BLOCK Friday: Star quilt block

We’re seeing stars in this week’s Block Friday! I don’t know where to start when it comes to the Star quilt blocks because there are so many! A typical Star quilt block is comprised of six to eight points made of diamonds or triangles radiating from the center. Below is a list of some Star quilt blocks you’ve probably seen many a time:

The Blazing Star pattern is an eight-pointed star, and appears to be two four-pointed stars, one on top of the other. This quilt, Blaze of Stars, is actually a slight variation of the original because the arms of the star are comprised of diamonds instead of the triangle shapes typically cut using a fabric cutter or foundation paper piecing.


If you find yourself entranced by the intricacy of the Feathered Star quilt block, you’re not alone. This block is one of the most intricate Star block quilt patterns, and can be a bit tricky for some. Carefully arrange lots of triangle units and half-square triangles to make this stunning quilt block. Make a Feathered Star quilt of your own with the Feathered Star Not So Block of the Month by Marti Michell beginning in May 2015.


Broken Star is a magnificent quilt block that starts with a Lone Star quilt block in the center and appears to have broken pieces of star that form a border around the center Star. This quilt, Broken Spoke, is by our own Liz Porter and, boy, is it a stunner!


The LeMoyne Star is a straight-forward eight-pointed star made using 45-degree angle diamonds. You can really change the look of this Star block depending on color arrangement and contrast. This quilt, Links, always makes me think of hot apple cider and the color of leaves in the fall time. Use a template to make the LeMoyne Star quilt block more quickly.


What’s a Block Friday about stars if a patriotic quilt isn’t included? The Ohio Star quilt block is a nine-patch with a center square. This might be the star block you see most often as it’s one of the easier to make due to its nine-patch construction. Additionally, because it’s so recognizable, the Ohio Star barn quilt is quite popular and can be viewed from the road on long road trips.


The variety of patterns, colors, designs and variations available makes creating the Star quilt that fits your home decor surprisingly easy and also aesthetically pleasing. Are you gifting someone? You can’t go wrong with a Star quilt, and often they look more complicated than they actually are (we’ll get to the Feathered Star quilt later).

While this certainly isn’t an extensive list (trust me on that), it does give you an idea how vast the array of Star blocks are out there. There truly is a Star block for every quilter’s age, skill-level, style and goal. I hope seeing all these stars brightened up your day as much as it did mine. Now go out and make some stars!

Happy Quilting!


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5 Reasons Auto Ship Will Make Your Life Easier

Do you ever get caught up in life’s day-to-day tasks? Maybe you’ve experienced a week gone by and thought “I’m not ready for the weekend yet. I still have [insert extensive to-do list]”. I mean, you’ve got family members and their lives, birthdays, and anniversaries to keep up with, you don’t have time to worry about missing an issue of your favorite quilting magazine. So what can you do? You can get Quilting Quickly shipped right to your doorstep!

MQQ21505Quilting Quickly is our magazine dedicated to providing projects for quilts, table toppers, bags, and other accessories that are made from pre-cut strips and squares.  I’m a big fan of pre-cuts. They’re incredibly versatile and they come in any variety of stunning patterns.

So why should you sign up for Auto Ship? Well, here are a few reasons:

  1. You’ll never miss an issue.
  2. You’ll be the first of your quilting friends to get the issue.
  3. You’ll be that guild friend everyone wants at monthly meetings because you’ve got the issue that sold out at the LQS.
  4. You can shop leisurely for your favorite pre-cut squares and strips between issues and have them ready when your issue arrives.
  5. You’ll discover all kinds of beautiful, original quilts you can make in no time with pre-cut strips and squares.
  6. Bonus Reason: Every single project in Quilting Quickly has a free video tutorial to make sure you finish every project you start!

The Quilting Quickly Auto Ship program makes sure you get all six issues of the magazine delivered directly to your mailbox. You will be billed as issues ship and you may cancel at any time.

We know you love purchasing these pre-cut fabrics, but don’t always know exactly how to use them in your projects. Quilting Quickly has 15–20 patterns that are perfect for using pre-cuts.

The projects in this magazine are professional, quick, and include a wide range of styles from updated traditional to contemporary, kid’s quilts and small projects.

Kim's Star digital pattern

All Inked Up digital pattern

On A Safari digital pattern

Happy Quilting!

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Tip Tuesday: 7 Hand Sewing Tips

When you were a little girl, did your mother or grandmother sit you down and sew alongside you? That’s how I learned how to hand sew. My mom would sit and hand sew any number of paper piecing quilt projects or finish pillows. Of course, her mother taught her how to sew a quilt by hand and, naturally, when I got old enough, she wanted to pass along her skills to me. My first hand sewn project was a t-shirt pillow and I still have it to this day. I was so proud! Because hand sewing was the first exposure for a lot of us, we’ve developed some handy tricks. Below are some hand sewing tips other quilters have developed.

Lighted Needle Threader

Lighted Needle Threader

Tip #1: A Slick Idea
To help keep metallic threads from separating and breaking when hand quilting, draw a length of thread over beeswax.

Tip #2: 35mm Thread Dispenser
Use empty 35mm film canisters to dispense thread for hand sewing. Wind 4 to 5 bobbins with the threads you need, and place them in the canister. Puncture the lid several times, and pull a different thread color through each hole. You can thread needles without the threads tangling.

Tip #3: Get Through It
Use a leftover party balloon as a gripper to help pull your needle through a tough spot when hand quilting.

Tip #4: Bobby Pin Binding
Old-fashioned, cushioned bobby pins make great clips to hold your binding while hand stitching it to the back of your quilt.

Tip #5: Car KitScreen Shot 2015-04-14 at 10.38.53 AM
Put together an emergency kit of hand piecing that you always have in the car. If you get stuck somewhere, you can work on this special project. You may be amazed how soon you complete the take-along project!

Tip #6: Inside Out
If you use a rubber finger stall to help pull stubborn stitches through when hand quilting, turn it inside out. The bumpy surface reduces finger perspiration, and the needle will pull through more easily.

Tip #7: Maintain the Tension
If you are interrupted while hand stitching, wrap the thread around the needle in a figure eight to maintain tension on the thread until you get back to the work.

I know some of you haven’t gotten into quilting until later in your lives. That’s perfectly fine! Catch up on all those hand stitching techniques, or should I say slow down, with Mark Lipinski’s Slow Stitching Movement web seminar. In this hour-long webinar, you’ll slow down your busy life in favor of learning to enjoy the process of sewing and delving into fiber art creation.

As always, feel free to contribute tips of your own in the comments. They don’t have to be only about hand sewing, they can be anything!

Happy Quilting!


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BLOCK Friday: Art Quilts

Bon Echo Rock quilt kitHave you been to an art museum lately? If the answer is no, I highly encourage you take a visit sometime in the near future. You won’t regret it. I know I’ve said it one hundred times before, but as a quilter, you’re an artist. You’ve got an eye for beauty, and creativity comes naturally to you.

Quilting is the way you work out stress at the end of a long week or the way you unwind your thoughts and emotions. Quilting has helped you heal; it helps you stay healthy.

The gorgeous art you’ll find in a museum is great for inspiring new creativity and for finding inspiration. Quilts of all kinds are considered beautiful art pieces, but art quilts, in particular, are a unique type of quilt because often, they’re totally improvised.

Take a strip of blue here and a patch of red there and make a beautiful sunset scene come to life. This quilt, Down by the Dock in the Bay, looks like it could be improvised, but there actually is a pattern to it.

Down by the Dock in the Bay quilt kit

Art quilts themselves can be a seemingly ambigous concept. When the question is asked, “What is art quilting?”, it’s important to first determine whether quilting is an art or a craft. The truth is, it’s a subjective designation.

Some quilters consider themselves crafters – they take big blocks of fabric, chop them up, and “paste” them back together into something that takes shape as a thing of beauty. Other quilters consider themselves artists – they see every quilt they make as a memory of a time, and they captured the essence of their imagination in creating their art quilt. Some quilters see themselves as both and others as neither. Regardless, I think we can all agree, quilters are proud of their work.

The one component of an art quilt is that it is created based on an experience, a memory or an image. That leaves the prospect of what can be considered an art quilt pretty wide open. For example, simply repeating a quilt block can create a stunning themed quilt perfect for drawing on the memory of a holiday or special occasion. The quilt below, Flag of Freedom by Marianne Fons, is a gorgeous patriotic display.

I wonder where her inspiration comes from. Perhaps Jasper Johns’ masterpiece Three Flags?

Flag of Freedom digital pattern

Similarly, this quilt, Strawberries, is made up of one simple quilt block whose construction takes it one step further from the patchwork we commonly associated with a quilt to a little strawberry garden. Imagine hanging just one of these quilt blocks on your wall. It would be simply delicious!

I wonder if the inspiration for this quilt came from a work of art, perhaps found in a museum. I’m seeing a striking resemblence between this quilt and the Personalised Paper Strawberry Artwork by SWEET DIMPLE.

Strawberries quilt kit

So, again, I say, if you haven’t been to a museum lately, make a visit soon. A lot of quilters get their quilting inspiration from home decor or from nature, but occasionally it’s good to be intentional about seeking quilting inspiration.

Have you ever done improv quilting before? I want to see pictures of your art quilts. Post them in the comments.

Happy Quilting!

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Tip Tuesday: Sewing Needle Tips

Threading needles, dropping needles, finding needles, storing needles. When it comes to those pesky needles, it can be nice to have a little help working out the details. Thank you to many other quilters who were willing to share their favorite sewing machine needle tips with other quilters. The quilting community continues to grow!

Tip #1: A Handy Household Tip
Used sewing machine needlesSN1709C make great “nails” to hang picture frames on the wall. The needles are strong and make only a small hole.

Tip #2: Needle Threading Help
To simplify threading needles, cut the thread at an angle so it easily slips through the eye.

Tip #3: Changing Needles
When changing the needle in my sewing machine, I insert a piece of paper or cloth over the throat plate before I loosen the needle. This keeps the needle from falling down into the machine through the hole in the throat plate.

Tip #4: Curved Needles
Try a curved needle for tying quilts. The curve in the needle brings the point of the needle back to your hand easily and save strain on your fingers.

Needles at Shop Fons & PorterTip #5: Divided Needle Storage
A small embroidery floss container is perfect for storing sewing machine needles. You can store a different size in each compartment so it’s easy to find the one you need.

Tip #6: Finding a Needle
I hand quilt so, sometimes, my needle gets lost. I use free advertising magnets & thread up to 6 needles at a time and stick them on the magnet.

Tip #7: Heavy Duty Needle Threader
I use dental floss threaders to thread needles when I’m working with pearl cotton or embroidery floss.

I hope you found these sewing needle tips as helpful as I did. Do you ever use any of these? Leave comment of a tip of your own and I’ll use it in the future!

Happy Quilting!

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BLOCK Friday: Disappearing Nine Patch

This morning on my drive to work, I was listening to ghost stories. I have a work commute that can be a little boring, so I listen to podcasts. I like the storytelling shows, and the subject this morning was the eerie, ghostly happenings that leave you feeling just a little bit uneasy.

So, when I came in this morning, I was thinking, what’s the spookiest quilt block we have? Hands down, it’s the Disappearing Four Patch quilt block. I mean, one minute it’s your average Nine Patch quilt block and the next, POOF, it’s disappearing!

When I first saw the Disappearing Nine Patch block, I was puzzled by its construction. I couldn’t figure how to turn a simple Nine Patch block – perhaps one of the simplest quilt blocks in quilting – to the all-elusive Disappearing Nine Patch block. Depending on the direction you turn the four quadrants of the split Nine Patch, you can create a number of different resulting Disappearing Nine Patch quilt patterns.

This quilt, Cut to the Quick, is a pretty batik quilt made using the Disappearing Nine Patch block. Can you see each quadrant of the Nine Patch?

Cut to the Quick digital pattern

Making the Disappearing Nine Patch is pretty easy. However, I would like to start with a fair warning to anyone trying it for the first time: it doesn’t feel right cutting into your perfectly, freshly sewn Nine Patch block. You’ve gotta trust the process on this one.

First, you’ll make the Nine Patch block. Next, you’ll cut the entire block across its horizontal axis, and without shifting the pieces at all, carefully lift your ruler and place it over the block’s vertical axis and cut again. What you’re left with is four quadrants of the once complete Nine Patch, which are now free to turn and rotate until you have a whole new quilt block pattern.

In the quilt below, It’s Easy Being Green, the two diagonal quadrants were turned 180° to make the quilt pattern, and a solid background color was added to the corners of each finished block to create a zig zag pattern between Disappearing Nine Patch blocks.

It's Easy Being Green digital pattern

The Disappearing Nine Patch in Off My Back below is constructed in the same fashion as the quilt above, but changing up the color scheme and adding a thin sashing with a cornerstone changes the whole look of the quilt. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to make the blocks in this quilt.

Off My Back digital pattern

As an experienced quilter, you know that if you can do it with a Nine Patch block, you can probably do it with a Four Patch, too. This is what a Disappearing Four Patch quilt pattern looks like. Do you ever wonder what it would look like with a 16-patch? I might just have to try it out for fun!

Disappearing Four Patch digital pattern

I know many of you have made Disappearing Nine and Four Patch quilts, and some have even posted to Fons & Porter’s Facebook page. If you want to show off your quilt projects, feel free comment here or post on our Facebook page. We should all be proud of our projects, and there’s nothing scary about that.

Happy Quilting!

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Tip Tuesday: 7 Paper Piecing Tips

Whether you’re making a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt or you’re making a New York Beauty quilt, you’re going to be using paper piecing techniques. Paper piecing quilts is a difficult technique to pick up initially and certainly can be time-consuming. This week, we have a few helpful tips for making paper piecing an enjoyable pastime.

Tip #1: English Paper Piecing
I use plastic folders to make patterns for English Paper Piecing. Instead oDP130231f making piles of patterns out of card stock, I only need to make a few of these and use them over and over again. Trace the pattern, cut it out, and punch a hole in the center. Then fold the fabric over the plastic template, and take a stitch at each corner. To remove the template, insert an orange stick or small dowel into the hole, and pull up until the plastic piece comes loose.

Tip #2: Hexagon Template
I cut a hexagon out of a square of template plastic to use for a Grandmother’s Flower Garden template. It’s easier to trace inside the shape than around the outside.

Tip #3: Creative Foundation Paper
The examining table paper from the doctor’s office is great for paper foundation piecing or to use as a stabilizer for machine appliqué or decorative stitching.

Tip #4: Foundation Paper
When paper foundation piecing, do you worry that you will accidentally use your original pattern? To prevent this, sew a fabric scrap to the edge of the original so it is easily recognizable.

Tip #5: Foundation Piecing
Dress pattern paper works well for foundation piecing. It’s thinner than other papers, so you must be careful, buScreen Shot 2015-03-30 at 4.46.07 PMt the advantage is that it tears away easily when the block is done.

Tip #6: Master Copy
To make foundations for paper piecing, make a master copy of the design. Stack the master copy on top of a stack of blank paper. Machine stitch through all the layers using an unthreaded needle. Use the perforated lines to guide your stitching as you add pieces. The perforations will make the paper easier to remove when the block is completed.

Tip #7: My Memory Quilt
I use fabrics from each quilt I finish and give away to make a heart block from one of my favorite paper piecing patterns.

Paper piecing can often be the bane of a quilter’s existence. Many are intimidated to try it at first and once tried, this intimidation can quickly give way to frustration because of fabric choices, size or shape of fabrics used, or inaccurate block construction. Penny Layman is teaching a live web seminar on Paper Piecing Made Easy.

Have you ever done paper piecing before? Learn how to do English paper piecing or foundation paper piecing on QNN.

Happy Quilting!

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National Craft Month Dedication – Maureen

My great-grandparents were original homesteaders. My grandmother learned to sew out of necessity and would make dresses for her sisters based on pictures from order catalogues. She taught me to sew (and crochet) and I had been sewing most of my life; I would always have a project or two in the machine – up to the moment when my kids didn’t want “clothes made by Mom” anymore. The sewing machine then gathered dust for many, many years.

I missed sewing, and in October, I decided it was time to revisit my old passion. I had always made clothes, but decided to try my hand at a quilt. I actually had made one quilt previously for my daughter when she was a baby (25 years ago), so I decided it was my son’s turn. When I started, I thought I should have made something smaller, more manageable for my first project in more years than I care to count – but I don’t know, go big or go home? No guts no glory? I picked colours and a pattern that I hoped would be manly enough for my 27 year old son. I think the last item I made for him was a horse Halloween costume.

I made this quilt as a Christmas gift. Every row was made with love, every row made with my son in mind. I wasn’t sure about colours once I got them home, wasn’t sure I was up to the task after such a hiatus, wasn’t sure he would like it, wondered what the heck I was thinking; I only had two months before Christmas! However, as I sewed, as each block came together, I knew he would love it. In fact, I couldn’t believe how much I loved it. When he opened his present on Christmas and said “WOW!!” that was all the thanks I needed.

As it had been so long since I had done any major sewing projects, I picked a log cabin pattern for the straight lines. Ruler, mat, sewing machine, batiks, pattern, a hope and a prayer. I made each strip at once so I could chain-stitch, but wished I had made one block first, just to get a feel of how it would come together and what considerations needed to be made.

I took my time pressing each section, focusing on seams going the right direction, reading tips, but still material shifted here and there and not all the points were perfect. This annoyed me to no end in the beginning. Having sewn only clothes in the past, where perfect points and seams were everything, these little deviations bothered me. Then I read some sage advice, about not sweating the little shifts – consider an imperfection part of the signature of the quilter. I loved this advice – I owned it – reminded me that quilting is for fun. Not to say I didn’t attempt to improve on seams for my next quilt, but I forgave myself for not having all perfect corners and took joy in my finished project.

I have since sewn another quilt, and have material ready for the next, but this one makes me the most proud because after so many years from sewing I took a leap of faith that I could make a quilt worthy of a gift. It was. My son loves it, and for me it is all the more special that my first project after all this time was for a special person for the most special time of the year.

Maureen from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada



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National Craft Month Dedication – Karen from Bowling Green, KY

“The quilt I decided to submit is one that I made for my husband’s Air Firce Retirement. I love this one because it reflects all his hard work during his 19 years of service. The fabric used are uniforms he wore during his time of active duty. I also used civil war repro fabric (cream, red, and blue with stars). I thought this was a perfect way to memorialize his service and sacrifice.

I loved how the blocks made one big star and I thought the points were perfect for adding his patches and ranks. As mentioned before, the blues are from his service dress uniforms and the camo is for his ABUs (BDUs to some). I didn’t use any templates to make this. Just my square rulers. The quilt is 24″x 24″.”

Thank you,
Karen from Bowling Green, KY


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BLOCK Friday: Dresden Plate quilt block

This week’s quilt block is reminiscent of a wheel, or a flower or perhaps a pretty oriental fan. The Dresden Plate quilt block has a unique quality about it. I’ve always thought they look like the gears in a machine.

Do you see what I mean in the quilt below? The Dresden quilt blocks in Dresden Botanica are pretty flowers, but they also have a rigidity to them that almost gives them an industrial look. The floral border softens the look of the whole quilt.

Dresden Botanica digital pattern

The Dresden quilt block is made up of “petal” quilt blocks radiating from a center circle.  The tips of the dresden plates are seen as either rounded, pointed or flush with the body of each plate. You can change up the look of this block by varying the sizes of the petals, the center circle of alternating the points between rounded and pointed, which is often done.

This pretty, spring table topper, Hard Candy, has a simple design.

Hard Candy digital pattern

You can make a lot of fun projects with the Dresden Plate quilt block. It can hold its own as a pincushion.

Dresden Plate pincushion

You can decorate your sunroom with a handful of these pretty quick-stitch Dresden Plate pillows.

Dresden Plate pillows digital pattern

Or you can make your kitchen endeavors a vintage and stylish walk in the park. These Sweet n’ Simple Aprons come in several different designs, the Dresden Plate included. These aprons are great for using up your fabric scraps! Mary and designer Erika Mulvenna show off her vintage aprons in this fun trunk show.

Sweet n' Simple Aprons digital pattern

There are a lot of qualities about the Dresden Plate quilt block that make it a fun project. Change up your fabrics, the size of the block, applique it to your quilt or make a pillow. Whatever you do with the Dresden Plate block, you’ll be proud of yourself for your work and pleased with the results.

If you’ve never made a Dresden Plate block before and you’re not sure where to start, QNN has a number of tutorials to help you get started. In the Merry Merry free video tutorial, the Quiltmaker staff makes a mini dresden flower quilt block with the mini dresden plate template. She chain pieces the tiny dresden pieces and shows you how to open them up to make a clean point.

Happy Quilting!


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