Friday, 29 April 2016

5 Common Mistakes New Quilters Make

I started quilting in 1997 and I've learned a few things since then that I would like to share with you. Some of these I learned, or was reminded of, from teaching others to quilt. I'm listing them here to help new quilters as well as quilters who may have formed some bad habits from their own start (ahem, like me). This is also useful for quilters who are teaching others to quilt.

1. Not knowing how to use your own sewing machine.

Maybe you've bought an expensive machine from a specialty sewing machine shop or maybe you're not 100% sure this is the hobby for you and you've bought a less expensive machine at a store like Walmart. Either way, set aside time dedicated to learning how your machine works. 

I bought my first machine from Sears and they had a sewing class I could sign up for to learn all the different features of my machine. It was time well spent! Any specialty shop selling high end machines should offer this service but check with them before you buy.

Two summer ago I bought a less expensive machine from Walmart as a back-up machine. Now, of course, Walmart doesn't offer a get-to-know-your-machine sewing class however I still recommend blocking off some time where you will be able to focus and go through your machine's manual to learn how it works before you try to sew your first project. It will save you a lot of time and head aches down the road.

I was floored when I taught my first quilting class to discover that more than one of my students did not know how to work their sewing machine! I had to spend time in the class figuring out how their machines worked and showing them. This class was relaxed and informal. Normally a teacher would not have time to do this in a class at a quilt shop or quilting event and it would be unfair to the other class participants to do this.

2. Not knowing the importance of a quarter inch seam.

The quarter inch seam is the most basic thing you should know about quilting. In quilting all seams are 1/4". The reason for this is because any more than a quarter inch is creating unnecessary bulk on the back of the quilt top and any less than that could cause a hole in the quilt over time due to fabric fraying down to the stitches.

I have made this mistake myself and left some seams in a quilt that were about 1/8" and after a few trips through the washing machine that quilt developed holes.

It is important to use a consistent seam allowance so that all your blocks will be the same size and will match up when you go to put them together into a quilt top. The best way to ensure this is to use a 1/4" quilting foot with a seam guide or to put a magnetic seam guide (or tape a guide with removable low tack tape such as painter's tape) to your machine's base plate. (The base plate is the metal part that the fabric slides over and the needle goes down into.)

There are times when it is best to use a scant 1/4" seam and that means that you sew just a thread's width less than a quarter inch. This helps with accuracy when sewing blocks with many pieces. It is also a good idea when sewing these types of blocks to check the finished size of them and if they differ to find the average size and square them all up to that size.

3. Not Realizing that Quality Supplies Matter

New quilter's may not realize that there are different qualities of fabric when they are first starting out. When I was first starting to collect a stash I made this mistake. I bought fabric at big warehouse-type craft stores. I didn't know that there is a reason why those fabrics are less expensive and appear like "such a good deal."

Buying less expensive fabrics can ruin a quilt. Their dyes can run and they often do not have a nice hand - meaning that they do not feel nice to the touch. They can often feel stiffer and rougher than good quality quilting cotton.

It is best to use high quality quilting cottons, of the type that quilt shops carry, in your quilts. High quality materials mean high quality quilts. I also do not recommend mixing fabric types such as polyester in with your cottons. This can cause warping of blocks, troubles with pressing blocks with a hot steam iron and different shrinkage rates in the wash.

My first quilt was a log cabin quilt. The lady who taught me to make it let me use her scraps. Many of the scraps were thin fabrics and blended fabrics. They were not good quality quilter's cottons. Those thin fabrics were the first to develop holes and after a few years my prized quilt was a wreck. It became a dog bed when my dog got ill and then it ended up at the curb and in the garbage truck. I was wishing I had bought my own fabrics but looking back I probably wouldn't have known to buy the high quality ones I recommend.

4. Not Investing in Learning Critical Skills

This is one thing that I did right when I was starting out on my quilting journey. For that first quilt I made that I just mentioned above the other thing the lady had me do was hand cut all the strips for the log cabin blocks. That was time consuming and not very fun or accurate. The first thing I did after that was buy a book on rotary cutting. Even with the book I was still feeling confused on how to do it so I signed up for a rotary cutting course at a local quilt shop. That was money well spent! Rotary cutting is such an important skill to learn well from the beginning. Learning bad habits with rotary cutting take a long time to unlearn.

Not only is rotary cutting important to accuracy and the final outcome of your blocks and quilts but it also uses a dangerous tool. Basically a rotary cutter is a spinning razor blade and many quilters' injuries occur using this tool. Learning safety habits such as always closing your blade after you use it, even if you're only putting it down for a second, is very important. For example, I saw photos on Instagram of a quilter's foot after her rotary cutter fell from her cutting table with the blade open onto her bare foot. How many of us quilt in our bare feet at home? I know I do! Always close the blade! Also, always keep your fingers away from the ruler's edge! I strongly recommend taking a rotary cutting class if you can.

5. Not Knowing the Difference Between Pressing and Ironing

This was another one I didn't know when I first started quilting. Ironing is gliding the iron across the fabric to remove wrinkles. Pressing is placing the iron on the fabric to press a seam and then lifting it and placing it down again. It is fine to iron your fabric before cutting your pieces but it is important to press your seams rather than ironing them so you don't distort your blocks.

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:

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Thursday, 28 April 2016

Block Number 44 Iris in the Farmer's Wife 1930's Quilt Along

Hello! Welcome to Daydreams of Quilts for Block number 44 Iris in the Farmer's Wife 1930s quilt along hosted by Gnome Angel and sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Mitchell.

Farmer's Wife Block 44 Iris pieced by Daydreams of Quilts.
Isn't this a pretty block!? I love it. I used my Alphabitties to label different sections of this block for the purposes of this tutorial.

Tutorial Notes: Please refer to the diagram on the printed template sheet that you printed from your book's CD. I used the lettered names of the pieces for this tutorial. I cut my pieces with a rotary cutter using the paper templates printed from the CD. I lines my quarter inch line on my ruler up on the solid template lines to cut an accurate quarter inch seam allowance. For multiples of the same piece I folded my fabrics to cut two or four at a time. U cut all the little notches on the corners of the templates as well to make it easier to match up the pieces.

For this tutorial I have numbered the block sections as in the above photo.
Step 1:

  • lay your pieces out on a work surface according to the diagram in your book ( have mine pointing to the left here - in the book it is pointing to the right)
  • Sew Section 1: Sew G B and F pieces together and press seams to the darker fabric. Press after each seam.
This is what you have after step 1 is complete. Section 1 is sewn together.
Step 2:
  • Section 2: Sew pieces C, A and D together. Press seams to the darker fabric.
  • Sew to section 1 being careful not to stretch bias edges.

This is what you have after Step 2 is complete. Sections 1 and 2 are sewn together.
 Step 3:

  • Section 3: Sew E triangles together. Press seams to the darker fabric.
  • Sew the E triangle units to H triangles.
  • Sew both section 3 pieces to Section 1+2 piece and press seams to one side.

After Step 3 is complete. The top half of your block is done.
 Step 4:

  • Working from the outside edge in sew the section 4 pieces.
  • First sew P,O,K pieces and Q,N,L pieces together.
  • Press seams towards the outer corner of the block (pieces L and K)
  • Sew the P/O/K unit and Q/N/L unit to M pieces and press seams towards M
  • Sew I pieces to M/P/O/K and M/Q/N/L units and press seams towards I

This is what you have after Step 4 is complete. Now it is straightforward to finish the block.
Step 5:
  • Sew Section 4 pieces to the center J piece. Press seams to the side in one direction
  • Sew the top and bottom halves of the block together and press center seam open.

A beautiful Iris block. I was able to grow lovely Iris' in my garden when we lived in New Brunswick but have not had success so far in Alberta. Maybe I will try again this spring because the blooms are so beautiful.
Thank you for joining me today to sew Block 44 Iris. I hope my garden can be as successful as this block this year.

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Information about the book:

This Quilt Along is hosted by Angie Wilson of Gnome Angel
This Quilt Along is sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Mitchell

List of Blogger's For March and April:
14/04/2016: Kerry @ Kid Giddy
28/04/2016: Anita @ Daydreams of Quilts (you're here!)

Sunday Link Party

Don't forget if you're making blocks as part of the sew-along please come and link up on the Sunday Link Party at


The page with all the Frequently Asked Questions (and answers) in relation to the sew-along can be found by clicking here.


The hashtag for this sew-along is #FQS1930FarmersWife and #fw<blocknumber><blockname>

Facebook Groups

The public Facebook Group can be found by clicking here.


The Flickr Group can be found by clicking here.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Sewing my Daughters' Summer Wardrobes with (mostly) Free Patterns

I took a little break from quilting last week because the mood to sew garments for my daughters suddenly struck! This is a rare event so I went all out. Here is what I made.

First I made a pair of Sunny Day shorts out of Cotton + Steel double gauze. These are for my 7 year old. You can find the free Oliver + S pattern here.
 I changed out my sharp needle for a ball point needle on my machine so I could sew some knits.

I made a pair of leggings out of Heather Ross Briar Rose knit. This was the last yard I had of this. This is a bought pattern from Oliver + S. You can find it here.
I should mention that although many of the patterns in this post are free I have bought many patterns from Oliver + S (5, I think) and their other labels (2 or 3). So I do have several bought patterns and I am very happy with them. It's just that these free ones are what I was wanting to sew at this time. I would like to encourage you to try the free patterns and if you are happy with them to please consider buying some of the paid patterns. (This is not a sponsored post by the way. I just love these patterns!)

Then I made another pair of leggings with Art Gallery Fabrics knit. So soft! I really love how well these turner out!

This is the Popover Sundress made with my "Succulents" fabric made for my 19 month old. You can find the free Oliver + S pattern here.

I had a very hard time getting a photo of her in it so this is the best I could do. She kept crouching down whenever I lifted the camera.

Then I made a size 7 Popover Sundress for my older daughter but she was unhappy that her little sister got the more colourful Succulents fabric.

So I let her colour it with fabric markers.

Here it is all finished. I set the ink with an iron just to be sure.

Then I made two more pairs of Sunny Day shorts out of turtle fabric. One for each little girl.

Then I made a Ruffled Halter top for my older daughter. I hemmed the ruffle edges with a rolled hem foot instead of leaving them raw as the pattern suggests and I am very happy with how this turned out. You can find the free Oliver + S pattern here.

And here she is wearing it. :) So cute! Now we just need summer.
Now I need to sew some Ice Cream Dresses. I have bought that pattern twice to get all the sizes. And another Ruffled Halter for the little one. But I have lost my sew-jo the past couple of days. Maybe I need to sew a quilt to get it back.

Thank you for coming by my blog today to see my garment sewing. :)

Linking up with Let's Bee Social.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

My Designs Are Available On Etsy

Hello! It's snowing here! So it's a good time to update my Etsy shop. I have added several of my own designs in the supply section of the shop included fat eighths of some of my fabric, handmade pincushions and embroidery kits. Here's a quick preview of what is currently available. :)

Grumpy Cactus Pincushion fat eighths available here.

Sloth construction foreman fabric fat eighth available here.

Handmade Grumpy Cactus Pincushions available here.

Turtle Construction Worker embroidery kit available here.

Snail Construction Worker embroidery kit available here.
Whew! That was a bit of work. ;) I made the pincushions and stitched the embroidery samples yesterday. Thanks for stopping by to see what I've been up to this weekend. I hope the weather is nicer where you are!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A Finished "Spiced Chai" Quilt for A Charity Fundraiser

I have a finished quilt to show you! :) I sewed down the last four feet of binding yesterday morning. This is the "Spiced Chai" quilt from the book "Vintage Quilt Revival." I have wanted to sew this quilt since buying the book (which I highly recommend!) and I have finally done it. This is actually a really quick quilt to make. I started and finished it in about a week.

"Spiced Chai" quilt designed by Katie Clark Blakesley. Pieced and quilted by Anita of Daydreams of Quilts.

The original quilt in the book used all solid greys. I liked that but because I was sewing this for a charity fundraiser I felt that I couldn't order in all new fabrics for it. I had just about enough grey prints in my stash to make the quilt. I ordered the Blueberry Park fabrics from a new online shop here in Alberta called Zoey and Bean Fabrics. (Informational link - not an affiliate)

Here's a close-up of my quilting. I tried swirls for the first time as well as wood grain (left side of the photo). I started out with the wood grain and it quickly became apparent that if I tried to quilt the entire top that way I would be here until next year. So I quilted it as a tree trunk down the middle of the quilt and quilted leaves on the right and swirling bird feathers on the left plus the swirls in the white square. Changing up the quilting motifs was helpful to me in not getting bored. :)

Here it is just after piecing. The blocks are large so the top goes together quickly once you trim all the half square triangles (the most tedious part as always).
This quilt will be in a silent auction at my church this Sunday evening at their spring fundraising dinner. I am on the church board and I showed it to them at last night's meeting and it was very well received. I am so happy. I hope it does well in the auction. Thank you for stopping by my blog today to see it. Linking up with Let's Bee Social!

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Free Tea Cozy Pattern and Tutorial

Make a tea cozy in time for Mother's Day! Or even in time for tea. It's that easy.

Mother's Day is coming up and that got me thinking of what to make for my Mom. My Mom loves tea and collects both tea and tea pots. Naturally that leads to a collection of tea cozies as well. So I set to work this week designing a simple tea cozy and I made four of them in one day! Now I have a free tea cozy pattern and tutorial for you. This post contains affiliate links.

Easy tea cozies by Daydreams of Quilts.

What you need:

  • half a yard of outer fabric
  • half a yard of lining fabric
  • polyester quilt batting (two pieces about 11" x 14" each)
  • two 2 1/2" strips of binding (of about 55" of binding)
  • applique motifs of your choosing (such as the hexagons above)

A Quick Overview of English Paper Piecing:

The applique on these tea cozies is English Paper Pieced (EPP) but you can applique whatever you would like onto yours. There are many EPP tutorials on the internet so I will briefly go over it here. You can find more detail on this technique in this blog post.

Get your 1" Hexagon Papers. Pin to your fabric and cut out with a quarter inch seam allowance around all edges of the paper. Fold the fabric to the back and baste making sure to catch the overlap at the corners in the stitches. Here is one from the back.

And here it is from the front. The large stitches are easy to cut at the end when you're ready to take your papers out.

When your hexagons are all basted you can begin whip stitching them together to make your desired shape. Use one strand of thread and catch only tiny bits of fabric with your needle so the stitches don't show up on the front too much.

Here are the whip stitches from the side view.

Here are the two pieces from the front.If you use only one strand of thread and just catch little tiny bits of your fabric the stitches don't show. Once all your shapes are made (for example flowers) press them with your iron, cut the basting threads and remove the papers. Pin to the front of your tea cozy and top stitch with your sewing machine to applique to the project.

Making the tea cozy:

To make the tea cozy download the free pattern from my Craftsy shop. Print out at 100% (no scaling, do not fit to page). The tea cozies will be about 10 inches tall by 13 inches wide. The pattern should measure about 7 1/2 inches wide by 10 1/2 inches tall when printed.

Draw a line with a ruler down the left side of the pattern to make a cutting line to follow. Join up between the top and bottom cutting lines.

Cut out your pattern with paper scissors on the outer cutting line. Then, cutting on the fold, cut two outer fabric pieces, two batting pieces and two lining pieces. I just cut quickly with a rotary cutter and didn't worry about pinning and being too precise. It is a forgiving pattern. :)

Layer the lining piece face down, the batting and the outer piece face up and pin along the bottom edge. Do this for both front and back of the tea cozy. Stitch along the bottom edge with a 1/8th inch seam to hold these edges together. We modern quilters usually dislike poly batting but for tea cozies it makes them more... tea cozyish. So go ahead and use the poly batting for this project. (Or batting of your choice if you cannot stand to use this stuff.) If you wish to quilt your tea cozy do so now. (I chose not to quilt mine.)

Place the front and back tea cozy pieces together with lining sides face and pin around the outer curved edge. Here I am using Sewline Tulip Straight Pins. They are sharp, they pierce many layers smoothly and their silicone heads don't melt if accidentally ironed. After pinning around the outer edge stitch around the edge with a 1/8th inch seam to baste all the six layers together.

Take a strip of binding, which has been pressed in half wrong sides together, and lay it on the front of the tea cozy matching up the raw edges and sew with a 1/4 inch seam as you do when binding a quilt. Trim off any excess binding. Fold the binding to the back side of the tea cozy and slip stitch in place covering your basting seam and encasing all the raw edges. This creates the look of piping on your tea cozy.

Sew another binding strip around the entire bottom of the tea cozy by laying it on the outer fabric and lining up the raw edges. Sew with a quarter inch seam and slow down when sewing through the side seams which now have many layers with the binding you sewed in the last step. (I got too hasty and broke my needle on my machine at one point so slow down for those side seams.) I used the folding method (folding beginning tail 45 degrees and overlapping my end tail by an inch) to join my binding ends but use the joining method you prefer when you get back to where you started. Fold the binding to the inside of the tea cozy and clip with Clover Wonder Clip if desired. Hand stitch with a slip stitch as you use when binding a quilt to sew the binding down to the lining fabric. And you're done!

Thank you for visiting today. I hope you enjoy sewing your tea cozies! If you have any questions or comments please feel free to write them below. :)

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