It is a pretty good place to start, if you ask me!  I’ve been getting a lot of emails and questions asking me to do some quilt-alongs and tutorials of some super-duper-easy quilts.  Like, I have a machine sitting in my closet and I think I can thread it and I think I can sew a straight line, easy.

Okay!  Let’s do it.

A little back story on the sewing machine and me.  I am the middle of three girls in a house full of music and creativity.  We all dabbled in sports and such, but I think it’s safe to say we excelled in the off the field things like sewing, knitting, singing…you name it.  Andy loves telling just about everyone about two rules we had in the Hillesland house growing up, the first being:

No singing at the table.

The second rule was one probably enforced as we were a bit younger, but it developed into something we just did.  Whenever we watched a movie or anything as a family, we were all busy working on a project.  It might be cross-stitch, knitting, latch-hook, beads, what have you, but we were all accomplishing something.  You’re probably sitting there thinking, y’all are crazy, and you’re right.  My patient dad, who became very familiar with the pausing of the movie for knitting questions, plot questions and, of course, snack and bathroom breaks, can relate to my Andy who now lovingly knows there will be a side table lamp on so I can work on some project.

I know.  I’m crazy.

So needless to say, creating is in my blood, and sewing is something I’ve been surrounded by my entire life.  I would entertain myself in the sewing room mirror as a baby while my mom sewed our clothes.  My sisters and I each received a Caboodle — remember those?? on our 10th or so birthday full of sewing supplies.  We picked out a pattern and fabric and made said outfit with my talented mama.  I’d show you a photo, but you can just imagine with me: sunflower fabric made into the most gorgeous 90s vest, accompanying sunflower fabric scrunchie, and bright yellow skirt to match the yellow of the sunflower vest.

I think I paired it with a white turtleneck just to make it even more awesome.

Told you creativity runs in my blood!  I didn’t say I was awesome — dork would be a much better word to describe me!

So fast forward to now.  I decided about a year ago that I wanted to make a quilt.  I honestly had no idea about quilting terms or patterns or trends or anything of the sort.  I just took the sewing knowledge I had and went with it.  A quilt for Joan Bea was made, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  Like beyond hooked.  Like embarrassingly hooked.

But I still don’t know all the hip designers and patterns and trends and terms, I just go with it.

Here’s the deal though:

I’m realizing that almost everyone else is just winging it too. 

Sure, there are some tips and tricks more consistently used than others, but you will drive yourself mad trying to figure out the “correct” way to quilt.  Even given my sewing experience and knowledge, I’m still overwhelmed by how different everyone’s recommendations are.

Only use cotton batting.  //  Only use polyester batting. 

Never sew with anything but cotton thread.  // I only do my quilting with polyester thread. 

Hand-sewing your binding is far superior to machine finishing.  // I’ve never done a hand-sewn binding, and I’m a published author 

None of these are direct quotes by any means, but it gives you an idea of just how varied the opinions are when it comes to quilting techniques, supplies, materials and designs!

So today I want to outline the basic materials needed for some easy quilted coasters.  I’m going to try to give you a lot of options for each item needed, so you don’t feel like you need to go purchase a bunch of special supplies — because you don’t!  Start with what you have, figure out what you love, and go from there!

There is one thing that you will need to purchase — or if you’re in the market for a machine or need a machine, look for one that comes along with a walking foot.  It is for this very reason that I love the DZ3000 and the DZ1500 — you want to get a machine that can challenge and push you to try new techniques.  I actually had never used a walking foot before and looked at it one day, opened up my sewing machine manual and learned how to attach it to my sewing machine.

I made this pillow and then I wanted to scream from the rooftops that I was in love with this silly little walking foot.  It’s so strange how therapeutic it is for me — I love piecing quilts too, but there is something about quilting it that I could do for hours upon hours.  I know, dork. 


My original plan was to jump right into a whole cloth quilt with you today, but given all the questions for some basics, I decided to back up a bit and break things into a few steps.  So today I’m going to outline the supplies you need to get started.  You can count on one hand the things you really need, the rest we can work with what you have.

Later this week, we’ll take these supplies and make some quilted coasters.  These are the perfect project to begin with because you don’t have to worry about managing space or the weight of your quilt, they are fun to try new quilting designs and patterns on, and they are virtually impossible to mess up!

Next week we will square these up so that they are ready for binding, and I’ll show you how to do a quick binding using bias tape.  After that, we will jump into the whole cloth quilt — roughly crib size — and I’ll show you various walking foot designs and the way that I attack them.  We will also follow that with 2 more binding tutorials — machine sewn finish and hand sewn finish.

I’ll stop listing everything now, so I don’t overwhelm you.  Please keep letting me know what tutorials you want and questions you have — I want to be sharing information that is helpful and motivating!

Let’s get to the supplies list.

quilted coaster-2



1| sewing machine

I’ve said it before, and I’ll gladly say it again: get a machine that pushes and challenges you!  If quilting is what you think about at night, then maybe look into a machine like the DZ1500 that gives you a lot of freedom in your workspace.  Go ahead and grab whatever machine is collecting dust in your closet.  Blow the dust off and plug it in.

2| walking foot (optional)

If you have a walking foot, perfect!  If you don’t, that’s okay too!  These coasters are nice and small, so you might still notice a little puckering because you don’t have the walking foot, but hopefully this be so fun, a walking foot i something you’ll want to invest in!  I rarely take mine off now!

3| quilting cotton (1/2 – 1 yard of 2 colors or designs — depending on how many coasters you want to make)

Or whatever fabric you have!  We don’t want to use a jersey or stretchy fabric for this project, but if you have an old button down shirt or chambray you don’t wear anymore, you could be resourceful and even use that!  There are varying qualities when it comes to quilting cotton: as you dive deeper into quilting, you’ll begin to notice a difference when you spend a little more for nicer fabric.  But for now, head on over to your local fabric store — arm yourself with coupons! — and pick up about 1/2-1 yard of each fabric.  I will be using solid colors, one on each side of my coasters, but you can use a patterned fabric or whatever you’d like!

If you’re heading out for materials, you can make this project even easier by picking up a pack of 5″ quilting squares!  They are precut squares found at any quilt or fabric store.  I’ll be using Robert Kaufman’s Kona solids Charm Squares — available here!  Or if you’re heading to JoAnn fabrics, they should have a little rack of precut quilting fabrics as well!  If you have fabric you buy by the yard, then go ahead and cut your fabric into 5″ squares!  I definitely recommend getting a rotary cutter and mat, but you can do without as well! Just grab a ruler and a sharp pair of scissors!1

4| batting-ish material :) 

Batting comes in a variety of fibers and lofts.  The type of fiber dictates not only the feel of the quilt, but also how it will wash up.  The loft of the batting refers to the thickness of the batting material.  As you quilt onto your quilt sandwich, the loft of the batting will create texture and puffiness depending on your quilting pattern.

If you are making a run to the fabric store, I would pick up a low loft polyester batting or fleece.  I will be using fleece for these coasters, as we want a fiber that is going to repel any liquid, not absorb it, as a cotton batting would do.

5|  thread: whatever you have on hand!

I’m not going to tell you to go buy some fancy thread.  Just as I mentioned about the varying quality of quilting cotton, the same goes for thread.  As I’ve begun to spend a little more money on thread, I’ve noticed a difference in my stitch quality and consistency.  I’ve also quilted plenty of quilts with the thread I had on hand!  Again, if you are out and want to purchase a spool of thread to accompany your fabric, that is great too!  You can choose a thread that blends in and matches your fabric, or you can choose a contrasting thread as well!

6| marking supplies (optional)

You really can’t mess these coasters up, and there really isn’t a huge need to mark lines on your fabric, but in case you want to map out where you plan on sewing, fabric marking tools are great to have on hand.  If we are sewing straight lines, I’ll show you how I use painters’ tape.  My favorite pens are these little gems, and white chalk pencils at your local fabric store are great for darker fabrics.  Remember, these are optional!  And always be sure to test a small swatch of fabric with your marking tool — I’ve definitely had a few stubborn markers that have given me quite a headache.

7|  various sewing supplies

Whatever you have on hand will work!  Pins, a needle for your machine, a scissor — these are a few basics and really enough to get you started!


Go ahead and grab your supplies!  Leave a comment or email me with any questions — I will be back this week with step by step instructions for these quilted coasters!



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