1. 14% off select eBooks with code VALENTINE

    Posted by on February 13, 2015, in crochet & knitting, ,

    Valentine's Day sale!

    We LOVE our readers—quilters, knitters, sewists, and crocheters, we love you all! To show how much we care, we’re giving you 14% OFF select eBooks for Valentine’s Day Weekend with code VALENTINE. Add as many to your cart as your heart desires and enter the code at checkout for a sweet discount. Better hurry—this offer is good only until Monday, February 16, at noon (PST).

    Don’t forget the fabric or yarn! Stop by your local shop today and bring them a Valentine while you’re at it. Find printable shopper-to-shop valentine cards here.

    Create a gift from the heart with the eBooks below:

    Young at Heart Quilts A Dozen Roses Knits from the Heart
    Quilts from the Heart II Crochet from the Heart One-of-a-Kind Quilt Labels
    Gathered from the Garden Wrapped in Comfort Joined at the Heart

    Get these and more select eBooks for 14% OFF now until Monday, February 16, at noon (PST).


    Which is your favorite Valentine’s Day motif: hearts, or flowers? Tell us in the comments!


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  2. 7 super-quick crafts for Valentine’s Day (yes, that quick)

    Handmade Valentines free patternsValentine’s Day is only two days away—but there’s still time to give your valentine a gift with a handmade touch! Simply register or log in to our Freebies page and get access to how-tos for all 7 fast, fun valentine crafts below.

    We’re proud to point out that these projects were made just for you, by us. It’s like our own little valentine to you. Hugs!

    Download the 19-page eBooklet and get instructions for making all 7 projects—free!

    Conversation Heart Ornament/Pincushion free pattern

    Senior customer service representative Cornelia designed these handmade valentines for all the sweethearts in your life. Quickly whip them up in multiples; then turn them into ornaments (with a little ribbon) or pincushions (with a little stuffing).

    Download Cornelia’s “Conversation Heart” valentine pattern >>>

    Hugs and Kisses quilted postcard free pattern
    Machine-quilting mavens, stitch your heart out! Learn a clever “caffeine stitch” technique as you make this adorable little postcard quilt, courtesy of our director of sales and marketing, Karen J.

    Download Karen’s “Hugs and Kisses” postcard pattern >>>

    Tiny Heart Wool Pillow pattern

    Our marketing coordinator, Mary B., shows you how to turn buttons and scraps of wool into a whimsical, heart-filled pillow for a special valentine. Her project was inspired by a technique featured in the June/July 2010 issue of Quilting Arts magazine.

    (A side note: I (Jenny, the person writing this post!) gushed about Mary’s pillow so much that she gave it to me. The pillow is displayed in my living room year-round, along with a few other heart-shaped items. I treasure it!)

    My tiny heart wool pillow

    Download Mary’s “Tiny Heart Wool Pillow” pattern >>>

    You're a Good Egg Valentine free pattern
    Acquisitions editor Karen B. designed a sweet valentine using fabric that features one of her favorite themes—chickens! (She owns several.) Don’t have chicken or egg fabric? Choose your favorite novelty prints and dream up a valentine that incorporates the theme.

    Download Karen’s “You’re a Good Egg” pattern >>>

    Minkee Heart Wristlet free pattern
    I (Jenny) designed this simple wristlet with a rectangle of denim and a scrap of fuzzy plush fabric. You can sew several wristlets in just an hour or two. Give one to a tween or teen girl and the rest to her BFFs!

    Download Jenny’s “Minkee Heart Wristlet” pattern >>>

    Hershey Kisses Valentine Message free project
    If you’re looking for super-duper quick valentine ideas, look no further! Our marketing graphic designer, Sarah, made a sweet batch of last-minute valentines with a bag of Hershey’s Kisses, a sheet of stickers, and a bunch of markers. So easy even kids can join the fun.

    Download the how-to for Sarah’s “Hershey Kisses Valentine Messages” >>>

    Knitted and Crocheted Hearts to Share free pattern
    Knitters and crocheters, take heart! Make these adorable felted hearts designed by technical editor Ursula and her friend Ruth. Turn them into pins, shawl closures, key fobs, hair clips—whatever fits your valentine’s style.

    Download Ursula and Ruth’s “Knitted and Crocheted Hearts to Share” pattern >>>


    Who will you surprise with a valentine this year: your main squeeze, your kids, your grandkids, your best friend? Tell us in the comments!

    You might also like: 8 heart quilt-block patterns for Valentine’s Day


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  3. A simple baby-quilt pattern—free!

    Let’s face it, every quilter needs a baby-quilt pattern at some point, right? Whether for your own child or grandchild, a charity program, or a guild project, you’re going to make a baby quilt and chances are, you want it to be quick and easy. And what makes a quick and easy pattern even better? When it’s free!

    We want you to have this simple baby-quilt pattern, free. “Children’s Delight,” by Ursula Reikes, is from her bestselling book, Even More Quilts for Baby: Easy as A,B,C.

    Children's Delight free baby quilt pattern
    Sign in or register to download the “Children’s Delight” pattern right now.

    This easy baby quilt looks adorable in any fabrics, so it can easily become your go-to pattern. Feature sweet nursery-rhyme prints like the version above, or make it in bright and bold prints like this “Giggling Gators” version for a completely different look. Imagine how fun it will be to choose fabrics!

    Giggling Gators free baby quilt pattern
    “Giggling Gators”

    Baby quilts are fast and fun to make, and the first one often leads to more. Who knows where this free pattern might lead you?

    For a great collection of other simple baby quilts to make, check out The Big Book of Baby Quilts. Whether you like traditional or modern, pieced or appliquéd, this jumbo selection of 87 patterns just might fill all your baby-quilt needs.

    Quilts from the Big Book of Baby Quilts
    A few of the many fun patterns in The Big Book of Baby Quilts

    If you have a little more time to spend on your project, consider applying your appliqué skills to one of the unique patterns in Cheri Leffler’s Animal Parade.

    Baby-quilt patterns from Animal Parade
    “Kits and Caboodle” and “Froggy Serenade” from Animal Parade

    These are just a few of the baby-quilt books you’ll find at ShopMartingale.com. Explore them all here.


    How many baby quilts will you make this year? Tell us in the comments.


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  4. Scrap overload? Piece these “little gems” in a flash (+ big giveaway!)

    New-release day: Little Gems


    Got an overload of scraps and not a lot of time to use them up?

    Join the club. And let us introduce you to the president of the club, new Martingale author Connie Kauffman.

    So, how did Connie rise to such a position? She found a solution for all of us scrap collectors who know that some day, and in some deliciously creative way, the scraps we save will shine in a quilt.

    Quilts from Little Gems
    Quilts from
    Little Gems

    Her solution? Paper piecing—and the petite patterns in her new book Little Gems. You see, it doesn’t matter what size or shape of scrap you have. If a scrap fits over a particular section of a paper-pieced pattern and is about ¼" larger than that section on all sides, you can show it off in a “little gems” quilt.

    “Keep your scraps! You’ll be amazed at what
    you can do with your scraps without even
    dipping into your fabric stash.”

    Connie Kauffman, author of Little Gems

    Paper piecing makes accuracy a no-brainer, and Connie’s tiny treasures are an efficient way to learn the technique. Eager to learn more about these small, speedy, scrap-friendly quilts? You’re in luck—Connie’s our guest blogger today! But first…


    BIG GIVEAWAY ALERT! Our friends at Ackfeld Manufacturing have given us one of their wildly popular quilt stands to give away to you! (This one’s featured on the cover of Connie’s book—quilt not included.)

    Ackfeld Wire and Little Gems giveaway!

    Learn how to win it—plus a copy of Little Gems and a pack of our Papers for Foundation Piecing—at the bottom of this post.


    Connie KauffmanMaking small quilts is a fun adventure! It’s not as intimidating to try something new when you’re making a small quilt. Small quilts don’t require much in terms of fabric, batting, and other supplies. In fact, you probably already have everything you need for a small project.

    In my book Little Gems, I share my adventure in paper piecing small quilts. All the projects except one are only 12″ x 12″. The backing and casing can be made from one fat quarter. The fabrics for the quilt tops are mostly under ⅛ yard or just scrap fabrics. The batting you need is only 14″ x 14″, so you can also use up some of those small leftover pieces of batting you probably have on hand.

    Making a small quilt is also a great time to try something you’ve never dared to do before on a “major” project. Have you ever embellished with buttons or beads?

    Quilts from Little Gems
    From left: “Black and White Delight” and “Red Hots” from
    Little Gems

    Or tried using rickrack?

    Cotton Candy quilt from Little Gems
    “Cotton Candy”

    Maybe you haven’t even tried paper piecing—yet! With Little Gems, it’s a great time to try.

    Little Gems takes you step by step through the process of paper piecing. It’s easy if you take it one step at a time. Once you’ve made a block or two, you’ll have mastered the technique!

    Playing with Plaids quilt from Little Gems
    “Playing with Plaids”

    “Playing with Plaids” (above) is the first quilt in the book. Each block has only three sections to paper piece. This is a very easy project for a beginner, as well as for anyone who has a fun stash of plaids!

    Little GemsEnvision the patterns using fabrics from your stash. Try new color combinations and different embellishments. And try out the Ackfeld wire hangers and stands that are used with each project in the book. They’re a PERFECT way to highlight your small quilts. I especially love the stands. They look lovely on dressers, pianos, desks, and more. Check them out at your local quilt shop or online!


    Connie, thanks for sharing your “little gems” with us!

    What’s the littlest “little gem” you’ve ever made: a wall quilt, a baby quilt, a table topper…a postcard? Tell us in the comments and you could win a copy of Little Gems, a pack of Papers for Foundation Piecing, and the beautiful quilt stand from our friends at Ackfeld Manufacturing! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win. Good luck!

    Comments are closed for this post.

    Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The winner is Tamara, who says:

    “The smallest sewing project was a labor of love for a special grandchild. Drapes and matching blankets for the dollhouse my husband made. Her favorite colors are pink and purple which were not in my scraps or stash.”

    Tamara, we’ll email you about your prizes. Congratulations!


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  5. How to finish quilt binding (diagonal-seam method)

    How to finish quilt binding

    Who better to call on for a quilt-binding tutorial than Mimi Dietrich? Mimi’s book on how to finish quilts, Happy Endings, has been a favorite of quilters since it was published in 1987 and revised in 2003. In it you’ll find creative ideas for binding your quilts in most any way you can imagine.

    (There’s even a section on how to bind your quilts without binding. How do you even do that?)

    Quilt-binding examples from Happy Endings
    A few binding examples from
    Happy Endings

    One of Mimi’s smartest tips comes at the end of the binding process—connecting the beginning and end of the binding. And although she’ll show you three different ways to connect your binding ends in her book, the diagonal-seam method is her favorite, as it makes for the smoothest finish.

    Take a look at how easy the technique is—it may just change the way you bind your quilts!


    How to finish quilt binding: diagonal seam

    From Happy Endings by Mimi Dietrich

    What a neat way to join the ends of the binding! When the quilt is finished, this diagonal seam will look exactly like any other binding seam. It’s fun to do, too.

    1. Stop sewing the binding approximately 6″ away from the starting point. Cut the end of your binding with a perpendicular cut so that it overlaps the beginning end of your binding. The length of the overlap must equal the width of your binding strip. (For example, use a 2″ overlap for 2″-wide binding and a 2½" overlap for 2½"-wide binding.)

    How to finish quilt binding 1

    2. Open the folds of the two strips and overlap them at right angles with right sides together as shown. Pin them together. Draw a diagonal line between the two points where the binding strips intersect as shown.

    How to finish quilt binding 2

    3. Sew the ends together on the marked line and then trim the seam allowance to ¼". Press the seam allowance open.

    How to finish quilt binding 3

    4. Refold the seamed section of the strip, return it to the edge of the quilt, and finish sewing the binding in place. A perfect fit every time!

    How to finish quilt binding 4


    Happy EndingsFind oodles of inventive ways to bind your quilts in Happy Endings, including:

    • Finishing rounded corners
    • Making imitation binding
    • Working with sculpted edges
    • Finishing edges with backing
    • Finishing with overlapped corners
    • Finishing with mitered corners
    • Continuous bias binding
    • Striped and plaid binding
    • Scrappy, scalloped, and sculpted bindings
    • Grandmother’s Flower Garden edges
    • Adding trims, cording, piping, prairie points, lace, and ruffles

    Pick up Happy Endings for $24.99 and instantly get the pdf eBook for free; you can start reading right away. Or, skip the shipping costs and buy the eBook only—you’ll save $8.00!

    Need quilt-border ideas, too?

    The Border WorkbookFind the perfect border for any quilt in The Border Workbook—the quintessential guide to framing your quilt blocks! Choose from 27 border designs to strip piece or paper piece, such as Flying Geese, Log Cabin, Sawtooth, and braided borders, plus fun pictorial motifs like hearts and paw prints. Includes yardage charts so you can estimate the fabric needed for the quilt you’re working on, no matter what size.

    See more from The Border Workbook >


    How many different methods do you use to bind your quilts: more than four, two or three, or just one so far? Tell us in the comments!


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  6. 6 Valentine’s Day gift ideas to knit and crochet

    Martingale's Knit and Crochet Friday
    Valentine's Day gift ideas to knit and crochet

    Looking for last-minute homemade gifts to make for Valentine’s Day? Here are 6 quick and easy Valentine’s Day gifts you can knit or crochet! Whether for friends or family, these knit and crochet valentine patterns are sure to please, while showing how much you care.

    Valentine Knitting Patterns

    Cupcake Cutie knitted hat
    Make a sweet hat for a niece, nephew, or grandbaby. See more baby knitting patterns in Grammy’s Favorite Knits for Baby.

    Projects from Knit Pink
    Heart motifs are fun for Valentine’s Day! Knit a pillow or a quick, pretty washcloth set for a friend. Find more knitting patterns that show you care in Knit Pink.

    Valentine Crochet Patterns

    Crocheted cup cozies
    Treat your valentine to a quick-and-easy coffee cozie. Add a gift card to a favorite coffee shop for a doubly sweet gift. Find more projects that show your affection in Crochet Pink.

    Crocheted Valentine bears
    Sweet amigurumi bears in love make a perfect addition to a candy basket. See more than 70 amigurumi patterns from The Big Book of Little Amigurumi.


    Crocheted headband
    Crochet a quick headband and ear warmer for a fashionable friend. Add a special rose or other Valentine’s Day–themed embellishment. See more crochet gift patterns in Crochet Pink.


    Who’s your valentine this year? Tell us in the comments!


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  7. Learn free-motion quilting in new Sewing with Nancy videos

    Molly Hanson with Nancy Zieman
    Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners author Molly Hanson visits Nancy Zieman at the Sewing with Nancy studio.

    Most quilters fall into one of two camps: those who’ve tried free-motion quilting and those who want to try. Have you given it a go?

    If you haven’t yet—or if you’ve tried with unfortunate results—or if you’ve tried, succeeded, and want to go further—we’ve got an all-inclusive, ease-into-it plan that will build your confidence.

    The plan is simple: Watch. Read. Do!

    Molly Hanson’s resource-rich book, Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners and Those Who Think They Can’t, is the focus of two new FREE videos from PBS’s popular Sewing with Nancy TV series. Pair Molly’s hands-on, visual demonstrations with step-by-step guidance from her book, and you’ll be free-motion quilting in no time.

    > Watch part 1 of Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners on Sewing with Nancy: See Molly demonstrate stippling, loop-de-loop, and pebble patterns. (Already know how to set up your machine for free-motion quilting? Start stippling with Molly at the 7:27 mark.)

    Sewing with Nancy free-motion quilting episode 1

    > Watch part 2 of Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners on Sewing with Nancy: In this episode Molly demonstrates paisley, wood-grain, and swirl patterns, as well as print tracking—quilting by following a design printed on fabric.

    Sewing with Nancy free-motion quilting episode 2

    Love the practice projects featured in the Sewing with Nancy videos? You’ll find step-by-step instructions for making them all in Molly’s book:

    Projects from Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners
    Step-by-step projects to make from
    Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners

    Free-Motion Quilting for BeginnersIn Molly’s book you’ll also learn how to:

    Set up your space for free-motion quilting, from the best tools to proper ergonomics

    • Use your body’s muscle memory as a starting point—begin by quilting your name

    • Free-motion quilt 10 different quilting designs on fat-quarter-sized practice pieces

    • Create 15 pretty, practical projects that will continue to build your confidence

    Plus, learn the 5 steps Molly takes every single time before staring a project to ensure success.

    Test that tension, drop those feed dogs, and commence quilting! Click here, and then on the “Customer Reviews” tab, to read enthusiastic reviews of Molly’s book.


    What’s your go-to method for quilting right now: machine quilting, hand quilting, or quilting by check? Tell us in the comments!


    QuiltConGoing to QuiltCon?

    So are these Martingale authors! Meet them, buy their book, and have it autographed!

    Thursday, 2/19

    10:00 am – 6:00 pm: Natalie Barnes, Beyond the Reef #523
    11:00 am: Heather Scrimsher, Modern Cotton #306
    1:00 pm: Elizabeth Dackson, Island Quilter #109
    5:00 pm: Vanessa Christenson, Modern Cotton #306

    Friday, 2/20

    10:00 am – 6:00 pm: Natalie Barnes, Beyond the Reef #523
    10:30 am: Amy Ellis, Walker Hall Design #122
    11:30 am: Elizabeth Dackson, Modern Cotton #306

    Saturday, 2/21

    10:00 am – 6:00 pm: Natalie Barnes, Beyond the Reef #523
    10:00 am: Deanne Moore, Modern Cotton #306
    10:30 am: Krista Hennebury, Island Quilter #109
    11:00 am: Amy Ellis, Pile O’ Fabric #514
    11:30 am: Heather Scrimsher, Valli & Kim #112
    1:00 pm: Krista Hennebury, Modern Cotton #306
    2:00 pm: Jen Eskridge, Valli & Kim #112
    3:00 pm: Amy Ellis, Austin Sewing Machines #615

    Sunday, 2/22

    10:00 am – 6:00 pm: Natalie Barnes, Beyond the Reef #523
    10:30 am: Jen Eskridge, Modern Cotton #306
    11:00 am: Elizabeth Dackson, Austin Sewing Machines #615
    3:00 pm: Deanne Moore, Modern Cotton #306


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  8. How to wash a quilt: dust, dirt, spills, worse (+ printable)

    Picture this: Your precious grandchildren surprise you with breakfast in bed on your birthday. Wonderful, right? And then the orange juice tips off the tray and onto the appliquéd, hand-quilted masterpiece you’ve proudly displayed on your bed for years. Quick—what do you do (besides bite your tongue and whimper a little)? Or maybe you’ve discovered a fabulous antique quilt in a local shop but it smells a little, um, funky. If you bring it home, can you wash it? Or suppose, like many of us, you’ve given the gift of a baby quilt only to learn later that it was put away for safekeeping so it wouldn’t get dirty. That quilt would be drooled on and cuddled and dragged around, just like you meant it to be, if the baby’s mom knew the basics of quilt cleaning.

    One-of-a-Kind Quilt LabelsToday we’re going to discuss how to wash a quilt. It’s not hard and it’s not scary, provided you follow a few guidelines. The most important things to consider are the quilt’s age and its construction. Keep in mind that any laundering will contribute to wear and fading, so try not to wash too often except perhaps for baby quilts. Let’s look at a few scenarios and a good approach for each. These tips from author Thea Nerud appear in her book, One-of-a-Kind Quilt Labels.

    Thea prints cleaning instructions onto fabric that she then turns into a quilt label. Brilliant! The instructions below are abbreviated; you can print out Thea’s complete instructions by downloading this free printable. Even if you don’t add washing instructions to a label, it’s a good idea to include them with any gift quilt.

    First up, machine stitched, machine quilted: Think baby quilt, couch throw, dorm quilt, bed quilt—these are quilts made to withstand the rigors of regular use. Machine wash in warm or cold water. Set the machine for gentle or delicate, at the highest water level and for the shortest cycle. Use quilt soap such as Orvus or a mild detergent. Agitate the quilt for 1 or 2 minutes, stop the machine and soak the quilt for 20 minutes or more, then restart the machine and complete the cycle. To dry, lay the quilt out flat on a sheet or some towels, or machine dry on low.

    Grace's Quilt from Cuddle Me Quick
    If it’s a baby quilt: toss it in the machine! (“Grace’s Quilt” by Christine Porter, from Cuddle Me Quick by Christine Porter and Darra Williamson.)

    Hand or machine stitched, hand quilted: You’ll want to be more careful here. A quilt that was made by hand should be washed by hand. Run warm water in a bathtub or laundry sink and add quilt soap or mild detergent. Press the quilt down into the water and let it soak for 20 minutes or more. Drain the tub and add fresh water to rinse the quilt, repeating this process until the water runs clear. Carefully remove the quilt from the tub; if it’s large, use a sheet as a sling and get someone to help you. The idea is to avoid putting any strain on the stitching. To dry, spread the quilt out flat on a sheet or some towels. Turn the quilt over several times if necessary until it’s thoroughly dry.

    Homestead Harvest quilt from Simple Appeal
    Hand and machine appliqued, hand quilted: treat it to a gentle bath. (“Homestead Harvest” by Kim Diehl, from her book
    Simple Appeal.)

    Antique or damaged: Cleaning old quilts is a delicate process. If the quilt is fragile or damaged, the best approach is to simply air it out, but don’t just hang it on a clothesline. Spread it out on a sheet indoors, or outdoors in the shade. If you wish, vacuum it by covering the end of the vacuum hose with a nylon stocking and holding the hose a few inches away from the quilt. If the quilt is old but undamaged and you’re confident it’s been washed before, and you really want to wash it, follow the directions above for hand washing.

    Four Play quilt from Small Blocks Stunning Quilts
    Oh, no you don’t. This amazing antique does not want to go near the water. A good airing and maybe a little vacuuming should do the trick. (“Four Play,” circa 1880, maker unknown, from the collection of Biz Storms, in the book
    Small Blocks, Stunning Quilts by Mary Elizabeth Kinch and Biz Storms.)

    What not to do to a quilt: Dry clean. Never. The chemicals are unkind to quilt fibers.

    With a few guidelines and the right tools, you have all you need to give your quilts the care they deserve.


    How do you wash your quilts? Tell us in the comments.


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  9. You’ll be sew inspired: 3 new quilting books for February

    Welcome to Wish-List Day! Get a sneak peek at new quilting books coming to your local quilt shop in February. Click on a book cover and then use the “Wish List” and “Notify Me” tools at ShopMartingale to keep track of your favorites.

    Wish List and Notify Me tools

    Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you’ll know when each book is released. Visit the blog on new-release days and enter to win an eBook!

    Little GemsLittle Gems: 15 Paper-Pieced Miniature Quilts
    by Connie Kauffman

    What’s inside? We’re calling Connie the Cupid of Quilts. Why? Because paper piecing plus a pile of scraps makes such a perfect match! Make these striking quilts entirely from your scrap stash. You’ll rarely be asked for fabric pieces bigger than ⅛ yard to create these 12″ x 12″ beauties.

    Why you’ll love it: Paper piecing makes accuracy a no-brainer, and these tiny treasures are an efficient way to learn the technique. Backing and binding? All you need is a fat quarter.

    Quilts from Little Gems

    BONUS >>> Find illustrated tips for enlarging patterns—create table runners, lap quilts, and more with your favorite “little gems.”

    See all 15 quilts in Little Gems >


    Make It, Take ItMake It, Take It: 16 Cute and Clever Projects to Sew with Friends
    by Krista Hennebury

    What’s inside? Find fresh, fun projects for the two main stages of quilt retreats: getting there and being there. Start with organizational projects that, when sewn, let you travel in style; then choose a beautiful quilt, pillow, or runner to make during the main event.

    Why you’ll love it: Whether you’re a retreat-loving quilter or a stay-at-home sewist, you’ll love these inventive projects for organizing your stuff. Create pack-it-in patchwork totes, a cool half-moon needle case, and a smart sewing mat that stays put under the weight of your machine and includes front-facing pockets for all the small supplies you want to keep at hand, like snips or seam rippers.

    Projects from Make It Take It

    Rainbow ’Round the Cabin quiltsBONUS >>> Twelve of us are already planning an afternoon retreat to make the “Rainbow ’Round the Cabin” quilt (left). Everyone goes home with a completed lap-sized quilt top!

    See all 16 projects in Make It, Take It >

    spacer 10px deep


    A Modern TwistA Modern Twist: Create Quilts with a Colorful Spin
    by Natalie Barnes with Angela Walters

    What’s inside? Think creativity is something you’re born with—you either have it or you don’t? Not so! But knowing how to use the three Cs—color, contrast, and composition—can get your creativity flowing. Let popular designer Natalie Barnes introduce you to the three Cs and give you the tools you need to make clever tweaks that lead to one-of-a-kind quilts.

    Why you’ll love it: Natalie’s tips will become a part of how you create; soon you (yes, you) will come to possess that “innate” creativity too. Start your play with 13 projects, from quilts to table runners and fabric boxes.

    Quilts from A Modern Twist

    BONUS >>> Quilters who sigh at “quilt as desired,” take note! Natalie introduces machine-quilting star Angela Walters, who will walk you through the three Cs as they apply to machine quilting your projects.

    See all 13 projects in A Modern Twist >


    Which new book is lighting your creative fire right now? Tell us in the comments!


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  10. Triangle quilts: making the perfect HST

    Making half square triangles

    What’s your favorite way to make the perfect HST? Perfect what? Half-square triangles, sometimes called triangle squares or bias squares, are often abbreviated as HST in quilting lingo. They’re squares made from two equal triangles sewn together along their diagonal edges, and they’re among the most commonly used elements in quilts. It’s not a stretch to think there are hundreds of half-square-triangle quilt blocks, so learning to make these little guys accurately will go a long way toward expanding your patchwork repertoire.

    Candy Dots quilt from Patchwork Palette
    Don’t let a triangle quilt intimidate you. Learn to make perfect half-square triangles every time. (“Candy Dots” from
    Patchwork Palette by Donna Lynn Thomas)

    Ask a dozen different quilters and chances are good that each will have her own favorite method for making half-square triangles. The techniques vary widely: you can make them one at a time or a dozen at once, sew before you cut, mark before you sew…the choice is yours. Author and teacher Donna Lynn Thomas prefers a simple method that results in perfectly accurate squares every time.

    In her recent book, On-Point Patchwork, Donna explains why her “add-an-inch half-square-triangle units” are so accurate: by adding an inch (instead of the usual ⅞") to the desired finished size of the square, Donna makes slightly oversized triangle squares that she can then cut to the precise measurement needed.

    Here’s how it works: To make 2″ finished half-square triangles, instead of starting with 2⅞" squares, cut two 3″ squares (that is, add an inch) and place them right sides together. Cut them diagonally in half, and sew each pair together using a ¼" seam allowance.

    Making half-square triangles

    Press the resulting squares carefully, then trim them to 2½" (finished size plus seam allowances) using a Bias Square ruler or any square ruler with a diagonal line. That’s all there is to it!

    Split Geese quilt from On-Point Patchwork
    “Split Geese” from
    On-Point Patchwork. Precisely pieced half-square triangles make this quilt sparkle.

    Making the squares slightly oversized helps to avoid the distortion that can sometimes result when they’re cut at their correct size, especially when the finished half-square-triangle units are small.

    Now that you have the key to success, go ahead and tackle that triangle-filled quilt you’ve been avoiding. You’ll love the results!

    Meet Donna Lynn Thomas and learn more about On-Point Patchwork in this video.

    Donna is an National Quilting Associationcertified teacher who’s shared her expertise for more than 30 years. You’ll find more of her quilting wisdom and design inspiration in her current books, including the information-packed Quiltmaking Essentials 1.

    Quiltmaking Essentials I Patchwork Palette On-Point Patchwork Flip Your Way to Fabulous Quilts

    Quiltmaking Essentials 2Coming from Donna in March:

    Quiltmaking Essentials 2: Settings and Borders, Backing and Bindings

    • Helps beginners build confidence; gives seasoned quilters a great refresher

    • Tips and techniques for achieving accurately pieced quilts

    • Learn to easily calculate triangle sizes for on-point settings and how to combine blocks of different sizes

     


    What’s your favorite method for making half-square triangles? Tell us in the comments.


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