Diagonal Quilt Back Tutorial

I love John Flynn’s method of making a quilt back (it’s about halfway down the page on the link). It uses less fabric, and avoids a straight seam in the center of a quilt, which is a pain when trying to longarm. He has a PDF to calculate the yardage needed,and if you suck at math like I do, he’s also got a great app that figures out the calculation for you – well worth the $1.99. But instructions on exactly how to do this were nowhere to be found. When I made my Australia t-shirt quilt I used this method for the backing, and remembered to take pictures of how I did it. Hopefully this will help some others who are trying it out for the first time. A couple of tips: Having a helper will make this process SO much easier. Trying to do the diagonal fold by myself was quite taxing! Also, look at the selvage of the fabric you’re considering. If the selvage edge is quite thick with no print on it, reduce your width of fabric in your calculation. You don’t want to end up with selvage in your quilt!

Step One: Take your full length of fabric and fold it diagonally from corner to corner.

fold fabricStep Two: Cut along the diagonal fold. This is the scariest part. That’s a LOT of fabric to cut, and you’re thinking “No way can this work!” and how you’re gonna kick yourself in the arse if it doesn’t because that’s a lot of money you just spent on this backing. But take a deep breath and just CUT. If your calculations were correct when you bought the fabric, this will work. Cut the fabric!

cut fabric2Step Three: Open the fabric.

Unfold fabric

Ignore the man in the work work boots. That’s a cutout of Taylor Lautner from the Twilight series. We made him a cheerleader and gave him pom-poms, lol.

Step Four: Skooch the fabric. Move one side down and you’ll see the backing magically get wider. Once again, two people make this job SO much easier!

skooch fabricStep Five. Carefully lay your quilt on top of the fabric, and keep skooching and checking until the backing completely shows underneath the quilt. And remember, you’re going to lose 1/2″ in your seam allowance, so be sure to allow for that. Since I longarm my quilts I needed extra backing area, so I adjusted my backing to give me the four extra inches on each side that I’d need.

Check for sizeStep Six: Once you’ve skootched to size, just fold and sew along that seam line, and cut off the corner triangles. That’s it!

Cindi 100



How to fix mismatched seams

Last week, Sabrina left a comment on my “Night Sky” quilt post, asking if a beginning quilter should attempt it.  I say why not?  The only way a beginning quilter becomes an expert quilter is to try new things.  Sure, it has triangles, and therefore that dreaded four-letter word “bias”, but bias can actually work for you.  Here’s how:

Here is a block with a mismatched seam.

1 aFirst, unsew that part of the seam.

Side note – you don’t always have to unsew the entire seam, especially when you’re working with bias.  The pink and orange triangles match perfectly at the top of this block, so I’m going to leave that part of the seam alone.

2 aBut I will unsew all the way to the bottom, because A) there’s extra purple fabric on the left that I want to move up, and B), that part of the block doesn’t need matching seams yet.

3 aMy seam allowances had been pressed open on this block, so I put both halves right sides together, straightened out the seam allowances, and pressed them back into their original form.

On a padded, pin-able surface, take a straight pin and stick it in the seam allowance of the top layer of fabric, right between the two patches.  The pin should be 1/4″ away from the raw edge of the fabric.

4 aKeeping the pin in the seam, slide the top fabric up the shaft  of the pin to reveal the bottom piece of fabric.  Stick the pin in the seam allowance, 1/4″ away from the raw edge.

5 aMake sure your pin is standing straight up vertically.  Push both layers of fabric down flat, and using your fingernail, kind of scootch the fabric out in all directions from the pin.  Yes, “scootch” IS an official quilting term, thankyouverymuch.

6 aHere is the part where the bias actually works for you.  With your iron, hover above the fabric about 1/4″ inch and give it a shot of steam.  You don’t want to touch the fabric at this point.

7 aDo that on both sides of the pin.  The bias has a mind of its own, and will move and shrink a tiny bit with the steam, but because you have stuck a pin exactly where you want it to match, that part can’t move.

Lift the top layer of fabric and dab a tiny bit of glue in the seam allowance.  (More about glue and glue tips in a minute…)

9 aHold the seam together for about 10 seconds to give the glue a chance to be absorbed by the fabric.  Then give it a touch with the iron to set and dry the glue.  Make sure as you do this that the pin stays vertical.

Sew the seam.

11 aThe glue will not gum up your needle.  It’s way over in the seam allowance, remember?

Next, I ran a stiletto between the top and bottom layers and popped the glued bits apart.  This is why I only use 2 or 3 tiny dots of it.

12 aPress and there you have it – perfectly matched seams.

13 aA word about glue.  I use Elmer’s Washable School Glue because it’s available everywhere.  I have nothing against Roxanne’s Glue Baste-It or any of the other good quality sewing glues on the market, it’s simply a matter of availability.  I can get Elmer’s at ten o’clock at night on a Sunday, and it works just as well.  Just make sure it says “washable”, meaning it will wash out.

I bought 2 metal tips from Sharon Schamber’s website a few years ago, but apparently she doesn’t sell them anymore.  However, I believe you can get them at art and craft supply stores next to the glues.

Someone once said she didn’t like the metal tips because she didn’t like having to constantly take them off and clean them out every time she used the glue.  Well, I have never taken the tip off mine.  I simply stick an applique pin in the hole!

14 aIt fits perfectly, never sticks, and keeps the glue from drying out.  Just make sure you use a pin that is rust-proof.  I used one of those yellow flower-head pins once and it rusted.

15 aWhat is your favorite method for fixing those pesky mismatched seams?

peg large sig





Using EQ7 to make scallops

The black floral stack-n-whack top is quilted and ready for binding. Yay!


I’ve never been a fan of those large empty triangles that go along with on-point blocks.   They look awkward to me. I decided this quilt is the perfect candidate to play with a scalloped edge.


I’ve never done a scalloped border, so I turned to The Googles for help.  Every single tutorial I found said to use a plate, bowl, or pizza pan to mark my curves.  Hmph.  None of my bowls or pizza pans were big enough.  Plus, I realized that I wanted my curves to be more oval-shaped than round.

So I decided to create my scallop curves in EQ7.  Here’s how I did it.

I measured the blocks corner to corner.

(Sidebar: I’m including the black sashing in this measurement.  I sashed each individual block instead of running long strips of fabric down each row.  This results in more accurate alignment of my blocks because all I have to do is match the corners and seams of the blocks.)

block border.

See the yellow arrows?  Those are the real corners of this block.

The blocks are 15 inches long (from yellow arrow to yellow arrow), and my quilt border is 5 inches wide (from the outermost point of the block to the outer edge of the quilt).

Next, I went to EQ and clicked on the Block worktable.  Currently, the block size is 6 inches by 6 inches.

eq size.

I changed it to 5 inches by 15 inches.

EQ 5.

Next, I clicked on the curve pencil (see toolbar on the left side) and drew from the bottom left corner to the top left corner.  I found that if I started at the top, the curve went the other way.


To change the depth of the arc, click on the second arrow in the left toolbar, then click on the arc.  I made mine a little more pronounced.


I then clicked File, Print, Block, and after double-checking that my block size was correct, printed my scallop.  Because it is 15 inches long, it printed on 2 sheets.  I taped them, cut on the curve, and voila!  My scallop template is ready.

making scallops.

I used bar soap to mark the curves.  I know it won’t leave marks, it washes out easily, and it won’t fade or disappear as I handle the quilt.


When I got to the corner, the scallops were so close to meeting that I just winged it and connected the arcs freehand.


The next part is the most important part.  DO NOT CUT THE SCALLOPS AT THIS POINT!  You need to sew the binding on first.  If you cut the scallops first, you will have a nightmare mess of bias edges to deal with as you sew the binding.


And that’s how you design a scalloped border in Electric Quilt!

peg large sig


Flange Binding

A few months ago, at a day-long sew-in, I sat next to a quilter who was sewing a flange binding on to her wall hanging.  I LOVED the look, it gives the quilt a special little pop and finish.  That day, she showed several of us fellow quilters how to do it, but I didn’t have the right quilt to try it out on until now.

This is my friend Brandy’s quilt; she hired me to do the binding work on it.  She graciously gave me permission to experiment and play with adding a flange.

After I measured the perimeter of the quilt and determined the length of the binding – 310 inches – I cut several strips of pink at 1″ wide, and several of yellow at 1.25″ wide.   I like a fairly narrow binding; you can cut yours wider if you wish.  The easiest thing to remember is to simply cut your flange fabric 1/4″ wider than your binding fabric.

After sewing all the strips together so I had one long pink strip and one long yellow strip, I sewed them, right sides together, lengthwise.

I pressed towards the binding (pink), then folded it lengthwise with raw edges even, and pressed again.  You can see the yellow flange peeking out at the bottom.

I sewed the binding on the quilt.  A flange binding is different from a regular binding in that you do not first sew it on the front  –  you sew it to the back.  I aligned the raw edges of the binding with the raw edges of the back of the quilt quilt, and sewed.

Notice how I sewed with with flange fabric facing up. If you sew it with the binding fabric facing up, call me, I’ll bring my seam ripper and a couple of bottles of wine.

When you get to the corners, you treat them exactly the same as you would with normal binding:

Stitch along the edge until you get 1/4″ away from the corner, turn and sew off the corner.

Fold the binding diagonally and up so the raw edge is even with the raw edge of the quilt.

See how my finger is holding the bottom left corner of the binding in place?  You want that corner to stay right there.  Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

Fold the binding back down, keeping the raw edges of the binding aligned with the raw edge of the quilt (on the right side).  The binding fold at the top should be even with the top edge of the quilt.

Starting from the top edge and keeping raw edges aligned, sew with a 1/4″ seam down to the next corner.

Lather, rinse, repeat.Here is how I join the ends of my bindings.  This method works perfectly no matter how wide your binding is or what kind you use – with or without flange.  First, measure how wide the binding is.  In my case, it’s 1 3/4″.

Then I overlap the ends by that measurement – see the green dotted line?  That’s where I cut the end off that strip.  Don’t cut the bottom strip, though, or you’ll need to start all over and I’ll have to bring more wine.

I stuck a pin through the seam where the pink and yellow fabrics met.  More green dotted lines to help you see exactly where…

Here’s the inside view.  You can see how the pin goes right through the center of those seams.

Then I stitched the two strips together diagonally, making sure I went right over the spot where the two seams met.  See the red dotted line?  That is where you sew.


Press that last section of binding together, raw edges even, and finish stitching it to the back of your quilt.

Now it’s time to flip the binding around to the front of the quilt and sew.

I used a color of thread that blended well with the yellow, and stitched in the ditch, right at the edge of the pink binding.

When I got to the corners, I folded the binding into a miter and held it in place with a stiletto.  I stitched as close to the corner as I could get before I turned the quilt.  I reduced my stitch length on a couple of corners because doing that enabled me to get right next to the pink binding without stitching into it.

And it’s done!  Here’s the front:

Front and back together:

I was very pleased at how quick and easy this binding was.  Brandy loved it and really liked the extra detail provided by the yellow flange.  I hope this inspires you to try a flange binding on your next quilt!


T-Shirt Quilt Tutorial for beginners


I have a cousin and a niece who live far away. Which means I can’t work with them on the t-shirt quilts they want to make. So I’ve created a PDF tutorial for them, which I thought others may enjoy too. They’re a great way to preserve your favorite shirts, and make GREAT graduation or birthday quilts for teens – who tend to collect tons of t-shirts!

Since they are both noobie’s to quilting, this tutorial is geared towards beginners – but the instructions can be used by anyone who wants to make one of these fun quilts! I’ve included lots of helpful tips and hints to make things as easy as possible.

Pre-sashing makes construction a breeze!

The instructions are in two parts (combined into one PDF file). Part one is for creating the blocks. Part two is sewing them together and adding the borders. It does not include creating the “quilt sandwich”. There are plenty of tutorials out there for this, so I’ve left that to others. Plus, I’m just plain tired of looking at this tutorial – it was quite intensive to create! I forget how involved these tutorials are until I start one. My praise go out to those of you who create these things on a regular basis. You’ve got much more patience than I do!

As always, the usual disclaimers:

There are many tutorials out there on t-shirt quilts. This is how I make mine. It works for me. Please read through these instructions before beginning. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this tutorial. We accept no responsibility for errors or omissions, but welcome your suggestions for corrections or improvements that can be made for future editions.

This tutorial is the property of seamstobeyouandme.com, all rights reserved. Do not copy or redistribute without prior written consent. Please be kind and link to this blog so others may download their own pattern.

Click the picture below to access the PDF instructions….

If you create a quilt from these instructions, please send us a picture! We’d love to show off your creation on our site!

I want to thank Peggi for enduring my endless e-mails, questions and frustrations while I was writing this. Trying to make this easy to understand for noobies – while not “talking down” so much you can’t understand it – isn’t an easy thing to do. Without her help (and hysterical e-mail answers!) this may have never been published. You’re a doll! Here’s a picture of us doing what we do best….when we are able to get together. This pic was taken at the Houston International Quilt Festival this year. What fun we had!

Peggi & Cindi relaxing after the show 🙂

I’ve got the quilt on the frame now, and once it’s completely quilted and the binding is on I’ll post a picture of it. It’s from the t-shirts I collected when we vacationed in Australia last November/December. What a blast we had, and now I’ve got a quilt to snuggle under to remind me of all the places we visited. 

How to get a perfect 1/4″ seam


This, to me, is the most important aspect of making a quilt. If you don’t have a perfect 1/4″ seam, all of your measurements will be off. If you’re making a quilt from a pattern, your pieces will not line up correctly. Not a good thing!! You need perfect seams for good quilting.


I have several friends and family who are just beginning to quilt. I want them to start out correctly, and help them avoid a few of the mistakes that ended up in my “learning curve”, so I will be doing a few beginner tutorials for them, and anyone else out there who may need some guidance! (Disclaimer: This is how I do these things. There are many ways out there to quilt. These worked for me.) I will try to spell it out completely – with some general quilting hints along the way – as best I can.

Many quilters now have the option of getting a 1/4″ seam foot for their sewing machines. It’s a great investment, and if you get hooked on quilting,  you may want to get one down the road. It really takes the frustration out of sewing those seams, prevents endless “frogging” (ripping out stitches – rip-it, rip-it….get it?), and many trips to the refrigerator for beer or martini’s to calm one’s frazzled nerves. This tutorial is for those of you just starting to see if you enjoy quilting before making bigger investments!


First off, you’re going to need an index card, a stack of 6 Post-It© notes, and a few scraps of fabric, each cut exactly 2″ wide. Length doesn’t matter. I suggest 2 x 4″ pieces. Yep, that’s all you need. This isn’t rocket science and we don’t need no stinkin’ calculator or math teacher. An index card has nearly perfectly spaced 1/4″ lines!


Start by counting in two lines up from the bottom of the index card, and cutting directly ON that line, about 2/3 of the way up from the bottom of the card. Cut across, and take out that piece. You’ll end up with a card that looks like this:


Place this card under the needle in your machine. Now here’s where you need to read before you continue. It would seem easy enough – wouldn’t it? – to place that needle right on that 1/4″ mark and be on your way. Nope, probably not gonna work.


Here’s what happens if we use that blue line. IT WON’T BE AN EXACT 1/4″ SEAMLINE. Why? Because there are variables. First off, remember that I said these index card lines were nearly perfect? It means just that. There will be a little tweaking. Second, quilters actually use what is called a “scant” 1/4-inch seamline. You see, when you sew your line and open your fabric to press it, the thread and the fold actually take fabric away from the total seamline measurement. So you have to adjust your machine for that missing amount.

Trust me, all of this information IS important. It will make a difference in your quilting. I learned the hard way that it’s much easier to do it right the first time!

So, what we’re going to do instead is put the needle just to the right of that blue line that runs along the cut on the index card. Barely to the right. Use the hash marks on the top of your sewing machine to make sure the card is straight. (You know, where the 1/2″, 5/8″ lines are that you normally follow):

Do this!

We’re going to place the Post-It© notes along the first line of 1/4″ marks, measuring all the way down to make sure it’s an even 1/4″ away from that cut line. Put the sticky side of the Post-It© straight down that first line. Measure the middle and bottom to make sure they’re exactly 1/4″ away from that cut line.


Remove the index card. Now we’re going check for accuracy. Take three of your 2-inch fabric strips. Sew two strips together, butting your fabric against that sticky note line. Do not backstitch at the beginning or the end. Backstitching is not done in quilting (although some do) as it adds to the bulk of the seam.


HELPFUL HINT:  To avoid “bird nests”, or that big, knotted lump of thread that seems to form on the underside of your fabric when you start stitching, do this: Simply hold the top and bottom threads off to side, holding them down with your finger as you begin to sew. This allows you to start sewing right at the edge of the fabric.


Add the third strip to the second strip in the same manner, giving you a three-strip block (as shown in the very first picture).

Take your fabric to the ironing board. This next step is important for all the newbie quilters: PRESS THE SEAM FLAT BEFORE OPENING THE FABRIC. This “sets” the thread into the fabric. It imbeds the thread into the seamline and makes pressing it open much easier. This is also a step many quilters follow (including me) for perfectly flat seams.


Next, finger press the seams open, putting all the fabric to one side. This helps keep the fabric from stretching when you press it, as you’re “creasing” the seamline. The seam fabric is normally pressed towards the side with the darkest fabric.


Press the seams with the iron. Notice I said “press” not “iron”. “Ironing” is moving back and forth in long strokes. “Pressing” is gently laying the iron over the seam, and gently moving it down the seam, lifting the iron up-and-down. If you “iron” that block it’ll warp like a CD in a hot car. Bad. Very bad.


Note to newbies: There are two schools of thought about pressing seams open. Some (like me) always press seams to one side. Others press seams open, as you do when sewing clothing. It is purely a preference thing. For me, seams pressed to one side make it much easier to butt rows of blocks together. It is believed that seams pressed to one side are stronger. Try both and see which you prefer.

Now, measure your block. It should be EXACTLY 5-inches across. The center block should be EXACTLY 1-1/2-inches across.


Perfect! Good job! If, for some reason, you’re off a bit, go back and adjust your line again. But you should be pretty darn close. Of course, “close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

You can also use three layers of painters tape to mark your sewing line. This is how I used to do it. This way I was able to easily able change my bobbin and access the storage case in the front of my machine. Plus, it stays put better than the sticky notes.


I hope this helps you find your perfect seam line. If you have any questions, let me know!



A new way to identify your quilt – QR Codes!

Today I read a post from a quilter on one of the quilting message blogs I just joined, Quilting Board. Another quilt lost in transit – and she had just found out it had been juried into the AQS Paducah quilt show!! It made me soooo sad. I got to thinking about my quilts, and how I’d be heartbroken and frantic if ANY of the quilts I made were lost – they’re all masterpieces to me. No quilt should go unidentified. Then it hit me – BAM!!  A QR code!


QR codes have become very popular with many companies. You scan the code using the camera on your cell phone.  The camera utilizes software called “tag readers” that you can download for free.  The tag reader will then direct your phone to a website with information about that product or company.  I use Qrafter on my iPhone, but there are dozens of tag readers out there. You can go here to see a listing of many of them and how to download and use them. So why couldn’t I use one to scan onto the labels I make for my quilts? Well, I tried it and it works!!


If you have a QR tag scanner on your phone, open it up and point it at the little square. It will take you to our website. Go ahead! Try it!  So now, if my quilt is ever lost (heaven forbid!), all the finder has to do is scan the code and it will take them directly to our site, where the good and honest person can contact me and let me know they’ve found it. Eureka! Sometimes I scare myself!! And it’s soooo simple to do:

I went to beqrious.com and clicked on “QR Code Generator”. I entered our website, www.seamstobeyouandme and clicked “Create Code“. It shows up on the phone on the right-hand side:


Right click on the code in the phone and choose “Save Image As...”


…and change the name to QR Quilt Label.jpg and save to your chosen file. I have a separate file for labels, so I saved it there.


I’m using the label I created for my Dresden Plate quilt for the example here. I created the label in Word, then went to Insert – Photo – Picture from file and opened the QR Quilt Label.jpg I just created. I put the picture next to my name.


I printed the label on regular muslin (I use Bubble Jet Set to create my own fabric for printing, see here for more information). I was worried that the specks of color on the muslin would affect the QR code and render it unreadable, but it works just fine!

This way, I don’t have to put my phone number or address on the label for identification. Good and honest people can find me on the web and report the quilt found. That’s because I truly believe that 99% of people are honest and would want my quilt returned to me. So many people have phones that can use QR readers now, and if they don’t, they probably know someone who does!!

I also created a spot at the top of our web page with the QR code:


If you click it, it takes you to our “Contact” page, where our e-mail is available. Simple and brilliant!

Would love to know what you think – or if it can be improved in any way. If this would help even ONE person get their quilt back it would all be worth it!


I think this is such a fabulous idea!  You could put a separate QR code on each quilt that links to the post you did for that quilt, which would be great if you enter quilts in shows!  A quilter at a show could scan the code, see more information about your quilt, and bookmark your blog or webpage for later.  If a quilt is lost or stolen, simply edit the beginning of that post to say that particular quilt is missing, and how to return it!

I emailed Maria, the owner of www.lostquilt.com to see if she could help come up with a solution this easy for people who don’t have blogs or websites to link back to.  I’m sure there’s a solution here for blogless quilters!


Quilt Care Label Tutorial


I have long wanted a quilt care label for my quilts. Most people who receive quilts don’t have a clue of how to take care of them. I don’t want to put the care instructions on the label – the label should contain information that makes the new owner smile. Plus, I wanted to include our blog address so a future customer could contact me if they were interested in a new quilt. I don’t like putting my e-mail address on labels – e-mail addresses change (think SPAM, dangit!) and anyone can contact me through the blog.
An extensive search on the internet began for the perfect label. It had to be small and inconspicuous, but contain all the pertinent information. It had to be reversible – my name and blog on one side, care info on the other. Everything I found was either on twill tape or the edges weren’t finished to my satisfaction. I don’t like fraying!!
It wasn’t until I was putting on a shirt one day that I happened to look at the label on the neckline. Ye-gads, there it was! I took that label apart right there and then. A quilt care label was born.

These instructions assume you know how to use printable fabric or Bubble Jet Set. For those using (or wanting to try!) Bubble Jet Set, there are great instructions on this website:

1. Create the labels


You can create your labels in Microsoft Word, Works or your favorite publishing program. Each of my labels is 4¼ x 1½ ”, with a finished size of approximately 2 x ¾”. I was able to fit 14 labels on a page. Use text boxes for your wording so you can rotate them to the correct direction. You can see my mock-up in the picture. Feel free to use it to help you create yours. Be sure to center the words on the label.

Tip: I suggest you print them out on paper first. Follow the steps below, folding instead of sewing, to make sure your words are small enough and won’t wrap around to the back of the label. Better to do this on paper than waste a sheet of labels printed on fabric!

2. Print the labels


There are a couple of ways to print your labels. I use Bubble Jet Set and create my own printable muslin fabric, but pre-treated sheets are also available from several sources such as June Taylor, EQ and Printed Treasures. These are available on the internet or in local craft and fabric stores. If you use Bubble Jet Set, be sure to use the Bubble Jet Set Rinse to set the ink.

3. Prepare the labels for sewing


Cut the labels apart. You want to make sure you leave AT LEAST ¼” below the wording on both long sides so you can sew the label into your quilt seam.

4. Sew the seams


Fold the label in half, right sides together. Sew the short side of the label with a ¼” seam. Press along the seamline to set the stitches. Finger-press the seam open. Turn the label right-side out.

5. Open label and center


Fold the label in half so the seam runs down the center in the back. Center the words on the front so they are evenly spaced on either side. Press label flat.
Tip: Don’t worry if the seam in the back isn’t exactly in the center. It won’t be seen anyway!

6. Fold the label in half


Matching the back seam, fold the label in half. Be sure the words on both sides are properly placed on each side. You don’t want letters hanging over the top folded edge of the label!

7. Press one last time….


Press the label flat and it’s ready to be inserted into your quilt!

8. Insert into quilt

Sew the label into the seam allowance. Place the label with name up and the care instruction down in your chosen spot, using a ¼” seam allowance.


Sew your binding over the label seam. I like to put my care label just above the quilt label. This makes the care label less conspicuous.

Why does this say “machine wash cool” and not “machine was cold”, you ask?? Because I believe the word cold should never be associated with a quilt. Quilts are for warmth! Why would I put something cold in it??


You can also download the PDF file for this tutorial here:
Quilt Label Tutorial

What a GREAT idea!!!  I’ve never done this for any of my finished quilts – but you can bet I’ll be doing it from now on!!


By CinYdi of Seams to be yo

u and me
©2011 seamstobeyouandme.com

Quilt Care Label Tutorial


Take some leftover yardage from this quilt. Sort fabrics into lights and darks.


Cut into 2 1/2″ squares. Draw a diagonal line on the light squares.


Put a light square and a dark square together, and stitch 1/4″ on each side of the line to make HSTs (half square triangles).


Cut on the line, open the triangles, press the seams. Arrange the HSTs in a barn-raising pattern and stitch together.


Yes, it’s a lot of work, but I think it might be worth it!

peggi large sig

A string quilt tutorial

I know what you’re thinking – do we really need yet another string quilt tutorial?

QOV string quilt

There are so many good ones out there already.  My answer is yes, because THIS tutorial uses a technique that manages all that pesky, annoying bias AND is faster than a flip-and-sew technique.

This quilt is by no means my own design – I’ve seen a couple like this floating around Blogland and thought they were gorgeous!  I wanted to make a quilt for Quilts of Valor.  My quilt ended up 54 x 72, which is pretty close to the QOV recommended size.  I made mine in reds and blues, but you can choose whatever colors you like.

Start by deciding how big you want your blocks to be.  I wanted mine to finish at 9 inches, so I cut a template 9 ½ inches square, then folded it in half diagonally into a triangle.  The template is simply a guide and you can make it out of whatever you have on hand.

Next, cut strips of fabric in varying widths.  I cut mine at 1.5, 2, 2.5, and 2.75 inches wide, from selvage edge to selvage edge (44 inches long, in most cases).


If you feel you need a greater variety of colors but have a limited stash, check the wrong side of your fabrics.  The back of this light blue star print would have been great if I had needed it.  However, I decided to keep the star print front and center.  It is a star quilt, after all.

Sew the strips together in a random order.  Sometimes when you sew long strips together like this, the piece tends to curve to one side.  The way to prevent that is to alternate the directions you sew.  Instead of sewing from the top to the bottom on every strip, alternate it by sewing from the top to the bottom, then flip it around so the bottom is now at the top, and sew the next strip.

Press the seams.  I pressed my seams open on this quilt because I was feeling ornery.  Bring on the Quilt Police!  Also, I felt that pressing them open would decrease the bulk when I sewed the blocks together.


You want the strip set to be taller than your triangle by at least a half inch.  I’m too lazy to measure it; I simply put my template on top and eyeballed it to make sure it was big enough.


eyeballing the size

Don’t cut anything yet!  Repeat strip-set procedures for the blue fabrics.


Now that you have 2 complete sets of strips sewn together and all seams pressed, starch the snot out of them.   Starching everything before we cut it will keep that pesky bias in check.


love my non-aerosol starch

Place the red and blue strip sets right sides together, matching the bottom raw edges, and sew.  Don’t press this seam open.  It’s ok if the top edge of the red doesn’t line up with the top edge of the blue.   Leave the strip sets sitting with right sides together and align the folded edge of your paper template along the seam you just sewed.  I used a ruler to keep my cutting line straight.  Trim along the top edge….


Then move the ruler to the other side and repeat.


The first block is done!  Open it and carefully press that last seam open.  This is where that tricky, pesky bias will rise up and bite you in the caboose, but if you are careful and got happy with the starch earlier, you should be ok.


Here is my first block, all pressed and ready for its first day of school.  It’s not wonky; that’s the camera angle.  I could fix it in Photoshop but I’d rather be sewing, ya know?


p.s.  Please no laughing at my ironing board cover.  I’m proud of that cover, dammit; a lot of time and hard work went into making it look that ugly.  Note to the Quilt Police: kindly buzz off.

Back to the strip set.  Move your template over and cut again.


Now, at this point I can hear y’all asking about that upside-down triangle to the right of my ruler.  Hang on, we’ll get to that in a minute.  Carefully scoot it out of the way for now.


scooting out of the way

Flip your ruler around and cut that other upper edge, and repeat.  You should now have 3 complete “right sides up” triangles with a center seam sewn.  You should also have 2 “upside down” triangles with NO center seam.  Scoot these back into play, and put your template on top.


Add a quarter inch to the edge of the paper template, and trim with your rotary cutter.


It’s at this point in the tutorial that I realize I’ve ALREADY got a seam allowance built into my template, so cutting the blocks with an additional seam allowance was redundant at best.   What. Ever.

I can hear the Quilt Police snickering.

Wait a minute!  The extra allowance is so you can square up the blocks afterwards!

Yeah, that’s it.

All right, quit laughing at me and get back to sewing, you slackers.


Stitch the blue triangle to the red triangle at the long edge and press seams open.


You should now have 5 complete blocks!  See how fast that was?  Now go sew up some more strip sets.  Make sure to sew your fabrics in a random order.  This will help it look scrappy and ensure that you don’t have seams coming together all at the same place.  Cut out more blocks, and have fun playing with different layout variations.  I forgot to take pictures of the possibilities – stripes, zig-zags, a barn-raising-type pattern, etc.  My favorite is the star pattern, however.

qov 2

I really, really want to add another row to the upper and lower edge of this quilt to finish off those rows around the star, but will restrain myself.  It’s the correct size for QOV and that is what’s important.

If you make a quilt using this technique, please email me and let me know how it worked for you.  I’d love to see pictures!