Start With a Charm Pack!
Charm packs are collections of 5" x 5" squares of fabric produced by Moda Fabrics. The popularity of Charm Packs and other 5" square precuts stem from the fact they are affordable, easy to use, and a size commonly used in quilting. I got my definition from the Fat Quarter Shop. They are a great online fabric store that has a lot of fun videos, tutorials and quilt making info.
I like precuts because you don't have to decide on one fabric, you get lots of little fabrics and they all work together nicely!
Sew, Cut, Cut, Sew!
Finish Your Tablerunner
Layer the top, batting and backing, quilt it and add the binding - you're done!
I quilted my tablerunner using straight lines 1/4 inch along each side of the solid fabric and a ribbon motif in each row. You could easily do this type of quilting on your domestic sewing machine; a tablerunner is much easier to manage.
Beginner Quilt Tutorial
This is a great project if you're just starting quilting or want to use up some scraps. I made most of this quilt with leftover fabric from a Block of the Month class at my local quilt store. I may have seen something like this on the internet but I didn't have a pattern and just made it up as I went along. It's actually pretty straightforward and I'll share the steps with you.
1. Cut shapes and make blocks
After cutting all the angled shapes, alternate them so the wide end of one is next to the skinny end of the next one. Then join them, sewing right sides together using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Press the seams to one side.
For variety I used a different number of shapes for each block before trimming the edges straight and adding the short pink pieces. In the picture below, one block has 5 shapes and the other block has 8 shapes.
2. Add sashing strips between each block
Trim the top & bottom of each block straight so you can add the sashing. Since this is for a girl, I used a solid pink fabric (3/4 yard from my stash, yay) for sashing and for the borders. Cut your sashing strips 1 ½” wide and add a strip to the bottom of each block.
3. Sew the blocks into four rows
In the picture below, you see the 4 long rows or columns. I trimmed the rows so they were all 46 1/2 inches long.
4. Sew long sashing strips to join each row
Combine the rows by sewing long sashing strips between them. These sashing strips were also 1 1/2 inches wide. This is what you have so far:
5. Add the outer borders
Cut the outer borders strips 2 1/2 inches wide. I attached the side borders and then the top and bottom borders. Now you're ready to quilt.
The Quilting Motif
I quilted this using an allover paisley design.
Finished size: 36" x 50"
Superior King Tut thread in Harem
Quilting Motif: allover paisley
Quilting Adds Great Texture
You Need a Sewing Machine!
I currently have two Brother sewing machines. I have a fancy Brother Quattro that I love, love, love for machine embroidery. But my go-to machine is my little Brother NX450Q. This little machine is one tough cookie and perfect for taking to class.
First, my disclaimer: I know there are diehard Bernina fans out there, and I don’t mean to offend anyone. This is my opinion and my experience. When I was deciding on a machine I found it very helpful to hear other peoples' experiences.
I had heard so much about Berninas, I really felt like I needed one, but could only afford a less expensive model. So I bought a Bernina 350PE which I had for 5 months and then traded it for a Bernina 530 to get a few more features. I had the 530 for a year.
My plan was to use the small Bernina for classes and such and keep the giant Quattro at home for embroidery and fancy sewing. After sewing on both for a while, I realized I really missed not having the auto threader and the thread cutter on the Bernina. I started researching and found I couldn’t justify the price of a Bernina that included those features; especially since I already had a top-of-the-line Brother.
For about one quarter of the price, I got a Brother NX450Q with the features I wanted.
Things I love about the Brother 450Q
This is a great beginner machine!
I did have the 2 machines side by side to test them out for a while. The Bernina 530 weighs 23 pounds and sews at 900 stitches/minute (the Brother sews at 850/minute). I wasn’t unhappy with it; I just wanted specific features that I could afford with the Brother 450Q.
The Bernina 530 went to a new home with a happy fellow quilter and I bought a Babylock Serger; which I had been wanting and was the only item missing from my sewing machine lineup! I love the serger and plan to post some serger tutorials in the future – it is the coolest thing! By the way, I didn’t mention all of my machines; but that’s for another time (or maybe not) ;)
Feel free to e-mail me with any sewing machine questions you may have. In the end, I think it really depends on what features you want and your priorities.
Fran's Paper Pieced Cats Quilt
This is Fran's absolutely amazing paper pieced cats quilt. She designed the layout of the quilt and had a wonderful idea for the quilting motif - an allover loop-de-loop with yarn balls.
The paw print blocks in the border are a really fun touch and I love the way she incorporated the cute pictures from a pre-printed panel in alternating blocks.
Fran also included the printed cats along the sides and bottom so the quilt ended up the correct size - 110" x 115". This is a big quilt and I was excited and a little nervous about quilting it, but I think it turned out wonderful.
Here you can see the quilt on my longarm and a closeup of the loop-de-loops and yarn balls. What a perfect quilting idea!
Before and after quilting shots of the blue cat. He looks so cute with the runaway yarn all around him. The quilting helps tell the story of the quilt without overwhelming the top.
On the longarm. You can see the quilted and unquilted areas.
The completely quilted top with a peak at the back.
Fran did an amazing job on this quilt
and I'm sure the lucky recipient will love it!
My favorite way to express my creativity is with fabric. Join me as I share my journey with you. I hope you'll be inspired to create something too!