A Heartwarming Quilt Story

dianeharris A Heartwarming Quilt StoryBy Diane Harris
QM Associate Editor



About two years ago I wandered into a Catholic Social Services thrift store in Hastings, Nebraska. I do this occasionally because you just never know what treasures you may find. And as it turned out, that summer morning in 2013 was my lucky day.

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The quilt was wrapped with tape and marked $3. at a Catholic thrift store.

I found a quilt, bundled backing-side out and wrapped with tape, marked $3. I could tell it was hand quilted, had bluework embroidery, and was fairly small. The fabric was definitely vintage, and what I could see of the quilt appeared to be in good condition. I didn’t bat an eye. I bought it.

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The quilt I purchased for $3 at a thrift store

When I unrolled the quilt at home, a few surprises appeared. The quilt featured hand embroidered nursery rhymes and was in pristine condition. The hand quilting was nicely done and the overall effect was pleasing. But the biggest surprise took my breath away.

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There was a full name embroidered on the quilt: first, middle and last.

There was a full name embroidered on the quilt: first, middle and last. This had been someone’s baby quilt.

I knew at once that it did not belong to me.

Many thoughts were racing through my mind: How did the quilt get away from its owner? Was there no one left who would treasure it? What had happened to the person whose name the quilt bore?

Almost on impulse, I sat down and did what any 21st century person would do: I Googled. I typed in the first, middle and last name from the quilt, and then at the last second decided to tack on “Hastings,” the name of the small city where I’d found the quilt.

obituary A Heartwarming Quilt Story

This obituary appeared. (Blurred to protect the family’s privacy.)

With an eerie suddenness, an obituary appeared. Just weeks earlier, a woman in the city had died. Her last name matched the one on the quilt. She had a daughter with the first name on the quilt. Her mother’s name had been Anne, which was the middle name on the quilt. And all donations were directed to Catholic Social Services—same place I bought the quilt.

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Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall…

My heart beat quickly as I pieced it together. I was excited and heartbroken, and I still didn’t know anything for sure.

A quick check of whitepages.com and I had a home address and a phone number in another city nearby. The internet is a wonderful tool and I couldn’t believe my good luck—but I was also spooked at how easily I had gotten the information.

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There was an old woman who lived in a shoe…

I spent the next days, weeks and months pondering what to do. I felt certain I’d found a link to the quilt, but I wasn’t sure how to proceed. It took me two years to work up the courage to go forward.

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The Three Bears…

About two weeks ago, I wrote a letter to the daughter named in the obituary, whose name I thought was embroidered on the quilt. I explained who I was and how I’d come to have the quilt. I apologized for contacting her out of the blue and assured her that I only wanted to return the quilt to her if she wanted it, or to know more of its history if she did not want it. I gave her my phone number and my email.

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Mother Goose herself

I arrived home one Sunday night to a message. The emotion in her voice was unmistakable. She was the person named on the quilt. The quilt had been lost to her, and she was very anxious to connect.

When I called her back, she felt like an old friend. She believes that her grandmother made the quilt or perhaps hired someone to make it. After her mother had died, several family members had emptied the house, and she surmises that the quilt was accidentally given away. We made plans to meet for lunch. When we hung up, I had a good long cry—for lost mothers, for babies grown up, for quilts that leave home.

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I got the quilt ready for its new/old owner.

And then I looked the quilt over once more. I took a few photos. I put it in a gift bag and wrote her name on it. On Tuesday, July 28, we sat down together for lunch in the city, and once more it felt like I’d known her forever. I got to hear the story of her family—her mother, her four daughters, and much more. We talked about the things women talk about. It was delightful.

I didn’t take photos as she opened the quilt. It was emotional, and I wanted to be in the moment. She clutched it to herself like a long lost treasure. For me, she was the long lost treasure. I could not believe I had found her.

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This quilt has come home.

The note I put with the quilt said simply, “I’m so happy to know this quilt has come home.”


Posted in Scrapbag | Tagged , | 30 Comments

Bonnie Hunter’s Log Cabin Love by Barb Johnson

Quiltmaker is pleased to have Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville as a regular columnist. Her Addicted to Scraps feature in each regular issue has a quilt block pattern that is usually easy and always interesting. They lend themselves well to scrap quilts.

bonnieaddicted Bonnie Hunters Log Cabin Love by Barb JohnsonThis year we gathered a team of readers to take Bonnie’s block patterns and make scrappy quilts from them. They’re appropriately called the Addicted to Scraps Sewers. Today I have a wonderful scrap quilt by Barb Johnson from Verona, Pennsylvania. She used the block called Log Cabin Love from the current July/August issue of Quiltmaker.

QM ADD SCR JA 200 Bonnie Hunters Log Cabin Love by Barb Johnson

This is a traditional Log Cabin block with a small twist. The center patch is a half-square triangle instead of being just a square. It’s a nice little detail that adds a surprising amount of interest.

Barb started out making a few blocks, using one focus color in each.

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Barb’s Log Cabin Love blocks

She says her favorite part of this quilt was designing it.

“I had a lot of fun trying to figure out exactly how I wanted to set the blocks. I don’t know why the idea of a rainbow popped into my head, but it did, so I went with my gut and started playing with different layouts. When I design quilts, I either use Quilt Design Wizard or Microsoft Excel. When I use Excel, I resize the cells to be square, then use the shapes and lines tools to make the different shapes.

BarbExcel Bonnie Hunters Log Cabin Love by Barb Johnson

An example of how Barb Johnson uses Excel spreadsheets to design quilts

“The color selection in the program is somewhat limited, but there are enough colors to give me ideas about which one to use where. When I designed this quilt, I used Quilt Design Wizard because there was already a Log Cabin block included.

“While I was working on the design, I went to my ‘bin-o-strips’ and pulled out everything that was 1.5″ or 3″ wide, and grouped them into color families. Since I wanted to make this quilt using only the scraps I had on hand, my design had to work with what was available.

I noticed that I didn’t have a lot of pinks or purples, so I had to put those colors in the places with the fewest number of blocks. I ended up dreaming about Log Cabins until I had the design finally worked out!

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Barb’s finished Log Cabin Love quilt with its asymmetrical setting

“I tend to be a bit OCD when it comes to scrap quilting, so the advice I will give is to myself as well as the readers is this:

“Lay out your blocks, move them around until they look OK, then go away for a day or so. Look at them a few more times over the next few days. If nothing jumps out at you, just go with it—don’t spend hours moving blocks around because something will always ‘need’ to be moved!

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Log Cabin Love gets a glamour shot!

“The biggest challenge I had with this quilt was quilting it! I don’t have a longarm, and I didn’t want to pay to have it quilted. The quilt is 75″ x  75″, which is about the limit of what I can handle with my Janome 6600P. I just stitched in the ditch around each block. I keep looking at it, thinking that I could add more quilting, but I hesitate to try and wrangle it through my machine. So, for right now it is done, but I’m leaving open the possibility that I may add more quilting later.

I’m really not sure where this quilt will end up. Right now, it is living on the back of my family room couch. It may stay there for my family to wrap themselves in during the winter. Or it might end up being gifted to someone. Time alone will tell!

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See all of Bonnie Hunter’s Addicted to Scraps quilt blocks plus layout ideas

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Scrap Quilt Ideas: Hero’s Homecoming

kathycropped Scrap Quilt Ideas: Heros Homecoming

Kathy Wagner

By Kathy Wagner, QM Scrap Squad







This is my third quilt as part of the 2015 Scrap Squad, and in some ways it was the hardest one for me so far. I challenged myself not to buy any fabric at all for this quilt—it had to be made completely from my stash of Kansas Troubles fabric, left over from other quilts.

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Kathy’s stash of Kansas Troubles fabrics and a few block parts and pieces

I don’t have EQ to plan out my colours and ideas, and I usually make my plan as I go along. Sounds crazy, but that’s really how I make my quilts!  I start happily making block components and see how I like it, making any necessary adjustments as I go. The end result is always a surprise to me and that’s how I like to sew!

With this quilt I figured out how much stash yardage I had of each colour and placed them into the layout according to the yardage requirements. It’s a risky way to plan a quilt, but when you want to use up stash, that’s the best way to decide.

These units were fun to sew, and it was easy to see if you were not sewing the units together in the correct way!

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Spotting mistakes wasn’t difficult!

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You can substitute a similar fabric when you run out of something.


And then (of course) I ran out of red fabric. I had put the red in that particular position in the quilt because I didn’t have a lot of it left, and the pattern did not require much yardage. But I cut it too close, and ran out.

Luckily my friend Deanna had some fabric in her stash that went well with my reds, and she saved the day! I “borrowed” one red strip from these two fabrics to finish my blocks.


The piecing of the blocks was quite labour intensive, and getting the seams to meet up was challenging. I must admit there was a time when I hated this quilt! Does that ever happen to you?

I thought it was dark and ugly, and I was worried about how I was going to get those seams to match up when sewing the rows together. It was a struggle. And there were quite a few negative things said to this “ugly duckling” as it grew.

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My ugly duckling had turned into a swan!


But then when the top was finished and I hung it on the clothesline, I saw that it had turned into a beautiful swan! How did that happen? Honestly I was shocked at how much I liked it!

I have since apologized to the quilt many times for all the nasty things I said in the creative process! I hope all that negative energy doesn’t stick to the quilt!!

And I re-learned another important lesson about quiltmaking –  an ugly duckling can grow into a beautiful swan! Just be patient, and keep on sewing!




Here is a photo of my finished quilt on the design wall.  I machined quilted it on my domestic sewing machine with a large stipple pattern. But now that I see it finished, I can see a circular design that would have been fun to emphasize in the quilting. Maybe next time?!?

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Kathy’s finished Hero’s Homecoming

The quilt measures 67″ square so it hangs off the side of my design wall on the left. There are 22 pieces in each 8″ block, and there are 64 blocks in my quilt, for a grand total of  1,408 pieces of fabric that were cut and sewn! That’s a lot of sewing but all worth it for a great finish!

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QM scrap squadB3 Scrap Quilt Ideas: Heros Homecoming

Get the July/August issue of Quiltmaker

Get the digital pattern for Hero’s Homecoming


Posted in Scrap Squad | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

A Creative Twist – This Little Piggy Baby Quilt

Headshot A Creative Twist   This Little Piggy Baby Quilt

By Shayla Wolf, QM Associate Editor

A couple months ago I wrote a post about making a quilt pattern your own. In this post I share a few ideas on how to take a quilt pattern and twist it into your very own creation. You have already seen and heard about all the quilts in our new summer special issue – Quiltmaker’s Reader Favorites. Well now, I just have to share the Spotlight quilt from this issue!

Lani Smith of Walworth, Wisconsin took Deonn Scott’s popular Sheep Shape pattern and created this adorable pig quilt!

FlatPig A Creative Twist   This Little Piggy Baby Quilt

This Little Piggy Quilt made by Lani Smith

Lani made this adorable quilt for her first grandchild, Rutger. It is the perfect addition to his pig-themed nursery! She had to change more than the color of the sheep to create a pig; she designed new three-dimensional ears and a curly tail and added an adorable snout!

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Ear and Snout details.

My favorite design element Lani added is the mud! Every pig needs a little mud to roll around in.

FlowerInMud A Creative Twist   This Little Piggy Baby Quilt

Flower growing up from the mud.

I can’t get enough of this creative twist. It is too fun! Below are the two quilts next to one another. It’s interesting to see how different these equally cute quilts look!

BothQuilts A Creative Twist   This Little Piggy Baby Quilt

Left: Lani Smith’s This Little Piggy Quilt. Right: Deonn Scott’s Sheep Shape Quilt.

Sheep Shape is available in the Quiltmaker’s Reader Favorites issue (on newsstands now) and as a digital pattern. Thank you Lani for sharing this great quilt with us. Is there another animal you could turn the pig into with a little creativity?

QMMS 150046 COVER 200 A Creative Twist   This Little Piggy Baby Quilt

Quiltmaker Reader Favorites

If you take photos of your Quiltmaker projects, be sure to share them with us! Your quilt could be our next Spotlight! Email photos to sewtospeak@quiltmaker.com.

Thanks for swinging by!


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Scrap Quilt Ideas: Emily’s Hampton Court

emily opt 241x300 Scrap Quilt Ideas: Emilys Hampton Court

Emily Klaczak

by Emily Klaczak, QM Scrap Squad

Did you know that Henry VIII owned over 100 quilts? And that he gave 23 quilts to his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, when they were married?

I’ve always been fascinated by the Tudors, the English dynasty that began with the coronation of Henry Tudor (Henry VII) in 1485 and ended with the death of his granddaughter Elizabeth I in 1603.  Theirs is a story of intrigue, power, romance, sex, violence, gorgeous dresses—the stuff from which cable TV miniseries are made (and there have been several). I belong to two Facebook groups dedicated to the Tudors, and Facebook is where I found the inspiration for my version of Hero’s Homecoming.

One of the Tudor groups posted about a recently published biography of Henry VIII. Below is the portrait of Henry from the book cover. If you look at the black and white background design, you’ll notice that the interlocking motifs are similar to the overall pattern of Hero’s Homecoming. And the warm, bright colors of Henry’s robes sent me to my batik stash.

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Cover art for The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

I was specifically looking for velvety rich reds, golden yellows, and warm browns. And I decided to add jewel-toned blues and purples too, in keeping with the ‘royal’ theme.

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Some of the brown batiks that I used for the background.

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I later added more reds, blues and purples.








I didn’t want to cut up the wine-colored fabric with the light blue swirls, so I redesigned the block center to use it as one piece. Otherwise I followed the cutting directions in Quiltmaker’s July/August issue.

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I made nine blocks; I wanted this to be a throw-sized quilt that would be displayed on the back of my sofa.

I made nine blocks; I wanted this to be a throw-sized quilt that would be displayed on the back of my sofa. I used leftover scraps of the yellows, oranges and reds to piece the border. And I used the leftover browns for the binding.

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Very little scrappage left from this quilt!

I quilted the brown areas very densely, and did loops and feather fans in the yellows and reds, and spirals in the blues and purples. I liked the contrast of the flatter areas with the softer, less densely quilted areas. I am a big fan of variegated threads.

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Variegated thread worked well on this quilt.

I will be visiting craft stores in search of pearl-finished beads to embellish the central red squares. Because the Tudor ladies loved their pearls!

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Elizabeth 1, The Armada Portrait, circa 1588; photo from Wikipedia


And here is the completed quilt, which I have named Hampton Court.

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Hampton Court

Hampton Court is a palace on the River Thames which was originally built for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in the early 1500s. When Wolsey fell from royal favor, Henry VIII seized it for himself and much of the drama of his reign played out within its walls.

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QMMP 150800 HERO 506flat Scrap Quilt Ideas: Emilys Hampton Court

Hero’s Homecoming, designed by Janice Averill, made in Bali Batiks from Hoffman California Fabrics

This is the original Hero’s Homecoming from Quiltmaker’s current issue, July/August ’15.

Get the July/August ’15 issue.
Get a kit for the red, white and blue version of Hero’s Homecoming.
Get the digital pattern for Hero’s Homecoming.


Posted in Scrap Squad | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads

by Shayla Wolf, QM Associate Editor

Headshot Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads It is that time of year again! Time to sit on a beach, on a patio at a lake house or in a foldable chair at a peewee soccer game. Summer is full of long car rides and other events that are perfect for some light reading. If you are like me, you grab the newest quilting book or magazine before you get on an airplane to make the ride fly by! I have compiled 20 sizzling quilting books for you to dive into this summer to keep the creativity flowing even when you are away from your machine.

ReadingListTitle Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads

country girl modern Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads Country Girl Modern
by Jo Kramer & Kelli Hanken

This book is full of beautiful traditional quilts with a modern flair. In addition to great quilt patterns, Country Girl Modern has a little peek behind the scenes of what it is like to be a mother-daughter duo and the inspiration behind each quilt. Another fun treat is the stunning and unique photography. The bright and bold quilts are draped over farming equipment, fences, hay bails and more!

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The Quilter’s Practical Guide to Color
by Becky Goldsmith

This book is exactly what the title claims! Becky takes you step-by-step through color theory. The Quilter’s Practical Guide to Color covers the color wheel, color schemes, value, contrast, clarity, texture, scale, designing, auditioning and so much more! In addition to all the invaluable knowledge, there are 10 unique and fun projects! Becky takes the fear out of fabric selection with tip and tricks specifically geared towards quilters.

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ModernMedallionWorkbook 240x300 Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads The Modern Medallion Workbook
by Janice Zeller Ryan and Beth Vassalo

Medallion quilts are all the rage right now! Janice and Beth brought 9 other modern quilt designers together to create this fun workbook full of ideas and tips. There are 11 patterns with different centers and borders that can be mixed and matched to create your very own medallion quilt. Detailed instructions cover bias tape making, the use of negative space, fabric auditioning and more. Plus, there are coloring pages in the back of the book to experiment with!

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61EBYBU0RZL. SX258 BO1204203200  Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads Quilt Lovely
by Jen Kingwell

Quilt Lovely is filled to the brim with bright and beautiful scrap quilt patterns. Jen Kingwell is an Australian designer with a playful and colorful approach to quilting. Her unique style shines through in these 15 appliqué and pieced projects. In addition to detailed instructions and illustrations, the book contains great tips for working with templates, keeping your projects organized, multiple appliqué techniques and color direction.

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CivilWarRemembered Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads Civil War Remembered
by Mary Etherington and Connie Tesene

Love reproductions fabrics? Then this is the book for you! Mary and Connie compiled 19 stunning traditional quilts into one book. Beautiful photography, amazing colors, multiple quilt sizes and breath-taking patchwork fill these pages. Learn from the experts how to achieve both scrappy and plan looks while creating these classic blocks. These distinctive designs will have you wishing for time in your sewing room. I know I am already picturing these quilt in my favorite colors!

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FabricPrintingAtHome Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads Fabric Printing at Home
by Julie B. Booth

I picked up this book and immediately thought, “What a perfect summer project to do with kids!”  This book shows you how to create wonderful designs with everyday objects, kitchen supplies, fruits and veggies! Detailed instructions, bright photos and fun tips will lead you through multiple family-friendly printing techniques.

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SewStitch Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads Sew & Stitch Embroidery
by Alyssa Thomas

Looking for some fun handwork to keep your hands busy during a long road trip this summer? Alyssa, of Penguin & Fish, has compiled an amazing assortment of simple sewing projects with hand embroidery designs. Each project is unique and has a touch of whimsy! From owls adorning wall art to a whale covered shower curtain and octopus bedding to dinosaur finger puppets – this book will have you itching to stitch in no time! The book also includes the iron-on transfer sheet and a stitch library to aid those of us who are handwork beginners.

Divider Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads ImprovHandbook Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters
by Sherri Lynn Wood

If you are like me, improv quilting is a little intimidating. I love the look, but am nervous to let go! The Improv Handbook slowly takes you through approaches and methods to improv sewing and teaches you to set your own goals and limits. Instead of a book full of patterns to replicate, Sherri helps  you discover your own style! Clean and bright photography on each page will keep you inspired!

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By the Block Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads By the Block
by Sioban Rogers

This book is perfect for what Siobaun calls “time poor quilters.” These are the quilters (and I am one of them!) who want to make large beautiful quilts that look complex but are simple to make because of time constraints. By the Block contains 18 beautiful and surprisingly simple quilts that can be made over a weekend. Fabulous quilts and unique fabric choices will keep you flipping from one page to the next in this great book.

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SimplyStrings Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads Simply Strings
by Rana Heredia

This book is just what the title states! Rana took classic quilt blocks and add a fun flair – string piecing! Simply Strings contains 12 quilt patterns that will excite everyone from novice to experienced quilters and modern to traditional sewers and step-by-step directions on the technique of string-piecing. Bright quilts and clear instructions make this a must-have for summer sewing. I mean… just look at those adorable houses

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StepByStep Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads Step-by-Step Free-Motion Quilting
by Christina Cameli

Get inspired to finish some of those quilt tops this summer. Christina Cameli’s hand drawn how-to directions for free-motion quilting makes even the non-quilting sewers out there want to give it a whirl! Great illustrations break down 80 different quilting designs into manageable pieces that we can follow and replicate. With fun fills, unique scallops, twisty twirls, funky florals, leafy vines and more, you will surely find the inspiration to finish your next quilt.

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1000 Quilt Inspirations1000QuiltInspirations Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads
by Sandra Sider

Looking for inspiration? Look no further! This perfect coffee table book contain 1000 beautiful quilts that are broken down into 4 categories: Traditional Designs, Modern Designs, Pictorial Art Quilt Designs and Abstract & Conceptual Art Quilt Designs. Each category is individually inspiring and could lift us from our creative slumps.

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When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters Cover Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters
by Joan Ford

This relatable book will make you giggle in agreement. We have all been there and had something silly happen to us or a project and it is nice to hear we are not alone. Joan has created a humorous survival guide for fixing unfortunate mishaps and finishing even the most stubborn of quilting projects. This book is a great resource to have on hand just in case something unforeseen happens to our treasures quilts.

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SmashYourPrecutStash Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads Smash Your Precut Stash
by Kate Carlson Colleran and Elizabeth Veit Balderrama

Get inspired to finally cut into those precious precuts you’ve been saving up! Kate and Elizabeth have created 13 fantastic quilt designs tailored for Jelly Rolls, Charm Squares and Fat Quarters with yardage. Not only are the quilts gorgeous, the tips and tricks will help you make a stunning quilt from the fabric you have stashed, resize quilts, adding and subtracting borders and create a special focus on color, print or scale.

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paper pieced home 1 Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads The Paper-Pieced Home
by Penny Layman

This charming book is full of clever and creative paper-pieced blocks. Penny shares a step-by-step lesson on the technique and loads of tips for those who are a little nervous about paper-piecing. The Paper-Pieced Home includes blocks featuring retro televisions, fruit bowls, cast-iron skillets, men’s and women’s shoes, a claw-foot bathtub, a stack of books, paper clips, a viewfinder, lions, bulldozers, watering cans and so much more!

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50 quilts cover Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads 50 Quilts from Quiltmaker
by the editors of QM

You caught me! This is a little bit of a plug, but I find this book inspiring and think you might too! We compiled 50 of our favorites quilts patterns from the 100 Blocks series into one large book. Dividing the quilts into 5 sections makes the quilts easy to find when seeking out something special. We have appliqué quilts, pieced quilts, foundation-pieced quilts, mixed technique quilts and quilts with fun borders. See how we turned 12″ blocks into 50 fabulous quilt designs!

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WherePoppiesGrowFrontCov Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads Where Poppies Grow
by Denniele Bohannon and Janice Britz

Where Poppies Grow is a block-of-the-month made to honor those who served in World War I. Denniele and Janice teamed up to create the beautiful book and remember Almo O’Kell, Denniele’s grandfather. Along with each stunning block pattern, you get a little peek into Almo’s life as a solider. This unique quilt book offers 7 additional projects to accompany the BOM quilt: 3 quilt striking quilts, two table runners, a poppy pin and a poppy pin cushion.

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IrishChainQuilts Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads Irish Chain Quilts
by Melissa Corry

Melissa combined a little bit of everything into this enchanting book: Traditional Quilts with a Twist, Modern Patchwork, Improvisational Piecing and Appliqué! Each quilt is new and interesting take on the classic Irish Chain. It is amazing to see all the unique ways to make 1 design, each with their own style and flair. Irish Chain Quilts contain directions for 15 different quilts that are the perfect combination of color and movement.

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YouInspireMeToQuilt Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads You Inspire Me to Quilt
by Cheryl Arkison

10 beautiful projects, tips from top designers and stunning photography fill the pages of You Inspire Me to Quilt and boy does it make me want to get back in front of my machine! Designs from Jen Carlton-Bailly, Cynthia Frenette, Carolyn Friedlander, Andrea Harris, Rossie Hutchinson, Heather Jones, Amanda Jean Nyberg, Blair Stocker and Cheryl Arkison are inspired by everyday life. This book encourages you to spend a few minutes a day finding creative inspiration around you.

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EveryLastPiece Stay Inspired this Summer with Quilty Reads Every Last Piece
by Lynn Harris

Lynn takes you through her experience with scrap quilting and gives you permission to play in this thoughtful book. We all have scraps. It is a part of quilting. Every Last Piece covers every step of using leftover fabric pieces, from organization to string-piecing and more. Get inspired to dig through your scrap bins while flipping through the pages of Lynn’s personal scrap quilt collection.

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Whew! That was a pretty long list. I hope something caught your eye! For more summer inspiration, be sure to pick up or new special issue: Quiltmaker Reader Favorites!

Happy Reading!

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QM Bitty Blocks: July Bitty Boats and a Giveaway!

It’s time for another Bitty Block! QM Bitty Blocks are small quilt blocks that we’re presenting monthly during 2015. Each of these free quilt blocks is 3″ or 4″ finished and works up nicely in quilt scraps. We’ve had so much fun with them. You’ll want to check out all the past quilt block designs and patchwork ideas on our Bitty Blocks page.

BittyBlockLogo 300px1 QM Bitty Blocks: July Bitty Boats and a Giveaway!
July’s Bitty Block is a tiny little 3″ sailboat—utterly adorable! I played around with a lot of different options because there are many ways to piece a sailboat. Ultimately I settled on a version that’s pretty simple and I hope you’ll love it.

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The July QM Bitty Block is a 3″ Sailboat.

You can cut up fresh fabric for these, but it’s a lot of fun to get out your scrap basket and work from there. Most of my patches were cut from wrinkly pieces in my big messy laundry basket full of scraps.

Printer-friendly pdf for Bitty Boats!

For one block, here are the patches you’ll need.

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These are the patches needed for one sailboat.


3 rectangles, 1.5″ x 2.5″
2 squares, 1.5″ x 1.5″




2 squares, 1.5″ x 1.5″


1 rectangle, 1.5″ x 3.5″



The shapes are made using Stitch-and-Flip. I used to dread this technique but I learned some things to make it work.

These patches are tiny so I recommend shortening your stitch length to a maximum of 2.0mm or 13 stitches per inch. It’s a good rule of thumb that the shorter the seam you’re sewing, the shorter your stitches need to be. Read more about understanding stitch length.

First let’s make some sails so our little boats can catch the wind! Align a sail patch on a background rectangle as shown, right sides together. Sew from corner to corner as shown. It’s important to orient them just like this (ahem, yes I totally messed up the first set).

boats2 QM Bitty Blocks: July Bitty Boats and a Giveaway!

Align the patches as shown. Sew across the sail patch from the bottom right corner to the top left corner.

Trim away the sail patch as shown in the middle of the photo above, leaving the bottom patch in place for a benchmark. Open out the sail patch and press. Make two sails.

Now let’s make the boat!

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Use stitch-and-flip to make the boat.

Align the background squares on each end of the boat rectangle as shown. Sew from corner to corner as shown.

Trim away the background patch, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Open out the background patches and press. You’ve got yourself a boat!

Now let’s put it all together into a little 3″ finished sailboat.

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These parts and pieces go together to form the Bitty Blocks sailboat.

Sew the two sail sections together. Add the remaining background rectangle to the left side. Sew this section to the boat section. Give yourself a round of applause!

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I made a little row of Bitty Boats.

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These are my Bitty Boats. Aren’t they cute?!

I think it really helps if all of your background fabrics are not cream, white and tan. It’s more interesting to have some color in there! As long as there is plenty of contrast between the boat and sail patches and the background, you’ll be fine.

How many Bitty Boats you should make depends on the size of quilt you’re making. See our post called QM Bitty Blocks: The Row Quilts for details.

Now I’m going to throw you a little curve ball. Don’t worry, it’s totally optional, but it’s something different to try. I enjoyed it!

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Make a few Bitty Boats that have a single rectangular sail.

You can change things up just a little and have a boat that looks quite different. I used a Tri Recs ruler to make the sail above. The sail finishes at 1.5″ x 2.5″. The background patches on each side are also 1.5″ x 2.5″. The boat itself is exactly the same as before.

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I cut scraps into 2.5″ widths and used the Tri Recs ruler to cut the triangles I needed for the sail.

I cut scraps into 2.5″ widths. Then I placed this Tri Recs ruler on them to cut the triangles I needed for the sail. (You’ll only use the tall skinny ruler; they come two in a set.)

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That very tiny little triangle is very important—be sure to cut it off as shown.

This is how you’d cut the triangles. See the very very tiny little triangles just off the left top corner of the ruler? They’re small but mighty! Be sure to cut them off because they help you line things up.

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One sail triangle and one background triangle.

Put them right sides together and use that funky shape to line up them perfectly.

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The triangles will line up perfectly.

Sew the triangles together and just like that, you have a nice tall sail for your boat!

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Patches needed for the tall sail boat

Add a 1.5″ x 2.5″ background rectangle to each side of the tall sail.

Use stitch-and-flip to make the boat bottom just as you did before. Sew everything together as shown below to make the tall sail boat.

boats11 QM Bitty Blocks: July Bitty Boats and a Giveaway!

Make a few Bitty Boats that have a single rectangular sail.

You can see above that on the bottom right, my background patch is a little off and it doesn’t cover the boat fabric completely. This is why you leave the bottom fabric in place when you trim. I’ll use the bottom fabric as my benchmark and the block will still be accurate when it’s sewn into the quilt top.

BittyBlockLogo 300px1 QM Bitty Blocks: July Bitty Boats and a Giveaway!

Today’s giveaway is very special! The winner will get some Bitty Boats made by QM staff members. We’ll send you at least six and maybe more! You can incorporate them into your own scrappy Bitty Blocks quilt if you like. For your chance to win, leave a comment before midnight Tuesday, July 7 MST. We’ll choose a random winner and announce it here.

Mi Peters is the winner of the July Sail Boats Bitty Blocks giveaway. Mi Peters has been notified by email!

Have fun making your Bitty Blocks and remember to visit our Bitty Blocks homepage for all the patterns and more ideas.


Posted in Freebies, Giveaways & Contests | Tagged , , , , , , , | 147 Comments

Scrap Quilt Ideas: Emily’s Round of Nines

Quiltmaker’s Scrap Squad is a small select group of readers who make scrap quilts from QM patterns. We share their creations on Quilty Pleasures to inspire you to make scrappy quilts from the quilting fabrics you already own.

QM scrap squadB3 Scrap Quilt Ideas: Emilys Round of NinesToday’s quilts are from the July/August issue, on newsstands now. Print or digital issues are also available from QuiltandSewShop.com.

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Quiltmaker July/August ’15 issue

Today’s featured quilt is Round of Nines designed and made by Natalia Bonner in fabrics from Moda Fabrics. Convenient kits are available at quiltandsewshop.com.

QMMP 150800 NINE 506flat Scrap Quilt Ideas: Emilys Round of Nines

The original Round of Nines quilt, designed and made by Natalia Bonner in fabrics from Moda Fabrics. Time-saving kits available at quiltandsewshop.com.

The beautiful scrap quilt we have today was made by Emily Klaczak from Pittsburgh. You’ll hear from Emily in her own words below.

*     *     *     *     *

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Emily Klaczak

About ten years ago, my quilt guild sponsored a workshop with Pat Speth, author of the Nickel Quilts books. I’m sure that I wasn’t the only attendee who went home and started cutting scraps into squares and sorting them by size. So although the Nine Patches in Round of Nines were designed for strip piecing, I looked at the pattern and thought “Yay! I already have half of the squares pre-cut and ready to go.” I needed 324 three-inch squares. So I dove into my three-inch squares bin:

bin 300x223 Scrap Quilt Ideas: Emilys Round of Nines

I made a small dent in this collection … a very small dent!

I set up some rules before I started. No predominantly black or gray fabrics, no whites or very light pastels that would be lost against the unbleached muslin I planned to use as the secondary color, and no solids, tone-on-tones or small prints that read as solids. And as much variety as possible.

While going through my squares, I saw that I had fussy cut some of my novelty fabrics. So my quilt would be populated with cats, birds, cowboys, and mermaids, with a guest appearance by the King of Rock and Roll.

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Elvis sighting!

Sometimes we piece quilt squares to challenge ourselves—LeMoyne Stars and Drunkards Paths. And sometimes we just feed squares through our machines while watching TV. At the end of an Ancient Aliens marathon on the History Channel, I had all of my Nine Patch squares pieced.

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When it came to the corner triangles, I was reluctant to cut 6-1/8″ squares from my fat quarters and yardage.  I thought it would be faster and more economical to cut strips the width of the fabrics. So I did the math and determined that sewing 2-1/2″ strips of the print and background fabrics together and cutting  triangles from the strips would give me my corners. Each strip yielded an equal number of triangles with the prints and background alternating at the top and bottom.

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A little math led me to an alternate technique for my corners.

The triangles have bias edges now but with careful pressing and handling, I didn’t expect any problems when sewing the squares together. And I had none.

After adding the corners I laid out all the blocks.  My only concern was that two similar colors would not be touching.

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The design floor. Because sometimes the design wall isn’t big enough.

Because I was planning to free-motion quilt this large project on my home sewing machine, I sewed the blocks together into nine- and 18-square sections and backed them with one and two yard lengths of  fabric.

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Part of my mom’s stash — she collected small floral prints to make doll clothes and I’m glad to find another use for them.

I free motioned the sections in a loopy-loop meander, and even though I had to finish the seams on the back of the quilt by hand, the quilted sections went together very quickly. I then loopy-loop quilted over the seams; if you didn’t look at the back, you would think that the quilting was completed after all 81 blocks were sewn together.

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OK – here’s a look at the back.

And here is the finished quilt:

 Scrap Quilt Ideas: Emilys Round of Nines

The finished quilt

I used quite a few novelty prints in this quilt, in addition to the cats, cowboys and mermaids—if you look closely at the picture of the finished quilt, you’ll also see rubber ducks, sushi and a Disney princess. This design would make a fabulous “I Spy” quilt.  So I’ve named it “Where’s Elvis?”

elvis 300x204 Scrap Quilt Ideas: Emilys Round of Nines

Elvis is still in the house!

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Meet Alexis!

Hey ya,

I am Alexis T., the new graphic designer here at Quiltmaker. I would like to share a few things about myself.

 Meet Alexis!

Aurora on the left, Me and Ditty on the right


-I have lived the majority of my life in Kansas.

-I have two dogs:

+Natasha (a.k.a. Ditty) a 15-year-old Shih Tzu, Dachshund, Toy Poodle mix

+Aurora, who is a little over one and is a pug and miniature Aussie mix but looks a lot like a Chiahuahua

-I love movies!

-I read comic books (Boom! Studio is my current favorite publisher)

-I listen to hours and hours of audiobooks.

  •             Alexander McCall Smith
  •             Mary Kay Andrews
  •             Carl Hiaasen
  •             a lot more

When it comes to quilting I am total fan girl. I love following fabric designers, buying fabric, drooling over fabric, reading about the history of quilt blocks and even reading quilting fiction. Due to my love of fabric I tend to lean towards larger prints. I still feel very much like a novice quilter but being surrounded by all the amazing quilters here at Quiltmaker, that is par for the course. I know I will learn so much here.

Nice to meet you!

Type ya later!

Alexis T.

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Quiltmaker Reader Favorites – Giveaway

Have you heard? Quiltmaker has a brand new, never before seen issue that goes onsale today, and we are really excited about it! Quiltmaker Reader Favorites is the very first issue with some of  YOUR favorite quilt patterns that have been published in Quiltmaker over our 33 year history. We combed through pictures and letters that our readers have sent in and picked out 22 patterns in four different categories—traditional, scrappy, kids and holidays. And, we’re remade many of these quilts in new fabric and kits are available for some of them. “Rolling Triangles” shown on the cover was remade in beautiful purple and teal batiks.

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Quiltmaker Reader Favorites

Let’s take a look at some of the quilts inside. We know our readers like scrappy quilts and are also big fans our Bonnie Hunter. Here’s Bonnie’s “Lady of Lake Erie.”

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Lady of Lake Erie

One of my favorite scrappy quilts in this issue is “Wyoming Whirligig.” This one was remade in Gardenvale by Jen Kingwell for Moda Fabrics. You can find the kit for this beauty here. Jen also has a new book Quilt Lovely showcasing her wonderful scrappy style.

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Wyoming Whirligig

“Cat Nap” has long been a QM reader favorite. We’ve freshened it up with new fabric from Me & My Sister Designs for Moda Fabrics. You can find the kit for “Cat Nap”  here.

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Cat Nap

A couple other definite kid pleasers are “My Crayon Box” (kit) in twin size and “Sheep Shape” (kit) in crib size.

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My Crayon Box

QMMP 140600 STOTT Flat 249x300 Quiltmaker Reader Favorites   Giveaway

Sheep Shape

Moving on to a couple of traditional quilts, “Pineapple Patch” features piecing with an appliqued border.

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Pineapple Patch

“Triple Link Chain” was originally published as a drawn pattern—before quilts were sewn for Quiltmaker.

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Triple Link Chain

Here’s a sample of a few of the holiday quilts. Just in time for the upcoming 4th of July holiday is “Uncle Sam.”

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Uncle Sam

If you love Halloween like I do, then you’ll love “Any Witch Way.” There’s a convenient kit for this quilt also.

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Any Witch Way

And this is just a small sample to whet your whistle! You don’t want to miss this issue—jam packed full of great quilts. You can see all of them here.

And did I mention Giveaway?? Leave me a comment with your favorite Quiltmaker pattern for a chance to win a copy of Quiltmaker Reader Favorites. I’ll choose 10 lucky winners on Wednesday, July 8th.

The winner’s of the Reader Favorites giveaway are: Pauline Sawatsky, Johanna Lovering, Kathy, Melissa, Jocelyn, Doris McCarty, Birgitt von Dewitz, Pamela, Mary Beth Nett and Kaye. Winner’s have been notified by email.


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