Nancy Zieman's Sewing and Quilting Q & AThanks for keeping the questions coming. Your questions help me decide what to feature on my TV show, sewing and quilting blog, and even what type of sewing notions I might consider developing to make sewing easier. Here are some of the questions that were submitted to my Facebook site for this month’s installment of Sewing and Quilting Q & A.

Question #1—Gayle Behling Bouters is looking for a “first” quilting project.

Gayle writes: I am a fairly good sewer (totes, baby gifts, etc.) but have never really quilted. What would be a good “first” project? 


If you want to start small when learning quilting techniques, check out the “Potpourri of Projects” in Quilt with Confidence. Make quilted table toppers, mats, runners, pillows, wall hangings, and more as you learn to combine a variety of blocks. Or, if you want to jump right into quilting a bed or lap quilt, sew one of the linear designs from Column Quilts. Quilting couldn’t be any easier than this! These quilts are fast to sew, featuring lots of straight stitching to join the linear columns of fabric. Begin your quilting adventure with a plethora of creative options!

Question #2—Margaret Coleman Schenck is wondering what to sew for a winter baby.

Here’s Margaret’s question: Are there any special things I should know about sewing for baby? This is a winter baby and I’m not sure what fabrics are appropriate for winter and for babies. 


Being from the Midwest, I always want to sew things that are snuggly and warm for my grandbabies. Polyester fleece is a great winter fabric for babies—soft, warm, cuddly, and very easy to care for. Why not make a “tummie time” blanket for your sweet little one? This is a blanket that goes on the floor for baby to play on. Sew satin binding on the edges as detailed in Fast and Fleecy Accessories, or view the video on making a Fleece Blanket. If you embroider, there are many different blank baby items such as bibs, bath towels, and more for you to make into quick gifts personalized with your favorite designs.

Question #3—Cyndie Nibler Davidson wants to know if she should rip or cut fabric for quilting.

Cyndie asks: I would like to know if I should “rip” my material when quilting, or can I go with the store’s “cut?” When I rip, I lose so much material!


It is really important to cut the fabric on grain. I personally don’t like ripping fabric. I’d rather fold and cut the fabric with a rotary cutter:

  • Fold fabric in half, meeting selvage edges. 
  • Fold fabric again, bringing the fold to the selvages. There now will be four layers of fabric. 
  • Place the fabric on a rotary cutting mat, aligning the fold along one of the horizontal lines at the lower edge of the mat.
  • Position a ruler on the fabric perpendicular to the fold so it forms a right angle. Straighten fabric edge using a rotary cutter to trim away any excess fabric. 

Note: Illustrations are from the book Quilt with Confidence.

Question #4—Gail Blumengarten asks if she needs to wash cotton fabric before quilting. 

Here’s Gail’s question: Is it necessary to wash cotton fabric before making a quilt and after completion of the quilt?


No, it’s not necessary to always prewash. Yet, when combining fabric with a lot of dye (red/navy/etc.), with white or light background fabric, it’s important to make sure the dark fabric will not bleed onto the white—prewashing definitely helps. You might also try Shout Color Catcher Sheets. They trap loose dyes in your washer. I also prewash fabric used for children’s quilted items, as they will be washed frequently.

Question #5—Teresa Duncan asks about understitching.

Teresa writes: I am making my granddaughter a dress, and I am having a problem with understitching the facing on the dress. It has been years since I have sewn a little girl’s dress. Could you help me, by telling me what I need to do to understitch?


Here are some understitching guidelines from my book, The Absolute Easiest Way to Sew:

  • Trim and grade the seam allowances.
  • Press the seam flat, and then press the facing away from the garment, covering the seam allowance. Press all the seam allowances toward the facing.
  • Stitch the seam allowances to the facing, from the right side, with a straight stitch, zigzag, or multistep zigzag. Stitch on the facing close to the seamline. I personally like the multistep zigzag as it helps the facing lie smooth. 


Nancy's Giveaway Winner

Previously, I asked for your favorite serger project or if you used your serger for quilting. The random winner to receive a copy of  Serge & Merge Quilts is Darlene Sipes. She said, I use my serger almost as much as my machine. I have made six-hour quilts with my serger but Serge & Merge looks like even more fun. Thank you for sharing it.

Serge & Merge Quilts

Thank you also for telling me which of the six jacket options was your favorite. The random winner to receive a book/pattern combo of One Easy Pattern—Six Terrific Looks is Marcia Fabian Spencer. She said, All were great, but I liked the button art one – I think buttons can really add to projects and that coat was a great example!

One Easy Pattern - Six Terrific Looks by Nancy Zieman and Amy Barickman


Don’t forget to submit your questions in the comment box below or at my Facebook site! There will be another Q & A next month.

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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