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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. We chose easy patterns, she cut and ironed the pieces and I sewed then together.
By Sherry from Paducah, KY
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.
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.
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.
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".
Cutting mats develop scratches and rough spots over time as they are used. Refreshing a cutting mat surface may be possible with some light sanding.
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.
Before starting a quilt, be sure to iron the scraps you plan to use.
The number of fat quarters needed for various quilts will depend on the finished size, but even more importantly on the type of block chosen. Complex blocks may require more fabric as there may be more waste. Save scraps for future projects. This page provides some estimates and sources for determining the amount of fabric needed.
Even if you don't have a quilting frame it is easy to tie your quilt. One method is to lay the layers on the floor and pin or baste them together and then tie. This is a guide about tying a quilt without a frame.
This is a guide about cutting fabric straight with scissors. Cutting a straight line, using scissors, when working with fabric is not always that easy.
For people who want to quilt but hate to sew, there are many books in the library just for you. You'll find choices for simple or complicated patterns. Calendar quilts are often done by hand because they use so much applique.
Always buy the best quality of needles to sew your quilt with and use a nice sharp one each time you sew as a sharp needle forms the best stitches for your quilt.
The papers that come on the back of panty shields have just the right curve on one end for the Grandma's Fan (quilt) pattern. Just fold the other end in the get the straight edge you want.
To store larger pattern pieces for applique, I just roll them up and put them in a empty paper towel cardboard tube. I store them in a box large enough that if the pattern is longer than the tube it won't bend or tear.
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I have been working on a queen size quilt and not sure how to tie a quilt. Do I knot the corners of each block which are 9 in blocks? Any suggestions? Thanks
You are probably going to want to tie the quilt about every three to four inches. So put a tie in on each of the corners and one in the middle of the square. I have made a few tie quilts, but my grandmother made a lot of them.
Tie the knot in each corner my wife said. Hope this helps.
I tied one every 3 inches that seemed to work well. I went across and then the next row alternated so the ties staggered and not all in a line. Hope this helps. I used embroirdery thread to tie with. I bought a spool of it for a dollar something.
Thanks so much for all your responses. I managed to finish my quilt and very happy with it.
I have bags of clothing (stained or ripped) that I want to make a simple quilt with. Can anyone tell me the easiest pattern for a beginner? I also have about 40 pairs of jeans.
By Marion R
Can anyone tell me if sheets work well to use for cutting into fabric pieces for quilting? TIA.
By Susan W.