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?!?
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?!?
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!
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.
My first quilt pattern of 2020, Lucky 13, is now available as a FREE pattern. This is a throw quilt that showcases two different colored blocks giving it a modern dynamic, yet the blocks are exactly the same! Add some accent squares in the sashing and you’ve got a quilt that pops. Because Lucky 13 is fat quarter friendly, you might have guessed it, you only need 13 fat quarters. 🙂 And it’s easy enough for a beginner quilter, too.
As in all my patterns, it offers easy-to-read instructions with plenty of colorful diagrams and it’s also a great way to try out a Monday Morning Designs pattern. 😉
I had a lot of fun designing and making this quilt. If you’re a quilter that loves to play around with color placement, this would be a great one for you.
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!
It finally happened, I finished another queen size quilt. In 2018 I made one for my daughter so 2019 was the year to make one for my son.
Since this is more than likely a one-time thing, I wanted to make it for him as per his request. To start off, I had him choose a pattern. Probably not so much fun for a young man to sit and go through quilt pattern after quilt pattern, but ultimately it was his choice. 🙂 After much searching, he decided on a pattern by Michelle Bartholomew called Picnic Play.
It’s a very modern quilt and perfect for a guy, which isn’t always easy to find in the quilting world. The pattern requires seven solid fabrics; and while the original pattern colors were a good starting point, he swapped out a few and here’s what he chose:
As far as the block construction goes, they’re kind of like an extended hourglass block, and they were a lot harder than I thought they’d be! They were relatively big too, unfinished at 14″ square.
And since the pattern was written for a throw, we had to do some math to figure out how many additional blocks I’d need to add to get it queen size. Trimming for 56 large blocks took quite a while, but what colorful trimmings.
Yet somehow and somewhere along the way I miscounted the number of blocks and ended up with a few extra. No problem—I made toss pillows.
I should mention that making these pillows wasn’t so easy, I had to extend the blocks even further to get them to 18″ square. My process for doing this is explained on my Mitered Borders on Pillows blog post.
When it came time for purchasing backing fabric, I didn’t think my son would have much interest so he told me what color he wanted and I sent him a few choices. He decided on a warm, tone on tone vertical print by Windham Fabrics, Eliana Medallion in Sunshine.
The same process happened for the quilting. I sent him three patterns and he ended up going with Knitterly #2 by Urban Elementz. I think it was a great choice!
I really enjoyed working with bright solids and it was a lot of fun to make something this modern.
So…after many months in the making, a lot of decisions, waiting forever for longarming, sending it across the country and hoping it arrived safely, and in time for Christmas, here it is!
The quilt finished at 95″ x 108″. My son is really happy with it and is enjoying its warmth. And that’s exactly why we quilt…isn’t it?
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.
With holiday sewing in full swing, I’ve decided to release a Christmas tree mini quilt pattern that’s fun and fast to make, and most of all, it’s festive!
I call this little mini Wee Three Trees. The pattern is made up of three little trees; perfect for 2 1/2″ precut strips or scraps, and the background requires just one fat quarter so there’s not a lot of fabric needed. And it’s a suitable project for both beginner and experienced quilters alike. Wee Three Trees is available for purchase in my Etsy shop.
I’ve made a few of these for gifts, and one for myself. For mine, I used Greetings by Kaye England for Wilmington Prints. I also used this fabric for my Christmas Irish Chain quilt last year. I love the nostalgic holiday feel of this wonderful collection.
I also did some experimenting with a variety of prints and colors for a non-traditional look. I think this pattern lends itself to so many possibilities! 🙂
If you decide to give it a try, I’d love to see what you create. Happy holiday sewing!
Lately I’ve been going through my fabric trying to find a good use for leftovers. So far I’ve made my colorful, controlled scrappy Five Squared Quilt and my Four Patch Charm quilt, made with a ray of lovely golden yellows.
Even with those two completed, I still have fabric left from other projects. Three years ago I made my son a tree skirt for Christmas using a mix of beautiful metallic fabrics by Marcus Brothers, RJR and Andover Fabrics. And…
while scrolling through Pinterest I found a great idea for using smaller scraps, little quilted star ornaments. Right away I knew these metallics would be a perfect choice for this project.
Since I only saw a photo and the dimensions weren’t given, I experimented until I had made one small enough without using exceptionally tiny pieces. I also decided to make a tutorial because other quilters may be looking for a fun way to use up little scraps, and just in time for the holidays. So here it is…
Materials needed to make one 4 ½” x 4 ½” star ornament:
For Star: Gold fabric – (1) 2 ½” x 14 ½” strip Subcut (1) 2 ½” x 2 ½” square and (8) 1 ½” x 1 ½” squares
For Star: White fabric – (1) 2 ½” x 14″ strip Subcut (4) 1 ¾” x 2 ½” rectangles and (4) 1 ¾” x 1 ¾” squares
For Backing: Gold fabric – (1) 5 ½” x 5 ½” square
For Interfacing: Pellon Fusible Fleece – (1) 4 ½” x 4 ½” square
For ¾” Bias tape binding: Gold fabric – (1) 1 ¼” x 20″ strip (approximate)
For Hanger: White ribbon – (1) 7″ piece (or material of your choice)
Once the fabric is cut, draw a diagonal line on the back of all the gold 1 ½” squares. As though making a flying geese unit, sew two 1 ½” x 1 ½” gold squares to the top corners of a 1 ¾” x 2 ½” white rectangle, attaching them to the 2 ½” side. Make 4.
Next, lay out squares and sewn units with the 2 ½” sides facing toward the center, as shown below. Sew together to make rows. Press the top and bottom row seams toward the outer squares. Press the middle row seam toward the center square.
Sew the rows together to complete the star; seams will nest. Press seams open. Trim block to 4 ½” x 4 ½” square making sure to leave a ¼” all the way around.
Trim any threads off the back to prevent them from showing through to the front. This is always a good rule to follow. 🙂 Next, adhering the interfacing. I used 987F Pellon fusible fleece because of the low loft, yet there’s enough to give some depth when quilted.
I always put a scrap piece of fabric over my projects to prevent any adhesive from getting on my iron.
Once the fusible fleece is adhered, sandwich the star unit to the backing. The backing square will be a bit bigger to allow for shifting when quilting.
With a hera marker, I marked the first two lines to be quilted then I used straight pins to hold the pieces together. After the first lines were finished, I removed the pins.
I chose a different quilting pattern for each one. I really like how they turned out!
Once your blocks are quilted, it’s time for binding. Since the ornaments are small, and to reduce bulk, I made bias tape using a ¾” bias tape maker. (If you don’t have one, they can be purchased at most sewing stores inexpensively or you can buy bias tape already made). You’ll need enough to go around all four sides including a few inches extra.
Once made, press the bias tape in half lengthwise before sewing it on; that’ll help to keep it even on each side. I sewed mine on by hand (each side, one at a time) which was easier than trying to line everything up and sew through all the layers at once.
One the binding is attached, the last thing to do is add a hanger. There are a lot of options here…you can use jute, ribbon, cording—whatever you like. I used a lovely white ribbon I had on hand. I looped it and tacked the ends together before stitching it on.
And done! Easy to make and fun, too, plus I think they’ll make great gifts!