If you happen to follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a post or two with me griping about cutting threads off the back of quilt tops. I’ve probably even mentioned it on blog posts too, as it’s the absolute worst step in the quilting process, I think anyway!
Not only is this step tedious, it’s really time consuming. On some quilt tops, I’ve literally spent 8-10 hours trimming threads. That’s a lot of hours! But I look at it this way, if I’ve spent a ton of money, time and energy making a quilt, I might as well do it right. Plus I want my quilts to be as best as they can be.
My longarmer told me about quilters who skip this step, and why they shouldn’t. One main reason is that if a light background fabric is used, all those threads on the back will show against it, especially the darker colored ones. Also, uncut threads will most definitely ruin the smoothness of the front. Whatever is left uncut on the back is sure to make a lumpy and bulky front, and that’s not a good look.
Secondly, longarm quilters don’t like getting tops full of uncut threads because it’s going to make their job look messy, even if they’re a great longarmer. I guess it’s kind of quilting etiquette. 😉
Here’s a look at a quilt top back I’ve recently finished trimming, before and after. What a difference!
All that trimming made for a nice, fresh front. It was definitely worth the effort.
And here’s the finished quilt. Even though I used pastel solids, threads left uncut would have certainly shown through on the white fabric. (Pattern is Sweet Stripes. This baby quilt is currently for sale in my Etsy shop)
So the next time there are threads to be cut, I’ll do the lousy task and try to tone down my complaining…I guess it’s not all that bad once I get started…plus my quilt top AND longarmer will thank me. 🙂
Every year I look for handmade gifts to make my family for Christmas, usually it’s a quick sewing project and sometimes it’s not even quilting related. 😉 Last year I stumbled across a neat item that doesn’t require a lot of time or materials—a fabric utensil wrap. They’re great for picnics, work lunch or any meal on the go!
If you’re like me and are always finding ways to reduce plastic waste, these eco-friendly, reusable wraps are the perfect solution. If it’s good for the earth I’m sold, so I decided to make one for each of us, myself included. I also went extra green by opting for bamboo utensils.
Since these wraps were so well received, I thought I’d write a tutorial to help pass along the idea. Here’s what you need and what you have to do:
2 fat eighths (or fat quarters) – each a different print
1 – 24″ piece of 1/2″ twill tape (or 1/4″)
general sewing supplies
Since you’ll probably end up tossing this in the laundry at some point, it’s a good idea to prewash the fabric. Whether you do or don’t prewash, be sure to press your fabric before beginning. Once pressed, cut each piece of fabric to 9″ x 20″.
Next, press a 1/2″ inch hem on one short end of each piece. I used a hot ruler to keep my hem accurate.
SEWING FABRIC PIECES
First, align both pressed edges then pin together. Starting on a long side of the pinned fabric, sew a 1/2″ seam along three sides, leaving the short pressed end of the rectangle open. I used washi tape as a guide to keep my seams straight.
Once sewn, trim away the top corners the making sure not to cut too close to the thread. This will help reduce bulk and it’ll help give the corners a nice finish.
Next, from the open end, turn the fabric right side out. I used a blunt tip bamboo stick to push out the corners for a sharper point, it really makes a difference.
After your corners are nice and sharp, press. Then sew the open end closed with a topstitch about 1/8″ from the edge, backstitching at each end.
MAKING THE UTENSIL POCKET
After sewing all the sides closed, fold the previously open end (now topstitched) up 5 inches from the bottom to create a pocket. Pin the side edges of the pocket.
SEWING IN TWILL TAPE
Fold the 24″ twill tape piece in half and insert the folded edge into the top left side of the pinned pocket. The fold should be inserted into the fabric approximately 1/2″. Pin the inserted tape about 3/8″ down from the topstitched edge.
TIP: Sew a zigzag stitch along each end of the twill tape to keep it from fraying.
Stitch a 1/4″ seam allowance all the way around the edges, backstitching at each end.
CREATING UTENSIL POCKETS
Now that the main pocket is created, it’s time to create individual pockets for the utensils. You’ll need a ruler and a fabric-safe marker. As an alternative, I used a hera marker to indicate my separations so I didn’t have to worry about any markings.
I needed 4 pockets—one for chopsticks, a fork, a spoon and a knife. I divided the width of my pocket in equal measurements from left to right: 1 3/4″, 1 7/8″, 1 7/8″, 1 3/4″. Depending on your needs, determine your measurements. After doing so, mark a vertical line from the topstitched edge to the fold at the bottom for each section. Next, sew on the line, leaving the top open and backstitching at the ends. And done!
NOTE: The step above can vary quite a bit, depending on your purpose. For example, if you want a section for a resuable straw you’d opt for thinner pocket or if you want a section for a napkin or condiments, you may want to make a wider pocket. I should note that packets of mayo, mustard and/or a rolled up napkin fit inside the sections of the wraps I made.
At last, your wrap is ready to use! Simply place the utensils inside, fold down the top, roll it up and tie.
AN ALTERNATIVE SIZE UTENSIL WRAP
For my husband and myself, I made a smaller size wrap, omitting the pocket for chopsticks. I planned for only three sections: a fork, knife and spoon. I cut the fabric pieces 7 1/2″ x 20″ and made the pocket sections 1 7/8″, 2″, 1 7/8″. Otherwise, I followed all the instructions as written.
Whether you use bamboo or regular kitchen cutlery, hurray for ditching one-time plasticware! Every step towards going plastic-free counts and these fun wraps are an excellent way to start!
From time to time I like to write about sewing tools I use to make quilting easier, especially ones that help me make better quilts. I have 5 valuable items to showcase, and if you don’t already use them I recommend giving them a try.
When my Sweet Stripes quilt pattern was out to testers last November, a tester asked me if the pattern should mention using starch. When I replied, ‘I don’t use starch, only when making minis,’ she was pretty surprised; its use must be more popular than I thought. Fast forward to my upcoming pattern where small squares will be stitched and flipped with seams pressed open—that actually need starched for best results—I’ll definitely recommend using it this time!
My starch preference is Flatter by Soak. I’m not one for scented products, but I’d just finished a bottle of unscented that smelled anyway so I chose pineapple this time. A 8.4 ounce bottle costs around $12 on Amazon putting it on the expensive side, but for a top-notch product it’s worth paying a bit more (my last bottle lasted one year). It’s great stuff; it doesn’t leave your fabric crunchy nor does it leave residue on your iron.
SPRAY MIST BOTTLE
Since every iron leaks eventually (even my costly Rowenta Focus started leaking after a year or so) I’ve quit putting water in them. While I really love using steam and I miss it, I’ve gotten used to going without. As an alternative, I use a water spray bottle when pressing. I’d seen this funky sprayer in a quilt shop over the summer but ended up purchasing one online a few months later. It’s a fine mist spray bottle and it is excellent. It holds 5.4 ounces of water and costs around $7 on Amazon. The pump sprays a really fine mist and if you hold the nozzle down it’s works like an aerosol. I love the clean look of white so it’s not unsightly on my pressing table.
This is kind of an odd item, but it comes in really handy. I first saw one at the Fat Quarter Shop as a flash sale item and thought I’d give it a whirl, thinking it might help avoid the constant mess of getting interfacing adhesive stuck to my iron. It costs around $15 and is ‘made of fiberglass and is a non-stick surface that will save your fabric from scorching, shine and burns.’ It’s great when using interfacing and when pressing seams of pieced batting—nothing sticks! It’s easy to use; just tie it on your iron (fits any size).
My sister bought me this cute little tin of 100 assorted colored clips (including 10 large sized). I’m not calling them ‘Wonder Clips’ because they’re not actually Clover brand as ‘Clover’ isn’t stamped on. I have a couple hundred Clover clips and by comparison, they’re pretty much the same. They’re the same size, they look alike and they perform the same. These might even grip a bit tighter. I’m guessing they’re less expensive than name brand, and I was told they were purchased on Amazon. I use them constantly and love the fun colors.
If you quilt your own quilts, using a hera marker is a safe and effective way to mark your quilt tops. If you’ve never used one before, they’re really easy to use. Just line up your ruler where you’re going to sew and mark a pressed line, just like you would using a pen or pencil. Since you have to see the line to sew, you’ll have to run the marker along the side of the ruler a couple of times to get a good indentation. In the end, the indentation is just a crease that’ll go away. This Clover hera marker can be purchased at JoAnn, online, or at your LQS, costing around $6. It’s a great tool and for such a low price, it’s well worth it. The sharper edge can eventually wear down, but it’ll take quite a while. I just replaced mine after about 4 years of use, and that was mainly because I had broken off the tip.
I hope this post is a useful guide if you’re looking for items to make quilting easier and more efficient…and to making more beautiful quilts!
Note: I am not endorsed by any product I have mentioned in this post; they are items I like, use, and wanted to share information on.
It seems that staying in more than usual made for a productive year. In 2019 I’d completed 11 quilts and thought that was a lot, but in 2020 I surpassed that and made 14! Of the 14, I gave 4 as gifts and I have a few on hand should a gift-giving occasion arise.
Other than having a queen sized quilt ready for longarming, I’d quilted the other 13 myself. That’s quite a bit as I typically have one or two done professionally every year. My goal for 2020 was to use what I had on hand, so I didn’t purchase fabric to make several of these quilts.
Here’s a look at the past year: These two quilts were gifted along with two others that I can’t show—one is to be published in the Quilts & More fall edition, and the other is a pattern currently in the works. The photo on the left is a free pattern, Lucky 13, and the other is an easy tutorial for a beginner, Checkered Baby Quilt.
This is the only two-colored quilt I’ve ever made, for me red and white were the obvious choice. 😉 It’s a free Moda pattern called Illusions.
My Twinkly Stars quilts are one of my favorite makes, shown in both throw and crib size. I guess with the ups you’ve got to have some downs…while I thought this was so cute and one couldn’t argue its originality, it didn’t sell well in my Etsy shop so I’ve since pulled the pattern. I still adore it and I’m proud to have brought my vision to quilt form, and I’d happily relist it if there’s an interest.
This Scrappy Four Patch Charm is the second quilt I’d made from this free pattern from Robert Kaufman. I just love this design and I wouldn’t be surprised if I make yet another one. For this, I literally took every 5″ square I had, cut a few more and threw it together. It was so fun and it used a lot of what I had on hand.
My Holiday Hemlock quilt was a challenge and a joy to design, not to mention how fun it is to watch it come together. While working on this, I decided on a second, scrappy version for all the scrap lovers out there!
Sweet Stripes is the last of my pattern releases for the year. This cheerful pattern is designed with the beginner quilter in mind. It’s fat quarter friendly and there are 7 different sizes with two layouts versions to choose from. It’s quick AND easy!
I made this baby size Sweet Stripes quilt but I have no baby to give it to, so it’s currently for sale in my Etsy shop. 🙂
The last quilt finish of the year is my Christmassy Triangle Peaks. I had to make this red and green version for my annual holiday quilt. Even though I finished it mid-December, I’m already planning for this year!
I was surprised that I made only one mini; a section of my Holiday Hemlocks. I put together a center tree and star along with a shorter ribbon and it made a lovely wall hanging. It’s a great way to display part of the quilt if you don’t have time to make a whole one.
I also added another page to my website, color gallery. It showcases several photos with color tiles to help with your color inspiration. Thankfully my family members allowed me use their beautiful images for this project. I think it’s an excellent resource.
Other projects include pillows for my mom, a pillow case for my bird-loving husband, utensil wraps, colorful rope bowls and microwave bowl cozies.
I also added several tips, tutorials, charts and plenty of other quilty posts to my website. And lastly, I updated my logo and I love it.
Coming soon in 2021…a tutorial for the utensil wrap, a new quilt pattern and more tips and sewing inspiration. I’m looking forward to a great year of creating!
Two years ago I made a blue and orange Triangle Peaks quilt for my daughter and had since planned to make myself one with red and green fabric—I guess all those triangles got me thinking about Christmas trees. So here it is, my last quilt for 2020 (of 14 total).
Last year I ordered this lovely bundle of red happiness specifically for this quilt. I used only half of the fat quarters by excluding the richest reds and replacing them with reds that were more in line with the lighter ones in the bundle.
For the background, I used Art Gallery’s Loved to Pieces Frost Topiary. This fabric isn’t completely white, it actually has a frosty hue and the tiny topiary trees are so cute! I thought a different type of tree would give this year’s Christmas quilt a different twist. The accent triangles are Kona Cotton Sage green, which BTW took around nine MONTHS to get! Pandemic online fabric ordering has been quite the experience. Lastly, the backing is Andover Fabric’s Teal Yuletide Holly accented with pretty gold metallic.
Triangle Peaks, by Emily Dennis, is one of the fastest makes out there. While it takes a while to cut the fabric (doesn’t it always?) there’s very little to do to make blocks. The large cut triangles are the main ‘block’ and the smaller triangles are simply sewn to the background. There are biased edges, but with so little to sew handling them sparsely is a given.
And chain piecing is always fast…
As always, choosing a layout is time consuming for me, I think I might tend to overthink it. Once the layout was determined, sewing the rows went quickly. Sewing the rows together to finish the top took quite some time, mainly due to pinning.
My absolute most dreaded part of quilting is cutting threads off the back. I will find every other non-related chore to do to avoid doing it. But, since this quilt has mostly biased edges that don’t fray, trimming was a cinch.
I decided to straight line quilt so pin basting was pretty intense. After my Quilting Disaster! I’m diligent about using plenty of pins. Lines were quilted 2″ apart giving it a clean, simple finish.
I used the remaining yard of the sage green for the binding to match the accent triangles.
After attaching my binding to the quilt and before sewing it down completely, I always give it a press. I find this helps it lie flat and makes it a bit easier to stitch down. 🙂
The holiday themed backing makes it complete.
And here it is!
Yet another festive quilt for the holidays. Merry Christmas!
Any type of maker knows that starting Christmas gifts early is necessary if you want things done on time. Since I’ve made quilts for everyone in my family, I’m always searching for new sewing projects to make instead. Luckily, sometime during the summer I saw an image of a rope bowl and thought they’d make great gifts, and I’d have plenty of time to make them, too.
I watched a few video tutorials to see how it’s done and I decided Mr. Domestic’s How to Sew Rope Bowls YouTube video was the most informative and it’s pretty funny. While he used craft rope for his, I wanted something more accessible and sturdy so I opted for braided clothesline. It’s readily available at hardware stores and it’s relatively inexpensive—one package costs around $6. While you won’t have a lot of color choices with clothesline, you should be able to find it in natural and/or white.
I definitely thought the bowls would make nice gifts, but I also liked the fun aspect of adding color with fabric. 🙂 They require 1″ wide strips in lengths of choice but there are no set rules! It’s all up to you—add as little or as much as you want. For the ones I made, I chose the recipient’s preferred color and went through my scraps.
As you’ll see in the video, starting the spiral can be tricky. Here’s a tip: once you pin your center, sew the X between the pins to completely miss hitting them with your machine’s needle. Then remove the pins and sew another X in the opposite direction. You may have to go back and stitch together missed spots, but this initial step makes it much more manageable.
I was able to get two bowls out of 50′ of clothesline. I made several, and the neat thing is that each bowl is unique. They differed in fabric color, placement, size and the tilt of the side’s angle.
While a lot of makers ended the bowl by sewing down a loop, I wasn’t able to do it very well. Plus, I wanted a bit more color on mine so I made a tab. To do so, I took a piece of the same fabric used in the bowl and cut it 1″ x 1 1/2″ long. I sewed about 1/8″ around the edge of the fabric piece, and using a pin I frayed the edges.
I stitched it on by hand on some, and on others I sewed it on by machine, securing it with an X. While it’s far from perfect, I like results because I think it gives an artisanal look.
I had a lot of fun making these bowls, it was kind of addicting too. 😉 I finally ended up making one for myself and I use it for carrying small quilting necessities…scissors, HST, fabric, pins, rotary cutter, etc. Not only are they pretty, they’re useful.
And with the little bit of rope left over I made a couple of coasters. Such fun and quick projects!
My Sweet Stripes quilt pattern is now available for sale in my Etsy shop! I’m excited about this one for so many reasons. First of all, it’s fat quarter friendly and designed with the beginner quilter in mind. It’s unique too, because the pattern has various size options in two different layouts. One option is a straight layout with four sizes: baby, small throw, large throw and full. The other option is an offset layout with three sizes: baby, small throw and full. Altogether there’s 7 different quilts you can make from one pattern—that’s a lot of choices!
And of course the pattern is all the better thanks to testers. As quilters, we know a lot of work, time and money goes into making one single quilt so asking someone to test a pattern is a big ask. I don’t know how I got so lucky to end up with such a wonderful group of ladies, but I sure hit the jackpot! I value their input beyond measure.
So, here are the testers’ quilts…
I literally gasped when I saw this photo. The black background with the vibrant colors are just WOW. It truly is a gem. Quilt by Amanda @quiltingadventures (on Instagram).
I don’t think I’ve seen a prettier quilt than this. It’s so fresh and clean…just one of those quilts you can’t stop looking at. Quilt by Vanessa @_vanessa.griffin_ (on Instagram).
Dani made this for a baby boy and she nailed her color choices. The gray, blues and yellows are a perfect blend. Did you see that adorable giraffe fabric? Quilt by Dani @missdanismiles (on Instagram).
It’s gorgeous, right? I love how striking the rich toned one-color blocks pop against the white. And the longarming pattern is the perfect choice. Quilt by Janine @ lilbeanquilting (on Instagram).
So lovely and colorful…everything about this quilt makes me smile. It’s just delightful. Quilt by Carol @cjpunday (on Instagram).
Check out this festive beauty! The gray background compliments every color and gives such a cozy feel. And the scrappy layout adds to the loveliness all the more. Quilt by Barbara @thequiltedb (on Instagram).
Here’s my finished quilt. I made the small throw in the offset design with Kona Cotton Solids for a cheerful look. And how about that bias striped binding?
If you’re looking for a fun and easy quilt pattern this may be your next one! 🙂
I guess bloggers are guilty of showing (mostly) the pretty side of quilting, but there’s another side and it isn’t always good! When I designed my latest quilt pattern, Sweet Stripes, I designed it in two different layouts—offset and straight. Between the two there are four different sizes so I had plenty to choose from when testing the pattern myself. Of course there will be changes along the way, but everything went smoothly for the first time around.
Once the quilt top was finished and ready for quilting, I decided to use a horizontal serpentine stitch. OK, easy enough, I’ve done that plenty of times before.
As usual, my starting point was the middle of the quilt. Using my hera marker, I marked and sewed a line every 2 ½” until I reached the top. Looks great, right?
But then trouble hit when I sewed the lines in between…
See that ugly pull in the middle? That’s definitely not what you want. And the thing about it is I didn’t even notice until I finished the entire half! Let’s just say I had to walk away for a while… 😉
I obviously needed to fix this mess. I figured since it went so well when the first rows were sewn, it was the middle rows that were the problem and needed torn out. There was a lot of them and it was time consuming and frustrating work. But there’s an upside. I made sure to pick every five or so stitches on the front so I could pull away the back thread without breaking it and keeping it fairly long. By doing that I was able to salvage a lot of thread!
Luckily those strands won’t go to waste because I can use them when I baste down my binding. Or should I say several bindings to come…
In the end, this was a good learning moment for me. I’m pretty sure the problem happened because I didn’t use pins. I thought that once I had the marked lines sewn the layers would be secure enough to sew through the middle. Not so. I think the space was too wide to sew without it being pinned down and the drag of the quilt, the tension, etc. made the fabric shift. Note to self: use pins!
After all that, I decided to change my quilting design. Instead of sewing every line horizontal, I quilted the same distance apart vertically making squares. I wasn’t sure I would like it, but I do. I think the puffy little squares are cute and compliment the design.
It’s done now and time to move on to the next one. This beginner quilt pattern is currently out to testers but it’s coming soon!
Is stashing and stacking backing a thing? Meaning buying and stashing yards of fabric for unplanned quilt backs. OK, maybe it’s not properly named, but I’m pretty sure there are quilters out there who do this along with me, right? I’m not a quilter who has a lot of stash, for either the front OR the back, but it makes sense to me to have a few backings on hand because you never know when you’re going to make a quilt. 😉
While it may not seem so, there is a method to my madness! Since I don’t plan all (most) of my quilts and I can’t afford the latest print to be put on the back, I look for sales. I usually look for something that would work with a type of quilt that I’m likely to make. A good example is that each year chances are I’ll be making a Christmassy quilt, so I’m always scouting for something in traditional Christmas colors.
I found this vibrant red RJR fabric for 40% off (around $6/yard and my usual price limit) and at the time I had no idea what I’d use it for. Along came my Holiday Hemlocks quilt and it’s a perfect match! I’d stored this fabric for a couple of years and was happy that I had it on hand when needed.
As far as other backings are concerned, I like to buy fabric that will go with anything for anybody. Some of the time it means a neutral color, or something geometric if I’m gifting a quilt to a man. Sometimes I just get cute prints that I like in case the quilt’s for me. 😉
For my years of doing this, I found the best resource is Hancock’s of Paducah. They have a giant selection of fabric overall and they have a great selection of sale fabric, too. Sales run from $3.99 – $6.99/yard and because they have such a vast inventory, they have a lot of yardage which is useful when purchasing backings. The Fat Quarter Shop also has a big inventory and a nice selection. I love the FQS and get a lot of my fabric there, but sales typically aren’t as inexpensive as Hancock’s. For the most part these are my main two go-to places, but there are others I’ve bought from on occasion.
When I find something I like, I tend to buy 5 yards. That way I have enough in case I make a larger quilt and if I make a smaller quilt there will be some leftover that can be used for mini backings, etc.
Here’s my latest purchase: a print from Moda’s Harper’s Garden by Sherri and Chelsi for $5.99/yard. It’s 10 yards of loveliness that’ll be put on the back of my On Point Irish Chain quilt for my bed.
If you don’t stack backing fabric for future quilts, it might be something worth considering. If nothing else, looking at pretty fabric is a great way to pass the time.
Note: I am not endorsed by any business I have mentioned in this post; they are stores and fabrics I like, use, and wanted to share information on.
I’d seen so many Swoon quilts on Instagram that I finally had to join the crowd and make one for myself. The minute I saw Moda’s fabric line Le Pavot by Sandy Gervais I absolutely had to have it. I received a fat quarter bundle for Christmas 2018 and made the quilt in 2019, so I’ve actually have had it done for over a year now!
I dove right in after receiving the fabric, and as always, it takes a good chunk of time to cut pieces. With the use of my stripology ruler (below) I was able to get the background strips done fairly quick.
I think what drew me to the pattern (by Camille Roskelley) is the large blocks, and to date these are the largest blocks I’ve ever made. They measure 24″ and the entire quilt has only nine blocks altogether.
I’m a huge fan of peachy, coral colored fabrics so I chose this adorable tiny flowered print for the binding.
I also favor the color teal. These two fabrics made the most gorgeous flying geese…
For the quilting, I decided to go with a different motif than what I’d usually choose—bubbles or swirls or something on the petite side. To mix it up I chose a big design to compliment the big blocks, it’s called seaweed. I’m really happy with how it turned out.
Here it is finished.
The colors, pattern and quilting…all made for a lovely quilt. 🙂 And a new favorite.