September 30, 2014

Mini Quilt for Kim (SMQG Modern Mini Swap 2014)

This is the first mini quilt I've ever made. Our quilt guild (Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild) arranged a swap and Kim's was the name I drew. I don't know Kim very well. She's a newish member and hadn't been at very many meetings at the time of the swap details. I tried to stalk her a bit to get some sense of her taste and this is what I came up with. I used an excellent online tutorial (raspberry kiss block) by Rachel of Wooden Spoon Quilts.

I have to say, until recently I didn't really GET mini quilts. But I had an ah-ha moment after I put together my quilt studio, which is sadly devoid of quilts on its walls. Mini quilts will be PERFECT for it! It's also a very good way to test blocks that look interesting before committing to them in a big way.

This might seem like a quick project but it took me way too long! Not only am I an excruciatingly slow quilter, It takes a lot of time to dig through scraps to find all the right little pieces and then to cut them all. Once that prep work was done, it didn't take very long to put together 25 little squares. After arranging them, though, I felt that some of the squares weren't as intense in colour as my favourite ones and I decided to make more squares using more intense colours. And then I tried a double-sized block to play with. Ultimately, I decided to make Kim's mini with 25 of the squares with the strongest colours. That left enough left overs to put together a bonus mini-mini quilt for me! It turned out to be fortuitous because I could use the mini-mini for a first run on all the next steps and I made several errors, which were spared on Kim's quilt.

Last Sunday we swapped mini quilts at our meeting and much delighted squealing and ooo-ing and ahhh-ing ensued. Honestly, the whole bunch of them ... at least a dozen or more ... were so amazing! Real eye candy! They were all so different and used so many different styles and techniques. I was truly blown away! I can't wait to see the photos of them on our guild's blog because we did not have nearly enough time to truly examine and appreciate them all as much as I would have liked.

Kim's Mini Kisses Quilt is 22" square and I used mostly scraps and a variety of low-volume background fabrics. The mini-mini quilt for me is 17" square, and uses the same materials.

What I learned:
  1. My accuracy has sure improved. No unintentionally wonky blocks
  2. I finally taught myself how to put the binding ends together so it looks likes all the other joins. I made a mistake on the mini-mini doing this for the first time but got it right for Kim's.
  3. I learned how to put corners on the back for hanging the quilt. No biggie, but it did distract me enough that I accidentally sewed the binding onto the back side of the mini mini quilt instead of the front, a mistake I didn't repeat on Kim's quilt. It does look neater and thinner when the binding is sewn onto the front. 
  4. I learned a bit about colour ... hue and tone.
  5. I learned that spiral quilting can make a quilt "warpy". My mini-mini was very rippled but was much better after a pressing. It is still a little warpy but not too bad. My spiral quilting was about 1/4" apart on that one. I made them 1/2" apart on Kim's quilt in hopes of reducing the warping. It didn't warp as badly but that might also have been because of the batting, which was different in both quilts. The mini-mini had a loftier batting and perhaps it pulled more.
  6. Starting spiral quilting is a little tricky because the circles are so small at first. To start, I shorten my stitch length, gradually increasing it to #2. I learned that my machine prefers to stitch at #2 and nothing bigger. As soon as I try bigger stitches, the stitches don't look as defined. I'll stick with #2.  At first I have to take a stitch or two and then left the foot, turn the quilt a bit, lower the foot, take a stitch or two ... repeating this until turning gets easier. I also drew the start of my spiral on a dryer sheet and tried that on a test piece of fabric. I had read this tip somewhere and thought I'd give it a try. If it had worked, it would be a great use for those used dryer sheets but don't do it. Those things do not want to tear away. Back to good old freezer paper, which works great and tears away easily.


  1. Oh my goodness, I love both of your quilts!! They both look so pretty! What a great idea to put the larger block in the centre!! I'm so glad you enjoyed making them!! :D

  2. i really liked the mini you made for Kim, i too am looking forward to seeing the guild blog photos... the ones i took seem to be at odd angles and a lot of blurs, which definitely capture the energy of the time,