Archive for the 'tutorial' Category

M13, Lynette’s Diamond + Tutorial

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

M13, Lynette's Diamond

Date Completed: January 1, 2009
Number of Pieces: 12
Description: hand applique/machine pieced
Color Group: purple
Number of blocks completed: 61
Number of pieces so far: 1060+ 139 sashing
Interesting current event: It’s New Years Day so the world isn’t turning so fast today. In personal news, I just found out my sister broke her leg. I want to go to Oregon to help her, but really can’t leave b/c of things that need to be done to settle on our new house.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to complete each Block of the Week through the Dear Jane mailing list. This was the first one!

It didn’t turn out perfect, but it was very quick and easy. I’m happy enough with the results.

I took a few pictures along the way so you can see how I did it. I found this method on the official Dear Jane page, though it didn’t include pictures so I had no idea how it was going to turn out.

Step 1:

Applique a 5″ circle of focus fabric on a 5 1/2″ square of background fabric.

Step 1

Click through to Flickr to see photos in a much bigger size.

Step 2:

Sew 1 1/4″ in squares of focus fabric to the corners of the block. Sew on the diagonal in the same way you would make quick pieced flying geese.

Step 2

Snip off the corners and press open.

Step 3:

Cut the block into quarters, flip the pieces around and sew together. I think my seams were not quite 1 1/4″. I am thinking about taking out the seams and redoing it, but I’m not sure I’m that motivated.

Step 3

Fabric Gift Bags–Tutorial

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Here’s the perfect excuse to hit the quilt shops this weekend! Go forth, ye fabric addicts, and find heavily discounted holiday fabric. You can turn it into wonderful fabric gift bags that will last for years. Save the environment, save yourself gift wrapping time, and satisfy your need for new fabric. What could be better?

Fabric rectangles in various sizes (choose fabric that you can’t see through!)
matching thread and bobbin
pinking shears
straight pins
safety pin
beads for embellishment (optional)

The beauty of this project is that accuracy is not very important. There are no points to match! Everyone will be so excited to get to the gift inside, they won’t have time to measure your seam allowances. Except your cranky old grandma. That’s why she gets a fruit basket.

I like to do several at once so I can chain piece. I can whip these out much faster than I can wrap a gift.

Step one:

Lay out your rectangle of fabric and decide how you want to fold it to make the best gift bag. Find the sides that will be the two tops of your bag and trim the ends with pinking shears. At this point you will have a rectangle of fabric with two opposite ends pinked.

Step two:

Fold down the pinked ends about 1″. Pin. This should give you adequate room for a seam allowance and plenty of room to send a beribboned safety pin through your drawstring pouch.

Pink two edges and fold down for drawstring

Note: you can click on any picture to go to much bigger

Step three:

Sew down your drawstring pouch. I keep my presser foot along the pinked edge to keep more room for the drawstring.

Sew Drawstring lip

Step Four:

Fold rectangles so the right sides are together and the drawstring pouches are at the top. Pin both sides.

Step Five:

Sew the sides of the bag with 1/2″ seam. Start sewing where the drawstring pouch seam starts. DO NOT SEW ALL THE WAY UP TO THE TOP! If you sew to the stop, you won’t be able to put in your drawstring!

Sew sides with right sides together starting at drawstring seam

Step Six:

Use the pinking shears to trim the seams you just sewed. This will prevent fraying and make your bags last a lot longer.

Pink seams

Step Seven:

Turn bag right side out. Attach a safety pin to a length of ribbon and run it through the drawstring pouches. Tie the two ends together in a secure knot. OPTION: Add beads to the ribbon to spruce it up.

Use a safety pin to thread with ribbon

Step Eight:

Add a gift, then tie in a pretty bow.

Insert gift and tie a bow!

Step Nine:

When Christmas is over, put the bags somewhere safe so you can find them next year. I think this will be the hardest part!

We used the bags this year and it was fantastic! We were able to take all the toys out of their impossible packaging and pop them in the bags. We didn’t have to spend Christmas morning fighting with twist-tie packaging while our son begged for his toys. My husband was also very grateful to get out of traditional wrapping. My only concern is what happens when the kids get old enough to be sneaky and open the bags while they are alone in the house prior to Christmas. I guess at that point maybe I won’t even care. I was a very bad girl and always opened and re-wrapped my Christmas gifts while my mom was at work.

Tutorial: Quick Pieced Flying Geese

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

When I started this blog I envisioned doing tutorials and such for my newbie quilting friends. I had no idea there would be experienced quilters reading and commenting!

That said, this is one of those tutorials. Experienced quilters, please ignore my novice strugglings. Or else comment and tell my beginning friends a better way to do what I’m explaining.

Flying Geese are not my favorite type of quilting unit, but they crop up time and again. You can make them with templates, but I hate using templates. I find them too time consuming to produce and I never cut them quite right. Worst of all, when I finally sew my triangles together my points always get cut off. I hate blunt points.

Here’s a quick piecing method that works for me. The major disadvantage is that it wastes fabric. If you’re a paper piecer it’s not too bad since the left over bits are perfect for little paper piecing projects. If you aren’t a paper piecer. . . well. . . maybe you don’t want to do your flying geese this way if you have 96 of the bad boys lined up.

In this method, you will use one rectangle and two squares to produce a perfect flying goose.

To start with you need to know the size of your finished product. Follow the table below for cutting instructions:

Finished Size Cut 1 rectangle Cut 2 squares
1 1/2″ x 3″ 2″ x 3 1/2″ 2″
2″ x 4″ 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ 2 1/2″
2 1/2″ x 5″ 3″ x 5 1/2″ 3″
3″ x 6″ 3 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ 3 1/2″
3 1/2″ x 7″ 4″ x 7 1/2″ 4″

Of course, you can make bigger units than that, but I think if you study the chart you can figure out the dimensions pretty easily.

Ready to start sewing?

Click any picture to go to the Flickr page and see it much bigger.

  • Step 1: Cut out your pieces to the desired size. Remember, you’ll need one rectangle and two squares for each flying goose.
  • Step 2: Flip over your squares so the wrong side of the fabric is facing up. Take a fabric pencil and mark a straight diagonal line from one corner to the other. Do this for each square. I find it works best to start in the middle, then mark up. Go back to the middle; mark down. I am also a BAD quilter and sometimes use a really thin sharpie to mark my line. Don’t do this because you might be able to see it on the finished product. Also, really don’t use a regular ink pen because it will bleed in the wash and you’ll have a hot mess on your hands.


  • Step 3: Making sure your fabrics are right sides together, pin one square to one side of the rectangle in preparation for sewing.

  • Step 4: Sew on the marked line. You may want to push a scrap piece through your machine first to help avoid sticking the triangle ends down into your bobbin case. I like to chain piece a bunch of these.


  • Step 5: Go to your cutting area and snip off the excess fabric. Make the cut 1/4″ away from the seam you just sewed. You can eyeball it like I do, or you can use a fancy ruler and a rotary cutter.


    After the cut, your unit will look like this:

  • Step 6: Turn it over, hit it with a bit of Magic Sizing and press your seam open. Not everyone presses open, but I find it much more accurate than pressing toward the side.
  • Step 7: Pin a square to the other side of the rectangle, again making sure right sides are together. Make sure your drawn line is positioned so that when you make the cut, you’ll end up with a point.
  • Step 8: Sew on the drawn line.
  • Step 9: Cut off the excess fabric, leaving a 1/4″ seam.

  • Step 10: Turn it over, spray it with Magic Sizing, and press the seam open.

    Your end product should look like this:


Top Eleven Quilting Tips for Newbies

Monday, June 18th, 2007

When I started quilting I literally knew nothing. Not. One. Thing.

These are a few of the tips I wish I would have known for that very first quilt.

  1. Use a 1/4″ seam allowance. It’s great if you have a piecing foot with your machine, but if not you can put a piece of masking tape as your line. When sewing, look at your seam allowance guide, not the needle. Practice this! Own this! Do it over and over until you can make a 1/4″ seam in your sleep. Nothing will turn out well until you can get your seam allowance consistent.
  2. If you buy cheap fabric, flannel, or hand-dyed fabrics make sure you pre-wash it. It would be awful to ruin a quilt through shrinkage or dye bleeding. Currently I am not pre-washing fabrics from quality quilt shops because I think it is cool to get the puckery, antique look after washing the finished quilt.
  3. Don’t buy Wal-Mart fabric because it falls apart. Seriously. This was a tough lesson to learn.
  4. Press the fabric with Magic Sizing (starch flakes and burns) before starting and press between each round of sewing. (I like to keep an extra can of Magic Sizing on hand at all times). These days I don’t use Magic Sizing because I’ve developed an allergy, but it was invaluable in my first days as a quilter. It stiffens up the fabric and makes sewing a lot easier.
  5. Press seams open (this is a big debate in the quilting world. It takes more time, but you can line up your points a whole lot easier).
  6. Use a walking foot. This advice is a little unusual, I think, but I am in love with my walking foot. I’ve totally given up on my piecing foot and use my walking foot for everything. It is a special foot that feeds the fabric through evenly. I’ve only had my walking foot about six months and don’t know how I lived without it! I’ve found the best deals at They are about $25 there.
  7. Put the pins in perpendicular and take them out before they go under the needle.
  8. Chain piecing! You don’t have to remove your sewing pieces, pull out a big long piece of thread again, then sew two more together, repeat. I was so dumb! Instead, just feed the pieces in one right after the other and you’ll save a lot of thread and time.
  9. To really get things to match up, pin on each side of your pressed open seams, matching things up, even if things really don’t fit. A pucker in the seam is less noticeable than a mismatched point.
  10. Contrast is important. When picking out fabrics for a quilt, make sure you are getting lights, darks and mediums.
  11. Quilting is fun! Mistakes are learning experiences! Don’t broadcast all the mistakes when people are admiring your quilts and they won’t notice them (hard, hard lesson for me to learn).

As a bonus, here’s a pic of my very first quilt, made entirely with 1/2″ seams b/c I had no clue about the 1/4″ seam rule. There’s also a big puppy patch on the back covering a big hole that I cut while I was trying to clip seams. This quilt no longer exists, except as a bunch of strings and batting. It was made solely from Wal-Mart fabric and didn’t hold up to heavy baby use.

First Quilt Ever
Made in March of 2004 for my first nephew.