Friday, February 1, 2019

beginner sampler

Hi everyone! I wanted to share with you the sampler quilt I made for a beginner's patchwork class. I designed it from simple blocks that are essential for skill building.

First, I searched for a nice mix of small, medium and large prints with a variety of values (light, medium and dark) and decided on a monochromatic color scheme of blues/grays/white.

Fabrics from Makower, Moda and Robert Kaufman

I worked on the computer to design a 2 x 3 horizontal layout, sampler quilt using some of the oldest and traditional blocks - Nine Patch, Shoe Fly, Courthouse Steps, Trip Around the World, Old Maid's Puzzle and an Economy Block. I decided to frame most of them to "update" their style. It also makes it easier to unify them in a sampler quilt. All blocks measure 12" after framing and most measure 8" (Finished) before framing (if you want to make your own).

Mock Up Quilt Pattern

The Nine Patch and Shoefly blocks  introduce how to use a consistent seam allowance when sewing as well as how to nest seams. The Courthouse Steps will show how your blocks can tend to bow when adding new strips. The Trip Around the World is another one to show how to nest seams. The Economy block demonstrates that every time you add a new segment, you will have to square up the block again. This is shown in further detail with the Old Maid's Puzzle.

My biggest challenge was sewing an accurate 1/4" seam allowance. I have noticed when sewing a lot of foundation paper piecing (sewing on paper), I tend to forget where my 1/4" mark is on my presser foot is when returning to regular piecing. It also varies when sewing small and large blocks. The more seams you have in a block, the scanter the seam allowance will be when pressing seams to the side. If you are pressing your seams open, it won't matter as much. 

I also had some indiscrepancies in my cutting instructions which allowed me to produce this beautiful smaller sized Trip Around the World block. I think it will make a nice demonstration mini quilt for pressing directions.

Trip Around the World & Other Sampler Blocks

After sewing all of the blocks together and adding the border, I started to think about the quilting. (I have the biggest quilting phobia.) I first thought about a customized quilting, highlighting each block. This is a beginning quilt for quilters, so that idea was scratched. I am also a little disappointed when there is too much pull from the needle which produces puckering in the quilting on domestic machines. I thought of an allover design with simple diamonds. To avoid major visual complications, I decided to start with initial quilting lines that would not disrupt the Old Maid's Puzzle. I drew a quilting line 1 1/2" to the right and to the left of the diagonal line that intersects the four blocks pictured below. If you want a quilting line that goes exactly through the diagonal on most if not all blocks, you will need to space your quilting lines 2 3/4" apart and not 3".

Quilting Line Mock Up in EQ8
I used a different marking pen on this quilt. I chose to use one that disappears with air rather than water (purple Prym Trickmarker). I liked this better, because I hate removing the marks with water afterwards. They always seem to reappear too! I only drew the first initial lines as my starting point. After I drew those, I pin-basted the quilt. My prefered batting is a cotton-polyester 80/20 blend or something that allows the quilt to lay flat. This one is a low-loft batting.

Initial Parallel Quilting Lines to Form a Diamond Pattern

I tried something else, for the first time, which worked out really well. I decided to use electrical tape to mark the follow-up, parallel quilting lines instead of marking them all. This method allowed me to stand up after quilting each line and reposition the electrical tape. This probably wasn'tthe most efficient way, but it was a great workout. :)

Straight Line Quilting Made Simple with Electrical Tape

When quilting on the domestic machine, I first checked my tension by sewing on a test quilt sandwich. I adjusted both the bobbin thread to be looser as well as the top thread. I usually quilt with cotton thread on the top and polyester on the bottom. I find when using cotton in my bobbin, I have too many tension and machine problems. I also like a nice, heavy, punctured line of quilting to show on both sides.

I used a stitch length of 3.5 and 40/3 Superior Threads 999 (light gray) on top. I put a topstitch quilting needle into action as well.

Close-Up of Stitches

I just love a striped and plaid binding and couldn't wait to start cutting this one up. I only needed four strips of 2 1/2" wide fabric for double-folded, continuous binding. I will admit, I just sewed the first strips together at first. Then I stopped myself and re-sewed them. It irritates me when the stripes don't match. To get the repeat to match up, I first ironed the strip (I was adding) on a 45° angle. Then I glued it to the first strip exactly over the striped lines. I pressed with a hot iron and then sewed scantly to the right of the ironed line. I cut off the excess and pressed the seam open.

I connected the binding strips with a 2.0 stitch length, because they would be pressed open to reduce bulk. If your stitch is too long, the seam won't be stable anymore and will have the tendency to rip out.

Perfectly Matched Binding Strips

I applied the binding with a 3/8" seam allowance and a 3.0 stitch length.

When connecting the beginning binding strip to the ending binding strip I usually go back to this method. Overlap your beginning and ending binding strips with about a 10 inch unsewn. Cut off one of strips the length of the width of your binding strips. For instance, if the width of your binding strip is 2 1/2", the overlap with be cut to 2 1/2". If your width of binding is 1 1/2" (single fold binding), you will overlap the binding by 1 1/2". Then butt the ends perpendicular (90°) and sew through the diagonal line (drawn here in red) as you would piecing continuous binding strips.

Preferred Method of Finishing the Binding Tails 
To connect the binding to the back of the quilt, I machine closed by basting the binding strip to the quilt with Clover Clips. I machine stitched in the ditch from the front with matching thread on the front (blue) and back (in gray).

I did not iron the quilt after basting. Sometimes I do iron the binding before sewing it down, but this time I didn't. I am very pleased with the way this sampler quilt turned out.

Beginning Sampler Quilt

If you are new to patchwork and quilting and would like to make this quilt, you can sign up for this class in March at Stoffwelt in Neu-Um, Germany.

Here are the stats of the quilt: Beginner Sampler Quilt 2019 from easypatchwork
  • Dimensions: ~33" x 45"
  • Block Size: (6) - 12"
  • Fabrics: 7 Different Fabrics 
  • Time: ~ 20 Hours of Work
  • Technique: Pieced
  • Batting: Freudenberg 279
  • Binding: 3/8" Wide, Machine

Thank you for joining me today and reading about this sampler quilt. Enjoy your weekend.


  1. Love your sampler. Your fabric choices are perfect. Wish I was in Germany to take the class! :-)

  2. What a beautiful beginner sampler quilt!

  3. Beautiful quilt and a wonderfully written post.


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