Browsing "Tools of the Trade"

Elisa’s Backporch Designs – Templates, Books, & Patterns

If you ever wanted to try a curve-y quilt, Elisa’s Backporch Designs is a good place to start.  Many of Elisa’s patterns are made with her custom made curve templates, which are easy to use.  Her instructions will guide you through easily sewing curves… no need to fear venturing off the straight and narrow!

3 1/2" acrylic templateThe Small Paths Template makes a 3 1/2″ finished block and is perfect for using charms square collections.  A free pattern, Small Paths, is included.  I’m using this template for the first time to make a mini table topper.  My charm pack has just 25 pieces, which translates to 25 blocks.  The finished topper will be 15″ x 15″ if I don’t add borders.  All the pieces were cut in just 15 minutes.  I’ll let you know how the sewing goes!


Curved Piecing BOM

While merely piecing the curved blocks randomly creates an interesting quilt,  Many Paths All Around shows the versatility and the possibilities of the curved block if you use a specific layout.  Each block is 16″ square and is comprised of 16 4″ blocks made with the Drunkards Path template.


Check out the video tutorials on the Elisa’s Backporch Designs website.  They are very well done, with clear camera shots, good audio, and clear, concise directions. After watching one of the videos you will approach curve piecing with confidence. While you are on the website, take a look at the Gallery of quilts.  These are one of a kind quilts made by Elisa Wilson. I tried to select a favorite….. couldn’t do it!


Aug 9, 2012 - Tools of the Trade    No Comments

Quilting Tools of the Trade

Are you new to quilting?  Always wanted to quilt but just haven’t taken the plunge yet?  Not sure what you need to get started?    Here’s a start on the tools of the trade.  While you don’t HAVE to have these items, they sure make the job easier.  Rather like a carpenter who can do the job with a hand saw, a screw driver and a hammer.  But he will have a much easier time of it if he has access to a power saw, power drill, and power nail driver.  The right tools make any job easier.

The only “power” tools you’ll need are the sewing machine and an iron.  Beyond that, three additional items will really help.

First, you need to cut, so you need a Rotary Cutter.  There are a few different styles available.  This one is comfortable if  you do a lot of cutting.  It can be locked in the safety position, but the safety position is the default.  Squeeze the handle and the blade is out and ready to cut; let go of the handle and the blade retracts. 



 Next, you need a ruler to guide your rotary cutter.  The Creative Grids 6.5″ x 24.5″ is an excellent all purpose ruler.  It has grippers on the bottom to help prevent sliding, and has plenty of clear markings for inch, half-inch and more (or should I say less ;)  ).  It even has angle markings that you can use until you start collecting specialty rulers.


 Third, you need something to cut on, so you need a mat.  Mats come in a few different sizes.  If you plan to make more than one quilt (and who wouldn’t?! – you’ll catch the bug!), the large 24″ x 36″ mat is well worth the investment.  It’s so much easier to cut your fabric if you can cut it the same way it comes off the bolt, instead of folding more to fit your mat.


That’s it.  These three important tools will prove to be invaluable to you in your quilting endeavors.  So start here.  You’ll discover many more tools that will help along the way, but you will always use these.

Happy quilting!

60° Triangle Table Topper Tutorial

The Creative Grids 60° Triangle Ruler makes short work of lots of interesting blocks.  This 16″ table topper went together quickly and easily.  And I want to make more!

You’ll need just 4″ each of background fabric and two fun fabrics. Let’s call the fun fabrics FF1 and FF2.

Background:  Cut 2 strips 1.5″ x WOF;  1 strip 1″ x WOF
Fun fabrics:  Cut 2 strips each 2″ x WOF

Sew all the strips together in the following order:
Wide background
Skinny background
Wide background

(cutting instructions revised 07/11/12 8:25)

Press all seams in one direction so they will nest when you sew your triangles together.  They will; you’ll see.


Line up the bottom of the 60° Triangle Ruler with the bottom of your strip set, and make your first cut. 

 Turn your strip set the other way and lay the ruler the way it was, the ruler is now lined up with the top and the left side of the ruler is lined up with the first cut you made.  Cut the last side of your first triangle.



Rotate your ruler. Cut.

Rotate. Cut.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.



You’ll need six triangles.  There will be three with FF1 at the base, and three with FF2 at the base.



Arrange your triangles in a circle (okay, a hexagon), alternating the colors.


Sew together.  If you make sure the seams nest everything will line up nicely.  Be careful not to pull too much or manhandle the edges as they are cut on the bias.  Press the seams all one way around the “circle” so when you sew the last seam everything will nest nicely.


Finished! All ready to sandwich and quilt.
Fast. Easy. Addictive.
Happy sewing!

Oh! And don’t forget to enter our Pinterest Contest!

Facebook First Friday Will Help You Rule!

Do you “like” us on Facebook?   If not, head over to our QuiltersWarehouse Facebook page and “like” us now.  

This month’s Facebook First Friday deal gives you 10% off anything in our rulers and tools department.   If you’ve been wanting a tool and just hadn’t gotten around to getting it, now’s the time. 

Choose from any of the Creative Grid Rulers.  

They have square up rulers in sizes from 4.5″ to 20.5″.     The smaller ones are handy for taking along to sewing retreats or sewing days with your guild….and invaluable for squaring Half Square Triangles.  The larger ones are great for those large log cabin blocks or Baltimore Album blocks.   The large ones are also helpful if you need to cut a long strip of very wide fabric….. use your long 6.5″ ruler for the cutting edge and add how ever many inches you need from the square up ruler, and line that up with the edge of your fabric.  With a 16.5″ square and a 6.5″ ruler, if your fabric is folded you can easily cut your fabric 40″ wide for backing.  You’ll find that it’s much more square than trying to cut evenly from the selvedges.

Their rectangle rulers range from 1″ x 6″ that’s just right for miniature quilts to 6.5″ x 24.5″ that you’ll use everyday.  And, of couse, there are several triangle and specialty rulers. 

All of Creative Grid rulers have Gripper Dots.
These are the secret to cutting fabric with ease and accuracy – opaque dots that run along the edges of the rulers are part of a patented design that works to prevent slipping and sliding as you’re cutting.

Have you tried any of Kaye Wood’s “View & Do” shapes?  They come in circles, hexagons, and 60 degree diamonds.

Elisa’s Backporch has several curved templates available.  If you’ve never done curved piecing, don’t be afraid – it’s not as hard as you think!  And you’ll get some really fun looks to your quilts.

You can also save on Dahlia (large, and not so large!) templates, Dresden plate templates, a tool to help with pin basting, and lots more!

So head over to our QuiltersWarehouse Facebook page for the Discount Code.  The offer is good all weekend… now through the end of the day Sunday (CST).

Jun 12, 2011 - Tools of the Trade    1 Comment

Flying Geese With The Greatest of Ease

Flying Geese blocks are such a basic block and can be found in so many quilts.  If you make yours by cutting the rectangle part and then sewing little squares to each end, you know that you wind up with lots and lots of triangles that are usually wasted material.   Then, of course, there is the math.  Ugh!

Well, no more!  The Flying Geese (times 4!) No Math Ruler by Lazy Girl Designs allows you to make Flying Geese in just a few easy steps.  I tried it the other day . . .

I wanted to make Flying Geese that were 2.5″ x 5″ finished size – on the ruler that’s “H”.  The first step was to cut one square of the geese fabric using the solid H lines as a guide.

Next, I needed to cut four squares of the background fabric (the corner color) using the dash lines marked with the “H”.   No math; just use the lines and cut! 

Sew two little squares in opposite corners of the large square, 1/4″ from the center on each side. 

Cut apart right down the center.

Press open.  You get these funky heart shape pieces.

Sew the remaining small squares to the bottom of the “heart”, then cut. (In the picture my “hearts” are upside down.)

And just like that, right-quick, lickety-split, four perfect Flying Geese!  No need to trim to size.  Just knock off those dog ears and the old geese are ready for a block.

I made a star. 

I make a lot of stars so this ruler will really come in handy!

Before I knew it, I had a quilt . . .


The Flying Geese X 4 ruler was really easy to use.   A shorthand version of the instructions is printed right on the ruler.  Also included is a printout with detailed instructions for making Flying Geese, Half Square Triangles and Quarter Square Triangles. . . . all with NO MATH.  All you need to know is the finished size you want.  SO much easier on the brain!  Leave your brain free for the creative tasks.