Wednesday, September 5, 2012

FQBH: Friendship Braid Tutorial

It's here! Welcome to the

Are you a child of the 80's? Do you remember teased bangs, beaded safety pins on your Keds, shirt clips, parachute pants, barrettes with dangling ribbons, cut off sweatshirts, leg warmers, but most of all, friendship bracelets? What great memories we have with our friends. Although majority of these items were introduced to me in the later part of the decade, I remember them all too well and certainly participated in quite a few bracelet making sleepovers. More photos and stories later in the week. In the meantime, here I am circa 1982 in first grade. Yep. Pigtails and a turtleneck. Man, my mom knew how to dress us!

When Diane asked me to be a part of this blog hop, I was truly honored. Then I became terrified. Then I was back to feeling warm and fuzzy, then terrified again. I've come to realize after all the projects I've completed and gifts sent off, that I'm more methodical, scientific and precise when it comes to my projects. I figure if I get the techniques down, the creative will follow. And, you can never have too many tutorials saved in your favorites. I'm constantly going back to my most basic of tutes- to make sure I really get it down and understand what I'm doing. I'm surrounded by some pretty incredible people. The best thing I can do is share what I've been taught.

So today, my dear friends, I will walk you through one of the most basic of all basic piecing of a Friendship Braid (which is also known as the Prairie Braid or Herringbone.) This is a great start to what, to me, looks like a friendship bracelet. Taking a very basic technique like this, you'll be able to expand and work to create other strips that resemble those really cool friendship bracelets that, like, those really cool girls with the big bangs and neon hoop earrings used to wear. In the 80's, it was all about looking, like, cool. You know.

When I think about the 80's, I think about my older sister. Although she is 8 years older than I, she was my very first friend and someone I've always looked up to. Now as an adult, I am still quite intimidated of my older sister but know that no matter what, she will always be there for me. So, this project is dedicated to my older sister, Leigh. Leigh is a first grade teacher here in the town where we live, so I made her a pillow for her "reading chair" in her classroom.

Prairie Braid/Herringbone Strip Tutorial

The length/size is completely up to you. You can make them super small or large enough that a few rows can fill up a queen sized quilt. Experiment with the sizes- you'll end up learning exactly how you like it to look. My pillow is 14" x 20", so I felt comfortable making a strip 24" long. This is a great scrapbuster project! You can turn the basic idea/technique into something mah-vel-ous. Since I am making a pillow, I needed to make sure I had enough backing, binding and accent fabric. (The only fabric not shown here is black.)

I started off with 1 1/2" x 4" strips of Kona solids.

Lay your strips left to right, starting at the bottom. (Lay piece 1, followed by piece 2 of the same color in front- making a point.) Continue laying the strips.

Using a 1/4" seam, sew the tops of your two first pieces together.

Some like to press everything as they go. I am one of those people... Pressing seams open or in one direction is up to you. Since I am making a pillow that will have a cushy inside, I pressed to the sides to make it easier on myself.


Add your next fabric, sewing along the left edge on both of your first fabrics. (If you're like me, you have figured out a way to spill your glass of ice water early in your project construction- splashing water around your fabric, machines and onto the floor.. Hence, the water spots.) Press as desired.

Line up the second piece of your second color along the right side. Sew and press.

Continue building your pieces. You'll see your "braided" piece coming together nicely!

Since my pillow was 20" in width, I needed to make sure that my braided piece was long enough before I trimmed it down. You can always go back and add on more pieces BEFORE you trim the the shorter edges.

I make sure to line my ruler on the right side of my project (you can start with the left side if you so desire) just enough where I'm getting all of my braid, but not having any holes when I attach my braided piece.

And do the same to the other side.

When trimming my end, I made sure, like above, to get as much of my braid without extra holes or gaps.


Same for the other end. And your piece is done!

What are you going to do with your friendship braid? With my piece nicely trimmed, I added some black sashing and additional white pieces to make those colors pop. I used 1 1/2" wide pieces for my black horizontal sashing and 2" wide pieces for the vertical (part of which will be covered by the binding. For my pillow, I added fusible fleece to the back and quilted straight lines on the black.

I had every intention of adding in some sort of 80's phrase or words used constantly in that decade. Rad, totally, excellent, dweeb, gag me, chill, gnarly, bogus, have a cow, o-rama, poser, hoser, spaz, tubular, wicked... Of course, since this was something for my sister, I kept it simply "awesome." I downloaded the "Neon 80's" font for free from here. It's totally rad! Used a bit of under wonder and hand appliqued on the letters. Then, I sat with my girls and hand quilted lines while watching "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure". It's okay. You can admit that you secretly loved that movie, too.

Pressed and pressed some more, added interfacing to the back pieces (this pillow has an envelope closure.) Layered and sewed all the pieces. Finally, I added a binding just as I would do with a quilt. And, TA DA! A totally 80's throw pillow for my awesome sister.

I hope you were able to pull a few ideas from my post. PLEASE PLEASE visit my other blogging partners as they create different projects in the style of friendship bracelets. I know I'll be taking their advice and creativity and plan to make my good friends little gifts a la 80's friendship bracelet style.

So, tomorrow, head on over to January's blog Sew Go Sew for another "awesome" tutorial and project idea. For a complete list of bloggers participating, or for a list of bloggers for the month, click here.

Come back here starting the 24th and link up your totally rad and awesome projects for a chance to win some fabulous prizes!!!!

Thank you, Diane, for inviting me to share in the hop! And, thank you to our sweet sponsors for their support and prize donation.

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Be excellent to each other, and, PARTY ON DUDES!


  1. This is "totally awesome". The colors are so 80's and will look great in your sister's classroom!

  2. BTW, I still overuse the word awesome to this posts and comments prove it..LOL. Old habbits are hard to break:)

    1. Ha ha ha! It's true! Thanks so much for your comments, Danielle.

  3. haha. I use awesome all the time too! Your pillow is TOTALLY AWESOME! Really! I am SO impressed. I love it!!! Everything about it is perfect! :) Great job! and thanks for sharing! :)

  4. Very cool! Thanks for a great tutorial :)

  5. Wow ! What a gorgeous pillow ! And it really looks like a friendship bracelet :)

    1. Hi Marika! Thanks so much for your comment. :)

  6. Wow such a fun pillow! I love your use of solids over prints! =D

  7. Love this!! Fantastic cushion and great use of colour - I bet your sister will love it. Totally wicked. ;)

    1. Hi Kristy! Thank you for your kind words. :)

  8. Great tutorial - I'm a new quilter and I think I can do this! Your sister's students will love it!

    1. Thank you! I'm still fairly new myself! Follow the blog hop- you'll be amazed at what these ladies can do!

  9. What an awesome pillow!!! I really like the colors a lot and the quilting is fantastic!!!

  10. Your sister should consider herself lucky to have an awesome sister like you. This is so thoughtful Whitney, she will love it!!

  11. Buahaha, be excellent to each other! My little brother n sister watched that movie almost every day for one whole summer. I saw the pic and said to myself- that's the perfect 80's font. Great colors, idea and tute. Thanks!

  12. I love your braided awesome pillow. Thank you for the tutorial.

  13. I was going to download the font and my anti-virus said "NO" that it is a computer threat. Did you get that message when you downloaded it?


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