1. Free quilt-pattern roundup: our top 5 freebies

    Detail of Peppermint Candy Table RunnerAre you in need of some handmade-holiday inspiration? With Christmas marching toward us (let’s put it in perspective: 77 days and counting), we’re all starting to think about gifts—and how much time we have left to make them.

    Start your gift-giving idea search right now by browsing our top-five free patterns below. These patterns aren’t only quick to make; they’re also free to download! Plus, the list is ranked according to how many times each pattern has been downloaded by Stitch This! readers. How’s that for an instant stamp of approval?

    Match up a free quilt pattern with a name on your gift list; then sign in or register at our site to download any—or all!—of these quilt patterns for free.

    Buttercream Twist free quilt pattern #5: “Buttercream Twist”

    From Homestyle Quilts: Simple Patterns and Savory Recipes by Kim Diehl and Laurie Baker

    Strip piece checkerboard blocks that twist and turn, basket-weave style. Use leftover scraps in a coordinating table topper—a make-in-a-day design that’s perfect for a quick gift.

    Download the “Buttercream Twist” free quilt pattern now.
    Fat Quarter Bag free pattern #4: “Fat Quarter Bag”
    From Fat Quarter Quilts by M’Liss Rae Hawley

    Sew this pretty, practical bag using six fat quarters, plus yardage for the lining and handles. Whip up a retreat bag for a fellow quilter, a duffle for a gym junkie, or an overnight bag for your favorite kid.

    Download the “Fat Quarter Bag” free pattern now.
    Purple Haze free quilt pattern #3: “Purple Haze”
    From Quilt Batik! by Cheryl Brown

    Accumulated a few Jelly Rolls or Bali Pops along your quilting journey? Share them with someone you love by transforming them into this generously sized lap quilt—with enough snuggling room for two.

    Download the “Purple Haze” free quilt pattern now.
    Picnic Basket quilt free pattern #2: “Picnic Basket”

    From Quilting for Joy by Barbara Brandeburg and Teri Christopherson

    First time quilting for Christmas? This super-quick pattern for Jelly Rolls also doubles as an easy quilt for beginners. It doesn’t get much simpler than Four Patch blocks, Nine Patch blocks, and strips!

    Download the “Picnic Basket” free quilt pattern now.
    Peppermint Candy Table Runner free pattern #1:  “Peppermint Candy Table Runner”
    From Deck the Halls: Quilts to Celebrate Christmas by Cheryl Almgren Taylor

    This table-runner pattern is so simple, you can make it in multiples and check off lots of names on your gift list! Bonus instructions are included for making festive Pinwheel-block pillows too.

    Download the “Peppermint Candy Table Runner” free pattern now.

    Want more gift ideas? Browse our specialized gift-giving books! Find small, quick projects to make for most everyone on your gift list, from kids and grown-ups to that one person who seems to have it all.

    Sew Gifts! Sew Practical Sew the Perfect Gift

    Have you made a project from one of our free patterns? Tell us about it in the comments—then snap a photo of it and send it to us! We’d love to share it with our Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest followers.

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  2. Got 5 minutes + 5 fat quarters? (+ fabric giveaway!)

    How about a little quilting arithmetic to keep you on your toes today? (It’s easy, promise—we’ll even give you the answer.)

    5 fat quarters
    + 1 background fabric
    = More fast fat-quarter quilts from bestselling author Kathy Brown!

    Staying Focused quilt
    “Staying Focused” from
    Take 5 Fat Quarters

    Kathy’s first two “Take 5” books have inspired thousands of creative quilts. Her newest book, Take 5 Fat Quarters, puts a whole new spin on the “Take 5” concept. Instead of taking five minutes to choose five fabrics from yardage, you take five minutes to choose five fat quarters. By minute six, you’re off on a new quilting adventure.

    Red Rooster FabricsFABRIC GIVEAWAY ALERT! Our friends at Red Rooster Fabrics have generously donated two beautiful fat-quarter bundles from Kathy’s new “Sprinkles” fabric line to give to you! Learn how you can win one plus a copy of the Take 5 Fat Quarters eBook at the bottom of this post.

    Red Rooster fabric giveaway!

    Cutting layered fat quartersBeyond Kathy’s beautiful, simple quilts, you’ll love her approach to stacking and cutting all your fat quarters at once so you can get right to sewing. You’ll find cutting plans like this one (right) for every quilt in the book. See how her plan lets you keep bigger pieces of fabric intact? Kathy knows you want to be frugal with your precious fat quarters!

    Think of how easily you can start making the quilts below with just five fat quarters each. Perhaps you can whip one up for someone on your holiday gift list. How about another for a birthday or housewarming present? Hey, how about a quilt just for you? “Take 5” and then take your pick!

    Quilts from Take 5 Fat Quarters
    “Spring Fling” and “Drop Box”

    Quilts from Take 5 Fat Quarters
    “Criss-Cross Applesauce” and “Be It Ever So Humble”

    And don’t forget another fun part about Kathy’s books—the stories! If you’re familiar with Kathy’s previous titles, you know she always shares a special story about each quilt she designs. Here’s one of those stories from Take 5 Fat Quarters, about her quilt “Black-Tie Affair.”

    Black-Tie Affair quilt“Our family was big on traditions when I was growing up. One special and favorite tradition was grounded in teaching my two brothers and me how to behave in social situations when we were very young (aka, how not to embarrass your parents in a fancy restaurant). A couple times a year, we would get dressed in our Sunday best, pile into the Rambler station wagon, and head for an unfamiliar restaurant. There we would be faced with crystal goblets, china, and more cutlery than we knew what to do with. Getting to act like the grownups, we were allowed to order Shirley Temples (kid-friendly nonalcoholic drinks made of ginger ale or lemon-lime soda and grenadine or cherries) and whatever we wanted for dinner—a huge treat back in the day!

    When I happened across this grouping of black prints, I knew exactly what I wanted to make with them: a simple yet elegant quilt, one that is surely fitting for a ‘Black Tie Affair’ and a remembrance of those special family outings!”

    Take 5 Fat QuartersFind 15 of Kathy’s fun quilts—and more charming stories—in Take 5 Fat Quarters >

    Print book: $24.99 eBook: $16.99


    How do you collect fat quarters—in bundles or one by one? Tell us in the comments and you could win one of two “Sprinkles” fat-quarter bundles from our friends at Red Rooster Fabrics plus a copy of the Take 5 Fat Quarters eBook! 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 winners are:

    Tabitha, who says: “I collect fat quarters any way they come! If I see a single one I like I get that one or in bunches of five. I buy the whole collection of something I like with a little more planning. Thanks for the giveaway!”

    Andrea, who says, “I usually buy the bundles. Like most quilters, I have an ongoing love affair with fabric. So, the more the merrier! On some rare occasions I have purchased singles, but those are used for specific purposes.”

    We’ll email you about your prizes. Congratulations!

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  3. Quick quilt projects to show you care

    Quilt detail from A Fresh Look at Seasonal Quilts

    Do you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month? It sometimes seems as though we’re bombarded with ads, articles, and stories about breast cancer. We hear it so often we almost become numb to it.

    But I for one am glad to hear those stories. We need a reminder, at least once a year, that hundreds of thousands of women (and men) are affectedand it could just as easily be you or me. Here are the latest statistics:

    Estimated new cases of breast cancer in the United States in 2014: 232,670 (female), 2,360 (male) — From the National Cancer Institute

    Three close friends of mine are breast-cancer survivors, and in 2006 I did the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk. That was an unforgettable experience, and it really made me feel like I was doing something to help. And that is a good feeling.

    Mary's three-day walk for breast cancer

    When someone we know and love is diagnosed with cancer, it’s not unusual to feel as though there’s nothing we can do to help. But while doctors are treating the illness, we can always take care of the person. You can show you care by making a gift that says “I’m thinking about you. Here’s a big hug.”

    Last spring, a friend of our Martingale family was diagnosed with breast cancer. We wanted to let her know we cared, especially since she lived far away and was to start her treatment very soon. We had several bundles of ultra-soft corduroy fabric we’d received from Robert Kaufman Fabrics. Many of the fabrics were pink and cheery, so I asked my co-workers to help make a quick quilt.

    We wanted a portable-sized comfort quilt that she could take with her to treatments and feel our big group hug. We sprung into action and had our “Plenty of Raindrops” quilt, from Stephanie Dunphy’s book Uncommonly Corduroy, ready in no time.

    Comfort quilt from Uncommonly Corduroy
    Stephanie’s quilt from Uncommonly Corduroy, left; our comfort quilt, right.

    Comfort quilt makers
    We took a photo of the Martingale staffers who worked on the comfort quilt, so that we could send it along with the quilt (that’s me in the purple and pink, third from the right).

    Mary's comfort scarfThe 21-wale corduroy fabrics were warm, supple, and soft—perfect for a comfort quilt. We had several blocks left over, so I put them together with the scraps and made a coordinating scarf (right), to keep our friend’s head warm if she started losing her hair.

    If you’re looking for quick quilting ideas for gifts to show you care, you might try a few of these from Uncommonly Corduroy. Along with quilts, it also has patterns for wonderful bags that would make great comfort gifts.

    Projects from Uncommonly Corduroy
    “California Girl Bag and Scarf” and “Ethel and MJ”

    Quilts from Uncommonly Corduroy
    “California Poppies” and “Scooter Bug”

    Bags from Uncommonly Corduroy
    “Abby on the Go” and “I Heart Dresdens”

    Another terrific source of quick quilting projects for giving is Quilts Made with Love by Rachel Griffith. In this “greeting-card assortment” of quilts, Rachel includes a chapter of eight comfort-quilt patterns. All the quilts can be put together quickly, in the traditional pink breast-cancer palette, in another color for cancer awareness, or in your recipient’s favorite color scheme.

    From Quilts Made with Love
    “Farsighted” and “Second Wind”

    From Quilts Made with Love
    “Epilogue” and “Heartfelt”

    I hope I’ve inspired you to let a loved one know you care—and that you’ll want to head to your sewing room right away. But first, donate to a cancer-research charity online, and then get on the phone and schedule your mammogram!

    Have you ever made a gift for a cancer patient, or have you received one? Tell us about it in the comments.

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  4. Six-buck eBooks all October! This week: classic quilts

    Posted by on October 6, 2014, in quilting & sewing, , ,

    Six-buck eBooks this week only


    Stock your computer, laptop, or tablet with popular Martingale quilt books from some of our best-selling authors of all time! Download eBooks instantly and start stitching just minutes from now. Only $6 each this week only.

    Sale ends at midnight on Sunday, October 12.

    Nickel Quilts:
    Great Designs from 5-Inch Scraps

    by Pat Speth and Charlene Thode
    $19.99 $6.00

    Nickel Quilts

    Amazon review: “It’s now over a year later and I am still making quilts from this book.”

    Use just 8 units to make all 20 quilts >

    Color for the Terrified Quilter:
    Plain Talk, Simple Lessons, 11 Projects

    by Ionne McCauley and Sharon Pederson
    $18.95 $6.00

    Color for the Terrified Quilter

    Amazon review: “Whether you’re a beginner or further advanced, there’s lots to learn in this book.”

    There is a step-by-step way to choose colors; this fun book shows you how >

    The Joy of Quilting
    by Joan Hanson and Mary Hickey
    $19.99 $6.00

    The Joy of Quilting

    Amazon review: “I feel that my future in quilting is going to be made much easier.”

    Rely on this essential resource for as long as you quilt >

    Appliqué Takes Wing:
    Exquisite Designs for Birds, Butterflies, and More

    by Jane Townswick
    $19.99 $6.00

    Applique Takes Wing

    Amazon review: “You can truly create magic with your fabric, needle, thread, and the assistance of Jane’s wonderful book.”

    Achieve flawless appliqué with Jane’s guidance and 12 original block patterns >

    Clever Quarters:
    Quilts from Fat-Quarter Cuts

    by Susan Teegarden Dissmore
    $16.99 $6.00

    Clever Quarters

    Amazon review: “I bought this book to get the pattern for a table runner I had seen, but I found several other patterns that I would like to try.”

    No extra yardage needed; quilt tops are 100% fat-quarter friendly >

    Make Room for Christmas Quilts:
    Quilts and Decorating Ideas from Nancy J. Martin

    $19.99 $6.00

    Make Room for Christmas Quilts

    Amazon review: “No matter what time of the year, this book is simply delightful to look through…loaded with many inspiring ideas.”

    Find oodles of ways to showcase your Christmas quilts—everywhere! >

    Design Your Own Quilts
    by Judy Hopkins
    $15.95 $6.00

    Design Your Own Quilts

    Amazon review: “This is one of the greatest quilt books ever…even beginners can expect a great result.”

    Build one-of-a-kind quilts with 12 flexible “blueprints” >

    Folk Art Quilts:
    A Fresh Look

    by Sandy Bonsib
    $18.95 $6.00

    Folk-Art Quilts

    Amazon review: “Lots of charming ideas for all your scraps!”

    Discover dozens of tips for creating quilts with a folk-art look >

    Little Quilts All Through The House
    by Alice Berg, Mary Ellen Von Holt, and Sylvia Johnson
    $13.95 $6.00

    Little Quilts All Through the House

    Amazon review: “A timeless classic! I have made almost every quilt within its pages.”

    Learn to choose “magic” fabrics for an instant antique look >

    Simple Strategies for Block-Swap Quilts
    by Lynn Roddy Brown
    $18.99 $6.00

    Simple Strategies for Block-Swap Quilts

    Amazon review: “Good even if you don’t swap. Just a really down-to-earth, scrap-busting book.”

    Start your own successful block swap! >

    Subscribe to Stitch This!P.S. Sale ends at midnight on Sunday, October 12—but there’ll be a new $6 eBook sale on October 13! SUBSCRIBE to Stitch This! emails so you’re alerted to each $6 eBook sale in October. We’ll feature a different theme each week.

    Own one of these classics? Share your review in the comments!

    3 comments (read all)

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  5. Top tip for sweater making

    Posted by on October 3, 2014, in crochet & knitting, ,

    Martingale's Knit and Crochet Friday

    From Crocheted Aran SweatersWhen you make a sweater from a pattern, how do you know it will fit you or that the proportions will be flattering? Forget the guesswork—start with a sweater you love that fits you well. Then follow the tip below!

    Quick Tip from Crocheted Sweaters
    Find more tips for fit + 20 gorgeous crochet sweater patterns for women in Crocheted Sweaters.

    Crocheted Sweaters Crocheted Aran Sweaters

    What’s your best tip for crocheting (or knitting) sweaters? Tell us in the comments!

    5 comments (read all)

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  6. Scrappy fat-quarter quilts from Fons and Porter (+ giveaway!)

    Posted by on October 2, 2014, in quilting & sewing, , ,

    Fat quarters and sparkling scrap quilts: it’s a match made in quilter’s heaven!

    Spin City quilt by Nancy Mahoney
    “Spin City” by Nancy Mahoney
    Fat-quarter count: 21

    Celebrated quilters Marianne Fons and Liz Porter know the allure of fat quarters all too well. They’re easy to collect and fun to display—and that’s before we even think about cutting and sewing them.

    Triangle Surprise quilt by Edyta SitarBut Marianne and Liz will inspire you to do just that in Scrappy Fat Quarter Quilts, a curated collection of favorite quilts first introduced in Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting magazine. Who else is fanatical about fat quarters? How about the designers featured in this fun new book: Elizabeth Hartman, Nancy Mahoney, Edyta Sitar, Jean Wells, and more—including three quilts from Liz Porter herself!

    Best of all, these timeless fat-quarter quilts are perfect for individual fat quarters—cuts that aren’t packaged in a bundle from a fabric line. So whether you collect bundles or singles, your unique fat-quarter collection will work beautifully in the patterns presented.

    Take a look below at what Marianne and Liz have selected to share in Scrappy Fat Quarter Quilts. Get fat-quarter counts for five of the quilts below—click on any photo to see all the quilts from the book!

    Monkey Business quilt by Evelyn Young
    “Monkey Business” by Evelyn Young

    Fat-quarter count: 24

    Candy Store quilt by Jean Wells
    “Candy Store” by Jean Wells

    Fat-quarter count: 18

    Sparkle Punch quilt by Elizabeth Hartman
    “Sparkle Punch” by Elizabeth Hartman

    Fat-quarter count: 20

    Snowball quilt by Liz Porter
    “Snowball” by Liz Porter

    Fat-quarter count: 48

    Scrappy Triangles quilt by Jean Nolte
    “Scrappy Triangles” by Jean Nolte

    Fat-quarter count: 37

    Scrappy Fat-Quarter QuiltsSee all 13 fat-quarter friendlies in Scrappy Fat Quarter Quilts >

    Print book: $19.99 eBook: $14.99


    How many fat quarters have you collected so far: tens, hundreds…or too many to mention? Tell us in the comments and you could win a copy of the Scrappy Fat Quarter Quilts eBook! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win.

    You might also like:
    Table-runner treats from Fons & Porter

    Comments are closed for this post.

    Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing! The winner is Mary, who says:

    “I have no more than 20 FQ bundles.”

    Mary, we’ll email you about your prize. Congratulations!

    458 comments (read all)

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  7. Wish List Day! New Martingale quilt books (+ giveaway)

    Welcome to Wish-List Day! Get a sneak peek at new books on the way to your local quilt shop in October, November, and December. Keep track of the books you want by using the “Notify Me” and “Wish List” options at ShopMartingale.

    Notify Me and Wish List features

    Browse the latest batch of Martingale quilt books below—then enter to win your favorite at the bottom of this post.

    Take 5 Fat Quarters:
    15 Easy Quilt Patterns

    by Kathy Brown

    Let best-selling author Kathy Brown show you how to launch her “Take 5” concept to a new level—with just 5 fat quarters! Simply add a background fabric to create beautiful, simple quilts in a range of sizes.

    Take 5 Fat Quarters

    Quilts from Take 5 Fat Quarters

    See all 15 quick quilts in Take 5 Fat Quarters >

    The New Hexagon:
    52 Blocks to English Paper Piece

    by Katja Marek

    Who knew there were so many possibilities hidden inside a hexagon? Discover new ways to slice and dice the shape into 52 mesmerizing blocks. Plus, learn a glue-basting method for English paper piecing that will save you tons of time.

    The New Hexagon

    Quilts from The New Hexagon

    See seven lively projects featuring blocks from The New Hexagon >

    Urban and Amish:
    Classic Quilts and Modern Updates

    by Myra Harder

    Love the look of Amish quilts, but wowed by contemporary quilts too? No need to choose! Author Myra Harder explores both styles of quiltmaking by letting one look inspire the other. You may see classic quilts and more modern quilts in a whole new light.

    Urban and Amish

    Quilts from Urban and Amish
    “Amish Bars” and “Horizon Lines”

    Quilts from Urban and Amish
    “Lone Star” and “Urban Ohio”

    Meet 8 Amish quilts and 8 of their present-day playmates in Urban and Amish >

    Baby Says Sew:
    20 Practical, Budget-Minded, Baby-Approved Projects

    by Rebecca Danger

    A creative mom—and three-time bestselling knitting-book author—shares 20 adorable, useful projects that take her back to her sewing roots. Sweet toys, clothing, and nursery essentials have been tested by her 3-year-old son—and are now being further tested by her brand-new baby! Projects are rated by how many naptimes it takes to create a project: 1, 2, or 3:

    How handy is that?

    Baby Says Sew

    Projects from Baby Says Sew

    Find gifts for superheroes and snuggle bugs in Baby Says Sew >

    Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners
    (And Those Who Think They Can’t)

    by Molly Hanson

    Dreaming of making a quilt from start to finish on your home sewing machine—including the quilting? Let Molly help you reach your goal with skill-building techniques, 10 free-motion quilting designs, and 15 fun, small-scale projects.

    Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners

    From Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners

    See the 10 designs you’ll learn to quilt in Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners >

    Vintage Vibe:
    Traditional Quilts, Fresh Fabrics

    by Amber Johnson

    Join past and present as you update classic quilt blocks with fresh color and design. Now you can have the best of both worlds! Newcomer Amber Johnson shares iconic patterns from the past in sweet, cheerful quilts that are sure to become family heirlooms.

    Vintage Vibe

    Quilts from Vintage Vibe

    See more tradition-with-a-twist quilts in Vintage Vibe >

    A Flair for Fabric:
    Creative Sewing Projects from the Designers at Henry Glass

    Compiled by Linda Lum DeBono

    Your flair for fabric is about to reach new heights! Get real-life solutions for choosing fabrics from popular designers—Kim Diehl, Buggy Barn, and Little Quilts, to name just a few. Along with patterns from 14 Henry Glass designers, you’ll also get five tutorials for combining fabrics from different lines.

    A Flair for Fabric

    Quilts from A Flair for Fabric
    Each designer has contributed her work to this collection, and all royalties will be donated to the Red Cross.

    Start fresh with a fabric education from A Flair for Fabric >

    Cozy Toes for Baby:
    Sweet Shoes to Crochet and Felt

    by Chantal Garceau and Mary J. King

    Keep Baby’s feet warm and toasty with a step beyond baby booties; these are sturdy shoes! Protect those ten little piggies with adorable crochet-and-felt designs featuring pandas, puppies, and more—plus a giggle-inducing ode to sock monkeys. Embellish one basic shoe pattern with different motifs and add soft leather soles. Shoes fit newborns to age two.

    Cozy Toes for Baby

    Projects from Cozy Toes for Baby
    Author proceeds will be donated to the Imani Project to help children in Kenya orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

    Ladybug shoes too! See them in Cozy Toes for Baby >

    The Big Book of Little Amigurumi:
    72 Seriously Cute Patterns to Crochet

    by Ana Paula Rímoli

    Inspire imaginative play with favorite amigurumi characters from bestselling author Ana Paula Rímoli. From critters to cuisine, many projects can be completed in a couple of hours; most are crocheted in the round and use a single-crochet stitch. Pattern packed with 72 choices!

    The Big Book of Little Amigurumi

    Projects from The Big Book of Little Amigurumi

    See dancing elephants, hatching chicks—and a unicorn!—in The Big Book of Little Amigurumi >

    Think Big:
    Quilts, Runners, and Pillows from 18″ Blocks

    by Amy Ellis

    Use beautifully BIG block patterns to create coordinating quilts, runners, and pillows. You’ll be shocked at how quickly it all comes together! With 10 original block designs—plus charts to make projects in five sizes—you can easily give any room a fabric-infused facelift.

    Think Big

    Quilts from Think Big

    See all 10 blocks—and the projects you can make with them—in Think Big >

    Graphic Quilts from Everyday Images:
    15 Patterns Inspired by Urban Life, Architecture, and Beyond

    by Heather Scrimsher

    A chain-link fence, a steeple, shutters, stone—create extraordinary modern quilts from ordinary things you see everyday. Once you discover the inspiration behind these 15 designs, you’ll see the details of your world through fresh eyes. And you’ll want to capture them all in your own unique quilts.

    Graphic Quilts from Everyday Images

    Projects from Graphic Quilts from Everyday Images

    A quilt inspired by a martini? See it in Graphic Quilts from Everyday Images >

    Sew and Play:
    Handmade Games for Kids

    by Farah Wolfe

    Inspire kids to unplug and play together—all with your love of sewing. Make 11 hands-on games for preschoolers and school-age children: each includes sewing instructions, game rules, and storage options. Projects are washable and designed to outlast store-bought toys. No batteries required!

    Sew and Play

    Projects from Sew and Play

    Horse Race! Crab Crawl! Snake Pit! Let the games begin in Sew and Play >

    Cups and Saucers:
    Paper-Pieced Kitchen Designs

    by Maaike Bakker

    Add a special touch to the heart of the home with cheerful kitchen-themed quilts. Forty paper-pieced block designs feature plates, cups, bowls, and pitchers, plus vegetables for quilters with a green thumb. Back by popular demand, all 10 projects in this updated edition have been remade in today’s fabrics.

    Cups and Saucers

    Projects from Cups and Saucers

    Match the quilts in Cups and Saucers to your kitchen colors! >

    Which new book are you looking forward to most? Name your favorite in the comments and you could win the eBook version when it’s released! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win.

    Subscribe to Stitch This!Subscribe to Stitch This! posts and you’ll be notified when each new book becomes available.

    Comments are closed for this post.

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

    Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners would be my choice!”

    Carol, we’ll email you about your prize. Congratulations!

    273 comments (read all)

  8. Slow sewing: what is it—and is it for you? (+ tutorial)

    September is National Sewing MonthSeptember is National Sewing Month!

    We’ve been celebrating all month with ideas for out-of-the-box sewing. Today’s focus: slow sewing—a celebration of hand sewing in all its forms: piecing, appliqué, quilting, and embroidery. Just you, a needle, thread, and fabric. The ultimate indulgence!

    Slow sewing is an easy way to fit creativity into daily life. Instead of waiting for the right time to escape to your sewing room (raise your hand if you know that feeling!), you can hand sew just about anywhere you like.

    Sewing-machine motif from Patchwork Loves EmbroideryPerhaps you’ve tried slow sewing in the form of hand quilting or embroidery (left). But have you tried hand piecing your quilt blocks? Thanks to the slow-sewing movement, the technique is alive and well! If you know how to sew a running stitch you already have the basics down, but there are a few special tricks to learn. Here’s some hand-piecing how-to from Laurie Simpson, coauthor of Everyday Folk Art.

    How to Hand Piece Quilt Blocks

    1. Rotary cut fabric pieces with a ¼” seam allowance added, just as for machine piecing. Lay cut fabric on a sandpaper board to keep the fabric from distorting and to reduce pressure on the marking tool. Use a 1″ x 12″ acrylic ruler and a marking pencil to mark a scant ¼” (to take the width of the marked line into account) seam allowance onto the wrong side of each piece.


    2. The marked line is your sewing line. Use a sharp needle and 50-weight cotton thread to sew a small running stitch on the line. Don’t knot the thread; take a small backstitch on top of your first stitch to secure it. Start and stop at the sewing lines. Do not sew into the seam allowances.


    3. To end a sewing line, take a small stitch on top of your last stitch and then make a knot in the thread. Pull the knot down with your fingernail so that it’s right up against the fabric, and pull to secure it. When you reach an intersection of seam lines, make an extra stitch to anchor your pieces. Check occasionally to be sure you’re sewing on the line on both the front and back. Also, take a backstitch every time you fill a needle with stitches—about every 1″ to 1½”.

    Take a look below at more ways you can enjoy a bit of slow sewing. Pack a portable sewing kit and some fabric, and you’re ready to sew wherever you go!

    From Patchwork Loves Embroidery by Gail Pan

    Projects from Patchwork Loves Embroidery

    Patchwork Loves EmbroideryMake your own portable sewing kit in Patchwork Loves Embroidery >

    Print book: $24.99 eBook: $16.99


    From Stitched for Fun by Fiona Goble

    Projects from Stitched for Fun

    Stitched for FunEmbroidery on shoes? See it in Stitched for Fun >

    Print book: $24.99


    From English Paper Piecing II by Vicki Bellino

    Projects from English Paper Piecing II

    English Paper Piecing IISee a quilt made with 2,031 hexagons (!) in English Paper Piecing II.>

    Print book: $22.99 eBook: $14.99


    Slow sewing or swift stitching—what’s your current speed? Tell us in the comments!

    Quiltmaker's Treasure Hunt 2014Once again, we’re happy to be a sponsor of Quiltmaker magazine’s exciting Quiltmaker’s Treasure Hunt! Where can you find the Treasure Hunt button this year? Here’s a big hint: Doze and dream of adorable baby quilts!

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  9. Halloween fabric fun (+ sale!)

    Posted by on September 29, 2014, in quilting & sewing, ,

    From Creepy Crafty HalloweenFall is my favorite season for many reasons: the crisp (but often sunny) days, cool (but not TOO cold) nights, falling leaves, crunchy apples, coffee drinks, back to school, football, fall colors, and Halloween.

    I just love it when people set up elaborate Halloween displays in their yards! When I drive by those homes, I always wish I could see the decorations inside, too. (But while a bit of creepy fun is okay this time of year, knocking on doors to check out people’s decorations would be going just a little too far.) Thankfully, I know a lot of quilters and crafters who love to decorate for Halloween, so I just have to be content with visiting them!

    Are you looking for Halloween crafting ideas? Our books are full of quilty and crafty fall goodness. And, when you finish your projects, please feel free to invite me over—I’d love to see them!

    Fun fabric stuffies

    Fabric pumpkin heads From Hocus Pocus
    Bring on the giggles with these funny fabric “Pumpkin Heads” (left) from Creepy, Crafty Halloween or this Halloween cat (right) with his goofy hat and cute pumpkin doll companion from Hocus Pocus.

    Quilty Halloween!

    From Spellbinding Quilts
    From Creepy Crafty Halloween
    These small, super-cute projects are perfect if you want just a touch of Halloween fun. Top, from left: “Nocturnal Animals” and “Haunted Castle” from Spellbinding Quilts by Maaike Bakker. Bottom: “Crayon and Embroidery Wall Hanging” from Creepy, Crafty Halloween.

    Fall, but not necessarily Halloween

    Not a huge fan of Halloween, but still looking for a touch of fall? These projects will put autumn in your home (and in your belly!) without screaming “Halloween!” Left:  “Appliquéd Pumpkin Table Runner and Napkins” from Creepy, Crafty Halloween. Right: “Pumpkin Placemat” and Pumpkin Bars recipe from Hocus Pocus.

    These books are full of great ideas for the season, but of course you can use ANY book to make a Halloween or fall-themed quilt simply by using appropriate fabrics. Have a look at what Linda, our receptionist, did with “Glimmerglass,” one of the quilts from Beyond Neutral by John Q. Adams.

    Glimmerglass quilt pattern from Beyond Neutral
    John’s quilt from Beyond Neutral is on the left; Linda’s Halloween-inspired version is on the right.

    Do you decorate for Halloween, fall, or both? We want to know! Please tell us in the comments.

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  10. From seams to blocking: top finishing tips

    Posted by on September 26, 2014, in crochet & knitting, ,

    Martingale's Knit and Crochet Friday

    Knit and crochet: top finishing tipsBelieve it or not, finishing is as important for sweaters as it is for blankets, toys, and anything else you knit or crochet! From weaving in the ends to blocking your finished project, we’ve got the know-how you need for success. Check out the super quick guide to finishing techniques below, and then be sure to pin or bookmark this post for future reference.

    Knots and Tails: How to Prepare for Finishing

    Snip out knots as you go

    “When working on your project, you may encounter an irregularity or even a knot in your yarn. Cut before and then restart the yarn beyond the problem area, leaving tails at both ends of the old and the beginning of the new strand. These tails will be woven in later. If you continue and knit the faulty yarn, it could very well open and unravel later.” — From Knitting Circles around Mittens and More

    Leave long tails for attaching pieces later

    “If the instructions say to “fasten off with long tail,” leave about 12” of yarn before cutting the yarn and pulling it through the last loop. The long tail will be used for attaching your piece to another later on.” — From Modern Baby Crochet

    Blocking: Why You Should

    “As you crochet, the yarn comes fresh off the skein and gets all worked up into your piece. Over time, the yarn in your stitches will relax, possibly changing the size of your piece. What blocking does is speed up this process.” — From Modern Baby Crochet

    Block multiple pieces before assembling

    “When making a project that is multiple pieces sewn together, it’s important to block the pieces before you assemble them: when you wash your project, the individual pieces will expand but the seams won’t.” — From Modern Baby Crochet

    Seams: How to Attach Multiple Pieces

    Weaving non-bulky seams

    “Sewing seams in the traditional manner leaves a thick seam, which can limit flexibility and ease of movement. Instead try the following method:

    Weaving non-bulky seamsLay the garment edges together, right side up, on a flat surface. With a length of yarn, thread a large-eyed needle with a rounded tip. Begin by inserting the needle under the horizontal bar between the first and second stitches along the edge of one garment piece. Pull the yarn through. Cross over to the corresponding piece and insert the needle under the horizontal bar as for the first piece. Again, pull the length of yarn through firmly. Use just enough tension to draw the pieces together neatly, leaving flexibility in the seam.” — From Paintbox Knits

    Kid-Friendly Projects: Special Finishing Techniques

    Closing holes in toys and three-dimensional shapes

    Closing holes in dimensional shapes“To close holes like the ones on heads and body shapes, start by threading the remaining yarn tail into a tapestry needle. Following the edge of the opening, insert the needle through each space and over the next stitch, effectively winding the tail around the stitches. When you’ve gone all the way around the opening, pull the tail firmly to close the hole (just like you were cinching a drawstring bag closed).” — From Crochet a Zoo

    Add cotton lining to baby blankets

    Add cotton lining to baby blankets“Adding a lining to a baby blanket can add warmth and softness. Preshrink cotton fabric and cut the fabric to your blanket’s size plus ½” all the way around. Serge edges or fold under ½” all the way around. Pin fabric to the wrong side of the blanket and hand stitch in place with a sewing needle and thread.” — From Crocheted Snugglers

    For more finishing techniques and instructions, check out these comprehensive resources:

    The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques A to Z of Knitting
    All about Crochet A to Z of Crochet

    Do you look forward to the finishing? Tell us in the comments!

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