To listen to the episode CLICK HERE
Hi there! I’m Nicole Gilbert, and you’ve joined the Stop Scrolling and Start Sewing podcast. Are you new to sewing and want to start quilting, but have no idea where to begin? Each Wednesday, join me as I share the ins and outs of that quilt life. If you don’t have a sewing machine, have no idea how much fabric you need or you’re just trying to figure out where the heck to stick that bobbin, this is the podcast for you.
Welcome to episode six of the Stop Scrolling and Start Sewing podcast. On today’s episode, I’m answering the most frequent quilting questions that I’ve come across over the last few weeks. There were so many good little nuggets that it was hard to narrow it down. I’ve decided to just pick the five that were asked the most often. I’ll probably answer a few different ones on next week’s Facebook live. If you haven’t seen them, I go live every Monday at 3 p.m. at Facebook.com/themodernquilterscircle, and I chat a little bit more about that week’s episode. Make sure you follow the Facebook page so you can make sure you’ve never missed one. So before we dive in, I’m going to take a quick word from our sponsor. Today’s episode is sponsored by My Sewing Machine Buyer’s Guide, which will help you narrow down exactly what you’re looking for in a sewing machine. To grab your copy head on over to themodernquilterscircle.com/sewingmachine.
Okay, guys, let’s get sewing.
So funny thing, almost every single one of these questions was asked by someone who started with, “So this is a stupid question…” like, hard stop. No such thing as a stupid question. Plus, quilting could be kind of difficult. It’s not like we’re born knowing all of the things. Um, I think that’s why I know what makes The Modern Quilters Circle so great. Everybody that I’ve encountered so far is at a different skill set using different machines, and they learned in different ways. Some have gone through sewing classes at quilt shops. Some are totally self taught, which is what I did, like total trial and error and lots of mistakes. Um, and some are just kind of like in the middle, a little bit of real teaching a little bit of self taught. It really runs the gambit. But none of us were born knowing how to do all of this stuff. So definitely, I want everybody to forget the phrase, “This is a stupid question”, because, seriously, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. I can’t tell you how many times I have cried sitting at my sewing machine because the bobbin kept on nesting thread behind the fabric. Like, Can I get an amen out there for anybody who’s gone through that? It’s the worst feeling ever, and you’re just like I don’t understand. I’ve used this a 1,000,000 times. I’ve been sewing for the last hour, no problems, and then all of a sudden, all hell breaks loose. It happens.
So let’s go to these questions. I think we’re going to have so much fun answering them, and hopefully you learn something. And if you have something to add, I would love to hear about it so you can head over to the Facebook page. You can slide up in my DMs on Facebook or instagram @themodernquilterscircle, Um, or you could just drop me an email at email@example.com. I would love to hear from you.
So first question, What is quilt as you go? Oh, my goodness. First of all, I had heard about quilt as you go for many, many, many moons before I ever knew exactly what it was. It doesn’t make sense. So, then I figured it out, and then I was like, Oh, that’s what you mean. So it totally is understandable that there’s quite a few of you out there who are like I’m hearing of this phenomenon, but I don’t get it. So I’ve talked a few times on the podcast about sewing machines and creative space and how the more creative space you have, the easier it is to quilt large blankets and quilts, because you have to slide that whole thing through the sewing machine and so you can get really bunched up, which is where quilt as you go comes in instead of quilting. After you’ve put together the entire top, you quilt each block individually, so you’re going to cut all your pieces and piece together your individual quilt blocks. Usually, there’s, you know, between five and 10 quilt blocks in a given row and then, um, you put the rows together. That’s like, Traditionally, that’s what you’re going to do. Now, in quilt as you go, you take your individual quilt block and you take batting and you take backing and it’s all just the size of the quilt block. So you’re talking about something that’s traditionally 12 inches square or less and you quilt just that little section and you do all your little quilting and then you repeat it for every single block on your quilt. And so, like I got that and I was like, Okay, I mean, that makes sense. It would be a lot easier to get it through the machine like, but how do you hide the seems like, you know, like, how do you put it together after that point? Like it just it boggled my mind, but like, not enough for me to like really diving. So it took a little while before it, like, clicked. Oh, that’s how you do it. And then when I looked it up, it was a gap that Yep, I was right. I assumed correctly. So what you do is you have to use sashing. So it’s you take, um so, like the same way that you put a border on your finished quilt top. Usually you do your quilt top you put a border around the edges, then you quilt it. Then you put binding on it. So just like you do a border, you’re going to do that in between every single, um, quilt block. So you’re gonna end up with, like, a grid, like if you’re doing a quilt that was three by three. As far as quilt blocks go, it would end up looking like a tic tac toe board because it would have these lines. I’m personally not a huge fan of the look and there’s no other way to do it. Otherwise, you have to use sashing in order to hide those seams, um if you’ve found a way to do it otherwise, please let me know, because I am definitely interested. But so far, all I’ve seen is using sashing to hide the seams, and I am not down. I think that, um, there’s a time and a place for it, and I’ve made a few cute quilts with sashing, but it’s definitely wouldn’t be like my go to. Like I wouldn’t use that method. The quilt as you go method to replace how I quilt because I just think there’s only one finished look to it and there’s not much you could do otherwise. Now are there some quilt patterns where, like you could blend the sashing? Sure, but they look a little disjointed if you ask me, Um, but again prove me wrong. I would love to be proved wrong. Show me what you got.
Ah, next question. How do you pre wash things like charm packs or jelly rolls? Okay, so pre wash. There’s two schools of thought. Actually, there’s like three. I think there’s three schools of thought. So there’s one group that says you don’t have to pre wash, And that’s usually people who buy Onley high end fabrics. You know, if they’re using solids, they’re only using Kona. If they’re using print, they’re only using Designer Limited Edition, which are beautiful, and I do both of those things often because they are beautiful. Kona makes amazing quality and rich colors in their solids and designer prints, sometimes like you, go in two by two to get fabric for a quilt, and then you’ll fall in love and a whole line in one line. Everything’s like color coordinated and beautiful and using the right values and tints. And it’s just it’s a color wheel dream. And so I’ve done it. Another school of thought is you need to pre wash everything, and that’s because fabric shrinks. And if you sew everything and then you wash it, you’re going to get puckers along your thread line. Um, usually that occurs with some of your lesser, um, quality brands. I hate saying that because I really don’t think there’s any such thing as bad fabric. As long as you’re using 100% cotton, you make that work. I really and truly believe that, Um, but usually, you know, your Jo-ann store brand or Wal-Mart store brand fabrics. These tend to shrink a little, and so, by pre washing, you remove the potential for puckering once you wash it. And then there’s the people who are like sometimes you do. Sometimes you don’t. I got to say I’m in Group three. I’m a Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t, um, and it really is based on what I’ve just said. If I’m using higher end fabrics, I don’t wash. Um, we’re usually good if I’m using bargain fabrics I wash them. Also, getting back to the original question of How do you pre wash charm packs and jelly rolls? I’m assuming this question is asked, is being asked because charm packs and jelly rolls come pre cut. So a charm pack is a 10 by 10 inch, um, piece of fabric, and it’s like a stack of I forget how many are exactly in a pack. But it’s a stack of fabric already cut into 10 by 10 squares, and a jelly roll is strips usually 42 or 44. I want to say jelly roll, which is like the brand name is 44 but others are 42 2.5 inches wide, 44 inches long, and their roll of fabrics that all are complimentary usually from the same design. So what could happen, I would assume, is like you’re thinking OK if I washed them. They’re all these little pieces they’re going to get, like, tangled and rumpled and whatnot in the washing machine. That’s gonna be a nightmare. I agree. I would not wash anything that is pre cut. So charm packs, jelly rolls, Honey buns. Oh, I don’t make you hungry thinking about the names of all these pre cuts. But any of those things I would not, um, wash. And usually those things were made with slightly better quality fabrics. Anyway. Caveat If you have you ever seen that episode of friends where Rachel Greene decides to, like, do a nice thing for Monica and she washes all the clothes, but everybody’s stuff turns pink. Yeah, there’s a reason why I brought up that. So if you’re using a fabric that has a really rich, like rich, rich red or blue, um, I would pre wash it because every once in a while that’s gonna bleed. Not all the time. Not all fabrics, but occasionally it’s gonna bleed, especially if, okay, when you look at your fabric and you flip it over the reverse, the, you know, quote unquote wrong side, usually like a white ish color. It’s like a lighter, lighter version or washed out version of the true pattern. On some, though, it’s that color on both sides. Like there is no wrong way. Usually that happens on solids, and that’s because the entire thing is dyed. The thread itself is dyed versus just patterned like printed, Um, and so those ones are typically more likely to run. Um, so keep that in mind. Oh, a way to get around the running. Once you have already sewn, though, there’s things called color catchers and I suggest, like getting like five of them. But you put them in the washing machine with your, um, with your fabric, and it’s like when the colors bleed, they bleed only onto the color capture so the color capture comes out and it’s like a tie dyed your, um, quilt is just fine, so you can grab those on Amazon. You can get them at Hobby Lobby at Jo-ann’s fabric. I will put a link to the brand that I use in the show notes. So themodernquilterscircle.com/episode-6 and you can grab that for yourself. Um, it’s definitely pretty awesome. Um, and it’s one of those things where I honestly I did not know about them for, um, quite a while. And then once I did it like change my life. So that’s the sitch with pre washing. Um, so it really depends Sorry for the answer. All right.
Next question. When cutting, do you cut in the direction where it gives or where it’s taught? Okay, so I’m gonna clarify the question a little. I tried to, so this got asked several times. And I tried to, like, mix all of the questions together because I think that it was all getting to the same root answer. But I don’t think I did a good job. So let me explain that a little bit for you. So when you have a piece of fabric and you kind of pull it in your hands, you have your hand on either side of the fabric and you pull There’s, a side that’s taught like it. It, like bounces like you bounce a quarter off of it. And there’s another way where if you hold it on like the diagonal and pulled it, got it has some stretch. So in the quilt world, we call that the taught way we call that with the grain and when it’s the stretch way we call that on the bias so occasionally you will see a quilt pattern and it’ll say, Make all your cuts with the grain and some will say with the bias or cross grain, which means you’re, you know, bisecting the grain. So there’s a little tip for you there. But you are going to want to go with the grain 99% of the time. Sometimes you’ll hear people refer to it as like across the width. And that’s because with the grain it’s parallel. The grain is parallel to the selvages and then also runs across. It’s like the direct street grid. So if you look real close to your thread, you’re going to see where it makes little hashtags basically like a 1,000,000 hashtags along those lines of the hashtags that’s with the grain. The on the bias or cross grain is a diagonal that bisects that so what you will do. I actually have in module two of The Modern Quilters Academy. I talk all about cutting fabric. Um, and I’ve got, like, this awesome method which makes cutting across the full width of the fabric super easy, and if you fold this way and then cut this way you’ll always be cutting on the grain. The only time really you don’t cut on the grain is when you’re cutting like hexies or triangles. Um, and even then, usually two of your sides of the triangle are on the grain. And then just, um, what do you want to call that? I just tried to think of my head like the A squared plus B squared equals C squared. Like, what is that? Long and called if you know, holler at me cause that was not my forte in school. But anyway, I digress. Um, that line is gonna be the only one that’s on the bias, so just keep that in mind.
So let’s see what is coming up next. I’m kind of flying through these questions today, huh? Um, let us see. What is appliqué? Okay, so appliqué. This one, I think, comes from everybody hearing my episode 3 Nicole Unplugged themodernquilterscircle.com/episode-3 if you want to go ahead and listen to that. But it is where I answer just a bunch of questions about myself. Um, and one of the questions was what is one thing you are just not feeling or that you don’t like to do or that you haven’t really come back. I mentioned appliqué is so not my jam. It’s not my thing, but here’s what appliqué is So appliqué is where you actually create you fussy cut. So fussy cut its when you have a piece of fabric and you have a cut out that you want to cut like a very specific shape out of. But you want to make sure a specific portion of the fabric pattern is in that, um and so you place that shape right on top of the fabric where you want it. Um, and you cut around there, so it’s definitely not efficient. As far as conserving fabric goes, you’re gonna have a lot of, you know, scraps leftover. Um, but so that’s that fussy cutting. Now what happens is once you’ve cut out that shape, whatever, whatever it is, you know, a flower, the sun, um, an animal, whatever. Whatever it is, you would then take your completed quilt top. That’s all pieced together. And you would place that piece of fabric on top of the quilt tops and you, usually most people hand sew them. I think it’s just kind of like a school of thought. Um, I don’t see why you couldn’t machine attach them, and I’ve seen them attached, but with a machine quilting. But for the most part, most people hands sew them, um and you just sew it right on top like a patch. Um, it’s not really my style. Mostly again, Like I said in that, that episode Episode three um, I just haven’t found, like, a pattern that I’ve been like. I would love to stick a flower right on top of that. You know, it’s just not my thing, but I could definitely see like they’re pretty. I’ve seen some gorgeous appliqué like some really well done beautiful appliqué. It’s just not my personal jam, Um, but that that is what appliqué is. Also, I have heard, and this kind of puts me a little bit on the fence like I should keep this in my back pocket. Maybe I need to learn this skill. When people make mistakes on their quilt tops and they end up with holes because, you know, like seams don’t line up or their seam ripper, you know, runs amok and they tear a hole or something. They actually use appliqué as, like, a Band Aid. You just stick that over the blemish, and you call it good. And I’m not opposed to that. That makes sense to me. So there is that. I could I could keep that idea in my back pocket to try it. Okay, so now we’re on to the last question. I can’t believe it. I feel like we flew through this. Um, what do you use for a quilt backing? This is great. So there’s several things that you can do. You could basically make your quilt backing as elaborate or close to elaborate as your quilt top by actually piecing together the back. That’s totally acceptable, I think. I’ve done it. I’ve done it a handful of times. To mixed results. Um, and that’s totally a personal thing. It is definitely not, um, because of the method. I think I think it’s just because I don’t have the patience for it. But what you would have to do is when you baste it, you have to baste your seams lining up perfectly with your top so that that way, when you quilt, you don’t get any like quilting in weird places, like in regards to your seams. So, If you have, like a cool quilt pattern going on the top, you have to make sure it also translates onto the back. So that’s something to keep in mind. Mine didn’t, and it’s sad, neither here nor there. Um, another option for sewing your backing is to get 108 inch um, fabric. So when you buy fabric at a fabric store, the typical standard with is between 42 and 45 inches wide. Now there is some fabric that is made that’s 108 inches wide, so you get a few yards of that. You press it out. Unless you’re making a giant enormous quote, you might need to piece together a little, you know, so a little bit more on the side to keep it wide enough. But for most people, you can totally quilt most of your things on a 108 inch wide by, however many yards long piece of fabric. The third option for quilting a backing, which is actually what I’m doing now, I am putting together a project for The Modern Quilters Academy. And I started this project in a COVID world where there is no fabric to be found because the only place you can go inside right now, I live in New York, so we are still shut down. As of today, um, time of this recording we’re still shut down. The only place I can buy fabric is at Wal-Mart, and I went to Wal-mart today to buy additional fabric. And there was about five, um, bolts of sequins, two of, like, super satiny craziness and a ton of fleece. Other than that, totally empty. So what I decided to do was I scooted my butt along to the sheets section, and I bought a couple of queen size and king size sheets, 100% cotton. I actually went for the cheapest type of cotton. You know, skip over the cotton sateen. Ignore the microfiber cotton and go for like, the kind of cotton that you only really get on twin extra longs for your college dorm. That kind of cotton, that’s the one you want to quilt with its sturdy It’s good. Go for it. So I actually did that. And I am going to use that as the backing on my project because I, um, found a bunch of fabric and I’m making the quilt a little bit. Scrappier, I had ordered online on April 19th all the fabric I needed for this project because this is not something that I decided to do fly by night. But I’ve been planning it for quite some time, and I assumed it would not take two months for the fabric to get here. So you can definitely Use sheets. Actually, for a lot of the newbies out there, I suggest using sheets for the backing. You won’t have any seams, you don’t have anything to line up solid one color. I think it is a wonderful, wonderful option. Well, folks, there you have it. I have just answered some of the five most prevalent questions I’ve gotten asked over the last week. I hope that you found some answers to some of your own questions. Please let me know if you have any more questions. You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or slide up in my DM’s on Instagram or Facebook, and I will for sure get back to you. And remember, any of those random things I mentioned will be over on the show notes. So themodernquiltesrcircle.com/episode-6
So guess what? You’ve just finished another episode of the Modern Quilters Circle. Stop Scrolling and Start Sewing podcast. Thanks for hanging out with me. Make sure you never miss an episode by hitting. Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts and remember, folks, it’s time to stop scrolling and start sewing.