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Archive for the category “How to”

Thistleberry Quilt Block 2


With Block 2, what you see is what you get.  You are given 16 strips of four colors and after figuring out the scant seam that I needed to use, went together fairly quickly.





Sewing the blocks together proved a little tricky, but I managed to get the corners together after five minutes of wrangling and a little bit of seam ripping.


And here is the second finished block!!  Two down and 10 to go!!

Block 2

Thistleberry Quilt Block 1

Starting a new block-of-the-month courtesy of Joann Fabrics.  The newest one out of the gate is Thistleberry.  This pattern is again from quiltblocks© and I have to say they have another hit in my opinion.  The finished quilt will measure 76 ½” x 93 ½” and has the setting kit, binding, and backing kit available as well as the 12 monthly blocks for purchase.DSC_0096


The patterns are very unique and the color scheme is fantastic.  I’ve already put the first block together and it looks great.IMG_0165

The difficulty level of this quilt on a scale from 1 to 5 would have to be a two.  The patterns are beautiful and the colors reminiscent of Easter.  I’ve passed on the last three patterns put out for Joann Fabrics and am pleased to say I’ll be putting this one together.


Flannel Binding

If I were to talk about one of the biggest obstacles that I’ve face since I started piecing quilts, top of my list is piecing and binding a flannel quilt.  It’s almost like sewing a Lycra skirt together I would imagine.  I am a “fair-weather” pinner and will always try to get away without pinning where I’m able, so long as the fabric I’m working with cooperates.

Flannel is one of my favorite fabrics to piece and wrap up in after a well-done job.  This is also one of the fabrics that needs the most pinning due to the stretchiness of the material.  To go a little into the woods with this topic, when I initially started quilting I wanted nothing more than to make a flannel quilt.  Off to the store I went to pick out some of the warmest, softest, and flannely flannel I could find.  I purchased much more fabric than was needed using the… “if it calls for a yard and a half why not buy four yards” guy mentality.

This of course saved me.  I knew something was off, and at first it was that I had indeed cut the wrong size on a couple of pieces.  Standing there trying to line the fabric up after I re-measured however I started to sew only to have the squares go all wonky on me once I tried to join them together.  This was my initialization into the world of flannel.

Lesson #1, pin… every… little… piece… to sew it together.  Then, pin each and every piece as they come together.  Use the steam and weight of the iron to flatten the material and set the seams, do not stretch the material while pressing.  Now I know there is someone out there that may be able to sew this without pinning using the proper tension and fabric selection on their sewing machine.  When I first started with my singer, I have a difficult time getting this correct.  Now that I have a husqvarna viking, it is a little easier, however I still have to ensure I have the machine set correctly.

I’ve posted before about how much I love to put satin blanket bindings on baby quilts, but I wanted these to have more of a homemade look to them.  People are finally getting vocal about what works for them on a flannel blanket and I’ve decided to go with the double-fold binding.  I’ll cut the fabric 2 1/2″ before folding rather than my normal 2 1/4″ wof.

Lesson #2, Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone.  I’ll post the pics of these next week to show you how they turned out.

Until next time,

Keep Sewing!!

It’s Never Too Early to Start a Christmas Quilt

So I started last night thinking about the first Christmas quilt of the season.  What pattern to use though? Here is a quick preview of the fabric I’m going to be using.


Now, in my previous post I mentioned that it’s a good idea to have already picked a pattern out… and I did, I promise.  I may still actually use the pattern I picked in the end, but while playing around with the Electric Quilt software I came across a block that with a little embellishment would highlight the blue fabric like I wanted.

The next thing I knew I was designing an entire quilt around the block I created.  I have the look that I wanted but don’t yet know if I’ll change it in the end.  Here is the finished test block, I still don’t know if I want to fussy-cut the fabric… it just seems such a waste, but I may end up doing it in the end.


These squares will be 8″ when sewn together with a foursquare.  I should have some of the panels finished to show by the end of the week end.

Thoughts on New Projects and what to AVOID

I wanted to write a little about the art of piecing.  I was originally going to say ‘the art of quilting’, but I really wasn’t talking about that.  The most difficult, frustrating, and wonderful thing for me is still piecing a quilt together.  I do not want to detract from the quilting process at all, merely to say that while the quality of the quilting can make a huge impact on the design as many people know, it takes a special skill to piece a quilt as well.

One of the things that Kay and I had discovered during our quilting journey, was how many of our wonderful long arm quilters weren’t necessarily great at the construction aspect of the process.  It sounds like such an easy thing to do… pick out fabric, pick out/design quilt, cut said fabric, sew all of it together and then hand it to the “professional” to do the real work of quilting it all down.  As I’ve said, I am not detracting from the artistry and difficulty of the quilter, but want to emphasize the first part of this whole process.

Picking fabric

I can’t tell you how much fabric I’ve passed up even when I’ve fallen in love with a particular one.  Yes, I do have some lone wolves in my stash that I could not resist, but they’re lone wolves because I couldn’t (yet) find anything to put them with.  It’s generally a good idea to start with the pattern you’ve created or one you’ve seen rather than picking the fabric and then ‘stuffing’ it into a pattern.  I have seen a collection of fabric however and made the purchase Hoping to find a pattern that I could use.  With seasonal fabric, it is not as difficult.

Picking a pattern

This can be a tough nut… I’ve picked a pattern before and looked at it in all its ‘simplicity’ and then tried to execute it only to find out that I was bamboozled.  What looked like an easy inviting pattern turned out to be a cutting or piecing nightmare that after I finished with it I swore I’d never attempt that again… or words to that effect!  Another challenge loomed while working with Electric quilt, which is a wonderful product, but is time-consuming to learn and then apply your knowledge to build the pattern.  The one advantage that I can see using the EQ product is that whether or not your pattern is unique among others is that you created it yourself and it might just be a one-of-a-kind pattern.

Another thought before I leave this topic is a personal opinion (be warned)… sometimes more is just, more.

Sewing and Pressing

I can’t for the life of me put enough emphasis on this… when ironing, press the fabric do NOT stretch the fabric.  I realize that after sewing you might measure and find that you’ve lost an 1/8” or more off of what the finished size should be, but trust me on this if you stretch the fabric it’s going to do weird things after the first wash.  Also, by paying attention to your seams and keeping them flat but not stretched, you will help your long-arm quilter avoid the “hills and valleys” they sometimes find in others work.

Sewing can be the swiftest was to destroy a complicated pattern.  I should mention that not all sewing machines are alike, nor are their measurements the same.  The biggest issue that I’ve encountered while piecing a quilt together was using multiple machines during this process.  This error is second only to having a consistent ¼” when sewing.  Don’t let your material boss you around!!  As you sew, keep an even pressure on the fabric and keep the speed as consistent as you can.

I hope this post hasn’t been too preachy, I just wanted to lay down a few things to think about when contemplating your next project.  Until next time, happy quilting!!

How much do YOU charge?

I was reading an article on selling your quilts and although that is something that I’ve done before, I find that letting go of something made is a lot easier said than done.  What do I charge for something that I’ve spent time and effort on?  I’ve talked to a lot of people about this and there are hundreds of sites out there that go over the topic.  The best I’ve been able to glean is to charge .05 an inch.  I did the math and on the surface that sounds reasonable if you are quilting it down yourself.  If another person is involved quilting it however, most of the money you make will go to the quilter and the fabric shop.

After thinking about this for quite some time, I’m not sure that I will sell any of the quilts I make at least not at .05 an inch.  I do not quilt them myself… yet!  The wonderful quilters I’m able to use don’t do a simple meander, they quilt in designs that are rich and dense and take the fabric from being a blanket, to a quilt that will last several lifetimes if cared for properly.  I like to think of them as more than something to keep you warm, they ARE works of art or more correctly, usable works of art.

To give you an idea of size and cost here’s a quick look:

Crib Twin Queen King
36” x 54” 65” x 88” 86” x 93” 104” x 93”
1944 square inches 5720 square inches 7998 square inches 9672 square inches
$97 at .05 per inch $286 $400 $485
Quilter Quilter Quilter Quilter
$40 $150 $200 $275
Fabric Fabric Fabric Fabric
$20 $50 $80 $100
For your labor…  $37 For your labor… $86 For your labor… $120 For your labor… $115

These are just some figures that I’ve encountered.  I think this is why I would have a difficult time letting any of my quilts go for sale, or at least not at the .05 per inch amount.

Joann Fabric Persian Plum Block 7

Block 7 was a real challenge and I almost took it completely apart and put it back together.  The quality control for my cut pieces left a little to be desired.  I would say that 80% of the pieces were cut to the proper dimensions, but it was the 20% that gave me fits.  When I started to put this block of the month quilt together however, I promised myself to use what was in the kit only and see how the quilt turned out.

The pieces supplied had me scratching my head for a little while… as a guy I tried to see how everything would go together without looking at the instructions.  I think that is hard-coded into our DNA!  After looking at the instructions though, I quickly started putting the block together.

It was at this point that I realized that the pieces where going to be a little off-center which I tried to correct.  It didn’t turn out bad, just didn’t go together as seamlessly as the other blocks had.

And here is the block in comparison to the picture of it

Joann Fabrics Persian Plum Block of the Month Setting Kit

For all my friends…  I normally don’t post in the middle of the day but had to let everyone know that Joann’s has re-stocked the persian plum line in stores and online.  This means that if you are missing any blocks or the setting kit, now is the time to get in on this so you can finish this project.

You are more than welcome however to continue to follow my blog as I put one block together each week.  Check out my posts as I take you through putting this beautiful quilt together.  I have currently finished block 5, with block 6 getting completed next week.

Until next time!!  happy quilting…

Persian Plum Block 5… almost half-way there!!

I’m so happy today that I was able to get accomplished the behemoth task of working late today and still managing to get the block finished and sew on the binding for my Arbor Lane quilt. Of course I’ve probably stayed up a little later than I normally would to make sure I could finish this. So here it is:

This block had a little more assembly, but went together fairly easily and finished 12 1/2 x 12 1/2.

And underneath was the fabric I used to bind the Arbor Lane.

Then a little trimming and some more sewing

and finally…

Binding the weekend away

A friend of ours that’s been there for us throughout the last three years is going to receive a quilt on Monday that she knows nothing about.    This will be the first time we’ve given a quilt to someone outside our immediate family.  This means though that I’ll be binding all weekend since I plan on finishing the binding on a Christmas quilt that was put together in March.  After that quilt is finished, I’ll bind our friends quilt and finally the Arbor Lane quilt.  Not bad now that I see it in print… binding three quilts in two days!

If you are interested in the how to of binding, check out this link Crazy Mom Quilts.  This is more or less the method that I’ve used since I started up quilting again two years ago.

If I can squeeze it into the weekend, I’ll also finish the mini quilt that I started and maybe piece one of the nursery blankets together for my nephew.

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