squaring quilt blocks

When you are new to quilting, it is easy to confuse the terms ‘border’ and ‘sashing.’ After all, both have a similar purpose.

The easiest way to remember the difference is that the border goes around an entire quilt. Sashing creates borders between the individual quilt blocks.

Today we’ll talk about sashing – something you can add to, tweek or take away from most any quilt pattern you use. It all depends on your personal preference:


Happy Quilting!


Some of the prettiest quilts are made with a simple patchwork design that is set “on-point.” Simply put, these blocks are pieced then assembled on the diagonal, which means your quilt block looks more like a diamond in the finished quilt.

There are just a couple of steps to remember when creating blocks on-point that will make the process easier and guarantee you will have perfectly aligned squares and triangles:


Happy Quilting!


Leap Frog Quilt Block

Did you know your digital camera is also a great quilting tool?  It can help you find mistakes in your quilt top that your own eyes can’t see. No kidding and I’ll tell you how!

And the Trick or Treat at the Haunted House Halloween Quilt is coming along nicely– you’ll see the fabric I’ve chosen for the border.

And even though I’m still working on mine, you could beat me to the punch by making your very own version. The instructions for each of the 12 different blocks, adding the window frames, sashing and candy corn borders are included in my new “Halloween Quilt” learning resource.

This week’s newsletter includes all the info on how to use your camera as a quilting “detective,” and the Halloween Quilt package, as well as:

  • My answer to the age-old question about how close together quilting stitches should be
  • Help Wanted at How-to-Quilt.com – I’m hiring!
  • Christmas Postcard Quilts for the Troops – Deadline is November 18th
  • October Free Quilt Block Patterns

You’ll find it all when you visit:


Happy Quilting!


Even with the most careful of sewing, sometimes blocks end up being different sizes. And, when you do a block exchange with other quilters, you are almost guaranteed to get blocks of different sizes.

Do you know what to do to turn different-sized blocks into a beautiful quilt?

There are lots of simple and interesting solutions, and I’ll share them with you when you visit:


Happy Quilting!


Yesterday we talked about experimenting with new quilting concepts to bring a little magic to our quilting.  Today, m. mouse decided that being able to turn squares into diamonds was pretty magical stuff and wanted you all to be able to do it.

So… he took it upon himself to learn just how to perform this magic trick and now he wants to teach all of you how to do it.

You’ll see what he came up with when you visit:


Happy Quilting!


Most quilters begin creating patches by cutting strips of fabric, and experience has taught us that the more consistent our strip dimensions are, the easier our patches will be to sew together.

And, the easier our patches are to sew together, the squarer our blocks, and ultimately our quilt top, will be.

And (yes, another and) the best way to cut accurate, consistent strips of fabric is with a rotary cutter.  You’ll learn all about the many benefits of using a rotary cutter, as well as see a step-by-step video illustrating how to use one, when you visit:


Happy Quilting!


Uncle Sam's Favorite Quilt Block

It’s been unseasonably cool and cloudy here in San Diego and those who are used to July being “hot and sunny” are not happy at all.

I, on the other hand, have finished the machine appliqué raffle quilt and am quite pleased with the result.

When I got ready to put the binding on I realized that it was a bit misshapen. It took a while to figure it out, but I finally squared it up and am certain nobody will suspect a thing.

You’ll find a picture of the finished product in this week’s newsletter, as well as great information on:

  • Quilted Gift Card Holders ~ a great idea for bazaar sales
  • Quick & Easy Flannel Baby Quilt
  • Fabric Postcards for Penny’s Postcard Posse – Halloween Theme
  • Quilt Design Software – EQ7
  • July Free Quilt Block Patterns

Join us at:


Happy Quilting!


There has been a flurry of activity around here this past week.

The Jelly Roll quilt is layered and basted. My wonderful basting spray presented some challenges for me this time – mostly as a result of the quilt backing.

Because I have limited fabric, the backing is only a couple of inches larger than the top, when I am used to having the backing be more like 4 inches larger.

In addition, the backing has a kind of Rail Fence / parquet design, and I wanted to square it up as much as possible.

Now that it’s all ready for machine quilting, I’ll be checking out possible designs.

Block 9 from "Creative Two-Block Quilts" Book

In addition, since I chose a quilt from the Creative Two-Block Quilts book, I found time to sew one of the blocks together – since all of the fabric was cut. It looks great, and I’m glad I finished one block as a kind of test block. I’ll be trimming some fabric at one stage of the construction – before the block gets sewn together.

If I hadn’t completed one block, I would have ended up with more bulk in the center on all of the blocks in the quilt – slightly disappointing outcome; thankfully not a disaster.

Plus, it’s time for our Annual How to Quilt Survey. It will take just a minute or two to complete, and we love to hear how we can serve your quilting needs better. The link is on the page, so please take a few minutes to fill it out.

You’ll see the progress on both of those quilts in this week’s news.

In addition, you’ll see:

  • Updates from Penny
  • Special Deal for TheQuiltingCoach.com
  • A Little Quilting Vocabulary
  • A Quilt Block from Creative Two-Block Quilts
  • Penny’s Postcard Posse
  • Free Quilt Block Patterns


Happy Quilting!


Pinwheel Quilt Quilt Block

Imagine that you have been working on a quilt for weeks. Most of the quilt top is finished, and you’re figuring out what kind of borders you want to add.

As you are standing there admiring your work, you realize that right in the middle of your quilt one patch in one block is sewn the wrong way. Or maybe there is a row of blocks that have been sewn upside down.

This has been a difficult quilt all along the way – whether it is your first project or a quilt with curves, a kaleidoscope, or a complicated star. You have spent hours, sewed very carefully and thought that everything was perfect – until that moment.

Discouraged, you are tempted to rip the quilt down from the wall, roll it up and stuff it in the back of a closet.

Hold on!

We’ve all been there. Well, of course I can’t speak for every quilter, but I would imagine that most quilters have experienced some frustration in making a quilt or two.

The thing is, there are many ways to fix mistakes in a quilt – and there is also something to be said for just keepin’ on going, ignoring the mistake.

Depending on what the mistake is and where you are in the construction of your quilt, some mistakes are worth the ripping and re-sewing and others aren’t.

None of my quilts are perfect. In some, the corners of the blocks don’t match perfectly. In other quilts, the triangle tips are cut off (well, sewn over so they are blunt).

And, yes, I have a couple of quilts where the blocks were sewn in the wrong way. Unfortunately in both of them, I didn’t realize my mistake until the quilt was finished and being used.

And in both cases, when I realized my mistake, I just kind of chuckled, realizing that for all that time before I saw the mistake, we had enjoyed them, so why cry now?

Every once in a while as I work on a quilt, I seem overwhelmed by mistakes, though. Seams don’t match, triangles cut off, blocks all different sizes, running out of fabric, quilt too small, quilt too big (although, that rarely happens).

Usually the best thing to do is to put the quilt down for a day or two – fresh eyes seem to quell much frustration. And once I determine that I will fix the problem, it’s just a matter of going to it.

Here are a few tips for correcting your mistakes:

* Quilts that are too large – remove blocks or borders

* Quilts that are too small – add blocks or borders (it’s amazing to me how wonderful additional borders can look, especially when they are pieced – you can even add a border of blocks)

* Wrong thread – rip it out, or continue to use the wrong color thread – really, will anyone notice?

* Patches or blocks sewn wrong – it really is easy to unstitch them and turn them around; it just takes a little time and patience

And before you get too worked up, ask yourself a couple of critical questions:


Happy Quilting!


You’ve probably heard quilters referring to quilt blocks as 4 patch, 5 patch, 9 patch or something like that. And possibly you thought that was interesting information, but had no idea why it might be anything more than just interesting.

It took me a while, too.

A few years ago, I decided to make a Halloween quilt, and it happened that some of the blocks I chose were 4 patch blocks and others were 9 patch blocks.

These were pretty simple blocks, and it didn’t take long to realize that the 4 patch blocks needed to be 8 inches square in order to make the patches an easy-to-cut size. And the 9 patch blocks needed to be 9 inches square.

With two different-size blocks, combining them became a little challenging and I ended up creating an Attic Windows quilt with them so I could add different widths of fabric to each block to get them all to be the same size.

Then, as I started to look some more at quilt blocks, I realized there was more to the notion of 4 patch, 9 patch and 5 patch blocks than first appeared.

To tell you the truth, I’m not a “math person.” I enjoyed geometry in school, but fractions and division just weren’t “my thing.”

However, as a quilter, I now realize the importance of understanding how quilt blocks are made so I can create patterns and quilts that make sense and are easy to make.

It’s easy to see a 4 patch, 5 patch, 7 patch and 9 patch when there are only a few patches in the block. But when the patches are divided into smaller sections, it becomes a little more difficult… but not impossible.

Grab a glass of your favorite beverage, take this one step at a time, and relax. I’ve tried to make this easy to understand.

You’ll see pictures of simple quilt blocks and descriptions of how to tell a 5 patch from a 9 patch when there are 270 patches in the block – now that’s a bunch to sew together.


Happy Quilting!



NOTE:  Hi, this is Anita from How-to-Quilt.com.  I post the emails and blogs for Penny and just noticed the form to subscribe to the http://www.QuiltBlockLibrary.com tips is not showing up on today’s web page about quilt blocks.

Penny is in Sacramento taking care of school district business, so I just wanted to let you know you can click on the link under Penny’s name on the web page – http://www.QuiltBlockLibrary.com – and it will take you right to the form!

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