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  • Choosing Quilting Methods and Motifs

    How do you choose the right quilting method to complement your quilt top? Here are some suggestions to get you started.


    First, consider the end use of the quilt. A quilt that is for display only can be quilted using fragile metallic threads, or quilted minimally while a quilt for everyday use must be sturdy and washable. You may choose to machine quilt in an overall pattern, tie with perle cotton or hand quilt an elaborate design.


    Use the piecing to guide you. One easy way to machine quilt is to "stitch in the ditch" this means to stitch between the patches. (see illustration) This is a great way to emphasize a certain portion of the design. If you are a beginner machine quilter this is one of the easiest methods - use a matching quilting thread and the stitching (and any mistakes!) will be nearly invisible but there will be dimension to your quilt.

    image of sewing machine foot aligned with seam

    Try freeform quilting. Designer Joy Hoffman uses a meandering loop in a variegated thread to quilt her Tropical Punch wallhanging. Lower the feed dogs on your machine and use the embroidery foot. Experiment until you find the setting and motion that works best for you. This can be a lot of fun, especially since you can make it up as you go!


    Use a stencil or trace a design from a magazine or coloring book. Choose a design that complements your quilt.


    Quilting methods can be combined - use a delicate hand quilted motif in the center of a block and machine quilt the borders.

  • Tips for Using Scraps

    Quilting by its very nature often fosters a love of fabric (or vice versa), and because of that, most quilters accumulate quite a stash! Very often the stash contains a number of leftover pieces too small to dedicate to a large project but too big to throw away. A great way to clean up those scraps is to make a scrappy quilt. Here are some tips to help select the right scraps.


    Color: Choose a color theme for your scrappy quilt. For example - jewel tones, earth tones, red white and blue, etc. The more scraps used, the more interesting the quilt. Not enough scraps in one color theme? No problem! Plan a charm quilt to use those scraps. Choose a shape from our shape templates and acrylic tools and start cutting. The single shape will unify an assortment of colors.


    Contrast: Contrast is important for any quilt. Be sure you have a good balance of lights, mediums and darks.


    Prepare: Wash and press scraps before cutting.


    Thread: A medium beige or medium gray thread will blend with most fabrics.

    Note: Many patterns can be adapted to use with scraps. Look for patterns with a dominant motif that can be done in scraps against a single color background. Friendship Crossing, Sunday Best and Prairie Flowers are just some that make great scrap quilts.

  • Chain Piecing

    Chain piecing is sewing a series of components by continuously feeding them through the sewing machine without breaking the thread (see illustration at right). This method saves time.

    graphic of chain-piecing: stitching across multiple pieces of fabric

  • Easy Prairie Points

    Here are two ways to make Prairie Point borders. The first is the more traditional method and is great for using scraps. The second uses just one strip and is a timesaver.

    Method One


    Cut 3" squares of fabric, enough to fit the border length.


    Fold square in half on the diagonal, press (see illus. 1):. Fold in half again on the diagonal (see illus. 2) and press (see illus. 3). Repeat for each square.


    Tuck Prairie Points for one border inside one another as shown in illustration 4 and baste. Check length of Prairie Point border against quilt and adjust the tuck of several points if necessary to fit quilt. Stitch basted Prairie Points to quilt top with points facing the middle of the quilt using a 1/4" seam (see illus. 5).


    After quilting is complete, trim backing of quilt even with raw edge of top and trim batting 1/4" shorter than the top. Turn Prairie Points to the outside, turn backing under 1/4" to cover stitching line on Prairie Points. Stitch down by hand.

    image of diagonal fold (3 inch square of fabric image of second diagonal fold (3 inch square of fabric image of pressed, folded cloth image of series of points (pressed fabric triangles) image of location of prairie point quilt border

    Method Two


    Cut a strip 6" wide by length of the border of your quilt (round up to nearest number divisible by 3).


    Mark the lengthwise center of the strip. Beginning on the left side of the strip mark every 3". On the right side of the strip beginning 1.5" from the top, mark every 3" (see illus. 6). Carefully cut on each mark to but not through the center of the strip. Cut away the rectangles at the top of the strip.


    Begin with square at top left of the strip. Fold bottom left corner to top right (see illus. 7). Press. Fold top left of resulting triangle to bottom right and press (see illus. 8).


    On the right side of the strip, take the bottom right corner of the square and fold it to the top left. Press. Take right point of triangle and fold it down to bottom left and press. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all squares have been folded and pressed.


    Press all points to one side. Baste to border and stitch with 1/4" seam. After quilting is complete, trim backing even with raw edge of top and batting 1/4" shorter. Fold over raw edge of backing and stitch down by hand.

    image of fabric strip prepared for cutting - 3 inch segments image of first fold of fabric square from cut image of second fold of fabric square from cut

  • Appliqué Tips


    Pin appliqués from the wrong side to avoid tangling the thread on pins.


    A small pillow in your lap will support the work and improve posture and can act as a pincushion as well when stitching by hand.


    Use thread to match the appliqué, not the background fabric.


    Stitches should be no farther apart than 1/8" - any farther and unsightly gaps may occur.


    When quilting appliqué designs, begin by quilting a scant 1/8" around the appliqué. This will give the appliqué added dimension, popping it off the background.


    Appliqué is a natural for embellishments. Consider adding beads, fabric paints or trims for added interest. Accent a pattern in the fabric or create an original design.

  • Appliqué Techniques

    Needle Turn Appliqué

    This method allows the appliqué to be stitched directly onto the surface. The needle is used as a tool to turn the seam allowance under as stitches are taken.


    Trace or transfer appliqué shape onto fabric, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance between motifs. Cut out carefully.


    Transfer appliqué design to background fabric.


    Using bamboo creaser, fold over seam allowance (following traced line) and crease to wrong side.


    Place appliqué in position and pin from the wrong side.


    Place threaded needle under appliqué and come up just on the appliqué edge of the creased seam allowance. Pull thread through. Insert needle into background fabric directly across from where the needle came up, move needle up under the appliqué, emerging about 1/8" from last stitch. This is a blind stitch and after some practice it will be virtually invisible!


    Tip: No melt mylar templates can be traced for the appliqué shapes and then used to trace shape to fabric. Place the template on the wrong side of the cut out shape and press the seam allowances with a bamboo pointer creaser for a sharper crease.

    Freezer Paper Appliqué Technique

    This method uses freezer paper as a guide for stitching.


    Transfer appliqué design to background fabric.

    image of heart applique pinned to background fabric

    Copy motif onto dull side of freezer paper. Cut out exactly on line - DO NOT add a seam allowance.


    Iron freezer paper motif, shiny side down onto motif fabric. Cut out shape adding 1/4" seam allowance. DO NOT remove freezer paper.


    Place on background fabric and pin.


    Bring needle up just on the outside edge of the freezer paper template, but under the appliqué. Using point of needle push seam allowance under following freezer paper edge as a guide while blind stitching appliqué. (Click on image for larger view.)

    Raw Edge Appliqué Technique

    This technique provides a casual, fun look that gives added dimension to a quilt top.


    Transfer or trace design to background fabric.

    image finished heart applique with frayed edge styling

    Transfer motif to appliqué fabric.


    Cut out motif; consider using a wavy edge or a pinking edge scissors for added dimension.


    Place motif on background fabric and pin.


    Stitch with decorative stitches by machine or hand inside the edge of the appliqué leaving the edge free to ravel.


    This type of appliqué looks especially well with embellishments such as buttons, beads etc. (Click on image for larger view.)

    Fusible Appliqué Technique

    The fusible appliqué technique is a quick and simple way to add appliqué to any project. Perfect for beginners, the technique can be done two ways. Required materials for this technique are fusible webbing and template plastic (to trace motifs).

    Trace and cut out design motif. Do not add seam allowance to the motif. Fuse the shape to the fusible webbing. Cut out around motif. Remove the paper backing and following manufacturers directions, fuse to the quilt. Satin stitch around motif with invisible thread or embroidery thread.

    Trace design motif. Add 1/4" seam allowance and cut out. Using motif as a pattern, cut fusible webbing. DO NOT FUSE. With right side of fabric and non-fusible side of webbing together, stitch around motif leaving a small opening to turn. Clip seam allowances and turn motif, being sure to turn in raw edges of opening. Press to fuse. Place motif on quilt and blind stitch in place.

    Time Saving Tips for Fusible Appliqué


    Before fusing motifs to the quilt, check placement of all elements of the appliquéd block. Now is the time to make any changes!


    Add a 1/4" overlap to any piece that is to be placed underneath another piece. (For example, see tulip center in Amish Tulips Quilt.)


    To save time, fuse all elements using the same fabric at once.

  • Quilt Borders the EZ® Way!

    by Sharon Hultgren

    Pieced borders add a very special touch to a quilt top. EZ® Quilting tools make it a snap to do. Measure the quilt to determine the length of the pieced border. Determine the number of units needed to create the border. Pick your favorite from the suggestions below or create your own using your favorite EZ® tool!

    Border 1

    Using 3" strips laid right side together (a light and a dark - this is also a great way to use up scraps) cut half square triangles. DO NOT SEPARATE THE CUT TRIANGLES. They are ready to sew! Sew together as illustrated.

    Note: Use light and dark or medium fabrics.

    See Easy Angle™ Tutorial

    schematic of Border 1 piecing

    Border 2

    Place 3" strips right side together (medium and dark fabrics) and using the Easy Angle™ cut quadrilateral shape with 6 1/2" base. From a 4" strip of light fabric cut triangles. Stitch light triangles to short side of quadrilaterals. Join as shown in illustration to create the scrolling ribbon.

    Note: Use light and dark or medium fabrics.

    See Easy Angle™ Tutorial

    schematic of Border 2 piecing

    Border 3

    Place 3" strips right sides together and cut quadrilateral with 6 1/2" base. Begin by sewing the straight side of one quadrilateral to the longer "bottom" of contrasting quadrilateral (see illustration). Alternating fabrics, sew quadrilateral together as illustrated.

    Note: Use assorted fabrics.

    See Easy Angle™ Tutorial

    schematic of Border 3 piecing

    Border 4

    Cut 3" squares from assorted prints and triangles from a 3" strip of background fabric. Assemble as shown.

    Note: Use assorted prints and background fabric.

    See Easy Angle™ Tutorial

    schematic of Border 4 piecing

    Flex Design Rule&™

    The FlexDesign Rule™ is a wonderful way to create an unusual border. Follow these easy steps.

    1. 1. Quilt as desired.
    2. 2. Bend the ruler into whatever shape pleases you and works with your quilt.
    3. 3. Trace the design on your border but DO NOT CUT.
    4. 4. Sew single fold binding to the marked line (single fold will be easier to sew on curves and dips).
    5. 5. Trim the seam allowance.
    6. 6. Fold binding to back of quilt and slip stitch in place.

    picture of border made with Flex Design Rule

    For quilts using these techniques go to:

    1. On the Web Wall Hanging
    2. Pam's Pumpkins Table Runner
    3. Anything Goes Quilt

  • The Importance of Being Square

    Most traditional quilts are designed using square blocks, the pieced units that create the design in a quilt. If these blocks "lean" a little to one side or another, so will your quilt. The effect is a little like a leaning building - you just want to push it upright and make it square!

    To avoid the tipsy look, be sure your blocks have corners that form right angles. Even though consistent 1/4" seams are used and the patches cut to the correct size, ironing or even handling can cause the block to skew. Use the Easy Square Jr.™ to "square up" quilt blocks. Place the Easy Square Jr.™ over the center of the block and check to be sure all sides measure the same length. Align the grid on your cutting mat with the grid on the Easy Square Jr. Carefully trim around the edge of the block. Be sure to trim all blocks to the same size. Is It Square?™ and the Easy Square can be used to square larger blocks.

  • Embellishment Tips

    Embellishment is a great way to add to your quilt. Here are a few hints for success.


    Plan your design before you begin. Lay out your design elements on the quilt before sewing. Experiment with different combinations of color and texture before you commit by sewing them down.


    Choose your embellishments according to the use and care of the quilt. For example, a sturdy rickrack is a good choice for a child's bed quilt. Dainty glass beads are better suited to a wall hanging that will be laundered infrequently.


    Choose a design feature or color from the quilt to emphasize. Follow the swirl of an exotic paisley or choose an accent color from a print.


    Let your imagination take over! Use rickrack, ribbon, buttons, beads, charms, and silk flowers; whatever you can sew down. Use a little - use a lot. Have fun with the process and you will be amazed at what you will accomplish!

  • Finishing Techniques

    Adding Borders

    When the quilt top is finished and pressed, take an average of several measurements through the width of the quilt, and cut two borders this length. Sew to the top and bottom of the quilt. Do the same for the borders on the sides of the quilt. Additional borders are added in the same manner. Browse through our Acrylic Tools for rulers such as the Easy Rule II or Super Quickline Ruler to aid in your measuring and cutting.

    Marking the Quilt

    Mark any quilting designs lightly with pencils made for this purpose (check out our Marking Tools).


    The backing and batting should be 4" larger than the quilt top. Lay the backing face down, then the batting, and finally the quilt top. Baste the three layers together about 4" apart with thread, safety pins or quilt tack. Take a look at our Basting Pins.


    For hand quilting, use a Betweens needle, quilting thread, and a thimble to help push the needle through the layers. For machine quilting straight lines, use a walking foot or even feed foot to keep the layers from shifting as you sew. Use regular sewing thread in a matching or neutral color.

  • Sewing Curves

    The trick to working with curved pieces is accuracy. Easy Drunkard's Path Templates have clearly marked seam allowances and match points that make sewing curves stress free!


    Mark the curved edges at the match points using a fine point marker.


    Clip no deeper than 1/8" at markings on the concave edge of the fabric (see illustration 1).


    Place curves edges together matching markings (see illustration 2). Pin at both side edges. Working toward the center, ease in fullness evenly over the curve by pinning at each marking (see illustration 3).


    Stitch slowly using 1/4" seam, taking care not to stitch over pins. Press seam toward darker fabric.

  • Applying Quilt Binding

    What's Great About Quilt Binding?


    It adds a beautiful border to any quilting project


    It's width accommodates high loft quilt filling


    It's pre-folded and ready to use


    It's flexible and fits around curves smoothly

    Step Binding - 1

    With narrow side up, fold Quilt Binding over edge of project and stitch as close to the edge of the Quilt Binding as possible.

    image of binding being sewed to edge of fabric

    To bind around a corner, sew to edge of fabric, remove from machine, and clip threads. DO NOT CUT QUILT BINDING.

    image of binding being sewed on corner of fabric: illus 1

    Fold Quilt Binding around corner and pin, making sure that the pleat in the Quilt Binding is neatly mitered at the corner of the fabric.

    image of mitered corner of binding

    Place fabric under pressure foot at the mitered pleat and begin to sew, making sure to backtack at the corner.

    image of bound and sewn fabric corner

    Step Binding - 2

    Unfold Quilt Binding and, with right sides together, match crease of tape with seam line. Make sure narrow side of tape is closest to the seam line. Sew, tape side up, in crease of tape.

    image of binding being sewed to edge of fabric

    Turn Quilt Binding to the back, pin and stitch "in the ditch".

    image of binding being sewed to edge of fabric

    To bind around a corner, apply Quilt Binding as in previous 2 steps cutting tape off at corner. With new piece of binding, apply as in first step, leaving 3/4" of binding extending beyond corner. Fold extension to the back, then fold bias tape to the back. Pin and stitch "in the ditch".

    image of folded binding at corner

  • Tips for Binding Scalloped Edges

    by Darlene Zimmerman


    Mark scalloped edge on a quilt but DO NOT cut on that edge until the binding is sewn on. If the edge is cut before binding you risk stretching and fraying of the scallops.


    Baste along the marked edge. This will hold layers together and keep them from shifting while binding.


    Always use a bias binding to bind curved or scalloped edges. A single bias binding cut at 1 1/4" is best. (Wrights Wide Single Fold Bias Tape is the right size and comes in many easy to match colors!) A double binding is too bulky at the inside corner of the scallop.


    To make a softly rounded corner, start marking the quilt edge with Easy Scallop positioned right to the adjacent edge. To make a pointed corner or "ear", begin with half of scallop at the corner.


    A scalloped edge can take an ordinary quilt and make it extra-ordinary!

  • Applying Ruffled Quilt Binding

    Ruffled quilt binding is the perfect option to finish the edge of a tree skirt, pot holder, baby bib, placemat, quilt or many other quilted projects.

    To Apply:

    Sandwich edge of material between folded edges of quilt binding, pinning binding in place as you go. Leave 1" extra quilt binding at beginning and ending points. Remove stitches from binding 1" from cut ends.

    image of stitches removed from binding 1

    Fold bias tape header 1/2", wrong side to wrong side. Press.

    image of folded bias tape header

    Turn edge of ruffle back 1/4" creating rolled hem, encasing raw edge. Stitch.

    image of rolled hem

    Ruffle should be slightly shorter than bias tape header. Finish pinning quilt binding in place at edge of material. Repeat for second end of binding. Sew binding around entire piece of material with stitching line 1/4" down from edge of binding.

    image of ruffled binding

  • Working with Flannel in Quilts

    Flannel brings extra coziness to quilts. However, it can be a little more challenging to work with. Here, designer Darlene Zimmerman shares some tips for working with flannel.


    Choose a simple pattern with large pieces. Bear of the North is a good quilt choices for flannel.


    Use a walking foot (sometimes called an even feed foot) for piecing. This will prevent the flannel from shifting during stitching.


    Use steam to press seams. Press bulky seams open.


    Use a lightweight batting - the flannel alone is quite heavy.


    Quilting can be minimal on a flannel quilt. Tiny hand stitches will disappear into the flannel's loft. Instead, consider tying or using large hand stitches in perle cotton. Minimal machine quilting is another good option.


    Remember to stop and clean your machine frequently. Working with flannel will build up a large amount of lint under the sole plate.


    Due to the bulk of a flannel quilt, a wider than usual binding is required. Wright's Fleece Binding would be perfect on a flannel quilt!


    Consider using flannel to back a pieced cotton quilt. This is the best of both worlds - the warm snuggly feeling of flannel on the back, and the top pieced in your favorite pattern in regular cotton.

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