We are talking about quilting here; and I have always thought that if I can avoid adding any marking lines to my quilt that's the best option - nothing to remove and therefore worry about.
However in today's world and if, like me, you can't draw, then marking can become necessary and there are many marking pencils and pens and chalks on the market for us to choose from - the latest of which are the Frixion Pens.
More in the blog on the subject: but here is a direct link for you to find out the latest information on these tools.
here are a couple of tips which I hope you will find useful:
You do need to make sure that when you have two pieces of fabric being sewn together that they start and top together - don't assume that the machine will do that for you because the way the machine works is the top fabric is being pushed towards you and the bottom fabric being pulled away from you; this 'drag' varies on the machine and on the fabrics you are using and a little with the foot you are using. So always hold onto the fabric with a pin or with your hands until you have sewn right to the bottom and if you are using a thread catcher, this will encourage you to do this.
If you are sewing a triangle onto a square so that you have a bias seam,, do still hold onto the pieces but try not to hang onto them so that they distort - the machine will sew quite happily in a straight line if you let it!!!
Modern waddings do not need to be as densely quilted as vintage quilts used to be - that's why the older quilts are quilted approx every 1"; check with the paperwork/washing instructions that come with your wadding but usually today's option is approx 7-10" apart.
I have quilted each (log cabin) block on the diagonal to make squares with the quilting line (does that make sense?). Each square is about 11 inches. There isn't any quilting to anchor each square in the middle? Will that be ok?
you should anchor about 7" apart- any gap larger than that could sag when it gets washed. If you don't want to add more lines of quilting could you tie it; or add a button - or similar which would make it a feature quickly and easily (we have a section of tying your quilt) or does your machine do single motives as part of it's clever stitching - you could maybe use these.
If you are using the basting gun it is so much easier to have the quilt sandwich lifted up from the surface; there used to be a basting grate that could be purchased, but this seems to be a thing of the past; a tip from one viewer is to use the cake cooling tray, and another uses an upturned plastic cutlery tray - just a couple of lateral thinking ideas! If you have any others, please share.
Can anyone advise me on a suitable electric beginners sewing machine for my 6 year old grand daughter who wants to appliqué and quilt! Help please!
How great that you have the next generation so interested. Two of my ladies have children also sewing and they have started them off with a small machine, around £100 I think; if you buy something cheaper they will often not have the grown up options of applique and quilting - so you should check that she won't outgrow whatever you purchase too quickly.
Obviously for quilting the walking foot is essential and for applique you really, at her age, just need it to do zig-zag but with a proper open-toed foot.
Good question - it will look already whatever you do as it's really scrappy; I took the easy option of quilting with wavey lines (and my walking foot) over every other seam with a thread that was tonal/varigated. If you quilt on the diagonal be aware that this is on the bias and you won't want the quilt to distort.
In today's world of pre-cuts pre-washing your fabric is not always possible;
Some time ago you had a little talk with Jenny about the pro's and con's of washing or not washing patchwork cotton material.this means I do know that it appears to be an individual choice.---- However, I found that the limpness and the sometimes distorted outcome of the washed material quite a challenge when doing small precision pieces. Spray starch is also not the answer, as it invariably is not applied equally over the fabric. I really do not feel like washing any more except where the material has either been from an old garment/article or it is soiled. Have you got any kind of advise I might have so far overlooked?
I know what you mean about washing fabric; for me I make too many quilts and use lots of pre-cuts so pre-washing isn't an option; I do colour test any fabric, though, that I think might be causing a problem later when the quilt itself gets washed - and this is easy to do by putting a small piece of the fabric into water and then blotting it onto white kitchen roll - you can then see if it bleeds and warn the recipient to add a dye catcher into the wash!!!
Also rather than starch there is a product called 'Best Press' which gives the fabric a certain robustness - can be used sparingly - gets that middle seam crease out of the fabrics and doesn't leave any dandruff when you iron; I love it and it is readily available from my favourite store - Creative Quilting (and it comes in flavours too !)
Made your rail fence with 4 strips but the pattern did not work out for 2 reasons. Firstly my dominant colour was second so didn't make the zigzag pattern. Secondly I used 2 similar fabrics so they got lost. It would be helpful to say the dominant colour(s) look best in first or fourth position. I've undone the 9 squares and managed to replace a strip so my dominant colour is first and am now really happy with the block.
In reply to your question I am not familiar with the craft product that Create & Craft sell; howeverI can tell you that the Applique mat we sell in the shop is see-through so that you can use it to position your pieces accurately; if the pieces are coated in Heat n Bond (or similar fusing web) they will stil to each other but not the mat -although you may have to let the mat cool a little.
I have an attchment for my janome machine which enables me to do measured straight lines. I haven't used it for years, and so have forgotten how ! ! It consists of a metal bar about 3 inches long with a right angle prong at the end of it, and 12 years ago it was fantastic for quick quilting diamonds or squares. Have you any ideas please of how I used it?
this is an attachment that fits into the back of your walking foot; you need to mark one line to sew along and then use this gadget to the right position/width so that when you place this gadget on the first sewing line your needle will be sewing the appropriate distance away.
Have you ever used the Frixion pen and would you consider it safe to use on any fabric that will take the heat?
I know we will have to test a sample of it but it seems to go against the grain to heat to remove, after all we use heat to set the Microtex pens!
Bear in mind that these pens were not originally designed for use by quilters - we have adopted them!
I have not used these pens at all but Jennie has and mentions them in one of our videos; her word of caution is that they are re-activated by the cold - this could be through the postal service or through air conditioning.
My personal view is that if I can, I avoid marking the quilt with anything; if I do need to mark it then I use something designed for quilters by quilters and ALWAYS do a test piece.
Update: August 2015:
Here is a link that gives you much more information on the subject:
The rotary cutter means that you dont have to use templates and here are some simple rules that you can apply throughout your patchwork:
On the Flying geese fast no-waste method you just need to add 1 1/4" to the finished size you need for the larger square so for 4" you need 5 1/4" and then 7/8 to the size of the smaller square - so again you are right at 2 7/8
and if you want to enjoy the video on this click here:
The other magic numbers for rotary cutting are as follows: For a plain square you add 1/2" so 4" finished becomes 4 1/2"
For a half-square triangle we now add 1" - so cut 5", - and once sewn trim back to be an accurate 4 1/2" before sewing
and for quarter-square triangles we add 1 1/4" (as per the flying geese) and pay attention to the seam allowance we sew!
This is such a personal choice it's difficult to answer however there are a few things to think about that might help:
Are you left handed? If so be sure that the rotary cutter works for you - most work both both right and left handed people but not all.
What about the ruler?
Well this should be a companion piece to your board - make sure that the ruler works across your board in both directions (i.e. is long enough)to give you the most use.
If you are left handed - make sure that the ruler counts from both sides for you so that it's useable by you.
Rulers come in different colours - does it matter?
No check out the colour that works best for you; the yellow markings tend to be made by Olfa; the red markings can be Janome or Sew Easy and the black/white markings from Creative Grids (who also have built in non-slip bits on the reverse as well as being marked in 1/2's for easy cutting
What About the board:
Again think about this in conjunction with your board but also what sort of things you are going to cut; the smaller boards work well for fat 1/4's but if you are using longer pieces of fabric then the bigger board will work best.
Metric or Imperial? Well the UK and the USA patterns are invariably in imperial measurements; if you are in EUrope then the Metric equipment will work well for you.
Which Brand is best?
All the equipment designed for the quilting industry is pretty much of the same high standard (Olfa and Fiskars) - there are some cheaper options on the market though.
New designs are coming onto the market all the time - check out the newer, ergonomically designed handles and instant safety features on some; there are other new kids on the block such as Tru-Cut and a new ruler/cutter combination from Fiskars which has taken it's design course from that of a paper guillotine.
What size cutter is best?
Again personal choice and which is most comfortable for you to hold; the smaller cutters tend to have replacement blades packed in two's; while for the bigger versions (45mm and up) you only get one blade in the pack. (unless you are purchasing the multipacks).
I guess your question is geared to the uneven edge of your quilt if you are using paper pieces; and there are two ways of looking at this; the first is to leave the edge uneven and add borders to which the uneven paper pieces are appliqued - this will give the look of the patchwork floating.
The other is to make half templates to fit in the gaps so that the paper pieced patchwork then has straight edges - you can also do this and then add borders by machine.
You would then layer, quilt and bind as usual(see our video on layering if that helps)
Just a thought about the quilting - most of my students do this stitching a 1/4" away from the seams - and this can be done by hand or by machine
have been trying to find some instructions for a very old 'Sew Easy' Curve and Square ruler. They still seem to be available on line, but I cannot find the instructions anywhere. My originals were on the back of the packet and this got thrown away.
Sew Easy range is distributed by Groves in the UK. There is a helpline number for local stockists etc that you can contact: 01453 883581, or e: firstname.lastname@example.org
They do have two curve rulers in the range:
Curve Ruler NL4196 which is size 13 7/8 x 7 3/8” - it has a curved edge to the left and a straight edge to the right, includes metric and imperial measurements and detailed instructions and illustrations for use.
The French Curve – NL4198 (imperial) NL4199 (metric) is even longer, with a curved top and straight edge down most of right edge, but without the acute right angle of the Curve Ruler. This is the one used by dressmakers to re curve necklines, armholes sleeves, hipline, waistline and hemlines. It also includes a grading grid for sizing adjustments and seam allowances. Again it comes with detailed instructions.
Then there is the Dressmakers Square, NL4197 – this has a right angle along left and top edge and then the inner area is curved – again for dressmaking, adding seam allowances and curves etc.
Please could you show/explain how the front of the quilt looks regarding the seams that are applied to the reverse side to attach the pillow casing? Do the seams show and overlap the existing quilting? Should we try and avoid doubling over the seams? I have made a pale fabric quilt which shows all the stitching very clearly and could look 'overstitched' on the top side if I attach the pillow case (that I now want to apply thanks to your lovely video!) Many thanks!
You are right - the stitching shows through to the front of the quilt and there is no way round this if you want the pillow to be 'safe and secure'; In the early days we did just attach the pillow to the reverse fabric, but that meant we couldn't quilt that section of the quilt; if your's is already quilted you could try attaching the pillow by hand just through the back and the wadding but I really don't think it would stand up to much handling.
However you could make the cushion separately and have the quilt, unattached, stuffed into it when not in use, but you do then have two separate pieces.
Hope this helps - and I am pleased you enjoyed the idea (keep an eye on Jennie next month and she talks about a quag! in her video entitled Lily Block)
Hi I'm a new quilter making 12" squares. At which point do I add batting? Is it with the individual square or when it's all joined together ?
There are two ways of doing a quilt - by squares - Quilt as you Go (see Carolyn Forster) or making the whole quilt top - which is my preferred method - see Layer Quilt and Bind in the Block of the Month series First Sampler Quilt
Sometimes sewing machines come with small extension/quilting tables; Velerie's Bernina 1130 did and if you have a Janome with a quilting package then they will too. The table is very useful for keeping the fabric flat and particularly useful when machine quilting.
If you don't have one then The Cotton Patch have an efficient and cost effective relationship with a US manufacturer to provide extension tables (in a mixture of sizes) for most machines - older and new. You can contact them at www.cottonpatch.co.uk/
Our thanks to Shelagh for the following information about watching on her Kindle:
I have downloaded dolphin browser from a link on this page ( www.groovypost.com/howto/install-flash-player-kindle-fire-hd/) the page also had a link to download Adobe Flash Player. I have just viewed the tasters on your site successfully. I thought this information might be useful if you need to give advice to others experiencing my initial difficulty.
and also her later comment:
I have attached kindle to telly! It is like having teacher in room! This site is fab.
Both Jennie and Val hope the wrinkles aren't too bad in HD!!! but the stitching must be great.
So now thinking of doing a pieced back. Is that a good idea? I have 15 10" squares left. I was going to cut more out of the border and binding fabric I have left.
Problem 1: How do I cut a 10" square with my ruler?!
Problem 2: If I do 5 squares by 8 squares is this big enough for the back...or should I do 6 x 9?
Problem 3: How on earth do I position the back under the front so it lines up?
Or should I scrap this idea!
A scrap backing is a great idea not only because it co-ordinates with the front but also because it uses up fabric that you have already bought.
Remember that wadding and backing need to be the same size as each other and they BOTH need to be approx 4" bigger than your quilt ALL THE WAY ROUND (this allows for a fudge factor and for takeup in the quilting)
Position any added scraps into the main fabric i.e. don't add pieces to the outside edge and this will get cut off and can look really ugly if it isn't straight. Therefore you won't need to worry too much about lining up the back and the front patterns - almost impossible - and you will need to think of your quilting pattern and how this reflects on both sides of your quilt!
To cut a 10" square with your ruler (and I assume your board) try: either 2 rulers to make up the 10" and cut a strip: OR use your square ruler: OR cut a 10" strip using the board to count and then cut across in the opposite direction (as you would smaller squares) but again using the board to count -
NB: ALWAYS put your fabric to zero on the board and not to 1" !!
I wish to make a cot quilt for my expected grandchild and would like to make some of the squares personalised by printing images from my computer onto the fabric. I see there are several methods of achieving this and wonder if in your experience you could recommend a tried and tested way. As this is for a baby, it will obviously be subjected to washing so the method needs to produce waterproof squares
As far as I am aware the fabrics that have been designed to go through your printer for use with your computer work well - and I am not aware that the brand makes any difference. These should be readily available from your quilt shop (or www.creativequilting.co.uk).
You could also use a method which uses fixing ink - but that is a little messier - but used by the textile girls a lot and I think produced by a company called Electric Quilt (who design computere software) and I know is stocked by The Cotton Patch and possibly Art Van Go as well as they are great suppliers of all things required by textile artists.
Well its a yes and a no; the original gun did have HUGE tags that made really nasty holes and I refused to use or stock them (I owned a quilt shop at the time); however the current generation has a much smaller needle and tiny tags which hold the layers better since we have moved to flatter wadding and don't make holes in the fabric. I use them all the time and despite having several 000 in each box seem to be constantly running out!!!!
TIP: do invest in a tack remover as well as this will keep your quilt safe from little snips from your scissors and also stop you being tempted to use your best scissors to remove them (and spoil your scissors)
I have just finished 12 blocks and i'm ready to put them together. The question is 'to sash or not to sash'. Is there a rule?
Definitely personal choice but you might also be governed by how big you want the quilt to be; and are you adding more borders? In which the 1st outside sashing could be considered to be a border - see The First Sampler Quilt series if you want to know what I mean. Also it depends on the block: by putting them together do you get an interesting secondary pattern? or are there more seams that need matching that you don't want?!?!?
One of my ladies is piecing the top of a 9 block sample quilt..and because she has made her sashing a little wider..when she is putting her border on the it is shorter than the full width of the fabric by a few inches...she will obviously have to add a little but where would you suggest she puts this add on please?
This is a common problem when you add the sashing and it makes it just a tad too wide; one of the ways I have found to get round it is mentioned in the Border of Your First Sampler Quilt where you add the same fabric a the sashing to the ends of the 2nd /wider border; if you do this on all four sides and then add cornerstones of the 2nd/wider border it will look like a design feature and get you out of trouble.! https://www.justhands-on.tv/videos/block-of-the-month/article-904/borders-for-your-first-sampler-quilt - the thumbnail on this shows you what I mean but you don't have to change the fabric - in fact it looks really good if you don't.
I love the folded potholder you demonstrated. I will eventually get around to making one for myself but for now i really would like to make one as a 16" pillow topper. Can it be done that large and in a square shape as opposed to the round?
The answer is yes you can make this bigger - you will need more squares to fold into the pointy shape on each round - from 8 you will then need 16 and you might even have to go up to 32 per round!); and then to turn it into a square I suggest you use bigger squares (gives you more fudge factor!) select a point for the first one and add to the opposite side and the opposing quadrants (say north, south east and west) (but you could have marked this out on your foundation piece first)
There is quite a bit of fabric and will feel quite heavy - just so you know
I was wondering if you could tell me which rotary cutters Jennie used in the fabric balls video? My cutter needs replacing and I fancy one of the safety ones which become safe when raising the cutter from the fabric.
I think Jennie was using the Trucut range of rotary cutter which has a groove in it and is best used with its own ruler; however Olfa do both sizes 28mm and 45mm cuttter with a self-closing system, and these are readily available from quilt shops (but if in doubt you can contact Isa@creativequilting.co.uk)
I love the feel of new (quilting) fabric and make so many quilts that I don’t have time to wash them all BUT I am aware that certain colours are notorious for ‘bleeding’ – red and blue in particular – so when in doubt...... no don’t leave them out – deal with them!!
You can do a bleed test by dunking a piece of the fabric into soapy water and dabbing onto white kitchen roll; if it bleeds – wash again; if it still bleeds you can use a commercial dye fixative (or salt) to make the dye more permanent (check out the dyeing videos here on the site).
Most fabrics produced by companies that cater for the quilting industry do not bleed, but if you buy fabric from sources you aren’t sure about (on holiday perhaps,) then best to check.
And you can also think of using the dye-catcher in your wash .
No you don't - older quilts were often fastened with tying and using buttons is another option ( but don't use buttons if the quilt is for a very young child).
Here is a comment from one of our viewers:
Thank you for the tying and buttoning for a quilt. I have just tied my Christmas Lap quilt, and found your instructions very helpful. I think I may need a few more ties to make it secure, so that is now in hand.
I do enjoy your video clips.
For more instructions you could watch Valerie's video on the subject Tying your quilt
What do you do if the quilt becomes too big to manage?
Well quilt as you go is an option - and both Valerie and Carolyn Forster have methods you might like to try: Valerie uses the machine and Carolyn works by hand:
Here is the comment from Heather -
I have also just re-watched your video on how to join a quilt as you go project using the machine instead of hand sewing. What a revelation! I had tried to figure out a way to do this myself and was not at all satisfied with the result and had felt that I would not be able to handle a big quilt again physically. Now, again I can use this method and make any size!
Thank you so much for sharing this so concisely, with easy to follow instructions and suggestions.
You ladies make all things possible again! Thank you.
A birds nest is that ravel of thead that often happens when you start quilting part way into a project and when you are making a quilt you need the back of it to be as beautiful as the front. An easy way to do this is to pull that bottom thread up through the work so that you have it under control and then you can knot it off later.
Want to know how? watch Valerie's video on the subject click here:
Well the threads can be knotted and then hidden in the wadding. You can see how by watching Knotting Off Your Threads and here is what one happy viewer had to say:
I have just watched 'Knotting Off Your Threads' with Valerie and would like to say thank you for sharing such a great method. I was taking both threads to the back, tying them off and then weaving in the ends which seemed to take longer than the actual quilting! A great time saver thanks
Hello again, well I've finished the topping for my log cabin quilt and now am about to sandwhich it together. I have Heirloom cotton batting and good old fashioned polyester batting. Having been slightly put of by the instructions on the heirloom batting, although that was my original choice, can you tell me - do I really need to rinse in tepid water & dry as recommended on the packaging for shrinkage or can I just apply it as it comes after opening & flattened overnight. I have never used this type but heard Jennie say on C&C it was fabulous so ofcourse I bought it. Any advice for my large double quilt waiting to be finished would be gratefully recieved. Again many thanks for your hard work Janice
Answer from Val:
The Heirloom wadding is brilliant - as in fact are all waddings that are sold and made for quilters - they all do the job; they are all designed to be washed. However if there is a element of cotton it does have a small amount of shrinkage and just like the fabric you need to make a personal judgement. The other advantage of Heirloom and the other flatter waddings is they behave better as you quilt them.
Did you pre-wash your fabrics? are they cotton? Did you pre-wash the backing? is that cotton? If, like me, you haven't washed any of it (!!!!) then when the quilt is finished and goes into the wash the first time everything will move together - that's why antique quilts have that slightly rumpled look.
I have to say that my own quilts have yet to be washed (they don't get messed on) but obviously a child's quilt is in the wash constantly.
Hope that helps - but if it were me - I just use it straight from the packaging; oh and I prefer it if I can buy the wadding not pre-packed in plastic but off the roll from my local quilt shop - it seems to behave better - just a thought.
Still a little new to quilting and enjoy it already! One thing I noticed is that you didn't back stitch when starting to join a new row. Is it necessary? Thanks, I know this is probably a simple question.
Nope the backwards and forwards and fixing stuff isn't necesary as you will be sewing across at rightangles at some future point (and at the time of sewing you don't know where you will be cutting). Make sure the stitch length isn't too long though - 2.2 or 2.4 is perfect for strip piecing (and piecing in general).
How many ties were used to make the quilt in the video, recycling men’s ties? I would like to make a quilt the same size as the one in the video.
Would you recommend this project to a beginning quilter?
Answer from Valerie
Sorry I can't recall how many ties I used BUT each tie contains a huge amount of fabric once its unravelled and if you cut into uneven strips then you can use it all (I still have a stash of large scraps for another quilt);
Its a great quilt for beginners BUT remember that the ties are on the bias of the grain so the strips will move until you anchor them onto their calico (or similar) backing - if you are a complete beginner spray starch may help you during the sewing process.
Its extremely forgiving especially since you can trim the blocks back to be exactly the same size as each other - whether you use the complete block of ties or couple it with a plain piece of fabric to make the half-square triangle unit - which in turn means you need to make only half the number of original blocks.
I am trying to do an applique flower it has abour 4 layers, including the back ground fabric, would it be better to applique 2 layers first, then do 2 on there own, and then attach it to the first 2 layers? as when i do the 4 altogether l am finding it hard to get the needle to go through all 4 layers.i am hand stitching the design.thank-you this is my first attempt at this so am very green on the best way to do this.
Thank-you for any advice Sandra
Answer from Valerie:
The easiest way to do this layered flower is to put the first piece down - i.e. the largest, and sew all the way round; turn the work over and trim away the excess background fabric from beneath the flower leaving approx 1/4"
then add the second, smaller flower, turn the work over and again trim away the excess fabric; and you then repeat for each of the layers - that way you keep the fabric from being very bulky and when you are quilting you only have the one layer of fabic each time.
Hi have just recieved Mandy Shaws Follow your own star quilt pattern and have already become stuck with the applique angels . They all have different coloured drsses on, so do l first cut out the whole angel then cut out the different parts of their colthes and then fuse them on to the background angel so it appears they are dressed ? Be grateful for any help as l am new to this Best wishes and thankyou for a lovely site. Chris
Answer from Valerie
If you have an applique picture to work on why not check out our video on the subject: Fusible Applique
in which I show you how to build up the picture and you could then do the same with the applique angels.
I have a Brother RH127 sewing machine, can you please tell me what size needle I require to stitch denim. I shall be making a denim patchwork cushion cover so will need to stitch through more than one layer.
Answer from Val:
I would purchase 'denim' needles 90-100- they do what they say on the packet!
and if you want to find out more about needles and threads, check out the excellent information from Dawn Cameron Dick in her video Learn About Needles & Threads