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?!?
When I bought my sewing machine a few years ago, the sales lady gave me very thorough instructions on machine use, even though I didn’t think it necessary…then one particular thing got my attention—how to ‘unthread’ the machine. I’m sure it’s not really known as that, but changing thread is something we do all the time.
Until then I always pulled the thread from the spool back through my machine, but thanks to Karen I now know that can cause tension issues as the machine is made for thread to go out in only one direction via the needle. That said, the proper way to remove thread is to cut it from the spool and pull it through the bottom. Am I the only person who didn’t know this? Probably. 😉 It makes perfect sense, and I’m glad for the tip because tension problems are the worst.
As time went by and after several thread changes, I realized it’s a lot of waste to throw those strands away. Since thread is expensive and I don’t like waste, I had to ask myself ‘what can I do with these strands?’ I didn’t know at first, I just started saving them on my pincushion.
My thread cutaways measure about 24″ long, so it doesn’t go all that far, but I’ve come up with a few tips on putting them to good use.
Keep a needle or two threaded, it’s a great way to save time when in a hurry.
Use threads for basting. I always baste my binding before machine sewing, I mainly use these strands for stitching them down.
Sew on buttons. A short thread length is plenty.
Clothing repairs. They’re just right for a minor fix.
If you hang on to your cutaway strands, you’ll be surprised how quickly they accumulate and in so many different colors, too. And mostly, you’ll see how much it’ll save on thread waste. 🙂
Now that summer is finally here, it’s a great time to release my Radiant pattern and spread a little sunshine. 🙂 This bright mini quilt was published in the July/August 2019 issue of Quiltmaker, so if you missed it then it’s now available for purchase in my Etsy shop.
Radiant is a fun way to create an ombré effect by using solids. You can go with bright yellows and oranges, or mix it up and choose your own personal favorite colorway.
Not only is it easy enough for beginner quilters, it’s a great skill builder. Imagine what you can do with the quilting, too—the sky’s the limit on this one!
Materials needed are a variety of oranges and yellows in fat eighth cuts, but the half sqaure triangles are small so scraps will certainly work. Radiant finishes at 15 ½” x 12 ½”.
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!
Inspired by windy days, Westerly Winds swirls with movement showcasing intriguing designs throughout.
When I made a quilt for myself, I wanted it to make a statement so I used Sun Print 2018 by Andover Fabrics. The rich and vibrant colors of this line did not disappoint! I chose a spiral pattern for quilting to accentuate the movement of the quilt and to compliment the sharper edges. I’m pleased with how well they work together. 🙂
So much so that when I made one for my niece for a wedding gift, I had it quilted in the same motif. Her fabric choice, Blossom by Riley Blake, offered a lovely variety of colors that lends itself beautifully to the pattern.
Westerly Winds is available for purchase in my Etsy shop. As a PDF download, it offers clear and easy-to-follow instructions with plenty of colorful diagrams. It’s a fat quarter friendly pattern with traditional piecing.
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.
Last week I decided to make a charm pack friendly quilt but I wanted to use fat quarters from my stash. Since I didn’t know how many 5″ squares could be cut from a fat quarter (or any other size squares for that matter), I went online and did a bit of research.
After finding the information needed, I decided to make a quick reference chart for future use. I figured if I was wondering such things, other quilters would be too.
My Fat Quarter Cutting Chart is a free PDF download. I recommend saving it to your computer or printing out a copy as it’s a great tool to have on hand.
And how many 5″ squares do you get from a fat quarter? The answer is 12!
A while back I wanted to start a new quilt but I was at a loss for what colors to use. My first instinct was to consult the internet and search for color swatches—then it hit me, why don’t I make my own? I’ve been an active photographer much of my adult life, and while I’m not as involved as I used to be, my husband is which means I have a huge amount of lovely photos to choose from. And I think getting color ideas from one of our photos would make a quilt a bit more personal.
So my project began. I started looking at several samples and soon decided on a format. After a few revisions, nearly one month and countless hours later, I have a color gallery page with over 40 photos displayed throughout 12 categories.
I’m pretty excited about this new endeavor and I plan to keep it ongoing by adding to it regularly. And I’m more than happy to share it with everyone. If you need color inspiration for a quilt or any project, I think you’ll find it a great resource. Even if you’re not planning to make anything, take a look—just for the beautiful photography!
Like any project, I couldn’t have pulled it off by myself. Many thanks go to my daughter for setting it up on my website and to generous family members for sharing their wonderful images with us.
There’s something about a red and white quilt, isn’t there? Ever since I started quilting, every time I saw one I knew eventually I’d make one for myself. But in my mind, it couldn’t be just any quilt pattern, it had to be a star pattern and a traditional one at that.
After recently finishing a few huge quilts, I figured it was a good time to make my long-awaited red and white quilt. I never know which should be decided on first, the pattern or the fabric? In this case, the main thing to consider was fabric. Last fall I started buying red fat quarters here and there, but I found the shades differed too greatly once put together, so I scrapped that plan and headed to a favorite online store, The Fat Quarter Shop. There I found a perfectly coordinated tone-on-tone red bundle. I was sold!
Bella Solids were on sale so I opted for Bleached White PFD yardage for my background. Next, the pattern. Finding a traditional star pattern for fat quarters wasn’t difficult; I decided on a free pattern from Moda, Illusion.
Once my fabric arrived, like a kid at Christmas, I opened it and started right away. As in many quilt patterns there was a lot of cutting. For me, I usually spend a day cutting and start sewing the next. After a few days I had some blocks made.
What I liked a lot about this pattern is there are no points that need lined up. The ends of the stars are made using the stitch-and-flip method, and a strip in between means there’s no aligning. Also, seams nest so you end up with nice, crisp corners.
Since there’s a substantial amount of white on the front, I wanted something light colored on the back. I had Dear Stella Net fabric in light pink on hand which worked perfectly.
Longarming, unfortunately, isn’t always in the budget and this quilt wasn’t very big so I decided to quilt it myself. I quilted a crosshatch pattern—using my hera marker I marked every three inches and sewed on the line with a 3.0 stitch length. I used my guide for the in-between rows so I’d have less to mark.
Crosshatch quilting can be tough because you’re sewing the quilt on an angle, meaning there’s a lot of bulk (from the center to the corners) when you run it through your machine. But…I love the look of a crosshatched quilt so I deal with the difficulties. 🙂
The binding took a bit longer to make because the strips were cut from the fat quarters which made for more piecing than usual. I love the fact that the quilt top required only 12 fat quarters and yardage. And I have quite a bit of lovely red fabric leftover for another project.
Lately I’ve been sewing on my bindings by hand. I find it relaxing and I like how it looks better than machined.
And here’s my finished Illusion quilt. I finally have my red and white quilt!
I enjoyed making this pattern and have considered making it again in another color combination. So many choices…