Hi there! Welcome to "Piece a Quilt" by Joey Strange. This blog is going to be about my love of quilting!! And hopefully helping you to start one of your own. I once was a beginner and would love to help you too. Also I'll be giving tips, posting pictures of quilts, anything else pertaining to quilting, and sewing projects. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quilting Terms for Beginnings

These terms I believe all beginning quilters should know or begin with:

  • Fabric Stash: stash of fabric bought with no project in mind. It's good to keep an assortment on hand! I have Breast Cancer and Patriotic and Flannel Fabrics in my store if you are into making those kinds of quilts. 
  • Accurate 1/4" seam: you can accomplish this one with a 1/4" foot. Comes separately from your machine.
  • yard: equals to 36" length of fabric (some fabrics are 42"-45" wide)
  • fat quarter: measures 18"x22" of fabric
  • fat eighth: measures 11"x18" of fabric
  • regular quarter or 1/4th of a yard: measures 9" wide x the length of the fabric
  • basting: long stitches used to hold fabric layers or seams in place temporarily and usually removed after final sewing
  • batting: middle layer of a quilt
  • sandwich: (I like hard salami. JK.) Actually there is a term called quilt sandwich meaning 3 layers
  • sashing: the fabric that separates the blocks
  •  bias: the diagonal direction across the surface of a woven fabric at a 45 degree angle to the line of the warp and weft
  •  binding: covers the raw edges of a quilt

Go to the site above for more quilting terms!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Picking a Sewing Machine

Man, oh Man!! With sew many sewing machines out there which one to chose? If you are new to sewing or quilting---TEST DRIVE THEM ALL!!! My first machine was a BROTHER and it was a good work horse for the price. But then I knew that I wanted to make more quilts and not waste my precious time. So when I was looking into buying another machine. I took a look at my Brother and wrote the Pro's and Con's about it. For my next machine I want the bobbin on top. So that I can quickly open the case take out the old and put the newer one inside without having to take my arm off an on (sewing arm, not my arm. LOL). Another important feature it had to have was that the feed dogs have to GO DOWN for free motion quilting! A nice sewing space to the right of the needle with you have to quilt your project. It needs to have a tension dial and a stitch width & length. On many newer machine models they have what is called a adjustable pressure foot pressure. This allows you to adjust the height of the presser foot in its lowered position to accommodate the loft of thicker quilts. A couple of foots to have with your machine: 1/4" foot, walking foot, and free-motion/darning foot.

  1. Bobbin on top for easy access
  2. Feed dogs to lower (for free motion quilting)
  3. Good size sewing area (right of needle)
  4. Tension dial and a stitch width & length
  5. Adjustable presser foot pressure
  6. Foots: 1/4", walking, and free-motion/darning foot
I ended buying a Viking and LOVE IT, LOVE IT!!! But don't take my word. TEST DRIVE!! TEST DRIVE!!

Happy Stitchin'

Friday, October 23, 2009


It's good to buy quality thread!! You want to keep your sewing machine in working order. And using quality thread is IMPORTANT!! I use Madeira, Sulky, Gutterman, but my favorite is Madeira. I also sell it in my store. I've used it for over 5 years now!!

Well, when you are having issues with your sewing machine, you will more than likely be asked, "Did you change your needle?" Then it will be "Are you using quality thread?" Don't make the mistake and buy the inexpensive thread at the stores. Sure they are at a good price, but really, will your items hold together? If you are selling your items the customers will remember you if your items fall apart pretty quickly!!

You can go to the above site and see the different strands of thread under the microscope. Pretty interesting. You want to look for one that does not have all those loose fibers that can and will hurt your machine later down the road!
Happy Stitching!! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Prewash or Not to Prewash?

I don't like to prewash my fabric. Why? Because I use the Warm Company batting (I'm a seller of this batting; check my store). I like the antique look of my quilt once it is washed. But, oh Joey, what about if your fabric bleeds like using red!! I have a solution for that!! I use "Shout Color Catcher"!! It has been a lifesavor! One of the RQQ members told me about it and it truely works!!

Did you try prewashing your fabrics? Yes, I did. It's time consuming and plus you would have to iron the fabric!!! Why, don't you iron your fabric? Yes, I do! I actually use stream while ironing my fabrics. So the stream actually shrinks the fabric. I've not had a problem, yet! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Please Take Care of Your Machine

Do you take care of your machine?

I didn't for 2 years!!! Until that day when my machine stopped sewing. Yep, it just stopped sewing. I literally took the machine apart!! Yes, I did!! Wanted to know what was wrong with it by myself and not paying someone to find an easy fix or tell me what I'm NOT doing right!
I own two Vikings and love them! Sew what was wrong with the one that I regularly sewed on. Well after taking it completely apart and finding nothing wrong. I let it sit there for 2 days and continued working with my embroidery machine instead! Well after the 2 days and putting the machine back together. I finally found what was wrong!

Lint! Lint! Lint!

Lint had built up under the plate! Of course why not after 2 years!! Yep so here is my list of keeping my sewing machine running happy:
  • Clean under the throat plate. Better yet clean out the dust bunnies on a regular basis!!
  • DO NOT sew over needles or pins!!
  • Some recommend to change out the needle when you start a new project. (Ok, I don't do this...if the stitch is still straight and tension is not off, I continue to use that needle) But I do change the needle if the project calls for a different one!!
  • Oil as recommended and DO NOT use oil that has turned brown! YIKES!!
  • Use very good thread!! I use Madeira and sell some in my store.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Quilting Skill Levels

"Beginner, Intermediate, Advance, or Expert
These words have different meanings to us quilters.

Beginner is an easy one to define. You are just starting out. You are figuring out how to work and thread your sewing machine. You are learning simple quilting terms. 
  • rotary cutter 
  • accurate 1/4" seams (very important to learn)
  • bias, binding, backing, basting
  • fat quarter, jelly roll, a yard 
Intermediate to me is one that has mastered the beginner skills. You can accurately do a 1/4" seam!! You are trying more challenging patterns for yourself. You are having more success with your piecing, blocks are starting to measure correctly. You are gaining confidence in:
  • Choosing fabric
  • Comfortable with your machine
  • Setting in seams (ironing)
Advanced to me just means that you have mastered all the basic skills and terminology. You are starting to draft and design your own quilts or blocks, and learning more advanced skills to enhance your work. 

Expert means people are coming to you for advice, you are teaching, you are getting paid for your services, and you are still learning/growing. 

Don't let any of these terms scare you off a project. If you like the design and find it challenging ask a friend to help you out! Don't be shy to attempt anything. So, which one defines me? I would have to go with "Advanced". I've never entered any of my quilts into a show. That will be my challenge in the next 3 years! But I do feel that I have mastered all the basic skills and terminology.

Remember ""  Practice, Practice, Practice"!

We were all beginners at one time

"We were all beginners at one time", well ain't that the truth!!

If someone would have told me that I would be quilting. I would have thought "not in this lifetime"! But I am. This is how my story began. I wanted to make wedding gifts to my 4 bridesmaids and Maid of Honor (my sisi). I only had 3 months to do it in. I lived in Ohio and was getting married in Michigan.

So I walked into one of the local quilting stores, Sew-A-Lot. I looked through the store and felt overwhelmed at everything I saw. I finally saw a pattern I liked. It was called "Double Wedding Ring"! So I walked out with the pattern and a book (get to that soon). Did anyone tell me that was one of the hardest pattern to start with? Nope! Why not? Because I didn't ask. I thought that I'm a pretty fast learner and I was. So I made 4 wallhangings in 4 different colors! Yep, and silly me I didn't take pictures of them! Oh well. Live and learn they say!
Ok the book! Well I saw a pattern that I like for my sister it was called "Shakespeare in the Park" by Judy Martin from The Creative Pattern Book. I made a twin size of that one. Oh Sisi could you take a picture of that one! Ha! She tells me that it has been used up very well and if I could make her another one. Hmmm, I have to think about that one. Was the colors blue and orange?

Ok, so that's how I got started in quilting and for the last 2 years I've been doing rag quilting. I love the fast process of those quilts. But my heart is aching to doing a traditional quilt. I already have my eye on one!! Stay tune to see if I get it done.