Quick Quilting Tips with Amy Smart

Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Contests & Giveaways, Quilting | Comments

If you love quilting but lack the time to devote to complex patterns and tedious techniques, there are plenty of shortcuts in the quilting world to help you save time! Author of the new book Fabulously Fast Quilts (Martingale) and the blogger behind Diary of a Quilter, Amy Smart is here today to share some of her favorite quick quilting tips, plus an exclusive giveaway of her book!

Enter to win a FREE copy of Fabulously Fast Quilts

One lucky winner will receive a free copy of Amy Smart’s Fabulously Fast Quilts. To enter, just head here by May 29th, 2014. Then, share your favorite “quick quilting tip” in the comment section below for your chance to win a copy of Amy’s new book! We’ll randomly select a winner on Friday, May 30th. 2014.

collection of fabulously fast quilts by Amy Smart

Photos via Martingale & Co.

Let’s learn more about Amy and her new book along with a couple of quick quilting tips for you!

Amy, congratulations on the release of your book, Fabulously Fast Quilts! Can you tell us a little bit more about what inspired you to write these patterns?

I love making quilts (obviously) but life is full and time is limited. I also have a short attention span and am easily distracted by new projects I want to make. I like pretty designs, so I love when there are short-cut techniques that speed up the process. I figured I probably wasn’t the only one in this boat, so I collected a bunch of designs and ideas that had been floating around in my head for a while, and put them down on paper.

What are some of your favorite quick quilting tips?

Strip piecing is one of my all-time favorite techniques for saving time. It’s so much quicker to sew strips together and cut them into usable units than it is to cut up a lot of little pieces.

I also love chain piecing, sewing seam after seam through the machine without cutting the threads.

Another tip is to use a piece of tape as a guide on your machine to sew diagonal lines on squares without having to draw diagonal lines on your fabric like Camille demonstrates here.

Moda April Showers Jelly Roll Fabric

Do you enjoy using pre-cuts? If so, what is your favorite type of pre-cut for making quick quilt tops?

I LOVE pre-cuts. I think they’re a genius way to get a large variety of fabric colors and prints without having to spend a lot of money or have a lot of fabric left over. It’s awesome how many patterns are available geared toward pre-cuts. I included patterns geared toward pre-cut collections in Fabulously Fast Quilts because they are such a huge time-saving device as well.

I don’t know if I could choose a favorite type of pre-cut. Each one is so useful for different designs. I included patterns geared toward 2 1/2” strips, 10″ squares and 5″ squares in the book.

You’ve spent some time teaching beginning quilting classes. Have you noticed any common mistakes that can make the quilting process take longer?

I think there are two basic aspects of quilting that save so much headache in the long run as well as make everything look well put together: Being consistent about a 1/4” seam allowance and pressing carefully. At first those two things can seem tedious, but it is so worth the effort to sew accurately and slowly if needed until you get the hang of sewing a consistent 1/4″ seam. I liken it to learning to drive a stick-shift car for the first time. At first it takes concentration, but after doing it for a while, it becomes effortless. Pressing is a step that I see people skip often, but just taking the time to carefully press seams makes such a difference in how the block and eventually the whole quilt come together.

I also like to do all like steps at once. For example, cut out the whole quilt, piece the same step, press all the seams for that step, etc.

How long does it typically take you to piece a quilt top? Do you have a record for the quickest project you’ve assembled?

It depends on the deadline. And the number of children who need me at a given moment. I know I’ve done a quilt top in a day when needed, but typically I work in starts and stops. I’m grateful to have a space where I can leave my machine set up and work when time allows, coming back and forth frequently.

Half-square triangle short cuts
Photo via Diary of a Quilter

What’s your favorite quick quilting tip to share?

My favorite recent short-cut discovery is a faster method for squaring up half-square triangle blocks. I don’t know what took me so long to figure it out. It saves SO much time!

I also love using fabric design to my advantage. Letting the pattern in the fabric do more of the design work, tricking people into thinking the quilt is more complex than it already is like in this Dresden pinwheel quilt.

Fabulously Fast Quilts by Amy Smart book cover
Photo via Martingale & Co.

Enter the giveaway!

Click here to enter Craftsy’s Fabulously Fast Quilts giveaway, then leave a comment on this post telling us your favorite way to save time quilting or your favorite pre-cut. We look forward to reading your quick quilting tips!

Please note: Giveaway open worldwide. (U.S. winner will receive a hard copy; international winner will receive an e-book).


  1. My favorite precuts are fat quarter bundles.

  2. My favorite precuts are fat quarter bundles.

  3. My favorite precuts are fat quarter bundles.

  4. My favorite precuts are fat quarter bundles.

  5. Ok e of my faves is the HST printed paper. Everything matches nicely without stress!

  6. Heidi Ostrem says:

    I love using charm packs for quick patchwork!

  7. Jean Holman says:

    My favourite precuts are charm squares. Easy to make my favourite Dresden plates.

  8. I love using fat quarters, it makes everything so easy.

  9. love all the helpful hints and tips and the free things would love to win the lottery so I could take more classe thanks for the great wsb site.

  10. Ok e of my faves is the HST printed paper. Everything matches nicely without stress!

  11. I like to prewind numerous bobbins and then I might do my cutting for several projects all at the same time.

  12. I love working with jelly rolls. I bought a long binding tool and now cut my own strips.

  13. I like to prewind numerous bobbins and then I might do my cutting for several projects all at the same time.

  14. my favorite is if you don’t buy a lot of fabric you don’t have to spend that much time cleaning it up.

  15. my favorite is if you don’t buy a lot of fabric you don’t have to spend that much time cleaning it up.

  16. My favorite pre-cuts are the 2 1/2″ strips, so much can be done with them! Sub cut or not , you always start with good 2 1/2″ cut! Lately I’ve been spray basting and glue basting when I can. Great help and time saver.

  17. I’m a new quilter, so I don’t have many tips, but I do love pre-cuts in general. My favorite thus far has been 5″ charm packs.