Start Here – Quilting 101

New to quilting? Looking for some help with the basic skills and terms? Start here! Quilting tips tricks and little bits of inspiration for the newbie to intermediate quilter.

  • Help! How do you stop a bleeding quilt?

    You may have found this page because, in a moment of pure panic, you turned to google because your lovely beautiful quilt is bleeding fabric dye where it shouldn’t. How do you stop a bleeding quilt? — It is all going to be ok!

    I might live under a rock at times… I think all mommas sometimes do, right? If you do too, then I’m about to blow your mind. Have you heard of these Shout Color Catchers? When I came across these…. ooooh… the light rays shined!

    They’re going to be your new best friend!

    I’m always up for something that makes my job easier…

    I’ve been making more and more quilts over the years for other people; I want them to maintain the best color quality possible, so they look just like the day they were created for years to come. Do I always prewash my fabrics to prevent color dye from spreading?…. um… so, about that…

    Honestly moment…

    No, usually, I get excited about a project and jump in with a pair of scissors and rotary blades flying and get started right away! I don’t always pre-wash my fabric… ok ok… most of the time I don’t even think about prewashing it. Does this make me a bad quilter? Not when I have a little secret up my sleeve.

    Have you ever made a quilt and then stopped to cry when you realized the fabrics were bleeding after being washed? - Relax! I have the solution you've been looking for! This little secret will save your fabric sanity!

    I’ve been using the Shout Color Catcher on my Quilts and …wow

    So these shout color catchers… They are single-use sheets that go in with your non-sorted laundry that claim to “absorb and trap loose dyes in your wash water, protecting clothes against color bleeds and helping preserve original colors” (a quote from the Shout Color Catchers website).

    Before I gift a quilt…

    I wash every single quilt before I give it to its final recipient. Always. I need to know what it is going to do in the wash…I want the quilt to be used and loved over and over again! I want to make sure it can withstand many washes over the years.

    I’ve never had one have any big surprises and completely fall apart or anything, so call me crazy for still thinking it still could happen one day. I would rather have it happen in my washing machine than someone else’s.

    Have you ever made a quilt and then stopped to cry when you realized the fabrics were bleeding after being washed? - Relax! I have the solution you've been looking for! This little secret will save your fabric sanity!

    These babies are my secret weapon.

    I usually throw one of these color catchers in with any quilt I’m washing for the first time as an insurance policy.

    I’ll even wash it again with another color catcher if its a really bold bright quilt. Double Insurance Policy. (*It’s like the equivalent of a pinky promise between me and my quilts*)

    I’ve even used the shout color catcher to clean up a quilt that bled a little when I forgot to put in the color catcher sheet. Does anyone else have those sleep-deprived brain moments?

    Have you ever made a quilt and then stopped to cry when you realized the fabrics were bleeding after being washed? - Relax! I have the solution you've been looking for! This little secret will save your fabric sanity!

    So have I convinced you that these need to sit on your laundry shelf yet?

    You can find them in the laundry aisle of your grocery store, or you can prime order them from Amazon (woot-woot!), and they are worth every single penny when it comes to quilting!

    For more tips on what you should do when you gift a quilt, click on over to this article 4 Important Things to Include when you gift a quilt.


  • 6 Tools for Faster Quilting

    I have found myself in this position before. It is kind of a circular theme in my life. And I may have overcommitted myself… again? Yay Adulthood! I promised a lot of quilts by the end of the year… and when you look at “just one more” it isn’t so bad, but 5 of those just one more projects and yikes. It becomes quite a pickle. In case you ever find yourself in this situation, I thought I would share with you my six tools for faster quilting!

    I have a few options. I could sit down and cry. I could not get any sleep for a few weeks. I could go back on my word and tell people I can’t do it (a viable option if push comes to shove)… or I could prioritize and get to work doing what I do and using the tip, tricks, and tools I’ve learned over the years to streamline the quilting process. (I’ll take door number 4, please!)

    These 6 tools are the ones that you need to have for faster quilting! With years of experience in quilting, these 6 tools are the ones that have helped me work most efficiently to get more work done in less time. Do you have them all?

    This post is going to go beyond telling you that an organized workspace makes all the difference. I love a well-organized space, and everything in its place certainly makes things run more smoothly, but we’re going to talk about actual tools that make you WORK FASTER.

    6 Tools for Faster Quilting

    1. Ditch those pointy pins!
      If you haven’t yet discovered wonderclips, you don’t know what you’re missing! These were my absolute favorite purchase from the quilt show a few years back. I swear by these no matter what sewing project I’m working on. They securely grab and hold on to whatever you want them to. No sharp pokes or sticks either so it is totally fine to put down your work and throw it in a corner to come back to later without having to worry about losing sharp pins in your carpet or stabbing yourself when you pick it up again.
      Wonderclips are also a timesaver in the fact that placing pins into seams takes two motions – one to insert the pin down into the work and another to pop the pin back up to the top of the work. It may sound like a petty fraction of a second to complain about, right? When you add it up to the hundreds of times you insert a pin, it takes time. Clipping takes one motion, and that’s it. This busy momma doesn’t have time to waste, and I LOVE my clips!
    2. A Quarter Inch Sewing Foot will save your tail
      Most seams in quilting are a quarter inch. It is like the unspoken golden rule in sewing. It is standard sewing law, and anything less or more makes you look like you don’t have a clue what you are doing. There are ways of getting the perfect quarter inch seam. I even wrote an entire post about it. You can read it here – How to Master the quarter inch seam.How to MASTER the quarter inch seam. Want to improve your beginner/intermediate sewing skills? do this and you'll be well on your way
      A dedicated quarter inch sewing foot makes your sewing faster. You do not have to watch a line on your sewing machine or keep an eye on your fabric. The quarter inch foot will do the fabric guiding for you. I use mine all the time for my quilt top piecing and general sewing. You can pick one up on Amazon for less than $10 by clicking here.How to MASTER the quarter inch seam. Want to improve your beginner/intermediate sewing skills? do this and you'll be well on your way
    3. The Walking foot
      Speaking of sewing feet, you are going to want to invest in one of these babies too. If I am not using my quarter inch sewing foot, I am using my walking foot. I use my walking foot when I am quilting or sewing several thick layers of fabric together at once. You can read more about a walking foot in this post that I wrote – What is a walking foot?Super important sewing tool. if you are wanting to quilt. you need one of these. I couldn't live without mine. Why do you need one? Read here
      Essentially, when you’re quilting, the feed dogs can move the bottom layer of fabric at a different pace than the top layer of fabric. As you can imagine, this is NOT ok. A walking foot takes care of this pesky issue when quilting and things turn out beautifully! 
    4. Rulers that are the right size
      When cutting squares or trimming blocks, it is a time-saving investment to buy square grid rulers in sizes you use the most. I have square grid rulers in just about every size from 2.5″ up to 13″. I know. It is obsessive and wonderful at the same time, but I use my 4″-8″ square blocks the most. If I need to trim up my blocks before piecing, I don’t have to worry about lining up grid lines and making sure my measurement is correct.  I just cut along the ruler block, and that’s it.  Saves SO much time. Try trimming 100 blocks that need to be 5″ with a 6.5″ grid ruler.  It takes forever.  Try trimming 100 blocks that need to be 5″ with a 5″ ruler.  You’ll be finished in no time. I really love all of The Gadget Girl’s products. Seriously, quality items and superior customer service. Check them out!

      I’ve tried a lot of thrifty ways of getting around this one over the years. I even used dry erase markers on my rulers so I wouldn’t have to count my lines over and over again (which is a decent way to save yourself some time if you aren’t able to get the rulers just yet.).When it comes to cutting and trimming your blocks to be the right size, having tools already in the right size works better 1,000% of the time.
    5. A reasonable expectation – Evaluate your patterns
      This may seem obvious, but it is worth saying… Real life comparison example: If you’re expected to bring the dessert to the next book club meeting, and you are short on time and not the best cook to begin with… now is not the time to experiment with cooking a decadently rich and finicky cheesecake. Most of us know our limits and would search for “quick and easy dessert recipes” on Pinterest, right? Get the job done and experiment with the cheesecake another day.

      Right. So in quilting, if you do not have copious amounts of free time and do not want a quilt that is going to be your life’s work… pick a pattern that is reasonably suited to your time constraints and to your level of skill! You’ll be less like to end up frustrated and wanting to throw in the towel. If on the other hand, you’re looking for a bit of a challenge, read these tips on how to up your game without losing your mind – How to challenge yourself in quilting.

    6. Sticky Notes and Managing your time in batches
      I use this method all over my house and my life to up productivity… I’m a productivity junkie, I admit it, but I love it and if I can improve an area of my life for the better by changing my behavior… I’m game. (that is a whole different post, but it applies a little here so I’ll briefly explain)Rather than bounce around your sewing spacelike a distracted gremlin cutting and sewing little bits at a time, reading the pattern and re-reading it again and again… take 5-10 minutes to make a plan.
      These 6 tools are the ones that you need to have for faster quilting! With years of experience in quilting, these 6 tools are the ones that have helped me work most efficiently to get more work done in less time. Do you have them all?
      Commit to finishing what you’ve started.
      -Pick your pattern
      -Gather/purchase your fabric in the right amounts required by the pattern
      -Cut all your pieces in one sitting if you can (all of them!) and label them in an organized manner so you can easily find them when you need them – this is especially helpful if you only have a small window of time to sew. Sticky notes are wonderful for writing a quick note on where you left off. Yes, I highly suggest writing notes to yourself. This momma’s brain runs on sticky notes.
      -Sew when you can. Even if its only 10 minutes while you wait for the kids to get their shoes on. (why can my kids always only find one shoe? I do not understand how in the world this happens and yet we do it every single day) Progress is progress, and little bits can add up to a lot. It also feels like less pressure if you’re only sitting down for 10 minutes than if you block off an entire day and spend it being in the shadow of your looming to-do list.

    I hope this list of 6 tools for faster quilting is helpful to you! Even if you try to put into practice one or two of these tools and it speeds up your work time, it will have been worth it. 🙂

    Please comment below and let me know if you have any amazing tips that you use to speed through your quilts!

  • 10 FREE Patterns to Grow your Skills as a Quilter

    This is a post that I’ve wanted to share for a while. I’ve got 10 FREE patterns to grow your skills as a quilter.

    Why am I itching to share this with you? Because the #1 thing I hear people tell me when I talk about quilting is “I love it, but I could never create something like that… its way above my skill level.” or “I can barely even sew on a button… I could never make a quilt!

    Just stop it. Stop it right now.

    We’ve all been there before… staring at an intricate and beautiful quilt… suddenly feeling less than worthy of ever creating anything that can come anywhere close to the greatness of the quilt that lies in front of us. I’m here to tell you that you totally can!

    With the quilt show coming up this week (eeeeee! I’m so excited!) I need to share this. I’ve watched the girls that I admire and think are some part quilt wizards stare in awe of another quilter. We’re all huge fans of each other’s works.

    But we all started somewhere…

    …and then one day we decided to put in the work to learn more.

    Now, I make no promises that your very next quilt is going to be on display at the Smithsonian museum one day… but I can promise that you’ll grow your infinite number of skills as a quilter just a little bit more. Soon, you’ll find yourself a little bit better and better with each quilt you make!

    It’s amazing and so so so satisfying.

    Looking to grow your quilting skills but don't know where to start? These 10 FREE patterns are the perfect place to begin. Also includes tips on how to get started and the best way to improve your skills

    Ok, no more talk, let’s get on to the 10 FREE Patterns to Grow your Skills as a Quilter!

    I’ve pulled together 10 FREE Patterns from my favorite stash (patterns that I have designed myself [because yes] and patterns designed by other quilters) that I have used to grow my own skills.

    First, ask yourself a few questions…

    What is it that inspires you right now? Right this very second? Is it a piece of fabric that you want to feature in a quilt? Is it a quilt you saw on Pinterest or are you suddenly obsessed with (but still intimidated by) triangles?

    I know I’m not a rocket scientist here, but pick something that leans heavily toward what you’re really into right now. You won’t want to work on something that doesn’t get you all excited. And if you get frustrated, well you can just kiss it goodbye. Trust me.

    Choose something that when you’re finished you know it’ll be front and center in your home and be your favorite snuggle cover in the house! (at least until you make the next one 😉 )

    Then, kick it up just a bit and choose something that scares you… just a little bit. Something just slightly out of your comfort zone.

    10 FREE Patterns to Grow your Skills as a Quilter!

    If you want to work on your very beginner skills, check out the first few patterns… If you’ve been quilting for a little while, check out the rest of the list.

    This super colorful quilt pattern is a free download! Windy Days by

    1. Windy Days Quilt Pattern – This one is designed by yours truly, and I LOVE the way this one comes together! It is seriously so fun and easy. There are some HST (half square triangles) involved, but don’t let that scare you! There are no tears involved. I promise.

    The Stack and Wack Quilt Method is a method that doesn't require precise piecing and allows for whimsy to take place. Check out this FREE tutorial and see how easy it is to make your own Stack and Wack quilt!

    2) The Stack and Wack Pattern – Seriously. It doesn’t get easier than this. Focus on getting those blocks and those sharp corners to line up properly and get those quarter inch seams to perfection!

    3) Rainbow Strip and Flip Pattern – Yes, It is simple but its also classy and if you’re just starting in the quilting world… do a few of these before you move on to the bigger stuff. Work on perfecting your sewing and your seams. Be meticulous with your cutting and parallel lines.

    4) Fresh Diamonds – It is time to get those crisp pointy corners! Work with your seam allowances and get it right. If its not right when you sew it… use your seam ripper and do it again. Learn to perfect as you create.

    5) Pineapple Quilt – This one is going to help you with piecing. Work on getting it just perfect and then do it again. And again. A lot of little steps and block lead to one big beautiful quilt top! I love how summery and happy this one feels!

    6) Bravo Indigo Quilt – I love this quilt. It turns out so impressive and lovely! Work on keeping those lines perfectly parallel and your corners just perfect! You’ll be so pleased with the geometric results of this quilt!

    7) Foundation Paper Piecing – Yep. This is totally something you could (and should) jump into to master. Oh, those lovely perfect intricate shapes give you such a feeling of accomplishment and look so impressive. I like that this blog links to 11 different free patterns you can print yourself to practice on.

    8) Art Gallery Fabrics Collection of FREE Patterns – Seriously, do you just need something to light that fire in you and make you go “WOW!” ? This is it. Browse it and take a look… You’ll love it and are sure to find soemthing that will keep you hooked and interested to finish your next quilt asap!

    9) Hexagons – Ever wondered just HOW they do those seams? Isn’t it hard?… nope. This tutorial is really great and has LOTS of pictures!

    10) Triangles – I’ll be the first to admit these scared me when I first started quilting. I wouldn’t honestly avoid them at all costs and say… Nope. I’m more of a square kind of girl… Yeah, no I’m not. I love triangles, and something about overcoming that silly fear still makes me happy sewing triangles now.

    Don’t forget to PIN this image so you can come back to this article when you need some ideas!

    Looking to grow your quilting skills but don't know where to start? These 10 FREE patterns are the perfect place to begin. Also includes tips on how to get started and the best way to improve your skills

    There you have it… what do you say? Are you ready to step out of that comfortable circle you keep yourself in and explore something else in the quilting world?

    What is it that you would love to try to learn but are too afraid to dive in?

    If you ever have any questions, you’re welcome to contact me. I’m happy to help in any way that I can. 🙂

    Happy sewing!

  • 4 Important Things to Include When You Gift A Quilt

    Quilts are wonderful gifts, aren’t they? It is a gift that keeps on giving through chilly nights and can be passed down from generation to generation to show more and more love. There are four Important Things to Include When You Gift A Quilt! (don’t skip #4, ok?)

    Don't forget these 4 things when you gift a quilt! They're easy and add just a little extra special-ness!

    Most people don’t know of the behind the scenes work that goes into making a quilt… waiting for the moment of inspiration to hit, the planning, finding the perfect pattern, the shopping for the fabric, the time it takes to piece, rip apart, piece again, trim, quilt, bind, etc. etc etc. And it goes on and on.

    Us quilters, we get it. It is a literal work of blood sweat and tears on every project…

    What keeps us coming back again and again?…

    We love it.

    I may utter some different phrases while I’m holding my seam ripper for the 1000th time, but I love it. Taking scraps and pieces of string and making into something beautiful…

    4 Important Things to Include When You Gift A Quilt

      1. A Quilt Label

        It can be as complex as a custom embroidered label or as simple as a printed label.

        The Stack and Wack Quilt Method is a method that doesn't require precise piecing and allows for whimsy to take place. Check out this FREE tutorial and see how easy it is to make your own Stack and Wack quilt!
        This is an example from one of my quilts.

        Before I was able to embroider my own labels, I put one of these on each of my quilts. I purchased them from an Etsy shop. You can find labels of all sizes and shapes that are easy to order and personalize.
        Don't forget these 5 things when you gift a quilt! They're easy and add just a little extra special-ness!
        I found these cute labels on Amazon that were a good buy and were so cute! I’ll be ordering these as soon as I go through my etsy stash!

    2. A Key or short explanation & Quilt Care Instructions

    If this is a quilt that you’ve added special touches to you need to write it down. Even if the person receiving the quilt isn’t the sentimental type, this quilt is a part of you and no doubt you’ve made several choices that affected the outcome of the final piece.

    A lot of people will see just a quilt. But you will see 1,000 decisions made one by one.

    If you chose the rose-colored border because it reminds you of the flowers your grandmother grew in her garden, you should tell her.

    If a quilt is made from scraps and pieces from various pieces of clothing, document it! There are stories for quilts out there that have been lost with the generations before us because no one thought to tell them!

    Don’t be like them!

    You also have to include quilt care instructions with your quilt! I have seen so many quilts ruined in the wash simply because people didn’t know proper quilt care… and that is just not ok!

    I have created a FREE download that you can include with your quilts to solve this problem! It also includes a bonus Quilt History sheet as well!

    Fill out the quick form below and I’ll e-mail you a copy for FREE! 🙂

    3. A Gift Tag

    I have a free download to some really fun gift tags.

    This was created one day to not only to act as an icebreaker when people received a handmade gift from me but because they made me laugh. I constantly go through this cycle of creating gifts with my hands that aren’t always easy to create, and you know what?… sometimes I would just like it to be acknowledged.

    That is all. You’re welcome to use them too because I like to share! 🙂

    These sassy printable gift tags are available for FREE download! Perfect for use on every single gift DIY gift!

    Click Here to Get Access to the FREE (truly honest) gift tags

    Edit: Because my sassy gift labels have been such a huge hit, I created a few more downloadable printables! There is another pretty file just for us crafty creatives with 3 pages of fun labels as well as a Christmas themed file too! I also included a “care” tag so your recipient will know how to take care of their newly sewn quilt/gift when the time comes… thanks to a suggestion from another one of my lovely readers! Thank you!

    Add a little spice to your Crafty/DIY gifts this year with this instant download that you can print at home! 12 different designs and a whole lot of Christmas fun! USE CODE: HOLLY FOR 25% off!

    4. Remember to take Photos!

    Make sure that you take photos of the quilt before you gift it – Last but not least… This is for your own records.

    I promise you, as tough as this quilt was to make and no matter how much you think you’ll never forget it… take photos. Take lots of photos.

    * Quilt folded nicely
    * The quilt front and back in its entirety
    * A “beauty shot” of it nicely thrown over a pretty chair
    * At least one picture with you and the giftee and the quilt, if you can.
    Years down the road you’ll be so glad that you did!

    If you remember to check off these 4 things to do when you gift a quilt you will have years of your work documented. You will be so happy you have left your legacy of little quilts as best as you possibly can!

    Now, go make some more beautiful things! <3

  • 8 Tips for Quilting on a Budget

    If anyone else tells you that Quilting is cheap… they obviously live on a delirious pink fluffy cloud away from reality… or maybe they just don’t know any better. The truth is that quilting can get expensive real quick… even for the most money-conscious crafter. Here are my tips for quilting on a budget.

    8 Tips for Quilting on a Budget

    I began quilting when my babies were little bitty. I always loved sewing and somehow in my sleep deprived mommy-ness state, I decided I needed to leave a legacy of quilts for these two precious monsters. I haven’t looked back since 🙂

    (At the time) I thought sewing things myself would also save our itty bitty budget. – Nope. Not always the case. I learned to mend and fix things myself, but when you want to create a big beautiful quilt… you can’t even begin to compete with Target’s prices.

    Quilting is NOT a cheap hobby, but it doesn’t have to break the bank either!

    These 8 Tips are things that I try to keep in mind when selecting fabrics and planning for my quilts.

    1. When shopping for fabric and materials online, bring a buddy!

    When you shop online, a lot of stores will have a “spend ____ to get free shipping!” coupon code. If you only need a little fabric, it can be tempting to hit that minimum order just to save a few bucks. *hint* It’s not really saving any money.  You can also split minimum yardage cuts if you have similar tastes with your friend! A lot of online stores require a half yard minimum cut. Split it in two, and you can each have a fat quarter and save a little money. Win-win.

    2. Speaking of Fat Quarters…

    I know… I’m guilty of hoarding these cute little-folded bundles of fabric myself. They’re so cute and seem like they have endless uses according to Pinterest. What harm can one more little $3.50 fat quarter do?

    For one, at $3.50 each a fat quarter, a full yard would cost $14! Ask yourself if that fabric is worth that cost? Even at $3.00/Fat Quarter, you’re looking at $12/Yard. You may very well be getting a steal on a good fabric, but just check to make sure you’re not the one paying more than its worth.

    The big chain stores will often have sales on fat quarters. I’ve purchased them for as little as $1. Granted, it isn’t the highest quality of fabric, but in small pieces, it is a perfect stash builder or a scrappy quilt.

    Online stores like Hawthorne Threads generally have non-organic quilting cotton priced at $10 per yard, and Etsy sellers are sometimes even cheaper.

    If you’re buying a Fat Quarter bundle or fat quarter bundle, expect to pay no more than $2.70 per Fat quarter.

    3. Save all your scraps! 

    If it’s bigger than a postage stamp, save it.  You don’t have to get all obsessive about it, but you’re welcome to as a lot of people I know are! It forces you to get creative and can make for some super fun projects!

    You’re also being less wasteful and not throwing away money.

    I’m going to write a post very soon about ways you can use up your scraps (even when you’re sick of looking at them)

    4. Make your bindings scrappy!

    I love the look of an amazing scrappy binding! I like to use 2.5″ wide scraps to make my binding. You can make the pieces as big or as little as you like or have scraps for. If you make a jelly roll quilt and have some left over… coordinating binding strips with your quilt is amazingly beautiful! Even if it is only a small portion of the binding and not the full binding.

    Batting scraps is another thing you should save! You can easily zig-zag them together on your sewing machine to make a larger piece. Just very slightly (like a 1/2″) overlap your pieces of batting and set your zig-zag stitch to it’s widest setting, and sew. When your quilt is done, you will never be able to tell the difference.

    I also save my larger batting scraps and sew them together to make the size of a baby-crib quilt. Absolutely NO ONE notices it, and I’ve saved myself a good bit of Money just by using a bit of pieces that I happened to have laying around.

    5. Ask your friends for their Trash!

    No, really… quilt room only, please. Different people have different ideas of what constitutes a “scrap” of fabric. I’ve seen people throw away good fabric just because they’re sick of looking at it and don’t want it in another quilt project. Um Hello? One woman’s scrap fabric is another woman’s golden find! If you have friends like this, ask them to save their scraps for you. You can also save your scraps and do a swap when the bag gets full. My friends seem to be more than happy to give me their garbage fabric!

    6. Never pay full price for quilt backs!

    You can read the post I wrote on The smart way to fabric shop and get my tips for shopping for cheap fabric! I usually find fabrics for around $2/ yard and stock up! These are my backing fabric.

    $2 a Yard on Fabric? - Is this for real?! WOW! These 6 tips are an awesome game changer in the fabric store!

    I also like to piece the back of my quilts. I think it adds interest and another layer of personalized design.

    This goes against what my brain tells me every single time I quilt, but the back of the quilt does not HAVE to be as pretty as the front!

    It depends on the use of the quilt, but I have even used something as simple as an old bed sheet! Shhh! It was really soft cotton, and no one knew it but me… well, now you do too, but it’ll be our secret, right? Just about anything can work if you’re desperate.

    7. Buy basic materials in bulk!

    I used to buy packaged batting already cut to manageable sizes… but it is like buying the pre-cut watermelon at the grocery store. You know you’re paying a premium price for it.

    It makes much more sense to buy in bulk at a good price (if you know you’re going to use it!). I found this batting on Amazon. Hello, free Prime shipping! A friend and I split the whole roll between us and I’ve loved having it here and ready for whatever size I need it at! If you are worried about storage, this roll lives behind my bedroom closet door, not in my sewing room. It’s in no ones way.



    Jo-Ann’s also has sales on batting too. You can order from their website and stacked it with a free shipping coupon.

    Another note: THREAD!

    I can’t tell you how many times I would run completely OUT of basic white or black thread and have to use a funky color in its place because I was sewing and didn’t want to stop to run to the store. I now buy my basic color threads in cones from Amazon and wind my own bobbins from it as well. It’s a busy quilter lifesaver!


    8. Be a pattern tester!

    Seriously. Just exchange your thoughts and honest review! Do you know anyone who designs quilt patterns? *ahem* Offer to be a pattern tester. *ahem!* It’s a win-win. You get a free pattern, and you can help your friend make sure it’s perfect.

    *Did you catch my subtle hints?* I can totally be your hook up for this one! I’m always open to new reviewers as I grow my own collection of patterns. Sign up to be one of my BetaStar Tester Group. It’s FREE, and I promise lots of goodies for you too 🙂


    The hardest but most important tip for Quilting on a budget is this:


    It is so easy to get distracted by the new shiny fun gadgets on the market right now. There are whole store aisles dedicated to sewing and quilting notions. All these things promise you a quilting life of ease, but really… you can do just fine without them!

    I have some fancy notions and fun tools… some I hardly ever even touch. I mostly stick to my good quality basic tools, and those have lasted me years through quilting.

    If you need to upgrade or you’re looking some better quality tools… invest in a product that will last.

    If you’re really determined to stick to that budget, avoid buying the latest and greatest of everything!

    These are the basic tools that I can’t live without:

    I could go on and on and on about ways to save money in the sewing room… In fact…

    I even wrote a post on cheap sewing room storage (one of my most popular posts) if you need storage ideas. And also Cheap Scrap Fabric Storage ideas! Both of these posts are full of ideas!

    Quilting on a budget is totally feasible. Generations before us couldn’t even rub two pennies together and somehow managed to make it work… you totally can too.

    Feel free to add anything to the comments that I missed. I’d love to hear your suggestions!

  • What is the Quilter’s Code?

    Did you know that we quilters and sewists alike have our own language? When I first started quilting, I had no idea what all the short-hand and code words were… It felt like I was reading some cryptic message. I muddled my way through because wasn’t about to risk looking like I had no idea what I was doing by asking silly questions! Lucky for you, you have me. And today we’re going to answer “What is the quilter’s code?”

    Be sure to also check out my list of 8 Sewing Skills Every Quilter Should Know too!

    Do you know all the terms that the professional quilters use? Check this list out and see where you stand. Pin it for later so you can refer back to this extensive list.

    There are so many words, phrases, and acronyms that might make you want to crumple up your sewing pattern and be done with it. Really? Why all the jargon? Why can’t it just explain things clearly?

    I’m here to break things down for you.

    This group of terminology is going to be so useful as you grow your skills as a quilter.

    I’ve put together every single set of shorthand and abbreviation that I’ve come across as a quilter so you can be informed and knowledgeable and ready to KILL IT in the sewing room!

    **Be sure to pin this post using one of my images so you can refer back to it when you run across something that puzzles you.**

    [Did I miss something crucial? Or a tiny detail? Let me know by emailing me here.]

    What is sewing terminology?

    Sewing terminology just that. It is our own little language of terms and phrases used within the sewing world.

    I have a video below with some of the most popular terminologies. Keep reading the list below to see more quilter talk!

    What is the Quilter’s Code?

    Butter your biscuits! This is the code to all those funny words you may or may not skip over in an effort to understand the bigger picture when reading a quilting/sewing pattern.


    Anchor stitch:  A machine stitches sewn with zero stitch length, to keep from pulling out. It holds the rest of your stitches in place. This term can also be used to refer to when you stitch backward for a couple of stitches, to anchor it. (also see back stitch)

    Appliqué: The process of stitching a piece of fabric to another piece of fabric by sewing close to the edges of the shape. Typically cut into a fun shape and then fused in place and sewn around the edges of the shape.

    Appliqué scissors: Also known as duckbill scissors, one blade is wide for safe trimming around edges.


    Back Stitch: (also see anchor stitch) The process of stitching backward over the loose threads at the beginning of a project to secure the threads so they don’t come loose and the fabric pieces come apart. This needs to be done whenever the thread is broken, or you are about to break it.

    Baste: The technique of machine stitching with a long stitch length to temporarily hold two pieces of fabric together before they are stitched together permanently. A backstitch or a knot is not used in case the threads need to be pulled out and removed. AKA, a temporary stitch.

    Bias: A woven fabric does not have a stretch across the grain line from left to right, and up and down. There is no stretch in the grain. However, diagonally across the grain is the bias, where the fabric will give a bit, which is why making garments “on the bias” or “cross-grain” give a woven a nice drape.

    Bias Tape: Pre-made strips of fabric in various sizes that are cut diagonally across the grain to give the fabric some movement so it will turn curves nicely.

    Binding: In quilting, it is the use of a thin strip of fabric (similar to bias tape, but not necessarily cut on the bias) to hide the edges of the raw quilt edges to give a nice finish. This is usually the last step to finishing a quilt.

    Blanket Stitch: Handstitch used for finishing a fabric edge.

    Bobbin: The thread that comes up from the bottom and meets the thread from the spool to form the stitch. Bobbins need to be wound up and inserted properly into a sewing machine.

    Bumblebunching: AKA that ” oh what the &^#*!?” moment when you see the annoying tangled loop of stitching on the bobbin side of the fabric. It is a result of improper tension applied to the sewing machine.

    Buttonhole: A small cut in the fabric that is bound with small stitching. The hole has to be just big enough to allow a button to pass through it and remain in place.


    Clipping Corners: The process of snipping of the triangular piece of seam allowance off of the corner of a seam to prevent bulk in the corner when turned inside out.

    Clipping Curves: The process of removing triangular pieces of fabric to allow the seam to lay flat along a curve when turned inside out. In an opposite curve, small slits can also be made around the curve, so it is allowed to spread apart when turned inside out. Also known as notching.

    Crosswise Grain: The threads of woven fabric that run across the grain of the fabric, which runs the length of the bolt. The crosswise grain runs from selvage to selvage. Crosswise grain also runs the width of fabric, salvage to salvage.

    Cutting mat: A self-healing board used for cutting fabric on. They are often marked with measuring grids.


    Darning: A technique used by “scribbling” the needle over a torn section of fabric or a hole to repair. This requires a darning foot so the feed dogs will not direct the fabric.

    Darning foot: A presser foot with a circular opening that doesn’t clamp down over the fabric and is used with dropped feed dogs for free-motion stitching or mending

    Darts: A wedge-shaped piece of folded fabric used to shape garments to lay on the body where it tapers.

    Double-needle: 2 machine needles attached to a single shaft, that sews two parallel rows of stitches at once with two spools of thread and a single bobbin.

    Drape: The fluid way that a quilt hangs and folds over surfaces when snuggled.


    Ease: Distributing the fabric on a curve evenly to join to another curve (usually going in the opposite direction) to get a good fit. Commonly used in sleeves.

    Edge Stitch: The process of stitching on the exterior side of a project near a fold or seamed edge to keep them in place. Also can be known as Top Stitching if done away from an edge.

    Embroidery: A hand-sewing technique used to decorate fabric with needlework designs in brightly colored threads. Can also be done on a pre-programmed sewing machine.


    Facing: The fabric used to finish the raw edges of a garment such as the necklines, armholes, and waistlines. This is used to make the finished edge look nice and lay flat.

    Fade-out pen: A fabric pen with ink that disappears 12 to 24 hours after marking. (mine is purple!)

    Feed Dogs: The feet that move the fabric under the presser foot of the sewing machines that control the length of the stitch.

    Finger Press: The heat and force of your fingertips can easily put a crease in the fabric without using an iron.

    Free-motion embroidery: Hand-guided stitching with dropped feed dogs on hooped fabric.

    Free-Motion Quilting: The use of a darning foot to eliminate the feed-dogs (the feet that move the fabric) so you can move the fabric freely under the needle and effectively “draw” on the fabric with the thread in whatever shape comes to mind.

    Fusible: Fabric that has heat-sensitive adhesive on one side that enables it to bind to another fabric.

    Fusible basting tape: A temporary adhesive tape that permanently fuses.

    Fusible interfacing tape: Available in a variety of narrow widths, this tape heat fuses to fabric to stabilize a seam or edge.


    Grading: A process of trimming the seam allowance to reduce bulk in the seams.

    Grain: The lengthwise grain of threads running through a woven fabric.

    Grosgrain ribbon: Characterized by woven ridges, grosgrain ribbon is very stable and comes in many widths. This is a really fun texture to add to baby quilts to give baby something to play with that is sturdy and withstand lots of touching.


    Hand: A term used to the feel and texture of the fabric. “This fabric has a nice hand to it.”

    Hem: The act of finishing the bottom of the fabric to finish it, so no raw edges are seen.


    Interfacing: The term for a variety of materials that are used on the wrong side (either fused or sewn in) of fabric to give it more stability or loft or whatever the desired effect may be.

    Interlining: A lining used on the back of the fabric, but sewn together with the fabric, so the two fabrics act as one during construction.


    Machine tension: Controlled by disks to apply drag to the machine thread. Adjust for the thread and fabric variances.

    Match point: A point marked on one pattern piece so it can be matched to a similar point on another pattern piece.

    Mini iron: a small iron, often with a wand-like handle, originally designed for pressing 1/4 inch quilt seam allowances. Check out my favorite mini iron!

    Miter: When two strips cross at right angles the line formed by connecting the inside and outside corners.

    Mitered bindings: When bindings meet at a 90-degree angle, and a 45-degree seam divides them causing a diagonal seam.

    Muslin: An inexpensive, normally un-dyed fabric used to create pattern pieces, or to test out a garment before using the more expensive permanent fabric.


    Nap: Some fabrics like velvet or velour have a pile, and the fibers don’t quite lay vertically, but in a particular direction. This is known as the nap. You can feel the nap if you run your hand back and forth across the fabric. The nap should run downwards in the project. You can see this on minky as well if you have a preference on how it looks when you run your hand across it.

    Notions: Small accessories used to aid in sewing: scissors, needles, thread, seam ripper, zippers, etc.


    Ombre: Closely related tones of color that graduate from light to dark

    On-grain: The same as grain, straight-of-grain, or warp threads. It is a line parallel to the selvage on fabric.

    Outline: The outline of a pattern is usually the cutting line unless it is marked as a fold line.

    Overlay: This refers to the top layer of fabric when there is a different one underneath.


    Patchwork: The art of sewing small pieces of fabric together to make a larger fabric or design, then usually quilted to be made into a quilt or bag or another project.

    Pattern: A template on paper or cardboard from which all of the pieces of the garment are traced onto fabric. All the parts are then cut out and assembled to create the final piece. A set of sewing instructions with sized templates used to assemble a sewn item.

    Piping: A trim of a fabric-wrapped cording inserted into a seam to embellish a garment or project. The cord is wrapped in bias tape so it will curve easily around all seams.

    Pocket: A rectangle of fabric inserted into a garment accessible from the finished outside edge of the garment to hold small items.

    Presser foot: A small piece of metal near the needle on the sewing machine. It is the function that keeps your fabric in place while you sew.

    Preshrink: Wash fabric before cutting or sewing.

    Pressing: Using an iron to press a seam nice and flat before sewing. A nicely pressed seam turns out much better when sewn than if the pressing is skipped.

    Pre-Wash: After fabric is purchased, it may be pre-washed if it is to be made into a garment or project that will be machine washed and dried. This way the fabric will be pre-shrunk, and the garment won’t shrink after it has been made up. Typical pre-wash is washed in cold water on gentle, and tumble dried on low. Then the finished garment can be treated this same way.


    Quilt: Coverlet or wall hanging made from small pieces of fabric sewn together in batted layers and topstitched, or the action of topstitching the quilt layers together.

    Quilting: A method of sewing (or tying) two layers of cloth together with an inner layer of batting between it. A Quilt is a finished blanket made by Quilting.


    Raw edge: The edge of the piece of fabric after it is cut but before it is hemmed. If left raw, the fabric might fray.

    Right Side: The “front” side of the fabric; usually the distinctly printed side of the fabric.

    Ruche: A pleated or gathered strip of fabric used to embellish a garment or project.

    Running stitch: A hand-sewn stitch that weaves in and out of the material. This creates a dashed line effect.


    Scrim: A term used in batting where a thin layer of polyester is added to the cotton to be needle punched into, this gives stability to your batting so it won’t break apart within your quilt, Scrim adds poly to your batting so it will no longer be 100% cotton.

    Seam: The line where two pieces of fabric are joined together by sewing them with thread.

    Seam finish: Any technique that finishes the raw edges of a seam.

    Seam Allowance: The small space of fabric between the raw edge and where the seam is sewn. Common seam allowances range from ¼ inch to as much as several inches. Woven fabric can fray, so the seam needs to be sewn away from the raw edge for security.

    Seam Ripper: A tool used for picking or ripping out sewing stitches. Read about my picks for the best Seam Rippers.

    Selvage: The edges of a raw fabric that runs along each edge with the grain of the fabric. The selvedge edge is the way commercial manufacturers finish the edges of the fabric, so it does not fray as it is sold.

    Serging: A method of looped threads over the raw edge of the fabric to finish the edge to prevent fraying.

    Slipstitch: used to join two folded edges or one folded edge to a flat surface, for an almost invisible stitch.

    Stitch-in-the-Ditch: A quilting term used to describe the method of stitching along existing seams in a patchwork piece or quilt top to quilt it together with the batting and backing.

    Straight stitch: A simple, straight stitched line.


    Tailor’s chalk: A piece of chalk used to mark fabric. Super helpful for ‘sketching’ ideas and stitch lines on your quilt without harming your actual fabric.

    Tension: The amount of “pinching” done to your thread as it flows through your sewing machine. Thicker fabrics need a higher tension (a harder pinch, so the thread doesn’t flow out too quickly), and thinner fabrics need less tension (a lesser pinch to let the thread out easily to prevent puckering).

    Thimble: A protective implement worn on the finger or thumb when sewing.

    Top Stitch: The process of stitching on the exterior side of a project to finish seams or folds to keep them in place. Usually paired with a longer stitch length which looks more professional and can make it easier to go in a straight line. Also can be known as Edge Stitching if it is done near a fold of fabric.

    Trim: A pre-made decorative accessory that can be sewn into your project and add just a little bit of flair or visual interest.

    Tulle: A fine netting commonly used for veils or gowns.


    UFO: Slang for “Un-finished object.”

    Under Stitch: Sewing a line of stitching along the seam allowance to the facing or lining to help keep it flat and prevent it from popping up and creating bulk under a seam. Very similar to stitching in the ditch.


    Walking foot: A presser foot that steps across the fabric instead of sliding to facilitate even feed.

    Wash away stabilizer- Provides support to fabric, then dissolves in water. It is especially useful when embroidering onto fabric.

    WIP: slang for “Work in progress.”

    Whiskers- Tiny, frayed threads from raw seam edges.

    WOF: Width of fabric. Salvage to salvage. You will find this abbreviation in many patterns.

    Wrong Side: The “back” side of the fabric; usually the opposite side of a distinctly printed fabric.


    Yardage: A term for an undefined length of fabric.


    Zigzag stitch: A zigzag stitch is a literal stitch made with a zigzag pattern. Often used to sew along raw edges to prevent them from fraying.

    Zipper foot: An attachment for a sewing machine that is designed for installing zippers.

    Zipper teeth: Can be metal, plastic, or nylon coils each “tooth” contains the locking mechanism that holds the zipper together.

    Whew! I wasn’t kidding when I said I wanted to give you a full glossary of answers to the question “What is the Quilter’s Code?” and there you have it!

    So… did you pass the test? Did you learn something new? Let me know in the comments how you measure up!

    If you knew far less than you thought you did, no worries… it takes experience and a lot of projects to work up to a fluent vocabulary this size!

    Happy Sewing! Keep learning, Keep reaching and keep lighting the fire to your curiosity! There are beautiful things out there to be made!

    Do you know all the terms that the professional quilters use? Check this list out and see where you stand. Pin it for later so you can refer back to this extensive list.