Do YOU Make Samples?

Good Morning, Quilters!

Another day of filming at the Craftsy studios in Denver…(send positive quilting thoughts my way!)

And I can honestly say…with all the work from editors, producers, photographers, videographers, technical people as well as the instructors, Craftsy classes are a very good deal–especially when they are on sale!  Use my affiliate link HERE to take advantage of this amazing sale!

Craftsy sale!


Here are a few of my samples to test thread and batting…

Samples take the guess-work out of quilting!

But sometimes we are in a hurry to just get quilting…

What about YOU?

Do YOU make samples before you start quilting?

Do YOU wash the samples too?

Have YOU ever been surprised or disappointed by how your quilt looked when you finished it?

We’d LOVE to hear!

May YOUR quilt adventures bring YOU happiness!


PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!


32 thoughts on “Do YOU Make Samples?

  1. Bonjour,
    C’est magnifique, j’adore vraiment beaucoup tous vos ouvrages. C’est un vrai bonheur pour les yeux .
    je vous souhaite une excellente journée. Béné de Bordeaux , France

    • In case anyone wants some help reading our fellow quilter’s message from France, I’m pretty sure what Bene is saying is:

      I really like all of your magnificent designs. They are a pleasure to look at. I hope you have a great trip (to film in Colorado.)

      Bene, bonjour! Moi, je crois le meme chose. Les ouvrages de Lori, c’est ma favorite aussi! Rhonda in Oregon

  2. I realize the potential value of making samples, but I don’t do it. I just start quilting and work things out as I go. I am happy with the results almost all of the time. Even if I don’t like what I start with, I can usually add something that will make it work. 🙂

  3. I thought about doing samples, because I actually love the look of them. Auditioning batting and threads is something I should be doing because they don’t always work out how I expect them to look. Your comments and questions always make me think!!!! That is so awesome and reflects that you are such a good teacher!

  4. Not as often as I should. I’m always in a hurry to get started. I do know the importance of them though, and need to train myself better.

  5. I’m like Shirley—not as often as I should. I do however, spend a lot of time drawing samples on paper and also when long arming my quilt I leave about 6 inches on each side for testing thread tension. Important to see what is happening on the back especially on curves. Hate it when I forget to check and end up with “eyelashes”!

  6. I do make samples, but only because I learned that from your Craftsy class! It is so helpful to make sure you have things as they should be before you start quilting.

  7. Yes, been making samples…but never thought about washing them. Do you bind yours first? Or just stitch around the edge and hope for the best? Sending good thoughts to Denver. You are such an inspiration, Lori!!

  8. I skip the samples. I am sure I could achieve better result with samples, but… What I do though after each project, is to write up a review for myself of what I would do different and the same. Call it a postmortem if you like.

  9. I sometimes run a few rows on a busy old sandwich I keep nearby, but never more than that … too excited to get on with the project, and then on to the next one.
    Good luck today with your filming, with our three-hour time difference you’re probably already heavily involved in the filming. Hopefully your stomach butterflies have lit somewhere by now, and you’re sailing through the day. Wishes for a fun day.

  10. Yes I make samples to test thread, batting and to figure out a stitch. I often think I had a great idea and then hated the color of thread so making the sample first helped with this. Then since I use lots of precuts, don’t pre wash, washing the sample gives me peace of mind….or saves me a huge mess!

    • Kathleen – thanks for giving your hint on making a sample with precuts and then washing it to make sure the fabrics are going to play nice. I presume you use Color Catchers at that time, I pre-wash mostly and use the sheets before I start a quilt as well as when one is done. Color Catchers are the best.

  11. Lori, I hope you are having fun today! This topic is similar to making a gauge swatch in knitting. Without it, sometimes your project will work out and sometimes your sweater will fit a small child or your husband (but he doesn’t want to wear the beautiful pink sweater…) I have much experience with reknitting but to unstitch quilting is impossible. I am picturing the Ten Commandments For Quilting…

  12. Yes, I do make samples to test out quilt designs, threads, and tension. My samples always look like a mess when I’m finished, though they provide valuable information. I do save them, and refer back to them when I can’t remember how I did something.

  13. I don’t make samples, either. I use a 24×36 inch sheet of plexiglass and a dry erase marker to audition my quilting ideas on the quilt. Once I have the quilt designs planned out and practiced until I can efficiently move throughout the quilt, I move to my machine and test the tension, etc, on a practice sandwich. If it’s a new flower or motif I might not have stitched before, I’ll do that on the sandwich once or twice- but not it’s own sample.
    I have a book with sketches and doodles of my favorite designs… I flip through that to get ideas…

  14. If I have orphan blocks (blocks left over) I make samples, then bind them and use them for various things such as over my cutting board (my cat likes to sit on the board!), cat pads, hot pads, trivets, etc. If I don’t have left over blocks, I do have a sample sandwich where I practice but these look messy so I haven’t bound them but hate to throw them out. Some of my threads don’t play nice with other types in the bobbin so this helps me figure that out, as well as whether I can actually free motion the motif that I want. Drawing it and actually sewing it aren’t always the same.

  15. I always make samples before staring on the actual quilt. Never thought to wash them! That’s a good suggestion. Thanks Lori!

  16. sometimes even though I have made a sample, when I work on a bigger quilt, it still isnt the same and needs adjusting. So yes I do make samples most of the time but it isnt always the answer and then I have them hanging about as they always look messy but I cant bare to throw them in the bin

  17. I love this question and all the great answers. I make sample blocks but have never layered the block to test a quilting design. I need to take a different course from now on and do a sample quilting block. Also it would be a reassurance when using pre-cuts to quilt a sample and wash it. I currently hand wash some of my pre-cuts as I am definitely a pre-washer. This would be much easier and faster to quilt a sample and then wash.

  18. I don’t make samples, but I can think of wonderful things to do with them, like purses or other bags.
    But once I was terribly disappointed after spending six hours on one large border. The four borders had words. I was quilting bubbles around letters, hoping the letters would pop because they weren’t quilted. They didn’t. I was in a panic. It was 2:00 in the morning and the baptism was later that day. So I took a dark blue crayon and began to color and iron (to make it permanent) all the letters. They were readable up close but still didn’t show from far away. I used matching thread. I wonder if I should have used darker thread?

    Hindsight says I SHOULD have made a sample on this one, but the deadline was so close, I wouldn’t have finished this quilt in time if I had…
    I wish I could add a photo here.

    PS thinking good thoughts and saying prayers for your success.

    • Coloring with a crayon? I’ve never heard of that before – would you explain it for this uninformed quilting nut?
      Do you put something between the iron and the quilt? How do you apply the crayon? Do you “color” just like on a piece of paper or do you apply shavings? I’d love to know.
      Thank you very much and I wish you success with all of your quilting.

  19. I always make a sample — I aim for a mock up of the fabrics, batting, and backing that I’m actually using. Sometimes, if I am nearly out of the top fabrics I take a close up picture and print (same scale as the finished top) on a piece of white fabric with nearly the same weave, just to help get a sense of how the thread color and design will work. Sometimes I go through a bunch of samples before I get the thread etc to where I want it.

  20. I always practice on pieces of fabric and batting that I used in my quilt, but I don’t know if I would call them samples. I like to see how different threads work together and I always practice the motifs, even if I used them the day before. I always prewash my fabric unless they are precut, but I never thought to wash the sample. Practicing slows down getting to the actual quilting. I don’t know if I could stand to wait for the sample to dry before I could start too. I can only be patient so long.
    Good luck filming your latest class, Lori! I’m sure it will be as fabulous as the first two–probably even better with all of that experience under your belt!

  21. I don’t make samples as such, but I do save the trimmings from squaring up quilts. They’re often several inches wide and are great for practicing stitches and techniques. This gives me a good feel for how the fabrics and thread will behave and lets me know if I have to make tension changes.

  22. Thanks for the link to the Craftsy classes!! Now that I’ve returned from hurricane
    evacuation/vacation (if you take out the e & u, evacuation becomes vacation ; )
    I’m going to make some samples & get quilting again! Sending you tons of quilting
    good energy & good thoughts…& remember, just breathe!!

  23. I will make a sample piece to audition threads on and to see what tension settings I need to use, maybe to practice a quilting pattern. I use the same batting that is in the quilt I am quilting, but tend to use pieces of other scrap fabric to cover the batting. When it is full and the quilt is finished, it gets tossed.

  24. I almost always make a sample, using top fabric, the same batting and backing as the quilt. I change thread so often I have to play with the tension. I save these samples in a stack. I’ve used them as labels, postcards and made a cross-body purse out of a ten year old sample. Good luck with your Craftsy jitters. Thanks for your detailed descriptions on your quilting designs.

  25. I never thought of making a sample to see how the quilt as a whole would look. But I just got a sad experience and I think I’ll do that next time. I made a quilt for my sister so she can take it with hat for her treatments. I used a brand I never used before. I was quite pleased with my quilting. When I washed it, it shrunk way more than I expected and it bearded. I’m so upset with it.
    Now when in doubt, I’ll make a sample and process it the way I would the whole quilt
    Thanks for the idea

  26. I wish that I did make samples, but have to admit that I don’t — except I do keep a quilt sandwich (maybe 16″ x 36″) to try quilting designs on, or to practice something I haven’t done for awhile before doing it on a quilt. On that, I sew over what is already there but it still works for that muscle memory kind of practice — and to try out thread. Sometimes I put a piece of the fabric I’ll be using on top of the muslin and batting sandwich to try out a new thread or try several colors, and it works great for that — while not taking much time to create, as a real sample does.
    I have a friend who does make mini quilt samplers for her original ideas, and those are wonderful — fun to have as a piece by itself.

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