National Craft Month Dedication – Maureen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maureen from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada



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National Craft Month Dedication – Karen from Bowling Green, KY

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

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

Thank you,
Karen from Bowling Green, KY


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BLOCK Friday: Dresden Plate quilt block

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

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

Dresden Botanica digital pattern

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

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

Hard Candy digital pattern

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

Dresden Plate pincushion

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

Dresden Plate pillows digital pattern

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

Sweet n' Simple Aprons digital pattern

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

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

Happy Quilting!


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National Craft Month Dedication – Marla

“This is my 3rd quilt of about 37. I found the pattern (loosely based) in an old magazine of my mother’s. I made this in 2007 specifically for my kitty, Toya, who was 16 at the time and 23 when she died in 2014.

My piecing had come a long way, and I’m most proud of the fact that I am a hand quilter, and stitched it all with love. I’ve washed this quilt many, many times, and it’s a testament to my hand piecing skills that it’s looking about the same as it did when I finished it. Toya loved it and always slept on it. Log cabins are my favorite block. I enjoy your magazines and always look for log cabin patterns.”

Marla Brown, Sparta WI


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Inspire Your Quilting in Tuscany, Italy

This past December, I went on the most relaxing, beautiful and refreshing trip of my life to beautiful, sunny southern Thailand. If you can imagine it, there were white sand beaches as far as the eye could see, gorgeous cliffs in the distance across the clearest, blue waters I’d ever seen. It was paradise.

And the best part of the trip? The people. This was a spontaneous, and I met up with interesting people from all over the world – from South Africa, Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. So while I learned all about Thailand, I also learned all about the places from where my friends came, and made some (seriously) lifelong friends.


That’s the experience in store for you on Sept 22 – 29, 2015 with the Treasures of Tuscany tour with Fons & Porter editor Jean Nolte, except with so much more! You haven’t experienced quilting until you’re looking at the most breathtaking art, landscape and architecture you’ve ever seen while surrounded by other women who are looking for quilting inspiration in everything too.

You’ll be in the company of other quilters who truly love what they do. Think of it like vacationing with all your best friends. In fact, you could actually travel with your best friends if you invite your guild.

Jean says, “It has been my experience that quilters are a really fun bunch to travel with. I predict you will meet some new quilting friends that you will stay in touch with long after the tour is over.”

You’ll be traveling all over Tuscany. Some of the highlights include:

tuscany-montecatiniMontecatini Terme is an Italian district of 21,095 inhabitants within the province of Pistoia in Tuscany, Italy.  This charming resort town is what you’ll call home during your tour and is one of the most attractive resort spa towns in all of Italy!

San Gimignano is a small-walled medieval hill town in the province of tuscany_07Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy. Known as the Town of Fine Towers, San Gimignano is famous for its medieval architecture, unique in the preservation of about a dozen of its tower houses, which, with its hilltop setting and encircling walls form “an unforgettable skyline”. It’s here where you’ll have free time to shop in one of the many shops along the main thoroughfare, visit the beautiful basilica, have a gelato in the charming piazza, and enjoy the views of the Tuscany Valley. Later in the day, you’ll board your coach for a short drive to visit a lovely family-owned winery.

tuscany_06The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera, and one of the most picturesque places in all of Italy. There will be plenty of time to enjoy lunch on your own, shopping, and photograph opportunities available. Then, you’ll board the train again for our next stop. In the evening, you’ll visit the hilltop town of Montecatini Alto and enjoy a delicious dinner.

tuscany-florenceFlorence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. You’ll travel into the central part of the city, where you will meet a local expert guide and take a leisurely walking tour, pointing out many highlights of the city’s priceless treasures.

You can watch a video of all the places you’ll visit under the Trip-At-A-Glance tab, and get a complete itinerary of your trip at the Sew Many Places website.

This tour will undoubtedly be an experience to remember! The unique beauty of Tuscany is sure to inspire you and fill you with the wonder of its alluring countryside. There’s so much in store on this trip. If you’re already packing bags, Jean has a couple of suggestions for things you’re definitely going to want to bring:

“Comfortable shoes! Pictures of quilts you’ve made to share with the others in the group.”

And there you have it. Make the Treasures of Tuscany tour part of your memory box, and a story to share for a lifetime. Learn more about this trip and register at the Sew Many Places website.

Happy Touring!

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National Craft Month Dedication – Lisa from Ashland, KY

“One of the quilts I’m most proud of is this scrappy quilt using lots of older batiks, plus many light colored cottons, and solid black. This quilt took a long time to make and it is really special because my son helped choose the batik fabrics when he was younger and still living at home. Then once I had a bunch of blocks pieced, he helped design the layout. There was a delay of some years between piecing the top and being brave enough to quilt it. Now that the quilt is finally finished, it lives at my son’s house.

I did the math after this one was done and calculated that the quilt has 2925 pieces on the front. It is all paper-pieced. I scaled the quilt block to fit on a single sheet of paper, so it took 117 sheets of paper. There is also a bit of piecing (made with a dresden ruler) on the back. The block pattern is from Quilter’s Newsletter (March 2005, I think) and is called Geese in the Cabin.”

Lisa from Ashland, KY

gRzZ1kO8bggy6kMzI_JPt92JcenVzBMoM0HcgcjOg5rKUyzPOcWOqnuC6TVJJXMTf8oLHnZOU8TF6vocPM-8QY3nHCWFdmgyeSyz2UaZrJ6Mml4KdznT3tzkuzgKexneHMVT8oNZis1nR1V2sSKz7HJImSx1vNOS9GTiHDERjkO3e_GNRO0VG8XA4zM9FMfWSuXMzb0PqTLzFVtcFAmk2-fXfiMv_Y yvvjw-9n2azIGoJx4K3Uo_2YfbQRDNuVO4zQovPBkAaJvQgr_5HlCY1B5qhCSVKDz4gTt86kE2Gxx10AD4XAEf3pSmFBYY2-RGXMCOLbAeEMmfD6Lkyz2SqXnDVzZPjCrATs_hFH0VmMNax-t9-QcULUUDG82JTuK6NvyChQ09tAzKBwhs6Fub4Al8Gd1UuZGMCFIEdY0hvphH-6Abt9pH7_IFgN9b

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Tip Tuesday: 7 Tips for the Quilter

We’ve got a mix bag of quilting tips for you today. You’ll find tips on quilting designs and helping out your quilting friends. There are a lot of little quirks about quilting that we don’t think about or even realize we could make easier until we find a tip like one below. Hopefully you find that little golden trinket of wisdom in this week’s tips.

Tip #1: Non-slip Template
To keep my templates from slipping, I use adhesive-backed sandpaper. I cut ½”-wide strips from the sandpaper and use a paper punch to punch out little dots. My stiletto comes in handy for removing the paper from the back of those little pieces of sandpaper. You can also use scrapbook punches to cut cute shapes like butterflies, hearts, and flowers.

Tip #2: Quilting Templates
I find that the wooden figures sold at craft stores make good quilting designs, especially for kids’ quilts!Templates at Fons & Porter

Tip #3: Quilting Practice
I practice quilt designs on a dry-erase board until I get the feel of it. You can doodle away and erase over and over. Use a scrap of cotton batting as an eraser.

Tip #4: Machine Oiling Trick
Whenever I am going to be gone on a trip for an extended period of time, I oil my machine before leaving. That gives the oil a longer time to soak into the parts. When I return, I clean the residue!

Tip #5: Marking for Quilting
I use Fons & Porter Quarter Inch Seam Markers when I mark quilting lines for hand quilting. I like them because they’re small and easy to handle when I do a lot of marking.

Tip #6: Cheer Up a Quilter
Instead of sending flowers to a quilting friend who is sick, Reproduction fabrics fat quarter packgive fat quarters or a gift certificate from her favorite quilt shop.

Tip #7: Two at a Time
Like lots of quilters, I give many quilts away. Because it is sometimes hard to part with them, I now make two quilts at the same time—one to give away and one to keep. I do all of the cutting and piecing at once so I don’t feel as if I am starting over to make the second one.

My personal favorite was tip #6. It makes sense! Quilters love quilt supplies, and I can’t think of anything that would cheer up a quilter faster than giving them something to look forward to when they’re feeling better.

Happy Quilting!

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National Craft Month Dedication – Gwen from North Liberty, IA

“This is a quilt I made for my parents shortly after my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I love this quilt because it was made with love for my parents and was made almost totally from my fabric stash from some of favorite scraps from other quilts I made.

I can see pieces of quilts I made for other family members and scraps from doll clothes I made my nieces, so just looking at the quilt reminds me of other quilts and people I love. I wanted to put a special message in this quilt so I chose the X and O pattern and put it together from 5″ squares.

On two sides of each square I put a 2 1/2″ grey square that was marked with a diagonal stitching line, and I trimmed the excess fabric after sewing the 2 1/2″ squares. To make it clearer to my parents that I was making the quilt with love, I chose black and white fabrics and set them in a X-O-X-O pattern on the diagonal where they stand out from all the other blocks. I didn’t make this from a pattern – but I did see similar quilts in various magazines.  No where else in the quilt is black and white fabric used. Dad was able to enjoy this quilt the his last couple of months.”

Gwen from North Liberty, Iowa


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National Craft Month Dedication – Cindy

“I made this quilt to submit to the Minnesota State Fair in August 2014. When I saw the 2014 commemorative poster by Emily Taylor in June, I knew that I wanted to create a quilt based on that poster. So first I bought the poster and contacted the artis9L_EkR7gnXIeuPHw8QL6I4wKSRjOkntivEGPtybgwbvj2rNGmF1hm-7GXwQas_IChSynn9vUKYVWpIduWGXTa7KIIshO6OnujFXWsWP766vUUa6b1E3QmK7t6lYT09xvCtpOD1AkqazbKZMj7BDbu17tMHQFxVR5V1GDJfDoAaBqOJOHkiScSwRCAQ7vkuFAtjt-8-AAeK6zSXnxRLNLtZRbzuOUDl-1t for permission. She referred me to the State Fair people who selected her artwork. When all was approved, I went about designing the quilt. I enlarged it a bit from the original size, but for the category I entered – mixed media wall hanging, senior (65 and older) division – I had to limit the circumference.

First, I went to the fairgrounds 2 months before the fair and took a bunch of pictures of fair buildings. I got a map of the fairgrounds to help me with placement. Like the original art, I spread the fair across the whole state, with the city of Minneapolis on the West and St. Paul on the east.

The quilt is a mix of landscape piecing, needle-turned applique, pressed on applique, photos of family members pressed on in various parts of the state, and embroidery, such as Paul Bunyan and Babe and Split Rock Lighthouse.

I had so much fun picking out fabrics farms, fields and fair, lakes and rivers, sky and background, etc. I think my favorite fabric is the sheep farm in the Southeast corner of the state. Our granddaughters are pictured on that farm and also with the prize pig and riding in kayaks on a lake. I hand-quilted the entire quilt, and I really enjoyed creating quilt designs that would flow with the fabrics.

The quilt was very challenging and involved a lot of problem-solving, especially creating all the Fair buildings and the midway! It was like putting a puzzle together. But as it all came together, I got really excited about it. And the frosting on the cake? It won a blue ribbon  and it was my first submission ever!”


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National Craft Month Dedication – Mimi

“I love quilting and for some time, I’ve been fascinated with 2″ charms, and all the possibilities they offer. About 2 year ago, after seeing some rainbow quilts on the web, I decided to make one myself. To collect a wider variety of fabric, I took part in an international charm swap and started begging my quilting friends for scraps. It took me more than a year to collect enough suitable pieces to start.

For nearly three weeks, the floor of our guest room (and my sewing space) changed into the designer board. I started with laying out 1000 2″ charms – each one different – with only a very vague vision where I wanted to get from here. And then the most interesting, but also the most difficult part started: shuffling, swapping, replacing the charms into new shapes and shades, until I was satisfied – and the design was approved by my husband.

Quilt 2

I’d studied a couple of ways of sewing together the charm quilt pieces, but I decided to put mine together in the 5×5 block, as this approach made it easier to mark the pieces and keep the colors in the right order – I called this process “the shrinking” because with every seam, the quilt grew smaller and smaller.

For some time, I pondered the quilting, but finally decided to go simple, ripples – to break the square feeling – across the light core. And tha’s why I named it THE CORE. I put it on the wall in our guest room and would never sell it.

And why I’m proud of myself? I think I created something worthwhile, learned a lot about quilting during the process, became more courageous in experimenting with fabric, and made a couple of great friend through the swaps.”

Mimi from Bratislava, Slovakia


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