1. Easiest-ever Layer Cake quilts for beginners: 4 pretty picks (+ fabric giveaway!)

    Me and My Sister DesignsGot a Layer Cake—a tasty stack of coordinating 10″ precut squares—but not sure how to use it? If you’re a beginner, you could simply sew your favorite squares together and wind up with a simple but pretty quilt. But why do that when you’ve got Me and My Sister Designs to make things more fun? (That’s them! >>>)

    Barbara Groves and Mary Jacobson are ALL about simple: simple fabric choices, simple cutting, simple sewing. So you can rest assured that the patterns in their two books on Layer Cake quilts—Easy Layer-Cake Quilts and Easy Layer-Cake Quilts 2—are a cakewalk!

    Here’s why the sisters are in love with Layer Cakes:

    1. Fabric picks are a no-brainer—all the squares in a Layer Cake are designed to coordinate. Done!

    2. Cutting time is, well—cut! And the cutting guides that Barb and Mary include with every pattern show you how to cut your fabrics so waste is at a minimum.

    3. Sewing time . . . Well that’s where the fun REALLY begins! The sisters work their patchwork magic and you simply follow along, step by step. Sewing with the sisters is a piece of cake!

    Whether you’re looking for a Layer Cake quilt for beginners or you’re a seasoned quilter who just wants a quick quilt to sew, look no further than the sisters’ books on the subject. You can:

    Take a traditional trip Around the Block:

    Around the Block quilt
    Around the Block from
    Easy Layer-Cake Quilts II

    Create a color-happy neighborhood:

    Suburban quilt
    Suburban from
    Easy Layer-Cake Quilts: Barb and Mary added fun machine-quilted motifs in between the houses, including a clothesline and a bicycle. So cute!

    Zigzag around your sewing room:

    On the 45 quilt
    On the 45 from
    Easy Layer-Cake Quilts 2: simply divide Layer Cake squares in three equal portions to make this lively design.

    Or grow a quilt of fabric flowers:

    Flower Power quilt
    Flower Power from
    Easy Layer-Cake Quilts: don’t let the design fool you—it’s a snap to grow this garden!

    See more quilts from Easy Layer-Cake Quilts and Easy Layer-Cake Quilts 2:

    Easy Layer-Cake Quilts Easy Layer-Cake Quilts 2

    Of course, Barb and Mary are fabric designers for Moda too—their bright color palette is instantly recognizable and always makes us smile. If you love their style, you are going to love our giveaway today!


    Win a copy of BOTH of the sisters’ Layer Cake books PLUS a Frolic Layer Cake from Moda!

    To enter your name in the drawing, tell us:

    What do you love most about Layer Cakes?

    • Instant coordination—fabric selection is so much easier.
    • Less cutting, more sewing.
    • I don’t have a Layer Cake yet, but they sure look yummy!

    Share your answer in the comments and you’ll be automatically entered into our random drawing. We’ll choose TWO lucky winners and we’ll notify you by email if you win. Good luck! And if you’re ready to start baking a Layer Cake quilt with Barb and Mary today, you can order Easy Layer-Cake Quilts and Easy Layer-Cake Quilts 2 at our website and we’ll send you an email to instantly download the eBook versions for free.

    Comments are closed for this post.

    Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The winners are Alice and Jan.

    Alice says, “I love the instant coordination AND they are ready to go so more time sewing! Plus, no calories!!!”

    Jan says, “I love that the fabric is coordinated for you & the steps saved in cutting – sometimes! I just love Me & My Sister fabrics & books. Their projects & fabrics are always so bright & happy & cheery!”

    We’ll email you about your prizes, winners—congratulations!


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  2. Choosing colors for a quilt: 5 scrappy, happy ideas 💡

    Scrappy half-square trianglesWhen it comes to choosing colors for a quilt—particularly a scrappy quilt—the task can feel a bit like flying by the seat of your patchwork pants! But believe it or not, choosing colors for a quilt that’s scrappy can be the best part of making one.

    How does three-time Martingale author Kate Henderson choose her scrap-quilt colors? In her book Scrappy & Happy Quilts, she starts simple by using only two or three colors. Within those few colors, she goes wild with shades and prints. Why? Because fewer colors = less stress = more fun! And if you already sort your stash by color, making one of Kate’s pretty and pretty-quick quilts is easier than ever.

    From Scrappy & Happy Quilts
    From
    Scrappy & Happy Quilts

    Today we’re sharing an excerpt about color from Kate’s latest book—because you can never have enough color confidence! Do you use any of the color tricks Kate uses? Read on to find out.


    Kate HendersonCHOOSING FABRICS AND COLOR SCHEMES

    Excerpted from Scrappy & Happy Quilts by Kate Henderson

    One of the best parts of quiltmaking is choosing fabrics. I love to spend an hour or two playing around with fabric, making piles of different color and print combinations. I’m no expert on color, but I know what I like and I’m not afraid to experiment with different combinations. Below you’ll find some of my ways of choosing quilt fabrics, but ultimately it’s up to you. If you like the fabrics and colors you’ve chosen, then they’re perfect!

    Background Fabrics

    The background fabric you choose can dramatically change the look of your quilt. Solids, especially white or cream, are always a go-to option for me. I use a lot of bright colors, and a white background makes them pop. A really dark gray or navy can do the same thing.

    If you want something a little different for your background, low-volume fabrics are a good option. Low-volume fabrics read as light fabrics but at the same time have a secondary pattern or design. A low-volume fabric could be white, cream, or pale gray.

    Low-volume fabrics
    From a distance, low-volume fabrics often read as solid, but up close they’re more interesting than a solid.

    Mountain Hiking quilt
    Mountain Hiking uses low-volume fabrics as a background—the quilt gets more and more interesting as you zoom in!

    Solid fabricsSolid Fabrics

    The majority of my stash is made up of prints, but my collection of solids is increasing. Most manufacturers have a range of solids that coordinate with their prints, and solids come in every color you could wish for. Solids mix perfectly with prints in a scrappy quilt, and they can also work as the main feature in a quilt.

    Fields of Green quilt
    Fields of Green relies on a variety of large-sized scraps in solid shades and prints.

    Color wheelColor schemes

    Color schemes are logical combinations of colors on a color wheel. A color wheel is a helpful tool for determining color combinations that will work well together. A basic color scheme uses two colors that look appealing when paired.

    • Monotone

    For a monotone color scheme, choose one color you like and add different shades and tints of that color. Add solids and prints that are darker and lighter. Then add brighter and more muted fabrics. The prints can be composed of many colors; they just need to read as your chosen color from a distance.

    Monotone fabrics
    If choosing colors and playing with different combinations fills you with dread, start by focusing on a monotone color scheme.

    • Analogous

    Analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel. For an analogous color scheme, first select fabrics of a single color. Then add two more colors, the ones that—on the color wheel—lie on either side of the first.

    Analogous fabrics
    Because the colors blend together, quilts with analogous color schemes have a calming effect.

    • Complementary

    Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel—for example, red and green, purple and yellow, or blue and orange. They are happy and bright combinations that will cheer you up even in the depths of winter. I’m a big fan of lots of color, so I love these combinations. But if you find them a bit jarring, consider a pastel version, such as a pairing of pale pinks and greens. Or use one color as the main color and add small amounts of its complementary color, as I did in Between the Lines:

    Between the Lines quilt
    Between the Lines

    The main color of the quilt is orange, and I included pops of blue to add interest.

    Complementary fabrics
    Choosing mint rather than a vibrant green calms down this complementary pairing.

    The first half of Scrappy & Happy Quilts features quilts with just two colors, and the second half has quilts that are three colors. Of course you can choose your favorite color and get sewing, but don’t forget to experiment with colors you don’t normally use, and also combine the unexpected to make each quilt your own. Happy quilting!


    Here’s Kate in action, talking through her approach to choosing colors for a quilt:


    Reading this post in email? Click here to view the video online [link].

    Sticking to just two or three colors for a scrap quilt is a surefire way to use up your scraps and create a beautiful scrappy quilt quickly. Take a look at a few of the fun quilts Kate’s designed for your scraps in Scrappy & Happy Quilts!

    For collectors of every rosy shade of pink:

    Pink Daisy quilt
    Pink Daisy

    Do yellow scraps shine in your stash?

    Happy Stars quilt
    Happy Stars

    Or maybe it’s scrappy blue that inspires you:

    Day at the Beach quilt
    Day at the Beach

    Scrappy & Happy QuiltsWhatever your signature color, Kate will lead you on your next scrappy journey with her super-fast, super-fun, super-scrappy quilts! See more from Scrappy & Happy Quilts here.

    How do you typically go about choosing colors for a quilt that’s scrappy?

    • I stick to two- or three-color quilts, just like Kate.
    • I get an assist from the color wheel—it helps narrow down my choices.
    • I pick up a scrap, pick up another, sew them together, and I’m on my way!

    Tell us your scrap-color tips in the comments!


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  3. New BIG book alert! Lap up this new collection of lovely quilts (+ giveaway!)

    The latest book in our “Big Book” series may just be the biggest lap-quilt collection ever to land in your lap!

    The Big Book of Lap Quilts

    In The Big Book of Lap Quilts you’ll find a whopping 51 patterns for the always-popular lap quilt—designs for everyday, seasons, holidays, and special days abound. And at just 55 cents per pattern, you’ll enjoy inspiration and savings!

    From The Big Book of Lap Quilts
    Thirty-one of the 51 quilts from The Big Book of Lap Quilts

    Discover quilts from an outstanding roster of designers, including:

    Country Threads • Kim Diehl • Amy Ellis • Sherri K. Falls
    Joanna Figueroa • Jill Finley • Lynne Hagmeier • Kimberly Jolly
    Nancy Mahoney • Me and My Sister Designs • Carrie Nelson
    Pat Sloan • Cheryl Wall • Corey Yoder • and more!

    Lap quilts are the perfect size for so many reasons. They’re large enough to give you a sense of accomplishment and to show off your favorite fabrics, yet they’re small enough to finish in a reasonable amount of time. They’re just right for cozy cuddling, creative decorating, and more. They’re perfect to make and give, to create and keep, or just to have the perfect excuse to sew, sew, sew—for everyone you know!

    There are SO many ways to enjoy this pattern-packed collection. Why? Because lap quilts are so easy to put to beautiful use! You can:

    Drape them casually over couches and chairs . . .

    Board Game quilt
    Board Game by Gerri Robinson

    Display them on drawers, dressers, and armoires . . .

    Over, Under, Around, and Through quilt
    Over, Under, Around, and Through by Cheryl Wall

    Arrange them anywhere in your living spaces . . .

    The Simplest Sampler quilt
    The Simplest Sampler by Peta Peace

    Or even outdoors!

    Raise the Roof quilt
    Raise the Roof by Carrie Nelson

    And of course, you can use them for the cuddliest purpose of all: as a quilt for your lap!

    From The Big Book of Lap Quilts
    Clockwise from top left: Cozy Home Lane by Kim Diehl, Petal Pushers by Jill Finley, Crosswalk by Jeanne Large and Shelley Wicks, and Peppermint Patties by Vicki BellinoSnuggled, folded, stacked, rolled, bundled, or hung—SO many ways to enjoy!

    The Big Book of Lap QuiltsYou know we always celebrate the release of a new Martingale book with a giveaway—so for your chance to win a copy of The Big Book of Lap Quilts, tell us:

    What’s your favorite way to use a lap quilt?

    • To freshen up my home decor
    • While reading
    • While watching TV
    • While napping
    • All of the above!

    Tell us in the comments—we’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win. And remember, when you purchase the book at ShopMartingale.com, you’ll be able to instantly download the eBook for free.

    Good luck, and thanks for stopping by for a visit today!

    Comments are closed for this post.

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

    “I love lap quilts for all the listed reasons above, plus they easily fit on my design wall.”

    We’ll email you about your prize, Sandy—congratulations!


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  4. 40 years of rotary-cutting fun + OLFA Ruby Rotary Cutter giveaway! ❤️

    Have you heard the news? This year is the 40th anniversary of the how-would-we-EVER-quilt-without-it tool:

    THE ROTARY CUTTER!


    Hello, dear friends!

    The traditional symbol of a 40th anniversary is a ruby. So for OLFA—the company that invented this essential quiltmaking tool—2019 is the year that RUBY is all the rage!

    So what did OLFA do to mark their milestone? Why, they invented the OLFA Ruby Rotary Cutter, of course:


    Ooooh! Aaaah! Quilters are getting the ruby-carpet treatment this year!

    The Limited Edition OLFA Ruby Rotary Cutter:

    • Is offered in the most popular size, 45 mm—great for all kinds of fabric cutting
    • Features the durable handle you know and love with an easy-to-use blade cover for safety
    • Comes with OLFA’s high-quality tungsten carbide steel blade that’s a snap to switch out
    • Will be available in February 2019: get ready to quilt in ruby-red style!

    Here’s a fun little history lesson for you: In 1979, Mr. Yoshio Okada, founder of OLFA, introduced the rotary cutter to the marketplace. The Japan-based company had been making snap-off blades for other uses (the name OLFA comes from two Japanese words that mean “break the blade”) when Mr. Okada had the idea to develop a rolling cutter. His invention revolutionized quiltmaking, and by the early 1980s, rotary cutters were being adopted by quilters everywhere.

    Fast forward to today, when quilters around the world agree: you need a sewing machine, a rotary cutter, and a rotary-cutting mat and ruler to begin.


    RED ALERT, RED ALERT! JOIN OLFA’s 40TH ANNIVERSARY QUILT-ALONG

    OLFA is rolling out the red carpet for YOU—be their guest as they host a fun quilt-along to celebrate their 40th year. Follow OLFA at @olfacreates on Instagram or on Facebook for details, coming soon!

    VISIT OLFA AT ROAD TO CALIFORNIA

    Are you headed to the Road to California Quilter’s Conference in Ontario, California? The show starts this Thursday, January 24th, and OLFA will be there with demos, giveaways, and more. And here’s a little secret: you can be one of the first quilters to own the Limited Edition OLFA Ruby Rotary Cutter, because they’ll be selling them at the show . . . while supplies last!

    Learn more about Road to California >>>


    We’ve got a red-hot giveaway for you today—our friends at OLFA gave us an OLFA Ruby Rotary Cutter to give away to one lucky winner! To enter the drawing, tell us:

    What’s your favorite size of OLFA rotary cutter?

    • I’m best friends with the BIG mama, the 60 mm size.
    • Me and my 45 mm cutter are best buds.
    • I love the teeniest rotary cutters, the 28 mm and 18 mm sizes.
    • I have them all—and I love them all!

    Share your answer in the comments and you’ll be automatically entered into the drawing. We’ll choose a winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win. Good luck! And if you share in our many congratulations to OLFA on their 40th anniversary, give ’em a shoutout in the comments too!

    Comments are closed for this post.

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

    “Me and my 45 mm cutter are best buds. Love my Olfa rotary cutter!”

    We’ll email you about your prize, LaVonne—congratulations!


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  5. ⭐ Appliquéd stars a snap? ⭐ Yes – when you use wool and fusible web! (+ video)

    Wool applique starWe’ve shared several wool-appliqué techniques with you over the years. Why? Because every Martingale author who uses wool appliqué has her own little spin. Maggie Bonanomi, Roseann Kermes, Bonnie Sullivan, and Debbie Busby have all shared their quick-and-easy techniques, and we’ve tried and loved them all!

    But how do the French do it?

    Well, we happen to know how at least one French quilter appliqués wool!

    French Farmhouse author Marie-Claude Picon has a sparkling talent for blending two beloved quiltmaking styles. The foundation of her quilts is inspired by the beauty of vintage patchwork quilts, while the textured appliqué details she dreams up for her designs are rooted in the primitive style—and wool is often a focus. The result is so warm, so welcoming . . . so French, so farmhouse!

    Wish upon a Star quilt
    Wish upon a Star

    One thing we can tell you is that if you’ve shied away from other kinds of appliqué—needle-turn, back-basting, or freezer-paper, to name a few—you are going to love no-fray wool appliqué with Marie’s special French twist. Her technique’s as easy as ordering French fries, opening French doors, or listening to a French horn (note we said listening, not playing). Take a look!


     Viewing this post in email? Click here to watch the video online.

    Marie’s technique is used on many of the beautiful quilts in French Farmhousebut it’s not just for stars! Look at the other woolly wonders you can create with Marie’s method, such as:

    Houses:

    Simply Houses quilt
    Simply Houses

    Letters:

    Marie's Alphabet quilt
    Marie’s Alphabet

    And even woolly little sheep!

    Les Moutons quilt
    Les Moutons

    See more from Marie-Claude’s book, French Farmhouse >>>

    What’s your favorite way to appliqué?

    • Wool appliqué, hands down—just like Marie-Claude.
    • Machine appliqué, with a zigzag or blanket stitch.
    • Hand appliqué for sure—it’s just my speed.

    Share your answer in the comments!


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  6. Meet Red Crinoline Quilts AND their new book – 2 videos ahead! 📹

    Reproduction-fabric collectors and antique-quilt lovers, the much-anticipated follow-up to Tributes and Treasures is here!

    Step Back in Time

    Enjoy an all-new, jaw-dropping collection of patterns from the talented design team behind Red Crinoline Quilts. In Step Back in Time, you’ll learn streamlined techniques for creating 13 of their vintage-inspired designs.

    From Step Back in Time

    Each quilt is paired with a fascinating true story from the 1800s, while more than 70 beautiful photos capture the style and sentiment of this unique time in American quilting history.

    We’re thrilled that Paula Barnes (on the right in the video) and Mary Ellen Robison (on the left) recorded two videos for us, to introduce their new book to YOU! Get ready for project reveals and some fun stories about the quilts they designed for Step Back in Time.


     Reading this post in email? Click here to view the video online.

    In this next video, you’ll learn how Paula and Mary Ellen met and how Red Crinoline Quilts came to be. It’s a great story—we think destiny played a part in their pairing!


     Reading this post in email? Click here to view the video online.

    Here’s an excerpt from Step Back in Time that shares the introduction to the Potato Chip Stars quilt, which Paula and Mary talk about in the video above.

    Potato Chip Stars
    Potato Chip Stars

    George Crum“While recipes for potato chips appeared in cookbooks prior to the 1850s, the legend of George Crum, Kate Wicks, and their invention of the potato chip is probably the most interesting. Born in 1824, George was an American chef who honed his culinary skills at Cary Moon’s Lake House on Saratoga Lake in upstate New York. Moon’s Lake House was an expensive restaurant that catered to the wealthy families from Manhattan that vacationed at their “camps” on the lake.

    Kate Wicks was George’s sister, and they worked side by side in the kitchen. The story goes that she dropped a thin slice of potato into the pan of fat, fished it out, and set it aside. George tasted it, liked it, and said, “We’ll have plenty of these.” This was the invention of “Saratoga Chips.”

    Potato Chip Stars closeupOne night, a dinner guest returned his French fries to the kitchen because he felt they were too thick. George decided to annoy the customer by serving him a much thinner fry that he overcooked and salted. To his surprise, the guest was ecstatic over the browned, paper-thin potatoes, and the potato chip was born.

    In 1860, George opened his own restaurant, called Crum’s, in Malta, New York. It’s said he served a basket of chips at every table. In 1932, Herman Lay founded Lay’s, and his potato chips became the first successfully marketed national brand.

    Paula calls the 4″ block used in this quilt her “potato chip block” because they’re like potato chips—you can’t stop after just one!”


    Step Back in TimeWould YOU like to win a copy of Step Back in Time? Because we would love to give a copy to one lucky winner today! To enter our random drawing, tell us in the comments:

    Which typically first inspires you when starting a quilt: the pattern or the fabric?

    We’ll choose one winner a week from today and let you know by email if you win—good luck! And if you’re ready to dive in to those “potato chips” 😄 with Paula and Mary Ellen, you can purchase Step Back in Time on our website and instantly download the eBook for free.

    Comments are closed for this post.

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

    “I usually start with a pattern and then go shopping or stash digging for fabrics to use.”

    We’ll email you about your prize, Janice—congratulations!


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  7. Colonial knot embroidery tutorial with Italian quiltmaker Serena Boffa Soda 🇮🇹

    Inside Italian quiltmaker Serena Boffa Soda’s world, petite pleasures abound. Her teeny-tiny landscape quilts are astonishing. We could spend hours oohing and ahing at all the pint-sized details!

    Colonial knot flowers
    Flowers as tiny as a pinhead!

    Some of the most adorable details? Her wee little sheep, trees, and bushes:

    Colonial knot embroidery

    Colonial knot pumpkinsWe had a wonderful time meeting Serena when she came to the United States to attend Fall Quilt Market in November. She shared with us two of her favorite embroidery stitches: the colonial knot and the bullion stitch. She uses the colonial knot for her sheep and foliage and the bullion stitch for her sweet pumpkins (right).

    Here’s Serena to show you how easy it is to embroider puffy sheep and billowy trees and bushes just like she does with a colonial knot embroidery tutorial!


    Reading this post in email? Click here to watch the video.

    Here’s another tip we got from Serena—a great one if you want to go embroidery-hoop free:

    Serena Boffa Soda“When I embroider, I stabilize all my fabrics, because I don’t love to use an embroidery hoop. What I do love to use is a very light fusible stabilizer on the back of my cotton fabric; it makes the fabric a bit firmer. Then I’m ready to start working hoop-free.”

    Wondering how Serena stitches her pumpkins? We’ll be sharing another how-to video from Serena in an upcoming post, so stay tuned! While you’re waiting, you might want to step into Serena’s teensy world for a “little” embroidery fun:

    Four Seasons Dream Wall Hanging
    Four Seasons Dream Wall Hanging

    Colonial knot snowman
    Close up: use the colonial knot for snow—and a snowman!

    My Blessings Table Topper
    My Blessings Table Topper

    Colonial knot flowers
    Close up: colonial-knot flowers

    The Simple Life Table Runner
    The Simple Life Table Runner

    Embroidered flower garden
    Close up: the flower garden is in full swing!

    Note: Serena’s appliqués are all fusible—just cut out, fuse, and embroider! 👍

    Small WondersWhat’s your level of embroidery expertise?

    • I’m an expert.
    • I’m learning and loving it!
    • Never tried it, but I want to learn how now!

    Tell us in the comments!


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  8. New quilt-along alert! Make a stunning Millie Stars quilt with Katja Marek ⭐⭐⭐

    Nearly 20,000 quilters on Facebook are following Katja Marek’s quilt-alongs based on The New Hexagon and The New Hexagon Perpetual Calendar. Now Katja introduces an all-new quilt-along based on the same book and calendar—and you can sew with traditional English paper-piecing methods OR by machine!


    The New Hexagon and The New Hexagon Perpetual Calendar

    We’re excited to have Katja here as a guest writer to tell you more about her 2019 quilt-along, Millie Stars.


    A new year brings new ideas and new projects—and for me it brings new possibilities for using hexagons and a brand-new quilt-along. Millie Stars, my 2019 quilt-along, offers with it new ways to use the blocks I designed for The New Hexagon and The New Hexagon Perpetual Calendar.

    On the first day of each month, I’ll let you know which blocks are required to make one star rosette. Each star rosette consists of blocks from both The New Hexagon and The New Hexagon Perpetual Calendar, and participants will need both the book and the calendar to make the blocks. Each month’s post will include photos that show how to machine piece the star rosette.


    Millie Stars quilt

    Machine piecing? Did you read that correctly? Yes! I’ve had so many people ask about options for machine piecing that I asked Paper Pieces to to make several options for the papers and acrylic templates available:

    1. Hexagon papers for traditional English paper piecing: These bundles are for traditional English paper piecing. They can be ordered as a complete pack or as a monthly shipment. A separate finishing package is available for the background, which you can learn more about when you click the “Finish” button on this page.

    2. Acrylic templates with ⅜" seam allowances for traditional English paper piecing.
    These ⅜" seam-allowance acrylic templates are for traditional English paper piecers who would like to cut or fussy-cut their fabrics using acrylic templates. They’re the perfect solution for ease of cutting, and awesome for fussy-cutting. There is also an optional finishing set for purchase with these acrylics.

    Paper Pieces also offers ⅜" seam-allowance window acrylics. These are perfect for cutting from the wrong side of the fabric and gluing the papers right into the open window (for precise placement).

    3. Acrylic templates with ¼" seam allowances for machine piecing. For the machine-piecing option, ¼" seam-allowance window acrylics are offered. This allows you to cut or fussy-cut your fabrics with the ¼" seam allowance that your sewing machine is already set up for. These acrylics make it easy to mark the seam allowance on the wrong side of the fabric for perfect seams and point matching every time.

    Lastly, I asked Paper Pieces to make acrylic templates for the background piecing. These acrylics have ¼" seam allowance, are solid in the center, and have drilled corner holes. I felt ¼" window acrylics might be challenging to hold in place and cut around, as the background pieces are large. You can still mark corner points for matching and pinning using the open corner holes.

    This will be the fourth quilt-along using blocks from The New Hexagon and the second quilt-along using blocks from The New Hexagon Perpetual Calendar. Why are the book and the calendar required? First of all, you probably own either one or the other (or maybe even both) already. Second, using these blocks will limit the number of shapes (and the cost) for those wishing to use the acrylic templates.


    Millie Star #1: Fuchsia

    Guidelines for the quilt-along and the first pattern are available now! If you register for email notifications I’ll let you know when the latest download is ready each month. Downloads for this and all my other quilt-alongs can be found on my website.

    It’s always fun to interact with other quilters working on the same projects. You can post photos of your progress and ask questions at my two Facebook groups—the Millefiore Quilt-Along group and Katja Marek’s Quilt with Me group, and I hope you join the fun!

    Come with me on this new adventure and discover new "Hex"-abilities!

    For more information about all of Katja’s fun quilt-alongs, visit katjasquiltshoppe.com—you can join any of the quilt-alongs below, anytime!

    When you join the quilt-along, what will be your sewing style of choice: English paper piecing by hand or by machine? Tell us in the comments!


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  9. Best quilting buds, back again: new from Kim and Jo (+ fabric giveaway!)

    Gather your favorite fabrics—and your favorite quilting friends—because Kim Diehl and Jo Morton are back with Simple Friendships II!

    Simple Friendships II

    Kim and Jo have a fun idea for you: start with patchwork, add a few friends, and stitch it all together with gorgeous new patterns from their latest book. Their all-new, showstopping quilts reflect each designer’s signature style.

    From Simple Friendships II

    Every chapter showcases a classic quilt block; Kim and Jo each take the block and transform it into a spectacular quilt. Discover fresh spins on Churn Dash, Ohio Star, Flock of Geese, and more. Instructions make it easy to create blocks on your own or as part of a group—and the sampler quilts included are simply stunning!

    We asked Kim and Jo some pressing questions about their latest book, and what other sewing adventures they’ve been on lately—read below for their answers!


    Stitch This!: Your first book, Simple Friendships, was an instant best seller. What inspired you to team up again for Simple Friendships II

    Kim DiehlKim: Jo and I live in different parts of the country and we’re used to working on our own during other book projects—we just bop along by ourselves and see where the wind blows us. Collaborating on our first Simple Friendships book was a real change of pace! When we began that book, we had a rare opportunity to get together face-to-face and brainstorm while sipping Starbucks (my kind of meeting!). It was really fun to stay connected throughout the process, compare notes and projects, and share the love. So of course I wanted to do it all again for Simple Friendships II! With a basic format already in place from our first book, we had an easy time falling into a creative rhythm for this new book (even without being able to suck down coffee together), and I feel that it’s even better than the first!

    Jo MortonJo: Even though we don’t live close to each other, we keep in touch via the internet. We each do our own take on a block (not confined by block size). People seemed to enjoy the first book, so a second book was an exciting idea for both of us!

    Churn Dash quilts
    Kim and Jo’s takes on Churn Dash

    ST!: What’s your designing process like—do you draft a pattern first or gather fabrics first? Do you draw ideas on paper or use a computer?

    Kim: I tried being spontaneous in the design of a project ONCE, and found myself lying awake each night wondering what my next “spontaneous” step would be. I couldn’t handle it! I have to admit that I’m totally into planning. I begin by exploring block and layout ideas using graph paper. When I have a basic blueprint, I use a computer program to plug in prints and colors so I have a jumping-off point for when I begin making the quilt. That said, once I begin stitching I never hesitate to trust my instincts and stray from the plan if I feel changes are needed.

    Jo: I don’t use a computer to design quilts, I never have. I’m happy working the way I work. Old habits and all that jazz.

    Ohio Star quilts
    Ohio Star gets a makeover from Jo (left) and Kim (right)

    ST!: What’s inspiring your work right now?

    Kim: Last year was my year of embracing simplicity, so I’m currently in the process of finishing a few in-progress projects inspired by that theme. I recently realized, though, that I’ve been so goal and deadline oriented that I somehow let evening handwork fall off my radar screen. I’m in the process of remedying this heinous oversight, and I’m currently working up blocks and appliqué designs for a long-term project that will let me enjoy hand stitching again.

    Jo: Antique quilts, mid-to-late nineteenth century, have always inspired my work. My husband and I live in a 90-year-old bungalow, and we live with antique furniture (a 20-year collection process purchased during many road trips). Some pieces were acquired in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and we also own some great reproduction furniture from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and New England. These pieces suit my soul, and I need to make quilts that are also good for my soul. I’ve always said that I make quilts for me, and share them with you.

    Courthouse Steps quilts
    Two versions of Courthouse Steps: Kim’s (left) and Jo’s (right)

    ST! What’s on your sewing table right now?

    Kim: Lots of simple patchwork blocks and lots of wool-on-cotton appliqué designs!

    Jo: Fabric! I’m currently finishing a couple of quilts made mostly with my Hickory Road line with Moda Fabrics, which begins shipping to quilt shops this month. I have a couple of block exchanges coming up and I need to get my blocks sewn.

    Kim Diehl's sewing space
    A peek at Kim’s sewing space: the wool appliqué is part of a just-for-fun project; the patchwork blocks are for an upcoming book.

    ST! What’s your #1 tip for beginning quilters?

    Kim: Strive for accurate seam allowances! Each time I begin a new project I take a quick moment to double-check my seam-allowance width. I cut three rectangles, 1½" x 3½", and stitch them together along the long edges. After pressing the seams away from the center rectangle, the patchwork should measure 1″ in width. If the size of my center rectangle is off, I make an adjustment when feeding my future pieces through the sewing machine. Once I’ve achieved accuracy, I know I’ll have smooth sailing.

    Jo: Learn the basics (take a beginner class recommended by someone you admire). Acquire and work toward learning good skills. Math is involved in skills. I learned how to draft patterns from a book by Jinny Beyer in the early 1980s. Once you understand the math and can sew a consistent seam allowance, you’ll be able to make most any quilt.

    Sampler quilts
    The stunning samplers: Harmony by Jo (left) and Best of Friends by Kim (right)


    Quirky Questions for Kim and Jo

     What’s your secret talent? 

    Kim: I can’t carry a tune in a bucket when singing. I can’t bake a cake that doesn’t cave in at the middle to save my life. But I’m a fantastic disco dancer.

    Jo: Answering questions . . . from my students.

     What movie have you seen again and again?

    Kim: I have a handful of favorite movies that I never get tired of: A League of Their Own, Gone with the Wind, Forrest Gump, and Con Air, to name a few. (I have eclectic tastes!)

    Jo: Miracle on 34th Street with Maureen O’Hara, Edmund Gwenn, and Natalie Wood—the black-and-white version, of course. I also love The Devil Wears Prada and Pretty Woman. Most evenings TV isn’t very good, so I watch/listen to Home Improvement and Last Man Standing or old reruns of Murder, She Wrote.

     If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be the narrator?

    Kim: Ellen DeGeneres for sure. She would make everything I do, including my goof-ups, sound down to earth and funny.

    Jo: The American historian and novelist, Shelby Foote.


    We’ve got a very *friendly* giveaway coming your way!

    Our friends at Moda Fabrics sent us a bundle of Jo’s Shirtings; our pals at Henry Glass sent a bundle of Kim Diehl’s Wit and Wisdom fabrics. What shall we do with them? Well, give them away to two lucky winners, of course!

    Simple Friendships IITo enter you name in the drawing to win Kim’s or Jo’s fabric bundle plus a copy of Simple Friendships II, tell us:

    How often do you quilt with friends?

    • As often as I can!
    • I have regular meetups with my quilting buds.
    • I usually quilt by myself—but quilting with friends sounds fun!

    Share your answer in the comments to be automatically entered into the random drawing—we’ll choose two winners and let you know by email if you win. Good luck! And if you’re ready to begin a new quilty friendship with Kim and Jo, order your copy of Simple Friendships II at our website and we’ll send you the eBook for free.

    Comments are closed for this post.

    Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The winners are Ann and Joni.

    Ann says, “I mostly quilt by myself but do belong to a quilting group that meets once a month and we have a retreat at least once a year. I also do many workshops with the two quilt guilds I belong to  I would love to have more opportunities to quilt with friends but dealing with elderly parents as well as grandchildren doesn’t leave me much time lately. Thanks for this opportunity!”

    Joni says, “I usually quilt by myself—but quilting with friends sounds fun! Thanks for the opportunity!”

    We’ll email you about your prizes, Ann and Joni—congratulations!


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  10. 📚 Join our book club, get $40 to spend now (yes, right now!) 📚

    If you follow our Stitch This! blog, we know something about you: you love books that inspire your creativity. And because you do, the Martingale Insider Book Club may be just right for you.

    As a book-club member, you’ll have the opportunity to get all our brand-new books, all our best sellers, all at 35% off, all the time—that’s a lot of saving! For book-club members everything is on sale, every time you visit us online!

    When you log on to our website as a book-club member, you’ll instantly see how much you can save:



    How does the book club work? It’s easy:

     Join the club for just $14.99 per year. You’ll immediately get that back, plus more, in books and other merchandise of your choice because you’ll instantly receive a FREE $40 gift certificate from us* (you’ll get a coupon code in an email confirmation after your order has processed). How’s that for instant gratification? Wahoo!

     Buy 4 or more books in a year, always at 35% off. We’ll send monthly emails to you about our hot-off-the-press books. Choose the format you like best: printed books or eBooks. You can accept our Featured Selection, decline it, or choose something else. It’s entirely up to you.

     Purchase 6 or more books or other products during the year and we’ll waive next year’s membership fee!

    Joining is easy! Visit us at ShopMartingale.com and add the Insider Book Club membership to your shopping cart. We’ll send your $40 gift coupon code by email as soon as you’ve joined the club. Then you can enjoy a little spending spree at our site—it’s on us!

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    Find out more about the club:
    FAQs | membership terms | sign up!

    Which book would you choose to get with your gift certificate? Tell us in the comments!


    *Please note that gift-certificate purchases do not count toward your membership obligation.


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