Break Out Of Your Box


As a quilter, I encourage you to break out of your box. As you read, you and I will explore some ideas on how you can break out of your quilting box.

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Break Out Of Your Box

Are you stuck in the rut of piecing your quilts by machine? Do you mostly stick to strips, blocks and half- or quarter-square triangles? Do curves scare you? Have you been afraid to try applique because of the hand stitching skills you may lack? Do you limit yourself to Beginner, or even Intermediate level patterns?

Break Out Of Your Box


No matter how experienced, or how prolific you are as a quilter, it is safe to say that there is always something new to attempt or learn. Have you mastered multiple quilt patterns and techniques, but have yet to try one or more of the dozens of other methods of quilt creation out there! Sometimes this is due to preference. Perhaps some techniques just do not interest you. Maybe a particular technique requires equipment or space that you don’t have. However valid your reasons for limiting your repertoire of quilt skills, there are still many interesting methods yet to master, or at least attempt. If you have been dragging your feet on trying a new type of quilt pattern or style, maybe it is time to try something new! After all, you needn’t make a whole quilt when you try a new technique or quilt pattern – how about a table runner, or a seasonal wall hanging using a new method?



Below are lists of quilt types, techniques and embellishment ideas. Take a minute and ponder the possibilities!

Quilting Types

  • Cathedral Windows - try one of the various methods of making this classic beauty.
  • Rag Quilts - avoid having to quilt your whole quilt at the end by creating individual quilted blocks and sewing them together leaving raw edges. Creates a very cute flannel baby quilt.
  • Crazy quilts - as the name implies, use your scraps of varied shapes and stitch together in a random fashion. Like coloring between the lines? Try this, you may like it!
  • Art Quilt (wall hanging) - use a photograph or picture from a magazine and cut pieces of fabric to ‘paint’ a piece of art.
  • Attic Window - using novelty or scenic fabrics to give this classic pattern pops of interest.
  • Scrap Quilt - create simple Irish Chain, or 9-Patches to use up your scraps; a great way to test your ability to practice ‘random’ piecing.
  • Charm Quilt - scrap quilt, create a charming beauty but only use each fabric ONCE!
  • Panels - find a stunning panel and play with placing complimentary fabrics around the panel to built to your desired size.
  • T-Shirt / Memory Quilts - transform old T-shirts or children’s clothing into a keepsake gift.


Piecing Methods

If you love the ease and quickness of creating beautiful quilts using strip-piecing or pre-cuts, maybe think about stretching your skills by switching to a quilt with lots of angles or even curves! Here are some piecing methods to consider:

  • Curved seams - fun examples are Drunkard’s Path, Axe Handle, or even the challenging Wedding Ring.
  • Paper Piecing - perfect method to create animal or floral blocks with perfect points.
  • English Paper Piecing - a great way to try quilts with small pieces and hand stitching using templates like hexagons or diamonds.
  • Hand Piecing - relax in your favorite chair and hand piece a stack of previously cut tumblers.
  • Woven - not all quilts can be put together in blocks or rows; try one that requires weaving together strips to make adorable quilted bags or placemats.


Quilting Techniques

Do you usually send your quilts out to be quilted? Many quilters prefer the piecing part of the project, or simply do not have the room or equipment to do their own quilting. If this is you, how about trying to quilt a small quilt or wall hanging on your standard sewing machine?

  • Stitch in the ditch - simple in theory, but it is harder than it sounds to do this invisibly.
  • Shadow quilting - simply quilt in straight lines a specific distance from an existing seam.
  • Free motion quilting - start simply! Work in a small area and do simple meandering or stippling; move on to more complicated patterns as you gain confidence.
  • Quilt from a template or stencil - draw or stencil patterns and quilt on the lines.
  • Hand Quilt - it may take months or years, but every quilter should try this at least once; you might just LOVE it.


Embellishment Techniques

So when your piecing is done, consider adding some pizzaz!

  • Machine or Hand Applique - try the many applique techniques (needle turn, raw edge, fusible) to enhance the look of your quilt or wall hanging.
  • Wool applique on cotton - consider adorning your beautiful cotton quilt with wool applique for added warmth and dimension.
  • Piping - add a small, raised trim piece to your border, or in between borders.
  • Prairie points - instead of plain binding, consider adding a binding of individual folded triangles.
  • Yoyos - create and add adorable round fabric yoyos to the top of your quilt; experiment with various colors and sizes to add interest.
  • Fabric origami accents - a lovely way to adorn quilt blocks by embedding folded fabric into your seams.
  • Art quilt - as a wall hanging, use various fabrics and embellishments such as beads, ribbons or buttons; even try paint.


The list above provides only a sampling of the options available. Once you have become proficient in a technique, however much you enjoy it, take a break from it. Hopefully glancing over the list has sparked a flicker of encouragement to try something new.


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Attaching individual pieces of fabric to a background to form a design.

Same As: Appliqué

See Also: Freezer Paper Applique, Needleturn Applique, Machine Applique, Reverse Applique, Shadow Applique
Binding is used as both a noun and a verb. As a noun it is the fabric that's used to cover the raw edges of the quilt sandwich after it's quilted. This edging fabric is referred to as the Binding (noun). As a verb it is the process of putting on this fabric, and it referred to as Binding a Quilt.
A strip of fabric or pieced strip of fabric joined to the edges of the inner quilt and used to frame it.
Charm Quilt
A quilt made of many, many small patches (about 2 inches) where each piece is a different fabric. The pattern is usually a one patch design and often involves swaps and trades with friends to gather many fabrics.
Decorative stitches or items that are added to a quilt, including buttons, beads, charms, or embroidery or other thread.
English Paper Piecing
A method of hand piecing where paper templates are used inside the block elements to guide where the edges are turned under and templates are removed. Baby Blocks, Grandmother's Flower Garden and other non-square shapes are often pieced this way.

See Also: Assembly Piecing, Machine Piecing, Chain Piecing, Paper Piecing, Hand Piecing, Piecing
A soft fabric which can be made from cotton, wool or synthetic fibers. It is usually loosely woven and slightly furry and is very warm. It's tendency to ravel makes it a very good fabric to use for rag quilt.
Free Motion Quilting
Method of quilting where the feed dogs of a sewing machine are lowered or covered and the quilter controls the movement of the fabric under the needle.
Hand Piecing
When you sew all of the patches in a quilt top together by hand, not using a sewing machine.

See Also: English Paper Piecing, Assembly Piecing, Machine Piecing, Chain Piecing, Paper Piecing, Piecing
Paper Piecing
A method of hand piecing using paper templates of shapes to assist you with cutting, piecing and sewing accurately. The paper is used as a guide for sewing and then later removed.

See Also: English Paper Piecing, Assembly Piecing, Machine Piecing, Chain Piecing, Hand Piecing, Piecing
The process of assembling quilt blocks from pieces of fabric sewn along their edges to form a whole.

See Also: English Paper Piecing, Assembly Piecing, Machine Piecing, Chain Piecing, Paper Piecing, Hand Piecing
Prairie Points
Folded fabric triangles that are usually used for a border on a quilt.
Raw Edge
An unfinished fabric edge of a piece of fabric or a quilt block. For applique, an edge which has not yet been turned under with stitching.
Scrap Quilt
A quilt, usually patchwork, made of many different fabrics, often left over from other projects.
An easy way to create quilt blocks with unique kaleidoscope designs. These designs require a set of identical pieces cut from a print fabric. Rather than finding and cutting each piece individually, a quilter can cut and layer a number of large, identical print rectangles to make a stack.

Same As: Stack-n-Whack, Whack
Random quilting stitches that move across the quilt in a fluid-like motion. They generally do not overlap.

Same As: Meander Quilting
Stitch In The Ditch
The process of quilting just next to the seams of a quilt, block or to the very edge of an applique area.

Same As: In The Ditch
Pattern pieces made out of paper, cardboard, plastic or metal, giving you something to draw around so that you can accurately replicate any shape.
Wedding Ring
A traditional pattern consisting of arced pieces of squares sewn together to form a ring or circle.
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