Quilts of Fall Festivals: Autumn Leaves

quilts of fall festivals october tree 300x300 Quilts of Fall Festivals: Autumn Leaves

The falling leaves drift by my window,
the autumn leaves of red and gold …

Last week we had our first snow of the season here in the Denver area. It’s not at all uncommon for us to get some snow before Halloween, but to get 5 inches or more as early as October 9 felt a little too soon, especially considering it had been in the 70s just the day before.

quilts of fall festivals maple 225x300 Quilts of Fall Festivals: Autumn LeavesBut since this is Colorado, the sky cleared and the sun started to melt the snow almost immediately. By the time I took my daughters to school two days after the storm, the pavement was completely dry. Ash trees, golden in early October, line the fence outside the kindergarten yard, and the leaves were falling as we walked under their branches. Not fluttering one by one, but showering down as if a movie director had just yelled, “Action!”

On my way back to my car, I took a moment to stand there in the morning sunlight as golden leaves mixed with a few ice crystals rained down on my head, appreciating the transitory experience of it all. I’m glad I did—a week later those trees are almost completely bare.

quilts of fall festivals september leaves 300x300 Quilts of Fall Festivals: Autumn LeavesNo amount of pumpkin spice can capture the fleeting beauty of turning leaves at autumn’s peak, which is why I think leaf-motif quilts made in autumnal colors are so popular among so many quilters, year in and year out.

If you’re like me and you like to quilt with the seasons, here are some patterns and kits to help you get the most out of this radiant time. And be sure to scroll to the bottom to learn about how to enter for a chance to win one of these patterns!

quilts of fall festivals thimbleberries autumn table topper Quilts of Fall Festivals: Autumn Leaves

Thimbleberries Autumn Table Topper

This Thimbleberries Autumn Table Topper kit features two all-time-favorite quilt blocks—Variable Star and Maple Leaf—for this easy harvest-time 38″ x 38″ wall hanging or table topper quilt. The kit has directions by Lynette Jensen of Thimbleberries, and her fabrics by RJR for the top, backing and binding. The kit also includes a small bonus pattern and is currently on sale for 50% off (price subject to change).

Two quilt kits featuring the Autumn Road collection from Wilmington Fabrics celebrate the simple joy of pedaling around the neighborhood at this time of year. The 34″ x 53″ wall hanging features a charming fall scene panel in the center for an easy home decor project, while the leaf and bicycle prints are featured in the 53″ x 71″ pieced throw quilt.

quilts of fall festivals autumn road wall hanging Quilts of Fall Festivals: Autumn Leaves

Throw Quilt

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Wall Hanging

Beautiful batiks and neutrals, applique and piecing; all are combined in the striking Falling Leaves wall hanging pattern designed by Connie Kauffman. The construction is rated challenging but the instructions give you all the help you need to learn the techniques if you aren’t familiar with them. This wall quilt would be a great fit for your decor or a wonderful gift for a friend.

quilts of fall festivals falling leaves wall hanging Quilts of Fall Festivals: Autumn Leaves

Falling Leaves

quilts of fall festivals fall stars by jo morton Quilts of Fall Festivals: Autumn Leaves

Fall Stars

Fall Stars by Jo Morton is a lovely bed quilt that embodies all the best things about fall—the warm, inviting colors, fluttering leaves, sparkles of golden light and comforting coziness. Wool leaf appliques add a warm, dimensional effect to the quilt. The complete pattern is available as a digital download and in McCall’s Quilting’s September/October 2017 issue.

quilts of fall festivals turning leaves applique pattern Quilts of Fall Festivals: Autumn Leaves

Turning Leaves

The Turning Leaves applique pattern by Caroline Reardon includes instructions for both a throw quilt and twin-bed quilt. It’s available as a paper pattern and as a digital download.

quilts of fall festivals mass maples timna tarr 150x150 Quilts of Fall Festivals: Autumn Leaves

Mass Maples

Mass Maples by Timna Tarr is an award-winning quilt that bursts with color. The digital download pattern includes tips for replicating Timna’s expert fabric placement to help you turn your scraps into a masterpiece of your own.

quilts of fall festivals oak leaf cluster quilt Quilts of Fall Festivals: Autumn Leaves

Oak Leaf Cluster

A combination of applique and piecing creates this stunning Oak Leaf Cluster quilt embracing the beautiful changing colors of autumn. Rich reds, oranges, golds and greens will be the perfect combination to snuggle under for the cooler weather this fall. Pattern includes yardage and cutting requirements, full-size foundations, full-size applique patterns and a quilting plan for the 89″ x 89″ queen quilt.

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Pressed Leaves

For a fun, modern take on autumn leaves, check out the Pressed Leaves table runner. A delightful text print is the striking background for colorful scrappy leaves, which look like they are tumbling through the air. The wonky blocks are not trimmed at identical angles, further enhancing the fluttery feel. How-to photos and detailed instructions for trimming the leaves are included in the digital download pattern.

quilts of fall festivals falling leaves by erin wilcoxon Quilts of Fall Festivals: Autumn LeavesFor a lot more autumn quilt patterns and fabrics, visit Quilt and Sew Shop. One of the other patterns you’ll find there is this Falling Leaves throw quilt designed by Erin Wilcoxon. If you’d like a chance to win a free copy of this pattern, leave a comment below before midnight Mountain Daylight Time on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, telling us if you’ve ever made an autumn leaf quilt. We’ll randomly draw the names of three lucky winners and mail each a copy of the pattern. This contest is open to US and Canadian residents, excluding Quebec.

Good luck, and Happy Autumn!

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I Love Applique: Stems

i love applique Stems 300x200 I Love Applique: StemsSince I love to do floral applique, stems are a big part of my applique process. I have two favorite ways of making stems, one is the Clover Bias Tape Maker and the other uses Bias Press Bars.

Both methods require the use of bias strips. To cut along the bias place a quilting ruler on the fabric with the 45˚line along the selvedge or straight grain. Cut along the ruler’s edge to establish the bias. From here you can cut strips in desired widths using your quilting ruler.

To use the Clover Bias Tape Maker to make stems I cut a length of fabric ½” wide along the bias. This fabric can be threaded into the Bias Tape Maker and pressed using your iron as shown. Sometimes it is helpful to use a small amount of starch on the fabric to ease pressing.

i love applique stems 1 300x300 I Love Applique: Stems i love applique stems 2 300x300 I Love Applique: Stems

To make stems using Bias Press Bars cut a length of fabric at an appropriate width along the bias. I generally use a 1/4” bias bar and I cut my strips 1 1/4” wide. Fold the strip of fabric in half lengthwise with the wrong sides together. Sew along the length of the fabric keeping your stitching line at the desired stem width from the folded edge. Cut extra fabric from the seam very close to the stitching. Insert the bias bar and turn the stitching to one of the large flat sides. Press the remaining seam allowance to one side, making sure that the seam allowance doesn’t extend over the edge of the stem. Remove the bias bar and your stem is all ready.

i love applique stems 3 1024x1024 I Love Applique: Stems

i love applique stems 4 300x300 I Love Applique: Stems i love applique stems 5 300x300 I Love Applique: Stems

I find both these methods yield great results without much fuss.

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Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Diary of a Prize-Winning Quilter

Sherry Reynolds knows a thing or two about show quilts, that is, quilts made specifically to be entered into major quilt competitions. Her America, Let It Shine won best of show at the 2012 International Quilt Festival in Houston in addition to a number of other top awards. Known for doing all of her own quilting on a domestic sewing machine – she freely admits “more time is spent arranging the quilt than sewing” – the resident of Laramie, Wyoming, is also a wife, mother of three teenagers, devoted daughter, hunter, rancher and gardener, all parts of her life she frequently shares with friends on social media (of which I’m fortunate to be a part).

For the article “It’s a Long Way to Houston: 10 Months in the Making of a Show Quilt” in Quilters Newsletter’s August/September 2015 issue, Sherry was gracious enough to share photos and status updates from her Facebook timeline detailing the making of Eternal Beauty, which she began designing in January 2013 in memory of her mother and that just won Best of Show in the 2017 Pacific International Quilt Festival.

saturday morning quilt break eternal beauty flat Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Diary of a Prize Winning Quilter

Eternal Beauty, 2017, by Sherry Reynolds of Laramie, Wyoming

When I saw the news about Sherry’s win (Congrats again, Sherry!) in my Facebook newsfeed, I remembered working with her on the article and knew I wanted to share it. Her posts demonstrate both her self-deprecating humor and very real moments of frustration, sometimes in one update, and should be encouraging to anyone who’s experienced self-doubt while trying to make a quilt (*ahem*). It took over 4½ years for her to make Eternal Beauty from start to finish, taking breaks when life required her full attention, but she stuck with it and is now poised to reap the rewards. Trust me, the quilt world is going to be hearing about this stunning quilt for months to come as it appears in other competitions, very likely including Quilt Festival in 2018, a couple of years beyond Sherry’s original goal.

I’ve included a few bonus status updates we didn’t have room to include in the original article. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did; Sherry is a genuinely down-to-earth person who is also a brilliant artist, and this peek into her process is just plain funny. And check back here soon for an interview with Sherry in a future blog post about what happened after this article ends.

Here’s to a productive week free of “proquiltination!”
Mary Kate

May 6, 2013

Sherry’s “Top 10 Genius Moments When Sewing & Quilting”

  1. Trying to pull the bobbin thread up … with an unthreaded needle.
  2. Threading the machine … and then remembering I was going to wind a bobbin.
  3. Spending 5 minutes trying to thread the needle … refusing to use the little needle threading gadget.
  4. Looking for my glasses … inevitably parked on top of my head.
  5. Continuing to sew … with an empty bobbin.
  6. When I actually run out of bobbin and I KNOW … taking a little break, coming back and start trying to sew … with the empty bobbin I knew about 5 minutes earlier.
  7. Getting distracted by a tiny piece of lint/thread on the quilt close to where I’m TRYING to quilt and veering off course.
  8. Getting distracted by a wisp of hair dangling in front of my eyeball when I’m trying to quilt … and veering off course
  9. Trying to quilt or sew the day before “it” happens … trying to do anything for that matter, lol.
  10. Starting to sew … with the pressure foot up.

The most Genius Moment of all though, is the ability to laugh at each and every one of these and constantly thinking, “I know what I’m doing, but what was I thinking?”

June 15, 2013

saturday morning quilt break 001 300x225 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Diary of a Prize Winning QuilterWoo-Hoo … I’ve finished 27 of the 48 “S” sections … 26 hours of work. Natural childbirth—for all 3 kids combined!—didn’t even take this long, nor do I remember it being so painstakingly drawn out! Lol … on the flipside, as I sat sewing seam after seam after 1½“ seam, I thought a lot about my mom, and the MS she struggled with for 40 years; the monotony of being in a wheelchair for 20 years and the daily struggle to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. She just kept plugging along, rarely complaining and ALWAYS finding something to laugh and smile about.
Now onto the last 21 “S” sections … did I dread childbirth as much as the upcoming sewing task??? NO!! Lol … just keep sewing, just keep sewing … hope everyone has a great rest of the day!

June 12, 2014

Unbelievably, it was a year ago that I pieced those 48 silk “S” thingys. I am now ironing the edges in prep for … EEEEK hand applique. I don’t even completely understand “hash tagging”, but if I did, I definitely think this would fall under #justshootmenow and #whatthehellwasithinking.

August 9, 2014

I’m currently in applique hell – and apparently, I will be here for the rest of my life. I keep singing Rodney Atkins … “If you’re goin’ through hell keep on movin’, Face that fire, walk right through it, You might get out before the devil even knows you’re there.” … It’s not helping.

September 17, 2014

saturday morning quilt break huge sag 225x300 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Diary of a Prize Winning QuilterNot exactly the outcome I was hoping for – notice the huge sag in the bottom middle? Well it pretty much goes all the way around the middle ring … So yeah, I sewed the rings together, and then I had the biggest, worst pity party I’ve had in a loooong time. I tried really, really hard to put the brakes on but the train of self doubt was gaining momentum and I finally just gave in ‘cause it was moving way too fast to jump off. … If anyone thinks I just sit down and whip out quilts with the greatest of ease, that’s so not the case. I stumble, I fall, I make mistakes and wonder why I do this to myself. I do it because I love it, and because of the challenge to accomplish something I don’t think I can do … oh, and Janet Stone, thanks for not accepting my entire quilting room I wanted to ship to you when I had decided to quit quilting forever last night.

Now I’m deconstructing rings trying to figure out where I went wrong – likely when I had the brilliant idea to change the quilt mid-process and “I can figure it out, I don’t need to make a new pattern” submerged itself into my brain.

September 19, 2014

Yaaaaay … sag be gone! The green batik was indeed the problem. I cut it for a bigger ring then redesigned that section but never got to work on the quilt for several months. When I started in again I was just happy to sew apparently. Thank heavens I finally got it, ’cause I was running out of leftovers to throw on the table for dinner!

September 24, 2014

I no longer have a quilting room. I just have a “throw scraps everywhere, sit, stare, contemplate and accomplish nothing” room.

October 27, 2014

It seems I’ve had issues left and right on this quilt, so of course, I’ve come to expect them. In working on the border now, I cannot for the life of me figure out what I’m doing wrong … ‘cause everything is turning out right! What, it’s precisely to measurement!? Are you kidding me, it looks exactly like I want it to!? I’m to the point I’m paranoid to continue, ‘cause surely disaster is awaiting … or could it be that the quilt gods have had their fun and are finally granting me a little reprieve? More likely they are just tired of hearing me whine and moan and are like, “Fine, we grant you precision and satisfaction. Just finish it and be done already!” Okee dokee then, I’ll keep that ball rolling!

November 7, 2014

The Border War – so I finally finished piecing the 5,000+ piece border. I usually spend a lot of time “listening to my quilt,” however, I was so close to finishing this puppy I didn’t listen. I thought I had the border and it was relatively simple and quick, but it looked like crap. So I sat and stared at my quilt and waited for it to speak … and I waited some more, and then I threatened it: “If you don’t speak soon, you will have a 4″-wide piece of fabric to frame you!” And then it spoke. Well actually, “frame” clicked in my head and the wheels started spinning. And the quilt spoke again: “Square! I have not one single square on me!” Wow, you’re right and yes, I do think you need a square or two for the border. (Had I been listening better, I would have heard the quilt roaring with laughter. It didn’t want a couple of squares, it wanted 1,000s of squares! And so I gave it 1,000s of tiny 1/2″ squares set apart with 3/16″ crosshatch.) … I wanted all the seams of the squares to be turned under so they appeared to be floating. To set them off even more, they are cut on the bias and the crosshatch [is cut] on the straight of grain. … I know I spent more time pinning, matching rows and ironing than I did sewing, but I am extremely happy with how it turned out – and that is a pretty rare thing as I am always finding fault with practically everything on my quilts, lol.

January 15, 2015

I’ve doodled quilt designs for a week, I’ve actually practiced quilting a few. But mostly I have sat and stared at my quilt, contemplating my plan of attack and then getting intimidated by oh so many things – does this design “fit” the quilt, does it “flow” with the other designs, can I even quilt that design, should I overlay with peeled wool or not, who made this quilt so dang big (99″ x 99″), how much of a problem can eight seam allowances coming together be!? Did you even think this through, Sherry? And then I get all optimistic: yes, I thought it through; yes, I can quilt that; who cares how big it is – where there’s a will there’s a way. …

So, I have gathered my sandwich supplies – cotton batting, wool batting, pieced backing, quilt top and lots and lots of safety pins – today is the day!! So here I go … in a few minutes, and … okay, think this through, Sherry, are you sure you’re done staring at it on the wall? It might have more to say … and double check that design on the diamonds, it looks “off”… you sure you want that extra wool “poof”… you are running out of time today, it’s gonna take you 18 hours to sandwich it… .

January 21, 2015

saturday morning quilt break quilting 300x225 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Diary of a Prize Winning QuilterSo what am I thinking right now, besides “where the hell is the end of the circle!?” I’m thinking, “guess we will see just how good your hand applique is after all this cramming, squishing and otherwise rearranging the quilt.” Oh, and I said “we” because I was letting both the “queen of doubt Sherry” and the “somewhat confident Sherry” know. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open between them like that.

January 27, 2015

All I’m sayin’ is this: for those who are interested in seeing my quilt FINISHED, we should probably start looking for the fountain of youth.

February 6, 2015

WANTED: someone to come SID [stitch in the ditch] center mariner’s compass. Must be willing to cram and turn 99” x 99” quilt through 9″ throat space 64 times. Must have a vast array of “colorful” language and the ability to use it loudly. Knowledge in rolling office chairs is also helpful but not required. If you do not have the knowledge of how to slide forward while seated and avoid the ironing board leg, you must have bounce skills, i.e., with one foot on the ground and the other wrapped around the chair base, you will bounce 3-4 times, slightly up and down on the chair. On the up you quickly rotate base so it will scooch past ironing board leg; quilt is to remain in your lap during this process. Must provide own forehead shield as the SID work is best done 6”-8″ from needle and injury to forehead from thread-taker-upper-thingy is likely to occur. Diving skills also required, as you will occasionally have to go under the quilt and check tension; quilt is to remain under the needle so as to avoid start/stops. All applicants can apply at Just Shoot Me Now Quilting.

February 7, 2015

Finished the SID on the center mariner’s compass. It’s flat and still round … what a bonus!!

February 10, 2015

Dearest quilting gods, if you will just let me finish SID work on the spikes, I promise I will NEVER proquiltinate again, I promise I will change my needle often, I promise I will use up all my fabric before I buy any more and I promise I will never curse again while sewing. Sincerely, Sherry

February 17, 2015

And here we have the not-so-joyful quilter working on the center. One question I’m asked a lot is, “how do you do the center?” You are at maximum under-the-arm bulk, and it is THE hardest part. No, it’s not a whole lot of fun, but it is doable and it’s not like it lasts forever. Basically, you just muscle your way through. The cramming of the quilt is not difficult, it’s the result of the cramming that makes moving the quilt a challenge – your walking foot is advancing, but alas, the quilt is pretty much sandwiched under the arm and not advancing, thus it is easy to start skewing the fabric. Best thing is to just slow down, take a few stitches, stop, shove the underarm bulk a little ahead and take a few more stitches … constantly muttering “this too shall pass” is also beneficial.

February 25, 2015

saturday morning quilt break 126 300x168 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Diary of a Prize Winning QuilterIf this quilt ever actually makes it into a show, I wonder how many shows will grant my request that it be hung where viewers and judges will be asked to ride a galloping horse past it. … This is what’s KILLING me. I keep snagging one stupid thread when I’m SID, and I have found to rip it out and redo it is not the answer. The silk then just looks like crap, so it is what it is … saddle up and gallop on by when you look at the rings.

February 27, 2015

Sometimes, there is no “joy in the process.” There is sheer frustration, combined with oodles of doubt, bucketloads of colorful vocabulary… and lots of alcohol to be consumed at a later date with fellow quilters. Find and use humor when the going gets tough and remember, there are no “failures” – only the failure to try.

March 4, 2015

If anyone needs me, I’ll be out in the garage (wintertime expansion fridge), eating pumpkin cheesecake, the ultimate comfort food.

March 13, 2015

Does anybody wanna come to my party? Eight weeks – eight loooong, grueling, whiny weeks of SID work is FINALLY done, except for the border, but I’m doing that later. WHOOOP WHOOOOOP!

April 21, 2015

Quickie recap … I’m a wee bit bogged down lately, but fine…. Quilting is not going nearly as smoothly as it should – I don’t even play “out of sight, out of mind” with the seam ripper anymore, I keep it within arm’s reach at all times – mostly it’s been in my hands lately. I managed to skew the center and had to rip some of the SID work and get it straightened out. … One thing’s for sure, as I’m only now just past the center mariner’s compass: the Houston deadline is not in sight. Well, it is – it’s just 2016.

Posted in Quilting Inspiration, Saturday Morning Quilt Break | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Charmed, I’m Sure – Free pattern with lots of variations + giveaway

Hi! Welcome back to Charmed, I’m Sure. I’ve been sharing lots of tips and patterns with you for different ways to use these addicting little 5” squares of fabric—and there’s a lot more to come. The pattern I’m sharing with you today is one of the first charm square quilts I made. But before I talk about that, I want to share something with you first.

Many years ago, I was introduced to Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville. First I was introduced to her website and several years later to her as she was one of our teachers at a Quiltmaker event. I was hooked on her scrap quilts and her methods for saving and using scraps. As you probably know, she writes a column for Quiltmaker called Addicted to Scraps where she shares a scrappy block pattern in each issue.

I learned about Leaders and Enders from Bonnie—these are the scraps of fabric that you use when you start and end a line of chain piecing. From Bonnie, I learned to sew together patches for a quilt when I start and end my lines of chain piecing.

Next to my sewing machine, I keep drawers full of 2½” squares—squares I cut from various scraps or charm squares. I’ve got one for lights, one for brights and one for medium/dark fabrics. I started sewing two medium/dark squares together at the beginning and end of my chain piecing.

charmed im sure free pattern with variations Quilt 225x300 Charmed, I’m Sure – Free pattern with lots of variations + giveawayI didn’t have a plan for these at the beginning, but knew I could figure something out. And then I saw this quilt design and knew I’d found the right pattern for the squares I’d been sewing together.

This throw-sized quilt measures 48” x 64” and is set 6 blocks x 8 blocks, for a total of 48 blocks. To make this quilt, you’ll need 144 5” charm squares, 1¾ yards of a background (I used a cream solid) and 5/8 yard for binding.

Cut each charm into 4 – 2½” squares. From the background, cut 96 – 4½” squares.

charmed im sure free pattern with variations Four Patch 150x150 Charmed, I’m Sure – Free pattern with lots of variations + giveawaySew 384 of the 2½” squares together to make 96 Four Patches.

Use the stitch-and-flip method to sew 2 squares to opposite corners of each of the background squares. I don’t trim away the excess after sewing the diagonal lines from corner to corner. I’ve found that my stitch-and-flip corners aren’t always 100% accurate and leaving the background fabric intact gives me an accurate foundation for sewing my patches together.

charmed im sure free pattern with variations SNF 1 225x300 Charmed, I’m Sure – Free pattern with lots of variations + giveaway charmed im sure free pattern with variations SNF 2 225x300 Charmed, I’m Sure – Free pattern with lots of variations + giveaway

charmed im sure free pattern with variations Block 150x150 Charmed, I’m Sure – Free pattern with lots of variations + giveawaySew 2 Four Patches and 2 background squares together to make a block. Repeat to make 48 blocks. Sew 8 rows of 6 blocks each. Sew the rows together.

The fun part of this block is there are so many different block arrangements. Here are a few different ones. I’m sure you can come up with many more!

charmed im sure free pattern with variations design 1 224x300 Charmed, I’m Sure – Free pattern with lots of variations + giveaway charmed im sure free pattern with variations design 2 224x300 Charmed, I’m Sure – Free pattern with lots of variations + giveaway
charmed im sure free pattern with variations design 3 224x300 Charmed, I’m Sure – Free pattern with lots of variations + giveaway charmed im sure free pattern with variations design 4 225x300 Charmed, I’m Sure – Free pattern with lots of variations + giveaway

This is a fun and easy design that works well with all types of fabrics. Brighten it up for kids, use some seasonal or holiday fabric—it all works! The blocks multiply faster than you can imagine using Bonnie’s Leaders and Enders method.

To get you started on your own version of this quilt, let’s have a little giveaway. Leave me a comment by 10/27 letting me know if you find these patterns helpful and with what you’d like to see more of in Quiltmaker. I’ll randomly choose 2 winners. Each will receive a pack of autumn-colored charm squares.

Please stop by again on November 10th for another charm square pattern and more helpful tips. Find more charm square inspiration here.

Carolyn Beam
Content Director
McCall’s Quilting, Quiltmaker and McCall’s Quick Quilts

Posted in Quilting Inspiration | Tagged | 46 Comments

Freeform Block of the Month – Month 1

freeform block of the month 1 LQK17094 300x300 Freeform Block of the Month – Month 1

Freeform Quilt, designed by Jean Nolte

Oh my gosh, I’ve survived my first month of the Freeform Block of the Month project! I’m so pleased. I’ve already got all my blocks sewn and I can’t wait for the next shipment! In this first month, we made the Uneven Nine Patch Blocks and Compass Blocks that surround the center medallion, shown in the quilt photo below. Everything went pretty smoothly, and I’ve already made the pattern my own by switching up the color placement in one of the blocks. I’ll tell you all about it.

I knew that this quilt was going to be pretty, but I was really jazzed to see the fabrics up close. They are so cool! They have an almost retro 1980s look, with spatter prints and fun, graphic prints in pretty, cool greens and blues with a nice pop of soft pink. Once I unpacked the fabric and pressed it, I read through the directions to make my plan. I decided to sew the Uneven Nine Patch blocks first since they’d be quick and easy, especially if I strip pieced them.

freeform block of the month 1 BOM1 Freeform Block of the Month – Month 1

Unpacking fabric and reading instructions to make my plan

The instructions call for sewing patches together to make the blocks, but there is just enough fabric provided if you want to strip piece instead. So that’s what I did (be aware that there is no room for cutting errors if you decide to go this route!). To strip piece the middle units, I cut 1 green strip 4.5” wide and 2 pink strips 3.5” wide, stitched them together to make a band, and cut 8 middle units at 4.5” wide.

freeform block of the month 1 BOM2 Freeform Block of the Month – Month 1

Making the middle units for Uneven Nine Patch blocks

To strip piece the side units for the Uneven Nine Patch block, I needed one and a half width of fabric bands to make all 16 units, so I cut 2 pink strips 4.5” wide (using just half of one strip) and 3 green strips 3.5” wide (one of these strips cut in half can make the half band). I made 1.5 bands and cut them into 16 units 3.5” wide.

freeform block of the month 1 BOM3 Freeform Block of the Month – Month 1

Making the side units for Uneven Nine Patch blocks

Then I just sewed the units together to make the blocks. Chain piecing makes that process even faster, and I completed all 8 Uneven Nine Patch blocks in just an hour or two. Easy peasy!

freeform block of the month 1 BOM4 Freeform Block of the Month – Month 1

Chain piecing makes quick work of the blocks!

Then it was time for the Compass blocks. I decided to switch up the values on these blocks to give the project a personal twist, so the navy and light blue are swapped in my version. There’s no getting around the fact that curved seams are fiddly and take a lot longer than straight seams. You have to prep the patches, pin the seams and sew slowly, making sure that the fabric behaves and doesn’t stretch, distort or get folded into the seam. The BOM instructions come with a nice photo tutorial for curved seams but if you want a little more in-depth instruction, I made a short, free video about curved seams a while back (watch it here). I used the exact same techniques to sew the curved seams for the Compass blocks.

When pinning the curved patches together, I pinned with a ¼” offset so the unit would be as accurate as possible, and would join to the adjacent patch easily. With these particular templates you don’t align the raw edges of the patches so it’s nice to have a general guideline for pinning. It worked pretty well.

freeform block of the month 1 BOM5 Freeform Block of the Month – Month 1

Offset the seams for nice curved units

For sewing the curved seams, I must recommend using an awl or a stiletto of some kind to keep the raw edges aligned as you sew. I like the Steady Stiletto from Steady Betty, but any will do. It’s very helpful to have a tool that can hold the fabric close to the needle and using your finger for this purpose is just too dangerous. Sew slowly, making sure that the fabric stays aligned all the way through the seam. No matter how much practice you have with curved seams, you still have to go slow and stay vigilant. Curved seams get easier with practice, but they probably won’t get much faster no matter how many you do.

freeform block of the month 1 BOM6 Freeform Block of the Month – Month 1

Use an awl or a stiletto to help with curved seams

Once the curved seam units were done, the rest of the blocks came together nice and fast. And now I’m done! I’d said in the introduction to this project that I would try and do some work on it in the evenings, but that didn’t really happen, so I essentially did everything in two weekends. Not bad! I hope the coming months have installments that are just as fun and easy. Here’s what my blocks will look like when they border the center medallion. Notice the difference in value, where I swapped the navy and light blue patches in the Compass blocks. It’s probably going to affect some of the design decisions down the road, but that will be a fun adventure when it comes!

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The medallion will go in the middle of these blocks

But wait! Since I’ve already personalized the pattern, what if I take it a step further and swap the placement of the blocks themselves? It’s hard to say without seeing them in the context of the whole quilt, but this could definitely be an interesting twist. I’ll decide for sure when I get a few more of the blocks, and probably that center medallion, done and on the wall too.

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Maybe the block placement will be changed too, who knows?

So far I’ve kept to my goal of not falling behind, and I really hope to keep it up throughout the entire project. Wish me luck! Have you signed up for this Block of the Month? How is it going for you so far? Do you have any words of wisdom to share with me about it? If you are interested in signing up, check out the project details here . I’m having a great time so far—the Paintbrush Studio fabrics are beautiful and the blocks are varied and fun to make. I can’t wait for the next fabric bundle to arrive! I hope you’re enjoying it too, if you’re joining in!

Happy quilting!

freeform block of the month 1 Paintbrush Studio Logo 2017 Freeform Block of the Month – Month 1

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Quilts of Fall Festivals: Barns & Bridges

I read the result of a Ranker public poll this week and found out that October was voted  #1 as the best month of the year. I would have voted for October, too.

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Ramp Creek Covered Bridge
Brown County, Indiana
Photo provided by Ellen Smanko Murphy

Perhaps it’s the end of a sultry summer and the welcome feel of a crisp morning. Or, the glistening brilliance of green leaves on the way to work, turning to rich shades of red, gold and brown. Maybe it’s because I think of attending football games and marching with the band on Friday nights when I was in school. Or, because I have the best memories of visiting the apple orchard every year with my kids for cider and pumpkin picking, and the last picnic before winter. And then again, I have all those memories of traveling around to the fall festivals in Indiana that mark my favorite time of year.

Here at Quiltmaker, we’ve decided to celebrate fall with four blogs this month, each dedicated to the Quilts of Fall and seasonal events. As all of these signs of fall unfold we’ll share some of our favorite fall-themed quilt patterns. Be sure to come back for these blogs:

  • On October 18th Mary Kate Karr-Petras will talk about turning leaves and share some spectacular leaf quilts.
  • On October 19th Anissa Arnold presents balloon-theme quilts reminiscent of balloon festivals.
  • And, on October 25th Lori Baker is going to focus on apple pickings as she visits the apple orchard.

Covered Bridge Festivals and Barn Quilts

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Covered Bridge
Geneva, Indiana
Photo provided by Ellen Smanko Murphy

As a young mom, my most favorite fall festival was the yearly Parke County Covered Bridge Festival. Similar to the renown Madison County Covered Bridge Festival in Iowa, the Indiana version wanders the tree-lined back roads of the county, with stops along the way to walk through fallen leaves to the wooden bridges. Back then, these stops included taking a few moments to consider times gone by when the bridges were an integral part of the roadway that connected families in rural communities.

In recent years, a special treat is seeing more barn quilts while traveling through the back roads. Seeing these wooden quilt blocks on barns and houses always give me a feeling of community—I think because they say, “A quilter lives here.” or at least someone who appreciates the heritage of quilting like I do.

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Barn Quilts Publications

I couldn’t make my annual trek back to Indiana for this year’s mid-October leaf turning. I didn’t realize it earlier, but now I recognize I’ve been trying to get my fall fix in other ways. I discovered two books, Barn Quilts: and the American Quilt Trail Movement by Suzi Parron with Donna Sue Groves and Following the Barn Quilt Trail by Suzi Parron. It’s interesting to note that as these books take us across the United States to see examples of barn quilts they also share a growing grassroots interest in quilts as a public art form, similar to that of a sculpture placed in a public square.

I was so intrigued by the growing interest in barn quilts that I reached out to my daughter-in-law Regina Harvey and a long-time family friend Linda Beavers to find out if they have seen more barn quilts on their travels. They sent the following photos to share with you. I’m wondering if the wonderful blocks for these barns and houses have special meaning for their owners.

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Sharon McElfresh barn quilt
Starke County, Indiana

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Barn Quilt
Franklin, Indiana
Photo provided by Lily Harvey

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Barn Quilt
Bargersville, Indiana

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Log Cabin Block
Lela Dale House
Wabash, Indiana

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Barn Quilt
Murica, Indiana

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Barn Quilt
Murica, Indiana

fall festival bridges barns QuiltBarnsBridgesQuilt Quilts of Fall Festivals: Barns & BridgesAnd, naturally, being the quilt enthusiast that I am, my next thoughts were to find out if there are quilt patterns that honor these historical bridges and barn art. Here are a few I found.

Quilt Barns & Bridges Quilt Pattern
Designed by Karen Combs
67” x 67” lap quilt
Panel, pieced and applique

fall festival bridges barns BarnQuiltTrailQuiltPattern Quilts of Fall Festivals: Barns & BridgesBarn Quilt Trail & Bridge Kit and Pattern
Designed by Jane Quinn and Christine Stainbrook of Project House 360
Fabrics: Basically Patrick Collection by Patrick Lose for RJR Fabrics

fall festival bridges barns QuiltBarnsBrdgesBlockFabricPanel Quilts of Fall Festivals: Barns & BridgesQuilt Barns and Bridges Block Fabric Panel
24″ x 42″ panel from Troy’s Riverwoods collection by Karen Combs

I hope you are enjoying fall excursions this year. Have you found covered bridges and barn quilts near you? If you have some favorites, send us a photo! We would love to see them.

Happy Quilting,
tricia patterson signoff Quilts of Fall Festivals: Barns & Bridges

Managing Editor, Quiltmaker

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I Love Applique! Making Shapes

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Making Shapes

To start my appliqué the first thing I do is make a template of the shape using heat resistant Mylar or Templar. I trace the pattern onto the Templar using a fine point Sharpie [see photo 1 below - click any photo for a larger view]. After the shape is traced I cut the template out [photo 2, below]. At this point I check the template for smoothness. I usually just run my finger over the edge until I find any bumps [photo 3, below]. These bumps can be filed off with a finger nail file.

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Photo 1

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Photo 2

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Photo 3

Once you have your templates made it is time to use them to make your fabric shapes. Use a washable fabric marker to trace around your template onto your appliqué fabric [photo 4]. Cut ¼” outside this traced line. Placing the template on the wrong side of the applique shape, I use my stencil brush to apply starch to the seam allowance [photo 5]. Then I use the stencil brush to start turning the seam toward the template [photo 6].

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Photo 4

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Photo 5

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Photo 6

From here I use a dry iron on medium heat to press the seam allowance to the back of the template [photo 7]. I continue doing this until the entire seam allowance is turned under. For shapes that have points I also starch and press the point to the back [photo 8]. When I am finished I remove the template and use it to make more shapes if needed.

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Photo 7

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Photo 8

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Saturday Morning Quilt Break: October in Quilt History

With the new month comes some factoids about sewing- and quilt-related events that have occurred in the month of October over the years. Let’s take a little stroll down memory lane!

1867: Elias Howe, Jr., died on October 3 in Brooklyn, New York. Although not the first person to invent a sewing machine, he was the first to receive a U.S. patent for what is considered the first practical sewing machine. His design for a lockstitch machine that featured a needle with the eye at the tip and an automatic feed revolutionized the garment industry and sparked years of legal battles as he struggled to earn the royalties he was due from other manufacturers, including Singer.

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Faith Ringgold, Maya’s Quilt of Life, acrylic on canvas and painted, dyed pieced fabrics, 1989. Sold September 15, 2015 for $461,000. Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries.

1930: Artist Faith Ringgold, known for her painted story quilts, was born October 8 in Harlem, New York. In 2015, her piece Maya’s Quilt of Life, which she was commissioned to make by Oprah Winfrey to honor Maya Angelou, sold at auction for the record-breaking amount of $461,000. It is now in the collection of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

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Photo from The NAMES Project Foundation

1987: The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, conceived by gay rights activist Cleve Jones, was displayed for the first time October 11 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It covered a space larger than a football field and included 1,920 panels filled with names of people who had died of AIDS. An overwhelming response led to a 20-city national tour. Panels were added in each city, and the quilt grew to include 6,000 panels by the end of the four-month tour. It is considered the largest piece of folk art ever made.

1995: The movie “How to Make an American Quilt” hit theaters on October 6. Based on the novel by Whitney Otto and directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, the film boasted an all-star cast including Winona Ryder, Maya Angelou, Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn, Alfre Woodard and many others (such as Claire Danes and Jared Leto early in their careers). The “stunt” quilts used on-screen were made by 14 quilters in Southern California; you can read all about their creation as well as which of the actresses already knew something about quilting (and which ones didn’t) in this 1995 article from the Los Angeles Times.

These are just a few of the quilt-related things that have occurred during the month of October. You can read about more here!

Wishing you a week of creating your own masterpiece!
Mary Kate

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It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go – Part 3

all about brown design as you go Riley Blake Confetti Brownie 300x225 It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go   Part 3In Part 3 of It’s All About Brown I’m continuing my quest to incorporate brown fabric in a village theme quilt, along with a scrappy collection of bright solids, tone-on-tones and prints. I’m taking a very organic improvisational approach to the design of my village, creating a block or identifying the pattern patches as I go, joining similar themed blocks as I would making a row quilt, although placing rows in the round. Spiraling from the center garden of flowers and a row of fences, I currently plan to add trees, buildings, and a sky of sunshine. Who knows, there may be other items in my village.

Something to think about…

ColorFabrics 150x150 It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go   Part 3With my improvisational approach to the design of the village, I’m discovering the biggest decision that I need to make along the way is “How much brown is too much?” and “When is there enough brown?” I don’t want the color to be overwhelming, but I do want it to be obviously present and complement the other colors of the quilt.

Join me…

Now that I’m gaining momentum on the project, I’ll reveal parts of the village pattern over the next couple of blogs, including patch measurements and templates as I use them for a row. I encourage you to sew along if you’d like to create your own village quilt. Of course, I hope you will also experiment with brown. Don’t be limited by a final overall dimension for the finished quilt, rather challenge yourself to create as you go and make it the size you want. Feel free to add embellishments! (I’d love to see photos of your progress. See the email address below.)

Center Applique Flowers

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Flower Design

I showed you my design for the flower center in part 2 of the series. I hand appliqued all the flowers and leaves onto the solid brown fabric using a method I learned from Erin Russek, one of Quiltmaker’s Associate Editors, for turned-edge applique. (Erin’s our resident applique guru. Be sure to read about thread for applique in Erin’s September 19th blog post. And her post scheduled for October 17th shares her applique technique.) I made 6 flowers for my quilt center. The finished size of the center is 30” x 30”.

Materials and Cutting Instructions

Brown Solid

  • 1 square 32” x 32” (This square is trimmed to 30½” x 30½” after applique)

Assorted Red, Pink, Blue, Aqua, Purple and Yellow Solids and Tone-on-Tones
From each color:

  • 1 circle 2¾”
  • 1 circle 2”
  • 1 circle 1½”

Assorted Green Tone-on-Tones
For each flower:

  • 8 petals

Making the Flower Petals

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Flower Petals

I selected a different green tone-on-tone fabric for each of the petals of a flower, using the same set of 8 fabrics for all the flowers. I cut out 8 plastic templates so I’d have a full set to complete a flower. Next, I traced the petal onto the wrong side of the fabric and clipped the curved edges. I placed the plastic template onto the wrong side of the fabric petal. After mixing 4 parts water to 1 part starch together in a small container, I pulled the edges of the fabric over the edges of the template and brushed the turned edges with the starch solution. Once dry, the starch solution helps hold the shape of the petal in place for easier hand applique.

Making the Flower Centers

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Flower Centers

I cut out three different sizes of circles using Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circle templates and an assortment of solid and tone-on-tone fabrics. To give the flower centers extra dimension I also used the middle circle template to cut out 2 layers of batting. Placing the template on the wrong side of a circle template I used a running stitch to enclose the template around the fabric. Once all sides of the circle were gathered I brushed on the starch and water solution to hold the edges in place for hand applique.

After all the flower centers and petals dried I arranged them on the brown background fabric, gluing them in place with drops of Roxanne’s Glue Baste It. I finished the flower center using the turned-edge applique technique. I finished the center by trimming the background fabric to 30½” x 30½”. (Refer to photo of finished flower center below.)

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Applique Flower Center

Click here to download the applique templates for the flower centers and leaves. Note, you can use these same templates for fusible applique instead of hand applique.

Fence Row

I designed my fence row to look like one we frequently find surrounding many ranches and farms, straight wooden posts connecting 2 rails. I discovered a print fabric of children in my stash so just for fun I added a row of them as if they are overlooking the fence. What’s a village without children, right? This row was a simple piecing exercise. I made 8 fence sections with a post (Fence A) and 4 fence sections without a post (Fence B). The finished sections are 6” x 10”.

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Fence Row Sections

Fabric and Cutting Instructions

Assorted Green Tone-on-Tones

  • 16 rectangles 1½” x 9½” (A)
  • 8 rectangles 1½” x 10½” (F)

Brown Solid

  • 16 rectangles 1½” x 9½” (B)
  • 8 rectangles 1½” x 5½” (D)
  • 8 rectangles 1½” x 10½” (G)

Kids Print

  • 8 rectangles 2½” x 9½” (C )
  • 4 rectangles 2½” x 10½” (H)

Blue Sky

  • 12 rectangles 1½” x 10½” (E)

Fence Row Corner Trees

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Corner Pine Tree Blocks

To be honest I just didn’t want to calculate how I would make the fence to turn a corner so I looked for a tree pattern in Electric Quilt to fill in. I found the perfect block with Pine Tree.

As you can see in the photo I used more of the brown solid, green tone-on-tones and blue sky fabrics for the trees. I also used Brenda Henning’s Triangulations™ method to make the triangle squares required for the block to speed up the piecing. You can also make 8 triangle-squares at a time using the “Sew Easy-8 at a time Triangle Squares” method. Check out Carolyn Beam’s “Sew Triangle Squares Many Ways” video too for more techniques. I made a Pine Tree block for each of the four corners of my fence row. The materials and cutting list below uses the method that makes 2 triangle squares from 2 squares of different fabrics.

Fabric and Cutting Instructions

Assorted Green Tone-on-Tones

  • 20 squares 1½“ x 1½” (A)
  • 28 squares 1-7/8” x 1-7/8” (for triangle squares) (B)
  • 6 squares 1-7/8” x 1-7/8” cut in half once to make 12 triangles (C)

Blue Sky

  • 4 squares 1½“ x 1½” (A)
  • 28 squares 1-7/8” x 1-7/8” (for triangle squares) (B)
  • 4 squares 3¾“ x 3¾“ cut in half twice to make 8 triangles (D)

Brown Solid

  • 4 rectangles 1½“ x 2¾” (E)
  • 8 rectangles 1½”x 5½” (F)

What’s next…

Be sure to come back for my next blog post on the 20th of October. I’ll show you the joined flower center and fence and also describe the next row of my brown quilt quilt, adding buildings.

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COMMENT to WIN a Bundle Give Away!

In the meantime, post a comment to win a bundle of brown, green and bright color tone-on-tones. I’ll announce the winner on my next blog post.

And… if I’ve tempted you to make a brown quilt, please share a photo with us to share with our readers. Email: editor@quilmaker.com

COMMENT to WIN a Bundle Give Away!

 Happy quilting!

 tricia patterson signoff It’s All About Brown: Design as You Go   Part 3


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New Issue: Quiltmaker November/December ‘17

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Quiltmaker Nov/Dec ’17 | On the cover: Holiday Festival, by Tricia Patterson

Get ready for the holidays with Quiltmaker‘s Nov/Dec ’17 issue. Find 9 gift ideas from table runners to a tree skirt to lid lifters and more. Quilts in all sizes and styles from modern to traditional and scrappy to a planned color palette are included. Read more about Tricia Patterson’s journey learning to quilt on her domestic sewing machine and continue with ZJ Humbach’s invaluable tips for quilting on a longarm. Count on Quiltmaker for the best quilts with the clearest instructions in the business!

Holiday Festival: Make this quilt scrappy or make it planned, Tricia Patterson’s quilt design can be made entirely with the triangle-square piecing technique. Place finished blocks in different directions to make a unique quilt every time. Perfect for layer cake bundles.

Let’s take a look inside at a few more quilt patterns:

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Ginger Tweets, designed by Margie Ullery

Ginger Tweets: Decorate for some special friends this holiday season with Margie Ullery’s gingerbread birdhouse wall quilt. This charming applique design is embellished with buttons, ribbons and bows for the full holiday effect.

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Celebrate!, designed by Jen Daly

Celebrate! No matter the occasion this table runner, designed by Jen Daly, can come out to celebrate! Easy foundation pieced bows and patches for the boxes create a 20 presents to adorn your table. Kits available.

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Modern Twist, featuring blocks designs from the Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks series.

Modern Twist: We love our issues of 100 Blocks! Carolyn Beam selected a variety of blocks with a modern vibe to create this sleek sampler quilt. This design combines bright solids with 4 blues, black and gray. This quilt is easily adaptable to a variety of color palettes.

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True North designed by Jo Moury

True North: This elegant medallion quilt is created with a combination of foundation and traditional piecing. The on-point setting leaves plenty of room to show off some pretty quilting and the quilt is framed with an intriguing pieced border.

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Mountian Retreat designed by Terri Vanden Bosch

Mountain Retreat: Create your own little mountain retreat with Terri Vanden Bosch’s latest camper quilt. This charming camper sits on pieced mountain background. This kit contains all the fabric you need for the quilt top, backing and binding. Kits are available.

Browse our online gallery to preview all the quilt patterns included in this issue.
Keep an eye out for the issue at newsstands! Print and digital copies are available now in our online shop. Subscribe to Quiltmaker and never miss and issue!

Happy Quilting,
The Quiltmaker Team

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