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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

5 Ways To Efficient Quiltmaking

When talking with a friend recently I told her about all the quilt projects I was working on and the ideas just floating around in my head. She told me she felt the same way about her art. She said she felt like a puppy on a polished floor. OMG that exactly describes me and quilting! Here are a few ways to give the puppy in you a little traction when working on your quilting projects.

Assemble and Organize

This is the assembly stage where you gather everything you'll need for the project. Make a checklist of all the supplies you'll use including patterns, thread, fabric, templates and any special tools or gadgets. Once you make your list, look in your collection to see if you already have any items listed there. Check off each item and put everything in one place as you gather them. For fabrics that you already have, cut a little swatch and glue it to the checklist. Take the checklist with you when going to quilt shops and shows to find the items you still need. Download and print Quilt Project Checklist and use it while you assemble your next quilting project. This checklist corresponds to the information used to begin your quilt journal in QuiltNotes.

 Package It Together

I use three large plastic containers to store projects in various stages of completion. The containers keep everything together. They are 6" deep so they hold everything I need and they have a carrying handle so they are portable when I go to sew days or retreats. Once I finish the project, all the unused tools and supplies are put back where they belong. At least, that's the idea but it doesn't always happen that way! Here is a sample of the containers I use.

Market Basket

I like to keep an ongoing handwork project or work on bindings so I keep handwork in a large woven basket with fold down handles. This not only looks good around the house but it is easy to pick up and take to a guild meeting, sew day or even waiting rooms. Some of these baskets are stained wood so be sure the stain won't transfer to your project. Look for unstained or lined baskets to be safe.

Work on One Project At A Time

OK I know this is a really good idea and there are many quilters who can do this but I keep trying. When I have tried this it works and it's a good way to finish projects quickly. But someone just polished that floor again and this puppy's off in another direction! Some quilters in my Friday Sew group work on just one project each Friday. That way they know the project will get done as long as they go to Friday Sew Day. These ladies really do get projects done using this method.

Make Space or at Least Clear A Path

I have seen some of your sewing rooms and they range from nothing-out-of-place to let's-clear-a-path to get to the sewing machine. I am somewhere in the middle but I can easily become a "clear a path" person if I don't put things back when I finish them. My point here is that we always get more work done if our work area is clear of distractions and easy to move around in. We all have interruptions but a clear work area allows us to stop where we are then easily start again later.

Keep a Quilt Journal

Keep notes of what you plan to do, what you did, what problems you had, who helped you, etc, etc. Years from now you can remember people, places and things you experienced. Quilting is so much a part of many of our lives I can sometimes look at a quilt and remember events in my life that happened while I was working on that quilt. QuiltNotes provides an easy way to journal as you complete each quilting project. You can document all the fabric, notions and patterns you used, you can include pictures and write about anything you want to remember all in one place.

Not a member of yet? It's Free so sign up today and start adding your quilting products to your Collection. Keep a Journal of your quilting projects including pictures.

Happy quilting!


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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quilting In the Digital Age

Sew much information, sew little time! When I tell people I make quilts I usually hear one of two things. The first is a pause then ”Oh” (cue the crickets here). The second is “My Granny had one of these things that hung from the ceiling and she would raise it up and down……” OK so most non-quilters either don’t get what we do or hearing the word "quilt" brings back fond memories of Granny.

Well Granny didn’t do quiltmaking like we do it today. With our computers and smart phones coupled with all this new technology, our resources are nearly limitless. I have recently found myself purchasing digital media such as eBooks, PDF files, DVDs and CDs instead of an actual book I can hold in my hand. Digital media is lightweight and portable. Publishers such as Martingale are now making digital or Print On Demand versions of previously out-of-print books.

My first book, Long-Arm Machine Quilting, was out of print for several years but the demand for it was still there. Since the supply was low, the price rose and more than a few people told me they paid over $75 for this book on the secondary market. That's more than three times the original cover price. Martingale recently made this book available as print on demand and the price has come back down to the lower cover price. Same thing with my second book, Professional Machine Quilting Revised. But for this book, I was able to make revisions to the first book then self publish a print on demand version with CreateSpace, a division of

Many other quilt authors and teachers are making their books and information available via digital media. Here are just a few I found on an internet search.

Happy quilting!


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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Download Free Quilt Pattern - Novelty & Large Print Scrap Quilt

This is a free downloadable quilt pattern from For more free downloadable quilt patterns join, a free website for quilters.

Novelty & Large Print Scrap Quilt
Two versions of this scrappy quilt are quick to piece and use mostly scraps. Choose a variety of interesting prints, maybe novelties or large floral prints, for the 12" finished blocks. In both versions the outer border fabric is also used for the binding. Quick and easy to piece. Download Free Quilt Pattern Now

Happy quilting!


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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Attaching Binding To Your Quilt

Not many words today, just lots of pictures. Enjoy!

Here is what I do:
  • Cut binding strips 2-1/2" wide
  • Cut off the selvages and stitch the strips together using a diagonal seam
  • Press the binding in half lengthwise. Use steam for a nice, crisp crease.
  • Sew a scant 3/8" seam when attaching the binding to the quilt.
Leave a tail about 8"-10" and start about midway on one side.

Start sewing the binding to the quilt top using your preferred seam allowance. After sewing a few inches I check the seam allowance. When the binding is folded over to the back, the binding stitches should be hidden under the edge of the binding. Different thicknesses in fabric and batting mean you might need to slightly adjust your seam allowance. When you approach the corner go to the next picture.

I learned this trick many years ago while watching Quilt In A Day with Eleanor Burns. As you approach the corner, you will stop stitching when you are a seam allowance away from the edge of the quilt. Stop with your needle down.

Raise your presser foot and rotate the quilt so the corner is pointing directly towards you. Lower your presser foot and stitch a diagonal seam all the way to the end of the corner. Backstitch to secure the seam, cut the threads and remove the quilt.

Here the diagonal seam, the miter, is stitched into the corner.

Now fold the binding first in one direction to fold in the miter then in the other direction to stitch along the next edge. The next picture shows folding away from the quilt, along the miter. You can see one of the seams used to stitch the binding strips together and how close is is to the corner. If I had used a straight seam, there would be so much bulk here it would create a large knot that looks terrible and is nearly impossible to stitch down.

This picture shows the binding folded in the other direction. The fold should be even with the edge just stitched.

Backstitch to secure the corner and stitch the binding to this side of the quilt. When you approach the next corner you will repeat the steps above.

Once you have stitched all four corners you will soon approach the beginning of the binding. Stop stitching about 8"-12" from where you started and remove the quilt from the machine.

In the next step I cut off a section of the tail I left when I first started stitching. This serves two purposes. First it gives me room to work between where I started the stitching and where I ended  the stitching. Second it gives me a measure to determine where to cut the end of the binding strip.

In the picture below I placed the beginning tail along the edge of the quilt just as if I were stitching it down and trimmed off the section to the left.

Next, I place the ending tail along the edge of the quilt just as if I were stitching it down and overlap it over the beginning tail, just slightly to the right so you can see the edge of the beginning tail.

Now open up the binding segment you removed earlier and place it perpendicular to the overlapped bindings.

The picture below shows exactly where to place the segment. THIS IS IMPORTANT because I cut the ending tail in the next step. The distance between the Edge of segment and the Edge of beginning tail is whatever seam allowance I used. In my case that is 3/8". Don't get overly cautious about this because when the last part of the binding is stitched down it gets eased in.

Now cut the ending tail (the one on top) along the bottom edge of the segment as shown below.

Now stitch the beginning and ending tails together with a diagonal seam. Open up the ending tail with the RIGHT side facing UP.

Open up the beginning tail and with the RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER, place the beginning tail over the ending tail as shown below.

Match the edges closely. Pin the two edges as shown to hold in place. Mark a diagonal line as shown and stitch along the diagonal line. Before you trim this seam you'll want to check and make sure it was stitched correctly. Now trim the seam.

From the front of the seam, I use Collins Finger Presser or Clover Finger Presser to press the seam to one side. Fold the binding back in half and place it along the edge of the quilt ready to stitch.

Stitch down the remaining binding.

Happy quilting!


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