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.

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! 🙂

quilting, Uncategorized

Pillowpalooza!

Since I’ve made a lot of pillows lately, I thought it would be a good time to show my work on a blog post. I’ve also included a couple of others I made a few years ago.

Starting with my oldest projects first…the next two sets of pillows date back to when I dug out my Kenmore sewing machine in 2012 and started sewing (then consequently, quilting) as a hobby. These two are some of the the first ones I ever made, and they’re still a favorite.

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If you read my ‘About’ section, you may recall I was given a store-bought comforter quilt with lovely Laura Ashley fabrics that consisted of a variety of colors and textures, which I slowly and surely took apart, and yes, with a seam ripper.

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This ensemble was made from the backing. I followed a tutorial for the foam seat, and as you can see I got really adventurous and made bias binding! I do get this out and toss it on the floor occasionally, so it still gets some use.

Out of all that fabric, those four pillows and the seat cushion is all I have left, and I still have yards and yards of that funky ribbon! The panels in the quilt were about 12″ square, pretty large for a quilt but pretty small for pillows.

This one was made with repurposed half square triangles I had used in a Moda Bake Shop project submission. They were perfectly fine and there was no sense in them sitting in a drawer, so I reused them.

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front
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reversible back

I made it ‘reversible’ so it looks good no matter what side is facing out. I did the same thing with a few others. Sometimes I turn them around just for new look.

The next one is a Dutch Rose block pattern I found in McCall’s online library of 150+ quilt block patterns. All free and a great resource! Here’s the link: The Quilting Company.

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Personally, I think this is the prettiest block I’ve ever made. I left it on my design wall for a month just so I could look at it. 🙂

And here it is in pillow form on my bed. Still love it.

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The front consists of a mix of Moda fabrics; the yellow is Benartex from a bright collection called Transformation by Sarah Vedeler Designs.  As always, I used Kona Cotton for my background, this is Kona Cotton Snow. I put a lovely Art Gallery fabric by Amy Sinibaldi on the back. Such soft and gorgeous colors!

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The next two are pillow covers I made for my mom, also with printed fabric on the back. I used mostly leftover fabric from the quilt I made for her this past Christmas. Hope she likes them!

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Overall, these zippered pillow covers are fairly easy to make and the quilt block possibilities are endless. If you’d like to create some for yourself, here’s the link to my Zippered Quilt Block Pillow Cover Tutorial.

I’m sure you noticed that none of these quilt block pillows are quilted. I opted not to quilt them because I love the look of fresh, crisp fronts. Sure, quilting is an option, I just wanted to mix things up a bit.

That pretty much wraps up my current pillow collection. I’m in the process of making a queen size Hunter’s Star quilt for my daughter and I plan to make a few throw pillows to go along it. Oh, and of course I have other ideas in the works, so eventually there’ll be a Pillowpalooza II!

quilting

My First Quilt

Recently, a friend asked me about my first quilt, and wow, that brought back a lot of memories! Even though it wasn’t all that long ago when I made it, a lot has changed since then. Our discussion made me think it might be fun to write a blog post about my first quilt and show some photos. Fun…and maybe embarrassing too, but I figured, why not.

If you’ve read my ‘About’ section, you’re familiar with how quilting became part of my life. In a nutshell, nearly four years ago I was making box bags for my daughter’s knitting projects, and one tutorial in particular made reference to ‘getting out your quilter’s ruler.’ After figuring out what a quilter’s ruler actually was, I thought I’d try my hand at making a quilt. It certainly seemed like something I’d enjoy as a hobby. Like most quilters, after one I was hooked, and I haven’t stopped since.

So here it is. My first quilt.

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In all honesty, it really didn’t come out too bad!

Since I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I chose a pattern from a Missouri Star Quilt Company tutorial, (I love those, btw) called The Snowballed Pinwheel Quilt. If you’re new to quilting, I do not recommend this for a beginner (it’s definitely for the more advanced quilter). 🙂  I’d love to make this quilt again now that I know what to expect. Nonetheless, back then I was excited and ready to go. I didn’t even know enough to consider whether this was a beginner-friendly pattern or not.

Like all new quilters, I set out to JoAnn Fabrics and bought a small fat quarter bundle and more background, backing and binding fabric than needed. After all my measuring and cutting, it was time for actual sewing. I should mention here at that time, I had a Kenmore (circa 1979) sewing machine. It’s a great workhorse of a sewing machine, but again, from the late 70’s…so there’s no 1/4″ foot, ability to drop feed dogs or anything else ‘quilty’ about it. I’m not sure exactly what I did for my quarter inch accuracy, but if my memory serves me correctly, I put down painter’s tape as a guide.

All seemed to go well until it was time to sew my pieces together. Since I was pretty clueless regarding trimming blocks, I do remember a few tears and plenty of frustration when trying to line up everything, but hey, that didn’t stop me and eventually I got it together!

By the time I had the top pieced, I had purchased a small Brother Project Runway sewing machine. At that time I was eager to perfect my free motion quilting (no longer an aspiration of mine) so I lowered my feed dogs and tried out ‘meandering’. I remember having some fun with that, but shortly thereafter I had lost interest in perfecting FMQ,  I simply did not want to practice to get good at it, and I’m more of a ‘piecer’ than a ‘quilter.’

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So here she is in all her glory! I chose to make something small, it measures approximately 31″ x 31″ square.

Another MSQC tutorial instructed me on how to get nicely mitered corners with binding!

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OK, so overall, not too terrible for a newbie. I haven’t gotten this out of my storage chest in forever; it was kind of fun taking a look at it again. Certainly far from perfect but it does hold a bit of sentimentality for me, I doubt I ever get rid of it.

About a year ago I replaced my Brother machine with a Janome Skyline S7. Oh wow, do I love that machine. I gave my Brother to my daughter and my Kenmore is boxed up and stored in the garage. I wish I had a photo to show, it’s a pretty neat machine and definitely has that vintage vibe!

So that’s my trip down memory lane…oh so many quilts ago!

quilting

Zippered Quilt Block Pillow Cover Tutorial

Looking for a fun and decorative way to showcase your orphan blocks? Make a zippered pillow cover! It’s quick and easy enough for beginners, and it’s a great way to use some of those set aside blocks. If you’d like something new, visit McCall’s online library of over 150 free quilt block patterns.

For a different look, I wanted my pillow front just pieced, not quilted. I also wanted to be able to change the cover for different seasons or holidays, so I added a zipper. And I made it reversible. We put lovely fabrics on the back of quilts, why not on a pillow? I used a fat quarter from the Acreage collection by Moda, it added just the right touch of color.

This tutorial is based on applying fusible fleece to the non-quilted pieced front. I knew that inserting and/or removing the pillow form would make a mess of the raw edges so I adhered fusible fleece to seal the seams and give it a smooth, crisp look. Quilting your block is certainly an option and if chosen, you can use either the batting of your choice or the fusible fleece.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Materials:

One 12 ½” x 12 ½” pieced quilt block*

Four 3 ¼” x 12 ½” rectangles for borders

Four 3 ¼” x 3 ¼” squares for border corners

-OR- One 18″ x 18″ pieced quilt block (eliminating borders/corners)

One 18″ x 18″ fabric square for backing

One 18″ x 18″ square of Pellon 987F Fusible Fleece

One 18″ x 18″ square of Pellon PLF36 Fusible Interfacing/Ultra Lightweight -OR- Pellon 906F Fusible Sheerweight

One 14″ coordinating color zipper

One 18″ x 18″ pillow form insert

* If using a block size other than 12 ½” square, adjust your border measurements accordingly. The front and back pieces measure the same size as the pillow insert so it will fit nice and snug.

Other materials needed: General sewing/quilting materials such as a ruler, cutting mat, rotary cutter, thread, scissors, pins, iron, sewing machine, zipper foot.

To make the front, I used 36 – 2 ½” half square triangles from the lovely Riley Blake collection, Floriography. I removed most of these HSTs from test blocks for reuse.

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I sewed the HSTs in a simple six by six layout making a 12 ½” block for the center.

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Tip: If you don’t use a marking system like illustrated here, it’s a good idea to take a photo once the layout is decided; it’s a helpful reference when sewing.

To reach the 18″ needed for the pillow front, I sewed one 3 ¼” x 12 ½” rectangle on each side. For the top and bottom borders, I sewed a 3 ¼” square on each end of the two remaining rectangles, then sewed them onto the top and bottom of the block.

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NOTE: If you are new to quilting and need instruction on making half square triangles and/or instructions on block construction, check out my Scrappy Heart Block Tutorial for general guidelines.

Before adhering the fusible fleece, trim threads off the back so nothing will show through the front.

Following the Pellon 987F Fusible Fleece instructions, iron the 18″ square onto the back of your pillow front.

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Ironed on fusible fleece
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Since I used regular quilting cotton fabric for my back piece, I used lightweight interfacing to give it a bit more stiffness and weight.

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NOTE: You always have the option of using your choice of interfacing, or none at all. The same goes for the fusible fleece weight on the front, you can go loftier or with less loft.

Next step, sewing in the zipper. If you’re feeling intimidated by this, don’t! It’s really easy to do.

First, place your pillow front and back pieces right sides together. Make sure to note the direction of your fabrics.

Center the zipper on top of the bottom edge of the pillow. Place a pin to mark each end of the zipper. These will be guidelines on how to sew the bottom.

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Set the zipper aside. Using a ½” seam allowance and a standard stitch length, sew from the edge to the pin. Once you get to the pin, take a few backstitches.

At the pin, set your sewing machine to the widest stitch possible (mine was 5). Long basting stitches are used because they’ll be removed later.

Sew with a basting stitch until you get to the next pin. At the pin, reset your machine to a standard stitch length. Sew, taking a few backstitches again, to the end. Your sewn pillow bottom should look like this…

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Press seam open. It’s best to use a towel over the seam so you don’t get residue on your iron (like I did).

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Place the zipper facing down and centered onto the pressed open seam. Pin in place.

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Sew in the zipper using a zipper foot.

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If you’re new to sewing in a zipper, here are a few helpful tips:

  • Leave the zipper completely closed.
  • Start sewing at the end with the bottom stop (make sure to backstitch).
  • Sew until you are a few inches away from the zipper pull, stop with the needle down.
  • Gently unzip the zipper until it clears your foot (place the point of your seam ripper into the zipper head then use it to help slide the head out of the way). Resume sewing.
  • Sew until you reach the top zipper stops, backstitch.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.
  • Make sure the zipper pull is sticking up/out when sewing down second side.

Once the zipper is sewn in, gently remove your basting stitches with your seam ripper.

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Once stitches are removed and threads are cleaned up (a lint roller and tweezers help), test the zipper—it should work perfectly! To reinforce the zipper, you can sew vertical stitches at both ends.

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Time to sew the pillow cover closed. First, unzip the zipper at least half way. Keeping right sides together, pin the remaining three sides. With a regular foot and a standard stitch length, sew around the edges using a ½” seam allowance. To reinforce your corners, backstitch about a ½” away from each edge.

Almost there! Trim the corners so they’ll look nice and sharp when the pillow cover is right side out. You may need to use a blunt pointed object to help push out corners once turned.

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Also, it’s worth the few extra minutes to run a zig-zag stitch around the edges to keep them from fraying, or of course if you have a serger, it’s a great time to use it.

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Trim any remaining threads.  At last, turn pillow cover right side out and insert pillow form. You’re done!

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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.