Star Quilts and Memorial Day Sewing

Happy Memorial Day Everyone!

I hope you have a safe and relaxing long weekend. The weather is lookin’ good for the next few days in my area so I plan to garden by day and sew by night.

Right now is a good time to stock up on quilt patterns and notions for your summer sewing because we’re offering a storewide Memorial Day sale at!

If you’re planning to make a patriotic quilt or Quilts of Valor quilt, check out our kits. Digital patterns are also available to download now. Here are a few of my favorites:



Three Tours


Of Thee I Sing


Star Spangled Beauty (made by me!)


You might want to have Deb Tucker’s Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star template to make LeMoyne Stars without set-in seams. This template is hot, hot, hot! Here are two star quilts, Liz’s LeMoyne Star and Links, made with the template, and the patterns are available by magazine back issue or digital pattern.




Enjoy your weekend, and send us photos of your projects. We love to see what you create.


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What’s Your Favorite Star Quilt Pattern?

I just got back from Spring Quilt Market in Minneapolis and was thinking about how many different types of star quilts I saw there. Stars are so versatile and are great designs for beginners as well as intermediate and advanced quilters.

I remembered a post on our blog last month that showed several different types of star quilts. That post featured some great quilts, and I thought I’d share a few more with all of you. And if you’re really inspired to make one of these quilts, kits are available. What could be easier than that?

If you’re looking for a quick and easy star quilt pattern, try Falling Stars. It’s a simple star block and great for beginners.


Another quilt I like is Wishing Star. It’s a little more detailed than Falling Stars, but still quite easy.


I love quilts designed by Nancy Mahoney, and Double Stars is one of my favorites.
It’s a little different than many of the star quilts you see, and is a stunning quilt that is not hard to make.


Splendid Stars by Amy Ellis is another one of my favorite star quilts. It features easy string piecing in the blocks. It was featured on our PBS show, ”Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting.”


If you have a stash of fabric (and what quilter doesn’t?) digital patterns are available for all of these quilts.

I’m going to be working on a star quilt over the Memorial Day weekend. So stay tuned—it will be appearing in an issue of Love of Quilting magazine in 2016.

I hope you’ll find some time to make a star quilt too!

~ Jean Nolte

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Tip Tuesday – 7 Tips for Using Fabric Scraps

Scrap quilts really are a wonder of the quilting world. I’m sure you know what it’s like going into the local quilt shop to scope the new fabric that just came in. You’ve had your eye on it for awhile, and it’s beautiful.

Then you take it home, make your most gorgeous quilt yet because of that fabric, and you’re left with a pile of beautiful scraps. YoKjestin's Legacy digital patternu can’t let any bit of it go to waste, so what can you do? Well, this week’s Tip Tuesday has some ideas for you if you read on.

Tip #1: Catch All Your Scraps
Use a zipper sandwich bag to catch threads and small scraps while you are sewing. To keep the bag from closing, turn it inside out, and it will stay permanently open. You can tape it to your sewing machine or table.

Tip #2: Plan Your Scrap Quilts
I like to cut my leftover fabrics into usable pieces for scrap quilts. I make a color copy of a quilt I plan to make, write on a sticky note the sizes of the pieces I need to cut, and slip the scrap quilt pattern into a plastic sleeve. The pattern is next to my cutting table, and a plastic storage container labeled with the name of the quilt is ready for the pieces.

Tip #3: Scrap Storage Jar
I use a clear, plastic pretzel container for storing small scraps. It’s easy to find what you need for a paper piecing or scrap quilt project because you can see through the container.

Tip #4: Scrappy Binding
I love scrap quilts and hate wasting fabric, so I save my leftover lengths of binding and join them to make binding for scrap quilts. Even the smallest bit of fabric works forLog Cabin Leaves digital pattern this technique. It saves me time later, and the scrappy binding looks great on my quilts.

Tip #5: Scrappy Idea
Use scraps from projects to make 6″ quilt blocks that you can join into a pillow to fill with potpourri, cinnamon sticks or lavender for quick sachets. They make great gifts or gift enclosures.

Tip #6: Prepare to Repair
Put a completed quilt’s scraps and photo into a plastic sleeve protector or large ziplock bag. If the quilt needs to be repaired later, you’ll have both the fabrics and the photo to make the job easier.

Tip #7: Stuffing
Nothing is too small to be useful. Use tiny scraps of fabric to stuff toys or pillows.

Wow! Did you know you could do so much with fabric scraps? I love the idea of making a small quilt project like a sewing machine cover, eyeglass case or sachet when you’re done with a quilt so you can preserve the memories of that quilt project. What unique ways do you use your fabric scraps? Do you enjoy making scrap quilts? Let me know and share photos in the comments.

Happy Quilting!


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Put A Little Twist In Your Quilting – Curved-Piecing Quilt Blocks

I’ve always been drawn to curved quilt block patterns. So much, in fact, that I’ve actually been using curves in more of my own quilt designs.

Quilters have mastered this technique in quilts over the last 100+ years in many beautiful and creative ways. For example, in a personal favorite, the New York Beauty block featured in these beautiful antique quilts, one of which was from the 1880s and the other one from circa 1930.

photo 1


There are a lot of traditional quilt blocks and patterns out there perfect for using curved blocks. The Wedding Ring, Drunkard’s Path (I wonder who they named that one after!), Cathedral Window, Tea Leaf, and Pickle Dish blocks, to name a few. Also, many Dresden block variations are curved quilt blocks, like the examples in Sheyenne’s blog post BLOCK Friday: Dresden Plate quilt block.

Today’s quilter adds his or her own fingerprint to curved piecing, which has moved curved piecing into contemporary and modern quilts that continue to inspire.

Quilts like these inspired me to make my own Times Square quilt, which appeared in Love of Quilting Sept/Oct ’11, and to teach a Curved Seam Piecing class at Original Sewing and Quilt Expo last year. I really wanted to teach a technique that would open up doors for my students and encourage them to explore designs they might otherwise have thought impossible to make.

Time Square

In class, we learned how to use the Jumbo Curved Seam Template to make two quilts,  Sonoma and Beach Ball Bounce, which have appeared in Quilting Quickly magazine. By the end of the class, I am the one who was inspired and rewarded, watching students arrange quilt blocks into unique and creative designs of their own and share with each other!


beach ball bounce

I encourage you to explore something new, too. If it’s curved seam piecing, check out our Sew Easy Lesson on Curved Seam Piecing, as well as for our 3 & 5″ Curved Seam Templates, 7″ Jumbo Curved Seam Template, and 9″ Curved Seam Template.

Happy curvy quilting!

Diane Tomlinson
Associate Editor

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Tip Tuesday: 7 Tips for Quilting in a Pinch

Sometimes it’s the little things that make your life so much easier. In the tips this week, you’ll get some tips on time-saving techniques. Weather it’s something that makes your least favorite part of the project go more smoothly or it’s simply the organization of your quilt room, small changes here or there can have a big impact on the qualitDP130291y of your quiltmaking sessions – and on your happiness.

Tip #1: Quilt Shop Punch Cards
To keep my quilt shop punch cards organized and save time searching through my wallet, I use a giftcard holder. I decorated the holder with quilt design card stock, and put my punch cards inside.

Tip #2: Pre-Threaded
For appliqué or embroidery work, keep multiple needles threaded with all the colors you need. You’ll save time and thread.

Tip #3: Two For One
When making a baby quilt for a little girl, make a doll quilt at the same time to give her later to use for her dolls. The making both quilts will actually go faster and you’ll have a gift prepared for her next birthday.

Tip #4: Yo-Yos, Ma!
Instead of wrestling with small circles while basting around the edge of yo-yos, draw circles on fabric, and then baste inside the drawn lines. When you cut out the circles, be careful not to cut the thread tails, and, voila! You have all the yo-yos you need in a snap.

Tip #5: Removing Chalk and Pencil Lines
Instead of risking damaging my fabric trying to remove chalk or pencil lines, I use a lightly moistened Mr. Clean® Magic Eraser. It’s quick and easy and works every time.

Tip #6: Tip for Sewing with Kids
When children are using a needle and thread, knot both ends of the thread to save time constantly having to re-thread needles.4_1718_Coverlet_CVR.indd

Tip #7: Tool ID Tags
Before going to quilting classes or retreats, I make ID tags to identify my tools. No one wants to be fumbling around looking for their belongings at the retreat. Instead, I use Ultrasuede, leather, or felt scraps, and rotary cut approximately 1″ x 2″ rectangles with a straight or decorative blade. Then I punch a hole at one end and tie a narrow ribbon through it. Use a Pigma pen to write your name or initials on the tag, and then attach the tag through the hole in my tool.

Bonus Tip from Barb Aldrich who commented on Quilt Retreat Tips:
I use a rubberized computer mouse pad under my machine foot pedal to keep it from walking away. It is light weight and works great!

So let me know what you do to save time on your quilt projects or things you do to make your projects go a little more smoothly. Let me know in the comments.

Happy Quilting!

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Tip Tuesday: 7 Tips for Quilting Comfort

Don’t let a sore back or a few pin pricks be the reason you take a break from quilting. If you’re finding yourself sore after a marathon quilting session, it might be time to take a look at your posture and quilting habits to be sure you’re making the most of your favorite hobby. Below are some tips you might find helpful for maximizing quilting comfort.

Tip #1: Cushion for Knees
I use a garden kneeling pad when arranging blocks or layering backing, batting, and quilt top on a floor. It’s more comfortable for my knees than the hard floor.

Tip #2: Cheap Finger Protection:
Wrap a strip of ordinary, white adhesive tape around the end of the finger that you use under the quilt when hand quilting to hB923FPelp protect your finger.

Tip #3: Multitasking Quilter
Cutting up old jeans for denim quilts is drudgery for me. To make this job manageable, I cut for a half-hour during “Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting.” Before too long, I have enough for a quilt, and the task is made easier by multitasking with something I enjoy.

Tip #4: Up You Go
Elevate your cutting table to a comfortable height by placing books under the legs of the table. This will help the strain on your back when you’re doing a lot of cutting.

Tip #5: Iron Safety
Because he knows I sometimes forget to turn off my iron,
my grandson made me a beaded bracelet to wear when I turn the iron on. If the bracelet is still on my wrist when I get ready to leave the room, I know I need to check the iron. When I turn off the iron, I take off the bracelet.

Tip #6: Prop It Up
My eyes aren’t as sharp anymore and so when I’m referencing my pattern, it helps to prop up the pattern with a clipboard and a couple of books. Sometimes, I use a magnifying glass to make it even easier to read.

LQ2167PRTip #7: Stress Reliever
To help with those days in the office when the stress gets to be just a little too much, I keep a few 4″ squares of my favorite fabric on my desk, just to feel it. It’s amazing what the feel of fabric can do for a quilter who would rather be home sewing than coping with the stresses at work!

I had never thought of using a bracelet to remind me to turn off the iron. If you don’t have an iron that turns itself off, this can be very helpful and certainly much safer. Quilting doesn’t have to be a pain in the neck.

If you’re still looking for ways to make quilting more comfortable, Michael Engman is leading a webinar on Quilting Ergonomics. Learn to identify the sources of your pain and implement a recovery regimen in his helpful webinar.

I hope these tips have been useful for you, and you find yourself enjoying quilting more than ever. Comfort and safety while quilting that will ensure you continue for many years to come. If you have any other tips on quilting comfort, please contribute in the comments below.

Happy Quilting!

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BLOCK Friday: Applique quilts

Whether you’re new to appliqué or have made many appliqué quilt projects, you might not know the history behind this beautiful and versatile technique. Many appliqué quilt patterns today resemble the chintz appliqué as it was done in the early days of appliqué – somewhere in the 1700s – when chintz appliqué was popular.

Chintz is a bold-patterned, Indian fabric that was available in abundance in the 17th and 18th centuries. Chintz is a fabric I’m sure you’ve seen before and didn’t even realize that’s what it was. This quilt, Liberty Blooms, has that distinctive appliquéd chintz design.


According to an excerpt in the book Listening to Herstory, in the 1840s-1860s, quilts were a popular gift between friends. Appliqué quilts, in particular, were a sign of affluence and a life of leisure due to the time it took to make them. Additionally, young girls learned how to make appliqué quilts at a very young age and proved their readiness to marry by the increased quality of their quiltmaking.

Today, we have more appliqué techniques available, and numerous educational opportunities available so quilters of any skill level can practice them.

To name a few: pictorial appliqué, reverse appliqué, needle-point appliqué, 3-D appliqué, satin stitch to finish, among many other techniques. Some are hand appliqué techniques, others are machine appliqué, and if you didn’t already know, you can appliqué on your longarm machine.

Annabelle Flat

Annabelle Block

Wherever you are in your appliqué journey, there’s bound to be a new method or technique for you to try. The world of appliqué is nearly endless, and let me remind you – the quilt police does not exist, so have a ball!

Today, our appliqué quilts line the walls. They make gorgeous hearth and table decorations, and there’s no way to go wrong with an appliqué quilt as decoration or as a gift. This quilt, Homestead Harvest, is just what I picture when I think of an appliqué wallhanging.


Decorate your house for any season and holiday with homemade appliqué projects. You can make a traditional appliqué quilt that looks like it came right out grandma’s attic or make an elegant throw that features pretty petals. Whichever appliqué project you decide on, I hope you’ll share it with Fons & Porter and with each other. That’s what quilting is all about.

And while I still have you here, I’d also like to mention that appliqué is more than a noun. It’s also a verb. You know, like, “I appliquéd to my heart’s content for my mom’s Mother’s Day gift. She’ll know I put lots of love into it!” I’m not the only one who uses it like that, right?

Happy Quilting!

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BLOCK Friday: Jacob’s Ladder quilt block

Do you remember the String Game that was popular in the early 2000s? It basically consisted of creating various shapes out of a looped string. Well, I happen to know there was a particularly difficult string shape that only the most elite middle schoolers could create: the Jacob’s Ladder. This is what a successful Jacob’s Ladder looked like, and you can learn how to make it yourself with help from MomsMinivan on YouTube. You know, for fun.

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 3.12.30 PM

When it came to the String Game, Jacob’s Ladder was reserved for only the most skilled string gamers. Fortunately, it’s not nearly as intimidating to make this week’s BLOCK Friday block, Jacob’s Ladder. The Jacob’s Ladder quilt block is actually a great block for beginner quilters. Read on to learn why.

Jacob's Ladder digital pattern

The great thing about Jacob’s Ladder is that it can be constructed using strip sets. The whole block is constructed of four-patch and half-square triangles units, which means quick construction using the 8-at-a-time Triangle-Squares technique.

Because of the many parts of Jacob’s Ladder that make up the whole block, there are seemingly endless variations on the look of this block. For example, in the quilt below, Jacob’s Coat of Many Colors, the center squares are actually four-patch units, which creates a strong secondary chain pattern. You can see it better in the flat shot of Jacob’s Coat of Many Colors.

Jacob's Coat of Many Colors digital pattern

Normally we see the ladders lined up in the same direction to create a strong chain design, but in the quilt below, designer Joann Rasch set up the ladders perpendicular from each other. The chain is still there, but the eye wants to focus on the large white spaces between the chains. You can see the illusion more clearly in Rotating Stair Steps’ flat shot.

Rotating Stair Steps digital pattern

I’ve always thought Jacob’s Ladder is a unique quilt block. Every time I see it, I recognize it immediately, and I always think it’s very attractive, but I can’t quite put my finger on why. I’m alright with not knowing. Do you also like the Jacob’s Ladder block? Have you made a Jacob’s Ladder quilt? Please share your photos in the comments below.

Happy Quilting!


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BLOCK Friday: 7 Quilt Retreat Tips

This week’s tips are all about making traveling with your quilt supplies easier and making the most of your quilting retreats and quilt guild meetings. We’re lucky we get to be in fellowship with other quilters, and it’s important to show them what they mean to us in meaningful ways. Read on to learn a few of those ways.

Tip #1: Coffee Cup Bows
At a recent retreat, we had several quilters present, all drinking coffee and tea. To mark our cups, I suggested we each tie a small piece of fabric from the project we were working on to the handle of our cup. This kept them from getting mixed up. It was a hit!

Tip #2: Fine IdeaDP130272
Some quilt guilds charge a small fine for misdeeds such as not closing your rotary cutter or forgetting your name tag at workshops and meetings. Next time, use the accumulated fines to purchase something to benefit the group, such as a new book for the guild library.

Tip #3: Fabric Wrapping Paper
Instead of using wrapping paper, use fabric to wrap small gifts for your quilting friends. They will appreciate the bonus gift, and the cost is not much more than wrapping paper. Tie the packages with selvages or narrow fabric strips instead of ribbon.

Tip #4: Medical Info Card
While at a quilt retreat, a new quilter to our group went into a diabetic coma. We didn’t know her medical history, and the friend she came with wasn’t there at the time. We wasted a lot of time trying to find the friend to get information. Now everyone who comes to our retreats fills out an index card listing an emergency contact person, medical issues, medicine they are taking, and any allergies. Each attendee puts her card under her sewing machine. No privacy is violated because no one looks at the cards unless there’s an emergency.

Tip #5: Keepsake Quilt
When we celebrate the first birthday for each of my granddaughters, I make friendship blocks and set up aScreen Shot 2015-04-27 at 2.56.26 PMn activity table with pens and fabric crayons. Party guests are invited to decorate a block with special messages to the birthday girl. I also make 18 extra blocks and each year decorate a block with details about her life that year. By age 18, each girl will have a delightful documentation of her life.

Tip #6: Gift Idea
When I give a bundle of fat quarters at our guild’s Christmas gift exchange, I include a business card for the shop where I bought it. The recipient of the gift can go back and add to the collection if she needs additional fabric for a project.

Tip #7: Notions Organizer
A cosmetic carrying case is perfect for holding tools and essentials for traveling to a quilt retreat. The sections zip closed so I don’t lose anything. At home, I can hang the whole bag where it’s handy.

What are the handiest quilt retreat or quilt guild tips you’ve found? Let me know in the comments below. Have you ever taken a quilting cruise or gone abroad for your quilting? Fons & Porter Editor, Jean Nolte, is leading a Treasures of Tuscany tour in September 2015. Learn more about the trip at the Editors’ Blog post Inspire Your Quilting.

Happy Quilting!

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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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