3 cool quilting shortcuts—have you tried ‘em? (+ sale)

Simple Stars quilt from Time-Crunch QuiltsIf you’re always on the lookout for quilting shortcuts and timesavers that’ll help you get more quilts done in less time (like enlarging blocks with Courthouse Steps frames, right), this post is for you. Perhaps you already have a mental catalog full of shortcuts. Today get ready to make room for more!

Whether you like to follow a pattern from start to finish, diverge from a pattern mid-sew, or start with your own design in mind, take the shortcuts featured today and let them inspire you to change up your pace.


In this smart resource, Nancy reveals 13 different techniques for speeding up your quiltmaking from the get-go, all without compromising the quality of your quilts. Let’s take a closer look at one of her ideas: how to quickly enlarge most any quilt block you decide to make.

Enlarging Blocks
From Time-Crunch Quilts by Nancy J. Martin

An easy strategy for making a large quilt quickly is to use large blocks. For example, setting a 12″ Four Corners block on the diagonal and adding four corner triangles gives you a 17″ block.

Enlarging quilt blocks

Another way to create large blocks is to enlarge the size of the units in the block. I usually cut and piece 2½" bias squares, which finish to 2″. In “Lady of the Lake” (below), I cut 3″ bias squares, which made the finished block 12½" rather than 10″. With the addition of sashing strips between the blocks and a wide border, I could construct a queen-size quilt by stitching 16 Lady of the Lake blocks, rather than 25. Because I eliminated nine blocks, I needed only 256 bias squares instead of 400. This was a real time saver!

Lady of the Lake quilt
“Lady of the Lake”

I also thought about the setting of the block, which is traditionally set on point without sashing, as shown below. Although lovely, this setting requires a lot of tedious matching when the blocks are sewn together. Not only does the sashing in my version add size to the quilt, but it also saves time needed to carefully match points.

Lady of the Lake quilt blocks with sashing

To learn more about the 13 quick-quilting techniques and 20 patterns in Time-Crunch Quilts, click here.


Terry Martin, a self-proclaimed “low-profile” member of her local quilt guild, was asked to facilitate the making of a raffle quilt. The rules: the blocks had to be easy (so beginners could help), they had to stitch up fast (because the project was two months behind schedule), and the quilt had to be gorgeous. From this challenge—which was a successful one!—the idea for her book Wonder Blocks was born.

Busy Bee Quilt Guild raffle quilt
Busy Bee Quilt Guild raffle quilt

All quilts in the book are based on a series of seven blocks, each made with a different layout of squares and rectangles. When these blocks are paired or joined with other blocks, you come away with beautiful patchwork—and extraordinarily fast results.

Quilts from Wonder Blocks
“Safe Harbor” and “Batik Blast”

Quilts from Wonder Blocks
“Gold Rush” and “Home at Last”

To learn more about Wonder Blocks, click here.


Hexagons. Set-in seams. Triangle templates. Are you breaking into a stitching sweat? No need! Hexagons are hot, and in Magical Hexagons, popular hexie shapes are transformed into tessellations for a lively new look. Sound tricky? Designer Martha Thompson woke up in the middle of the night with the idea—and the result of her all-nighter test proves that the technique is as straightforward as any quilt pattern you’ll ever read.

So how does Martha sidestep what sound like scary sewing techniques? First, she starts with BIG hexagons; then she employs triangle templates complete with built-in angles.

Magical Hexagons technique

Follow along to make a simple practice project first. Once you get the hang of the method, you’ll be amazed at the movement-filled designs you can make.

Quilts from Magical Hexagons
Start with a simple practice project: “Swirligig Wreath” and variation

Quilts from Magical Hexagons
See where the technique takes you: “Epic Changes” and “Hexagon with the Wind”

To learn more about Magical Hexagons, click here.

What new technique have you tried lately? Has it earned a permanent spot in your mental catalog of quilting know-how? Tell us about your latest quilting adventure in the comments!

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