Christmas, home decor, quilting, sewing, Uncategorized

Microwave Bowl Cozies

Once spring arrived and I’d completed my 8th quilt for the year, it was time to make something else. Not that long ago microwave cozies were really popular and I was seeing them everywhere, so I figured now was a good time to try them out. I’m always in favor of making practical things people can actually use, and stashing down is always a plus.

There are plenty of tutorials available on how to make these and they’re pretty much all the same. I followed a YouTube video by The Sewing Room. To make one bowl cozy you need 10″ squares for everything—the inside and outside fabric and the cotton batting in between.

The process is pretty basic: you quilt the squares, sandwich the pieces, sew them together adding darts, turn it inside out and top stitch. After making five, I discovered a few tips and compiled them for those of you who decide to make your own.

Instructions have you quilt an X from corner to corner. For accuracy, I marked my lines with a hera marker. I chain quilted the X on all five to save some time. Is chain quilting actually a thing? Carrying on…I used my walking foot guide for the rest of the quilting. Don’t forget to pin!

I quilted mine 2″ apart, a bit closer than in the video.

By doing so, the quilting helped shape the bottom of the cozies. I didn’t expect that but it turned out nicely.

And I certainly didn’t expect the lines on my fabric to line up either! 🙂

Since you’re going through two layers of fabric and batting, take it nice and slow when top stitching.

I spent a few hours making all five of these. I kept one for myself and gave the rest to my family.

Because I didn’t have 100% cotton batting, we don’t use ours in the microwave, but we do use them to keep food warm. They work great and all the bowl sizes we tried fit just fine.

You can also make them for decoration. I made this one for displaying pine cones around Christmas. The beautiful metallic fabric and 1″ quilted lines give a festive holiday feel.

If you’re on your umpteenth quilt for the year and need a change of pace, you can quickly make a few bowl cozies to mix it up.

organizing sewing space, quilting, Uncategorized

Save that fabric!

Not all that long ago quilt batting was pretty hard to get a hold of and I was nearly out. Luckily at the same time my trimmed quilt edges of excess fabric and batting was piling up in my sewing room. And I needed to make some quilts. 😉 The obvious thing to do was to take the strips apart and piece the batting after cutting away any overage quilting stitches.

If you take quilts to a longarmer, you know about the extra 4″ of backing needed all around for loading on the machine. I noticed sometimes my longarmer loaded it more to one side leaving some pretty wide strips when completed. Either way, those strips can add up to a lot of fabric!

Here I go again with the waste issue, but I never throw these materials away, I always take the time to separate them out.

My latest fabric/batting stack consisted of four quilts worth—one longarmed queen size and three throws I quilted myself. After removing the fabric, this is what I ended up with…

And after a bit more effort—pressing and cutting strips to the biggest size I could get—this was the end result…

I’m not going to deny this project took me a few hours, but now I have a lot of precut fabric on hand that would’ve been a shame to toss. It was definitely worth the effort and what a great way to use materials on hand.

Out of the batting, I was able to piece enough to make one throw quilt, one crib size quilt and two baby quilts. And, as of today, batting is once again on backorder.

If you’ve got a stack of edges piling up, consider their reuse. Save and cut that fabric, your future self will thank you. 🙂

quilting, Uncategorized

Pattern Testers Needed

I’ve been doing a bit of research regarding pattern testers and it ends up my best bet is to put out a call on my website. When I lived in FL and was a member of my local guild, some of the guild member offered to test patterns for me, but since I’m no longer there I need a new list!

You might be asking, what do you have to offer if I test for you? Honestly, I cannot afford to pay testers nor can I afford to purchase fabric for testers. What I can do is offer you a free pattern of your choice from my shop when everything’s complete, and of course you’ll receive a copy of the final pattern that’s being tested. Also, my website gets quite a bit of traffic—averaging about 4,000 views per month and sometimes up to 10,000! If you’re starting out as a designer, you could get some exposure here as I will write a blog post featuring everybody’s work with credit to the quilters. I’ll also post your photos on Instagram and Pinterest.

What will I need from you? Test the pattern as written and give me feedback. I know from experience I’d often get ‘great pattern’ and not a lot of comments, but it does help greatly if you offer suggestions and help me clear up any errors or miscalculations, etc. Of course I’ll also need a nice photo of your finished quilt so I can post it. I’ll also ask that you don’t share the pattern and please keep it secret until it’s time to be released.

I realize pattern testers are volunteers who kindly give their time and talents. Your time is important. I will be upfront about my turnaround time expectation, which will be around 3-4 weeks. If you can’t finish, please let me know, I understand life can get in the way of our hobbies! Additionally, if you feel like your skills are better at math and numbers, maybe you’d feel more comfortable just checking my numbers to make sure everything adds up correctly.

I have a fun pattern that I’m currently working on and it will be ready for testers soon. It’s a Christmas themed throw size quilt, measuring 56″ x 66″ when complete. It consists of trees and stars and I’d rate it for a confident beginner. These saw tooth stars are in it and they’re probably the most difficult part! There are also two versions, scrappy and regular.

If you’d like to be part of my pattern testing pool, email me at deborahgehringer@gmail.com. I use this email strictly for quilting business. If you have a business email you don’t mind leaving under comments, feel free. I will not sell or use your email information ever, it’s for my purposes only. Also, you may want to let me know what your skill level is, that way I won’t ask you to test if I feel a pattern might not be suitable for you. If you do sign up and then change your mind, no worries. That’s how volunteering works.

Should you have any questions, just leave them in the comment section!

baby quilts, how to, PDF download, quilting, quilts, tutorials, Uncategorized

An Easy Beginners Quilt

If you’re thinking about taking up quilting as a new hobby but aren’t sure where to begin, I’ve got an easy, basic pattern that’s excellent for the complete beginner, the Checkered Baby Quilt. This quilt is a perfect starter for several reasons—it’s sewing simple squares together, there are no bias edges (when edges can stretch easily), seams nest (fit into one another stress-free) and it can be made with 5″ precuts. For the quilt top you need only two charm packs. And best of all, there’s no pattern to buy, just download my Checkered Baby Quilt tutorial. Easy, right?

I’ve made a few Checkered Baby Quilts and have given them as gifts and I’ve even made a couple for commission, so it’s definitely a classic that stays in style.

Checkered Baby Quilt made with stackers from Riley Blake’s Little Prince collection
Checkered Baby Quilt made with Moda’s Pepper and Flax and various other prints

The last one I made with Lily and Loom fabric from Craftsy (remember Craftsy?) and Kona Cotton Solid Snow. I chose crosshatch quilting at 2″ apart and a solid binding.

Other reasons why this is great for a new quilter is that it’s a nice sized project suitable for experimenting with color, fabric, thread, quilting designs, etc. All of those quilting elements are part of the learning process plus it’s a lot of fun. So if it’s time to get started, why not grab a couple of charm packs and try this one out?!?

Uncategorized

Sewing Tip: Save on Thread

When I bought my sewing machine a few years ago, the sales lady gave me very thorough instructions on machine use, even though I didn’t think it necessary…then one particular thing got my attention—how to ‘unthread’ the machine. I’m sure it’s not really known as that, but changing thread is something we do all the time.

Until then I always pulled the thread from the spool back through my machine, but thanks to Karen I now know that can cause tension issues as the machine is made for thread to go out in only one direction via the needle. That said, the proper way to remove thread is to cut it from the spool and pull it through the bottom. Am I the only person who didn’t know this? Probably. 😉 It makes perfect sense, and I’m glad for the tip because tension problems are the worst.

As time went by and after several thread changes, I realized it’s a lot of waste to throw those strands away. Since thread is expensive and I don’t like waste, I had to ask myself ‘what can I do with these strands?’ I didn’t know at first, I just started saving them on my pincushion.

My thread cutaways measure about 24″ long, so it doesn’t go all that far, but I’ve come up with a few tips on putting them to good use.

  • Keep a needle or two threaded, it’s a great way to save time when in a hurry.
  • Use threads for basting. I always baste my binding before machine sewing, I mainly use these strands for stitching them down.
  • Sew on buttons. A short thread length is plenty.
  • Clothing repairs. They’re just right for a minor fix.

If you hang on to your cutaway strands, you’ll be surprised how quickly they accumulate and in so many different colors, too. And mostly, you’ll see how much it’ll save on thread waste. 🙂

mini quilts, modern quilts, patterns, PDF dowload, PDF pattern, quilts, Uncategorized

Radiant Mini Quilt Pattern

Now that summer is finally here, it’s a great time to release my Radiant pattern and spread a little sunshine. 🙂 This bright mini quilt was published in the July/August 2019 issue of Quiltmaker, so if you missed it then it’s now available for purchase in my Etsy shop.

Radiant is a fun way to create an ombré effect by using solids. You can go with bright yellows and oranges, or mix it up and choose your own personal favorite colorway.

Not only is it easy enough for beginner quilters, it’s a great skill builder. Imagine what you can do with the quilting, too—the sky’s the limit on this one!

Quilted with Aurifil thread 2135

Materials needed are a variety of oranges and yellows in fat eighth cuts, but the half sqaure triangles are small so scraps will certainly work. Radiant finishes at 15 ½” x 12 ½”.

baby quilts, modern quilts, monday morning designs quilt pattern, PDF pattern, quilting, quilts, Uncategorized

Twinkly Stars Baby Quilt

While working on my Twinkly Stars quilt pattern a few months ago, I decided to make a crib size quilt because I think the chunky, whimsical stars make for a darling baby quilt. And since it’s so enjoyable to make, I thought I’d share some interesting things about it.

For fabrics, I chose lovely soft hues in Kona Cotton Solids using six different colors.

The neat thing about this pattern is there’s practically no waste because cut-away corners are saved and used for the sashing. That’s a win-win!

(had to share the trimmed scraps because they were pretty…)

Also, chain piecing…a definite time-saver.

And as always, after finishing a quilt it’s time to try to get good photos. Sometimes it’s easy and goes quick, and sometimes there’s the endless battle with lighting, the set up, wrinkles, winds, etc. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all and I have to try another day.

On the afternoon my husband and I photographed this quilt, it was windy. Here’s our first attempt…while this isn’t the best shot, I do love the buttercups.

Continuing on to another location, we passed a gate that would be the perfect spot IF the wind and light cooperated. Luckily they did, and I’m pleased with the photos. I considered that day an easy photography day. 🙂

Here’s a closeup look at the quilting. I chose horizontal lines with a serpentine stitch. The wavy lines give it a nice and cozy quilted look.

For the back, I used a cute flannel monkey print. It’s so fun!

This is no doubt one of my favorite makes. There are so many color options that would work great with the pattern, too. You could use red, white and blue, or one color in various shades for the stars. Or light stars with a dark background. Anything goes.

Twinkly Stars is available in 4 sizes—crib, small and large throw, and twin size. Overall it’s a quick sew, and who doesn’t love a star quilt?!?

how to, quilting, Quilting 101, sewing, tutorials, Uncategorized

How to Piece Quilt Batting

If you’ve been quilting for a while I bet you’ve accumulated quite a bit of cutaway batting—I have a fair amount myself. For me, I needed to stash down and use what I had plus I’ve found it difficult to purchase any batting because it’s either sold out or on backorder.

Since I had a couple patterns in the works, it was a good time to do some quilt batting piecing so I could finish my projects. First up was a throw quilt that will finish 56″ x 72″.

To get started, I gathered cutaway strips from other quilts I’d made. I had three strips that were long enough and once sewn together, the whole piece would be wide enough. Because the strips were uneven in length, I cut them all to an even and approximate length of what I’d need. I then was ready to get sewing.

Here’s what I did, and if you decide to piece batting too, this is what you’ll need to know. I’ve compiled a list of tips to help you as you go along.

Before you start sewing:

  1. Set up good lighting.
  2. Match the thread to the batting as close as possible.
  3. Cut fresh, straight edges using a ruler and rotary cutter OR if the factory cut edges are straight, they are fine to use.
  4. Make sure the same sides of the batting are up.
  5. To insure seams stay secure, use a zigzag stitch. I sew on a Janome Skyline S7 and this is the setting I used. Whatever you can set close to this should work fine.
  6. Choose the proper foot for your machine.
  7. Try a sample first to ensure your stitch length is set appropriately.

Once you get started:

  1. Sew slowly making sure both sides of the batting pieces are caught by the zigzag stitch. Going fast will make batting bunch.
  2. Use quilting gloves for a better grip (batting can be slippery).
Finished pieced quilt batting

Once finished and before use:

  1. If necessary, you can press the seams to help them lie flat, but make sure the entire area of batting where you intend to iron is covered by fabric or you’ll get residue on your iron that’s difficult to remove, trust me. 😉
  2. I spritzed water over my stitching to help relax the seams which worked really well. If you do use water, check that everything is dry before sandwiching and quilting.

Here’s a photo of an area beneath the quilt top where there’s a pieced batting seam…you’d never know!

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Westerly Winds Quilt Pattern

I’m introducing a new quilt pattern today, Westerly Winds!

Inspired by windy days, Westerly Winds swirls with movement showcasing intriguing designs throughout.

When I made a quilt for myself, I wanted it to make a statement so I used Sun Print 2018 by Andover Fabrics. The rich and vibrant colors of this line did not disappoint! I chose a spiral pattern for quilting to accentuate the movement of the quilt and to compliment the sharper edges. I’m pleased with how well they work together. 🙂

So much so that when I made one for my niece for a wedding gift, I had it quilted in the same motif. Her fabric choice, Blossom by Riley Blake, offered a lovely variety of colors that lends itself beautifully to the pattern.

Westerly Winds is available for purchase in my Etsy shop. As a PDF download, it offers clear and easy-to-follow instructions with plenty of colorful diagrams. It’s a fat quarter friendly pattern with traditional piecing.

modern quilts, quilting, quilts, Uncategorized

Scrappy Four Patch Charm Quilt

In keeping with my goal to use fabric on hand, a few weeks ago I decided to pull all my leftover 5″ squares and make a quilt out of them. Due to the large variety of prints it was a risky move, leaving me to question if all the fabrics would blend. Nonetheless, I was determined to make it work.

I planned to make another Four Patch Charm quilt (I’d made one back in September) that required 96 five inch squares. From the pile, I had about half. Needing another 45 or so, I headed back to my stash of leftover fabric and pulled what I thought would work. That batch included fabrics from my first quilt, other quilts, various small projects, quilt backs, bindings, etc. I cut until I reached my number.

To get started, the pattern required the squares to be cut in half diagonally then sewn in pairs.

After sewing together of 96 pairs, I still wasn’t sure if everything would look OK even though I blended colors as best as possible. Then I thought, well, everyone loves scrappy, right? How could I go wrong?

To finish the blocks, I used Kona Cotton Snow (the background triangle) choosing it for a less-than-bright-white look. The next step, trimming blocks. You can see they were pretty close to the size needed, but I never skip this step. Sure, it’s time consuming but it’s always, always worth the effort. 🙂

The layout didn’t take much time, as it was one of those quilts where you move one block it messes up the colors in another area, so I left it pretty much as I laid it out initially. Once I’d gotten to this point I was happy with how the colors worked together and I liked it more than I thought I would.

I quilted a 2″ square grid to compliment the diagonal pattern, and made scrappy binding using four different fabrics found in the quilt top.

For the back, I used a pleasant blue and white hexagon fabric from Moda’s Victoria line.

At last, here’s the finished quilt! I have no plans to keep this one for myself, I hope to give it as a gift to someone, sometime.