quilting1.11 -gtg

No buyer’s remorse with my HQ Sweet 16
I purchased a Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen mid-arm quilting machine in October. Several have asked for my opinion of it.

The features that convinced me to buy it:
1 — The table it sits in is compact, 30″ x 36″ — (I don’t have room for a long-arm machine.)
2– This is a sit-down machine, and the table height is adjustable for my comfort. I do not want to stand and quilt.
3–The machine stitches from 10 to 1500 stitches per minute, easily adjusted on a touch screen.
4–The generous space between the needle and motor, (16″) plus the roomy flat surface, gives me plenty of room for quilting even large quilts.
5–A heavy duty bobbin winder for the M class bobbins is included.
5–The machine is less expensive than long arm machines.
6–It’s manufactured and assembled in the USA, and each machine undergoes thorough testing before it’s shipped.
7–A local HQ rep came to my house to train me with my machine. She was patient, thorough, and a great teacher. The company knows that a well-trained owner of the machine will be happier with the product.
8–This machine can be upgraded in the future with handles, framework and a computer package to become a long arm, if I’m interested. I can also add a stitch regulator, if I decide to go that direction. (currently about $1000 to add)

I like to be prepared, trying to anticipate the future. I purchased extra bobbins, an open-toe hopping foot, a horizontal spool pin, mass quantities of size 16 and 18 sewing machine needles, and two 18″ extensions to add to the sides of the table.
That last purchase was not necessary. I quilted my first large project before I had an extension attached. I set up our standard card table on the left side. It was the same height as the HQ table and worked great! DH has since added the hardware so I have an extension added to the right side of the table. It can be extended to support the quilt, or it can hang down, out of the way.

[UPDATE: My extra, unused extension has since been sold to a lady in MN to use with her HQ Sweet 16.]

My impressions after using the Sweet 16 to machine quilt–

The visibility is wonderful! When quilting with my Brother 1500, an extended arm machine, I’m always dipping my head, craning my neck, peeking around the machine, looking to see what I’ve done, where I’ve been, where I’m going. With the Sweet 16, I just shift my eyes and I can immediately see my progress. A light ring with 28 LEDs aids visibility while stitching.

The bobbins hold a lot of thread, more than the standard bobbins I’m used to. On my first large quilt, I barely started a third bobbin. (I usually don’t add a lot of tight quilting, so that statement is relative.) Regardless of how densely anybody quilts, large bobbins save time.

The biggest difference, which I’m not used to — there is NO presser foot. I still reach around behind the needle now and then to raise the presser foot lever, and there is none. Oops!

Love the color touch screen. It’s a multi-purpose tool. I can change my speed easily, save 3 favorite speeds, needle up or down, change light brightness or volume of the beeps, troubleshoot with diagnostics that check quality of performance, and my personal favorite — keeping track of # of stitches. It’s like the odometer on a car. I reset the stitches each time I start a project, but the total stitches in the lifetime of the machine continue to add up. In a couple weeks, my total is over 300,000 stitches.

Maintenance is basic. One drop of oil in the bobbin case area after 2 bobbins’ worth of sewing. Gently brush lint away. Replace needles regularly. If there are problems, the diagnostics on the touch screen can help. The HQ rep is available to give advice, and there’s tech support available online or by phone.

Easy set up and take down. If I wanted to move it, I could do it myself, or DH would help. (So far, it hasn’t moved since being set up.) Machine is 53 pounds, and the table may be a similar weight. It’s a strong, solid table and does not shudder and shake when I’m quilting at a high speed.

This machine is not a magic tool for perfect quilting. I have to move the quilt under the needle– just as I did with my domestic machine. The Sweet 16 does not move above the quilt, as with a longarm.
I did not purchase a stitch regulator (though that can be added for an additional price). There are no plug-in pantographs. I’m responsible for the quality of my stitches. I’m responsible for the length and evenness and direction of the stitches. While quilting in the middle of a large quilt, I still have a lot of quilt to settle on my shoulder and/or chest and/or legs until I’ve quilted away from the middle. I’m in charge of manipulating the quilt, balancing its weight, and controlling those stitches. HOWEVER — that 16″ space and the flat surface make it so much easier than quilting with my domestic machine, as I previously did on our dining room table.

If interested, you can read more about the HQ Sweet Sixteen machine on the HandiQuilter website. There are a couple introductory videos, Getting Started #1 and Getting Started #2. You can find the location of dealers (including Australia) and there’s a map of where machines have been shipped. (updated periodically) Plus quilters who have bought HandiQuilter products have sent their stories to the website.

BTW–I’m just sharing my comments and observations here. I have no connection with the HandiQuilter company, other than I bought one of their machines, and I’m very glad I did.

UPDATE: — If you’re curious how much I use my HQ Sweet Sixteen, quilt #87 was finished last week. A few of those were crib-sized, many were lap size, and the rest were twin size, full size, and queen size. The lifetime stitch count on my “Nellie” is currently 4,857,371. (yes–it’s approaching 5 million)



I had my very first Singer for 10 years – bought it myself when I was still in High School. That’s when I started sewing “for real”. What I mean by that is – that’s when I started making ALL my own garments and doing all of Mom’s mending. Back then, it was mandatory to take Home Ec in school. I had already been sewing “a little” from what Grandmother taught me but my love of sewing blossomed after taking Sewing in Home Ec.

After my Singer, I bought my first true love that was my main machine for 25+ years – a Pfaff 1371. (and a used Pfaff 1471 came along later). I made all our girls clothes on that 1371 – EVERYTHING. It still runs like a gem and sits in my sewing room. It was “stationed” at my daughter’s home but she just brought it back here since we live so close. She says she’d rather sew here when “the urge” hits her since she can leave everything set out here in my sewing room. She doesn’t have that kind of space available in her house with the grandkids.

After sewing our grandson’s baby ensemble when our daughter was pregnant – everything from crib sheets to crib skirt to bumper pads to quilted wallhanging to door knob hangers to window treatments , I told hubby that I was “SEW” ready to look at other machines to take my sewing to the “next” level.

Want to know something? He never even blinked. All he did was to tell me to start researching on the computer. Oh my word, that’s when I discovered the “rest” of the sewing world. Honestly – I had NEVER done any research on sewing machines before because I was so happy with the wonderful machine I had.

I bought my Bernina 200 (which is now upgraded to a full 730). Believe it or not, I had intended to buy another Pfaff – why not – mine had NEVER given me one lick of trouble. But I found, at that time, Bernina had the better website. After googling Bernina, my husband went with me and we went to different Bernina shops. I had never even been to a sewing machine shop since that Pfaff 1371 so many years prior.

We walked into the first Bernina shop, which happened to be a bit farther away – and NOT ONE PERSON waited on us. And, here we were ready to buy a machine. NO kidding, not one single solitary person approached us. So while we were there, we looked around, looked at price tags, looked at how the employees were talking to other employees……we walked out. And, I thought to myself – okay – this is another reason why I want a Pfaff. BUT – hubby convinced me to go to that other Bernina shop that I had googled. Well, it’s history from that point on……………..

I immediately sat down at a “sewing only” machine, NEVER dreaming that I’d like embroidery. Heck, I didn’t even know embroidery was possible for the little seamstresses of the world like myself. Sheesh – another world opened to me. Never realized how many fancy stitches you could have built in ONE machine. Oh yeah, I did research – but seeing these machines in person – WOW! Well, then, hubby asked the saleswoman and salesman (the couple who owned the shop happened to be both there) what else they had in machines. YIKES – wrong question …LOL They lead us over to their newest TOL machine at the time – the 200. I immediately said there was no way I could learn a machine like that. It was actually my husband that said I could. Everyone who knew me knew I was a sew-aholic. I sewed EVERYTHING, yes, I mean EVERYTHING.

My husband said it was high time I got the machine of a lifetime. He was, and is, truly my top advocate. I walked out with the TOL 200, the luggage set, embroidery module, threads, software, a couple extra feet and the biggest smile that you ever saw in your life – AND – the biggest fear that maybe I just bought something that I’d never use – the embroidery.

Nope, I use that embroidery – and now I have TWO embroidery modules that run side by side at many times. Besides my 200/730 I have the 630E and the 430 and the Bernina serger 1300. AND – a sewing room that I had never had before in my life. I always found a “corner” to sew or on the kitchen table and never complained. As long as I was sewing, I was happy – and the kids always had new outfits to wear – no, they weren’t store bought – but they were probably better than store bought. I knew they lasted longer…LOL

UPDATE: I also have the HQ16.
I dragged on …so sorry.

But, that’s my sewing machine story and I’m sticking to it.


“Quick” Curve Ruler — Product Review

I do love curves and I’m not a novice at doing them even if I don’t do them often. The first actual quilt I ever made was a Grandmother’s Fan. The most ambitious quilt I ever made was a paper pieced NY Beauty — 120 blocks of curved piecing. And I have taken a Double Wedding Ring class and made a small wall hanging.

It’s rare I buy a pattern or a tool. However, I’ve been loving these Metro Rings. Because Connecting Threads was having a 40% off tool sale I caved and bought the Quick Curve Ruler Ruler and the pattern. The pattern calls for strip sets so I decided to use coordinating dots, of course. I write on patterns and make notes to myself. The pattern calls for 2 1/2″ strips x width of fabric or a jelly roll. Then you cut the strips into 20″ – 22″ pieces. My strips were no less than 20 1/2″. Width of useable fabric depends on the size of selvedge as well as the manufacturer and if you pre-wash and allow for shrinkage. When I write patterns I allow for 40″ of useable fabric as it’s rare there is more than that. This pattern states the yardage is based on 44/45″ fabric.

You are to get 7 curve pieces from the strip set. I got 6. That means perhaps the yardage requirements might be off. I haven’t made an entire quilt using the pattern yardage so I don’t know this for sure.

The strip sets sewn together measure 10 1/2″ wide. However, before cutting the curves with the ruler you are to trim the strip sets to 10″ wide, so that’s 1/4″ off of each long side. I found out this has to do with the placement of the ruler on the strip set before cutting the curves. I found it a wee bit of an annoying step. This also means each outer strip is narrower than the rest of the pieces in the strip set.

The cutting directions for the pieces all make sense. That went pretty smoothly. Curves = bias. The pattern specifically says “you do not need to pin.” Well I found at least an initial pin very necessary to keep the two pieces from shifting before I got it to the sewing machine. Does this look like these two pieces will sew easily together?

Well you have to sew slow, needle down, and this ruffling does happen as you try not to sew accidental pleats. It actually did sew together fairly well. The pressing directions are good.

I did not end up with perfect curves but acceptable for a first block. I’m happy I used a darker, patterned background as imperfections would be glaringly obvious if I used a white or light solid.

This is the most confusing part of the pattern — there are diagrams but they sure didn’t make sense for this part. You are to square the blocks to 9 1/2″. Now a square is 4 equal sides. The width of the block measures about 10″. No worries as you’ll be trimming. The height of the block is 8 1/2″. How do you “square” it?

You are supposed to trim 1/8″ above the curve but when you lay the ruler on the block there is a reference mark going the correct direction on one end of the ruler but no 1/8″ reference mark on the other end. It could be my fault but I’m following the diagram here! There is fudging, eyeballing, or use of another ruler. With this entire step of the process I crossed my fingers, grabbed the rotary cutter and hoped for the best.

Now that you have two of these sections you sew them together. As you can see the edges don’t match evenly. You don’t know this until later but it’s ok. There is more squaring up later. The pattern just tells you to pair them up and sew right sides together with a 1/4″ seam. It needs to tell you to match at the seams, pin, then sew or this can happen. Oh and even if you pin like I did, this can still happen. I think it all goes back to that weird 1/8″ thingy. There are a few more confusing parts to the pattern and things I could figure on my own — like you should at least pinch pleat the corner triangle to center properly before sewing. I think the pattern was written with the “assumptions” that people know these things.

And this is one section of the Metro Rings. I made a football. I considered adding laces and stopping at just one but now I’ve made two. Two more to go to get a complete “ring” section. I do love the look. I’m in awe of those who have the math minds to figure these things out.

There is waste but perhaps no more than other rulers or templates or even in applique. So the waste isn’t an issue for me.

Final thoughts: This ruler is not for the faint of heart nor is it for the beginner. A class with a knowledgeable instructor would be very helpful. It’s probably also helpful if you’ve done curves before. Online tutorials are provided which I did not watch, yet. If I buy a pattern and ruler it should be fairly easy to follow with diagrams and written instructions. Now I will watch the tutorials to see if there is more I should know. I would love to make the entire quilt but I’m still sitting the fence…There are lots of possibilities with this ruler and there are many patterns available for using it. So it’s a multidimensional ruler and I feel it’s worth the full price, but best at 40% off price.

As with any product I choose to review, I do it of my own free will. I was not asked to do this review. I did read a review prior to starting this project and it seems I’m not the only person who has had some issues. I think honest reviews are beneficial and not those with sugar coating. I’d love to know if you’ve given the “Quick” Curve Ruler a try.


Packing sewing machines




























Goals are good. We all need goals. The start of a new year is as good a time as any to set goals. It’s a good idea to check the list from last year to see if we deserve a pat on the back. I didn’t do too badly. I see that of the 10 UFOs I finished 8. Only 2 remain untouched. Of course those 2 are the biggest and hardest to do. That is why they remain undone.

I did make 2 quilts from my bucket list. I can’t remember which two and I have no idea if I actually finished them or just added them to my pile of UFOs. I think I need to reassess my Bucket List as well. Some of these just aren’t going to ever get to the top of my priority list.

Knitting 2 pairs of socks was a lesson learned. I am not that crazy about homemade socks. And they cost too much.

I really could cross off the rag rug as done except I keep thinking I want to make it a little bigger. So it sits in a heap by the couch where every now & then I add a few more rows. It is by far the best way I have found to use up massive amounts of unloved fabric.

Keeping the strings & crumbs under control is an act of futility. I traded one problem for another. My solution was to stop saving the tiny bits (just toss them) and sew all the larger crumbs together right away instead of letting them accumulate. Now, instead of a basket full of crumbs, I have a stack of unused “made” fabric. The strings are a whole ‘nother story called The Spiderweb Quilt From Hell.

It deserves a blog of it’s own.

The orphan block goal has been my biggest success. All orphans now become hot pads, pot holders, fodder for crumb fabric, or parts of quilt backs. Problem solved.

So now it’s time to set new goals. Or maybe not. I’ve been wondering if a list is all that helpful. During the last year, whenever I started a new project that darn list sat there staring me in the face making me feel guilty. Sure, it’s a nice feeling to cross something off the list but that feeling only lasts for a minute or two. I don’t need a list to remind me of all the UFOs that I should be finishing. But I need to be in the right mood, you know what I mean? Right now I’m in the mood to start several new quilt projects.

May the New Year bring all my blog friends health, happiness, and may all your goals be met.


Quilting 0.1 -gtg


Quilting Tips

•Use the clear- plastic food containers that grocery stores sell berries and donut holes in to keep fabric strips wrinkle-free and thread organized.

•Transport your quilt block units from the cutting table to the sewing machine with a large square of flannel and a Q-Snap 17” square quilting frame. The flannel keeps the pieces from sliding during the transport.

•Paint stencils are available in many great designs and can be used for fusible appliqué projects. To use a stencil, place it facedown on the paper side of the fusible web and trace the shape. Trace the stencil right side up on your background material for an instant and exact placement guide.

•To protect your ironing board cover from begin stained with ink when pressing paper-pieced blocks, iron freezer paper over the area where you use for ironing. When the ink builds up simply replace the freezer paper.

•Various size metal washers at the hardware store make perfect appliqué circles. Trace around the appropriate size washer on the back of the fabric, trim, and run gathering stitches around the edge. Slip the washer into the slightly gathered fabric circle, draw up the gathering thread tightly and press with an iron. Using spray starch will help retain a nice crisp edge.

•A great reusable quilting template is to trace the template or quilting design onto freezer paper and cut it out. Iron the freezer paper pattern in place on the quilt block and quilt around it. Once the block is quilted, peel off the pattern and use it again and again.



quilting1.1 – gtg


Caring for Quilts

For many years my mother worked in sales and lived out of a suitcase as she traveled the country, but that didn’t stop her from doing some of the most beautiful needlepoint and cross-stitch work I’ve ever seen. When she retired, she quickly filled up the walls of her home and kept the local frame shop in business. After she had given favorites to her children and filled every white space in her home, she decided to start making quilts, but instead of just sewing the pieces of fabric together, she cross-stitched or needlepointed squares that would be sewn together by the town’s quilting expert.

I was the recipient of one of these beautiful quilts but because my children were small, I didn’t want to leave it out on a bed where it might get smeared with peanut butter and jelly, or even worse, colored with crayons or a permanent marker. Instead, I folded it up and put it in my closet inside a plastic zippered bag that my bedspread had come in.

Well, when Mom came to visit the next time, she went looking for that quilt. I assured her that it was packed away and that nothing could harm it. After all, it was sealed in plastic. Nothing could get to it. Boy, was I wrong!

I learned a lesson from Mom about how to store quilts:

1. Don’t ever store them in plastic of any kind! It doesn’t matter that your bedspread came in it. It’s not the same.

2. Don’t store them in humid or hot climates. If the temperature feels good to you, then it’s okay for your quilt. If you live in Houston you shouldn’t even own a quilt!

3. Don’t store quilts in attics or garages. It makes a comfy bed for rodents and insects.

Instead, you should:

1. Store your quilt in a pillowcase or sheet, or roll it onto a muslin-covered tube.

2. Place a piece of fabric between the pillowcase or sheet and your quilt to protect it from the acids in the wood.

3. Twice a year, when the humidity is low and the air is blowing, air your quilt outside, out of direct sunlight.

4. Mark your calendar to refold your quilt every 3-4 months so you won’t make a permanent crease in it. Crumple up some acid-free tissue paper to help eliminate fold lines.

If you feel comfortable in displaying or actually using your quilts (and isn’t that why we make them?), you’ll want to follow these guidelines to make your quilt last longer and help retain its beauty.

1. Keep your quilts away from direct light. The sun will make them fade and will age the fabric.

2. If you notice any tears, repair them as soon as possible. Remember that a stitch in time saves nine, and will help lengthen the life of your quilt.

3. Clean up any accidents immediately. Washable quilts can be cleaned with cold water. My quilt, with the delicate cross-stitching fabric and thread, would need to be dry cleaned by an expert.

4. Before you wash, test the fabric to see if the colors are going to run. Use a white towel and cold water to test each color.

5. Do not put quilts in the dryer or hang them over a clothesline. They should lay flat between two sheets placed on the grass in the shade.

When I was a young, married woman I discovered a box of fabric in my grandmother’s closet along with the pattern for a quilt that had been published by the Kansas City Star in the 1920s. Grandma told me she had bought the fabric when my dad was born and had just never made the quilt. She told me if I wanted to make it, she would pay to have it quilted for me. I accepted the challenge, and without knowing anything about quilts (or anything else!), I cut and assembled all of the pieces. It was beautiful, and I remember the pride I felt in knowing that I had sewn every stitch, but even as I laid it across my daughter’s twin-sized bed, I could see how thin and worn the fabric had become. I wish now I would have used the pattern and bought newer, more sturdy fabric, that would have lengthened the life of the quilt, but that was just one of life’s lessons I had to learn.

Going through the process of piecing that quilt helped me to have a deep appreciation for all of the time and love that goes into each stitch. As I worked on it, I tried to imagine my grandmother as a young mother and wondered what life was like for her. Was motherhood as challenging for her as it was for me? Did she ever imagine that she would have a granddaughter who would treasure this old fabric and the bond it gave to both of them?

Buying a bedspread is fast and fairly inexpensive because they are mass produced, but you can’t expect it to give you you the same warm feeling as when you run your hands over the stitches of a quilt that was made by you or someone you love. When your hands caress the fabric and stitches of the quilt you have painstakingly created, the memories of the past are guaranteed to rush into your heart. If that quilt was made by someone who loved you, you will feel a connection that seems oblivious to time.


Old quilting patterns vary widely

Quilts are really nothing more than fabric sandwiches – – with two pieces of cloth enclosing a cotton batting or some other kind of filling. They were made primarily to keep people warm during cold winters, but they also were made to impress guests or potential mates with the maker’s skills as a needle worker.

Quilts were made in a variety of ways. One was to sew together pieces or patches of fabric that had been cut in a certain way so that when assembled, they formed some sort of a pattern. This is generally called a patchwork quilt.

Another way to make a quilt is to sew or apply pieces of fabric that have been cut in a predetermined way to a backing. These are called applique quilts, and many of the finest quilts made in the United States were crafted in this manner.

It is said that the applique quilt originated when designs were cut from chintz and calico and sewn to a white cotton or linen backing to accentuate the pattern of the elements that had been cut out. Once this was done, the piece was quilted to make it into a warm bed
covering, and sometimes, embroidery was added.

We use the word variant because every handmade quilt made during the 18th and 19th centuries (and before) was a one-of-a-kind, and an expression of the design capabilities and sewing talents of the maker or makers.

Some quilters just let their imaginations fly, and they created unique designs that were all their own. Others, however, worked within the structure of designs with which they were familiar. There were, for examples, a number of applique quilt designs such as Whig Rose, Tulip, Rose of Sharon, Oak Leaf and Sunflower that were well known to quilters, but every time a given person made one of these familiar designs it was a little bit different. In other words, the maker brought his or her own artistic sensibilities to the job and created a quilt that was unique.

Some quilt makers decided not to put a border on all four sides. Why? Maybe this was the way she wanted it. Maybe she ran out of the properly colored fabric before she finished. Maybe the quilt was the size she wanted with only a border on two edges. Or maybe she did not see any sense in putting borders on edges that would not be seen.


Quilting creates a magical world; Age-old tradition of quilting,

I grew up in a home where Mother sewed beautifully. She made matching suits and dresses for her and me. When I was little I would sit at her feet and cut fabric for dresses for my dolls.

I was taking an art class when my two lovely daughters took a quilt sampler class and that got me re-involved in quilting.

Like my mother, after marrying I was sewing mainly to make clothes for her children. But I would find fabrics I wouldn’t use for clothing but wanted to use for something – novelty prints, big florals, pretty, fun, colorful – so I took a quilt-making class.

When I first started quilt makingI thought, ah, I finally found what I was born to do.

Quilting is like that for us. A lot of emotion and love and heart goes into it.

I grew up with two grandmothers and a mother making things for us – my mother made my wedding dress – so I associate that creative activity with love.

My daughters and I did a quilt for a woman recovering from breast cancer. It was a total act of love. She liked Hawaiian things so we did a Friendship Star with Hawaiian-motif fabric: tropical fish, hula dancers, Kauai chickens, a Maui cow.

Children benefit from their stitches, too. We have done quilts for chemo kids at local hospitals too. Giving them a quilt is like wrapping them in a big hug.

Quilts are associated with comfort and safety, regardless of how young or old you are.

So much of what quilters do is that kind of thing. After Hurricane Katrina, Houston was inundated with quilts people sent. They finally had to tell them to stop.

I believe one reason quilting is so vital is that it creates strong bonds between women.

Some women wish they had a sister, daughter or mother involved in what they love as well. A quilt group can help provide that kinship. We’re lucky because we have that as a family, which makes the bond even stronger.

I realize that we were given a gift. Not just the ability to make a perfect point or a straight seam, but to make people feel the joy they do when given a quilt. I have learned that there is so much more that goes into a quilt than stitches and fabric. It often takes teamwork, passion and love. That magic is what I share with my daughters.


My Top Ten Quilting Tips

So many people have written asking how I manage to get a quilt made a week. So here’s my top ten hints on how I get quilts done!

1. I have a room just for sewing, right next to the kitchen and away from the bedrooms. I can dash in there and sew a few seams whenever I find (literally) a minute. I bound a quilt during the commercials on a movie on Sunday night – the TV was on in the kitchen, so I knew when to go back.

2. Put your sewing pressing on the ironing board at the end of each sewing session, alongside your clothes ironing. When you iron some clothes, get your sewing pressing done too.

3. Put a small table next to your favorite comfortable chair and ALWAYS have some hand-sewing on it. So if you sit down for even a few minutes you can get a little hand-sewing done without having to hunt for something to do first.

4. Make up an attractive bag with a full sewing kit and a small hand-sewn project in it. This is your take anywhere project, and you pick it up whenever you think there is any possibility that you could be stuck somewhere and can get some hand-sewing done. I keep mine on my small table next to my chair, so that I only have one hand-sewing project to worry about at a time.

5. Keep all your sewing tools (scissors, rotary cutter, etc) in a central place like a basket (I use a big pencil case). And keep this basket next to you as you sew so that you always put the tools back in it. That way you will never have to waste time searching for tools. Also, you can grab this quickly as you rush out the door late for a class! Also, I keep my bobbins in three separate bobbin cases – marked polyester, cotton and quilting. The plastic bobbins have p, c or q written on them too, so I always know what I have in my hand.

6. Use zip-lock bags to store all the bits and pieces of each project. Even if you have to pack it all away at the end of the day, you won’t waste time searching for anything. If you are using any special threads, trims, etc, put these in the zip lock bag too.

7. Binding can be almost completely sewn on by machine (sew on the front as normal, fold it to the back so that the binding overlaps the first seam by about a quarter of an inch, pin well, then ditch-stitch from the front). It doesn’t give as neat a finish as hand-sewing, and you might have to finish off the corners by hand, but it is quick.

8. When you buy the fabric for the quilt top, or when you start a project from stash fabrics, buy or set aside the fabric for the backing and the batting as well. Store these with the top while it is in progress. When the top is finished, the next step – without stopping for breath! – is to baste the quilt and then start quilting. If you pack the top away because you have to go out and get batting and backing you might never get back to it. A quilt is not a quilt until it is a quilt – it is a quilt top and, unless you want to use it for a tablecloth, it is not finished!

9. Keep your tools in good condition. When you put a new blade in your rotary cutter, buy the next one. Nothing slows you down like a blunt cutter (two cuts instead of one). Have your scissors sharpened regularly. Keep your different types of pins in different containers so you don’t have to hunt through one big pin tin for the right sort of pin. Change your sewing machine needles regularly (I use a new piecing needle and a new quilting needle for every second quilt). Clean the fluff out of your sewing machine after every quilt.

10. Look after your patterns. The small zip-lock bag most patterns come in are seldom large enough to keep it all in after you have opened it up and pored over it, and never big enough to hold all the templates and little scraps of paper you add when it is an applique pattern. Put the pattern in a large zip-lock bag and keep it all together, rather than trying to squeeze it all back in the original bag (trust me – it’s hard enough for me to fit my paper-hungry patterns in the original bag before you buy it, let alone after you have opened it up!). If you can’t fit all the bits and pieces in the bag you might leave some out and then that wastes time in looking for them later.


Keepsake Quilting

There’s nothing quite like the feel of an old patchwork quilt that was lovingly crafted by hand and worn in gently by countless generations. Anyone can go to the store and buy a quilt, but not many people ever take the time to learn the ancient art of quilt making.

A quilt is not just a bed covering. A quilt symbolizes comfort, warmth, and security, and a quilt made by hand is cherished even more because of the work that went into making it.

I personally have only begun attempting to learn this time-consuming art. Hand quilting is not for everyone, because it requires a lot of patience and a fine attention to detail. One of my first quilting efforts was a small doll quilt I made for my daughter when she was about 5 years old. It wasn’t too bad for my first try. My daughter wasn’t very impressed, however, and I was absolutely thrilled when years later our cat adopted the quilt as his favorite napping companion. I decided I’d rather see the cat enjoy the quilt then have it end up in a box somewhere to be totally forgotten (he’s now having to share the quilt with our new kitten!).

I envy people who have the patience it requires to quilt. I am determined to one day make my first full-size quilt. I first became interested in quilting when I was fairly young. I had a grandmother who liked to quilt, and I will never forget a conversation I had with her one day that will stay with me forever.

My grandmother made many quilts in her day. I was never fortunate enough to receive one of them (she was my grandpa’s second wife), but I was lucky enough to see some of her handiwork displayed in her home. One time when I was about 13 or 14 years old my grandmother pulled out a patchwork quilt she had been working on and asked my sister and I if we’d be interested in taking it home and finishing it. We were overwhelmed, but thrilled at the prospect of completing her work of art. She then went on to tell us where all the different scraps of fabric had originated.

This piece is a scrap from one of my maternity dresses, she told me and my sister. A maternity dress that she had worn more than 50 years before. She had saved scraps from many different pieces of clothing she had worn over the years. Each piece had a meaning for her, and she had saved them knowing she would someday make a quilt out of them. She was, piece by piece, sewing together memories from her life. She was tired of quilting, though, and she would never make another. My sister and I took the quilt home and started adding pieces of our own fabrics to the quilt. We quickly tired of the activity, however, and the quilt ended up in a bag in the closet (where it still sits today).

Every once in awhile I pull the quilt out and look at it, thinking I really ought to finish it. I know that in time I will, and it will represent at least four generations of our family’s history. I wish we could learn to live our lives in a way where every day we are striving to consciously make family memories that will stay with us forever. Whether she knew it or not, that is what my grandmother was doing, and I wish to take that idea and consciously put it into place in my daily life, as much effort as it sometimes seems. I know tomorrow I will be glad I did.


Discover How To Quilt
In order to learn how to quilt you must first understand how a quilt is made.

Basically a quilt is a sandwich that consists of three layers. The top of the quilt is a decorative layer created from small fabric pieces or patches sewn together in a creative and artistic manner.

The second layer is the batting. Batting is a cozy thermal layer of matted cotton, wool, polyester or silk fibers that give the quilt warmth and volume.

The third layer is the backing that is made from one continuous piece of fabric.

Quilting is the stitching which holds the three layers of the quilt sandwich together while forming a decorative design. Quilting can be done either by hand or machine.

The three layers are held together in one of three ways…

The oldest method is hand quilting. This is perhaps the most labor intensive choice for those just learning how to make a quilt. Hand quilting is usually done in a quilting hoop or on a quilting frame using special needles, called betweens, and quilting thread.

The easiest method is machine quilting. Machine quilting involves the use of a sewing machine to stitch the layers of the fabric sandwich together.

The third method is called tying which involves using evenly spaced knots or bows to hold the layers together at wider intervals than quilting. Done by hand or machine, this method makes a generous, puffy quilt called a comforter.

Those learning how to make a quilt should be familiar with the term piecing or patchwork as it is sometimes called. This is an exacting method of sewing small pieces of fabric (patches) together to produce a decorative pattern or block. This can be done either by hand or with a sewing machine.

Another important definition to know while learning how to quilt is of the term applique. Applique is the method of applying fabric shapes (called patches) by hand, onto a fabric background. Applique are grouped together to produce a decorative pattern or block. If you are using a sewing machine, applique, fabric shapes are usually cut into the desired shape without seam allowances. The shapes are then fused to the background with heat-activated fusible web. They are usually sewn on the quilt using a close zigzag stitch called a satin stitch. This method is particularly suited to intricate pictorial applique that attempts to reproduce a stylized or realistic story or picture.

Another method of machine applique involves drawing or tracing the shape onto the wrong side of the fabric. The patch is then placed facedown onto a lightweight lining and sewn around the marked seam line. It is then trimmed, turned right side out and sewn to the background using invisible thread and a machine blind hemstitch.

If you are just learning how to quilt that are plenty of sites on the Internet that can explain such products as heat-activated fusible web and, seam lines and various stitches used in quilting.

A Block is a single design unit comprised of small fabric pieces sewn together to produce a decorative pattern. Often, blocks are separated by alternating plain squares or by fabric strips. This is called sashing. Sashing is a term that those just learning how to quilt will run into often.




Quilting is addictive – You will need:

1. Rotary cutter – I recommend a 45mm blade. It’s small enough to handle some curves, but large enough to go through a lot of fabric. Once you’re sure you want to continue quilting, get some spare blades and change them as soon as you notice that it isn’t cutting through fabric effectively. Be very careful when using a rotary cutter – it’s essentially a round razor blade. If you lightly bump the blade, you will draw blood. Get a cutter that has a built in safety feature, and get in the habit of using it. I like Olfa’s curved one because you squeeze the grip to expose the blade, and when you let go, the blade is covered. You can also lock the cover into place.

2. Self healing mat – Buy the biggest one you can afford and have space for. I like by 24″ x 36″ mat, and I also use an 18″ x 24″ when I’m taking classes. Be sure to get the thin green, blue, pink or purple one (depending on brand) NOT the thick white plastic ones. They bog down your fabric and cutter. I prefer to use the back of the mat – the measuring lines just get in my way. I use the ruler for measuring and squaring the fabric.

3. Acrylic ruler – You need at least two – a short one that is easy to maneuver and a long one that you can cut strips from the width of fabric. I prefer a 6″ x 12″ and a 3″ x 18″, but most people like a 6″ x 24″ for the long one. Make sure you can see the markings on both light and dark fabrics. At least one of them should have diagonals marked – at least a 45 degree and a 30 degree, and preferably a 60 degree as well. You may not use these now, but you won’t have to buy another ruler later. They must have at the very least a clear 1/4″ marking and a 1/8″ “dot.” I prefer a ruler that has a 1/8″ grid in one corner (or all over if I can find it). When you measure, always measure to the outside of the marking line, not the inside or center. Some rulers come with a non-slip surface (Omnigrip) or you can buy a roll of clear plastic (Invisigrip) that you can cut and apply to the back of your existing rulers. You can also use little sandpaper discs with adhesive on the back.

4. Fabric – Start with 100% cotton, and buy the best quality you can afford. If you have a local quilt shop, see if they have a clearance section. Not only can you get first quality fabrics for nearly half price, the limited selection forces you to try colors that you might not otherwise have chosen. It’s good to stay out of ruts. If you like scrappy quilts, fat quarters are a good way to get a lot of different fabrics. If you like more planned color schemes, buy yardage. Watch for sales to acquire backing fabric. Value (light and dark) is more important than color. We gravitate toward the pretty fabrics in the middle values, but for a quilt to really sparkle, you need to include light and dark fabrics as well.

5. Thread – again, use 100% cotton for the piecing. Cotton (thread) against cotton (fabric) wears better. If you use a synthetic thread and make an heirloom quilt, the thread could damage the fabric and destroy the quilt. Use the thinnest thread you can find for piecing (I like 50/2). This helps keep your seams accurate. Every hair counts. If your seams are off just 1/8″ and you have eight squares in a row, the row will be off 1″. You don’t need to match your thread to the fabric color, just the fabric value. If you have white, black, cream, and gray you can handle just about any fabric. “Match” your thread to the lighter fabric. When you quilt the top, batting and backing together, you’ll probably want a slightly thicker thread (40/3 works great, and can also be used for piecing if you like). This doesn’t HAVE to be cotton, but many quilters still prefer it.

6. Scissors – you need both a larger pair to cut fabric, although you won’t use it very much unless you get into paper piecing or hand work, and a smaller pair for cutting thread. I love my spring handled large scissors. They’re comfortable for lefties and they open by themselves, which reduces a lot of strain on the hand. My small scissors have very large finger openings and are comfortable to hold. Both of mine are by Fiskars. You can also try thread nippers for the smaller scissors.

7. Pins – get the longest, finest pins you can find. A glass head is nice if you plan to iron with the pins in (plastic will melt). A large flat flower head pin is nice to avoid distortion when sewing, plus they’re easier to find on the floor.

8. Hand sewing needles – you’ll need this for the binding. I prefer a long fine “straw” needle, but most people use sharps for piecing. Betweens are for quilting.

9. Seam ripper – this will be your best friend. Rather than “ripping” the seam, cut every third or fourth stitch and pull it all apart. It’s faster and less messy, especially if you use a piece of tape to remove the cut threads from the fabric.

10. Blue painters tape – yes, I consider this an essential. When you sew your scant 1/4″ seam, you should not be watching the needle – by the time the fabric is at the needle, it’s too late to correct anything. Instead, you should watch about an inch or two before the needle. You can measure your seam by using an index card with a 1/4″ line. Put the needle down through the line and make sure it’s straight. Draw a pencil line on your machine bed along the edge of the card. This is your 1/4″. Use the painters tape to make a fabric guide. Cut through several layers of tape on the roll, peel it back and cut off a section that is at least 1″ long. Place this on the bed of your machine along the 1/4″ mark you just made. Now just butt your fabric up against this guide when you sew your seams. With this guide it doesn’t even matter if you have a 1/4″ foot on your machine (although they are handy).

11. Instruction books – I really consider a couple of good instruction books to be essential. You can find a lot of information online, but it’s worth the extra to get a couple of really good books. I recommend Start Quilting with Alex Anderson for your beginner book. It’s only about on Amazon and it’s a skinny little book that teaches you six basic blocks. I also recommend a reference book called The Quilter’s Ultimate Visual Guide. It doesn’t have patterns but it does answer nearly every question you’ll ever have. Spend a little extra (just a couple of dollars) and take your books to a copy center (Kinkos, Staples, Office Max, etc.) and have them cut off the binding and put on a spiral binding. This way you can fold your book back to the page you want, or open it flat.

12. Courage – Don’t let anyone say you can’t make a quilt the way you want to make it. It’s great to learn the traditional methods, but some of the most incredible quilts have come from people saying, “What if I did it this way instead?”

13. Inspiration – Use the internet to find photos of quilts that inspire you. It can be about the color choices, the patterns, the style – whatever you like. Use magazine ads to help you with color choices. Keep a file of interesting ads – you’d be surprised at what the professionals put together. I have a fantastic quilt in dark purple and lime green that I never would have chosen on my own. Check out internet sites that have quilting videos. Join one or more Yahoo Groups that are about quilting. Try Quilter’s Cache for free, amazing block patterns. (You’re going to love this site.) Also check out their tutorials.

14. Patience – You aren’t going to make a perfect quilt the first time. Enjoy the process, learn from your mistakes, and keep moving forward.


Crayon Quilts

These directions are for using regular crayons on 100% cotton. If you want to color on synthetic or synthetic blend fabrics, you will need to use Fabric Crayons. Fabric crayons are ideal for transferring colorful designs permanently to all your craft and home sewing projects when using synthetic and synthetic blend fabrics.

Start by prewashing your 100% cotton fabric without using a fabric softener or dryer sheet. Then iron it to a stabilizer like freezer paper. Using a light box, trace your design on to the fabric using a fine Pigma pen. If you don’t have a light box, try a glass topped coffee table with a lamp underneath. You could also tape your paper design to a window during daylight, then tape your fabric to be outlined over that. Coloring books are a good place to find open designs with clearly defined lines.

Now color your pattern, pressing down firmly on the crayon. The darker the better. (You can also use melted crayons if you are the adventurous sort.) For a great stained glass look, you could scan a motif into your computer, then print it on fabric adhered to freezer paper. Color the design, then trace over the lines with a black pigma pen. You will get rid of the excess wax in the next step.

Protect your ironing board with a couple of sheets of newspaper or paper towels. Put the colored fabric face up and cover it with a paper towel. Press with iron set on wool or medium. As you press, you will see the paper towel start to absorb the excess wax. It may or may not have color.

Change the paper towel and press until there is no longer any wax. If you don’t think it’s dark enough after pressing it, you can go over it again with crayons and then press again. When you are finished, let it cool a bit and peel off the freezer paper. You might want to turn the fabric over repeat the process with the back side of your crayoned design up.

Let your fabric cool before you use it. You can do a wash of clear textile medium or transparent textile paint (like Seta color) over the crayons to make it more permanent, but it probably won’t be necessary unless you plan to wash your quilt often. If you do need to wash, use cold water on the gentle cycle and line dry.


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Quilting for Profit | All About Quilting Online Info

Once you have created some quilts you may want to starting selling them. There are a variety of different ways to do this including going to arts and craft festivals in your city, flea markets on even setting up your website. You will need to have a good stock built up and that will take some time. You can look on the internet for the local arts and crafts festival, their cost, times and locations. The local flea market is a good place to set up a booth but then again you will need to contact the local vendors to find out their costs for a booth, times they are open and any special requirements they may have for bringing in your own tables and such. You want to have a way to display your quilts such as a rack as well as some bags to put them in, and change for cash payers. And you will probably need a way to take credit cards as well.

If you don’t want to attend arts and crafts festivals or hang out a the flea market all weekend you might want to consider getting a website and selling your products online. You create your own website using one of the free services. Just remember you will need to sign up for a merchants account with either Google pay or Paypal to process credit cards. However, you will not get a website with your own domain name. Some will allow you to just use their shopping cart feature by using links from your own domain website. You can always start out with a free site and when you get going you can upgrade to your own domain with a shopping cart feature built in so that you can control all aspects of your business. Remember you have to have a shipping cost module added to your cart as well as collect sales taxes. The rate of sales tax is determined by which state you live in.

Finally, you will need to consider how much you are going to charge for your quilting creations. There are a variety of different strategies to consider when you want to sell you items including the cost of materials, the time spent on the project and the size of the piece and of course, the uniqueness of it as well. Good luck!



Preparing your quilt for a professional longarm quilter


Please take note of the following important reminders about your quilt top so it will be a beautiful finished product and you can keep your cost down.

If you plan to bring the back of the quilt to the top for binding you need to be sure to add let the quilter know and add a note to the quilt top.

All quilts will be returned trimmed even with the quilt top unless the customer requests to have the quilt returned untrimmed.

Thoroughly press your quilt top and backing. Backing seam should be pressed open. If piecing the backing, please make sure that all the pieces are the same length. In other words, straighten the edges. Trim any stray threads. Trailing threads can get caught between layers and show. After pressing, fold neatly and allow enough space in box to allow for batting if you are not providing the batting. If you are shipping the batting and it is a packaged batting, please open your package of batting and refold to fit box with room to spare. PLEASE.

Is there an up and down to your quilt top or backing? With a safety pin, pin a piece of paper to the top edge to identify it.

It is very important that your quilt top and backing are square. Please do not use sheets for backing fabric as they can cause problems for a quilting machine. Note that according to your personal preference you may, or may not want to select backing fabric that varies in color dramatically from the top. During long arm machine quilting, top and bottom thread is chosen to match your quilt top. If your top fabric is light and your backing is dark, you’ll see contrasting thread on the back of your quilt. Some people like this look; some do not; so just be aware of this. We will do what you want.

If your top has no borders, stay-stitch 1/4″ in all the way around the edge. This keeps the seams from “popping” and prevents stretching when attaching it to the canvas on the rollers. PLEASE NO SERGER STITCHING.

Your batting and backing fabric must be at least 8 inches larger than your quilt top. For example, if your top is 60 X 80 then your batting and backing must be at least 68 X 88. If you send a package batting it is not necessary to trim it, we will trim during quilting and return any excess with the quilt.

If your quilt does not meet our specifications listed above, they will be corrected for an additional charge.


Please send Warm and Natural (90″), Warm and White (90″ and king), Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 cotton/poly (96″ and 120″) and Quilter’s Dream cotton/poly. You may supply the batting, but only from the brands listed above. Please do not send Mountain Mist or store brand cotton battings.


Gift Ideas for Quilters on Your List

If you have a quilter on your holiday gift giving list this year, consider yourself lucky. Christmas gifts for quilters are abundant and fit in any budget.

Give a gift card or certificate to the quilter’s favorite craft, hobby, or fabric store. The gift card can be used for whatever quilting supplies he or she needs.

For those who believe giving a gift card is taking the easy way out, there are plenty of other Christmas gifts for quilters.

How about a nice pair of scissors? Good scissors are a tool that every quilter needs. When you shop for scissors as your Christmas gift for the quilter on your list, you will see just how many kinds of scissors there are on the market. Take time to read the packaging carefully. You wouldn’t want to give your quilter a pair of embroidery thread snips instead of a sturdy pair of fabric cutting scissors!

Books and magazines about quilting styles and techniques make great Christmas gifts for quilters. It does not matter how many your quilting friend already has, books and magazines that show new techniques or trends are always a welcomed gift. Quilters often find inspiration for new color choices, quilting patterns and project ideas in books and magazines.

Give the gift of an Internet quilting club membership. Many online quilting clubs give their subscribers great quilting tips and offer one-on-one assistance for members who email them questions. Some websites even feature regular interviews with quilting pros or offer video streams which show demonstrations of various quilting techniques!

Make a quilt yourself. Even if you’re not a quilter, making a quilt (or quilted wall hanging, throw, or even a potholder) will show your quilting friend that you recognize his or her love for quilting. Use your imagination and see what you can quilt. If you’re not a quilter, give yourself plenty of time for your first quilting project.

Give the gift of a quilted look in accessories for the home or office. Even if you yourself are not a quilter, there are plenty of unique Christmas gifts for quilters you can create yourself. Decoupage a picture frame to look like a quilt. Or, cover a frame, desk calendar and inexpensive business card holder in coordinating fabrics. A fabric printed or woven with a quilt pattern would be an extra nice touch!

Give a quilter’s gift basket. Search for a nice basket that will match your friend’s decor. Include several quilting products in it. Good choices are various strengths of quilting thread, a rotary cutter and cutting surface, scissors, scraps or fabric remnants, and quilting needles (if your friend quilts by hand; machine needles if your friend quilts by machine). Don’t forget to add a copy of your favorite quilt pattern or a book full of patterns! If you’re giving the gift of a quilting web club membership, it would be nice to “wrap” your gift in a small gift basket.

If your quilting friend likes to craft with vintage fabrics, take a trip to your area thrift store to pick up a few samples. Keep an open mind. When shopping in thrift stores, you’ll rarely run across a bolt of fabric. Your vintage fabrics may be recycled old ties, old blouses or old t-shirts!

Any of these gifts would be appreciated and enjoyed by the quilter on your holiday gift giving list. Wrap them in fabric or tie a nice fabric bow on top of whichever gift you decide to give for a great finishing touch!


Quilting – New Trends with 100% Die Cut Quilt and Fabric Kits

A developing market niche in the quilting world is 100% die cut quilt kits. Although precut kits have been sold for a number of years, die cut kits take the cutting a step further. Precut kits provide the quilter larger pieces of fabric which need to be cut into smaller quilt pieces. 100% die cut kits provide all pieces, borders, and binding cut and ready to sew. When searching online or in stores for precut quilt kits, take note of which type of “precut” kit you are purchasing.

Precut kits with appropriate lengths of multiple fabrics have advantages and disadvantages. They do provide the quilter with a matched fabric selection for a particular pattern. The pattern may or may not be included with the kit. Also, the cutting process is easier because the pieces of fabric are smaller and easier to manipulate. However, cutting precision is dependent on the quilter’s abilities and the effectiveness of the pattern directions. If an error is made in cutting, the quilter may not have enough fabric in that particular color to correct the error. Precut kits are an advantage because they save the quilter time.

The newer, 100% die cut quilt kits also have advantages and disadvantages. First, the kits contain all the pieces, borders, backing and binding cut and ready to sew with detailed “visual” instructions. No more calculating where to make the next rotary cut and how to cut that triangle! Next, the die cutting process creates precision cut pieces which stitch together easily for that perfect block. The blocks fit together nicely for a quality stitched quilt project. Also, the 100% die cut kit saves the quilter time and money since the quilter does not have to be concerned about obtaining a pattern, locating and choosing fabrics, accounting for extra fabric, and cutting the pieces, borders, and bindings. This leaves more time and energy for the fun of piecing together the quilt project. However, the quilter’s selection is limited to the variety of kits available for purchase. Finally, if you use a long arm quilting service, they will certainly notice and appreciate your work. An accurately sewn quilt project leads to quality final quilting. In the end, it’s a winning situation. 100% die cut kits make high quality quilts, wall hangings, and table runners possible for all types of quilters.

Who should consider 100% die cut quilt and fabric kits? All quilters! Sometimes it’s fun to skip the cutting and start stitching. There are many great quilts, wall hangings, and table runners made each year by quilters using traditional methods. These creations inspire and encourage all of us in our great love of quilting. However, quilters are now learning about these newer style 100% die cut kits and understanding the advantages. Beginning quilters like them because it allows them to focus and learn how to stitch the quilt project. They feel successful immediately due to the quality of their die cut piecing. This inspires and propels them further with their quilting hobby. Experienced quilters find the time savings useful, still feel challenged, and appreciate the quality. 100% die cut kits are a gift to quilters who are physically unable to cut a quilt project. Finally, quilters who struggle matching fabrics for a pattern truly appreciate relieving their headache with a die cut quilt/fabric kit.

How do you choose a precut quilt or fabric kit? What should you be looking for? How do you know what you are getting in the kit? These are all great questions. First, look at the package for information about the name of the fabric line and manufacturer. Is the fabric 100% cotton quilting fabric? Then, verify the material in the kit is the same material as in the picture of the quilt project. Next, look at the contents list for the kit to ensure all the pieces for the quilt project are included in the kit. Does the kit include the borders? Binding? Backing? Make sure you know what you are paying for and won’t need more fabric to complete the project. Last, check the size of the project and colors to ensure it will be perfect for its intended purpose.

Now is a good time to consider a precut kit. Whether choosing an easy quilt kit or a challenging one, the 100% die cut kits are an exciting addition to the quilt world. They give quilters another choice for making their next beautiful quilt creation.


Quilting for Beginners: How to Quilt Beautiful Heirlooms your Family Will Enjoy for Generations

Did you know that more than 6 million beginner quilters decided to learn how to quilt during the last 3 years?

That brings the total number of quilters to about 27 million – that’s just in the United States. And most of those quilters, just like me, are presented with limited drawing and painting abilities.

Quilting is a fantastic way to create a work of art with fabric. It is well understood that the “painting” will not be perfect, and that colors and patterns are limited to what’s available in a quilt shop or hand dyed fabric.

Here Are My Top Tips to Help You Get Started in Making Quilts for You, Your Children & Grandchildren:

Combine blocks of fabric to create your quilts. By changing the shapes of the pieces within a block such as substituting triangles for squares and switching light fabric for dark fabric you can create a whole new quilt design. And, you will still keep the construction of your quilt the same.
Simple is the name of the game for many quilters. As a beginning quilter, focus on learning and practicing basic quilt making techniques that you will need to develop your craft.
Use one or two shapes for all of the quilt patches. This makes it easy to sew a quilt together. Squares and triangles offer many advantages in terms of simplicity.
Remember, interesting variations in quilt blocks are achieved just by where you place the fabrics in your quilt block, in addition to how each patch is divided in the quilt block pattern.

8 Easy Quilting Patterns to Get You Started

Quilt Pattern 1: A simple nine-patch quilt block can be used as an example of how different a block can look just by changing the placement of colors within the nine parts of one block. Using only two colors of fabric in alternating squares creates a checkerboard design.

Quilt Pattern 2: With the same nine-patch of two colors of fabric, using only square patches in each block, you can create a quilt pattern that looks like a big X.

Quilt Patterns 3 and 4: Want more of a challenge? Take some of the square patches in the blocks and divide them in half from corner to corner (commonly called half-square triangles in the quilting world), and create an Ohio Star or Pinwheel quilt block.

Quilt Patterns 5,6,7 and 8: Change the placement of your fabrics once again, and your block turns into a May Basket Quilt Block, a Maple Leaf Quilt Block, a Bow Tie block, or even a series of diamonds, called Slanted Diamonds.

Increase the number of colors in your quilt, and your design changes once again. And, by using only two basic shapes (squares and triangles) you can create all of your design changes.

Quilts are amazing works of art that have survived the test of time, and will continue to do so as long as there is fabric and quilting imagination.

Happy Quilting!


Create Your Own Handmade Patchwork Quilt
Learn to quilt a handmade patchwork quilt. By following simple quilt patterns you are able to create your individual masterpiece.

Learn To Quilt – Tips For Beginners

Sewing by hand, or with a needle and thread is the traditional technique used to piece together quilt blocks when making your own handmade patchwork quilt. Keep in mind to take the smallest size needle that you will be able to easily work with. Be certain that you are using particular quilting thread. Quilting thread is thicker, more durable and does not tangle. Cut a section of quilting thread approximately 2 feet long. Thread the needle plus position a single knot in the end of the thread with a little tail to avert unraveling. Do not double the thread. Sew with one single strand. Even if you use a sewing machine you must practice these stitches.

Beginning Your Handmade Patchwork Quilt

Lay the two quilt portions that you are connecting together, with right sides facing each other. Pin them using three pins. Set one pin in each of the top two corners, and the third pin in the middle of the piece. Begin at one corner and poke the needle through both layers of material then bring it up through the fabric roughly 1/8th of an inch down the seam line. Carry out one backstitch to keep the end secure, and then continue this in and out stitching. This is a running stitch, also termed a piecing stitch. It requires practice to get a straight line. You may draw a line in pencil on the other side of the fabric if this helps. When you have reached the other corner make a backstitch in reverse and make a 90-degree turn into the seam allowance. Make 2 stitches and cut the thread. A lot of quilters do not knot the ends of their thread, as they feel knots rub and wear out the material faster.


An additional stitch that beginners should gain knowledge of to make their handmade patchwork quilt is the applique stitch. In applique blocks, a fabric motif is cut out, layered and stitched onto the background of a different material. This way of stitching the layers together has to be practically invisible to the eye. The applique stitch must leave a little visible dot of a stitch. To begin, start with a quilting needle and knotted quilting thread in a color that blends with the applique motif. Set up the design by basting the raw edges under. Pressing with the tip of an iron initially will help. Next baste the fabric motif onto the background fabric in the desired position.
Now it is finally time to applique your handmade patchwork quilt. Start off by putting the needle under the background fabric. Push the needle up through the background material as well as the edge of the applique motif. Pull the thread through both layers. Now place the needle right next to where the thread comes up, however only on the background fabric. Make an1/8th inch stitch through the background material and bring it up at the edge of the applique motif. Continue this stitch all around the material motif, finishing under the background material on the wrong side. Knot then trim.

Hand sewing would seem like a very time consuming procedure. As soon as you form a rhythm, it goes much more rapidly. A handmade patchwork quilt is frequently cherished over machine-stitched creations. A handmade patchwork quilt will last forever.


Looking For Simple Quilt Patterns for Projects?

Quilting is a skill that anyone can learn. It is smart to start with simple quilt patterns that are easy to understand and doesn’t take too much time to complete a project. These little quilting projects can be used as gifts for most all occasions because they are so beautiful.

if you are looking for some free patterns that are easy to make, you can do a straightforward search on google or any other search engine. Just type into the search bar something like ’free quilt patterns’ and you’ll probably find something you can use. There are dozens of places to get free or cheap patterns that will be easy to start with.

Here are one or two ideas that little projects can be turned into something beautiful as well as helpful. Always use your imagination and you can come up with ideas of your own that you’ll be pleased with.

1. A Potholder is a helpful present

A potholder is a great gift when selecting a block from simple quilt patterns to use as the top. I love to use a 6 and a half in. to 7 and a half inch block for this project. You would just duvet and bind the potholder like a regular cover with one or two exceptions. Make efforts to use 100% cotton for your covering thread. If you use invisible thread, it’ll melt when handling hot pans. You may also want to use insulated batting.

2. Give a set of Place mats

I made a set of four place mats and 4 coasters for my parents last year and they loved them! You can use the easiest of simple quilt patterns for this one – a checkerboard. What is great about this idea is that you will get plenty of practice binding quilts.

3. Youngsters love Tote Bags

Make it a market tote and give it to folks who need to break themselves of using plastic bags at the corner store. A quilt block can be employed as decoration. If you make the bag out of novelty fabric such as Sponge Bob or Barbie, you can give it to your favorite pre-teen as a library bag. Once you start putting these ideas into projects using simple quilt patterns you will become a quilting pro in a brief short time with much pleasure and enjoyment.

4. A Cover for Recliner Headrests

I found out about this idea by mistake. I made my mom a mini duvet version of the larger quilt I had given her as a gift. She used it as a cover for her recliner’s headrest. It looks great. So much so that my dad wanted one for the next year. You will need to make a quilt approximately sixteen by nineteen inches. If the planned recipient has two recliners, be certain to make two.

5. A lovely table topper

Does anyone you know have those accent tables? Make them a table topper. Just ensure that it matches the decor of the room. You could also make a table runner with little cover blocks. Anyone would be proud to display such a nice table runner!

Now you have 5 great homemade present concepts where you can use your simple quilt patterns, why not start on your quilting project today?


Learn to Quilt: Discover Top Tools of the Quilter’s Trade

When I first started quilting I was just learning how to sew as well. It took a while to figure out which were the tools, also called notions, that I used the most. To help you on your journey to becoming a quilter I have created a list of the tools you will use the most:

1. Rotary Cutting Supplies. This includes a rotary cutter, acrylic rulers, and a cutting mat. These tools are made for precise cutting. Quilter’s worldwide wouldn’t think of starting a quilting project without them. You’ll find that the more accurately you cut your quilt pieces, the more accurately your quilt top is sewn together. Olfa is an excellent brand, and is the leader in the quilting community.

2. A Decent Steam Iron. You can’t start a quilting project without one. Now, you can buy the really expensive Rowenta professional iron, or, you can go to Walmart or Target and buy their steam iron. Both will get the job done. I’ve learned from experience that they both last about the same amount of time, will both do a decent job, but one is a lot less expensive to replace. I highly recommend using spring water in your irons—tap water can lead to hard water stains on your quilt top, and most manufactures say that you shouldn’t use distilled water.

3. A Good Seam Ripper. Most quilters have two or three of them on hand at any given time. Dritz makes a variety of excellent seam rippers. You’ll find they have everything from seam rippers with magnifying glasses to ergonomic seam rippers for those of us quilters who rip out stitches on a regular basis.

4. Spring Loaded Scissors and Shears. These scissors and shears are spring loaded to prevent hand fatigue while cutting repetitively. Quilting, and sewing for that matter, involves a lot of cutting. I have a pair of blunt tipped, which work really well for cutting threads, and a pair of sharp tip, which I like to use for cutting appliqué pieces. I don’t know many quilters who don’t own a pair of these. Fiskars, in this instance, is my brand of choice.

5. ¼ Inch Foot. A quarter inch foot for your sewing machine will get you going toward an accurate ¼ inch seam allowance. Almost all quilt patterns instruct you to use an accurate quarter inch. Many sewing machines come with these feet. However, if you bought a simple hobby machine, you’ll most likely need to purchase one. I would like to recommend a brand, but in this case, there are so many brands for different types of machines that you’ll want to check with your local machine dealership to buy the right one. Don’t worry, they aren’t expensive, but they’re definitely necessary. You may even find them at your local quilt shop.

You’ll discover quilting can be an adventure. Anyone with the proper directions can create an heirloom quilt that will stand the test of time.


The Advantages Of Purchasing Pre-Cut Quilt Squares

Don’t you get inspired when browsing through blogs and seeing all these beautiful quilted creations that everybody seems to be making in their spare time? What is holding you back from starting your next quilted pillow, quilted wall hanging or even quilted comforter? Well, the larger the project the more likely is it the time or the lack of time that is preventing you from bringing your creative ideas to life.

Make life easy by using pre-cut quilt squares. These quilt squares are readily available with online fabric retailers nowadays and considering the time you will save by purchasing pre-cut squares, they are very affordable. For example, to make a queen size comforter with five inch squares you will need 420 five inch squares. Even using a rotary cutter, how much time do you think you would be spending on cutting these 420 squares? Now think how much time you will save by purchasing them pre-cut. A lot! What a smart way to start your next quilted project.

In addition to the obvious time savings you will actually save money buying your fabric pre-cut. Who has not end up with a lot of waste and scraps when purchasing each necessary fabric design by the yard? Your fabric cuts may also not be quiet as precise which also waste fabric as well as making it difficult for you to complete your quilted creation perfectly.

One major challenge that most of us face is the selection of fabric designs and colors that complement each other flawlessly. Not only is it time consuming but can be very frustrating when trying to choose a handful of complementary designs and colors from a thousands of choices. Purchasing Quilt Square sets provides you with a collection of designs and colors that have been properly coordinated by the manufacturers’ designers and design studios. Furthermore, it can be very inspiring looking at the beautiful pre-cut fabric collections as many times they includes designs and colors that you may have not thought of combining. Your next quilted project is sure to come out perfect.

Quilt Squares come in almost every size. It’s really depends on your quilt design what size squares you should procure. Quilt squares range in size anywhere from 1 inch to as large as 10 inches, and come in every size in between. The most popular sizes are four, five, and six and half inches square. Any of these sizes or a combination of these sizes will get you started immediately.

If you are unsure about what size squares to purchase you are better off going with larger squares. You can always cut them smaller or you can sew your squares with a larger seam allowance to get it just the perfect size. That speaks to the versatility of pre-cut quilt squares. You may think that just because you have a square you have to complete your quilted project with all squares. By simply folding a quilt square diagonally you will get a perfect triangle. Or fold it in half and you have a rectangle. The options are limitless so let your imagination take its course.


Gees Bend Quilts – Inspiration

There are a lot of Gees Bend Quilts products out these days. There are quilt kits. There are books. There were even postage stamps.

But in this mass commercialization, have we forgotten what these quilts were really about? So, how can you can truly bring their spirit into your quilting? Here are three tips:

Tip 1 – They Used What They Had
There were no quilt shops where these ladies lived. When you look at their fabric choices, it is simply because these were scrap quilts in their most basic form – scraps.

The Gees Bend quilts used denim taken from worn clothes. They used corduroy scraps because their quilting bee had a contract to make corduroy shams for Sears.

They did not select material because they were interesting fabric choices. They selected material because it was free.

I mean, when’s the last time you saw a quilt pattern that used the corduroy fabric? I’ve never seen it.

How to put this into use for your life – Think of making a true scrap quilt. I’m not talking about a stash quilt. I’m talking about a quilt from fabric from clothes you are about to throw away or give to charity.

This can be an on-going project. One of mine is a denim quilt. Every time I wear out a pair of jeans, I cut it up and put it one of my gallon plastic bags for use in an upcoming rag quilt. It may take a while, but I’m sure I’ll appreciate the quilt even more.

Tip 2 – They Broke the Pattern
These women prided themselves on breaking patterns. They opened themselves up to experimentation and in that process, they made art.

It’s tempting to follow a pattern to the letter. I mean, I have a tendency to do it even with scrap quilts. I’ll want to make the quilt exactly like what’s on the cover because that’s what drew me to the quilt. I’m guessing that you may be the same way.

The Gee’s Bend Quilts ladies took a different approach – they intentionally took a pattern and made it so that it did not look like the pattern in the book or on the cover. They made their own twist on a traditional pattern.

How to put this into use for your life – Experiment with breaking a pattern. You could have a designated ugly quilt (one of my favorite techniques for getting through a quilt where you are just experimenting.)

You don’t have to copy something exactly. You don’t have to use the sizes given. If a quilt calls for 2 and a half inch strips, you can use 2 inch strips or 3 inch strips. The patterns are only a guide. Strive to make your quilts your own by breaking the pattern.

Tip 3 – They belonged to a network of quilters
For the most part, quilting was woven into the community of theses ladies’ lives. They had a community.

It is hard to be out here on your own. If you don’t have a quilt guild near you, check out some of the on line groups. Consider starting a blog and commenting on other quilting blogs.

I don’t belong to a guild, but I do have a quilting buddy who I visit for a monthly quilting trip. We set goals, hold each other accountable and get each other’s opinions on quilts. It is good to have someone you can bounce ideas off of.

So, you can use the spirit of the Gees Bend Quilts in your own projects. Consider using up what you have, breaking the pattern and expanding your quilting network. Be on your way to making your quilts works of art.


Free Quilt Patterns Reviews
Have you ever wanted to try one of those free quilt patterns, but not sure if they were worth your time? This is the page for you. Here you’ll find tips on using the patterns and how well they work in the realm of scrappy if you’re having a use-up-your-stash challenge.

Patches and Pinwheels
If you look closely at this pattern, you will see that it is basically a sixteen patch alternated with a pinwheel block.

The motion of the quilt can make the pinwheels disappear; you are left with the appearance of a sixteen patch set on point.

Bricks and Stepping Stones
If you want a quilt in a hurry, this is the one to do. Once you get this pattern down, you will want to go do it again and again. It comes together very easily and is a serious stash buster.


Fast and Easy Quilting Techniques
Today’s quilting techniques allow easier piecing and completing of quilts. The main ones are below:

Strip Quilting – Strip quilting is a quilting technique that is essential to creating quilts quickly. Strip piecing is what it sounds like – cutting strips and then piecing or sewing them together with a quarter inch seam.

Once these strip sets are created, they are then sub-cut. Sometimes they are sub-cut into squares. Sometimes they are sub-cut using specialty rulers or other quilting tools such as a triangle tool. Using this technique is a great way for beginner quilters.

Scrap Quilting – Ah, scrap quilting is making a comeback. It is pretty simple – using up every scrap you have. Sometimes you’ll have fabric left over after a project or, um, like me you just fall in love with fabric. By making scrap quilts, you can use up fabric to the last inch.

Rag Quilting – Have you ever seem those warm and fuzzy quilts with the edges that look so cuddly? That’s rag quilting and it is pretty easy to do. The edges of the seems that you see are actually the exposed frayed seams, that are cut and then washed and dried.

Machine Quilting – To finish your quilt top, you can use machine quilting. The quilting tools needed for this are minimal – a quilting foot and invisible thread would work well.

Mock Binding – Binding is a technique that can stop folks in their tracks. If you view a quilt as a picture, the quilt top is the picture. Borders are the mats and the binding is the frame. Mock binding is when you use your backing as the binding.

You just need to make sure your binding is a reaches about an inch from the edge of your quilt and batting. Then you fold the edge of the backing so that its edge is to the edge of the quilt. Fold over again. Pin. Sew down.

Try all of these techniques. Depending on the need and intent for the quilt is what will decide which one you’ll choose.

One thing that I can say is that these quilting techniques have opened up the art to lots of new people who have never tried it before. Hey, maybe even you.


Quilt in a Day Log Cabin Pattern Book

Make a Quilt in a Day Log Cabin Pattern by Eleanor Burns is a great book for absolute beginners and a good reference book for quilters in general. It oozes with step-by-step instructions and lots of pictures.

You may be thinking, yeah, but there’s one quilt pattern. But, you can work off this one pattern for years if you had to.

I’ve made lap quilts, baby quilts and mini quilts from this one pattern. The book contains the fabric requirements for different sizes from a wall hanging up to king size. Plus, there are layouts galore.

For the absolute beginner, you’ll get a list of supplies you’ll need for your very first strip quilting project. At first glance, the list may seem intimidating, but this supply list will last you a long time.

The actual strip quilting instructions are detailed with a picture to demonstrate every single step.

Most folks I know are fine when it comes to finishing a quilt top. They get scared, however, at the actual quilting and binding or finishing the quilt.

The Make a Quilt in a Day Log Cabin Pattern book details instructions on how to finish a quilt two different ways. You can either machine quilt or quick turn and tie. Both have step-by-step instructions.

The book does not cover hand stitching. But with a title called quilt in a day, you can kind of expect that.

Other projects included in the book are a pillow sham and a tote bag. Yeah! These are basic instructions that you can use for other quilt patterns. See why I love this book?

When it comes to machine quilting, most quilt books for beginners only mention stitching in the ditch (stitching in the seam of your blocks to give it an outline effect). This book suggests quilting lines. The difference in batting choices are also discussed.

I was able to move on to individual quilting patterns from this foundation because the book was short enough to not be overwhelmed, but detailed enough to tell you everything that you need.

Alas, all is not perfect.

There is not an emphasis on pressing your blocks as you are piecing. Pressing makes a difference. I was surprised to discover this after I came back to the book to make a mini-quilt. Another nitpick is that the binding strips are not cut on the bias.

And, uh, a first-time quilter would not care about either one of those things. I used this book to make my first quilt and even without bias-cut binding strips and blocks unpressed until the end, it turned out fine.

Bottom line, this book can get you help you finish your very first quilt totally on your own. It is a book you can not pry from my quilting library.


Quilt Book Review – Quiltmaker’s Gift

Technically, this is a pattern quilt book but I like to look at it as eye candy. It’s by Joanne Larsen Line and the sub title is 19 traditional patterns for a new generation of generous quiltmakers.

Throughout the book are pictures from the children’s book The Quiltmaker’s Gift.

The book is gorgeous. Gorgeous I tell you. Even if the actual patterns scare me.

There are a lot of itty bitty pieces with this one. As the subtitle says, these are traditional patterns before the age of strip piecing and firmly in the land of templates.

So, why would I recommend this quilt book?

Because you eventually are going to become an intermediate quilter. But you won’t leave the safety of your strip piecing home until you salivate enough times over a Storm at Sea pattern and say not only I want to do that, but I’m willing to take the time to do that. (Full disclosure: I am so not there yet, but it is on my quilting bucket list).

When you’re ready (and after looking through this book for a couple of months you will be ready) you will be able to dive in.

Why This Book is Superfantastic (TM Dad)

You get cutting instructions for different sizes. Usually the book contains instructions for a lap size and queen. The book also contains backing layouts if you have to piece your backing from standard width fabric.

Oh, did I mention the eye candy? Y’all, we are artists and the pictures have you thinking that it’s not so hard to do all of those projects really.

Also, they’ve got different layouts and tips on fabric selection for each quilt.

So, after scaring you, can you do the quilts in this book? Yes. They are just going to take a longer time. You could also cut down on all the pieces by using a tool such as the easy angle (my favorite) for your half square triangles. The reference section of the book mentions using triangle paper. That is another choice.

Things I Love

I adore their section on color in the back and just the book’s overall encouragement to explore your creativity.

The setting section is good as are the finishing sections. Love the binding pictures. I also like that they have suggested reading list and a list of professional machine quilters.

Bottom Line

Yep, another quilt book that has made it through my annual book purge. It’s worth it just for the pattern names – Peace and Plenty – End of the Day – Next Door Neighbor.

Working through it you will learn easy squares, working with templates and paper piecing. Good book. Inspiring and a happy place in my quilting library.

Quilt Design – 3 Methods
Ever wanted to learn about quilt design, but thought it was either too difficult? Good news. Chances are that you can design quilts using what you have at home. Think I’m kidding? Let’s check out three ways of designing your own quilts.

1. Graph Paper
Yes. Graph paper. Please don’t have flashbacks to elementary school math class. Plain ole graph paper is excellent for drafting patterns graph paper is excellent for drafting patterns , especially if you’re going simple with just squares and triangles.

The most important thing to remember is the scale. I personally use the scale of one square for one inch. Along with crayons, it’s a nice relaxing way to work out some quilt designs to see if they will really work together.

If you plan to use fabric that feature patterns, you can still use this method. Usually the pattern will “read” as a certain color. That’s the color you use on the graph paper. Because you are using simple shapes, it will be easy to see what works and what doesn’t.

2. Mini Quilts
Still not comfortable with graph paper? Break out the fabric. This is especially helpful because you get a mini quilt in the process.

Making a mini quilt of your project will help take the intimidation factor down with any new techniques and fabric choices, also.

This method best works when you’ve got a strip-quilting pattern. If you have to cut all the strips at 2.5 inches, simply cut them at 1.5 inches and follow the directions.

By the time you make the big quilt, you’ve got all the patterns and the colors worked out without wasting a lot of fabric. And you’ve got a cute decoration for the package if you’re giving the quilt away.

Quilt Design Software
And then there is the design software. There are many pros to using this method. You get to play with the colors and the dimensions of your quilt with a click of a button. Some programs even have fabric libraries you can download and use. Your program may even calculate the exact amount of fabric you need.

There are also cons to using a computer program. Programs can be expensive. There could be a learning curve if you are not comfortable with computers. And have you seen patterns made with those programs? They’re like cut out 100 2.5 inch squares when you could easily use strip quilting to cut down on the time.

Still. Honestly, this type of software is on my Christmas list…

So, there you have it – three ways to satisfy those quilt design urgings. Try it. The next time you give a quilt as a gift you can be proud in knowing that you made it from the design all the way through quilting.