Rocking Chair Quilt Along: Week 6

We made it!  This is the final post for the Rocking Chair Quilt Along, because after this week you will have a completed quilt top!  Did that go by fast for anyone else, or just me?

This is also the most exciting part for me because I get to see all the beautiful quilts you made.  And as the pattern designer, it doesn’t get any better than that!

Our goal this week is to put all the pieces together and assemble the top. If you finished your sashing already, then this week will be a breeze!

My best tip for assembly is to lay everything out first.  Last week I shared my new design wall, this is great if you have the space, but the floor works just as well! You will want to keep Figure 10 handy as you lay pieces out to make sure all your rows are correct (especially if you are making the ombre version).  As with the sashing, pay careful attention to the direction of sashing strips between your blocks.  You will want an “X” shape to form with Fabric C (or Fabric A,C,E,G,I for the ombre version) at the intersection of some of the block and sashing rows.

Once you have all your block rows sewn together, my next suggestion is to use pins!  Before you connect sashing rows to block rows, carefully pin them together to make sure your seams line up.

I also like to divide the quilt in half by making the top section (Rows 1-4) and then the bottom section (Rows 5-8).  This allows me to save the longest, center seam for last.  This is a personal choice but once the quilt starts getting big, I think this makes it easier to handle.

And that’s it!  You are done!  Give your quilt top a good pressing and, voila! Make sure to share your finished tops on Instagram with the hashtag #RockingChairQAL so that we can all see what you’ve made!

Rocking Chair Quilt Along: Week 5

It’s Week 5 of the Rocking Chair Quilt Along!  If you were thinking that you missed last week’s post, that’s because we didn’t have one!  Last week was a catch up week to get us ready for the final steps of making our quilts.  

This week we are making our sashing strips. And, truthfully, I’m laughing to think I designed a quilt with sashing because I always curse this step when making a quilt. It’s not that it’s hard, just that at this point I am ready to see my blocks sewn up into my final product. 

The sashing in the Rocking Chair Quilt is a little unique in that it is patterned rather than just a plain strip of fabric.  However, making the striped pattern is pretty easy if you sew long (WOF) strips together and then cut them according to the directions.  And I can’t say enough about my Stripology Ruler, it really helps get a straight cut on these strips—and it is by far my most used tool for cutting!

The trickiest part this week comes when sewing the sashing together into rows.  You will notice in the directions that you need to pay close attention to the direction in which you place your sashing pieces. You will want to make sure that the background ends and Fabric C ends (or Fabric A,C,E,G,I for the ombre version) are arranged properly so that an “X” forms at the intersection of some of the block and sashing rows.  You can use Fig. 10 on the pattern to help you lay them out. 

But now that you have all the pieces of your quilt made, you may also find it helpful to visualize the quilt by laying the entire design out on the floor.  (Or if you have an empty wall, I recently just purchased this Design Wall from Amazon—nothing fancy but it really helped make sure my quilt rows were correct)

Once your sashing rows are made, you are done for this week.  Get ready for next week when we sew the block rows together and finish our quilt top!

If you are participating on Instagram make sure to post a progress photo (even if you are a little bit behind!) by Sunday 10/9 at midnight.  This week I will be picking one person to win a $25 gift card to Liza Taylor Handmade!

Rocking Chair Quilt Along: Week 2

It’s Week 2 of the Rocking Chair Quilt Along and this week we are sewing up our first blocks.

One of my favorite parts of this quilt design is its simplicity; aside from sashing, the entire quilt is made up of a variation of a log cabin block.  Eventually these blocks will be sewn together on-pointe for a more modern look – but we will talk more about that in Week 6!

The prompt for this week is to sew half of the log cabin blocks needed for your quilt.  My trick for making this go quickest is to chain piece as much as possible.  

  • For the Rocking Chair Quilt, this means to start with your stack of background squares and sew the 2”x4” strips to the top of each one. Just sew one right after the other without lifting your presser foot or cutting the thread.  
  • When you are done, you will have a long strand of pieces, just snip the thread between each and sew the remaining 2”x4” strips to the bottom of each unit.  
  • Once you are done, you can iron and repeat the process with the next step until you build the entire log cabin. 

When I made my ombre version, I chain pieced all the blocks in one color way before moving on to the next set of colors.  So, for example, this week you may choose to sew blocks with colors A/B and C/D and leave the remaining blocks for next week.  If you are making the traditional version, you can simply divide the number of blocks needed for your quilt size in half and save the second half for next week.

This photo is one of my finished blocks.  I am planning to gift this quilt shortly after the quilt along, so I am already starting to play with backing fabrics.  I’ve narrowed my choices down to the three in this photo, leave a comment below or on Instagram to help me decide!

I am really excited to see all the fabric pulls from last week sewn up into blocks. Remember to share your progress using the hashtag #RockingChairQAL by Sunday 9/18 at midnight to be entered to win this beautiful fabric bundle from Kristin Quinn Creative.

Rocking Chair Quilt Along: Week 1

I can’t believe it’s time to start the Rocking Chair Quilt Along!  When I started planning, September seemed like years away but here we are finishing our back to school shopping and getting ready to watch football on the weekends.

This is my first quilt along –like first ever—I’ve never taken part in one, and certainly never hosted one.  So please, have a little patience with me and know that I am so grateful that you are here!

We are starting the QAL off slow this week, just selecting and cutting fabric.  I decided to make another throw-sized quilt and I am planning to gift it to a friend (I can’t say much more than that right now!)  I’m using some of her favorite colors, and after trying several mock ups, landed on the traditional version (the Rocking Chair Quilt comes in two variations- traditional and ombre) in Kona Cotton. Here is the palette that I chose:

Background: Windsor

Fabric A: Doeskin

Fabric B: Honey

Fabric C: Shadow

And after working with these colors, I’ve discovered that doeskin is one of my new favorite neutral colors.  It is like the perfect shade of “griege;” sometimes looking brownish, sometimes looking like a gray, and definitely going to be included in some projects for my home in the future! (My photo looks more brown and doesn’t do this one justice)

The second step this week is to cut out the fabrics.  I used my XL Stripology ruler and was able to cut the fabric for my entire Rocking Chair Quilt in just one hour!  This ruler is by far my most used tool for saving cutting time and it works for just about everything needed in this quilt. 

Selecting fabric and preparing for a new project is probably my favorite part of the quilting process.  Which makes me very excited to see what everyone else comes up with!  Make sure to share your fabric photos on Instagram with the hashtag #RockingChairQAL by Sunday 9/11 at midnight.  I will be selecting one winner from the hashtag for this weeks prize, a free pattern from Jenny over at Fab Fabric Girl.

That’s all for this week!  I will see you over on Instagram, make sure to follow the hashtag (#RockingChairQAL) as well so that we can cheer each other on!

*This post contains affiliate links. I make a commission from sales, however all opinions are my own 🙂

3 Ways to Resize a Quilt Pattern

If you are anything like me, you have a knack for falling in love with a quilt pattern only to find it wasn’t written for the size you need. Bummer, am I right? But, while it might seem like you need to go back to the drawing board and find a new project, there are a few easy ways to modify your pattern to fit your project needs.  In fact, all three of the quilts that I have made so far this year have been modified from the original size in the pattern.  

I am highlighting some of my favorite ways to alter a pattern below, but keep in mind that these are not the only methods.  It is also important to note that not all patterns can be resized, especially very intricate patterns, but the ideas below are a good start for anyone looking to just tweak and bend their project a little bit.  

The First Step

The first step in resizing a pattern is to determine what size you want your quilt to be.  The chart below is a rough size guide if you are looking for a place to start.  However, there are really no exact standard dimensions.  If your quilt is close to one of these sizes, it will probably work just fine.

You may also find that your idea doesn’t fit any of these dimensions.  Sometimes I will resize bigger patterns to make even smaller projects than those listed in the chart…for strollers, car seats, table runners, etc.

Method One: Changing the Number of Quilt Blocks

The most common way that I alter a pattern is by adding or removing blocks.  This method only works, of course, if you are working with a block-based quilt. 

-To do this, you just need to know the finished size of the block and then deduct half an inch for seam allowances (once you sew the blocks together, you will lose a quarter inch on each side).  

-This will give you the size of each block in the finished quilt.   You can then take your desired length and width from the first step and divide them by the size of the block to determine how many blocks you need.

Example:  I recently finished an Irish Chain quilt.  The original pattern was written for a 66×66 quilt but I wanted to change it to a stoller-friendly size.  Each block finished at 6.5 inches, so when accounting for seam allowances, each block would end up as a 6 inch square in the completed quilt.  The original pattern was 11 blocks wide by 11 blocks long (6 inches per block x 11 blocks= 66 inches).

I decided to remove four rows and four columns of blocks to make my quilt 7 blocks wide by 7 blocks long, resulting in the final 42×42 inch quilt pictured on the right. (6 inches per block x 7 blocks = 42 inches)

Method Two: Adding/Removing Sashing or Borders

Perhaps the easiest way to change the size of a quilt is to add or remove borders and sashing.  This works best if the original size is already close to the size you want.  For example, I recently made a quilted pillow cover but the pillow form that I had was too small for the pattern, so I removed an inch from each of the borders to make the cover a little smaller.

Tip: If you chose this method, I recommend that you change all of the borders or sashing by the same amount.  Don’t take an inch off the top and two inches off the bottom, you would be better off removing and inch and a half from both to keep it even. 

Method Three: Highlighting a Favorite

What about giving the pattern a whole new look, by highlighting just your favorite block? This method is a little less straight-forward and should only be chosen if you are willing to really change how the final quilt will look.

The quilts below are an example of how I recently did this for a customer.  The quilt on the left is the twin size quilt that I made for my son using a pattern by Elizabeth Hartman.  A customer reached out and asked if I could make a travel -sized T-Rex quit.  My solution was just to make one T-Rex block and fill the rest of the quilt with negative space.  But the adaptations are endless here, I could have centered the dinosaur, surrounded it with half square triangles, etc.

*There is also a fourth method of scaling the original block. This is probably the most challenging way to alter a quilt size but works if you want your quilt to be the exact same proportions as the original pattern.  Scaling blocks involves a bit more math and could probably be a post on its own, so I will not go into detail here.  Please leave a comment if this is something you would be interested in learning!

You’ve probably heard the saying “Measure Twice, Cut Once” but when it comes to resizing your pattern, my best piece of advice is to triple check before getting out the rotary cutter!

THE BEST (AND FASTEST) WAYS TO CUT BINDING STRIPS

If you are a quilter, chances are you are familiar with the age-old debate on how to finish your quilt, machine bind or hand bind?  Personally, I always hand bind my quilts but that’s a post for another day.

Today I want to talk about how I actually cut my binding strips.  While you can, of course, always use a plain old rotary blade and ruler, there are some really easy ways to save time on this step.  And let’s be honest, cutting strips for binding is nobody’s favorite part of making a quilt.

Two of my favorite (ahem, fastest) ways to make binding strips are using my Creative Grids Stripology Ruler or my Accuquilt Go!.  I’ve had quite a few people ask me to compare the difference between these two methods, so here is my honest opinion based on five factors: speed, accuracy, cost, storage and versatility.

First, if you are not familiar with either of these tools, I recommend you click the links above or watch the quick video that I made showing how they work.

Speed

Since no one loves cutting binding strips, getting it done and moving on to your next project as fast as you can is pretty important.  Both of these tools will save you a ton of time over the old-school method of rotary blade and ruler.  I have the XL Creative Grids Ruler, so I can make ten 2.5 inch strips without ever moving my fabric. If I fold my fabric and cut through several layers, that is usually more than enough strips to finish my project. A couple of minutes and my strips are all cut!

The Accuquilt Go! has a die (or I sometimes call them templates) for cutting three 2.5 inch strips at a time.  The die is designed to hold the width of the fabric, folded in half once (about 22 inches) and can cut through up to six layers of fabric.  This means that with just one pass through the machine, there is enough strips to bind a queen-sized quilt.

So which is faster?  Probably the Accuquilt Go!.  It takes a few more seconds to set up but is for sure faster once you start cranking.

Accuracy

Speed doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t making accurate cuts.  The Stripology Ruler has a cutting slot on the end for squaring off your fabric to help make the most accurate cut.  However, you do need to make sure your ruler is aligned parallel to your fabric and straight on your cutting mat.  That being said, it is pretty easy to get the hang of and my strips usually come out perfectly sized.

While my strips turn out accurate 99% of the time using my Stripology Ruler, the Accuquilt Go! probably wins in this category too.  As long as your fabric covers the entire area of the blade on the die, there is no need to line up fabric, and thus less room for user error.  One thing is for sure, both methods give me much more accurate strips than a plain old ruler and blade.

Cost

Price point is where these two tools really start to differ.  The XL Stripology Ruler retails for about $70 (smaller sizes are less expensive, I believe the mini size is about $40).  

The Accuquilt Go!, however, is $325.  There is a smaller version available called the Accuquilt Go! Me, but I can’t speak to how to works.  In addition to the cutter, you also need to purchase each die or template separately.  The die for the 2.5 inch strips is $100 (smaller dies and applique dies are generally less than this). That being said, they are always running sales on their website, so wait for a good one!

Storage

If you are running out of space in your sewing room , you may have to reorganize in order to make space for your Accuquilt Go!  While there are a few different size cutters, you also need to store the different dies and templates.  On the other hand, the XL Stripology Ruler is about 18×22 inches, and chances are you already have a place to store rulers. 

Versatility

The Stripology Ruler is a specialty ruler designed just as it says, for cutting strips of fabric.  The XL ruler allows you to cut any size strip or block, up to 20 inches, in half inch increments (for example, half inch, 1 inch, 1.5 inch, etc).

On the other hand, making binding strips is just one of the wonderful things the Accuquilt system is designed to do.  Once you have a cutter, there are hundreds of dies to choose from to cut shapes; from strips to triangles to curved piecing, and even animals, flowers and hearts for applique.  Next on my wish list is a die for English Paper Piecing hexagons, which includes a template for cutting both the paper pieces and fabric (yes, it cuts paper too!) 

The Bottom Line

If you are just interested in saving time cutting strips for binding or piecing, I think it makes sense just to purchase the Stripology Ruler (it’s one of my most used tools).  The difference in speed and accuracy is small compared to the price difference. However, if you think you will use the system for other block shapes, applique or English Paper Piecing, the Accuquilt Go! is definitely worth the investment!

The Accuquilt Go! may not work with specific patterns, depending on how they are written and depending on which dies you purchase.  But if you love being creative, I think you will love the Accuquilt system. 

And there is certainly the case for having both.  For example, I recently used the Accuquilt Go! to cut strips for an Irish Chain quilt that I am piecing. But used the Stripology ruler to subcut the strips once they were sewn together.   So I guess the real question is, how many quilting tools is too many?  For me, the limit does not exist.

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