Jenny Doan loves to quilt everywhere she goes: In the studio. On the couch. In waiting rooms and on long drives. (Can you relate?) Life is more fun with a needle and thread in tow!
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Jenny has whipped up a quilt-as-you-go heart quilt using fat quarters and the fabulous Jewel Template. Best of all, these pretty hearts can be sewn by machine or by hand!
Jewel Heart is a great project for long waits and nervous energy, and it makes such a sweet gift, too!
Precut fabric revolutionized the quilting world. The quilting skill was historically passed down through teaching – one would learn the intricate and mathematical approach of measuring and cutting fabric by hand from the generation that came before. Anyone who has pieced a quilt knows it’s difficult work! Before you could even consider your project or layout, all the fabrics must be cut from bolts or repurposed from used materials. The margin for error was extraordinary, a single miscalculation could jeopardize an entire quilting project.
Quilting is now easier and more approachable thanks to precut fabrics. Precuts are perfect for beginners (that’s why Jenny uses them to teach!). If you don’t know what exactly a fat quarter is, or if you never heard of a honey bun, we hope this guide kicks off your quilting journey with confidence.
A Layer Cake is a curated bundle of 10″ squares of coordinating precut quilt fabric from a designer’s collection. These versatile packs can be used for a number of projects. Their larger size allows them to be to cut into strips or smaller squares if needed! A typical layer cake contains 42 squares of precut 10″ fabric, enough for a small quilt top. Depending on the distributor, layer cakes are also called ’10 stackers,’ ’10 squares,’ ’tiles,’ and ’10 karat crystals.’
With such a big cut of fabric, layer cakes can dazzle because the printed design catches the eye first. If you want to showcase a gorgeous fabric, consider Jenny’s spin on tradition and create the Irish Change quilt. The Layer Cakes in this project are left completely whole and highlighted with fabric strips to create a beautiful showcase of 10″ squares!
For an easy introduction to the world of Charm Packs, use the pack as it is and create the Charm Quilt on Point! This simple creation turns the Charm Pack fabrics on point before sewing them together to create a beautiful layout with little effort! Select your favorite Charm Pack (much like in the Irish Change quilt, your Charm Pack fabric will be the focal point), add a border and a back – you just created the easiest quilt you ever made!
Have you heard the saying “there’s always a bigger fish”? How about “there’s always a smaller square”? As you probably guessed, a Mini Charm Pack is exactly that – a smaller version of a Charm Pack! These fabric bundles contain forty-two 2.5″ squares of precut fabric, half the size of their larger counterpart! With a name as specific as Mini Charm Pack, it’s difficult find this precut under a different name (but let us know if you do!).
Think small when using this precut, it’s better used as a compliment than a feature! Mini Charm Packs create intricate and impressive designs, even though it’s really no different than sewing a larger square. The 2.5″ Mini Tumbler Quilt is a great option if you want to play with these mighty minis, but you can add creative flair to any quilt with a 2.5″ square as a cornerstone!
Let’s get away from squares and focus on strips! A Jelly Roll is a bundle of 2.5″ strips of precut quilt fabric, featuring an array of coordinating fabric from a designer’s collection. Jelly rolls make sewing up a cute strip quilt a snap. Not only are there countless patterns that use only a Jelly Roll, but you’ll find these strips so handy you may use them with other precuts. A standard Jelly Roll contains forty 2.5″ x 44″ strips of fabric and is also called a ‘rolie polie,’ ‘strip-pies,’ ‘roll ups’ or even just ‘2.5″ strips.’
One of the easiest quilts for beginners is the standard Jelly Roll Race quilt! Piece your Jelly Roll strip by strip, and you can stitch up 1,600 inches of fabric in less than an hour! This pattern can be wildly colorful, with constantly changing colors and designs – so be bold with your Jelly Roll choice!
The Honey Bun is the Jan to the Jelly Roll‘s Marcia. Have you ever heard of it? This slender roll is perfect for sashing and strip quilting. The Honey Bun is a bundle of forty 1.5″ strips of coordinated, precut fabric. When piecing a quilt top, it’s more common to use a Jelly Roll, but don’t count the Honey Bun out. Whether creating a small quilt top or an intricate design, the Honey Bun will serves up loads of versatility. If you can’t find a Honey Bun, try looking for it’s alter ego – Skinny Strips!
Jenny’s very first quilt was a Log Cabin quilt, so they’re near and dear to her heart. If you want to feature a Honey Bun in your next project (and not just for sashing), a simple log cabin block is the way to go. You can get 21 log cabin blocks from a single Honey Bun!
If you absolutely adore a line of fabric, the answer is the Fat Quarter! A fat quarter bundle is a stack of fat quarters (quarter yards of fabric, cut wide) of coordinating quilt fabric from a designer’s collection, and of all the precuts, it gives you the most fabric! Fat quarters measure 18″ x 21″ and make it easy to build a quilt with your fabric lines. With just a little extra cutting, the possibilities are endless for this precut bundle. Fat Quarters are sold in bundles called Fat Quarter Bundles, but sometimes they are also advertised as “rolls.”
Hello we are Elizabeth Evans and Elizabeth Evans… two girls who married brothers and ended up with the exact same name! We also are the same age, have the same number of children and, are both former school teachers. Together we blog over at Simple Simon and Company where we love to write about sewing, quilting, and the art of homemaking.
Today it’s me (liZ…short name, short hair) that gets the chance to share some thoughts about quilting with you. And the quilt I’m talking about is one that is a current work in progress that I started after being inspired by Jenny’s Alter Ego Quilt Tutorial.
There are two things that I really love about this quilt top tutorial:
#1. How the finished product looks complicated and time consuming when in actuality it is simple enough to be completed by even a novice quilter! (Over at Simple Simon and Company we love simple, beautiful projects….so this tutorial was right up my alley!)
#2. How versatile this tutorial really is. Just by changing up fabric styles and combinations you could make this top countless times and have an entirely different looking quilt each and every time. (And because most of us who quilt are making quilts for others rather than ourselves I can see this fast becoming a go-to quilt top to make for gifts.)
So let’s get down to brass tacks…the making of this quilt top.
(I love this fabric. It has such a happy, vintage vibe and working with it is a pure delight. Yes, a pure delight…some fabric just is that fabulous.)
But before I made my first cut into this fantastic fabric I came up with a plan. Even when I am following a pattern or a tutorial I jot down notes or sketch out my plan in a notebook.
It’s not fancy but it helps me collect my thoughts and gives me a direction for what fabrics I would like to place where. And for this quilt I wanted to try something a little different.
The Alter Ego quilt top is made using alternating 4 Patch and Hourglass quilt blocks. Each of these blocks have 4 different areas or zones. And my idea was to start in the center of the quilt with solid patterns…no white…and slowly add white into the mix until the rows on each end were solid white.
So you can see in my plan where the middle two rows were constructed of solid patterns.
Then the next row on either side of the middle would have ¼ of each block be constructed out of white.
The rows after that would be constructed from blocks where ½ of the area would be made from white.
And finally the two rows on each end would be solid white.
That was my plan but when I got to here I stopped:
I’m not sure I feel like only ½ of the blocks done in white gives the quilt enough white space to transition into an all white row.
Which is where you come in…what do you think?
Here is the original plan:
Solid, ¼ white, ½ white, all white.
But here is what I am thinking I should do instead:
Solid, ¼ white, ½ white, ¾ white, all white.
So that would mean adding two more rows (one on each end of the quilt before the all white row.)
I think this would make the flow better…and I have exactly enough little squares already cut to make it happen.
But here is what it would do to my quilt size:
If I stick with my original plan the quilt will finish at roughly 72” x 72” (which I like…because I LOVE square quilts). However, if I add the two extra rows it will become about 72” wide and 90” long…kind of a strange size.
Which leads me to my question (and the reason my quilt top construction has come to a halt): Do I go with the better design and weird size or better size and a design that is not as strong?
I am leaning toward the stronger design….what do you think?
Here’s where I am at…and can go either way:
While you are thinking you can check out Jenny’s terrific tutorial for The Alter Ego quilt and then you can pop on over to Simple Simon and Company and read about a quilt making tip that saved my marriage when making this quilt top!
(And when I decide which way to go I will be sure and share photos the finished quilt with you!)