What I learned on My First Quilt.

Hi!  My name is Alyssa and I am a Quilting Addict. I am new here and new to quilting. After having only recently finished my first quilt, and having learned a lot along the way, I will bring a little comic relief to the blog post this week.

Things I learned working on my first quilt:

1.   When Nikol has the fantastic idea to submit quilts into the State Fair... don’t get all excited and agree to participate. Especially when they are due in 5 weeks and you are going on a 2-1/2 week holiday. So yes... That means you have 2-1/2 weeks to complete said quilt.

2.   Piecing a 76 different fabric log cabin style quilt is a lot of work. One block at a time. Oh and Ps.... Red Cross! Hahaha! I thought this was hilarious when I was ironing it at 2 am... it was pretty funny.. at least I thought so... uh.. moving on.

3.   There is this really cool technique called chaining when making multiples of the same block. I learned this when I called Nikol to have her help me figure out what size all the pieces were in the block because the silly pattern didn’t tell me... She responded with, ‘Are you cutting out each piece individually and sewing them together one at a time?’ Can you hear the incredulity in her voice. Then, I think she said, Oh cricket... no, no, no... this is what you should be doing! Boy was that an enlightening lesson and did my life get a whole lot easier....

4.   Piecing a 76 fabric quilt is a lot of work. Maybe I said this before. I might have forgotten the in 2-1/2 weeks part though.

5.   Well, after that wonderful chaining lesson I moved right along .... but ran into a few seam lining up problems and again... rang Nikol.. ‘This is really fun, but I am really have trouble lining up all these seams.. it is making me batty..’ (A perfectionist by nature..) She shared this other fun quilters secret... iron one seam to one side and the one you are matching to the other side and put them together. All I could say after this  was, “WOW!’ was that a life saver for someone who suffer from mild OCD... :)

6.   Now it was time to lay out... Do you realize when you have 75 different fabric blocks you can move them around forever and not ever be totally at peace? Nikol and I looked and moved and looked and moved... and then moved some more... till our eyes were buggy.

7.    I’ll be honest at this point I did come to tears... I had been sewing non-stop for days and I had decided to make the quilt bigger to fit my bed... After looking and moving a lot, I realized that the rows weren’t making sense to what it should be.. This is the point where the creative needs to stop and you bring in the accountant. So, my accountant friend came over to see what I was doing and he did some quick math to realize I had too many blocks in each row and that by moving all those blocks I would have the right number of rows. Smart one, he is.

8.   Back to that wonderful seaming technique... sewing the blocks into rows... more seams to line up! Ok.. this wasn’t so bad.... actually making the rows was quite fun as I had now officially made new fabric!

9.  But then.... those pesky rows need to go together to make the quilt top.... which means more seams only from both directions. There was nothing fun about this and my OCD did have to go out the window a bit.. but only a bit. Oh.. and post-it's are fabulous for keeping track of where everything goes!

10.   I may have forgotten to mention that the base color is white.... and one thing I have definitely learned now is to buy extra fabric of the main... no matter what the cost. After buying up the rest of Sewtropolis’s Kona white... Nikol was kind enough to put in another order... only to find out white seems to be the new black and it was on back order! So, I quickly ran over to Glad’s...(Ok, I drove.. but it sounds better if I say ran... :) ) and no white to be found.. no white to be found... my heart was starting to race. But then one gal said, ‘I think there may be one bolt in the basement.’ Thank goodness! There was.....

 11.  Have I mentioned yet that piecing a 76  fabric log cabin style quilt is a lot of work? You may have forgotten along the way as this is a long story, so I should mention it again.

 12.   I have to admit finishing the quilt top was pretty exciting at 2 in the morning. I wanted to call Nikol.. but she usually falls off the texting around midnight. :)

 13.. You’ll note the back... that is one heck of a lot of pieces...  Oye. There are days when I still want to see the back to be honest... it was really pretty amazing.

14.   Ok... one more thing I had to learn twice.... buy extra fabric of the main! I did a measure once cut wrong... not a measure twice cut once... for the two large pieces of white on the back.... so, back to Glad’s as we were still waiting for the Kona to come in at Sewtropolis.

15.   Well, now to put this bad boy together. I had pieced the back.. Wow, does one giant cross and 2 giant panels go together quickly! Much fast than the quilt top! So... I bring it over to the shop.. because of course, I cannot do this alone.. I need the quilting expert by my side and not just on the phone... Plus,she has this really fantastic big table in the back of her shop which is perfect for pinning a quilt together.

16.   So, Nikol showed me how to stretch the back and smooth out the batting and now came the fun part... putting the top on. Then a pinning away we went... I learned that there are two kinds of safety pins... Quilters ones and normal ones.. and normal ones are not fun to use when pinning a quilt... Now, I own a lot of quilters pins with the sexy arched back for easy closure. Very smart whom ever invented these.. thank you! To think I thought they were just safety pins with defects when I first saw them! :)

17.  Yes.. now to go home and quilt this bad boy. I get home.. and get nervous.. What do I do? Yep, call Nikol... Pretty sure she was getting excited this quilt was coming to a close at this point with all my late night calling and texting.. :) So, she suggests a walking foot. A what? I sew on a 1970’s Riccar with a normal foot, a zipper foot and and a buttonhole foot. Oh, but wait... I just bought my daughter a new machine.. I bet it came with a walking foot.. Phew! It did. So, Ricky had to sit this one out.

18.   Moving on. Stitching in the ditch is a lot of work. I thought piecing was but boy was I ever wrong. :) Just think I still have to sew on 75 buttons for the final quilting.

19.  Have you ever sewed 75 buttons onto a quilt? I can tell you that is what a thimble was made for. I had not ever needed to use one until this point.. Stab your self a few times and you will want one too. Blood on the quilt is hard to get out when one is not going to wash the whole thing... this fact has been proven. So now you can see, blood, sweat and tears went into this bad boy. Oh and in case you were wondering what my daughter was doing while I was sewing on 75 buttons.. (because of course it was easier on the big table..) Yup.. she was downstairs on her hands and knees scrubbing the floor at Sewtropolis. Seriously. Now, if I could just get her to do that at home!

20.   So once you have all the quilting done it is time to bind... I started my binding at 2 am, The quilt was due at 9:30 at the State Fair grounds. You may have missed this... but this was my first quilt. Meaning I have never bound a quilt before. This was by far the worst detail on my finished quilt. Why you ask? Because it was 2 am and Nikol my quilting guide was in bed!

21.   First problem, how does one manage 12 yards of bias? I thinking I mentioned I am slightly OCD... if not.. now you know... Here is what I came up with at 2:30 am. Good idea, right? I thought so, too!

22.  Second... how do you get it to be even on both sides of the quilt!? Yep.. this is the part that never got figured out. I said to heck with with and just rolled it all over so it would be all consistent. What did I learn from this experience, make sure when I am starting something new Nikol is up to help me... :)

23.   Well, by 5 am I had a finished quilt. The best part I think was being wrapped up in it while sewing on the binding and being all cozy.

24.  The two biggest lessons I learned. Never do a 76 fabric long cabin pieced quilt in 2-1/2 weeks as your first quilt and if you do always have a Nikol on speed dial! :)

Thank you and Good night.


Member spotlight: Tracy W.

Tell us about yourself.
I'm married to a great guy, Brian, and we have two kids, Lauren 23 and Jack 19. I work a couple days a week and also volunteer at Ronald McDonald House every Wednesday. We live in Shoreview and have a sweet photo-bombing Boston Terrier named Ozzie.
Do you have a blog, Etsy shop, or other quilt-related business?
I do not have a blog or Etsy shop, but I do sell my quilts and other crafty stuff I make at a semi-annual boutique in Shoreview called The Chickadee.
Do you have any other hobbies, crafty or otherwise?
I do a lot of other crafty stuff. I like to use scrapbooking paper for everything BUT scrapbooking. You can modpodge that stuff to just about anything.
How long have you been quilting, and how did you learn to quilt?
My mom taught me to quilt when I was in junior high and I made a pillow for my grandmother and a really groovy vest for myself. I still have the pillow, but the vest bit the dust which probably is a good thing (and yes, I did wear it to school). I started quilting seriously in 2007.
How many quilts do you think you have made? How many are still UFOs (unfinished objects)?
When I started sewing again about 11 years ago, I made super-duper simple baby quilts as gifts for family and friends (I am use the word "quilts" very loosely here). I started to “officially quilt” in 2007 when my daughter graduated from high school and I committed myself to making six full size quilts for graduation gifts for her best girlfriends. Since then it's been like an avalanche of fabric, books and blog reading. I really don't have any idea of how many I've made since 2007, but I did start documenting them on Flickr in late 2008.
As far as UFO's go, I’m not a big fan of them. I feel obligated to finish what I've started even if I don't really like it. I currently have three UFO's and will hopefully finish them up this winter.
How many hours a week do you spend quilting on average?
This is always a hard question. I will work on a quilt almost daily if I have a project that I want or need to have done on a deadline. I'm starting to really focus on working ahead and not waiting until the last minute, which I'm finding is much less stressful. I do, however, sew much more in the winter. On average, a couple evenings a week are spent in the "sweatshop" as my neighbors like to call it.
Describe your first quilt.
This is the only picture I have of the graduation quilts from 2007. It was photographed before I realized that I like people behind my quilts holding them up, not in front of them. Please know that the fabric quality is horrid and I think some of the backing fabric isn't even real cotton (it was from Walmart's markdown table -- I was clueless about fabric back then).

Which of your quilts is your favorite or are you most proud of and why?
My favorite quilt is the one I made for the Robert Kaufman Kona Solid Challenge. My only regret in hindsight is not sending it out to be quilted by someone who knows what they’re doing. I laid it out and put it together on my own and probably did it wrong, but I really love how it turned out and I think it photographs beautifully, both front and back.

Where do you sew? Describe your space and your favorite quilting accompaniments.
I bought a laptop computer for the house about four years ago, which was when I was able to officially take over the "office/sewing room" once and for all. It is now officially a hot mess. I seem to have the same problems that toddlers suffer from -- short attention span, the inability to cleaning up after myself and maybe a little hoarding issue (it’s not Hoarding: Buried Alive, but it’s getting close). I like to work with the TV on or music playing. I don't really drink while sewing...I tend to forget about the drink and the ice melts, it gets warm or worse, I spill it. Next to having the dedicated space, my homemade design wall is my favorite thing ever (totally copied from Film in the Fridge)!
Describe your fabric buying habits and stash. How do you manage your stash?
My fabric buying habit is more like an addiction and my stash an embarrassment. I have a couple of bookcases that I keep my fabric in and although it may look messy, there is a method to my madness. The good designer stuff is on the top two shelves, the solids come next and then it's pretty much a free for all after that. I sort my scraps the same way. I buy most of my fabric on line, but have put a serious stop on that until I cut into my hoarded stash of Hope Valley...oh yes, it's still sitting on the top shelf untouched.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about quilting?
I dislike ironing my seams open, which is why I don’t do it very often. My favorite part is hand sewing the binding. For some reason, I just love it.
What are your current and/or long-term quilting goals?
Besides actually using the Hope Valley fabric, making a Swoon quilt (possibly with the Hope Valley fabric), and entering a quilt in the State Fair next year.
What is one (or more) quilt technique you would like to learn or are afraid of?
Well I was terrified of free motion quilting, but since I've tried it and discovered that's it not that scary, especially with the feed dogs down—Annik, you are TOTALLY right!
Who or what inspires you most in quilting?
I'm continually amazed at what is brought to our Guild meetings. Holy cow, can you ladies make some gorgeous stuff!! I love blogs. I have bookmarked Film in the Fridge (my favorite), One Shabby Chic, Jaybird Quilts, V and Co., Posie Gets Cozy, and then it's pretty much a free for all clicking links which leads then leads to hours looking at blogs and quilts and Flickr and more quilts.
What advice do you have for new quilters?
Start with a pattern that is easy to follow and easy to sew. If you have a successful first quilt project, watch out because it will open up a whole new world that you never knew existed and won't believe you lived without.
Anything else you would like to share? Oh, I think that's about enough.

Design Wall Options

Last weekend well known blogger and author Jacquie Gering taught a class on machine pieced hexagons for the Minneapolis Modern Guilt Guild.  The value of having a design wall was quite evident to those quilters that used them regularly and those that never do. (Above is Jacquie checking out Kristen's layout of her hand-dyed hexagons.)

Of course we started discussing the various options along with the space or lack thereof that we had for one.  I just finished making a new design wall for my space, so I decided to share what I hope will work for me and options that some well known quilters have chosen.

First I have to apologize for the terrible lighting...it is just not a sunny day here in MN and my guest/sewing room faces north anyway.

This is the only open wall I had to work with and I wanted something removable for when we have company in my guest/sewing room so I have a twin flat sheet (that was the widest I could go) hung on a cafe rod that closely hugs the wall.  (I just redid the ends of the sheet so I could use the top as a rod pocket.) Here is the sheet fully extended onto the carpet for if I am laying out a larger quilt.

Here below the bottom fifteen or so inches are folded up and attached to the back of the sheet with Velcro so I don't have any sheet on the floor.  (I put the non-sticky Velcro pieces on the bottom so that if I do have it fully extended I don't have to worry about the Velcro sticking to the carpet).

When I have company I'll just lift the rod off of the brackets and roll it up and put in a closet in another room. The brackets will be left but that's not a big deal, all my house guests know that it is a dual duty room.

Julie of Jaybird Quilts uses this design wall by Cheryl Ann:

 (photo from Jaybird Quilts, used with permission)

Elizabeth of Oh Fransson has a tutorial to make your own design wall like this in varying sizes:

(photo from Oh Fransson, used with permission)

And one more option that I must mention, is this retractable design wall by Design-a-Way.  Who wouldn't love to have their widest design wall with the 3 separate surfaces/rollers of course the decorative valance?  (It's a bit pricey so I think I'll be sticking to my flannel sheet!)

If you have any design wall tips you have to add we'd love to hear them or please feel comfortable to share a link to your sewing space if you have a photo of a different design wall idea than we have shared here!

Member spotlight: Victoria (Vikki) G.

Tell us about yourself.
I was born in Minnesota and have lived here nearly all of my life. I am married to a wonderful man who does woodworking part time and have two grown children. 
My daughter currently teaches English in Taiwan. She uses teaching as her means of funding her way around the world. My son is a project design analyst for a very large Bank, and he lives in Oregon. I also have the sweetest adopted Whippet Terrier mix
who keeps me company while I quilt.
Do you have a blog, Etsy shop, or other quilt-related business?
I have a website PeaceBrookQuilting.com This is the site for my longarming, which I stated in 2008 when I was laid off from the
mortgage business. My longarming business is part time, but it is the best job I have ever had.
Do you have any other hobbies, crafty or otherwise?
My favorites hobby outside of quilting is camping. My husband and I have a goal of visiting every National Park. We have over 30
checked off. But since there are nearly 300 National Parks we have more roads to travel.
How long have you been quilting, and how did you learn to quilt?
I learned how to quilt from friends, books and the internet. The only classes I have ever taken are for my longarm.
How many quilts do you think you have made? How many are still UFOs (unfinished objects)?
I don't know how many quilts I have made over the years, more than 30. My most embarrassing confession is, I have never made a label
for any quilt. I really need another friend to come along side to get me on the labeling bandwagon.
I keep my UFO's limited to three. That is because I keep the current projects in ArtBins which I purchased from JoAnn Fabrics.
This make my current project easily portable and every thing for the project stays together till it is done.
How many hours a week do you spend quilting on average?
This really varies from 0 - 20. I get a lot more quilting time during the part of the year when we are not camping.
Describe your first quilt.
I don't have a picture of my first quilt. But it was a fuchsia, turquoise and black stacked rectangles that was tied with yarn rather than actually being quilted.
Which of your quilts is your favorite or are you most proud of and why?
I don't have a favorite. I like batiks a lot, but I actually have more solids in my stash.
Where do you sew? Describe your space and your favorite quilting accompaniments (music, tv, wine, etc).
My quilting space is my basement family room where my longarm is set up. I listen to my iPod while quilting.

Describe your fabric buying habits and stash. How do you manage your stash?
My stash is mostly solids. I am to a point where I do not buy more unless it is going into a project.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about quilting?
I like all parts of quilting. I find it slow methodical and calming.
What are your current and/or long-term quilting goals?
I like to something new all the time, a technique, a tool, or just a new color combination.
What is one (or more) quilt technique you would like to learn or are afraid of?
I have never made a quilt with applique. I don't think I could do that. I also am not drawn to 1930's type fabrics.
Who or what inspires you most in quilting?
See the work of other quilters. I am a Pintrest addict.
What advice do you have for new quilters?
Dive in. Quilting is so diverse. It is a hobby that can accommodate an "anything goes" to "obsessive perfectionism". Just start quilting you will fit in.

Quilting with corduroy

Corduroy. Soft and richly colored—it is basically a form of velvet. The only problem is that it can be very thick and therefore very frustrating to quilt with. A few meetings ago Vanessa mentioned that she had a stash of corduroy without a plan, and I am ashamed to say, “me too!” I have had a large stack of cut up corduroy pants staring at me from my fabric stash for close to 5 years. I think it is time to finally conquer it!

I am going to talk a little about corduroy itself and then suggest a few ways of incorporating it into a quilt without giant lumps and bumps. If you want to read even more about corduroy, check out this Threads article.

About Corduroy

Corduroy can be made from different fibers, but it is usually cotton, a cotton/poly blend, or either of those plus some spandex.

The width of the “cords” in corduroy is called the “wale” and can be from 1.5 to 22 cords per inch. The smaller the number is, the wider (and thicker) the cords. For example, most men’s pants are around 4 to 11 cords per inch and are called a “wide wale” or “normal wale”. This is a fairly heavy fabric and more difficult to quilt with. I give you a few ideas for quilting with this below.

Corduroy shirts and some women’s and children’s pants are usually between 11 and 21 cords per inch and are not much thicker than quilting cotton or flannel. Corduroy with wales of 16 cords per inch or higher is also called narrow or fine wale, pincord, or pinwale. For the most part, you can treat this lightweight corduroy just like quilting cotton.

Corduroy, similar to velvet, has a “nap”. What this means is that the tufted fibers in the cords want to lie in one direction only. You can feel this by brushing your hand up and down the cords—brushing with the nap will smooth the fibers, and brushing against the nap will feel rough and fluff them up. The fabric will also appear to be slightly different colors from different angles. In a quilt, unlike a garment, not all pieces have to have the nap facing the same direction, but nap is something to consciously consider when you are arranging the pieces.

Purchasing corduroy

To acquire corduroy for quilting, you can either cut up clothing from your home or a thrift store, or you can purchase yardage at a fabric store. Try to choose a 100% cotton fabric if possible, and avoid corduroy with spandex for quilts as it stretches.

Jo-Ann fabrics in the Twin Cities carries corduroy in a handful of colors, in weights of 4, 16, and 21 wale. You can tell by the label on the bolt—it has a number like “21/w” for 21 wale.

Cutting up clothing is probably the greener and cheaper option, but it will also take you much longer to collect and cut your pieces. As a bonus, though, you will get a much greater variety of colors and sizes. To save the most money, try shopping at a thrift store on sale days (for example, Goodwill in the Twin Cities has $1.49 tag day on Tuesdays) or at a thrift store outlet (such as Goodwill Outlet in St. Paul, where clothing is $1.29 a pound). Both places will vary in how much corduroy you might find in a day, and it will probably take you a few trips to collect enough for a quilt—but the hunt and collecting is half the fun, anyway!

One thing to note is that corduroy made of cotton shrinks, and sometimes a lot. I would recommend you pre-wash all corduroy before incorporating it into a quilt, even if you don’t prewash your quilting cottons, and especially if you are mixing varieties or sources of corduroy.

Cutting your corduroy

If you are cutting up corduroy from pants, it is easiest to first cut off the "skeleton", or all of the seams. This gives you four large, flat pieces to work with. I use the same method when cutting up jeans for quilts as well.

When you make vertical cuts in your corduroy, you might want to forgo the quilting ruler and use your rotary cutter or scissors to cut precisely in the channel between wales. This can take a long time, but is worth it for the look it gives with all the wales being perfectly parallel to the edge of the piece.

Problems with Corduroy

Two big problems you will run into when sewing corduroy are “creep” and fraying. When you place two pieces of thick corduroy right sides together, and try to sew them with an accurate ¼ inch seam, the pieces will shift (creep) when going through the presser foot. This can result in both inaccurate, crooked seams and a seam that is narrower on one of the pieces.

To combat creep, lower the pressure on your presser foot if you can, heavily pin or baste all seams beforehand, and pull the fabrics taut front to back as they are going through the machine if they are being troublesome. You can also use an awl, stiletto, or seam ripper to hold the fabrics in place and ensure that the fabric edges stay aligned right up to the needle. You might also try using your walking foot.

Corduroy frays like crazy, so if you do wind up with a narrow seam, then it will likely come apart at some point. If you want to use corduroy in a durable quilt that gets used and washed regularly, use a minimum ½ inch seam allowance. For further security, reduce your stitch length slightly. This is especially true if the quilting on your corduroy quilts is minimal. Also, do a few test seams before you start your quilt; because of the thickness of the fabric you might also need to lower your tension to get a good stitch.

Another tricky thing about corduroy, especially wide wale, is that it is difficult to press without marring it. If you press firmly on the fabric with an iron, you might permanently crush your cords. Finger press your seams open first to reduce bulk, and then press your seams with the right side down on a fluffy towel. Use only the very tip of the iron, lots of steam, and very little pressure. I would also consider topstitching the seams open, maybe 1/4 inch away from the seams, to ensure they stay flat.

Ideas for sewing with corduroy

The biggest issue to me in using wide and normal wale corduroy is that the bulk created by the seams makes for a lumpy quilt. Below I suggest five different ways of getting around this, each of which succeed to varying degrees.

I will also mention that both corduroy and denim share a lot of the same problems—I would also use the techniques below when I incorporate denim into a quilt (except #1, of course). Most of the ideas below also work best if you square up after every step to keep the edges even.

1. Shave the cords in the seams

Something that garment makers do to reduce bulk is to use electric clippers to shave off the cords in the seams. I have not tried this, but I think it would work well. Definitely practice on scraps before trying it on your quilt.

2. Overlap pieces

This is the method I will probably wind up using, as it completely eliminates any lumps and makes the seams perfectly straight, flat, and smooth. Cut large strips or squares of corduroy. Take two pieces, both right side facing up, and overlap them on one edge by 1 inch. Lower your stitch length to 2.0mm, and stitch across close to the center of the overlap, or about 1/2 inch away from the top edge.

Then, change your stitch to a wide zigzag and stitch along the edge of the top piece of corduroy, securing it to the piece underneath and reducing fraying. It will still fray some, but not too badly.

Finally, stitch one more straight seam about 1/16 inch away from the widest point of the zigzag on the top piece, again using a smaller stitch. Repeat, building rows, columns, or blocks and just keep overlapping. Trim any edges that will show on the top of the quilt before sewing them.

3. Eliminating 4+ point intersections

Regular seams
Seams with added topstitching
If you don’t want any raw edges in your quilt, you can eliminate some of the bulkiness problems by choosing a pattern that never has more than three pieces of fabric coming together in one place. There aren’t a lot of all-over patterns like this, but you could also sew any block that has no more than three pieces coming together in the block, and then sew the blocks together with sashing that is corduroy or another fabric. Blocks could be rail fence, log cabin, Chinese coin, etc. If you want your seams to lie flat without pressing, topstitch the seams open as in the second photo, above.

You can also just do random lengths and widths strips like in the quilt below from Nifty Quilts (photo reposted with permission). She uses a narrow wale here, but I think it would work with a wider wale, too. This pattern would also look great using the overlapping technique.
Photo from Nifty Quilts
4. Use strips of a thinner fabric, like cotton or flannel, as sashing so corduroy does not need to be stitched to itself.

I thought this was a brilliant idea when I came across it. Use strips of quilting cotton or flannel to create sashing of some kind on the outside of each block so that when the blocks are sewn together, no corduroy is sewn to itself. In my example above, I used a plaid flannel, which I would not recommend as it made the uneven-ness of the seams really obvious.

Alicia of Lucy’s Quilts does this with denim, but it would work just as well with corduroy. Below is one of her many stained glass denim quilts (photo reposted with permission).

Photo from Lucy's Quilts.
What I especially like about her pattern is that it would use up all but the smallest scraps if you are harvesting corduroy from clothing. She says she uses 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10” squares for this pattern, and 1” strips for sashing. If you are applying this to corduroy, I would suggest using 2” sashing strips, a ½ inch seam allowance, and pressing or topstitching the seams towards the sashing. If two adjacent pieces of corduroy overlap underneath because your fabric crept during stitching, just trim the seam back a little.

Another example that would work well and I think would look gorgeous in corduroy is this pattern by Mary of maryquilts (photo reposted with permission). A pattern is included on her site.

Photo from Mary Quilts.
Notice how if you used corduroy for the center of each block and quilting cotton or flannel for the outer strips on the block, that no corduroy would be sewn to itself.

5. Raggy quilt

Raggy sample, pre-washing.
The last and probably one of the best options is to make a rag/raggy/fringe quilt. There are already so many great tutorials out there (including the three below) that I don’t think I need to write another one. I would use another soft fabric for the backing, such as flannel. You can make it so that all the corduroy is on one side of the quilt, or you can mix and match so both sides of the quilt are half corduroy.

This makes a wonderfully heavy, warm, and snuggly quilt that is perfect for the car, picnics, or the couch. The bonus of using corduroy and flannel is that it would already be very warm, so the batting is optional. No batting eliminates the tricky part of centering the batting, makes quilting optional, and makes this quilt very fast to make. The raggy seams also hide any slight creep where the seams don't line up perfectly or where the wales wind up not perfectly parallel to the seams.




Once you are done your quilt top and are ready to quilt it, you have a few different options, but I would keep it simple. A few lines in the ditch, straight across, or at an angle across the quilt should be all that is necessary, especially if you omit the batting. Personally I would choose random lines as it would be much more forgiving of wobbles than trying to stitch in the ditch. You can also always just tie the quilt and forgo quilting altogether.

I hope this inspires you to try using corduroy in a quilt!

Member spotlight: Vanessa L.

Tell us about yourself.
I'm a stay-at-home mom of two kids, a boy (7) and girl (4). They keep me busy and also inspire me! Much of what I create is for them or inspired by them. I also have a wonderful, supportive husband who doesn't mind if things are a little messy while the creative juices are flowing! I have no formal training in sewing. My mom taught me a little when I was a kid. She liked to embroider more -- so that's like second nature to me, even though I don't do it that much. I didn't really get back into sewing until after my son was born.
Before that, I was busy getting my Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota. My specialty was calculating partition functions for small atom systems using Feynman Path integral methods and evaluating those integrals by using Monte Carlo sampling. I used a lot of math and have a good understanding of geometry which helps a tremendous amount in pattern designing. I've always lived in MN. 
Do you have a blog, Etsy shop, or other quilt-related business?
Yes, I have a blog called Punkin Patterns and an Etsy shop. My Etsy shop is still in it's infancy -- I'm working on some more patterns right now that should be available in October -- including one quilt pattern. Punkin Patterns is a green, eco-friendly company - something very important to me. We use 100% wind power and recycle everything -- including the tiny thread and fabric scraps! 
Do you have any other hobbies, crafty or otherwise?
Yes, besides making quilts, I do make lots of kids clothing and knit, paint, and will try pretty much any craft -- I even have a stained glass lamp I made!
How long have you been quilting, and how did you learn to quilt?
I've been sewing since I was very young, but I didn't really get into quilting until recently. I'm a self-taught quilter. I learned mostly from reading books and blogs and just trying things out. I've also picked up a lot of great tips from other MMQG members. 
How many quilts do you think you have made? How many are still UFOs (unfinished objects)?
I haven't actually finished that many quilts -- maybe nine or ten. I think currently I have only two quilt tops that need to be finished, however I have a large number of unfinished sewing projects that aren't quilts. Of course, for me, an unfinished project includes the purchase of fabric for a specific project -- even if I haven't even cut out the material for it yet. If it's sitting waiting to be cut and sewn - it's an unfinished project. 
How many hours a week do you spend quilting on average?
Right now I definitely spend less than ten hours a week quilting or sewing. Once the kiddos go back to school that will increase dramatically. 
Describe your first quilt.
My first quilt was an embroidered baby quilt for my daughter that I made five years ago. It had lots of cute little animals on it. I even entered it in the state fair back then and got 2nd place. I very recently put on some new binding as the first was dragged around by my little one (getting caught on things and pulled) and so, needed replacing. My first pieced quilt was not long after, but I made the mistake of using flannel and no walking foot -- there were quite a few puckers -- I don't think I even have a photo of it -- I gave it away. Soon after, I got a walking foot.
Which of your quilts is your favorite or are you most proud of and why?
I think the one I'm most proud of is my upcycled quilt made all with vintage sheets. I love how soft it is and how well the colors look together. I'd like to collect some more vintage sheets and do another larger one. It's also my first attempt at free-motion quilting. vintage sheet quilt, view 2
I also love the dress I made for my daughter with the sheet scraps!
vintage sheet dress 
This quilt that I made for my sister is also one of my favorites. snuggly quilt, view 1
Where do you sew? Describe your space and your favorite quilting accompaniments.
My sewing space is shared with my husband's office. I like to have the iPad nearby to listen to some of my favorite movies and TV shows on Netflix -- all that I've seen before of course. Sometimes I listen to music too, but usually it's Netflix for me. My sewing space is pretty small so my "cutting area" is the coffee table in the family room and my ironing board hangs out near the washer and dryer. So, I'm getting a bit of exercise running around the house while I sew. If I'm actually quilting my quilt, I clean off the large kitchen table and move my sewing machine up there to finish it up. I have a lot more space to move the quilt.  
Describe your fabric buying habits and stash. How do you manage your stash?
I used to be terrible buying any fabric I saw that I liked. I've been very good lately about restricting myself. My stash is all organized in clear totes. They're sorted by the following:: knits, flannel, fleece, apparel (including swiss dot, seersucker, corduroy), scraps, solid cottons, have a few totes with quilting cotton (prints) organized by how much I like them. :D 
What are your favorite and least favorite things about quilting?
My least favorite thing is definitely sandwiching my quilt together and pinning it. Actually quilting it is a close second. I always want that part to be done quickly and it always takes longer than I expect, but I'm learning to relax and slow down and enjoy this part -- a glass of wine helps! 
What are your current and/or long-term quilting goals?
Would like to get up the courage to finish my daughter's quilt -- an entire top in Heather Ross' Far Far Away, just waiting to be quilted -- it scares me because it's double gauze and I don't want to warp or pull on the beautiful fabric - so it's been sitting unfinished for almost two years now. I'd like to finish it and give it to her at her birthday (Thanksgiving), but realistically it won't happen until Christmas. peek
What is one (or more) quilt technique you would like to learn or are afraid of?
I'd like to get better at free-motion quilting. I've only done one lap quilt and a few tiny projects with it - but I already love it! I'd also like to make a queen size quilt for my bed -- but I'd be afraid of quilting something so large -- I can foresee a lot of cursing on that one. 
Who or what inspires you most in quilting?
I am inspired by other quilters in the MMQG, but I am also strongly inspired by geometry and architecture. 
What advice do you have for new quilters?
Read blogs and books - there's a lot of great ones out there, then just go for it!

Say "Cheese!"

Hi everyone, it's Tracy (the one that likes to makes big quilts) and I’m blogging today about how I take photos of my finished quilts.  Please know that I am not a skilled photographer -- I have a computer overflowing with quilt photos and a Flickr account, that's about it.  This is just a quick overview of how documenting my quilts has evolved over the years, much like my quilting. 

I started with a pretty basic concept – throw the quilt on a piece of furniture and take a snapshot. 

It then dawned on me that there are tall people lounging around the house that are perfectly capable of holding them up.  But I still took pictures inside the house without taking notice of my background (that’s the dog...little photo-bomber).

I have now taken photographing my quilts to a level that drives everyone in my house nuts.  I’m always looking for new backdrops, backgrounds and places that will really complement a specific quilt.  For instance, this zigzag quilt looks great with the water background:

But getting that picture took a lot of this:

I also learned rather quickly how important it is to crop your picture; because let’s be honest, quilts look much better without legs:

Once I discovered that the holder of the quilt is key in getting a nice flat shot, my inner photographer really came out.  My son is my number one quilter holder.  On his own, with no coaching from me, he will hold the corners straight without showing his fingers on the front of the quilt (he’s gifted like that and it doesn’t hurt that he’s 6’5”).  He is also the least whiny about holding a quilt for me.  He learned early on that the sooner he got up from the sofa and held up the quilt until I said he was done, the sooner he’d be left alone.  Here is some of his finest work:

He can, however, shoot a fine “stink eye” at me when pushed too far.

Or give me a little attitude now and then:

He’s off at college now, so meet my new assistants:

These clamps are from the husband’s tool bench and work great.  I take them, a quilt and hit the wooded paths down the street from our house.  I can hang quilts from the walking bridges or low tree branches, take some pictures and move on.

Lately my husband has jumped on the quilt picture taking bandwagon and has become my go-to quilt holder.


He, however, has much less stamina than our son.  I’ll be shooting away and all of the sudden the quilt drops and he’s all like, “Isn’t that enough?” or “There’s no blood in my arms!” Blah, blah, blah.

I recently discovered my new favorite spot for pictures near our home.  It’s an original farm house built about 150 years ago with an old barn and outbuilding.  It’s amazing how lovely a perfect stranger can be when you introduce yourself as a quilter and ask if you can use her buildings for backdrops for your quilt photos. 

I have loved learning and discovering how different backdrops can really show off my quilts.  Since most of my quilts have been given as gifts, I enjoy having a nice picture to remember them by.  So here are my simple, uneducated tips for taking pictures of your quilts:

1.  Look for backgrounds that have texture, interesting color, contrasting color, or depth of field in order to have your quilt stand out in the photo.  
2.  Cloudy or overcast weather is better than bright sun. 
3.  Don't be shy; people love quilts. If you see someplace that would be perfect for a picture, ask if you can take some pictures on their property.
3.  Learn how to crop your photos on your computer.
4.  And most importantly, always consider bribery in order to get someone to hold up a quilt for you.  

So get out there and take pictures of your quilts.  Be warned though, once you get started, it’s hard to stop.

This last photo is one that I took from my neighbor’s deck using her hammock below as a quilt holder.  

Easiest photo shoot ever!
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