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Beginner Quilter?

We are happy to help you begin this exciting journey!  On this page you will find:

  • Step by step video’s outlining quilting techniques.
  • A shopping list of the items you will want to have on hand.
  • A list with quilting terms to help you get started!

**Flash Fiction Mystery Quilt’s patterns are all developed with beginners in mind. They have detailed instructions with color pictures and many of our blocks have videos to teach you how to make the blocks included in our mystery quilts! Join in on all the fun when registration opens!

Instructional Videos

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Common Quilting Terms

Piecing: sewing together small pieces of fabric to make a larger block.

Fat Quarter: A fat quarter is a piece of fabric that is cut from a yard of fabric it measures 18 x 22 inches. Technically it is 1/4 of a yard, hence the name Fat Quarter.

Pressing Seams: Seams are folded over to one side and pressed towards the darker colored fabric.

Seam Allowance: The distance between the edge of the fabric pieces being sewn and the actual stitches. Standard is 1/4″. It is VERY important that you test your 1/4″ seam allowance by sewing scrap pieces of fabric then measuring the 1/4″ seam that you just sewed at the top, middle and bottom, to see if it is actually sewing at 1/4″. We say this because many machines have 1/4″ settings that are off by the smallest amount and those small amounts will make a big difference in your finished quilt block. The idea is to set your machine to exactly 1/4″ and to practice sewing a straight line. If your seams are off, adjust the needle position or fabric position until you have achieved an exact 1/4″ seam all the way down your fabric.

Nesting: This term is used when sewing rows together and means the the seams on the joining block are lined up so that they butt up against each other. To do this all the seam allowances on one row are ironed going in one direction and the seams on the other row are ironed in the opposite direction. This ensures that you will not be sewing through 4 layers of fabric and makes all the seams line up.

Batting: Is the cotton or cotton/poly filler between the layers of fabric in a quilt.

Quilt Sandwich: Composed of the pieced quilt top, the batting and a backing fabric. Fabric backing can be purchased in up to 108″ width to make a seamless back.

Seam Ripping: The act of taking apart a seam that was sewn together incorrectly. Place the point of the seam ripper between the 2 pieces of fabric and gently push it to cut the thread and repeat until the seam is completely undone.

Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP): A method of sewing together pieces of fabric on a sheet of paper to make a quilt block. These fabric pieces are sewn in numbered order 1 to 2, the 2 to 3 and so on. Because the fabric is sewn on a piece of paper the stitch width should be set at 1.6 to make removing the paper easier when the block is finished.

Half Square Triangles (HST’s): A square made by cutting square pieces of fabric in half diagonally and then sewing them back together using alternating colors (most of the time) for each triangle.

Stitch Width: This is the length of the stitch is being sewn. For piecing the top together we recommend using a setting of 2.4.

Applique’: Sewing a shape to the right side of the quilt block using either a zig-zag, satin or decorative stitch, with a width that is very close together so the edges of the shape your sewing on are completely covered.

Free Motion Quilting (FMQ): The act of quilting together your quilt sandwich with a special pressure foot just floating above the fabric and feed dogs down. The quilter uses their hands to push and pull the quilt through the machine sewing designs with the thread.

Stitch In The Ditch: The act of quilting together the quilt sandwich by sewing in the seams of the pieced top. These lines are straight and easy to follow. Usually sewn with a walking foot.

Walking Foot: A special pressure foot for your sewing machine that pulls both the top fabric and the bottom fabric through the machine at the same time. Used in quilting together the quilt sandwich.

Binding: The long, narrow piece of fabric that “binds” together all the edges around the outside of your quilted quilt. It is the last thing that is sewn on the quilt.

Right Side of the Fabric: This is the side of the fabric that has the print or design showing on top. Solids and batiks don’t have an obvious right side.

Wrong Side of the Fabric: This is the backside of the fabric print or design. You may still be able to see the print through the fabric but it is not clear and crisp.

Keeping Your Points: This refers to the fact that when you sew a block that has fabric that comes together in a point, you don’t want to have to sew or cut those points off. This most often occurs when the block is complete and you are squaring it to the required size.


Need fabric? Notions?

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Shopping List

Click on the item picture to purchase.

* Rotary Cutter – Be super careful when using your rotary cutter! They are very sharp. Always make sure your fingers are inside the ruler before cutting and be sure to lock it when you’re not using it. I use this particular model and like it because unless you’re pressing the handle the blade is retracted, and you can’t cut yourself by accident!

Olfa Rotary Cutter

* The Ultimate Thread Guide – A must-have for all quilters. This little book tells you everything about all the major thread manufacturers ‘ threads. The needle sizes to use and what the thread is best used for.

Thread Guide

* Cutting Mat and Ironing Board – I started quilting with the only basics and this was the only cutting board I owned for quite a while!

* Ruler – There are many different quilting rulers on the market. Omnigrip is one of the best. It does not side around on the fabric. This is a good size to start with, you can always add more to your collection later!


* Scissors – You can use any scissors you want to but get a pair that you ONLY use for cutting fabric. Cutting paper and other items will dull them.

12.5″ Square Ruler – Great for squaring up your blocks!

* Seam Ripper – Otherwise known as “Jack the Ripper”. This is a tool that you have to have but don’t want to use. LOL

* Pins – You can use any type of pins you want to. They should be at least 1 3/4″ long. Most quilters like flat-heads on theirs. Note: don’t sew over the pins, remove them just before they reach the pressure foot.

* Thread – We recommend Wonderfil but any 100% cotton thread will work. With higher quality thread you will have less breakage as you sew in your machine. You can purchase it at Sew Much Charm.

Sew Much Charm

* Steam Iron – I just chose an inexpensive model with the auto-off feature. Any iron will do. I have found that I use the little one listed below for all my seam pressing and then the big one like this when my quilt top is done for a final press before I quilt it.

Batting – When your quilt top is finished you can choose to quilt it yourself or send it to a long arm quilter to be quilted. I quilt mine myself. Teresa sends most of her’s out to be quilted. If you quilt it yourself you will need batting. This is the batting that I use most of the time. I free-motion quilt my tops now but when I first started I did the “stitch in the ditch” method. You don’t need to buy this until your top is complete.

505 Fabric Adhesive – If you quilt your quilt yourself, you will need this to hold the top, batting, and backing together. You can also use large safety pins to hold it together. I find the spray adhesive much easier to use, and I don’t get any fabric bunching because I didn’t use enough safety pins. You don’t need to buy this until your top is complete.

Large Cutting Mat – You don’t need this at first but it is nice to have!

Table – This is not needed when you first start quilting. I used my kitchen table for my first 3 quilts!

Other Items We love

45mm Rotary Blade

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Chatsworth, GA

Mooresville, NC

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