"Fresh Start Quilts" Sew-Along (Week 2) + Color Tips and Cutting Shortcuts

Welcome to week 2 of the “Fresh Start Quilts” Sew-Along! Today’s update is filled with helpful color inspiration and valuable cutting tips that you can apply to the Fresh Air quilt–as well as future projects.

And here’s a money-saving tip to our blog subscribers: Be sure to check your email later this week for our BLACK FRIDAY SALE! Discount details to come!

Guest blog from Connie Tesene and Mary Etherington:

Hello, We hope you had a great week! Did you make 5 blocks for your Fresh Air quilt? Remember to join us on our blog, Chicken Scratch Country Threads, and share your progress using these hashtags: #martingaletpp #madewithmartingale #freshstartquiltsQAL and tag Martingale @martingaletpp .

If you just made one block and are feeling behind, don’t worry! Or, if you’re struggling with color and fabric choices…not a problem. Mary to the rescue! She has written a great section today on looking for color ideas in unexpected places.

Color Inspiration from Mary Etherington:

Look around you – there are color combos everywhere. When I started sewing with men’s shirts, I fell in love with blue and orange, and found an abundance of cotton shirts to use. I still like these colors together.


This shirt gives me an idea of subtle blue, green, and yellow.


I see color combos on a box of tissues…


…and on greeting cards.


I love to buy old pictures at the thrift store. Many times I never even hang the photos – I am just inspired by the colors.


I just got this picture last week – such a great combo of primary colors!


This one is just delicious, but I’m having trouble with those colors – they are so odd. BUT look at this sour green print with it. I love it!


I even found a great quilt that combines assorted colors and white. I cut out this photo from a catalog.


Sometimes a specific fabric can suggest a whole color combo for a quilt, or serve as inspiration for the back. I loved these prints, so I bought yardage and am still contemplating how to use them.


And I love this yellow stripe with red and pink!

I hope these tips help you choose fabrics for this project or any of your future quilts.


From Connie Tesene:

My tip for you today is when you start cutting your blocks (remember to cut about 5 blocks at a time) put a pin through the “single block stack” to hold it together until you have an opportunity to sew the block.

It sounds kind of elementary but take advantage of anything that will help keep your blocks organized. Paper plates, plastic bags, or trays would also work. I always have pins handy.

Here is my stack of 64 blocks – ready to be sewn into a KING size quilt.

I’ve been working on this periodically since this summer, so don’t get too excited. Until next time, have a great week…and sew something every day!

~ Connie

Martingale staffer Karen Soltys is sewing along, and she has a couple tips to share with you! (Because we can never too many tips, ideas, and inspiration, right?! Right!!)

From Karen Soltys:

Today, I’m sharing my first 5 blocks from the "Fresh Start Quilts" Sew-Along so you can see that while the palette is red, white, blue, and caramel, the blocks are all assorted and I’ve mixed up the placement of the reds and blues as well as some of the value placement. Some blocks have darker centers than others, and most use two different lights, but one block uses just one. It’s OK to mix things up! My plan is to make 5 blocks a week so that I can complete my 20-block quilt before Christmas. It’s not a rush or a necessity. That’s just my goal to stay on track.


Whether you’ve sewn a couple of blocks or you’re just ready to get started, I do have two tips to share today.

Tip #1: Cutting the Sashing

While right now we’re just getting started making the blocks, if you are planning to use a scrappy sashing for your quilt top like Mary Etherington did for hers, you may want to cut as you go. So, to save time in the end, each time I press and cut pieces from a light fabric for my blocks, I also cut one or two 1-1/2” x 12-1/2” sashing strips. That way, I won’t have to get all my light fabrics out again when I’m ready to assemble the quilt top. I’ll already have my sashing strips cut! Easy peasy.


Tip #2: Substituting Flying Geese for the Half-Square Triangles

Mary’s original pattern in "Fresh Start Quilts" calls for making half-square triangles that finish 2-1/2” x 2-1/2” square. And that’s exactly what I did for the first four blocks I made. Then I tried a different method, sewing a flying-geese unit in place of sewing two half-square-triangle units together. This may save a little time and it does reduce bulk by omitting a seam. So, if you’d like to try this method, here’s what to do:

1. Instead of cutting 4 dark and 4 light 2-7/8” squares, cut 4 light 2-1/2” x 4-1/2” rectangles and 8 dark 2-1/2” squares per block.

2. To make each flying-geese or star-point unit, place a dark square on one end of the light rectangle and sew along the diagonal. You can mark a sewing line with a pencil or use seam tape or a sewing guide on your machine to create an accurate sewing line.


3. Trim the excess fabric from the corner, leaving a 1/4” seam allowance. Press the dark triangle open.


4. Repeat using another dark square on the opposite end of the light rectangle. Make a total of 4 units, 2-1/2” x 4-1/2”.


Here you can see the difference between using two half-square-triangle units (top blocks) or one flying-geese unit (center block) for each set of star points. The choice is yours! I think I’m going to use a mix of both in my quilt.


1 Comment (leave a comment)

  • Thanks for the wonderful color idea inspirations! I am drawn to unique color combinations. Great tips on the Fresh Start blocks, too. Often quilting and reading about quilting is a breath of fresh air.

    —Susan Lusk on November 25, 2022

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