Showing posts with label Tutorial. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tutorial. Show all posts

How To Cut Scraps for 9-Patch Quilt Blocks

How To Cut Scraps for 9-Patch Quilt Blocks

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A year ago, I posted a tutorial for sorting fabric scraps. I decided to supplement that post with a quick tutorial for cutting fabric scrap squares for 9-patch blocks. Because of their versatility, 9-patch blocks are great for making scrap quilts. The easiest square size to start with is 5 inches should you have a lot of Charm Pack and Layer Cake scraps.


The easiest square size to start with is 5" should you have a lot of Charm Pack and Layer Cake scraps.
  • 5 inch - Finished Size: 4½ inch   (12.5 cm - Finished Size: 6.25 cm )
  • 2¾ inch - Finished Size: 2¼ inch   (7 cm - Finished Size: 3.5 cm)
  • 2 inch - Finished Size: 1½ inch   (5 cm - Finished Size: 2.5 cm)


  • A good assortment of quilt cotton fabric scraps
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Rotary cutter (have fresh blades available)
  • 6" x 12" and/or 8" x 8" quilt ruler


1. Separate your scraps into individual colours: yellow, orange, purple, red, etc. This is a very important step. You don't want to have to sort little 2-inch squares by colour, trust me!

2. Sort scraps by size. 

3. Press all the scraps before cutting. A quick way to do this is to layer about 4 to 6 pieces and steam press.

4. Before cutting squares, stack several pieces and line up the top right corner.

5. Line up your ruler about 1/4" away from the top right corner of the fabrics and trim.

6. Rotate the fresh-cut corner to the lower left. Line up your square size at the corner and trim. If some of the offcuts are large enough, cut squares from these as well.


Store your squares neatly according to colour. Over time you'll accumulate a lot of squares, so finding the right box for them is a good idea. I normally use plastic bins from the dollar store. The container below is a cookie tray from Costco. Use whatever works.

Great tips for finishing your UFOs: Includes FREE Block Pattern

Great tips for finishing your UFOs: Includes FREE Block Pattern

For the past few weeks, I've been working on my unfinished quilt projects aka UFOs. I gave myself an official UFO challenge. I decided to share some of my tips for starting your own UFO challenge and finally getting your unfinished projects done.

1. Get everything out in the open.

Pull out all of your UFOs, and I mean all of them! Lay them out and review exactly what you're dealing with.

2. Weed out the rejects.

Look at each UFO and decide which ones you'll keep and which ones you can part with. Some UFOs are UFOs for a reason. Maybe the colours are wrong, the pattern is boring, or the workmanship is poor. Don't spend precious sewing time on projects that don't thrill you. If a project doesn't make the grade, let it go. Use it for a scrap quilt or give it away.

3. Store each UFO where you can see it.

After you've sorted out your projects, store them where you can see them. I use clear plastic 12" x 12" scrapbook bins that I buy at Michael's. I prefer to use see-through bins so I can see my project at a glance. You could also use those clear bags that you get with new sheets. Also, Ziploc makes a really nice storage bag that would be perfect for storing projects. 

Quilting Project Bins
Project bins for my UFOs
(12" x 12" scrapbooking bins from Michaels)

4. Buy what you need to finish each project.

Write down a list of items that you'll need to complete each UFO. Check if you need thread, fabric, quilt backing, etc. and take a shopping trip to pick these things up. After you get your supplies put them in the project bins. If you get your supplies ahead of time everything will be ready for you when you start. You also won't be tempted to put the project aside again until you get to the fabric store.

5. Start with easiest first.

Start with the easy projects first and work your way up to the ones that need more attention. I find starting with the less demanding UFOs keeps me motivated.

6. Do a little each day

There's no need to overwhelm yourself. Even if it's only 15 or 30 minutes, work on your project every day. You'll be amazed at how much you can get done in a short time. Try setting goals for yourself to finish something each day.

Binding made and ready to quilt.

Download FREE Little UFO quilt block

Basic Color Theory for Quilters

Basic Color Theory for Quilters

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The fabrics you choose for your quilt can really make or break your project. I prefer not to stumble blinding when picking my colors but choosing from all the beautiful fabrics out there can be overwhelming. There are many wonderful pre-cuts that make most of the color decisions for you, but it's still good to know at least the basics of color theory.

To get started learning color theory, purchase the color wheel by Dritz that is specifically for quilters. The color wheel will help you choose colors a little more easily.

Below are the basic five color combinations you can get from the color wheel. I use one of these as a starting point when planning quilt colors. With practice, choosing fabrics will become easier starting with just these five combinations.

Download FREE PDF of these five combinations HERE

Different shades and tints of the same color.

Colors that are across from each other on the color wheel.

Colors that are beside each other on the color wheel.

The base color (e.g. red) and the colors that are adjacent to that color's complement (e.g. green).

Three colors that are evenly spaced on the color wheel.

How to Download + Print PDF Quilt Patterns

How to Download + Print PDF Quilt Patterns

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When I first started selling my quilt patterns I decided to offer them in downloadable PDF format only. It's much more cost-effective for both my customers and me. Printing costs for patterns are expensive and those costs are normally absorbed by the customer along with mailing costs. Another advantage of buying PDF files is that you don't have to wait days for your pattern; instant gratification!

I thought it would be helpful for my readers and customers to have a list of five hassle-free steps for downloading and printing them. I will be including these steps with all my patterns from now on.

What is a downloadable PDF file?

A PDF (Portable Document Format) "is a file format that provides an electronic image of text or text and graphics that looks like a printed document and can be viewed, printed, and electronically transmitted." -- Google Dictionary

1. Get Adobe Acrobat Reader

Before you can download your PDF pattern you will first need the Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer. Click to download the Acrobat Reader for free HERE.

2. Create a pattern folder

Create a pattern folder on your hard drive to keep your purchased PDFs. You can call the folder Patterns or Bought Patterns or whatever makes sense to you. If you buy a lot of quilt patterns online, you could also create subfolders for particular designers or quilt types.

3. After you buy your pattern, where do you find it to download it?

 After you purchase your pattern most sellers allow you to download your file immediately from their site and/or will email it to you. If your file is emailed and you can’t see it, check your email “Junk” folder in case the file was read as spam. It's important to download the emailed PDF files promptly because some might have only a limited time frame (e.g. 72 hours) for you to do so. If you register with a seller, such as Etsy, they will provide you with a personal order history page where you can retrieve your patterns at any time.

Important: Whichever website you purchase your PDF pattern from, read their instructions for downloading or contact the site's tech support.

4. Rename and download your PDF

Some PDF pattern files you buy only make sense to the seller, e.g. AQS-pattern-144-1.pdf. So, before downloading your PDF to your computer, rename your quilt pattern file something that makes sense to you, e.g. pattern name quilt type_designer.pdf

5. Print your pattern correctly

Before printing your PDF file set the "Page Scaling" option in the print setup box to “Actual Size” or “None.” (Fig 1) This will ensure your quilt pattern templates are printed to the correct size for your project.

Figure 1

6. Measure the 1 inch square if there is one.

After printing your pattern, measure the 1-inch square (test block) that is provided on the template page of your pattern instructions. If the test block measures too large or too small, double check the printer setup box and reprint the pattern. If there is no test block, measure the templates as best you can to be sure they're the correct size. (Fig. 2)

Printing PDF quilt patterns - one inch test block
Figure 2

4 Must-Have Irons for Quilting

4 Must-Have Irons for Quilting

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In a previous post, I showed you how to make your own quilters ironing board. In this post, I’m going to talk about irons for quilting and introduce you to the four irons that I've used over the years with good results. A quilter’s ironing needs are very specific. We might need several types of irons depending on our projects, but there are so many irons on the market it can be mind-boggling choosing the right ones.

Three guidelines when buying an iron for quilting:

  • Determine your needs. Do you quilt only occasionally or is your iron going to get a full workout? Do you do patchwork, applique or both?
  • Do your homework. Research different products.
  • Purchase the best iron you can realistically afford. There are many good irons at different price points, so shop around if you're on a strict budget like most of us.

1. Steamfast Mini Steam Iron

My Steamfast Mini Iron is my little workhorse. It sits beside me on my TV table ironing board when I'm doing all my piecing. It's the perfect size for paper foundation piecing and is great for pressing down seams and fused applique pieces. It heats up fast and stays hot.

2. Rowenta Focus II Iron

It's important to have a good basic iron for quilting. A top functioning iron is worth its weight in gold. My rule of thumb is to buy the best iron that you can afford. Top quality irons come at various price points. Also, you likely don't need all the bells and whistles for quilting so do your research. When I turned 60 last year, I treated myself to a brand new iron, a very sexy Rowenta Focus II. The German made Rowentas are considered the best steam irons on the market. It took me a while to decide on a new iron, but after some research, I settled on this one; I'm so glad I did. This iron is an absolute gem. I know the Oliso iron has been toted as the must-have iron for quilting, but the reviews for the Rowenta were better.

UPDATE (January 15/22)

I'm sad to say that my Rowenta lasted only 6 years. It began to leak from the bottom. I truly loved that iron but it had to be replaced.

The Rowenta was replaced with the awesome Panasonic NI-WL600 Cordless. I've been using it for a couple of months and, although wary, I'm completely sold on it.

KEY FEATURES of the Panasonic NI-WL600 Cordless Iron

  • CORDLESS, 1500W STEAM/DRY IRON End the hassle of twisted, tangled power cords for quicker, easier, more convenient ironing on a variety of fabrics.
  • IRON IN EVERY DIRECTION Sleek, contoured 360° Freestyle soleplate has a double-tipped design to ensure natural movement in any direction. Iron effortlessly forward, backward and even side-to-side for precision and speed.
  • ADJUSTABLE STEAM & DRY SETTINGS – Set to HIGH for heavier and everyday fabrics, LOW for more delicate fabrics and quick, easy touch-ups or choose DRY for easy ironing when no steam is needed.
  • HEAT, STEAM AND DRY SETTINGS Apply the perfect level of heat and steam, or no steam with the touch of button; a powerful vertical steam feature quickly removes wrinkles on curtains and hanging garments.
  • MAXIMUM PORTABILITY A matching lightweight, heat-resistant carrying case snaps easily onto the iron and power base after use for instant portability and storage
    From: Panasonic Website

3. Mini Iron

The Clover Mini Iron is a must have for doing fusible web applique, especially when pressing down small pieces or long appliqued stems. I like that the tip is small enough so I can see what I'm doing.

Mini Iron Stand

My only beef with this mini iron is that the stand you get with it is not great. I use an old plate to put the hot end on when I'm working but I'd highly recommend you get yourself a wooden stand like the one below. This stand would be easy to make if you have the tools but for $10.39 at Connecting Threads, it's not going to break the bank to buy one.

4. Petite Press Mini Iron

I bought the Petite Press Mini Iron not too long ago when I had a project with lots of applique work. It heats up well, has a digital temperature setting, attached rest, adjustable handle and the ironing tip is double the size of the Clover. Over time, I could see this mini iron taking the place of my Clover.


1. Tailor's Clapper

I don't have these pressing accessories, but I felt they were interesting enough to let you know about them. Click on the links to get more info on these products. Tailor's Clapper This wooden block is used to press down seams after they've been ironed.

2. Teflon Pressing Sheet

Teflon Pressing Sheet A heatproof Teflon sheet for applique that keeps sticky stuff off your iron.

DISCLAIMER: This article is my own personal review of these products. I do not receive compensation in any form from the companies referred to in this post.

How to Accurately Cut Fabric for Foundation Paper Piecing

How to Accurately Cut Fabric for Foundation Paper Piecing

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I love foundation paper piecing (FPP), but one of the most frustrating problems I had when I was a newbie was coming up short. I would be happily piecing my block, go to flip the next section to press it, and crap! It would be too short or too thin or both. Even worse, I'd be pressing a finished block and find a "hole" at a seam where a piece came up short...ugh! I eventually discovered a method that has worked great for me.

I first saw this technique in Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts by RaNae Merrill. I modified it slightly by using freezer paper. It's a simple and foolproof method for cutting your FPP fabric pieces. This method is especially great for when you have multiples of the same block.


  • Foundation piecing template that has been mirrored.
  • 8½" x 11" sheet of freezer paper
  • Scissors
  • Rotary cutter
  • Quilting ruler
  • Fabrics for your block
  • Coloured pencils or markers to match your fabrics.

1. Print your template on the dull side of your freezer paper.

2. Colour each section of the template with the fabric colour you want to use for that section. If a section is a white or cream colour, you can make a symbol to represent that colour or leave it blank.

3. Cut out each freezer paper section into separate pieces and lay them on the corresponding fabric with the right side of the fabric facing up. Leave a generous space all the way around each section. Press lightly with a hot iron to get the freezer paper to stick. If you need multiples of the same section, you can place the freezer paper sections on 4 to 5 layers of fabric.

4. With your quilt ruler, cut ¾ inch allowance around each section.

5. All your cut sections should look like this when you're done. They're now ready to be pieced with no surprises. It's important to NOT remove the freezer paper from the top of the stack. Pick up your fabric pieces from the bottom so you will know which piece it is.

DIY Quilter's Ironing Board

DIY Quilter's Ironing Board

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I've used a regular ironing board for quilting my whole life. So, when I started seeing these wide ironing boards for quilting, I knew I had to have one. I wish I'd made one of these years ago because it truly makes a difference when ironing quilt tops. If you have an ironing board, you can make one of these quilting boards yourself in a day.

  • Standard metal ironing board
  • 20" x 55" - 3/8" or 1/2" plywood (No saw? Most hardware stores will cut this for you.)
  • [8] screws
  • [8] washers
  • [1] 26" x 60" cotton duck fabric.
  • [1] 24" x 60" insulated batting. (I used Insul-Brite® by Warm Company)
  • [2] 24" x 60" 100% cotton quilt batting TOOLS
  • Measuring Tape
  • Pencil
  • Screwdriver
  • Handsaw
  • Sandpaper
  • Staple gun and staples shorter than the thickness of your board

1.  Measure and mark 1½ inches from the corners of the board. (Fig.1).

Figure 1

2.  Cut this amount off the corner a hand saw. (Fig. 2)

Figure 2

3.  Staple the fabric and batting layers evenly around the edge of the board in this order.
 (Fig. 3)

Layer 1:  Quilt Batting
Layer 2:  Insul-Brite® batting shiny side up
Layer 3:  Dotton Duck 
Layer 4:  Removable cotton ironing board cover.

Figure 3

Figure 3 (Detail)

4.  Place ironing board upside down onto the board top being sure it is lined up correctly.
Mark where each screw will go. (Fig. 4)

Figure 4

5. Screw the screws with the washers through the holes in the mesh. (Fig 5)

Figure 5

6. Tada!! Your new ironing board is now ready to be enjoyed.