Posts Tagged ‘quilt tutorial’

Ecclesiastes 3:11

To complete the X-Box quilt top, I chose quarter-square triangles for the alternate blocks because I like the secondary design they produce.

Quarter-Square Triangle Block

You can follow my Quarter-Square Triangle tutorial to construct the four alternate blocks, plus the X-Box, Part Two tutorial for the block border.

First, make four quarter-square triangles.

Make Four Quarter-Square Triangle Blocks

Add borders to each block.

Position all your blocks in sewing order. Sew the blocks together in groups of three. I find it helpful to pin where seams need to match up.

Press the new seams of each row so that they butt up against the seams of the row they will be sewn to. For example, first row pressed to the right; second row pressed to the left; third row pressed to the right.

Sew the rows together. (I pressed the row seams open to distribute the bulk.)

Sew Rows Together

Add a contrasting border if you like.  My outer border measured 3 inches.

Add an Outer Border

Press the quilt top carefully, put together your quilt sandwich, and quilt as desired.

I quilted X-Box in a close diagonal grid pattern, using a wavy stitch and Valdani 50 wt. cotton thread (Color 6).  The stitching is about an inch apart.

Grid Quilting

Here’s a close-up of the quilting.

Closeup of Quilting

Another happy ending with a colorful quilt for a little boy (or girl).

X-Box Quilt

It’s seems so effortless to make quilts for girls since most fabrics just “work.”  Boy quilts, on the other hand, take a little more planning on my part.  Have you found this to be true?

X-Box Quilt Folded

Have a great week of quilting!



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Psalm 121:1-2

In part one of this tutorial, I demonstrated how to construct the Cheery Oh quilt block.  It’s a very simple as well as fun quilt block to make. Although you could use print fabrics for the background units of the “O” shape, I really like the pristine appearance of solid white surrounding the focus points of these colorful blocks.

I made the design choice of setting the blocks on point.  That means there is a need for setting triangles and corner triangles in order to complete the quilt top.  If you’re new to the on point design setting for your quilt blocks, the diagram below may help.  Of course, you can always choose a horizontal block setting and still produce a beautiful quilt with the Cheery Oh blocks.

Setting and Corner Triangles

Setting triangles (sometimes called side triangles) and corner triangles do add more complexity to the construction of a quilt, but setting blocks on point can really introduce variety to your quilt designs and produce increased visual interest.

Yes, there’s math involved unless you purchase a specialty ruler sold for this purpose.  But it’s similar to doing the math for half-square and quarter-square triangles, with a little multiplication and division added.  In fact, I prefer the math method for making setting triangles over the ruler method, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  Grab your calculator for the following steps.

You will be using the calculation below to arrive at the size square you need to produce two corner triangles.

Formula for Corner Triangles

Size of finished block  ÷  1.414  +  0.875″

Round up the number this calculation gives you to the nearest 1/8″ (0.125) and cut a square this size. For example, my finished block measures 7 1/2″.   7.5 ÷ 1.414 = 5.304 + 0.875= 6.179.  Rounding it up gives me 6.30 so I will cut my square about 6 3/8″.

Divide the square in half by cutting it diagonally, corner to corner.  Repeat this step for the remaining two corner triangles needed.  Rounding up is important because it adds a comfort zone to the size of the triangles, taking care of the rollover effect at the seam allowance.

If math is a scary thing for you, there are rulers on the market that simplify this step.  I have the Diagonal Set Triangle Ruler by Marti Mitchell.  I prefer it over the math method for corner triangles.  You simply find the size marking on the edge of the ruler for your finished square and cut the triangles needed.  It’s a handy tool not only for on point quilt settings but also for Square in a Square blocks.

Diagonal Set Triangle Ruler

Formula for Setting Triangles

Size of finished block × 1.414  +  1.25″

Round up the number this calculation gives you to the nearest 1/8″ (0.125) and cut a square this size.  For example,  7.5  x 1.414 = 10.605 + 1.25 = 11.855.  I rounded the number to 12″ for my square.  In the case of these triangles, better a little larger than too small.

Cut Square for Setting Triangles

Now position a ruler diagonally from corner to corner and cut the square in half.

Cut Square in Half Diagonally

Without moving the two triangles, reposition the ruler diagonally at opposite corners and cut in half again.

Cut in Half Again

You now have four setting triangles.  Repeat this step until you have as many triangles as your quilt top requires.

Four Setting Triangles

I mentioned earlier that I prefer the math method for this step.  The ruler method is fine; you just cut one side of the triangle and then flip the ruler over to cut the other side.  Personally, I find quartering the square easier.  Which method you use is entirely up to you.

Now take all your blocks and triangles and place them in sewing order.  I usually do this on my bed.  You have a couple of choices to make at this point—sew the rows together diagonally or sew the four corner units and then sew the center blocks together.  I like the second choice and that is how I constructed the quilt top.

Position Quilt Units in Sewing Order

Sewing the corner units together first for this particular quilt takes care of all the setting and corner triangles.  I find the units of the quilt are easier to manage this way.

First, sew the two setting triangles to the corner block.  Second, fold the corner triangle in half and finger press a small crease line at the center edge.  Do the same with the block unit.  Pin the corner unit to the block unit at the center point, right sides together.

Crease and Pin Center

It’s now easy to sew the corner triangle to the block unit with it perfectly centered.

Sewing the Corner Triangle to Corner Unit

After you’ve constructed all four corner units, begin sewing the center quilt blocks together in groups of three.  Match up and pin each of the seam intersections.  Next, sew the three rows together in the same manner.

Sew Blocks in Groups of Three

Position all of the sewn quilt units in order.  Sew each corner unit to the center quilt block unit, pinning at seam intersection.

Sew Corner Units to Quilt Top

You now have the main section of your quilt top completed.  Notice the secondary square and diamond shapes that the on point design has produced.  I love this setting!

Cheery Oh Quilt Center

If you’ve never attempted to place your quilt blocks on point, I hope you’ll take a deep breath and give it a try.  Like so many first-time experiences, you’ll feel a little unsure of yourself as you‘re cutting all those triangles, but soon you’ll be right at home with the process.

I’m now ready to work on the quilt borders so off I go.

Happy quilt designing,


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Proverbs 4:23

Another project comes to a happy ending.  I decided I wanted rounded corners on this feminine quilt so I used my circular template to mark the curves.  The markings helped guide the free motion quilting.

Rounded Quilt Corners

Marking Quilt Corners

After choosing the fabric for the binding, I cut 2 1/8” strips on the bias.  Bias-cut binding is necessary whenever you’re dealing with curves.  I simply eased my way around the corners, being careful to follow the quilt’s edge.

Attaching Binding to Quilt Corners

Easing the Binding Around Curved Corner

As you can see, I cut off the excess edges of the batting and backing before attaching the binding, leaving about 1/8” beyond the quilt top.  Pre-cutting isn’t necessary but I think it helped visually when navigating the corners.

And here she is.  I actually named the block Meet You in the Middle owing to the four patch that is created when the four differing blocks come together, but the name appears to fit the finished quilt as well with all the four patches forming an X.

Completed Quilt

Meet You in the Middle Quilt

Here’s a close-up of the free motion quilting.  I love the overall effect of this pattern.

Free Motion Quilting

Free Motion Quilting

I’m not sure what’s next, but I think it may include some flying geese.

Hope you get some quilting done this weekend.


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In Part Two of this quilt tutorial we completed our four large blocks.  We are now ready to put our quilt top together with lattice and border.  I chose solid white Kona cotton for this stage of the quilt simply because the pink blocks looked so pristine and feminine  against the white background.

For the lattice, you will be constructing five (5) four-patches.  One will be in the center of the quilt, the other four at the corners.  For complete instructions on how to make these,  please refer to the tutorial on four-patches.  Here is a condensed version for this particular quilt.

Cut three  3 ½” light squares.
Cut three 3 ½” dark squares.

Place one light and one dark square right sides together and chain piece the units by sewing down the left and right sides.

Chain Piece Squares

Clip the units apart.  With a quilting ruler, cut the units in half parallel to the seam allowances.  Place two of the units right sides together, alternating the darks and lights as shown.

Alternate Darks and Lights

Match up the seam allowances on each side by butting them up against each other. Pin each side.  (When seam allowances are pressed in opposite directions, you will feel a slight resistance when they come together.)  Chain piece the units, sewing down the left and right sides perpendicular to the previous seam allowances.

Chain Piece Light/Dark Units

Clip the units apart and cut them down the middle parallel to the seam allowance.  Press open and set aside.  (You will have one extra four-patch.)

Cut Units in Half and Press Open

For the inner lattice, cut four (4) white strips 3 ½” x 12 ½”.

Cut Inner Lattice Strips

Sew lattice between the two upper blocks and the two lower blocks.

Sew Lattice Between Upper and Lower Block Units

Quilt Block Units

Upper and Lower Quilt Block Units

For the center lattice, position one (1) four-patch between two lattice strips and sew together.

Lattice Strips and Four-Patch

Center Lattice Strips with Four-Patch

Place the center lattice between the upper and lower blocks.  Pin the lattice strip to the upper block unit, right sides together, matching the seam allowances on both sides of the four-patch.  Sew together.  Repeat this step with the lower block unit.  Press.

Center Lattice

Lattice Between Upper and Lower Block Units

Sew Center Lattice

Sew Center Lattice to Block Units

Fold your quilt center in half vertically and then horizontally to make sure the sides are even and you quilt top is square before sewing on the outer lattice.

For the outer lattice, cut two (2) white strips 3 ½’ x 27”.  Sew these strips to the left and right sides of the quilt center.

Outer Lattice Strips

Sew Outer Lattice to Sides of Quilt Top

Cut two (2) white lattice strips 3 ½” x 27 ½”.

Sew a four-patch to each end of the lattice strips.

Four-Patches on Ends of Lattice

Sew Four-Patches to Ends of Lattice

Pin the upper and lower lattice in place, right sides together, matching the seam allowances.  Sew them to the quilt top.  Press.

Four-Patch Lattice

Sew Four-Patch Lattice to Top and Bottom of Quilt Top

For the borders, cut two (2) white strips 3 ½” x 34 ½”.  Sew these to the left and right sides of your quilt top.

Quilt Borders

Sew Borders

Cut two (2) white strips 3 ½” x 40 ½”.  Sew these to the top and bottom of your quilt top.

Your quilt top is now complete.  Choose a pretty backing fabric and put together your quilt sandwich.  Here is mine, which I put together with 505 Spray and Fix.  Remember, only use spray adhesives in a well ventilated area.

Quilt Sandwich

Meet You in the Middle Quilt Sandwich

I hope to finish the free motion quilting today and have some pictures posted of the completed quilt soon.

Happy quilting!


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1 Peter 5

Whenever I machine quilt, I remove the general throat plate and replace it with a straight stitch plate.  I know these aren’t available for all machines, but if one is available for your brand of sewing machine, I do recommend purchasing it.

With the feed dogs lowered and the straight stitch throat plate in place, I then cover the bed with a Sewslip.  The Sewslip and Super Slider are non-stick surfaces with holes under your machine needle.  They have a tacky backing that keeps them in position.  Anything that will eliminate drag on your quilt while it’s under the needle is helpful.  I’ve been using one for years, and I do think they make machine quilting a little easier.


Next, I turn on my sewing machine and lessen the presser foot pressure.  Every machine does this differently so read your manual for instructions.

Pressure Foot Pressure

Lower Presser Foot Pressure

With my machine set, I now take a little time to warm up by using a sample quilt sandwich made for this purpose.  You don’t want to skip this step.  It allows you to test your stitches to make sure they are balanced.  Also, your head and hands get a chance to change into quilting mode before you actually beginning stitching your quilt.

Free Motion Quilting

Free Motion Warm Up

The last thing I do before beginning to machine quilt is apply Tri-Flow to my machine needle using a Q-Tip.  Since I use 505 Adhesive Spray to “baste” my quilt sandwich, I don’t want any skipped stitches.  This brand of spray is pretty good at not gumming up your needle, but I still like some extra insurance.  Tri-Flow puts a Teflon coating on the needle and insures against the build-up of gummy residue.

Apply Tri-Flow to Needle with Q-Tip

I position my quilt somewhere in the middle section and pull my bobbin thread to the quilt surface, leaving enough thread tails to pop back into my quilt later.

Bobbin Thread

Pull Bobbin Thread to Surface of Quilt

I know that most people make a few securing stitches at their starts and stops; I’m just not one of those people.  It goes back to my hand quilting days.  I don’t like the look of thread buildup, so I use self-threading hand needles, form a single knot, and feed the thread into the batting until it pops.  Yes, it takes an extra minute here and there, but it’s worth it to me.

Knot Thread and Pop Back into Quilt

For easier maneuverability, I roll the side of my quilt that falls to the right of the needle.

Roll Quilt

Roll Quilt to Right of Needle

I also keep the front and back of the quilt loosely bunched to prevent drag as I’m stitching.  The bed of my machine is even with the sewing table so this is most helpful in the area between me and the machine.

I mentioned in a previous post that music can be an aide to machine quilting.  I believe it relaxes you and helps you to form a smooth rhythm with your quilt as you move it under the needle.

And speaking of the quilt being under the needle, I focus my attention on a small area as I quilt.  Sometimes I make a taut “U” shape with my two hands; other times I might use a quilting hoop made for machine quilting.  My eyes are always looking ahead to where my needle is going next.  And this brings me  back to free motion presser feet.  Some are better than others when it comes to vision, so give them a test drive before making a purchase.

I hope you find something helpful to take away from this post.  But the one thing I can’t help you with is practice.  Practice is the key to successful free motion quilting. Practice makes progress.  Maybe someday practice will be the cure to my butterflies.  Maybe.

Free Motion Quilting

Free Motion Quilting Completed

Happy quilting!


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John 14

I was a hand quilter for years and still love the look of all those little hand-worked stitches.  For me, hand quilting was peaceful and relaxing.  However, I never finished hand quilting an entire quilt top, not even a baby quilt, in one day.  Yesterday, I free motion quilted the Right Inclination quilt and had it finished before dinner.  I believe the popularity of machine quilting is in large part a matter of numbers.  We all have a head full of quilts we want to make and a limited amount of time in which to make them.  Machine quilting makes our goals more reachable.

I confess, as much as I enjoy free motion quilting, I tend to have butterflies in my stomach every time I reach this stage in the quilt making process.  I’m the perfectionist type, which is probably at the root of my nervous stomach.  After a half hour or so, I’m as comfortable as can be and totally lost in the rhythm of my hand movements.  Do any of you have the same experience?

There are many techniques as well as helpful products for free motion quilting.  You can make it as simple or as complex as you like.  This is one area where you will profit from lots of experimentation.  Here is how I do it.

Machine Quilting Supplies

First, I set out all the equipment that I will be using for the particular quilt I am making.  These may include the following:

Quilting gloves or rubber fingers

Quilting needles

Sewslip or Super Slider

Straight stitch plate for sewing machine

Quilting thread and bobbins

Free motion presser foot

Quilt So Easy hoops

Tri-Flow lubricant and Q-Tip

Quilt markers

Quilt stencils and shape templates

Chalk Marking Spray

Self-threading hand sewing needles

Sometimes I mark my quilt top and sometimes I don’t.

Marked Quilt Top

Whenever I’m shopping, I keep my eyes open for unusual items that might work well as marking templates.  Craft stores sell wood cutouts in various shapes that work well.  I’ve also found plastic layering templates made for fleece that I like.  Chalk marking spray and quilting stencils are another option.

Quilt Marking Supplies

Sometimes the print of your fabric lends itself to quilting, which was the case on the dragonfly borders of Right Inclination.  It doesn’t get any easier than that.

Fabric Print Provided Quilting Motif

The main thing to concentrate on is a plan.  Give some thought to your quilt design and the type of quilting that would compliment it.  Sometimes I draw out a motif and practice it with my hands before actually attempting to quilt it with the machine.  I often use a mix of motifs and shapes.  I also take into consideration the type of batting I’ve used and how close the stitches need to be.  Remember, quilting shrinks the layers as they’re being stitched.  Plan for this by evenly quilting your entire project.

Once my quilt top is ready, I then prepare my sewing machine.  Every machine has a different feel to it.  Additionally, the various free motion presser feet make a difference.  After a little experimentation, you will gravitate toward one or two that you like.  At present, I like the clear Big Foot combined with my Bernina machine.  A year from now it may be a different combination.

Free Motion Presser Feet

I choose my needle according to the thread I will be quilting with.  I’ve actually made a chart of needles, threads, and upper machine tensions that work well on my machines.  It’s a handy guide to have around so that I don’t waste time with each new project.

My Thread-Needle-Tension Chart

Normally, I use the same weight thread in the needle and bobbin except when using monofilament thread.  One of my favorite quilting needles is made by Schmetz.  Look for the word quilting on the cover and the green band on the needles.  (All of their needles are excellent.)  Whatever brand you use, make sure it has a sharp tip.

Machine Quilting Needles

Machine Quilting Needles

In the second half of this post on free motion quilting, I will share some more products and techniques that I use and find helpful.

Happy quilting,


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Revelation 19:6-7

Lattice, sometimes called sashing, serves many functions in quilt making.  At the most basic level, a plain lattice can separate and frame your quilt blocks.  Plain lattice often has a square unit at the intersections.

Additionally, lattice can be used to form a secondary pattern when combined with your quilt blocks.  Small blocks or appliques can be interspersed within your lattice to add visual interest.  The rule of thumb is to use more complex lattice to enhance plain blocks and plain lattice to frame complex blocks.

Since lattice strips are added vertically and horizontally between blocks and rows, it always adds size to your quilt top.  Depending on whether you’ve chosen to include a border, lattice may also surround your main block setting.  Of course, you can always use both lattice and borders in your quilt design.

In this tutorial, I’ve chosen a plain lattice with intersecting squares for my block settings.  I decided to use inner lattice, not a surrounding outer lattice, since I will be adding borders.  The square blocks measure 8 ½” square.

Lattice and Borders

First, cut ten (10) lattice strips 8 ½” x 2 ½”.  You will probably want to use a plain fabric that differs from those within your block.

Cut Lattice Strips

Cut three (3) 2 ½” squares for the intersections.

Center Squares

Lay out your blocks with the yellow 4-strip section facing north-east.  You will create four rows (top to bottom) with 2 blocks in each row.

Chain piece a lattice strip to each block in the left hand row.  

Tip: Since my blocks have sharp points, I like to sew on the block side rather than the lattice side.  When I come to a point, I sew about two threads into the seam allowance.  This makes allowance for the rollover effect and keeps my points sharp on the front of the quilt.

Press your strips open, with seam allowances toward the lattice.  Now place the right hand blocks on the raw edges of the lattice strips, right sides together, and chain piece.  Press open.

Press Lattice Strips

Sharp Points

For the lattice between the rows, lay out your strips and center squares as shown.

Lay Out Lattice Strips and Squares

Flip each of the center squares to the left and onto the adjacent strips, lining up the edges. Chain piece them together.  Press open, with seam allowances toward the lattice strips.

Sew Center Square to Lattice

Align the remaining strips with the raw edges of the center squares, right sides together, and chain piece.  Press open.

Sew Remaining Lattice Strips

The direction of seam allowances is an important factor in the construction of a quilt top, especially when working with more complex designs.  Planning ahead takes some extra time, but it’s well worth it in the end.

Now align the seam intersections of the first block row with a lattice row, right sides together.  Pin in place and sew together.

Pin Rows to Lattice and Sew Together

Notice how the seam allowances face in opposite directions, allowing you to match them easily as they butt up against each other and evenly distribute the bulk.

Align the second block row with the first lattice strip, pin, and sew together.  Continue until you have finished sewing all of your block rows to lattice rows.

First Row of Lattice

The main section of your quilt top is now complete. Doesn’t lattice set the blocks off nicely?

To complete the quilt top, I added 6 ½” borders to the left and right sides of the quilt, and then added 2 ½” borders to the top and bottom.  These borders were cut from a plain blue fabric.  When that was completed, I added an additional 5″ border to the left and right sides.  I cut this from a darker blue dragonfly print that also appears within my blocks.

Completed Quilt Top


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