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.

  • DIY Binding Hack

    Hello, my sewing friends! I’m going to share with you today this DIY binding hack that I touched on in my previous post, but I’m going to go into a little more detail today. I guarantee you have everything you need for this easy hack in your house, right now.

    So I recently attached the binding to one of my favorite quilts. It is rather large, but not ginormous. I call it a double throw quilt size.

    Looking for a fun quilt pattern that sews up in a day? Check out the Waterfalls Quilt Pattern! I have made this one several times and I love it every time!

    The Waterfalls Pattern is now released so you can create your very own! Click here to visit my shop.

    It is just big enough for my husband and me to share on the couch, and no one has to worry about getting the short end of the blanket. No World War III is happening over people who tend to hog the blanket. (I’m guilty. I like to be cozy)

    So generally with more extended bindings, I just put up with the long tangle of binding that usually weaves its way between my legs and around my feet on the floor while I’m attaching it. It’s only for a short period of time and only on a few occasions has it somehow tied itself into a knot. (um how does it do that?)

    It is totally doable for short periods of time, but with as much binding as I was working with… there had to be another way.

    I first turned to my two favorite shopping loves. Amazon And Pinterest. There are products out there that I will be happy to share thoughts on in just a bit… but I needed something now. (Impatient DIYer – The story of my life)

    So I wound my fabric up nice and neat, like so:

    My husband has a bit of a Macgyver gene in him. He rocks. So we invented a quick DIY to take out the mess of long bindings.

    The DIY Version

    I found my trusty Screw Driver… Can you see? It’s pink! 🙂 — You could also use a dowel or a pencil or a thread stand. Anything that will fit up the center of the binding roll.

    I tucked the screwdriver into a drawer next to where I sew and made sure the binding wasn’t going to get caught up on anything.

    These stacking basket drawers are from Ikea, in case you were wondering. The desktop is the Linmon Line. Simple, easy to clean and a great versatile storage system!

    This drawer system sits only about 2 feet from my sewing machine.

    Next, I just brought the binding tail up to my quilt and marveled in the non-tangling way that is simply unwound itself while I was sewing.

    No more spaghetti noodles of binding on the floor! Happy Sewing Mamma, right here!

    You could also find a way to attach it somewhere on your sewing table or on top of your sewing machine. The drawer just seemed convenient for me at the time. It does its job.

    Products that are not DIY

    If you prefer to have little trinkets and fun sewing notions… these little babies are a precious addition to your sewing room!

    Just look at how adorable these are! Introduced not too long ago, these little babies have taken the quilt market by storm! I mean, how can anyone resist such a cute little helper in the sewing room?

    Medium-sized Binding Babies. You can also order customized Binding Babies or Buddies (the male version), choosing different hairstyles, clothing, and skin color.
    Photos courtesy of Doohikey Designs

    Same idea, just way cuter than my screw driver! 🙂

    This super easy DIY has saved my binding tangles as I sew. It's such a simple thing to do. I can't believe I haven't thought to do it before!

    What is your favorite hack in the sewing room where you totally had a moment of genius and had a DIY moment of inspiration?

  • Time-Saving Sewing Advice

    Between the kids, the housework, the planning, and the scheduling… it doesn’t seem like there are many hours left in the day to sew or be creative. It is one of my on-going challenges to make sure that at the end of the day I still have at least a few minutes to fill back up my own cup.  No time to be fussing about. I try to stick to these time-saving sewing advice rules to keep me focused and productive!

    So when I get a few minutes to sew, it’s game time.

    Time-Saving Sewing Advice

    It’s like motherhood… You look back on the days before you had a house full of kids (or even just one kid!) and you wonder what you did with all the time in your days? I swear I’m 10x more productive as a mom because I know the real value of my time now.

    Time is short, sister, and you have to make the most of it… especially when its nap time, am I right?

    When you only have very short amounts of time to work, you learn to work fast.

    Trick #1 – Use the right tools

    (I’ve said this a lot.) You will be more productive when you use the right tools for the job. If it takes you saving leftover change in a jar and asking for sewing tools for your birthday, so be it. It isn’t selfish. You wouldn’t expect an aspiring chef to just use a slotted spoon and 1 simple pot, would you? No.

    When sewing, using a basic ruler and a pair of scissors is not only tricky, but it also puts you at risk later if you’re not entirely accurate. Your whole project will be off leaving you frustrated and more likely to toss the entire project down the stairs… which I may or may not have been guilty of in the past. You can check out my 5 Essential Quilting Rulers and why you need them to get your wish list started!

    Also on this list of essential tools should be a rotary cutter, a cutting mat, pins, and magic clips.

    You should also catch up on this guide that I wrote for 13 Must have tools in the sewing room. Do you have them all?

    Overwhelmed with the sheer amount of accessories you can have in the sewing room? - Read this list for the top 13 Must-Haves in the sewing room!

    Trick #2 – If you can use a Clip instead of a pin, do it.

    Why are we having this conversation? I see quilters and sewists who swear by their pins and never ever will stray from their routine practices. I love my pins, I do. And they certainly have their place in the sewing room. You can read about the most popular pins for quilters. But the day I discovered these magic clips, a lightbulb went off, and I never looked at my pins the same again. I never have to worry about pin pricks or pokes, and I find that the clips actually hold the fabric in place just as well or better than the pins do. Especially when working with quilt binding or piping.

    No worries about lost pins means more peace of mind. Also, my son likes to play with the clips like baby alligators… so bonus for him too I guess.

    Overwhelmed with the sheer amount of accessories you can have in the sewing room? - Read this list for the top 13 Must-Haves in the sewing room!

     

    Trick #3 – Take one day to really get organized

    Complete chaos and/or lack of planning will be your sewing/crafting kryptonite. Wasting time looking for tools, looking for the perfect fabric, looking for empty bobbins… ugh. time wasted is time lost. Do not let your sewing space be in a complete state of disarray. Trust me: I have learned this from experience! It is an on-going struggle, but worth every bit.

    Take one day to save you countless hours! Take some time to purge, clean and organize your notions, tools and such so that the next time you sit down to sew, you can spend more time creating and less time hunting for all of your sewing tools. My post on Cheap Sewing Storage is one of my most popular posts and well worth the read to see what is worth your money and what isn’t.

    If you're looking for Cheap Sewing Room Storage Ideas, you'll find all my favorite picks here so you know what is worth the money and what isn't worth your time

    Trick #4 – Keep a log of your projects

    For Patterns:

    When I sew a pattern that I like, I always print out an extra copy to keep in a binder for future projects. Sometimes you need a project to be comfortable and familiar. Not every single quilt has to be a full on life lesson learning experience. When you need a quick sew, you can refer back to this binder instead of sifting through folders on your computer or through file cabinets of craft supplies etc.

    I have another binder for quilt patterns that I have purchased online.

    For Quilts:

    Many of the quilts that I have made have been given away as gifts and I have given up keeping track of how many or what quilt went where. I wish that I had started this from the beginning of my quilting, but I make sure that a quilt never leaves my room without getting documented now.

    Always take pictures of your quilts. It is fun to take a picture with who you gave the quilt to as well 🙂 Years down the road, you will have lots of fun memories and will be surprised at how many quilts gave you fits in the making turned out to be your favorites.

    Potential ideas:

    I find it easiest to store these on Pinterest. These are my “future” quilts. I maybe should be ashamed at the sheer amount I hope to finish in my lifetime, But I am not. Not in the least bit. And it grows more every single day!

    PS- You can follow me on Pinterest.

    Trick #5 – Cut first, organize, then sew

    This is a step that I am adamant about. Do things one step at a time and you will save your brain later.

    If you have a pattern, do all your cutting first. All of it. Cutting precise pieces is a repetitive motion. If you do a few and then sew and then decide to do the dishes and then go get the kids etc etc when you come back to your cutting table again, you’ll have to get out the instructions and re-train your brain. Even if it only takes a few minutes, it is still a step that you didn’t have to make.

    The one thing that I must stress with this method is you have to be crazy detailed with your organizing. A pile of pieces that are all cut to the specification will backfire on you if you have to sort through them and re-measure and play i-spy to find the right piece.

    You can use magic clips (see, they have a place EVERYWHERE) or pins to keep blocks together or pieces that are the same size together. I also have been known to use sticky notes to label everything. Make it so stupid simple that if you came back to your quilt in a few hours or a few months, you could pick right up where you left without any confusion whatsoever.

    When you finally get around to sewing, you’ve got everything you need, and you go just gooooooo!

    For more tips on managing your busy schedule, check out the Free Guide to quilting in the midst of an already busy life e-book download.

    Trick #6 – Only work on one project at a time

    Haha… just kidding. I mean, if you can do that, that is fantastic. The idea, in theory, is terrific. I get that this would be helpful as to not stretch yourself thin between multiple projects that require your time, but even I don’t have the willpower for that.

    Keep this Time-Saving Sewing Advice in mind, and you’ll be a production master in no time!

    These 7 tips to increase productivity in the sewing or quilting room will have you a productivity pro in no time. I love #3!

    Do you have any other ideas or tricks that you use to save time in the sewing room? Let me know in the comments!

  • 10 FREE Beginner Quilt Patterns That Every Quilter Needs

    You know the nights when you get the itch to sew but you don’t know what project to start next? Which quilt pattern should I use? Should I go with an old favorite or try something new? Do I even dare browse Etsy or Pinterest for something new to work on? What if I end up not liking it or worse, can’t do it? These 10 FREE Beginner Quilt Patterns that Every Quilter Needs is going to save your tail, my sweet sewing friends!

    These patterns are all either 1) I have tried it myself and loved it or 2) I have sewn something else of the designers and I loved his/her style.

    I know these designers. I know their style and the methods and the level of quilting knowledge you need to attempt these yourself. And complete full confidence can recommend them to you!

    Also, If you are in the market for Free Quilt patterns, I’ll send you my own favorite design if you sign up for my e-mail list! No spam or millions of e-mails, pinky promise!


    10 FREE Beginner Quilt Patterns That Every Quilter Needs

     

    Log Cabin Quilt Pattern

    There are a million different variations out there! I particularly like this version from Red Pepper Quilts because it is a great reminder that not everything has to be meticulously planned and strategically thought out. This one is a good mix of fun scrap fabrics.

    A Log Cabin pattern is made up of small squares and rectangles that get progressively longer as they spiral out to the finished size. It is said that this pattern first originated in the United States after the Civil War began.

    Image from RedPepperQuilts.com

    Here is another version of the Log Cabin Quilts. My Busy Momma, Busy Baby Playmat pattern! Designed using Jelly Rolls, this pattern comes together super fast and easy!

    Think you're too busy to quilt? The Busy Momma Busy Baby Playmat Pattern is game-changer. Seriously beautiful quilt that comes together fast and easy, all level friendly... and it is a FREE DOWNLOAD. Seriously. You don't want to miss this!

    You can download the Busy Momma, Busy Baby Quilt Pattern for FREE here.


    Garland Quilt Pattern by ALEXIA ABEGG with Cotton + Steel

    This one is easy! I love it so much! It is a really quick one when you want to show off your patterned fabrics too 🙂 You can see the Garland Quilt Pattern Here.

    Image from Garland Quilt Pattern

    Apricot Compote by Carina Gardner

    Do you love half square triangles? Oh, you do?! well well well! how about this beauty! If you are looking for a pattern that is easy and stress-free but you would like to perfect your corner matching. ta-da! I seriously did choose this pattern then I finally realized I could no longer be afraid of triangles and needing my points to match up! It sure is a pretty one that looks less traditional than a lot of HST quilts.

    Download the Apricot Compote here.

    Image from Apricot Compote Pattern

    Hello Love by Heather Bailey

    Note this is not for the novice beginner quilter. The pattern suggests an advanced beginner quilting level.

    How beautiful and full of love is this quilt?! oh, I could see so many possibilities with fabric choices and holiday prints!

    You can get this Free Hello Love Pattern Here.

    Image from Hello Love Pattern

    Picnic Quilt by Melody Miller

    I adore this quilt pattern. It is not near as complicated as it looks with all of those triangle points, I promise. You will be so pleased with yourself at the end of this one!

    You can find the Picnic Quilt Pattern Here.

    Image from Picnic Pattern

     


    Blooming Fields by Dana Willard

    Simple. Modern. classy and a beautiful way to show off your favorite fabrics!

    You can find Blooming Fields Pattern Here.

    Image from Blooming Fields Pattern

    Rainbow Tiles By Riley Blake

    Half Square Triangles (aka HST) are your friend. Learn to love them because you can create some beautiful patterns with them!

    This Rainbow Tiles Pattern is all sorts of predictable unpredictability. It is fun and fresh and so so simple if you keep your pieces right. I have seen this quilt in a simple monochrome version as well that was absolutely breathtaking!

    Image from Rainbow Tiles Pattern

    Sugartown by Art Gallery Fabric Studios

    This quilt may look a little more complicated than you are used to but I assure you it is beginner friendly and so much fun to play with fabrics!

    You can find this Sugartown Pattern here.

    Image from Sugartown Pattern

    Star Gazing by Soft Day Quilt Patterns

    This is a link to a Pattern from Craftsy. FYI, you can find tons of other patterns on their site. You can even join a membership program and have full access to learn just about any class you could dream of! I wrote a review on craftsy a little while back. You can click here to read my Craftsy review.

    As for this pattern. It is super simple! and it comes together super fast! Just 3 main fabrics to deal with and a stunning star design as the result? Yes, please!

    Click here to see this Star Gazing Pattern from Soft Day Quilt Patterns

    Image from Craftsy.com

    Fiesta Garden by Dana Willard

    (Another pattern from Dana Willard. I really love her patterns for their clean and crisp designs)

    If Sugartown is still too much out of your comfort zone, you can’t go wrong with Fiesta Garden! Its very simple but still makes for a stunning quilt!

    You can download the free Fiesta Garden Quilt Pattern here.

    Image from Fiesta Garden Pattern4

    This should get you well through most of your quilting projects 🙂 I hope you found this list useful and found some new quilt patterns to add to the workload pile!

    Let me know in the comments if you decide to make any of these or if I missed any of your favorite Freebie quilt patterns!

    Happy Sewing!

    These are the 10 FREE patterns that every quilter needs to have in their arsenal of patterns for when you just want a great pattern that isn't going to make you think really long and hard before quilting. I can't wait to sew each and every one of them! These are the 10 FREE patterns that every quilter needs to have in their arsenal of patterns for when you just want a great pattern that isn't going to make you think really long and hard before quilting. I can't wait to sew each and every one of them!

  • Cheap Sewing Room Storage

    If you’re looking for Cheap sewing room Storage Ideas, I have the perfect list for you! I compiled all my favorites into one place for you!

    But first, I need to get something off my chest today.

    Sewing is not a cheap hobby. Did you know? – I hate to be the one to tell you this, but if you think you’re actually going to save money by making your own clothes and quilts… you need to just stop and go to Target (or Walmart or a thrift shop). Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But its better you hear it up front from me than later from your bank account when you’re fully engrossed and past the point of no return.

    You aren’t making just “blankets”… you’re making a QUILT that has love and thought stitched into every single fiber. Every thread. Every decision from the beginning to the end. There is love.

    You don’t just pick blue fabric because you like the color blue… you spend time browsing through the fabric store and every shade of blue to find the perfect one.

    A particular star pattern fabric reminds you how you sang “twinkle twinkle little star” to your child every day when they were little and brings a smile to your face when you work it into their quilt.

    The orange thread? That’s the phase they went through in high school where everything was neon orange. Everything.

    Hours spent browsing through your magazines or Pinterest files for the perfect pattern? All worth it when you find it!

    Quilting involves the mind, the imagination, planning and carrying out projects hour after hour, picking out mistakes, curses mumbled under your breath and reworking a design until its absolutely perfect.

    You may be wondering if quilting is perhaps a little bit of insanity as well? – The answer is most likely yes, but most of all it is LOVE.

    If you think modern quilting is just some dainty art with fabric no one wanted that your grandmother used to do… you are so wrong.

    If you receive a quilt as a gift, love it. Use it. Pull it out on a chilly night with your favorite book and wrap yourself up in every loving stitch like a warm hug. That is exactly what the quilter would want you to do.

    –Rant over–


     

     

    My kids went back to school today, so I took myself on a little green tea and tapioca fueled field trip to my favorite shopping spots so I could scope out the best deals and ideas for you! But I also spent a little time doing this today too… It was lovely.

    Cheap Sewing Room Storage

    With what I said above in regards to sewing not being a cheap hobby, I meant it, but that doesn’t mean EVERYTHING has to cost you a pretty penny!

    Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, to learn more, click here.

    One of the biggest hassles with quilting is that you accumulate a bunch of stuff. For more info on the “stuff” you need. See the links below:

    13 Must-Have Tools in the Sewing Room + Pictures

    Quilt Shopping List

    Essential Quilting Rulers & Why you need them

     

     

    If you do not have a dedicated craft or sewing space/room, don’t sweat it. You can still be organized with cutely little containers and baskets that allow you to clean up in a jiffy. That’s actually how I rank all my storage habits being that my sewing space is actually in the formal dining area of my house and thus open to the rest of the house. Me and my mess in all its glory for everyone to see. Can I clean it up and out of sight quickly?

    I’ll give you the Target Pick and the Dollar Store Pick. Also, a disclaimer: My dollar store looked like a tornado hit it. Someone was cleaning house for back to school or something because …yikes. I did try to clean up a bit in a few of the pictures for you, but soon realized it was hopeless as the whole store was chaos. 

    If you're looking for Cheap Sewing Room Storage Ideas, you'll find all my favorite picks here so you know what is worth the money and what isn't worth your time

    These sewing baskets are great for your tool storage! They are usually found at the big box craft stores or on Amazon. They come in a plethora of adorable hard to resist cutesy fabrics! It’s great for hauling your tools around and keeping your things together in one nice little place.  You can tuck this little box in a corner or a closet and be ready to grab and go at any moment!

    Also, that is my dog. He name is Lizzie and she was rather tired of me working yesterday. Playing was a much more pressing task. 🙂

    WIP Project Storage Boxes

    (AKA – Work in Progress) There are also these boxes which I talked briefly about in this post. Scrap Fabric Storage! & What to do with them! I love them. It is the same method I use for my kid’s playroom organization. Leggos are quick to clean up if you can just throw them all into one bin and plop them on a shelf for easy access later. Really, do we ever actually grow up?

    If you're looking for Cheap Sewing Room Storage Ideas, you'll find all my favorite picks here so you know what is worth the money and what isn't worth your time

    Target Version: It is a simple shelf bin from Target. I paid $3 for it. It is pretty sturdy plastic. And in my favorite teal color! Right now you’re looking at my EPP projects. (That project will never end.) This is my WIP -work in progress- box. Sometimes I’ll switch it around, but it usually holds my projects until completion.

    Whenever I have to clean up my mess or move to a more pressing project, everything (EVERYTHING) goes into the box. It keeps everything together and in one place. Then I can pull it back out later that day or later that month and not have to hunt down a pattern or fabric swatches or what have you. It is all together and easily kept.

    Dollar Store Version: I found this one isn’t as… shall we say decorative?… as the target one, but hey, it’s a dollar. And if it is going in a closet where only you will see it… buy five of them 😀 It’s official name is a “dish bucket” (clearly they don’t see the potential that I do)

    Dollar Store Version #2: If you have a specific spot you’re looking to fit a basket, check these out. There are a ton of options. *Again, sorry for the mess in the store!* These can be used as drawer organizers, tool organizers or catch-alls for scraps. The biggest is about the size of a small bathroom trashcan.

    Dollar Store Version #3: These may be more seasonal with back to school and college dorm shopping etc, but my dollar store also has these nice fabric bins. Still $1 and a little more ‘farmhouse chic’ than a dish bucket. 🙂

    Amazon Picks for Medium Storage Solutions:


    Bigger Storage

    If you have the luxury of having more space to store all your supplies or your own craft space, you have to own some of these… and probably a lot of them because… I don’t know how, but a small side hobby can get out of hand rather quickly and before you know it, well, it just happens. There is no explaining… obsession and love settle in and here you are looking for sewing storage solutions. (no judgment. I gotcha!)

    These easy solutions will have your organized and happy in no time! (and you don't have to spend a lot of time or money!)

    Target Version: Your selection is by no means small. I mentioned these 3 stack drawers in my post here. Scrap Fabric Storage! & What to do with them! I still am so happy with these because they are perfect for my OCD brain that likes things in rainbow order.  These were about $15 each at the time of this post.

    I saw these fun colored version today that takes up a little less space (and is cheaper!) Under $10 each.

    There is also a huge assortment of plastic shoe box sizes that are great for storage as well. Again, all sizes… mix and match and find the one that calls out to you!

    Dollar Store Version: I can’t, in good faith, recommend anything for larger storage at the dollar store. You are free to make the judgment on your own, but I find that a lot of it is rather flimsy and while it’s only $1 right now, you’ll be replacing it down the road again. There are a few exceptions, I’m sure… but I’m not sure I would take the risk.

    Amazon Picks for Bigger Storage:


    Drawer organizers

    Silverware drawer organizers work great for these!

    Target Version: I found these in the Dollar spot for back to school, but they have these close to the office supplies too.

    Dollar Store Version: There are a ton of different options. Not all of them super cheap looking. I found this cute pink clear one that is perfect for pens and pencils as well as scissors. (I totally purchased this one, because …PINK!)

    Amazon Picks for Drawer Organizing:


    Itty Bitt Storage

    Target Version: I found these in the dollar spot section. They were $3… but I’ve seen them in the cosmetic section as well. Each drawer comes all the way out for easy access to whatever treasures you store inside.

    Dollar Store Version: These are a little bigger than a baby food jar, and made out of plastic with a tight fitting lid. I would guess its the perfect size for storing a modest button collection or safety pins, maybe needles? Anything itty bitty that needs containing.

    Bonus Mom Tip: Do you have a toddler that needs a little distraction? Grab an extra bag of these little containers and fill them with different items. Buttons, dice, feathers, dried noodles, jingle bells etc. They all make different noises and the child will love shaking them like crazy. If you’re careful and strategic with your toys, you can pull these out only when you’re sewing and sewing will become an enjoyable activity for the both of you!

    This cute fabric bin can be made in an hour and can be used all over the house! No extreme sewing skills required... its so easy!

    Make Your Own Storage Version: Check out this post. The Perfect Easy Catch the Mess Fabric Bin It is beginner friendly but you can easily add your own flair to it if you like and take it up a notch. I use these baskets for my little things like magic clips, stray thread catcher, tiny scraps… what have you. It works and its fun when I use my favorite fabrics. (Side note: my kids have several as well!)

    Amazon Picks for small storage:


    Keep it together

    These you can purchase at both Target and the Dollar Store.  Perfect for keeping bundles of fabric together!

    Also available on Amazon: If you don’t feel like going out today 🙂 Hello prime shipping, right?


    Pin Storage

    These are some of my favorite cheap sewing room storage finds 🙂 I also love to make these as gifts.  You can find the tutorial for the image below here The (Less than) 5 Minute Pin Cushion

    little details like this make all the difference in a sewing room with personality. which pins are the ones you simply MUST have on hand? Read here www.iseestarsquilting.com

    The Dollar Store Version: I love these because they are cheap (obviously). There is usually a large selection to choose from too… and even some with silly sayings.

    You don’t have to use a mug though! Feel free to experiment and play around with different cups or bowls. I think this one is an ice cream dish? but how cute would it be with the right fabric!

    Goodwill Version (or thrift store shops): I have actually found several really beautiful teacups that I have repurposed for this exact DIY. Part of the fun of this hunt is that you’ll never know what you’re going to find!

    If you don’t want to make your own, you can easily find so many cute ones that are already made for you out there! Check out some of these cute finds to dress up your sewing space and bring in a little happiness too!

    Pin Cushion Amazon Finds:


     

    One last thing that I saved for last because it is not a necessity, but man does it make it nice to store fabric! These thick pieces of cardstock paper are intended for keeping comic books uprights for storage (at least that is what Amazon says they are for) but they are perfect for wrapping your fabric on as mini-bolts. Everything is all the same size and easy to see when you line them up on a shelf!

    (Image)

    what is your favorite cheap storage finds? Where do you find your best budget finds? Let me know in the comments and do share your fun finds!

    If you're looking for Cheap Sewing Room Storage Ideas, you'll find all my favorite picks here so you know what is worth the money and what isn't worth your time

  • 8 Sewing Skills Every Quilter Should Know

    Are you a beginner quilter? Feeling overwhelmed with the sheer amount of knowledge out there that you have no clue about? Listen up. I’m going to tell you the 8 sewing skills every quilter should know.

    If you are looking towards improving your skill as a quilter or are a beginner quilter, you are going to love this post. Focus on learning these 8 skills and you’ll be an amazing quilter in no time!

    These are your standard sewing skills that every quilter should know. How many on this list can you say that you know really well? - Personally, I'm going to use this list to practice my skills from!

    There are affiliate links within this post. Please find my full disclosure here

    The 1/4 Inch Seam -aka- The Quarter Inch Seam

    A quarter inch seam isn’t exactly “law” in a quilter’s world, butit kind of is. You’ll want to brush up on this and practice it if you aren’t already. Quilters are known to use 1/4″ seam, always, unless otherwise mentioned in your pattern.  Clear as mud? Good. Let me explain a little further.

    The quarter inch seam may appear small, but keeping the seam allowance thin allows us to save fabrics! Everything on the inside of the quilt will remain unseen so we waste as little as possible.

    It also eliminates extra bulk behind the quilt top. Image if instead of the 1/4″ seam, you used a 1/2″ seam. Can you see the amount of extra fabric that would be behind the quilt top? When it comes time for quilting, you’ll have more areas of your quilt with multiple layers of fabric vs sticking with the 1/4″ seam.

    Is it REALLY important to have a precise 1/4″ seam?

    The quilting teacher in me screams “YES!” … but I also remember starting out with quilting and not having my ducks in a row yet and I was still so-freakin’-proud of my first several quilts, flaws and all. I believe I called myself a ‘free-spirited quilter’… which was code for, rules don’t apply, I do what I want. (And actually meant that I learned several things the hard way)

    However, the realist in me is going to give you this advice: Yes, in fact, 1/4″ seams DO matter BUT don’t let it yourself get caught up in all the strict rules if you are just starting out quilting. It is a skill that you acquire as you go, like so many others. Just keep it in the back of your mind and as you’re learning more about quilting, try your best to stay consistent with your seams.

    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

    In a simple all-squares grid-like quilt, it is not that necessary. As long as all the seams are pretty much the same size, you can still end up with a pretty good quilt at the end. Points will mostly match.

    In a more complex pattern, you’ll find that the seam allowance is key to making all your pieces line up correctly. A little give and take in the sewing and you’ll find yourself in a mess of mismatched points.

    For more help with the 1/4 inch seam check out this link:


    Save your Scraps!

    *This is not permission to be a hoarder. (Though your definition and my definition of the term may be different)

    When I first started quilting, I wouldn’t see the need for little pieces of fabric leftover from a project. I didn’t have the room to store things and I was more than happy to toss it. Then, I discovered “scrappy quilts”. Oh man, was I wrong to let go of so many pieces of fabric that had yet to live up to their full potential?

    A scrappy quilt is exactly what you think it is. It is made from scraps of fabric. A scrappy quilt can be intricate and detailed. It could be wild and completely improv sewing or it could be something that takes you years to sew just a tiny bit at a time. But what it is, is beauty in what otherwise would have no further purpose.

    As a DIY addict, I love that.

    And when money is tight or your husband questions why you HAVE to go to the fabric store because he just doesn’t understand… you can make everyone happy by digging through your leftover fabric and creating something out of nothing!

    For ideas on storing your scraps, check out this link:


    Learn to Play with Color and Patterns

    As a self-described free spirit and freelance designer, this comes easily to me, but I know it doesn’t for everyone.

    If you know that you love blues and cooler hues… quilt with it. Playing with what you love is going to make the job fun. But don’t be afraid to try something new if another fabric catches your eye. Keep things interesting by changing up your normal.

    Thinking about the colors before you begin cutting can play a big role in making sure a quilt stands out and is pleasing to the eye. The distribution of colors across a quilt can make a big difference.

    There are quilt programs out there for your computer so you can do everything digitally and print it out in fancy precision. I know several quilters who swear by it and love planning a quilt that way… personally, whenever inspiration strikes, I pull out my colored pencils and graph paper. Do not underestimate the contents of your child’s art drawer! They can be just as useful in envisioning your finished quilt.

    These are your standard sewing skills that every quilter should know. How many on this list can you say that you know really well? - Personally, I'm going to use this list to practice my skills from!

    For more information on working with colors for quilting, see the link below:


    Cutting Precise Pieces

    I know… there is THAT word again… ‘precise’. I get it. It’s like ropes and chains for all the free-spirited artists out there.

    I didn’t want to be the one to tell you, but if you will listen to me, I will tell you nicely… I’m going to be real with you and share that It took me a long time to learn this on my own because I didn’t listen to anyone else who told me… You’re just going to have to let it go and follow this rule. It doesn’t have to break your spirit! What will break your spirit is ignoring this and thinking you can end up with the same results as all the other more advanced quilters out there. 

    Ok, now back to precise cutting…

    Cutting the right size is the key to perfect piecing. There, I said it… Simple and straightforward. Maybe you’ll take my advice.

    Always measure twice before cutting. You don’t want to end up finding out beyond the point of no return that you’re working with incorrect pieces and THATS why things aren’t coming together right. It’s frustrating and usually a waste of time of money too.

    Use a rotary cutter and a cutting mat. It makes cutting fabrics so much easier and faster.

    Change your blade often to keep your cuts precise and sharp. If you have to go over it a few times to cut through your layers you risk the fabric shifting and being ‘almost precise’.

     


     

    Also, buy a blade that has a protective closure to maintain safety. Get into the habit of closing it after EVERY.SINGLE cut! NOT after every single project.

    Lesson time: I once knocked my rotary blade off of my cutting table and it hit the top my foot. It didn’t hurt. I barely noticed it in fact, but it did cut really deep and it bled like I would image a bullet wound would. That was not a fun moment. I’m so glad it was me and not one of my kids or the dog that was in the line of fire. The lesson is to be careful. ALWAYS. I have known friends who are missing sections of digits thanks to exacto and rotary blades. Safety first. (again) ALWAYS!

     

    Overwhelmed with the sheer amount of accessories you can have in the sewing room? - Read this list for the top 13 Must-Haves in the sewing room!


    Basting a Quilt

    This is a fun monster to tackle when you’re first growing your quilting skills.

    I love basting with a spray adhesive. But I also do baste with safety pins from time to time.

    I can’t decide for you what basting method that you are going to prefer, but it is really important to keep your quilt sandwich from shifting while you are stitching and keep the fabric as flat as possible.

     


    In the Anatomy of a Quilt Sandwich, your batting choice is very important!


    Quilting With A Walking Foot

    90% of sewing CAN be done with your standard sewing machine foot. No changes necessary.

    Sure, there are projects where the other 9,000 different sewing feet can come in handy, but absolutely NONE of them can do the job of quilting better than the walking foot.  have this walking foot, which is just kind of a generic one, but each machine company should have their own that was designed specifially for your machine.

    Sometimes you have a quick quilt that you’re making for a gift and you just need it done fast.  You can quilt by hand, but quilting by machine is beautiful in its own way and is something that I believe all quilters should know how to do.

    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 www.iseestarsquilting.com

    For more information on the Walking Foot, you can read this link:


    Square Up A Quilt

    This is tough to master when starting out because a lot of your skills as a quilter come from time spent at the machine and not from reading fun blog posts you come across on Pinterest. (you can follow me here though! I love to share fun tutorials and projects)

    Ouch, right?

    Sometimes a wonky quilt will leave you trimming more and more off leaving it smaller and smaller as you try to square up the final quilt.

    You know when you try to fold a fitted sheet and it just doesn’t want to be folded because there are no corners to line up? Your quilt will need those rigid corners to line up and look nice and neat. Sure, a wonky quilt will still be a good snuggle and will keep you warm on the coldest of nights, but it will never look nicely folded unless it is squared up properly!

    This means that the top and bottom are the exact same length and the left and right sides are the same length. Your corners are also 90 degrees and other cuts are level and straight.


    Quilt Binding

    To complete your quilt, you’ll need to add binding to hide any raw quilt sandwich edges. This also makes a nice frame for your quilt… your beautiful masterpiece of art!

    I like to do my binding completely by machine. I suggest learning this method first because honestly… it is faster and sometimes it’s just nice to get.things.finished! Once you get that down, you can try out different types of binding such as hand sewing which can give you a more precise look with a hidden stitch.

    For more tips on Binding, you can check out this link:

    No Fail Quilt Binding Formula


    To wrap things up…

    Taking time to master the skills in quilt making is going to make quilting so much more enjoyable for you in the long run!

    You have to practice… but don’t look at it as lessons and strict schoolwork.

    Make it fun! Go find some beautiful fun fabric and start making things for the people that are going to love everything you make, no matter what it is! Remember how your mom used to ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ over your crayon scribbled drawings? Not because you were a deep and soulful savant artist… she loved them because YOU made them for her!

    Make something for your kids. If you don’t have any kids, make some for a niece or nephew, a cousin or a friend’s kid. pick out fabric with something they love on it and I swear… you’re a golden hero. *gasp!* ‘you MADE that?’ “wow, I could never do that’ ‘I’m-totally-keeping-this-forever-and-ever-and-you-are-now-my-favorite-grown-up-of-all-time!’ (that was the kid in the last comment if you couldn’t tell, but I’ll be really proud and jump up and down in a really excited energy filled dance for you too if you want!)

    NO one is going to notice that your seams aren’t EXACTLY right. They won’t be able to tell that your angle is off or you mis-cut and had to improvise.

    My grandma has the quilt that I made for her on display in her house like a fancy art piece. no one is allowed to use it, which frankly defeats the purpose, but I love that she loves it so much to treat it with such care…. flaws and all, (which no one but me sees).

    I believe that practice is key in all skills, so just keep on quilting!

  • 13 Must-Have Tools in the Sewing Room + Pictures

    Do you find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tools and notions at the craft store? (or excited perhaps?) What do you choose that is really going to be useful in your sewing room? – This list of 13 Must-Have Tools in the Sewing Room will guide you to the ones you actually NEED and calm the sheer overwhelm!

    Must-Haves for the Sewing Room

    If you are new to sewing or a veteran looking to pick up a few new fancy tools to make your life a little more comfortable… I’ve got you covered!

    This post contains affiliate links to products I own, use and love.

    13 Must-Have Tools in the Sewing Room

      1. Sewing Machine

        Let’s just get this one out of the way first, because while you don’t HAVE to have one to sew, I believe you’ll be a much happier and more productive quilter when you do own one! It doesn’t have to be the most expensive model. There are tons of options out there for every price point.

        Personally, I’m in love with my Janome 3160QDC. I have had her for a few years, and we’re totally besties forever now. (PS – This Janome 4120 QDC is a newer version of my machine, and comes with all the bells and whistles/accessories just a little more money up front.)

        Must-Haves for the Sewing Room

        This Brother CS6000i on Amazon is a really great model for starting out. Less than $150 and includes a good quilting table and decorative stitches. It will grow with you for a long time before you feel any need to upgrade your machine.

      2. Iron

        Ugh. I have a love/hate with iron. I feel like such an old peasant woman slaving away in the hot sun every time I use them, but yet I’m also really impressed with the crisp, perfect smoothness of my fabric. I’m aware of the 2parallell feelings and still don’t understand how they coincide at the same time.

        This is my favorite little iron. I use it every single day. I actually wrote a whole post on it that you can read here. It is perfect for pressing open seams as you go… and its smaller size lessens accidental finger burns and steam scorches.

        The only iron you need in your sewing room
        Another iron that is absolutely loved and put on a golden pedestal by the quilting community is the Oliso Pro TG1600. This is the mac-daddy of all irons. It is a $170 workhorse. I do not own it (yet), but I have a friend who uses it, and I’m totally guilty of bringing a few yards of fabric over to her house to work on while we visit over coffee from time to time. — Good friend’s share their goodies!

        No matter which iron you select, be sure that it will quickly become one of the hardest working tools in your space. And if you’re wondering… Do you HAVE to press your seams when you sewI’ve got your questions covered.

      3. Rotary Cutter & Blades 

        When you first start sewing, I guarantee you’ll think you can do just fine with scissors and that tiny-pizza-wheel-of-potential-missing-fingers are not a priority for sewing tools. Wrong, my friend. Get the rotary cutter. Learn to use it properly. You will save precious time in the sewing room by being extremely precise and consistent the first time you cut, every single time. I use this one, and I’ve had it for several years now with no signs of wear and tear to it.

        Must-Haves for the Sewing Room

      4. Cutting Mat

        With a rotary cutter, you’ll need a proper cutting mat to not only protect any surface you cut on, but to protect the blades of your rotary cutter as well. There are so many on the market and in stores. I’ll recommend my two favorite ones.

        18″ x 24″ Self Healing Mat from Fiskars – It is a good size when you’re cutting larger pieces of fabric, but it also protects your work table if you’re working on smaller projects too. Very handy to keep around.

        This 14″ x 14″ rotating cutting mat from Fiskars is handy to have when you need to trim multiple sides of a piece and don’t wish to move the piece around.

        All it takes is one project with this mat, and you’ll be glad you have it!

      5. Cutting Ruler

        Yay! one of my favorite tools in the sewing room! I love the precise superpower that a good ruler can give you! My favorites are made by The Gadget Girls. I love the neon green and ‘glowing’ markings that make it really easy to align my fabric properly and make perfect cuts. Before you think you have to own 100 different ones… take a look at this post to see the Essential rulers and why you need them.

        Must-Haves for the Sewing Room

      6. Proper Lighting

        Face it… Once in a blue moon… we may get a day where we can sew all day with beautiful natural lighting and hours of uninterrupted sewing time… sweet bliss! My reality usually has me sewing just after the kids go to sleep in the late evening hours or random bits of kidnapped time here and there. I can’t rely on mother nature to give me proper lighting. The light on your machine isn’t meant to be the light source for your entire project. This little lamp is easy to bring out when you need it or fold it up and put it out of the way when you don’t. I also love the adjustable shade of lighting that it has!

        Must-Haves for the Sewing Room

      7. Scissors – Fabric & Paper

        I’m going to do my best impression of an old grandma and shake my pointer finger in your face for a moment. – Please DO NOT use your fabric scissors on your pattern paper! It’s a surefire way to dull your scissors and renter them less than worthy to perform the job you are asking of them! You should have at least two pairs of scissors in your sewing room. I always buy the cheapie scissors for my patterns and whatever else comes up in the craft room and save my good scissors for fabric ONLY.

        Must-Haves for the Sewing Room


      8. Scissor Magnet thingy

        Speaking of scissors, do not count this scissor magnet little gem out. It keeps your small embroidery scissors close at hand as well as your pins!

        Must-Haves for the Sewing Room

      9. A Comfy Chair

        If you’re going to be sitting for a while. You are going to need a comfy chair! I got mine from IKEA. You can see it at this link here. I love it. For lack of a better way to put it… the curve of the chair holds your rear end just so to make hours spent at the machine quite comfortable and at an affordable price too!

        Must-Haves for the Sewing Room

      10. Seam Ripper

        Buy yourself a good one at the beginning so you can look at your problems in the face and conquer them. This one is still my favorite seam ripper because I like the rubber “eraser tool” on the end, but I also love the one that my sweet hubby made for me too 😉 I go back and forth between the two. You can read more about seam rippers in this post that I wrote.

        Must-Haves for the Sewing Room

      11. Magic Clips

        From clipping your rows for quilting, to quilt binding … even something (safe) to distract a curious toddler for a few extra minutes of sewing, magic clips are a very useful tool in the sewing room when you don’t want to use straight pins.

        Must-Haves for the Sewing Room


      12. Tool Organization Method

        I’m a sucker for places like The Container Store that gives me the feeling of really having my life together because everything has a place and a place for everything. I’ve tried several different methods, and this is my favorite organizer for my essentials and quick grabs in the sewing room. It’s simple, but it works and is easily transported elsewhere if I need to move it. The bin I have cost less than $20 and is apparently not being sold anymore, but there are several others on Amazon with the same general purpose.

        Must-Haves for the Sewing Room


      13. Notions

        Lastly, the truth is, as you begin sewing you’ll need to acquire a few little things to make your craft a little easier along the way. You do NOT need to purchase the whole aisle of notions… just a few will give you happy quilting vibes. These are my favorites 🙂

        Must-Haves for the Sewing Room


    Good Luck out there. Remember you DO NOT NEED to buy everything at once. If you do, you will be overwhelmed and will likely give up before you even begin, right? Start with these 13 must-have tools in the sewing room and shoot for learning one new skill each quilting project. You will continue to grow and change in your skills, and your projects will show your growth as well.

    Do you have any “must-haves” that I’ve left off the list? What are your favorite tools in the sewing room? Make sure and tell me about it in the comments below.