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Using Zig Zag in Quilts

Applique, using zig zag stitching and pieced quilt for the grands.

Applique, using zig zag stitching and pieced quilt for the grands.

Thanks to Calico Connections for reminding me that a zig-zag stitch is often used in quilting.

I’d planned to write about the Zig-Zag quilt which some call the Chevron, and can be made with half-square triangles. The problem is I don’t have my Zig-Zag quilt finished, which means no picture.

However, thanks to Calico, I remember that the zig-zag stitch can  be used to piece batting together. By bunting two pieces of batting together and using a wide zig zag stitch we can make our batting dollars go further, and not have extra bulk in our quilt.

I also use the zig zag stitch when adding binding. Because, I often either leave my backing big enough to fold over the edges, then using a zig zag or decorative stitch, sew it to the top, or I add the binding backwards. By backwards I mean, most quilters sew their binding to the front of the quilt and fold it over to hand-stitch on the back, I do the opposite. I sew the binding to the back of the quilt, and fold it over to the front and once again zig zag or decorative stitch it down.

The zig zag stitch is also one of the ways to attach an applique. Since I seldom do applique, and when I do it’s for a project that will be used and washed, often, I want the applique to stay put. I usually call it a satin stitch because the zigs are so close to the zags. A satin stitch is, essentially, a zig zag.

The quilt at the top of this post is one made for one of my little grandsons, and his younger brother, and cousins have a similar quilt, they all have  several applique blocks.

Not only was the zig zag stitched used to hold the appliques in place, but it was used a decorative, or defining stitch on the hats and the frog.

The frog block. The frog is one piece, the legs are defined with zig zag stitching. The swirling water around the frog is just my  unusual quilting.

The frog block. The frog is one piece, the legs are defined with zig zag stitching. The swirling water around the frog is just my unusual quilting.

That’s it. We’ve come to the end of the month, and the end of the alphabet. I managed to post about every letter, although some times not exactly on the correct day. But, hey, I’m making progress.

I’ve enjoyed meeting some of the other bloggers in the challenge, and found a few new ones to follow. I hope you did too.

For next month, something different, but I’ll wait and tell you about them tomorrow.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this alphabet series. How often do you use zig zag in your quilts?

Are Yo-Yo Tops Really Quilts?

All quilts are not created equal.

The first time I saw a picture of a Yo-Yo quilt I didn’t quite understand it. It didn’t look like any quilt I’d seen before. It had holes in it.

Okay. To be fair they weren’t “holes” they were spaces not filled in with fabric.  Still, they looked like holes to me and I couldn’t imagine why anyone would make a quilt top that, when finished would have the batting sticking out.

A Yo-yo top is a collection of gathered circles sewn together. While they can be sewn into a pattern, most y0-yos are a lighter version of the patchwork quilt.

A completed YoYo quilt from 2 sisters quilting. The green showing through between the circles (yo-yos) is the background of whatever the quilt is on.

The description I read at the time said these “quilts” were for summer, and topped a colored sheet. At the time, it just looked like an unfinished quilt to me. I’ve since learned more about them and appreciate them for their time and beauty.

While they are not quilts, there is only the one layer, possibly  two if the top is stitched to a backing. They are beautiful, and have their own stories just as their “real” quilt sisters.

I wonder if a yo-yo top wasn’t someone’s idea of a pretty, light weight top similar to a crocheted bedspread, or tablecloth. Maybe the first yo-yo maker couldn’t afford all the thread to crochet a pretty top. Maybe she didn’t know how to crochet, but she wanted something light-weight, and airy for  summer.

Just imagine a woman looking at her pile of scraps and her naked table, or a heavy quilt on her bed in the heat of the summer. She could sew, but really didn’t want a “quilt” to dress her table, and she wanted/needed something lightweight for her bed.

She began to experiment, after all isn’t that how we get most of our patterns, experimenting?  Maybe she had made the yo-yos before as a decoration.

Now, however, she sews them together and before long, viola! A pretty, airy table covering, or bed topper.

The sheet that served as cover for the hot Oklahoma nights could be made prettier by topping it with the yo-yo top.

Now, I don’t really know how a yo-yo top came into being, why or how they were first used. I do know they are beautiful, and perfect for someone who loves to do handwork. That wouldn’t be me. I’ll just enjoy the yo-yo tops others make.

What about you? Do you have a yo-yo top? Have you ever made one?

This post was for the letter Y in the A to Z blogging challenge. Tomorrow is the last day of the month and, of course, Z will be the letter of the day. Hope you’ve enjoyed some of the many blogs who joined the challenge.



X Quisite and X Quarter Quilt Blocks

Finding words, quilts, ideas for each letter of the alphabet that have quilting in common has been much easier than I’d thought it would be. I mean, even Q was easy. Hello? Q? Quilt?

Others with different themes may have struggled with the letter Q, but not me.

However, X was a different story.

According the the Maggie Malone Book of 5500 QUILT BLOCK DESIGNS, there are two X quilt blocks. The X Quartet and the X-Quisite.

An X Quartet Quilt Block from planet patchwork.com

I could only find one example of the X Quartet quilt block, maybe others call it by another name. After all, it looks fairly simple and easy. Half square triangles set in the pinwheel pattern. Half-square triangle blocks together with solid blocks around the four sides of the pinwheel,  and solid blocks in the corner.


For the X Quiste block, I found this  baby quilt  by Mary, of the Tulip Patch done in that pattern. Isn’t it cute? I’m sure the parents of the little boy who now owns it were thrilled to receive such a cute quilt for their little one.

X Quisite quilt by Mary at the Tulip-patch

Lucky you. Since I found a couple of X quilt blocks you were spared the Xylophone quilt idea. I’m sure there are other X quilt blocks out there and now I’m on a quest to find them. Do you have an X quilt block?

Still playing with the A to Z bloggers. Up Monday, is Y, and yes, I have a quilt story for Y.



Quilts, Tied, Unsewn, Washed and Versatile

Playing catch-up today.

Tied or tacked quilts are most often relegated to the functional uses. In fact there are some, like my father, who don’t consider a tacked quilt a “real” quilt.  In his world, a tied quilt was a comforter and a stitched (quilted) one was, well a quilt.

My father isn’t alone. There are quilt shows that limit the exhibition to those quilts that are stitched together.

I think it comes down to how you were raised and what type of quilts you were exposed to. In my father’s case, his mother made both stitched and tied quilts. However, the stitched quilts were the ones given as gifts, and with the more intricate designs.

The tied quilts were those the family used every day. Thus, for him, a tied quilt wasn’t a real quilt.

I didn’t grow up with quilts or quilters and taught myself to quilt, with the help of my mother-in-law. For me, a quilt is a quilt and I love them all. Plus, every quilt has a story, tied, or stitched.

What about you? Are tacked quilts “not real quilts?”

Tied quilt my mother-in-law made, probably in the late 30's. The 9patch's are flour sack fabric.

Tied quilt my mother-in-law made, probably in the late 30’s. The 9patch’s are flour sack fabric.

Almost every quilter has a manually operated Unsewing Machine. Otherwise known as a seam ripper. However, a few weeks ago, Alex Anderson unveiled the latest in sewing innovations, a stitch eraser. Enjoy.

Quilts are one of our most versatile household items. A quilt can wrap and calm a crying baby. Give comfort to a grieving adult. Children love hiding in, and playing pretend in their quilt forts.

There are quilted table cloths for both fine dining, and picnics at the park that can double as a cover up should the need arise. Quilts are perfect cushions at outdoor events, ready to be used for warmth should the  temperatures drop.

A quilt can be folded and placed on the foot of the bed for decoration, yet still available as a cover.

Quilts can be made into clothes, stuffed animals, and totes. Whatever the need, the versatile  quilt is sure to be available to fill it.

How do you wash your quilts? My quilts are made for everyday use, they get thrown in the washer and hung out on the line. However, I do have some special quilts that don’t get washed.

They don’t get used, I place them on the bed from time to time to relax the threads and let them air out. Other than that, no washing.

If a special quilt must be washed I wash it in the bathtub. Actually, it soaks in a solution for delicate fabrics. The water is then squeezed out and the quilt rinsed, and re-rinsed. Then, it’s placed on a sheet outside, with another sheet covering it (to protect it from direct sun and bird droppings) until it is dry.

Yes. It is a lot of work. No, I don’t do it often. However, there are times when a washing is just what is called for.

How about your quilts? Washable? Non?

Sewing and Speaking

It’s Show and Tell Monday! Ok, it’s not, it’s just Monday. But, today is letter S for the A to Z challenge.

Okay, it’s not even Monday, it’s Wednesday. The post was ready, except for a picture on Monday. Still no picture, but a post of words is better than nothing. Right?

I’ve been a little (sometimes I am a master at understatement) behind on the blog challenges.  Last week I almost forgot I had a blog, much less a couple of challenges.

What in the world could make me forget something like my blog?

A speech contest. Speech contest begins with “S”, so I’m good. Right?

Sure, speech contest begins with “S,” but what does it have to do with quilts?

Well, the speech was about a quilt. Sort of. In the speech I compared our lives to quilts. To further illustrate the point I made a “quilt” to use as a prop.

I spent last week sewing, and speaking, giving practice speeches wherever and whenever possible including speaking to the dog. Poor baby. This week though, I’m back on track trying to accomplish too many things in too short of time. It was a fun week though. Too bad it didn’t end with a win.

Oh well, there’s always the next contest.

That was Monday. This is Wednesday. Shortly after writing that post and before I could take the picture of the quilt the stomach flu bug found and attacked me. No pictures, no posting, no writing. Just sick.

Better now, and future posts will, with luck, appear on schedule. 🙂 Hope the “bugs” haven’t attacked anyone else.

Patterns, Quiet and Rectangles of Quilts

Patterns are so pretty and make a project go faster and easier. So, why don’t I follow them? Good question.

I do sometimes, however I often, I veer off on my own. Sometimes it’s to make an adjustment (or ten) to an existing pattern. Often, my veering has more to do with my impatience, and the fact that I made an error. Rather than unsew a patch, or several, I just decide that’s the look I intended, and I continue along that path.

Other times, I will see the finished project, or a picture of it, and not have a pattern. I must construct a pattern if I want the project. So I do, making changes along the way.

There are times, however, when making a patchwork pattern, when following the instructions are the best way to have the desired look. I first fell in love with patchwork quilts way back in the day and they are still my primary quilt love. Although, I’ve seen some beautiful non patchwork quilts that offer their own brand of pleasure.

Quilts in general are a source of pleasure, regardless of their type.

Which quilts give you the most pleasure? Do you admire one type of quilt, and make another?

On her blog, Nancy Doyle wrote about quiet being the naturally soothing and wrote and thought-enabling event that is missing from most of our lives.

A quilt helps us create and/or enjoy the quiet. As children we made tents and forts with the quilts and hid inside. In the tent we were far away from the noise of the day. We lived in our own little private, wonderful world, the quilts held the world at bay.

As adults, the cocoon quilt often serves as our fortress of solitude. We wrap up in the quilt. We burrow down and allow the quilt to protect us from the worries of the day, and hold the noise and problems at bay. At least for a few hours.

When sewing on a quilt the noise of the day recedes into the recesses of my mind. The beauty of the quilt in front of me and the process of sewing it together, silences the noise of the day.

Squares. Rectangles. Just think of the quilts  made with only those two shapes. It’s only right, since the finished product is usually a square or rectangle.

Consider these quilts, made entirely of rectangles:

First up is one made by a McAlester Ok quilter. I took this picture at a craft fair a few years ago when she had the quilt on display and for sale. It was one of the few she had that wasn’t a cross-stitch quilt.

flour sack fabric, four patch made with rectangles.  made by Pat Cotton, McAlester OK

flour sack fabric, four patch made with rectangles. made by Pat Cotton, McAlester OK

My version of a rail-fence quilt made for my granddaughter in pinks.


This panel quilt is one of two I made for the two youngest grandsons a couple of years ago. I didn’t even add to it as I usually do with panel quilts. Just added a backing and some quilting and called it good.


What about you? Are squares and rectangles the most popular shape in your quilt block arsenal? Maybe you enjoy including, triangles, diamonds, circles and hexagons? What’s your favorite?

Ok, I am caught back up for the A to Z blog challenge. A bit behind on the UBC challenge, but progress is being made.



Embroidery and Embellish for Quilts

Today, for the A to Z challenge the letter is E. In my quilting world E is for embellishment and embroidery, two things I do very seldom. Other quilters though often combine the two and embellish their quilts with embroidery.

For the letter D, here, I shared some album quilts with names embroidered on them. Trisha Faye over at Calico Connection shared  Sunbonnet Sue blocks with identifying name and date.

However, names on quilt blocks and album quilts weren’t the only times our great grandmothers embroidered their quilts.

They also used embroidery to embellish their crazy quilts. It was a good practice, after all how many samplers does a household need? Plus, it allowed the girls to perfect their stitches before embarking on the samplers.

DMC Threads has a good embroidery tutorial if you’ve never tried.

If the video inspires you to take up embroidery, you might want to check out Kassiah’s Blog. For the letter E she discussed ways to organize and store embroidery thread. Enjoy.

Linking up with A to Z Challenge and the Ultimate Blog Challenge.