Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Working Wednesday - Kitting It Up!

Hi, all!

It's time again for Working Wednesday - that day when I make myself sit down and think about what I'd like to put in my book!  I'm glad you are all putting up with this process, because it makes me do something and not just put it off, once again.  I appreciate all your comments and suggestions!

Today I thought I'd talk about the process we go through to kit up projects.  Lots of the folks in our group are new to quilting, and most are intimidated by the thought of picking out a bunch of fabrics to coordinate together in a quilt.  We don't buy a lot of fabric, but work out of donated stuff, so we don't have the luxury of choosing a "line" of fabric most of the time.  So sometimes a few of us get together to make kits.

When we do this, we will usually pick a pattern that we are going to kit up that day.  I've been trying to write up our usual patterns in simple format, and the final page contains the kitting instructions.  Here's an example of the kitting directions for a pattern…

Kitting Instructions:

1 1/4 yards of solid accent fabric for blocks and border
1/4 yard solid for inner border
49 dark value 5” print squares for blocks
66 dark value 3.5” print squares for border
200 dark value 2” print squares for blocks
If Pre-Cutting:

Cut 19 2” width of fabric (WOF) strips from the solid accent fabric.  Set 8 strips aside for the blocks, uncut.  Cut 5 strips into 100 2” squares for the block piecing.  Set 6 strips aside for the borders.

Cut six 1 1/4” WOF strips from the inner border fabric. 

One set of directions

Assemble all in a zip loc bag

Kits may be put together with just the fabric, and leave the cutting to the person who chooses it, but some kits are completely pre-cut for those who don't have good cutting skills, or who have physical limitations that keep them from being able to cut easily. 

We put our kits together in gallon ziploc bags - aren't those things wonderful?  They make it easy to keep all the pieces together during construction, too, and can be sent back, attached to the finished quilt top, with all the scraps and the pattern sheet inside.  Those scraps can then be used in the back, or easily sorted into the scrap tubs, and the pattern sheet saved for re-use in another kit.

We've found that the simplest quilt to kit up is the Sudoku quilt.  Nine fat quarters that look nice together, a coordinating sashing, a completed sudoku puzzle and a copy of the directions.  We usually chose the border after the center is completed because it's hard to tell what will look best with the quilt until the "puzzle" is put together.  

Another quilt that lends itself to kitting is this simple block, which was part of a Fat Quarterly quilt-along a few years ago.  For this quilt, we put together kits to make ten of the one hundred blocks necessary.  All that is required is ten of the 2.5" squares that you will be using for the centers of the blocks, and ten 18" x 2.5" strips.  The recipient of the kit will need to cut two 6.5" x 2.5" strips and two 2.5" squares from each strips.  Ten blocks take about 45 minutes to make, so this is a small time commitment that most people are willing to make.

It's a great project if you only have a short period of time and want a quickie kit that you can look back at an hour later and realize you accomplished something!  If you're working on your own, ten of those short quickie projects later, and you've got yourself everything you need to make a great quilt top!

We store our kits in large plastic tubs, so they are easy to go through and choose what to work on.  It's also easy to see when the supply is running low!  As we get better at this, I can also see "grading" the kits on a difficulty scale, so that newer quilters can easily see which quilts are at their skill level.

Having kits available has also enabled some ministry members who are unable to attend regular meetings to participate.  They know that they can come in and pick up a kit to take home at any time, and this has allowed a much wider participation in the ministry.


Truthfully, I have to say I got the idea of making kits from Quilts For Kids.  If you are unaware of this organization, you should check them out.  

They will send you, free of charge, a kit for a child's quilt.  You put it together, add batting, do the quilting and binding, and return the finished quilt to them at your expense. They will distribute it to a hospitalized child in need of a quilt-y hug and smile.  The idea of the kits was so simple, but it takes all the guesswork out of the process.  

The first group of Quilts For Kids quilts we made as a ministry!

How do you feel about kits for charity quilting?  Do you like the idea of having the "hard work" done for you, leaving you free to do the fun part?  Or do you love the process of choosing all your fabrics?

As always, your comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated!  Please feel free to weigh in with anything I might have overlooked or with suggestions about how you would do it differently!




  1. That sounds like a wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing all the details.

  2. I enjoy hearing about your process, Sarah. One thing you probably already know, but would be helpful to include in your book: Take a tiny snip off the bottom corners of your Zip-Loc bags, then press out the air. You can store a lot more bags that way!

  3. Our Quilts of Valor group makes up lots of kits. Some ladies just stop by the LQS to pick up a kit, then drop off the completed top later, or, some ladies just come sew for the day, and start on whatever is the day's project or kit. I've worked with the kits, but, personally, I prefer doing my own thing with my own fabrics. Kits can be a great tool to get people to help, that, otherwise wouldn't or couldn't help.

  4. Love the kit idea. I love to pick out my own fabric combos, but I hate the cutting part. Just not that good with the rotary and ruler. (Even worse with the scissors!) When our Project Linus group gets together there are strips precut to work. I love to just sew them - no troubles - and we can pick out the package we want to work on, but the color combos... I really can't see that a child would be cheered by them. It's all donated fabric...
    sorry I rambled on.

  5. I have done a few of the Kids Quilts and then also did one of the same on my own - so two quilts at a time were passed on back. I prefer to start on my own (scrap quilter methods), but I can see kits being very handy for beginners, easy pick up pieces and those who have difficulty cutting.

  6. I find choosing fabric for a quilt to be rather intimidating - not much practise, I guess. So I love the idea of the fabric being chosen for me. It sounds like it's easy to just grab a kit and get started; very efficient!

  7. Love your detailed ideas. I kit up the Exploding Squares quilt squares for my mom. She only sews squares together or strips together, I need to cut, iron, etc for her. I take blocks from her and make the quilts. I taught the block to my guild, and many of them have made it for charity quilts. Let me know if you want the instructions. I like to pick out my own fabric and like cutting. The only part I am not wild about is the basting part. I also give her WOF strips and have her sew either 4 or 6 together, light/dark alternating. I take those and cut them into blocks or make tubes. So, even if someone did not want to make a quilt, you can still kit fabric to be made into a quilt. Thank you for your ideas.

  8. I have helped to put together several kits. My friend Jessica has kept a stash of charity fabric and several us of made do. It is really rewarding. Her quilty Mom is Pat Fryer of Villa Rose Patterns. Those are so easy to make into charity quilts.

  9. I enjoyed your write-up. I work full-time but quilt for fun. I mainly donate to a NICU unit where a childhood friend works. While I have one or two of my personal projects going all the time, I generally try to keep two donation quilts ready to work on. I generally cut the fabric for two quilts at the same time, putting it in plastic bins. Then it's ready for me to sew whenever I get a moment. All that to say I think having quilt kits ready to go is a wonderful way to help those who don't have a lot of time or who aren't confident in picking out fabric. The more you can do for them, the better. Thanks for your ministry.

  10. Quilt kits are nice so you can always be ready to sew. Your quilts are beautiful.

  11. Sounds like you have the kitting process down pat. Do you have "kitting parties" where several of you get together and do all the cutting and kit assembly? It might be helpful to include how you divide up the work load when doing the kitting, how many people you need, how much time should you set aside for a single session.

  12. With my prayer quilt ministry, I would go to church one night and usually one other lady came to help and we would go through and pick the fabrics and start cutting them into blocks and put what was needed to sew however many blocks into the bag and send the directions in the bag also, I love gallon size baggies also!

  13. Personally, I LOVE picking out fabrics - what quilter doesn't? But I do think having kits is a great way of involving more people. Those who don't already have a stash, those who don't want to or cannot afford to share what's in their stash, and those who feel uncertain about picking the right fabrics can join in without hesitation if you have a kit ready. If at all possible, however, I'd suggest you to be a bit more flexible than Quilts for Kids in your requirements. I did a quilt for them once, and while I understand that they have to have strict requirements as the quilts are given to kids in the hospital, some of the rules were a bit annoying to me LOL. I lIke to do a lot of my work by hand, but they had VERY STRICT rules that EVERYTHING had to be done by machine, including sewing on the label and sewing down the binding. Frankly, I would've preferred to hand piece the quilt and hand sew on the label and the binding. And since I was doing it as a volunteer, I felt like it would've been nice if I could've done it any way I wanted. As long as I did a good job - which I would've done :-)


Comments make me smile!! If you want a PDF of a pattern, PLEASE leave your email address in your comment, or email me directly at salliesue57 (at) gmail (dot) com!