Nifty Notions


So You Want to Be a Quilter? Part Two.

Last month Nifty Notions encouraged new ‘would-be’ quilters to take that first step in making their very first little quilt or small project using the easy 4 Patch or 9 Patch method. Judy Hall would very much like to have some feed-back accompanied by a photo of your project. Please include your name and address so as she may award you with a little gift.

Here is Judy’s second installment for those who are ready to take the next step.

While your first little quilt will possibly not be perfect, any finished project is an achievement to be proud of. If it wasn’t quite square or some cross-sections didn’t quite meet, pass your eyes over them as you will improve. Read the previous Nifty Notions editorials given in Part One for extra ‘how-to’ help, or, use the rule of ‘stand back ten metres’ then view it again!

Now that you know how to make a simple patch quilt, would you like to try another? Maybe like these? You now know how!


What is the next step?

You will probably now wish to proceed to other quilt blocks using half-square triangles and quarter-square triangles, then setting triangles and corner setting triangles. These are used in nearly all traditional quilt designs. There are many templates, papers, rulers and ideas for creating these. The Westalee Ruler Design system is what we use in our online classes but if you want a great little tool for doing them quickly and accurately may I suggest the Triangle Genie? There are many tutorials on my website covering all of these.

Strip Quilting

You have learnt simple patch quilts in Part One; now let us take a look at strip quilting, a very easy beginner type method made very famous when rotary cutting became popular for quilters rather than using scissors.

The late Mary Ellen Hopkins and Marti Michell were forerunners in making quilting so popular and their ideas I found to be extremely easy for students when I first began teaching in my shop. My own first quilt was a Rail Fence Quilt, shown here, though well used! Mary Ellen’s favourite was using five fabrics, making them in two sets, a dark, medium and light – the light always being the same in both sets.

You may have your strips any width you wish and once joined together, cut them into squares and then assemble in rows. Most use 2” wide strips.

Sew in Rows or Blocks

I mentioned above sewing them in rows. The advice I give my beginner students is to simplify any quilt design by trying to visualize it in either rows or larger blocks. This makes assembling so much easier and often avoids sewing points or inserting difficult angles. Point to point sewing used for diamonds and stars can often be avoided. As you advance onto these shapes you will understand more what I mean. Just keep in mind, rows or blocks!


Marti Michell is an expert of easy assembling and features very easy techniques in her book ‘Machine Quilting in Sections’. Study the layout of one such quilt – it is in rows, though diagonally. Marti explains some great ideas for quilting in sections (rows).

Quilt-as-you-go is becoming more and more popular for completing your quilt. You may wish to read a previous Nifty Notions editorial for some techniques in this method:

Heat Press Batting Together Part Two


Modern Quilts

Modern Quilts is the current latest design technique growing in popularity very quickly and features large designs of geometric shapes and circles, often using large prints, using asymmetry and negative spaces. It is the fastest revolution or evolution in quilting for some time. There are groups, books, patterns and tutorials for using modern quilting designs.


I hope you continue with your quilting and urge you to join a group, whether it is at your local quilt guild, patchwork shop or an online group. Quilters are extremely generous in sharing their knowledge and ever-lasting friendships are made, true to the history of quilting and how it was first established.


Judy’s Hint: For extra assistance, I thoroughly recommend an excellent little booklet by Leonie West from Westalee Design Rulers in Melbourne called ‘Shhhh….Don’t tell Anyone’, written by Leonie about all the little secrets and know-how to do with piecing.

There are many beginners’ quilting books available, but I recommend Quilter’s Academy Volume 1 by Harriet Hargrave and Carrie Hargrave. Harriet is the master of quilting, an absolute guru, having taught quilting for many years and written many best sellers.

Acknowledgement and sincere thanks to Marti Michell from Michell Marketing, Eleanor Burns from Quilt in a Day and to Harriet Hargrave CT Publishing for their kind permission to use images from their books and of finished quilts.

Products are available from good haberdashery retail outlets or from the Punch with Judy stand at the Craft & Quilt Fairs and Stitches and Craft Shows. Or visit

There are Quilting Workshops for Beginners at the AQC April 18 – 21, 2013 in Melbourne. You can book your place online now.

Here’s a list of previous Nifty Notions topics you may wish to refer to for more tips:




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