Category Archives: Tutorials

How to Get Started On Your La Passacaglia Quilt

When I told my brother we wanted to have kids but didn’t feel quite ready, he said, “You’ll never be ready, you just have to be brave.” I think the same advice applies to starting a La Passacaglia quilt.

Normally I think it’s a bit of an exaggeration when people compare a sewing project to having a child, but with the amount of time (and money!) I’ve put into this quilt, I’m starting to feel like that’s pretty accurate!  Though this quilt has fewer temper tantrums 🙂

La Passacaglia Progress Using Inkligo

This gorgeous quilt pattern has been very popular and I’ve admired it for several years – HOWEVER I also thought that everyone doing it was totally out of their minds!

What changed? Well, when my daughter was about a year old she was a terrible napper. But she would nap in the car. So I started to spend a lot of time sitting in the car! I started to have an itch for a hand sewing project to keep my hands busy. I decided the people working on La Passacaglia had the right idea. And then I became obsessed with this beautiful quilt.

Now my daughter naps in her own crib, but I am still sewing! I sew listening to audiobooks and while watching TV. My hands have stayed busy.

Continue reading

P4P Sunshine Dress Lined Bodice Tutorial

I have a favorite hiking dress made by Eddie Bauer, which I have outlined my quest to re-create here (using the Colette Wren) and here (using the Patterns for Pirates Sunshine Dress)

I loved the Sunshine Dress but wanted to have the bodice lined, so I experimented a bit and came up with the method below. My first two dresses I made using this pattern are really low cut – due to some bad adjustments I made, but I am happy to layer them I know I’ll wear them all the time.

Adding the lining takes a while longer, especially the first time, but I am really happy with the finished result!

Step 1. Buy the pattern here

Tip – if you are using a slippery swim knit or lining you might try wash away wonder tape by Dritz to hold your layers together. It has made a big difference in the quality of my seams!

Ok, let’s get started!

Continue reading

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

Monogram Bunting Wedding Quilt

Bunting Flag QuiltBunting Flag Quilt

Do you know who made the first bunting quilt? I’d like to know! I feel like they just sort of popped up all over the internet at once about 5 years ago, but surely someone thought of the first one.

Well, that person wasn’t me, but I have made a fair few of them in my time and I’d love to give the original person the credit! They are just perfect for weddings and baby gifts! Here is the latest.

I also wanted to share a bit on my process of making bunting flag quilts – not so much a tutorial, more of some tips and tricks.

I actually layer, baste and quilt the whole thing BEFORE adding the flags. I use a sheet for larger quilts so I can get a solid background with no interrupting seams. So for this quilt, I was just basting two totally blank sheets together! It’s very odd looking, but I think it is faster than quilting around the flags once they are sewn down and creates a nicer effect. I use an all over meander, though a grid would also look really nice, and I have done that before. It is a real challenge to get the grid to be perfectly even with no squares to go by!

Then I cut out all the flags and iron the edges under – I don’t do raw edge applique with them.

Bunting Flag Quilt

I use a bias trim maker to make the ribbon – a half inch wide – and then lay out the ribbon, criss-crossing it across the quilt till I like the lay out. then I lay down my flags and pin them into place. I quilt along the ribbon top and bottom and then around the flags.

This quilt also had a monogram added – I do this last- and I do use raw edge applique, and you can see on the back where the letters are. I don’t love the look of the backwards letters on the back of the quilt but I think it’s so much nicer to have the letters quilted and outlined.

Bunting Flag Quilt

Finally, no quilt is ready till it’s lint rolled! It’s not glamorous, but it does make a quilt look so much nicer! And a last picture of the binding. I used the Whispers by Michael Miller line and it has these lovely just off shades of clay. They look great together on the binding. This line is just perfect for a wedding quilt that will translate well into day to day life around the house I think. Bunting Flag Quilt

And a last look at the binding – I used

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!

Continue reading

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 Fabric Applique Embroidery Hoop Sign Tutorial

Fabric Wedding Sign Tutorial Fabric Applique Embroidery Hoop Sign Tutorial

I made this fabric sign to go along with an upcoming wedding signature quilt I am going to make. It is very simple, but not something I’ve seen much of, so I also made this simple tutorial to go with it.  It’s a pdf. I find it so much easier to format such things off-line.

Let me know if it’s useful! FYI, you don’t have to sew down the letters! I liked the way it looks but for a sign that’s not going through the wash, ironing the letters down is sturdy enough.  I use Pellon Wonder Under Fusible webbing for this project.

I love applique and it was fun to make a little project like this. My projects are often big! Now I want to make little tote bags with words on them too!

In the background is me and my husband. Weddings are so fun! I love making stuff for them!
Quilt Wedding Signature Quilt Sign

And here it is nestled in the trumpet vine. Nothing more romantic than invasive vines!

Quilted Applique Sign
Happy sewing!

How to Make a Monogram Quilt Block

Monogram Quilt Block Tutorial by Waterpenny.netIf you are making a wedding signature quilt – here are some of my thoughts on that!

You’ll need

    • Computer and editing program (I use Word)
    • This text document if you want an example monogram 
    • Fusible webbing (I prefer Wonder Under by Pellon)
    • Marker
    • Fabric
    • Matching thread
    • Starch (optional)
    • Sewing machine

Make a Monogram QuiltStep 1: Pick a font!

Then make your monogram in a word processing document (or use this one). You can use any program, of course. I generally use Cambria, which is a nice common serif font. You can also find fun swirly fonts that wouldn’t be that hard to applique. I personally prefer simple clean lines – they look good and are a lot easier to sew and cut out!

You generally want your middle initial about twice the size as your other letters; in my example, I have a 500 font middle initial and a 250 font for the others – and I bold them. But you can futz about with it till you get it how you like it.

I do the letters as Wordart so that I can nudge them around and reverse them, etc. I’m sure all the graphic designers are rolling their eyes so hard they might get stuck – but it works for me! If you want to flip your letters around backwards, here is a tutorial that will let you do that. I do the smaller side letters as a different text box. Here is an example text document that I made that you can pop in your own letters.

Step 2: Pick the size of your block and letters. In this case, my block is 16×16 inches.  Cut it out and I also starch my fabric using my home made starch.  I want my letters to be 12.5 inches wide.  If you like you can print out samples of your monogram to see how it fits onto your block.

Cut your fusible webbing to the appropriate size. A note about fusible webbing – with Pellon Wonder Under, there is a paper backing, and a light filmy plastic webbing that acts like glue when melted – it holds your fabric in place and keeps the edges from fraying.  Leave the paper on for now!

Step 3: Trace your letters BACKWARDS onto the paper backing of the fusible web. I do April 2Make a Monogram Quilt013 076this by just tracing the letters right off the screen — I zoom in until the letters are the size I need and trace away using a permanent marker. It’s easier in a dark room. You could also print off your letters and trace onto the fusible webbing using a lightbox or window.

(A side note: if you don’t want to reverse your letters, you can trace them directly onto the webbing material).

Step 4: Iron your fusible webbing onto your fabric and cut out.Make a Monogram Quilt

See how the letters are backwards on the paper here? That is what you want!

(A side note: if there is an area larger than two inches, I generally cut that out of the fusible webbing – leaving at least a quarter inch on each side. The webbing can add stiffness to your quilt so I try to avoid large areas of it.)

Make a Monogram Quilt


I sometimes use a rotary cutter to cut out the long straight edges.

Once your letters are cut out, pick off the paper backing – it’s much easier if you use a pin to start the peel.

Make a Monogram Quilt

Make a Monogram QuiltStep 5: Lay out your letters and center them. I use two rulers! In my example, the long straight edges letters are 1.5 inches apart and 1.75 inches from the top and bottom of the H.  You can use temporary fabric pencil/marker to mark your measurements. When you get ‘em where you want ‘em, Iron ‘em down. Press down carefully; don’t move from side to side, as you don’t want to stretch or crumple the letters.

Make a Monogram Quilt

Step 6: Sew them down. Use any stitch you like – I prefer a zig zag stitch – to sew around the letters to secure them. They will fall off in the wash if you don’t secure them with sewing.

I have done a lot of fused applique and tested it in the wash, and I have not noticed a big difference in fraying if you just use a straight stitch, buttonhole stitch, etc. So your stitch choice is really just a matter of personal taste. I recommend you try out a few stitch widths and lengths on a scrap piece of fabric to know which looks best on your letters.

Step 7: Iron it again. I prefer to iron from the back so I don’t flatten my sewing. Admire it. Doesn’t it look great!

Make a Monogram Quilt

If I’m sewing the monogram into a quilt, I free motion applique using matching thread around the edge of the letters to quilt them down. The stitches aren’t really noticeable, but it looks so much nicer, in my opinion.

Sew it into a quilt? Make a pillow? Frame it?