Pressing and Borders (Part 2)

A couple weeks ago we covered pressing your blocks (and quilts).  Now to the important part of getting a perfectly flat border…

The first step is to measure your quilt from edge to edge (including the seam allowances).  Write the measurement down.  (Check both dimensions even if the quilt is square.)  If you have different measurements on a square quilt, take an average.

Measure edge to edge.

Measure edge to edge.

My piece measured 14 1/4″.  Divide this number by 2 making your cutting number 7 1/8.  Keep this number handy.

Cut ALL borders parallel to the selvage (lengthwise grain) the width you choose.  This prevents warping of the borders and will keep your quilt flat.  Fold your borders in the middle.  (You can stack a couple at a time if you wish.)  Measure out from the fold your divided number.

Measure out from the fold 7 1/8" and mark.

Measure out from the fold 7 1/8″ and mark.


Here is the important part…  Cut out from the fold using a 45 degree ruler.


Cut out from the mark.

Cut out from the mark.


Sew the borders onto the quilt top stopping at the 1/4″ mark.

Sew the borders onto the quilt, leaving the miters free.

Sew the borders onto the quilt, leaving the miters free.


Lastly, stitch the borders together, taking care not to catch in the corners of the quilt.

Sew just the 2 adjacent borders together.

Sew just the 2 adjacent borders together.

Turn your quilt over and give it a final press.  Lovely, flat borders and NO STRETCHING!  Your quilt will be an award winner!  Feel free to share these tips with your quilt making friends.




A week at JC Campbell

I took a vacation last week and went to JC Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC.  What a wonderful place!  If you have never been or heard of the folk school, check it out at  It is a fabulous place to take a workshop from great teachers.  The reason I went was to take a fair isle knitting class from my favorite knitting teacher, Martha Owen.  She owns the yarn shop near the school called “The Yarn Circle”.   She also spins, knits, raises sheep, dances, tells stories and teaches knitting.  I love her teaching style.  Martha gave a history of fair isle knitting and then we dove into color.  She explained about selecting the right yarn and colors for fair isle knitting.

Martha explains about choosing colors.

Martha explains about choosing colors.

Next we made swatches and tested out our needle size.  With Shetland music playing in the back ground and taking ample tea breaks, we started in on our projects.  Now at this point, you might be saying, “Why the heck is Cindy taking a knitting class?”  Well, wait until you see some fair isle knitting!  It is so close to our quilting patterns, you have to ask yourself, what came first the patchwork or the knitting?

Patterns for knitting are so similiar to quilting!

Patterns for knitting are so similiar to quilting!

Another great example…

Looks like the "snowball" block to me!

Looks like the “snowball” block to me!

One of the highlights of our class was a field trip to Martha’s farm.  What fun to see the sheep that make the yarn that we buy!  She raises many types of sheep.  She has the wool carded and then spun (or she spins it herself) into wonderful unique yarn that you can purchase at her shop.  We were delighted to purchase some of “Derrick’s” yarn that Martha spun herself.  (You can also get some wonderful cream color from Eudora.)

What a face!

What a face!

Derrick's fleece is shades of gray.

Derrick’s fleece is shades of gray.

I left the school relaxed and energized.  I promise I’ll write part 2 of borders next week.  Until then, relax, have a cup of tea and enjoy the flock!

So much wool, so little time!

So much wool, so little time!







Pressing and Borders (Part 1)

A great question came up this week from someone making my honeycomb stars quilt.  She didn’t press the little blocks as she made them and wanted to know about pressing the quilt now that it was finished.  It brings me to question of when to press and when NOT to press your blocks.

It all has to do with GRAINLINE and stretching out the blocks.  When you stamp out your pieces, you ALWAYS align the fingerholds of the wood with the LENGTHWISE grain.  (No stretch)

The Lengthwise grain is parallel to the selvage edge.

The Lengthwise grain is parallel to the selvage edge.

I’ve figured out where the grainline should be for all the quilt blocks we make with my stamps and have had the rubber placed accordingly.  If you stamp on the crosswise grainline you can stretch out the pieces as you sew and you will struggle to piece them onto the ajoining piece(s).

Most of the time, your finished block will have either the lengthwise or crosswise grain along the edge.  If so, go ahead and press the block face down on your ironing board, being careful not to stretch it.  You should press the seams together, do not open.  I did, BTW, press each little honeycomb star as I went along, even though one edge of the diamond was on the lengthwise grain and one was not.  I was VERY careful not to stretch them.  Is it wrong to wait until the quilt is entirely pieced?  No, not at all, it just means spending more time at the ironing center when you are finished.

Press the seams as flat as you can.  Notice the star is pressed around in a circular motion.

Press the seams as flat as you can. Notice the star is pressed around in a circular motion.

Don’t worry if you have a few “twisted seams” when you press.  It is going to happen.

Turn the piece over and give it a good press, using steam.

Turning the quillt over and give it a final press.

Turning the quilt over and give it a final press.


Now you are on your way to successful pressing!

Next week I’ll be out of town, but when I get home, I’ll post my favorite tips for cutting the borders, mitering the corners and getting your piece to lie FLAT every time!





Quilting Tips

Last week we had an ice storm in East TN.  It gave me an opportunity to sit and finish quilting my new Star Garden.  (See the home page for a full picture.)  Here is the view from my back window onto the deck.

View from my back window.

View from my back window.


I put on a pot of tea and baked some scones to eat while quilting.  When I got to the border, I thought you all might like to see how I keep my borders flat when quilting…

I start quilting from the center of my quilt, as taught in the “Tiny Stitches 2” book.  When I get to the borders, I take my quilt out of the hoop and attach a muslin “sleeve”.  (The sleeve I use over and over again.  I cut 2 yards of muslin in half lengthwise, sewed it up into a sleeve and then turn it right side out.  You can also use an old beach towel.)

Start by laying your quilt flat, extending the extra batting and backing.


Lay the quilt flat with the border extended.

Lay the quilt flat with the border extended.


Now baste your “sleeve” right sides together along the edge of the border through all 3 layers.  (I usually have to move the sleeve onto another side after I’ve finished quilting part of the border.)

Baste the sleeve onto the edge of the quilt.

Baste the sleeve onto the edge of the quilt.


When you put the quilt back into your hoop, you have an “extension” with the sleeve.  It helps the border to stay put when quilting and give you a nice FLAT border every time.

Ready to quilt the border.

Ready to quilt the border.

I finished the quilting in the late afternoon in time to have another scone!   Pass the clotted cream!



Cutting Up & Perle Cotton Tricks!

Hi, everyone.  While I working on my new Star Garden quilt, I took a picture of the cutting process.  Susan, a quilting friend, shared this trick with me several years ago and I love it and use it EVERY time I cut out a project.

Just put a towel on your lap as you cut and it catches all the bits and pieces.  When you are done, just pick up the towel and your pieces are ready for disposal.  You can also do this if you machine piece and need to cut off “dog ears.”  Too simple, yet  clever!  No more mess after cutting!

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Catch all your bits onto a towel.


Here is another tip I use when I’m embroidering.  I LOVE valdani perle cotton.  Start all the balls and pull the ends of the thread through the top opening.  When you need a color, just select and pull out as much as you need!  The ball doesn’t roll away!  PERFECT!

If you purchase a set of my “Handwork in the Smokies” valdani collection, you get the zip pouch FREE!  (See the website under notions.)  The pouch will also hold a needle keeper and small 5″ hoop, so I organize all my embroidery supplies in one place.

Start all the balls and pull the ends through the end of the zipper.

Start all the balls and pull the ends through the end of the zipper.



Some Inspiration

Hello, everyone!  I’ve been busy working on my new quilt, Star Garden this holiday season.  It was so much fun to make.  Bigger pieces than I usually use.  I can’t wait to quilt it!

Over the holidays, I got a couple really neat pictures from my students and friends, I thought I’d share.  The first picture is from my friend, Sandi.  Sandi and I have been friends since she took my very first quilting class I taught in 1978!  We have raised our boys together, shared our sorrows and joys.  Sandi is so much fun to be around, her daughter in law once remarked, “When I grow up, I want to be YOU!”  She took my feathered star workshop at Handwork in the Smokies and made one block.  She framed the block and look at the outcome!  See, even ONE block can be a STAR!

Sandi’s feathered star hangs proudly over her fire place.

One of my wonderful students, Jan, finished her Mariner’s Compass quilt in time to give to her husband for Christmas!  What a gift!  And it is beautiful!


By adding blocks, Jan made a bed quilt.

I hope these pictures keep you inspired to hand piece this year.  Whether it is one block or many, the outcome is still fabulous!




Homemade New Year

It was very busy here at the new studio for a few days.  My 9 year old grand daughter  wanted to finish her tumbler quilt that she had started last June when I visited.  She read my “Tiny Stitches” book from cover to cover and even quoted me word for word.  Wow!  The mind of the young!  Anyway, I got her started working on my sewing machine to finish up the last row.

Christmas2012 104 (640x427)

She was so excited to be working on it.  BTW, the tumbler is PERFECT for a child, either by hand or machine.  This was her first attempt at machine work and the stamped lines REALLY helped.

Christmas2012 106 (640x453)

After layering and basting, she chose one of my favorite valdani perle cotton colors called “Lollipop” to big stitch the piece together.  Look at that “thimble action”.  A grammy has to be proud!

Christmas2012 119 (640x427)

She did get the binding sewn on as well, so it went home a FINISHED piece!




Merry “Quilty” Christmas

Just wanted to make sure you all get a special greeting and Merry Christmas from my new studio!  I got to sew this week with my friend, Priscilla.  She became my first “official” studio guest!

Hand piecing in the new studio!

I worked on some embroidery and my new quilt design with a new stamp I hope to have out soon.

Our house is just about ready for guests and I took a picture for your enjoyment of the cozy living room ready for the grand kids to tear into the presents.  (Should I take an “after” picture?)

Ready for Christmas.

Hope you have time this year to spend time with friends and reflect on the many blessings that the Lord has given us.  You are all very special to me and I wish you health and happiness in 2013.

A toast to all my quilting friends!


Studio Wall

Hi, Everyone!  I had a chance this week to get some quilts pinned up on my studio wall.  Such a great place to pin up some of my favs that were just folded up.

Favorite Quilts pinned up on empty wall.

Note the sign, so if you don’t know what they are…  🙂

I also moved over some of my business this week.  I have a great storage for my inventory stamps in my pine jelly cupboard.

Jelly Cupboard

Let’s open it and see what is in it!

Open Jelly Cupboard

Just waiting on your order!  I should be completely operational this weekend.  My computer center is being moved tomorrow along with my huge printer.  I have a treat coming up next week, so stayed tuned!


Ironing Center

Hi, everyone!  We had a few bumps in getting into our new house with the plumbing, but now we seem to be on track.  I even got to hang some quilts in my studio yesterday.  (More pics to come next week.)  Anyway, thought you would like to see my ironing and cutting setup.

I bought a “big board” from a quilt show and then my hubby proceeded to purchase some stand alone cupboards from Lowe’s.  He nailed a piece of particle board to the tops of the cabinets and then put the big board on top.  PERFECT!  Ironing boards can take up so much room in your sewing area, but this provides a needed space AND storage!  The cabinets are about 4″ from the wall, so I can drape my large fabrics over the back as I iron.  And yes, that is a “steam generator” iron.  I LOVE mine.  It eliminates the need to press back and forth a million times, just twice thru and you are done.  The space also doubles as a cutting center.

“Big Board” ironing & cutting center.