1. Staff favorite: 45-degree angles conquered—perfect every time (+ sale!)

    Posted by on April 24, 2014, in quilting & sewing, , ,

    Martingale staff favorites

    Did you know that 80% of our staff sews, knits, crochets, or crafts in their spare time? We’re always testing the books and tools we carry—and boy oh boy, do we have some favorites. Our staff members want to share their enthusiasm with you, so today we’re launching our “Staff Favorites” series!

    Here’s customer-service manager Tracy to tell us about one of her favorite tools—Clearly Perfect Angles by Kari M. Carr—along with a special sale on Kari’s tool and books! See sale details below.

    How to make quilt binding

    Do you hate making binding? I used to! I’m always so excited to finish my quilts, but then I dread the last step—making the binding. I find sewing the 45° angles so tedious. I just want to sit with my lovely quilt on my lap and do the hand sewing.

    Clearly Perfect AnglesThankfully a popular teacher and Martingale author, Kari Carr, came up with a sewing-seam guide that has made my quilting life so much easier. No longer do I dread making binding! I know I can do it quickly and correctly the first time. Clearly Perfect Angles can be used with Kari’s book Twice As Nice, but you can also use it anytime you need to sew a 45° angle: to make perfect half-square triangles, flying-geese units, mitered borders, and more.

    AND BINDINGS! No more marking with pencil—no more pinning! Just put Clearly Perfect Angles on your machine and sew away. Clearly Perfect Angles includes both a quarter-inch seam guide and a 45° seam-allowance guide, plus it clings to your machine so that you can put it on and take it off whenever you want. I always leave it on my machine so I can make half-square triangles fast and accurately at any time. And I can make binding whenever I want to! And now I don’t dread it!

    Watch a quick demonstration of the Clearly Perfect Angles tool:

    SAVE 30% NOW

    This week, we’re offering a “Staff Favorites” discount on Clearly Perfect Angles plus both of Kari’s popular books! Save 30% when you make your purchase by April 30, 2014.

    Clearly Perfect Angles: $10.00 $7.00
    Clearly Perfect Angles

    • Sew any 45° angle with ease; includes ¼" and ⅝" seam guides
    • Eliminate fussing with paper, pencils, and pins
    • Use for half-square triangles, miters, bindings, and more

    Twice as Nice: Quilts with Scrap-Saving Bonus Projects
    Print edition (+ free eBook): $22.99 $16.09
    eBook edition: $14.99 $10.49

    Quilts from Twice as Nice

    • Get 12 patterns: 6 fun quilt patterns plus a companion bonus project for each
    • Use up leftovers and get the most out of your fabrics
    • Put every scrap to use!

    Just around the Corner: Quilts with Easy Mitered Borders
    Print edition (+ free eBook): $24.99 $17.49
    eBook edition: $16.99 $11.89

    Projects from Just around the Corner

    • Skip the math with mitered corners made easy
    • Learn how to miter with folded fabric strips and any 90° ruler
    • Get patterns for quilts, table toppers, a tote, and more

    (Note: the Clearly Perfect Angles tool is completely optional—it’s not required to make any of the projects in Kari’s books.)

    We all have our favorite quilting gadgets—what’s yours? Tell us in the comments!

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  2. Quirky question: a wish for the quilting fairy

    Posted by on April 23, 2014, in quirky question

    Martingale's Quirky Question

    Thanks for stopping by for the weekly Quirky Question—where questions are just for fun, your answers are always welcome, and you could win an eBook for free!

    Below right: “Umbrellas” quilt and pillow by Sue Hunt, from House Party. Get the eBook for $10.19 this week only; see a slideshow of projects from the book below.

    Umbrellas quilt and pillowDo you believe in the quilting fairy? We’d like to think she exists, performing random acts of quilting kindness for stitchers everywhere. Maybe she sprinkled her fairy dust on those stubborn points so they’d finally match. She could have given you that jolt of courage you needed to meet a new quilting friend. And she just might be the one who put that beautiful bolt of fabric on sale, just for you.

    If there is a quilting fairy, she would certainly grant each of us a wish (because all fairies do that, right?). So for today’s question, let’s dream a little:

    The quilting fairy has granted you one special wish. What will yours be?

    Post your answer in the comments before noon (PST) on Monday, April 28, for your chance to win. The carefully selected winning answer will be posted on Wednesday, April 30, along with the next question.

    Last week’s Quirky Question was, “Who has been your biggest creative influence?” Here’s the winning comment, from Nina:

    “I grew up in a creative family. Our motto hung in the living room—“A creative mess is preferable to tidy idleness”—and we lived that maxim with gusto. Mom sewed, knit, crocheted, made jams and jellies, canned vegetables, and even tried repoussé metalwork. Dad gardened, set up a black and white darkroom in the bathroom, made furniture, built masonry walls in the yard, brewed beer and fermented wine. We kids did everything in between, including jewelry, photography, screen printing (on paper and cloth), ceramics, sewing, auto mechanics, and even grape stomping in our bare feet. I made my first quilts as a teenager. Nobody taught me or directly inspired me, as far as I recall, but the artistic fervor of the household certainly encouraged me. It’s a passion I’ve kept alive for decades. Long live creativity!”

    Congratulations, Nina—look for an email about your free eBook.

    Spring Baskets quilt and pillow

    Spring Baskets quilt and pillow

    Summer Flowers quilt and pillow

    Summer Flowers quilt and pillow

    Hot! quilt and pillow

    Hot! quilt and pillow

    Fall Walk in the Park quilt and pillow

    Fall Walk in the Park quilt and pillow

    Snowflakes quilt and pillow

    Snowflakes quilt and pillow

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  3. Slip and slide? New technique for Stack the Deck quilts (+ giveaway!)

    From Stack, Shuffle, and SlideEight-time author Karla Alexander has amassed quite a few quilting fans through her topselling “Stack the Deck” books—and if you ask those fans, the reason is simple: her Stack the Deck method is fast and fun! Now she’s back with a new twist—actually, it’s more of a shuffle—for a perfect balance of carefree cutting, simple sewing, and color control.

    If you love Karla’s Stack the Deck method, or if you like the popular stack-and-whack approach to making quilts, this “Slip ’n’ Slide” system puts color and value placement back in your hands—which can be a challenge with common stack-and-whack designs. With this approach, you simply stack and slice your decks of fabric; then slide your colors into place.

    In this excerpt from Stack, Shuffle, and Slide, Karla explains how her new method works. Scroll down to see just a few of the 15 super-cool quilts you can make, with many included for beginners!

    Karla AlexanderWith my eighth book, I’m introducing a new concept I call “Slip ’n’ Slide.” I still make blocks with a wide variety of strip widths and colors, but with my new method, I have full control over color and value placement. Controlling the fabric placement opens the door to a bunch of new designs. If I want a block to read light to dark, or if I want to isolate dark in only one spot, I now have that option.

    All the projects in Stack, Shuffle, and Slide use my Stack the Deck technique. You stack fabric squares or rectangles, all right side up, into a fabric “deck” and then slice the deck into various shapes.

    Stack-the-Deck method

    The shapes are then shuffled and each layer is sewn back together.

    This method gives you the advantage of using many different fabrics without having to mess around with a lot of math or odd-shaped templates. If you want to make more blocks than the pattern calls for, you can usually start with the same number of squares or rectangles as you would like completed blocks. This makes it fun to check out your stash and rediscover a few favorite pieces of which you have only a small amount left. As long as you can cut the fabric into a square or rectangle as required in the quilt pattern, you can usually use it. What a great option!

    Just like in my previous books, the instructions for each quilt will guide you through the specific stacking, cutting, and shuffling process. But this time around, instead of the random color placement that results when you shuffle, you get to decide what color goes where. When you sew each layer, you will always keep the color order the same (unless directed otherwise), but the strips of each color will be a different width from layer to layer. It’s easy and it’s like magic!

    Here’s a look at some of the quilts from the book.

    Quilts from Stack Shuffle and Slide
    Beginner quilts:
    “Gold Rush” (left) lets the fabrics do all the work. It’s entirely possible to cut and piece this quilt in one afternoon! In “Wren Rails” (right), your darkest prints will always be on the outside edges of the block and the lightest will always be in the center.

    Quilts from Stack Shuffle and Slide
    More beginner quilts:
    “Rendevous” (left) goes together effortlessly because it’s made from just two simple repeated units; I sprinkled hints of orange and blue for sparkle. The construction of “Simple Simon” (right) is also easy. Rails of unequal sizes step down across the quilt top, creating a design with geometric charm.

    Quilts from Stack Shuffle and Slide
    Intermediate quilts:
    “Hang Ups” (left) could be considered a stash quilt as far as the flags are concerned. Once you get the “hang” of sewing the flags, it’s a very simple quilt to make. In “Loosely Woven” (right), one colorway leads gracefully to the next; preview your choices from a distance and make sure they move smoothly from light to dark.

    Quilts from Stack Shuffle and Slide
    More intermediate quilts:
    One morning I got up and began working on “Shattered” (left), and by the end of the day, it was almost done. Only three color choices are needed. Choosing fabrics for “Paint Chips” (right)—which is inspired by my paint-chip collection!—is a breeze. Simply choose a variety of solids in contrasting colors.

    I encourage you, as always, to find your own path and create your own journey. May your quilting energy be renewed and refreshed with each new project you create from Stack, Shuffle, and Slide. Enjoy!

    Stack Shuffle and SlideHave you tried a Stack the Deck or stack-and-whack style quilt? How’d it turn out? Tell us about it in the comments and you could win a copy of the Stack, Shuffle, and Slide eBook! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win. Good luck!

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  4. Walls, sofas, tables, more: speed decorating with quilts (+ sale!)

    Save on quilting books

    From House PartySpring cleaning officially done (or officially skipped)? Time to add some new color, zest, and zing to your spaces. Today we’ve gathered a collection of projects for decorating that include all the fun of quilting, but with one important twist—a finish date is guaranteed to be close in sight!

    Below you’ll find small, quick projects for sewing, from quilted wall hangings to runners, pillows, and more. Choose your favorite decorating style; then have fun selecting designs that will soften hard spaces, add a little charm, and show off your stitching skills. Download any of the eBooks featured for 40% off this week only!

    Seasonal, contemporary, and conversation-worthy

    Sue HuntFrom House Party: Coordinated Quilts and Pillows
    by Sue Hunt

    Sue says: “I enjoy making a small, quick project between more time-consuming large quilts. Some of my favorite small projects are seasonally themed pillow covers that I rotate throughout the year. This allows me to easily create a fresh look on my sofa as the seasons change, and it also saves on storage space.”

    Spring and summer

    Quilts from House Party
    “Umbrellas” and “Summer Flowers.” Sue says: “These quilts are small enough for take-along projects and can be completed in a short amount of time. Although they’re often referred to as wall hangings, don’t let that term limit them to the walls. Small quilts look great draped over a chair or the back of a couch. Try one as a table topper or at the foot of a bed.”

    Fall and winter

    Quilts from House Party
    “Fall Walk in the Park” and “Snowflakes.” Sue says: “For the pillows, purchase one 16″ pillow form for all the pillow covers. Pillow forms can be found at fabric shops and bed-linen stores.”

    House PartySee more projects from House Party; download the eBook for $10.19 this week only.

    • 12 step-by-step projects
    • Piecing, paper piecing, appliqué, more
    • Fun accents for every season


    Folksy, friendly, and lots of fun

    Avis Shirer and Tammy JohnsonFrom Alphabet Soup: Expressive Quilts with Folk Art Charm
    by Tammy Johnson and Avis Shirer

    Tammy and Avis say: “These quick, decorative quilts are based on some of our favorite things and have a primitive flair that both the beginner and more experienced quilter will enjoy. Piecing the letters is a bit like putting together a puzzle; once a few pieces are assembled, it becomes child’s play.”

    Quilts from Alphabet Soup
    “Red Tulips” and “Bless this House.” Tammy says: “Pieced letters and simple patchwork, along with small sizes, means you can complete these quilts quickly. We use fusible appliqué embellished with a machine blanket stitch that speeds up the process too.”

    Quilts from Alphabet Soup
    “Pumpkins” and “Snowman.” Avis says: “Our favorite quilts are seasonal ones. Tammy loves Christmas, and snowmen are her favorite. I, on the other hand, adore Halloween as well as anything with flowers. It’s so fortunate that we enjoy different seasonal themes; that way the entire year is covered!”

    Alphabet SoupSee more projects from Alphabet Soup; download the eBook for $11.99 this week only.

    • 15 seasonal and year-round projects
    • Feature flags, flowers, fruits, more
    • Incorporate wool, plaids, and stripes


    City, country, and a little bit of whimsy
    From Down in the Valley: Paper-Pieced Houses and Buildings
    By Cori Derksen and Myra Harder

    Myra Harder and Cori DerksenCori and Myra say: “The ideas for some of these patterns came from our surroundings, while others came from our imaginations. Have fun with these projects and incorporate your own pieces of charm into them. Add old buttons, which we love to do, or personalize some of the houses by embroidering them with the names of family and friends. Adding details with free-motion quilting is also an effective way to embellish your projects.”

    Town House Table Runner
    “Town House Table Runner” from the Main Street collection. Cori and Myra say: “Dress up your table with this quaint checkerboard, and play a game while you wait for supper.”

    Projects from Down in the Valley

    “Prairie Pillows” from the Prairieland collection. Cori and Myra say: “Add a touch of prairieland to your home with this set of comfy pillows. Use the blocks called for in the instructions, or substitute other blocks from Down in the Valley.”

    Projects from Down in the Valley
    “Kinfolk Wall Hanging” and “Liza’s Pillow” from the Mountain Folk collection. Cori and Myra say: “Take a tour through the mountain hollows while adding a touch of whimsy to your homestead.”

    Down in the ValleySee more projects from Down in the Valley; download the eBook for $11.99 this week only.

    • Paper piece 16 small projects
    • Quick wall quilts, runners, place mats, pillows
    • Four themes: Prairieland, Mountain Folk, Main Street, and Cabin Country


    What’s your decorating style—and has it changed over time? Tell us about it in the comments!

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  5. How to cast on, how to bind off: 200+ options (+ giveaway!)

    Martingale's Knit and Crochet Friday

    Cast On, Bind OffCast On, Bind Off—now in paperback! Did you miss this book when it was released in hardcover? Or did you hesitate because of the price? Packed full of cast-on knitting methods and bind-off techniques, it’s now only $19.99—that’s more than 200 ways to finish your knitting for only $19.99!

    I’ve been knitting for many years now, but I still use only one cast on and one bind off. It’s what I was taught, am comfortable with, and have memorized. But I’m often unsatisfied with the results. Is it because I’m not doing it correctly? No. It’s because one technique is not conducive to all projects. The same bind off that’s perfect for my scarf makes my sock cuffs a little too tight and leaves my lacy shawls with an edging that’s disappointing.

    No more! I vow to try something new on my current project. I’m working on a linen-stitch scarf at the moment that’s knit lengthwise, so the bind off will really show. I think the “Stem-Stitch Bind Off” might be just the thing.

    Karen's scarf in progress
    My scarf in progress

    Stem-Stitch Bind Off
    Stem-stitch bind off

    I’ve been wanting to try knitting socks from the toe up—can you believe there are nine different options for starting a toe-up sock in this book?! Nine! Cast On, Bind Off just might become my new go-to sock resource.

    Easy-Toe Cast On
    Easy toe cast on

    Straight-Wrap Cast On
    Straight wrap cast on

    Backward-Loop Sock Cast On
    Backward-loop sock cast on

    Each technique is presented with clear step-by-step directions and illustrated with line drawings AND a photograph of the finished edge. Finding just the right one is easy because the book is categorized by type. Cast-on categories include loop, twist start, long-tail, decorative, tubular, knit on, and more. Bind offs include chain, decorative, increase, sewn, and tubular, to name a few. It’s so easy to skim the category headings to find what you’re looking for. In total, you’ll find more than 120 ways to cast on and over 80 ways to bind off.

    Picot Chain cast on and bind off

    Author Cap Sease explains the advantages and disadvantages of each technique and makes a suggestion for each one’s most appropriate use. She even includes a chart of cast-on and bind-off pairs, so that your beginning and ending edges can match! Another chart helps you easily find just the right technique for your specific purpose. Need a firm-edge cast on? You’ll find six options. Want a durable bind off? Twelve are included! Making something from lace? You’ll have 11 cast ons to choose from.

    You’ll even find tips on how to tighten up that last floppy bound-off stitch that drives you crazy!

    Get Cast On, Bind Off in paperback, hardcover (which features a concealed spiral binding), or as an eBook. Remember, when you purchase the paperback or hardcover editions, you can instantly download the eBook version for free!

    How many cast ons and bind offs have you tried so far? Share your count in the comments and you could win a copy of the Cast On, Bind Off eBook! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win.

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  6. Types of sewing-machine feet: a guide for the baffled

    Learn about different types of sewing machine feet

    How many presser feet do you own? Not sure? Is that because you shy away from everything but an all-purpose presser foot? Or is your sparkly, much beloved collection of specialty feet so vast it’s simply hard to keep track?

    If everything but your all-purpose foot is gathering dust, now’s the time to learn what those mysterious other feet can do. Just check out the quick guide to presser feet below. In no time, you’ll be able to identify sewing-machine feet like an expert. And you’ll be matching the right foot to the right task with confidence.

    Sewing-Machine Foot Types Explained

    From A to Z of Sewing: The Ultimate Guide for Beginning to Advanced Sewing

    Most machines come with a few standard, interchangeable presser feet. An all-purpose sewing foot, a zipper foot, an embroidery foot, and a buttonhole foot are the most basic. You can invest in others designed for specific purposes. Having the right foot on the machine makes it easier to achieve the best result for the task.

    All-purpose sewing foot
    This is the standard foot for all basic, forward-feed sewing. The sole of this foot is flat, providing control as the fabric passes over the feed dogs.

    All-purpose presser foot - from A to Z of Sewing

    Blind-hem foot/edgestitch foot
    These feet have a bar running through the center of the feet in front of the needle. Use the bar as a guide for instances when a line of stitching is required close to a ridge or fold, such as for hemming, edgestitching, or joining two pieces of lace with the edges butted together.

    Blind-hem foot - from A to Z of Sewing

    Buttonhole foot
    Two grooves under the sole of a buttonhole foot (below left) allow the fabric to move freely as the thread builds up to form the end bars of the buttonhole. The guide between the grooves helps keep the side bars parallel and slightly apart.

    If your machine has a fully automatic buttonhole presser foot (below right), a button is placed in the back of the foot and the machine gauges the correct buttonhole length to fit.

    buttonhole presser feet - from A to Z of Sewing

    Cording, piping, or beading foot
    A large groove in the sole of these feet allows heavier threads, cording, and other high-relief decorative trims to pass freely under the foot after being stitched.

    Cording presser foot- from A to Z of Sewing

    Darning foot
    A darning foot is spring loaded, hopping over the surface while you move the fabric from side to side or backward and forward. This foot requires the feed dogs to be covered with a special stitch plate or to be lowered under the normal sole plate.

    Darning foot- from A to Z of Sewing

    Embroidery foot
    This foot is completely open in front of the needle, making the work clearly visible. There is also a wedge-shaped indentation under the foot, which allows dense satin (zigzag) stitching to glide through without becoming jammed. The angle in the indentation makes it possible to follow curves easily.

    Embroidery foot - from A to Z of Sewing

    Pintuck foot
    This is used with a twin needle to stitch pintucks, spacing the tucks by positioning the previous tuck in one of the grooves under the foot.

    Pintuck presser foot- from A to Z of Sewing

    Rolled-hem foot
    The raw edge of the fabric is guided through a tunnel in this foot in front of the needle; it produces a perfectly folded and stitched narrow hem.

    Rolled-hem foot- from A to Z of Sewing

    Walking foot
    A walking foot is the perfect tool for machine-quilting straight lines across the three layers—top, batting, and backing—of a quilt. The walking foot works in unison with the lower feed dogs, passing upper layers of fabric under the foot at the same rate as the lower layers. Its name comes from the way the foot moves up and down, "walking" across the uppermost layer of fabric rather than pressing against it.

    Walking foot- from A to Z of Sewing

    Zipper foot
    This is a narrow, one-toed foot with notches on both sides for the needle positions. Adjust the foot or the needle position to stitch with the required side against the teeth of the zipper. A broad foot with rollers that uncurl the zipper coils is available for inserting invisible zippers.

    Zipper foot - from A to Z of Sewing

    A to Z of Sewing - The Ultimate Guide for Beginning to Advanced Sewing

    Have fun with your feet! You’ll find step-by-step photo tutorials showing how to use a zipper foot, pintuck foot, cording foot, and more in A to Z of Sewing: The Ultimate Guide for Beginning to Advanced Sewing.

    Which types of sewing-machine feet do you enjoy using? Is there a specialty foot you couldn’t stitch without? Tell us about your favorite presser feet in the comments!

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  7. Quirky question: how’d you get so creative?

    Posted by on April 16, 2014, in quirky question

    Martingale's Quirky Question

    Thanks for stopping by for the weekly Quirky Question—where questions are just for fun, your answers are always welcome, and you could win an eBook for free!

    Vintage Bow Ties quiltRight: “Vintage Bow Ties” by Karen Costello Soltys, from Bits and Pieces. Get the eBook for $11.39 this week only; see a slideshow of quilts from the book below.

    Whether you were raised by a pack of quilters or you started quilting all on your own, it’s likely that someone, somewhere inspired you to pick up needle and thread for the first time. In today’s question, tell us about the person who passed along their passion for quilting to you:

    Who has been your biggest creative influence?

    Post your answer in the comments before noon (PST) on Monday, April 21, for your chance to win. The carefully selected winning answer will be posted on Wednesday, April 23, along with the next question.

    Last week’s Quirky Question was, “Have you made an ‘ugly’ quilt? What happened…and where is it now?” Here’s the winning comment, from Kathy:

    “Before I make a quilt, I take the time to put fabrics together to see how they complement each other. I ignored that process once when I made my husband a quilt from his school colors—maroon and gold. I chose two solids that competed since they were the same value. I didn’t care for the color combination but completed it anyway, hoping it would look better when finished. Finishing didn’t improve the look so the quilt was relegated to the back of his car. Through the years, it has warmed sleepy children riding in the back seat on winter nights. It has also covered the ground for numerous picnics and trips to the beach. I would never have done these things to a ‘pretty’ quilt. Ugly can serve a purpose because I won’t stress over damaging an ugly quilt. Twenty years later, it is still holding strong!”

    Congratulations, Kathy—look for an email about your free eBook.

    One Patch Garden quilt

    One Patch Garden

    Plaid Coins quilt

    Plaid Coins

    Box of Chocolates quilt

    Box of Chocolates

    Americana Nine Patch quilt

    Americana Nine Patch

    Waste Not Want Not quilts

    Waste Not Want Not

    Sugarplum Stars quilt

    Sugarplum Stars

    Pastel Pinwheels quilt

    Pastel Pinwheels

    Sunny Lanes quilt

    Sunny Lanes

    Amish-Inspired Shoofly quilt

    Amish-Inspired Shoofly

    Christmas Goose quilt

    Christmas Goose

    12-Karat Four Patch quilt

    12-Karat Four Patch

    Antique Diamonds quilt

    Antique Diamonds

    Pennsylvania Star quilt

    Pennsylvania Star

    Japanese Circles quilt

    Japanese Circles

    Maple Sugar Hearts quilt

    Maple Sugar Hearts

    Sweet Pea quilt

    Sweet Pea

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  8. Baby animal quilts on parade (+ giveaway!)

    Appliqued owl from Animal ParadeTwice a year, I have the privilege of attending International Quilt Market. It’s part of my job and there’s a lot of work involved, but it’s fun work that results in a satisfying exhaustion. We’re there to showcase our books and authors, meet our customers, and see what’s new in design trends, fabrics, and notions. We’re also on the lookout for great new authors.

    We found one of our great new authors at Fall Quilt Market a few years ago. Perhaps I should say she found us. I was meeting with someone in our booth when I heard excited gasps coming from a few feet away. The gasps became murmurs, then giggles, and ultimately squeals of delight as a young woman pulled quilt after adorable quilt out of a suitcase and held them up for all to see. That young woman was Cheri Leffler, and those adorable animal baby quilts went on to become Animal Parade.

    It’s unusual for a designer to show up with an entire book’s worth of quilts, and Cheri wasn’t sure when she came into the Martingale booth that day whether we would like her designs. Like them?? We were over the moon, and so was everyone else within range. These were some of the cutest, most original animal-appliqué quilt patterns we’d seen, and we were so excited that she’d brought them to us. Now it is my pleasure to present them to you.

    Babies and toddlers love animals, and this gathering of sweet smiling friends offers lots of options. The mischievous monkeys and cuddly koalas are irresistible, of course…

    Quilts from Animal Parade
    “Goin’ Bananas” and “Tree Huggers”

    …but so are the gentle giraffes and the frolicking baby foxes.

    Quilts from Animal Parade
    “Heads in the Clouds” and “Kits ’n’ Caboodle”

    I’d love to make every baby animal-quilt in this book, but when I learned I was about to become a grandmother again, I knew I had to choose one and get busy. Luckily, the choice was made for me when it was decided the nursery would have an owl theme. Hooray! I had just the quilt…or not.

    Whoo Dat? quilt from Animal Parade
    “Whoo Dat?”

    My daughter-in-law liked the owls, but she was torn because she also loved the tree motif and background from “Goin’ Bananas.” Hmm. What to do? Get creative! I used the tree pattern from “Goin’ Bananas” and three of the owls from “Whoo Dat?” to make my own design. It’s not quite finished yet but I love the way it’s turning out. What do you think?

    Mary's owl quilt
    Mary’s owl quilt

    I hadn’t actually thought of these patterns as being so versatile until I needed to modify the owl quilt. Once I started looking at the designs differently, I realized that there are all sorts of fun options here. Wouldn’t a giraffe and a monkey look cute in the same quilt? Couldn’t the frog and the ducks share a pond? Just imagine the possibilities! Not only are the designs adorable and the patterns full-size and easy to work with, but the variety is huge!

    Animal ParadeDo you know a little one who loves animals? Which quilt would you make…or design? Share your ideas in the comments and you could win a copy of the Animal Parade eBook! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win.

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  9. Smart block patterns for scrap quilts (+ sale!)

    Save on select eBooks - this week only

    From Quilts from the Heart IIWhether you have a bagful, a few drawers full, or a room full of scraps, get ready to celebrate them! Today we’re sharing ideas for quilting with scraps—with one important consideration in mind: choosing blocks that are perfect for the scrappy approach. If you’ve ever wished that you could stitch scrappy blocks with abandon—without worrying how they’ll come together in the end—the blocks below just might make your wish come true. They lend themselves to looking sharp in scrap quilts for three reasons: the value choices are simple, the piecing is doable, and the designs are beautiful.

    Whether you have time to piece just one scrappy block a day or you prefer to “block” out time to make a big pile of them in one sitting, four-time author Lynn Roddy Brown has some solid advice to share. Her solutions will inspire you to experiment with settings, sashings, and more to create a scrap quilt that shines with personality—which is why we save all those scraps in the first place!

    Discover just a few of Lynn’s tips in the following excerpt from Simple Strategies for Block-Swap Quilts. Then get inspired to play with her scrap-quilt designs, as well as the designs of the other authors featured below. Download any of these eBooks instantly—get them all for 40% off this week only!

    Excerpt from Simple Strategies for Block-Swap Quilts
    by Lynn Roddy Brown

    Blocks that are good for scraps can be set many different ways and work well with alternate blocks. Choose blocks that are easy to piece and range in size from 4″ to 9″ square. This encourages the making of many blocks and allows for more design possibilities.

    Fewer seams usually means more accurate blocks. I find that if I’ve made many easy-to-piece blocks, it isn’t difficult to set aside a few that I don’t like. If I’ve spent hours making 12 large, complicated blocks, my expectations will be high. This often results in disappointment.

    Four Patch units + half-square triangles
    For Lynn, simple sewing is key. Left: Four-patch units and half-square triangle units show off blue and yellow scraps. Right: the same units, made with a rainbow of scraps, create an energy and charm all their own.

    After my first look at a group of blocks in a straight setting, I will try them on point. An on-point setting often creates diagonal lines, which keeps the viewer’s eye moving across the surface and makes for a more interesting quilt.

    If blocks don’t seem to go together, separating them with alternate blocks often helps. Adding alternate blocks is also an easy way to make a larger quilt. Since alternate blocks will be as much as half of the blocks, they can also cause a shift in mood. If blocks need to be calmed down, add alternate blocks in grayed tones. Bright alternate blocks can perk up a boring group of blocks. Adding alternate blocks is also a way to shift color. If you want a blue quilt, add alternate blocks in a blue fabric that you really like.

    Churn Dash quilts
    Churn Dash, four ways.
    Top left: Churn Dash sits on point with the addition of triangles on all four sides, creating a secondary zigzag pattern between the blocks. Top right: Church Dash gets a lift with Flying Geese sashing. Bottom left: “Civil War and Blue” by Fran Urquhart is a good example of using alternate blocks to bring out one particular color. Bottom right: In “I’ll Fly Away,” Barbara Reynolds set her blocks on point and side by side, creating additional patterns and interest.

    Simple Strategies for Block-Swap QuiltsLet Lynn introduce you to many more scrap-friendly blocks in Simple Strategies for Block-Swap Quilts, along with ideas for organizing your own block swaps. Click here to view a gallery of all the quilts in the book; download the eBook this week for only $11.39.

    A little goes a long way: scrap-quilt blocks from Bits and Pieces by Karen Costello Soltys

    Quilts from Bits and Pieces
    Left: the Chinese Coins quilt block is a favorite old pattern that combines narrow bits of scrap fabrics into long strips. Here, the coins are all made using strips of plaid fabrics (get the ePattern here). Right: Easily make either or both of these half-square triangle quilts with scraps in red, blue, gold, purple, and green (get the ePattern here).

    Quilts from Bits and Pieces
    Left: The Ohio Star block is a perennial favorite among quilters. Make the quilt interesting by using a variety of prints, plaids, and stripes for the star centers (get the ePattern here). Right: Pastel Pinwheel blocks combine two sets of Karen’s favorite fabrics—Japanese prints and hand-dyed pastel solids (get the ePattern here).

    Bits and PiecesDiscover more simple-to-sew blocks for your scraps in Bits and Pieces, which includes 18 classic quilt patterns. Click here to view a gallery of quilts from the book; download the eBook instantly for $11.39 this week only.

    Make ’em in multiples: Scrap-quilt blocks from Quilts from the Heart II by Karin Renaud

    Fanny's Dream quilt from Quilts from the Heart II
    If you’re a fan of chain piecing, Karin’s block choices are right up your alley. The units in this Fanny’s Favorite block are perfect for chain-pieced patchwork. As you can see from the close-up of the block, once your color palette is chosen, anything goes. (Get the ePattern here.)

    Matt's Mosaic quilt from Quilts from the Heart II
    Create a profusion of movement with the Swamp Angel block, made up of half-square and quarter-square triangles. Different-colored scraps can be placed almost anywhere with a forgiving white background; the architecture of the block reins the design in. (Get the ePattern here.)

    Flotsam and Jetsam quilt from Quilts from the Heart II
    The Jacob’s Ladder block lends itself to many layouts—off center as shown, radiating from the middle, forming Xs to make a lattice, or turned blocks that make diagonal lines. (Get the ePattern here.)

    Quilts from the Heart IIChoose from 18 quilt patterns in Quilts from the Heart II, each designed with your scraps in mind. Click here to view a gallery of quilts from the book; download the eBook instantly for $11.39 this week only.

    Which quilt blocks have you featured your scraps in? Share your top picks in the comments!

    You might also like:Therapy—compliments of your next scrap quilt

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  10. Hate finishing? How to knit seamless sweaters

    Martingale's Knit and Crochet Friday

    From Seamless (or Nearly Seamless) KnitsHow many times have you completed the bulk of a sweater pattern, just to leave the pieces unfinished in your WIP basket? How many times have you paid someone else to sew those sweaters together because you just really hate the finishing?

    If that’s you, you’re not alone! Turns out, there are many, many knitters who don’t enjoy the final task of sewing sweater pieces together. Andra Knight-Bowman, Martingale author and former yarn shop owner, had heard the complaint time and time again from her customers—and she couldn’t blame them, because it wasn’t her favorite task either.

    That’s what propelled Andra to design a collection of patterns for the knitter who hates the finishing: Seamless (or Nearly Seamless) Knits. As she put together the patterns, she discovered that there are many different ways to make sweaters seamless. Think you’ll be confined to sweater vests? Think again!

    Take a look at some of the seamless-sweater knitting patterns in Seamless (or Nearly Seamless) Knits and what makes them perfect for finishing-phobic knitters:

    Building from the Bottom Up: Patterns start at the bottom hem and are worked up toward the shoulders. The sleeves are either worked in the same fashion and completed with a join or picked up at the armholes and worked down to the cuff. Easy!

    Projects from Seamless (or Nearly Seamless) Knits

    Taking It from the Top Down: Starting at the shoulders and working your way down to the bottom makes these sweaters a breeze. Knitting down from the top makes it easy to lengthen or shorten a sweater or the sleeves, because you can try on your project before you bind off.

    Projects from Seamless (or Nearly Seamless) Knits

    Somewhat Side-to-Side: These patterns are made somewhat side-to-side; not too challenging, just a different approach to making a garment. Side-to-side patterns are perfect for knitters who want a change from the typical way of making a garment, with beautiful results.

    Projects from Seamless (or Nearly Seamless) Knits

    See more of the designs from Seamless (or Nearly Seamless) Knits in the gallery.

    Take Andra’s advice: “Leave the stress of sewing seams aside. After all, knitting is our therapy. Isn’t knitting supposed to be relaxing?”

    So why not try knitting a sweater you’ll actually enjoy completing? You can get Seamless (or Nearly Seamless) Knits right now at ShopMartingale.com—and remember that when you buy the book, you’ll get the eBook version for free right away (just in case you hate waiting for the mail as much as you hate the finishing).

    What’s the most appealing thing about knitting a seamless sweater? Tell us in the comments!

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