Tips and Tools – Creating Quilting Designs Yourself


What do you do when you read the words, "Quilt as desired."?

Panic? Feel overwhelmed? Stick the top in the closet for "another day"? Or, just not sure of where to start?

How do I quilt it? By hand? By machine? Pay someone to do it?

When I was first learning to quilt, that's exactly how I felt.

I really enjoyed the piecing process, but, now that the top was assembled, it needed to become a quilt! Oh, my!

The first quilt I made was a  baby quilt with a simple Irish Chain design.

I wanted to try hand quilting, but really didn't know how to quilt it. I'd heard of people using quilting templates, but, I didn't have any. I finally decided to let the quilt pattern dictate my quilting. That was very liberating for me. I stitched around the 3" squares of the Irish Chain. Then, in the background areas, I quilted grid lines 1 1/2" apart. Simple. Sometimes, I simply quilt around the pieces, or along the seam lines. Here is a view from the back of the Irish Chain baby quilt.

My next project was the quilt I made for my husband.

I designed each block to tell a story.  Some blocks actually have words quilted in them. A sort of, family history in fabric! I quilted the word's "A walk in the woods" in the pine tree block.

Other blocks have airplanes, hearts, or critters quilted in them. Something to go along with the theme of each block.

But most just have  lines that echo the pieces of the block.

When I started learning to quilt by machine, I started with meandering.    A large meander.   These are 6 inch blocks.

The more I practiced, the better I got at it. And the more adventurous!

I like how quilting around each gingerbread man makes them look dimensional!

As I grew more confident in machine quilting, I began designing patterns to be quilted, drawing them on cardstock, cutting them out , and tracing them onto the quilt with a removable marker. This is part  of a Christmas tree skirt that I made for one of  our daughters.

I really like the design created on the back!

The next time you read the words, "Quilt as desired." I hope you will give quilting it yourself a try. Whether it's by hand, or machine, there are infinite possibilities to make a quilt your own.

My tip for today has to do with cooking.  It comes from one of my sisters. She told me that when she prepares vegetables for a meal, she saves the peelings and puts them in a gallon zip-top type bag and puts them in the freezer. For example, onions, carrots, celery, mushroom stems, garlic peels, etc.  (Be careful of how many garlic peels you save in there. It can be overpowering. Every time she peels a vegetable, she adds that to the bag. When the bag is nearly full, she dumps them into a large pot, covers them with water, and simmers them for about an hour. She can then use this stock for soups or sauces.

I decided to try her method. I'd been saving scraps for a while and had a pretty full bag. Mine was mostly, onions (including the dry, papery outer layers), carrot peels, celery peels and tops, and three mushroom stems.

I was in the mood for some chicken soup. I prepared the broth as I described above, strained it to remove anything inedible, added salt and pepper, and used this to simmer a whole chicken in.  I removed the chicken and, again, strained the broth. While the chicken was cooling a bit, I cooked angel hair pasta, broken into one-inch pieces in the broth. Then, I added cooked carrots, celery, and cubed chicken back into the pot. My husband said it was the best I'd ever made. (And, I've made some really great chicken soup before.)

There is just so much flavor in the peels, and I used to throw them away!

I hope you have a wonderful day, and maybe give some hand-quilting or machine-quilting a try.

Today is a good day for chicken soup!




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