Category Archives: Quilting Tips

Secrets/Tips – Fabric Selection & Design 2

Continuing on with Fabric Selection and Design tips.  Some things, I’m not sure what category they belong in, so I just slap it in someplace. Just an FYI.

4.  Had a quilt or fabric drag on the floor and get dusty – Yes, no matter how hard you try to keep things pristine, this seems to happen to any quilt larger than a throw while you are ironing, sewing or quilting.  This is one reason why I like my tile floor, sweep before the big projects, and always wash my finished project before giving it to the receiver.

5.  Bought fabric you really didn’t “need” or have a specific purpose for – I know, you’ve all heard of a quilter’s “stash” – where do you think this name comes from?  Sometimes, you just like that little fat quarter and want to own it, even though you have NO ideas for it and NOTHING else it would go with.  I got a lot of fabric from Mom’s stash, so I’m not as guilty of this as some, perhaps.  I also have a general rule to make all efforts to use something in my stash before going out to buy things.  However, I will say, I do own a few fat quarters that I just “liked”.  Multiply that times a few years or decades, I can see how these things can grow!

6.  Don’t think you have enough fabric  in your “stash”.  I know this seems counter-intuitive to the above #5 – but think about, it really isn’t!

7.  Have so many ideas for projects you want to do, you are not sure you can get them all done in your lifetime.  How many quilt book pages do you have tabbed or earmarked?  How many quilt magazines do you subscribe to?  How many ideas of your own do you have that you just can’t seem to get around to or find out they are more complex than you thought?    I’ve come to realize, quilting is really a creative endeavor, so, yes, you are most likely going to have more ideas than you can finish!  I’m sure when you consider other famous artists, famous or not, they did, too.

That’s all for today.  Let me know of your tips/secrets.  Stay tuned for Fabric Selection and Design 3.  Perhaps I’ll make that post longer.



Secrets/Tips – Fabric Selection & Design 1

I have, and perhaps every quilter has, made these mistakes.  Let’s take them one at a time, perhaps in more than one post, and focus on the solutions, rather than the problems.

1.  Made a mistake in calculations for size of borders, sashing, or even finished size.

  •  What is there to say for this error except, measure and calculate two or three times before cutting, and it’s always better to buy a bit more fabric than you think you will need than less.
  • We all have done this at one time or another, so don’t beat yourself up because you miscalculated.  Figure out a way to add to your fabric, substitute another fabric, or reduce the size of your quilt – and move on.  Bottom line, no one will notice, most likely.

2.  Not pre-washed fabric and had a bleedover to a lighter color – do color catchers really work?

  • I pre-washed a fabric 7 times, and it still bled over onto the white backing fabric.  Is this common or usual?  Probably not.  Some recommend not pre-washing and using color catchers.  Do they work?  I don’t know, I have never tried them.    Still, as a general rule, I pre-wash all fabrics until the water, if the fabric is bleeding color, runs mostly or completely clear.  It’s a pain, added work, but, do you really want your quilt, well, not ruined, but definitely not optimum?

3.  Had to use a calculator to figure block size, binding or finished quilt size.

  • I know this seems lame.  We can all add inches and feet, right?  But, seriously, I just don’t trust my brain power sometimes, so, yes, I use a calculator.  And most times, I make my calculations two or three times, to be sure.  It’s okay.  It’s a tool.  That’s what it was meant to be used for.  Don’t feel bad that you need a tool to help you be accurate!

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for Fabric Selection and Design  2  soon.

Quilter’s Dirty Little Secrets

Even though the final product may be beautiful and appear flawless, every quilter knows, mistakes were made in the process of piecing or quilting this wall hanging, table runner, throw, pillow, potholder, or queen-sized quilt.

Many people look at my quilting pictures on Facebook, receive as a gift (or pay), the finished product, and the oohs and ahhs abound as well as “that’s so beautiful” “creative” “awesome”… or just “wow”.

Even though I feel the perfection of a quilted object lies in the finished product, secretly, I know, the process was anything but perfect.

So, I haven’t decided, but a lady at the local sewing/quilting shop suggested posting one “secret” at a time.    I think that might not be sufficient for the task, but wonder if all these things can be broken up into categories.

I have never really thought about these “secrets” (read: tips) before, as such, to this extent – until I started sewing and quilting the Grandmother’s Fan quilt and the Christmas throw recently completed (in December.)

It was kind of funny, as I was piecing, sewing, ironing, quilting these two objects, that I made those “errors” that prompted me to visit the notion of making a blog post listing these blunder items.

A few weeks ago, as I finished the Christmas throw and completed the Grandmother’s Fan quilt, I thought about these things, and jotted them down as they came up in the process of completing these projects.

Then, because I was in the process of cataloging my, um, mistakes – I was even more aware of every little thing I did, not to mention remembering every other little blunder, uh, minor error, I had made in the past 2.5 years or so.

I’ve given this a bit of thought since I wrote this whole piece, except for this paragraph, and I’m going to try to take on one, secret (tip) at a time.

I’ve been gone missing for a couple months, so please cut me some slack in my writing and cohesivness.

Stay tuned for the next post which will start my series of Quilter’s Dirty Little Secrets (tips).  Again, please grant me some leniency in changing this up as necessary to keep it interesting.



Happy New Year

I’ve missed the blogging world, for some time now.  I have/had an idea for a series of posts, and even though  I have worked on it quite a few times, December was a very busy month, and January and February promise to be, too.

I do want to kick it up a notch or two, this year, so I best get started.

In the next couple weeks, I’ll be working on my series of posts called Quilter’s Dirty Little Secrets.  Actually, I thought of another name somewhere in the middle of December; however, I didn’t write it down and can’t remember it because – well, if I detail my projects in December, you’ll understand.

So, Happy New  Year 2015 – Let’s do this!

P.S., I’m also still looking for a job, preferably my dream job!


Color Theory

I watched  a block of the month class on Craftsy about Color Theory.  I thought I was really bad at blending colors, but I found out I knew more than I thought

What I learned about color:

1.  Even if it’s a print, a fabric will “read” a certain color.  Usually, it’s the background, but if you have say a navy print, with red and gold stars, the fabric will most likely still “read” as a navy.  Also, white stars or dots may have the fabric “read” lighter than it actually is.  Also, saturation of the print can change the “read” of a fabric.

2.  Analogous colors are groups of colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, with one being the dominant color, which tends to be a primary or secondary color, and two on either side complementing, which tend to be tertiary.

3. Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel, and usually go well together, i.e., red and green, purple and yellow (or gold), and blue and orange.  There are others, obviously, but I’m not going to name them all here.  This I also actually knew, maybe from middle school art class? Gee, Mr. Brown, I may have actually remembered something! (Yes, my art teacher’s name was really Mr. Brown!)

4.  I need to print or make my own color wheel from fabrics.  I think this will help me with color choices for quilts.  Then again, maybe it won’t because I actually am better at color theory than I thought.

That’s about it for what I learned on color theory (click here for a Wikibooks explanation).  Actually, there may be more, but I can’t remember it right now.  Take the Craftsy Block of the Month 2014 (it’s free), and maybe you’ll learn something.   I’ll probably watch the class again, even though the quilt they made was  C R A Z Y !!!

Quiltin Tips

I have been watching Craftsy free classes lately.  I watched a beginning quilting class even though I am fairly seasoned by now, I never assume I know everything or even just “a better way” to do things.

This class was broken up into segments for a total of at least two hours.  I wished I would have watched this class two years ago before I started quilting, but I can still outline some of the things I learned that I may try.

1.  Join sashing and borders as you do binding, diagonally – reason: the basic idea is that the seams blend in better.  I think this would work better with prints, but I’ll try this on my next project, but probably won’t do it with solids.

2. Never cut thread longer than tip of finger to elbow for hand sewing – reason, the thread tends to tangle less and is easier to handle.  Now, if you are doubling your thread, you would make two such lengths.  I tried this with the binding on a baby blanket a couple days ago, although I did go a bit longer than finger tip to elbow, probably 18″, but I have to say my thread did tangle less.  So, I’ll probably be doing this more often.

3.  Use spray basting for smaller projects – reason: it really works well for basting, and it doesn’t work for larger quilts.  I wish I had known this a couple years ago, because I tried it for a big quilt, and well, I got fold overs on the back.  Since, I have used it for smaller projects, but it is expensive, and so for really any size projects, safety pins are still fine.  I do prefer the quilter’s curved safety pins in the size 2.  Size 1 is too small, maybe good for potholders and smaller projects.  Size 3 are too big.   I’ve also found that contrary to my belief, regular safety pins work about the same as the curved ones.  I love the Sewology pins at Hobby Lobby, and Dritz are okay, but I didn’t much care for the Singer curved pins someone bought for me.

4.  For basting a big quilt in sections, like on your dining room table (which I do), place down backing first, wrong side up, and use binder clips to secure to sides, manipulating fabric to be taut, but not too tight, but not wrinkled.  Then add batting, smooth out with hands, reset clips.  Then add the top, smooth out, reset clips. Reason: it works better than the floor, and you get a much better finished project.  Now, I use these clamps I got for my husband for some woodworking project, or something, that he never used, and I find they work great – because I can’t get binder clips around the edges of my kitchen table (too thick).  I wish they were all the same size, and I can’t use the really small ones on my table, but otherwise, they work great for basting.

5.  You can hand quilt with or without a frame.  Sometimes, you just want the look of hand quilting, and darn if I haven’t mastered it, or even got it down to the point of saying I could do anything, even a potholder, with it.  The lady said you have to try something 8 times before you have really given it a true test.  I don’t think that applies to EVERYTHING, but maybe my 3 or 4 attempts at hand quilting weren’t quite enough.  I’d still like to learn this art, even if it’s dying out.  Maybe I won’t use it often, but if I CAN do it, without a frame, I’d like to figure that out.  I’m going to try this again soon – at least 8 times!

6.  Pin those joining seams from the bottom on both sides of the seam – so you don’t have to remove the pins.  Now, I wasn’t good at meeting those seams, then I figured out pins are actually necessary when trying to match row seams.  And, I was always a person who pinned along the seam line, until I figured out for quilting, you should do it from the top.  However, you have to remove the pins before you stitch the seam, even if one stitch before, because you don’t want to stitch over your pins (needle breakage and messing up your machine is possible).  This lady pinned from the bottom – thereby not having to remove the pins, they weren’t in the seam line.  I don’t know if it works better, but I’m going to try it next time and see how it works out.  BTW, I finally figured out a way to put in one pin at a diagonal, and my seams always seem to join up right. I’ll have to show that to you if this bottom pinning doesn’t work out well.

7.  For quilts where joining rows and seams doesn’t matter as much, or if you have a lot of seams and want the quilt to lie flatter – and don’t plan to stitch in the ditch, iron your seams open.    We do this on binding so there isn’t as much bulk, and I must admit I’ve done it sometimes on quilts I knew I was going to totally free motion to reduce bulk at the seams.  Now, they did this even when joining rows and such, which I find ironing to one side works better, but I have to admit, I haven’t tried it so much for joining (maybe I will).  Also, I wonder if you might actually be able to stitch in the ditch better?

So, that’s what I learned new or different so far.  Do you have any tips that you don’t see mentioned often that work well for you?

Next time, I’m going to mention a couple things I learned about color theory.

Diaper Changing Pads


So, yesterday, or was it Friday night, after viewing my daughter’s photo stream clearly showing that the baby, my first granddaughter, had dropped, I decided it was time to make some diaper changing pads.  I did a FaceTime with her yesterday, and saw my very verbal grandson also.  She told me she had gotten the changing pads I made 2 years ago out of storage, in expectation of the new arrival, sometime in the next two weeks.

Mr. Man has completely outgrown the changing table attached to the crib. So, this time, I decided to make some whole cloth diaper changing pads with more of a pink, girly theme, although I am becoming more and more uni-sex thinking.  I went through my “stash” and found an old pink and white striped sheet, a couple pieces of floral material, a pink gingham floral, and a couple pieces I had bought for random reasons.  I cut them to sizes approximately 15 1/2″ x 24, some more like 18″ x 26, some less or more.

Yesterday, I matched up backs and fronts.  I had to cut from my new batting roll that I bought for a friend, but she wasn’t  using, my second now.  After matching up backs and fronts and placing batting accordingly, I started free-motion quilting different designs.  First a straight stipple, then one with stars, one with hearts, one with spirals, a Super-Daisy, and one with a grid pattern with the walking foot.

All the binding is from previous projects, totally scrappy, some just meshed well with each pattern or design.

I told my daughter I was sending them all and she could pick and choose which she wanted to keep and use.  Then, maybe, I’ll have some to add to my “stash” of things “laying around“.

Q-Tip #?  You can make extra things to have “laying around” or “sitting around” in case someone wants to pay you money to buy these things.