The Free Motion Quilting Project: Keeping a Quilt Diary

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Keeping a Quilt Diary

I decided to take a break from designs today and ask a very important question:

Have you ever tried keeping a Quilt Diary?

A quilt diary is simply a place where you record information about your quilts and all the materials you used in it.

Good information to record would be:
  • Batting brand and type (cotton, polyester, etc)
  • Thread brand and type
  • Needles used in your machine
  • Any special fabrics (ex: batiks from a special store)
  • Any special treatments you used (ex: starching with new brand of starch)
You might also want to keep records of any new techniques you used, how you felt about them (did it make you want to tear your hair out???), and new ideas for improving your skill for the next quilt.

I used to keep a quilt diary when I first started quilting and I still have the records from my very first quilts and some sketches for quilt ideas from 4 years ago.

Unfortunately I got out of the habit when my first diary filled up, so I stopped recording information about each quilt.

Part of this was the silly notion I had before my son was born that "I'll remember everything forever." Ha! I don't know about you, but it only takes one month before the details of a quilt are totally wiped from my memory!

This is now turning problematic because I really would like to know if I used a cotton or poly batting or what thread in what quilt so I can judge if they're good choices based on the wear of the quilt.

So I'm starting over and recording what I can remember from the materials used in my most recent quilts. It's never too late to start and just keep a record from where you remember clearly what you were using at the time.

Keeping this diary might also help you maintain better tension.

If you sit down to your machine and try a new thread and everything goes haywire, all you have to do is consult your quilt diary for a needle/thread mix that worked well, re-thread your machine and check to see if it is your machine needing servicing or it's just a bad needle/thread combo.

So definitely try this as you start finishing quilts this spring. I have 2 ready for binding and will definitely be writing down the materials used today.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day


  1. Excellent idea, going to try it.

  2. I'm so excited. I just ordered volumes 1 and 2 in my quest to "learn free motion quilting" with my machine. Your FAQ's are great and your personal inspiration about how we use our time and being positive about our accomplishments was really good. Thanks! My question would be are you planning to keep all the videos on YouTube as well?

  3. I have a diary like this, and at the beginning I even kept little fabric swatches in it (especially for quilts I gave away). I keep little notes about whether some kind of batting or thread was particularly annoying and should be avoided in the future, what tension I used (for at least a starting point the next time), etc. I admit to getting more lax about it lately, but have found it very useful to go back to at times.!

  4. Hi SewLindAnn - Yep, I'm definitely keeping all the videos on YouTube.

    Since my backup hard drive got broken, more than 80 of these videos are lost, so the youtube version is the only one left.

    I figure the best place for them is to be online, helping quilters quilt outside of the ditch!



  5. A diary is one of those things I say I am going to do but never do. I kinda think our blog posts are the quilters journals. I know it doesn't keep track of thread and batt but we can record our thought process. I don't post much but do try to have a whole story of why I am writing something- at least for me it is neat to go back and see the evolution of projects. keep up the good work- cheryl

  6. I kept a quilting diary when I first got my quilting frame, it helped me raslize what worked and what didn't and where I was making mistakes. I also keep a journal of all my finished quilts, very basic, but does the job. It's nice to go back and see how far you've come too!

  7. I used to keep a Sewing and Quilting Monthly Log, where I'd write a little note every day talking about what I'd worked on in the sewing room that day. That would include the fabric, batting, thread type info you were mentioning to keep in a project diary. But it was hard to find because my Log was chronological, not project oriented. Then I realized I should keep a separate page for each project, like you describe. When I realized I would be entering most information twice, I gave up and I don't even do the Monthly Log anymore! I really need to start some sort of record keeping again! So much info is being lost! claudia

  8. I have kept a record of each quilt I have started ..... when I complete a long term UFO I still have a record of when it was started, and when I completed various steps along the way. When a quilt is finished I transfer the more interesting information to a folder with fabric samples, photos, size (when I remember ... usually have to measure them when I am filling out an exhibition entry form .... and usually forget to record it for next time.)
    Should have kept details of wadding and machine settings .... maybe in the future that will be added!
    I think I may have been a bit slack with the fabric samples of late ..... scrap bin diving coming up!

  9. I tried to keep hand written records, but I have a difficult time keeping that organized. So I started a blog ( )to record what I do and the products I use. I just started it last Thanksgiving, but it has helped me keep records of everything that I have managed to input.

    I love your blog and would definitely read your quilt log if you made it public.

  10. Iused to do this but like you the idea got lost somewhere along the way.
    I think I should start again also.

  11. I write a quilt journal entry for every project I make. I have a document template in Microsoft Word on my computer and when I start a quilt I enter the basics (Tentative Name, when started, where made, where the idea for the project came from or the pattern or book name and designer if that is the source, a list of fabrics used and where I got them).

    As I work on the quilt I go back to the document to detail all the efforts and/or problems that went into making it. When the quilt is done I add the finished date, backing, binding and batting used and details of any changes to the pattern I did as part of the final design. Then I print it out with a picture of the quilt (and even construction stages if I took pictures of that), add a page of fabric swatches and put it all in a three ring binder.

    To keep it fun I make quilted covers for my binders out of orphan blocks and scraps. I look forward to filling the binders (I am on my third) and starting a new one. It's fun to look back when I am stuck on a new project and review the projects I have finished to remind myself that the current one will get done too!

  12. I started keeping a quilt diary right after Christmas this year. But it is a daily track of how many hours I spend quilting. I also keep any and all special info about that particular day i.e., fabric bought, quilt stores visited. Of course each day is just like one line on the page. I will also document a particular pattern I desperately want to try - plus I have a must must TODO list for the year with finish time goals. Another cute thing is when I start a new project I take about a centimeter sqaure of each fabric I use for a quilt and glue/tape it to a page with any and all quilt pattern information. I think this will be really fun to look back on. When I finish a quilt I put a star sticker in the TODO list section.


Help us create more quilting tutorials! Check out our quilt shop at