Thursday, 30 June 2016

Recommended Courses for Sewing with Pre-Cuts

In my recent reader survey several of you told me that you would like help coming up with ideas for things to sew with your collection of pre-cuts. I am currently working on some fun patterns for you. Pattern writing is a long process because, of course, potential buyers would like to see the finished quilt before deciding on the pattern. While I am working on my quilts I would like to suggest some other quilter's courses that I have bought from Craftsy. These are all classes that I have purchased (I did not receive them for free) and I feel confident recommending them to you as an excellent source of patterns, techniques and ideas for projects to make using your pre-cuts.

There is "Smarter Strip Quilting" with Joanna Figueroa as well as her course "Simple Fresh Quilts." Both of these classes use pre-cuts to make several gorgeous quilts.

Of course there are the ever popular Camille Roskelley's courses "Playful Piecing Techniques" and "Pre-Cut Piecing Made Simple" which both use pre-cuts. Courses include some of Camille's patterns from her shop, including the iconic Swoon quilt (in the latter link) with her instructions and tips as well as some projects exclusive to the classes.

Uses a Jelly Roll.

The "Hashtag" quilt (above) and "Piece of Cake 3" quit (below) are quilts I made from Camille's Craftsy classes.

Uses a layer cake.

I have also bought Angel Pingel's class "Simple to Stunning: Disappearing Blocks with Pre-Cuts" and just tonight I bought Amy Smart's class "Pre-Cut Shortcuts: Quilt Tops in Less Time." I especially want to make Amy's Crosshatch Quilts in this class using a layer cake and a jelly roll. You can find both of these by clicking the image below.

I am really enjoying all of these classes. Sometimes it's fun to just watch the lessons without necessarily working on the projects and then go back later when you decide which ones you want to make. It's like watching "Quilt TV." :) I will be happily watching Amy Smart's class tonight in my pajamas.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the links and purchase it is possible that I may receive a small commission. Thank you for your support. This helps me to keep blogging and making fun free tutorials.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Make an Easy Rainbow Scrap Busting Quilt Free Tutorial

Hello quilting friends! Many of you have told me that you would like help with scrap organizing and using up your scraps. I'm with you! So here's an idea I drew up in my EQ7 software that I would like to share with you today. This post contains affiliate links.

On the topic of scrap organization:

I have gotten into the habit of organizing my scraps by colour in See Through Storage Boxes. All the red scraps go in one clear see through plastic bin, all the navy scraps in another, all the turquoise scraps in another and so on. I don't bother cutting them to specific sizes although I know some quilters do. The reason I don't do that is because a.) it's time consuming and b.) it could limit me later on with what I can make with those scraps. I consider anything smaller than a fat eighth to be a scrap.

On the topic of containers:

I have run out of see through bins so some of my scraps are in stackable wire baskets as well and some are even in little wicker baskets with handles. Basically my advice on this is use what you have or what you can buy inexpensively. It is helpful for space conservation though if you can stack your containers. Most of my containers are on a glass IKEA shelf that is mounted on the wall (with the brackets attached to the studs behind the drywall) above my cutting tables. If I manage to get my sewing room cleaned and organized over the summer I will post pictures. ;)

Getting back to my quilt idea in the graphic above:

Once you have your scraps sorted into colours it will make it easy to create scrappy rainbow quilts. Gather your rainbow scraps and your low volume scraps. If you do not have enough low volume scraps you will need about 5 yards of background fabric.

Cut your coloured scraps into 5 inch squares and 2 inch squares. Draw a diagonal line on the back of the two inch squares.

You will need:

80 - 5 inch background/low volume squares
40 - 9 1/2 inch background/low volume squares
160 - 2 inch corner squares

The cutting amounts for your colours will vary depending on what you have for scraps. Make the quilt work with what you have. [Try not to buy fabric! The point is to use up your scraps! :) ]

Note: all seams are 1/4 inch, blocks are 9 inches finished, the quilt as seen below is 74 x 92 inches including a 1 inch border

Use this graphic as a guide or colour your own guide on graph paper.

Sew four patch blocks using two coloured 5 inch squares and two background/low volume 5 inch squares. Refer to the diagram or your colouring sheet to determine what colour to place where. Press centre seams in opposite directions towards the coloured fabric to create nesting seams and then sew the two halves of the block together pressing the seam in one direction.

Sew the alternate setting blocks (also known as snowball blocks) using one 9 1/2 inch background/low volume square and four 2 inch corner squares. Again refer to the diagram or your colouring sheet for colour placement.

Place each 2 inch corner square face down on a corner of the 9 1/2 inch background square and sew on the drawn diagonal line. Trim 1/4 inch from the seam and press seams towards the colours.

Following the quilt diagram, or your own diagram on graph paper, layout the quilt top alternating between four patches and the alternate setting blocks (snowball blocks.) Sew the quilt top together in 10 rows of 8 squares each. Press seams in alternating directions for each row to create nesting seams and then sew all the rows together. Press all row seams in one direction.

Blocks are nine inches finished and the quilt top is 74 x 92 inches with a one inch background fabric border. You can make the quilt bigger or smaller by adding or subtracting blocks and rows. Adding borders is also another option to increase the size.

I hope this post was helpful to you today! Whether you're new to quilting or you've been quilting for years we all love cute paper to design on:

Sign up for my newsletter to receive this fun free printable quilt planning page, a free quilt pattern plus more exclusive content!

This "Frog Pond" quilt came out in my newsletter to subscribers on May 17, 2016. Subscribe to my newsletter for a free PDF download of the tutorial plus a free pattern and quilt planning page. Watch for the "welcome email" after you sign up for all the download links. Links will be in every newsletter if you miss that email.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Canada Day Flag Bunting Tutorial

Hello! I made a rustic flag bunting string for Canada Day this past week and I thought others would like to make one too so here's a quick tutorial.

Download the free maple leaf template here. You may also be interested in this Canadian Flag Pillow Tutorial which uses the same template.

Here's what you do:

  • cut five rectangles of burlap 6" x 8"
  • fold in half on the long side so it's 3" x 8"
  • make a mark two inches from the bottom on the fold
  • lay your cutting ruler diagonally from the opposite bottom corner (with two raw edge corners) to the mark on the fold
  • cut with your rotary cutter
  • sew around the edges of the five flags twice to keep the burlap from unraveling
  • applique maple leaves to the bunting using fusible web following the instructions on the fusible, make sure the leaf stem is centered over the peak of the cut you made when the burlap was folded
  • straight stitch around the edges of the leaves about 1/8" from the edge to secure them
  • take a three yard piece of twill tape, find the center and sew it to the top of a flag
  • evenly space out the other four flags on either side and sew to the twill tape (sew two lines of stitches to be on the safe side)
  • hang your bunting and enjoy! Happy Canada Day!

Close ups of some of the flags on my bunting.

Use all different red prints to make it interesting and fun to look at. :)

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Canadian Flag Pillow or Table Runner Tutorial

Yesterday at about 5:00 in the afternoon I suddenly got it into my head that I wanted to make a pillow for Canada Day. I quickly designed a project using the Canadian flag block in my EQ7 software. I got started tracing the leaves on fusible web and then had to stop to make supper. After supper I made the flag blocks and then my kids wanted me to watch an hour long show with them. I finished my pillow at about 10:50 p.m. All that to say that you can easily do this project in an evening and it will probably take less than four hours to make. :) This post contains affiliate links.

I started out thinking that my pillow would be 16 x 28 inches but in the end it is quite a large pillow at 18 x 30 inches.

Originally I was not planning to have sashing:

But as you can see... that results in a big block of red in the middle.

So I decided that sashing was a must. If you are doing yours in rainbow colours or using alternating lighter and darker reds than you could skip the sashing and it would look great. Or, if you do not want such a giant pillow you could turn this into a table runner. Maybe have all the flags with the leaf stems facing the border so people on either side of the table would see the flag the right way up.

Okay, so here's what you need:

1 fat quarter of white or white on white print for white in flags
4 fat eighths of different red prints for flags
1/2 yard for sashing and border
1/2 yard for backing
about a fat quarter size piece of fusible web such as Heat'n Bond Lite Iron-on Adhesive or Steam-A-Seam

if making table runner:
1/4 yard by width of fabric for binding
1/2 yard of batting

if making pillow:
36 x 62 inch piece of muslin for pillow form (I get something like 3 yards extra wide for under $15 at Walmart)
64 oz. bag of polyfil stuffing (again I buy at Walmart for less than $20)

The maple leaf applique template. Download free here from my Craftsy shop and print at 100% (no scaling, do not fit to page). The maple leaf should be about 5 inches square

Here's what you do:


from each fat eighth of red fabric cut two 3 1/2 x 6 1/2 inch rectangles and one 6 1/2 inch square

from the white fat quarter cut four 6 1/2 inch squares and press into quarters with your iron to make registration marks

from sashing/border fabric cut six 2/12 inch strips


Trace the maple leaf with a pencil on your the paper side of your fusible web. If using Steam a Seam trace on the side that does not peel off easily.

Cut out around the maple leaf shape with paper scissors and fuse to the back of your maple leaf squares following the package directions for the fusible.

Cut out with paper scissors on the drawn pencil line. Peel off the paper backing and fuse to the front of the white squares using the registration marks you made with your iron to get the leaf centred.


Sew the coordinating red rectangles to either side of the matching white squares with leaves fused to them. Press seams towards the red fabric. Make four flags.

From one sashing strip cut two 6 1/2 inch lengths to sew between two sets of two flags. Press as desired. I think I pressed towards my sashing but it would probably be better to press towards the red if using lighter sashing.

Sew the two sets of two flags together into a grid of four using another strip of sashing between the two sets. Press towards the red fabrics. Trim excess sashing off ends.

Sew two sashing strips on the side of the grid and two on the top to create the finished quilt top.


If making the pillow lay the quilt top on your batting and quilt. If you wish you can back it with muslin before your start quilting. I just left mine with batting only. My pillow top was quilted with wavy lines about an inch apart and then I free motion quilted around the edges of the maple leaves. If you prefer you could zig zag or blanket stitch your edges. The fusible will keep them from fraying too much and we probably won't be washing these pillows that often. If you do not like free motion quilting you can also straight stitch leaving your needle in at each corner and pivoting the work to change direction until you get all the way around the edges.

Make the table runner as above but of course layer your backing face down, then batting and then quilt top face up before you quilt.

Trim your top and bind if making a table runner or continue to next step if making the pillow.

Envelope Pillow Back:

To make the pillow back take your half yard of backing and cut it along the factory fold line to make two halves. Hem these edges by folding 1/4 inch and pressing and then folding another 1/4 inch and press again. Then sew down the edges to secure the hems.

With fabrics face up overlap these hemmed edges by as much as you would like. (Mine overlap about eight inches which is probably a bit too much as it was difficult to get my pillow form in.) Then lay the quilted pillow top on top face down and pin. Sew around the edges with 1/4" to 1/2" seam. Go around twice to be on the safe side. Trim off excess backing, clip corners and turn right side out.

For more on envelope backs and photos see this tutorial or this tutorial.

Make the pillow form by folding your muslin in half and stitching around the three raw edges with a one inch seam leaving a five inch opening on the long side for turning and stuffing. Clip corners, turn out and press. Then stuff with stuffing to your desired firmness making sure to really get the stuffing into the corners. Hold the opening closed with Wonder Clips and sew it shut with your sewing machine. (It's tricky, I know... go slow and watch your fingers.) Or if it's really stuffed and you can't get it under your needle sew the opening closed with a whip stitch or a ladder stitch.

Then put your pillow form into your pillow and enjoy! Happy Canada Day on July 1st! :)

I hope this post was helpful to you today! Whether you're new to quilting or you've been quilting for years we all love cute paper to design on:

Sign up for my newsletter to receive this fun free printable quilt planning page, a free quilt pattern plus more exclusive content!

Friday, 10 June 2016

Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

Hello! Thank you so much to all of you who have filled out my survey so far. This is so much fun! I think I will do a survey every year. And thank you so much for all the nice and kind comments you have left me.

If you haven't yet done my reader/follower survey you can read more in this post and find the survey here.

One of the top things to come out of the survey so far is that many of you would like to see more tutorials on my blog and that you would like help with free motion quilting. So with that in mind I have made a free motion quilting video tutorial for you today. In the video I show stippling, pebbles and a feather. I call the feather a ribbon but it's a feather. :) Ahhh, the stress of quilting on camera! ;)

I hope this is helpful to you! Thank you for your feedback.

I am linking my "finished tutorial" to Crazy Mom Quilts' "Finish it Up Friday."

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Survey Time!

Hi everyone! I am coming up on my five year blog anniversary! This year I have made growing my blog and my email list my top priority and I have many new things coming up in the next few months that I am excited to launch but I want to make sure I am going in the right direction.

I would love to know your thoughts on some of the topics in a little survey I have just created. Would you mind filling it out for me? I would appreciate it so much. Thank you!

Click here to get to the survey!

Monday, 6 June 2016

Tokyo Star Flowers PDF Quilt Pattern Release

Hello! It is always a happy day for me when I get to announce that I have a new quilt pattern to release. I, at last, had a chance to knuckle down and finish my Tokyo Star Flower quilt and the weather cooperated for quilt photos. You can find my new pattern on:  

 Craftsy and Etsy

I made the quilt top entirely out of Cotton + Steel Tokyo Train Ride and Basics fabrics. I designed this quilt specifically to use fabrics from my stash and I'm guessing that if you are like me you probably have these same items on hand in your stash too. This is a layer cake and/or charm square friendly pattern. You need 25 10" squares (or the equivalent in charms), 2 yards of background, and a half yard each of pink, border and binding.

Tokyo Star Flowers quilt designed, pieced and quilted by Anita LaHay of Daydreams of Quilts.

The weather has been fantastic the past few days. This photo was taken at about 8:00 in the evening.

A close up of my quilting. I quilted a flower motif in the centre of the blocks, petal shapes on the petals and meandering double loops on the background plus leaves on the pink diamonds.

The entire quilt top is made of Cotton + Steel "Tokyo Train Ride" and "Basics" fabrics.

The back is made entirely of Cotton + Steel as well and is economically pieced from my stash as you may have read about in my last post.
 The back of the quilt is just as fun to look at as the front! I love that I could use all Cotton + Steel for this quilt. I won't lie... I slept with this quilt the first night. ;)

Tokyo Star Flowers PDF Quilt pattern is now available on Craftsy and Etsy

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Ten Ways to Save Money as a Quilter

We are Talking About Saving Money Today!

Quilting is just like any other consumer related activity in that we are bombarded with beautiful images that make us want to buy more. These images come not only from the manufacturers of the goods and the shops selling them but also from other quilters. Sometimes quilters are posting to show what they bought (think "Sunday Stash") and sometimes they are posting on behalf of manufacturers and shops as a sponsored post or as an affiliate marketer.

 It is easy to get caught up in this, click over to buy and then feel self righteous about purchases made (and possible over spending) because it's for our craft. It's for something we are passionate about and it will be made into something beautiful for ourselves or someone we gift it to in the end.

Now I love shopping just as much as the next person and if I had unlimited resources I would probably happily buy without giving it much thought. Or would I? I think all of us are thinking about the greater impact of our purchases. And if we aren't - we should be. We should ask ourselves; how is this impacting the environment? My family? My own happiness? Rampant consumerism is not healthy for our planet, our society or our relationships. I am not the first quilt blogger to think about this. Diane at From Blank Pages wrote a heartfelt post in which she laid it all on the table about her fabric addiction and the impact it had on her and her family.

Most of us do not have unlimited resources and we need to buy responsibly and find ways to stretch our dollars. Not to mention that quilting is also a very expensive hobby.

With these points in mind I have put together a list of ways quilters can save money.

1. Shop Your Stash

This point is obvious of course. Many of us buy fabric with no particular plan for it. Try to set up your stash as if it were in a shop, such as like colours together and/or fabrics from the same line together. This way it's easy to find things, it's fun to look at and you can see what you have. I have bought some inexpensive white book shelves (about $50 CDN each) where the openings are like square cubbies from Walmart (even less expensive than IKEA). I sort my fabrics by colour in the cubbies of one (there are six cubbies) and I sort by fabric designer in the other.

2. Have a Pattern in Mind

When you do shop from a quilt shop have a pattern in mind that you are buying for rather than always picking up random fabrics that strike your fancy. There was one blogger I used to follow (she has since stopped blogging) who would only buy what was needed for a project. When the project was finished she would give away or sell her scraps. She never kept a stash. I am not that disciplined but if you are it's an idea to consider.

3. Watch for Sales

I was going to suggest unsubscribing from online shop newsletters in this list so that you are not even tempted to shop. I decided instead to say to watch for sales. If you unsubscribe from the newsletters you may not know when the shops have sales. In the past I have unsubscribed from all shop newsletters though and if you are really trying to cut back that is a way to prevent some of the marketing bombardment.

4. Keep Equipment in Good Repair

Keep your sewing machine clean, follow manufacturer's directions for your iron, get sewing scissors sharpened and generally keep your supplies well cared for. They will last longer and this will increase safety in the sewing room as well. I was noticing my rotary blades seemed to be going dull quickly. I replaced my cutting mat and they are lasting a lot longer plus cutting is easier.

A Word About Coupons:
Cutting mats are pricey. The one I bought is 24 x 36 inches and was priced at $90 (Canadian) at Micheal's. I had a 50% off coupon so I got the mat for $45.00. When you are going to big stores like Micheal's always check their site for coupons before you go and/or sign up for their emails so you get the weekly coupons. I know the emails are annoying but they can save you money. If you wander into the store on a whim you can usually get their coupons through an app on your phone too and the cashier can help you find it if you are having trouble. (I no longer have a cell phone - another way to save money - and I used my iPod Touch (a gift from my brother and sister) on Michael's free wi-fi. The cashier helped me find the coupon on my iPod.)

5. Chain Piece

Chain piecing is where you feed one piece after another through your sewing machine without cutting the threads. This saves both time and thread. Before I adopted this sewing habit I would take each piece off the machine and trim the thread tails. Each new piece would have two inch thread tails on it too. I would always be throwing palm sized piles of thread scraps in the garbage.

6. Piece Your Quilt Back

I get it. When you are finished your quilt top you just want to be done with the piecing. The last two quilts I've made though I have pieced my backings with leftover fabrics from the fronts and/or other large pieces of fabric from my stash. This saved me about $80 per quilt. You will have beautiful quilts that you want a backing of all the same fabric for but even if you piece only some of your backings from fabric you have on hand you can save quite a lot of money.

7. Buy in Bulk

If there are supplies that you constantly use it makes sense to buy those in bulk. I buy Kona White and Kona Snow by the bolt because I am always using those for backgrounds. This saves me 20% on the fabric plus I get free shipping as the bolts are over the online shop's free shipping threshold. The same goes for batting. I bought a roll of batting last November for under $400 (CDN) and I saved 40% on the cost of batting if I were buying separate pieces for each quilt.

8. Quilt Your Own Quilts

I'm sorry to all the long-armers out there but this is a way to save a tremendous amount of money. Spend time learning to free motion quilt and you will save thousands of dollars over the years. I have never sent a quilt out to be quilted, as tempting as it has been, because I simply cannot afford it. Custom quilting can double the cost of a quilt or more.

9. Look Away

When all the posts about what other quilters have bought is getting you down or making you feel like you have to have that too. Look away. Get off social media and go out for a walk. Wanting what others have will only make you feel bad. I never click in to "Sunday Stash" posts and I try to spend Sundays with family and stay off the computer as much as I can. Instead of being online, be in your sewing room making something fabulous that makes you happy.

10. Go to Your Public Library

I have not had room in the budget for new quilting books lately so I have been ordering them into our local public library. The library does not have quilting books that I am interested in but I can have the ones I want brought in through the inter-library loan system. Besides being able to have the book that I want in my hands for at least three weeks this is also a great way to preview books and eliminate some from your wish list. I have actually crossed quite a few off my "want to buy" list after signing them out from the library and realizing they weren't that great after all.

I hope this post has been a help to you and I hope you will join in cutting back on over spending and consumerism. Yes, we should treat ourselves now and then but when it starts taking over your life it's time to take a step back and implement some of these strategies.