Ol' Fashioned Farmgirl Quilting Bee 101

My  Farmgirl Sisterhood Chapter and I recently spent an afternoon learning a new skill and making some very beautiful Christmas gifts for friends and family! Grab a cup of tea, your sewing machine, and some girlfriends for an afternoon of creativity and fun!

I started the Farmgirl Sisterhood chapter, “Connecticut Simpler Life Sisters”, several years ago; I love to get together with wonderful friends that have now become my “sisters”.  Every year at Christmas, we get together for our annual Holiday Potluck and Homemade Gift Exchange.  It’s become a tradition we all look forward to, wondering what each of us will create for a present.  Every year, there’s that one creation we all “ooh and ahh” over most.  Last year, it was the gift Ali received, a stunning quilted table runner designed by my friend Barb. Almost a year later, we were still chatting about it, and how we’d love to learn to quilt.  Barb agreed to lead us in an “Ol’ Fashioned Quilting Bee 101”.  We’d make a rectangular, pieced and quilted table runner – a good way to “get our feet wet” with quilting, as Barb’s the only experienced quilter in our group.

We picked a Saturday afternoon and everyone was sent a list of materials beforehand.  Basic quilting items are needed: a rotary cutter and mat, sewing machine, sewing scissors, thread, seam ripper and pins.  (If someone didn’t have something, we’d share what we had).  As for the individual runners, each project needs21 five-inch squares of fabric (to line up in 3 rows by seven squares).  It’s a good way to use up your “stash” and “scraps” from other sewing projects.  If starting “from scratch”, where fabric is sold by the yard, purchase ½” yard of fabric for the backing, as you need a piece 32” x 15” and ¼” – ½” yard of several fabrics for the 5” squares.  Pre-cut packs of coordinating squares, called “charm packs” can be purchased, but I like the creativity of putting my own fabric picks together.  I also like the look of mixing solids with prints best. Lastly, purchase ½” yard of quilting batting, as a batting piece 32”x15” is needed.  I prefer low-loft batting best.  As a group, it was fun to see what combinations of fabrics we each picked, and to share squares.

Barb instructs Ali on the best way to cut her squares, using a rotary cutter, cutting ruler, and self-healing board.

Sewing machines were set up ‘round the kitchen table, with the iron and ironing board and cutting mats on the kitchen counters.  Coffee and munchies were set out. (Ali made her “famous” dip of guacamole mixed with hummus…delicious)!


After cutting the squares, arrange them like a puzzle how the finished runner will look.  Starting with the first two squares, sew them together using a ¼” seam. Follow with the rest of the blocks in the row until you have one long strip sewn together.  Do the same with the second and third rows.

Afterward, press the seams of the first and third rows to the right, and the seams of the second row to the left (this will help match up seams when the rows are sewn together). Finally, sew the three rows together to make the top.

To finish the runner, Barb instructed us to use the “Pillowcase Method”.  Lay the batting on your cutting surface, with the longer edges at the sides and the shorter ones at the top and bottom.  Lay the runner top  on top of the batting with the right side up, then lay the backing fabric on top, right side down.  Match the edges and pin the three layers together around the outside.  Sew the layers together using a ¼” seam allowance, leaving one seven-inch opening on the the short side.  Trim thee three sewn edges to a ¼” of the seam.

Always re-check your alignment before cutting. Barb says, “Check twice, cut once.”

Turn the runner right-side out (like a pillow case). Voila! Your batting will now be sandwiched between the top and backing layers.  Fold the top edges of the opening and sew closed with a needle and thread.  Top-stitch around the outside edges to quilt, and if desired, between the squares.

Our “mascot” patiently watched “Santa’s workshop” from the hallway.

Ali, Jackie, Nicole and  Barb with our finished projects. A big “thank you” to Barb for her wonderful guidance!

The afternoon flew by, and we were all so proud of our runners. Barb has really inspired me; I’m looking forward to diving further into quilting…and perhaps more group projects. For now, I am planning on making more table runners for my table to change with the seasons.

My first table runner in my kitchen.  Each one improves with practice.

I fell in love with this vintage-like reindeer print. I ended up not using it for any quilts, so I made a throw pillow with ric-rac and a vintage inspired button.  A big vintage rhinestone pin would look lovely, too.

My “points” aren’t perfectly even yet, so I’ve  hidden the imperfections on my corners with embellished buttons,  yielding a country, homespun look.   Each one gets better, and I’m researching quilting to learn more tricks on how to make the points more even. Still, they aren’t bad for a beginner. Each runner takes just a few hours to make, and I’m making several for Christmas gifts this year.  Homemade gifts are my favorite; made with love from the heart.

Hope you enjoyed this craft; maybe you will spend a day quilting with your chapter of friends.  Tell me, what homemade gifts are you working on?  Or maybe you are you an experienced quilter with some tips to share? Remember to stop by and say “hello” in the comments below!

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  1. Debbie says:

    What fun day Nicole! It’s such a charge to learn new skills isn’t it? Your table runner turned out great and the pillow is adorable! I’ve been painting mason jars, and I made a Christmas tree out of chicken wire to display vintage postcards on for my booth downtown. As for gifts, this year we are giving gifts that keep the creativity going all year long. A new photo printer for my hubby and I, a digital keyboard for our daughter, and a beat-maker keyboard for our son. We’ll be ready for a year of making music and beautiful photographs together! Love your posts!
    Merry Christmas Nicole!
    Hugs from the shorelines!

    Hi Deb! Thanks!  Isn’t it fun to make something new?  I am now on my fourth or fifth runner and each one gets a little better.
    I bet that chicken wire Christmas tree is adorable!  I need to mosey on over to your blog and check it out!  I will catch up on my reading in my next sewing break.;)
    Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
    Farmgirl hugs,

  2. Rebecca says:

    What a wonderful way to spend the afternoon and the runners are beautiful. Thank you for the clear instructions. I plan to try one of my own and I have the perfect fabric to use. Nice Christmas-y prints. Merry Christmas to you and to your family.

    Hi Rebecca!  Thanks for stopping by!  Have fun making your tablerunner!  I’d love to see a pic when it is all done.  Merry Christmas and Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Adrienne says:

    What creativity emanates from your home! I’m also going to try the guacamole and hummus combo. I like both separately but together sounds yummy. Thanks for the ideas!

    Hi Adrienne, Those two dips are absolutely divine together!  Enjoy!  Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Jan says:

    Great job, Nicole! I just love to get lost in a creative project…I am still working on decorating my front porch, as the weather is up to a balmy 27 degrees today after it’s visit to below zero wind chills. I FINALLY got out my childhood sleds and decorated them with bows and swags. One is by the fireplace and one will go on the front porch.

    My last sewing project was curtains for my vintage travel trailer. I even lined some of them! Now you’ve got me thinking about my own patch work quilt for the bed…Hmmm..

    A couple of years ago I took a class called ‘Viking Knit’ which is the process of ‘knitting’ wire around a wooden dowel to make cable like bracelets, etc. You can even incorporate beads in your weaving and make multicolored pieces. I think that it is therapeutic to get lost in your crafting!
    P.S. Your dog is adorable…

    Hi Jan!  Your temps are about the same as ours. I’m glad I got my porch all decorated before the snow, but still have a few lights to put out front.  I decorated a sled this year, too…check back next blog and I will post a pic.  🙂

    Sounds like you are a busy farmgirl creating, too!  How fun to have a vintage trailer.  We have been looking about for something like that…maybe someday I can be an official Glamper!  Hope so!

    Thanks for stopping by!
    Farmgirl hugs,

  5. Barb says:

    What a fun day. I am glad you are hooked and ready to find our next project. What a great group of women. Thank you once again for having us in your home.

    Barb, I want to add that you have unleashed a sewing monster! I am hooked for sure. I just finished my fourth runner tonight and am starting a fifth one.  Thanks so much for such a fun day and inspiration to try something I have wanted to do forever.  Love you! – Nicole

  6. Barb says:

    What a fun day. I am glad you are hooked and ready to find our next project. What a great group of women. Thank you once again for having us in your home.

    Barb, Oh My Goodness!  Thank YOU for your patience and inspiration.  You are such a talented lady and I am so glad we met.  Thank you for all you do.  Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

    PS  Several of the girls that had to miss have requested we do another tablerunner day.  Would you be up to teaching us again? 😉

  7. Heather says:

    Wish I could have attended this. I can only imagine what a great teacher and inspiration Barb would be to people wanting to learn the basics and more of quilting!

    Hi Heather, Barb was an awesome, creative teacher, for sure!  If you are local and would like to join our group, just let me know.  You can reach me through the blog (mark the message as a whisper) or it sounds as if you know Barb, and she has my contact info.  We are always doing something fun!  Thanks for commenting! Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  8. Chris says:

    What a fun day! I’m jealous that you guys have Barb as a teacher! She’s great!

    Isn’t she awesome?  And our daughters are two peas in a pod, too, so the "farmerettes" have fun, too! When I count my blessings, Barb is one of them! Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  9. Patti says:

    Barb is da bomb!

    I agree! – Nicole

  10. Brenda says:

    I bought that same vintage look Christmas fabric, not sure what I will use it for yet. I think I need more vintage look fabric for some table runners! Love how yours all turned out.

    Thanks, Brenda!  I also considered making a Christmas apron from that fabric.  Saw another pretty vintage-looking one  last time I went to the fabric store.  I love the colors that are out this year, too!  Happy sewing!  Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Anne says:

    I am not a quilter but I have wanted to try to make a table runner for some time now. The directions here make it sound so easy I am going to pick up some material and batting tomorrow. This article was very inspiring. Thank you, Barb and Nicole.

    Thank you Anne!  Happy Sewing!  Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  12. Rose says:

    it looks like you all had a fun day! Quilting is a great hobby!
    The Table runner looks great! I love the vintage look pillow also.

    I agree with you – a homemade quilt table runner would make a perfect Holiday or Burthday gift!


    Dearest Sweet Rose, do I detect a hint?  Hmmmm….Hugs! Nicole

  13. Mburns says:

    The quilting is beautiful. What fun to learn this wonderful skill. I do not quilt myself but admire these beautiful creations. My mom and grandma quilted and so I have quilts in my closets from their creative efforts. You are lucky to have wonderful friends to share this with you. Happy Holidays.

    Thank you!  What wonderful treasures you have!  Happiest of Holidays to you! Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

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