More Beginner Quilting Questions Answered: Part II

Beginner Quilting Questions are answered in the multi-part blog series! Are you ever confused about what batting to use? Find out the difference between cotton and wool batting!

And we’re back with more basic beginner quilting questions straight from my inbox to your computer screens. If you missed our other installments of questions and answers, you can check it out here – Basic Quilting Questions Part I and Quilting Technique Questions Part III.

(We cover lots of good stuff like pinning, matching seams, squaring up a quilt and...well, you'll just have to go read it.

Ready to dive in again? Scrap is ready. Let's go!

Beginner Quilting Questions are answered in the multi-part blog series! | Suzy Quilts

More Basic Beginner Quilting Questions Answered!

Q: My quilt is too puffy.

A: Well, let me first point out that that’s not a question, but yes, I get what you’re “asking.” If your quilt’s too puffy you’ve got a batting problem. "Problem" is too harsh of a word. Let’s call it a disagreement. You and your batting are fighting because you’re not a good fit. It’s time to break up.

Beginner Quilting Questions are answered in the multi-part blog series!

Puffy battings are, in many cases, called “Puff" batting. Don’t buy that if you don’t want a puffy quilt. Batting that is labeled Puff is usually made from synthetic fibers.

Another type of batting to avoid, if you aren't vibing with the fluffy puff look, is wool. Wool is wonderfully warm and also pretty fluffy (think sheep.)

A nice flat option for you would be a bamboo blend, cotton, or a cotton/poly blend. Read more about specific types and brands of batting here – How to Choose the Right Quilt Batting.

Beginner Quilting Questions are answered in the multi-part blog series! Are you ever confused about what batting to use? Find out the difference between cotton and wool batting!

Q: I want my quilt puffier.

A: Again, not a question, but I catch your drift. Want a puffier quilt? Use a puffier batting. See puffy batting examples in the answer above. Another tip to get that sweet sweet puff is to loosen up on the machine quilting. The more densely you quilt your quilts, the flatter they will be.

Beginner Quilting Questions are answered in the multi-part blog series! Are you ever confused about what batting to use? Find out the difference between cotton and wool batting!
Beginner Quilting Questions are answered in the multi-part blog series! Are you ever confused about what batting to use? Find out the difference between cotton and wool batting!
Beginner Quilting Questions are answered in the multi-part blog series! Are you ever confused about what batting to use? Find out the difference between cotton and wool batting!

Q: I ordered the same fabric on two different occasions and I swear they aren’t the exact same color. What’s happening? Will people notice if I use them in the same quilt?

A: To answer the first part of that question, yes, unfortunately this does happen sometimes. I find it to be the most noticeable with solid fabrics that are dyed and have no printed pattern.

Sometimes the same fabric is slightly different in color or hue if it is cut from different bolts. This discoloration is caused because of a couple reasons. One is that the fabric could have been soaked in different dye baths that were just a fraction off from each other. Another reason is if the fabric bolts were stored differently – a bolt sitting in the sun on display will be slightly faded compared to the bolt tucked away in a dark storage closet.

Beginner Quilting Questions are answered in the multi-part blog series! Are you ever confused about what batting to use? Find out the difference between cotton and wool batting!

Will people notice if you use them in the same quilt, you ask? I highly doubt it. The only way someone would notice is if you shoved the quilt in their face and said, “SEE?? LOOK AT THAT DISCOLORATION!” Then they probably will notice and also probably not invite you back over to visit.

Also keep in mind that once you wash the fabrics, all of them will fade slightly. I actually think a slight change in color or hue only spices things up and adds dimension. So give yourself a pat on the back for making such a unique quilt with such beautiful variations in color.

Beginner Quilting Questions are answered in the multi-part blog series! Are you new to quilting? If I don't answer your question in this article, ask in the comments!

Q: How do I get pencil markings out of a quilt?

A: Oh my darling. My sweet, dearest, honeybun. Why were you using a pencil on your quilt? Haven’t you learned from my mistakes and seen for yourself that pencil lines usually don’t come out?

I have a whole blog post written just for you so you never have to worry about lead pencils again. This post also includes photo proof that I had to learn this lesson the hard way. Dearest darling, please read this post on Quilt Marking Tools and then swear to me that you will return that lead pencil to the school backpack from whence you found it. 

OK, but to your actual question – how to get that dreaded lead pencil marking out. I’m guessing you made this mark on your fabric a while ago during the cutting phase and now that the quilt is finished you are noticing it? If the pencil marking is underneath the fabric (like it was in my case) and is just showing through because the fabric is light, all I can say is, “If you find a solution let me know.”

However, if the pencil marking is on the right side of the fabric, there may still be hope. Grab your favorite stain remover (I like OxiClean, but whatever you like works), use cold water, and gently rub, rinse, and repeat until you either get tired of trying or the pencil is gone. Then report back here and let me know how things went. Good luck! 

Beginner Quilting Questions are answered in this multi-part blog series! Learn all about marking tools, resizing quilts and how to choose the right batting

Q: I want to make a T-shirt quilt, but don’t know where to start. Can you help?

A: I actually receive this question so frequently that I finally wrote a blog post all about the infamous T-shirt quilt and how to make it. Read more – Make a Memory Quilt.

Q: How do I resize a quilt to make it larger?

A: I used to get this question a lot about SQ patterns. It happened so regularly that I realized by not offering most standard quilt sizes in my patterns, I was doing a lot of you a disservice, and also forcing you to do math, which is just cruel. Now if you buy a Suzy Quilts pattern from the last year, it will include most standard quilt sizes so you don’t have to worry about conversions.

If you’re try to resize an early SQ pattern, or a different pattern all together, unfortunately you will need to do a bit of math. Hopefully not much, but some.

  • Row Quilt: If you wish to make a row quilt, like Mosaic, larger or smaller, consider adding or subtracting some of the rows. Also leave off some of the blocks on the sides or add more blocks on the sides.
  • Half Square Triangle Quilt: You can find a half square triangle conversion chart here. Keep the layout of the quilt, just make all of the blocks bigger as needed. 
  • Sawtooth Star Quilt: You can find a sawtooth star conversion chart here. Like with the Half Square Triangle quilt, make them all larger proportionately OR simply make more blocks.
  • Flying Geese Quilt: Here is a flying geese conversion post, but you can also find a chart in the Sawtooth Star post above as well.
Beginner Quilting Questions are answered in the multi-part blog series!

The quilt patterns Triangle Jitters and Nordic Triangles include half square triangle conversion charts so they can easily be sized up or down.

Other quilts, like Maypole and Fishing Net would be a bit trickier. Consider adding borders if you would like to make them larger.

Some quilts, like Indian Summer, have a distinct repeating pattern. To make the quilt larger, just continue the pattern. Graph paper can help too.

Q: I’m short on backing fabric! What do I do??

A: No sweat, my pet! Just scrap it! Oh, no, I didn’t mean scrap the quilt. I meant sew a scrappy backing. Lots of quilters actually do this on purpose to make their quilt backs more interesting. Is there a way for you to add some complimentary quilt blocks to the back? Or maybe just a few more inches can be added with a fun strip of fabric down the middle.

Just remember that when you sew fabric together, you lose some of it in the seam allowance – so if you get really scrappy, account for that lost fabric.

Beginner Quilting Questions are answered in the multi-part blog series!

Like I always say, I love hearing from you, so if you have a tip you'd like to share or if one of these answers has helped you, let us know in the comments! That's a wrap on this installment of beginner quilting questions. Until next time!

35 thoughts on “More Beginner Quilting Questions Answered: Part II

  1. Mary B says:

    Loving this blog series!
    My questions are;
    How often do you service your sewing machine? (DIY/Proffessional?)
    Whip stitch or Ladder stitch for binding?

  2. Betsy says:

    Thank you for these helpful tips! You’re a great resource.

    The first quilt I ever made was with my mother and we marked the fabric with a ballpoint pen. 😱 Luckily it is a very scrappy quilt and has held up for years with no one noticing, probably because of all the clashing patterns. 🙂

    • Suzy says:

      Eeeeek! That makes me so nervous! 😂 I’m glad to hear your wild fabric choices camouflaged the potentially hazardous situation 😉👌

  3. Alanna says:

    Hey Suzy any tips for quilting a quilt with a highly pieced back. I want to add a few blocks to my backing as you suggested, since I’m short on fabric. But I am worried about quilting through too many seams (if the back is too pieced, its essentially a double sided quilt isn’t it), and I am also worried about lining it up so that the lines on both sides run straight.

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Hmmm…I see what you mean. Here’s a thought – if you are basting on the floor go ahead and tape your pieced backing to the floor like normal. With some extra pieces of masking tape, stick one piece to the floor as guides on the top and another on the bottom so that you could run a tape measure or piece of thread between the two to create a straight line. (following me?)

      Once you have at least a couple guides on the top and bottom, smooth out your batting and then your quilt top – using the tape marks as guides so that everything is nicely inline.

  4. Aggie from The Lavender Quilting Farm says:

    Reading through your questions, the wavy edges can also be prevented by stabilising your quilt first, like stitch in the ditch or some basting stitches. Also, using a walking foot helps to get your quilt layers through your machine at the same rate. Thanks for the tips!

  5. Emily says:

    Suzy you are always such a help and inspiration!

    I’ve watched your cutting videos, but I wonder if you could cover how to cut out lots of pieces quickly. I can never seem to figure out how to efficiently cut my fabric. Let’s say I have a half a yard of fabric and I’m trying to cut 5 inch blocks. How would you approach this?


  6. Kathryn says:

    I have a problem with shifting seams. I pin the edges together, and pin them a lot, then sew a 1/4 inch, but the bottom seam has shifted to a smaller seam and is especially worse when going over joined seams what would u suggest? Is it my machine?

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      It sounds like your presser foot is putting too much pressure on the fabric, causing the two layers to shift. Does your machine allow you to adjust the height of your foot? You may need to look in your sewing machine manual to see.

  7. Susan Brown says:

    finished the top of quilt; looks like I have stretched some of the material. Is there any way to wash it? to get it back in shape. Once I put batting on and backing will any discrepancies be less visible.

  8. Cathy A Koger says:

    This question has bothered me for 3 years and asking in groups on FB hasn’t helped. Why do some sewers have bird nests and others don’t. I have avoided the problem mostly by using leaders or holding the threads. However I have seen other quilters who do neither one and do not have bird nests. Why?

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      I think some machines are better than others at not sucking up the threads and creating those ratty nests. I don’t have that problem on my BERNINA 770, however when I first started out I struggled with them on my entry-level Janome.

    • Mea Cadwell says:

      I have 2 machines and both have the button to cut thread. My entry-level Brother doesn’t give me bird nests when I use the cutting button but my mid-level Juki does. Go figure. From your comment I don’t know if you’re getting birds nests when using the cutting button or if something else is at play here.

  9. Marion Hawks says:

    I am going to make a sampler quilt for my granddaughter. I have been searching online and in my quilting books to try to find out for sure if a 12′ quilt block is literally 12.5″ to allow for the .25″ seams around it or if those are two different size blocks? I could make one of each to determine that but I do not want to possibly make one I won’t use. Can you help me?

  10. Barbara says:

    My bobbin thread is matching the backing of my quilt. During stitch in the ditch sewing I am finding the bobbin thread has started showing up on the front. Why?

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      That’s because when your top thread and your bobbin are chaining together the tension is off just enough that the locking chain is showing up on the top instead of between the layers. I actually have a cute little gif of this here – You can try loosening your thread tension to see if that helps. Messing with thread tension can be a dangerous game, though, so don’t change the numbers too much. If you don’t know where your thread tension dial is, check your sewing machine manual.

  11. Margaret says:

    Hi there,
    I have been using up a lot of old fabric, & making throw-sized quilts, in a on-point design with double borders & stitched in the ditch. My problem is that on the last one, the squares are loose, after washing the quilt. Everything is intact, just seems like there is too much fabric . Is this because the muslin backing shrank, even though it was prewashed?
    I’m using Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 batting & cotton muslin backing. Or, am I using the wrong batting for 5″in. squares – I read that I probably should be stitching no more than 4″ apart?
    Thank you

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Without seeing your quilting process I can only make guesses, however a loose looking quilt top is probably caused by one of two things:
      1. During the basting process you didn’t lay everything totally flat and baste enough. By that I mean use enough basting pins or heat set the basting spray. Info on that –
      2. How far apart did you quilt? You may just need to quilt it a bit more. Tighter quilting will hold the fabric down so even if it shrinks unevenly you won’t be able to tell aside from that classic quilt crinkle.

  12. Will says:

    Hey Suzy, great post! I’m having a bit of fraying on the edges of my seams after piecing blocks together. I’m going to trim the major ones, but is this something I should be concerned about before sending it off to get quilted? Is fraying normal?

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Some fraying is normal and happens the more you handle it. Also some fabrics fray more than others. You only need to trim the fraying threads if you are worried about dark threads showing up behind light fabric.

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