Category Archives: Ask Jo

Ask Jo: Babies and Such

Every now and then blog readers send me a email or leave a comment in the comment section that I need to answer.  When I think other readers might be interested too, I answer them here on the blog. Today is one of those days…

From Susan the Farm Quilter:
How fun to have grands born so close together!! Congratulations on the grands and that moms and babies are doing well. Will you be able to take care of them both, like you do Carver??

Gannon will start childcare here at my house on March 19th….

it will only be two days a week for about six weeks.  Kalissa is on maternity leave from the hospital but she is also a clinical nursing instructor.  That job starts back up on the 19th but it’s only two days a week.

She’ll go back to her hospital job mid May.  Then Gannon will be here and come on the same days Carver does.

Georgia will be here… Continue reading

Ask Jo: Spider Web String and More

Marilyn wrote:
Jo- I am making the spider string quilt and would like to know what pattern will you use to quilt it. I have chosen black with tiny polka dots for my background.

Marilyn is referring to this quilt….

Marilyn was wondering how I chose to quilt it.  I tried to so a little drawing to show how.  For the most part it’s about as continuous sewing as I could get and still be custom quilting.  The drawing below is primitive I know but I think you can get the idea.

The outer string border was just a back and forth straight line…you can see that noted in BLUE.

The inner border, noted in YELLOW, is a loop.

The WEB part of the design is noted in ORANGE.  I arched in a curve from corner to corner.  For the first row I only did the top arch closest to the inner border.  On my swipe back I finished off the triangles.  In the other rows I only did the top half of the web and in the swipe back I did the lower section.

For the solid area, noted in in green I did a flower.  I started in the FAR left of the black section.  From there I did the top half of the flower all the way across the row.  On the swipe back I did the bottom half of the flower.

As I went along I learned to stop at the far left and pick up the loop design in the narrow border to travel to the next section of the quilt.  I didn’t have to stop and start to do the inner border.

In the end I was happy with the design…my execution of it…needs practice.  My friend Carla who does the longarming got new bigger wheels for her set up.  I’m wondering if I might benefit from that as well.  I feel like my set up isn’t running as smooth as it once did.  I also keep telling myself PRACTICE more.

Here’s a picture of the back of the quilt…That might help you see the quilting design.

Another look….

Next comes a question from Joan:  “Are you hand sewing the double wedding ring or attaching by machine? I missed the beginning of this one.”

I am machine sewing the entire quilt.  No hand stitching for this girl.  You can learn more about the quilt with tips for making your own double wedding ring quilt HERE.

From Kim:
Jo, your crumb quilt screams fun & is such an excellent choice for kids. I know you are a resourceful person & use “what’s on hand” first but I am curious do you have a “go to solid red”? Is there a certain solid red that you consider a must in your stash?

Kim wrote that after seeing the center portion of baby Friedman’s quilt….

I do have a go to red that I prefer.

This was the first crumb quilt I made…That’s Kalissa as a teenager sleeping under it.  I loved the red I had for this one.
When I made the next one which turned out to be Carvers, I didn’t have enough of the original red so used this red.
It’s okay but somehow the red seamed “cheaper” looking to me.

That’s about the time I started being more “color aware”.  Kelli and I ended up getting a Bella Solid color chart.

Open it up and there are swatches of all the Bella Solid colors there are.
My go to for any “cream based” projects is Country Red.  If using white based I still use a darker red…the “Christmas Red”.    Others work great too but these are my go to’s.  

The charts are available at Fat Quarter Shop HERE.  We got ours from Moda when we were writing our book.  They gave it to us…thank heavens…the chart is kind of expensive but if you’re a mom and have everything you need…ask for it for a present.

We also have the Moda Marbles chart and the Essential Dot chart.
We use them regularly.  I used the Bella Solid Chart to pick the center color of my Spider Web quilt…it’s Charcoal.

I think that wraps up this edition of “Ask Jo”.  If you have questions please leave them in the comments or send me an email at

Ask Jo: Past Questions

Every now and then blog readers send me a email or leave a comment in the comment section that I need to answer.  When I think other readers might be interested too, I answer them here on the blog. Today is one of those days…”

I’m trying to get to the bottom of the pending questions.  It can be a task at times to answer them all but I really like doing it.  Often I can reminisce about a project while I am answering the question.

Cheryl asked:
What size do you make the triangles?

Cheryl asked this about my Fair and Square quilt.  This quilt is from Bonnie Hunter’s book Scraps and Shirttails II.  I LOVE this book and the quilt.  The string for this quilt came primarily from gifted fabric scraps from blog readers.
You can read about the finished quilt HERE.  You can read about how I trimmed the blocks HERE.

In the directions Bonnie Hunter suggests that the quilt be made by making two different blocks…the one with the checkerboard and the one with the strings.  This means that the quilt then is put together using an “on point” setting.  I hate “on point settings”.  So…I decided to put it together differently.  I made the triangles then added them to the checkerboard block.
Then I trimmed the whole block to 14 1/2″.  So the question is what size should the triangles be made….the same as the book suggests.

Some people don’t like to do this as they feel there are more bias edges but that doesn’t bother me at all.  Anytime I am working with string blocks they are more “stretchy” than normal fabric and this is no different.  Some people sew a small line of stitching around the outside of a block like this help with the shifting.  I don’t.

The next question came from Paula:
Will the posted size be a queen size. If not what is the “adjustment to get a queen size? Thanks. Hoping I can do this as a first

Her question was about this quilt.

This is a free pattern we offer HERE.

To make the quilt with one jelly roll or 42 ~ 2 1/2″ strips you would sew them strips together giving you 14 strip sets.  From each strip set you can get 6 cuts.  That means you can get 84 blocks.  You could but them into a 9 x 9 setting giving you a 54″ x 54″ throw quilt or an 8 x 10 setting giving you a 48″ x 60″ throw.

Using two jelly rolls would give you 28 strip sets giving you 168 blocks.  Those blocks could be put into an 12 x 12 setting giving you a 72″ x 72″ quilt or a 12 x 13 setting giving you a 72″ x 78″ quilt.

Ideally I like quilts that are about 84″ x 90″.  For that you would need 210 blocks…or 35 strip sets.  You could get that from 2 jelly rolls and 21 extra 2 1/2′ strips…if you’re making it from your scraps you can make this size of quilt with 105 ~ 2 1/2″ strips.

Now queen sized… 96″ x 96″
You would need a 16 x 16 layout.  That would be 256 blocks.  That would be 128 strips…if you’re making it from jelly rolls that would be 3 jelly rolls.  It’s EXACTLY 3 jelly rolls so I would suggest buying an extra 1/4 yard of fabric to make something stretch in case you had a miss cut.

It’s a good scrap buster quilt if you make it with scrap.

We had another question about this quilt….this one from Sandra:
Hi Jo, I am new to quilting and love this pattern! Thank you for sharing it with us! Did you use any batting between the top and backing and if so what type, please?

Being I made so many quilts, I buy the batting by the yard.  It can easily be bought in a single size.

I use two different types of batting…
Warm and Natural
Hobbs 80/20

For me these two and the most cost effective and the most versatile.  I like working with Warm and Natural better.  It doesn’t stretch and tear like Hobbs can when I’m getting the quilt together and machine quilted.  Warm and Natural goes in any quilt we send out for publication.  It’s a little more sturdy if the quilts are going to be hung for photographing.  It’s sturdy and can take many washings.

Hobbs is instantly cuddly…I like it for quilts I know we will keep and be part of our family.  It’s drapier.

Neither are a wrong choice.  I have tried other off brands.  I’ve tried the more expensive bamboo battings.  I’ve tried lots of battings but these two are the most universal for me.  They do the best job for the costs point.

That wraps up this edition of “Ask Jo”….I’m getting closer to caught up!!

Ask Jo: This and That

Every now and then blog readers send me a email or leave a comment in the comment section that I need to answer.  When I think other readers might be interested too, I answer them here on the blog. Today is one of those days….

From Kathleen:
“I know you probably said this ten times before – but this is a Bonnie H pattern, isn’t it? Which book is it in, please ??? thank you”.

I got the pattern free from Bonnie Hunter when we ordered the String Frenzy book from her.  She is still doing that offer.  If you aren’t interested in the book you can buy the pattern individually for $8.  HERE is the link.

From Trisha:
Jo, I am not computer savvy so I don’t know how this works…but would it be a terrible amount of trouble/work/time for you to have a category at the top of your blog where you put your “what am I reading” posts. I try to jot the titles down but sometimes I can’t do that right at the time when I’m reading your posts and then when I think of it later, I can’t find that post. You recommend so many interesting books. I don’t mean to create more work for you just to make it easier for me….just wondering!

Trisha wrote after I had reviewed this book…The Storyteller’s Secret by Sejal Badani.

..which was wonderful.

Here’s my answer.  In theory it would be wonderful.  I know bloggers that have wonderful lists of things that make things right on the tip of their readers fingers.  I admire them but most of them blog as a full time job.  I’m a ameatuer personal blogger who blogs more for the person benefits than I am a professional blogger…so I’m not going to make a page as I know me and I know I will NEVER keep it up.  I’ll have a good intention and then three months into it I’ll lag and pretty soon I just won’t do it.  I’m being honest….BUT I have almost the same thing for you….

I have the search bar on the top right hand column of my blog.  If you are ever looking for a book that I have previously reviewed, type “WHAT I’M READING” into the search box.

Then the whole list of blog posts that I’ve written to review books will show up.  You can easily scroll through them and find the book you are looking for.

I did start a list and got four books into it and decided I couldn’t tackle it.  Questions kept plaguing me.  Do I list them alphabetical?  Do I list them with a picture of the book?  Do I list them in order I’ve read them with no picture?  I felt like whatever I did, someone would prefer the alternate way of listing them.  So…I quit.

Using the search option is the best way I can recommend to find anything on the blog.  I know it can be cumbersome but, in the end, I think it’s the best option.

Marie wrote this question to me:
I use to receive your blog.
Enjoyed so much. Do not receive at this time………I have registered my e-mail but no blog.
Please help me get this blog in my e-mail.”

AH…I hate this question.  I get it often.  Really often.  I can’t do a single thing about this.  I do not have any access to the program that does or doesn’t send the email of the blog to you.

If you are not getting the blog, do it the old fashion way and type into your search bar,

If there is a reader who signs up for emails of the blog and knows how to help Marie, PLEASE leave a comment to help others know how to deal with this.

Linda wrote:
Do you wash your thrift store scraps as needed? Do you have any hints? My method seems like a lot of work. Thanks so much for your blog. I check in with you every morning with my coffee. I am a transplanted Iowa girl, and have similar antique, childcare and quilt interests. Bless you!”
I wash ZERO fabric before I use it.  ZERO.  I have never washed fabric and have never regretted it.  I know there are huge debates about color running and color catchers and all of that.  At one point I did and I HATED IT.  I absolutely HATED IT.  So I quit doing it.  I make so many quilts so this is my feeling about them.

If the colors run, I’ll make a new one.  PERIOD.

If the comment was leaning towards that the fabric might smell as it was thrifted.  Fabric that comes from thrift store kind of has a bad rap.  My thrift stores are all VERY nice and VERY clean.  I would not be worried about anything I bought as “being stinky” or covered in pet hair.  So no worries for me at all…and NO WASHING OF FABRIC.  (as always, this is my personal preference, everyone can do whatever they want)

That wraps up this round of “Ask Jo”.  If there is a question you have, leave a comment on the blog or drop me an email at