Scrumptious and Scrappy (Blogger’s Quilt Festival)

My second entry is going into the Scrappy Quilt Category. 

This quilt has a fun backstory. My friend was all set for the birth of her baby boy, Andrew. The nursery was ready, all his clothes were ready… everything. When she delivered, she was surprised (understatement!) to meet not an Andrew, but a Laura!! 

Little Laura definitely needed a girly quilt for her bed, so I made this:

I just love the prints and colors in Scrumptious by Bonnie & Camille for Moda. I kept it patchwork and scrappy, just to really let the prints be the focus point, and quilted it with an all over design on my Gammill. 


The back is a riot of color:


Thanks for stopping by! 

X’s and O’s (Blogger’s Quilt Festival)

Hurray! The Blogger’s Quilt Festival is here! This year one of my entries is this sweet baby quilt into the Small Quilts category. 

A friend in my parish recently had her baby daughter baptized, and I wanted to make a quilt for baby Brigid to celebrate the occasion. 

For the top I used Happy Go Lucky by Bonnie & Camille for Moda. The pattern is something I came up with while trying to decide what to do with a charm pack, and I like how when you look at it you see X’s and O’s. Of course, I’m a big fan of wide borders and negative space for quilting. I quilted this on my Gammill using Isacord thread. 

Here’s a shot of the back, which shows off the quilting well:

I love how it turned out! Thanks for stopping by! 

A Machine Review: Brother PQ1500s

My very good friend Lindsey just purchased a new sewing machine, a Brother PQ1500s. This just so happens to be the same machine that I have, and when I was talking to her about it the other day and telling her what I loved about my machine, I realized that I have had this thing for a year and a half, and have never really done a follow-up after I bought it to share my thoughts. I’m using an outline that Sew Mama Sew has on their site (in an awesome index of reviews- check it out!) because I think it’s really thorough. So here we go!

New-right outta the box shot!

New-right outta the box shot!

What brand and model do you have? 

A Brother PQ1500s

How long have you had it? 

A year and a half.

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?

Around $600.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)? 

This is a straight-stitch only machine. I use it almost exclusively for quilting. Occasionally I will hem something with it, or do some other small project, but 99% of its use is for quilting.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?

Very frequently. I’ve slowed down my use of it since I purchased a longarm machine, but before I bought my Gammill I did 100% of all my piecing and quilting on this machine. I still use it for all of my piecing and for sewing on bindings.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?

I love this machine. It was absolutely worth every cent in my opinion, and it does everything I need it to do.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?

I love the big throat space. I love the height of the arm, too. It isn’t low, so it’s much easier to fit quilts through it. It has a knee lift which I don’t know how I ever lived without before getting this. It’s all manual, which has become a major positive for me, because I have control over every aspect of its settings. Another thing that I really loved about this machine was that it came with all the feet I could ever want with the machine. I didn’t have to buy a walking foot or a darning foot separately. Huge plus!

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?

No- not that I can think of. It would be nice if it had a needle up/down button, but that’s not necessary and I really don’t miss it.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?

Possibly. I would recommend it to people who are serious quilters and really only have need of a straight stitch. If you want a machine that has a lot of bells and whistles and decorative stitches, this isn’t the machine for you. It does one thing, but it does it very, very well. And it is excellent for free-motion quilting.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?

I think it’s important to know what you plan on primarily using it for. For me, I knew I would be using it for quilting, so I wanted something that had a big throat space, came with an extended table, and could handle free motion quilting. This machine has everything that was important to me in a machine.

Do you have a dream machine?

This is the one!

Many, many finishes. 

I have been quilting away like a maniac and haven’t been very good about updating over here. So, let’s do a quick catch-up, shall we? A Cliff’s Notes version… in pictures! 

As you can see, a lot has been happening! 

In the midst of all of this, there was a pretty positive response to my post about backing fabric, so I’m working on a companion piece, this time dealing with quilt tops. Stay tuned for that! 

It’s Hip to be Square (and other backing thoughts)


Let’s talk backing.

Poor backing, it can sometimes be an afterthought. So much time and energy goes into making a beautiful quilt top, and then you finish and you’re like, “Oh yeah… backing.” For your longarm quilter though, backing is the first thing we think of when it’s time to load a quilt. In this post, I’ll share everything you ever wanted to know about backing fabric specifically for longarm quilting. For today, backing is the star!

1. It needs to be square!

If you’ve ever looked at a Quilting Services page on a machine quilter’s website, I would stake the farm* on the fact that at some point, “Square your backing!” or the equivalent is said. What does this mean? A square backing is one in which the top and bottom edges are parallel, and the sides are parallel. All four corners are 90º angles. There is no fullness- meaning if you spread that backing out on the floor, it would lay flat. No ripples or funky parts that won’t stay down.

  • Why does it matter? When I said backing was the first thing your longarmer thinks of, I wasn’t kidding. It is the first part of your quilt that gets loaded onto the frame. It is literally the foundation of the quilt sandwich- everything else rests on top of it. We pin the top and bottom edge of the backing to the top and bottom canvas leaders. These canvas leaders are on rollers that roll opposite of each other, so that we can get that backing taut. If the backing isn’t square, it won’t be nice and flat and taut. Part of it will be, but another part might hang loosely, or twist funkily. Don’t let all this talk of the top and bottom edges distract you- the sides are just as important! We have lines on those leaders to mark the center, and we find the center of the top and bottom edges of the backing (by folding in half and bringing the sides together) and match it up to the leader lines when we pin.

Here’s what it looks like. I loaded this backing unsquarely, for example purposes:

Messy floor... oops

Messy floor… oops

See how it’s all droopy and ripply and and the seam lines aren’t straight and it’s generally just crazy? I can’t layer batting and a quilt top on that to quilt it.


But see how nice and flat this quilt sandwich is? Underneath is a square backing that is giving me a great foundation for quilting.

2. It needs to be sewn with a 1/2″ seam. 

In piecing a top, 1/4″ is the gold standard, but that isn’t best when piecing a backing. Instead, use a 1/2″, and press it open.

  • Why does it matter? The rollers that I mentioned that roll opposite each other to get your backing taut put pressure on backing fabric. A 1/4″ seam is more likely to pop open than a 1/2″- so think of it as a safety measure. As for pressing it open, that’s simply to help eliminate some bulk in that seam.

3. It needs to be bigger than your top. 

Different longarmers have different requirements for how much bigger, so check with yours. For me, I ask for an extra 4″ on all sides, so a total of 8″. In other words, if your top is 62″ x 74″, your backing needs to be 70″ x 82″. Make sense?

  • Why does it matter? That excess gives us space to quilt to the edge of your top without the carriage of our machine running into the clamps that we attach to the sides. It gives us a place to test our tension. It’s a form of insurance that guarantees when we get to the bottom of your quilt top, there’s still plenty of backing left over and we’re not short. Basically, this is one of the most important things about your backing.

That about covers it. Those are the most important things you should know about backing fabric when you send your quilt to a longarm quilter. I hope that helps give a better understanding for why we ask for what we ask for. It’s not meant to be intimidating or a bunch of crazy rules to scare you off. What it boils down to is that we (I feel confident speaking for all longarmers here) want to do the best we can for you. We want to return to you a quilt that will make you ecstatic- and it all starts with the backing.

*I don’t actually have a farm. 

Valentine’s Day promo!

I posted this on Instagram and got a really positive response so far, so I thought I’d share the love over here, too:


That’s right! If you schedule a quilt with me by 2/21- you get your batting for free. It will be Quilter’s Dream, and we’ll talk about it when you contact me for details. If you’re interested, send me an e-mail at

thequiltingchamp [at] gmail [dot] com

Feathery Finish!

I just finished up the second quilt that Tracey sent me!




I really went to town on this one!

The borders were so much fun- I love a nice, wide border. It’s so much negative space that I get to go in and dress up. The effect of the feathers puffing up is awesome, I think. And quilting them this way- where they weave off and on the top- was quicker and easier than doing a continuous feather border. Honestly- I even like the look of it better this way, too! So that was a definite win.

Next, I have a slight gap between orders, so I’m going to see if I can squeeze a quilt of my own in there!


Fun in Borders

I got started on the second quilt from Tracey:


These borders are nice and big (my favorite!), so I’m doing big feathers that weave on and off of the quilt top and echoing around them. I really wanted the feathers to puff up and stand out, so around them I’m quilting densely: pebbles and swirls.



I am so happy with how they’re turning out. Feathers are my favorite!



Stay tuned! This one is going to be fun.