Find Your Feather Style

Feathers can be quilt in many different ways, and no one style is better than another. Use the feather style that suits your quilt project and your skill level. With a little practice, you’ll soon be feathering every quilt in sight!

I reached into the Love of Quilting vault and came across this informing article on finding your feather style. Dawn Cavanaugh has a plethora of wisdom about quilting matters of all kinds and she knows what she’s talking about. This article from Love of Quilting Jan/Feb ’13 was just too good to keep to myself.

Practicing quilting is like reading your favorite novel again. It’s still the same story and you know what’s going to happen, but you’ll find yourself picking up new details and nuances you never noticed before. You think, “how could I have missed that before, it’s so obvious.” But you’re a more experienced reader (or quilter) now and you’re open to those subtleties. You’re not overwhelmed by the larger story anymore.

When you read this article, you’ll be thinking how much you love feathers, how much you don’t love them or how you’ve never committed to them because yours never turn out how you like. Let Dawn inspire you to get back on the longarm and feather every quilt in sight!

Click to read Find Your Feather Style. (PDF)

Find Your Feather Style 3

Happy Quilting!

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BLOCK Friday: Shoo Fly quilt block

“Shoo Fly, don’t bother me. Shoo Fly, don’t bother me” 

Does anyone else hear that melody in their heads when they hear the name of this week’s block? The Shoo Fly quilt block. This block is reminiscent of a tic-tac-toe board and is similar to the Churn Dash block we looked at a couple weeks ago. This quilt, Patchwork Blues, is a beautiful display of the Shoo Fly block.

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Legend has it, the simple nine-patch block was used to teach young girls the basics of piecing and sewing. Because of its simple square and half-square triangle construction, the block was easy enough for a beginner to practice quilt design and construction. In fact, the test block in this episode of “Quilty” was made by someone who had never pieced a thing in his life. Mary explains how to make a shoo fly block in her “Quilty” tutorial.

There is speculation as to where the name originates, but one theory cites clover img_20130726_160254_308broom (shoofly plant) as a source, which is said to drive off flies when the plant’s juices and root are mixed with milk and set on a nightstand.

Regardless what the origin is, this gorgeous, Depression-era block makes its statement in a variety of different forms. Depending on color arrangement, the primary design can appear as four arrows on the corners pointing to a center block or a circle with a hole in the center (kind of the way the flower is shaped). Check out some of those arrangements below.

Can you see the Shoo Fly blocks in Emily’s Wedding Quilt? This quilt was designed by Liz Porter.
Emily's Wedding Quilt digital pattern

Here’s a variation on the Shoo Fly quilt block. It’s called Shoo Shoo Fly. See how the half square triangles in the corners are just oversized compared to the center block? Cool!
Shoo Shoo Fly quilt kit

And of course my all-time favorite, With Help From Friends, by Liz Porter. This ultimate scrap quilt features 180 itty bitty Shoo Fly blocks. I love it! This quilt has all the charm of a vintage scrap quilt.
With a Little Help From Friends

Do you know anything else about the Shoo Fly block? Let me know in the comments below. Enjoy!

Happy Quilting

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Machine Binding vs. Hand Binding

I suppose the title of this blog isn’t exactly what I wanted to get at. I don’t want machine and hand binding to duke it out, and I don’t think one is necessarily better thaMachine vs Handn the other. The thing about quilting as an art and hobby is that there are numerous ways to practice a medley of techniques, and the quilt police don’t have a home in the cozy community at Fons & Porter. That said, there are advantages to each technique that should be considered when deciding which method fits your unique project, skills and time allowance.

Hand binding:

  • great for a relaxing evening project
  • the binding has your unique, “signature” hand stitch
  • you get bragging rights
  • you get to practice your hand sewing
  • it’s familiar/ it’s how you learned

Machine binding:

  • easier for those with arthritis or other mobility issues
  • you can be finished in a short time
  • gives binding a clean, consistent look
  • it gives you the chance to learn a new technique
  • fewer needle pricks

There are lots of other benefits to both methods. If you’ve never tried machine binding, it’s just the challenge that will expand your quilting repertoire. And a challenge it is. It’s something you’ll want to start on a small project like a placemat or a small wall quilt because, just like when you learned hand quilting, there will be bumps along the way. With a little practice and a little help from the Jenny Kae Quilts, you’ll be adding a new binding method to your skill set.

Here’s something you can pass along to your guild or your granddaughter. Jenny’s live webinar, Machine Quilt Binding Made Easy, takes place on February 17th, when she gives you all the information you need to learn machine binding, and have the confidence to try machine binding on your own quilt projects.

Happy Quilting!

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As quilters and sewists, we have the accolade of bragging about our exceptional color pairing skills, and we have lots of projects to prove it. We know mossy browns, taupes and cremes are reminiscent of a springtime forest retreat. We know that sprinkle of red in a black and white quilt gives it just the right splash of personality. We know you can change the entire feel of a quilt by choosing variegated quilting threads instead of coordinating. And we even know how to consider color value and contrast to make the right impact.

What we do is an art form, and we enjoy it. We have a passion for what we do and that’s what leads us to learn as much as we can. Mary Fons knows that so she put together a series of web seminars on using colors in your quilts. As one student says, she learned “a lot more information than I thought.  I didn’t even know there was that much to know about the color yellow.”

You’ll come away feeling the same. So far, Mary has presented on six colors. These webinars are available On Demand, so you can download and watch them immediately:

Color Me BLUE
This quilt is Hey, Blue

Hey Blue DP

“It was great to have both Mary and Marianne on the webinar.  Each offered their perspective which was very interesting.  Blue is a favorite color of mine as well.  I particularly enjoyed the history of blue.  Indigo is amazing!”

This quilt is Phoebe’s Flower Box

Phoebe's Flower Box DP

Color Me RED
This quilt is Cherry Pop

Cherry Pop DP

“The historical information about popular color combinations of the past was very interesting. The slides were well-chosen.”

Color Me PINK
This quilt is Pink Waves

Pink Waves DP

This quilt is Two-Toned Illusions

Two Toned Illusions DP

Color Me BLACK
This quilt is Black Arrow

Black Arrow QK

Changed how I look at the colour black – I usually think of it as a “non-color” to use when I can’t find anything else. Now I will look at Black as a key component of any color grouping

This quilt is Math Facts

Math Facts DP

Whether you’ve been wondering how to use a certain color in your quilts, have always stayed away from a color or want to know more about your favorite color, Mary’s webinars are there to help. Don’t take my word for it, though. Here’s what some past students have said:

  • I am fairly new to quilting; quilting courses are not easily available in my location so it is extremely beneficial to have an update on some of the basics – bindings, quilting techniques, appliqué etc.
  • Keep up the good work! I’m looking forward to the next program I participate in.
  • I downloaded the seminar so that I can go over it again. Usually, a second reading like going back through my magazines, I find something I missed. Reminds me of reading stories to my young children the 20th time.  Find those small details!
  • Mary’s an AWESOME presenter … very entertaining and motivating – a great teacher on quilting.

Of course it’s great that Mary’s webinars are available On Demand, but what if you have a question in the middle of your class? When you watch these webinars live, you get answers to your questions right away. Here are the webinars Mary has planned:

Color Me WHITE
January 28th, 2015
8PM ET (1 hour)

Color Me WHITE

Color Me AQUA
February 25, 2015
1PM ET (1 hour)

Color Me Aqua

Enjoy and Happy Quilting!

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BOM ’15: Christmas Joy

Have you ever done a Block of the Month? I bet you remember how rewarding it was to get to the end of it knowing you had put time and patience into each one of those quilt blocks. A Block of the Month is one of my favorite programs because whether you’re a beginner or career quilter, you can move along at your own pace, and be confident that you’ll have the quilt done by year end.

Maybe you want more of a challenge. Get two kits and have two of your Christmas presents covered. Of course the one thing I haven’t mentioned is the fun of getting a quilt block kit in the mail every month. It’s like a Christmas present to yourself every month for 7 months!


Christmas Joy will quickly become a Christmas tradition. With the holiday theme, you’ll enjoy each stage– You’ll make a little forest of trees, a few goody baskets, some holiday stars, a garden of red and green flowers, and lots of “Joy” to top it off. This quilt has you covered for jolly holiday spirit all year long.

This Block of the Month features the Classique collection by Paintbrush Studio.
Quilt by Marianne Fons and Liz Porter.
Quilt Size: 81″ x 95″

The kit will be automatically charged and shipped each month beginning in February 2015. Participation is limited so don’t delay! Order yours today.

Happy Quilting!

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BLOCK Friday: Ribbon Star quilt block

Today’s quilt block is versatile and delicate– an unlikely combination and the description I’d like to use to describe myself. It’s the Ribbon Star quilt block. The name of this simple block comes from the four V-shapes (the ribbons) at each corner.

Truthfully, it was a little tough for me to find the name of this block. Why? Because it’s a star block, and there are many star blocks. But it’s much more than just a star block. I knew there had to be a more specific name for this block than “star block”, so I researched it.

I’m really quite fond of this block for a few reasons. First, it’s an easy quilt block because it only requires half-square triangles and squares. Second, changing up the color patterns creates a completely different looking quilt. And third, when you put lots of these blocks together, you get a secondary diamond and square design.

Exhibit A:
Lil Bits quilt kit

You see it there? I like that. I might be a little biased since I have this quilt, Lil’ Bits, hanging out with me while I work. It’s true, I’m quite fond of it.

I do love the classic Ribbon Star block, but I also love its adaptations as well. For those looking for little more of a challenge, but wanting to keep the elegance of this quilt block, Katie Clark Blakesley’s Super Star wall hanging is the perfect choice. Better yet, Mary Fons and Ellen Graf get together for a video tutorial on how to make Super Star.

Super Star digital pattern

Throw in another half-square triangle block in place of the square and you’ve got yourself an envelope quilt block. That’s one’s pretty cool too. It’s called You’ve Got Mail.

You've Got Mail digital pattern

What are you picturing when you see the Ribbon Star quilt block? Do you like altering each “ribbon” color or would you make them all match for a real star-looking quilt block? Have you made a quilt with this block before? Share some of your inspiration!

Fons & Porter Sheyenne

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Free. Free. Free.

Free! It’s one of our favorite words, and we’re giving you 12 hours of it. December 18th is National Free Shipping Day, but we’re going to do one better with a Day of Free.

Every hour between 8am and 8pm CST, we will post one free product for you to enjoy. That means free patterns, free designs, free videos, and free tutorials. And because it’s National Free Shipping Day, of course we’ll have free shipping all day at We’ve never done something like this before, so join us and tell your guild about it. You won’t want to miss this!

Follow Fons & Porter on Facebook for your ticket to the Day of Free on Thursday, December 18.

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See you there!
Fons & Porter Sheyenne

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BLOCK Friday: The Churn Dash Quilt Block

Today’s Block Friday has all types of elements: a history lesson, an art lesson and a bonus at the end. Take your seats pupils!


The block we are celebrating is the Churn Dash quilt block. I researched a little history about this block and came up with these interesting bits of information. (Use this to impress your quilt friends at a Christmas gathering!)

  • The block’s name comes from the resemblance of the triangle and rectangle perimeter of the block to a butter churn and the center square to the stick (or “dash”) of the butter churn. Apparently quilters have always had an affinity for food!
  • The Churn Dash was one of the first blocks girls learned to quilt.
  • Folklore says the Churn Dash was used as a symbol to help runaway slaves in the Underground Railroad. However, scholars have found no proof of this.

Now, for a little art lesson. The Churn Dash quilt is so versatile. It can be scrappy, modern, traditional, kid-friendly or masculine. At Fons & Porter, we are huge fans of the Churn Dash quilt block. For your viewing pleasure, I’ve curated a lovely art gallery full of Churn Dash quilts!

The Scrappy Churn Dash- Daisy’s Picnic


The Girly Churn Dash- Neapolitan   



The Mix-it-up Churn Dash- Oasis



The 16-Patch Churn Dash- 1/16th Monkey Wrench



The “I wish it was warm again” Churn Dash- Simple Joys



For the visual learners, we have a Love of Quilting video on on how to make the Churn Dash block. That is one entire episode dedicated to this lovely block. To learn more quilt block techniques and tips, be sure to check out our collection of video tutorials on

Bonus Time! As part of our 12 Days of Christmas deals, today is 50% off Quilt Patterns. All the quilt patterns included in the Churn Dash gallery are half off. In fact, all patterns on our shop site are 50% off! PATTERN50 is the key to savings at checkout!

Happy Block Friday!

Fons & Porter Rachel

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Block Friday: Rock The Old Sawmill Block

In the quilt world, it’s not about Black Friday. It’s about Block Friday. We’re putting the spotlight on our favorite blocks. My favorite is found in Old Sawmill, a quilt by Tony Jacobson from Quilting Quickly.

DP140214   LQ140053

The only problem? The block doesn’t have a name! Tony self-titled the block “Buzz Saw,” but I think our readers can get more creative than that. I proclaim the best idea for this quilt block name will be added to the library of quilt blocks! (I don’t think I actually have that power, or if there is a real library of quilt blocks.)

The thing about this nameless block is that it’s so versatile in this quilt. Pick seasonal fabric to make a holiday quilt, use flannel for a warm winter quilt, or use bright colors or pastels for a kid-friendly quilt pattern. Perhaps it should be called the “Anything Goes” quilt block?

Let’s get the specs on Old Sawmill:

  • It’s SO beginner friendly. Wide strips of fabric make for easy piecing. There’s also a free YouTube tutorial from our staff in case you need a visual guide.
  • It has the potential to be a masculine quilt. My dad is always the last person on my Christmas list I buy for. His wish list only includes a fishing boat. I’m making him this quilt with deep brown and blue fabric. Perfect for his man cave!
  • Since it’s from Quilting Quickly, it’s a time saver. I’m also a last-minute shopper. Last minute quilts are my thing!
  • Tony Jacobson is the designer. I’m a bit biased because I work with him, but the quilts he turns out always catch my eye. Insider fact about Tony: Batiks are his favorite fabric!

All my best,

Fons & Porter Rachel

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Black Friday Personal Shopper Finds

The people have spoken. You told me what kind of quilt products you’re on a mad search to find this holiday and I’ve found them for you. And best yet, at great prices because it’s Black Friday. That’s right, it’s the “holiday” after the holiday, and you either love it or you hate it. There’s no in between. I lean toward the latter, but only when it comes to the thought of standing in long lines and pushing past droves of people. No, thank you.

Thank goodness for the popularization of online shopping. If I don’t have to get dressed or even take a shower before getting all my Christmas gifts taken care of, you bet I won’t. Before much more ado, I give you your Black Friday personal shopper requests:

Silvia was looking for a pen that has a stiletto on one end and a seam ripper on the other. This 4-in-1 sewing tool is about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what says “I’m kind of an expert quilter and I know what I’m doing” like this does.

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And while we’re talking about stilettos, this one was just too cool to keep to myself. Do you have those friends who seem to have everything? Well, I bet they don’t have a gorgeous brass stiletto. I’d venture to say they would be afraid to use this tool because it’s just too pretty.


While we’re still on quilting tools, let’s talk about the quilters’ square. This is the square up ruler. It’s for making perfect corners, perfect squares and clean corners. Use it in combination with my favorite log cabin ruler and you’ve got yourself the most professional log cabin quilt blocks of your career.

Square Up Ruler

Many of us are members of quilt guilds, so we often play games or do white elephant gift exchanges so everyone can share a little something. What works best for exchanges and raffles are always cute little, inexpensive gifts like these:

A mini key chain quilting tool

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A quilt pattern – this one called Crazy Eights is all pre-cut fabrics


A CD with back issues of Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting (they’ll think you spent a whole lot, but you didn’t– thank you, Black Friday)


And last, but certainly not least, the AccuQuilt Go! Fabric Cutter. This is one of the most desired items among quilters this year. I had many of you asking where to find one, and for good reason. This fabric cutter can make cutting up to 90% faster than using rotary cutter and scissors. Even more, you can cut out complicated shapes that would have been nearly impossible without it. You can get two sizes of this fabric cutter: the full-size fabric cutter and the baby size.


Right now, Shop Fons & Porter is offering 30% off products storewide* plus free shipping with code BLACK30. In particular, small quilt projects like wall hanging quilts, table runners, stockings and lap quilts are popular right now, so give them a look-over. Let me know what amazing finds you discover this season, and help each other with hard-to-find items in the comments.

Fons & Porter Sheyenne


*restrictions apply


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