Charmed, I’m Sure – Free Pattern + Giveaway

Well, hello! Welcome back to Charmed, I’m Sure. I hope you’re getting inspired to collect and use charm squares. And I hope, like me, you find these little treasures hard to resist!

Halloween seems to be on our minds lately. Maybe it’s because pumpkins and witches and candy are popping up all over the grocery stores and craft stores. It’s not too early to work on a Halloween quilt and here’s one that can easily be made from charm squares and some yardage.

charmed im sure halloween 1 225x300 Charmed, I’m Sure – Free Pattern + GiveawayA Stacked Bricks quilt is the very first charm square quilt I ever made. All the charms came from an exchange in my small quilt group. As you can tell, this quilt has been used and loved! This is a great design to use with any and all fabrics. This one has everything from dragons to flowers, and it all works!

For this Halloween Stacked Bricks throw that measures approximately 51” x 66”, you’ll need 98 charm squares. I cut 2 charms from each of my Halloween prints. If you don’t have enough Halloween charms, dig into your stash of purple, orange, lime green, gray or black for stripes, dots, tone-on-tones or any other prints you think will work. Anything goes! Continue reading

Posted in Charm Squares, Giveaways & Contests | Tagged , , | 69 Comments

Don’t Forget About the Binding!

dont forget the binding 300x200 Don’t Forget About the Binding!I have to admit I am not that good at binding my quilts. Usually by the time I get to this stage I have a bad case of “quilt fatigue” and I am so ready to be done with this particular quilt. Often I am rushing to finish a quilt because it’s a gift or there’s a deadline.

Lately I have been trying to be a bit better about this. The quilts I like to make for myself are primarily hand applique and take a really long time to complete. With all this time invested it seems a shame to not do the binding well. A few years back I saw Patrick Lose give a really good binding demo. Now he has a terrific online class where he really coaches you through the binding process. He has tons of wonderful techniques for making your bindings fool proof. Check it out here:

quilt binding basics with patrick lose 1024x575 Don’t Forget About the Binding!

After all that love and care you have put into your quilt make sure you finish it well!

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Off the Wall: Creative Uses for Fabric Panels

When in quilt shops, I frequently find myself drawn to the fabric panels and all of their fun, coordinating fabrics. I always want to buy some but what will I do with the panels after I buy them?! In years past, sadly, fabric panels have sat in my stash unused due to the limited wall space I have for displaying in my home – until recently when I decided to come up with some more creative ways to use panels without simply quilting them and hanging them on a wall.

Several years ago I discovered Sandy Gervais and the fabulous fabrics she designs for Moda. At a cute little quilt shop in Pueblo, CO I found Sandy’s fabric panel entitled Essence along with several coordinates. I had to buy it of course and as usual, added it to my stash.

creative uses for fabric panels essence fabric panel 175x300 Off the Wall: Creative Uses for Fabric Panels

Essence fabric panel by Sandy Gervais for Moda

As happens periodically, earlier this summer I told myself once again that it was time to go through my stash and try to finish up all my smaller UFO’s (lofty and perhaps unrealistic goal I know!). The Essence panel was the first project in my endeavor. Originally I had thought that I would cut each flower “square” apart and quilt them individually in order to create a series of mini-wall-hangings, but given my wall space situation I had to reconsider. As I was searching my mind for ideas, I glanced around the room and saw my lovely, but naked, dining room table. A table runner was the answer!

I began by cutting all of the flower squares apart, I re-arranged them and then I pieced them back together in one long strip to achieve the right shape and length for my table. I then added borders to frame the flower squares and make the overall size of the table runner proportional to the size of my table. I added another fun, floral coordinating fabric to the back, some Warm & Natural from The Warm Company for loft and then outline quilted the squares as well as the flowers to give them some dimensionality. I sewed on binding and voila! I was done – right?! A nice, quick one-day project and one more UFO completed. But wait, not so fast. I love to embellish and fabric panels are the perfect place to load on the embellishments. My table runner was screaming BEAD ME!

creative uses for fabric panels beading detail essence table runner 300x225 Off the Wall: Creative Uses for Fabric Panels

Beading Detail

So my quick little project became a bit more time consuming, but it was well worth it. I added beads to the flowers and leaves and a few beads scattered through the border to add a little more sparkle. It turned out beautiful and now I have a stunning table runner that is the centerpiece of my dining room.

creative uses for fabric panels essence table runner 225x300 Off the Wall: Creative Uses for Fabric Panels

Essence Table runner by Anissa Arnold



In my continuing quest to find creative uses for the fabric panels that I impulsively purchase, I took Margie Ullery’s Creative Quilting & Sewing with Fabric Panels course at Craft University. She demonstrates a variety of different projects that can be sewn from panels including pillows, tote bags and picnic accessories.

One of the panels she uses in her course is Pippa the Hen from Susybee. The Pippa panel includes 1 large hen and chicks “portrait” and 6 smaller portraits.

creative uses for fabric panels pippa the hen fabric panel Off the Wall: Creative Uses for Fabric Panels

Pippa the Hen from Susybee

Margie combined the portraits with coordinating fabrics to create an apron, tea towels and potholders. I decided to take the same fabric panel and see what I could come up with. After playing around with the fabric for a while, I began to see a vision of a gift bag for a baby shower. How cute would a little fabric mother hen bag full of baby gifts be?

I carefully cut out four of the smaller chick portraits, leaving a ¼” all around for seam allowance and then:

  1. I sewed the 4 portraits together to form the 4 sides of the bag.
  2. I then cut a piece of Warm & Natural and basted it inside the side fabric to add some “body” to the bag.
  3. The panel had a lovely grey spiral on white background fabric that I used for the bottom of the bag and backed it with batting as well. After joining the bottom of the bag to the sides, I sewed a bag liner using the background fabric in the same method but without the batting.
  4. The large hen and chicks portrait on the panel had a fun mini-chicken border around it that I fussy-cut and padded with batting in order to create a handle.
  5. Once the outside of the bag, the liner and the handle were constructed, it was simple to sew them all together that the top edge of the bag, turn right side out and I had an adorable gift bag.
  6. I did a bit of ¼” topstitching on the handle and around the top edge of the bag for stability and to add a bit of design detail.
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Pippa the Hen Gift bag by Anissa Arnold

All said and done, this project took me an hour to cut, sew and complete. Not bad for a very unique and re-usable gift bag. Now of course, given my penchant for embellishing, I will probably add a few beads and bows to my gift bag in the days to come but it’s cute to gift away with or without the extras.

Think “Off the Wall” next time you fondle a fabric panel at your local quilt shop. Yes, you DO have a use for that panel. Buy it, take it home, pin it on your design wall and let your creative juices flow.

Anissa Arnold
Associate Editor, Quiltmaker

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New Issue: Quilts from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, Fall ’17

QM 100BlkFall2017e 220x300 New Issue: Quilts from Quiltmakers 100 Blocks, Fall 17Blocks from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks issues are the inspiration for 16 creative new designs in the newest collector’s edition of Quilts from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks. From wall quilts to bed quilts, these inspiring projects include foundation piecing, quick piecing techniques and more. This is a must-have issue for every quilter!

Let’s preview some Quilts!

DPQMP175710 1 New Issue: Quilts from Quiltmakers 100 Blocks, Fall 17

Out of the Blues designed by Nancy Mahoney

Out of the Blues: Nancy Mahoney designed an incredible big block quilt from two different 16″ blocks and colored it blue and white. Blocks made of a range of dark to light blue batiks give it a stunning look on any bed.

DPQMP175707 1 New Issue: Quilts from Quiltmakers 100 Blocks, Fall 17

Nature’s Best designed by Patti Carey

Nature’s Best: Ever wonder what you can do with all those wonderful landscape fabrics, other than make a landscape quilt? Patti Carey created an intriguing two-block quilt design and made it using landscape fabrics. Look at it closer and you see the grass, trees and brick walls. Unique!

DPQMP175713 1 New Issue: Quilts from Quiltmakers 100 Blocks, Fall 17

Convergence designed by Wendy Sheppard

Convergence: This is the perfect quilt for color lovers! Wendy combined her block with a pinwheel-themed block to create this cheerful design. Play with color while making this delightful two-block design.

DPQMP175701 1 New Issue: Quilts from Quiltmakers 100 Blocks, Fall 17

Seeing Red designed by Denise Starck

Seeing Red: Quiltmaker Graphic Designer Denise Starck used Abigail Dolinger’s 100 Blocks design to create a unique full size pieced quilt with lots of color options. The fabric color and design of this quilt showcase the clean line and detail of the pattern. We chose red to bring out the geometric shapes against a neutral background of tan, gray and black. However, it would be really fun to see it scrappy.

DPQMP175714 1 New Issue: Quilts from Quiltmakers 100 Blocks, Fall 17

Celestial Fracture designed by Patty Clayton

Celestial Fracture: Color can explode in this design by Patty Clayton. Foundation piecing brings the points of the primary stars together in a unique way and then they move into a secondary starburst. The secondary stars are created with sashing foundations.

DPQMP175705 1 New Issue: Quilts from Quiltmakers 100 Blocks, Fall 17

Happy Garden designed by Paula Stoddard

Happy Garden: Get ready for next spring or give yourself the brilliance of springtime during the winter with this table topper full of bright and happy colors. A perfect quilt for a wall or table top, this scrappy quilt designed by Paula Stoddard is sure to make you smile down to its sunny windmill center. Use your stash to make this pieced quilt as scrappy as Paula’s or with a planned color way.

DPQMP175702 11 New Issue: Quilts from Quiltmakers 100 Blocks, Fall 17

Kaleidoscope Crystals designed by Yolanda Fundora

Kaleidoscope Crystals: There are so many aspects of this quilt that make it unique! Designer Yolanda Fundora created foundation pieced sections to give a quilter all sorts of options for placing geometric shapes into blocks for a variety of fascinating configurations. This full size quilt looks complicated, but it’s actually a very straightforward and easy pattern for a confident beginner. This is a pattern that can be used so many times; creating a different quilt every time.

Make sure you get each special issue from the editors of Quiltmaker conveniently delivered to your mailbox. Sign up for our auto ship program and issues (5 published per year) will automatically be shipped to you! These issues are otherwise available only on newsstands and include:

  • 2 issues of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks
  • 2 issues of Quilts From Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks
  • Plus one additional issue featuring a new topic each year


We are giving away print copies of Quilts from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Fall ‘17 to three lucky winners!  Winners will be chosen and notified on Tuesday, September 5th.

The winners of the Quilts from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Fall ‘17 issue giveaway are Carol Rice, Kathie L and Joy P. winners have been notified by email.

Happy Quilting,

The Quiltmaker Team

Posted in 100 Blocks, Giveaways & Contests, QM Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Thrift Store Treasures

It’s no secret that I love a good bargain, and nowhere are the bargains better than at a thrift store. Yes, you have to work harder at a thrift store to find the good stuff—and what qualifies as “the good stuff” will vary from person to person—but when you find it, there’s nothing quite as gratifying. Especially when it comes to vintage quilts.

thrift DSCN3395 1024x768 300x225 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Thrift Store TreasuresI’ve come across a number of homemade quilts in my favorite local thrift shop over the past few years. My favorite find so far, hands-down, is the 1940s bow tie quilt (right) I found about four years ago; click here to read the full story of this quilt.

thrift 11074397 10203628390295248 120390770352977435 n 300x300 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Thrift Store TreasuresAnd then a few months later, a friend of mine who frequents the same thrift shop found a beautiful Dresden Plate quilt (left) that appeared to have been made over the course of a couple decades; click here to read the full story of that quilt.

After those two successes, I got bit by the quilt-hunter’s bug. I found a couple of 1970s polyester quilts over the next few months and took them home with me.

I dubbed the first one “the most honest quilt (below),” and blogged about it here.

thrift IMG 1015 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Thrift Store Treasures

thrift IMG 1231 300x225 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Thrift Store TreasuresThe second one I found was in better shape and prompted an amusing conversation about its value with a Baby Boomer friend when I posted it on Facebook; you can read all about that one here.

After those two purchases, I started to get a bit pickier. Here are some of the quilts I saw and photographed over the following couple of years but did not buy, instead often posting the photos on Facebook for friends to see and comment on.  (Click the images to enlarge.)

thrift July 2015 225x300 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Thrift Store TreasuresJuly 2015: “Quilt-type friends, what do you think of this thrift store find in terms of decade? I was intrigued but left it behind, even at half off.” (My aforementioned fellow bargain-hunter ended up buying this one.)

thrift Oct 2015 300x225 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Thrift Store TreasuresOctober 2015: “This is the first vintage homemade quilt I’ve seen in a thrift shop in a couple of months but I left it behind. It wasn’t in great shape, the backing/binding was nicely mitered to the front but done with some sort of brocade drapery material, and I don’t think there was an inch of cotton in the whole thing, meaning it weighed a ton. Farewell, polyester quilt.


thrift Dec 2015 225x300 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Thrift Store TreasuresDecember 2015: “Seen at the thrift shop this weekend — a long, twin-size, hand-tied, polyester coverlet (no batting). It was in good condition and the fabrics were fun but it did not come home with me.”

thrift Jan 2016 300x300 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Thrift Store Treasuresmid-January 2016: “I wonder if Aunt Valerie knows her postage stamp baby quilt ended up at the thrift store. ☹”

This quilt garnered a number of comments from my friends. The quilters (naturally) thought it was sad. One friend (who’s not a quilter) said, “Sad face! There’s a movie somewhere where Aunt Valerie sees that quilt again, wrapped around a homeless man or something… “ Another friend whose sons were already tweens/teens commented, “My boys were given several quilts at birth and I treasure them!”

But then there were the realists: the friend who admitted to not really being a quilt fan despite having received three of them that she’d never used “because they were given to me and the person, while making them with love, didn’t share my same sense of color or design–how could they? There’s no blame, just very different ideas of what is attractive.” She said she’d taken two to Goodwill–neither were labeled–and thought she would probably end up donating the third one rather than keep it in storage.

And then there was this, from a Facebook-only senior citizen friend with whom I share an alma mater: “Or we can think of it as Aunt Valerie’s love continuing to spread where warmth is needed. Remember we can’t keep everything that ever meant something to us. Good things can do more good in circulation than they can boxed up in a corner for years. As a user of hand-me-downs and thrift store buys every now and then my whole life, I am grateful that people send things my way rather than to the trash. Don’t most of us enjoy a nice find at a store or garage sale?”


thrift Sunbonnet 2016 225x300 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Thrift Store Treasureslate January 2016: “Seen at the thrift shop today. Dated 2001 on the label but some of the novelty fabrics seemed older. Cute, but I don’t need a Sunbonnet Sue wall hanging so I left it there.”

thrift Jan 2016 label 225x300 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Thrift Store TreasuresI think it was on the same late January 2016 trip to the thrift store that I found a small quilt with this label attached. It says,
“To Norma,
Have a wonderful, relaxing retirement.
Kathy, Sherry, Charlene”

thrift March 2017 225x300 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Thrift Store TreasuresHere’s one that I photographed in March 2017 but did not post on Facebook, a crazy quilt from the 1970s or 1980s with not a single shred of cotton in it that I could find, but lots of shiny, slick polyester and even nylon.

July 2017: “This has got to be the oddest homemade quilt I’ve ever seen at the thrift store. Aside from the “use whatever you’ve got” fabric choices, it’s enormous and *heavy* — almost feels like the maker used a blanket for the batting — and the patchwork backing has huge folds quilted into it. I did not bring this one home.”

thrift July 2017 300x225 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Thrift Store Treasures thrift July 2017 back 300x225 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Thrift Store Treasures

It’s worth noting (to me, at least) that my two January 2016 trips to the thrift store bracketed a major life-changing event, which was the deaths of my parents a week apart. Because they still lived in Los Angeles and I’m in Denver, cleaning out their house became a major endeavor that stretched out over most of the year and required the assistance of many hands.

Particularly helpful were my dearest friend from childhood and her husband, both of whom approached the job with the right mix of their own businesslike mindsets and a respect for my nostalgia and impulse to preserve as much as possible of my parents’ things. And boy, did they have a lot of things. If nothing else, I certainly come by my pack-rat tendencies honestly. I parted with a lot of their belongings but had quite a bit shipped out to Colorado.

So now I have a house that is full to bursting with … stuff. Our garage is still stacked with boxes I haven’t had the wherewithal to unpack and sort through. I’m sure that as time passes, I will get less sentimental about a lot of what’s in those boxes, things that I couldn’t bear to toss out last year.

And so I want to thank my very wise alumna friend on Facebook who wrote such lovely words about the value of a homemade baby quilt that ended up in a thrift store almost ten years after it had been made. I like to think that the family who donated it got what they needed from it when it mattered, and then decided it was time to pass it along so someone else could benefit from Aunt Valerie’s handiwork.

I no longer judge or begrudge anyone who chooses to part with a personal item, whether utilitarian or heirloom. If we find we only have so much space, both physical and mental, for all of the precious things we accumulate over a lifetime, then that’s something to be celebrated; we should count ourselves blessed. And if we’re no longer benefitting from those things, then we might as well give someone else–say, bargain hunters like my friend and me–the opportunity to do so.

(The other moral of the story is: Always label your work! You never know who will appreciate knowing part of the story behind your quilt.)

So with that in mind, I’ll probably head out to my local thrift shop again this weekend, seeing as how most of the store is half-off on Saturdays. After all, you never know what you’re going to find.

See you next week,
Mary Kate

Posted in Quilty Lifestyle, Saturday Morning Quilt Break | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Quilting with brown fabrics: It’s All About Brown

Contributor: Tricia Patterson
Managing Editor Quiltmaker, McCall’s Quilting and Quick Quilts

its all about brown riley blake confetti brownie 300x225 Quilting with brown fabrics: It’s All About Brown

Confetti Cottons, Brownie from Riley Blake Designs

What do you think about brown?
Is brown too boring for you?
Why not brown?
How do you feel about background brown?


its all about brown anissa granny squares 225x300 Quilting with brown fabrics: It’s All About Brown

Show and Tell Granny Squares. Maker: Anissa Arnold

Perhaps you don’t know what to do with brown, or perhaps you find the color brown a big turn-off. I know we don’t receive many quilts at Quiltmaker with brown fabric in them, even for a background color. There are lots of quilts with white, cream, blue and black, and in the last year we’ve seen quite a few with gray and navy blue—but, not brown. In fact, many of the quilters at our office don’t even feel they could like brown in a quilt at all.

I had not really considered the use of brown until we interviewed Anissa Arnold for an Associate Editor position at Quiltmaker. We always ask candidates to bring in a sampling of quilts they’ve made. (We want to make sure everyone on staff who writes our patterns is a real quilter.) Anissa brought in a heavy load of her quilts. All of the finished ones she showed us, and a start of village themed quilt in the making, included the color brown. And, they were wonderful and rich in color. I admired the way the colors of the other fabrics in the quilts seem to pop right out from the brown backgrounds, and yet at the same time, they seemed to blend in more with the background. (Checking with Anissa later, I learned this is one of the very reasons she choses to work with brown for her backgrounds. She also feels the richness and earthiness of the brown fabric tones down the brighter colors to provide a nice contrast, and at the same time, promotes other colors in the quilt to stand on their own.) I was so in awe of Anissa’s quilts that I started thinking about all the possibilities for making my own brown quilt—a classic example of how we quilters inspire one another.

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The Coffee Quilt. Nine Patch Challenge. Maker: Anissa Arnold

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Colorado Capital Quilt Show Entry. Maker: Anissa Arnold

With my challenge to make a quilt with brown came the idea to start a series about the use of brown. I think the idea took hold because so many quilters don’t like to use brown in their quilts. I thought it would be fun to share my journey with brown. So, let’s get started.

Why use Brown?

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Why use brown?

Why use brown? Here’s what I thought were the reasons for not using brown, even for a background.

  1. Brown doesn’t provide drama like black does. The colors of other fabrics, light, dark, bright or soft, dance on top of a black background.
  2. Brown doesn’t soothe the soul like blue does. So many quilters love blue. We took a survey in our office recently and almost everyone preferred blue over any other color in their quilts. It’s common knowledge that blue and green provide a sense of calm.
  3. Brown just doesn’t seem to add color to a quilt like other colors do. Most often, we don’t feel that brown is a good companion with any of the colors we might choose for a quilt.

I’ve challenged myself to prove all of these reasons for not choosing brown. Anissa talked about how she began seeing bright colors pop into her fabric stash several years ago and has started using these with her brown quilts. I have found an interest in the bright geometrics and prints on the market today. I latched onto her idea of pairing them with brown. I realize I’m probably a copycat, but I was told a long time ago that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (to quote Charles Caleb Colton, year unknown). And, isn’t quilting also all about sharing and trying?? I’ve come up with an idea for a quilt that I will share with you as I discover brown for quilting.

What is the right brown?

I began planning for my quilt by asking this question. There are so many of shades of brown, with patterned designs and just plain brown. Because I want to use some bright colors I finally found the right deep brown solid fabric I was looking for with Riley Blake Designs’ Confetti Cotton Brownie. This brown should provide the striking effect I’m looking for in contrast to the bright fabrics. I’ve started my pattern design and pulled out all the fabrics I’d like to try in this quilt. I’m ready to begin!

its all about brown riley blake confetti brownie 150x150 Quilting with brown fabrics: It’s All About Brown

its all about brown brown quilt color 150x150 Quilting with brown fabrics: It’s All About Brown its all about brown brown quilt center 150x150 Quilting with brown fabrics: It’s All About Brown

Here are a couple more brown quilt ideas I found in our archives. Check them out to see if they inspire you to get a brown quilt started.

its all about brown autumn almanac 199x300 Quilting with brown fabrics: It’s All About Brown

Autumn Almanac. Designer: Scott Murkin.Quilts From Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Spring’ 13.

its all about brown dawn and dusk 201x300 Quilting with brown fabrics: It’s All About Brown

Dawn and Dusk. Designer: Judy Laquldara. From
Quiltmaker Jan/Feb ’13.

I’d also like to learn more about how you all are using brown. Leave a comment and/or send me a photo with your brown story. I’d love to share them with our readers.

Wishing You Joyful Quilting!
tricia patterson signoff Quilting with brown fabrics: It’s All About Brown

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Halloween Quilt Making BOO-ster

Collected by Tricia Patterson
Managing Editor, Quiltmaker, McCall’s Quilting and Quick Quilts

halloween quilt making BOO ster 801 maple 257x300 Halloween Quilt Making BOO ster

801 Maple, designed by Connie Walker, Quilts From Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks

I’m still finding the best quilt patterns for Halloween, so thought I’d just send a few more to add to the collection I posted with the Halloween SPOOK-tacular in my blog on August 17th. Check these out too!

I just LOVE, Love, love the 801 Maple wall hanging. It has almost all the icons of the Halloween season. Connie Walker designed the quilt for the Fall 2013 issue of Quilts From Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks. The Hoot Owls block was chosen for Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, volume 8. Summer 2013.

Check out the latest issue of Quilts From Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, Fall 2017 CLICK HERE.

halloween quilt making BOO ster robbing peter to pay jack Halloween Quilt Making BOO ster

Robbing Peter to Pay Jack, designed by Erin Wilcoxon

Robbing Peter to Pay Jack is certainly an example of those fun modern quilt designs—gone spooky for Halloween. Erin Wilcoxon designed this wall sized quilt, and we included instructions for a bonus table runner with the pattern using these fun pumpkins.

halloween quilt making BOO ster spooky treats embroidery collection Halloween Quilt Making BOO ster

Spooky Treats Embroidery Collection

And, one more treat for quilt embellishment enthusiasts. Check out the collection of Spooky Treats I found. There are lots of Halloween themed designs that you can download to stitch into your quilts in a variety of sizes.


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Spellbinding, designed by Brenda Plaster, Quick Quilts, October/November 2017

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Tidings of Joy, designed by J. Wecker Frisch for Quilting Treasures

Congratulations to Lynne Hannant from Landrum, South Carolina! She won the GIVE-AWAY bundle of fabric used for the Spellbinding quilt pattern in Quick Quilts October/November 2017. Tidings of Great Joy was designed by J. Wecker Frisch for Quilting Treasures.

Thinking about Halloween,

tricia patterson signoff Halloween Quilt Making BOO ster

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Free Motion Quilting Takes Off with Craft U

express lane to the free motion highway 300x144 Free Motion Quilting Takes Off with Craft U

Express Lane to the Free Motion Highway with Angela Huffman

fearless free motion stitching for beginners 300x144 Free Motion Quilting Takes Off with Craft U

Fearless Free Motion Stitching for Beginners with Eric Drexler

As adults we tend to approach a learning situation with one of three goals:

  1. To learn something new,
  2. To fill in gaps in the knowledge we already have about something, or
  3. To refresh knowledge or a skill we already have, but haven’t practiced in a while.

I’ve been a quilter for a very long time. I make art quilts by machine. But I’ve made bed quilts only by hand, from piecing to finishing the quilting and binding. I know the fundamentals of putting a quilt together; I still need to build my skills of making bed quilts by machine.

There’s a psychological side to taking on a new skill, and a physical side to almost everything we do, whether it’s work or play, a game, cooking or quilting. The desire to learn to do and the how to do it must marry in order to be able to do. Here’s an example. After so many years of hand quilting, without any desire to take it to the machine, I recently decided I really want to learn to free-motion quilt on my domestic sewing machine. I’ve researched it, read books and articles, talked to other quilters, found out the things I needed to do to prepare for machine quilting and practiced it on sampler pieces. I’ve even documented my journey to learn how to finish my quilts with machine quilting in a Quiltmaker series (see 2017 issues May/June, July/August, upcoming Sept/Oct and Nov/Dec). I figured I was ready. Then, I sat down at my sewing machine—and everything just went haywire.

I took on my first project with confidence. It wasn’t a big project, a 25”x 52” pillow top. I should be able to handle that, right? Wrong. My thread kept breaking. I never figured out just what that stitch regulator was supposed to do. My stitches were totally erratic. And, talk about speed! How do you ever control that?!?! I thought I had prepared, but concluded it wasn’t enough for a REAL project. My husband called while I was in the middle of this crazy exercise and asked, “What’s wrong? You sound stressed.” You, think? I told him that I might never be a machine quilting quilter.

I’ve decided free motion quilting is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever tried to do in my life, even worse than when my new husband of 6 months decided we had to have a manual-shift car—and, I had to learn how to drive it immediately. You have to understand. I work with some of the most amazing quilters. Every day, I see their totally awesome quilting. We receive quilts from incredible longarm quilters that have beautiful even stitches and wonderful patterns. I really do have the desire to learn how. The question is,  how do I build my skillset?

After a couple of days away from my trauma I can now logically break down this experience to figure out what I need to do next to beat this beast called ‘free motion’, (which, by the way, I made the mistake to think it was going to be the most liberating of all quilting just because of the name.) So, with experience in hand and a list of things to work on, I’m back to learning.

I’ve had a note to take a couple of classes on Craft U about free motion quilting for a little while, Express Lane to the Free-Motion Highway with Angela Huffman (I see it’s available for FREE access right now!) and a Sulky class with Eric Drexler, Fearless Free-Motion Stitching for Beginners. So, I decided to kick start the learning process again with these. For me, the two courses ended up working hand-in-hand, and by fortune I took them in a good sequence to refresh some of my initial learning about free motion quilting.

Angela’s class started with conceptualizing the free motion process from an artist’s viewpoint of how to identify themes for quilting and gathering inspiration for designs. With these fundamentals I better understood how to take inspirations into the practical aspect of using the sewing machine (or longarm machine) to create them in fabric. She provides a more in-depth approach to integrating inspiration, design and technique as opposed to just repeatedly practicing doodles that I’ve found in other publications. Her recommendations engage a clearer understanding of the inspiration to create free motion quilting designs. She spends time on developing the psychological aspects to build skill.

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Free Motion Quilting Helpers

Eric’s class, on the other hand, is more practically-oriented in that I learned more about what’s behind the details of the process of free motion quilting: the techniques and tools that will equip me to free motion quilt with ease. He addressed all my questions, including how I can eliminate skipped stitches, manage machine speed and gave me tips that would help with moving the quilting sandwich while stitching. He talked about thread weights, top and bottom threads, needle sizes, types of stabilizer (such as temporary spray adhesive, soluble and tear-away stabilizers), presser feet and in general setting up my machine from the beginning to prepare it for free motion quilting. He showed examples of common free motion stitches as well as some fancy stuff that can be done with free motion.

I feel renewed after watching these classes, so much so that I think I’m ready to tackle that big bad machine and free motion quilting again!

Happy quilting!

Tricia Patterson
Managing Editor
Quiltmaker, McCall’s Quilting and Quick Quilts

Posted in Machine Quilting, Quilting Inspiration | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Finding Color Inspiration

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finding color inspiration 3 150x150 Finding Color InspirationHave you ever had trouble finding color inspiration? I have to admit, sometimes I do. I have my usual ways of playing with color but lately I’ve wanted to try something different. During the summer months I spend as much time as I can outside snapping pictures of all the pretty flowers. I have quite a collection! When I looked at all these lovely pictures it dawned on me that they make great starting points for coming up with color palettes that I really love. The photos at the top are 2 of my all time favorites so I thought I would start there.

My first place to look for fabric is my stash. I have it all arranged by color as you can see above.

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For my sunflowers I found these fabrics seemed to capture the colors in the photo (above, left). I don’t have a quilt in mind for this palette yet so I thought it might be fun to make a little collage to save (above, right).

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Here’s what I did with my poppies (above).

I’m going make a little notebook of these collages. That way whenever I need some inspiration it’s all ready to go.

Next time I’ll show you some tricks to use if you don’t have a color stash.

Posted in Quilting Inspiration | 1 Comment

4 BIG Happenings at Quiltmaker This Week

are ALL happening at Quiltmaker this week!

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#1 From Photo Inspiration To Quilt Inspiration

IMG 9943 150x150 4 BIG Happenings at Quiltmaker This WeekCheck in on Tuesday for Erin Russek to tell us about ways we can use colors from a favorite photo to create color inspiration for a quilt.

#2 Self-Directed Learning and Free Motion Quilting

Come back Wednesday when Tricia Patterson is continuing her self-directed education on free motion quilting on a domestic sewing machine. She’ll tell you about two classes she has taken from CraftU: Express Lane to the Free-Motion Quilting Highway with Angela Huffman and one of the classes from the Sulky series, Fearless Free-Motion Stitching for Beginners with Eric Drexler.

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#3 How About Brown Now?

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Confetti Cottons Color Brownie by RBD Designers for Riley Blake Designs

What do you think of brown? Is brown too boring for you? Don’t know what to do with brown? Tricia was so totally in awe of our new co-worker Anissa Arnold‘s use of brown for her quilts that she decided to take on the challenge and fun of using brown in a new series, About Brown, starting Friday.

#4 The Quilts Left Behind

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Saturday Morning Quilt Break with Mary Kate

Before heading out to the shops on Saturday, kick back and explore with Mary Kate Karr-Petras to hear about the quilts she has found in thrift shops, both the ones she brought home and the ones she left behind—and, why they might have ended up there in the first place.

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