1. Here’s why 2015 is a great year for yarn

    Posted by on March 6, 2015, in crochet & knitting, , , ,

    Martingale's Knit and Crochet Friday


    2015--Year of the Sheep

    Did you know that the Chinese New Year is the most important social and economic holiday in China? February 19 marked the celebration of the new year in Chinese culture, and with it, a 2015 zodiac symbol: the sheep!

    Alpaca from Crocheted SoftiesNeedless to say, yarn lovers everywhere are pretty excited. The original Mandarin word for this year’s animal is yang—and the English translation could mean sheep, goat, or even ram. Fortunately, animal-fiber yarn can come from a variety of animals, including cashmere and angora goats, many breeds of sheep and lambs, and even alpacas. You can read about some of the different fibers used to make yarn in this post. (Left: This cute alpaca is from Crocheted Softies.)

    From Fair Isle Sweaters SimplifiedSo what does this mean for 2015? This year’s fortune is calm and creativity—sounds like a great mantra for knitters and crocheters!

    To learn more about the yarn-making process, check out Fair Isle Sweaters Simplified. The photos at right are from the book, written by the owners of Philosopher’s Wool, Ann and Eugene Bourgeois.

    2015 will be a great year to learn how to knit or how to crochet. We have a wide range of resources for beginners and beyond:

    A to Z of Knitting A to Z of Crochet
    All about Knitting All about Crochet The Essential Book of Crochet Techniques

    Happy Chinese New Year, and may the sheep be with you!

    Your choice of animal fibers: wool, cashmere, angora, Alpaca, or mohair? Tell us in the comments!

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  2. Poof! Add a magic color to your quilts (blog hop + giveaway!)

    From A Modern Twist

    Welcome, all A Modern Twist blog hop-ees! We’re excited to be a stop on Natalie Barnes’s blog hop for her new book. Natalie is a contributor to popular Martingale books including Fun-Size Quilts, Kitchen Stitches, and Set the Table. We’re thrilled that she now has a book of her very own, which includes a special chapter written by famed machine quilter Angela Walters.

    A Modern Twist offers solutions for those three Cs of quiltmaking that most quilters struggle with from time to time: color, contrast, and composition. In her friendly, you-can-do-it style, Natalie walks you through “best practices” for the three Cs that will inspire you to kick your quilts up a notch—all without complex sewing.

    Square Rectangle quilt
    “Square Rectangle” quilt from
    A Modern Twist

    For her blog hop, Natalie asked us to talk about one of the three Cs from A Modern Twist, and we chose COLOR. Here’s one of our favorite color tips from Natalie: have you tried it?

    Use a “Magic” color to make a quilt sing

    Magic colors are unexpected colors that really go with nothing else in the selected color scheme. The founders of the Little Quilts shop—Mary Ellen Von Holt, Alice Berg, and Sylvia Johnson—originally coined the term in the 1980s.

    Magic colors in quilts

    The magic color in my quilt “Hexagon Scramble,” which consists primarily of Halloween colors, is the lilac pink.

    Hexagon Scramble quilt
    “Hexagon Scramble” from
    A Modern Twist

    When you think of Halloween, you typically think of oranges, grays, and blacks, maybe even a dark purple. Pink brings to mind spring, bunnies, sundresses, and sandals—completely unexpected. A color like this is to be used sparingly, as a . . . well . . . a zinger! A surprise. A treasure. An unexpected gem.

    A Modern TwistYou’ll find more tips for improving the color, contrast, and composition of your quilts in A Modern Twist—use Natalie’s advice again and again! You’ll also learn to:

    • Twist and turn simple blocks to create impressive, random-looking designs
    • Trust unusual color combinations and choose fabrics with confidence
    • Play with the three Cs in 13 projects: quilts, table runners, wall hangings, place mats, and quilted storage boxes

    How do you choose color for your quilts: stick with a tried-and-true formula, fly by the seat of your (thread-covered) pants, or a little of both? Tell us in the comments and you could win a signed copy of A Modern Twist! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win.

    Follow the A Modern Twist blog hop each day and enter to win a copy of the book, signed by Natalie herself!

    Sunday, March 1: Natalie Barnes at beyond the reef
    Monday, March 2: Latifah Saafir at Latifah Saafir Studios
    Tuesday, March 3: Teri Lucas at Generation Q Magazine
    Wednesday, March 4: Julie Herman at Jaybird Quilts
    Thursday, March 5: Martingale at Stitch This! (that’s us!)
    Friday, March 6: Rose Hughes
    Saturday, March 7: Amy Smart at Diary of a Quilter
    Sunday, March 8: Carolyn Friedlander
    Monday, March 9: Victoria Findlay Wolfe
    Tuesday, March 10: Amy Ellis at Amy’s Creative Side
    Wednesday, March 11: Angela Walters at Quilting is my Therapy

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  3. A quilter’s journey Beyond Neutral: #makingallthequilts part 1

    Love Wins XOX quilt detailHave you ever loved a quilt book so much that you wanted to make EVERY quilt in it?

    Beyond Neutral author John Q. Adams (aka QuiltDad) found someone who did just that. Her name is Deb Robertson, a quilter from Christchurch, New Zealand. And she’s joined up with us to share her story about making all 16 quilts in Beyond Neutral—in just 13 weeks!

    In this four-part series, you’ll get to know more about Deb’s style, her spontaneity—and yes, her stash. If you’ve ever wondered how to switch up a pattern and make it your own, let Deb show you the ropes. Her journey is prolific and inspiring, and she has us itching to do our own thing with the time and resources we have.

    “My quilts aren’t perfectly executed replicas;
    they’re quilts using John’s patterns that reflect
    the journey I’ve been on.”

    —Deb Robertson, from her Works in Progress blog

    Photos of Deb’s quilts were taken in her hometown, amidst the rubble of an earthquake that occurred four years ago. You can see more of Deb’s quilts on Instagram; they’re tagged #makingallthequilts.

    What could YOU do with 13 weeks, 16 quilt patterns, and your fabric stash? Learn how Deb’s journey began in her first guest post below.

    Deb RobertsonHi, I’m Deb and I blog at Works in Progress. I have four amazing children, ranging in age from 5 to 21. This year I am completing a double major in Media/Communication and Sociology. I have been quilting for most of my adult life on the premise that if you do something 10,000 times you become an expert. I’m having a lot of fun practicing! Last year I made all the quilts in John Q. Adams’s book Beyond Neutral16 quilts in 13 weeks.

    #makingallthequilts Part 1

    One day I was sitting in a lecture and buying a textbook on Amazon (as you do). I spotted John Q. Adams’s (aka QuiltDad’s) book Beyond Neutral in a sidebar, and it fell into my shopping cart too.

    A week or two later the book arrived. I immediately fell in love with John’s quilt “Glacier Bay.”

    Glacier Bay quilt
    John Q. Adams’s “Glacier Bay” quilt from
    Beyond Neutral

    That night, I made a simplified version of “Glacier Bay” with some fabric I had lying about.

    Love Wins XOX quilt
    “Love Wins: XOX” by Deb Robertson

    By the end of the first week of owning the book, I was hand quilting the first quilt, had almost sewn the second quilt, and had cut out the third.

    The next pattern I made was “Half Moon Bay,” because I had some fabric bundles I thought would work perfectly.

    Half Moon Bay quilt
    “Half Moon Bay” by John Q. Adams, from
    Beyond Neutral

    I completely fell in love with this pattern.

    Deb's Half Moon Bay quilt
    Deb’s “Half Moon Bay” quilt

    So far I’ve made two quilt-sized versions plus three table runners and two cushions.

    Deb's Christmas table runner
    Deb’s Christmas table runner, inspired by “Half Moon Bay”

    “Half Moon Bay” is just that good a pattern.

    I’m dyslexic and quilt math is beyond me, but the way John writes his patterns makes sense in my head. I loved the freedom of being able to follow someone else’s pattern and trust that they had done it right.

    Beyond NeutralI never intended to start #makingallthequilts from the outset. But as I lay awake in bed at night, my head was full of plans and possibilities for more things I could make. As I posted photos of my projects on Instagram, people began to cheer me on from the sidelines. They were so encouraging and helpful; it felt like they were part of the project too. Now my Instagram feed often has a picture of someone with John’s book, making a Beyond Neutral quilt.

    This project has forever changed how I think about the construction and color of quilts. It was intense making so many decisions over a short period of time, but I learned so much from the process. I’m never going to regret #makingallthequilts—even if I’m going to be paying off my long-arm quilter for the rest of my life!

    I’ll share more of my Beyond Neutral quilts and stories next time. I hope you’ll join me again!

    Beyond NeutralThanks for sharing how your Beyond Neutral journey began, Deb. We can’t wait to see more of your quilts!

    Subscribe to Stitch This! so you don’t miss Deb’s next guest post. You can also visit Deb at her Works in Progress blog.

    See all 16 quilts in Beyond Neutral >
    Book: $24.99 (with free eBook)
    eBook: $16.99spacer 10px deep

    How many quilts have you made from a single book—or do you own a quilt book that has you dreaming of making every quilt shown? Tell us about it in the comments!

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  4. New quilting books this March: newbie applique, Civil War

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

    Wish List and Notify Me tools

    Subscribe to our blog so you’ll know when each book is available. Enter to win your favorite at the bottom of this post!

    Pat Sloan's Teach Me to AppliquePat Sloan’s Teach Me to Appliqué: Fusible Appliqué that’s Soft and Simple

    What’s inside? Moda fabric designer, popular podcast host, prolific author, traveling teacher—what hasn’t Pat Sloan done? She hasn’t taught you her five-star methods for fusible appliqué…yet! Don’t settle for fusible appliqué that feels stiff as a board. Pat’s appliqué feels soft and cuddly—just like a quilt should feel!

    Why you’ll love it: Enjoy Pat’s expert, hand-holding how-to, all based on years of refining her technique. You’ll be amazed at how quick and easy her “doughnut” method is to master! Practice the technique as you make the beautiful projects in the book; then substitute the method in any appliqué pattern you choose.

    Quilts from Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Applique

    Detail of carrot appliqueBONUS >>> Zoom in for “Up Close and Beautiful” photos of each project (right)—see every stitch in detail.

    Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Appliqué is the first in a series of beginner-friendly books from Pat. Stay tuned for more how-to-quilt books from one of the world’s favorite quilting coaches!

    See more pretty projects from Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Appliqué >

    Civil War RememberedCivil War Remembered: 19 Quilts Using Reproduction Fabrics
    by Mary Etherington and Connie Tesene

    What’s inside? The popular authors of the best-seller The Blue and the Gray return with more jaw-dropping quilts that memorialize the Civil War. Symbols of freedom, service, and sacrifice are shared in classic quilt blocks that soar to new heights when paired with Civil War reproduction fabrics.

    Why you’ll love it: Whether you’re a fan of traditional designs, Civil War prints, or scrappy-to-the-max patterns, this collection of stunning quilts will move and inspire you. Incorporate a broad palette of Civil War–era colors: red, blue, burgundy, black, sour green, gold, rust, pink, double pink, and brown—plus all of those fantastic shirting prints—often all in the same quilt!

    Quilts from Civil War Remembered

    Scorched quiltsBONUS >>> Learn how this beloved design team—also known as Country Threads—gives an authentic antique look to their quilts with coffee baths and candle flames. Try it yourself (if you dare).

    See all 19 quilts in Civil War Remembered >spacer 10px deep

    Speaking of flames…which of these two new books is fanning your creative fire right now? Tell us in the comments and you could win a copy of the eBook you choose when it becomes available! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win.

    Comments are closed for this post.

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

    “I love the Civil War Remembered book!”

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

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  5. How to hand appliqué inside points (1 extra stitch)

    How to hand applique inside points

    Quilt and pillow from Beautiful BloomsHave you tried your hand at hand appliqué?

    Hand appliqué can be a simple, relaxing way to sew. And if you’ve tried it, you’ve probably mastered the basics.

    Straight lines? No sweat. Big curves? Can do.

    But it’s the finer details—like sharp points and tight curves—that can give otherwise amazing appliqué motifs an amateur look. In fact, one of the trickiest areas to appliqué are inside points, which are often needle-teased to the point of fraying. It can be a stubborn spot to stitch!

    Has the dreaded fraying happened to you? Be frazzled no more. Appliqué enthusiast Susan Taylor Propst knows all about those little bumps in the appliqué road, and her appliqué techniques can easily smooth them out.

    Learn Susan’s method for stitching inside points below—just one extra stitch!—and you’ll be soaring past those points with ease.

    (Appliqué newcomer? Check out this post).

    Beautiful BloomsHow to hand appliqué inside points

    by Susan Taylor Propst, author of Beautiful Blooms

    1. Stitch until you are close to the inside point, and then clip straight into the point, all the way up to the stitching line.

    2. Gently use the length of the needle to turn under the seam allowance on the side that you’re stitching. Try to disturb the point as little as possible to keep the fabric from fraying.

    3. Carefully appliqué up to the point. This is where a very fine needle comes in handy, because it’s less likely to split the fabric and cause fraying.

    4. Take an additional stitch at the point, taking a slightly deeper bite into the appliqué fabric if necessary (no more than one thread’s width).

    How to hand applique inside points

    5. Gently turn under the fabric on the other side of the point and continue to appliqué.

    STICKY TIP: A bit of fabric glue can keep fabric from fraying. Use a pin or needle to apply a small amount to problem areas, such as very sharp inside points. If you apply too much, the fabric becomes stiff and more difficult to fold. Allow glue to dry before attempting to appliqué the piece. Glue can change the appearance of fabric, so apply it only within the seam allowances.

    With the expert tips for appliquéing points, curves, and more in Beautiful Blooms, you’ll be enjoying some slow sewing like Susan in no time. Take a look at a few of the projects you can appliqué:

    Projects from Beautiful Blooms
    Quilts and pillows from
    Beautiful Blooms

    You can also take a leisurely stroll though Susan’s gorgeous garden “sequels” to Beautiful Blooms

    Another Season of Beautiful Blooms:

    Projects from Another Season of Beautiful Blooms

    See 8 more quilt-and-pillow pairs in Another Season of Beautiful Blooms >

    And Nature’s Beauty in Appliqué.

    Projects from Nature's Beauty in Applique

    See the stunning framed “Swan Wall Hanging” in Nature’s Beauty in Appliqué >

    What’s your favorite way to appliqué: by hand, by machine, or by fusing—or does it depend on the project? Tell us in the comments!

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  6. Staff Stitch + Show: kids and baby gifts we’ve made!

    Staff Stitch and Show

    It’s baby season, and we’ve been inspired to make gifts for staff kiddos, from growing grandchildren to new arrivals. Here are some of the knit and crocheted gifts recently stitched by our staff for special little ones!

    P.S. Guess who’s next on our list? Tiffany, copy editor, is due in August—congratulations, Tiffany! We can’t wait to make you something special.

    Projects from Modern Baby Crochet

    Mary Green, our foreign rights manager, crocheted this owl pillow and baby blanket for her grandson Gabe.

    See the original baby crochet patterns in Modern Baby Crochet >>

    Cathy's monster blanket
    This monster blanket was knit by Cathy, author liaison, for her first granddaughter, Brae, who is just five weeks old.

    See the original blanket in Knit a Monster Nursery >>

    Finding Nemo crocheted duffle bag

    Mary also made this adorable crocheted kid’s duffel bag in Nemo colors for her granddaughter Makayla who "absolutely LOVES Nemo."

    See the original blue and green duffel bag in Amigurumi On the Go >>

    Mary's knitted dress from Paintbox Knits

    For her older granddaughter, Emily, Mary made this knit dress from Paintbox Knits.

    See the original yellow dress in Paintbox Knits >>

    What’s your go-to project when knitting or crocheting for little ones? Tell us in the comments!

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  7. National Quilting Month: start your bucket quilt (and see ours)

    Posted by on February 26, 2015, in quilting & sewing, , ,

    Worldwide Quilting Day 2015March is National Quilting Month!

    With 31 days to celebrate quilting—including the crowning jewel of the month, Worldwide Quilting Day on Saturday, March 21—we got to thinking about our “bucket quilts.”

    What’s a bucket quilt, you ask?

    A bucket quilt is an all-time favorite quilt. Perhaps you’ve pinned a picture of one; maybe you’ve purchased a bucket-quilt book or pattern. And you’ve certainly imagined your bucket quilt in your home—flawlessly fanned out over a couch, majestically hung from a wall, luxuriously spread over a bed. It’s the kind of quilt you want to sew and leave as part of your legacy (before you “kick the bucket,” as they say).

    What better time to start a bucket quilt than during National Quilting Month?

    In an effort to inspire you to start YOUR bucket quilt in March, we’ve collected our own bucket-quilt stories to share with you. So without further ado, here are some of our bucket-list-worthy quilts.

    All Stars quilt

    Karen J., Director of Sales and Marketing
    Bucket quilt: “All Stars” by Sandy Klop, from American Jane’s Quilts for All Seasons

    “I purchased the book and all of the ’30s reproduction fabric I needed to make ‘All Stars’ long before I worked at Martingale. During my first year at Martingale, our administrative assistant, Linda, celebrated her tenth anniversary with the company. This is the quilt she received as a gift, made by Martingale staff: ‘All Stars!’

    Linda's All Stars quilt

    In the back of my mind I thought, ‘Hmm, my anniversary isn’t that far away. Maybe I’ll just hand over my fabric to Martingale and have it made for me!’ But my friends here tell me that the Y-seams in the pattern aren’t a big deal. I might be ready to give it a try.”

    Can you believe it? “All Stars” is on another staffer’s bucket list—and she’s started making the blocks.

    Karen S's All Stars quilt blocks

    Karen S., Editorial Director
    Bucket quilt: “All Stars” by Sandy Klop, from American Jane’s Quilts for All Seasons

    “One quilt that’s been on my bucket list—and on my design wall—for a while is ‘All Stars’ by Sandy Klop. Sandy is known for her use of bright, cheerful primary colors and playful prints, but I’m more of a reproduction fabric sort of gal. So I’m switching things up and dipping into my stash of reproduction prints to make this queen-size quilt.”

    Chain Link quilt

    Cathy, Author Liasion
    Bucket quilt: “Chain Link” by Kay Connors and Karen Earlywine, from Link to the ’30s

    “When my quilting hobby went from casual interest to active passion, I discovered shop hops: driving to new places to shop for fabric. I needed a focus when visiting all these new shops, so I zeroed in on ’30s reproduction prints. For a couple years, at each shop I visited I bought a fat quarter or two of ’30s fabrics, knowing only that I wanted to make a quilt with them that reminded me of my grandmother. Time passed and along came the book Link to the ’30s. I would like to make every quilt in the book, but the one that reminds me of Grandma is ‘Chain Link.’ The quilt brings back the all-is-well-with-the-world feeling that I associate with my grandparents’ home.

    I have my ’30s prints and Link to the ’30s carefully saved together in my project closet. So why isn’t this quilt done? Maybe the feelings the book and the fabrics evoke are more important than the completed project. Maybe the time just isn’t right yet. Maybe I’ll make it a goal to have the project completed to honor my grandmother on the 20th anniversary of her death. Check back with me in three years and I’ll let you know the project’s progress.”

    Bubbles baby quilt by Dana Bolyard

    Linda, Administrative Assistant
    Bucket quilt: “Bubbles” by Dana Bolyard, from the book Modern Baby

    “I’ve never appliquéd. But when I’m speaking during Martingale tours, I tell visitors that when my daughter has a baby, I’m going to learn! And this is the quilt I’m going to start with. The appliqué should be easy because it’s raw edge. I’m sure the hardest part would probably be for my machine quilter, who would have to quilt all those bubbles.”

    See all 14 adorable quilts in Modern Baby >

    Tide Pool quilt from Little Gems

    Virginia, Purchasing/Accounting
    Bucket quilt: “Tide Pool” by Connie Kauffman, from Little Gems

    “Actually my bucket overflows with quilts, but my most recent favorite is from Little Gems. I want to make ‘Tide Pool’ in a much bigger size, in shades of blues and greens. I think the swirling pattern of the little snails over a bigger area will really let the colors dance like the ocean currents. Now when I get to it will be a whole other matter…”

    Find 14 more tiny treasures (to supersize, if you wish!) in Little Gems >

    Pumpkin Peel quilt

    Mary B., Marketing Coordinator
    Bucket quilt: “Pumpkin Peel” by Biz Storms, from Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts

    “I love all the tiny, colorful pieces that pop on the shirting background in ‘Pumpkin Peel’ (above, left). I did a rough estimate and there are over 1600 pieces! But after reading the pattern, it doesn’t look difficult. I’ve done string piecing on a foundation before and enjoyed it. I also love the antique quilt that inspired this pattern (above, right)—it has even more than 1600 pieces!”

    See more stunning examples from Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts >

    Buckwheat Star quilt

    Another bucket quilt from Mary: “Buckwheat Star” by Mary Tendall Etherington and Connie Tesene, from Civil War Remembered

    “I’ve been saving scraps since I started quilting 30+ years ago (yikes, has it been that long?). I have strong convictions that I will make beautiful, super-thrifty quilts for every bed in my house and use up all my scraps. I have yet to make even one, but this quilt is on my list. It will use up about 800 scraps!”

    See more from Civil War Remembered (coming March 2015) >

    When do you plan to start your bucket quilt? Tell us about it in the comments!

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  8. How to make a king-size quilt quicker: 4 strategies

    Posted by on February 25, 2015, in quilting & sewing, , ,

    The KING-SIZE quilt. If there’s one thing all quilters can agree on about king-size quilts, it’s this:

    They’re big.

    Cabin Flowers quilt
    “Cabin Flowers” from
    English Paper Piecingby Vicki Bellino

    No way of getting around it, is there?

    But does big have to equal overwhelming, unmanageable, or impossible? No way! In fact, getting to the finish line for a king-size quilt is just like completing any quilt: it’s all about how you plot the journey.

    With an efficient plan and a straightforward pattern to focus on, you’ll find that making a king-size quilt can not only be a smooth, streamlined experience; it can be fun and rewarding. And the reward is an especially good one: a great-big-gorgeous quilt to grace the bed!

    King-size quilt dimensions? It’s best to measure. King mattress sizes start at about 76″ x 80″ (around 72″ x 84″ for a California king), but that’s just taking the surface area of the mattress into account. If you want your quilt to have a drop on the sides or bottom, measure the distance from the top edge of the mattress to the point of the drop you want and add inches accordingly.

    Learn how the four designers below simplified their king-size quilts. Let their beautiful designs inspire you to start a king-size quilt of your own.

     Strategy #1: BIG blocks

    Building Blocks quilt
    “Building Blocks” from Think Big by Amy Ellis

    With pretty 18″ blocks like those shown in “Building Blocks,” speed is guaranteed. Combine large-scale prints with lots of dots in this colorful design—you’ll need to sew only 30 blocks to king-size it. Amy even includes charts for using the same block to make a pillow, baby quilt, throw, and quilts in twin, queen, and king sizes.

    See all 10 big-block designs in Think Big >

    Strategy #2: Large, showy prints

    Sand Dollars quilt
    “Sand Dollars” from Bloom Creek Quilts by Vicki Bellino

    Sand Dollars quiltIf you’ve never made a king-size quilt before, this may be the one to breeze through first. Machine appliqué or fuse 38 “sand dollar” circles for the center of this seashore-inspired quilt. Then add rounds of big, beautiful borders that show off two coordinating large-scale prints. See the entire quilt at right—no pieced blocks or points to match!

    See all 14 projects in Bloom Creek Quilts >

    Strategy #3: Easy repeat blocks

    Vintage Memories quilt
    “Vintage Memories” from Bed and Breakfast Quilts by Mimi Dietrich

    Setting Four Patch blocks and squares on point brings lively movement to this deceptively simple quilt. Repeat blocks are easy to chain piece, so you can spend more time playing with color and pattern. Follow Mimi’s lead and go retro with reproduction fabrics in shades of indigo blue, Turkey red, cheddar gold, and double pink—or see where your stash leads you.

    See more king-size beauties in Bed and Breakfast Quilts >

    Strategy #4: Strips, strips, strips!

    Quilts from All about Strips
    Clockwise from top left: “Candy Bar Lane,” “Kindred Spirit,” “Good Fortune,” and “Garden Mews” from
    All about Strips by Susan Guzman

    Starting with strips speeds up the creation of most any quilt. Notice that the quilts above don’t have any triangles. Those large square and rectangle shapes are perfect for showing off a fabric collection you’ve been saving for something truly special. Imagine your precious collection easily stripped and pieced into a king-size bed quilt—talk about oohs and aahs!

    See all 15 generously sized quilts in All about Strips >

    Scrap Quilts Fit for a QueenKing-size quilts, scrappy style

    Prefer a scrappy bed quilt? Create 10 gorgeous bed quilts with scrap master Sally Schneider. Each pattern in Scrap Quilts Fit for a Queen comes with instructions for making it in multiple sizes, from lap to king. Let your scraps shine with Sally’s three strategies for making scrappy blocks, including her liberating “brown-bag” method.

    What’s your king-size quilt count? Tell us in the comments!

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  9. Perfect projects for quilt retreats (+ giveaway!)

    Make It, Take It

    Quilt-retreat rulesWhether you’re “retreating” to your quilting space for an afternoon or meeting up with friends for a long weekend of sewing, quilt retreats are all the rage. And why not? Just like a massage or a mani-pedi, a retreat plucks you from your day-to-day life and places you in an environment where you can lavish time and attention on—who else?—yourself!

    Quilt-retreat organizer Krista Hennebury knows all about the two stages of these fun events: getting there and being there. In her new book Make It, Take It, she and her retreat friends offer organizational projects that, when sewn, let you travel to a retreat in style. Then, choose beautiful quilts and more from the book to make during the retreat itself!

    We’re happy to have Krista as a guest blogger today—and if you’re organizationally challenged, take note. You are going to love the inventive projects in Make It, Take It for organizing your sewing stuff. Welcome, Krista!

    Krista HenneburyI’m so excited to share the inspiration for my book Make It, Take It with you today. Readers of my blog Poppyprint will know that I’ve been quilting for 15 years, teaching for 12 years, and running a successful retreat business for over 10 years.  In that time, I’ve seen just about every possible type of equipment storage and organization, and more than a few chipped acrylic rulers and extension tables. I’ve also gained a lot of insight into realistic sew-day or weekend sewing goals!

    Make It, Take It is a collection of unique, functional projects for sewists who love to take their “sew on the road” and create with friends. In the book, I bring together some of my favorite quilt-blogging friends for a virtual retreat, where we share our innovative designs and fun retreat stories to inspire you.

    The “Take it” section of the book is all about moving and storing your supplies and equipment. Aside from my own projects in the book, the first thing I made was Berene Campbell’s “Ultimate Equipment Tote.”

    Ultimate Equipment Tote

    It’s an incredibly clever construction; the tote securely holds my entire acrylic ruler collection, 18″ x 24″ cutting mat, rotating cutting mat, portable ironing surface, rotary cutter, marking tools, folded fabric, and a copy of my book. The tote is a must for anyone who sews away from home!

    Projects from Make It, Take It

Clockwise from top left: along with Leanne Chahley’s zippered sewing-needle case and Ayumi Takahashi’s roomy totes, you’ll also find Amy Friend’s sweet scissor caddy (I’ve made eight for gifts already!), Kristie Maslow’s stylish knitting clutch, and Cindy Wiens’s colorful machine mat with see-through storage pockets.

    Projects from Make It Take It
    You’ll also get a pattern that I had so many requests for on my blog, I decided to design my own version and include it in Make It, Take It: my non-skid pincushion/thread catcher. And Krista Fleckenstein’s crafter’s apron will keep your tools, glasses, and treats handy as you move around your home or retreat hall.

    Once you’ve got your supplies happily tucked into their traveling cases, look to the “Make It” section for sewing and quilting inspiration at home or on retreat.

    Quilts from Make It, Take It
    Lynne Goldsworthy’s “Lone Star Circle Quilt” and Christina Lane’s “Macaron Delight Quilt” are both beautiful quilts to easily complete during a weekend retreat. Or, decorate your home or sew up a hostess gift with Felicity Ronaghan’s woven placemats for a round table, Amy Friend’s foundation-pieced pillow, or the “Stepping Stones Table Runner” (follow Krista Withers’s expert advice for creative quilting in negative space with a walking foot).

    Orange Grove quilt
    My "Orange Grove Quilt" is a modern take on a classic block.

    Do you have a group of friends that would like to try quilting, or a stitch group looking for a fun charity project? “Rainbow ’Round the Cabin Quilt” is an afternoon project for six friends. Everyone contributes fabric in a chosen rainbow color and leaves with a completed lap-quilt top!

    Rainbow Round the Cabin quilts

    It was my desire to create a book that was approachable, friendly, and useful for quilters and sewists on the go. I’m excited to see what you create and hear how the projects in Make It, Take It enhance your own retreat experiences! Please share your projects on Instagram using #makeittakeit.

    Make It, Take ItThanks for introducing your talented group of retreat friends, Krista!

    COMING IN APRIL: Twelve Martingale staffers are planning an afternoon retreat to make “Rainbow ’Round the Cabin” quilts as part of Krista’s blog hop for Make It, Take It, which starts on April 6. Everyone goes home with a completed lap-sized quilt top. Stay tuned for the results!

    Quilt retreats: home alone or away with friends? Tell us what you prefer in the comments and you could win a copy of the Make It, Take It eBook! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win.

    Comments are closed for this post.

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

    “I’m going on a quilting retreat next month with my quilt guild. This is my first time. It may become my favorite quilting time.”

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

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  10. Best batting for quilts? Well, it depends… (cheat sheet)

    Quilting 101: quilt batting types

    Do you choose the same batting for your quilts over and over again—but only because you’re not sure which quilt-batting types are best for what purposes?

    Many quilters favor one batting over another, and with good reason. Machine quilters prefer one kind, hand quilters another, and the topics of warmth and washing can take you in different directions too.

    So which batting is best for your quilts?

    Let popular blogger Elizabeth Dackson of Don’t Call Me Betsy introduce you to the types of batting available—and when to use them—with this cheat sheet of batting basics from her book, Becoming a Confident Quilter.

    Quilt-batting types

    from Becoming a Confident Quilter by Elizabeth Dackson

    If you visit a quilt shop, you’ll find almost as many options for quilt batting as there are varieties of coffee beans! Each kind of batting serves a purpose and works better in some quilting applications than others. This handy reference should make batting shopping a breeze.

    100% cotton. This type of batting is easy to work with and easy to launder. When the finished quilt is washed, cotton batting creates a crinkly, vintage look. (All quilts in Becoming a Confident Quilter were assembled using Pellon Legacy 100% cotton batting.)

    Precious Stones quilt
    Imagine how snuggly this “Precious Stones” quilt will become when it’s washed to vintage-crinkle perfection!

    100% polyester. This batting is preferred by some hand quilters because of the ease of needling. Polyester batting has gained a bit of a bad reputation due to bearding (batting fibers poking through the quilt top), but many polyester products on the market these days are treated to prevent that problem. Polyester batting is a bit warmer than cotton batting but also more slippery, making it a less-than-optimal choice for machine quilting.

    Poly-cotton blend. Super smooth to the touch, poly-cotton blended batting is quite popular with machine quilters. It’s considered to combine the best parts of both cotton and polyester batting in one package. Quilts with poly-cotton batting tend to have a slightly thicker look than those with 100% cotton and a smoother appearance as well, even after washing.

    Wool. Cozy-warm and easy to hand quilt, wool batting is popular with hand quilters. Wool has an airy loft that creates highly defined quilting stitches, and it’s the warmest type of quilt batting available. But it does require hand washing and may need moth protection if stored.

    Get a crash course in quiltmaking basics, plus tips on topics from stash building to scrappy backings, in Becoming a Confident Quilter. You won’t want to miss Elizabeth’s method for finding the sweet spot for a scant ¼" seam on your sewing machine. Do it once and never worry about it again!

    Quilts from Becoming a Confident Quilter
    “Patchwork Dreams” and “Lattice of Stars” from
    Becoming a Confident Quilter

    Curious about improvisational quilts? Elizabeth covers that too. Her “Wonky Fences” quilt will ease you into improvisational piecing with an in-between technique she calls “calculated improv.” Check out her method in this quick video:

    Reading this in email? See the “Improv Quilting with a Road Map!” video at the Stitch This! blog or watch it on YouTube.

    Becoming a Confident QuilterSee more from

    Becoming a Confident Quilter >

    Print book: $26.99
    eBook: $18.99

    Already own the book? Write a review! Click on the “customer reviews” tab and share your thoughts.

    What type of batting do you typically use: cotton, polyester, a blend, or wool? Tell us in the comments!

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