Quilting for Lefties

Back in the doodle days before I could write my ABCs, I remember my mother telling her friends that she found out I was left handed by placing crayons in my right hand and watching me switch them to my left before proceeding to draw.

There are perks and inconveniences of being left-handed: for one, the birdie that you hang out the driver’s side window can reach pretty far! (if you drive on the right side of the road) On the other hand, I’ve learned to avoid writing with pens that I know will get smudge marks on my hand.

For the most part, it’s been easy enough to adapt and thrive in a right-handed world, until I started quilting.

I learned to quilt from “Youtube University” and though the videos taught me so much, there were some things I struggled with and had to figure out on my own:

  1. Rotary Blade – My rotary blade came with a blade attached on the Left side, set up perfectly for those right-handed peeps to glide alongside the edge of their rulers. It took me a few quilts to realize that my fabric would *actually cut* if I switched the blade to the other side. It was an odd moment of realization that was not accompanied by peer validation: no one else is doing it, but would it work for me? Game changer!

  1. Cutting WOF Strips – Ok, I never figured this out from the Youtube videos. Was I to mirror the Right-handed quilter, and what about my cutting mat markings: are they backwards for me? My ruler too? I devised my own way of cutting by using my cutting mat markings until I heard that those markings aren’t even accurate. Check it out below!
I used to cut WOF like this, moving the ruler and using the cutting mat markings.

Left-Handed Rulers

These two rulers have changed the way I cut WOF and trim my HSTs, HRTs, and FGs. Even though it’s just a matter of the numbers being arranged backwards, something that I felt that I could get by without, they have taken a surprising amount of cognitive load off my mind!

Use my affiliate links to purchase my two favorite left-handed rulers by Creative Grids:

6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ ruler – great for trimming
6 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ ruler – great for cutting WOF

Notice the numbers run Left to Right.

Left-Handed Advantages

So far, I’ve collected a few advantages that us lefties might have in quilting:

  1. Due to the singular shape of sewing machines, left-handed people get to handle the bulk of the quilt with their dominant hand when sewing.
  2. If it is typical to pin fabric so that the sharp end faces the throat of the machine, Lefties get to pull out those pins with their dominant hand.

Can you think of any more?! Send me a message and let me know so that I can add to the list!

12 Minis in 12 Months 2022

June is here and we are halfway done with this project! I have really enjoyed making these minis because they are fast and fun, and great for using up my scraps. There is no pressure to complete all 12 minis, and you can pick and choose which ones you’d like to make.

This month’s mini was designed by Amanda @prairiembquilter and can be purchased here.

Sign up here if you’d like all the links to the patterns from past months.

Stay tuned…the July mini is going to be my pattern =)

Guest Blog Post

Thanks to Homemade Emily Jane’s blog, I recently had the privilege of sharing a scrappy improv idea that helps you work down your stash while making something fun and beautiful.

Follow the tutorial to make these scrappy squares. Then, download the free pattern (link at the blog) to make this fun quilt!

Use this affiliate link to take you to the recommended Pellon wash and gone stabilizer.

The pattern is called Improv Around the Block. Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram with your makes. Seeing them makes me sooo happy!

What kind of quilt block are you?

Read below and take the fun personality quiz.

I recently sat down and made a personality quiz to find the strength of correlation between people’s quilting preferences and the types of quilts they like to piece together. It is not entirely possible (or right) to box quilting and quilters down to stereotypes, so some (if not many) may find that the results are not true.

When taking this quiz, there are nine possible quilt blocks that you can match with:
1. Traditional
2. Modern
3. Paper-pieced
4. Improv
5. Curves
6. Log Cabin
7. Strip Piecing
8. Appliqué
9. EPP

Some of the thoughts that went into the correlations?
With EPP using fussy-cutting, needle, and thread, I felt that this type of piecing gave you mobility and the ability to be away from the sewing machine, allowing you to do the craft a little more socially, or on the couch with a good movie on.
There are also types of piecing that I would use my scrap stash for: Paper-piecing, Improv, and Appliqué. Others require more time and attention when ironing: Log Cabin, Strip Piecing, etc.

Again, these correlations are not true for everyone – but it’s definitely fun and fast to take the quiz and see!

Sew Much Fun Tour

Welcome to my stop on the Sew Much Fun Tour!
Hello, I am Christina of @SweetPotatoQuilts.

I am so excited to share with you this FREE block pattern

My goal as a designer is to make room for makers to have choice in design and to make products that are uniquely theirs. To make this block, use my Beginner’s Improv Tutorial to make a scrappy square (or two, or more!) for the hand template.

Please tag me on Instagram with your make, and use #handyimprovblock.

Happy Sewing!

My mission here at Sweet Potato Quilts and the quilting community is to cultivate this space to inspire others to enjoy quilting by:

  1. highlighting beautiful elements of the process that can bring joy, fulfillment, and reflection,
  2. finding ways to experiment and try new things without fear of failure and/or judgment,
  3. designing unique and contemporary patterns that are fresh and fun to make, and
  4. providing and giving to communities and populations in need of help.

If you are interested in following my journey, receiving discounts, and being the first to learn about my endeavors, subscribe to my newsletter here.

Check out the Sew Much Fun Tour site to get a hold of past patterns and learn about the latest patterns that come out each week.

Guest Blog Post

Hi all!

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to write a guest blog post for Amy Smart, at her website.

The post includes step-by-step directions on how to make this body pillow, called the Secret Starry Stash. Not only is it named for the two stars that appear when piecing together three blocks, but it’s named after the fact that this pillow can literally store and hide your fabric scraps! I love that I can keep my scraps hidden in something that is functional and pretty to look at =)

Check out the blog to read all about it, then download the free pattern!

Enjoy, and don’t forget to share your makes with hashtag: SecretStarryStash

Making the X My Heart Block

Download the FREE Cross Block pattern here.

The block is a super fun and easy make – let me show you the general steps that it will take to complete the block:

  1. Follow the cutting instructions to cut out the pieces below.

2. From those pieces, create two blocks, pictured below. Yes, we are making 1 block, but stay tuned to see what happens!

3. Get ready to cut the two blocks in half diagonally. To best handle the selvage, it may be a good idea to draw a line and sew two seams on both sides of the line (left) before cutting (right).

4. Gather and arrange all pieces and sew them together to create the block.

5. Baste and quilt the block as desired, and follow the pattern instructions to turn the block into a pillow. Enjoy!

Bringing my Musical Background to Quilting

I’m going to break a habit right now, and it’s sharing one fact of mine that I don’t tell many people unless if it’s really necessary (to get a job). It’s that I am a graduate of The Juilliard School in NYC, with a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Clarinet Performance (acquired that somewhere else). Today, I am fortunate to share what I’ve learned in my 28 years of playing clarinet with my students at school and as a member of the Boise Philharmonic.

Now, people hear that and seem impressed by it all, and call me talented, etc. but really, what my experiences have shown (your experiences can also say the same!) is that anything worth pursuing takes a ton of work and an even larger amount of failure, all in the midst of a constant search for how to realize and effectively share the beauty that we seek in the world.

It was very humbling to spend 6-7 hours a day in a practice room perfecting the nuances of every note, only to hope that it would all be accurately expressed at a performance and audition, then interpreted the same by an unknown audience with various tastes and perspectives.

What I mean to say in all this is that with my background and experience, I am humbled by your following, and I am in awe of your pursuit of quilting. What are the life experiences that have brought you to quilting, and how have they shaped your perspective on this craft? Don’t hesitate to reply directly to this message. I would love to start a conversation and get to know you all.

Sign up here to join me on this quilting journey and I will send you an audio file of my clarinet music to get us started.

Free X My Heart Cross Block Pillow Pattern

Making the block for this pillow pattern will feel like magic! After piecing 2 simple blocks together, the pattern will walk you through cutting them in half diagonally and putting the four new pieces in a new arrangement.

I personally relate this to stress in life and the obstacles we face and how we come out of hard times hopefully with new perspective and outlook, and as more resilient and beautifully complex human beings.

Click here to download the free Cross Block pillow pattern.

Click here if you are interested in making the X My Heart double-pillow set, pictured below.

Turn Any Block into a Pillow Case – Tutorial

This blog post will help you turn any 18 ½” x 18 ½” unfinished block into a pillow case. Enjoy!

If you need a block to work with, download my free Bubble Bounce Block here.

Backing Fabric: (1) 22″ x 22″ square (this piece will not be visible because it will end up inside the pillow. Use of stash fabric is recommended.
Batting: (1) 22″ x 22″ square
Backing Pieces: (2) 14″ x 18 ½” rectangles
Binding Strips: (2) 2 ½” WOF strips
(1) 18″ x 18″ Pillow Insert

Pillow Top
1. Make a quilt sandwich by layering from bottom to top: backing wrong-side up, batting, and pillow block right-side up.

2. Baste and quilt the sandwich as desired.

I basted this block with basting pins. Underneath the batting is the backing fabric, which is not currently visible.

3. Trim the excess backing and batting.

Pillow Back
Gather the (2) Backing Pieces.

My two backing pieces measure 14″ x 18 ½” each.

1. Lay one piece wrong-side up and fold over one long edge by ½”. Press on the fold and stitch it in place. Repeat this step for the other Backing Piece.

2. Align the backing pieces right sides up so that the hemmed edges overlap by 6 ½”.

3. Pin the pieces together in the overlap area and sew ⅛” seam away from the overlap edges.

On the left and right side, I have sewn the 6″ of the overlapped units together.

Pillow Assembly
1. Layer from bottom to top, the Pillow Back right-side up and the Pillow Top wrong-side up.

The pillow is essentially inside-out.

2. Sew ¼ʺ seam away from the edge of the inverted pillow.

The pillow is inside out and ready to be trimmed at the edges.

3. Trim away any excess Pillow Back fabric.

Trim fabric from the pillow corners without cutting past the ¼ʺ seam.

4. Turn the pillow cover right-side out.

The pillow is lying flat on my table. You can see that the optical illusion of the patttern makes it look like it is already filled and ready to use!

1. Sew all binding 2 ½” WOF strips together by joining the end of each strip on the diagonal, creating one continuous strip.

2. Trim the excess triangles created from the diagonal sewing, leaving a ¼” seam allowance.

3. Fold the binding in half lengthwise with wrong sides facing together, then press.

4. Align the raw edges of the binding strip along the edge of the pillow back, with folded edge facing the middle of the pillow. Sew together with a ¼” seam allowance.

5. Fold the binding over to the front and sew by hand or machine.

6. Insert an 18″ pillow form and enjoy!