Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

"Quilt As You Go" Quilt

Monday, August 27, 2012

Yesterday was absolutely brutal! J. and I painted the ceilings in 7 rooms and the walls in 5 of them. By the time we finished with the 5th room, our shoulders were screaming, my hands were hurting and I was waving the white flag. We'll have to do the cutting in and second coats later this week. I REALLY wanted to have it painted so that we can get the carpet installers in for the new carpet. Dang, I can't wait to get that house sold.

Who knew that painting 10 foot ceilings was such hard work!? Or maybe we're just getting old. Or both. ;-)

After taking some ibuprofen and umcramping my hands, I wanted to get started on machine quilting for the first time. I'm testing it out on this quilt that we're making in class since I'm sure it will be a learning experience for me and less than perfect. We're three weeks into the class with the last class this Thursday, so I need to catch you up on where I am so far.

The class teaches the "quilt as you go" method - basically, you cut the backing, batting and top pieces and then sew them together all at the same time. Here's how:

How-To: Quilt-As-You-Go Quilt

Cutting the Fabric
  1. Cut a piece of backing fabric 37" x 37".  I recommend a non-directional fabric for this, since each block is turned 90 degrees from the last. 
  2. Cut a piece of batting 35" x 35". I used fusible to make this easier.
  3. Cut 5 pieces of fabric for your top pieces. These will be 8" x 37". I used 5 distinctly different fabrics and then left them the width of fabric. You can always trim them to length later.
  4. Repeat these steps 3 more times so that you have 4 sets.
One of my four blocks

Assembling the Four Blocks
  1. Place the batting on the backing fabric, ensuring that it is 1" in from the edge of the backing fabric. If necessary, trim to fit.
  2. Lay out the strips of your 5 top fabrics and determine the order that you like them in.  All 4 blocks should follow the same order.  Since we're turning the blocks 90 degrees each time, the first fabric will form a cross in the center.  I recommend laying out the entire quilt so that you can see what it will look like before it's sewn together and it's too late to make a design change.
  3. Place the first fabric strip right side up on the batting and line up the outside edge with the edge of the backing fabric.  Pin on the outside edge to keep it in place.  Since I used fusible batting, I also ironed it.  That sucker wasn't going to move!
  4. Place the second fabric upside down on top of the first fabric, lining up the inside edges.
  5. Sew the two together along this edge, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance.
  6. Flip the second fabric over the seam and iron.  Again, this is where fusible batting comes in handy.
  7. Repeat for all 5 fabrics.
  8. Pin the last fabric down at the edge.

Repeat these steps until all four blocks are assembled.

Quilt Now, Not Later

Obviously, we don't have a finished quilt yet.  These blocks are already quilted but, if you want to, this is the ideal time to do some fun stitching before you assemble the blocks together.  And this is where the quilt-as-you-go-method really has an advantage:  since there's no top stitching in putting it together, your quilting stitching can be the star of the show.

My yellow fabric has dragonflies on it, so I thought it would be fun to do a huge dragonfly design on the top.  JoAnn's just happened to have a continuous line stencil with 3" dragonflies but it would have been way too busy and WAYYYYYY too much sewing.  So I traced the stencil onto a piece of paper, scanned it in, and then used Microsoft Publisher to enlarge it to 28" x 36".  Why those dimensions?  Because I'm going to do a different quilting pattern in the shape of a vine with leaves on my first fabric.  And just a note here....Publisher is awesome for doing all of this.

Position the template, pin it in place and start sewing on the lines. 
When you finish in Publisher, it prints the larger pattern on 8.5" x 11" pages and you have to assemble them.  I just taped them together.  This is just large enough to to be hard to work with.  :-)  I then took Reynolds freezer paper, placed it on the printed paper, and re-drew the stencil onto the freezer paper.  Finally, I positioned the freezer paper onto the top of the quilt block and started sewing. 

TIP:  Have fun with this!  Try using variegated or different color threads for your top stitching.  In my case, I'm using my regular pink thread in the bobbin so that it matches the original quilting on the back.  But, on the top, I'm using white and pink variegated thread on the dragonflies.  And I'm seriously considering using lime green on the vine\leaf pattern.

You just sew along on the stencil line at this point.  Use a short stitch and it will perforate the paper so that the freezer paper just tears off when you're done.  This was a tip from my instructor and, while I didn't think it would come off easily....it does!

Just tear the paper off when you're done!
I'll be quilting for awhile but next time, we'll look at how to assemble the blocks together and bind the edge.

Til later!

I've shared this post as part of this week's Barn Hop.  I hope you'll go check out what other folks are up to over there!


  1. Boy, do I ever feel lazy after reading what you've been up to :) I love the quilt and can't wait to see the final product!

    1. Ha! I do try to keep busy and I wish there were at least 36 hours in a day so that I can do everything. But then again, don't we all? :-)

  2. I am TOTALLY non-sewing smart, but that is a beautiful quilt design!

    1. Thanks, Mary Ann! It's actually really easy to put together also. It's this machine quilting that is giving me fits, though. I understand now why it's easier to pay a long-arm quilter to do it for you.


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