Miniature Quilts

Miniature Quilts? Why and How?

I love small things! I can’t help it, they are just so cute! Puppies, babies, lambs, doll houses, and miniature quilts to name a few. What about you? We can fairly easily make full size quilts with little thought to how small some of our pieces are. But so many folks look at the miniature and are almost afraid at the thought of the tiny pieces. That, for me, is where the challenge begins. And I think that we should always keep growing our craft, learning more all the time, so that we can never become stale and boring with this art.

My first miniature quilt was made in the early 1980s from a book, which I still have, that is out of print. This was before we had the rulers that we have now with markings on them. This book taught how to measure 5/8″ parallel lines which we then used to cut with our rotary cutter and a blank piece of plexiglass cut for us from the glass shop! My, how things have changed! Now we use great rulers in all shapes and sizes that have 1/8″ marks clearly visible on them. Game changers!

In the nearly 40 years since my first miniature quilt there have been many new ways to make blocks, to piece half-square triangles; even strip piecing has changed some. I have found that these newer methods work especially well for our tiny piecing. This makes it nearly as easy to sew our minis as it is using “normal” sized pieces for our large quilts.

Do you know what hasn’t changed in the miniature world? The types of fabrics that work best! Fabrics that have always been best for miniatures are tiny prints, solids, stripes, checks — as long as they are small to tiny designs on them they will work very well. It is all about the balance of size for the size of the block in the quilt and the quilt itself. Now, I’m not saying that larger prints can’t ever be worked into a miniature. We just need to choose the correct parts of those large-print fabrics so that the visual elements keep your project in a balance. We don’t want them to take over your quilt and make it look like a tiny quilt that used big fabrics. Miniatures should look like tiny, proportionate quilts.

Now, I know, as a former quilt shop owner, that many people do not enjoy and are sometimes a little intimidated by the thought of choosing the correct fabrics for regular-sized quilts. I have seen that to some degree it is easier to choose fabrics for these tiny babies of quilts. So let that be a comfort to those of you who are not confident in their choosing of fabrics.

Next time we will look at fabrics and choosing those that will work best for the miniatures. I hope to see you then!

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