Saturday, June 14, 2014

Simple Quilting

This month our Yahoo group is working on making the little four-patch quilt from my book The Civil War Sewing Circle. Yes, we are still doing this. . . . Even if you are not part of the group, you are always welcome to join in on the fun.

Anyway, I promised I would show how I quilted the quilt using nothing more than a small bowl and washable fabric marker to mark the quilt. This is the design that resembles an orange peel (or pumpkin seed).

Instead of using an Orange Peel template or making my own from template plastic, here's what I did:

I marked the center of the block and then traced around a small bowl with a water soluble marking pen to make an arc on one side. Then I turned the quilt and used the bowl again to trace intersecting half circles around the rest of the block. Better than a template because you can do it easily with any size block, large or small - just find the right sized bowl with a nice arc. Here's a sample square I marked on paper to represent a 4-inch block:

Mark an arc along each side of the block.

The arcs intersect and you'll get this design if you mark each side of the block.

Mark each block you wish to quilt. Then just quilt on the lines and when you're finished, either wash the quilt gently or wipe with a damp cloth to remove all traces of the marking pen. It was easy to do this on a small quilt and it turned out very nice, I think. I'm not sure I'd try it on a larger quilt unless I had a lot of time.  I especially like the way it looks on the plain blocks where the stitches stand out a little more.

My favorite quilting thread is YLI quilting thread. I hardly ever use white thread - I'm very partial to the light brown as it gives a nice warm look when stitched on either light or dark fabrics. I've used the blue and red thread as well. 

If this orange peel design is not your cup of tea, then I recommend you try a small stencil from The Stencil Company. They have more designs to choose from than you can believe. I have a few 3" and 4" block stencils since that's the size I often make my small blocks. I use the 2" or 2.5 inch border stencils because I like to use rather skinny borders. 

I often get stumped by how to quilt the borders of my quilts.  Quilting with stencil designs is fun and if you're making small quilts it's a pretty simple way to finish them. Maybe this will help motivate some of you to finish up the quilting on your quilts as well. I have a nice variety of stencils and use them when I get tired of straight-line stitching (which is pretty mindless but still fun).

If you haven't been bitten by the hand quilting bug yet, you should try it.  I use very simple quilting designs and it usually takes a couple of evenings or a week at most to finish a small quilt. I can be VERY relaxing. I'm not very good at machine quilting. If I machine quilted one and ruined it, uh oh, I wouldn't have the time or inclination to fix it or make another one. If the hand quilting stitches are less than perfect or a little quirky, oh well. Antique doll quilts were not perfect either. 

I will win no prizes for the hand quilting on my doll quilts - my stitches could be a little smaller and straighter. But it sure is fun and I love the look of a little quilt that's hand quilted. If you haven't taken the time to do any hand quilting, try it out on a little doll quilt - it doesn't even have to be heavily quilted. Just try quilting straight lines or Xs in the blocks at first to get yourself going. You will improve with each stitch if you keep at it. I promise. 






  1. Pretty! And, hand quilting looks so relaxing! I really like that last quilt with the pinwheels! :-)

  2. hand quilting is relaxing and fun! love your work

  3. Unos acolchados preciosos, me han gustado mucho. Lo sencillo siempre queda muy bonito.
    Un beso.

  4. I love the way you quilted this quilt. Thanks for the tutorial. Just shows everyday items can be used as a template.8

  5. Thanks so much for the tutorial. Love your books, quilts, quilting and all you share with us. Kathy you are a super sweet person and our group is lucky to have you:)

  6. I love everything about this sweet quilt!! Well done!

  7. Makes me happy to see that you promote hand quilting! I love to do it and take pride in it!

  8. Thanks for sharing this tip Kathy, I love the simple pattern this technique gives.

  9. Love that little quilt! I love to hand quilt, but haven't worked on some of those projects in awhile. You have inspired me to pull them out and work on them!

  10. Love these little quilts! I do have a question though. When you use the stencils, how do you get the marks onto the quilt? Do you use a water soluble pen to mark through the open lines in the stencil onto the fabric? Thanks!

  11. Yes, that's exactly what I do. I use a blue fine point washable fabric marker on lighter fabrics and a Clover brand fine point white marker on my darker fabrics. Both wash out with water.

  12. Kathy - do you use a hoop when you are quilting your doll quilts? So cute!!

  13. Thanks for inspiring me! I am a hand quilter too and I have a few runners that need to be quilted. Great designs as well. Always enjoy your posts.

  14. I was so glad to read this post, I could have written it myself. I've made several quilts and have only hand quilted them. I don't have the funds to pay someone to machine quilt it for me and I've only made quilt for myself and my children and grandchildren so I really think handquilting is the way to go. I want them to know that this entire quilt was a labor of love to them from me. So it holds more sentiment to me to have them handquilted. And you're right, it's so very relaxing to have a quilt sprawled across your lap in the evening while you watch TV and quilt away. I'd like to invest in more of the quilting stencils, I only have a few. Thank you so much for this awesome post! i really can relate to it and love it when I come across a blog post that really is right up my alley!!!!

  15. i loved this little quilt so much, when i first saw it, i made TWO : as pillow covers for bed cushions. they are adorable & i too used the orange peel hand quilting.

    & then went wild
    & added yo~yo's round the sides ;)


  16. Love, Love, Love this sweet little quilt - the quilting is perfect. Thank you for the tutorial. I've been doing business with The Stencil Co. for years...they are so nice and offer a huge variety of stencil designs.

  17. Your doll quilts are always so delightful. I love to hand quilt. There's always a project in the hoop.


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