Archive for April, 2010

Wow!  Today was our third meeting and we’ve come so far.  All those little squares have lined up in their rows and produced many beautiful quilt tops.

Here is a sampling of our progress.

Our Youngest Member - Great Color Choices!

A Beautiful Mix of Colors

The Perfect Quilt for a Little Girl

Exciting Colors That Children Will Love

Several members completed their quilt tops and began preparing their quilt sandwiches.  We also learned some simple machine quilting techniques and how to cut and apply binding.  Another great meeting, ladies.  Keep up the good work.



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Embroidering Quilt Labels

The Piecemakers4Life quilts will all have a special embroidered label on the reverse side.  Each label is graced with the precious truth that children are a gift from God.

This pea pod label is from Psalm 139.

Quilt Label - Psalm 139

Our blue bunny label is from Psalm 127.

Quilt Label - Psalm 127

Of course, the labels will be color coordinated with their respective quilts.  All of the quilts we make are given to our local crisis pregnancy center, and we are praying that God will use our quilts to encourage the women and children who receive them.


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There are three patchwork squares used repeatedly in quilt tops:  the half-square triangle unit, the quarter-square triangle unit, and the four-patch.  Since quilting has been around for some time, quick and accurate methods for constructing these squares have been introduced into the quilting community.  Additionally, I have recently developed a method for making four-patches that I really like and that produces consistently accurate results every time.  It just came to me while piecing one day, but it’s hard to believe some other quilter hasn’t thought of it before (and they probably have; I just haven’t seen it anywhere.)

This tutorial will introduce the half-square triangle unit.  I will be making two units at the same time, but you can make a single unit just as easily.   Each of the squares mentioned above have a special measurement to remember.  Don’t worry, it’s simple math.

To begin, choose two fabrics, one light and one dark.  Think about the size you want your finished (sewn) square.  To that measurement, add 7/8-inch.  That is always the case regardless of your finished measurement.  For example, if I wanted my finished squares to be six inches,  I would cut my light and dark squares 6 7/8-inches.

I would like to give you a quick tip at this point.  For greater accuracy, starch your fabric.  By its very nature, fabric shifts while being sewn.  Starching your fabric prevents some of the shifting and stretching, which makes for happy quilting.  I use Sta-Flo liquid starch and mix it 50-50 with distilled water.  I then pour it into a spray bottle that I always keep by my iron.

Starch Your Fabric

Here is one more tip.  I quickly cut my squares a little larger than the desired measurement and then starch them.  Sometimes the fabric shrinks slightly, so this insures that I won’t have any problems getting the exact cut I need.  After pressing the starched squares, I then cut the precise measurement.

Now you have two accurately cut squares that are 7/8-inches larger than your finished square measurement.  In my case, I have doubled the measurement (width) so that I will have two finished units in the end.

Turn the light square over (face down) and place it on top of the dark square.  With a sharp pencil in hand, position your ruler diagonally, crossing the top left and bottom right corner of the square units.  Draw a line from corner to corner on the wrong side of the square.

If you are making a double unit, draw a line down the center.  Then position your ruler diagonally as above and draw a pencil line from corner to corner.  Repeat for the second unit.

Center Line

Center Line for Double Unit

Diagonal Cutting Lines

If you don’t have a patchwork presser foot, mark ¼-inch sewing lines on each side of the solid lines.  I would recommend dashed lines so that you can distinguish sewing lines from cutting lines.

Take your marked square (or rectangle) to the machine and place a few strategic pins here and there to keep the fabric in place.  Attach a patchwork presser foot (quarter-inch foot) or sew the ¼-inch dashed lines that you marked.  Begin sewing a scant ¼-inch from the solid pencil line.

Sewing 1/4-inch from Cutting Line

When you finish sewing one side, lift the presser foot and reposition the unit so that you can sew down the other side of the marked line.  If you are working on a double unit, continue sewing until you have sewn scant ¼-inch seams on both sides of your solid pencil line.

Turning the Corner

Take your ruler and place it on the solid pencil line between your stitching lines.  Using a rotary cutter, cut the unit(s) in half.

For the double unit, cut the center line first, then proceed to cut the units in half.

Cutting the Center Line

Cutting the Diagonal Lines

Now open your  units and press toward the dark fabric.  Square them if necessary, checking your measurements to make sure they are precise.

If you have made several units, you can play with them to make various patterns.  Here I have made a pin wheel.  Wasn’t that easy?

In the next tutorial, I will show you how to create quarter-square triangle units.  The method will build on what you have learned in this lesson.  Happy quilting!


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Patchwork Friday

The Piecemakers4Life group meets again this Friday, April 30th at 10 am.  We will spend a little time talking about and demonstrating simple machine quilting.  Also, we will explore various ways to bind our quilts.  Please bring your works-in-progress and all your questions.  See you there.


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Chain piecing is a real time saver when you have many identical units to sew.  Here’s how it works.

First, gather all your piecing units into a pile.  Next, place the first one under the presser foot and begin sewing your ¼-inch seam.  As you come close to the end of the seam,  place the next unit in place behind the first unit without lifting the presser foot.  Continue sewing the second unit.  Then repeat the same action by placing the third unit behind the second unit.  Keep sewing until all your units have traveled under the presser foot.

Chain Piecing

There will be a few stitches between each sewn unit.  Lay out your long chain of piecework and clip the individual units apart.

Clipping Your Chain-Pieced Units

You are now ready to press and square-up your work.  Wasn’t that fun?



A little time here and a little time there really adds up over the course of constructing a quilt.


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Simple square blocks can be arranged in numerous ways to produce unique quit tops.  I will show you how to set your blocks to create a Trip Around the World quilt.

First, cut a center square any size you like.  My blocks in this example are 4 ½ inches square.  If your center square is light, then cut four squares from a darker fabric and set them around the center square as shown.

Next, cut eight lighter squares and place them around the darker squares as shown in the picture below.

Cut twelve lighter squares and place them around the previous round of darker squares.  Now cut fourteen darker squares and continue as above.

Since my quilt is a rectangle, I will now reduce the next row to twelve squares since this set won’t completely surround the quilt.  To complete the quilt, fill in the four corners in the same manner.

You don’t have to use darks and lights.  Making each round a different color also works well as long as there is a strong contrast between the colors.

Have fun with this one.  Trip Around the World is a popular traditional setting that offers infinite variety owing to all the beautiful fabrics available to quilters.


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A simple way to machine quilt is in evenly spaced rows using a straight stitch.  To make this method even easier, sewing machine companies offer a special presser foot called a walking foot or even feed foot.  They’re larger than most other presser feet and take a little practice attaching.  Just follow the instructions that come with the foot for your particular machine.

A walking foot adds an upper set of “teeth” that guide the fabric much the way feed dogs do at the bed level of your machine.  This is especially helpful when working with the three layers of a quilt, where you definitely don‘t want shifting fabric.

Some walking feet come with seam guides that attach to the back of the foot.   These facilitate you in sewing evenly spaced lines of stitching parallel to each other.  The seam guide can be spaced at whatever measurement you require and then tightened.  For grid quilting, this attachment is a real plus.

Regardless of what type of quilting I’m doing, I like to check the back of my quilt frequently for puckers.  The goal is to be pucker-free on both the top and back of your quilt.

The walking foot also comes in handy when sewing stripes, plaids, and slippery fabrics.  I think you will find it a helpful attachment to have in your sewing kit.


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