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Article: Sew Along Part 1: Sweet Trellis Mini Quilt Skill Builder

Sew Along Part 1: Sweet Trellis Mini Quilt Skill Builder

Guest Blogger: Sarah Baker

Sweet Trellis Sew Along

Welcome to The Featherweight Shop Sew Along: Sweet Trellis Mini Quilt Skill Builder! Whether you’re a newcomer to quilting or a seasoned seamstress, each new project with your Featherweight offers a chance to learn something new or practice something familiar.

Shop the Sweet Trellis Mini Quilt Kit HERE

Today, we begin the Sweet Trellis Mini Quilt Skill Builder with guest blogger, Sarah Baker, from Omaha, Nebraska. Sarah crossed paths with The Featherweight Shop in 2018 when she attended her first Featherweight Maintenance Retreat at the Missouri Star Quilt Company. She is a gifted teacher - from her years in the middle school classroom teaching 7th grade science to the time spent at her local quilt shop teaching Featherweight maintenance classes. As a young girl, her mother taught her how to read an apparel pattern. Her love of sewing advanced into making clothes in high school and then maternity clothes when she was pregnant with her first of three boys (Jake 20, Luke 18, and Nate 13). Sarah has been married to her husband, Chris, for twenty-one years. She was given her very first Featherweight by an Aunt and Uncle in 2016. Now she is the proud owner of a flock of seventeen Featherweights, with her pride and joy being the custom painted Tiffany Blue Featherweight! 

We hope you enjoy her detailed teaching style as Sarah joins us as a guest blogger over the next few weeks....  Take it away, Sarah - show us how to hone our quilting skills from start to finish on the Singer Featherweight.

Sarah Baker Headshot


Sweet Trellis Mini Quilt Pattern

Sometimes in the quilting world, the word “mini” may seem daunting; the idea of tiny pieces and unforgiving seams, but this Sweet Trellis “mini” by Ellis and Higgs offers neither. Whenever a new pattern crosses my craft room threshold, I always read through the entire pattern first. Doing so gives me an idea what to expect, what fabrics are required, piecing tips and instructions, and specialty tools, if any. Sweet Trellis gives us this same direction: Read all instructions before you begin. The pattern writer often gives hints for abbreviations used in the pattern steps, the correct seam allowance used throughout, and to check for any pattern corrections online before proceeding.

Sarah's Suggested Helpful Notions:

Sweet Trellis Mini Quilt Pattern by Ellis & Higgs
Accompanying Fabric (See Below)
Glass Head Pins
Magnetic Pin Dish
Lori Holt Seam Roller
Mary Ellen's Best Press
Sue Daley Round Rotating Cutting Mat
Quilter's Pressing Fleece
Featherweight Accurate Seam Guide
Featherweight Accurate Seam Square
1/4" Open Toe Foot for Binding
Walking Foot for Quilting Top
Lori Holt Cute Cuts
Folded Corner Clipper Ruler by Creative Grids
Tula Pink Hardware Stiletto - 6 inch
Thread Post

Sweet Trellis Fabric Notes:

Sweet Trellis has listed a chart showing fabric, description, yardage required, cut pieces for each fabric, and the fabric label to follow in the assembly instructions.

All of the fabric measurements are given in “Imperial” (US, not metric) measurements: inches, yards. One noticeable measurement that stands out is “Fat Quarter.” This is special to the quilting world. A fat quarter is a half yard of fabric, cut in half, yielding an 18”x22” piece of fabric. It is often easier to get bigger cuts out of a FQ (fat quarter) than it would be out of the same area of fabric if it were cut in a ¼” yard (9”x42”). (Fat quarters are my kryptonite. I have more fat quarters in my stash than any other size of cut fabric.)

The other measurement under yardage is a “10” stacker.” Here is another quilting term that is handy to know. The stacker refers to a set of 40-42 precut 10” pieces of approximately 2 pieces of each fabric design in an artist’s line of fabric. This is also often called a "layer cake". These sets of precuts are very convenient when you want a scrappy look or want a wide variety of fabrics without the hassle of cutting yardage off 20 fabric bolts.

Next to the fabric chart is a color block diagram showing the completed block and shows a finished unit size of 3” x 3” . The unfinished unit will measure 3 1/2” x 3 1/2”. The unfinished measurement includes the ¼” seam allowance on all four sides. An unfinished unit or block measurement is taken before it is sewn into the quilt top. The finished unit or block measurement is taken after it is sewn into the quilt top. Read the block pattern sizes carefully as some authors write finished or unfinished. You would not want to trim your unit or block down to 3” x 3” in this pattern because it would yield the wrong size for your project.

The Quarter Inch Seam Allowance

Sweet Trellis instructs the sewist to follow a ¼ inch seam allowance. This seam allowance is common to almost all quilting patterns. The low shank Featherweight sewing machine offers a variety of helpful tools to achieve an accurate ¼” seam allowance.

*Read What Shank is the Featherweight for more information on the 221 & 222 Singer Featherweight's low-shank.

Featherweight Accurate Seam Guide

My favorite tool is the Featherweight Accurate Seam Guide. I use the companion piece, the Featherweight Accurate Seam Square to measure the correct allowance. I will also use test fabric scraps to verify my stitch allowance is exact before the actual block piecing. In this same instruction note, Sweet Trellis identifies how you should press the seams. It is shown in the pictures with arrows. This means you will use your iron to press the seam in the indicated direction. (I did it a different way that I show in Sew Along: Sweet Trellis Mini Quilt Skill Builder Part 2.)

Featherweight Accurate Seam Guide and Seam Square

Chain Piecing

The next tip in the Sweet Trellis instructions says to chain piece your fabric. Chain piecing happens when you sew your pieces in one continuous length of thread without stopping and cutting between each piece. This speeds up your sewing production and minimizes thread waste. It will look like a banner when you stop at your last piece!


Read Chain, Chain - Snip, Snip for a sweet reminiscent journey down memory lane with The Featherweight Shop about chain stitching!

Pre-Treating the Fabric

The Sweet Trellis suggests a golden nugget for this mini pattern: pre-treat your fabric by starching. The smallest pieces in this pattern are a 2”x2” size, which in the world of minis, is really quite large! But by treating your fabric with a product like Mary Ellen's Best Press, it will be easier to cut and sew, create less pull on the bias and have less edge fray.

When I pre treat fabric, I lay out a clean, dry towel on my cutting table and liberally spray the entire piece of fabric until it is damp. I let it hang on a drying rack. Be careful you only hang the fabric on the rack rungs, not on the corners of the wooden skeleton. The damp fabric can form on the wood and take on the corner shape. (I learned the hard way!) After the fabric is damp dry or almost dry, I use a hot iron to press it.

mary ellen's best press
Spraying my fabric with Mary Ellen's Best Press

Lay the pieces of fabric flat to dry.

After the fabric is dry, press the fabric flat with your hot iron.

Sweet Trellis gives the abbreviation: WOF, meaning width of fabric. This term is used to indicate the width of your fabric from selvedge to selvedge. Quilting fabric WOF is usually 43”/44”. Another very common abbreviation in many quilt patterns is RST. This stands for right sides together, indicating you will sew your pieces with the right sides facing one another. This particular pattern spells out Right Sides Together, but RTS is a good abbreviation to know nonetheless.

Now that the we have read through all the instructions, the fabric is all pre-treated and pressed, we are ready to move on to the next steps in Part 2 of the Sew Along: Sweet Trellis Skill Builder next week!