How to Add Pizzazz to a Fabric Panel Quilt

My granddaughter loves cartoons and watches a variety of them which are educational. She learns the songs, pays attention to the lessons and is entertained. She also has a fondness for old school Disney movies and recently fell head over heels in love with The Littlest Mermaid. Ariel, Sebastian and the “bad lady” make regular visits to our house and her imagination.

Together with this under the sea fascination is that the nice folks at The Fabric Society sent me a panel. Of what, you ask? Of the Little Mermaid andpq re 1 a companion fabric. Cool, yes?

I knew I could add pizzazz to a fabric panel quilt and create something she’d adore for her upcoming birthday. Here’s the panel with some maritime yardage I picked up at Fiddleheads quilt store in Maine. I am planning on using the companion mermaid fabric for the back.

pq re 2I cut 8 two inch strips from the pink whales and placed them on the panel. I was digging this! All I would have to do is cut up the panel and put the strips in between.

I had to take into account the picture and some reasonably sized pieces. I placed the strips in different locations and decided on this arrangement. Flounder got to stay intact, Ariel’s face was in one piece and the bad lady Ursula lost the top of her head.


I cut the preprinted borders off the panel and laid it out on my table.  It was just about 30″ pq re 3wide by 36″ wide.  That meant 9 pieces or blocks of almost 10″ by almost 12″.

The almost factor did give me pause but I cut them all just a shade before the 10 and the 12. I also had my fingers crossed. You’re right, it made it hard to cut.

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After I cut the top three, I knew I was in business. I was also relieved. However, I knew I could fudge the dimensions a bit with the strips.

I placed all nine blocks on my design wall for one last look. I was happy with the figure and face placement. Figuring out ahead of time where it will all end up with the strips was key. pq re 6

I sewed a strip to each side of each middle piece and pressed it towards the strip. Then I sewed on the left piece followed by the right piece. This took about 20 minutes.

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Adding strips along the outside borders completed this step. I know it is not looking as pizzazzy as I had promised but stay with me.

Once you figure out how to cut up the panel, the rest of this flies by. I know it would be easier to just make the panel as it but put in a couple of hours and it will be much more spectacular.

I auditioned all the fabrics I had with a “sea” flavor and chose the horseshoes. The dramatic colors really punched it all up. I wanted the impact whereas with the whales, I just wanted divisions.

I cut four 4.5″ strips. If I did the sides first, I didn’t need to piece any strips so that is what I did. I sewed both sides and then both tops. pq re 8

I am super pleased with the resulting top. With a bit of math and the right fabrics, you can turn an ordinary panel into a smashing yet simple quilt top.

Next steps are to create the back and quilt it. I will do these steps in the next couple of days and check back with you.

I want to finish Henry’s stocking by Friday and this quilt by Saturday. Plus I need to finish those table runner presents and make some more bibs. Wish me luck.

Or better yet, care to drop by and help me?

We’d have sew much fun. Sew happy!

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I wrote another post recently on using licensed fabric to make a child’s quilt. Check out that idea here. 

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