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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Little Houses, Tips, and NTT

Happy Needle and Thread Thursday, friends!  Well, I quilted and quilted... and quilted, and finally got my Little Houses quilt all finished.

The all-over super dense spirals give the quilt so much delicious texture.  I used 50 wt. Aurifil thread in Dove Gray, which amazingly blends into all of the colors and background perfectly.  It's magical like that!

On the back, I used up all of my leftovers along with a wide strip of low volume fabric to widen it out.  Originally, I thought this would be a scrap project, but that was not to be.  I was able to pull scraps for things like windows, doors, and sidewalks but I needed to use stash fabric for the main part of the house, roof, sky, and landscaping for each house.  I quickly realized that because I piece my quilt backings from leftover fabric so often, I just don't have very many larger pieces of scrap fabric, which is actually a good thing!  (ps- don't mind the extra hanging wire.  I use the lower wire for photographing smaller quilts)

And I decided to finish it off with a scrappy low volume binding, which blends right into the quilt.  

I always love the way the quilting shows up on the back!  This quilt finished at 66" x 72", and I think it's going to hang on the wall in my family room.  I have something else hanging there right now, which means that I have to shuffle some things around, but that's the plan!

I've had several emails asking for a tutorial for these houses, and unfortunately, because they were sewn completely using improvisation, I can't really do that.  I can give you some tips though!

1.  Use a good frontal photo of the house.  Frontal views are easier to replicate than trying to navigate the odd angles in a view which shows more than one side of the house.

2.  Start with the windows.  Decide whether you'll make them plain squares/rectangles, whether you'll give each window a border, and whether they'll have grid lines.  I have all three types of windows in this quilt, and I just made the decision based on the house I was sewing.  Keep in mind that adding borders or grid lines will make the windows larger, and therefore will make the finished house larger, which brings me to the second point-

3.  Scale is EVERYTHING.  The size of your windows will determine pretty much everything else.  Use the width and height of the window to determine how much space there should be somewhere else.  When I was determining how far apart to make something, I would look at the photo and ask myself, "Is this space wider than the width of the window, or more narrow?"  That helped me determine how to space the features in the houses.

4.  Press often, and use plenty of starch (or starch alternative).  When sewing details like this, crisply pressed pieces will make the process easier.

5.  Divide the house into chunks.  Pretty much every house has places where it can be divided into smaller, more manageable pieces.  With two-story houses, sew the top and bottom stories separately, and then put them together, or on one-story homes, the placement of windows and the door can help you decide how to divide it up.

6.  Don't be afraid to sew a larger piece of fabric than you need and just trim it down to size.  It's a little more wasteful, but the results are better.  This is especially helpful when sewing odd angles for the roof lines.  I used scissors to cut the angles on the roofs.  Then, I sewed larger rectangles of fabric to the cut side, which gave me plenty of fabric for squaring up.

7.  Make friends with your seam ripper.  It is what it is, friends.  I ripped out lots of stitches on these houses when something didn't come out exactly as I wanted.  I had to make peace with the fact that sometimes it was necessary to rip out, trim fabric, make little adjustments, and try it again until I was happy with it.

8.  Get comfortable sewing small.  I didn't do it on every house, but I love the look of trim on the windows and roof line.  It gives depth to the houses, and a little extra oomph.  To do that though, I started with strips that were reeeeeally narrow.  I cut everything by hand, which is why the trim pieces aren't consistent in width, but they all finish somewhere between 1/4" and under 1/2".  I like the look of inconsistent borders.  It gives the houses a bit of a funky, handmade look.

9.  Choose solid or tonal fabrics, and make sure you have plenty of contrast within the components of the house.  These pieces have so many smaller elements that they would get completely lost with busier fabrics.

10.  And finally, have fun and let go of perfection!  These houses are an artistic representation of a house.  They're not meant to be perfectly precise or perfectly to scale.  That's part of their charm!

I absolutely LOVED making this quilt, from start to finish.  You should give it a try with your own home!

Now it's time to check out the awesomeness from last week's party.  This quilt by Sew Preeti Quilts is so much fun!

This simple, sweet quilt is by Better 'n Dog Biscuits-

And finally, Frederique at Quilting Patchwork Applique' showed off this fun quilt.  Love all of the cheerful colors!

With so many tips above, I feel like this post is a bit long, so I'm holding the highlights to only three this week (though I could have chosen several more!).

So without further ado, let's get to the party!

1You can link finished projects or WIP's , but just keep it about quilting and sewing!
2. Link to your specific post (not to your home page!) to make it easier for others.
3. Please remember to spread the word and post my button or a text link within your 
4. Spread the comment love far and wide!
5. Following me is not a requirement to link, but is so very appreciated!

*If you're new to the party, here's a helpful tip for linking up- select "Auto Crop"  when selecting your thumbnail photo.  For some reason, trying to crop your own image results in the dreaded "white question mark box," and we definitely want to see your awesome work!  :)


  1. Oh, what a happy finish! The quilting texture is fabulous and I love how dove just magically blends into it all. :)

  2. Beautiful work on these houses, Kelly! Totally fabulous. Thank you for the tips. I’m going to pin this post.


  3. Nailed the quilting! I love all your tips for improv houses. You really have to let go when it comes to improv and it's often hard to explain the process!

  4. I cannot get over how quickly you made this quilt! And how wonderful of a quilt it is. :-) Thank you for putting that list together for those (not I) who want to make a quilt like this!

  5. Your quilted swirls are perfect, Kelly! Great tips, too :) Congratulations on such a great finish!

  6. Great finish on your houses. Lots of fun eye candy today.


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