3 ways to party on National Quilting Day

Neighbor's Fence quiltQuilters, it’s time to plan a party! Saturday, March 16, is National Quilting Day—now in its 22nd year—and quilters all over the nation are required to accomplish three things on that day (yes, required!):

1. Let your little quilty light shine.
2. Sew yourself silly.
3. Share your passion for quilting with others.

Easy enough, right? And today, we’re offering tips for planning your own National Quilting Day party so you can complete all three requirements at once!

If you’ve already got a group of quilting friends, there’s no better excuse than National Quilting Day to gather around gorgeous fabric, serve a few special treats, and sew, sew, sew. If you’re typically a lone quilter, now’s the time to reach out to wannabe quilters in your neighborhood, workplace, church, or other groups in your community. Just imagine your home filled with the hum of sewing machines and the conversation of quilting friends. Or, contact your local quilt shop to see if you can reserve space for a party. What fun!

Below you’ll find ideas for three party themes: a newbie party, a charity-quilt bee, and a fabric swap. For all of these parties, you’ll need a few essentials.

Room to play? Check.
Make sure you’ve got sewing basics in place:

  • Provide table space for each participant.
  • Create shared spaces for rotary cutting and pressing.
  • Make sure each sewing machine has access to a power outlet.

Invitations? Check.
Download and print these free invitations to invite your guests.

Quilting-day party invitations
(Quilt detail from Scrap-Basket Beauties by Kim Brackett.)

Quilting cheat sheets? Check.
Depending on the theme of your party, you can download, print, and pass out any of the free eBooklets featured on our How to Quilt page.

How-to-Quilt eBooklets 1

How-to-Quilt eBooklets 2

Find more eBooklets for your partygoers here.

Games? Check.
Time to Quilt eBookTry this fun white-elephant game from Time to Quilt: Fun Quilts and Retreat Ideas for 1 or 101 by Anne Moscicki—it’s just like the classic party game, but with a quilter’s twist.

“What’s the ugliest fabric or most useless notion you’ve ever bought? One girl’s trash is another’s treasure, so disguise it with the most beautiful gift wrap you can and bring it to the Quilted Elephant Trade. Guests draw numbers from a bowl and choose their new elephant in order. Everyone opens their gifts at once, trying to guess who unearthed this fabulous/hideous item from their stash! Trading is encouraged so that everyone ultimately takes home a treasure.”

Or, try this idea for a game of chance—with a big grand prize!—from Loose Change by Claudia Plett and Le Ann Weaver: “Some quilting groups organize what is referred to as a ‘lotto.’ Each person contributes a fat quarter, for example, and earns one chance to win the whole lot. It can be fun!”

Patchwork Party Ideas on PinterestMenu ideas? Check.
Follow our “Patchwork Party Ideas” board on Pinterest for quick recipes to make for a crowd, plus ideas for sewing and quilting projects. You can even create your own Pinterest board before the party and invite your guests to pin their favorite potluck dishes. (Be sure to check out the recipe for “Rocky Road Snack Cake” below. Yum!)

Starting to see a plan emerge for your party? Browse through the themed party ideas below. Then choose a theme, make your guest list, and send those invites!


Got a neighborhood full of friends who don’t quilt…yet? Introduce them to their creative side with a quilt party just for newbies. Start them off with a make-in-a-day project, such as a single large quilt block to turn into a table topper, or choose a simple repeat-block quilt that attendees can start at the party and finish at home. You could even follow up with another get-together to teach finishing techniques.

Another idea: inspire the next generation to quilt! Invite your kids’ friends over for an hour or two to show them how to cut and sew a simple quilt block, which they can later turn into a pillow or a simple bag.

Quilting vocabulary free eBookletFREE DOWNLOAD: Give new quilters a leg up on quilting terminology with our free Quilting Vocabulary eBooklet. In it, author Robin Strobel says, “Every craft has its jargon, and quilting is no different. If you’re new to quilting, it can be like ordering from Starbucks for the first time. But instead of an ‘extra-hot skinny grande mocha with whip’ you may ask for ‘fat quarter tone-on-tone batiks for a foundation-pieced crazy quilt.’ Both produce very different, though delicious, results!”

Download “Quilting Vocabulary” from our How to Quilt page, and feel free to make copies of it for your attendees. From appliqué to yo-yos, this dictionary covers all the basics of quiltmaking, and will clue beginners in to the jargon.

Below are just a few project ideas for new quilters, all made from squares and strips (and all in books that are 40% off this week):

Summer Camp from Fast and Fun First Quilts
“Summer Camp” from Fast and Fun First Quilts by Sara Diepersloot

Simple Scrap Table Runner from Simple Style
“Simple Scrap Table Runner” from Simple Style by Sara Diepersloot

Griddle Cakes quilt from Fast, Flirty, and Fun
“Griddle Cakes” from Fast, Flirty, and Fun by Sarah M. Bisel (also available as an ePattern)


Quilts of Valor, the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative, Project Linus, Binky Patrol. Homeless shelters, domestic-violence housing, hospitals. So many organizations would welcome a quilt from your group; why not spend your time together making one?

One quick way to start a group charity quilt is to invite everyone to work on a repeat-block quilt. The Rocky Road to Dublin block pattern below will provide a challenge that’ll keep the party going. Ask each guest to bring enough fabric to make just one or two blocks during your party; you’ll have enough blocks for a quilt by the time your last guest departs.

Rocky Road to Dublin quilt-block pattern

To make sure your finished quilt looks cohesive, suggest that guests bring fabrics in a specific color scheme. Consider what Anne Moscicki says in Time to Quilt:

As you specify fabrics, use broadly descriptive words that evoke colors, moods, themes, and fabric groups. Remember to specify flannels or cottons. Here are some examples:

  • Sun-drenched, island-happy batiks
  • Autumn-hued flannels in rustic plaids and prints
  • Sweet reproductions in fresh ice-cream colors
  • Romantic garden prints in soft pastels
  • Fresh primary prints and colors from the crayon box

Bonus recipe: Rocky Road Snack Cake
If you’re making Rocky Road to Dublin quilt blocks, why not amplify the theme with this scrumptious goody? Chock-full of nuts and almond toffee pieces, this chocolaty indulgence is a cross between a snacking cake and an awesome brownie—and it starts with a cake mix!

Rocky Road Snack Cake recipe

Rocky Road Snack Cake recipe 1

Download and print the “Rocky Road to Dublin” quilt-block pattern and the “Rocky Road Snack Cake” recipe.


Last week Tina shared ideas for hosting a charm-square trade. Trading any size of fabric chunk makes for a great party icebreaker—plus it’s a fun way to diversify everyone’s stashes. Check out Tina’s post, plus these fabric-swap guidelines from Loose Change: Quilts from Nickels, Dimes, and Fat Quarters by Claudia Plett and Le Ann Weaver:

Fabric swap party ideas“Swaps are usually organized by color, size, theme, or fabric type. Colors could include, for example, blacks and whites, reds, browns, neutrals, etc. Usually swaps are organized by size, so ask your guests to bring bags of nickels (5″ squares), dimes (10″ squares), 2½" strips, or fat quarters to share and exchange. Themes could include patterns such as stripes, dots, checks, or swirls. You could even put out a call for different fabric types, such as backgrounds, reproduction prints, juvenile prints, batiks, homespuns, and so on.”

On your invitations, be sure to note what kind of fabrics your guests will need to bring to participate in a swap, and in what quantities. That way, trading can begin as soon as guests arrive.

How have you celebrated National Quilting Day in past years? Share your stories and ideas for this year’s festivities in the comments. And if you do host a quilt party, let us know how it goes!

18 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I’ll take some of that rocky road cake 😉

    Jean on March 4, 2013
  • This is new for me, first time on my radar, and now a good reason for a party. Thanks for all the goody ideas, handouts and treats; happy partying.

    —Carol on March 4, 2013
  • I always try to work on a quilt on National Quilting Day. Thanks for the chance to win.

    —Julie B on March 4, 2013
  • Wow! I never even knew it existed so I guess I’ve never celebrated it! Pity poor me with a winner!!

    —Sheila Craft on March 4, 2013
  • Uh-oh, I’ve been "celebrating" National Quilting Day everyday since I didn’t know we had an official day. Am I in trouble or just drunk with enthusiasm?

    Keep smiling,

    Lynnita Shipman on March 4, 2013
  • Good company, good food, a good project – mix together and yield a National Quilting Day Party! Going to start a new tradition this year. Planning starts now. – let the games begin.

    —Susan Stanley on March 4, 2013
  • sounds like lots of fun! but I have many friends none of them are quilters, some admire what i have done, others think I am crazy to cut up fabric, then sew it back together Would love to meet a sewing friend who lives near me

    —Wanda on March 5, 2013
  • Where do you live, Wanda?

    Keep smiling,

    Lynnita Shipman on March 5, 2013
  • I am part of a half square triangle exchange. We plan to begin the sorting on the 14th of March. The cake will be a great treat. Our local quilt shop has a breakfast club that will meet on the 16th. We will all get our 504 triangles that day. I didn’t realize that day was National Quilt Day until now.

    —Maureen Klebe on March 7, 2013
  • What great ideas. I’ll definitely use these for the INTERNATIONAL Quilting Day Party I’m hosting (and Martingale is a sponsor for some fun giveaway prizes too!). http://sewcalgal.blogspot.com/2013/03/want-to-have-some-fun-and-promote.html

    Thank you.


    SewCalGal on March 9, 2013
  • Went to the sale at my local quilt store in Candor, N.Y. Great 25% discount but still spent over $200.00 will keep me in quilting for the coming year!!!

    —Marilyn on March 16, 2013
  • I’m downloading the recipe as we speak, they look so yummy, my grandsons will love them!! I am also working on a new quilt using my STASH. So much fun!

    Hope I will be lucky, Barb

    —Barbara Beatty on March 16, 2013
  • I just printed off the "Quilting Vocabulary". Ihas a lot of good things in it! But when I did print this All the small print describing the pictures is in a forn language. I sure can’t read it! It would be nice if it were in English. If this was the frist time you were looking at starting to Quilt, it sure isn’t easy to figure out! Why is this done like this?

    Hi Evelyn,
    What you’re seeing is most likely a computer language, not a "foreign" language. It is possible that you need to update your version of Adobe Reader. You can do that here: http://get.adobe.com/reader/

    If you’re still having problems, email me directly at service@shopmartingale.com and I’ll see what else I can do to help you.


    —Evelyn Thompson on March 17, 2013
  • I hosted a ‘Postcard Day’ for International Quilt Day. 10 ladies from my quilting group called in during the day and learnt to make a quilted postcard. Great fun and all went home inspired to make more! Thanks for all the good ideas and communication!
    Pinelands, Cape Town, South Africa

    —Hazelmay Duncan on March 23, 2013
  • There were several quilting friends that went to the Smoky Mountain Quiltfest this year, we were eating, breathing and sleeping quilting for the entire weekend, not just on Satursday. We think 4 days is much better than 1.

    —Paula jessup on March 29, 2013
  • This is a great idea.

    —Liz English on March 10, 2014
  • Since I quilt everyday, I never need an excuse to quilt, however, I need to make a unique 12 inch block for our next Round Robin & it should be on it’s way by April 1st. sooooo, what a better project to handle on National Quilting Day. I’m excited.

    Dorothy I. Dishman on March 10, 2014
  • Quilt party is in the works, trying to organize one. Love the invitation idea. Going shopping on National Quilt Day for the backings on some WIP projects.

    barb h on March 17, 2017

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