Basic Quilting Skills Series · Rose Cards · Tips and Tricks · villa rosa designs

NEW September 2022 Villa Rosa Designs Rose Card Quilt Patterns and Basic Quilting Skills for Beginners: Pressing Techniques 101

Hello Quilty Friends!

Happy Thursday to you!

I am thrilled to show you our NEW September Rose Card patterns! I can’t wait until the first Fry-Day (Friday) of each month when the new set of patterns is released — it’s always great to see what our awesome VRD designers have come up with. You can see the new patterns first if you have joined the email list to receive our VRD email newsletters.

What??!! You don’t get our newsletter??? You can sign up for our newsletter HERE.

Of course, I follow up with the newest patterns on the next Thursday after the patterns are released each month here on the blog in case you missed them in the newsletter.

Well, here they are! Cue the trumpets! Throw the confetti! Applause!

September’s NEW Rose Cards

You can order all 5 cards HERE for the low low price of $8.95.

But WAIT…….there’s MORE! (Sorry, not sorry — you know how much I love saying this.)

Here’s my September table runner, Maple Grove!

Maple Grove

You can buy the Maple Grove pattern HERE.

There are also kits for some of the September Rose Cards — did someone say KITS??? Each kit comes with the fabric for the top and binding as well as the pattern. You can find kits below, for as long as they last.

Berry Smoothie

Mazed

Pumpkin Pie

Of course, our website, www.villarosadesigns.com, is always stocked with great kits. You can see our current kit offerings HERE. You’re sure to find one…..or maybe a hundred that you can’t live without.

Pressing Techniques

Let’s dive right back into our Basic Quilting Skills for Beginners with Pressing Techniques 101.

I bet you never really thought about the concept that there are different kinds of pressing techniques for different types of projects. Well, I’m here to tell you that how you use an iron for quilting is different than how you use an iron to iron your shirts or pants.

There’s ironing. And then there’s pressing.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

(to) iron

1a : to smooth with or as if with a heated iron iron a shirt

1b : to remove (something, such as wrinkles) by ironing

(to) press

5 : to exert pressure (this is the closest definition for pressing with an iron I could find)

You can see a little difference between the two definitions, can’t you? Ironing requires moving the iron around while pressing is more of an up and down motion.

I found this pretty decent YouTube video from Hobby Lobby about the difference between pressing and ironing along with some tips. You can check out the video HERE.

Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of different irons from cheap travel models to expensive specialty irons. Some irons are hotter than others. Some have more weight so you don’t have to press down as hard. Some have longer cords or are larger models. Some have continuous steam or bursts of steam. So many choices, but it all depends on what you want out of your iron and what your budget is. So look around, test out different models and brands. Find the one you like the best, for what you want to do, don’t just go for the most expensive or the least expensive.

Pink Oliso Iron

One of the coolest irons in my opinion is the Oliso iron. It lifts up after so many seconds so there’s no chance that you will burn your fabric or project by pressing too long or forgetting about the iron in the down position. AND they come in a bunch of really pretty colors! You can usually find Oliso irons at your local quilt shop or your favorite online vendor.

Here’s a great YouTube video by SewVeryEasy about what to look for in an iron as well as lots of tips and tricks. You can check out the video HERE.

Some quilters swear by using the steam function of their iron for pressing. Me, I like a dry hot iron for quilting AND I love to use Mary Ellen’s Best Press Starch Alternative. A long time ago, I used spray starch in the can, but got tired of the little flakes and the shiny spots on my fabrics, so when I found Best Press, it was a total game changer for me.

Mary Ellen’s Best Press Spray

A little spritz is all you need. Best Press helps me to get crisper flatter seams without having to work very hard, which then helps my quilt fabrics to stay square and not to stretch out of shape. An added bonus is that Best Press comes in many fun scents and also comes in unscented, too. My personal favorite scent is Peaches and Cream. You can find Best Press at your local quilt shop or favorite online vendor.

I hope these pressing techniques and tips are helpful! Stay tuned for next week’s post all about batting, backing, and preparing a quilt for quilting.

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Basic Quilting Skills Series · Tips and Tricks · Tutorials · villa rosa designs

Basic Quilting Skills for Beginners: How to Find a Quilter’s 1/4″ Seam Allowance

Hello Quilty Friends!

Happy Thursday to you!

Recently, we received a message from a quilter who purchased a couple kits featuring Villa Rosa Rose Card patterns at a quilt shop while traveling. She asked for instructions for the kits she purchased. Oh no! I thought, did the kits not include the Rose Cards?

After further communication back and forth, I found out the cards were in the kits, but the quilter, being unfamiliar with Rose Cards, wondered why the pattern was so small and on the back of a postcard– there must surely be more to the instructions than that, she thought. So, she contacted us.

Brick Wall Photo by Joe Woods on Unsplash

This message got me thinking about how our Rose Card patterns really are very beginner friendly, but beginner quilters are expected to have some basic quilting skills.

So, what skills does a beginner quilter need to know in order to successfully make a Rose Card quilt pattern?

Haven’t gotten your August 2022 Rose Cards yet? You can buy them HERE.

Several things came to mind right way, so I thought — why not write some posts about beginning quilting skills? That way if we get beginner questions, we actually have somewhere to send them for answers besides a vague reference to the Internet or YouTube.

The first one I thought of — and possibly THE most important beginner quilting skill — is knowing how to sew an accurate 1/4″ seam.

An accurate 1/4″ Seam Allowance

Most if not all quilting patterns use a 1/4″ seam allowance. Pattern designers build that seam allowance into their cutting measurements so the pieces will fit together properly when you sew them together. YAY MATH! (You can check out my post about quilting and math HERE.) In the past, way before rotary cutters, quilters had to draw seam allowances around patches, cut them out of cardboard or heavy paper, and then cut the patches out with scissors using the cardboard patterns. HORRORS! Please note that applique can be a little different, though, as you might have to add a seam allowance around the shapes — but this is a topic for another day. For our purposes here, we will refer to pieced quilting patterns.

Seriously, though — a 1/4″ seam doesn’t just happen by magic — you need to make friends with your sewing machine so you are both on the same page. One of the best things you can do to make friends with your sewing machine is to keep your sewing machine manual nearby and to actually use it! If you’ve lost your sewing machine manual, you can check the manufacturer’s website because they might have your manual available for download. Sometimes you can find reprints of manuals on Amazon, too.

One of my all-time favorite sewing machine accessories is my 1/4″ guide foot. It’s a typical 1/4″ foot for quilting but it also has a nice little metal guide on the right (see below) that I can bump my fabric right up against while sewing, which helps me to sew a more accurate 1/4″.

Janome 1/4″ foot with guide

Don’t panic — if you don’t have a special 1/4″ foot for your sewing machine, there are other ways to get a accurate 1/4″ seam allowance.

The technique I was first taught as a beginner was to cut 3 strips of fabric 1 1/2″ wide by say 5″ long (the length is not as important as the 1 1/2″ width). Sew the 3 strips together side by side into a mini Rail Fence block. Measure the width of the center strip. If your center strip measures exactly 1″ wide, then you are already sewing an accurate 1/4″ seam so don’t change a thing!

If the center strip measures more than 1″ wide, then your seam is narrower than 1/4″, so you need to make an adjustment to sew a wider seam. Make the adjustment, then sew 3 more strips together and measure the center strip. If it’s still not right, keep making minute adjustments, sewing mini Rail Fence blocks, and measuring the width of the center strip until it is exactly 1″ wide. Note what adjustments you made so if you need to change the width of your seam allowance, you will be able to find your way back to your 1/4″. When in doubt, sew 3 strips together into a mini Rail Fence block and test the width of the center strip.

If the center strip measures less than 1″, then your seam is wider than 1/4″, so you need to make an adjustment to sew a narrower seam. Like above, keep making adjustments, sewing mini Rail Fence blocks, and measuring the width of the center strip until it is exactly 1″ wide. Note what adjustments you made so if you need to change the width of your seam allowance, you will be able to find your way back to your 1/4″. When in doubt, sew 3 strips together into a mini Rail Fence block and test the width of the center strip.

What adjustments can you make with your sewing machine to perfect your 1/4″ seam?
  • Your machine might have the option to move your presser foot either right or left, depending on whether your seam is too narrow or too wide.
  • You might need to place a strip of tape on your machine to mark where to line up the edge of your fabric to get your 1/4″ — you might try painter’s tape or washi tape, which would both be re-positionable as you make your adjustments to get your 1/4″.
  • Speaking of tape, you can actually stack up layers of tape to get the “bumper” effect of the guide on my 1/4″ foot.

If these ideas don’t work for you, you might want to consider purchasing a 1/4″ guide foot that will fit your sewing machine. To do this, you might have to know whether your machine is a low shank, a high shank, or rarely (mostly older Singers) a slant shank. How do you determine what kind of shank you have??? Why, refer to your sewing machine manual, of course!

Sew, what do you do with all of your little (and possibly wonky) Rail Fence blocks? Make a cute pin cushion, of course!

Here's how:

Press your Rail Fence block flat.  Make a tiny quilt sandwich with a piece of fabric for backing, a scrap of batting, and the Rail Fence block on top.  Press or pin in place.  Quilt by hand or by machine.  Square up your little Rail Fence sandwich.  Now place the Rail Fence sandwich right sides together with a piece of fabric you want for the back of your pin cushion.  Pin the layers together.  Sew 1/4" away from the outside edge of the Rail Fence block, leaving a couple inch opening on one of the long sides.  Trim the backing and Rail Fence block to the same size if needed.  Turn the pin cushion right sides out through the opening.  Push out the corners carefully.  Fill your pin cushion with stuffing or crushed walnut shells (mine is filled with crushed walnut shells).  Stuff or fill it firmly, making sure to fill the corners.  Leave a little bit of space at the long edge with the opening.  Turn the backing fabric and Rail Fence block raw edges to the inside of the opening.  Pin in place.  Now hand sew the opening closed using matching thread.  DONE!

I do want to point out that a consistent seam allowance is just as important as an accurate 1/4″ seam allowance. That being said, not all 1/4″ seam allowances are exactly the same. You would think so, but in truth there really is no one PERFECT EXACT 1/4″ seam allowance.

SHHHHHHHH. Don’t pass this around — you’re sure to offend someone who thinks their seam allowance is THE perfect 1/4″. We ALL know a quilter like this. LOL!

But alas, as hard as you try to find that elusive perfect 1/4″ seam allowance, there are always going to be things that make tiny differences — like the machine you use, the thickness of your fabric, you, how accurate your cutting is, possibly even the environment, and a host of other little things.

My advice to you is to find YOUR very best 1/4″ seam allowance and stick with it. Your pieces will still fit together as long as you’re consistent.

Our next topic will be Rotary Cutting Basics. Sew……Stay tuned!

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD