Jan 052015

I recently finished a piece that required a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance.  This was due to the fact that there were so many pieces and cuts we wanted to be sure not to lose any points and maintain an accurate size for each small block that would eventually become a part of a larger block.

I work on a Bernina sewing machine, which makes scant 1/4 inch seams fairly simple.  Our 1/4 inch foot has a guide on the side, so we can cozy our fabric right up to it for accurate seams.  I also have a needle control which moves the needle a hair or more one side or the other.  It has up to 5 slight spaces to move to the left or right.  I generally set mine 3 spaces to the right for a scant seam.



Alright, so here’s the reason we do this. Every machine has a different measurement for 1/4 inch due to the way the foot lies on your machine or the needle positioning. There are many 1/4 inch feet for a quilter to buy, unfortunately they all seem to measure that so important 1/4 inch differently.  When we are creating our masterpieces we don’t want to have one piece not match up with another, so we find a way for seam consistency. I generally dislike unsewing or as many of us refer to ripping what we sew.  Because of this, I don’t like to practice my seam on pieces from my quilt.  I try to find better ways to measure that little allowance.








I have recently started using a neat way to check your machine to see how much it, or rather the foot, is off.  I stay at hotels often, so I take the note pads they leave by my bedside.  The lines on these pads are 1/4 inch apart.  ( you can also use a note card. )  I cut off the last line and use that edge as it was my fabric edge.  I then sew and hope that the seam ends up on the line.  If it doesn’t, I make adjustments and then begin my project. Can you see how the one on the right is off considerably?  The more pieces you have in your block, the greater discrepancy this will cause.



There is tape you can use, it is sold in the sewing notions section of any fabric store, called omnigrid glow line tape.  It comes in fluorescent pink, yellow or orange.  It isn’t sticky so it won’t leave residue on your machine, it is actually made to mark your rulers.  I will sometimes use it to mark where my fabric should match up to for my scant 1/4 inch.



Whether you decide to use the scant 1/4 inch or the approximate 1/4 inch your foot may make, the important thing is consistency. Remember, it’s really just a play on words, we can call it a scant 1/4 inch or a true 1/4 inch seam.  The one thing that is certain, you need to find yours and make a note of how you get your 1/4 inch. I recently taught my granddaughter Gabby how to make a simple 9 patch.  She is 8 and enjoys quilting on one of my featherweights.  We didn’t worry about whether the seam was scant or not, we worked on consistency of the seam allowance.  Please post comments if you have something I may have omitted to add to this post or if you have any questions.   And as always…

                           Quilt On My Friends

Apr 232012

Pam is squaring up her very first quilt block

Recently, I have given lessons to many beginner quilters.  They begin by learning correct pressing techniques,  the importance of precise and safe cutting with the rotary blade, the use of all the different tools, and why 1/4 inch seam?  I always have to share when ever that last question comes up.  When I made my very first quilt, I was self-taught, and I made the quilt with 5/8 inch seams.  Not only did it drastically reduce the size of my quilt, but it added much more bulk to the quilt than needed.  LOL…(laugh out loud, not lots of love…thats another story.)  I always teach how to read a pattern, the secret is one step at a time.  So often, we read the entire quilt pattern and then become completely frazzled and overwhelmed.  I don’t want you to think this is a bad idea, on the contrary, reading the entire pattern is a good idea.  It gives you a sense of the direction you are going in making the quilt.  The next step however is take one step at a time.  When the last step is done, move on to the next.  I also never cut my borders or sashing until my blocks are made.  The reason behind this is, you don’t really know how big your blocks or your quilt will be until after it is together.  I will be giving border and sashing instruction tomorrow, so check back for that info.

Once we have completed all the above info, we have a new problem, where so we go for our patterns?  I always suggest trying some free patterns before going out and buying books.  This way you will know the type of quilting you like before you invest.  There are strip quilts, star quilts, applique quilts, quilt as you go quilts just to name a few.  This way you may also be able to find out which designers you like as well.

I find that Miss Eleanor Burns is one of the best designers for the beginner.  Her patterns are simple and concise.  There are illustrations that are in color, and she has different color ways for every pattern.   This is helpful for those who have a difficult time imagining what a pattern would look like in color ways that aren’t displayed.  If you are on facebook, you must like Eleanor Burns quilt in a day page.  When you do, you will have access                            to a free Block of the month club (BOM)  You can get backdated blocks and then you can take a photo of it and enter it in her monthly block drawing and win a prize.  nifty isn’t it?

If you are looking for more freebies… check out on facebook the following pages:

Quilting on the Square, Quilt-Pro Block of the day ( they will email you a new block every day)  there is a place called freequiltpatterns.com , and did you know that you can google various fabric companies and go to their sites and find free patterns?

I hope this was info you valued.  If you have any info you would like me to cover, leave a comment, its easy.  go to the top right of the page and hit on the add comments, right below the services and tips and info tabs.  Also you may want to subscribe, if you enter your email you will be notified of any new posts and info .  You will also receive  discounts when using my services.

I heard a cute joke the other day…

An elderly man was talking to his children about his last wishes.  They asked his what type of service he would like. His reply was ” kids, I want you to cremate me and sprinkle me over moms favorite quilt store.”  the kids were stunned, and then he finished. ” that way I will be sure she will visit me often.”    🙂   Have a great evening and remember, there are worse things than being called and old sew and sew.



Apr 082012

Hi mom…question for yeah!  When are you going to write more posts?…Your last was on March ninth!  I’m thirstin’ for some more quilt blog.  Anyhow, I hope all is well in Florida over Easter.  Have fun with the girls…al five of them.  


Love your favorite baby,


By: Tyler Hanson

Feb 292012

I have recently had quite a few students ask me why their quilts aren’t square, why their quilts pucker, what am I doing wrong?  More often than not the problem is contributed to accuracy in cutting the fabric.

First things first, you need the proper supplies.  A cutting mat, a rotary cutter with extra blades, and quilting rulers and square rulers for squaring up.  Oh my, and the most important ingredient in this recipe, Fabric!

To begin properly, you will want to press all wrinkles out of your fabric.  You may be wondering if you should wash your fabric before you begin cutting and piecing, that is a personal preference.  I do wash anything that is colorfast, and in those quilts I am sure to wash all fabric due to shrinkage factors.  I want to be sure that all fabric in a quilt has been handled the same way.  If one fabric is washed, I will then wash all fabric for that quilt. I do not hesitate to repeat myself on this point because it is a very important instruction.

There are right and wrong ways to press your fabric.  As you can see, Pam is pressing her fabric and has it folded over.  This is alright, but to be really efficient she will want to open up the piece and simply iron it open to avoid any creases.  When fabric is folded like this it is often difficult to see if there are any creases or folds that you are ironing into the fabric.  Once fabric is open you can see wrinkles or creases.  If you have difficulty getting them out with dry heat, feel free to spray a little water on problem area and press.

We use a dry setting on our iron, generally cotton setting because that is

what quilters fabric is composed of.  Once you have finished pressing,

you will want to be sure you are cutting your fabric on grain.

Fabric when it is cut from a bolt is most often not a square-cut.  When

fabric is rolled on a bolt, it is most often rolled uneven.  One sure way to

see if your fabric is on grain is to take a snip out of the cut edge and rip

the width of fabric.  Now you have a squared edge.  The problem doing it

this way?  You tend to stretch the fabric when you rip.  another way to

do this is shown in the photos below.




Pam has lined up the salvage and shifted the fabric so the fold lies nicely and doesn’t have any twists in it.  If you look to the left of her fabric, you will see that the cut edge is uneven.  You will be using the folded edge to line up your ruler and straighten that edge.  Do not use the salvage side as that edge is not as consistent as the folded side.  Line the Folded edge up with a line on the 24×6 inch ruler.  Once the edge is straight, at a 90 degree angle from the fold, you will now cut off the salvage.

You may wonder why the salvage is cut off.  The salvage does not shrink or give at the same rate of the rest of fabric.  If you do not cut it off, it will be part of your quilt and after a washing you will find puckering that you won’t be happy about.

Can you see how nicely the fold lies here in the photo?   the photo below shows a piece of fabric that does not lie properly, but as you can see the edge is lined up.  If you proceed to cut this way, your strips will have a curve to them which will either be a waste of good fabric or the start of a very wavy

quilt .


As you begin to cut your fabric, it is important to remember not to use your mat as a measuring tool.  Mats can become warped, and they can be inconsistent.  You also do not want to use them as measuring tools due to the fact that many measurements in quilting are common measurements which will leave ruts in your cutting mats after multiple uses.  This will cause inconsistent cuts and damaging fabric.  You Simply use the mat as a cutting surface and actually use your ruler for measurements.

This may sound confusing, so I will walk you through it and include a photo.  You will lie your fabric with the side you desire to cut on the left side of the mat with the fabric lying to the right ( if you are right-handed, reverse if you are left-handed)  use the measurement you are in need of on the ruler, Lets say 1 inch for demonstration purposes.  line up the 5 inch line with the left edge of fabric, hold ruler with your finger tips on left hand, hold rotary cutter in right hand with your arm resting at a 90 degree angle at your side.

you want your arm to move naturally forward so that your blade does not tip to the left or the right, this will cause uneven cuts if it tips to either side.

You will use the edge of the ruler as your guide, your body positioned so that your arm isn’t in front of your body cutting.  Your arm is at your side, your body is positioned so that your arm moves freely forward as you cut.  When the cut is complete, leave ruler on fabric and pull the fabric to the left away.  You do this in case your fabric hasn’t been fully cut through.  In this case you will still have your intended strip still in place under the ruler, you can now proceed to recut that area that may not have cut accurately or incompletely.

Safety tips for Rotary Cutting…. Alway remember to close your rotary blade when not in use.  Not In Use means… when you aren’t cutting, when it is not in your hands.  These blades are extremely sharp and if you place it down in an open position, you or someone you love could lose a finger or worse.  I actually charge my students $1 every time I catch them leaving it

open after a use.  I hope I covered the majority of accurate cutting.  If you

have any question, leave a comment and I will get back to you.  Have a

great weekend.  Let me know if any of my tips helped you. I would like to

give a very special thanks to Pam, one of my students, for being my model.



Feb 162012

manchester mansion

Today I have spent my time loading a complex and beautiful quilt onto my long arm.  It has taken hours listening to the quilt, telling me how it wants to be quilted.  Oh sure, I hear your laughter, you are thinking Kelly is a bit crazy. But seriously, if you look at a quilt for a bit, you can sense what it needs for quilting.  I have never been one to over quilt, I like a nice suptle feel to my quilt, so this has been a difficult decision.  The quilt is called manchester mansion, it was a pattern put out in 2005 in quilt designers magazine.  Do you have a quilt that you took your time listening to before you quilted it?  If you do, please post a photo, I’d love to see it.


Feb 122012
Kristi made this quilted pillow for a friend who comments on how she liked it. This is true selflessness, isn’t that the definition of a quilter?

Now and then I create a quilt that really tells its own story.  Approximately 3-4 years ago, I made such a quilt.  This quilt was made from scraps and told a love story.   I brought it to a favorite salon, that I frequent for massage, for show and tell.  My young massage therapist, Kristi, was absolutely facinated with it.  We began to talk about the aspects of quilting and the great reward, as well as therapy that finishing a quilt brings to the soul.  Kristi  had an old machine that belonged to her mother, she had difficulty sewing with it, so I suggested she try a machine that I had in storage at home.  The machine was a Janome 4800 computerized machine with so many stitches that I think Kristi was a little overwhelmed.  She thought that the fact that it had the entire alphabet in 3 fonts was not too shabby either.  After I saw her reaction, I could not help but simply gift her this machine.  It was indeed one of the best investments I can say I have made in years.  This young mother has created so many beautiful quilts, pillows, and misc items.   It warms my heart each time she brings in another show and tell item, and the best part…. she gifts most of them.  What a treat to have watched the birth of  a quilter.  She was kind enough to send me some photos via email so I thought I would share them with you.  I am sure you will appreciate them as much as I have.

Isn’t this a fun quilt? I think this may have been her second

She prefers quilts with a kick, no boring quilts from this girl.

isn't this a great backing?

kristi has an eye for putting colors together



This is a story book quilt, inside each frame there is a storybook character



isn't this backing delicious?



































Amazingly,  she definitely took it upon herself to research and learn. Her first stop was the internet.  Here are the blogs she 







How many seasoned quilter forget to put labels
on their quilts? This was impressive 

 Kristi also found very quickly that she liked certain designers, and she has consistently found new exciting fabrics to make her quilts.

Her favorite designers are….

Heather Ross

Anna Maria Horner

Laurie Wisburn

I am really proud of this young mom, who by the way is due to have a baby boy any day now.  She is a real inspiration.  I hope her story will inspire others to put the fear of something new aside, the world is your palate.  It amazes me how many different and unique styles I see as I instruct quilting classes, and how inspired I become by my students.

I want to give a special thanks to Kristi and her husband Casey for organizing the photos and sending them my way.  And I would also like to publically wish them the best on the birth of their new son Ezra.

Leave a comment to encourage Kristi.  If you feel inspired by her work, let her know.  If there is something you

this is such a fun pillow, it has a trick which make applique really slickKristi made this quilted pillow for a friend who comments on how she liked it. This is true selflessness, isn’t that the definition of a quilter?
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