Friday Free Quilt Patterns: Splendor in the Scraps

Cover 165px Friday Free Quilt Patterns: Splendor in the ScrapsA few years ago we published the Winter 2014/15 issue of America Loves Scrap Quilts. The issue is packed with 18 exclusive scrap quilt patterns, of all skill levels. From traditional to trendy, this issue is full of scrap quilt patterns no quilter should be without. And today we’re thrilled to share 1 of them with you as a Friday Free Quilt Pattern! Presenting: Splendor in the Scraps, by Marcie Patch!

Scrap quilts are the best quilts, in my humble opinion. Although quilts made with manufacturer fabric collections can be beautiful, nothing tells a story like a scrap quilt, and each one is totally unique. So I’m always on the look-out for great scrap quilt patterns.

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Splendor in the Scraps finishes 76 1/2″ x 84 1/2″, a nice size for a twin or full bed.

I love the way the value placement (darks vs. lights) of the scrap fabrics creates stars that seem to twinkle and lead the eye across the quilt. There are 2 simple block types in the quilt, neither of which are stars. Those pop out as a secondary pattern when the quilt top is assembled…super fun!

Download the FREE Splendor in the Scraps scrap quilt pattern now…it’s today’s Friday FREEbie.

Have you missed any of our previous Friday Freebies? Click here to find them all!

Post was originally published on Jan 16, 2015

Posted in Free Quilt Patterns, Friday Freebies | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

National Jelly Roll Day Celebration

Our good friends at Moda Fabrics have announced a National Sew-Along for quilters —Project: Jelly Roll and National Sew A Jelly Roll Day on Saturday, September 16th. All quilters collect fabric, and many of us collect “pre-cuts” as well. Pre-cut fabric bundles  come in all shapes and sizes and so many of us leave them all wrapped up looking pretty on our shelves and never use them in a project. One reason for this, besides the fact that they are pretty, is that we don’t know what to do with them. Well, here’s your chance to open up a package of 2½” wide strips and join in and sew!

Not sure what to make? We have lots of inspiration for you.

First, check out this week’s McCall’s Workshop Wednesday with Mary Kate Karr-Petras. The workshop is all about strip-pieced quilts, perfect timing making a quilt with Jelly Rolls.

No time to shop? Or, search for fabric? Check out these patterns and kits. You can celebrate National Sew a Jelly Roll Day with a FINISHED QUILT!

sew a jelly roll day VintenersBouquet National Jelly Roll Day Celebration

Vintner’s Bouquet

sew a jelly roll day Celestial National Jelly Roll Day Celebration


Vintner’s Bouquet (Quick Quilts, October/November 2017) and Celestial (Quick Quilts, August/September 2017), both designed by Carolyn Beam, are throw size quilts. Download the patterns or purchase the kits (Vintner’s Bouquet kit, Celestial kit).

We searched our bookshelves and found several books just about Jelly Rolls, written by the Jelly Roll experts, Pam & Nicky Lintott. You’ll find patterns, instructions, tips and techniques to help you create your own Jelly Roll quilts in no time.

sew a jelly roll day BookJellyRollQuilts National Jelly Roll Day CelebrationJelly Roll Quilts
By Pam Lintott

Jelly Rolls are the focus of 17 quilting projects, made with only 1 Jelly Roll.

sew a jelly roll day BookJellyRollWeekend National Jelly Roll Day CelebrationJelly Roll Quilts in a Weekend
By Pam & Nicky Lintott

You can make a Jelly Roll quilt in a weekend. No kidding! This book includes a collection of 15 contemporary quilt patterns.

sew a jelly roll day BookTwoForOneJellyRolls National Jelly Roll Day CelebrationTwo from One Jelly Roll Quilts
By Pam & Nicky Lintott

You can make 2 quilts from 1 Jelly Roll with the patterns from this book. A variety of designs are featured, made with only twenty fabric strips.

sew a jelly roll day BookJellyRollInspirations National Jelly Roll Day CelebrationJelly Roll Inspirations
By Pam & Nicky Lintott

Perfect for Jelly Roll addicts. This book is full of ideas from winning entries. Quilts are made with 1 Jelly Roll and background fabric for quick and inexpensive quilts.

Posted in Quilting Inspiration, Tricia Patterson | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Workshop Wednesday: Strip-Pieced Quilts

I’m going to get straight to the point in this blog post. Labor Day is past, summer is over for all intents and purposes, there are only 110 days (!) until Christmas, which means one thing to quilters: it’s time to get a move on with making holiday gifts.

I have barely made a dent in my list of quilts I want to make to give as gifts this year, so I’m definitely feeling the pressure. This is probably why we’ve been focusing on quilts you can make with various precut bundles over the past few Workshop Wednesday blog posts—we figure we’re not alone in needing ideas for attractive quilt patterns that go together quickly.

Today we’re putting the focus on strip-pieced quilts that can be made with precut 2½” strips. These precut bundles are often referred to as jelly rolls, which is Moda Fabrics’ brand name for their strips, but which have lots of different names these days depending on the manufacturer.

IMG 3303 300x300 Workshop Wednesday: Strip Pieced Quilts

Waterfall, designed by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes for McCall’s Quilting, made by Mary Kate Karr-Petras with Latitude batiks by Kate Spain for Moda

Regardless of name, rolls of 2½” strips usually contain approximately 40 strips that are cut 2½” across the width of the fabric from selvage to selvage. Having them precut is a great timesaver, especially considering the multitude of quilt patterns written for them.
For example, last year I made Waterfall for my in-laws using a jelly roll of the Latitude collection by Kate Spain for Moda and was actually able to finish it in time for Christmas. You can read more about my experience making this pattern and some of my tips here.

With that, let’s take a look at some strip-piecing video tutorials on how to use 2½” strips.

First things first: you need the proper technique. In this “McCall’s Quilting” tutorial, Kathy Patterson demonstrates what you need to know to strip piece accurately, including tips on how to cut straight strips if you’re not using precut strips, and how to piece and press the strips to make sure everything ends up the correct size without wonkiness.

You may have heard of jelly roll race quilts. What are they, you ask? Well, Mary Fons describes the basics of jelly roll race quilts in an episode of her free video series “Quilty.” Click here to view the episode for free.

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Learn the basics of jelly roll race quilts from Mary Fons!

In this episode of “My First Quilt,” Sara Gallegos shows how to make the Streamers quilt pattern using precut 2½” strips. It’s an easy variation on a jelly roll race quilt that results in a sleek, contemporary look. Click here to view the entire “My First Quilt” series for free.

Katy Jones, aka “The Quilt Monkey,” did a three-part series on how to make an easy Strip-Pieced Postage Stamp Quilt. In this first part, she covers what to expect with a “sushi roll” (the brand name for 2½” strips used by Lecien Fabrics) and how to get started making the first block.

In the second “Quilt Monkey” video, Katy demonstrates the second block. It will take a bit more brain power than the first, so grab a coffee, put your thinking caps on, grab some solids and let’s sew some more strips!

And in the third “Quilt Monkey” installment, Katy covers how to finish the Postage Stamp Quilt, including using leftover strips for a scrappy binding.

In this “Quilting Quickly” tutorial, Colleen Tauke and Jean Nolte demonstrate how to make the easy Cool Water quilt using 2½” strips.

And in this “Quilting Quickly” video, Colleen demonstrates a super-fast baby quilt called Howdy.

For a more traditional quilt made with 2½” strips, take a look at the Miss Stacey pattern  in this “Quilting Quickly” tutorial.

In an early episode of “Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting,” Liz and Marianne demonstrated how to press strips and strip sets and how to use strip units to make three different patchwork quilt blocks. While they’re not using precut strips (considering this is from their second season, I think this episode was taped before jelly rolls were a thing), they still have some great tips for how to make and get the most out of your strip sets. You can view the full episode on here.

DPQQP170909 Workshop Wednesday: Strip Pieced QuiltsReaders of McCall’s Quick Quilts might recognize Celestial designed by Carolyn Beam from the August/September 2017 issue. It’s a beautiful blue-and-white throw quilt made with Indigo Dreams batiks from Timeless Treasures Fabrics and a solid white background, a perennially popular combination. A kit is available from Quilt and Sew Shop.

So there are some ideas to get you started on using 2½” precut strips to make a quick quilt. I may be back with some more ideas before long, though—there lot of great patterns out there and lots of great people to make quilts for. Let’s get strip piecing!

Posted in Mary Kate Karr-Petras, Workshop Wednesday | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

I Love This Quilt! Louisa’s Attic

i love this quilt louisas attic louisas attic 199x300 I Love This Quilt! Louisas Attic

Louisa’s Attic

When I was a child, part of every visit to Grandma Brown’s and to one of my favorite aunt’s was a Show and Tell of the latest finished quilts. Both of those two wonderful women made scrap quilts. I can’t imagine them buying fabric for a quilt top. Aunt Alta might have bought fabric for the back of a quilt but I’m certain I remember Grandma’s quilt backs being pieced. Part of quiltmaking for both of them was the satisfaction of making something beautiful out of scraps. Partly because of those great memories, I really, really like scrappy quilts. Louisa’s Attic by Gerri Robinson in the November/December 2013 issue of McCall’s Quilting caught my eye as a great scrap quilt. And goodness knows, I have plenty of scraps to pick from.

I’ve barely started on the quilt. I got out my AccuQuilt Go! and the die I need to cut 4” finished half-square triangles (HSTs).

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Ready to cut

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Cut and ready to sew

I pulled out a good-sized pile of blue fabric and green fabric and just a bit of yellow fabric. My idea is that I want one HST of yellow in each block. The rest of the HST’s will just be put together however I think they look good.

I pressed the fabric, cut the HSTs and I was ready to sew.

I stitched the HST’s in pairs without worrying about what fabric was going next to what. I figured the first pairing could surely be laid out somehow that it would be pretty.

i love this quilt louisas attic stitched I Love This Quilt! Louisas Attic

Stitched in pairs

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I started pressing the squares open and I had to laugh at myself. The pattern gives directions to cut square patches and stitch across them diagonally, making 2 units from each pair of squares. I didn’t consider that when deciding how many HST’s to cut and I only had half of them cut. It’s a good thing cutting goes so quickly with the AccuQuilt Go!

As I finished pressing, I started laying the squares out on my design wall. I didn’t think I wanted the yellow in the same position in each block. I’ll need to lay out the whole quilt to get the colors balanced.

i love this quilt louisas attic one block I Love This Quilt! Louisas Attic

One block on the design wall

Here is the first block. But it will change as I lay out the other blocks. My tendency is to get in a hurry at this point but I know from experience that I’ll just wind up unsewing things if I start stitching now.

So that’s the point I am at right now.

If you’d like to make your own version of Louisa’s Attic, click here to download the free pattern. Stay tuned to see my progress.

Posted in Lori Baker | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Design Wall Tuesday: Circle Quilt Pattern

Welcome to Design Wall Tuesday!

Hi! Welcome to September. It’s hard to believe summer’s winding down and the kiddos are back in school. Are you finding more time to sew? Here’s what the editors of McCall’s Quilting and Quiltmaker were up to this past weekend.

From Content Director, Carolyn Beam:

Beam Carolyn 150x150 Design Wall Tuesday: Circle Quilt Pattern

design wall tuesday circle quilt pattern 11 225x300 Design Wall Tuesday: Circle Quilt PatternI finished sewing the top of my Halloween charm square quilt. It’s fun to see how all the different prints and colors work in this Stacked Bricks quilt. Find the free pattern over on Quiltmaker’s Quilty Pleasures blog.

I also traveled to St. Louis for the Baby Lock Tech convention. This is Baby Lock’s 50th anniversary and new products were introduced. We used their embroidery machines and sergers to make a scarf. I had the pleasure of working on the Intrepid, their new 6-needle embroidery machine. Wow, was it impressive! I have to admit, I’ve never used a serger before, and it was cool to see how easily the edges of my scarf were finished.

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From Associate Editor, Erin Russek:

Russek Erin 150x150 Design Wall Tuesday: Circle Quilt Pattern

design wall tuesday circle quilt pattern Erin 300x300 Design Wall Tuesday: Circle Quilt PatternI am making slow but sure progress on my Chocolate Bonbons quilt. Next up is an appliqued border!

From Associate Editor, Gigi Khalsa:

Gigi 225px 150x150 Design Wall Tuesday: Circle Quilt Pattern

I’d wanted to start basting a baby quilt for a friend, but I had to delay those plans for a bit since my sewing room situation has gotten out of control. I’m trying to tidy up and organize my sewing room and I came across not one, not two, but THREE quilts that I’d basted, then folded up and put aside and promptly, conveniently, “forgot” about so I could keep sewing more quilt tops. The quilt on top of the pile is the baby quilt that will just have to be basted later, the rest of the pile needs to be quilted ASAP. It’s a dire situation and the only choice I had was to start stitching in the ditch to make some progress on my neglected quilts.

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From Acquisitions Editor, Lori Baker:

Lori Pink Scarf 150x150 Design Wall Tuesday: Circle Quilt Pattern

design wall tuesday circle quilt pattern the quilt top 300x295 Design Wall Tuesday: Circle Quilt PatternI’ve been working on a quilt with circle patches using the Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter. I love this little quilt. The fabric is from the Sugar Pie collection by Lella Boutique for Moda Fabrics. The quilt will be small (about 40″ square); I’ll probably quilt it at home on my domestic machine.

From Associate Editor, Anissa Arnold:

ANISSA 1 150x150 Design Wall Tuesday: Circle Quilt Patterndesign wall tuesday circle quilt pattern Anissa 225x300 Design Wall Tuesday: Circle Quilt PatternSpent some time last weekend selecting fabrics for a giant flower border for my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt.

Thanks for stopping by. We hope to see you next week so we can share our weekend quilting with you.

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PIGS: My Appliqué Sampler

I’m sitting at my computer staring at the blank screen trying to remember what I’ve finished in the last couple of weeks in the way of PIGS (Projects in Grocery Sacks).

There is one but it is for another blog, another day and I can’t show it to you yet.

pigs my applique sampler the original 18 blocks 300x281 PIGS: My Appliqué Sampler

The Original 18 blocks

So the only thing “PIGish” that I can show you is another week’s worth of progress on the still unfinished applique quilt. I started with 14 orphan blocks that could be set on-point and 4 that needed to be set square.

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All the Possible Blocks

Then I searched through all my PIGS and found a few more appliqued blocks.

I spent my evenings for a while finishing the blocks that had the applique patches fused but not stitched. Now I have all the applique patches stitched on.

Now I’m doing the hard part. I have to make each block in a diagonal row the same height by adding strips of green fabric. The width can be different.

I started in the middle and I’m working toward the upper left hand corner. The center row and the row above it went fairly quickly. I’m using assorted green fabrics to add to the scrappy look of the quilt.

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The First Two Rows Ready to Stitch Together

When I have the blocks all the same height, I sew them together with sashing in between and add the setting triangle to one end. I start sewing from the end of the row with the setting triangle and when I get to the other end, I make any adjustment necessary in the length of the row by adjusting the width of the last sashing strip, add the second setting triangle and complete the row. It worked easily for the center row and the row just above it.

Then I add another piece of sashing the width of the entire row.

Row three was more difficult. I am not measuring before I start sewing a row. That would make it easier I’m sure but I’m just faking it here. I’ve not done this before and I’m feeling my way. If I told Bake, my husband, what I was doing, he’d get out his sketch pad, a measuring tape and calculator and he’d be able to tell me exactly how wide my sashing strips need to be – but I’m not patient enough to wait while he does that. So that third row was way too long. I took out a couple of seams and made the sashing between the blocks much narrower. And it’s still just a smidgen long. I’m thinking that I’ll add to the row beside it.

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Ready to Add the Fourth Row

It wasn’t until I looked at this photo that I realized there is no sashing between the top two rows. I’ll have to fix that. And I want to take off the green setting triangle. It just doesn’t seem to fit the overall scheme. The quilt will be better with a cream-colored setting triangle there.

I’m in love with this quilt. I’m getting more and more excited about it all the time. I think it is going to be so pretty. I can hardly wait to get home to work on it each night.

pigs my applique sampler sparkling sampler PIGS: My Appliqué Sampler

Sparkling Sampler

Just in case you’d like to try making a sampler, the popular Sparkling Sampler is available in digital format. (And we’ve done all the math so the pieces and parts fit together.)

pigs my applique sampler fat quarter 150x150 PIGS: My Appliqué Sampler
Or perhaps you’d like Fat Quarter Sampler. It has lots of different sizes of blocks but again, we’ve done the work so they will fit together correctly.

Now I best quit writing and work on the projects on my desk.
Happy quilting.

Posted in Lori Baker, Quilting Inspiration | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts about Houston

Hurricane Harvey may have come and gone (and come back again as a tropical storm), but its effects on the Gulf Coast will be felt for years to come. Like many of my colleagues in the quilt industry, I feel a bit more invested in the area’s recovery than normal because of Houston’s role as the home of Quilts, Inc., the parent company behind International Quilt Festival and International Quilt Market.

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Gigi and me, just two quilt editors goofing off in Robert Kaufman Fabrics’ photo booth during Quilt Market 2013 in Houston

I’ve been to Houston for Fall International Quilt Market, the trade show component, a few times. As business trips go, it’s pretty awesome. First of all, you have the beautiful booths on the convention floor displaying new fabric collections, threads, glittering machines, and all sorts of gadgets.

In a neighboring hall, you find the quilt exhibits, including the World of Beauty competition quilts surrounded by many special exhibits of art quilts, modern quilts, historic quilts and so on. It’s literally eye-candy for days. If you ever go to Fall Quilt Festival immediately after Market, make sure to spend a good portion of your time taking in the quilt exhibits. You will never find a better source of quilt inspiration than that.

Aside from the meetings and the business side of things, Market is just fun. The people are great, and the after-hours gatherings, while never seeming to get wildly out-of-hand (we are talking about quilters here, after all) are sociable and full of energy and provide the chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones. I look forward to going back someday.

The good news for the quilt industry is that plans for this year’s International Quilt Market and Festival are progressing as usual. Quilts, Inc., founder and CEO Karey Bresenhan posted the following on the Quilts, Inc., website:

We would like to thank all who have sent messages of support to us in response to the devastating flooding taking place in our home city of Houston. We are happy to report that all of our staff is safe, and that our office did not suffer any damages.

Many others have not been so lucky, and we ask that you keep Houston and all areas that have been devastated by Hurricane Harvey in your thoughts, and, if possible, consider making a contribution toward organizations involved in the ongoing relief efforts.

We have also heard from many people asking whether they should cancel their plans to attend this year’s International Quilt Market and/or International Quilt Festival in Houston. We want to assure you that there is no reason to cancel any travel plans, as both shows are still scheduled to go on.

The shows are still two months away, and we have full confidence that our city will bounce back quickly, as it has always done. Also, neither the George R. Brown Convention Center nor the Downtown Houston hotels were damaged in the flooding.

At this time, our office remains closed, and will until it is safe for our staff to return to work. We will post an announcement to our website and social media when the office reopens. In the meantime, we ask that you be patient in receiving a response to any calls or emails.

Thank you!
Karey Bresenhan
Founder and CEO
Quilts, Inc.

10379720 10152774275910552 1526642557461667430 o 300x225 Thoughts about Houston

the view from my window of downtown Houston, October 2014

But in the meantime, Houston has an enormous job of recovery ahead. For now, all disaster relief organizations are stressing that what they need more than anything is cash donations.

This is the point during a disaster at which we quilters usually want to help by organizing quilt drives to donate to victims. In 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Quilts, Inc., sponsored the Quilters Comfort America campaign to get quilts into the hands of people who had lost everything. It’s no surprise that quilters responded in such force that within a couple of weeks, Quilts, Inc., said they couldn’t accept anymore quilts.

So far, Quilts, Inc. has not said anything about quilts for Hurricane Harvey victims. I assure you that if they do, we’ll spread the word. And then quilters will do what quilters do best, which is create tangible hugs out of fabric and batting to let people know that they are not alone.

Posted in Mary Kate Karr-Petras, Quilting Community | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Friday Free Quilt Patterns – Fluttering Leaves Lap Quilt Pattern

FlutteringLeaves WebReady FreeQuiltPatterns 196x300 Friday Free Quilt Patterns   Fluttering Leaves Lap Quilt PatternHere’s a timely pattern for you – Fluttering Leaves, designed by Bonnie Spencer. If you’ve been working on any autumn projects, chances are you’ll have some scraps on hand to get a good start on this lap quilt.

I wonder what this quilt might look like with a dark background instead of the light.

Click here if you’ve missed any of our other Friday Freebies.

This blog post was originally published on Oct 14, 2011

Posted in Free Quilt Patterns, Friday Freebies | Tagged , | 16 Comments

About Very Merry, a Guest Blog from Diane Harris

Diane Harris designed the Very Merry pattern for the latest issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts, October/November 2017. Diane is a past editor of Quiltmaker, recently launching her own company, Stash Bandit. Go to to see more of what’s happening with Diane.

In the meantime, we asked her to tell us the design backstory of Very Merry.

about very merry question mark 181x300 About Very Merry, a Guest Blog from Diane HarrisBefore I was a quilt designer, I often wondered how others came up with original ideas. I think I assumed that quilt designs came out of nowhere, thoroughly developed and polished to perfection.

Then about 10 years ago, I read an article in Quilters Newsletter, and I had an epiphany.

The article described how one artist had struggled, made, unmade, worked, reworked, sewn, unsewn, conceived, trashed, remade again and eventually finished her one-of-a-kind quilt. It was such a relief for me to realize that ideas for quilts arrive as if they are infants, or seeds.

It takes time and effort to bring them up, to see them through to fruition. Sometimes they become a successful finish and sometimes they don’t.

The idea for Very Merry came to me in bits and pieces, and that’s what I’m sharing today. When you’re in the idea business, you learn to ask, “What would happen if…?”

about very merry qq stars 1 150x150 About Very Merry, a Guest Blog from Diane HarrisI was looking at some regular old Plain Jane star quilt blocks, and I noticed that the points were almost always the same size in relation to the center. They’re big.

about very merry qq stars 2 150x150 About Very Merry, a Guest Blog from Diane HarrisI wondered, “What would happen if the points were smaller?” I drew out the basic idea in The Electric Quilt Company’s EQ7 quilt design software and I liked the result.

about very merry qq stars 3 150x150 About Very Merry, a Guest Blog from Diane HarrisI saw that with this change, the star points could easily be made with stitch-and-flip. And I played with dividing the center patch into sections.

about very merry qq stars 5 246x300 About Very Merry, a Guest Blog from Diane HarrisI started thinking about using the stars in a quilt layout.

about very merry qq stars 4 150x150 About Very Merry, a Guest Blog from Diane HarrisFirst I tried something simple: blocks in rows. It’s okay but it’s not memorable. There isn’t enough going on.

about very merry qq stars 6 300x300 About Very Merry, a Guest Blog from Diane HarrisSo let’s try something different by using two block sizes in the same quilt. Now maybe we’re getting somewhere. I still didn’t think it had enough punch, so I kept on playing.

about very merry qq stars 7 247x300 About Very Merry, a Guest Blog from Diane HarrisEventually I landed on making one very large block for the center, and adding in the other sizes as well. I kept all of the center patches the same size, and I consistently maintained the proportion of the star points to the center.

I really like this final version. It was fun to sew and it has interest. Your eye moves around the quilt. The scrappy fabric combinations keep things lively. There is plenty of space for nice quilting. You could call this “tradition with a twist.”

I also played around with color before submitting this idea for publication. Here are some of the other things I tried.

about very merry qq stars 8 247x300 About Very Merry, a Guest Blog from Diane HarrisThis analogous color scheme of greens and blues is interesting.

about very merry qq stars 9 247x300 About Very Merry, a Guest Blog from Diane HarrisThe quilt might be nice as a red-and-white design. I tried several things, just messing around.

about very merry qq stars 11 247x300 About Very Merry, a Guest Blog from Diane HarrisThe center star seemed too heavy so I lightened it up with white patches in the middle. It’s easy to keep going and going and going—Energizer bunny style! Pretty soon there are too many options, which is a good problem to have.

about very merry baby windmills basic 267x300 About Very Merry, a Guest Blog from Diane HarrisThe time spent playing is something I have learned to embrace. You can’t get to the final design if you don’t create all the ones in the middle. You’ll have many ideas that do not work. I regularly send designs to Quiltmaker, McCall’s Quilting and Quick Quilts that are not selected for publication.

Many years ago I started making simple little blocks when I was too tired to make decisions. I dubbed them Baby Windmills. You’ll find instructions for making them and a free pattern for a basic quilt on Stash Bandit.

Eventually I wondered how many winning quilt designs I could create with this one humble, easy quilt block. Turns out, quite a few! Several have been published, with more on deck.

Now I am building a trunk show of quilts all based on Baby Windmills. There are ideas for new quilts on many days, and it is so exciting! I’m booking this program for quilt guilds and events now. I’d love to bring it to you, wherever you are! Email me today!

about very merry scarlet sampler 300x294 About Very Merry, a Guest Blog from Diane Harris about very merry baby windmills diagonal 283x300 About Very Merry, a Guest Blog from Diane Harris about very merry triple threat 3 232x300 About Very Merry, a Guest Blog from Diane Harris

The takeaways for quilters:

  • Designing is mostly work. It doesn’t happen easily or automatically.
  • Designing is mostly play. It takes time and a willingness to look for possibilities until something interesting happens.
  • The more you relax your brain and let the ideas flow, the more the ideas will pile up, sometimes moving like a river so that you can’t keep up. And of course there are times when the ideas do not flow.
  • I do find that the more I let ideas in, the more they want in. The more I play, the more I am able to see possibilities in everything. I think the universe is swarming with ideas just looking for someone to bring them to life!

Happy Quilting!

Diane Harris

Posted in Diane Volk Harris, Guest Blogger, Quilting Inspiration, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Workshop Wednesday: Charm(ing) Quilt Ideas

Charm square is the general term used to describe a 5-inch square of fabric. These days, charm squares are often sold as precut squares cut from a coordinating collection, often with more than one square of each print in the pack.

workshop wednesday charming quilt ideas charm jan 88 300x287 Workshop Wednesday: Charm(ing) Quilt IdeasHowever, that hasn’t always been the case. Charm quilts have been around since the 1880s, but until recent decades the “charm” referred to the fact that each small, uniform patch was of a different fabric.

Charm quilts are often made using just a single pattern patch. One-patch designs are ideal for charm quilts because they fit together to form overall designs that are almost unlimited in their possibilities for color variations. With every patch a different color and print, the arrangements of lights and darks and the interplay of different hues provide much creative pleasure for the quiltmaker. Since there are no blocks as such and no sashes, patches can be added on until the quilt is any size desired—or until one has completely depleted the number of different fabrics collected.
(from Quilters Newsletter Magazine, January 1988, page 34)

Victorian women liked to collect and trade charms of different sorts, such as buttons, and one-patch charm quilts became quite trendy in the late 1800s. Fabric charms could come in a variety of dimensions. In a 1902 letter to the requests column of The American Woman Magazine, a Miss Jennie Miller of Illinois wrote: “I shall be glad to receive from every reader a piece of calico, any color, 6 x 4 inches, for my charm quilt, and will return the favor in any way I can.”

Charm quilts experienced another wave of popularity from the 1920s to the mid-1930s but were modified to suit modern tastes; a few quilters expressed a preference for using white patches to unify blocks, in contrast to the quilts “our grandmothers endeavored to make.” Soon, charm quilts were basically indistinguishable from other scrap quilts of the era.

In the 1980s, noted quilt historian Cuesta Benberry wrote articles about historic and contemporary charm quilts for Quilters Newsletter Magazine. The first article published in the March 1980 issue included an introduction that described charm quilts as “a little-known Victorian quilt tradition.” By the time she wrote about the subject again for the January and February 1988 issues, charm quilts were experiencing a new wave of popularity that made use of contemporary fabrics and techniques.

workshop wednesday charming quilt ideas charm march 80 220x300 Workshop Wednesday: Charm(ing) Quilt IdeasEven by the late 1980s, charm quilts were still mostly distinguished by a uniformity in size and variety in print of the patches, not by a standard 5-inch measurement of the patches used to make the quilt.

Nowadays, the emphasis is on starting with a set of 5-inch squares and then figuring out what to do with them. Ideas abound, from easy, Victorian-style one-patch designs to more complex patterns, making a charm square quilt something any quilter can make.

Our own Carolyn Beam loves charm squares and has started a regular blog series for Quiltmaker’s Quilty Pleasures blog she’s calling “Charmed, I’m Sure.” Just last week, Carolyn blogged about how to host a charm square swap to get the greatest variety possible; check it out here. If you’re a fan of charm square quilts, be sure to check the Quilty Pleasures blog regularly to read more about Carolyn’s tips and designs for inspiration.
workshop wednesday charming quilt ideas blocks Workshop Wednesday: Charm(ing) Quilt Ideas

Baby quilts are a fantastic use of charm squares and are great for beginning quilters. For an easy charm square baby quilt, check out the Charms for Baby pattern demonstrated by Colleen Tauke for the “Quilting Quickly” series.

In the “My First Quilt” series, Sara Gallegos demonstrated a couple different variations of a cute–and fast!–baby quilt using a charm pack. Click here to learn more about the free “My First Quilt” series available on

Off My Back is a twin-bed quilt pattern made with coordinating charm squares and additional yardage.

Stringing Beads is another twin-bed pattern that combines a scrappy approach with modern appeal. (And there’s that white sashing that charm quilters of the 1930s liked so much!)

For a more intricate design using charm squares, check out Nancy Mahoney’s medallion-style Rainbow Mosaic pattern, which she demonstrated on an episode of “Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting.” I cannot say enough about Nancy – she’s a fabulous designer, a wonderful teacher and just super nice, too. The pattern is available here and the full episode is included in the DVD set of “Love of Quilting’s” 2900 series.

So those are just a few ideas of what to do with your charm squares. No matter what choice you make — coordinated precut package vs. trading with friends, one-patch design or cut into smaller patches – you’re sure to make something unique, special and, yes, charming.

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