WIP: Quilting with Kits

This post was written by Mary Elizabeth O’Toole

Weekly Work in Progress

For this week’s work in progress, I have chosen a quilt called Holly Lane, from The Quilt Company.

Image of the completed Holly Lane quilt, using the kit.

I have had this one packed away for some time.  I took it out to cut and complete for Christmas 2017 but I completed only one block before I had to put it aside to meet demands of client work and gifts.

I decided at that time that this would be a perfect project to work on during the cold winter months, which are favourite quilting months for me.  Quilting always seems like a cozy, comforting pastime when nights are long and cold winds are blowing.  This is one of the projects on my to-finish list before the spring.

My one finished block, Holly's Quilt Room
My one finished block, Holly’s Quilt Room. The sewing machine and quilt pattern are from the included fabric accessory pack, an advantage of the kit in this case.

Although this quilt design has some Christmas-theme elements, I think it could be quite lovely simply as a winter design.  I acquired this quilt as a kit.  I don’t have many kits as I prefer to do my own design and fabric selection.  In this case, I was thrilled to win it at an event draw because I thought it was a fun design.  It was originally designed as a Block of the Month project that included 6 classes – 5 for the buildings and one for assembly and tree blocks.

Set of Block of the Month patterns for 5 buildings + assembly and borders as well as bonus fabric accessories pack.
Set of Block of the Month patterns for 5 buildings + assembly and borders as well as bonus fabric accessories pack.

Advantages of Quilting with Kits

Regardless of your skill level, there can be advantages to purchasing project kits.  For example, they offer opportunity to:

  • Build confidence with material selection, design or process
  • Learn skills through kits specifically designed to focus on a technique like applique or paper piecing, or on a style like modern
  • Save time with pre-selected matching materials or even precut components
  • Save money with bundles since kits will often include things like free patterns or sale prices on matching fabrics to increase the size or back the quilt
  • Get an exclusive project or colour combination only available in kit form.

Tips for Using Kits

Kits can vary greatly in quality and design and you will likely find some companies or designers that best suit your style.  Here are some general tips that you might find useful when working with any kit.

  • Read everything and be sure to cut long pieces – at least set aside materials. With BOM kits, assembly like borders often in final section and require longer pieces;  this will typically be identified at the cut list in the beginning so be sure to read through the materials BEFORE you start cutting
  • Consider cutting all pieces at the beginning of your project so you know if you will require additional materials. Some kits allow very little room for error or customization
  • Be aware of directional fabric. Make sure you cut so that they pattern is facing the right way, if it will make a differences to the final results
  • Don’t be afraid to put your own touches on the project to make it unique.

Customizing Your Kit

One of the reasons people cite for disliking kits is that it will be the same as everyone else is doing.  This need not be the case; there are many ways to add your own mark.  Here are just a few ideas:

  • Change the look of units by reversing colour recommendations, or add your own materials to supplement the kit and integrate it within the design
Kit fabrics marked with name and number matching pattern. The grouping on bottom left is additional fabric I have included for customization.
Kit fabrics marked with name and number matching pattern. The grouping on bottom left is additional fabric I have included for customization.

 

  • Vary applique features. For example, change placement, reverse or overlap images, or alter the number of blooms in the garden or trees in the forest.
  • Modify the border. As an example, this Holly Lane design would have less of a Christmas feel with a revised border that eliminates the holly leaves and berries, or replaces them with a non-holiday themed design like snowflakes.
  • Choose a different format. Make it larger with more borders.  If it is a rectangular design, change it to a square.  The individual house designs in Holly Lane would be idea for a wall hanging – perhaps a four unit square or a three house single row display with holiday border.
  • Add texture with thread, buttons or other embellishments.

What is your experience making quilts from kits? Do you have favourite companies or designers? Please share suggestions, pros and cons of kits – and, of course, pictures.

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