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.

  • Fabric.com – The evolution of shopping online for fabric



    I’m such a fan of online shopping for everything. So why not shop online for fabric as well? Is it the same quality? How do you know you’re getting the right fabric?

    Fabric.com - The evolution of shopping for fabric

    I love shopping at the quilt shops and the local fabric stores. I like to waltz through to pick out my fabrics in person. Touching the fibers and feeling for fabric quality is a very tangible thing for me… Must touch it all. (I do this in clothing stores too… I must touch it alllll.)

    I remember the days when I could stick my kids in the shopping cart and throw out some snacks… It would buy me a half hour to do a little shopping when timed correctly with a good nap beforehand… I could even maybe throw out my phone (educational youtube videos only of course) and buy myself an extra 15 minutes.

    Now my kids are 7 and 9, and no one fits in the shopping cart. Their feet are like heavy lead weights. I am told it is very challenging. And there is a large sigh whenever I mention that I have to ‘run by the fabric store real quick‘.

    I’m a huge preacher to my kids that in life you don’t always get to do what YOU want to do yadda yadda… but Y’all… (I know you get me on this)… sometimes though, the battle just isn’t worth it.

    Sometimes it is just more accessible, and more pleasant, to shop online for 10 minutes and have your fabric show up in a cute little package a few days later.

    Side note, but I fought becoming a member of the amazon prime club for years. I thought I wouldn’t get enough use out of it. Once I fully embraced it and jumped in… *angels singing* I mourn the times I missed out on before.

    There are a few fabric places that I like to shop online for… my favorite is http://www.fabric.com You will see that I promote it in several of my other posts because… I love it…

    I’m trying my absolute best to simplify things in my life. I get it. Life is busy, and when you don’t have time to spare wandering around, or you get overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of fabric options in the store… fabric.com is your answer.

    The Selection

    For one, the amount of fabric options on fabric.com is immense. I’m talking huge. Cotton, poly, canvas… Fabric options for every project.

    Do you need fabric with pandas on it? Done. Do you want one with bamboo? Done. Anything you could dream up… it is probably there. Maybe pandas are your thing? Perhaps not… but they have them!

    Panda Fabric - Sewing Room Challenge

    (Ha… Let’s just say I get really interesting quilt inspirations sometimes. usually late at night and I decide I MUST make a panda quilt because…. duh, super cute!)

    There is apparel fabric, quilting fabric, outdoor fabric… the list goes on and on from all the fantastic designers out there.

    I love my local quilt shops, but there are times when you can’t go in there expecting to find three different kinds of panda fabric, you know? Their selection is more tailored to please the masses/trendy and fashionable.

    More Than Fabric

    Fabric.com also carries all the sewing notions you could ever desire as well. Embellishments, bobbins, buttons, zippers, cutting tools and thread… all those little extras that make your quilt a success. All in one place and easy to shop for.

    Save Money

    I buy less when I shop online. Like how going to the grocery store when you’re hungry is a bad idea? Going to the fabric store when you don’t know what you need can be a bad idea.

    Fabric.com offers really great sales too. And they make it easy. (No individual secret coupon codes to save 3% but you have to search through 4 websites to find the right code? Yeah, I’m all for a bargain, but I don’t want to have to perform magic to get it.)… Sale prices are listed on the fabrics and transfer right to your cart without any fuss.

    Shipping is free above $49. Less than $49 is a flat $4.99 to the lower 48 Unites States. Simple. Easy.

    Always check out the clearance section if you’re looking to build up your fabric stash on the cheap. (For other ways you can save money when shopping for fabric read this post. I share how I find fabric for less than $2 a yard!)


     

    Shopping online when you can is a considerable time and money saver!

    Need more hours in your day? Check out my free e-book offer below, *hint hint*… I’ll give you some awesome (totally doable) ideas you can implement TODAY. You can also read more about how to fit quilting (or fill in the blank with whatever you desire) into your busy life. I have several suggestions to help!

    Happy fabric shopping!

  • A Busy Girl’s Guide To Quilting In The Midst Of An Already Full Life

    Things have just been really…really… busy lately. Like, crazy busy. I feel like my head barely hits the pillow before the alarm goes off again and I have to get up, put on some concealer, and start the day. There are work duties and mom duties and “oh &$*@ I forgot to do_____!” duties.

    Does this sound like you?

    We all have grown up responsibilities. But no one ever tells you when its ok to play and do things you want to do… like create beautiful things and sew and quilt.

    This elusive idea of what the ‘mom blogs’ call “balance” in life is something that I’ve been in pursuit of for a while now…

    Four years ago… I was laughing at the idea of sewing anything more complicated than a pillowcase. Not too long after, I was upgrading my machine to one that can handle more quilting, and now I have so many beautiful (if I do say so myself) quilts under my belt.

    How do you get from point A to point B without losing yourself or your sanity or your family/job?

    First thing… and I will be blatantly honest with you here… the whole “mom-balance” idea is a bunch of pish-posh oodle-noodle bologna! Throw that theory out the window and kiss it goodbye. *gasp*

    If you have a to-do list that is all crossed off and finished and you are struggling with how to fill your free time… Panic... You’ve probably forgotten something. Something …big.

    The world feels like it is moving at a furious pace and I’m just barely able to keep up.

    …Until I stumbled upon an idea that has changed everything for me.

    I want to share it with you because… girls... the world needs more of this and less of the “she seems to have it all together, why can’t I do it?” mentality.

    So what is a girl to do, you ask?

    HOW did I finally do it??

    How is a girl supposed to get ANYTHING done in the midst of the insanity that is just day to day life?

    Throw in the towel and give up? – No.

    Abandon everything else in pursuit of self-made happiness? – No.

    Read all the books out there on time management and try harder? – Nope again. But you still might learn something if you do.

    Get up earlier to savor the quiet house? – Heavens, no no NO. (On a side note, what is a quiet house?)


    If this speaks to you and is something, you need more of in your life… I’m giving you the little break that you need to find a way to make sewing & quilting work into your life.

    This is my gift to you.

    I wrote it all down and created a little e-book just for you. It’s simple. It’s short, and it has actionable steps you can start today.

    There is nothing that I hated more than to have someone promise me answers of a glorious mascara and pearls motherhood advice only to read it and end up back in my leggings and flip flops because it wasn’t something I could actually do.

    If you want to sew one tiny baby quilt for a friend or if you want to make heirloom quilts for all of your children… here is how you fit it in!

    A Gift For You - Free Download

    Submit the form below to download the e-book. Give it a read and let me know what you think? If you have any questions or need a little extra pep talk… feel free to contact me.

    I have total faith in the beautiful things that you can create! 🙂

  • Quilt Shopping List

    This post contains affiliate links. I would never suggest a product that I didn’t completely love!

    Ultimate Quilt Shopping List

    What do you need for shopping when you’re making a quilt? Some of us can’t just pop over to the quilt shop every single day ( I would be absolutely broke) or if you’re shopping online, you don’t want to forget anything and have to place a second order. Here is a quilt shopping list so you can make sure you buy everything you’ll need the first time.

    If you’re looking for ways to save money on fabric, check out my previous post The Smart Way To Shop For Fabric.

    Quilt Shopping List

      • Quilt pattern – You’re going to need a game plan!
      • Fabric – even if you’re using scraps from your stash, you’ll need to make sure you have coordinating binding & backing fabric. Your backing fabric needs to be at least 3-4 inches larger than your finished quilt size on all sides.
        Your binding fabric needs to be enough to go around all sides of your quilt plus an extra 8 inches for overlap.
      • Quilt batting – I liked to pick up a few of these packages when they were on sale or if I had a coupon for them. A friend and I went in together recently and bought one of the HUGE big rolls from Amazon. It has been one of the best decisions, ever.


    • Thread for piecing and quilting
    • All-purpose thread for piecing and assembly
    • Fabric scissors – Good sharp scissors like these few options are best. I’ve owned every single pair of these scissors. The cheapie ones don’t last as long and lose their sharp-ness but will work for a period of time… and it’s fun to buy brand new scissors!



    • Walking Foot or specialty sewing foot if you are machine quilting (also see Do I really need a walking foot?)
      Pins. So many Pins! Any will do as long as they are sharp but I like the ones I mentioned in this post
    • Seam ripper and needle threader, just in case. Always be prepared, right?

     

    How much fabric?

    I find the following chart to be helpful when purchasing fabric yardage. Measurements are based on the standard 44-or 45-inch fabric width.Quilting Fabric Yardage Chart

    There you have it! Short and sweet but your quilt shopping list is packed with a lot to do! Enjoy your time shopping and come back over to my blog when you’re ready to make something new!

    FREE Windy Days Quilt Pattern!

    Super fun & easy quilt pattern that looks amazing


  • Quilting Cheat Sheets That Will Save You HOURS!

    It is no secret that sewing language and jargon can be extremely confusing when you first start sewing. Hold onto your hats, girls because I’m about to lay down some super helpful cheat sheets for quilting that is going to de-mystify some of the confusing terms for beginners.

    It is so hard to keep it all straight when you’re first starting out. There are different fabrics, different cuts, and patterns. You’ll find remnants and jelly rolls, layer cakes, and fat quarters etc. I’ll be honest in telling you that in my first year of self-learned quilting techniques I wasn’t sure if we were going to sew or eat!… It’s enough to make your head spin.

    To maybe save someone else the intense amount of confusion that I suffered and make life a little easier, I have put together a few cheat sheets with my favorite and most used quilting information. I know you are going to love it!

    As always, I welcome your comments at the end of this blog with any questions that you might have. I try to go back and answer each and every person.

    Make sure you PIN these images and charts so you will have access to them when you need them, ok? Enjoy!

    Color Chart

    So many colors! How do you choose?

    First impressions are everything. One of the most important decisions of your quilt is color. Color reflects the mood of your quilt and can invoke emotions, feelings, and even memories. what vibe do you want your quilt to have? Warm and cozy, cool and soothing, bright and happy?

    If you haven’t gone back to the basics of color theory lately… or ever… You’ll find this chart super helpful. (The artist side of me wants to sit down and have a whole lesson on the wonders of the simple color wheel, but I’ll resist… for today) To choose complimentary colors, simply choose colors directly opposite each other on the color wheel and you have a really eye-popping quilt!

    Quilt Color Chart - ISeeStarsQuilting

    10 DifferentWays to Cut a Fat Quarter

    For every day we’re just tired of what we’ve been doing and want to try something new… Just look at your fat quarters a little differently and see if it doesn’t spark a new idea.

    Fabric Yardage Chart

    I can’t even begin to count the times that I’ve been through a fabric store… and when it’s my turn at the cutting counter, I kind of freeze still… “um how much do I want? *panic panic panic* Just a yard, please.” — I swear, every single time. As an artist, math is not my strong suit… but quilting joins both art & math. So now I stick with this little chart and at least pretend like I know what I’m doing 🙂

    Quilting Fabric Yardage Chart

    When I’m not quilting, I am a designer and I love making pretty things! but I just can’t beat the information in this chart by ArtGallery… I love their fabrics, I love their designers… what can I say?

     

    Art Gallery’s Guide to Pre-cuts

    Art Gallery Quilting Chart Guide to Pre-cuts

    I plan on creating a few other charts to help with quilting as I think of them. I’ll add them to this post. I have a few planned for needles and maybe a few other printables too. Do you have anything you would like in a small pin-able form?

    I hope you enjoy the graphics! Don’t forget to pin them so you’ll be able to come back to them when you’re at your machine!

    –Happy Quilting!

     

    If you want updates on when I release new projects, join my e-mail list. I would love to have you join our Stars party over here! And just as a thank you, I have a fun free quilt pattern that I will send you.

     

    FREE Windy Days Quilt Pattern!

    Super fun & easy quilt pattern that looks amazing


  • 6 KEY Tips For “Stitch In The Ditch”

    To “stitch in the ditch”, or not to “stitch in the ditch”??

    Stitching in the ditch

    Let me back up for just a minute… “Stitch in the ditch” (also referred to as Ditch Stitching) is a catchy name for a simple quilting technique. It is one of those bits of sewing terminology that make beginner quilters look at you like you have 3 heads. I believe my first response was…

    What the what?

    Once I show you a picture, you’ll know exactly what I mean. And don’t worry, it isn’t a complicated technique. It is simply making your line of stitches in your quilting in the “ditch” where two fabric pieces meet. Stitching in the Ditch

    Most quilters I know are divided on this technique 50/50. You either love it or you hate it. There is not much in-between. Don’t ask me why. Some of us are just very opinionated and set in our ways.

    We’ll get to my personal opinion in a little bit. First, let’s get to some tips to help you with this technique! It’s time to put your learning caps on!

    6 Tips to Stitch in the ditch

    First…

    1. Sit square in front of the sewing machine – This is not rocket science, but it is non-negotiable. I know some of us have tiny makeshift workstations on the corner of our dining tables or are crammed in the guest bedroom somewhere. You need to make yourself some space, even if its temporary.

    So get some elbow room and then cozy up to your machine. You will need to be in complete control here.

    2. Very closely watch where your needle pierces your fabric. – Your seems are more than likely very straight lines for this quilting technique. You don’t need to be looking ahead to see where you’re going or when that big corner is coming. You need to focus on exactly where you are at this very second in your sewing. Needle to fabric is where your eyes need to be. Stitching in the Ditch

    3. Placement of your hands – Any wiggle of your fabric is going to take the stitching out of this very small margin that you are aiming for. You’re going to get a wobble in your perfectly straight line and end up having to get the seam ripper out. So keep your hands engaged on the quilt the.entire.time. No free willy-nilly letting the universe take over. No exceptions.

    Stitching in the Ditch

    So the above picture was not ‘wiggled’ on purpose. I was quilting this piece and I thought I should grab my camera and photograph this process to show you this technique. – I kid you not, I looked away for 2 seconds and BAM. I got off track.

    Above and below that wiggle is stitched invisibly even though I’m clearly using black thread. It disappears into the line between the 2 fabrics.

    …Just so you know who you are dealing with here… I don’t make mistakes on purpose so I can show you what a less experienced quilter would do… No no… they come completely naturally to me all the time. You’re welcome.

    4. Stitching in the ditch is not a race. – Seriously. If you have to go slow to avoid making a mess of things, go slow. You must maintain control if you want to keep your stitches invisible. If your machine has a speed control, USE IT! Better to go slow and get it right than to speed along and have to spend time with the seam ripper later.

    6. Pressing matters! – Your seams must all lay flat with no pleating of the seam allowances behind your seam line, no bunching of the fabric. Just pressed beautiful flat seams. Got it? If you hit a bump or a snag when stitching in the ditch, you’ll get a wiggle. We already went over wiggles in step #3. We don’t want them, ok?

    6. And finally, take the time to switch your sewing foot to the right one – You’ll hear me say this again and again because I was THAT GIRL in my early quilting days… I never changed the sewing foot on my first machine. Like, EVER. (I know… ugh.)

    So now that I know better, I’m going to try to save you from those stupid mistakes. I have been scolded by many women that I look up to so please don’t send me hate mail, ok? Thankfully, I know better now. The right tools make all the difference in your finished product.

    This is the foot you want for stitching in the ditch.

    Stitching in the Ditch

    Stitching in the Ditch - which foot to use

    See that little bar there in the middle? That shows where your needle will go. Watch it, guide your quilt with it in the middle of your seam and it will be totally golden.

    If you are working with a much heavier quilt sandwich (top side fabric, batting, bottom side fabric) You may want to use your walking foot to help move everything at an even pace. (I wrote a whole post on when to use a walking foot. You can read all about it here)

    You don’t have to have the little middle guide bar on your presser foot. It’s just kind of a bonus because it pushes your fabrics to the side so you get a clear middle… Keep an eye on the needle. That’s what matters the most.

    OK! – So now we’ve been over what “stitching in the ditch” is and how you can do it/ improve your skills with it. If you’re cool with that and feel good about where you are at, you can stop reading here. (Really, I don’t mind)

    —————————————-

    But if you care to know my thoughts on the
    technique… well then, oh-please-do read on!

    —————————————-

    (Yay! I’m glad you’re still here!) Remember how above I told you that a lot of quilters are very opinionated? uh-huh… well, here is my take on this ditch stitching stuff.

    Stitching in the ditch serves one purpose. It keeps your quilt sandwich from falling apart in the wash. The End. 

    Ditch stitching gets the job done, but it doesn’t add texture. It doesn’t add a layer of design to your beautiful piece. It doesn’t add anything.

    While modern quilting is often times with clean and minimal design, I believe the quilting or stitching is there to enhance the overall quilt. It’s a completely different art in itself. You don’t have to be fancy with it to let it add dimension to your quilt. Even if you keep it simple, your quilting can magnify your pattern choices.

    The reality is that quilting and what you choose to do depends on what you want your audience to appreciate in your piece (even if it’s you). Do you want them to appreciate your exquisite skills? Your attention to detail? The fabric choices you made? All of this is decided in your quilting method of choice.

    So what do you think? What is your take on stitching in the ditch? are you a lover? A hater? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

  • Think You’re Not Up For A Challenge? – Why you should challenge your skills in quilting

    Ok… so… we need to talk. I’m about to tell you why it is time to step out of your comfort zone in quilting. (Yes, I’m talking to you.) Why you should challenge your quilting skills is exactly this…

    That simple design that you have tried on your first several quilts? They were good and you gained some decent skills. You may have branched out a bit with a half square triangle even (woah now!). I’m sure you chose it because you were pretty sure that you couldn’t mess it up too bad. Am I right?

    Are you up for a challenge?

    I will not go all ‘mom’ on you and tell you to reach for the stars and challenge your dreams. I’m not going to feed you a bunch of junky pep talk stuff either.

    What it does come down to though, is this: If you refuse to take on more challenging quilts and keep raising the bar…. you’ll never be better than you are right now. Maybe a little harsh tough love, I know, but you’re the one who has to decide if where you are right now is enough for you.

    “How do I know if I’m ready for a challenge?”

    Let me tell you: If you’re asking that questions with uncertainty… you’re ready. Take this as a sign that you should break free. If you feel like you’ve semi-mastered (hint: did you catch the ‘semi’? You don’t have to be a pro) the basics, it is time to step it up a little.

    If you know without a doubt you’re not comfortable with your skills yet… hang back and work some more but don’t let your insecurities keep you from moving forward. You can do this.

    If you’ve mastered some basic quilting stitches and have an idea (even a rough one) of what you’re doing… you can creep up to slightly more challenging ideas. Baby steps. Baby steps.

    Because I say you should be ready doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to just take off and fly straight out the nest into the clouds just because. Let me tell you… it is always challenging to learn a new skill. Whatever it may be. But what seems easy to you now once was really difficult. You learn. Then, you get better. You learn some more. Repeat.

    Here are a few ways you can step up the quilting skill ladder.

    1. Purchase a new pattern – Decide on it. Do it. Get to work. Choose something you’re semi-comfortable with.  Something that scares you just a little bit but still feels doable? If you can find this, you’re RIGHT on target. Don’t go super pro level yet or you’ll end up frustrated and in over your head.
    2. Take a class – Check out your local quilt shop or look online for anyone offering classes. Most of the quilt shop classes will have several to choose from… everything from a make and take projects to a course that takes several weeks to complete. You can even take some classes online at your own pace!  Check out Craftsy for online courses.
    3. Start small – Look for a “Block of the Month Club” to join. It is exactly what it sounds like. Every single month you get one block to create at your own pace and eventually, you can sew each block together to create a larger piece. When broken up into multiple small projects, these quilts seem like a breeze and always have a triumphant ending!

    The most important part of growing is…

    Never let yourself stay still or become bored. Keep going. Keep trying new things and think of yourself as a rock star, always. New to quilting? – Yeah, ready for your first big number one hit! Been quilting a while? – ready for this next album to be your best yet!

    You can do anything you put your mind to, honey. – (That’s exactly what my grandma would tell me… maybe I will leave a little ‘mom’ advice with you today?)

    Happy quilting!

    PS – We’re all looking to learn new things. Let me know in the comments what it is that you’re dying to try yet but maybe aren’t sure if you’re ready just yet! What is going to be your next #1 hit?!

    If you’re still not comfortable with the basics, don’t worry! visit my Start here – Quilting 101 page and get the tutorials and info you need to really own your skills. You totally can do this! 🙂