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Each year, our family honors my grandmother who was a great seamstress and quilter by having a gathering we call the Barnhouse Bees. We all exchange squares with each other and catch up on what we have done the past year. We all bring a dish and share a meal. Each year, you bring back your squares from the prior year made into a quilt. We all show our quilts and honor the ones who have passed on.
Every time, we meet we choose a theme for the following yearly bee. One year, we used the theme "Grandma's Cellar". We each made 20 squares of the Mason Jar pattern containing something that she would have canned and put in her cellar. Another year, we did the theme of "Grandma's Dresses". Once, I even made extra squares in my mother's memory.
What a great way to make memories for years to come and a wonderful tradition to pass down to our children and grandchildren.
By Sue Hinely from Ludowici, GA
I like to sew a lot. I wanted to make my friend's first baby a special quilt. I made the flock of geese pattern. The quilt was unique and I had a lot of fun with it.
When you make a quilt for someone, make it even more special by making a label saying "This quilt was made with love for:___". Add a second line with the name of the quilt and the date. I realize that a lot of quilts I've seen didn't have a label.
Check this quilt out my friends.
By Maria from Somerville, MA
My 85 year old mother-in-law lives with me. We've been buying fabric and notions at thrift stores for about a year now, costing us 2 dollars a Walmart sized bag. We decided it would be neat to make the family quilts for Christmas.
Update: Here is what I mean by "turning". When you make your squares, you turn one square opposite the other square so that one side goes horizontal and the other square the sides go vertical, and there is no need to match the seams.
When making quilts, I use old (clean) mattress covers for the fill. Cut to the size that you need.
Everyone who sews has lots of small scraps. I use mine to make quilt tops. Cut muslin or light color fabric into strips 4 inches wide and as long as you want the quilt (maybe 3 yards). Or you can cut squares about 10-12 inches.
When hand sewing, I am partial to quilting, I like to thread several needles to be ready when I have finished with one length of thread. To be even more organized, I prefer to use a magnet to keep the needles and threads straight so I don't have to stop what I am doing just to thread another needle.
When quilting with thin, flimsy fabrics, use "used" fabric softener sheets as an inexpensive backing. It gives it body and makes it a whole lot easier to work with.
When cutting several of the same shape, staple several layers of the paper needed or fabric needed and cut several at one time. If you are cutting paper put your staples outside your pattern lines on three sides.
I do a lot of quilting and, as you know, you have to iron a lot of quilt pieces. I was always running out of water for the iron. I have found a really neat way to have lots of water and be able to pour it in your iron without spilling it everywhere.
Make the quickest most accurate quilt you'll ever make using a gridded stabilizer. It's made with one inch squares, but you can use any size squares you want. I place the squares in the area I choose, use the tip of my iron to make them stick till I get all the squares on.
When you are working on quilt squares, a perfect carrying case for all your stuff you need is a pizza box. The squares stay nice and flat and all your tools and thread fits just fine.
For drawing quilting paper-pieced blocks, I take a piece of template plastic (available at Joann's very cheap), and then cut small grooves using an Exacto knife and a cutting mat, corresponding to the lines of the pattern.
I use iron on backing to make the quilt pieces easier to work with.
Take the small pieces of soap that are left over in the shower, dry them out and presto, you've got a great marking tool for fabrics and quilting.
As you're making your quilt squares, press each time you finish a seam in a pile of squares. If you trim and measure as you are building your seams, your quilt will be much more accurate.
Quilting tips and tricks from our readers. Quilters are all fabricaholics. I don't even throw tiny scraps away. The tiniest scraps go into a jar labeled "quilt jelly". Larger pieces about the size of the palm of a baby's hand come in handy when you're doing applique.
If you have grid paper, it's fun to design your own quilt squares. Keep it simple, but make sure you have lots of colorful fabric, and you'll be sure to have a great quilt. I like to use a color wheel. I have huge doubts about my tastes in color combinations, but I'm getting better.