Norah Quilt Sew Along 2021
Hello! Welcome to the Norah Quilt Sew Along 2021!
The Norah Quilt is a super simple quilt (just a big log cabin block) and the Sew Along is even more simple! There is no pattern to purchase, no sign ups and no time lines! Jump in whenever it fits your schedule and continue at your own pace.
Want to join, but you aren't interested in making a quilt? No problem! Make a Norah inspired cushion or tote bag! OR.... be inspired by our friend Rebekah and make a Norah coat! You can see Rebekah's coat and all of her amazing makes on Instagram @rebekahbaumunk
What is a Norah Quilt?
About five years ago, I made a large single block log cabin quilt for my friend's new baby girl, Norah. I simply chose 4 colors, one for each side of the quilt, and offset the center to add interest. Several years later I decided to make another one for myself. Several friends asked to sew along with me and at that moment, the Norah Quilt and Sew Along was born!
The first step is to choose four main colors and decide the size (width) of your 'logs' or strips.
When choosing colors, be sure to gather different shades of each given color. Placing strips of more intense colors along with less saturated colors, adds interest.
You will need strips short in length to begin building your Norah. And longer strips as your Norah grows. Depending on the size of your Norah, you will need to piece your strip to cover longer sides.
Once you have decided on colors and gathered fabrics, it's time to (roughly) decide the size of your Norah. My first Norah was a baby quilt and subsequent Norah quilts were more throw size. Keep in mind that you can easily adapt the size if you aren't interested in a square quilt. Just add more strips to the top and bottom to make the quilt longer than the width. Scroll through Bec's account on Instagram @sew.be to see her amazing asymmetrical Norah Quilt! Amazing!
How wide to cut your strips?
In my first three Norah Quilts, I cut my strips 2" wide. For my current Norah, I am cutting my center square 3" and my strips 3" wide. It's totally up to you how wide to cut the strips! This tutorial is more about the process. You might want to consider starting with more narrow strips and increasing the width as the quilt grows. For instance, begin with 2" strips and gradually increase to 3.5 or 4 inches.
I have an observation about strip width that you might want to consider as you move forward. To construct the quilt, you are wrapping the strips around the center section of the quilt. The more narrow the strips, the more trips around the center of the quilt and the greater the chance for the quilt to become 'puffy' in the center. There are ways to help prevent or reduce the puffiness or warping in the quilt and I will talk about those, but one way is to start with wider strips or increase the width of the strips as the quilt grows. If you plan on making a large quilt, you may want to use wider strips or increase the width of the strips as your quilt becomes larger.
Lastly, don't feel you have to be wedded to a strip size! Rather than cutting all your strips 2 or 3 inches, and being committed to that size, consider cutting as you go. Allow yourself to be free to make design choices as you sew. I think my favorite quilts are those that happened organically!
In a traditional log cabin, the center square is smack dab in the center of the block. In my Norah, I offset the center by adding logs to just two sides of the center, rather than wrapping around all four sides of the center. Once I had my center the size that was pleasing to me, I wrapped the entire center once with a neutral color. This entire piece of center square, logs and final neutral wrap, I think of as my center section. Now I am ready to start building the quilt!
Adding logs and building the Norah
There is nothing more simple than adding strips to build the Norah! Remember that each side has a designated color and begin at the top of the center section to add your first color. I work my around the center counter clockwise. It doesn't really matter how you work around the center, just stay consistent.
Measure the width of the top of the center section and cut your first log to the size needed. Pin to match the ends of the center section to the log and pin in the center of the top strip. Each and every log added to each side will be measured and pinned. Stitch the log to the top, finger press open and give a press with your iron. Be sure to check that all your corners are square and trim any excess if necessary.
As the sides grow, you may want to lay your Norah on a table or the floor, smooth out the Norah and line up your strip on top. Mark the strip to the length needed for that side. Cut the strip and stitch to the side, press, and square up corners.
To square up corners, place a wide acrylic ruler so that the top of your block is running along a horizontal line and the side of the block is along the edge of the ruler. You should have a nice 90 degree angle. If not, trim to create a 90 degree angle.
Continue measuring each side, pin the strip, sew, press and square up! It's as easy as that!!
Here are some observations and tips.
I love adding my favorite fabrics to my Norah. It's a great way to keep all those precious bits close to me. Or personalize the Norah if it's a gift. Add fabrics that reflect the recipient.
Add text! These long strips are a great place to add interest with a big bold text fabric!
Throw in some unexpected color....even if its just a few inches in a pieced strip. I love adding black or brown to a quilt. I learned the value of adding brown to quilts or quilted projects from observing the works of the super talented Chase! You can find Chase and her work at @quarterinchmark on Instagram. Observing and learning from other quilters is so rewarding! Nothing is new and if we only focus on coming up with the next 'NEW' thing, we are missing out on all the wonderful knowlege and talent out there.
I have seen a few Norah quilters add a block within a strip. Add a mini flying geese block or a heart or pinwheel block in the strip!
Keeping your Norah flat and the sides straight
Measure each side and cut your next log to fit. Be sure to pin the ends, center and in between!!! Let the sewing machine do the work and don't stretch as you stitch those strips. Especially as the quilt grows! And PRESS each log open, do not iron. Ironing back and forth often distorts the fabric.
If needed, use starch to get your quilt to behave and lay flat. I learned a trick from a long arm quilter to get quilts to lay flat that works like a charm! Lay your quilt on the floor with a sheet or blanket underneath. Spray the quilt top with Faultless Premium Professional Starch and pat the quilt top flat. Let the quilt top dry. It's pretty amazing how flat the top becomes.
Finally, even if your quilt top is a bit puffy in the center (one of mine was pretty durn puffy) it should baste just fine. I recommend 505 spray baste!
This should get you started on your Norah journey! Have fun and enjoy the process!!!
You can read last year's Norah blog post here for more tips!
Thanks for sewing along with us and be sure to tag all your progress with the hashtag #norahquiltsal
We love seeing all the Norahs!!!