Monday, May 30, 2011

Lets Make a Rag Quilt

I started googling quilt photos and found some really cute quilts called Rag Quilts.  I decided for my next project that I would try that style. I had a lot of the Heather Bailey fabric left over from the first quilt.  I found some instructions and began.  Rag Quilts are really easy to make and they come out so cute!   If you have never made a quilt before and want to start with something simple then I really encourage you to try a rag quilt.  Here is a picture of the first one that I made.

This particular quilt is cotton fabric on both sides and flannel fabric in the middle.  I have changed the way I make my rag quilts now and just use the cotton patterned fabric on the top of the quilt and flannel fabric on the back and in the middle.  Here is the pattern for a rag quilt.  If you don't want to cut the pieces yourself visit my etsy site.  I sell Rag Quilt kits.  All the cutting is done for you, all you have to do is sew them together.

Rag Quilt Instructions from

These are instructions to make a rag quilt. Finished size is 36”x 32'. If you wish to make a larger size just add additional squares of material.
1 pair of sharp Scissors or Spring loaded Scissors
1 Rotary Cutter (45 mm works fine)
1 Cutting Mat
1 Cutting Ruler
Rag Quilt Snippers (optional)

My favorite rag quilt scissors are Tonic Studios 404 6-1/2-Inch Spring Cut Scissors. They are around $12-$14.00 and well worth it. You can keep them nice and sharp with a cheap scissor sharpener. I have tried a lot of scissors and haven't found a pair that works better.
5 different fabrics that compliment each other. You will need 1/2 Yard of each fabric. For the backing and the batting I use flannel you can use any color, but make sure it goes with your material because it will show at the ragged area of the quilt. I usually use white. You will need 1 1/4 yards of flannel.
Thread (I use white, but you can use any color that goes with your fabric)

Iron your material before cutting. Cut all material into 9” squares using your rotary cutter. You will need 40 squares of fabric and 20 squares of flannel.

First make a sandwich:
Take two matching pieces of your patterned fabric and put a flannel square between the two squares. Make sure the
“good” side of the patterned material is showing on both sides of the square. Line up the material evenly on all sides. Pin in place.   Sew diagonally across the square from the top point of each corner to the bottom point of each corner, so you have a big X across the entire square of fabric. (use any color thread you like, I use white).  Do this with all your squares.  You will end up with 20, 3 layer squares of fabric. Don't worry if your squares are not perfectly straight on each edge. This quilt pattern is very forgiving.

Lay out the squares in rows of 5 so they look nice to you. You will have 4 rows of 5 squares.

Next you are going to sew a row of 5 squares together. Match the good sides together so the seams show, pin, sew
using a 1/2 seam allowance.  The quilt will be flat on the back side and show all the unfinished seam allowances on the front side. Make sure that all your seam allowances are showing on one side and flat on the other. Sew your first two squares together, add the third, then fourth etc till have a row of 5 squares completed. Sew your next row, continue till you have made all 4 rows. Try to keep your rows in the order you originally placed them.

Now start sewing your rows of squares together. Line up two rows at the intersection of each square, pin, then sew the rows together, use a ½ seam allowance. Add another row and repeat the process till you have all your rows sewn together with the unfinished seam allowances showing on the front side of the quilt. 

Once you have the rows all sewn together sew a 1/2 stitch all the way around the outside of the quilt. This will lock the seams. Your quilt should look flat on the back and all unfinished seams will be showing on the front.

Now you are ready to snip your quilt.  I use spring loaded scissors as they are easier on my hands. But any really sharp scissors are fine.
Snip your seam allowances to the stitching (not past) about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch apart (the smaller the snipping the more ragged your quilt will be).  Do all the seams and then snip all the way around the outside.  I also cut the corners out. This process will take you quit a while, I usually do my snipping while watching T.V.   When you are finished you are ready to wash the quilt, washing & drying is what makes the nice frayed look.

Machine wash the quilt in cold or warm soapy water, use fabric softener if you have it.   Tumble Dry, Med heat, in the dryer. (make sure to check your lint trap several times) Remove your quilt from the dryer and look over the quilt, it will be a mess with lots of loose threads and knots everywhere. Don't worry this is normal. Use your scissors to snip the messy knotted threads away and fix any uneven areas. Look for any seams you missed snipping the first time.  You can then wash and dry one more time.  Check for loose threads one more time and your done!  Your quilt will fray with each wash and just get better and better!

If you accidentally snip through a seam just go back over that area with your sewing machine.
If you have any problems or questions please feel free to convo me at my etsy website.

Have Fun!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Framed Block Quilt Pattern from beffie48 shop at ETSY

Here is the pattern for the Framed Block Quilt.  I have included photos to help make it easier for you to make.  This is a pattern for a smaller square size than the original one pictured on my first blog.Enjoy!

Baby Size Easy Framed One Patch Quilt Instructions

This quilt will be approximately 37” x 45”
You will need:
6 coordinating fabrics ½ yard of each (the pictured quilt is made with Penny Lane Fabrics by Riley Blake.
Backing, approx 40” x 48”
Batting, approx 40” x 48”
Binding (I usually make my own with the leftover fabric) or you can purchase ready made.
1 Rotary Cutter
1 Cutting Mat
1 Cutting Ruler

30 5” squares (6 of each fabric)
60 2”x5” strips (10 of each fabric)
60 2”x 8” strips (10 of each fabric)

When you have finished all your cutting take each square and pick one of
the coordinating fabrics framing strips. Put each square with 2 short
framing strips and 2 long framing strips in a pile. Continue till you have
used all your squares and strips.
When you have matched all the squares to the strips you are ready to
begin sewing. Take one square and with right sides together pin the short
framing strips to each side and sew a 1/4” seam. Press Open.

Next take your your long framing strips and pin them right sides together to
your squares sides. Sew a 1/4” seam. Then Press Open.

Continue sewing all your squares in this manner. Once you have
completed all 48 Squares you are ready to sew your squares into rows.

Lay out your squares into rows that are pleasing to your eye. Use 6
squares for each row. You will end up with 8 rows of 6 squares. Sew your
squares together with a 1/4” seam. Press.

Now line up your completed rows matching the seams together and sew
with a 1/4” seam.
Once all your rows are sewn together your quilt top is finished, you can
add your batting, backing, then quilt and bind. I used free motion quilting
but you can use any technique you like.

Here is the completed quilt!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Framed Block Quilt - Part 4 Binding

I finished my quilt top and realized that I didn't one big enough piece of material for the backing on the quilt.  Yikes!  I had lots of extra fabric but nothing big enough.  I ended up deciding to sew several strips together to make a large piece.  Here is a photo of the completed back side of my quilt.

Since I was making this quilt for my 1st,  soon to be born grand daughter I wanted it to be extra special.  I had saved the lace fabric from the original bassinet that my mother-in-law had made for me when I gave birth to my first child.  Since she was now having her first child and my mother-in-law had passed away I thought it would be nice to incorporate some of that fabric into this quilt.  If you look at the front side of the quilt you will see how I used that white lace fabric to frame the quilt.
Finally I used my newly acquired free motion quilting technique fairly well.  Then I was ready to sew on the binding.  I had never binded a quilt before so I turned to another Google search and accidentally found a website called "Missouri Star Quilt Shop" Here is a link to their  tutorials  They have a tutorial called "Binding your Quilt - Tips and Tricks Series.  I used their technique on that quilt and have used on all my quilts that require binding.  They have lots of great tutorials on their website.  I highly recommend it! 
And then I was done, Wow!  I looked at the finished quilt and thought it looked pretty good. I was happy to be finished. I thought I would be happy to put my sewing machine away and move on to other things.  But, I found that I still had a desire to make another quilt.  Maybe a different kind of quilt.  I had allot of leftover fabric and I had discovered so many wonderful fabrics available on the Internet that were not available from the fabric store in my area.  I found myself searching the Internet for photos of quilts and quilt patterns searching out the ones that I thought might be easy enough for me to try to make. 
I finally decided on trying out a rag quilt pattern.  More on the rag quilt on a later blog.
In the many months since I made this quilt I have made many many more quilts, different kinds, some are really pretty and turned out quite well, others just ok.  But I have made several more quilts in this Framed Block pattern and it still remains one of my favorite patterns.  So much so that I have put together a pattern with photos showing how to make this pattern.  On my next blog I will post that pattern with the photos.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Framed Block Quilt Part 3 - Free Motion Quilting

In my attempt to figure out exactly how to make my Heather Bailey Framed Block quilt, I noticed it was quilted with a pretty swirly pattern called Free Motion Quilting.  Hum, what was free motion quilting, how was it done, could I learn to do it?  I started doing searches on the Internet and found several videos on YouTube that showed how free motion quilting was done and what equipment you needed in order to do it (the free motion quilting foot) There was even a video of a child free motion quilting!  I watch several "how to"  videos over and over and finally decided to give it a try.

I think most people can learn basic free motion quilting.  It does require some practice, so I used some old quilt pieces and spent some time experimenting. There is a level of expertise in the free motion quilting world that I will never achieve. Yes, I can and will improve with practice, but I wasn't born with true artistic ability, so I imitate.   I watch videos of these talented ladies and am amazed at what they can do  If you have a chance watch some of the free motion quilting videos posted on YouTube. So, while I can't say that I became an expert at free motion quilting,  I became good enough at the basic swirly design to use the technique on my quilt. I posted the close up photo above to give you a better look.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Framed Block Quilt Part 2 Quilt Making Tools

I think some of the greatest tools for quilt making these days are the cutting mat, quilting ruler and rotary cutter.  How did anyone manage before they became available? 
If you are a new to sewing,  interested in quilting and need some help, this is where you start.  Purchase a cutting mat (at least 24" x 36) and a 45mm or 60mm rotary cutter.  You will also need a quilting ruler to make nice straight cuts. I also purchased a free motion quilting foot (more on free motion quilting in a future blog) and a 1/4" piecing foot with blade.  The 1/4" piecing foot is wonderful.  It has a blade on the side that guides your material and keeps your seems at 1/4".  I love it and would be lost without it.  Of course you need a sewing machine! 

I had such a driving need to make this quilt, but at the time I wasn't really sure that I would end up with a completed quilt that looked anything like the original quilt that I coveted.
A hundred steps loomed ahead, steps that required some kind of order, steps that were just kind of floating around in my head. So, I took the first step of gathering the required tools.
Of course my current sewing machine had been purchased in the 80's and had only been out of the closet for a few minutes in the last few years.  I took a good look at it and decided that an upgrade was in order.

I spent hours and hours pouring over sewing machines and reviews before picking my new machine.  I have to add  I had a very small budget at the time and I didn't know if I would be interested in sewing with the new machine, once my obsession with the Heather Bailey quilt had been quenched.  I wish I had known that the first quilt would only be the beginning of a love of fabrics, quilts and quilting. 

So with my budget in mind  I ordered the new sewing machine on the website, a Brother CS6000i.  At the time it was only $179.  I read all the reviews, they were pretty good, I ignored the bad reviews (my mistake) but it seems every item has some bad reviews.  Let me just say that the machine ended up in the trash 6 months later.  I purchased it and used it for that first framed block quilt. As you can see from the photo I posted (part 1) the quit looks pretty good.  My problems came later with extended use and rag quilting projects.  It jamed constantly especially on thicker fabrics.  I became very frustrated,  after all I just wanted to sew a straight line!  How hard could it be?  Into the trash it went.
I replaced it with a new Janome Magnolia 7330.   If I were doing a sewing machine review at this point I would say that I love my new Janome sewing machine.  Yes at $349 it was twice the price of the Brother, not bad considering you could easily spend thousands on a good sewing machine.  The great thing about the Janome is that I don't have to fight with it to get it to sew.  It sews thick fabrics just as easily as thin fabrics. It rarely jams, The stitches are nice and even. What more could I ask for?  It has lots of stitches that I never bother using, but who knows what projects will come my way in the future? 

Next I purchased that wonderful Heather Bailey Fabric. I'm not very good at deciding which fabrics go with what but I just returned to that original quilt that I had seen on Etsy and ordered the same fabric designs.  Since I don't seem to have a talent for picking out quilt fabrics I have found that just choosing several fabrics from a designers line works pretty well. I also do searches on Etsy for "Fabric Bundles"  people who have more color sense than I offer fabric bundles for sale on several Etsy sites.  Here is a link to one of them .  Seeing 5 or 6 fabrics that are already bundled together really helps me decide what fabrics I want to use for a new quilt. 

When I ordered the Heather Bailey fabrics I had no idea how much I would actually need and accidently ordered enough for several quilts.  But oh how pretty it all was, I couldn't wait to get started!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Heather Bailey Fabric Quilt Using a Framed Block Pattern - Part One

So here is the first real quilt I made. After that first view of the quilt I saw on Etsy made with Heather Bailey fabric I couldn't get it out of my head. I should say thank you to the person who actually made the quilt as she was kind enough to list the actual designer of the fabric she used.  Without that information I don't think I could have gotten very far.
So in the following days  I returned to the Etsy page showing photos of that particular quilt again and again.  I added that page to my favorites and started planning how I might be able to actually make a similar quilt.  I managed to find and order the material at Heather Bailey's website.  Here is the link for those who are interested in looking at her wonderful fabrics.
Next I started looking for "framed block patterns" on the internet and found some that I could modify to make the quilt I wanted.  I was most worried about cutting the pieces correctly and sewing them together in a consistant manner so that everything look right and even.  Thats when I discovered cutting mats & rulers, rotary cutters and a 1/4" sewing foot.  Suddenly making this quilt seemed so much easier.

The quilting world has advanced and there are so many cool tools to help you find your way!

On The Way to Opening an Etsy Shop

So, here I am writing a blog about my Etsy shop.  Everywhere I look for help on running my shop I see "start a blog", "bring more people to your Etsy shop with a blog".  The problem is what exactly to blog about.  Does anybody really care to know about my day to day Etsy life? 
So, here goes.  I opened this Etsy shop about 11 months ago,  The news that I had a grand daughter on the way sent me into overdrive making quilts for her.  I hadn't really ever been much of a sewer but once I started looking around the internet at all the beautiful new fabrics that were available I was hooked.
I remember the day I found a lovely quilt on Etsy, it was made with Heather Baily Fabrics and I thought it was the cutest thing I had ever seen.  I just had to have it!  But, yikes it was over $100.  I looked at it carefully and thought maybe I could make it myself and in that instant my obsession with quilt making was born.
Even to this day I wouldn't call myself an advanced or even intermediate quilter.  I make simple quilts with fabrics that make me happy to look at.  Thats really what it is all about,  just looking at the fabrics, how they look next to each other, how the final act of quilting the materials makes a plain piece of fabric come alive. It just makes me happy.