, pin the pickets in place. Even better, use a drop of washable school glue and eliminate the pins. Heat set the glue with a hot dry iron for about 1 second.

Take a photo of your arrangement, or label the rows. Things will get shuffled around when sewing.

Sewing the pickets

Tip: If you have a guide foot (sometimes called a Stitch in the Ditch foot) for your machine, now is the time to use it. If you don't have one, I strongly urge you to get one. Witches don't care if the stitching is “stylized”, but you will want straight stitching in future projects. If your machine didn't come with one, you can get a generic one on Amazon for under $5.

Use matching thread to topstitch the pickets to the background. You don't need to sew the edges, just the points. Aim for your stitching to be about 2-3 threads inside the edge. If you don't have matching thread, read my post about thread choices. 

Sew all pickets of one color before changing thread. I know that seems obvious....


When all the pickets are topstitched, sew the rows together. Make sure you catch all the layers of edges in the seam. Press the seams open. The piece should be 12 ½” wide.

Decide how long you want this section of the runner and trim the ends straight across. Leave an inch or more of background past the tallest picket on each end. Length of the strip piece will vary depending on the placement of your pickets. I left 2 inches on each end, making it about 38 inches long.

Everyone ok so far?

Let's make hats!

Starch and press the black fabric. Fold it once right sides together.

Cut one strip 2 ½” x WOF. 
From that strip, cut 2 strips 12 1/2” long. Sew these onto the ends of your strip piece. Press to the black.

Leaving the remaining black fabric folded, cut two sets of two triangles for witch hats. They should be pointy at the top and 10” wide at the base. You can make them as tall as you like. Mine are about as tall as they are wide at the base. Don't separate the pairs. 


Lay the triangle pairs on top of a piece of batting. Pin the fabric and batting together. Trim the batting for manageability. Sew both sides of the triangles to the batting, leaving the bottom edge open.


Trim the batting again, this time very close to the stitching. Batting along the bottom edge can be trimmed so it's even with the fabric. Clip the fabric at the tip of the hat close to the stitching.

Turn the hats right side out. Gently push out the point with something that won't poke through the seam. Use your fingers to work the seams until they lie flat. If needed, run something smooth along the inside of the seam. When the edges are flat and smooth, press the hats. Topstitch along the sides ¼” from the edge. 

If you want to quilt the hats, do that now. Stars and moons with metallic thread would be cool.

Sandwich and Assembly
Yes, my backing should be face up. :-[ 

Retrieve the picket piece. Put one hat on each end, centered on the black strip, right sides together. Line up the raw edges along the bottom of the hat. Hand or machine baste so the raw edges stay aligned.

Smooth the batting onto a flat surface. Place the backing fabric, right side up on the batting. Lay the basted top onto the backing, right sides together, with the hats inside the sandwich, pointing inward. Pin everything together at the edges. Be sure to catch all the raw edges.

Take the pinned sandwich to the machine and sew all the way around. Leave a 6-8 inch hole for turning. Backstitch at the start and end. Use a 1/4” seam allowance on the sides, ½” on the ends where the hats are.

Trim the backing and batting even with the top. Clip the corners close to the stitching. Turn the runner right side out. Work the corners and seams until the corners are square and the seams are flat. Press. 

You'll need to close the hole you used to turn the piece. Arrange the seam allowances so they are even with the sewn edges. You can whip stitch this by hand or... You knew I was going to bring up that guide foot again... Nudge your needle one click to the left of the guide.  I recommend testing the needle drop by turning the wheel by hand before sewing. If the needle is not going to hit the guide but is going to be on the fabric, sew the opening closed.

So that's it. Your runner is ready to quilt and embellish. I recommend sewing 1/4" from the edge around the strip section (not the hat brim). It holds the seams in place so they don't shift when you wash it. And it makes it look tidy. 

For quilting I stitched a 1/4" echo away from the pickets using my guide foot. Then I stitched in the ditch down the seams. Nothing fancy because I felt it was fancy enough with out extra texture. 

Don't forget embellishments! I've had this pin on my inspiration board for a couple of years. It belongs here.

I'd love to see pics of your Witches Pickets! Post a pic here or on the Seamless Piecing Facebook page. If you have any questions about Witches Pickets you can leave them in the comments below, or you can email me directly at rb.seamlesspiecing@gmail.com

Next week we'll learn more about the Seamless Piecing technique. 
See you then.

Don't forget to follow! 

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