While the Little Gems Project is now over there is nothing to stop anyone from making their own collection of Little Gems or for using the idea to fund raise for their own Guild or group.  Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions.

How do I start making a ‘little gem’?

All you need is some fabric and an idea – perhaps a technique you always wanted to try, or some bits of fabric that will look good together, or even a UFO you can experiment with.

I’ve got lots of fabric but can’t find the right idea … what now?

If the problem is that you have too many ideas, well, just start with one of them – these little quilts are so quick to make, you’ll be able to try out the others too!

I’m a traditional quilter and have only ever made bed-sized quilts – can I make a Little Gem sized quilt?

All kinds of techniques and styles are possible!  Perhaps you’d like to try a favourite block in foundation piecing on a smaller scale, or have ‘ufo’ blocks that you’d like to adapt, or can use this as an opportunity to try out a quilting pattern.

What size should the ‘little gem’ be?

Our Little Gems were A4 size when finished – use a piece of A4 paper as a template to check – but you can make your Little Gem any size you like.  A4 size is 21 cm wide and 29.7 cm high — that’s 8 1/2″ by 11 5/8″ —- give or take a tadge or two.

Which way should they hang?

They can be portrait or landscape.

This sounds like a miniature quilt – is it?

The rules of scale that are used for miniature quilts don’t need to be applied here but can be if wished.

Are any special materials or tools needed?

No – use what you usually use to make your quilts. Of course, if you want to experiment, these small pieces are ideal for doing that.

Does it have to be ‘arty’?

‘Little gems’ can be traditional or contemporary. They can be pieced, appliqued, wholecloth, embellished or any combination of styles.

Does it have to have wadding?

It needs to be three layers, joined by stitch – this could be wadding, or it could be some other material in the middle layer.

Does it have to have a binding?

The edge should be finished appropriately – you may wish to bind it conventionally, or to finish with satin stitch, or to use some other method of finishing the edge.

Can I use a backing to hide my knots and threads on the back?

You’ll need to have a few stitches going through all the layers – and to hold that backing on securely.

Do I need to add a hanging sleeve?

Hanging sleeves are not essential.

Does the quilt need a label?


What should be on the label?

The title of the quilt, your name and any information you want to provide about ‘the story behind the quilt’.

Why would I want to start working small?

Working small allows you to become adventurous and experimental – you can risk trying new tools and techniques. Working small will give you a new focus – like taking a close-up picture with your camera.

Some people are calling these ‘journal quilts’ – why?

The idea for ‘little gems’ came from the Contemporary Group’s journal quilt challenge, where members made a small quilt every month for a year, and also wrote a diary entry about why and how they made each quilt.

17 Responses to FAQs

  1. Jan Bain says:

    Can you please send me the dimensions of A4 paper. We don’t use metric sized paper here.

  2. littlegemquilts says:

    Thanks for this suggestion – we’ve now added the sizes to our faq.

    21 cm wide and 29.7 cm high or 8 1/2″ by 11 5/8″

  3. Jennifer Roberts says:

    I would like to know if the quilts have to have straight sides or can we have a wavy line keeping the A4 width and length at the widest and longest points.

  4. littlegemquilts says:

    Jennifer, there is no reason why the edges have to be as straight as rulers – if your Little Gem has an uneven edge because that is its style and is appropriate then that is fine.
    By the same token, the edges don’t have to be bound if another method would be more appropraite and in keeping with your Little Gem.
    Thank you for the question – Little Gems Team

  5. Is there anything we need to do special to mail to the UK. Although I live in Maine, USA, I would love to support this great cause. ann

  6. littlegemquilts says:

    Ann, as far as I’m aware all you need to do is address the envelope, put the quilt in it, and put a stamp on — don’t forget to send us a photo at the same time, so we can post it on the website.
    Thanks for raising this; if we find out anything else about the ins and outs of sending Little Gems to the UK from abroad, we’ll add it to the site – Little Gems team

  7. Linda B. Laird says:

    This sounds like a great project! Just one question–What’s a “tombola”?

  8. littlegemquilts says:

    If you are posting a Little Gem from the United States you might want to consider designating the contents as a ‘placemat’ or ‘textile sample’. I would advise that you leave the words ‘art’ and ‘quilt’ out because customs start worrying about artwork being exported without licenses.
    Little Gems Team

  9. littlegemquilts says:

    A tombola is like a raffle. You buy a ticket and, in our case, if your ticket number ends with a 0 or a 5 you will have won a Little Gem – sadly, if it ends in any other number you will not have won anything. Hope that explains what a tombola is.

    Little Gems Team

  10. Wil says:

    Can you buy a ticket for the tombola online? I will not be able to come to the UK.

  11. littlegemquilts says:

    I’m afraid it’s not possible to buy tickets online. Tombolas are classed as “gambling” and there are tight regulations in the UK on what can and can’t be done; all tickets have to be bought on the day.

    Little Gems Team

  12. janette hamilton says:

    Can I still send a Little Gem or am I too late?I live in Scotland

  13. littlegemquilts says:

    There is still plenty of time to make a Little Gem, Janette. It should reach us by the end of July. Thank you from the Little Gem Team

  14. carole says:

    can you tell me what is the reason for doing these are they going to charity ? for a special event or what am i missing something here i dont get why you are asking people to do them


  15. littlegemquilts says:

    The Little gems are being made for a tombola at the Festival of Quilts to be held at the NEC in August. The tombola is to raise funds for the new Guild Museum and Gallery in York.
    More details about the fundraiser can be found here – https://littlegemquilts.wordpress.com/about/ and information about the quilt museum here – http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/

  16. Daisy Fearns says:

    Dear Little Gem,

    I have just found your site having looked for some work by Vanessa Stanfield.

    It is too late to join in the 2009 event, but I’d loved to know if there are any other events planned for next year and beyond.



  17. littlegemquilts says:

    Daisy, it’s not too late to join in – if you are going to the Festival of Quilts, you can hand in your Little Gem at the tombola itself — but do send us a photo to go up on this website. The website will continue after the tombola. Thanks for your interest, from the Little Gems team.

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