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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National Craft Month Dedication – Phyllis

“My favorite quilt is the first one (besides one made in a beginner class) I ever made.

My then three-year-old grandson loved what he called ‘broken barns’. I drove him around the countryside to see them and took photos. Quilting friends suggested a quilt made with photos. It became an engineering challenge to print the photos on fabric and then, using a log cabin format, add blue for the sky and green for the grass, etc, to make them the same approximate size.

I had no pattern. I pieced several blocks to make barns for additional blocks, then used sashing between them to get the rows the same width. I did a lot of measuring, but had no templates. I just made it as I went.

The sky is light blue at the top left – with a sun appliqued on the corner – medium blue in the middle, and dark blue at the bottom – with a crescent moon at the bottom right. Two of the blocks were done by a friend on her embroidery machine – they say ‘Carson’s broken barns’ and ‘with love Gramma Phyllis 2008′.

For the back, I pieced leftover fabric to make a “path” and appliqued a photo of my grandson on his bicycle riding down the path.

My skills and techniques have come a long way since then, but this is my favorite and my grandson, now 12, still loves his broken barns.”

Phyllis from Gaines, MI

-4 -5



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National Craft Month Dedication – Susan

“This Dresden Plate is my favorite quilt so far. It resides on my sister’s bed, as it was made for her. As I collected fabric for the quilt, a little at a time, I knew it was for her.

She is such a good person, I wanted to do something really special for her. After completing the first block, I was in love. I knew I was going to have a hard time parting with this quilt, so I got in my car and drove to her work place. I called her to come down to my car. When she got there I asked her “do you like this block”, of course she said, “I love it”. At that moment I gave it to her.

Once it was hers I could go ahead and complete it without struggling with wanting it for myself. I chose the colors with her in mind. She likes things that are old and these colors reminded me of what they may have had back in the day.

I used invisible thread and a blanket stitch to sew down the plates. I used the Wrights Easy Dresden Ruler to make the fans. I had my sister’s best friends do the beautiful longarm quilting, which in my opinion, makes the quilt. She did it all free hand. I entered it in our local state fair and it placed First in the large machine quilt division.”

Susan from Beaumont, Texas

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BLOCK Friday – Flying Dutchman quilt block

The quilt block we have today has some of its roots in German art. The Flying Dutchman quilt block is a versatile and distinctive quilt block you’ll love creating. The German influences are apparent in the structure of this simple quilt block. According to American Quilts in the Modern Age:

“The influence is also obvious in pieced designs, with their four-way symmetries. In a four-way symmetry, one fourth of the quilt block rotates and repeats, a design convention as familiar to America quilmakers today as it way to Bavarian stencil painters in earlier generations. Whirling crosses, or hexfeiss, as they are called in Pennsylvania German, are also traditional quilting designs.”¹


This quilt, Dutchman’s Reel, from the International Quilt Study Center & Museum collection makes a beautiful display of the whirling crosses of the dutchman-style quilt block.

When flying geese units are used in place of the chevron arrows, the look of the quilt changes slightly. It’s a slightly more modern version from the Dutchman quilt above, and the whirling illusion aren’t as apparent. Of course, the quilt below, Flight Pattern, is still quite beautiful.

The Flying Dutchman quilt block is comprised of paired flying geese units arranged so they appear to be chasing each other. A single Flying Dutchman block contains eight pairs of flying geese blocks. Can you see each individual quilt block in the quilt below?

Flight Pattern quilt kit

The same construction can be cleaned up a bit by adding thin sashing between quilt blocks. In the quilt below, Flying Dutchman, each of the first flying geese units in the sequence is a darker blue, giving each block the illusion of a center pinwheel.

Flying Dutchman digital pattern

Similarly, the quilt below, Harry’s Puzzle, also creates the center pinwheel, but instead of making the pinwheel out of the flying geese units, designer Emily Bailey made the inside corner of the first flying geese unit red to make a smaller pinwheel.

Harry's Puzzle digital pattern

Have you made a quilt using the Flying Dutchman quilt block? Maybe you’ve made one hundred flying geese quilts in your life, but if not, Mary Fons has you covered. In this easy quilt tutorial on making the Flying Dutchman quilt block.

Happy Quilting and arg, Matey! (I’ve been dying to say that!)

¹ p36, “American Quilts in the Modern Age, 1870-1940: The International Quilt Study Center Collections”, by Marin F. Hanson (Editor), Patricia Cox Crews

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National Craft Month Dedication – Barb

I’m excited to share my quilt I designed, pieced and quilted last year. I call it Bucks, Bears & Bear Claws. I made this quilt for a dear friend of mine, Dan, who got remarried last year. Dan is an avid hunter and loves wildlife, so I knew I had to include Colorado mule deer and bears on a quilt for him, but add some feminine touches for Geri.

Also, after a trip to Hawaii with his fiancée, she fell in love with Hawaiian quilts (who wouldn’t!) and asked me if I could make one. I wasn’t up to the challenge of reverse applique, but researched Hawaiian quilts and found many of them have mirror motifs in the center. That gave me the idea of 4 mule deer bucks in the center.

I attended the AQS Quilt Week in Phoenix last February and happily took as many classes as I could squeeze in! I took a class on incorporating photos in quilts. I learned how to create my own designs on my computer (which I love doing), then print them onto cloth using my home printNational Craft Month Dedication – Barber.

Voila!  That gave me the idea to create my own 4 buck graphic, as well as bears and bear paw prints and incorpate those on my quilt along with bear claw blocks. At Quilt Week, I also took two other classes I used: EQ7 and paper piecing and how to create my own templates. So I created my quilt design and calculated fabrice yardages in EQ7, then printed paper-piecing templates. The borders and bear paw blocks are paper pieced. I used my mid-arm Juki on my Grace frame to stipple quilt the top.

This quilt was a real labor of love, but also great fun applying new skills and techniques to come up with a wonderful wedding gift for 2 close friends!

Barb from Montrose, CO

National Craft Month Dedication – Barb

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Tip Tuesday – 7 Quilt Binding Tips

A lot of times, quilters have a strictly love or hate relationship with binding a quilt. For the large majority, it’s the latter. Unless your natural gift is folding small bits of fabric in half and managing large quilt sandwiches, you might not enjoy that last step of quilt finishing. However, for those of you who are pro- quilt binding, it has probably taken you years to get where you are, and you’re dying to dispense some of your knowledge to other quilters. Well, now’s your time! But before you comment, read some of quilt binding tips below and find out if some of them might be useful to you.

Binding Tip #1: Binding Clips
If you don’t like using pins when hand stitching your binding, try using plastic coated paper clips. They are easy to slip on, and the thread will not get caught on them. Wonder Clips also hold on tight for another alternative.

Wonder Clips

Binding Tip #2: Wrangling Binding
I like to wrap the finished binding around a tube that I have saved from kitchen plastic wrap (it’s heavier than a toilet tissue or paper towel tube). Then I put the tube inside an empty tissue box so I can roll it out through the box’s top opening. That way the binding stays wrapped around the tube and it dispenses easily through the slit as I sew it onto the quilt.

Binding Tip #3: No Tangle Binding
To keep binding neat and clean while applying, I use a clean plastic jar such as a recycled peanut butter, mayonnaise etc. jar. Cut a 1″ hole in the top of the lid and sand any rough spots around the cut hole. Loosely place the binding in the jar, replace the lid and pull the binding through. Make sure that you have your starting end of the quilt binding coming through the hole.

Binding Tip #4: Ironing Board
If I am binding a quilt that is heavy or too warm to keep on my lap, I drop my ironing board down and put it over my lap. I then put the quilt on the ironing board to support it while I stitch the binding.

Unique quilt labeling on the binding

Binding Tip #6: Quilt Label
I use a unique method to make labels. I program all the label information into my sewing machine, and before adding binding to a quilt, I stitch the writing on the back half of the binding strip with a strip of tear-away stabilizer underneath. After the binding is sewn on, the writing appears on the back edge.

Binding Tip #5: Easy Folded Binding
When making folded binding, I always have a hard time keeping it from slipping off the ironing board as I press it. To solve this problem, I pin a small strip of cloth to the pointed end of the board, leaving enough space for the flat, unpressed width of the binding to pass through. On the other end of the board, I pin another small strip of cloth, leaving enough space for the folded part of the binding to pass through. I can press the binding while the fabric stFons & Porter binding toolrips hold it all in place until I reach the end.

Binding Tip #7: Save Your Binding
Cut your binding at the same time you are making a quilt top. Store the binding with the quilt or in a special “binding bin” so the fabric doesn’t get used for some other quilt project before you are ready to bind the quilt.

Random Binding Fun:
Just for fun, try binding your next scrap quilt with a binding made from random lengths of several fabrics used in the top.

There you have it, tips for quilt binding for every quilter, beginner or advanced. If you’ve got some wisdom of your own, you may dispense it now. Leave a comment!

Happy Quilting!

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National Craft Month – Carol

Our first dedication comes from Carol in Loveland, CO. This beautiful quilt comes with a heartwarming story that is sure to give you goosebumps too! Here it is:

Here is my very favorite quilt (today, at least).  It is called “A Part of My Heart is In Malawi”. It was made in 1997-98 after my first mission trip to Malawi, Africa.

When I returned home after 3 months volunteering at a school for the deaf in Malawi, I found that the reverse culture shock was so bad that I was actually unable to shop except for essential groceries. I had been living in extreme poverty among the poorest of the poor, and I lasted 5 minutes at the mall. I had shoes – several pairs – why did I need more? I had clothes and to spare – why buy more?

Then one day I went into a quilt shop and saw what was probably the first Moda Marbles fabric I’d ever seen. “It looks like Lake Malawi!!” I threw my arms around it, and bought a lot of yardage with no idea what would come of it – but it reminded me of my other home.

The design is original. I have since seen similar use of log cabin blocks to make hearts, but not until the quilt was done. The construction is 3” Log Cabin quilt blocks, some solid and some split colors. A few, I think, use 3 colors. The black heart of course represents my friends in Malawi and the white heart represents me.

You will notice, though, that in each heart a single block holds the opposite color. A bit of my white heart is in the black one and vice-versa.

It is rotary cut and machine pieced; hand quilted using the lid of a Cool-Whip container as a template.

The heart shaped label on the back reads “To remember the Embangweni School for Deaf Children and the People of Malawi – Friends and Brothers in Christ”.

It has been shown twice and received a 3rd Place ribbon in November 2002. Can’t remember where that was and the ribbon has no indication of location or group.

In 2014, I bought fabric to make a commemoration quilt for the 20th Anniversary of the Embangweni School for Deaf Children. As usual, I gravitated to the Moda Marbles shelf, and when I began work on the quilt, I realized I had bought almost exactly the same fabric as is in this quilt.  It was lovely to realize the connection.

Carol from Loveland, CO

Carol from Loveland, CO

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BLOCK Friday: Log Cabin quilt block – Pineapple variation

The last log cabin quilt block variation in the series is the Pineapple variation. The Pineapple quilt block looks a little different than the traditional Log Cabin and Courthouse Steps quilt blocks, but it’s got the same basic construction. The “logs” are still constructed around a center square, but the logs themselves are angled in each round of pieces, creating the illusion of arcs or circles across the quilt.¹ One of the Pineapple blocks looks like this:

Baby It's Cold Outside digital pattern

This quilt block comes from the beautiful flannel quilt by Fons & Porter associate editor, Diane Tomlinson, Baby It’s Cold Outside. This quilt can be found in Quilting Quickly Winter ’14.

Baby It's Cold Outside digital pattern

This is a Pineapple block on a large scale. Sometimes the pineapple quilt block is seen in a smaller scale like in the Pineapple quilt Fiesta by Mary Coolsaet.

Fiesta digital pattern

Although the Pineapple variation offers slightly fewer design options, playing with color values and contrast creates a number of effects from “calm to busy, quiet to loud, and static to dynamic.”¹ These quilts from the International Quilt Study Center and Museum give you an idea of how color can vastly change the look of a Pineapple quilt. Click a photo to learn more about each antique quilt.

1997_007_0483   1997_007_0179   1997_007_0004

Making the Pineapple quilt block can seem like a challenging quilt block to a beginning quilter, but Liz and Marianne make it easy to add to your skillset in a their “Love of Quilting” video tutorials. In one tutorial, they cut the straight fabrics and piece a Pineapple log cabin quilt block. In another tutorial, Mary joins Marianne to make a wonky Pineapple quilt block from the quilt below by Nancy Mahoney called Pineapple Salsa.

How to Make Pineapple Quilt Blocks on

Happy Quilting!

¹ p118, “American Quilts in the Modern Age, 1870-1940: The International Quilt Study Center Collections”, by Marin F. Hanson (Editor), Patricia Cox Crews

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