Second Annual Machine Quilt-a-Long–A Mystery Sampler

Quilting Fabric, Lori Kennedy

Good Morning, Quilters!

Thank you all for participating in last week’s Open Line Friday about “Sewers, Sewists, Seamstresses, Tailors….”  

It was a fascinating discussion!


Our Mystery Quilt-a-long was so popular last year that I decided to make it an annual project!

For the next several weeks, we will be replacing our “Tuesday Tutorials” with a Mystery Quilt-a-Long!

If you follow along, you will learn

  • new motifs
  • marking techniques
  • thread tips
  • design and composition tips
  • so much more…

In addition, you will have a gorgeous wall hanging for your sewing room (or to use as a gift!)

The only clue I will give you…this sampler will have a nautical theme.

Quilting Fabric, Lori Kennedy


This week we will focus on the Quilt Sandwich.

The final quilt size will be 16 inches wide by 21 inches long.

Begin with a fat quarter of solid fabric in red, blue or aqua…for the top of the quilt.  

I will be using a Kona cotton fabric from Robert Kaufman fabrics.  I usually purchase my Kona cotton from JoAnn Fabrics or Hancock’s of Paducah.

NOTE-Robert Kaufman only makes one Kona cotton–so it will be great quality wherever you find it.


I like to use novelty fabrics in my quilt’s theme whenever possible.  For this quilt, I will be using a nautically themed cotton fabric.

I recommend that you avoid batiks and white on white fabrics for the backing.

Batiks and hand dyed fabrics are very tightly woven fabrics and are  harder for the needle to penetrate and make a good lockstitch.  The slight needle deflections can show up as a slightly imperfect stitch.

White on white fabrics have a coating of paint that also cause needle deflections.

Whenever possible I avoid these fabrics just to make things a little easier…


For small wall quilts, I like to use Warm and Natural cotton batting.  It tolerates heavy quilting well and remains flat.

Cotton batting also has a natural tackiness and grips the top and backing fabric when the layers are ironed together–no basting required!


It is very important to iron all three layers of the quilt sandwich.

Iron each layer separately first.

Next, iron all three layers together.  Check the back and add spray starch to the back to help it glide more easily if desired.

Iron the top layer one last time–everything should hold together.

Quilting Fabric, Lori Kennedy


Use your favorite marking tool to draw a 21 x 16 inch rectangle.

(This is not like stitching a 1/4 inch seam…if you are off a little, it will be just fine!)  (That’s what I call “FREE motion quilting!)

I like to use the Clover Chalk wheel for straight lines, a ceramic pencil (Fons and Porter or SewLine) or a Dritz Chalk Cartridge-

All of these marking tools are easy to see, easy to remove, and don’t break too easily.

Quilt Marking Tools, Lori Kennedy


We will start stitching next week.

I like to use a heavy weight thread for a bold quilting line.

Some of my favorite machine quilting threads are :  Aurifil 28wt Cotton, Sulky 40 wt Rayon, King Tut- 40 wt Cotton, Magnifico–40wt Trilobal Polyester.

Choose white thread or a light-colored thread for high contrast.

Quilting Thread, Lori Kennedy

In the bobbin, I always use Aurifil 50 wt cotton (orange spool)…It is a fine weight thread, low lint and lock stitches beautifully with slippery top threads like Rayon and Polyester.

(It is much finer weight than Aurifil’s 28 wt cotton (gray spool)–which is better for using on top as a decorative thread.

Quilting Thread, Lori Kennedy

That’s it for this week!

Create a well-ironed quilt sandwich and mark a 16 x 21 inch rectangle.

Choose your threads and we will begin sewing next week.

Happy quilting!


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!