Posted in Piecing, Quilting, Studio 180 Design tools and techniques, Uncategorized

My Quilting Power Tool!

The Studio 180 Design’s Tucker Trimmer is my power tool! I use it every time I’m working on a quilt. Here are just a few of the units you can make with the Tucker Trimmer. I used a charm pack – all the squares are 5″.

Half Square Triangles

This is the Size Chart that is included in your Tucker Trimmer instructions.
The Finished size is the size of the unit when it’s stitched into your quilt.
The Cut Size is the size before the unit is stitched into your quilt. (Almost always 1/2″ bigger.)

The Starter Squares we are using are 5″. Looking above the 5″ you’ll see that the Cut Size will be 4 1/2″ and the finished size will be 4″.

The Tucker Trimmer has two circles on it. In the upper right is a full circle and in the lower left is a half circle. When trimming your units the circle will be in the upper right if you’re right handed and in the upper left if you’re left handed. The full circle means you’re trimming to the full inch and the half circle means you’re trimming to the half inch. The broad line that runs from the lower left to the upper right is called the common diagonal. This line is always used for trimming and it’s the only line used when trimming Half Square Triangles. The broad and dotted lines running in the opposite direction will be used to trim Quarter Square and Combination Units depending what size unit you’re making.

Quarter Square Triangles or Hourglass units. Layer two half square triangles (untrimmed) right sides together, nesting the seams. Draw two lines each 1/4″ from the center diagonal. This line should be opposite from the previously stitched lines. Stitch on lines. Cut apart. Follow the captions on the pictures to spin the seams, creating less bulk in the center. Great tip and can be used when making many different units.

Looking at the Size chart above, you’ll see that when making quarter Square or combination units the 5″ charm square will make a cut size of 4″ and a finished size of 3 1/2″. Each of these units have a second seam so the units will be smaller. To trim the Quarter Square Triangle units place the full circle in the upper right (lefties upper left)’. Line up the common diagonal on one seam and the 4″ solid line on the other one. Those lines will intersect at the exact center of the block. Trim the first two sides, rotate the block, lining up the trimmed edges with the 4″ lines on the Tucker Trimmer. Trim sides 3 and 4 (second trim). Perfect Quarter Square Triangles every time!

Combination Units

Combination Units are made with a solid 5″ square and a half square triangle unit. Center the Half Square Triangle on top of the solid square , centering it. Draw the lines corner to corner on the HST – opposite direction of the seam. Stitch and cut apart. Press to the larger triangle by placing it on top on your pressing mat. Press with your iron, then finger press. Final pressing from the front before trimming. This will be trimmed to 4″ and finish at 3 1/2″.

When working with Charm Packs (5″ squares) I prefer to make my units smaller. The charm packs have pinked edges and are not perfect 5″ squares. I would make all my units cut size 3 1/2″ so they finish at 3″. You’ll be trimming off a little more fabric than usual. And 3″ squares are a common size in lots of quilt blocks! Do you like to work with Charm Packs?

Go shopping here!

Quilt Patterns that use the Tucker Trimmer

Tucker Trimmer

Magic Wand

Wool pressing mat

And don’t forget to get your FREE Storm at Sea pattern!

Leave a comment and let me know what you’re making with your Tucker Trimmer or if you have any questions!


Barbara Dann

Alleycat Quiltworks

Posted in Quilting, Threads

Ed’s Thread

Susan has been bringing her quilt tops to me for years. The last few times Ed has come with her. He’s been very supportive of her quilting but never said much as we talked about quilting designs and threads. Until this last visit. Susan made the above quilt for Ed.

As we were talking about possible thread colors Ed looked at my thread display on the wall. “What about that one?” he asked. As I was looking at all the threads I couldn’t believe he picked Karnak – what I considered the ugliest thread that never looked good on any quilt. To humor him I laid the thread on the quilt and to Susan’s and my surprise it looked great!

And then he described how he wanted the quilting to look like wood grain. While completing the order form I jokingly renamed the thread Ed’s Thread. I drew out a design, he loved it and this is the finished quilt.

We opened the second quilt Susan brought – it’s a colorful, feminine quilt. She wanted curvy quilting with an open design and chose the curly feather design. And the thread – we tried a few different blues and greens – nothing worked. So – you guessed it – we tried Ed’s Thread – perfection!

Susan and Ed picked up these quilts and LOVED them! Susan brought another quilt top. A stunning Economy Block Quilt with a Four Patch center – a beautiful purple fabric for the border and sashing. We looked at it, did some measurements and picked Celestial Meandering quilt design – lots of movement with swirls and points. No surprise – Ed’s Thread!

I can’t wait to see Susan’s next quilt – will it be four in a row for Ed’s Thread??

What’s under your needle lately?


Alleycat Quiltworks


Posted in Batting, Quilt Stories, Quilting, Threads

“Quilt As Desired”

 So you’ve finished your quilt top.  And the last line in your pattern says – “Quilt as desired. Bind. Enjoy!”  

“Quilt as Desired.” – I remember finishing my first quilt and those were the dreaded final words in the pattern.  What did that mean?  I didn’t know what I desired or what would look good, let alone how to quilt this top.  Geezzz…  That was over 18 years ago and I’ve been helping quilters with “Quilt as Desired” ever since!

I provide customized, freehand quilting.  My longarm machine quilting is not computerized. I quilt freehand using designs  which I’ve  developed over the past 20 years.

You’ve decided to have your quilt top quilted – what’s next?

  • Schedule an appointment. Call (814 883 8708) or email me (
  •  My shop is in downtown Victorian Bellefonte, near the Centre County Courthouse at 107 East High Street.
  •  We’ll need about 30 minutes.

 How to prepare for our appointment.

• Bring your quilt top, batting and backing you have for this project. No need to baste them together.  You can also use the batting I have on hand. (I carry several types of Quilter’s Dream batting).

• What do you have in mind for how you want the finished quilt to look?

• How will the quilt be used? Is it a gift?

• What is your budget?

 At your appointment, we’ll discuss:

• How the quilt will be used and what you want it to look like. Is it a wedding gift? Or for a special someone heading to college?  For your bed?

• Your budget.

Based on those answers, I’ll recommend:

• A quilting design. These range from light quilting to custom designs for the quilt body, borders, and sashing.

• Thread color. I use high-quality threads designed for long-arm quilting machines. You may want a color that either blends with the colors of the top,  contrasts or accents certain elements . I will help you decide.

• When you leave – you’ll know what quilting design we will be using, which batting and thread and the exact cost. I will call you if there are any changes (which rarely happens).

 Here’s a link for more info:

 Not to worry if this all seems a little overwhelming. I’ll guide you through the entire process

I’ll call you when your quilt is finished to set up a convenient time to pick it up.  Take it home and enjoy your new quilt!

But what if you’re not in my local area??? Not a problem at all. Just schedule a time to mail your quilt. Your appointment will be done by phone calls and emails once I receive your quilt- super easy!