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.
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!
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!
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. 🙂
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!
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.
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.
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.