quilt blocks, quilting, Quilting 101, tutorials, Uncategorized

How to Sew Accurate Flying Geese

There’s no doubt flying geese are essential to quilting and they’re fun to experiment with. They give quilts an interesting perspective and can be addicting to make once you get started.

If you’re new to quilting or having trouble with your flying geese blocks, here’s an easy tutorial on how to sew an accurate flying geese unit that won’t need squaring up.

To get started, cut fabric to the required sizes. You’ll need a rectangular piece for the background and two squares for the sides. The flying geese I made in this tutorial are based on the measurements below.

Once your fabric is cut, draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of both side squares. Place a marked square on the right hand side of the rectangle, as illustrated, lining up the outside edges. Pin together.

NOTE: You can choose to sew the first square on either the left or right hand side, there will be no difference in the outcome.

The next step is sewing the pinned pieces together. But before sewing, be sure to follow this important tip…instead of sewing directly on the drawn line, sew just along side of it.

And here’s why. By having sewn along side of the drawn line, it frees up about a thread’s width of space so when you press the fabric to the corner, the new piece will line up accurately. That small width might seem minor, but it can make all the difference in your finished unit.

Here’s how to set your foot and needle before sewing…

And this is what it looks like sewn just to the right of the line…

A rule of thumb to follow is to sew to the right of the drawn line for the right hand side of the flying geese unit and sew to the left of the line on the left hand side of the unit.

Once you’ve finished sewing, cut ¼” away from the sewn line. Press the square to the corner.

Your results will be a nicely aligned corner. 🙂

To finish your flying geese, repeat the same steps for the opposite side. Place the fabric with the drawn line as shown. Pin.

Sew just along side of the line.

Cut away the corner and press.

And done! A finished flying geese with no trimming required. 🙂

Simple, right?

I made my blocks for a Swoon quilt I have in the works. If you’re making several for a project, they can be chain pieced, one side at a time. It’s a great time-saver.

Now that you’ve added the traditional flying geese block to your quilting repertoire it’s time to experiment and have some fun!

diy, quilting, Uncategorized

Make Your Own Precuts from Scraps

I am certainly not one to waste fabric. As a person who loves fabric and knows all too well how expensive it is, I like to save what I can, even really small pieces. If you’re not one for waste either, here’s an easy tip on how you can get the most out of your fabric and money.

Le Pavot by Sandy Gervais for Moda Fabric

We know that most quilting projects will leave us with left over scraps, maybe from trimming away corners or just from the initial cutting. If you don’t want to throw away perfectly good fabric, why not cut it for future use by making your own precuts?

Here’s an example of my latest ‘made myself precuts.’ The quilt pattern I’m currently making requires several flying geese units that leave a lot of cut-away corners. Because the units are pretty large, the cut-away corner triangles (approximately 2″ x 4″) are big enough to allow me to cut out one 1 ½” square from each piece.

After cutting out the 1 ½” squares, there’s barely any fabric left leaving minimal waste. Easy and economical, right?

For me, the biggest challenge with doing this is deciding when to cut the fabric. Because I’m usually excited to keep on sewing the project at hand (it’s hard to take extra time to cut scraps) but I usually do it as I go along so I don’t forget what they’re for, and I know it’ll save time later. It’s personal preference whether you cut as you go, or later on.

Keep in mind that you can make a variety of sizes of your own precuts based on the size of scraps you have left over from your quilting projects. Anything goes…

Since I have been doing this for quite a while, I have saved myself a lot of time and fabric – it’s definitely a win-win situation!

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

Sunrise Clock Mug Rugs Revisited

In the fall of 2017 I was fortunate enough to experience my first quilting publication. My project, Sunrise Clock Mug Rugs, was published in the September/October issue of Modern Patchwork. I designed a set of four mug rugs depicting a clock face reading approximately 7:25 a.m. For some reason I really clocks and watches, and years ago I had quite the watch collection so that’s more than likely where my inspiration came from. 🙂

Once I had the idea, I played around with it until the design resembled a clock face as close as possible, even down to the binding which represents a silver casing! Technically, the mug rug can read four different times, depending on how you orient it. 🙂 Unfortunately, Modern Patchwork is no longer published (I was sad to see it go) so I’ve decided to offer my Sunrise Clock Mug Rug pattern as a free PDF download.

I made the original four (in the above photo) with brightly colored hands and a white background but the next time around I experimented quite a bit with color. Since I liked how the quilting design looked, I kept it the same on the others as well.

These mug rugs are a quick and fun project that presents a clean, modern aesthetic. They make great gifts, too. I’d love to see other versions, if on Instagram hashtag #sunriseclockmugrug to share yours!

quilting, tutorials, Uncategorized

How to Make Half Square Triangles

Ahh, half square triangles…I couldn’t imagine the quilting world with out them. I think it would be a safe bet to say that the majority of quilt patterns include half square triangles. And I think most quilters would agree that we love of their versatility.

Learning how to make half square triangles (HSTs) with accurate results can make all the difference in your quilt. I remember my first quilt included HSTs, and I also remember that I had no idea what I was in for when it came time to make them! I didn’t know anything about trimming and the importance of accuracy which made putting the quilt top together a bigger challenge than I expected.

Half square triangles using Fig Tree & Co. and Kona Cotton fabrics

If you’re a new quilter, I have an tutorial on how to make half square triangles with ease. It’s a basic method where you make two at a time and bias edges are avoided. By using this method you’ll find there’s very little waste but it allows enough fabric for trimming, and it’s perfect for chain piecing.

For future reference, I’ve included a sizing chart that provides both the size of the cut of fabric needed and the size of the finished/trimmed HST. It’s really a great resource, I use it all the time. Click to download my Half Square Triangle Chart PDF.

To make Half Square Triangles (HSTs) – 2 at a time

To get started, cut (2) contrasting color fabrics to desired size. The lighter colored fabric will be referred to ‘A square’ and the darker fabric will be referred to as ‘B square.’

  • Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of A square
  • Place A square on B square, right sides together
  • Sew ¼” from the drawn line on both sides
  • Cut on the drawn line, press to B square
  • Trim HSTs to finished size
  • One sewn unit makes 2 HSTs

I made these HSTs for a pillow project using this method.

You can see that very little was trimmed away, but it does make a lot of difference when you piece your project together. I like to use a Bloc-Loc ruler for trimming my squares. Not only does it give great accuracy, it makes the trimming process go much faster than using a regular quilter’s ruler.

If you give this tutorial a try, I hope your triangles are stellar. 🙂 Let’s go have some fun creating!

Note: I am not endorsed by any products I have mentioned or photographed in this post; they are just items I like, use and wanted to share information on.

quilting, quilts, Uncategorized

The Making of a Hunter’s Star Quilt

In 2017 I told my daughter I would make her a bed size quilt, but to be honest I never got around to it that year. Enter 2018 and I knew I had to keep my word. That said, I had her choose both the fabric and the quilt pattern because if I was going to take a lot of time to make something so big (and expensive), I wanted her to be happy with it.

After searching around she decided on Robert Kaufman’s Artisan Batiks/Retro Metro by Lunn Studios. This would be my first time working with batiks and I was ready to try something new.

Her pattern choice was the Hunter’s Star quilt based on the video tutorial by Missouri Star Quilt Company. We all love Jenny Doan, don’t we? I know I’m a fan of her videos and patterns, and store too, for that matter. The video tutorial I followed is Hunter’s Star Made Easy. It’s a great tutorial but there were a couple of things I found challenging and I’d like to share them with anyone who decides to make this quilt from the video.

First, making the half square triangles (HSTs). By using the method in the tutorial you need to know that all the fabric edges will be on the bias! Meaning everything is going to be stretchy so handle with care. Personally, I don’t like making HSTs this way because of that, but in this case I just used extra caution. If you’re a beginner quilter be aware if and when you use this method.

I needed 720 HSTs for the entire quilt, that’s a lot! Here’s a stack of just 168, trimmed and ready for blocks.

How to press your seams is important, and I found it worked best pressing the HSTs seams open—but—if you’re using a Bloc-Loc ruler, trim them first, then press seams open. I pressed a few open first and they were off, so I didn’t end up with a ¼” seam once sewn. It wasn’t until afterwards that I realized why that happened, but thankfully I didn’t do too many.

After I got that right everything lined up nicely! The pressed open seams made for a nice, flat lying block.

Here are a few more tips from my experience that are really useful.

After laying out the blocks, take a photo. It’s easy to get blocks turned around and having a photo reference is a lifesaver.

Pin, pin, pin! Some quilters don’t like to pin because it slows them down. I like the accuracy of pinning so I’ll take the extra time. It’s definitely worth it.

Before I began sewing rows together I numbered the back of each block in the seam, in order per row using a Frixion pen (you can see my sideways #8 in the above photo). If you end up making a mistake, having had the blocks numbered will definitely help. I actually sewed one entire row upside down AND backwards! I was glad I had the blocks numbered as it helped me fix the problem and it helped me to realize I had done it wrong.

I also pinned at both side seams and the center seams within the top block before I sewed my rows together. This keeps everything aligned.

Lastly, when I sewed the blocks into rows, I pressed seams to the four patch. That way, blocks in every other row were pressed opposite and my seams nested perfectly. Also, when I sewed my rows together I pressed seams to the row that had the most four patch blocks because pressing the star block seam flat cooperated better.

Here are a few photos of my process as I went along.

I absolutely loved the batiks. They’re so nice and crisp and are just a dream to work with. This collection has such vibrant colors that even the scraps were gorgeous. 🙂

Because this quilt was so large I needed 9 yards of backing. So much fabric!

I also had my daughter choose what quiliting pattern she wanted. Here’s a close up of the mod squares motif she chose. I think it goes great with the fabric’s retro look.

And finally, the finished quilt! By far, it’s the largest one I’ve ever made. It’s queen size and measures 95 ½” x 104 ½” which is pretty massive for a quilt!

My daughter was so happy with it and it brings tons of color into her bedroom, just like she wanted. And I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out too. I do have to admit that this was a huge undertaking and I’m pretty sure I’d only work that hard for one of my kids!

I promised my son one this year…I guess I better get busy. 🙂

quilting, Quilting 101, Uncategorized

Quilting 101: Fabric Conversion Chart

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything for my Quilting 101 series so I figured it was time for a revisit.

Recently I created an easy-to-read downloadable PDF Conversion Chart for converting your fabric from inches to yards, yards to meters—whatever way you need! It’s definitely a time saver.

I find this chart especially useful for fabric you already have on hand. Sure, you can always order a specific amount but when you need to know if you have enough for a pattern, this is the perfect resource. And it allows you to skip the mental math!

I really enjoy posting for my Quilting 101 series and I like passing along information to beginner quilters as I know how much I appreciated it when I started. I’m always looking for topics, too. If you have anything you’d like info on, let me know and I’ll do my best to make an informative post.

modern quilts, quilting, quilts, Uncategorized

A Gifted Quilt

Overall, a good portion of the quilts I’ve made I’ve given as gifts, and at this point I’ve given them to every family member that has expressed an interest in receiving one. It just happened that this particular niece ended up last, but for no particular reason!

As a surprise, I wanted to make her one for Christmas 2018, which I managed to pull off. If you’re one who makes quilts as gifts (and are on Instagram) you know how hard it can be to keep it a secret. No posting photos unless you block the recipient, but that leads to suspicion if you ask me! (I did sneak in one photo but she had no idea it was for her quilt).

In keeping with the plan to sew with what I have, I decided on using a jelly roll I purchased a few years ago. She loves the color yellow and this Moda collection Figures had plenty of it.

Once the fabric was decided, I needed a pattern. I thought she’d like something more modern verses traditional, so I headed to the Moda Bake Shop and found a great jelly roll pattern, Tropical Punch Quilt.

This pattern is very easy and beginner friendly. Thanks to precuts and my stripology ruler, cutting was a breeze and done in no time.

I used Kona Cotton White for the background to give it a bright, fresh look. I paired two coordinating strips together for the block pairs so they would have opposite middles and outer edges because I prefer controlled scrappy over all-out scrappy.

Piecing the top went fast as the blocks are simple and a larger size. The layout took a bit of time because I wanted the coordinating blocks distanced from one another.

I chose to make the binding scrappy. Need instruction on how to make scrappy binding? Here’s my How To tutorial.

Here’s a trick I used to make sure the same colors in the binding weren’t next to the same colors on the quilt top once I sewed it on. After the top was complete and on my design wall, I laid out the binding strips around it in preferred order. I marked where I needed to start sewing the binding on the actual quilt sandwich so the layout remained as planned. It worked great!

After sandwiching and before quilting, I sewed my basting stitch across the top to reduce pulling and shifting. This works wonders and I definitely recommend taking the time to do this step. Just set your machine on the widest stitch possible and sew within ¼” from the top. There’s no need to remove these stitches before sewing on your binding and it helps keep the sewn edge flat.

As usual, I used my hera marker to mark every line 1 ¾” apart and then used my guide for the lines in between.

I’ve never straight line quilted before but it came out pretty nice.

I also had this fun polka-dot backing on hand, I’m sure I bought it for something else that I never got around to making… 🙂

And the finished quilt!

I really enjoyed making this quilt, it was a lot of fun. I’m also very pleased that my niece absolutely loved it. And as always, I’m happy to spread around some quilting cheer. 😉