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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My favorite quilt patterns using Fat Quarters

I’m looking for some free quilt patterns using fat quarters. Lately, when I go to the LQS, I find myself drawn to the brim with assorted fat quarters. At Fons & Porter, there’s a table and a cabinet organizer filled to the brim with fat quarters of all kinds. They’re sorted by color and fabric type, and to me, they’re kind of like little fabric snacks. They’re not whole yards of fabric, they’re neatly wrapped quarter-yard fabrics in every motif you can imagine.

Because fat quarters are sometimes made from the leftover fabric on the last of a bolt, you’ll often find a huge variety of them at the quilt shop. And I like to pick up a few at a time – just whatever catches my eye. So needless to say, I have a whole pile (or drawer) of them in my quilt room. I went on a search to find some of my favorite free quilt patterns using fat quarters, and here’s what I found:

Ohio Star bonus quilt

I love this scrap quilt by Liz Porter. Liz’s quilt, Ohio Star, is testament that traditional quilts continue to inspire. The small hourglass units are the perfect size for accommodating the fabrics in your fat quarter stash.

After the Storm bonus quilt

Are you a fan of rainbow quilts? Maybe it’s all the pot of gold and leprechaun myths, but I think there’s something magical about them. And they’re as eye-catching as they come. You’ll be pleased to know this quilt, After the Storm, is a fat quarter friendly quilt project. With just a few rainbow colored peeks of color through the grey, this modern quilt is reminiscent of the first sparkle of sun after a dark storm.

Kaye's Scrap Square bonus quilt

This simple quilt, Kaye’s Scrap Squares, speaks for itself. It’s a straightforward quilt for using up the bits of fat quarters in your fabric stash. Make this easy traditional quilt in an afternoon. Some of my other favorite quilt patterns using fat quarters from the online quilt shop include:

Attic Treasures, a fat quarter friendly quilt project made using hourglass units. If you use our Sew Easy video tutorial on quick hourglass units, you can make these units with no cutting or sewing triangles.


Pomegranate Mountains, a gorgeous quilt featuring the Tents of Armageddon quilt block in surprisingly bright Civil War reproduction fabric prints.

Pomegranate Mountains digital pattern

Idol Results from Love of Quilting Jan/Feb ’13. Placing quilt blocks in shades of dark blue and cream on point gives this quilt a winning design.

Idol Results digital pattern

I hope you enjoy all these quilts using fat quarters, and find some inspiration for your next quilt project. If you make any of these quilts or have made them before, post a picture in the comments. We’d love seeing your works of art!

Happy Quilting!

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Tip Tuesday – 7 Quilt Room Organization Tips

Sulky Threads

Let’s just jump right into our quilting tips for this week. This week is going to be tips for organizing your quilt room. We all know how easily the sewing room can become an unrecognizable room. Fabrics, rulers, templates, threads, and cutting supplies sprawled across the room. No, it’s not just you. When you’re in the midst of an enthralling quilt project, the last thing you’re thinking about is how you’ll reorganize the room when you’re done. That’s why we have a few quick tips you can use while you’re in the middle of your quilt project.

Tip #1: Tasty Organizer
When trying to organize my sewing cabinet drawer, I was unable to locate a drawer organizer that would fit. Later when putting away groceries, I noticed the size of the cookie tray. Two of these trays perfectly fit the drawer space with long dividers for items such as seam rippers, rulers, scissors, etc. My drawer is now organized and I can locate sewing items easily. Re-using these trays is a great way to recycle. When these wear out, just eat more cookies to get more trays.

Tip #2: Thread Organizer
When using your embroidery machine to sew a multi-colored quilting design, select all of your threads first. Use an egg carton to hold the spools while you stitch the embroidery. Write a number on the sections of the egg carton with the thread sequence numbers and place the spools in the carton in the correct order. After stitching, replace each spool so you can repeat the design if necessary.

Tip #3: Using a Skirt HangerFat Quarter organizer
Try using a skirt hanger to store your completed quilt blocks. The clips can be moved to accommodate any size block. This keeps your quilt blocks organized with no wrinkles.

Try using a multiple skirt hanger to organize your rotary cutting rulers. Just hook the hanger over your closet door and keep all your quilting rulers handy.

Tip #4: Using a Pill Organizer
For projects with bead embellishments, use a seven-day pill holder to keep beads separated and to keep them from spilling. Close off some sections, and use your needle to pick up beads from the open sections.

A pillbox is perfect to hold bobbins and other small items you carry to workshops. The larger size holds even more.Depression Era fat quarter pack

Tip #5: Mesh Pencil Holder
I purchased a large mesh pencil holder to use on my sewing table. It keeps all of my sewing and cutting tools close at hand, and keeps my sewing table tidy.

Tip #6: Matching Spool
To keep a bobbin with its matching spool of thread, insert a cotton swab through the bobbin and into the top of the spool. Even if they tip over, the bobbin stays in place. You’ll thank yourself later for doing this.

Tip #7: Quilt Block Organizer
When working on a large quilt top, lay out the quilt blocks on a queen-size or larger flat sheet. Once your layout is complete, pin the blocks to the sheet. If you need to put your project away before all the blocks are stitched together, you can just fold up the sheet and all the blocks will stay in place. This also works well for quilt classes and retreats.

One of my personal organization tools is the Fat Quarter Organizer. You can stack 100 fat quarters into the clean-looking cabinet. Not only does it give you a reason to buy a few more fat quarters (you’ve gotta fill up that cabinet), but you can keep your fabrics organized by color or style.

Happy Quilting!

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BLOCK Friday: Log Cabin quilt block – Courthouse Steps variation

The next block we have in our Log Cabin series is the Courthouse Steps variation. The construction of this block is just a little different from the basic Log Cabin quilt pattern. Where the standard Log Cabin construction is strips of fabric “wrapped” around a center block, the Courthouse Steps variation is matching strips on opposite sides of the center block. The light and dark halves are divided on opposite sides of the quilt block instead of on the diagonals. Courthouse Steps looks like this:

Courthouse Block

That quilt block is from Courthouse Stars, which happens to be one of my absolutely favorite quilts EVER. It’s the ultimate scrap quilt. It’s a two-block wonder. Just see for yourself!

Courthouse Stars

According to Marin Hanson of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum and Patricia Crews of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Courthouse Steps variation is accepted as the easiest of the Log Cabin variations to sew, and would have made a great block for an inexperienced quilter.¹

Mary Fons had beginners in mind when she created this modern quilt, Courtside, with stark blue and orange solids. Fabric selection was a snap and so was piecing!

Courtside digital pattern

Hanson and Crews said Courthouse Steps quilts were likely made as early as the 1860s, and began to gain more popularity in the late nineteenth century. Most Courthouse Steps quilts were made with foundation piecing, and may have led to other foundation pieced designs like crazy quilts and string-pieced quilts.¹

Do you think Pennsylvania Puzzle was paper pieced? Its itty bitty pieces lead me to believe the answer is yes!

Pennsylvania Puzzle digital pattern

The last thing I’ll leave you with is a courthouse of my own. I took this gorgeous picture right outside the Fons & Porter’s quilt shop in Winterset, IA. It was Memorial day and the weather was beautiful.


Happy Quilting!

¹ p90, p100-101, “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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Tip Tuesday – 7 Tips for the Quilter 2.17.15

Another week of tips has arrived! I found many of these tips helpful, particularly the tips about binding. They just makes sense, and I can’t believe they never occurred to me to try before. I enjoy this series because it’s all about quilters helping quilters. If you have tips of your own, let me know of them in the comments.

Tip #1: Creating a Binding Spool
I like to wind my binding on a toilet paper roll. I then tie a piece of ribbon through the cardboard tube and hang it around my neck. As I am sewing the binding onto the quilt, it rolls off nicely and doesn’t tangle. A cardboard paper towel tube also works well for borders.

Tip #2: Pressing Shortcut
If pressing is not your favorite part of quilt making, try stacking several sections. Press the seam on the top piece. Meanwhile you will have set the seams on the ones below. Just make sure everything is going the right direction. Try a bamboo presser to get crisp creases.

Tip #3: No Slide Foot Control
Cut a rubber bathtub mat to the size of your machine foot control. Place the mat under the foot control to keep it from sliding as you work.

Tip #4: No Tangles
As you press continuous binding, let the binding fall into a container, such as a clean wastebasket or plastic gallon ice cream container. You can pull the binding from the container as you stitch it to your quilt without the binding tangling or twisting.

FP-A-2765_image_orig_notions_organizerTip #5: Notions Organization
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.

Tip #6: Project Rack
I use a clothes-drying rack to hang the quilting projects I am currently working on. I use the dowel racks to hang the pieces or blocks that I have finished and pressed. That way, they don’t get wrinkled and I can keep all the fabrics for a project pressed and together. It is portable also so I can move it close to my cutting table or sewing machine. –Linda Chambers

Tip #7: Photo Album
You can keep swatches of fabric in a small photo album. It’s perfect to take to the quilt shop when you’re trying to coordinate fabrics for a quilt. You can then remove the swatches once you have made the quilt.

Facebook Bonus Tip: Teamwork
When making a quilt with someone else make sure your 1/4″ are the same. One can’t be a scant and the other a generous or you will have a lot of ripping to do. –Linda Long Hall

What types of tips would you like more of? Pressing, storage/organization, sewing, etc. Just let me know and I’ll find them. Thanks to everyone who offered tips of their own. We’re a community of quilters and I like to think when the best minds come together, we’ll  only make quilting more enjoyable for all. So keep them coming! Comment here or on our Facebook page with your most helpful quilting tips.

Happy Quilting!

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How do you say ‘I love you’?

You, the mother. You, the wife. You, the grandmother. You, the quilter. The month of February is always a countdown to the most delicate and romantic holiday of the year, Valentine’s Day. Whether you love it or would rather skip it, Valentine’s Day eDP1304361xists to remind us to do one thing: L-O-V-E.

But what does that really mean? I love my family and I spend enough time with my quilt guild that we may as well be family, but how do you show them how much they mean to you?

It’s the question we’re challenged with, and, maybe I’m a little biased, but I think it’s a lot easier for us quilters to show our love. I mean, have you ever made a quilt that you weren’t thinking about how pleased the recipient would be when they received it? You think about their favorite colors when you pick fabrics and what style fits them most. Whoever receives your quilt can be sure that every minute you spent measuring, cutting, ironing, and sewing was spent thinking about them.

You can make them a number of small projects like a cute little candy holder, a Flirty table runner or an XOXO pillow. All adorable and quick to make. But what do you do for yourself?


I’m going to take a wild guess here and say you probably make quilted gifts for your family and friends all year long, but rarely quilt for yourself. No, I’m not talking about the pot holder you had to make because you just couldn’t let that gorgeous fabric go to waste.

No matter your reason for quilting, we want to spend the whole month of March, which is National Craft Month, to celebrate you, the quilter.

We’re dedicating National Craft Month to you by posting your quilt projects, big and small, to our Facebook page. We’re celebrating YOU.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Send me a picture of the quilt you’ve created that you’re most proud of. It can be an original design or an interpretation from one in a publication.
  2. Tell me why you love it so much.
  3. Give me a short description of how you made it– techniques, tools, templates. I want all the details. If you remember which magazine it came from, let me know.
  4. Make sure to include name and location so I can give you credit.

Send your submissions to and I’ll pick a few to feature on our Facebook page each week. If you haven’t liked us yet, make sure you do so you won’t miss your post. Submissions without all above information included will not be eligible.

Oh, and I’ll also pick three submissions at random to win a gift package packed full of fabric, magazines and other goodies, just to show you how much we appreciate you. It looks a little something like this:15.02.12_QCA-Giveaway-005

I’m looking forward to seeing all your beautiful quilty creations!

Happy Quilting!

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