Make a Wall Hanging! Add a Wonky Churn Dash Frame to Your Favorite Quilt Block

Make a Wall Hanging - How to Add a Wonky Churn Dash Frame to Your Favorite Quilt Block - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

If you’re like most quilters – you have a LOT of patterns. 🙂

It’s always great to come up with another use for one of your favorites – especially if you can make an accessory to go WITH one of your best quilts.

You can turn a single block into a wall hanging and hang it just as it is. But it’s extra fun to give that block a special frame to really set it off and make it into a piece of art. 🙂

And it’s even more fun if that frame uses a wonky version of a traditional quilt pattern.

For this wall hanging I used one of my favorite blocks from the Cuddly Cats quilt pattern – no resizing. So it’s a 10 inch block in the center, with a wonky churn dash frame around it. The entire wall hanging is 16 inches square.

Here’s what you need. . .

  • 18 inch square piece of batting (I use Warm & Natural cotton batting.)
  • 10 1/2 inch square background block
  • scraps (less than 1/4 yard of each color) for the cat applique, the churn dash frame, and the second background around the frame
  • fat quarter for back of wall hanging

Here’s how to make it using Quilt As You Go. . .

Step 1 – Quilt Your Background Square

Press your batting square. Center your background block in the center of the batting.

grey square quilted to batting

Quilt the square to the batting.

I used double wavy stripes on mine. You can find a tutorial for that here.

Step 2 – Applique the Face

Applique the design to the block – being sure to line the lower edge of the applique up with the lower edge of the background block.

cat face and shoulders - appliqued to grey background square

Add a backing to your wall hanging (I used spray adhesive to baste it to the batting) and outline your applique. Here’s a closer look at the placement and the outlining.

Make a Wall Hanging - How to Add a Wonky Churn Dash Frame to Your Favorite Quilt Block - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

You can find a complete video showing how I applique with fusible adhesive here.

Set that block aside while you make the pieces for the churn dash frame.

(That adorable fabric I used for the cat is Hash Dot in Lime from Michael Miller Fabrics, available here.)

Step 3 – Sew Churn Dash Corner Triangles

Cut four background corner pieces each 5 inches square. I used dark grey for mine.

Cut four right triangles with the legs (not the hypotenuse) anywhere between 4 and 5 inches long. The triangles should all be a little different.

Lay one triangle face down over the corner of one square, so that the points of the triangle (at each end of the hypotenuse) just hang over the edges of the square, as shown.

Triangle sewn unevenly to a grey square - making one corner of a wonky churn dash block

Sew the triangle to the square. Your seam allowance doesn’t need to be exactly 1/4 inch.

Step 4 – Open and Press Triangles

Trim away the excess fabric from the corner.

Make a Wall Hanging - How to Add a Wonky Churn Dash Frame to Your Favorite Quilt Block - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Fold the triangle out and press.

Make a Wall Hanging - How to Add a Wonky Churn Dash Frame to Your Favorite Quilt Block - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Step 5 – Trim Churn Dash Triangles

Trim the triangle down to a 3 inch square. (There’s a tutorial here showing how to use a square ruler for easy trimming.)

Triangle block for corner of wonky churn dash square - labeled to show required dimensions

Make sure there is more than 1/4 inch between the points of the triangle and the edge of the background fabric square. That will make it impossible to accidentally chop off the points when you assemble the whole frame. 🙂 Yay for foolproof tricks!

Repeat for the other three squares, so you have the four corners of your churn dash block. The sizes and angles of the triangles should all be a little different.

Set them aside.

Step 6 – Preparing Background Rectangles

Cut four background strips 12 inches x 3 inches.

Cut four frame strips 12 inches x 2 1/2 inches.

Sew the frame strips to the background strips and then trim those rectangles down to 10 1/2 inches x 3 inches. Make the seam between the two strips go at a slight angle – and make all the angles a little different to make your finished block more interesting.

You can see my finished rectangles in the next step. See how some are wider than others? And they all slant a bit?

Step 7 – Laying Out the Churn Dash Block

Lay out all the churn dash components as shown.

Laying out the pieces for a churn dash frame around a cute applique cat

Play around with the placement of the frame pieces until you’re happy with how things look.

Step 8 – Sew the Side Rectangles

Sew the side pieces of the frame to the sides of the block, sewing through the batting and backing too. For this and the rest of the project it’s important to use an accurate 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Applique cat with side pieces of frame sewn in place

Press the side pieces open.

Step 9 – Sew the Top and Bottom Strips

Sew together the corners and strips for the top and bottom rows of the frame.

applique cat with top and bottom strips of frame sewn together

Press your seams in toward the strips – away from the corner triangles.

Step 10 – Finich Sewing the Churn Dash Block

Sew the top and bottom rows to the center of the block, being careful to line up the seams.

Applique cat with a wonky churn dash frame - all finished except the final trimming and binding

Press the whole block flat.

Step 11 – Quilt, Trim, and Bind

Quilt the frame if you want to. (It doesn’t need it structurally, so just do it for looks if you like.) I stitched in the ditch around the outside edge of the frame and that’s it.

Trim away the excess batting around the edges and bind your mini quilt.

Make a Wall Hanging - How to Add a Wonky Churn Dash Frame to Your Favorite Quilt Block - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

This video shows my favorite binding method.

If you like, there’s a tutorial here showing how to add a hanging sleeve to the back.

Finished!

Hang it on the wall and enjoy!

You can use the same method to make a fancy framed pillow cover. 🙂

Want to see more ideas for things you can do with a quilt pattern? Check out this round-up.

Here are several free patterns that work with my basic 10-inch applique squares – no resizing needed!

Here are several free patterns that work with just some simple resizing. This post about making coasters has info about resizing an applique pattern that can be applied to any of these projects.

Return to the main Let’s Make a Quilt Table of Contents.

Happy stitching!

Scribbly Outlining Your Applique Pieces

Scribbly Outlining Applique Pieces - tips from Shiny Happy World

There are SO MANY different ways to outline applique pieces – and scribbly outlining is one of my favorites!

A lot of people applique with satin stitch or decorative stitching like blanket stitch. I demonstrate how to use decorative stitches in one of the lessons in my Fusible Applique Made Easy Class on Craftsy. Here’s an example of some of that stitching.

Owl block from parliament of Owls quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World

There’s blanket stitch around the bottom of the eyes, another stitch around the belly patch, and straight stitching everywhere else.

You can see lots more examples of this in the Parliament of Owls quilt pattern.

Fancy stitching can be fun, but I usually outline with a simple straight stitch and black thread. I love the cartoony look it gives and I think it really suits my applique designs. Plus it’s super easy!

(A lot of people worry that their fabric will fray if they just do a straight stitch outline. I posted a photo of one of my daughter’s quilts after over a year of constant use and many trips through the washer and dryer. Click here to see how it holds up.)

Sometimes, if I want a thicker line, I use a thicker thread. I like using 12 wt. thread from Sulky Petites and I’ve got a post here where I talk about what you need to do to work with thicker thread – what needle to use, what to use in the bobbin, etc.

Sometimes when I want a thicker line but I’m too lazy to change my needle (like maybe just on cat whiskers) I’ll use regular thread and go over the stitching two to three times, being careful to stitch right over the previous stitching so it looks like one solid, thicker line. You can see that in this cat.

Maurice block from the Cuddly Cats quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World

I did most of the outlining with regular thread, but you can see the line is thicker on the whiskers and the mouth. That’s where I went over it a few times.

Lately I’ve been wanting to play around a bit with scribbly outlining, more like the lines in my sketchbook.

So I tried it! It took me a few blocks to get just the look I was trying for.

Scribbly Outlining Applique Pieces - tips from Shiny Happy World

It took three rounds of stitching to get this look. Two just looked like a mistake – three looked intentional.

It’s kind of hard to deliberately go off the line! I’ve made hundreds of these blocks and by now it’s kind of automatic to follow the line as closely as possible. 🙂 I found it helped to deliberately ignore the line on pass two, to just pretend it wasn’t there and outline again as if it was a blank piece. Then on round three, if the first two lines were still too much on top of each other, I would deliberately veer off line. Make sure you cross over the line when you veer – you don’t want another line consistently inside or outside your original line. You want to cross over so sometimes it’s inside and sometimes it’s outside. That gives the best sketchy look.

Bonus! Four lines of scribbly outlining looks pretty much exactly like three. That means there’s no real benefit to doing four trips around the whole thing, but you can use that extra trip in some places to avoid having to start and stop to go around pieces like ears and muzzles and necks. For that snippet you see above, there are three rows of stitching around everything except the bit of the head that overlaps the ear. I went over that bit four times so I could stitch the ear without ever having to stop and tie a knot.

Here are links to all my posts about outline stitching.

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about how to trim and assemble your blocks.

Happy stitching!

Add an Embroidered Label to Your Quilt

How to Make a Quilt Label - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

It’s easy to add a quilt label to your creation – and it’s fun to make it coordinate with the designs on the front of the quilt.

I like my labels to be about 4 inches wide. To resize any block design to fit in that size you print it at 40% of the original size. Easy peasy!

The bear you see on this label is one of the blocks from this Woodland Critters quilt pattern.

Cut a piece of fabric big enough for the full four inch square to fit flat in a hoop. A seven inch square of fabric should work just fine.

Stitch the design on your quilt label. I used 4 strands of thread and two simple stitches – backstitch for all the lines, and satin stitch for the solid eyes and nose.

If you want to add a date – or maybe a name – there’s a free alphabet embroidery pattern here – with letters that are relatively simple to stitch, with no serifs, curlicues, or extra-tight curves. 🙂

When you finish stitching, trim the fabric so there’s about an extra inch all the way around the part you want to show as the quilt label. Fold about 1/2 inch under on each side and press.

There’s a video here showing how to press your embroidery without smooshing the stitches.

Position the label where you want it (I always put mine in the lower right corner) and pin or glue it in place to hold it secure while you stitch it.

Stitch the label to the quilt back all the way around the edge, being sure to only stitch through the quilt backing. Don’t let your stitches go through to the front of the quilt. I like to use ladder stitch.

That’s it!

It doesn’t take long and it’s a really nice finishing touch. 🙂

Here are all my posts about how to bind and finish your quilt.

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to more info about other things (not quilts!) that you can make with your applique patterns.

Happy stitching!

How to Applique Dark Eyes on Dark Faces

How to Applique Dark Eyes on Dark Faces - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

A lot of people have questions about how to applique dark eyes on a dark face. It’s really important for the eyes to show up well, and dark on dark fabric tends to hide them!

This cutie is Ivy – one of the bears in my Bunches of Bears quilt pattern.

I made all the bears in my sample blocks in realistic colors – shades of brown, grey and rust. (Here’s a fabric collection you can use.)

Of course – living in Appalachia – I had to make a black bear.

But black bears are tricky!

Black eyes didn’t show up every well on the almost-black fabric I chose for the bear face.

The solution is to make an extra layer in a lighter color to back the eye.

Black bears usually have a cinnamon-colored snout, so I chose the same fabric to go behind the eyes. If your applique pattern doesn’t have a contrasting snout color (maybe you want to make a black cat from this pattern?) then just choose a slightly lighter shade of the face color.

I don’t recommend white. It will usually make your finished face look frightened. 🙁

Here’s what to do.

Using a scrap of your fusible adhesive, trace the eyes again. Fuse that to the back of the fabric you want to use to define the eyes.

How to Applique Dark Eyes on Dark Faces - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

When you cut them out – cut them a little bit bigger than the eyes you’ve traced.

How to Applique Dark Eyes on Dark Faces - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

I’ve cut mine with a little less than an extra 1/8 inch all the way around. You don’t have to measure it – you really just want a sliver of that color showing.

Now – fuse those pieces in place – along with all the other pieces on the block except the black eyes.

DO NOT FUSE DOWN THE BLACK EYES YET.

How to Applique Dark Eyes on Dark Faces - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

I know. It looks a little creepy at this point.

I usually outline all my applique pieces in black thread – but this is the exception. Stitch down the eye backings using matching thread.

If you do it now, you can be a little wobbly with your stitching. There’s no black eye for the wobbliness to show up against. If you fuse the black eye before you do the outlining you have to be very careful to keep your stitching right on that sliver of background color showing – and that would be hard.

Here’s a close up view where you can hopefully see my stitching. It’s just a simple straight stitch.

How to Applique Dark Eyes on Dark Faces - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

NOW you can applique the dark eyes and do all the rest of the outline stitching in black thread.

How to Applique Dark Eyes on Dark Faces - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Whew! Much less creepy. 🙂 And look how nicely her eyes show up – without looking frightened.

Here’s the finished block.

Ivy block from the Bunches of Bears quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World

What a sweetie! Her name is Ivy. 🙂

If you make softies (sewn or crocheted) instead of quilts – this post will help you make those eyes show up against dark faces.

Want to make a bear quilt? Get the Bunches of Bears pattern here.

Here are links to all the posts showing how to applique with fusible adhesive – my favorite method. It’s fast and easy and (with the right materials) it holds up beautifully to rough use and repeated washing.

Here are links to special posts about eyes.

Here are links to some extra fun things you can do with your applique.

Other Applique Methods

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about outline stitching.

Happy stitching!

Play with Your Quilt Layouts – Multiple Possibilities for One Quilt Pattern

Play with Your Layouts - Multiple Possibilities for One Quilt Pattern - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Quilt layouts can be very simple – or very complex.

When I design a quilt pattern I always make up a sample – usually a simple grid.

But if you think of my quilt patterns as patterns for collections of blocks that you can put together any way you like – it opens up all kinds of other possibilities!

In this video I show a few different quilt layouts you can use for almost any of my patterns. It’s a long video because I’m talking you through the whole process, but you can scroll past the video to see lots of examples with shorter descriptions.

So, I started out by showing a simple grid. Most of my quilt patterns default to this, and you can simplify the ones that don’t by just leaving out any half or double size blocks. Here’s an example using the Wild Flowers quilt pattern.

This kind of grid is the easiest to sew up. Just sew together all the blocks in each row, then sew all the rows together. Easy peasy.

You can fancy up the quilt design a little bit by adding in some blocks from other patterns (almost all my patterns are designed for 10-inch squares so it’s easy to mix and match) or – if it’s a quilt with faces – by adding some Fancy Doodads accessories.

Here’s a Bunches of Bears quilt made by Brenda where she did both. She added in this Koala block, and several of the accessories from the Fancy Doodads pattern.

This is a great way for you to add some of your own creativity, but still have a quilt that’s really easy to assemble.

What if you’re in a hurry?

You can make a quilt where you only applique half the blocks. The other blocks are just quilted. Here’s a great example of that with an Arctic Chill quilt made by Lisa.

And here’s an example of the Woodland Critters quilt assembled with alternating plain blocks.

Maybe you want to add sashing to your quilt!

That’s really easy to do – it’s still a simple grid assembly. The hardest part is the math to figure out how the sashing changes the number of blocks needed and how much fabric you need to buy – and I’ve done all that for you in this post.

Here’s a fairy traditional grid and border layout. I used the Noisy Farm pattern but left out all the half blocks, and added sashing.

You can also just add sashing between rows or columns instead of sashing around each block. I built that design into the Dinosaurs pattern.

But you can do that with any pattern!

Of course, you can set your quilt in long stripes without adding sashing – and you don’t have to have that stripe filled up with applique either. Look at the fun striped quilt Linda made with the Mix & Match Monsters pattern!

Your stripes can go tall too, instead of wide. Here’s the morning glory block from the Wild Flowers pattern repeated in tall stripes with sashing between them.

This post has all the info you need to add sashing to a Quilt As You Go quilt.

You can also add wonky faux sashing to any quilt.

All the blocks are off-kilter and irregular so it looks like it would be really hard to assemble, but actually it’s still just a simple grid. Here’s an example made by Kathleen of a bunch of blocks from the Funny Faces Quilt Block of the Month Club (plus a couple of chickens of her own design), set with wonky sashing.

This post tells you how to add that wonky faux sashing to any pattern.

Bonus! See how the tree frog’s toes hang outside of his block?

You can make any applique bust out of its block using this tutorial.

Here are a few more fun examples.

One more fun setting that looks complicated but is actually still a simple grid assembly. . .

A Polaroid quilt!

There’s a tutorial showing how to do that here.

Now, on to the most complicated thing you can do to vary the setting of your quilt (which still isn’t really hard to do). You can break up that simple grid.

You can do that in two ways.

The first way is designed into some of my patterns – using double-size blocks. You can see that in the Sea Creatures pattern.

Double-size blocks are pretty hard to do if the pattern doesn’t already include those sizes. But it’s REALLY EASY (and even more effective) to add some half-size blocks to any pattern.

Half-blocks are included in the Woodland Critters pattern.

The Beep Beep pattern too.

Word blocks like these are one of my favorite ways to add half blocks to a quilt pattern that doesn’t include them. There’s a free ABC applique pattern here that you can use to add sounds, names, birth dates, and more. Here’s a version of the Bunches of Bears pattern where I added words.

And here’s a Wild Flowers quilt with a quote added.

The hardest part about working with this broken grid is sewing the squares together, and the final quilting.

This post has all the information you need to make a quilt with this kind of layout – cutting sizes, assembly guides, etc.

This post has a video showing how to quilt a quilt with an alternate grid, since you don’t have continuous lines crossing the entire quilt.

Add lots of meow blocks to a the Cuddly Cats quilt, add the names of your children to the Mix & Match Monsters quilt, and more. Have fun and play around with your layouts!

The suggestions here are really just the tip of the iceberg. If you do a unique quilt layout I’d love to see it! Share a photo in the Shiny Happy People group. 🙂

Find links to all the posts about pattern size and layouts here.

Quilt Sizes and Supplies Needed

Play with Your Layouts – Multiple Possibilities for One Quilt Pattern

Sashing

How to Make Applique Bust Out of Its Frame

Alternate or Broken Grid layouts (adding half and double blocks)

How to Make an Applique Rag Quilt

How to Make a Polaroid Quilt

How to Make a Wonky Churn Dash Frame for Any Block

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about choosing your fabric.

Happy stitching!

Make a Quilt Block with Soft 3D Parts – video tutorial

Make a Quilt Block with Soft 3D Parts - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

It’s so much fun to make a 3D quilt! You can add soft 3D embellishments to any applique pattern – like the bunny ears you see above.

There’s a post here showing how to add small 3D pieces to an applique quilt – teeth and small bear ears.

And I teach several 3D options in my Cute Quilt-As-You-Go Applique Monsters class on Craftsy. Here are a few examples showing flappy ears, a silly satin tongue, and springy elastic curls.

Applique quilt blocks with 3D pieces - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

You can see that these are mostly longer 3D pieces that you want to flap and dangle. But what if you want them to stand up – like bunny ears?

You can do that for quilts – just like you can do it for stuffed animals.  Here’s the tutorial showing how to make stuffed animals with stand-up ears.

The technique for 3D quilts is basically the same – but it’s a tiny bit more involved because applique template pieces have no seam allowances – and you need to account for that if you’re going to sew them into flappy ears.

Don’t worry – it’s easy. I show you how to do it in this video.

See? Not hard at all.

Get the free Mix & Match Bunnies pattern here. That’s the pattern I used for the bunny in the demonstration.

Here are links to all the posts showing how to applique with fusible adhesive – my favorite method. It’s fast and easy and (with the right materials) it holds up beautifully to rough use and repeated washing.

Here are links to special posts about eyes.

Here are links to some extra fun things you can do with your applique.

Other Applique Methods

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about outline stitching.

Happy stitching!

Joining Strips with a Diagonal Seam

Joining Strips with a Diagonal Seam - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

I almost always use scrappy bindings in my quilts and I get a lot of questions about how I get those diagonal seams.

I show the diagonal seam in my video How to Bind a Quilt – but I never actually showed how to do it.

Until now.

See how easy that is?

I use this method any time I’m joining strips together. For me that’s usually binding a quilt, but it can also be for bias strips on bags, clothing, and any other application.

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

Applique with Prints – Choosing Fabric for a Quilt

applique fox face demonstrating choosing fabric for a quilt

Choosing fabric for a quilt can be tricky – especially when you’re doing applique!

When I showed the lovely fabrics I was planning to use for this free receiving blanket pattern, a couple of people said they were eager to see how I used the prints, since I usually stick to solids and near-solids.

The reason I usually stick with solids and near-solids is because they’re so much easier to work with! Especially for applique where you don’t want the design to get lost in the background fabric. It’s soooo easy to end up with a block that you’re not happy with!

So – here’s the fabric.

Into the Woods fabric collection from Michael Miller Fabrics

It’s the Into the Woods collection from Michael Miller Fabrics, sadly out of print now. But you’ll see a similar collection of fabric types in almost all quilt collections – some tone-on-tone small prints, some multicolored medium-scale prints, and some multicolored large-scale prints.

Gorgeous, right? Especially that larger scale print with the foxes and foliage.

But that’s exactly the print I didn’t want to use for my background. I used it for the back of the receiving blanket instead.

Why?

Because it contained all the colors I wanted to use in my applique fox face.

To show you why that would be a problem, I cut out a wonky little oval from the main fox color and laid it on that pretty fabric.

orange oval on multicolored fox print fabric - demonstrating how like colors blend into one shape when they touch

You can see the oval just fine, right?

Yes, but your brain is actually kind of fighting to see the oval. Your brain wants to merge all the same colors into one shape, so it actually sees a shape like this.

outline of an irregular oval-ish shape

See?

orange oval on multicolored fox print fabric - demonstrating how like colors blend into one shape when they touch by outlining the new shape formed

(This tendency is what makes it so much fun to play with negative space in traditional quilt designs. Your brain wants to merge those spaces together into new shapes.)

Again – you can still see the oval. It’s just that you’re having to overcome your brain’s natural tendency to see something else, and that will make for a less successful design overall.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use fun prints. It just means that when you’re choosing fabric for a quilt, you have to pick your background very carefully. Here’s what I ended up choosing.

applique fox on blue floral background, with a large scale multicolored fox print behind that - demonstrating how to choose fabric for a quilt

That pretty floral fabric I used in the background has dark blue, light blue, and green. No orange or gold or white – the colors in the fox applique. The green and gold are awfully similar – but ultimately I decided they were different enough for the combination to work.

And I still got that pretty fox and foliage print in there – just on the back of the blanket where it wouldn’t muddle the applique. 🙂

These color lessons apply to more than applique. Think about embroidering on a printed fabric, or using a print for a softie, or even a variegated yarn for a crochet amigurumi – the same color “rules” apply.

And if you want to make your own fox receiving blanket, the fox applique pattern is here, and the free receiving blanket pattern is here.

Here are links to all the posts about choosing fabric.

And here are links to posts about using specialty fabrics.

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Happy stitching!

How to Clean a Cutting Mat

blue rotary cutting mat with fuzz embedded in it

I love Quilt As You Go and use it for almost all of my quilts – but cutting the batting squares and then trimming the finished blocks to size makes a real mess of your cutting mat. All those cotton fibers get embedded in the mat and no amount of rubbing with a rag will get them out.

But there’s a really easy solution – easy, fast, and cheap.

rotary cutting mat with fuzz embedded in it and a white artist eraser

Yep. One of those inexpensive white artist erasers.

Just rub it on the mat wherever it’s fuzzy, like you’re erasing the fuzz.

blue rotary cutting mat with white artist eraser and balls of fuzz

It pulls all the fuzz right out of the cuts and balls it up so you can just brush it into the trash.

Easy peasy.

clean blue rotary cutting mat

In five minutes your cutting mat will look almost like new, all ready for your next quilt. 🙂

Here are some related posts about rotary cutting tools and how to use them. . .

Here are handy links to all the posts about quilting tools and supplies.

Sewing Machine

Iron

Rotary Cutting Tools

Scissors

Other General Sewing Room Supplies

One More Hugely Popular Post that Seems to Fit Here Better than Anywhere Else

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the posts about choosing your quilt pattern.

Happy quilting!

Quilting with Decorative Stitches

close up of quilting with decorative stitches - a series of circles

The Fish Quilt pattern is finished! I did the final quilting with decorative stitches that come standard on my sewing machine. More on that in a minute.

All week I’ve been sharing peeks behind the scenes at some of the design decisions I made for my sample quilt.

In this post I showed how I quilted my background blocks in a fun wavy pattern.

In this post I talked about choosing fabric – especially the color.

In this post I talked about how to work with the print/pattern of your fabric – using the example of the striped fabric I used for some of my fish.

Today I’m talking about the final quilting.

This is different from the waves I quilted into the background blocks. This is the final round of quilting – just over the seams joining the blocks – that holds the backing to the quilt.

Usually I do either straight line quilting 1/4″ on each side of all the seams, or a fairly open and narrow zigzag over the seams.

But sometimes I find a decorative stitch on my machine that will be perfect for a quilt – and that’s what I did for this one.

Doesn’t this look like bubbles?

close up of quilting with decorative stitches that look like a stream of bubbles

I used it for all the vertical seams, because streams of bubbles like this travel straight up. 🙂

For the horizontal seams I used a small wavy stitch to echo the wavy quilting within each block.

Fish Quilt - wave quilting from Shiny Happy World

I used a variegated blue thread for both of them.

(For the Beep Beep quilt I did the final round of quilting with a decorative stitch that looked just like tire tracks. Perfect!)

Decorative stitches like the bubbly one CAN BE TRICKY – so I recommend doing some test stitching on a swatch to make sure it’s going to work for you.

The biggest problem is with stitches where the feed dogs move the quilt back and forth to achieve the stitch, instead of always steadily forward. It can be very hard to manage that back and forth motion with a large, heavy quilt in there!

Here’s where I went wrong on my quilt.

close-up of quilting with decorative stitches gone wrong

I didn’t have the quilt “fluffed” loose enough and it was hooked on the corner of my working surface. That was keeping it from feeding through properly, and you can see in the top of the photo where the stitches are all scrunched together and those bubbly circles are distorted and almost overlapping each other.

Instead of properly fixing the problem, I gave the quilt a tug – and ended up feeding the next section through too quickly, so that I made distorted wavy spirals instead of circles. 🙁

Sigh. I really know better. I slowed down and “stuffed and fluffed” properly for the rest of the quilt and everything else looks great. 🙂

Fish Quilt - bubble quilting from Shiny Happy World

(If you don’t know what I mean by “stuff and fluff” this post about quilting a full-sized quilt in a standard machine will explain.)

So – the moral of the story is. . .

It’s a lot of fun to use decorative stitching for the quilting, but only do it if you have the patience for it. If not (or if this is your first time machine quilting) use either a straight stitch, or a wide stitch that moves steadily forward, like a zigzag.

I hope some of you will share close-ups of your quilting in the Shiny Happy People Facebook group! It’s always so much fun to see what design decisions everyone else is making!

You can order the Fish Quilt pattern here.

You can order the Sea Creatures quilt pattern (designed to combine with the Fish pattern) here.

Here are all my posts about layering and basting your quilt, and the final round of quilting.

Here are all my posts about hand quilting and Big Stitch quilting. I don’t use these techniques with fusible applique or Quilt As You Go, but I LOVE using Big Stitch Quilting with my cheater fabric.

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about binding and finishing your quilt.

Happy quilting!