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If you’ve been sewing awhile (and most readers of The Cutting Table probably have), then it’s hard to remember the days when threading your machine or understanding the term “seam allowance” didn’t come naturally. But truth be told, even the most skilled amongst us was once a newbie stitcher, eager to learn the right way to wield a seam ripper or create a tidy double-fold hem.

Jill Abeloe Mead
Here to provide guidance for those basic tasks and much more is the web site, produced by the talented folks who bring you American Patchwork and Quilting, Quilt Sampler, and Quilts and More. “We’re reaching out to beginning sewers and our mission is to help them learn to sew and to have a fun, successful experience,” says Jill Abeloe Mead, the site’s editor.

The learning, and the fun, is enhanced by patterns and tutorials for sewing projects for gifts, accessories, and home décor items. In the process of creating pillows, potholders, and pouches, newbies learn skills that will last a lifetime. “Sewing isn’t in many school curriculums anymore and we see lots of people teaching themselves,” says Jill. “When they get into a jam, they go to the Internet, and we want to be their go-to source for both learning basic skills and improving upon them.”

Focus groups held around the country helped Jill determine the site’s content. She learned, for example, that phrase “the right side of the fabric” wasn’t clear to beginners. “We saw they were looking at the right-hand edge of the cloth,” says Jill, so she created an illustrated post that clears up the confusion. Other posts offer tips for cutting, pressing, and sewing straight, and explain how to use templates. “We also learned that people are interested in mending things—how to fix a snag in a sweater, for example—so we’ll continue to include that kind of information,” she says. 
Lindsay Fullington
In addition to the on-site content, a link leads to a series of Youtube videos with editor Lindsay Fullington, who demonstrates how to thread a sewing machine, how to replace a sewing machine needle, and even how to sew on a button. “Lindsay’s already developed a number of faithful followers and we’re getting email from fans,” says Jill.

New content is being added to the site regularly. On tap for this summer are a series of tee-shirt projects, including ways to personalize and modify them. Along the way site visitors will learn about fusibles, how to cut a tee-shirt for re-fashioning, and what kinds of needles to use when stitching knits. Another series of projects will focus on baby accessories: a simple coverlet, blocks, and an embellished onesie. “People like to make things to give and we plan to have lots of gift ideas in the months leading up to the holidays,” says Jill.

 Used with permission from ©2013 
Meredith Corporation. All Rights Reserved. For more projects, visit 

While is aimed at beginners, there’s no doubt that some of us who have been sewing awhile will enjoy it, too. I plan to whip up some Fabric Corner Bookmarks to tuck into the holiday cards I give to my book group buddies. And the Fabric and Color section demonstrates how to use photos of everyday objects—flowers, gourds, even cookies—as inspiration for pulling together a variety of textures and hues when choosing fabrics. It’s a reminder that one of the great things about sewing is that no matter how long you’ve been stitching, there’s always something new to try.

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Zig Zag Ruler

This darling quilt is so simple to make with the new ZIG-ZAG ruler from The Cotton Cottage Press. It is available in Regular 5″ & Mini 2.75″ 
You can find this template at your local quilt shop. If they don’t have it, they can order directly from United Notions
Since I have a tiny bit of an obsession with the fresh new fabric line, Spring House, from Stephanie Ryan I decided to use it for this project. 

This quilt could not be easier. 

I started out making a table runner and ended up turning it into a quilt. 

Here is the table runner… 
Finished Size: 16″ x 42″

Below is the free pattern I used from the designers of this template…

Zig-Zag™ Ruler
¾ yd. Red fabric
¾yd. White fabric
½ yd. Backing fabric
Batting – 18”x 44”

Print fabric –
Cut 5 – 2½”w strips (3 are for binding)
Cut 4 – 2¾”w strips

Solid fabric
Cut 3 -2½”w strips
Cut 4 – 2¾”w strips Left and Right block
Cut 3 – 3½”w strips(border)

Using the 2¾” solid strips and the 2½” print strips make 2 of the following strip sets. Press the seams toward the print fabric strips.
(From these 2 strip sets use the Zig-Zag™Ruler
in the Zig position and cut 8 Zig’s.)


Using the 2¾”w print strips and the 2½”w solid strips make 2 of the following strips sets.
Press the seams toward the print fabric strips.
(From these 2 strips sets use the
Zig-Zag™ Ruler in the Zag (upside down)
position and cut 8 Zag’s.)
Make 4 Left and Right blocks (shown below). 

Sew them into one long row. 
Press the seams between each block open.
For the border cut 2 of the 3½”w solid strips the length of the runner. 
Sew these to the sides and press the seams
toward the border strips.
Cut the last 3½”w solid strip into 2 strips the width of the runner. 
Sew these to the ends and press as before.

Layer the backing, batting and runner together. 
Baste and quilt as desired.


I follow the same method but just kept on going! 
I made 4 rows of these blocks and sewed them all together & finished them off with a small inner boarder and a larger outer boarder. 

Won’t this be the perfect picnic quilt for Spring?! 🙂 

I can’t wait to try all kinds of different things with this ruler! 
Chevron Quilt it NEXT on the list. 🙂 
In your experience do you enjoy using templates? 
Will you give the Zig-Zag ruler a shot?
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