Category Archives: Free Pattern

Hand Quilting Workshop

I recently did a demo on hand quilting for the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild.

Modified Dresden Hand Quilted Mini Quilt
I covered both perle cotton hand quilting – aka big stitch quilting – as well as traditional hand quilting – since really, there isn’t much difference in the technique, just the size of the thread, needles, and knots. 

Here is the hand out I made for the talk – it’s based on the longer class I have taught a few times. Of course, to really understand hand quilting, you need to see it done!

I want to make an illustrated version of the hand out above, but hopefully it can be helpful to others – at least it gives you the terms you’ll want to google to find videos that show the technique being done.

I love hand quilting – it is such a beautiful, therapeutic way to enhance your quilting. I also like it because so much of my sewing I’m squirrelled away up in my sewing room -this allows me to sew while still hanging out with family.

Woodlands Baby Quilt Car Seat Cover

Fox Applique Quilt – Free Applique Pattern

About two years ago, I made a fall snowball quilt, and had a bunch of HST’s leftover after trimming my blocks. So I pieced them into an awkward shaped block of chevrons. It then seemed impossible to me how to finish the quilt.

Then last week I was sorting through some Works in Progress (sooo manyyyy) and in a flash decided I would add a strip of white and an applique patchwork fox. I had a free moment so got started immediately.

And Done! I have traced the applique with basic instructions for anyone that may want to make their own Fox Patchwork Applique here is the pdf . It is a VERY basic pattern, let me know if you have any questions.  The fox finished at about 13×17 at the widest area, so you could easily make one with a fat quarter if you don’t like it pieced.

Fox Applique quilt

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How to Make A Really Scrappy Lone Star Quilt

Really Scrappy Lone Star TuturialTraditional Lone Star Overview
The Lone Star is a traditional diamond shaped block – traditionally you do planned colors so it makes a cool radiating star pattern. For an example of that, here is a cool tutorial! It requires really careful piecing, because if all your bias cut seams don’t match up just right, you lose some of the effect. The strips are all the same length and width and you have to carefully calculate your strip piecing and color placement to get the perfect effect.

Another option is the slightly scrappy lone star, which Better Off Thread has a nice tutorial  with examples for that effect! While her version uses a variety of colors with random placement, the strips are all the same length and width.

HOWEVER, I didn’t use either of these wonderful tutorials, because what I wanted to  do was to make a lonestar with different width strips, for an effect that is truly, madly, deeply scrappy.  So far my quilt looks like this – it has about 33 pieces per block which means it has about 2,770 pieces so far! Here is before I added the blue strips along the outside edge to square it up.Scrappy Lonestar

And one block looks like this – a strip pieced diamond with 45 degree bias cut edges. Using my math below, you’ll create a diamond block. You can certainly use smaller measurements for a smaller block!

Scrappy Lone Star Tutorial
So this tutorial is going to be how to turn a pile of string scraps of a million different lengths like this:
Scrappy Lone Star Tutorial

Into the quilt above! The quilt isn’t done yet, but I have made enough of these things to explain the process!

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Charley Harper Bird Pixel Quilt – Plus Tutorial

Charley Harper Tutorial

I’ve long been obsessed with making Charley Harper quilts for years now – I love his artwork! However, I can’t seem to make my self finish one of them! Here is a an early process shot of my goldfinch quilt and here is the finished top from last fall. Miraculously, I made the back and basted that yesterday, so hopefully photos soon of that coming along! May be a few years before I can decide how to quilt it – but I’m thinking orange peels?

Charley Harper Goldfinch Quilt
I also started a cardinal version last fall at the #OHCraft Retreat that the amazing Kara puts together every year – maybe I’ll finish it at this year’s retreat? Update! I did finish it! Details here. 

Anyway, a few people have asked me for a pattern for these quilts. I don’t have anything fancy to share, but I will share details on my process that should make it a lot easier for you! Continue reading

Disgruntled Christmas Embroidery

I love the holidays and family, but am not crazy about commercialism, and while I could frame it politically or from a feminist perspective, if I’m really being honest, I don’t like, basically, doing housework which I think the holidays involve way more housework and running errands than I am willing to buy into. But I like my family! And jokes, I like jokes and movies with jokes in them. So, some years ago I made these Christmas ornaments and sold them in the shop. They have some naughty swears in them, friends, so warning!


For a few years, I sold the completed ornaments in my shop, but I fell out of love with them. But not before I made a pattern!

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Square Tote Bag Free Tutorial

I love making reusable shopping bags and totes and decided to whip up a little pattern for one of my favorite bags that I have – here is the tutorial at this link. I did a pdf because I find it so much more convenient for me to make documents than blogposts -sorry for any inconvenience to you!

Essentially this bag is just a half yard of fabric folded in half.  You can also use two fat quarters sewn together. The fabric here is an upholstery weight cotton from ikea – but quilting weight is great too!

Instead of just sewing up one side and along the bottom like a basic tote, you sew on all four sides and square the bottom. It’s just a tad sturdier with very little extra bulk.  Let me know if I have unwittingly copied someone here – this is just how I’ve made a lot of my shopping bags for years.

Hopefully my instructions aren’t tooooo horribly confusing.

Tote BagTote Bag

How I Machine Sew Binding

I won’t bore you with a bunch of stuff about binding from start to finish. There a lot of great places to learn about binding, like from Jaybird Quilts or from Sew Happy Geek. I just have one thing to sort of add to the conversation.

I machine sew my binding on. Some people hand-sew it, and I’m sure that’s great, but eh, not for me. Generally, people say that when you machine sew your binding, you should sew it onto the back of the quilt, and then fold it over to the front.

Machine sewing Binding to the front

Here’s where I’ll toss out my opinion: Instead, I sew my binding onto the front of my quilt, and then fold it over to the back. I use binding clips to secure the binding every few inches.

Then, I insert in straight pins between the binding clips, double checking that the binding on the back is caught in the pin.  I like the combination of the two more than one or the other. I usually only stick in 3-4 pins at a time as I go along.

This allows me to sew right along the binding, and the stitch on the front just fades into the seam. I generally use a 60 wt. thread (YLI Soft Touch currently), but sometimes I use a heavy thread, like Aurifil Lana Wool Thread, if I want the stitching to be part of the quilt design. You can probably also use an invisible thread if you like, though I have never done so.

The purple binding above is a 2.5 inch binding. I used the white thread on the top, and purple thread to match the binding in the bobbin.

Here is the front of a quilt I used red wool Aurifil thread on:

Machine Sew Binding

On this quilt (which I believe has 2.25 inch binding), I have sewn right along the edge of the binding with a light weight thread. After crinkling in the wash, you can’t hardly see it:
Machine Sew Binding

Here’s the back of the same corner of that quilt, you can see where the bottom thread is not 100% even with the edge of the binding, but it is pretty close.

Machine Sew Binding

Another note, before attaching binding, I usually do a long basting stitch all around the quilt to secure and flatten the edges, just under a quarter inch. When finished, the binding covers this stitch. In the top image with the purple binding, I played with doing this stitch a half inch from the edge so it was visible. I’m not crazy about the effect, but it’s not a dealbreaker…

My binding isn’t perfect (hahaha), but this is the best way I have found to efficiently create binding that gives me the look I prefer. Any other tips for doing binding? I’m pretty much self taught, so if I’m doing something horribly wrong here, let me know!

Valentine Hearts Mini-Quilt Tutorial

Finished Heart Mini-Quilt!

Update – thanks to folks over at Sew Mama Sew! for selecting this tutorial as a finalist! See the other awesome projects here!

When I was considering ideas for my wedding signature quilt (follow the link for that tutorial), I had thought about doing applique hearts, and having people sign the hearts. I decided that the hearts where a little bit too sweet for sarcastic old me, and also that I didn’t want to cut out 100+ hearts. And (Oh the humanity!!) since I STILL haven’t won an Accuquilt system to cut out my hearts for me, alack and alas,  I went with squares. 

However, my sketches of hearts quilts were still in my crafty sketchbook, and while I was procrastinating on some pretty monstrous quilts, I decided to make a little mini quilt. It took me a while because I chose to hand-quilt/embroider it, but if you machine quilted, it’s quite possible you could be done in a carefree afternoon.

Here are some basics on how to make it:

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How to Make A Wedding Signature Quilt

Make a Monogram QuiltEDIT – This post was updated September 2013. I’ve been making wedding signature quilts as part of my Etsy business for a few years now and have streamlined things a bit. Here are some signature quilts I’ve made recently for more examples! And here are some tips for bringing a completed quilt to your wedding.

I made a signature quilt for our wedding – you can read more about it here, it was very fun and my sweetie and I love it – we look at it and use it more often than our wedding albums.  It is crazy and colorful like our life and our friends and our house. However, you can make elegant, subdued wedding quilts for your elegant lovely house and lifestyle! One of my favorites is this monogram wedding quilt – instructions on the monogram here~

Wedding Signature Quilt

 Fabric Markers! 

Fabric markers work essentially as a fabric dye, which means the dye may fade over time with many washings like any other fabric. I have washed this quilt 4 times and there is zero fading. I had a test swatch where I’ve tested out the following markers through about 20 washes with only the lightest fading. Since markers work differently on different fabrics, I recommend doing a test run – it only takes a minute!

–I recommend Pigma Micron markers (by Sakura) – in size 08 for the largest tip – which are artist’s markers and found at any art supply store and many craft stores. They come in many colors, are easy to find, easy to use, and very permanent. Yay! 

Wedding Signature Quilt Close UpFabrico Dual markers (by Tsukineko) are nice because they have a two ends — a fine point and a blunt tip. I think the fine tip is a bit small, but the broad tip end is just great to write with. However, these are pricey and hard to find.

–I used FabricMate for my wedding quilt because I found some at a yardsale. They are chunky and bright and dye really nicely. They bright childish colors allowed our guests to express themselves in bright, colorful ways. 

I also have washed and had good results with VersaCraft ink for stamps – NOTE THIS NEEDS TO BE HEAT SET.  One fun option could be to set out some alphabet stamps and random cute stamps with an ink pad for people to play with. I forgot to do this at my wedding.


Wedding Signature QuiltsFabric! 

You can use pretty much any quality cotton fabric for a signature quilt. To prep your fabric, you should wash out the sizing – a starch that is put in fabric before it is sold. The sizing/starch can prevent your ink from fully setting in the fabric. After that, iron the fabric and you’re pretty much set! You’ll want to test your markers and fabric!

I don’t recommend: linen, burlap, or any other textured fabric – you should test the fabric first, but I’ve found that these fabrics don’t take ink well and had one disaster (!) where almost all the ink washed out of a linen quilt. Happily, I was able to see enough of the leftover ink to touch up the signatures so you could still read them. BUT STILL.


If you can’t decide which quilt pattern you want, no worries!  My tutorial will allow you to procrastinate this decision until after the wedding when you have way more time to waste staring at quilt patterns.

Some people make the quilt first and then have people sign it, and I have seen this work really well! If you do, however, you might want to have someone stand near the quilt  — because you never know when people will get crazy and write all over the wrong part of the quilt, or spill wine on it, or, golly, have you been to any weddings? I’m sure you can imagine the terrible things that could happen to your quilt!

But! All you really need is a quilt with some places to write on it. 
Is there a more clear way to instruct than "don't write on the tape it won't be included in the final quilt. " #comeon
Prepping your quilt for the Wedding!

If you are bringing unsewn blocks to the wedding, I recommend marking off the edges with 1/4 inch masking tape – as pictured. People DO NOT UNDERSTAND how quilts work and will write all over the seam allowances and even on top of the tape. But the tape really does best to reduce signatures lost to the allowance.

I used to back the blocks with freezer paper to make them more stiff for signing, but I don’t anymore. It doesn’t really make them much sturdier than the tape, and it takes a long time and wastes a lot of paper.  I find people are very able to write on the signature squares without the paper backing.

You can tape the fabric in fat quarters like this to cut it up after the wedding:

August 2011 245

Or you can can tape up each block individually:

Quilt squares prepped for Wedding Signatures!

Random bits of advice: 

  • People will try and use their own pens which are not permanent. I don’t know why. 
  • The sign “Please do not write on or under the tape as it will not be in the final quilt” is not as effective as you might think!
  • You generally need about 50-75% of your guest list in signatures – many people sign by family or simply forget to sign
  • A couple “example” signatures are a great way to get the party started – people can be shy to sign the quilt without some leadership!