Links to Quilt Blog Posts

Friday, December 5, 2014

Tutorial: Quilted Tree/Small Gift Holder Ornament

Right now I am promoting a historical western novelette. I decided to make some western-themed ornaments in which to put my gift cards prizes. I'm not all that crafty (glue guns and I don't get along), so that left creating something using sewing and quilting.

I decided to start taking pictures in order to turn this into a tutorial about halfway through. So, if this is a little sketchy, hopefully you can figure enough out to fill in the blanks.
Gift card-size ornaments need to be about 3 inches wide minimum, and can be up to four inches wide (finished size). If you want to make one for a slightly larger small gift, adjust the size accordingly.

For this set of ornaments, I cut my cotton fabric as follows:
  • Width - 3-3/4 inches
  • Length - 5-1/2 inches.
Except for quilting or finishing, all seams are 1/4 inches.

I fussy-cut just a bit in order to get fairly decent placement of the boots on my ornament. For each piece of my main design for the front, I cut two pieces of my backing fabric the exact same size. A lighter weight cotton fabric works best for the backing and pocket. One of the backing pieces I folded in half and pressed to use for the pocket.
 Back to the front piece. Since this was a sparkly fabric, I chose a gold metallic thread for quilting around the design. I have learned from experience that it pays to invest in and use needles designed for metallic thread.

For the backing, I used scraps of batting and thin muslin, just enough to stitch the design I wanted quilted. Afterwards, I trimmed away the excess. This is important so that when stitching the front, pocket and back layers of fabric together, you are not also stitching through the thickness of the batting and scrap muslin.
Choose a stitch that will enhance the design in the fabric. I kept it fairly simple.

Next consider how to embellish the ornament. You can choose from bias tape, fabric craft ribbon, buttons, beads, bells or other small ornamentation. For my first design, I chose cloth of gold bias tape and stitched it across the top above the quilting.
After that, choose either cording or ribbon to create the hanging loop. Cut a piece about seven inches long if you wish to loop it over a tree branch, or slightly shorter if you only wish a loop on which to attach a hook.
To position the loop, fold the fabric in half lengthwise. At the top, pinch the fabric on the fold to "finger press" it. Insert a pin on the fold. Position the ends of either your cord or ribbon on either side of the pin and secure it in place. For cord or ribbon that unravels easily, place the ends about 1/4 inch past the edge of the fabric. With ribbon, you may wish to use a dab of glue on the edge to help hold it straight. With cord, use straight pins to hold in place.  Less than a quarter inch from the edge, stitch the ribbon or cord to secure it to the front fabric piece.

Layer the fabric in order to create the pocket and attach the backing. If necessary, before layering the fabric, secure the loop to the front fabric using a small straight pin. Place the folded piece on top of the front fabric. 

Next, place the back fabric on top of the pocket and the front piece so that right sides are together.
 Stitch three sides together using a 1/4 inch seam and leaving the top open.
 Trim the corners and turn right side out, placing the pocket in the back of the ornament.
Use your pointy tool to form squared-off corners. If necessary, trim a bit of the seam at the top on each side.
Turn the top seam down front and back about 1/4 inch and press into place.
About 1/8 inch from the edge, machine-stitch the top closed, making sure the loop stays centered and well secured with no edges showing.
The ornament is finished. The finished size is approximately 5 inches high by 3-1/4 inches wide. Since this is intended to be mailed in a regular envelope, I kept the design flat.
Here is the back showing the pocket for a gift card. These pockets are also great for a packet of needles, a card of earrings, batteries or other small gifts.
I am not overly talented when it comes to embellishing, but there are a multitude of ways to add decorative value to your quilted tree/small gift holder ornament.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Great Blog Post on History of Quilting

I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah McNeal's blog post on the history of quilting that can be found on the November 5, 2014 post on Prairie Rose Publications. You can reach that blo.g post by clicking HERE

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lavender Strip Race Quilt

I finally finished this quilt for the Gateway Quilt Guild "Quilters' Embrace" program. It has not been my favorite, but the finished product has grown on me.

It was supposed to be one of those strip race quilts where you sew a bunch of 2-1/2 inch wide strips together end to end--either on the square or by cutting the ends at 45 degree angles--and then cut off 18 inches on one end, then put together the two ends of the super long strip and sew it into a long block two strips wide. Next, sew those two together to make a long block four strips wide. Keep doing that until the quilt is the desired length or width.

Well, grace has never been my middle name. Those instructions did not work for me. For one thing, do you have any idea what it is like to have a mile-long strip draped across your floor, running down the hallway and wending through all the bedrooms, and then trying to keep that thing from twisting and hanging up as you pull it through the machine? All the while I tried to keep the cat from playing with it and getting wound up in it, and discouraged the husband from stepping all over it. I got as far as the super long block two strips wide and decided to come up with a Plan B.

I did the math on the strips given to me by the guild. They weren't baby patterns even though I only received enough strips for a quilt that size. I added strips from my own stash, did some more math to figure out the length I wanted the finished quilt to be, and cut the strips accordingly. I PATCHED those little stinkers together to make it all work.

Fortunately, I had this lavender fabric I picked up at a 50% off red tag sale with no idea at the time how I would use it. It became the border, backing and binding.

I put this quilt on my quilt frame along with an infant size quilt, and pinned the two inside seams together with the intent of quilting them at the same time. That sounded efficient to me since they were both relatively narrow and I planned to use light pink thread for both. We won't discuss how long those quilts sat on the frame, but this photo was taken in the middle of May. I finally got busy and got both of them quilted in a loose meandering stitch Monday evening.

The baby quilt I trimmed and will give to friend Sharon to bind and finish. It will probably go to one of the new moms at church. The lavender quilt I trimmed and bound this afternoon.

Now, if I can just get my "Today's Army" veteran's quilt (which I finally found after it had been misplaced for about ten months) finished this month, I will have met my personal Quilters' Embrace goal for the year.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Quilt for Camp Liahona - Show and Tell

Finished! Earlier in the summer I was asked to prepare a small quilt to be tied up at Camp Liahona for the girls from the Merced California Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was put in charge of the Craft Shack (What a joke! I’m not really crafty. In fact, I told them to call me Sister Quilty and the other Craft Shack worker Sister Crafty.) 

I had this fabric set aside for a child’s quilt to be donated for Gateway Quilt Guild’s “Quilters’ Embrace” program, so decided to accomplish two projects in one.

This is the finished product. I bought the three fabrics with the orange as part of a 50% off Red Tag special. I added the one turquoise from my stash, and later added the green and the floral on navy blue to add some contrast.

Because I knew I would be tying this quilt, I made up a design in increments of four inches. I haven’t decided if it is a four patch design, or a one patch surrounded by a very large lattice. In order to help the 1/4 inch seams to hold together through multiple washings, I finished the seam with a super wide feather stitch. I later wished I had used the default feather stitch size and the darker teal blue that I used to border the blocks.

I originally planned on a 41” x 48” child’s quilt with the flannel backing. I expanded it by adding a border in some of the woven fabric used in the blocks on front. I used 1/2” seams and sewed a reinforcing top stitch since flannel tends to be a loose, soft weave.

To finish it off, I used a binding cut from one of the orange fabrics and added a label. Quilters’ Embrace may add their label, but I wanted to show that it was tied as part of an outreach program. Actually, the girls were more into painting, cutting and pasting when at the Craft Shack this year, so it was the adult leaders who stopped by on their breaks who helped tie the quilt.


I put my wooden clothes drying rack to good use while assembling this quilt. By hanging the rows as I sewed the blocks together, I was able to keep them straight while I put the main body together.

I have a system that works for me to help me keep my blocks lined up and my seams squared. I use the long quilting pins to hold the lengths together. However, when it comes to where the seams join, I use the thin, silk pins. I pin whatever raw edge is facing back, and is at risk of being bent forward. By inserting the pin from left to right, I do not need to worry about my quarter inch seam guide getting hung up on the pin. I can use my left hand to remove the pin once the needle tacks the underneath edge in place, although, with the super thin pins, it is not always necessary, especially if I am using a size 14 or larger needle. I find that the bargain straight pins at the discount stores are too thick. I purchase the thinner ones at a fabric store.


I have a fabric template I use for tying quilts made out of a yard remnant of one inch square gingham. I cut holes four inches apart. For this quilt, I knew that I would be having more than one person at a time tying this quilt. I made three smaller templates out of opaque plastic. I use 2 mil plastic painting drop cloths I purchase at K-mart.

Because I knew all the blocks were in increments of four inches, I used a yardstick to measure out four inch blocks in black. The black lines were intended to be lined up with feather-stitched block seams.

I used red for two inch guidelines to show where the ties should be placed. I folded the plastic where the lines crossed, and snipped an opening. I drew a line around the edge of each hole so it would be easy to see where to place each tie.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Quilts at the Custer 1881 Courthouse Museum

Custer 1881 Courthouse Museum
Crazy quilt on bed, embroidery in display case.

To continue with my "finds" during my vacation to South Dakota, I took photos of a few quilts at the Custer 1881 Courthouse Museum. It is called that because (1) it is in the middle of downtown Custer, South Dakota, (2) in 1881 it began its service as the courthouse for Custer County, and (3) it is now a museum. One of the collections for which it is known is the 1874 Custer expeditionary encampment a few miles up the road. From there, Custer and his troops explored the Black Hills region and confirmed the existence of gold. That set off the Black Hills gold rush of 1876. But, that is a blog post for a different blog. If you are interested in learning about it once it gets written, go to and sign up to receive my articles by email.
Back to the quilts. This collection was not as extensive as the one in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Still there were some beautiful examples of old quilts on display, including a wedding ring quilt top that was not completed into a finished quilt. Then again, it is possible it was still used as a light-weight coverlet on hot summer nights when a thick quilt might have been too warm.

Along with samples of my own quilting efforts, I will be posting more photos taken at the Hot Springs, SD museum. They had some wonderful examples of weaving and a great collection of antique sewing machines. 

Please look for the box in the upper-right of this blog page and sign up to receive future blog posts by email.Trust me, I won't be sharing your email address with anyone and I won't be bombing your inbox every day.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Hot Springs SD Quilts

One of the pleasant surprises of my recent vacation was discovering the Pioneer Museum in Hot Springs, South Dakota. We went to Hot Springs to see the mammoth dig, but passed the entry to the museum on the way. So, after lunch, we made an unscheduled stop at the old school that served the community between 1893 and 1961. Now it is a museum packed full on four floors with one of the greatest collections of artifacts that I have ever seen.

Here is the link to their website:

Today I am focusing on some of the quilts in their collection. Unfortunately, the photographer (me) did not do all of the exhibits justice.

Friendship quilt with signature blocks middle row “Christain Cross” or “Chimney Sweep” end rows “Counter Pane”

Double X, Fox and Geese, Crosses and Losses, Bow the Variation, Goose and Goslings

 Silk feather embroidery:  Fan Patchwork, or Marys Fan, or A Fan of Many Colors,” or Grandmother’s Fan

Feathered Lone Star Quilt with Fan Quilting Pattern

Multicolor Crazy Quilt