Record Fast

My sister in law came to quilt today, so I thought I’d take a couple of pictures of the process and share what it’s like to use a long arm machine.


This is the quilt when it is first loaded on the machine. This is the reason you need the back of the quilt and the batting to be larger.  The front will lie on them, and may travel as you quilt it. The extra space keeps you safe from going off of the edge.

Using the Long Arm

Isn’t her quilt magnificent? It is Moda’s Nest Fabric, with nesting stars.  I may have died of cuteness, but then I wouldn’t have been able to help her use the machine.  She is an unusually fast stippler. This is a large, king sized quilt, and she stippled it in less than five hours. If you are thinking you can do that, I would pause and try it first. I am pretty sure I could not do it that speed, and I’ve had a lot of practice.  That is the fastest I’ve seen one done on this machine.


I love that she hand stitched a little inscription here. Always sign your work, friends.


IMG_6487This is what the edges of the quilt look like when it comes off of the long arm machine. The quilt is ready to be trimmed, and then bound. There is a line of stitching around three sides of the quilt, and the fourth side is basted together. I always trim these edges so the stitching will be inside of the quilt binding. Up in the corner of the photo is a non matching scrap I used to test tension. That’s the other reason you need the backing and the batting to be bigger.  Long arm machines need the tension adjusted if there are variances between sizes of battings, threads, etc.

Any questions? Shoot me an email, or comment.

Quiet Book Swap: Finishing Your Pages

I have been consulting on a friend’s quiet book swap, and some people asked for more details on assembly, so I am going to put a few things together, starting with this post. Today I photographed the details of the simple way to finish pages.
QB Page02

Start with two pages that you want as a front and back. Make sure you don’t accidentally put two that should face each other together this way. I almost did that with the road pages, which would have been a shame.
QB Page03
My friend made this road page, and she asked if she needed to pre-shrink the fabric, and I thought she would be okay not doing it, because I am lazy in my heart. Now I confess, I think I was wrong. Preshrinking is always a good idea, and it will help so much with the finished product and the sewing. PRESHRINK YOUR FABRIC. There, now it is out, even though I wrongly advised a good friend. I know, I’m lame. Anyway, Since this fabric is a little stretchy and skeewompas, I put it on top of a layer that is pretty uniform, and slightly bigger. This way I can make sure I don’t accidentally sew off the edge of the smaller page.
QB Page04
Really smooth the two pages, right sides together. You want them to lay as flat and evenly together as you can. Sew them almost all the way around, leaving an opening of several inches that will later let you turn the pages inside out. I have a camera in my right hand in this picture. But I advise that once you get started and the machine is clamped to the page, you should  hold up the whole page as much as you can using both hands to keep the pages square and even.

Don’t turn it inside out yet. See these corners?
QB Page05
You must carefully trim them like so:
QB Page06
Get as close to the corner stitching as possible, but don’t cut through it. This clipping reduces bulk when the page is right side out.
QB Page07
Turn the page right side out. I like to use my closed scissors to poke the corners and get them out.  This is the page before ironing. I highly recommend ironing. I know we don’t all like it, because getting friendly with the iron, well, you could get burned.
QB Page09
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  Anyhoo, Do Iron, Don’t burn yourself. After ironing, set your stitch length to a three. Hi Bernie! I love you!
QB Page10
After you kiss your beloved sewing machine, topstitch around the edges of the page as close to the edge as you are comfortable.  I used the topstitching to close my hole in the side, and just ironed the hole carefully to make sure that would work well.
QB Page11
If you are not one of those over-achieving grommet people, throw a few button-holes on each page. I measured the length of my page (11 ish inches), measured to the center (5.5) and marked the first hole. Then I marked the other two holes 1.5 inches in from the edge of the page. I used book rings to bind, so I didn’t have to match it to a binder. If you put it in a binder, just put the pages next to it, and mark that way.
QB Page14
Here are the front and back of a completed page, ready to put in the cover.
QB Page15

QB Page16

Just FYI, I use categories and tags, so if you want to read all the past posts about quiet books, just click on the label “Quiet Book,” and I think they will come up.

How to Weave Felt

I have taken a break from making my own quiet book, and I have joined a quiet book exchange. Each member makes 15 of a specific page. We all do a different page, and then exchange so we have a complete book. I love the efficiency of this method.

I am doing a laundry page with little clothespins, and a basket, and I am going to work with a friend who will do a felt doll page, and some of the clothes. I thought I would post the process of weaving the felt for the basket. I learned this trick from the pie-making page of my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, so you can do this with felt, or pie crust.

basket weave (1)-web
Lay out your horizontal felt strips.
basket weave (2)-web
Place your first vertical strip underneath every alternating horizontal strip.
basket weave (3)-web

Now, fold back (to the left) the strips that are underneath your first vertical strip.

basket weave (4)-web

Then place your next vertical strip next to your first one, snugging it as close as you can.

basket weave (5)-web

Replace the strips you folded back earlier.

basket weave (6)-web

basket weave (7)-web

Now fold back the strips that are underneath vertical strip 2.

basket weave (8)-web

And place vertical strip 3.

basket weave (9)-web

Replace the horizontals again.

basket weave (10)-web


basket weave (11)-web


basket weave (12)-web


basket weave (13)-web


basket weave (14)-web

Stabilize with your best friend, Pellon.

basket weave (15)-web

And place on your page. (Or pie.) You did it! I’ll post a picture of my page when it is done. My mini-clothes pins are so cute. I can’t wait to make some little felt clothes to pin. You can get the pins on or from a craft store. The shipping on Amazon made them about twice as expensive as my local store, Roberts.

Make a Minky Monster Puppet

12 minky puppet tutorial

This is the little guy who was destined for the the picot / prairie / pioneer points. The picots are the spines on his back. He really likes thread for a bedtime snack, so if you make one, watch out!


Leftover Minky from your son’s baby quilt

Buttons or other embellishments, with contrast thread for the pupils. I used embroidery floss.

Fabric for inside of the mouth


Sewing machine

Beverage  or sugary vice of choice (skittles for me)

01 minky puppet tutorial

Start by cutting out two pieces for the top and bottom that are an inch or so wider than your hand, all the way around. You might want to cut the top a little big, because inserting the picots shrinks the top / back a little. Fold the fabric for the mouth in half, right sides together. Stick it in between the layers to the depth you’d like the puppet’s mouth to go, and trim the fabric to a circle. I used my hand to measure this depth so the mouth would be just my size.

02 minky puppet tutorial

Cut a slit up his back, and tuck the points between, right sides together. Pin, and sew.

03 minky puppet tutorial

04 minky puppet tutorial

I left his tail sticking out, and shmooshed the bottom up around it to hem. If you don’t want the tail to be awkward like that, match a good picot-cutting-point to the end of his back so you can hem easier.

Next, fold your inner mouth circle in half, and sew in the tongue. I just cut a little red reptilian thing out of some felt.

05 minky puppet tutorial

Ta da!

06 minky puppet tutorial

Now sew on some eyes, and any other embellishments you wish. I was thinking little stuffed horns would be fun, or some white yo-yos under the eye buttons, but I am eight months pregnant, and a girl can only do so much in my condition.

07 minky puppet tutorial

Next, lay it out with the mouth in place, right sides together, and pin from the edge of the mouth down to the bottom of the puppet.

08 minky puppet tutorial

Then you can take the mouth out, if you like, and sew those two seams. I left the mouth in while I sewed (NOT as pictured below), in case my pinning was not perfect. It wasn’t.

09 minky puppet tutorial

Lay out your inner mouth, right side up. Place the right side of the outer mouth on top, like so:

10 minky puppet tutorial

Pin, and sew a C on each side. At this point, I turned my puppet right side out to admire, and he had a serious underbite. So I went back and sewed another C inside of the first one on the bottom jaw to straighten him out a little. See:

11 minky puppet tutorial

Trim the extra, clip your curves, and give that minky monster to your delighted child. She will have a hard time being in the sun for the picture after all the bad weather recently, and will pretend to be a pirate. At least, that’s what mine did.

final minky puppet pic

Continuous Pioneer / Prairie Point Tutorial

This post is a prep post for a little puppet I made today. The first time I did pioneer points on a quilt, I cut a bazillion little squares, ironed them carefully and pinned them individually to the edge of my quilt. It was a royal pain. Later, I learned an easier strip method, which I would like to share.

Decide on the size of points you want. I made these for a very small project, so I did two inch square points, which ended up very small. For a normal baby quilt I usually do four inch squares. Whatever square size you decide to do, multiply that by two, and cut a strip of fabric of that width by the length of points you need. I started with a four inch strip. Iron it in half, and then cut to the fold every two inches on one side of your strip.

Next, stagger it starting half-way on the other side, one inch in this case, and snip to the fold again, trimming off the first and last little short pieces. I snipped by starting each cut with my quilting grid, and then finishing it with the scissors, so I had the accuracy of the grid, but I didn’t have to try to quit at the fold with a rotary cutter. Your snipped strip will look like this:

pioneer point 1

Next, fold your points. First, diagonally from one side,

pioneer point 2

And then from the other side.

pioneer point 3

It will look like this as it comes unfolded:

pioneer point 4

Now go iron each of those little babies down so they will behave themselves. They’ll look like this after you iron them:

pioneer point 5

Fold your points train in half, with the raw edges in the center, and baste together an 1/8th or a scant quarter of an inch from the edge.

pioneer point 6

Now you have those cute little triangles all ready to go.

You can also do a two-tone prairie point by sewing two strips of different colors together, which makes them alternate if you fold each point around the next one carefully.

Next up: something fun to do with these now that you have made them.