quilting, Uncategorized

Quilting 101: Precuts

Fact: Quilters love precuts. 🙂

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If you’re new to quilting you might be asking, “What are precuts?” It’s pretty straightforward, precuts are fabrics cut to specific sizes and quantities and usually feature fabric from the same collection. Precuts came into existence as a way for fabric manufacturers to promote their new lines. Luckily for us quilters, these gems are available from a variety fabric manufacturers such as Moda, Robert Kaufman, Riley Blake, RJR Fabrics and Windham Fabrics—just to name a few.

Here’s a list of information on available precuts along with some examples of projects I’ve made with them.

Note: Manufacturers have named precuts differently as noted below.

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Mini Charm Pack
2 ½” x 2 ½” squares; 42 per pack

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Scrappy Nine Patch Quilt made with 2 1/2″ squares
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Summer Star Mini Quilt made with a mini charm pack

Charm Pack, Stacker
5″ x 5″ squares; 42 per pack

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Checkered Baby Quilt made with a charm pack (A Monday Morning Design tutorial)

Layer Cake, Patty Cake
10″ x 10″ squares; 42 per pack

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Boxed Candy Toss Quilt is layer cake friendly (A Monday Morning Design tutorial)

Jelly Roll, Roll Up, Rolie Polie
2 ½” x 44″ strips; 40-42 per roll

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Honey Bun
1 ½” x 44″ strips; 40-42 per roll

Fat Quarter
18″ x 22″; bundle sizes vary

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Fireworks Quilt made with fat quarters

Fat Eighth
9″ x 22″; bundle sizes vary

Turnover
6″ triangles

There’s a whole world of quilting fun out there using precuts. If you haven’t given them a try, put it on your ‘to do’ list. You’ll find that they’re a great choice by saving you a lot of cutting time making your quilting projects easier and faster!

quilting, Quilting 101, Uncategorized

Quilting 101: Quilting Terminology for Beginners

When I started to quilt, some of the quilting language had me really confused. Everyday words referring to animals, winter and food with a quilting-related meaning….huh? It just didn’t make sense. If your experience is one of the same, this post will help clarify some of the terminology used that has other meanings.

I chose my top ten favorites, or I should say, my top ten most confusing quilting terms. 🙂

1. Dog ears – Dog ears are those small pieces of fabric that appear in quilt block corners and edges when two triangular pieces are sewn together—results of a diagonal seam. Always trim dog ears before finishing a quilt block.

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2. Feed dogs – The feed dogs are the metal teeth located in the slots in a sewing machine’s needle plate. Feed dogs are comprised of metal bars, crosscut with diagonal teeth that move back and forth; they grip fabric and pull it through the machine and away from the needle.

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3. Flying geese – Flying geese is a traditional quilt block pattern created by sewing a triangle at each end of a rectangular piece of fabric, forming a peak in the middle. Finished flying geese blocks resemble geese flying in formation, hence the name.

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4. Nesting seams – Seams that line up precisely at an intersection of a block or quilt are known as nesting seams. To achieve nesting, press seams in opposite directions to reduce the bulk created by the seam allowance.

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5. Snowball – The snowball technique is used when a quilter chooses to give a square a rounded effect (like a snowball). To achieve this result, the quilter draws a diagonal line on a background fabric square (white or light colored), sews on the line, cuts away the corner and presses back the triangle. This process can also be done in reverse, using a central white square and a color triangle in the corner.

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Preparation to snowball a corner
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Snowballed corner

6. Quilt sandwich or sandwiching – Sandwiching is assembling the quilt top, batting and backing, then securing the layers together by basting with either quilting pins or glue–readying it for quilting. The batting and quilt backing are always cut a few inches larger than the quilt top to allow for fabric shifting while quilting.

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7. Chain piecing – Chain piecing is sewing together squares in one continuous length of thread instead of sewing piece by piece. This method saves time and is popular among quilters. Once multiple squares have been sewn in a strand, the thread is easily cut to separate individual pieces.

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chain piecing

8. Sashing – Sashing is a strip of fabric sewn between blocks on a quilt top. It gives a windowpane effect and shows off blocks individually. Most often lighter-colored fabric is used for sashing to make the other colors pop. As a variation, sashing can be used to contrast quilt block colors.

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9. Stitch in the ditch – Stitching in the ditch is a technique where the quilting stitches on the quilt top are minimized by quilting ‘in’ the seams that were created when the quilt blocks were pieced together. Using a specialized foot helps makes this process neater with more accurate results.

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10. Fussy cut – A fussy cut is used when a quilter wants to showcase a specific section or element of a fabric pattern, e.g. a flower, an animal, etc. A fussy cut should always include a seam allowance.

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I hope this blog post helped clarify some quilting terminology confusion.

I plan to continue my Quilting 101 series with my next post delving into the variety of precut fabric.

quilting, Uncategorized

Quilting 101: Acronyms

If you’ve been bitten by the quilting bug, you probably have already heard quilting references that use everyday language (e.g. quilt sandwich, snowballing) and your mind could be swimming in quilting-related acronyms. All the abbreviations and terminology can be really confusing. When I first started, I was baffled over all the different terms used when watching how-to videos and looking at Instagram posts.

If you’re a confused beginner like I was, this post offers some help. I have listed the most common quilting acronyms, their meaning, and a few examples.

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WOF – Width Of Fabric – The width of the fabric from selvage to selvage (side to side). It’s important to know what that measurement is when purchasing, cutting and sewing fabric.

RST – Right Sides Together – When quilting, fabrics are sewn with the ‘right’ sides facing. ‘Right’ sides are the printed side, or what some call ‘the pretty side.’ You’ll see this term used in patterns and tutorials.

WIP – Work In Progress – Any project in the works. Many quilters tend to have several at once. 🙂

UFO – UnFinished Object – Just what it says…something you haven’t yet finished. A lot of the time UFOs are abandoned projects, usually due to something else that’s caught a quilter’s eye. 😉

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FMQ – Free Motion Quilting – This is a quilting process where you drop the feed dogs on your sewing machine and move your quilt sandwich around freely. Stippling or meandering is commonly the first design beginners learn to quilt. Here’s an example of what meandering looks like:

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This is the extent of my FMQ abilities…however, some people are phenomenal at this! 🙂

HST – Half Square Triangle – HSTs are one of the most popular quilt block units used in quilting. There are a variety of methods to making HSTs.

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half square triangle

QAL – Quilt Along – A quilt along consists of a host posting tutorials on a blog/website for other quilters that join in at home. Goals are set, example: make blocks 1-10 this week, and everyone makes the same project. Often times I see QALs taking place on Instagram but I’ve never participated in one.

LQS – Local Quilt Shop

TBQ – To Be Quilted – (I just learned this one!)

Hopefully this helps clear up some of the obscurity in the quilting world! I will continue to provide information for beginning quilters in my Quilting 101 series. My next post will provide a rundown on other popular terms you’ll come across throughout your quilting journey.

diy, tutorials, Uncategorized

DIY Quilt Ladder Tutorial

Don’t you just love those beautiful leaning ladders for displaying quilts? I know I do, but I didn’t want to pay upwards of $200 for one. I knew my husband and I could do a DIY for a LOT less, and we did, we made ours for under $20!

Here’s what we had to buy:
(4) ¾″ × 1 ½″ × 6′ Select Pine boards = $3.83 each
Total cost of $15.32 (+ tax)

1 box (of 25) 1 ½″ construction wood screws
Total cost of $2.17 (+ tax)

We purchased the boards and wood screws at Home Depot. Any big box hardware store should carry all other supplies and tools.

I should note that that was our price was less than $20 because we had the additional necessary items on hand: paint brush/foam brush, wood stain, polycrylic protective finish, paint, primer, a variety of sandpaper and the tools. If you don’t have these items, it will cost more, but nowhere near what a retailer is asking.

I was so happy with the first one, I asked my husband to help out again and we made a second one. I finished them differently; the first one I stained and the second one I painted white. That way, I can move them around the house and always have a fresh, new look.

This was a fun project for both of us. It was really rewarding to make something for our home that not only is attractive, but useful, too. I also found that working with wood was relaxing and rather enjoyable. 🙂

The time spent on each ladder varied. Estimated time on construction was about 2 ½ hours and it took about 3 – 3 ½ hours to sand, stain and apply polyurethane. It was much more time consuming to paint. I applied one coat of primer and four coats of paint, which took several hours, but was worth it. I love both results.

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Finished ladder measures 6′ H × 19″ W × 1 ½″ D.

If you’d like to make your own, click here for my downloadable PDF DIY Quilt Ladder Tutorial. The tutorial is easy-to-follow with step-by-step instructions and plenty of photos.

Here’s to creating and saving a ton of money at the same time!

mini quilts, tutorials, Uncategorized

Corner Hanging Sleeve Tutorial

Hanging mini quilts is a must-do, right? Whether you’re a quilter who hangs minis all over your walls or one like me who hangs one at a time—having an effective method of displaying them is essential no matter how many or how few. This corner technique is so fast and easy, in no time your minis will be ready to show off!

Required materials include two squares of fabric and a round dowel rod. I usually use 3/8″ width (oak) as it’s sturdy and doesn’t tend to bend or warp. It’s not necessary to go any larger than 3/8″ with most mini quilts. I’ve also used a 1/4″ dowel rod on a very small mini and through my experience, it held up well.

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Dowel rods can be purchased at any big box home improvement store for under $2 each (36″ length/oak). There are a variety of sizes and types of wood so you can choose what best suits your needs.

Let’s get started. Once your mini quilt is quilted and trimmed (but before binding), cut two 3″ x 3″ squares from your backing fabric (or from scraps). Press squares in half diagonally.

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On the back of the quilt, pin one pressed square onto each top corner.

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Attach binding, sewing carefully around the pins, making sure to keep the all the edges flat.

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Finish sewing on the binding using your preferred method.

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And it’s finished!

Measure from one end of the binding to the other, cut the dowel rod to measurement. Sand off any rough edges.

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Insert and hang!

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Got a lot of mini quilts? Need a few tips on storing them? Click here!

mini quilts, quilts, Uncategorized

Patriotic Flag Mini Quilt

The month of May always brings out patriotism here in the US, with Memorial Day kicking off the summer season then Flag Day and the Fourth of July not too far behind. Right now I have two quilts in the making, a Christmas gift and a new pattern of mine, and I could use a break from larger projects so I set out to find something patriotic that I could finish quickly using left over fabrics.

I usually don’t sew with blue (I don’t know why, I just don’t seem to choose it) but since I made my Americana Stars & Four Patches quilt last year, I had enough blue fabric for something small. Same with red, I don’t use it a lot, but I had some on hand from previous projects plus I got a small fat quarter bundle freebie with some lovely reds included.  🙂

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After quite a bit of searching, I decided on a free flag tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew. While she made a lovely pillow, I wanted something for my sewing room door so I added a light blue border and made mine a mini quilt.

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For the star and stripes, I used a white low volume fabric with handwriting that reminded me of old-fashioned handwritten letters and historic signatures; I thought it was fitting for a flag. It’s kind of difficult to see it unless it’s close up…

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Before I began quilting, I did some ‘thread painting’—my quilting tip that consists of laying out thread on a project to help decide on a quilting pattern. To read more about it, click here. I do tend to gravitate toward crosshatch quilting, especially on rectangular blocks because the end results are diamonds, and I love the look! So yes, I went with crosshatch quilting, yet again.

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thread painting

When basting a mini quilt, I always use my flower straight pins instead of actual quilting pins. Reasons being: they’re easier to put in and take out, they’re nice and sharp and long, and they seem flatter than other pins.

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I used my guide for quilting accuracy and it gave me very precise results!

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I was happy to have had enough red and white striped fabric for this project, left over from a Christmas tree skirt. And of course, striped binding is always a favorite.

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And speaking of binding…how lucky was I to get this tiny stripe to align when I finished off my binding? Absolutely pure luck! Doubt that ever happens again.  🙂

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For the back, I had this very appropriate fabric from my Stars & Four Patches quilt. As far as backing goes, it’s easy to match up prints, especially on a small project. I have more information on this topic on my Matching Fabric Patterns blog post.

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And…here’s the finished project!

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I love everything about this mini—it’s cute, a great size for my sewing room door and I can get it out to enjoy several times a year. Lastly, it was a small but significant scrap buster!

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Happy Memorial Day

quilting, quilts, Uncategorized

Scrappy Nine Patch Quilt

It seems as though a lot of quilters plan out their projects; I see plenty of Instagram posts with lovely planners available for purchase along with planner images of scrawled notes and ideas. While I’m an organized person to a fault, I just couldn’t see myself planning out my quilts. I’m not exactly sure why, I suppose it’s because I just like to wing it from time to time. Enter my Scrappy Nine Patch quilt.

A while back I had been thinking about making something scrappy, mainly because I rarely do and I was tired of looking at fabric left over from so many past projects. One day while working on something else, I completely switched gears and began pulling fabric and putting together scraps in color combinations. Now I know why scrappy projects are so much fun; you don’t need an exact plan (other than a pattern), anything goes and nothing is considered wrong.

I set to work making a variety of nine patches—if a fabric looked good, it went in. It’s funny how I still can remember what projects I used those fabrics for, what collection they’re from, why I bought them, etc. I guess that’s why scrappy quilts are also called ‘memory quilts.’

Here are a few of my block groups.

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Had a little fun putting this together…

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Upon completion, I was surprised that I ended up using 144 different fabrics! I wouldn’t have guessed I even had that much variety in my stash at the time. In all, I made 48 blocks, added sashing, and ended up with a throw quilt measuring roughly 49″ W x 57″ L. And it definitely helped with my stash down.

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I’ve since gifted this quilt, but because it was so fun to make I’m thinking about making another one, with an entirely different selection of fabrics, of course. And I won’t be planning it either! 🙂