More About the Serger Quilt

I’m a bit of a freak about having things organized in my office so on Fridays, I try to spend some time working on sorting and arranging, just making things neat and tidy. This past Friday, I was working on a file drawer with lots of old quilting patterns. I found several machine quilting patterns from Hari Walner from the early 1990s. I was intrigued. I checked online and found she has a couple of books published by C&T Publishing.

025 2 More About the Serger Quilt

These Are the Patterns

Last week I talked about my serger quilt and how I was just going to quilt it simply. Well, the more I had looked at it, the less I liked that plan. It needed some pretty quilting. So when I found these patterns, I thought the serger quilt would be a perfect place to experiment with them.

I spent a while photocopying patterns so they are all about the same size.  Then I simply pinned the paper patterns in place and quilted though them. I use a 100/16 needle so it makes bigger holes in the paper so it’s easier to tear away. I like these patterns because even though they look complex, they are all one continuous line.

024 2 More About the Serger Quilt

Pinned and Ready to Quilt

I intend to quilt only about ½ of the squares in my quilt and have eight to go before the quilting will be done except for correcting an “oops”.

026 2 More About the Serger Quilt

The Whole Quilt

The “oops” makes me nuts because I just didn’t think. I quilted a larger design on-point in the 4 center squares. I used gold thread on top and navy thread in the bobbin. I quilted just a little bit of the design and then I checked the tension. I even pulled a bit of the paper off to make sure all was well. The only problem is that I started quilting in the blue square. The tension was off just a hair but since I was looking at the blue square, I didn’t see it. I should have started on one of the lighter colored squares where the problem would have been obvious.

014 2 More About the Serger Quilt

Detail of the Center

I’ll be spending several evenings unquilting this center. I’ll quilt it again with navy thread on top as well as in the bobbin. That is what I did on the rest of the quilt and I’m mostly pleased. I will be taking out the straight rows of diagonal stitching. I just didn’t like them for this quilt.

013 2 More About the Serger Quilt

Here’s Quilting on Four of the Squares

I used the same design for all 4 corners for some continuity but the other designs are just an assortment I wanted to try.

018 2 More About the Serger Quilt

This is the Design in the Corner Squares

All in all, this whole project is making me smile. It was supposed to be quick and easy (and putting the quilt together was). But I just couldn’t carry through with that idea on the quilting. It must be my artistic side kicking in. I like it so much better now than I did with just the straight line quilting.

And next Friday, I’m going to spend more time cleaning in that file drawer to see what else I can find.

But for now, I should take advantage of my clean desk and get to work. For the latest information and for inspiration for your next project, follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube and our website.

Posted in Lori Baker, Staff Quilts | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Casual Quilt

Most of the time I want to make interesting and attractive quilts, which require a fair amount of time, patience and thought, but sometimes I’d just like to get one done already. I was at sort of an in-between place recently, where I’d finished an involved project and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to get into another detailed and time-consuming quilt just yet. I wanted to make something quick, easy and fun.

So I turned to my WIPs. Lori has her PIGS (Projects In Grocery Sacks), and since I don’t tend to keep my stuff in bags, I have VIPPPs (Various In-Progress Project Piles). If I put it in a bag I’m almost sure I’d forget about it entirely, so if I put things in little piles containing all the fabrics and pieces of a particular project around my sewing room, I’ll see them regularly and then for sure I’ll get to all of them really, really soon. Or so I tell myself.

The VIPPP I selected last weekend was sort of an odd one. For the Quilters Newsletter TV: The Quilters Community video we did a while back about changing the size of quilt blocks, I’d made some samples to demonstrate how it was done. I made two 24″ blocks with a black background (that were similar to the 12″ block being enlarged) and two block with a wilder, large print background to demonstrate that enlarged blocks are a fun way to include the big, dramatic prints that are available these days. I used the Kona Modern Quilts collection by Cynthia Frenette for Robert Kaufman which I especially like because it gives a wild improvisational look to blocks, even if they are very precisely put together. I didn’t have any of those fabrics left after I made the blocks.

blocks Casual Quilt

Two of the 24″ blocks before they were put together. I thought I had photos of the completed blocks, but no.

What to do with them? It’s a nice amount of perfectly good fabric and that should never go to waste. When I found an unusual length of fabric – purple tropical flowers in rows on a black background – at a nearby thrift store, I thought the colors suited the funky blocks pretty well and I put it all in a pile. I dug into that pile and decided to turn it into a quilt top, using only what’s in the stack and aiming to finish it over the weekend.

fabric Casual Quilt

Thank you, thrift store!

I find creative parameters and restrictions helpful, even if they are arbitrary and I set them for myself. Infinite possibilities take a lot of time to think through! If I tell myself I can only use certain fabrics and give myself a deadline, I make decisions more quickly and tend not to go off on creative tangents that may not lead anywhere.

So that meant I could cut up the blocks, but not too much or I’d spend forever sewing the pieces back together. I was also limited by the amount of the purple/black fabric I had. I cut the blocks once diagonally. The yardage was divided into fourths and cut and I took all the pieces to the design wall. Everything’s cut and I can’t go back and change my mind so onward it is. Now it’s just a matter of arranging the pieces in the way I liked best.

version1 Casual Quilt

Busy blocks in the center. I didn’t like the heavy ‘X’ it created. The white space is for more floral borders. I should have put them up for a more accurate view, but I didn’t. I also don’t care for the proportions of green in the center block.

finalversion Casual Quilt

The final version. I’d have done thicker black borders on the corners but that’s all the fabric I had. Green in the center block is better, I think.

There were a number of variations (too many to show them all) but I could only choose one! I didn’t end up finishing over the weekend but I got pretty close. I just have to join the corner pieces and trim things a bit and my nutty quilt top is done. I’m calling it Private Island because of the combination of the tropical-looking floral, the casual design and construction method makes me think of lazy holidays, the center block is alone like a remote island and it even has a sort of ‘X Marks the Spot’ crazy pirate vibe. Also, I’m pretty sure many quilters would not choose this particular fabric combination so it’s all mine.

I have a few small scraps of the floral left which I can use on the back. I’ll have to do something interesting for the back to personalize it even further. It will be a great project for practicing my free-motion quilting. Hopefully it won’t sit in a pile for another several months while I consider it! I need to finish up my VIPPPs, not make more of them!

How are you doing with completing your WIPs? If you’ve got some that just need binding, we are having a giveaway that can help you with that! Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube and our website so you can find out right away about all the great giveaways we host, and other wonderful quilty things. I hope your weekend is sew wonderful!

Posted in Gigi, Inspiration, Staff Quilts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Helpful Binding Tools Giveaway


The April/May 2014 issue of Quilters Newsletter contains a wonderfully helpful article entitled “Flawless Striped Bias Binding” by QN creative editor Lori Baker. If you already do bias binding on your quilts, it’s the kind of article that will make you wonder where this article was when you first learned to do bias binding. If you haven’t already learned, it can certainly help you out a great deal!

The April 4, 2014, edition of Quilters Newsletter TV: The Quilters’ Community was called “How to Make Bias Binding with Lori Baker,” and it was also very informative!

But would you like to know about some tools that can help you with your binding as well? We’ve got four we’re offering as prizes, one each to four lucky winners:

1) A Brilliant Bindings ruler with instructions by Debbie Wendt of Wendt Quilting.

2) A Quilts ‘n Stuff by Glenna Perfect Binding Miter tool.

3) A TQM Products The Bias Ruler.

and 4) A TQM Products The Binding Tool.

Giveaways 550 Helpful Binding Tools Giveaway

To enter for a chance to win any random one of these prizes, leave a comment before 11:59 PM Mountain Daylight Time on Sunday, April 13, 2014 and tell us how many UFOs in your stash just need the binding put on. One comment per person, please. Open to those who haven’t won anything from Quilters Newsletter in the last 90 days. If you are randomly selected as a winner, the email will come from with “Quilters Newsletter blog giveaway” in the subject line.

Are you on Facebook? What about TwitterGoogle+InstagramPinterest and YouTube? Because QN is, and we share lots of inspiration, information, and quilting news in each of those places, as well as on our website!

Posted in Contests | Tagged , , , , , , | 568 Comments

Quilting in the Hoop

Note: This is a guest blog post from our partners at BERNINA.

by Susan Fears, BERNINA of America Educator

Figure 1 213x300 Quilting in the Hoop

Master Hooper with BERNINA Jumbo Hoop

Quilting in the (embroidery) hoop is a great way to achieve those beautiful feather quilted designs on your  quilt even if your quilting skills have not yet progressed to that stage. Just follow these tips when quilting in the hoop and you, too, will achieve amazing quilting results:

  • Replicate the same quilting environment on the embroidery machine that you would use at the sewing machine.  Quilting the quilt does not require stabilizer, therefore, hoop the quilt (top, batting & backing) for the most security in the embroidery quilting process.  Thread the machine top and bobbin with quilting thread, use the needle required for the thread selected and set the thread tension for sewing tension.  Embroidery tension causes the top thread to be pulled to the back, but in quilting, the threads should meet in the layers of the quilt.

    Figure 2 300x231 Quilting in the Hoop

    – Re-Hooping to continue Quilting. Designs are from Finally Feathers by Kenny Creations.

  • Use the Master Hooper for Hooping. The quilt is layered and bulky (no matter the size) and hooping can sometimes be a real aerobic exercise as you chase the outer hoop around the table while trying to get the inner hoop and quilt hooped.  The non-slip surface of the Master Hooper stabilizes the outer hoop preventing it from moving while the inner hoop and quilt are hooped.  It’s also easy to use the template so the quilt design can be placed accurately.

    Figure 3  300x223 Quilting in the Hoop

    Using the BERNINA Mega for Borders hooped using the Master Hooper

  • Take advantage of the many quilt designs from quilting professionals built into embroidery machines, such as the Diane Guadynski collection on the BERNINA 830 & 880.  These are also available in embroidery collections in a variety of themes and sizes.


Posted in Tools | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Serge On!

Because April is National Serger Month, I decided to time myself making a serger quilt. Serging is a nice way to get a quilt done quickly and to use up bigger pieces of scraps. I think serger quilts are ideal charity quilts or car quilts.

I started with a layer cake from P&B Textiles called Bear Essentials 2 – pretty blenders in several different prints. There were 64 10-inch squares so I made my quilt 8 squares by 8 squares.

I have another quilt in progress on the design wall so I used the living room floor to plan the placement of the squares. I decided I liked them in diagonal rows of color and I was ready to begin serging at noon on Saturday.

Serger quilt 002 2 Serge On!

Here’s the Plan

It only took one hour to get the 10” squares serged into rows.

Serger quilt 006 2 Serge On!

The Blocks Are in Rows

Then after one false start (I wound up with the seam on the outside of the back), I started putting the rows together. I use Linda Lee Vivian’s technique of attaching the back and the batting at the same time as serging the rows together. When I get the top assembled, the back and batting are in place and the horizontal “quilting” is done.

004 2 Serge On!

Close-up of Serged Seam

The only part to think about is what order to put the different pieces in.

Serger quilt 008 2 Serge On!

Nearly Done

I took this photo at 5:00. I knew that I’d be losing the natural light soon and my photos wouldn’t come out as nicely so this is where I was then, with just two rows to go.

Serger quilt 010 2 Serge On!

Done with the Serger

I had the whole thing put together at 7:00. I could have stitched in the vertical ditches and it would have been ready to bind but I decided I wanted to make the quilting go diagonally. I marked several quilting lines and quilted a while. Then I had to change bobbins and just like that, I was done quilting. My sewing machine didn’t like the bobbin thread when the bobbin was full. I’d used a partial bobbin of the same thread to start the quilting and it was fine but with the full bobbin it just wouldn’t work. Now I have to decide whether to take out what I’ve done already or just find another spool of thread for the bobbin that is close in color. I will probably leave in the quilting that is done. It is a utility quilt after all. The bobbin thread is navy cotton. Surely, surely, I have something similar so it won’t be obvious that I have two different bobbin threads on the back.

002 2 Serge On!

I like it!

The back is not as interesting as my quilt backs usually are. The idea was to get something done as quickly as possible so I didn’t do a bunch of piecing for the back. It is just 10” wide strips of fabric. I did put in one pretty piece of Lumina by Peggy Toole for Robert Kaufman Fabrics.

003 2 Serge On!

The Back

A fun thing about serger quilts is that you can use leftover strips of batting. I had quite a few scraps of Warm & White by the Warm Company. Warm & White and Warm & Natural are probably my favorite cotton battings. I used my batting scraps for the top 5 rows of the quilt, but I took home a couple of samples from work and I used them for the bottom 3 rows of the quilt.

The third row from the bottom is Quilters Dream Poly, the second row from the bottom is Quilters Dream Angel (a flame retardant batt) and the bottom row is a mix of the two. The Quilters Dream Angel was wonderful. It handled nicely, laid smoothly and I had no problems whatsoever with it. The Quilters Dream Poly stuck to the cutting mat a bit when I cut it with my rotary cutter and that edge had to be smoothed back down. That would not be an issue at all if you were using the batting without cutting like you would normally do in a quilt. I marked the edges of the rows with the type of batting used. I’ll probably machine quilt that info into the quilt so I can see how the three different types of batting compare as I wash the quilt and use it.

Yesterday, if it had been an ordinary day, I would have easily finished the quilt. It wasn’t an ordinary day. I woke up at 4 in the morning with a nasty headache that lasted the entire day. What a waste! Hopefully tonight, I’ll be able to finish the quilting on this quilt and get back to the quilt that is taking up the design wall.

Now I’m wondering if some of you have other interesting ways to use your serger when you are quilting. Please share your ideas. I would love to hear them.

Remember to follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube and our website for the latest information and for inspiration for your next project.

Posted in Lori Baker, Staff Quilts | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Quilts and Color Exhibit

If you are in the Northeast area of the country and you are interested in quilts and color, you really should check out the new exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston titled, yes, Quilts and Color: The Pilgrim/Roy Collection. It’s just a bit to far away for me to attend but it sounds incredible and I’d love so much to see it in person. It runs from April 6th through July 27th.

01 8.08 L SE 1162.1.35 SC279981 Quilts and Color Exhibit

Double Wedding Ring quilt, American, about 1940.Pilgrim/Roy collection, photo courtesy MFA Boston.

Gerald Roy and Paul Pilgrim began collecting quilt almost by accident, noticing that some quilts made by anonymous women in the 19th and early 20th centuries used pretty much the same color theory principles and geometric compositions as mid-20th century Abstract Expressionists and Op artists. The Pilgrim/Roy collection, amassed over 50 years, has not been shown before. There are almost 60 quilts to see in the exhibit.

08 1.09 L SE 1162.1.14 SC281603 Quilts and Color Exhibit

Ocean Waves quilt, American, 1880-1890. Pilgrim/Roy collection, photo courtesy MFA Boston.

Visitors are given a color wheel at the entrance to illustrate and explain the eight principles of color theory that are explored – vibrations, mixtures, contrast, harmonies, graduations, optical illusions and variations. Look how the colors vibrate and play off one another in the quilt above! The show examines the combination of color and pattern in different ways, how colors affect one another and explores how quilts, even those made to be used, can straddle the line between craft and art.

You can preview the exhibit on the MFA Boston website, but if you are in the area you really shouldn’t miss seeing it up close. Artists of all mediums, not just fabric, would no doubt find it very informative and inspiring. If you go, please do let us know what you thought of it!

Most quilters already know that quilts are fascinating, beautiful and full of creative instruction and inspiration, but it’s always nice when it’s acknowledged and celebrated by the art world at large. We do our part by spreading the word on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, YouTube and our website and wherever else we can. Join us! Have a wonderful weekend, hopefully with a nice Sunday viewing of this unique exhibition!

Posted in Gigi, Inspiration, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mystery Boxes Giveaway


A little while ago, I posted about how there were a handful of unclaimed prizes stacking up around the office, and how we at Quilters Newsletter really wanted them to actually be given away. These prizes are from different giveaways over the last few months, and we’ve had a few comments saying that old email addresses or oft unused email addresses had been left in the entries (not from anyone who was one of the winners, unfortunately). So in the interest of being able to give these prizes away to people who have access to the email accounts they’ve used to enter, we’ve decided to host a new mystery box giveaway rather than going into the old comments for new winners.

MysteryBoxes Mystery Boxes Giveaway

There are 6 boxes with previously unclaimed prizes in them (and don’t let the sizes of the boxes fool you, some have no extra space and some have lots of extra space in them), which means that 6 people who enter this giveaway will win one box each with a mystery prize in it. Each of the prizes contains a fabric bundle, and some of them also contain a magazine or notion with them.

To enter for a chance to win any random one of these prizes, leave a comment before 11:59 PM Mountain Daylight Time on Sunday, April 6, 2014, and tell us if you’ve ever participated in a mystery quilt, and whether or not you enjoyed the finished project. One comment per person, please. Open to those who haven’t won anything from Quilters Newsletter in the last 90 days. If you are randomly selected as a winner, the email will come from with “Quilters Newsletter blog giveaway” in the subject line.

If you’ve never participated in a mystery quilt, now would be a good time to start with Quilters Newsletter’s block of the month mystery quilt, Ooh-Rah.

Are you on Facebook? What about TwitterGoogle+InstagramPinterest and YouTube? Because QN is, and we share lots of inspiration, information, and quilting news in each of those places, as well as on our website!

Posted in Contests | Tagged , , , , , | 2,173 Comments

Doll quilts, rayon thread and 12 bound corners

back close up Doll quilts, rayon thread and 12 bound cornersWhat follows is a mini-saga of knowledge assumed, mistakes made and lessons learned, all thanks to the love for three small quilts.

At first I was only planning to make one small quilt, a 15″ road to California block done with novelty fabrics as a “Bon Voyage” gift for a friend who was moving with her family to Southern California last July. I was able to finish the block quickly but I didn’t have it quilted before they finished packing up the truck and headed west on I-70. At that point I figured I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) very well make a little quilt for the mom without making doll quilts for the kids. My plan was to finish them up quickly and send all three together.

I knew the 5-year-old boy had equal affection for construction equipment and his stuffed animals, so I dug out samples of the On the Job collection from Blank Quilting I’d gotten in a QN staff fabric grab to make half-square triangle blocks for a little chevron quilt. Again, the piecing came together quickly, and then the top was put away while I turned my attention to a quilt for the 3-year-old girl.

Because this is a family that loves gardening and the outdoors but had temporarily moved to an apartment, for the girl’s quilt I decided to use some small pieces of a pretty floral collection I’d gotten in a fabric grab. I was determined to use them up and not let any back into my scrap bin. I admit, it took way more time for me to ‘design’ this quilt than it should have, but as I said, I was trying to get as much mileage out of the scraps as I could. This is what I ended up with.

DSCN3761 963x1024 Doll quilts, rayon thread and 12 bound corners

doll quilt for E

I finished the piecing and straight-line quilting months ago, but then I put it aside while I worked on other projects, with the plan that I would practice a little free-motion quilting in the piano key borders. And I did try, honest I did. But I hadn’t done any free-motion in quite a while and I didn’t bother to practice on a sample before finally putting this quilt in my machine, and well, the results spoke for themselves. That is, until I got my seam ripper out. So when I determined it was time to finish that puppy — prompted by our friends’ move back to Colorado after the job transfer didn’t pan out as promised — I decided to leave well enough alone and just bind it already. The solid turquoise I pulled from my stash made me happy, and I thought I’d be able to quickly bind it during my toddler’s naptime and move on to a project I had committed to make for an upcoming QN special issue.

Let’s just say that trying to zip through the binding (the first one I’d done in about six months) on autopilot ended up costing me more time in the end. It took four attempts — yes, 4 — to successfully join the ends of the binding strips. It was frustrating and more than a little embarrassing to have so much trouble trying to figure out why the binding kept looking like a Mobius strip. My mistake was that, once I had positioned the ends of the two strips perpendicular to one another with right sides together, I was stitching across the wrong diagonal. Do not do this unless you want a binding that looks like it belongs in a quilt made by M.C. Escher.  When I vented to my husband, he said, “Don’t you have something you need to sew for work? Why are you spending so much time on this?”  “It wasn’t supposed to take this long,” I grumbled under my breath.

But I eventually figured out my mistake, got the binding completed, put the quilt in the wash and was able to focus on my QN project.

Lesson Learned #1: Think about how and why you’re doing things, not just about what you’re doing.
Lesson Learned #1A: Finish more than one project a year so you don’t forget how to bind a quilt.

A few days later, with a date to see our friends on the calendar, I decided to finish the boy’s quilt.

DSCN3756 989x1024 Doll quilts, rayon thread and 12 bound corners

doll quilt for A

I used part of an old flannel receiving blanket for the batting and a Sulky variegated rayon thread for the machine quilting — my first time ever quilting with rayon or using a variegated thread! — and I love how it turned out. While I don’t think I’d use rayon for a regular utilitarian quilt that might get a lot of wear and tear over many years, I have no problem using it for a doll quilt. I may end up making doll quilts just for the heck of it so I have an excuse to use rayon thread more often. I also really like how the variegated primary colors play up the dark blues and reds of the fabric, giving the whole thing more visual energy.

DSCN3755 Doll quilts, rayon thread and 12 bound corners

The morning of the playdate I dug out a long scrap left over from vertical borders I’d once cut for a bed quilt. “Hmmm, this should be long enough to bind a doll quilt, don’t you think?” I asked of no one in particular. I wish I’d asked someone who could have encouraged me to measure it instead of assuming it would be long enough. Because it wasn’t. With each corner I turned as I was joining it to the quilt, I realized I would be cutting it close. Make that very close. When I turned that fourth corner, I saw that it would be too close for comfort. I ended up trying to tuck one raw end under the other and then just zigzag stitched directly across the seam to secure it. (This is only something I would do on a doll quilt that I wanted to complete, wash and hand over to the recipient in a couple hours’ time.) I’m happy to report that later that afternoon, as soon as he unfolded it, the boy laid down on the floor and tried to cover himself with the quilt. So at least he knew what it was and liked it, even though I had to explain it was for his stuffed animals.

Lesson Learned #2: Using new threads can be fun!
Lesson Learned #2A: Always do the math. Always.

Since I still had my walking foot on my machine after the playdate, I figured I might as well finish up the little quilt that got me into all of this in the first place, the road to California block with themed novelty fabrics. Riding the success of quilting with non-cotton thread for the first time, and with the variegated rayon still in the bobbin, I pulled out some other synthetic threads I’d never used before: a couple shades of orange, including a variegated orange thread, and even gold metallic (all Sulky, for the record). What can I say — it was time to take a walk on the wild side.

road 2 ca Doll quilts, rayon thread and 12 bound corners

Road to California wall hanging for S

I’ve always  liked the look of closely spaced straight-line quilting, so for this I decided to stitch lines 1/2″ apart, going from northeast (Colorado) to southwest (California). I started with a few lines of the gold metallic, then switched to orange rayon, then to the variegated and back to gold toward the outer corners. It wasn’t until after I’d gotten started I decided to add in a little jog around two corners (maybe heading up through Salt Lake City or down through Santa Fe?). Then I spaced a few lines 3/4″ apart and finally 1″ apart, by which point the corners had gotten a little improvisational-looking, which I ended up liking.

road 2 ca back 1024x1015 Doll quilts, rayon thread and 12 bound corners

Pieced back of the road to California wall hanging

I auditioned a few different colors for the binding, but nothing worked until I pulled out the black fabric — it provided the perfect frame. Taking into consideration the machine-finished bindings I’d done on the two doll quilts, I decided to cut the binding strips at 2″ instead of my typical 2.25″. With the doll quilts, and in fact with every binding I’ve finished on the front of the quilt by machine, I found it challenging to get the stitching lined up on both the front and back. By working with a slightly narrower binding,  my straight stitch just inside the fold on the front resulted in a fairly consistent stitch-in-the-ditch on the back. Bonus: I didn’t cut off any points in my piecing on the front.

Lesson Learned #3: Cut binding strips 2″ wide for machine-finished bindings from now on.
Lesson Learned #3A: Don’t be afraid to decide to try something different even after you’ve already started the quilting.

Because I finished these three small quilts within in a week of each other, that means I bound 12 corners in a short period of time. I used the technique that Patrick Lose demonstrated in an episode of Quilters Newsletter TV: The Quilters’ Community (video embedded below) and was able to get comfortable with it. The corners, particularly on the road to California quilt, are good and flat and the miters turned nicely. The results have me energized to finish another project soon now that I’ve checked those small UFOs off my quilting to-do list! There’s nothing like a finish to spur you on to your next quilt.

As always, check out our website to keep up with what’s in our current issue, and be sure to follow Quilters Newsletter on your social networking site(s) of choice: FacebookTwitterGoogle+InstagramPinterest and even YouTube!

Posted in Mary Kate Karr-Petras, Staff Quilts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Quilting Decisions

The quilt top is done and I want to machine quilt my own quilt. What design should I use? It’s so hard to decide sometimes. Let me tell you some of the things that enter into my thinking.

The first consideration is the size of the quilt. I can quilt up to a queen-size quilt on one of my personal sewing machines. But it is hard work to manipulate a large quilt. It’s doable but the less I have to turn the quilt, the easier it will be to quilt.

The size of the area to be quilted plays a big part in the decision, too. For instance, the same feathered wreath in a 6-inch block won’t show off nearly as well as it will in a 12-inch block.

The next item to consider is how much quilting I want to do and if it is a fancy quilt or a utility quilt. Fancy quilts need fancier designs. Utility quilts can be simpler. I consider all the quilts I make utility quilts. I intend for them to be used and enjoyed and washed if needed. That said, I love to do extra-special quilting like feathers and swirls, so my quilts often have fancy quilting.

I begin by stitching in the ditch around every block. Sometimes, I stitch in the ditch around the patches too. Then if I don’t have a plan, I hang my quilt on the design wall and study it and think and imagine.

002 2 Quilting Decisions

Echo Quilting

Simple types of quilting include stitch-in-the-ditch and echo quilting – no marking required. The shape of the block determines where to stitch. (I use the edge of the foot of the machine and adjust the needle position to determine the width of the lines of quilting when I echo quilt.)

End of the year 006 2 Quilting Decisions

Carpe Diem is a combination of stitch-in-the-ditch (in the braid) and echo quilting (in the border) and free-motion stippling (in the sky).

I said those were simple types of quilting but if I have a bed-size quilt, I have to think about needing to turn the quilt. So if there are straight lines that go from one edge of the quilt to the other, those would be good choices. If there are many curves or angles, I need to consider another design.

Another choice is free-motion quilting. Free-motion quilting is easier on a larger quilt because you don’t have to turn the quilt. You can go forward, backward, sideways and any angle you need to go. Gigi did a good job explaining this in her blog post a while back.

08052013 005 2 Quilting Decisions

Free-motion quilting, mostly just meandering but notice my name in the sashing

Sometimes a motif in the fabric can be followed for a quilting design as I did on the center of this small piece.

2 4 2013 013 Quilting Decisions

Eden Rose

My favorite designs are often a combination of straight-line quilting and free-motion work.

12 16 2013 009 2 Quilting Decisions

I outlined the center nine patch and added feathers to the rest of the block.

01 21 2013 004 2 Quilting Decisions

Echo quilting around the outside edges and feathers in the center

Another possibility is embroidered quilting. It’s a lovely look and you don’t have to turn the quilt. You will need to be certain the weight and bulk of the quilt don’t interfere with the movement of the embroider unit on your machine.

08052013 009 2 Quilting Decisions

Embroidered quilting

I like to experiment so it seems I have to go through the whole thought process with every quilt.

I do have a final hint. If you are truly unsure if a quilting design will work, draw it on a piece of clear plastic and lay it over your block. That will help you visualize the final look.

Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube and our website for the latest information and for inspiration for your next project.

Posted in Lori Baker, Staff Quilts | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Bartering Creativity

Not too long ago (Okay, maybe quite a while ago), I was asked to make a decorative cover for a pillow that sits on the back of a chair. My parents decorate their house in a minimal arts and crafts style, and the drab cover that they had for their foam pillow was just not working. My dad asked me if I’d consider making an arts and crafts style case for the pillow, in cream, red and/or brown. He said he’d trade a piece of pottery for it – he took ceramics in college and he’s just recently started it up again after he retired.

Challenge accepted! Here’s an example of some of the things he’s made recently, and I’d love to have one. Handmade things are the best.

pottery1 197x300 Bartering Creativity

Blue cookie jar

pottery2 184x300 Bartering Creativity

Green cookie jar









I had some scraps of this beautiful fabric, in which the colors fade into one another over the width of the fabric. I wish I knew what it was, but I just had some small pieces. The design I came up with had to take the size of my scraps into consideration, and I built everything else around that. I paired the ombre scraps with some jewel-tone roll-up strips from Robert Kaufman and a bit of light marble print from Stonehenge coordinates by Northcott.

The pillow is 23″ x 27″ and my scrap length was 20″ long, so I had to bisect the panel. The ombre makes up the bulk of the bottom section, and the top section is mainly the jelly roll strips and the Stonehenge, though I used the very last scraps of the ombre here and there in the top part.

pillow1 Bartering Creativity

See the skinny dark strips up top? No good!

This was the design as I had sketched it out. Once I had all the units sewn, I wasn’t too thrilled with the proportions of light and dark on the top section.

pillow2 Bartering Creativity

complete, better and photographed under fluorescent lights.

So I swapped out the offending units and replaced them. It’s an improvement, I think. It’s now layered and quilted in the ditch along the vertical seams. I think I’m going to hang it up and look at it a while before I decide if and where I should add more quilting. If you’ve got an opinion either way, I’d love to hear it!

I still have to make the actual pillow case part but that will be pretty straightforward. I’m planning on a nice quality unbleached muslin for that, since I really don’t have enough of any of the print fabrics used on the top. It should come together pretty quickly, as long as I don’t get distracted by my other favorite hobbies. It’s been fun reading about how quilters like to spend their time when they’re not quilting. Go read the comments and enter our giveaway here.

Hopefully you’re now subscribed to our YouTube channel! And if you don’t follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Google+, maybe it’s time to try it out! Check out the website, too. Have a fantastic weekend with full bobbins and perfect seams!

Posted in Gigi, Inspiration, Staff Quilts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment