Category Archives: Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: String Quilts, Part 2

Here’s Part 2 of the String Quilt Tutorial!  (Part 1 is over here.) Do you have your blocks ready to be trimmed?

We are going to trim the 7″ blocks down to 6 1/2″ & the 13″ down to 12 1/2″.  That way you can combine the blocks for a great scrappy quilt!

The example I will show you here is for the 7″ blocks- but the same theory will hold for the 13″ blocks.

Start with turning your string block upside down, with the strings going from the top right corner to the bottom left corner (that is if you’re right handed):

Now we are going to setup our ruler for trimming.  Right handed quilters will want to first trim the square on the right side & top.  Place a square ruler (my favorite is the 9 1/2″ square by either Omnigrid or Creative Grids), on top of the muslin foundation with the numbers starting a 0 in the top right corner.  Make sure the muslin base extends far enough to the left & bottom to pass the 6 1/2″ mark:

Go ahead & with your rotary cutter, cut the right side & top.  Remember to always cut away from yourself.  Your block should now look like this:

Next you will take the ruler off so you can rotate your block to trim the other two sides.  Take the newly trimmed corner & place it so that it is now in the bottom left corner.  Place your ruler on top of the block & now you will align the 6 1/2″ markings to the left & bottom sides.  You should have muslin extending from the top & right of the ruler:

Now go ahead & now trim the right & top sides:

Congratulations!  You have a completed string block!

To get an idea of what they look like together, here’s a pic of a string quilt I quilted last year for Quilts from the Bluffs.  I love the scrappy goodness:

Lastly, please consider making some of these blocks for Quilts from the Bluffs: Children’s Square String Block Collection.  These blocks will be made into quilts that children will given immediately upon entering their new temporary home at Children’s Square.  Our members have seen firsthand what receiving a quilt can do to these children’s spirits- join Quilts from the Bluffs as we work to help enwrap these children in love.

Tuesday Tip! What to do with those Leftover Strips, Part 1

Because you all have been so wonderful & patient with me missing the last two Tuesday Tips- the next two weeks are special ones!   A quilt block tutorial on how to use those random leftover strips!

String Quilt Tutorial

You know those strips you have leftover after finishing a project?  Where the directions told you to cut a 2 1/2″ strip to subcut for only 5, 2 1/2″ squares?  And you needed to do that for all five fabrics in the quilt?  This is a great way to use those strips & thereby creating a “free” quilt top!

First start with pre-washed muslin as your foundation base.  Cut this into either 7″ or 13″ squares. (I’ll explain why these measurements later):

String Quilt Tutorial

Now take your first strip & lay it right side UP across the middle diagonal of the block.  The strip should be long enough to cover both points.  Note that this is the ONLY time you will place the strip right side UP:

String Quilt Tutorial

Now take your next string & place it right side DOWN on top of the first strip, making sure the long edges of the strip match.  Notice that the second strip is long enough to over the muslin:

String Quilt Tutorial

Now sew that with a 1/4″ seam allowance and press open.  Next you are going to lay a strip on the other side of the center strip:

String Quilt Tutorial

Sew that strip down & this is what your block should look like:

String Quilt Tutorial

Pick a side to continue building upon.  I chose the “left” side:

String Quilt Tutorial

Now what do you do if your strip is a little long, like this one:

String Quilt Tutorial

Very easy!  Just give the strip a little trim to make it the size you need!  But don’t throw away that excess, you may be able to use it in the end:

String Quilt Tutorial

Now continue along, adding strips to both sides of the block as shown in these photos:

String Quilt TutorialString Quilt Tutorial
String Quilt Tutorial

And ta-da!  You have a string block!

String Quilt Tutorial

Here is a 13″ block complete:

String Quilt Tutorial

And here is a block that uses strips at random.  It may look odd here, but in a quilt full of these, it has a great scrappy look!

String Quilt Tutorial

So go make lots of string blocks!  Also consider making some for Quilts from the Bluffs Children’s Square Project!

Next week I’ll show you how to square up the blocks & I’ll hopefully have some pictures of completed string quilts!  Enjoy!

Here are other other String Quilt posts:
String Quilt Tutorial Part 2
Quilting for Good: String Quilts for Children’s Square

Linking up with:

Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom

Tuesday Tip! Tips for Right After You Piece a Quilt

Hello!Today’s tip is about that happy moment you’ve just finished piecing the top.

Immediately afterwards, I prepare my binding.  I mean *immediately* afterwards.  Before fabric is put away, before I fold up the top, I do a quick measure, cut my binding, prepare & roll it up.

Cut Binding

I do this for several reasons-
1.  Based on some past experience, if I wait until after it’s quilted, who knows where I’ve put the fabric- honestly, who knows if I haven’t used it in something else. (I may have, um yeah, done that more times that I’d like to admit.  At least I finally learned!)
2. When I’m done quilting, the finish line end of the project seems so close that I want to apply that binding as fast as possible before I lose momentum- I mean, really- we’re talking about finishing a UFO here folks!
3. Because I had to measure for the binding, I know how big I need to make the backing.  Now when I’m out & about, I know how much yardage to look for when spying the sale fabrics.  (note, I use sale fabrics on my backings.  They may or may not match the top of the quilt.  I’m ok with this.  It gives my quilts character.  I’m also not a matchy-matchy person in real life.  My favorite quilts are the ones with the wild Hawaiian fabric for backings that don’t relate to the quilt top at all.  I should do a backing quilt show for you all.)

In chatting with my friend LuAnn about this tip earlier today, she mentioned she likes to make the binding right after piecing too, but she also (& she’s ever so clever for this!) pins a note on the quilt with the size, so she can reference it later for when she’s loading it onto her longarm, or needing a specific size for a present….  LuAnn has some great tips!

Here’s my pile o’ bindings.  Since they’re so different I can tell which goes with which quilt, but you might want to pin a note reminding you what quilt top it belongs to!

Pile O' Binding

Tuesday Tip- Seam Ripping!

Ever have those days where you feel you’re ripping out stitching twice as much as you’re actually stitching?I hate those days.

But since those days are inevitable (sadly), here’s a tip for successful ripping.

Lay your piecing out in front of you with the stitching facing you & put your seam ripper under a stitch to snip it apart.  Repeat cross every 3 or so stitches & use your seam ripper to help pull those small threads up.

Your seam ripper should look something like this: (I apologize for the sideways photo.  I’ve uploaded this several times & no matter what the actual orientation is, Blogger thinks it should be this way.  Yeesh.)


What I don’t recommend doing is holding your two pieces of fabric apart to rip the seams.  Like this: (And yet Blogger doesn’t mess with this pic’s orientation.  I give up.)

Now I’m not saying this is the “wrong” way to rip out, just be aware that by pulling those two pieces of fabric apart to get at the seam, you have the potential to stretch the fabric, especially if it’s been cut on the bias- for example a triangle unit.

I hope that little tip helps & I hope you don’t have to rip out this week as well!

See you next Tuesday!

Tuesday Tip! The Scant Quarter Inch Seam


Are you ready for another tip?

This week’s tip goes back to the fundamentals of quilting: the scant 1/4″ seam.

Many times in classes I hear frustrated students getting upset over their pieced blocks not coming out square or can’t get their seams to match. The first thing I always check is their seam allowance.

Quilt blocks are mathematically designed to fit together perfectly with a 1/4″ seam. I know you’ve heard that before-but there’s a second part. When we sew pieces together, we typically press to one side. The simple act of folding the fabric takes up part of the finished quilt block space. In other words- the one or two individual fibers that are part of the “turn” need to also be taken into account when we sew. You can hopefully see the slight “bump” in this photo:

When we sew with a scant 1/4″ seam, it takes that “bump” into account & leaves us with a perfect finished size block.

So what does a scant 1/4″ seam look like? This is a picture of mine:

See how the thread of my seam is just to the left of my ruler? And the fabric ends slightly before the 1/4″ mark on my ruler? That’s a scant 1/4″ seam- it’s just a slightly smaller seam! I mean a hair smaller seam.

So how do you get that?

There are actually several great tutorials already out there on that, so I’m going to link to those today:
Gen X Quilters: Scant Rant: A 1/4″ Seam Tutorial
Gen X Quilters: Scant Rant, Part 2
Quiltville: That Quarter Inch!
Diary of a Quilter: Quilting Tip: Scant 1/4 Inch
A Quilty Kind of Girl: Tutorial Tuesday- Quarter Inch Accuracy

Now it may seem tiresome & time consuming to find your perfect scant 1/4″- but rest assured- once you have that technique down- block construction will come together incredibly easily- without all the hassle of ripping out!

Tuesday Tip: Trimming Threads

Thank you all for being so patient last week when I needed to take a week off. I’m back home & going 90 mph again- it’s great to be back in my routine! I hope this Tuesday tip is helpful for you. In preparation for sending your quilt to a longarmer, you may have heard the request to “trim your threads.” Sound familiar? The first time I heard this I had no idea what it meant. Turns out it’s pretty important- more so than I initially thought. When you’re asked to “trim your threads,” you are basically being asked nicely to clean up your quilt. I pulled out a quilt I pieced back in college for an example. Here’s a portion of the top. See those dangly threads? Yeah, they need to go away. The longarmer’s hopping foot can get caught in them & things can get ugly fast. Also, if they aren’t cut before hand, they could actually end up being quilted in & then it’s a pain to get them out from under the stitching. Then let’s look at the back of the quilt. This is a great picture of a hot mess of threads in the back: Those need to be cut away as well since they could get caught & get tied up together while the longarmer is loading the quilt. Remember- you don’t want your quilt to have anything that might cause it to not lie flat! Finally, there’s this: Notice my green fabric has frayed a bit? Because I’ve used white sashing between blocks, that green thread has the possibility of showing through the white fabric when quilted- yikes! That’s something you definitely don’t want to happen! So take a look at both sides of your quilt before sending it off- it will look that much nicer after a few minutes of trimming threads!

Tuesday Tip- a bit different

Life took over this week & I’m currently away from home visiting family unexpectedly, so I didn’t have time to prepare an actual tip.

But I do want to share an episode from Thinking Allowed- a BBC Radio 4 show. Back in 2011 they discussed “Craft & Community”.
You can listen to it here:

For me being fully immersed in the quilting & knitting community- I completely agreed with the “pro-craft” interviewee.

But the “anti-craft” interviewee made me think about the perception of crafters in the world & how we many times aren’t appreciated & fairly recognized for our contributions.

What do you think?

Thanks for being patient- I hope to have the Tuesday Tip back next week!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday Tip!: The Stay Stitch


This cute little quilt top was a mystery I did with Stitchin’ Tree Quilts in Harlan, Iowa at a retreat back in January.  It’s a great scrap quilt & a fun play with color value.  Since my neutral was more of a medium color, I chose dark scraps for my piecing- but what, this isn’t a post about color theory- let me get onto the Tuesday Tip!

See how the outside border is pieced with all the different squares? Here’s a close up:

Notice how those seams that piece the border together run off the quilt? This can lead the stitching on the outside edge to become loose:

See how loose those seams are? And that’s just from folding & unfolding the quilt top! To keep those seams secure, we can sew a “stay stitch” around the outside edge of the quilt to keep them in place.

This is how I do it:  I simply sew around the edge of the quilt, 1/8″ from the outside edge.  Here it is in more detail:

I first get my “regular sewing foot.” This is the foot I use when constructing clothes or appliqueing. Basically it’s the foot I use when I’m not piecing a quilt. Now my foot has an 1/8″ marking on it. See where my needle is? Look just to the right of that- see that red line? That’s my 1/8″ line. I line up my fabric to that guide & start sewing as normal.

Now for thread, I don’t usually care what color I use for this technique- I just use whatever because since I’m stitching at 1/8″ from the edge & I usually sew my binding on at 1/4″ or 3/8″, it will be hidden in the binding. Here’s I’ve used a dark blue thread. So I continue sewing down the edge of the quilt side, until I get to the end, here I just stitch of the quilt:

Then I turn the quilt top & start the next side from the top:

My corner ends up looking nice & crisp like this:

You may be wondering why I bother sewing to the end, cutting my thread & rotating the quilt & starting again on each side- I do this because I get a crisper corner with my sewing machine. I found if I turned the corner, the corner ended up smaller & not as nice & even something crooked with my sewing machine. So in the end do what works for you- for me, I like the method that may take a little longer & use a little more thread, but I prefer it for the nicer finish. Thank you for joining me again for the Tuesday Tip! The stay stitch makes for a much nicer top to give your longarmer when you have a pieced border or a quilt that has curved edges (like in a Double Wedding Ring.) I hope to see you next week!

Tuesday Tip! Spinning Seams

I’m very excited to let you know that I’ll be starting a “Tuesday Tip” series on the blog! These will cover a variety of topics to help you make your quilts flatter and smoother before sending them to a longarmer. They will be in a variety of formats: photos, videos, etc- until I find out what works best for me.

Today’s tip is actually a video (please be patient! This is my first video!) on how to spin seams. I received an email from a student this weekend about the best ways to press their seams & I wanted to share with them how to “spin their seams” so I decided to take the opportunity to share it with everyone!

Enjoy & please let me know your thoughts & if you have any questions you’d like answered about prepping a quilt for a longarmer. Linking up with Small Blog Meet