During the 1930s, Nancy wrote a column for the Chicago Daily Tribune featuring a new quilt pattern every single day. A diagram of the daily block was printed next to helpful tips and bits of quilt history. (The pattern could be purchased for “5 cents in stamps or coin.”)
Nancy’s column was chatty and casual, like a tea time conversation between friends. I think I would have loved her!
On January 27, 1933, Nancy highlighted a simple half-square triangle pattern called The Old Gray Goose. Of course, like all old-fashioned blocks, it had other names, too, including Double Z, Devil’s Claws, and Brown Goose.
98 years later, Jenny is whipping up this pretty, antique block using 10-inch squares of precut fabric. We’re calling it Brown Goose, and you won’t believe how quickly it comes together! Nancy Cabot would be proud!
If you’re interested in learning about the basics of quilting, then you’re in the right place!
Getting started with something new is usually the hardest part. Quilting can be a laborious process — it requires many steps that can seem really overwhelming when you’re new to it all! Many beginner quilters can get stuck when thinking about piecing together their first blocks, but we’re here to help! Today we’re going to be talking about the steps before you start piecing. A good foundation is the key to success, so before you dive in and start stitching up your first creation, let’s learn about the very first steps in your quilting journey!
Jenny Doan always says “finished is better than perfect” and we can’t agree more! No one will notice if you lost a point or if you had to add back fabric with an extra seam after a cutting mistake or if you had to rip out the stitches in your block one too many times with your handy seam ripper (we’ll learn more about this tool soon!). Finishing a quilt or project is a huge accomplishment and you should never let your fear of imperfection get in the way of creating! So, let’s start with the basics and build our foundation and you’ll be sewing confidently in no time!
When it comes to buying fabric for your first quilt, pre-cuts are a good place to start! They come ready to go in various sizes in bundles of fabrics that coordinate with one another. If you haven’t had the chance, you can learn more about pre-cuts in our previous Building Blocks blog post. If you aren’t ready to take the leap into buying pre-cuts yet or you have other fabrics in mind for your project, have no worries! Virtually any fabric can be used for a quilting project.
The Memory quilt, for example, utilizes old neckties and shirts to create a quilt to honor a dear one’s existence. These materials are not designed for quilting projects, but with a little creative energy and ingenuity they come together to make a fantastic project that makes a truly powerful gift to honor the memory of a loved one. Old denim jeans, fabric scraps, recycled materials, t-shirts, and more can be materials used in your projects! So the next time you open your closet, keep in mind what you can repurpose to add a unique and modern touch to your quilting project.
You have many options for materials to use in your projects, but keep in mind that some materials are trickier to use than others. If you are just entering the world of sewing, we recommend choosing a material that is 100% cotton!
Cutting & Measuring
Now that you are getting comfortable with choosing fabric and learning about all the choices you have, let’s talk cutting that fabric! The old adage “measure twice, cut once” has never been so pertinent. In many projects, the fabric measurements are very important to get right, so that the rest of the work goes by smoothly! Quilting can be a precise art form, so it’s best to get used to measuring out your fabrics and cutting as accurately as possible in order to get the best results. There are a few handy tools that can aid in making this process the easiest it can be!
You’ll need a rotary cutter, a cutting mat, and a ruler. Scissors are very helpful in the sewing process, but when cutting up fabric as accurately and quickly as possible, rotary cutters are our go to — especially when paired with a gridded cutting mat. These mats come blocked out in one inch squares to assist in your fabric measuring and cutting! By learning how to sandwich your fabric between your mat and ruler and using the marked, premeasured guides on those tools, you can soon become comfortable with using your rotary cutter and making as accurate cuts as you can! It takes practice, so don’t be discouraged if you make mistakes along the way. No one is a master in the beginning!
The last item that we suggest getting familiar with that will help in the quilting process is something that you likely already have in your house – an iron! Irons are an integral part of the entire quilting process — they are with us almost every step of the way! You may already be comfortable with the iron you have at home and if you are not, don’t fret! They usually are pretty quick to learn and may just take a little studying and practice to find the settings that work best for you. Ironing makes many steps of the quilting process easier and soon you’ll figure out how much or how little ironing you like to do during your quilting process! Everyone is a little different — some people utilize the steam feature on their iron often, some people iron every little piece, and some iron rarely. It’s all personal and a part of the learning process!
Remember to always iron on a safe surface — an ironing board is great if you have one, but if you want a space closer to your sewing area, you can always purchase an ironing mat or even make your own! You’ll be ready to press in no time and create beautiful smooth fabric that’s ready for the next step, piecing!
In our next segment, we will be talking all about piecing. Take this time to familiarize yourself with your quilting tools and measuring and cutting fabric. Remember, these basic steps, although simple, will make all the difference when creating your first quilt project. We can’t wait to see what you create!
Jenny wasn’t always a quilter; she was a costume seamstress! But when she took a class to learn the log cabin block, it was love at first stitch! Before the class was over, she had completed 12 quilts—and she hasn’t slowed down yet!
During those early years, there was one pattern that always seemed too daunting: the dresden. She finally gave it a try, and guess what? It was an instant favorite! Click HERE to learn how to make a fun variation, Dresden Blooms!
Quilts are an incredible thing. Whether they’re hanging on the wall or tucked safely upon a bed, they add an artistic flair to the room. Clean, colorful quilts with plenty of white space can brighten up the room, but sometimes a darker touch can really add a comfortable and cozy ambiance.
Quilts that utilize bold color choices complimented by black and dark space aren’t just for the Fall season! These beautiful quilts draw attention and focus to the complimenting colors, creating a wonderful effect that makes the designs pop. Check out these five darker quilts and find some inspiration to break from traditional choices and make a bold statement!
Can’t decided between Layer Cakes or Jelly Rolls? Don’t want to go too bold when muted backgrounds still compliment the focus colors? The Rising Star Quilt is the best of both worlds! Pick up both precut fabrics and create a lovely star pattern using more prominent colors against a muted grey background for a quilt that both pops and still feels traditional and conservative.
Not a fan of Layer Cakes? How about a simple, beginner’s Jelly Roll Quilt! The Town Square Quilt uses Jelly Rolls (2.5″ Strips) pieced together with a black background to make a beautiful quilt that is full of traditional elements coupled with modern flair. We LOVE Jenny’s choice of colors on this project and there is no doubt that the Town Square Quilt would change the dynamic of any room it’s found in!
Grab the Missouri Star Small Tumbler Template and three Charm Packs (5″ Squares) and you’re ready to create an easy Sashed Tumbler Quilt! There’s no limit to the incredible color combinations you can create with this pattern and think how gorgeous those colors will be with a dark background fabric! Highlight your favorite Charm Packs or create a themed quilt with this simple quilt tutorial!
They don’t make them like they used to. Many of us were fortunate enough to have learned the art of quilting from our ancestors; parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles have long since been the best teachers to pass on the gift that is quilting. They stitched differently, as limited resources required more time and perseverance with each block. Each stitch was made with love though and the quilts survived, being passed down as family heirlooms for generations to come. Those beautiful patterns, bound in time by thread, became classics of the quilting world.
These projects have carried with them a sense of expertise, but there is no need to be an expert to create one of these timeless treasures. In honor of National Quilting Month, check out these five beautiful, traditional patterns and use your newfound knowledge to create something your family will cherish for years to come!
Stars and pinwheels are both iconic symbols of quilting. Quilt patterns including pinwheels and stars dating back to the 1800’s have survived demonstrating that quilter’s captured their surroundings and incorporated motion into their blocks. Using 10″ squares of precut fabric, the Stars and Pinwheels Quilt is an easily achievable project rich with history and tradition.
Consider keeping in theme with tradition when selecting fabric for this project. Elegant florals in a classic color palette really capture the ambiance of this quilt. Mercantile or primitive fabrics will add the traditional touch you’re looking for; we suggest Zellie Ann 10″ Squares for Benartex to truly create a timeless masterpiece.
When Jenny purchased an antique quilt block online, she never expected to discover a true hidden treasure within. Adorned with traditional pinwheels and complimented by a delicate border, when pieced together these blocks form a larger picture that’s full of the elegance associated with quilts from long ago.
This labor intensive classic has never been easier! The Granny Square, commonly used in crochet patterns, has been a long standing staple of the crafting world. Traditionally this quilt pattern requires numerous small squares be pieced together to create the desired effect, but with the help of Jenny’s modern approach to this classic, the Turnabout Granny Square Quilt can be made by any level of quilter and cherished for years to come.
The Dresden Plate can trace its history back to the 1920’s where it quickly became one of the most popular patterns of it’s time. Emanating from a bygone era, the Dresden Plate is still a popular and widely sought after pattern today. The process of making this gorgeous pattern has changed though and now through the use of templates, this pattern has never been easier to create
Although our quilting styles, tastes and patterns have changed, the customs associated with quilting have withstood the test of time. Wedding quilts have a rich historical importance because they were often well cared for and passed down through generations. The Royal Wedding Quilt, a simplified variation of the antique English Wedding Ring Quilt, puts a modern and streamlined twist on a classic project.
Balance this quilt with both light and dark 10″ squares for a brilliant contrast. Again, try to keep in mind the popular quilting fabrics of the past to capture the motif of a classic. Rhapsody in Reds 10 Karat Crystals for Wilmington Prints is a great place to start building these quilt blocks, the bold reds and subtle cream colors blend well to provide the desired effect of the design.