What is a Good Project for a Beginning Quilter?

One of the questions I get asked most often from beginning quilters is “What is the best pattern for me to start with?”

There are two patterns I usually recommend if you are selecting your first project.

  1. fourpatchquiltA basic four patch quilt. This is made up of squares which are then sewn together either with four pieces per block or nine pieces per block.  This adorable baby quilt was found at http://www.womenfolk.com/about/poohquilt.jpg and would make a great gift for a newborn baby!

2. A basic nine patch quilt.  

5.25.2015   9Patch 7.21.2015

You can see that on both the four patch and the nine patch quilt, the entire quilt is made from small squares stitched together.  These units are then alternated with a block of the same size in a coordinating color or pattern.

Bias_(textile)Why are these two quilts great for beginners?  That’s easy: you are only working with straight lines using fabric that is cut on the straight of grain.  Fabric has three grains:  straight grain, crossgrain, and the bias grain. In sewing, a shape cut from fabric cut on the bias grain will cause the fabric to stretch.  There are many cases when you WANT your fabric to stretch, however when sewing a four or nine patch block, it is best to cut on the straight and cross grain of the fabric.  Once you have mastered that (it’s easy, don’t worry!), you will be ready to tackle a bias grain.


3. Another good pattern for beginning quilters is called a Tumbler Block.  This cute quilt was made by Carly Westberg, and there are good directions on Craftsy if you would like to make this. There are several other cute examples on my Pinterest page to look at.  Each quilt can have a totally different look depending on the fabrics you have chosen.

As with the four patch and nine patch quilts, the tumbler pattern requires just one shape, which makes it very easy to cut. However, with the tumbler shape, can you see that you will be using fabric which is cut on the bias grain?  You can do this!  It just takes a few pins placed along the bias grain to pin the fabrics in place while you sew.

If you are looking for quilt patterns for your future projects, I suggest you visit Marcia Hohn’s website at http://www.quilterscache.com/ .  Spend some time looking around, and by all means, bookmark her site for future use.  You’ll be happy you did!

What is “Stitching in the Ditch?”

Quite often I will notice new quilters starting to hand quilt, and mentioning how hard it is to learn how to “Stitch in the Ditch.”

So what IS stitching in the ditch, and why would you do it?

Let’s look at the simple, sweet block shown here.

IMG_1269 There are three areas of hand quiting in this picture.  There is a star in the middle of this block which has been sewed onto the muslin fabric using a good applique’ stitch.  About one-eighth of an inch outside of that star is a line of quilting that almost – but not quite – touches the gold and navy blue print star.  That line of quilting echoes the shape of the star.  A little bit outside of that line of stitching is ANOTHER line of quilting that echoes the star shape and the inner line of quilting.  As your eyes work themselves past the star shapes, you will see another line of stitching that is in the shape of a square.  Do you see how that square line of stitching is more difficult to see?  That’s because it is stitched “in the ditch.”   That is, there is a seam that frames the block, and the quilting falls into that lower area of the block. Because it is right alongside the seam, it almost disappears.

As a beginner, this is NOT the best way to start learning how to quilt.  You want you stitches to be seen so that you can improve your skill with every stitch.  If you can’t see your stitches, how can you improve?

On this little block, there is one line of stitching that I love… it’s the outer line of stitching around the star.  Can you see how as a new quilter you would be very careful to stitch that line?  That’s because that line of quilting is the EASIEST TO SEE.  It is not tucked next to another piece of fabric where it tries to hide away.  It is right out there, waiting to be seen.  A new quilter who stitches that can’t help but be careful, and, in doing that, is learning how to make a good stitch. Go try this yourself!

NOTE:  This little block is a part of the quilt “Yes We Can, Jane” quilt which was made for President Obama.  The quilt will be given to him when he leaves office.

The Importance of Good Photography

IMG_6578 In the late 1970’s – early 1980’s, I was a stay-at-home mom.  I loved to hand quilt, and was asked if I would hand quilt a beautiful quilt called “Bird of Paradise.” I assigned a monetary value to the project, and it was accepted by the maker of the quilt top.  Hand quilting this quilt took about six months to complete, and it is a miracle that I ever finished it.  I used a batting that was so thick my hands hurt everytime I stitched.  I marked the quilt with a very light pencil line. To quilt, I stitched around every applique shape.  Then I added a checkerboard grid background on the muslin portion of the quilt, with squares about an inch in size.  I applied the binding, and my husband and I photographed the quilt hanging it on the wall of our garage.

Back in the late 70’s – early 80’s, we were saving all our photographs in slide form.  In the picture shown here, the tan that you see is the cardboard part of the slide.  You can also see the bottom of the garage and a little bit of the deck which butts up to the garage.

This is the only photo I have of this quilt.  The owner lived (at the time) in the northwest portion of the United States.  I don’t recall her name, and I never bothered to write it down to keep for posterity.

I would LOVE a better picture of this quilt!  I’d love to know how it was used, who slept underneath it, and that it was well cared for.

So, how did I get this photo to share with you on my blog?  I laid the slide on my Kindle which was set to a plain white brightly lit background.  Then I used my iPhone to take the picture of the slide.  I know, it’s not very good quality, but it is all I have.

As quilters, it is important that we keep good photos of the quilts we make or come into contact with.  It is a history that someday others who follow behind us will want to see.  Today, we can open books, magazines and look online at antique quilts.  Who knows what people will do 50 years from now, or what quilting images will remain that we left behind.  Alas, I wish I had done my due diligence.

If you know the whereabouts of this quilt, or if you have a photo of it from a quilt show somewhere, I would love to hear from you!

Welcome to Michigan Quilts!

I made the jump from my older blog space at Blogger to a new (and soon to be improved) space at WordPress!  It took some doing, lots of confusion and lots of learning, but here it is!  This blog at http://caronmosey.com is a continuation of the previous blog, not a replacement.  Please be patient while I perfect my site.  Let me know what needs tweaked and what you hope to find / learn / see / try, etc.

In addition to working on the new blog site, I have been stitching away in the evenings on my scrappy nine patch quilt.  I love how it looks, and am anxious to see it finished… but that won’t happen for a little while, so stay tuned!

IMG_6663IMG_6732      IMG_6735

Caron’s Workshops and Lectures

Floral Design for Quilters: 1 or 2 day Workshop (limit 20 people)


As the daughter of a florist, floral design is in Caron’s blood.  If you enjoy appliqué, this class is for you! Students should have some prior experience with hand appliqué (this class will not use fusible products or machine appliqué ). Learn how to create beautiful free-style quilts using the basics of floral design.  Explore a variety of botanicals and create your own templates.  This workshop will stretch your creativity!  A one-day workshop will introduce the basics of design and flower structure, creating templates, and embellishing.  A two-day workshop will be a more intensive look and more hands-on guidance.


Quilt it By Hand  1 day Workshop (limit 15 people)

Hand quilting is Caron’s specialty.  Hand quilting is fast becoming a dying art, and becoming proficient takes practice.  If you have never hand quilted before, this is your opportunity!  Learn how to choose the right quilting designs to enhance your pattern, select the right batting for your project, how to properly mark your quilt top, and how to baste your quilt without ruining your knees.  As a group, we will put a quilt in the frame and practice quilting together.  In no time the “rocking stitch” will become automatic!

Aurora Borealis

Your Own Mariner’s Compass

2 day workshop (limit 20 people)

Learn how to design your own unique Mariner’s Compass and translate it into fabric.  Explore a variety of Mariner’s Compass designs throughout history, then learn the basics of circular pattern design. Prepare templates for hand or machine piecing OR create templates for paper piecing.  Choose the right fabrics to create the look you want and to add dimension.


YES, You CAN Appliqué by Hand!

Full-day Workshop

If you thought you couldn’t possibly appliqué, especially by hand, this is your class! No experience required. Learn how to prepare and mark your fabric, select thread, make your own templates, create the appliqué stitch on a straight line, circle, concave and convex curves and more.  A pattern for a small wall hanging, fabric and supply requirements will be provided prior to the class. Please note: fusible products will NOT be allowed on the premises during this class. If you have never had a thimble on your finger, please get one to fit the middle finger on the hand you write with and practice wearing it. (Note: photo is an example of hand appliqué, not a representation of workshop’s wall hanging, which is a surprise!)


Lectures are designed to suit the needs of the group.  Contact Caron to discuss the options available!

If you are interested in a workshop or lecture for your group, please feel free contact me for details.

caron mosey at gmail dot com

Phone: 810-610-8172

What is your favorite toothpaste?

Yes, you read that correctly.

  • What is your favorite toothpaste?
  • What brand of deodorant do you use?
  • When you throw in a load of laundry, what kind of detergent do you use?
  • When you clean your house, do you vacuum first or dust first?
I know these seem like silly questions.

The first three questions have to do with the product itself. When we run out of any of those items, they are replaced with the exact same brands that we just ran out of.  It works well for us.  It does the trick.  If we didn’t like it, we would use something else.  But once we FIND one we like, we do indeed stick with it.

The last question has to do more with habit.  We all have ways of doing things that work for us.
Here’s an example:
When our bed gets made at our house, hubby and I make the bed together.  We have a certain way of taking off the quilt and blankets, tucking in the sheets, fluffing the pillows, etc. It works for us, and it’s how we do it just about every single time.  It is our habit, our routine.
When I read what quilters post on Facebook quilting groups, quite often they ask questions similar to the following:
  • What kind of marker do you use to mark your quilts?
  • What batting do you like?
  • What needle works best for you to applique?  What needle do you use for hand quilting?
  • Do you always pre-wash your fabrics?

I find it difficult to answer these questions.  They usually get answered by dozens of quilters, but the answers are usually all different!  That’s because quilting is PERSONAL.  You try something, and if you like it, you keep it.  If you DON’T like something, you set it aside.  What works for another quilter might not work for you.

If you have a quilting habit, it has most likely developed over time.  There is no right or wrong way,
but if it works once, you’ll go back and do it again the same way.  And try that four or five times without problems, and guess what?  THAT’S HOW YOU DO IT.  It’s YOUR thing!

So, if you are a very beginning quilter, you are in the experimental stage of quiltmaking: determining what your products are, and what works for you, becomes YOUR habit. It works.  Period.  It gets the job done nicely.

And so it goes…

Published by Caron Mosey at Michigan Quilts! 2015.
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