Frequently Asked Quilting Questions

I’ve heard of a new longarm machine that is run by a computer, what is that?

You heard about the Compu-Quilter or the Statler Stitcher machines. Both of these machines are very high tech in that they are programmable and can run independently without human hands guiding them.

What is edge-to-edge quilting?

Edge-to-edge quilting is applying a pattern that does not necessarily follow the pieced pattern of the quilt top. It is a design that is applied in separate or interlocking rows from left to right; top to bottom.

What is Freehand Overall Quilting?

Freehand overall pattern is also edge-to-edge but is a freehand design that applies without the aid of a paper pattern or marking the quilt top.

What does “Hand-Guided Machine Quilting” mean?

This kind of quilting is by hand-guided machine. The best quilting sewing machine is basically a huge sewing machine on wheels (see a picture) . There is no computerized modules or set patterns. All the stitching patterns are created by your hands moving the sewing head over your quilt; thus the name “hand-guided”. The stitching looks very much like the average sewing machine stitch. It is very sturdy and will not break with ordinary wear and use. The stitch lengths vary slightly due to the change in the speed of movement to create the pattern you choose. You should be able to enjoy your quilts through many years of wash and use. To see some stitching in actual quilts look at the patterns pages.

How big of a quilt can a Quilting machine handle?

The limiting factor on “how big” is your quilt’s width. The quilt cannot be wider than the leaders that hold the quilt on the machine. Most quilting machines can handle quilts up to 100 inches wide. Length of the quilt isn’t limiting because it is just rolled up on the machine.

What if my quilt has fullness and wrinkles? Will that quilt out?

Wrinkles and fullness pieced into a quilt top will not “quilt-out”. Choosing the right quilting pattern helps with this problem. If you want to disguise fullness, then choose meandering over the whole quilt. This pattern has no quilting lines that cross and will allow the fullness to be distributed between the quilting. If there are lines that cross in the quilting pattern and there is fullness in the piecing, there will be tucks without question! If this is your first quilt and you are reluctant to have it finished because of the piecing, meandering is the answer to your prayers. Don’t take all those seams out, it will look fine with this pattern on it and you will have your first quilt to look back at in the years to come.

How is my quilt attached to the machine?

The quilt backing will be pinned at the top to a leader on the quilting machine and again at the bottom to another leader. These leaders are attached to rollers which pull the fabric from top to bottom. Your quilt top and the batting are basted at the top to the already loaded backing fabric and then the bottom edge of your top is pinned to a third leader on the machine. This allows the top and backing to be pulled tight (not stretched) independently. The sides of your quilt are pinned or basted through all three layers so that they are stable. The side clamps are applied only to the backing fabric and pulled gently to keep the quilt tight side-to-side. This way there is no stress applied directly to your quilt top.

Can you give me some advice on choosing a batting for machine quilting?

When selecting your batting, please do not purchase “Unbonded” batting. It is very fragile and cannot be put on the machine. The best batting choices are: bonded and/or needlepunched polyester, cotton with scrim binder, or bonded cotton-polyester blends. In my experience, the best manufacturers of battings suitable for machine quilting are: Hobbs; Warm & Natural; and Quilter’s Dream for cottons and blends and for polyester batting, Hobbs; Quilter’s Dream; and Fairfield (needlepunched).

This is a difficult question to answer because there are many factors to consider. What is the life of the quilt? Is it for a child? Will it only be displayed? Will it be hung on a wall? Will it be washed a lot? Do you want a light quilt or a heavy quilt? Is warmth a factor? Will it be used as a tablecloth? I like to put cotton in a child’s quilt because of fire safety, but many people use poly because it has a little bit of loft. Either one is pretty light weight and the child can handle it fine. If the quilt will be displayed over a rack etc. you will want to use a batting that drapes well like Fairfield poly; or Quilter’s Dream cotton or poly; or Hobbs 80/20 blend or Hobbs wool. If you will be hanging the quilt on a wall, use Hobbs cotton with scrim or Warm & Natural cotton because these battings are very stable with a scrim binder and they will not bunch up, plus they hang straight. For that old fashioned look of Grandma’s quilt, use a 100% cotton batting. For a smooth look even after it’s washed, use 100% polyester. Just about all these battings mentioned above can work in a light to medium weight quilt. If you want a heavy weight quilt use Quilter’s Dream Deluxe batting. QD makes this weight (deluxe) in both cotton and polyester. For warmth, I recommend Quilter’s Dream Deluxe or Hobbs 100% wool batting. For a very thin batting as in a table cloth or quilted clothing, use Quilter’s Dream Request cotton or poly. If you want a “fat batting” like a comforter; consider using the Hobbs wool batting which poofs nicely, but isn’t obnoxiously lofty; or look at Hobbs poly down batting.

Do you have any advice on making a backing?

Measure the quilt and make the backing at least 5 inches larger all around. This means add 10 inches to the measurements of the quilt and that should be the minimum size of your backing piece. Make sure you cut the selvages off the seam allowances that are going to be inside the quilt because they can pull the backing unevenly and cause puckers during the quilting process. You may leave the selvage on the outer edges as it makes a very stable edge to pin to the leaders and they will be trimmed off later when you put your binding on. Please make sure your quilt is trimmed even and all the edges are straight. You should get the seams to run across from side to side. This gives a much more even pull to the seam than if it runs from top to bottom. Also, keep in mine that most quilters require the extra five inches all around to aid her in mounting the backing fabric.

What is Decoupage and How to Learn it?

Both collage and decoupage involve cutting (or tearing) out images or shapes and sticking them down.
A collage is a form of artwork, intended to be displayed as other pieces of fine art would be, usually hung on a wall. Decoupage is a crafts technique used to decorate an object which is used, such as a box or table top, not to create an artwork that stands alone. The word collage comes from a rather literal French term meaning ‘gluing’ and the tactile sensation of gluing pieces of media is certainly present in this work.

DecoupageDecoupage as an artistic practice, and a particular method of creating visual juxtapositions, provides us a similar and yet distinct mode for thinking about compositing. As with collage, Decoupage is a world of French origin and stems directly from the term meaning to ‘cut out’. In traditional practice decoupage involved the cutting up of elements (usually paper images, photos, drawings, patterns and textures) and then pasting these down on a surface (most often furniture) and sealing them in place with layers of lacquer or vanish. By the nature of this process of cutting-up and pasting-down, decoupage invokes a kind of decorative aesthetic; an act of decorating something by juxtaposing layers of other visual elements on to and over it.

A collage is a form of artwork, intended to be displayed as other pieces of fine art would be, usually hung on a wall. Decoupage is a crafts technique used to decorate an object which is used, such as a box or table top, not to create an artwork that stands alone. Decoupage is a very popular craft form which came from French term meaning “cutting up.” It is a similar craft form like collage . It is the creative art of assembling, pasting and varnishing paper cutouts for decorating objects. This article helps you get some basic techniques and ideas to create crafts with decoupage. I personally like decoupage as it is a form of recycling. You can easily use materials such as old magazines, pictures, used wishing cards, or packing stuff from used gift boxes to create new beautiful work of art.

Decoupage is a simple process of cutting and pasting in one layer or many layers. Basically, you cut out pictures; you glue the pictures onto an object; and then cover the object and pictures with a few coats of glue to protect it. You may use other materials like picture cut outs from magazine, your old pictures, postcards, seed packets, greeting cards, wallpaper and old children’s story books, fancy buttons, ribbons, glitter or whatever material you choose.

Variety and creativity go side by side in this creative crafts form.

This form of handicrafts is quite old, and even today is still done by many people. It is an old Japanese technique of decorating using thirty layers. It was the Europeans’ way of inexpensively decorating furniture. But, decoupage became a popular pastime during the Victorian era. Victorians saved Valentine cards, magazines, and books of printed motifs. Favorite subjects for decoupage crafters have traditionally been flowers and fruits, birds and butterflies, and angels and fairies.

Other paper was designed specifically for this medium. Today, we don’t use so many layers and decoupage designs usually come from magazine pages or paper cut. Decoupage can be very simple or very intricate, and you can create decoupage crafts or homemade gifts easily. Traditionally, wooden objects are used in decoupage. Furniture is commonly decoupaged. Any surface that is relatively smooth can be decoupaged, such as metal, plastic, or glass.

The best way to learn and start creating crafts with decoupage is by starting on simple projects.
Pencil boxes, used gift boxes and inexpensive picture frames are a great way to learn the basics of the craft. If you make a mistake you can simply start over or recycle it and start again until it looks the way you envisioned.

Once you have mastered decorating little things, you can go for big things like coffee tables or decorative lamp shades.

Basic techniques to start decoupage:

Collect the tools needed to start it.

Basic tools are scissors, utility knives, straight edge paper cutter, crafts glue (or pva which is an excellent medium) and varnish.
Supplied needed to create decoupage:
– decorative paper cutouts
– item to decoupage(trays, frames,furniture, etc)- scissors, manicure scissors, x-acto knife

– white glue or Mod Podge

– tweezers
– 3 paintbrushes for applying paint, glue, and varnish
– sandpaper
Before you begin, be sure the surface of the item is clean, free of dust or flaking paint. If the piece is unfinished wood, it must be painted, stained, or sealed before decoupaging. If the item needs to be painted, use the appropriate paint for the item. Let dry 24 hours. It will also need to be lightly sanded so the glue will adhere better. Use a very fine grit sandpaper.

4th of July 2015

The most entertaining part of the day time activities were the dogs and the kids lighting fireworks. The dogs were so hilarious, I couldn’t help snapping a thousand pictures of them that I will never have any use for. The beauty of going digital.


Our dog Sammy is never allowed to run free where we live. He is a naughty dog that will not stay, he always runs away. So, when we went to our friends house out in the country, he was a free agent. Our friends have a dog as well, and he didn’t like our dog. No matter what we did to try and get him to like Sammy, the more he barked and snarled. Sammy just chased him all over and got all of the exercise he has missed in last year.

He just panted and panted the rest of the afternoon away. When we put him in the car to leave, he curled up on the seat and closed his eyes. I think he was in a little bit of pain, he was so tired.

For the first time ever, we let the kids do most of the lighting. My oldest son turned out to be really good at that. It was fun to watch. First there is the crazy moment when you try to touch the punk to the fuse.

And then there is a lot of running away….

Followed by a lot of good laughter by the adults.

The only part that is never much fun, is the mess left afterwards. This a bucket of water that the kids were throwing smoke bombs into. That kept them entertained for quite some time…

The battlefield. Sadly, this is only a minor fraction of the debris field. I guess the kids haven’t picked up on cleaning up after each one? Aw Mom, where is the fun in that?

Hope you all had a wonderful and safe Fourth of July!

What did you all do?



June and Organizing…

So, what have I been up to? Why, getting ready for school of course! I have been ready for school since July, but most of my time all of August was getting ready for school, thinking about school and doing school. We started about 2 1/2 weeks ago and it has been great, so far….

See, I really am doing something! Grading math papers is always fun….

Who ever thought it was a great idea to correct math problems really needed to get a life… Not my favorite part of school, but a necessary evil..

The one crafty thing I have been working on since July, is art journaling. I found a book about it at Barnes and Noble and I am hooked. I am even going to be teaching a class on it at our homeschool co-op. It starts this Friday!


I hope that you all have a wonderful last day of August. September starts tomorrow, in case you were wondering…

I found an empty ( I made it empty) plastic bin and started throwing in all of the scraps that I couldn’t fold into a fat quarter. You know, all of the scraps that you save and hoard because you might need them some day?

Then I started gathering up all of the leftover strips and bindings that I have left over into a plastic bag. They are too pretty to just throw away. I really might need them some day…

I found these blocks too. I don’t know what I will do with them, but I might need them too. I am not usually a pack rat about any thing else in the house. Just my quilt fabric….

And then there were triangles. Lots of left-over triangles. They are from quilts I made years ago and could not throw away. Guess what? I still can’t throw them away. I am going to leave them by my sewing machine and I AM going to sew them together. I AM going to press them and then, and then…

I don’t know what happens then….

One thing I do know, I can walk into my closet now. I can see what I have in there, and I can actually reach things without tripping. That sounds like a good deal to me.

I have a confession to make though. I did actually throw away some stuff. Some scraps are just not usable after all. So, I think that means I don’t really have a problem…

Happy Quilting!!

A Squirrel in the Backyard…

This little guy was prancing around the side yard actually, not the backyard. The kitchen window looks out to some really great animal life. There are usually a bird or two to watch in addition to this lively squirrel.


See how he is getting ready to run? Actually, in addition to boring you to death about this squirrel, you are giving me an opportunity to blog about something I took a picture of with our new camera. We finally broke down and bought a Nikon and I love it.

We always have used Canons in the past, but we thought it was about time to give Nikon a try. I thought I would be using it to photograph fabric and quilting projects, but I haven’t made anything so I am taking wildlife pictures instead. I hope that you don’t mind my little foray into the great outdoors.

he birdbath seemed like a good way to end this little blog post. Thank you and good day.

Dum spiro spero
“While I breath I hope”

Moda Blush Charm Square Tote

My first thought in making this bag was the machine quilting. I want it to be perfect because I am giving it to a friend. We all want to give some one something better than what we would make for ourselves, right? I thought a kind of a grid would be perfect so I started drawing lines in each corner. They all started to intersect in the middle and then I left the middle square with vertical lines. I really like the effect.

For the inside of the bag I used some Heather Bailey fabric. The blue looked so nice with it and matched just fine. I didn’t want to make the usual four patch side pockets on both sides, so I put in a zippered pocket on one side. I also added a magnetic closure to it. (Rob pointed out later that I installed it wrong. I wanted to be mad at him, but I realized he was right. Now I know the right way!)

I found another Heather Bailey fabric for the handles. That is the only down side I can think of to charm square packs. I didn’t have any Moda Blush yardage, (because the charm packs were a gift) so I struggled a bit to find something to match. The yellow in the fabric kind of threw me off, but I like it now.

What do you think? I like it. I realized just now that the front pocket is a bit low. Do you think it will matter? I hope that it ends up being in just the right spot to put her cell phone. That is what I would like to do…

square tote

Do I have to give it away?

Can you see the little keychain sock dangling from the keychain fob?

mini sock blocker

Here, let me get you a little closer. There, now can you see it? This is one of the little socks that I told you about in my last post. Doesn’t it look perfect? I think it was made just for this bag. I guess that means that I will have to part ways. *sniff*

Goodbye little sock, goodbye quilted hand bag…

I hope you get all of your sewing done on time, without too much heartache. It isn’t truly a sacrifice if it doesn’t hurt a little bit! Happy Quilting!

Fabric & Fiber

With a name like Quilting Iowa, you might be wondering why I am talking about knitting too. I am a quilter, but I am also a knitter. Quilting uses lovely and colorful fabric. Knitting uses lovely and colorful fiber. It is too hard to resist talking about them, they compliment each other so well. When I walk into a quilt store, I am overcome with excitement over the colors and patterns. I love seeing the quilts on the walls and the many patterns on display. I could spend hours just petting and pawing through all of the bolts of fabric. When I walk into a knitting store, I admit to having the same feelings. I think it must be the colors and textures of all the skeins of yarn. I love watching an skein of yarn being wound into a lovely cake of yarn. It is crazy the things that make me happy in my advancing age. I think that candy used to make me feel this way…

Why Knit? Why not..

I still remember the first time I picked up my first set of knitting needles and bought my first skein of yarn. I remember thinking, I am going to teach myself how to knit. I bought a book and sat down for two hours and ended up with a knotted mess. Being the kind of person that I am, I quit. Many years later my husband Rob told me he had found a website called that would help me learn how to knit. I was so impressed that he had been looking for something like that for me. I hadn’t even really said anything about my disappointment. Maybe he thought I needed to add another expensive hobby to my collection…Well, I got out those same knitting needles and the same yarn and I gave it another shot. Those little video tutorials were so helpful! All of a sudden I could knit! I could even purl. I was hooked. I started knitting whenever I had the chance, in between babies, schooling, house cleaning, commercials… I am still knitting, trying new patterns and techniques.

My favorite thing about knitting would have to be finding a new pattern that has something in it that I think there is no way I can do it. Then I surprise myself and do it. The question for you my dear friend is if you have wanted to learn, why don’t you give it a try? Why not knit?

Why Quilt?

The first quilt I ever made was just a simple square patch lap quilt. I was so proud of the color choices I made and the sewing that was done. I still use that lap quilt even though it is not my most fancy or most beautiful one.

I don’t have any heirloom quilts passed down from generations of quilters. That would be a wonderful thing to have to share with my kids. The quilts that I make today aren’t even that kind of quality, but they are very loved and used often. I think that is what makes me want to be a quilter.

There are so many kinds of projects that can be made with quilting. There are bags, lap quilts, baby quilts, table runners and place mats. You can make clothing, lamp shades, table cloths and ironing board covers. The possibilities are so wonderfully endless. I am going to enjoy trying to exhaust them all and pass them on to family and friends. Once in a while I will keep a few for myself…