What Are Your Burning Quilt Questions?

lady What Are Your Burning Quilt Questions? On each of the past few days, I’ve noticed in various places online that quilters have questions they’re hesitant to ask.

One person said, “I’ve never understood what a fat quarter is.”

Another ventured, “Can I ask a stupid question? When you quilt in the ditch does that mean actually stitching on the seam line between each block? Or does it mean either side of the seam line? I’ve never known!”

I’m realizing that sometimes we throw quilting jargon around as if everyone should know exactly what we mean. And that while many of us do know, there are always newbies who do not. We want to be mindful of them.

confusion What Are Your Burning Quilt Questions?

So let’s say it straight out for the record: No matter what it is you don’t know, it’s totally okay! No matter what your question may be, there are other people with the same one!

womanatmachine What Are Your Burning Quilt Questions?

Let Quilty Pleasures be your safe place to ask any quilt-related question without fear. Because my goodness, we’ve all been beginners at some point. And no matter how much we come to know, the quilt world is deep and wide, and there are bound to be some things we do not know! So we’re all in the same boat, in a way.


rowboat What Are Your Burning Quilt Questions?

Let’s start today. In the comments, ask a quilting-related question, any question at all. We’ll pick a few and answer them in a future post. And if we get lots of great questions, this might become a regular event. So please, ask away!


About Diane Harris

I'm an editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I wrote pattern instructions, product reviews and how-to articles. Then I spent four years as QM's Interactive Editor, working to generate much of our online content. Now I'm back to patterns and how-tos, which is a great fit for me. I still love writing about quilt-related topics for Quilty Pleasures, and I always have my finger on the pulse of the quilting world. I teach a variety of quilt classes and give guild programs, too. Reach me by email: editor@quiltmaker.com.
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20 Responses to What Are Your Burning Quilt Questions?

  1. Gay says:

    Pattern had me cut 1/2″ bias strips to make 1/4″ bias strips for basket handles. Bought the smallest bias strip maker for making 1/4″. However, when I pull the strip thru only one side folds. Not enough material in kit to remake strips a tad bit larger. HELP, what can I do now?

  2. Syn Ferguson says:

    Help! I have a stack of half sewn blocks, smaller square centered on slightly larger one, seamed twice 1/4 inch apart on one diiagonal. I’m sure this was done deliberately, but its not just a case of making a half square triangle. Does anybody recognize this and know what block the sewer had in mind?

  3. Della says:

    I am making my first quilt and it will be just 4″ squares.
    No blocks, no design, no sashing, the whole quilt is just 4″ squares of fabric.
    My question is, do I sew my squares into long strips and then sew the long strips together, OR do I sew the 4″ squares into 9-patch blocks and then sew my blocks together?
    Is there a right way to do it?

    Thank you!

  4. Linda Harrison says:

    After you add a 1 1/2 in, piece to a rectangle , to each corner.I need to trim the one corner before I iron it back. Do I cut both pieces of material behind ?

  5. Carolyn says:

    trying to make a quilt out of used ties , how long do I need to cut them to make a circle? Also how do I make the circle lay flat?

  6. Carolyn says:

    Making a quilt out of ties, how long to I need to make them and how can I get the circle to lay flat?

  7. I’m making a carpenter star quilt. I want a. Material that is thicker and heavier than batting for the middle. Do you have suggestions such as maybe using flannel. Thanks.

  8. Gloria Antall says:

    I am making a baby quilt wall hanging. It is flannel with appliques of wool blend. If I am going to embroider the appliques, must I also use fusible webb to attach the appliques as well?

  9. Michelle says:

    Hi there,
    I’m pretty sure this falls into the “duh” category of question!
    Here goes.
    I am looking at a Moda Recipe that calls for four charm packs. The fabric I like is not available as a charm pack – but I can get it as a layer cake.
    Is it a good idea to cut up a Layer cake to achieve the same sizes and quantity as a charm pack – or is this just too time consuming? I’m also concerned that I might wreck all that fabric by cutting not quite right?
    Thanks for your help!
    xo Novice quilter!

  10. Helen says:

    I have a question about borders on at 10 1/2 square block.
    Hope I can explain. My 4 borders strips are 2 1/2 x 10 1/2, plus 4 x 2 1/2 squares.

    The trick is that the 2 1/2 squares are not in the corners. I have lost the instruction to this block. I have sewn the 2 1/2″ squares to each border strip. when I sew the border onto the large square , the small square lines up with the edge of the square, so the square looks like it is off set from the corners. (hard to explain)

    My problem is that I end up with a piece at the end that I can sew because it show be
    sewn with the other seam. Has anyone had this issue, if you know what I am talking about…Yikes I wish I could show a picture, would be so much easier.
    Thank you

  11. Margaret Misegades says:

    So, it’s been six weeks since you posted this. Are you ever going to DO anything with it?

  12. Karlene says:

    I have enjoyed making scrap quilts for many years. More and more often now I am hearing the term “controlled scrappy”. What does that mean?

  13. Claudia says:

    Lots of interesting questions here that should keep you busy for a while Diane.

    I won some jelly rolls direct from the fabric company. When I unrolled them to use, several pieces of fabric must have had a wrinkle when they were cut (apparently several bolts were layered at one time). A couple were more like hockey sticks than strips. Good thing I was planning to cut them up and not use them end-to-end, or side by side.

    I had to have someone explain “fat quarter” to me when I first got involved with quilting, and my mom thought it was the funniest expression she had ever heard.

    And if you are all feeling naive, the first time I went to a quilting class and they said, “bring a quilt sandwich”, I thought they meant “bring your lunch, it is a 6 hr class”.

    Having been down the “press vs iron” rabbit hole, and ruined more than one block, I finger press seams until I at least have a block made, and maybe even the top pieced to keep it from getting skewed out of whack.

    I guess one question I would like answered (although I suspect what the answer will be), now that good quilting fabric is $12-14/yard, when are manufacturers going to get the message we want fabric to come off the bolt straight and square, and not have to square up with 2-3″ triangles to trim off the ends of every cut we buy? Whether we get a 36″ yard or a 38″ yard, we paid for all of it. AND I want to use all of it.

    Thanks for letting me throw out my 2 cents.

  14. Linda says:

    Question- I recently added a very wide 11.75 border on a big quilt. The border used three different fabrics cut in different sizes.
    1st- 1.5 strip – cut WOF – pieced end to end
    2nd – 3.5 strip – cut WOF – pieced end to end
    3rd – 7.75 strip- cut length of fabric because of the stripe
    I measured my pieced top in two places before cutting the mitered boarder. I admit my larger boarder did not lay perfectly straight on my cutting table before I cut the miter. After applying the boarders it waved all around, but when I measured it with the machine quilter each border did not have that much variance.
    Was the waved caused from cutting the boarder fabrics on the lengthwise grain & some on the crosswise grain and then combining them? How could this be avoided? Most books will tell us to miter the boarder after applying it on the quilt, but to me that does not seem accurate. I have always measured my quilt and cut the mitered boarder before attaching, which in my mind seems more accurate. I would like to understand this?

  15. Vernita says:

    great questions have been submitted. Mine is–my quilt is set on the diagonal and measurement through the middle is about 2 inches bigger than on the outside edges. Do I worry about that? I have not put the borders on yet. I have also wondered how much bigger I need to have the back when I start quilting the layers together. I am a little short on fabric for a whole cloth back, so was going to add strips of the left over border fabric to extend the back, Now I am worried about it being straight when finished.

  16. MarciaW says:

    My question was asked in your main post. I just purchased a “stitch in the ditch” presser foot for my walking foot gizmo. I thought it would just be a matter of using the center guide to sew down the seam line. Now I’m wondering if that is wise because will sew right over the seam threads. What is the proper way to do “stitch in the ditch” machine quilting? The quilt has some seams pressed to one side and a few pressed open. So, this is a burning issue quilt question as I’m sandwiching the quilt to get ready to do this for the first time.

  17. Barbara Davenport says:

    What did I do wrong?? Recently I put together a quilt on point, each pieced block separated by a solid piece of fabric, with setting triangles and corner pieces. Ok, here is where it all went south, it looked (felt) like I was getting a lot of stretch on the sides with the bias edge setting triangles so I stay stitched around the entire quilt so I would feel more confident about handling it. I measured through the center to determine border length and to my HORROR that measurement was 2 inches LONGER than the actual edge!!! I thought “ok, this is ok, I will just stretch as I go”, (pinning the center of the border to the center of the quilt edge and ease in on both sides of the pin), it turned into the biggest mess ever!! I have been quilting for 12 years and have put together many on point quilts, but I have never stay stitched around the edge to stabilize, is this where I went wrong? And if it was, then a world wide alert needs to go out to all quilters, this was a complete nightmare!!!
    Thanks and I look forward to hearing you take on this.

  18. Maria Carroll says:

    Hi Diane, I’m not sure if mine are questions (I have two) or just slip ups that I’ve run across during my 17 yrs of quilting. So here goes!
    1. Ever since I began quilting and I’m a self taught quilter basically, I’ve read, watched hundreds of video’s and in the few classes I’ve taken, quilters famous or infamous say you MUST “press” your blocks NOT “iron”. Well what I’ve witnessed while watching videos and in classes the quilter that is teaching invariably “irons” their block! Sure they set their seams then pressed the seam to one side then turn around and take the iron and “iron” the block with a “swirling” motion! I know from experience that you do not for any reason “iron” a quilt block or borders or the quilt top itself. Because I’ve tried what I have seen and it does make your strips, blocks, borders, etc cattywampus! So why in the world will a quilting teacher do what she/he says is an absolute NO NO in quilting? I think this sends a lot of uncertainty to newbies and to experienced quilters.
    2. All the rage these days are on jellyrolls, layer cakes, turnovers, honey buns etc. And I’m all for the pre cuts so please don’t take this wrong BUT… just some weeks ago I ordered 6 jelly rolls (I will not name the quilt shop, fabric name or the company that makes and pre cuts this line) and was all excited ready to tear into them, get them pressed and start making the quilts I had lined up. Well what I noticed with the jellyrolls that I purchased was that most if not all of the 2 1/2″ strips had a “V” right at the fold. Not sure I’m explaining this right, I sure hope so! Which meant I couldn’t just sew the strips together because the center of the strips weren’t straight, so therefore I had to change my plans so that I could eliminate the fold on each strip. Which also meant I lost inches on each strip. I can’t be the only one that has ran across this problem with pre cut jellyrolls. I did notify the manufacturer ( which you really don’t want to know their response!) and I emailed the lady that designed this particular line of fabric last week but I haven’t heard back from her. I’m just wondering how many other quilters have run into this problem and haven’t said anything!? Thanks Diane and looking forward to hearing from you!!

  19. Diane Harris says:

    All great questions, Gail! I’ll start working on compiling the answers. They’ll go up on Quilty Pleasures in the days to come. Thanks so much for commenting!

  20. Gail says:

    I have the same question as the one you already mentioned ie “just what exactly is quilting in the ditch” plus;
    - I’d like to know the best way to quilt a queen size quilt on my DSM.
    - the best way to square up fabric so as to avoid the curve that sometimes happens at the center fold.
    - I need to know if today’s new machines need to be oiled regularly, and where and how do we do this. My new Janomes do not mention this in the manuals.
    - what is the significance of the line measurements on a self-healing mat. Do quilters use these?
    - when is the best time to square up a block (eg in a 9 patch do I square up each row or do I wait and square up the final block)
    - what happens when you take your machine in for regular maintenance? What exactly is done to my machine?
    -why is it we only use 100% cotton? What’s the problem with poly cotton blends?
    - I received some 80′s cotton calicos, and one I could easily rip with my bare hands – lenghwise, crosswise, it didn’t matter. What happened to this fabric to make it like this?
    Finally I’d love to see independent reviews of the numerous quilting tools out there.

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