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Preparing for the Upcoming Graduation Season

Let me introduce myself: I'm Carolyn Vagts, editor of Quilter's World magazine and writer of this update. That's my day job, and at night, I'm an addicted quilter. I tend to eat, breathe and sometimes sleep with my quilting. I have a beautiful studio with my work space right in it. How convenient, since I work at and with quilting. As editor, I am very hands-on with every issue. I'm also very hands-on with this update. I love to share my experiences with other quilters in hopes it will inspire them to explore the endless possibilities available to them.

With each update I select a book or pattern to accompany it. It's usually something that I feel goes along with the content of my update. This time my suggestion is our book Jiffy Quick Quilts. One of the many trends I love is quilts you can make in a short amount of time. This time of year, I usually have several quilts to make for upcoming graduations. This book has some very nice quilts you can fit into your busy schedule if you're one of those quilters who makes quilts as gifts. This is the time of year when I get inundated with weddings, graduations and showers, and if I can, I like to make special gifts, which to me means quilts.

<em>Jiffy Quick Quilts</em>
Jiffy Quick Quilts is an Annie's Quilting pattern available at

I tend to collect easy patterns just for the purpose of making quick gifts, especially when I'm making quilts for young adults going off to college. I know that the quilt will probably have battle wounds by the end of four years, but that's OK. This year I have two such young people I need to make quilts for. Both are boys. I've sorted out my fat quarters and have gotten out my bag of scrap batting pieces. Instead of the normal quilt, this time I'm going to make a couple of rag quilts with flannel. I've been saving flannels for a while now, and I have enough to make both quilts. I also have a ton of scrap batting I've been saving for just such a project.

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Some of the fat quarters and scrap batting I'm going to use to make rag quilts.

I really don't need a pattern this time. I'm going to work with fat quarters and design the quilt as I go to make the most out of the fabric I have. The first step is to press all the fat quarters and determine the best size to make my blocks. I've decided on 9 x 10-inch blocks after measuring my fat quarters since I have several that aren't exactly the standard size. This way I can use all my fat quarters. My plan is to make two blocks from each fat quarter. I can cut four rectangles from each, allowing me to make the front and back of my quilt block with the same fabric. This way, when laying out the blocks, I don't have to worry about having two like blocks side by side on the back. I can arrange every block from the front and know that the back will look just as nice.

After pressing my fat quarters, I cut out the 9 x 10-inch flannel rectangles, keeping them with like rectangles in sets of two. I am making one of the quilts in earth tones and one in grays.

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Cutting out the 9 x 10-inch flannel rectangles and pairing them with like rectangles.

Now to make these quilts nice and cozy warm (I live in Michigan and it gets really cold here!). I'm adding a layer of batting to each block. This is a great way to use leftover batting that most quilters tend to keep, me included. Being that this is going to be a rag quilt and will be sewn as I go, I need to cut the batting into 8 x 9-inch rectangles to allow for a 1/2-inch seam allowance all the way around each block. I don't want the batting showing in the seam allowance! Each block is then laid out so that the bottom flannel rectangle is right side down, then next the batting is centered on the bottom flannel rectangle and on top is a matching flannel rectangle with the right side up.

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Cutting the batting rectangles and then layering each block.

I like to layer all my blocks ahead of time, and I pin the edges to secure them in place. After I have them pinned, I head to my sewing machine to quilt each block before I assemble the quilt. Sometimes I simply quilt an "X" on each block set, and sometimes I like to quilt the entire block using a stipple stitch. On these two quilts I'm going to stipple each block set instead of the two diagonal lines. Either way works wonderfully.

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Pinning the blocks and stippling each set.

Once all the blocks are quilted, I lay them out on the floor and make sure I have the fabrics arranged so that same fabrics aren't too close together and that the arrangement is pleasing to the eye. When I'm happy with how it looks, I start stitching one row together at a time, making sure to keep in the order it was laid out in and using a 1/2-inch seam allowance with all seams to the top of the quilt. After the blocks are stitched into rows, I then stitch the rows together in the order I laid them out.

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Stitching the blocks into rows and then the rows into the quilt.

I won't have this quilt done in time for this newsletter, but here is how you finish the edge of the quilt. You simply stitch another 1/2-inch seam allowance all the way around the outer edge. Once the quilt is completely stitched, clip each and every seam allowance, making sure you don't cut into the stitching. There are clippers you can buy specifically for making rag quilts. Once you have clipped all the seam allowances, wash the quilt to remove the clipped threads in the fabric and fluff up the seams so they look like chenille.

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Stitching around outer edge of the pieced quilt and clipping all the seams before washing.

No worries for me, I still have plenty of time to finish these two quilts before the June open houses I've been invited to, but I do have a great start on them. I'll work on them when I have a bit of free time.

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