Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Arrow Tail Quilt Tutorial - Finishing Your Quilt

Me again! : )  Hope your quilt cutting and piecing is moving along.  I haven't heard from anyone having any problems, so I assume everyone is just swimming along.  The coolest thing happened.  Mark's Aunt (Hi, Sheila!) emailed me and told me she was following along with the tutorial and shared pictures of her progress.  I had no idea she even sewed.  I loved that!  She assured me that at least the cutting instructions were clear and easy follow.

Now that I've covered all of the steps to make your quilt top, I thought I'd share some of my favorite resources for finishing your quilt, including basting, quilting, and binding.  As I said, I learned how to quilt from the fabulous resources others have offered up here on the internet.  There are SO many different resources out there, and of course there is no right method (well, there is certainly a wrong method, but you know what I mean!).  It's all just a matter of personal preference.  I've tried lots of different ways to do things and I'm slowly finding what works best for me.  When I first learned to quilt, I probably referred to these two sites the most:

:: Crazy Mom Quilts  - Amanda has a wonderful section with a series of posts on Quilt Making Basics.  She is also the co-author of  Sunday Morning Quilts, which I must get soon!
:: Oh, Fransson! - Elizabeth also has a great Basics section with many tutorials.  And, her book The Practical Guide to Patchwork has it ALL along with a 12 great projects. 

:: Basting Your Quilt :: 

Basting a quilt involves making a quilt sandwich with the quilt top, batting, and backing and temporarily securing these layers together so that you can quilt them.  Make sure that your batting and backing are at least a couple of inches bigger on all sides than your quilt top.  Most people do this on a big, clean floor, but I often baste my quilts on the countertop and I actually think it works better for me. 

Countertop Quilt Basting

I generally use one of two methods to baste my quilt: basting pins or spray.  I prefer pin basting as I think my quilts turn out better when I pin - less shifting and puckering.  But, basting with spray can be very quick and easy, so I use that method on occasion.  Here are some tutorials for both.
Crazy Mom Quilts has this great tutorial on basting a quilt using pins.
Film in the Fridge shares this quick how to on using spray adhesive for basting. 

:: Quilting ::

This step can be a can of worms - do you want to machine or handstitch your quilt?  Do you want to do free-motion or straight-line quilting?  Do you have the proper sewing machine feet for the quilting method you've chosen?  What color and type of thread do you use? Etc, etc, etc.


For the Arrow Tail Quilt, I really like the look of straight line quilting as it accentuates the design.  That said, choose whatever design you're comfortable with and feel would work well with your fabric choices.  Both of the blogs mentioned above have fantastic tutorials on free-motion quilting.  For straight-line quilting I found this blog post by Canoe Ridge Creations to be very comprehensive.

I mentioned that I will be hand tying my quilt and one reader asked what that meant.  Tying a quilt involves using a needle to insert a heavier weight thread (embroidery floss or pearl cotton) or yarn through all layers of the quilt, bringing the thread back up to the top and tying a knot.  That's it!  It's does not add the texture and stability that quilt stitches will, but it is quick and results in a nice floppy quilt (at least that's what I read). : )  I happen to have Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration by Denyse Schmidt, in which she covers the how-to of tying a quilt.  You can also find a number of tutorials online - this video by Mary Fons is great and entertaining.   

:: Binding Your Quilt ::

Guess what?  Also, lots of different ways to bind your quilt, but they generally fall into the hand-stitching or machine stitching categories.  I have tried several different methods but I definitely prefer hand-stitching.  There is something about finishing a quilt by hand that I love and find relaxing.  This tutorial by Oh, Fransson! gives every detail of cutting and sewing binding and I love the detailed photos in this tutorial by Amy's Creative Side for hand-stitching your binding on your quilt.
Little Folks Quilt - Zigzag Binding
I have tried two different machine binding methods that have both worked well for me.  The first is zig-zag binding by Rachel of Stitched In Color.  I used this on my Little Folks Quilt.  I really like this method especially for "busier" patchwork quilts.  I also recently tried the popular machine binding method by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts when I made my patchwork chair cushions.  This also worked fairly well.  I think with more practice I would probably use both of these methods more, but again, I just enjoy the hand-stitching method.

So, I think that wraps up my tutorial.  Yeehaw!  I loved sharing it with you and I loved putting together this list of resources (now I have something to refer to).  If you make an Arrow Tail Quilt, please, pretty please share it with my flickr group or by email.  I'd love to see it!  Thanks for following along! 

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Sally Dress Pattern

I was so honored to have been selected by Shannon of Very Shannon and the ever so awesome blog luvinthemommyhood to test her newest pattern, the Sally Dress.  The pattern was released today (you can get it here or here), so I can finally share my version of this fabulous dress!

Sally Dress-1.jpg

When I originally saw Shannon's Sally Dress, I immediately wanted to sew one.  We are huge Mad Men fans at our house, so I love that the dress was inspired by Sally Draper from Mad Men.  But, the dress speaks for itself, does it not?  The neckline is gorgeous, it is the perfect retro-just above the knee length, and the giant pockets are so fun.  I think what I (and Maggie) love most about this dress is that it has no buttons, no zippers, no elastic.  That's right, Maggie can just slip it on over her head.  She loves the comfort of it and has been wearing it like crazy, which says a LOT.

Sally Dress-4.jpg

The Sally Dress pattern includes a fully lined bodice with three sleeve options - sleeveless, short sleeves, and 3/4 length sleeves.  The pattern is easy to follow and very comprehensive with fantastic diagrams.  I learned some fabulous finishing techniques from this pattern, as Shannon covers every little detail.  Oh, and it comes in sizes 2T-8!  I love when I can get one pattern with a nice wide range of sizes. 

Sally Dress-5.jpg 

I'm looking forward to sewing many more Sally Dresses.  I've been thinking of a new version in corduroy for Fall.  Oh, yes, lots of possibilities for this fun dress!  And, what Maggie likes, Mama likes. :)  Thanks Shannon, for having me test the Sally Dress - I sure had fun!  Want to make your own Sally Dress?  You can find the pattern here!

Sally Dress-7.jpg

Sally Dress-8.jpg 

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Arrow Tail Quilt Tutorial - Piecing Instructions

Hi there, how are things going?  If anyone is joining in the quilt-a-long (it's still pretty quiet out there), please pop over to the flickr group and introduce yourself, and share any photos you have - fabric stacks, cutting...would love to see it all!  

This is the second part of my tutorial (the first can be found here, supplies and other info here).  Now, you've cut your quilt top, let's piece it!  This portion of the tutorial should be very straightforward and simple.  There are really no variations in the method for the different quilt sizes. So, let's get going, shall we?

At the end of the cutting instructions, I recommended stacking your pieces into piles by column (from left to right).  We will be piecing the shapes into columns and then sewing the columns together to form the quilt top.  I recommend chain piecing any number of columns that you're comfortable with.  For anyone unfamiliar, chain piecing involves sewing similar units of fabric together one after the other without cutting the thread.  For example, you would sew the first two units on each column together without clipping threads (needle down).  I prefer to chain piece 4 columns at a time - any more than that and I inevitably get mixed up.  You can press seams as you go, but I prefer to wait until all of my columns are pieced.  As standard in quilting, all seams are 1/4" for piecing.  

1) Start with the leftmost column.  Take the top row piece and align it with the next piece in the column as shown below.   The shapes should be easy to align since you have clipped 1/4" off the pointy ends.  Stitch along the angled edge.

Repeat for the next column, but notice that the direction of the shapes is opposite.

When you're finished, your pieces should look like this.

Now, continue chain piecing with the next piece in each column.  The pieces for the first column should align as shown below.  

And, the second column should align in the opposite direction.  

Repeat for all pieces in your column and all columns.  Then, press all of your seams open.  Check that all of your adjacent columns match up and directional pairs look good.  Also, this is your last easy opportunity to rearrange columns if you'd like. : )  

2) Once all of your columns are pressed and ready, I recommend trimming to make sure you have nice, even finished edges.  If you are sewing a larger twin size quilt, you will have a pretty long column and this can be a challenge.  For those cases, I recommend folding the column in half lengthwise to trim.  If you are wondering what my fancy shmancy quilting tool is in the picture below, it's a metal framing square ruler I got from Home Depot (something like this).  It is one of those random, invaluable tools that I use all.the.time...especially for cutting long pieces of fabric.  Anyway, trim your columns, and let's move along. 

Once trimmed, I like to sew the adjacent columns into pairs and them sew those pairs together to form the quilt top.  Align two adjacent columns as shown.  

Place the right column on top of the left column and pin the two together along the right edge.  Piecing accurately is definitely not my forte, but I pin at each seam (making sure the seams are aligned) and in between.  Stitch the two columns together along the right edge.  

Repeat for all columns and press your seams open. 

You're done!!  Yay!!!  Sit back and smile at your quilt top for a while.  Mine is still hanging on my wall since I took this photo.  As I said, I plan to tie this quilt instead of machine quilting.  Next week I'll pop in with a quick post to share some of my favorite quilting and binding tutorials available online.  I taught myself how to quilt using these wonderful resources, so I thought I'd pass them along to any new quilters following along here.  Happy Weekending everyone!  

Arrow Tail Quilt Top

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Arrow Tail Quilt Tutorial - Cutting Instructions

Hi there!  Are you ready to get started cutting?  I think you will find that cutting the fabric for this quilt top is easy and quick!  But, if you have any problems or questions, ask away or pop over to the flickr group for some support.  Also, what are you sewing this quilt with?  I'd love to see pretty fabric stacks! 

First, some quick terminology.  While many quilt patterns refer to blocks, for this tutorial, I'll be referring to "pairs" (arrow tails) - each pair consists of two mirror image shapes cut from the same print, as shown below.

Some numbers that may be helpful as you plan to cut (or if you're up-sizing or down-sizing this tutorial):
  • Baby Size Quilt -- 50 pairs
  • No. pairs that can be cut from quarter yard (non-directional) -- 5
  • No. pairs that can be cut from third yard (directional) -- 4
  • No. pairs that can be cut from fat quarter -- 4
  • Twin Size Quilt -- 126 pairs
  • No. pairs that can be cut from half yard (non-directional) -- 10
  • No. pairs that can be cut from half yard (directional) -- 8
  • Each finished "column" of pairs -- approx 8" wide
  • Each row of finished pairs -- approx 6" tall

Ok, let's get started.  First, print your template (available HERE VIA DROPBOX). Be sure to Download first, then Print. {ETA (9/5/14): I was receiving frequent emails from people experiencing problems accessing and printing the template. I believe I have fixed this by putting the file on Dropbox. If you have a problem, please email me (link on sidebar or or leave a comment with your email address and I'll send you the pdf. I promise I'm quick to reply : )} When printing, be sure your printer scaling is set to "none", and check the 1" test square as well as the width of the template (4.5").  I prefer to either print the template on sturdy card stock or transfer the template to something like a cereal box.

If you are using fat quarters, please see instructions at the bottom.  Also if you are making the twin sized quilt, please see instructions at the bottom. 

:: Cutting your BABY SIZE Quilt Top using Selvage to Selvage Cuts ::

1A)  For all non-directional prints, cut two 4.5" strips from your width of fabric (selvage to selvage).  I like to use my template as a check, as shown.  I do this is because I think my template might be eveeeer so slightly wider than 4.5" - whatever you choose, just be consistent!

1B)  For any directional prints, cut one 10.5" strip from your width of fabric (selvage to selvage).  Again, use template as a guide, as shown.

2A)  For non-directional prints, take a set of strips (2 strips from same fabric) and align them wrong sides together.

Place your template on your strips as shown - A to the left, B to the right.  Make sure your template does not overlap the selvages.  

Now cut along the angled left and right side of the template.  

VOILA, you have cut an "arrow tail" pair! 

Slide your template down and continue cutting pairs.  You should be able to cut 5 pairs from a full width of fabric (44"). 

Repeat this for all non-directional prints.  Remember, it is most effective to cut 2 strips of fabric at a time - wrong sides together.  This is important as the two pieces that make up a pair need to be mirror images.     

2B)  For directional prints, fold your strip in half widthwise, wrong sides together, lining up the selvages.  Trim the selvages.  Cut four sets of rectangles at 4.5" wide x 10.5" tall.  Again, you may align your template as shown as a guide.

Take one set of rectangles and place your template on top as shown.  Again, make sure you have two rectangles, wrong sides together.  Cut along the left and right angle of the template.  You should now have a "directionally-proper" pair!

Repeat for the remainder of the rectangles.  

3A)  At this point, you should have at least 50 pairs.  Now, we will be "trimming" 10 of these to make the end pairs for the top and bottom rows.  Pick those 10 pairs and align them wrong sides together.  Set the directional pairs aside, if you're using them.

For the non-directional pairs, align your ruler with the right end of the top edge and trim off the triangle as shown.

Now, you will have an end pair like this.  Repeat for all non-directional pairs.  

3B) For directional pairs, you must decide whether you would like the prints to be along the top of the quilt or bottom.  This should be an easy decision if you just have a couple.  I chose to place one on each end.  Align your pairs, wrong sides together, as shown above.  To make a top row end pair, align your ruler with the left side of the bottom edge and trim off the left triangle (sorry, I did not take a picture of this).  For the bottom row end pair, trim as you did for the non-directional prints. 

Here are my top and bottom end pairs.

4)  One last step - lets trim your "points".  This step is not necessary, BUT it will make piecing your quilt top SO much easier.  I like to do it whenever I'm piecing shapes with angles.  I learned the hard way that lining up the points is not the proper way to piece such shapes, so I now take time to trim them in advance.

To do this, align a small stack of shapes and trim 1/4" off the "pointy ends" as shown.  You need to do all of your pointy ends on both the arrow tail pairs and the end pairs.  {insert giant uuuuggghhh here}

Now, your quilt top should be cut!  Scroll down to see info on selecting a quilt layout.

:: Cutting your BABY SIZE Quilt Top using Fat Quarters ::

From each fat quarter, cut 4 strips of fabric lengthwise 4.5" x 18".  Pick two strips of the same fabric and align them wrong sides together.  Cut pairs as described above on step 2A.  For this step you do not need to worry about directional prints, as your strips were already cut directionally.  You should be able to cut 2 pairs from each set of strips.  Repeat for all sets of strips - always cut 2 strips together, wrong sides facing.  When finished you should have 4 pairs per fat quarter yielding 52 pairs (2 more than you need for the quilt top!). 

Now, continue with steps 3 and 4 above, making your end pairs and trimming the "pointy ends".

:: Cutting your TWIN SIZE Quilt Top ::   

For non-directional prints, cut four 4.5" strips from your width of fabric (half yard, selvadge to selvadge).  Continue with steps 2A), 3A), and 4).

For directional prints, fold your fabric in half widthwise, wrong sides together, aligning selvages.  Trim selvages.  Cut four sets of 4.5" strips lengthwise (4.5" x 18") - refer to step 1B) above if this is confusing.  Cut your shapes using the template, as done for the directional fabrics.  You should be able to cut two pairs from each set of strips and 8 total pairs per half yard.  Continue with steps 3B) and 4).

:: Selecting a Quilt Layout ::
If possible, find somewhere you can lay out your pieces and decide on a layout.  I'm waiting anxiously on some sewing space for me (and a real design wall), but for now, I was just barely able to fit my quilt on my kitchen table. : )  I probably spent the most time on this step, tweaking my layout until it was just right.  For a quilt like this, I like to focus on distributing my pieces by value and color evenly around the quilt.
Once you find a layout you're happy with, take a picture so you have something to refer back to in the event that things get mixed up - just sayin!!  I suggest stacking and organizing your pieces - top to bottom by column.  Make sure to label or number your columns somehow - I used index cards numbering them from left to right.

 That's all, folks!  I'll be back in a few days to share piecing instructions! 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Arrow Tail Quilt - Tutorial & Quilt-A-Long

 Woohoo, I'm so happy that some folks have let me know that they are looking forward to a tutorial and quilt along for the quilt formerly known as Dillon's Quilt!  You may have noticed that I gave this quilt a real name.  Poor Dillon...I did not want his name forever tied to this design, so I've decided to call it the "Arrow Tail Quilt" since the shapes resemble arrow tails.

:: I have updated and verified to the best of my abilities the supplies for a baby size and twin size quilt.  If you are interested in some other size, I think that it will be fairly obvious how to downsize or upsize this pattern once you get going. 

:: Please note that you will need the entire width of the quarter yard cuts of fabric and fat quarters (in other words, make sure you have nice healthy cuts of fabric!).

:: For the baby size quilt, if you are using directional prints, you will need third yard cuts or fat quarters.   The fabric requirements above assume you will not have more than 4 directional prints in your quilt.  If you have more, your fabric requirements may be higher. 

:: Are you interested in joining the quilt-a-long? This will be a very informal quilt-a-long, so please "join in" at any time.  Since I needed to develop the tutorial, I have already begun my new version of this lovely quilt!  So, I won't be sewing along with you but I'll be here if ya need me! 

:: If you are on flickr, feel free to join my flickr group here - introduce yourself, post photos, ask questions.  I've gone ahead and added some photos of my progress thus far.
:: If you are following along here and would like to comment, please make sure you are not a no-reply blogger.  If you are, you can read about how to fix that here, if you'd like.  Being a "reply blogger" enables me to correspond with you if you have any questions.

Whether you decide to join the quilt-a-long or not, I'd love to see your finished quilt!!  I will post the cutting instructions tomorrow (so if you're raring to go...not too long from now!), and the piecing instructions later this week.  See you soon!


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Dillon's Quilt - Take Two!

I have received so many kind comments about Dillon's quilt - thank you all!  Sometimes when I make things that are so personal, I have a hard time really judging them, so all of your positive feedback was such a pleasant surprise and made me so happy.  I got to take it over to the little guy a couple of weeks ago, which was even better.

I totally enjoyed figuring out how to put that quilt together and I love the finished product.  So, I'd like to make another!  And, since a few folks asked, I'll be posting a tutorial.  I'm going to post the tutorial in a few steps - covering supplies and fabric selection, cutting, and piecing the top.  If anyone would like to sew with me, I'll coordinate it as a quilt-along.          

Palette for a new quilt

I'll be sewing my new version of Dillon's quilt with these beautiful fabrics.  This is the Rosette collection by Juliana Horner available at Joanns (and still on sale!).  I fell in love with these fabrics upon seeing them in person.  I think they have that perfect balance of vintage and modern appeal...and I just love the orange.  This quilt will have quite a different look than my first version, but I think these will rock the design!  

I'm going to make a baby size quilt for my lap - if only I had a tiny baby to put on my lap...why did mine have to grow up so fast?!?!   Anyway, this baby-sized lap quilt will be about 40" x 60".  And, I plan to tie it for an easy and floppy finish.   

If you're looking forward to the tutorial or if you'd like to sew along with me, I'd love to hear from ya - post a comment or shoot me an email!  I'll be posting the tutorial in about a week.  In the meantime, if you want to gather supplies, see my Tutorial post for an updated supplies list you will need

~ 10-12 1/4 to 1/3 yd cuts (selvedge to selvedge cuts are preferable for this design) OR ~13 fat quarters for the quilt top
~ 2 yds for quilt back
~ 1/2 yd for quilt binding
~ batting, thread, etc.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Catching Her






Hard to catch this girl these days.  She's a busy one, indeed.  But every now and then I get to sit and watch her being...thoughtful, curious, sweet, brave, loving and beautiful.  She has always been those things and I know she always will be.  My how time flies...

Thursday, August 1, 2013


This summer has been a little tough.  I talked to my sister on the phone the other day and when she asked,"why?", I proceeded to rattle off about all of our recent unfortunate circumstances...emergency room visits, broken AC, sick kids, stinky weather.  All of which were (thankfully) insignificant trials of life for us these past couple of months.  But really the tough part of summer for me has been trying to balance the baby with the older two.  We are always working around Lyla's schedule.  We don't do some of the things we might normally do because it just doesn't work for her.  I definitely have a case of Mom guilt.   


Also, it's summer and Maggie is already a month into 1st grade.  She isn't exactly excited about going to school.  Her days run late and when she gets home it's the mad witching hour rush to get everyone fed, homework done, and off to bed.  I'm still trying to figure out this whole year round school I really like this, is it working for Maggie, is it working for us?  I don't know.


This week I sent Maggie off to school for the day and Joe off to camp for the mornings.  Everybody had something to do and I had a little time to myself while Lyla napped.  It was so nice.  I made these quilted chair cushions - just some simple patchwork with 3" squares from my scrap bin.  I LOVE sewing on my own time, when I know my kiddos are being cared for or sleeping up above, when I can pour a cup of coffee, turn on some tunes and just create something new.     

Patchwork Chair Cushions

This morning I took these pictures, loaded them onto my computer and sat down to write this post.  As I looked through my recent pictures,  I noticed so few of our life from recent weeks or even months.  I guess I wish we could all just have a little more fun!  These days it's just been hard.  I know my kids are happy, but I guess I'm just yearning to make some real and awesome memories with them.


I'm thinking an adventure is needed, pronto!  Maybe a day trip or a camp-out in the backyard.  Will keep you posted!  And, if you made it this far, thanks for listening to my ramblings.