Subscribe to this blog - CLICK HERE

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Facing A Quilt

Recently I learned about facing a quilt instead of binding it. You attach facing in a way similar to the way binding is attached. Fold the binding completely to the back. Facing a quilt doesn't add any extra dimension, color or texture to the outer edges of the quilt.

The border fabric looks like weathered wood. I wanted it to look like a framed window. Check out the video of how I faced

Friday, January 29, 2021

AccuQuilt Strip Cutters: Cut and Miter Strips for Binding

AccuQuilt strip cutters are fast and easy to use. The speed and accuracy in cutting far surpasses what I can do with a rotary cutter. The AccuQuilt strip cutter (2″ finished size) is the workhorse of my AccuQuilt dies. Use it to cut strips for all the Jelly Roll™ patterns, sashings, bindings and more.

Use either of these AccuQuilt dies to cut

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Disappearing Shoo Fly Using AccuQuilt

What is a Disappearing Shoofly Block? Start with a Shoofly Block.

Cut it into 4 equal pieces.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Wednesday News - 01/27/21

At The Retreat House

In February, the retreat side will be closed for renovations to the small upstairs bathroom. The shop side will still be open for shopping on Thursdays from 10-2. We decided to do these renovations earlier than planned to take advantage of this time when many of us want to stay hunkered down for a little longer. 

In the shop area we have added ductless air/heat system to make it more comfortable and we are adding two doors to enter from the outside. This will make it easier

How To Fold A Fat Quarter

A fat quarter is the same amount of fabric as a quarter yard of fabric. The difference between a fat quarter and a quarter yard of fabric is the shape. Most quilting fabric is about 45" wide. A yard of fabric is 36" x 45". If we cut that yard into quarters you would have 4 pieces each 9" x 45".

The 9" cut is less than ideal for making quilts.  Quilters often like

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Lengthwise Grain Borders and Binding

Why Lengthwise Cuts?

The lengthwise grain runs parallel to the selvage. It is stronger and stretches less than the crosswise grain which runs from selvage-to-selvage.

The lengthwise grain gets it's strength from the warp threads which are continuous along the length of the fabric. The weft threads are the shorter threads which are woven across the warp threads. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

How To Size A Quilt

One of the most common questions I get from customers is how to make a quilt a certain size. In this video I describe how I do that on paper and then show you how to use the Sizing A Quilt calculator.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

It's Elementary Quilt

I finished this quilt top today. The fabrics are from the It's Elementary collection by American Jane for Moda Fabrics.

It uses this It's Elementary ABC Panel.

I cut out each picture 1/4" from the outer edge of the frame, shown in green here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Machine Applique

Applique means "to apply" and applique in quilting means to apply one or more fabrics on top of the other. Apply the applique by machine or by hand. This article looks at two machine applique techniques: raw edge applique and turn under applique. The two most popular machine applique stitches are the zig zag stitch (also known as the satin stitch) and the buttonhole stitch (also known as the blanket stitch).

Close-up of button hole stitch in machine applique. This is a decorative stitch that you want to see. Instead of matching the thread color to the background applique, the darker

Monday, January 18, 2021

Tuffets and Things

This past Saturday we had a tuffet class at Five Oaks. Four ladies started piecing the tuffet cover. The picture below was taken from a very large class I taught in 2019. I love all the colors.

Here is my own tuffet. This cover is actually cover #2 for this tuffet.

 I used the first one almost daily and it was faded and dingy.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

How Much Fabric Do I Need? - Patches

Have you ever wanted to make a quilt larger than what the pattern says? Or have you ever seen a picture of a block and wanted to reproduce that into a quilt? Most people aren't math crazy like me, so often it's the math that stops us from moving forward with our designs.

This article and the included calculator will show you how to break down a block design into it's smallest pieces that we will call patches. After all, it is a patchwork quilt!

Two Important Notes:

  1. The calculator is based on a usable fabric width of 42". Most likely you can use more of the width but I like to prewash my fabric and cut off the selvages. This gives me the extra I might need.
  2. The amount of fabric needed is the exact amount needed. You should purchase more than this just to be sure.

Start With A Patch

Example 1: A Square

Now we want to see how much fabric we need to cut 27 of these squares. Go to the calculator and enter these three numbers:

  1. Enter 5.5 in Lengthwise Grain
  2. Enter 5.5 in Crosswise Grain
  3. Enter 27 in Number needed

Enter the number of patches needed:

Cut strips @ inches x WOF

Sub-cut each strip into segments of inches.

For a total of pieces.

Fabric needed: inches OR approx. yards.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Two Simple Scrap Quilts

 I'm working on two scrap quilts using the same block... a 2" x 4" finished rectangle. I ran out of enough variety so I'm cutting more from the mountain of scraps I have.

I used my AccuQuilt 8" Qube rectangle die to cut the 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" rectangles. I have been cutting these from scraps off and on for about a year. After cutting, I put them in a little container from the dollar store.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Piecing the Winding Ways Quilt

 This was on my bucket list of quilts to make. Many years ago my friend, Ramona, taught a Winding Ways class at Fabrics Etc. in Webster Texas. I didn't take the class but I always admired the sample quilt hanging in the shop.

In this video I show you how to cut the pieces with the AccuQuilt and then piece the blocks. If you don't have an AccuQuilt yet, you can use templates to cut and piece the block the same way I describe in the video.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Catching Up From Last Week

The Five Oaks Retreat is open and ready for your reservations. For information about the retreat house and to see the booking calendar click here --> The Five Oaks Retreat.

Even though we are ready for your visit, there are still some things we want to do in the next several months. Last week there was a lot going on here:

  • The studio got some much needed lighting.
  • Several contractors came by to give us bids on adding an exterior door and remodeling a bathroom.
  • Open house was done.
  • Two quilts finished.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Attaching Straight Binding

Update January 10, 2021:  This article was originally posted several years ago. Since then I have changed a few things:

  1. I no longer cut my strips 2-1/2" and use a 3/8" seam allowance. Instead, I cut the strips 2" wide and use a 1/4" seam allowance.
  2. Since I use a 1/4" seam allowance now, there is no need to use a walking foot.
I like the look of the narrower binding and not having to change to the walking foot each time.

Many quilters dread the process of attaching a quilt binding. I love to attach bindings because that means the quilt is nearly finished. Here is a tutorial on how I prepare, attach and finish my bindings. The only special tool I use is a walking foot.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Bargello Quilt Basics: 3 Steps to Bargello Quilts

Bargello quilts can look intimidating, especially for beginning quilters. The three basic steps to making a bargello quilt are:

  • sew the horizontal strip sets,
  • cut the horizontal strip sets into vertical strips, and
  • sew the vertical strips together.
Once you understand these basic steps, you can make any bargello quilt. In this tutorial we follow the process to make the quilt shown here.This simplified version uses 1/2 yard of 13 fabrics. The quilt finishes approximately 60″ x 76″ without borders.

I use Electric Quilt to design most of my quilts. I found this to be a great tool for auditioning fabric choices. If you are using Electric Quilt, put “bargello” in the search box and find "How Do I Create a Quick Bargello?" to find step-by-step instructions.

bargello quilt in 3 steps
Electric Quilt Version

Finished Quilt

Most bargello quilts are pieced in smaller sections or panels. Piece the sections or panels together to make the quilt. In this
simplified version, we make three identical panels to sew together.

Prepare the Fabric

First, determine the placement of the fabrics. The colors should flow from one fabric to the next. Some ideas are light ot dark and color groups.

TIP: Lay out the fabrics and take a picture. Try other combinations and take a picture each time. Look at the pictures to determine final placement.

Number the fabrics from 1 thru 13. Next, cut the fabric into strips. From each of the 13 fabrics, cut 6 strips, 2-1/2″ x WOF. This 2-1/2″ width is common in many bargello designs but can vary between designers.

Finally, cut a swatch from each fabric and make a swatch chart like the one shown here.

Step 1 - Sew Horizontal Strip Sets

For this simplified version, a strip set consists of one strip from each fabric. The fabrics are pieced in order from 1 thru 13. For other bargello designs, you may have more or less colors or the colors may be repeated in a strip set.

Tip: To keep the seam lines straight alternate the sewing direction Sew the first two strips together from left to right, sew the next strip right to left and so on.


Press the seams to one side, alternating the pressing direction.

I press from the wrong side.

By alternating the pressing direction, most of the seams will be interlocked when the strips are sewn together in the third step. After pressing, check the front to make sure the pressing is even.

Fold the strip set, right sides together and stitch fabric 1 to fabric 13. This forms a tube. Do not press this seam.

Step 2 – Cut Horizontal Strips into Vertical Strips

With the strip set still folded in half, cut the vertical strips.

Your instructions will have a chart or table showing the width to cut the strips.

For this quilt, there are 5 different cut widths in 1/2″ intervals. Other bargello quilts might have a different number of strips with 1/4″ intervals. Cut the required number of strips for each width. For now, each strip you cut is a loop. Keep the loop intact. Use boxes or bags to sort the loops by width. This will come in handy for the next part of this step.

Loops to Strips

Next you cut the loops apart at various seams. Your instructions will have a chart showing where to remove the stitching. The partial chart below shows how to lay out the panel in columns. Use this chart along with your swatch chart. For Column 1 choose a 2.5″ strip. Remove the stitching between colors 10 and 11. Place this strip on your design wall or table with color 11 at the top.

Here you see some of the columns in place on the design wall. Columns 1-6 are already sewn together. Placing the columns together like this is very important so you can check the design before swing them together in the next step.

Step 3 – Piece Vertical Strips

The last step for this panel is to sew all the vertical strips together. Start at one side and sew the strips together. since you pressed the seams in alternate directions, most of the time your seams will interlock. Change the direction of any seams that need it. Once all the strips are sewn, press the vertical seams in one direction. To complete this quilt, make two more identical panels. Stitch the three panels together.

Check out more from Carol Thelen:

YouTube Channel - 
Carol Thelen - YouTube
Online Store - 
Carol's Quilt Shop @ Five Oaks Retreat
The Five Oaks Retreat - 
The Five Oaks Retreat

Subscribe here

Subscribe to this blog - CLICK HERE