Jaftex 85th Anniversary Blog Hop

Hi everyone!  I’m really excited about the month of September for SO many personal reasons, but also for one big quilty reason, too.  Jaftex is celebrating 85 years in business and they’re having a blog hop that starts today with chances to win some great prizes.


Jaftex has invited 30 guests to the celebration (one each day of the month) who will reveal a project made especially for the blog hop. PLUS, I get to be a part of this “party” on September 24 when I get to show you what I made out of the fat quarter bundle that was sent to me.  I can’t wait!

Some Jaftex history:  Jaftex Corp. was founded in the 1930’s when Jacob A. Fortunoff started selling fabric on the streets of New York. At that time, the mainstay of the business was women’s sleepwear and lingerie. In the 80’s, Jacob’s grandson, Robert, dramatically changed the business of the company. The business focus was transferred to the over the counter quilt industry when Robert purchased companies like A.E. Nathan, Henry Glass, Stylemaker, Chanteclaire, Fabric Editions/Studioe and more recently The Blank Quilting Corp. Robert is now joined by his two sons, Scott and Greg. Scott currently is the President of Studioe Fabrics, The Blank Quilting Corp. & A.E. Nathan Co., Inc. Greg just joined the business in late 2014 and has successfully spearheaded the company’s foray into precut fabrics among other contributions.

jaftex signage

The blog hop schedule includes an amazing list of companies, designers, and bloggers. You can follow along, too, starting with today’s guest, Kim Diehl.  She is guest posting at American Patchwork & Quilting.  You don’t want to miss her project!

September 1 – Kim Diehl guest posting @ American Patchwork & Quilting
September 2 – Pepper @ Pepper at the Quilt Studio
September 3 – Anjeanette @ Anjeanette Klinder
September 4 – Leanne @ The Whole Country Caboodle
September 5 – Mark @ Mark Lipinski’s Blog
September 6 – Heather @ Heather Kojan Quilts
September 7 – Heather @ Trends and Traditions
September 7 – Martha @ Wagons West Designs
September 8 – Linda @ Linda Lum DeBono
September 9 – Heidi @ Red Letter Quilts
September 10 – Jill @ Jillily Studios
September 10 – Dana @ My Lazy Daisy
September 11 – Penny @ Sew Simple Designs
September 12 – Ida @ Cowtown Quilts
September 13 – Liz and Beth @ Lizzie B Cre8ive
September 14 – Melissa @ Sew Bitter Sweet Designs
September 15 – Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl
September 16 – Amy @ Kati Cupcake
September 16 – Barbara @ QuiltSoup2
September 17 – Erica @ Kitchen Table Quilting
September 18 – Leona @ Leona’s Quilting Adventure
September 19 – Margot @ The Pattern Basket
September 20 – Sylvia @ Flying Parrot Quilts
September 21 – Lorna @ Sew Fresh Quilts
September 22 – Kim @ Aurifil Threads
September 23 – Rebekah @ Don’t Call Me Becky
September 24 – Julie @ The Crafty Quilter
September 25 – Mary Ellen @ Little Quilts
September 25 – Mary Jane @ Holly Hill Designs
September 26 – Daisy @ Ants to Sugar
September 27 – Melissa @ Happy Quilting
September 28 – Janet @ One S1ster
September 29 – Jenny @ Martingale& Co.
September 30 – Teresa @ Third Floor Quilts


As with any good blog hop, there are prizes!

1st Prize:
Blog Readers: A Janome Skyline S5 sewing machine
Your favorite quilt shop: 30 bolts of fabric

Janome prize


2nd Prize:
Blog Readers: 15 Fat quarter bundles and a box of Aurifil thread [48 spools]
Your favorite quilt shop: 15 bolts of fabric

aurifil prize


3rd Prize:
Blog Readers: 6 Fat quarter bundles and a special edition tin of goodies from Schmetz Needles
Your favorite quilt shop: 6 bolts of fabric

third prize


You can enter below:  85th Anniversary Giveaway

Many blog hop participants are having their own giveaways, too, (like me) so make sure to visit each one on their day!

Good luck and happy hopping!


Little things here and there

Hey everyone!  I know I’ve gotten some new friends recently, courtesy of Jacquelynne Steve’s Christmas Countdown which featured a few of my Christmas tutorials among many others (thanks, Jaquelynne!). So, I wanted to check in, show you a few little things I’ve been working on and to say “welcome”!

I just finished my 4th block from last year’s Sew Sweet Simplicity BOM which Jacquelynne hosted last year (the pattern is available for purchase as a pdf download).  I’m now ready to add the sashing and borders.  One step closer to a finished quilt top!

sew sweetness bom copy


Have you heard about Moda’s latest temptation called Frivols?  Beginning this month, they have started a series of monthly collectible tins that contain all kinds of goodies that we quilters are sure to love.  So, when my local quilt shop got them in stock, I had to have one!  The first tin contains a special precut of Bonnie & Camille’s latest line, Hello Darling, a pattern, coordinating ribbon, and a keepsake quote.

frivols inside


I immediately thought that the enclosed pattern would be really cute as a mini quilt.  So what did I do?  I drafted it at half the size and started cutting!  I got 4 squares completed and called it quits.  It just wasn’t grabbing me, and I don’t have time for projects that don’t speak to my heart.  Now I have four 4 1/2″ squares that need a new home.  I’m sure I’ll think of something.

frivols minis


The latest addition to my stash is some fun black & white prints from Windham Fabrics.  This collection is called Imagine from Another Point of View.   The text print is my favorite!

windham fabric

Imagine by Another Point of View for Windham Fabrics


I also had to bring home this group of half-yard cuts (also from The Granary Quilt Shop) that are so bright and cheerful!

michael miller fabric pile copy


The two prints on top are Melodies by Sarah Campbell for Michael Miller Fabrics.  I love the navy and purple combination.  I see a little girl’s dress or skirt in the future!

michael miller 2

Melodies by Sarah Campbell for Michael Miller Fabrics


The bottom portion of the stack are my current, favorite color palettes.  These are from the collection, Birds & the Bees by Tamara Kate for Michael Miller Fabrics.  I’m not sure what these will become, but I couldn’t live without them had to have them!

michael miller aquas 2

Birds & The Bees by Tamara Kate for Michael Miller Fabrics


I finally hung up some mini quilts on a wall in my sewing room.  This is the first thing I see when I enter the room.  The two on top (left and right of center) are from swaps on Instagram (and I adore them).  The bottom two on each side are ones I made myself.  The center quilt changes depending on the season.

sewing room mini wall

I also organized the top of this corner bookshelf.  It holds my silk thread collection and a few fat quarter towers.  The book, With Fabric and Thread, is always on display (really it’s calling my name to make something from it).

sewing room corner stand 2 copy


Currently (as in today, tomorrow and Saturday) I’m getting ready for my daughter’s wedding shower.  It’s taking place on Saturday at our house.  Her bridesmaids are the main party coordinators, but I am the hostess.  That means plenty of cleaning and decorating!  Today, I tackled the entryway and the garden.

shower entry long copy


Starting from the top is a mirrored window that I rescued from the Goodwill.  The two shutters I picked up last weekend at a garage sale.

shower entry short copy


The grapevine heart is also from the Goodwill.  The table runner was featured in Fat Quarterly Ezine several years ago.  It’s perfect for the color scheme which is turquoise, gold and white.

shower entry close

shower entry side copy


There’s nothing like a party to get you in clean-up mode!   Last weekend, Mr. Crafty Quilter and I washed all of the windows inside and out.  That’s a big job, and I must admit that it was 80% Mr. and 20% Mrs. doing the work. He’s a keeper!

These days I’m focusing on the wedding shower and the upcoming wedding which takes place on September 12.  I’ll try to keep you posted with updates.  I know many of you are in back-to-school mode.  That used to be one of my favorite times of the year; starting out fresh and an empty house for a few hours.

One last thing.  I hope you all have had a chance to check out The Quilt Show videos.  My latest segment is on binding by machine and joining your binding tails with a diagonal seam.  There will be another one next week on binding by hand.  You can still use the coupon code CRAFTYT082015 to get a free, one-month membership.  You don’t need to be a member to watch the videos, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy all of the perks that go along with it!


I hope you all have a great weekend ahead of you, and thanks for letting me be a part of your cyberspace!


Soft and striped baby quilt

I finished a soft and striped baby quilt for Amelia so when she comes to visit Grandma and Grandpa, she’ll have a special blanket waiting for her.  This is a very quick and easy project to make!

Soft & Striped Baby Quilt Tutorial @ The Crafty Quilter

I’m happy to share the instructions and some tips with you.  I used a combination of flannel and minky on the front and the same minky on the back.  I recommend prewashing all of the fabric because of the mix of materials being used (flannels shrink more) and because it’s a baby quilt.  I did not use any batting between the layers.  I wanted it to be soft and light with a nice drape (which I achieved).  It’s more like a blanket than a quilt.

Soft & Striped Baby Quilt Tutorial @ The Crafty Quilter


The finished quilt size is 38″ x 47″.  All seam allowances are 1/2″ wide. 

The diagram below shows the dimensions and placement of the strips.  The white strips represent the main floral fabric.

Soft & Striped Baby Quilt Tutorial @ The Crafty Quilter

Cutting instructions:

  • Main Floral:  Cut (6) 6″ x 39″ rectangles
  • Turquoise:  Cut (3) 4″ x 39″ rectangles
  • Minky:  Cut (2) 5″ x 39″ rectangles

Assembly instructions:

Stitch the strips together according to the diagram (1/2″ seam allowance).

TIPS:  When working with plush fabrics such as minky (Cuddle), it’s wise to use a 1/2″ seam allowance and a walking foot when sewing the seams.  Minky can stretch and it has a high nap which means that it can shift a bit during stitching. Use plenty of pins to hold the fabrics together and a slightly longer stitch length such as 3.0.  It’s best to sew with the minky on the bottom which will help stabilize your layers.

Soft & Striped Baby Quilt Tutorial @ The Crafty Quilter

Carefully press the seams open.  Minky is made out of polyester and it can melt with high temperatures.  I use a “wool” setting on my iron, and I try to keep the iron on the flannel side of the seam.

quilt minky seam


Trim the side edges of your quilt top so they are even and straight.  I trimmed mine so that the width was about 38″.

Soft & Striped Baby Quilt Tutorial @ The Crafty Quilter


Layer the backing and quilt top and baste.  Spray basting works really well for this step (see my tutorial here).

I quilted my project with straight lines 1/4″ on each side of all seams.  Make sure your stitch length is still at 3.0 or longer and that you’re still using a walking foot.

Soft & Striped Baby Quilt Tutorial @ The Crafty Quilter


Trim the excess backing fabric and finish the quilt with binding.  I wanted my binding to be completely done by machine.  With that in mind, I began by stitching the binding to the back of the quilt and wrapped it to the front.  Then I edge-stitched next to the fold on the front side.  Easy peasy!

Soft & Striped Baby Quilt Tutorial @ The Crafty Quilter


Don’t you love striped binding?  It makes the quilt look good from the front or the back!

Soft & Striped Baby Quilt Tutorial @ The Crafty QuilterSoft & Striped Baby Quilt Tutorial @ The Crafty Quilter


It’s great to finish a quilt in one day (maybe two).  I think baby Amelia is going to like cuddling up with this one.  Hopefully, I’ll have pictures to show you soon of this quilt in action!


Information about The Quilt Show & FREE 1-month membership offer!

Hey everyone!  You may have heard me mention (many times) my classroom at The Quilt Show (TQS), and some of you may not know what it’s all about.  Today, I’d like to give you a little more information about TQS and hopefully you’ll find it to be a great resource to keep at your fingertips.

The great news is the folks at TQS have generously offered all of my readers a FREE one month membership with the coupon code:  CRAFTYT082015  All you need to do is go to their website and under the SHOP tab, click on “Redeem 1 Month Coupon“.  Enter the coupon code above and you will have access to EVERYTHING The Quilt Show has to offer.  I’m sure you’re going to love it!

Just so you know, I am NOT being compensated for promoting TQS in any way.  I’m just a big fan, and I want to make it easy for you to get to know them, too.  Plus, I have some great video tips on binding coming up in the next few weeks that I think you’re going to love.


A little bit about The Quilt Show (TQS).  Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims are the hosts of the TQS shows.  So far, they’ve produced over 200 TV quality shows which include many quilting celebrities as their guests.  It’s a lot like watching an HGTV program on your computer.  Plus, they have something for every style of quilter:  modern, art, and traditional, newbie and seasoned.


Ricky Tims & Alex Anderson

There are three levels of membership.

  • You can roam around the website and get a feel for things without signing up for anything.  Check out the quilts in the member’s quilt gallery, see what Alex and Ricky are up to and visit the daily blog.  Plus you can watch Bernina teaching videos for free.
  • You can become a free member which allows you access to certain classrooms and videos (such as mine), free patterns, view 4 free shows, and you can connect with other members in forums and groups.  Plus you’ll get Ricky’s flying geese video and Alex’s $40,000 pattern when you sign up.
  • You can purchase a premium star membership for one year at $42.95.  This gives you access to ALL past and current shows, all classrooms, 2015 block of the month pattern and videos, and guest online DVD’s.

Some of my favorite guests that I’ve seen on The Quilt Show are Sally Collins, Tula Pink, Bonnie Hunter, Camille Roskelly, and David Taylor.  The list is longer than that, but that’s a good representation of the variety and talent that you’ll see on the shows.

The TQS videos that I’m doing are free for everyone.  A few weeks ago, they released my video on pressing tips .  Much of that same information can be found on my “Let’s Talk” blog post, Pressing Seams Open vs. to the Side. I still enjoy reading all of the comments from my readers about their own pressing preferences and experiences.

Pressing Seams to the Side vs. Open from The Crafty Quilter


This past Monday, TQS released the first video in a series of binding tips and techniques that I did.  You will definitely want to watch those.  I have gotten a few requests for binding videos, so I’m really excited about this series!  The first video shows you how to prepare your quilt for binding, how to join your binding strips, an easy way to join your binding tails and it has a great trick for getting a perfect mitered corner!

Binding Video 1

Binding Tips by Julie Cefalu for The Quilt Show


If you have a suggestion (or request) for future video tips, please leave a comment for me here.  I’m going to run out of ideas sooner or later!

Remember to take advantage of the special coupon code, CRAFTYT082015 and get your free one-month membership.  This coupon code will be available for the next six months, so if you’re going on vacation this month, wait until you get back to activate it.  You’ll want to be able to watch as many shows as you can.  Make sure to visit me in my classroom, too!


Rotary Cutting Tips

Today I’d like to offer you some rotary cutting tips.  You may know that I have a little “classroom” on The Quilt Show where you can find weekly tips and tricks videos.  The video from a few weeks ago was about rotary cutting basics.  I thought this would be a great opportunity to piggyback some of those videos with photos and tutorials here on my blog.

rotary cutting tips

Rotary cutting is something we all do as quilters, and I think we all do it a little differently!  I’m going to show you my process and give you a few tips as well.

Let’s start with the fabric.  I don’t usually prewash my fabric, but in this case I did.  The fabric is going to be used for the binding on a baby quilt which includes flannels and minky, so everything got washed ahead of time.

fabric after washing


I LOVE to use spray starch when I press my fabric (whether or not I’ve prewashed it).  It gives your fabric more stability when cutting and it gives you more control in the piecing process.  Any kind of starch will work, but my current favorite is Mary Ellen’s Best Press.  I like that it’s non-aerosol and it doesn’t leave a flaky white residue on my fabric.

fabric ready to iron


Once my fabric is pressed and starched, I fold it in half, matching the selvages.  If you’re working with fabric right off the bolt, I suggest you still do this.  Fabric isn’t always folded and wrapped “on grain” at the factory so it’s worth doing this step.  You want to make sure it hangs and drapes smoothly. If you see a bubble or wrinkle, adjust the selvages by sliding one side of the fabric over to create a smooth sheath of fabric.  It should NOT look like this:

fabric scewed


Lay the fabric down on your cutting mat with the fold closest to you.  With the fabric I’m using, you can really see how the stripe travels along the fold evenly.  (That’s another sign that I’ve folded it straight).

fabric ready to cut


The #1 (and most important) tip I have for you is do NOT line up your fabric with the lines of the cutting mat.  This step is unnecessary (with a few exceptions) because:

  • It’s not consistent and exact.
  • It takes too much time to make sure everything is lined up.

The only thing you need to worry about is the relationship between the ruler and the fabric unless one of these two conditions exists:

  • The cut you need to make is wider than your ruler.
  • The fabric is longer than your ruler.

Also, make sure you have a sharp blade in your rotary cutter and always lock your rotary cutter when you’re not using it!

Step 1.  Make a clean-up cut.  Because your fabric is folded in half, every cut needs to be at a right angle to that fold.  Otherwise, you’ll end up with a “V” at the fold. The clean-up cut establishes a correct baseline for the next, measured cuts.  I’m right-handed, so all of the photos are shown with that orientation.

With the fabric folded in half, and the fold closest to you, place your ruler so that one of the horizontal lines of the ruler lies directly on the fold.  Remember, we’re not concerned about the lines on the cutting mat.  To illustrate that point, I’ve purposely placed my fabric on the mat so that it does NOT track any of the lines.  If the reverse side of my cutting mat weren’t so dirty, I would use that because it has no lines to distract me.

ruler positioning words


Start with the rotary cutter positioned against the edge of the ruler, BELOW the fabric, and hold the rotary cutter at a 45 degree angle.  The hand holding the ruler should be placed at the lower third of the ruler.

clean cut 1


As your rotary cutter gets beyond the hand that is holding the ruler, stop.  Don’t lift or move the rotary cutter.  Inch the ruler-hand up (without lifting it off the ruler), so that it is adjacent to the rotary cutter.  Continue cutting until the rotary cutter gets beyond the ruler-hand again and reposition the ruler-hand.  This will help keep the ruler from shifting as you’re cutting.

TIP:  Place your pinky finger off the edge of the ruler.  This will help control any movement or slippage of the ruler.  Also, keep the ruler-hand directly across from the rotary cutter.

ruler tips


As you get more comfortable and practiced with rotary cutting, you may not need to keep your pinky off the edge of the ruler and you may not need to adjust your ruler-hand position as often.

TIP:  Using a good ruler can make all of the difference in the world.  My favorite brand of ruler is by Creative Grids.  Their rulers have anti-slip circles on the back that grip the fabric and help prevent it from shifting.  I also appreciate the frosted 1/4″ and 1/2″ edges on the ruler which are great for trimming up pieced units.  You can find these rulers at most local quilt shops.

Creative Grids ruler


Let’s get back to the clean-up cut.   Make sure you’ve cut through all of the threads before you remove the ruler.  You should now have a perfectly cut edge that is perpendicular to the fold.  Notice that we didn’t have to line anything up with the cutting mat.

post clean up cut


Step 2.  Cut the strips.  First, turn your fabric over (carefully) so that the clean edge is on the left side (right side if you’re left-handed). If you have a small mat, you can rotate the entire mat around.  You still don’t need to match your fabric with the lines of the mat.

In this example, I’m cutting 2 1/4″ wide strips for the binding on a quilt.  Place the 2 1/4″ line of the ruler exactly on the cut edge.  The line should be ON the cut edge (or straddling it).  Not next to the cut edge or all the way on the fabric.

ruler placement lines words

ruler placement first cut


Make your first strip-cut using the same technique as the clean-up cut.

first cut 2


When you open up your strip, you should see a nice, straight edge at the fold.  No bends in this elbow!

bend in elbow


Step 3.  Check the right angle of the fabric at the fold.  Continue cutting as many strips as you need, AND, occasionally check to make sure that your clean, starting edge is still perpendicular to the fold. You can do this easily by placing your ruler on the fabric so that one of its horizontal lines is resting on the fold.  See what’s happening with the edge of the ruler and the edge of the fabric.  If the angle is more than 1/8″ off, then you’ll need to make a new clean-up cut.

check right angle 2


To make the new clean-up cut, turn the fabric around so that it’s on the right side again (left side if your left-handed) and repeat the first step.  Then turn it back around to begin cutting strips.

rotary cut strips


Occasionally, you may need to cut a fabric strip that is wider than your ruler.  In that case, you can use the lines of your cutting mat to measure the wider cut.  Another way to do this (and my preferred method) is to use TWO rulers.

For example, if I need to cut a strip of fabric that is 7″ wide and my ruler is only 6″ wide, I can make up that extra inch with a second ruler.  I place the 1″ line of my second ruler (this can be most any size ruler) on the cut edge of my fabric.

wide cut 1 ruler

Then I butt the first ruler against this one, and that gives me my total width of 7″.  Now I can make my cut.  I use this method most of the time.

wide cut 2 ruler


Cutting strip sets.  When I have a strip-set to cut, the process is very similar. I make a clean-up cut on the right edge (left edge if you’re left handed) of the strip-set.

TIP:  Align one of the lines of the ruler with the seam of the strip-set rather than the raw edges of the fabric, to make your clean-up cut.  This seam is more important and usually more consistent than the outside edges of the strip-set.

strip set clean cut words


Turn the strip-set around so that the clean edge is on the left side (right side if you’re left-handed).  Place the desired line of the ruler on the cut edge and make your sub-cut.  You can also continue to place a line of the ruler on the seamline, too.

strip set first cut


Continue making sub-cuts and checking the last cut edge with the seam line.  It’s important that they’re perpendicular (at a right angle) to each other.  You may need to make a new clean-up cut if they’re not.

strip set second cut


And notice, I’m still not using the lines of my mat to measure anything.  Do you think I’ve beat that point to death, yet?

A few more things to mention:  I don’t double fold my fabric when I’m rotary cutting.  It’s the way I teach my beginning students for two reasons:  (1) it’s easier to cut through two layers of fabric than four layers, and (2) you only have one fabric fold to worry about rather than two.

Be safe!  Always cut away from yourself.  Don’t expose the blade of your rotary cutter until it’s in your hand and you’re ready to cut.  Always lock it when you’re done cutting.

I don’t cut the selvages off of my fabric until I absolutely have to.  The selvage gives me important information about my fabric and it makes it easy to orient the fabric’s lengthwise and crosswise grain.  The downside is that I don’t have cute strips of selvages to save and make into another project.

If you want one more tip, you’ll have to watch the video to see an efficient way of cutting multiple strips of fabric.  Teaser, I know.


Rotary Cutting Basics Video by Julie Cefalu for The Quilt Show


I hope you’ve learned something new today.  Remember, this is the way I do things, but it’s not the only way.  I realize there are many ways of rotary cutting and one way might work better for you than another.  If you’d like to share what works for you, please leave a comment.  I think we can always learn from each other!