The Paper-Pieced Home Blog Hop – Review

Work your way into the paper-piecing whimsy of a totally handmade home in the most enjoyable way possible. I’m talking about The Paper-Pieced Home by Penny Lyman. This book is written from one sewist to another. It’s easy to read, which means it’ll make learning or perfecting your paper-piecing skills enjoyable and unforgettable. In her introduction, Penny writes:

Hi, friend! I’m so glad you decided to start at the beginning to get a good foundation and understanding before you start your paper-piecing journey with my book. In this first chapter, you will find invaluable information about what supplies you will need, the basic paper-piecing steps, and tips on choosing the right fabrics for your blocks and projects. A good understanding of these three topics will help to streamline the process as you begin your journey.


You’ll start with the basics: printed foundation paper, scissors, the cutest fabric you’ve ever seen, a sewing machine and thread. Penny wants you to know anyone can become a paper-piecing artist. And they can!

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What she does next is shows you how incredibly easy it is to make the most impressive paper-pieced works for art in your sewing career. Of course it will take a lot of practice and maybe a couple of mistakes (but not too many), and before long, you’ll have fabric creations you can show off to all your guild friends and family. Here are a couple of my favorites:

McCall's Blog

Remember this one from McCalls’ blog?

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Stay tuned for the rest of the blog hop to learn more about all the fun paper-piecing lessons you’ll get in this well thought-out book. And when you’ve done all the paper-piecing a single sewist can handle, treat yourself to a relaxing bubble bath.

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Here’s the rest of the blog hop schedule. If you’re just joining us, make sure to go back to past blog hop blogs and make your way through from the beginning. It’ll be worth it as it’s been a journey for us all!

Most of the participants have made blocks from the book, so bookmark this page and click the links to stop by as many as you can!

3/16       McCall’s Quilting / Sewing Machine Block
3/17       Love of Quilting / Review
3/17       Sandi Sawa Hazlewood  of Crafty Planner / Watering Can Block
3/18       Quilty Pleasures (Quiltmaker blog) / Review
3/18       Imagine Gnats / Rotary Phone Block
3/20       Verykerryberry / Lion Block
3/21       Artisania / Cast-Iron Skillet Block
3/23       Where the Orchids Grow / Lamp Block
3/24       Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt / Layer Cake Block
3/24       House on Hill Road / Oven Mitt Block
3/24       Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced / BBQ Grill Block
3/26       Pink Penguin / Allie-Gator Block
3/26       A Happy Stitch / Giraffe Block
3/27       Bijou Lovely / Jar Block
3/27       Two Little Banshees / Saucepan Block
3/27       Charise Creates / Espresso Mug Block
3/30       Karen Lewis Textiles / Couch Block
3/31       Poppyprint / Clawfoot Tub Block
3/31       One Shabby Chick / Stack of Books Block
3/31       During Quiet Time / Sleeveless Dress Block
4/06      Pat Sloan The Voice of Quilting / Author Podcast Interview

Happy Paper-Piecing!

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Tip Tuesday – Quilt Safety Tips

Between the sewing needles and the rotary cutter, the sewing room can be a dangerous room. Not only do we want to protect our fingers, but we also want to protect our quilting tools and fabrics. This week we have a few quilting tips that will ensure youMedium Klutz Glove don’t suffer any disappointments or trips to the emergency room in any quilt project now or in the future.

Tip #1: Point Protectors
I use pencil grips to protect the points of my small pointed scissors. They also help prevent poking and cutting fingers.

Tip #2: Basting Tip
When safety pin basting, use a crochet hook or a grapefruit spoon to help catch the points of the pins as they emerge from under the quilt. These tools save your fingers and help close the safety pin.

Tip #3: Acid Protection
If you use a wooden hoop to quilt, consider sealing the wood with a good polyurethane finish to protect fabrics from the acid in the wood.

Tip #4: A Washing Caution
Avoid using fabric softener in the washer or dryer when you prewash fabrics that you later intend to fuse. Fusible web will not adhere properly to fabrics treated with fabric softener.

Tip UnderThimble#5: Accidents Happen
If you have accidentally fused an appliqué in the wrong place, use a fabric softener dryer sheet as a pressing cloth to loosen the web so you can remove the appliqué to reposition it.

Tip #6: Finger Protection
For when you don’t have a thimble, wrap a strip of ordinary, white adhesive tape around the end of the finger that you use under the quilt when hand quilting to help protect your finger.

Tip #7: Clean and Heal
Use a dry, nylon kitchen scrubby to clean your cutting mat. It will clean away all the lint and threads and help heal the mat as well.

When your quilting mentor taught you how to quilt, did he or she always have a rule of thumb for quilting safety? From all the Fons & Porter quilting tutorials I’ve seen, I know a quilting safety glove is an absolute must. Fons & Porter editor Jean Nolte says, “We are always safety conscious when it comes to rotary cutting. This glove will help prevent serious cuts. No quilter has time for a trip to the emergency room!”

Happy Quilting and Stay Safe!

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National Craft Month Dedication – Carol

My Daddy’s Ties

“My Father was always dressed in a suit and tie for social occasions. When he passed in 2013, I wanted to create a memory quilt for each of his five children. I returned home with a bag full of ties and an idea.

After recruiting my daughter to help, we began disassembling the ties. They were then pressed and grouped by color. I decided that each quilt would feature a center block honoring my Dad’s Scottish heritage, and so we chose a piece of tie for that square and sewed it to a foundation fabric. We continued to add ties until we achieved a 15″ square.

My dad also loved to take photographs, and when I found fabric with old cameras printed on it, I knew I had found the back of each quilt. I chose black to frame each square and the blue seemed like the perfect transitional fabric for the border.

We recollected so many wonderful memories and made new ones as we shared this project.”

Carol from Rantoul, IL

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National Craft Month Dedication – Linda

“I am most proud of this quilt top that I’ve just finished in my favorite colors of red, white and black. A few weeks ago I was checking out my favorite quilting sites and I found a Fons & Porter YouTube tutorial for a Bento Box block.

After I watched it, I went to my stash and within an hour I had completed my first block and that was all I needed to get me going. It was so easy! I’ve only been quilting a couple of years and this is the first pieced quilt – and the largest  one I’ve made thus far.

It has given me the confidence to try other large pieced projects. I have some batiks that I will use next and that should give me a whole different look. The quilt block I made is really pretty. As always, Fons & Porter produced a quality tutorial that was very clear and concise and inspirational. Thanks for all you do for us quilters!”

Linda from Palm Bay, FL

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BLOCK Friday: Snowball quilt block

I’m sure you’re as pleased about the “heat wave” (50 degrees qualifies as a heat wave in March) we’re getting this week, melting the snow away, but I’m bringing you back to the winter season with this week’s quilt block, the Snowball quilt block.

This is a simple scrap quilt that shows a beautiful display of the Snowball quilt block. This Snowball quilt is by Liz Porter and is a simple, traditional quilt.

Liz's Snowball quilt digital pattern

If you want to give a quilt block the Snowball treatment, you’ll start with a square of fabric and four smaller squares that become the corner units. To learn how to stitch a Snowball block, you can watch either one of two free video tutorials. Learn how to make a Snowball block with Mary Fons and let the staff at McCall’s Quilting teach you how to make the Snowball quilt block.

Depending on the level of contrast you use for the corners of the snowball block and the arrangement of the blocks, you’ll create a secondary pattern across your quilt. This quilt, simply named Snowball, makes it readily apparent that there are chains across the quilt in addition to the white snowball units.

Snowball digital pattern

The quilt below, Four Patch and Snowball, is a similar design, but with quite a different appearance. When you look at just the white parts, you see a bunch of Snowball units. When you look at the colored parts, you loosely see patchwork chains. In this quilt in particular, I find it’s actually easier to see the Snowball blocks.

Four Patch and Snowball digital pattern

It’s almost more of a challenge to create a quilt using Snowball quilt blocks that don’t form a secondary pattern. This block is particularly good at tricking the eye. The optical illusion of the Snowball block is that from a distance, the block appears to be a circle, and up close, you can see it’s actually an octagon shape.

Sometimes the Snowball quilt block makes a fun game of “spot the Snowball” because the blocks can be so shrouded in the design of the quilt itself. This quilt, Piece Out, is a great example of that.

Piece Out digital pattern

What are your thoughts on the Snowball quilt block? Have you ever made a quilt with this block? I know quilters who love every quilt they see with this block simply because of the versatility and creativity it allows. In the end, we’re artists and quilt blocks like the Snowball block allow us to do what we do best: create.

Happy Quilting!

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National Craft Month Dedication – Lisa & Michelle

“Lisa and I have been friends since college. She lives in Maine, where we went to school, and I now live in South Florida. She just took her son off to college for his freshman year this past fall. I thought it might be fun for us to do a project together and give her something to take her mind off her son going away.

We spent about 6 weeks emailing various patterns back and forth. We knew we were going to do a scrap quilt and that it would be pieced but other than that, we were pretty open to just about anything. We had the pattern picked around Labor Day and hat-cKpFcs4nYy3KrULjGjNU3M1uSHc0sYirWJqy9ePmmKBbcWQKl3CKZhPHiY_gWZMGNHeYBX_r81as9G6eNwdu2hKqBvoQTFm_4Q_Fu2jVd1xvFyBKndfYU7r_u110mVjpIJ-nD0t4yXHehkNPAiLD0t6s5kMBDb9qpLh3Rh6sNguCdL5mj5D0GhhsY4D1nylKlmW_dgT9Ehxou0fMb4_hWloWKAU8d decided on an October 1, 2014 start date with a target completion date of January 1, 2015.

We spent the month of September getting our fabric collections ready. Lisa was going to make this for her bed and was going for blues and tans as a starting point. I wanted to use the scraps I had gotten from the scrap bin at my local quilt shop as a starting point, which included a lot of purple batiks. I was intending my quilt to be more of a throw that I could use on the living room couch or use outside to curl up in when the weather was cool.

The techniques used were some strip piecing, a lot of half-square triangles, and as far as cutting the fabric, it just depended on whether we were using yardage or if it was a small scrap that we were just getting one or two pieces from. A did I mention all the half-square triangles?? :-)

Lisa plans on machine quilting hers herself and I plan on using the big stitch technique to hand-quilt mine. We both considobsgOjWTMr8rEnANXj0bFehB8agHOoam3j1ilggytWSt0TMPjj7muNpfOAD-GU5Yc9DXZL5kZ1TQRqrqEHAg_EZN9qbgZxJki-3cI1IWV9RFfWXmguOEoEh6-vf01nAuufOq-VTTSac_8Sj-TXIUB2qzKFNQSd-u7GuLkKHusnbITfkTTZVcSyOQqWdeBlMUFl0-tDd-7gG52zj2CyejmZc_aoIqqyered sending them out to be done on a longarm machine but we both want to finish them ourselves.

We both love the way we did the same pattern but how the different fabrics gave them completely different looks. We both loved doing a scrap quilt. For me, it’s my favorite kind of quilt, and it gave me a way to dig into the stash I had from my quilt shop’s scrap bin.

For Lisa, each piece of fabric reminded her of a different quilt she had made for someone else. Since she is keeping this one, it’s like having a history of her quilting experience. For each of us, these are one of the few quilts we have kept for ourselves, which I think made it an even more personal experience.

I will say, this project started as a way to help distract her from her son’s leaving and while I am always up for a scrap quilt, I was startled (in a good way) by how much this project added to my healing from a recent divorce. And, of course, we both love that we did it together. Even from far away, we kept in touch with our progress and shared photos. We always looked forward to the next picture like seeing a mystery quilt unveil.

For those wondering, Lisa met our January 1, 2015 target even after throwing in a few other projects along the way to slow down to give me time to catch up, LOL!! I finished over President’s Day Weekend.  Not bad at all, I’d say.

Thank you for the opportunity to share our quilts with you!”

Michelle from Wilton Manors, FL & Lisa from Orono, ME

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Learn Beginning Quilting Techniques for Free!

Have you ever gotten your pattern picked out, your fabric purchased, then looked down at your quilt table and thought, “I don’t have a clue where to start.”? If so, you’re not alone!

With so many measurements to do, templates to learn and steps to remember, beginning quilting can be a daunting or intimidating thing for new quilters.

Have no fear, Jenny Kae Parks is here! Jenny Kae, quilt designer, teacher and speaker, is hosting a FREE Beginning Quilting webinar on Monday, March 16th for newbies, beginners and advanced beginners.

In this webinar, you’ll learn the basics of longarm quilting so you can create stunning quilts you’ll be proud to say you completed, start to finish.Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 2.00.10 PM

In this web seminar, you will learn:

  • How to prepare and cut your fabric.
  • How to stitch a 1/4” seam.
  • How to press without distortion.
  • How to strip-piece and join blocks together.
  • How to baste your quilt.

Jenny is an entertaining host who knows a lot about everything quilt-related, including curved piecing and machine quilt binding. She’ll keep you engaged through the entirety of this information-packed quilting webinar! Here’s a little bit about her:

“I started quilting 15 years ago, just one simple place mat project and I was hooked. I enjoy taking on new designsScreen Shot 2015-03-11 at 2.11.31 PM and techniques, working through my quilter’s bucket list. I try to find better/quicker/easier ways to get good results. I believe there are no rules for quilting, just realities, the reality of what I need to do to get the results I want. Quilting should be enjoyable, not frustrating or scary. If what you are doing is not working for you, let’s find another way. For more about me, check out my website, Jenny Kae Quilts,  Jenny Kae Quilts on Facebook or Jenny Kae Quilts on Pinterest.”

This is the beginning quilting webinar Jenny herself wishes she could have taken when she started quilting. She wants you to have an easier time learning how to longarm quilt so she’s offering this webinar at no cost to you. Sign up soon, seats are filling up fast!

Happy Quilting

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National Craft Month Dedication – Elaine

“I am proud to submit my version of a starburst quilt, made by me for the family of a U.S. soldier lost in Baghdad, Iraq, on June 6, 2007.  In this rendition of the starburst, the large center star represents Matthew. The medium-sized stars represent his surviving parents, grandparents and siblings, and the smallest stars represent all of Matthew’s nieces and nephews.

In the second photo, I show the other side of the same quilt, revealing my idea for the other pattern which represents Matthew and his siblings in the full-sized stars; the full-sized stars are surrounded by ‘half-stars’, representing the broken lives of his parents and siblings, upon receiving the news of his death.

I am most proud that my quilt was received with gracious smiles and warmth. This holiday photo was sent back to me, which shows me his family treasures the quilt. They’re holding the quilt during a family holiday get together in 2014.

I designed both sides of the quilt after watching videos and looking at books in which quilting instructors provided tips and tricks for making the stars that I incorporated into the quilt patterns.”




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Tip Tuesday – Using Colors in Quilting

Using colors in quilting is about more than just picking the right fabrics. We know a lot about the color and some of us have even come to know the color wheel as well as the back of our hand. So, instead of simply giving you more tips on choosing colors, this Tip Tuesday is about other ways color can help you make the quilt of your dreams.

Crossroads digital pattern

The color catcher would really come in handy with this quilt!

Tip #1: Catching Colors
I am not a firm believer in laundering all of my fabric before quilting with it. I am a fairly new quilter and if I give a quilt to someone, I’ve started giving them a sheet of Shout Color Catcher to put in the washer the first time they do launder the project. I found it is a good product to catch color bleed in the wash. You can also use Retayne to treat fabric before the first washing.

Tip #2: Choosing Colors
I lay my blocks on pieces of construction paper to help me decide what colors to use for borders on my quilts. Viewing it at home gives me a plan for fabric shopping. When I decide what color family works, I head for that section in the fabric store.

Tip #3: Block Assembly
To keep quilt blocks in order when joining them for a quilt top, use colored stickers to label the blocks in each row a different color. For example, use red stickers and label the blocks in the first row 1–5. Using blue stickers, label the blocks in the second row 6–10. If you don’t have time to sew all the blocks together, the project can be put away. This also works well for group charity projects where more than one person is working on a quilt.

Fabric Color Theory DVD

Tip #4: Scrap Stash Inspiration
I got tired of looking at the overflowing basket of scrap fabric. Rather than try to figure out a way to sort those different size and color pieces, I’ve been cutting them into 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0 inch squares. It’s hard to look at a huge pile of scraps and plan how to use those pieces (or to look for a particular size or color when I’m piecing a top) but stacks of cut squares give me all kinds of ideas. The sewing room is neater, and there’s no longer a cat sleeping in the fabric basket.

Tip #5: Color Code
Use permanent fine-tip pens to trace designs for embroidery. Use red for red embroidery, blue for blue, green for green, and so on. Your stitches will cover and conceal the tracing, and if you miss a stitch, it won’t show.

Tip #6: Coordinating Colors
When trying to pick colors to go with a primary design, check the selvage edge. Some materials have a Picture of different solid colors. These values of colors will go with your material. I wish I had known this 10 years ago!

Tip #7: Keeping the Memories
Since my granddaughters were small, they have colored fabric squares with crayons. I back the fabric with freezer paper to stabilize it and so the girls know where the designs should stop. We label each square with the year. When they graduate from high school, I will make each of them a quilt using their blocks.

At this point, you’re thinking either one of two things. First, “wow, that was really helpful. I’m glad we didn’t just talk about using colors in quilts – I’ve heard enough about that.” Or, “Shucks, I really wish we’d actually learned more about using colors in quilts.”

If you fall into the second group of people, I have a follow-up. We have a whole webinar series on using colors in quilts hosted by Mary Fons. Mary is something of a color connesseuir and she holds nothing back when it comes to teaching you what she’s learned. Mary has a way of creating colorful quilts, and finding ways  of capturing the essence of a quilt in expertly selected color combinations. The series is called Color Me Quilter and she’s made several episodes On Demand and a couple Color Me Quilter episodes coming up that you can watch live.

Happy Quilting!

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National Craft Month Dedication – Michelle & Teri

“Here is a quilt my best friend Teri and I made long distance. She actually bullied me into doing it – I was terrified since it was curves and thousands of tiny pieces, and only my second quilt ever. But I can’t turn away from a challenge so we got together a couple of times to pick out fabric and make our master plan, then went our separate ways. She’s on the west side of Colorado and I’m on the east side.


After three years, many phone calls, emails and texts later, we finished it. We even employed my mom and sister when we could and Teri’s brother and mom to help.

Not to mention several near disasters and dramas – One whole row of arches got sewn with bobbin thread and had to be ripped out and redone. Then we had a minor emergency when a set of twenty rings went missing for two weeks. Teri was literally binding it on the way to the wedding; I couldn’t help because I was stuck at the pre-wedding picture event.

Nearly 3000 pieces make up this quilt and we are so proud of it.”

–Michelle from Colorado



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