Make Miniature Quilts with Judie Rothermel!

Judie recollects, 'When I began collecting antique quilts and blocks in the 1970's, I realized that those pieces I loved most were done with smaller block sizes. At the time, everyone was making 12", 14" and 16" blocks, and these were the readily available patterns at the time. However, in our shoppe, where I did all of the teaching, I kept thinking about the smaller blocks in my antique quilts, and began drafting down the current patterns to 4" and 5" blocks. I absolutely loved piecing the smaller blocks, and they just seemed more appealing and magical to me."

Judie made her first miniature quilts in the early 1980's, deciding at that time that she would make full size quilts with only the miniature blocks! "Not just little wall hangings, but full size quilts! From that point on, I never made a block larger than 8" square, and even those were rare," she remembers.

Tara Garden by Judie Rothermel

Judie's love for miniatures is continually reflected in her many books, and in articles that feature her work. She notes that the miniature category evolved as her forte, and she became known as the creator of the "Miniature Movement", long before the Dear Jane phenomenon began. Her work in miniatures also includes appliqué as well as pieced quilts.

Here are some of Judie's TOP TIPS for achieving ACCURACY when creating miniature quilts:

  • It's best to choose simpler blocks, to keep the close-up attention on the prints themselves.
  • Since I mostly sew my miniatures by hand, accuracy is the key to perfect little blocks. I trace my templates onto the fabric with a pencil and use a little ruler to add a perfect 3/16" seam allowance. This makes them so accurate I do not need to trim or even pin, as they fit together so precisely.
  • I cut the piece of fabric approximately 10 x 10 square or less before drawing out my pieces. I have seen people open a whole yard, then try to draw out the little pieces on it. This is so clumsy and inaccuracies can occur more easily.
  • I apply a bit of spray sizing to help stiffen fabrics, so that they stretch less.
  • Draw and cut your miniature pieces with the straight of grain on the outside edges of the block, vertically.
  • Fussy-cut specific motifs or print directions for strategic placement within the block.
  • Draw your pieces on a rotary cutting mat so they will not move or slip.
  • I sometimes join my hand pieced blocks and sashings together by machine, sewing on the drawn 3/16'" line.
  • Last but not least, I have always stressed PATIENCE when sewing miniatures -- Enjoy! Judie