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.
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?!?
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:
Set up good lighting.
Match the thread to the batting as close as possible.
Cut fresh, straight edges using a ruler and rotary cutter OR if the factory cut edges are straight, they are fine to use.
Make sure the same sides of the batting are up.
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.
Choose the proper foot for your machine.
Try a sample first to ensure your stitch length is set appropriately.
Once you get started:
Sew slowly making sure both sides of the batting pieces are caught by the zigzag stitch. Going fast will make batting bunch.
Use quilting gloves for a better grip (batting can be slippery).
Once finished and before use:
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. 😉
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!
Every year I like to write a blog post recapping all the projects I’ve made. I mainly do this to have a quick reference should I ever need to know when something in particular was made. And it’s fun to see how I’ve spent my time sewing. So here goes…
First up is my Petite Hearts quilt that I made on a whim. It has a funny story to go along with it…I thought I was onto an original pattern, but while looking for a name I found it had been published before as baby quilt. Still a top favorite.
I started making a Swoon quilt by Thimble Blossoms in the spring and got it back from longarming late September. I haven’t written a blog post on it yet because I haven’t gotten any good photos, so these two blocks will have to do for now. 🙂
I started my Maple Charm quilt before we moved in April and had it finished just in time for fall. I enjoyed it the entire season.
This Five Squared throw quilt is a Monday Morning Designs pattern (available for purchase in my Etsy shop; see sidebar). I made it out of fabrics I had on hand and I love that all the colors of the rainbow are included.
Also while trying to use what I had on hand, I made a Four Patch Charm quilt. I’m hoping somebody has a special event this year so I can gift it.
Lastly, I made my son a Picnic Play quilt designed by Michelle Bartholomew. While this quilt looks innocent, it was a tough one! It was a huge project, too. My son enjoys finally having a quilt large enough to use on his queen size bed.
I made quite a few mini quilts, too. This one was completed early 2019. I’ve also written a tutorial on how to make a Scrappy Heart mini. It’s a fun and quick one to make.
What can I say about this cute crab pattern by Ellis and Higgs? The big crab was a gift for my daughter, the other one is mine.
This Radiant mini is also a Monday Morning Designs. I was fortunate to have it featured in the July/August edition of Quiltmaker. It surely brightens up my space! I plan to release the pattern this summer.
I made quite a few Little Quilted Star ornaments for gifts for Christmas. Very festive.
My pattern Wee Three Trees became available for purchase in time for the holiday sewing rush. I made two, one for myself and one as a gift for my niece.
Here’s the last of my projects. I made the microwave bowl cozy for myself as a holiday bowl for pine cones. The little holders are for gift cards; gifted as party favors, and the bottom photo shows my process on a mini Christmas tree skirt.
These pillows were also gifts…
And a pillow case for my bird-loving husband.
Lastly, towels with cute toppers made for my mom. You can download my free PDF tutorial How to Make a Hanging Kitchen Towel. It’s easy-to-follow, complete with photos, a template and lots of tips!
Well, that sums up last year, and I’m well into making for 2020!
I’m always looking for a new sewing project to make—something easy and fun with a fairly quick finish. I thought I’d enjoy making hanging kitchen towels since they’re decorative and useful. While scrolling through Pinterest I found several examples with a variety of toppers, but I couldn’t find any tutorials I liked so I designed my own.
I also wrote a tutorial while making mine, and for an easy way to share it’s available as a PDF download. That way it’s convenient for you to keep it on your device while working on your project. Here’s the link to download my How to Make a Hanging Kitchen Towel tutorial.
I’d rate this project as ‘easy’ and it’s great for both new and experienced sewing enthusiasts. The tutorial is chock-full of colorful photos, helpful tips and a printable template—all there to guide you while making your own!
Sometimes when working on a quilt that’s taking a lot of time, I feel I need a break to make something with a fast finish. Over the summer I received a free sailboat pattern from Ellis and Higgs and I thought it would make a nice pillow as a gift for my sister since she lives on the bay and has a nautical theme throughout her house.
I’d been wanting to learn how to make an envelope pillow because I think they look better than a zipper, so what better time to try it out? I found a few tutorials and combined the best of them and came up with one to pass along. It’s really easy and can be made in less than an hour!
For mine, I pieced the front and used interfacing to keep everything in place, but you can make the front easily with a cut of fabric. Here’s how to make a cover for a pillow insert, and also what you’ll need:
MATERIALS: Either a pieced block with interfacing fused on OR fabric for the front, fabric for the back, pillow insert, hot ruler (optional), bluntly pointed stick, sewing machine, iron, general sewing supplies.
For the pillow FRONT: Make your block to measure the same size as your pillow form. If you choose to make a fabric front, the same measurement applies, cut your fabric to the pillow form size.
For the pillow BACK: You will need one piece of fabric to be cut into two (or two pieces). The width will be the same as your pillow form, but the length will be the size of the pillow form plus 6″.
If you’re using a quilt block and it’s too small, just add borders. For example, I added 2″ borders to my sailboat block to get it to measure 16″ x 16″.
Once the pieces are cut to size, fold under one edge of each back piece 1/4″ and then again 1/4″ to form a small hem for the flaps. A hot ruler works great here.
Sew the hem for the flaps, stitching close to the edge. Press the seam.
Next; sewing everything together. Pin the front and back pieces right sides together with the two back pieces overlapping in the middle. It will look upside down and backwards, but it ends up as it should once you turn it right side out.
Sew around all four sides of the pillow cover using a 1/2″ seam allowance. If you want to keep the raw edges from fraying, add a zigzag stitch around all the edges.
Once sewn, trim away the corners and turn the cover right side out, making sure to push out the corners. Using a bluntly pointed object helps get the corners sharp.
Lastly, give it one final press and insert the pillow form. And you’re done!
Not only are these pillows easy and fun, they’re an inexpensive way to add a splash of color and style to your living space.
After seeing these, my daughter wanted a few in traditional Christmas colors, red and white. I made her three using a rich red for the star in Moda’s Rustic Weave and a pure white background with wintry swirls from a Bee Sturgis Quilting Treasures holiday collection.
And I just love the contrast.
She wanted them quilted all the same, with straight line quilting in each corner section.
She also chose Kona Cotton White for the binding which really made the red stars pop.
Either traditional colors or modern, I think these ornaments are a great holiday addition.
You’ve finished your quilt and it’s time to add the binding. If you’re new to quilting or just want to try a different way to machine bind, I’ve got you covered. This tutorial will take you through the whole process, step-by-step.
Since I tend to make several quilts a year, I’m left with the decision whether to bind them by hand or by machine. Typically, I base my decision on how the quilt is going to get used. For example, if I’m making a baby quilt and I know it’s going to get laundered a lot, I’ll machine bind it. If I’m making a quilt that’s not going to get used much, such as a holiday quilt, I’ll sew my binding on by hand. I do enjoy taking the time for hand sewing and I love a hand-stitched look.
But, if hand sewing’s not for you or you simply don’t have the time, this tutorial will show you what you need to know. I should mention that this is only one way to machine bind; there are other methods available.
The first step is to attach the binding to the front of the quilt once it’s trimmed. To begin, place the binding on the quilt top aligning the raw edges. Mark where you will begin sewing, leaving an 8-10″ tail.
I usually start at the center of the bottom edge. It doesn’t really matter what edge you begin with, but make sure you start near the middle to allow yourself enough room to work when finishing off the binding. TIP: Don’t start in a corner. 🙂
Since a 1/4″ seam allowance is required, I like to use my 1/4″ foot because of its consistency and accuracy. If you use a 1/4″ foot, make sure to set your needle to the correct seam allowance before starting. Other options are to use your favorite foot and follow a guide; it’s up to you.
Once you’re set up, begin sewing by taking a few stitches then backstitch to secure the binding in place.
Continue sewing until you reach approximately 1/4″ from the side’s end. Stop. Leaving your needle down, lift your foot and pivot the quilt corner so you can sew on an angle toward the point. Sew to the point, stop and cut the thread.
Next, fold a tuck in the binding, lining up the top edge flush with the quilt edge, also aligning the side.
Begin sewing at the tucked end and continue along the entire side. Stop 1/4″ away from the side’s end, as above, repeating the same process each time you get to a corner.
By doing this, you’ll have nicely mitered edges when your binding is finished. 🙂
When all three sides are complete and you are nearing the beginning tail, stop sewing about 8-10″ from the end. Cut the threads and take your quilt out of your machine. Place the beginning/ending area of the binding on a flat surface.
Stretch out the beginning tail, overlapping the end tail on top. This is where you’ll finish off the binding by joining the beginning and end.
It’s time to do some measuring. From the end of the beginning tail, measure 2 ½” onto the end tail. Mark a line. The rule of thumb is to measure the overlap as wide as your binding. For example, my binding is 2 ½” wide so I marked at 2 ½” on the end binding strip. If you made your binding 2 ¼” wide, then mark at 2 ¼”. It will look like this…
Cut on the marked line.
The next step is to sew the two ends together using the same method as making binding. First, flatten out both ends. Place the left hand end over the right hand end, forming a cross. Leave about 1/8″ overhang at each end.
On the top binding strip, draw a diagonal line from the TOP RIGHT corner to the LOWER LEFT corner, as shown below. Pin. Sew on the line.
Next, trim 1/4″ away from line and press the seam open (finger pressing works fine).
Flatten out the binding and it should fit perfectly!
To finish, start sewing where you left off and continue until you meet the beginning stitches. Congratulations, your binding is now attached!
To keep everything neat, trim the threads around the entire quilt. Once they’re trimmed, fold the binding over to the back and clip in place.
The last step is to sew down the binding…but before doing so I always run a single-thread basting stitch, removing the clips as I go.
Sure, it’s an extra step but I find it’s much easier to have the binding secured in place rather than trying to sew it down while removing clips. You can choose to skip this step, but it does give a nice, even finish that’s well worth the extra time. 🙂 TIP: Use inexpensive thread as it’s going to get discarded.
Once the binding is basted, it’s time to sew it down by machine. I use my ditch quilting foot, also known as a Stitch-in-the-Ditch foot, because I get accurate results and it works great!
Before sewing, you’ll have to decide on thread color first. This can be tricky; if the binding is a different color than the border, you have to chose thread to match either the border or the binding. Since the stitches will be seen on the front, I don’t want them the same color as the binding and vise versa. So, as unconventional as it may seem, I’ll use two different thread colors. Odd, right? But it does solve the problem! I’ll use one thread to match the border and the other (my bobbin) to match the binding. Once the thread’s decided, it’s time to sew.
Starting at the bottom (where you initially began), line up your guide with the binding seam or the ditch. The needle will be about a needle’s width away allowing the stitches to catch the binding on the back nice and close to the edge.
Sew all the way around until you come back to the beginning. And you’re done! Don’t forget to remove your basting stitches.
It looks great, doesn’t it? Now that all the work is done it’s time to enjoy your quilt!