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.

  • A Simple Plan to Improve Your Sewing Room

    We all have dreams of a big beautiful sewing room that is stocked with walls of gorgeous fabric and beautiful shiny fancy tools. Oh *big puffy pink heart eyes* all the counter space and shelving of pretty threads! ooh! and big glass french doors to close the mess off from the rest of the house! Yesssssss! Chances are that it won’t happen today… but I do have some simple Ideas that can improve your sewing room to share with you!

    A Simple Plan to Improve Your Sewing Room - tips to make a difference today! When you have a space you love your quilting and productivity increases! Read how you can change your soon today!

    When you create a space you love, it loves you back by allowing you to create more efficiently and in turn more amazing quilts!

    These ideas don’t involve a house remodel or a weekend doing DIY projects pretending to be Johanna Gaines. They also don’t involve a giant budget because well… I’m a mom and honestly, I have never had a big giant budget to work with so, work with what you have, ok?

    The key in improving your sewing room is…

    1. Clean what you have!

    I know, I’m awful, right? That is such a “duh!” thing to say, but when was the last time you REALLY cleaned everything? Do you dream of a spa day? So does your machine!

    This super easy tutorial will tell you everything you need to know to give your sewing machine a quick clean and tell yo how often you should clean your sewing machine too! - Hint, you have most everything you need in your bathroom!

    You can read this post with step by step instructions to clean your sewing machine here!

    Your machines could use a good cleaning but how about everything else? The nitty gritty of whiping everything down and dusting? And a little fabreeze to freshen up the place?

    2. Go through your supplies and purge your ‘clutter’

    As creatives, we hoard. Go on and admit it… You are not alone.

    I define “clutter” here as anything that you have hanging around that doesn’t serve your goals or interests right now.

    What do you have in your possession right now that you’ve been holding on to for “someday”?

    It is time to get honest with yourself and really decide if “someday” is ever going to really happen! (I know, this is tough love speaking)

    Go through these top areas of clutter:
    * Tools
    * Fabric
    * UFOs & WIPs (unfinished objects and work in progress)
    * Decorative clutter – Those things that are precious collectibles and things given to us over the years that are so hard to part with!

    Make 3 boxes: Donate, trash and sort
    Then, get to it. Take no more than 5 seconds to decide on a box to place your items. Clean off an entire area of clutter quickly.

    Purge the items you labeled trash and be done with them.

    Move the box of donated items to another room. Do it right now. Those items no longer have a place in here. If you leave it by the door, you may be temped to find a place for them again. Take a deep breath and let them go!

    3. Clean again!

    I mean it. The hidden corners the dark spaces… Really give your space a good wipe down again now that your stuff is moved out of the way.

    4. Decide on the storage you need.

    [Notice I didn’t put this first – It is important to really see exactly the items that you’re going to be storing before you go out and buy a bunch of random containers!]

    This is optional. Some of us quilters are blessed with shelves of storage and have built up our stash of storage containers.

    If you’re in need of some ideas… check these posts out!

    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!)
    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!
    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

    There are also several products on Amazon that I just LOVE having around my sewing room. I’ll link them here for you ๐Ÿ™‚

    5. My favorite Part – Organize!

    Now it is time to add back in the things that really matter to you – the things that truly bring you joy!

    Once you have your bins or shelves or totes… whatever it is you decide works best for your space you can organize your items and make it a space you truly LOVE. It makes such a difference to be surrounded by the things you love.

    When you improve your sewing room, you will notice a difference in your creativity too!

    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!
    8 Sewing Skills Every Quilter Should Know

    What is your favorite part about your sewing room? Tell me down below in the comments! I would love to know!

  • What Can I Do For You?

    I’m on a mission this year. It’s 2019 and maybe its because I’m reaching my mid-30s *gasp, yes I just totally told you how old I am… how un-lady-like of me!* But here the thing… I’m on a mission to really cut out the extra fluff and do more for my readers, but I need your help. So I’m just going to come right out and ask for it, ok?

    I love each and every one of you (like, so much). I love your e-mails and I love seeing the beautiful quilts you create and answering your questions via e-mails. I love bonding over fabric and tea and patterns etc.

    So my goal this year is to create more books and patterns to help the busy quilter… but I would like to know more about you and what will be of most help to you.

    So what do you say? I have a short survey for you to fill out (I promise it’s painless!) I would be ever so thankful if you’d take 5 minutes to fill it out.

    Thank you!

    — Christen

    (You’ll be redirected to a Survey form on Google Docs)
  • FREE Quilt Planner!

    Ah! Can you feel it? The anticipation of a new year is right around the corner. This year I’ve accomplished a lot but I think I could do better at getting around to my WIP (work in progress) quilts. I say this all the time, but this time I mean it, I swear!

    I’ve been working on something special that I knew I would want to share with you!

    Download this FREE quilt planner and get organized so that you can create more! 6 pages of everything you need. nothing you don't!

    I created a quilt planner! And it is a FREE Quilt Planner! I’ve been testing it out myself over the last few months and I must say that I think it has really helped me keep my quilting thoughts together.

    I’ve been tweaking it as I go and adjusting because I want this to be the most useful quilt planner out there.

    You know I’m not one to promise the moon and not deliver, right? So, I’m pretty excited to share this with you finally! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Download this FREE quilt planner and get organized so that you can create more! 6 pages of everything you need. nothing you don't!

    No fluff, no extra wasted space, just pure potential to take the away chaos in your brain and allow you to do what you do best. ๐Ÿ™‚ Which is, of course… create.

    Download this FREE quilt planner and get organized so that you can create more! 6 pages of everything you need. nothing you don't!
    Download this FREE quilt planner and get organized so that you can create more! 6 pages of everything you need. nothing you don't!

    Let me tell you a little story…

    Christen (me) Pre-Quilt Planner Days:

    Literally, like 5 spiral notebooks with chicken scratch drawings of random ideas I would have throughout the day or if I was out and about. I always have a spiral with me… and my phone, but often the spiral works better for quick notes. They’re full of checklists and notes to myself so I don’t forget.

    You get the point…

    Download this FREE quilt planner and get organized so that you can create more! 6 pages of everything you need. nothing you don't!

    Christen with the new (and improved) FREE Quilt Planner:

    Oh yes…. so productive. So fancy. All my quilt notes, target due dates, fabric swatches and supply lists as well as pattern names and project ideas live in one little binder. It is GLORIOUS.

    Seriously, when you find a system that works for you, you can hear the thread in the sewing room sing like an choir of angels!I’m on a bit of a productive high today because I also organized the kid’s play room. Oh yes, momma did!

    So if you’d like to also be organized in your sewing/quilting room, download my FREE Quilt Planner. (there is just a “sewing projects” version as well!)

    And be sure to let me know what you think, won’t you? If there are any tweaks that would work better for you, I would love to hear it.

  • Time Out Quilts: How to get the motivation to finish your quilt!

    I got this question in my inbox the other day and I thought I would answer it today: How do you get the motivation to finish your quilt? you know, the ones in time out that you’re sick of and don’t want to sew anymore.

    Haha, first, I have yet to meet a quilter who doesn’t have some form of a “time out” corner or drawer or closet of some sort. How long the quilt stays there is obviously up to the quilter. It varies from a few weeks to a few months to I don’t even know when that quilt was from?

    Enough is enough. Quit punishing your quilts by making them sit unfinished in their time out chairs!

    How do you get the motivation to finish your quilt?

    I am a semi seasonal purger. It comes in spurts out of no where. I suddenly feel like I can’t take one more second surrounded by all the clutter, unfinished projects and mental obstacles around the house.

    I want to be a hybrid minimal-mom-who-loves-trinkets. Does that exist? Not that I’m aware of…

    I can put my unfinished quilts in a nice folded pile where no one else sees the unfinished edges or the fact that it is only the pieced top and I have to still quilt it.

    But its still there… I know it’s secrets. It’s always taunting me in the corner, waiting for it’s turn.

    I can be good at hiding the fact that it still requires hours of work and I’m just not inspired by it anymore. 

    That is really what it comes down to, right?

    I was inspired by this (fabric, pattern, person… whatever) and it motivated at one point but now…. meh. I have other things that interest me now. 

    So how do you fix it?

    1. Find an another motivation.

    Seriously – If the reason that you started that quilt in the first place was to make it for someone as a gift, then set a new goal. Hey, their birthday is coming up in 2 months or arbor day is in 4 months! Whatever you have to do or tell yourself. 

    I am really goal oriented so this works for me.

    Create that initial desire again to finish it for the person. – Even if you have to Fake yourself out and make up some bogus reason (like Arbor Day, It is a real thing to celebrate if you have a quilt finished by then! I know from experience.)

    2. Pull that quilt out in the wide open where you are forced to see it every single day.

    Out of sight, out of mind works like a charm. If I pull it out in the middle of my home or my sewing room where I am forced to work around it and move it every time I want to get to something under it then….. oooooooh, *insert eye twitching*. Let’s just say things get done.

    This solution does not work for my kids. If I purposely put their toys in the middle of the room for them to clean up or laundry to put away, they will walk around it for a week and a half before even noticing it. – so this might not work for everyone ๐Ÿ™‚

    3. Find another purpose for it

    I had several quilts that I adored the fabric at one point but it really has no place in my house. I would get started on a quilt with foxes and then halfway through, get distracted by the cute little squirrel print from TulaPink (true story).

    I like foxes with glasses but I know it won’t be my first choice for a cuddle up quilt. 

    So what do you do? – Finish it up and donate it! You can read more about charity quilts here and where you can donate here.

    looking for a way that you can give back and use those quilting skills? - I've put together a big list of places that you can feel good about contributing to to donate your finished (and partial) quilts!

    Quilters are loving and generous people. Donating a quilt is like donating a hug to someone who desperately needs it. 

    4. Simplify your design.

    Look, I get it. You started out ambitious and this is going to be the grandest quilt to ever be a quilt! and now you may be feeling like you jumped in too soon and too deep. 

    Take a step back and decide where you can cut a few corners. (Figuratively, not literally.) Quilting is an art form.

    Add in a few coordinating solid blocks.

    Remix that pattern and call it DONE!

    Done and finished is much better than unfinished and unused or sitting on a shelf waiting for “someday”.

    5. Sell it!

    Make that money and buy new fabric! (or add a little extra to your family vacay fund)

    Contact your friends and ask if anyone needs a handmade gift. Mention that your family has a goal or just say you’re looking to purge some really great quilts! Then, get your tail to the sewing machine and go at it!

    I don’t want to burst your bubble but MOST people will not be willing to pay what a quilt is actually worth. Let’s face it. Quilting is NOT a cheap hobby.ย Fabric is expensive and hours spent at the sewing machine … you’ll likely not get paid what YOU are worth. Unless of course, you have rich friends.

    So before you start counting your Scrooge McDuck Money take a really good look at your network and decide what is the likely price range you can offer. Don’t sell yourself short but be realistic.

    Heirloom quilts have a nostalgic beauty to them that ca not be replaced, but a target blanket will keep you warm too for a lot less $$. (*ugh. reality check*)

    6. Find a friend and swap projects. 

    I LOVE this. Swap the projects that you hate and challenge yourself to look at it in a new way. Set a few ground rules if it makes you feel more comfortable. 

    Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what your motivation is for finishing it, you just get sick of looking at the darn quilt and it is time for it to go!

    7. Set up a Reward system for yourself

    I’m a mom, ok? I thought I had perfected the whole “bribing system” until my daughter decided that the piece of chocolate I was offering was not worth taking a bath for and she could do without both.

    But it totally works on me. If I have a really tough week ahead, I will schedule out an open block of time on my calendar to do something fun. A reward for making it through the week! Woohoo!

    Usually, I’ll let me kids play on their tablets for a few hours (gasp! – Its educational games I’ve selected) and I will sit my happy self down to my sewing machine and take some me time. Does it mean that its uninterrupted or always the most productive? No, but I enjoy it.

    I’ve also been known to go and buy a new pattern or a new fabric and dangle it in front of myself like a carrot on a string until I finish a current project.

    What can I say? I’m basically a 2 year old when it comes to motivational techniques.

    Places to donate fabric, scrap fabric and unfinished quilts

    If all else fails and you just want it out of your hair and off your worry list… let someone else take care of it for you. 

    Consider Donating to:

    • Girl Scout or Boy Scout groups
    • Ask a guild if anyone wants it! – Lots of ladies may know beginner quilter who could use the practice and would be happy to add on to your quilt.
    • Local animal shelters (or make your own pet beds to donate by filling a pillowcase with scraps and sewing the opening closed)
    • Art teachers/elementary schools/home school groups
    • High school sewing classes
    • Local prison inmate sewing programs
    • Church missionary or charity groups
    • Local quilt guild charity projects
    • Ask your local quilt shop if they accept donations for charity quilts or community projects

    I hope this list helped you see there there are plenty of options for pulling your quilts out of time out… they have suffered unused without a purpose long enough, haven’t they?? ๐Ÿ™‚

    If you have any other ideas please feel free to add to the list and let me know in the comments. This blog will be updated as a resource for future readers. Happy sewing!

  • 20 Amazing Gifts for Quilters!

    Drawing a blank when it comes to something fun and creative for the quilter in your life? Or maybe you’re gathering ideas for your own wish list? You’re in luck! I’ve scoured the internet top to bottom! Take my advice… these 20 Amazing gifts for quilters are going to rock those cute little socks right off your feet! ๐Ÿ™‚

    First off, these aren’t your typical “go-to” gifts. When I shop, I shop out of the box and unexpected because I love the surprise of “OMG. how did you know?!”

    Also, A lot of this list comes from Amazon because… I (big puffy) heart Amazon, ok? Prime membership has paid for itself a hundred times over in our house. When you have young kids or just don’t want to leave your sewing machine… ahem, I mean your kids are sleeping or whatever. Amazon will bring it to your door. The fed-ex man knows more about me than he should, but because it makes my life easier… I don’t even care.

    Let’s go shopping together, shall we?

    20 Amazing Gifts for Quilters

    1. I absolutely would be over the moon to find any of these socks in my stocking this year. Just look at them! The retro sewing machines are my favorite. I’m such a sucker for novelty socks.

    2. I might have a total girl crush on this girl right here because everything she makes is pure magic in the quilting world. Emily Dennis doesn’t even know I’m alive, but I’ve been admiring her quilts for a long time now. I am the proud owner of this book myself and I have to tell you that I give it a full 5 stars as far as the patterns and the communication goes. I also give it 5 stars for the layout of the book and overall design. It is modern perfection. And if I ever get to meet this lovely girl in person, I want to hug her. She is pretty awesome. Check out her website (Quilty Love) and order her book, Modern Quilts Block by Block. You will not be sorry!

    3. Novelty Pin Cushions are a great choice if you’re looking for something that the quilter will use every single day. I never get tired of fun little personal touches in my sewing room ๐Ÿ™‚

    4. A quilt planner is an awesome way to keep up with your to-sew list as well as jot down deadlines! There are several different price points… you can judge how avid the quilter is and make the decision from there.

    5. I’m an organizing nerd. I make lists for everything. A friend got me hooked on these pens and I don’t even want to write with anything else ever again. These pens are like my ink-mate. We’re besties. You can find the Pentel Energel Pens in every color on Amazon. The purple is my personal favorite.

    6. Speaking of being organized… nothing is more satisfying than a label maker like this one.

    7. This coffee mug is the perfect way to say “I understand you and accept you as you are”. I like that.

    8. One of my favorite gifts that I’ve received was a gift card for $15 (enough to buy a yard or so of really good fabric) and an IOU ice cream date from a dear friend to catch up. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to make a meaningful gift. A coffee date and hug are good too!

    9. Another book that I have really enjoyed paging through and learning from is from Tula Pink – 100 Modern Blocks. If you’re into modern quilting/sewing… you’ve seen her fabric designs everywhere. Her bold prints in fun colors are what we modern quilters dream of! This book has small blocks and small easily doable sewing projects to take on one at a time.

    I did a full review of her book that you can read on this post for a more detailed opinion.

    Book Review Quilting Tula Pink

    10. Heres a fun fact… when handling a lot of fabric, your hands can get dry and sore. A small price to pay for such lovely quilts… but we shouldn’t have to suffer, right? If you haven’t tried this lovely french lotion brand, you have no idea what you’re missing out on. I assure you that you won’t look back once you do though. It is luxurious and pampering to the max! It is the good stuff (as my grandmother would say) A little bit will last a really long time.

    11. Craftsy subscription/blueprint – This site is pure gold for us crafters and quilters. So.much.to.learn! I’m constantly making a mental list of every class I would love to take on craftsy! You can Gift Any Craftsy Class by buying a gift certificate and then let the recipient choose the class that interests them most.

    Everything you need to quilt and sew at Craftsy.com

    12. This one is definitely on the higher end of the gift costs, but if your quilter does not have one of these, you will be their hero. I spent a long time on my hands and knees laying out my quilts on the floor because it was the biggest space we had… then the dog would lay on it or the kids would run over it before I could get the layout finalized… that’s when I looked for something better and came across this. It is not permanent, which is really nice for quilters with a limited space. This Quilt Display frame is amazing.

    Your fabric pieces actually stick to the felt of the design wall, freeing up your floor and relieving your aching knees and back trying to lean over and design horizontally. Virtacle is totally to way to go!

    13. QuiltyBox is a fun company that is a monthly club. This is a monthly subscription box that arrives at your/their door with a different collection of supplies including fabric, patterns, notions, etc each month. Shipping is free in the US. It’s a total surprise because every single month is different!

    14. Are you a book hoarder like me too? Either of these books is a really fun addition to your quilting collection! Full of great ideas and a useful home for your beloved scrap pile! If you need advice on how to organize your scrap pile, check out this post. There are some good tips on products for cheap sewing room storage in this post too!

    15. Wear your passions! Look at these Quilter Shirts! I LOVE them!

    There is nothing like sitting around, doing your favorite thing while wearing your favorite thing. 

    When I found Maker Valleyโ€ฆ I wanted to buy absolutely everything they have. I would wear these every day. No questions asked or explanation needed. Maker Valley has been making quilting-themed apparel (there is even a few sweatshirts!) for a couple of years now. They often come out with new sewing/quilting/knitting designs, so youโ€™re sure to find something directly tied to your personality and style. You can buy these (and TONS more designs by visiting their website)

    These are gifts that quilters will go crazy for! I can't believe how many of these I want to buy for myself!
    These are gifts that quilters will go crazy for! I can't believe how many of these I want to buy for myself!

    16. I love to support other artists… etsy is full of both small time and big time artsits just trying to make a living doing what they love. 

    There are countless options on Etsy. I always love to support fellow crafters when I can. This needle ring is to die for. Oh, it makes me so happy!

    These are gifts that quilters will go crazy for! I can't believe how many of these I want to buy for myself!

    17. Tea and quilting go together for me… I love them both. Maybe its the calming aspect of each one? These are my pics for the perfect tea gift.

    18. Perhaps just a night (or even 20 minutes) alone is gift enough depending on the quilter. My kids are a little older now but when they were younger… I longed for a 10 minute shower. A bath would have been heavenly and these bath bombs are the perfect accompaniment to sink into bliss. 

    These are gifts that quilters will go crazy for! I can't believe how many of these I want to buy for myself!

    19. Thread Cutter Ring โ€“ You and your hubby can have matching ones because they make them for cutting fishing line as well! I saw these guys at the Houston Quilt Show a few years ago and he had a swarm around his booth every time I walked by. It started in the fishing industry and made its way over to the crafting industry.

    20. I discovered Uncommon goods several years ago and have always gone back to them when I need something really special. This Wanderlust Cross stitch map is perfect for the creative traveler!

    19. Lighting is key when you’re working on the same project for hours and hours at a time! I am not blessed with the right amount of lighting in my sewing room. I usually make due with what I have, but I got a little light next to my sewing machine just to use at night and I almost use it daily now because of the difference it made in my being able to really see what I sew!

    21. It has to be said… if you’re really stuck on what to give the quilter in your life… gift cards really do guarantee that they will have something they love ๐Ÿ™‚

    If you’re looking to make something for a fellow crafter, check out my post on 14 Winning last minute Sewing Gifts!

    It also has to be said that something handmade with love is far more valuable than anything that can be purchased in a store. Who will understand the time and thoughtfulness that goes into a handmade gift better than another creative?

    You can check out these DIY tutorials for more ideas…
    DIY Sewing Machine Cover
    Make your own Quilt Ladder for $20!
    Fabric Basket
    Favorite 15 minute vacation accessories
    Quilters Christmas Decor

    Good luck! Where is your favorite place to shop for unique gifts? I’d love to hear your secrets!

  • A Sweet Baby Quilt Pattern (FREE PATTERN!)

    I had the pleasure of making another sweet baby quilt recently! And I’m sharing the sweet baby quilt pattern with you! It is super simple. You’re going to love it!

    I just fell in love with everything from the fabric to the quilting while making this one. It was simple and perfect, just like the little baby that this quilt will be going to live with soon.

    Just look at this darling flamingo pattern! – A random find while I was shopping for something else… Subtle and so sweet. It was just the very beginnings of this pretty little quilt!

    I paired it with several other aqua and speckled prints. A little grey, a little black and white polka dot, and some graphic black and white.

    You can see my choice in quilting style in the picture below. I kept it straight and simple to accentuate the geometric shapes. (I also haven’t trimmed off my thread yet because I got excited and it was sunny outside… yeah, ignore those little eyesores, won’t you?)

    If you haven’t guessed… Hi, my name is Christen, and I’m obsessed with stars. I don’t know what to say, they just show up everywhere in my designs. I don’t seek them when I’m designing, it is just what comes out of my soul ๐Ÿ™‚ So they star pattern was a fun discovery to mix in around the flamingo pattern.

    I think my one of my most favorite parts of this quilt is the fabric choice on the binding. Is there anything more lovely than a perfectly stripey binding?

    And one more picture because I’m kind of obsessed with the stripes right now…

    I decided to share the easy pattern with you because I fully believe we all deserve one of these in our arsenal of patterns!

    You can download my FREE Pattern HERE:

    …And one last photo! Because you should never just settle for a boring back to your quilt… Make it fun! Make it unexpected!

    This sweet baby quilt pattern is a FREE download that I designed to be easy fro all levels of quilting! Just look at this sweet flamingo print! Its adorable! Did I mention the FREE pattern? ;) Check it out, download it and save it for later!

    Hey! I just recently wrote a post about how to wash your quilts and stop the fabric colors from bleeding. If you’re making quilts to give away, its a total must read! Help! How to stop the Bleeding in your quilt fabric.