3 Reasons Why I Choose to Tie a Quilt

I love tying quilts. Tying a quilt is easy and quick, creates texture, and lends to the overall aesthetic of the quilt.

Crisscross tie on the front of my Welcome Blanket Quilt.

Just because it’s a quilt doesn’t mean it has to be quilted! You can tie a quilt. That is, you can use thread or yarn to make ties all throughout a quilt to keep the quilt sandwich (quilt top/front, batting, and backing) together. And, just like every other choice you make when creating a quilt, there are a few good reasons to tie a quilt: ease/speed, texture, and aesthetics.

Back of the crisscross tie on my Welcome Blanket Quilt.

For me, the first reason I opt for tying is the ease and speed compared to machine or hand quilting. I have a beginner sewing machine. The throat space isn’t that generous, so it’s hard maneuvering a good-size quilt around the walking foot. Paying to have a quilt longarm-quilted can be, well, out of budget. Tying is easy. And, it’s super-quick compared to hand quilting, even though tying is done by hand, too. Getting a quilt done already is a good enough reason to choose the quick and easy route to completion!

Back of my Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt.

Whether you’re quilting a quilt or tying it, this step creates texture. Depending on what kind of batting you use and the pattern and placement of quilting stitches or ties, you create texture. Play around with the loft of batting and spacing of ties and see what kind of texture you can create. Let the quilt top pattern dictate the choice to tie.

Beads and sequins tied onto my Dazzling Pineapple Mini Quilt.

Finally, the result of any choice in the quilt-making process is an overall aesthetic. Tying can significantly impact the style and artistic impression a quilt makes. I personally think tying lends a homespun look to a quilt. You can play with it by thoughtfully selecting a particular type of thread, how long you cut the ties, placement, and so much more. Make a statement by choosing to tie your quilt.

Here are some things you can try with your next tied quilt. Some I’ve done and others I’ve got on my idea list!

+ Different threads or yarn. I’ve used cotton embroidery floss and a metallic floss, but I’d love to try a thick wool yarn.

+ Tie on the back. This is so fun when you create a crisscross on the front. I did this on my Welcome Blanket Quilt. Check it out here.

+ Tie with a bead or embellishment. Do it! I’ve used sequins and beads for a shimmery effect and I want to use buttons in the future. My Dazzling Pineapple Mini Quilt features sequins, glass beads, and metallic thread. See it here.

+ Length of tie ends. My favorite length is from my fingertip to the first joint on my middle finger. (Using this type of measurement reduces the number of tools you need!) Depending on thread, I can see going shorter or longer. 

+ Spacing of ties. First, you should make sure you have enough ties to hold your quilt sandwich together, but putting in a lot of ties close together could create an interesting style. 

+ Mix ties and quilting (hand or machine). Did it and I loved it! My favorite quilt has ties and hand quilting. Deciding to tie or quilt isn’t an either-or decision. You get to make up the rules! Originally I intended to machine quilt my Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt, but I ended up tying it and hand quilting it. Read more about how it came together here.

So, tell me, have you ever tied a quilt? Do you like it? Did you use any unusual tricks?

My Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt has crisscrosses tied on the back and handquilting.

Here are the quilts I’ve tied (more to come!):

Welcome Blanket Quilt

Dazzling Pineapple Mini Quilt

Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt


Handsewn Hexie Scrap Quilt (without Using English Paper Piecing)

I started a hexie scrap quilt using a custom acrylic hexagon template. I chose to hand sew the pieces rather than use the English paper piecing technique.

The beginning of my hexie scrap quilt.

I finally finished the last appliqué border for my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt and while I haven’t sewn those borders on, I was itching for some more hand sewing. (I used needle turn appliqué for four floral borders on that quilt.) I decided to try a hexagon quilt, with a catch.

It seems like every quilter has made a quilt with hexagons. A lot of times, I see it done with English paper piecing. But, let me tell you, that seems a little too time-consuming for me—basting and then hand sewing? Over the summer, a fellow quilter showed our guild how she hand-pieces hexagons. Ding! Ding! Ding! It looked like the perfect project to scratch my hand sewing itch and cross hexies off my quilting bucket list.

First, I had to acquire a hexagon template that would allow me to trace not only a cutting line, but a seam allowance line to follow with my needle and thread. I found a great one from HeyHexie on Etsy.com. The shop offers clear acrylic templates that either are solid or open in the center. (I needed the open center.) I also was able to select from a range of sizes. I went with 1 ½” with a ¼” seam. 

One of the first hexie flower blocks.

Because I want to do hand sewing, I know this project is very, very back burner. To slow it down even more, I decided I’d make it with my scraps of which I had 2 gallon-size freezer bags full. It took me some time to go through my scraps and trace and cut out a bunch of hexies, but I did it! I still have about a gallon-size freezer bag full of scraps. (I keep really, really small pieces of fabric!)

Now, I have a stash of hexies that I can pull from to put together a flower block whenever the urge strikes me. I’ve already made several blocks. I also have about half a dozen sets of hexies chosen to be sewn together so I don’t even have to make any color choices when I’m ready to do some hand sewing!

Stash of hexie pieces.

As an aside, my kids LOVED playing with the teeny tiny scraps of fabric that were leftover from cutting out my hexies. Instead of throwing these bits of fabric away, I let my kids glue them to pieces of paper. Some of their creations were really great. I also let my 5-year-old choose hexagons for a couple of flowers. I was cringing at some of her choices, but I held my tongue because 1) this is a SCRAP quilt—it’s not going to be an amazing example of color choice; and 2) I figure when I give her free creative reign, she’s gaining confidence in her creativity—I mean, how proud will she be (heck, how proud will I be) when she can see HER flower in the finished quilt? What’s your hand sewing go-to? Have you ever made a hexagon quilt? I think Grandmother’s Flower Garden is the original hexie quilt.

Another hexie flower block.

Want to see more of my hexie flower blocks? Head over to my Instagram feed!

Mended M&M’s Quilt & 3 Tips on How to Extend the Life of a Quilt

My M&M’s quilt was in dire need of repair after 18 years of use. I removed the damage, added new binding, and discovered with tips for extending a quilt’s life.

After years of use, my M&M’s quilt had holes and the binding at the top was falling off.

When I left for college, my mom gave me one of the first of her M&M’s quilts. She collected M&M’s fabric for several years and then decided to make a quilt for each of her 6 kids. Luckily, I graduated high school just as she was beginning this endeavor and didn’t have to wait too long for mine. It was my dorm quilt—the quilt I slept under every night for 4 years of college. (I had other quilts and blankets that I layered with it, too.)

My beloved M&M’s quilt. I love how my mom made log cabin blocks from the colors of M&M’s.

After college, I kept using it and although my mom made and gifted me at least 2 more quilts since the M&M’s quilt, I’ve used it regularly in the 18 years I’ve had it. That is, I used it until the top of the quilt started wearing out and the binding came off and I couldn’t use it without getting tangled up.

Mending this quilt has been on my to-do list for at least a year (it’s on my 2019 To Make List) and the quilt has sat in my office/sewing room for probably that long. (Okay, so maybe I only used the quilt for 17 years before I had to set it aside for mending!) I even bought the fabric for the mending about a year ago! Finally, finally, I set out to mend this quilt last month.

I bought some M&M’s fabric online that was listed as “cotton.” Alas, it was some type of blend, so I went with this fabric, which I think blends well with the backing of the quilt even if the colors aren’t 100% M&M’s.

It really didn’t take too much time. My method was simple: I cut off the top row of blocks that had all the wear. I then made binding (continuous bias—my first time!), stitched it to the front of the quilt where the batting was now exposed (going a bit down the sides to create a secure finish), and then hand-stitched the binding to the back. Done!

So, I knew it had to be done, but putting a quilt under my rotary cutter was emotionally hard! I felt like the Yellow M&M’s seen in the fabric! Ha!

As I was working on it, my 4-year-old put dibs on the quilt, so for now, he’s sleeping under it. There are still some worn areas that I know with more time—and probably sooner than 18 years—will require more mending, but I’ll just mend as I go.

Here, you can see the contrast between the old binding and the new binding.

My mom had simply folded the backing up to the front to create the binding. Such a good trick!

This was a learning project for me. I made continuous bias binding for the first time. I used the Fons & Porter method, which you can find a video here. My mom had sent me a page from a magazine that explained it and it had a handy formula for how big of a square to start with.

Then, this project really had me thinking about how to extend the life of my quilts. I’m a firm believer that quilts should be USED. They should be slept under and enjoyed and worn out…and mended. How can I get as much use out of a quilt before I have to mend it?

3 Tips on How to Extend the Life of a Quilt:

1. Make non-directional quilts. Don’t design a “top” or “bottom” into a quilt. The M&M’s quilt has directional fabric, all going from top to bottom. I think this is correct and my sense of right and wrong is what led me to keep making my bed with the top of the quilt at the top of the bed! If a quilt is non-directional, then you can do number 2.

2. Rotate your quilt on your bed. Every time you pull it out and put it on your bed, flip what you had been using as the top to the bottom, again and again. My quilts show obvious wear at the top even though I swear I don’t gnaw on them in my sleep!

3. Finally, have lots of quilts to use! This tip is my favorite, because can we really ever have too many quilts or make too many quilts? I don’t think so! With many quilts, you can change the quilt on your bed frequently, instead of just rotating it like in the second tip. I know a lot of quilters make holiday quilts, which I think is a great way to incorporate this idea. Sure, each quilt will be used less than if it was used every single day, but they won’t need mending quite as often.

Have you ever had to mend a favorite quilt? How did you do it? What are your tips for making your quilts last? Let me know in the comments!

New Quilt Pattern Tested: One Block | Three Designs—Desert Series

Desert Sun Quilt by Maeberry Square

Last month, I had the opportunity to test the newest Maeberry Square quilt pattern by Jessica Plunkett. This unique design uses a single block, but demonstrates 3 different layouts for distinct design options. I chose to make the 42” square Desert Sun design.

Crop of Desert Sun Quilt

I’ve had a gift card to my local quilt shop in my wallet for some time. It’s not every day that I go to the local quilt shop and I wanted to use it to buy fabric for a special quilt. Now was the time! I flipped through my visual journal of sorts for color inspiration. (It’s a simple composition notebook that I occasionally tape clippings from catalogs and magazines into. Think of a primitive Pinterest board. Except, I cutout items or patterns that strike me and then occasionally, I task myself with adding to the pages—putting like colors or textures together. It’s just for fun with no goal, but it conveniently serves as inspiration for selecting fabrics for quilts.)

Here’s the one I chose: this photo/collage of juicy fruits. With the help of my young daughter, I chose a honeydew-green fabric, blueberry-blue fabric, and strawberry/raspberry-red fabric. I have yet to acquire the fabric for the backing and binding yet, but I’m thinking a deep blackberry purple for the back and cantaloupe-orange for the binding.

Inspiration collage. Look at all that juicy fruit!

The squares are easy to cutout. The pattern lists exactly how many strips of each fabric to cut and then trim into squares. Having the strip number is so helpful! The blocks come together easily. This pattern uses a half square triangles, so if you’re a beginner quilter and haven’t learned the easy-peasy technique for making them, this pattern will let you in on that secret.

Desert Sun Quilt

I’m pleased with the result! I thought that my colors would be gender-neutral (it’s a baby-size quilt), but I think the strawberry/red color skews it a bit more feminine. But then, who cares? Once I bind it, the added color may change the overall look. Although, I don’t have specific plans for this quilt just yet. I don’t know how to quilt it—hand, machine, or tie. And, I have three other quilts in progress right now. So, this one will probably be put on the back burner while I work on those. Isn’t it wonderful to have multiple quilts going all at once? Then, you don’t make any rash creative decisions. Haha! At least, this is what I’m telling myself.

Desert Sun Quilt

If you want to make this quilt (or one of the other variations), the pattern is now available in the Maeberry Square Etsy shop.

Desert Sun Quilt by Maeberry Square

Why I Label My Quilts

My custom quilt labels I ordered last year.

Last year, it dawned on me that I should label the quilts I make with custom-made labels. This realization came in the form of hearing a statement about how a handwritten label on a newly installed breaker box in our house would indicate that the electrical work was shoddy. That is, a neat and tidy label shows that a professional did the work, and that the person takes pride in their work.

I immediately made the connection with creating quilts. Shouldn’t the person using or viewing my quilt know who made it? Some might still think that my skills are shoddy, but I do take pride in my quilting–ha! Adding a label feels like a signature. You wouldn’t sign your name to something you didn’t believe in, right?

On the back of my chicken wall hanging.

Combing the internet, I finally landed on a site that allowed me to order customized labels in a small quantity. (I ordered 30.) This kept the cost down.

The labels simply say “T-Bud Co. Quilts Made By Theresa Budnik Combs.” Seeing it laid out in 3 lines, I think it becomes clear exactly where “T-Bud Co.” comes from (it’s an abbreviation of my name—a nickname). If I remember correctly, the font is Times New Roman, which is my go-to.

On the back of my Ohio Star Quilt.

Here’s an aside: at the portfolio school I attended, there were many areas of study. I was in copywriting, but design was definitely the darling and most populated track. Although I was a writer, I still had to design my own portfolio—without all of the design training the designers received in the two-year program, of course. After dabbling with a couple of fonts, I decided to use Times New Roman because at the time it was the default font in Microsoft Word, my most-used tool. I figured instead of trying to look like I knew anything about typography, I would just be who I was: a writer with minimal design knowledge. Now, if I have the option, I always pick Times New Roman (and it’s no longer the default in Microsoft Word!).

On the back of my Dazzling Pineapple Patch quilt.

Anyway, it’s very satisfying to finish a quilt and stitch on a label. One thing I’ll be playing around with is how to stitch it on. I wish my stitches were smaller. On my Ohio Star quilt, I used the same thread I used to stitch down the binding, both for aesthetics and convenience as I put on the label after I completed the binding. I’m thinking I’ll own the stitches and maybe make them a bit more noticeable with a signature color or thread. I’m thinking fuchsia.

I’m a bit curious, how do you feel about labels? Do you buy into the idea that adding a label shows you take pride in your work? Or do you let your work speak for itself? Have you purchased custom labels before or do you label them in a different way, say with a fabric pen? I’m curious to know!

Custom quilt labels–having them should also serve as motivation to finish more quilts!