Design Wall Tuesday – Christmas Quilts

Welcome to Design Wall Tuesday!

We’re setting record high temperatures here in CO. I hope you’re all staying cool and finding time to sew. Here’s what some of the editors at McCall’s Quilting and Quiltmaker have been working on.

From Content Director, Carolyn Beam:

Beam Carolyn 150x150 Design Wall Tuesday   Christmas Quilts

I finished the baby quilt I was working on, just in time for the baby shower. The baby shower itself ended up being just in time as well, as the new mama went into labor the day after the shower! I wanted to find something meaningful to add to the label, so I did a search online for a nice “baby saying.” Here’s what I found and added to the label:

images Design Wall Tuesday   Christmas Quilts

And now on to the next project. I designed a Christmas quilt for McCall’s Quick Quilts Dec/Jan issue using the Eat, Drink and Be Ugly collection by Sandy Gervais for Moda Fabrics. I got patches cut and marked for triangle-squares and got a couple blocks sewn. I’ll share some pictures of my progress next week.

From Acquisitions Editor, Lori Baker:

Lori Pink Scarf 150x150 Design Wall Tuesday   Christmas Quilts
20170621 094032 resized 300x168 Design Wall Tuesday   Christmas QuiltsThis quilt came back from the quilter and I finished the binding so you get to see a sneak peek. It’s scheduled for the February/March issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts. You can see the whole quilt when that issue comes out. I love my quilt. It has lots of beautiful blue and green batiks from Island Batik. Blue seems to be my favorite color when it comes to decorating and quilt making so this one is a keeper.

From Associate Editor, Tricia Patterson:

Patterson Tricia 150x150 Design Wall Tuesday   Christmas Quilts

It’s almost the middle of the year and I don’t know if I’m behind or really ahead on my Christmas projects. I fell in love with Moda Fabric’s Hometown Christmas Edition collection from Sweetwater when we received a sample layer cake at the office a couple of months ago. I just had to make a quilt with it! Last weekend I spent some focused time working on making a quilt I designed with the fabric line for the Nov/Dec issue of Quiltmaker. It seems like I’m always trying to figure out ways to save some of the tedious sewing; I’m anxious to see what the quilt is going to look like. I decided to use one of Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co. Cake Mix Recipes to speed up making the triangle-squares. And I saved a lot of time sewing my triangle-squares together with Bonnie Hunter’s chain piecing technique. I didn’t have to stop and start the sewing machine as often, less threads to take time to snip and I saved thread. Can’t beat all that for efficiency. 

From Video Content Strategist, Caitlin Dickey:

CAITLIN 1214 500 150x150 Design Wall Tuesday   Christmas Quilts

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Snowflakes – unpressed units for block A

This pile of units which are waiting on my ironing board to have their recently sewn seams pressed open is eventually going to become most of the Block A’s in a two block quilt. I’m pressing all of the seams open on this project to reduce bulk at the intersections where many points meet, and I haven’t yet clipped any of the dog-ears because when piecing the odd template-cut shapes, matching them up helps me align match points and seams with as little fuss as possible.

That’s it for this week. We’re officially into summer and coming up on the 4th of July. Do you have any seasonal quilts you use to decorate during the summer? Check back next week to see what we’ve been up to in our sewing rooms.

Posted in Caitlin Dickey, Carolyn Beam, Design Wall Tuesday, Lori Baker, Quilting Community, Quilting Inspiration, Tricia Patterson | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Toys (Tools)

Bake, my husband, is a gem. He’s been a blue-collar worker most of his life and still does a lot of handyman tasks around our house. Because he knows the value of tools from his work, he knows the value of tools for my hobby.

When I bring home a new quiltmaking tool, he seldom asks how much I paid for it. He wants to know what it does and how it is different from what I have.

(He did admit much later that when I told him I wanted to spend $3000 on an embroidery machine in the mid-90s, he thought I was just a little bit nuts. We both agree now that it was one of the best purchases we’ve ever made.)

I have lots of great tools for my sewing and quilting. I have rulers, rotary cutters, templates and markers; you name it, I probably have it.

I like experimenting and seeing what the new tools can do so this week, I’m in seventh heaven. I have new things to try from three different companies.

I have four new pairs of Kai 7000 Series scissors, two rotary cutters and two folding cutting mats from Olfa and the 8” GO! Qube from AccuQuilt. And I “have” to test them. But I wanted to test them in a real life situation. I wanted to cut and sew for a real quilt.

As I said in my blog last week, my next PIGS (Projects in Grocery Sacks) finish just has to include some stash busting. My Fabric Inventory is out of control. Totally. Out. Of. Control!

I’ve wanted to make a quilt using the Split Nine-Patch block and this seems like a good chance. I’ll do something with it for the front of the quilt and then use orphan blocks from the PIGS for the back. (Do you see how I did that? I’m actually starting something new and I’m still planning to call it a PIGS finish. Sneaky, aren’t I?)

So last night, I designed this quilt thinking it would be scrappy.

AccuQuilt 300x300 New Toys (Tools)

My New Design

But this morning, when I was talking about it with my friends/coworkers, Gigi and Tricia, they suggested planned/structured for the first part of the design (the central blue diamond and the first three bands radiating out from the blue diamond) and then making the rest of it scrappy. I can picture it in my head and I’m really excited about it.

The AccuQuilt 8” GO! Qube has dies for 2” and 4” squares, 2” and 4” half-square triangles, 4” quarter-square triangles, a 2¾” square on point, a parallelogram, a 2” x 4” rectangle, a cutting mat, an instructional DVD and a pattern booklet. AccuQuilt included everything you need to make dozens and dozens of 8” blocks. You can learn more about the AccuQuilt 8” GO! Qube here.

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AccuQuilt Go and Dies

But that’s not all! The 8” GO! Qube is so versatile, I used the dies to cut patches for a 12” block. Just a bit of simple quilt math and I realized that I could make 12” blocks using the 4” square and 4” half-square triangle dies from the 8” GO! Qube.

I love die cutting patches for quilts. It is so fast and so accurate. I cut 6-8 layers of fabric at once and they are all perfectly cut. So I save a huge amount of time cutting and then even more as I’m sewing because all the patches fit together correctly.

As I was cutting my ivory/cream/beige fabrics, I had several that still had the selvages. I was cutting in my office in order to participate in a telephone conference call and cut patches. Multitasking is a good thing!

I found the Olfa 17” x 24” folding mat to be perfect to use on my desk. There is also a smaller Olfa 12” x 17” folding mat. I think they would be perfect to take to classes. Either one would be easy to fit in a tote with your other class supplies. And if you have the kind of sewing space where you have to put things away after you sew, the Olfa folding mat would make sense for you.

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The Wavy Center Fold on the Olfa Folding Mat

I like that because of the wavy fold, the mat lays perfectly flat when it’s unfolded.

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And it lays nice and flat.

And of course, the Olfa rotary cutters never disappoint. I got a pretty aqua one but the nice color isn’t what is important. The sharpness of the blade, how easily it rolls and how comfortable it is to use are the crucial things about a rotary cutter and Olfa’s rotary cutters are good – really good.

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Removing the Selvages

I never talk about rotary cutters without telling you to remember to change your blade periodically. It’s obviously time when there is a nick in the blade but over time, a blade will get dull. So even if there isn’t a nick, be aware that if you have to press harder than usual, it’s time to change the blade.

The final tool I wanted to test was this set of Kai 7000 Series scissors. You can check them out at

Kai scissors 300x225 New Toys (Tools)

The Kai 7000 Professional Series Scissors

According to the packaging, the blades are made of high-carbon Molybdenum Vanadium stainless steel for long life and high cutting efficiency and the handles are made with Elastomer soft plastic and ergonomically styled. I laughed when I read that. I don’t even know what Molybdenum Vanadium stainless steel is. I decided I better see how they cut and not worry about the makeup of the stainless steel.


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The “Cut-Just-a-Bit-from-Thin-Fabric” Test

I tried the 8” scissors (model 7205) and tested whether they cut nicely clear to the point. They did that, they cut through multiple layers of fabric easily and they were nicely balanced, comfortable to hold and use. I tested the 6 2/3” scissors (model 7170) to see if they would cut just the pinked edge off of a fabric swatch. Sometimes when I’m trying to trim just a bit off a lightweight fabric, the scissors don’t cooperate but these sure did. I like the Kai scissors so far. I did the same test with the 6” scissors (model 7150). I liked them. They are a really nice medium-sized scissor.


smallest New Toys (Tools)

Snipping Thread with the Kai 4″ Model 7100 Scissors

Then I moved on to the smallest of the Kai scissors, the 4” model 7100. I loved these scissors. They have a really short blade so I had lots of control and the handles were sized nicely. They are super sharp.

So what’s my final analysis? I liked all of my new tools. In fact, I liked them a lot.


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The Mess of Blue Fabric

And at the end of my testing, I had reduced this mess of blue and a mess just like it of cream/ivory fabric to all the patches for the split nine-patch quilt.  I am ready to sew!




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All Cut and Ready to Sew


Now until next time, happy quilting!

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

I Love This Quilt!: Geese in My Kitchen, Part 1

Welcome to my first blog post about my I Love This Quilt! remake that I described in the McCall’s Quilting July/August 2017 issue. I chose Geese in My Kitchen by Kathryn Patterson, originally published in our January/February 2015 issue.

geeseinmykitchen lg I Love This Quilt!: Geese in My Kitchen, Part 1

Geese in My Kitchen

As I wrote in the magazine, I loved Geese in My Kitchen the first time I saw it in our office. It was made by Kathryn as a result of an office flying geese exchange in which I had not taken part, and I rued that decision as soon as I saw the quilts that people were making from the flying geese they’d collected. (Scroll to the bottom to see some of the other quilts—they’re all fantastic.)

The first thing I decided when I chose this quilt was that I would only make 9 of the large 22¾” x 22¾” blocks for a big throw, not the 12 called for in the pattern. Each block contains six sets of four flying geese, which means I would need to make 216 flying geese.

I planned to raid my own supplies of scraps, which I had carefully sorted and organized last Thanksgiving, for a fabulously scrappy version similar to Kathryn’s.

But then I thought about the people on my list to whom I want to give quilts this coming Christmas and started to think about ways to kill two, uh, geese with one quilt. (Not a good mixed metaphor. My apologies.)

It didn’t take long for me to pull out some Jennifer Paganelli fat quarters I’ve been hoarding for the past seven years with a particular recipient in mind.

IMG 3602 I Love This Quilt!: Geese in My Kitchen, Part 1

Jennifer Paganelli stripes and blenders

I love these summery stripes and blenders from Jennifer’s Pretty Please and Flower Power collections for FreeSpirit Fabrics. They remind me of a beach vacation, and for a few years I tried to think of ways to use them in pieced hexagon or kaleidoscope blocks to mimic the look of umbrellas on the beach as viewed from above. However, with only a fat quarter of each print, I just didn’t have enough of each stripe to make that happen. So I decided to change course.

The first thing I did (after petting the fabrics for a while to make sure I was ready to cut into them) was make a full set of flying geese for one block to make sure using the stripes would work.

IMG 3603 I Love This Quilt!: Geese in My Kitchen, Part 1

Full set of 24 flying geese for one block

I played with a couple of arrangements and settled on placing them so the stripes alternate direction, which I think gives the design a sense of dynamism.

IMG 3798 I Love This Quilt!: Geese in My Kitchen, Part 1

proposed layout of the flying geese

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Patches cut and ready to be pieced into fast flying geese

Once I felt good about my plan, the next thing to do was to cut the rest of my patches and sort them to make sure the colors were distributed evenly but would also offer contrast.

It was only after I looked closely at the photo to the left that I noticed I made a mistake—I paired the orange/pink blender with the green/blue stripe in my test set and yet I included more patches of the same orange/pink blender in the set waiting to be sewn. Looks like I have some more rearranging to do before I get any more sewing done!

geese set I Love This Quilt!: Geese in My Kitchen, Part 1

Nine sets of four flying geese made with the same stripe—each set will go into a different block.


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Designer Essential Solid fabric swatches from FreeSpirit

I’m still working on sewing the flying geese, and soon I need to decide on what fabrics I’m going to use for the block backgrounds. I’m considering a pale blue/navy blue pairing; I don’t know if I’ll throw in one unexpected color the way Kathryn did with that bright orange solid. I am open to suggestions if you have any.

So check back in a few weeks for an update. I expect to have a lot more to show you, if not the completed quilt top by that point—wouldn’t that be nice!

In the meantime, click here to download your own free pattern for Geese in My Kitchen. I’d love to see what you do with your version!

For more flying geese quilt patterns, here are some others that were made from the flying geese exchange:

DPQMP160804 I Love This Quilt!: Geese in My Kitchen, Part 1

Nancy’s Closet

Nancy’s Closet by Kathryn Wagar Wright

DPQMP160405 I Love This Quilt!: Geese in My Kitchen, Part 1

On Course

On Course by Susan Geddes

DPMQP160812 I Love This Quilt!: Geese in My Kitchen, Part 1

Confused Geese

Confused Geese by Lori Baker

Posted in Mary Kate Karr-Petras, Quilting Inspiration, Staff Quilts | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Friday Free Quilt Patterns: Checkered Star

It’s not often you find a triple-generation quilt. This Checkered Star antique quilt has quite a history.

Checkered Star 300px Friday Free Quilt Patterns: Checkered Star

The Checkered Star quilt pattern finishes at 68″ x 83″.

First, Variable Star blocks were pieced about 1900 from indigo prints and muslin. Sometime during the Great Depression, the forgotten blocks were unearthed and combined with 25-Patch blocks pieced from a decades-old stash. The quilt top was probably finished in the 1940s, when it was bound with a WWII sailor print. Continue reading

Posted in Friday Freebies | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Star Crossed: A Visit with Melissa Corry

MCA1708 Cover 500 221x300 Star Crossed: A Visit with Melissa CorryWelcome guest blogger and quilt designer Melissa Corry. Melissa’s bed quilt Star Crossed is tailormade for using precut 10″ squares and is composed of just 16 supersized blocks that are very easy to piece. You’ll find this quilt in the McCall’s Quilting July/August 2017 issue. We’re happy to have Melissa here to talk about her quilt! Continue reading

Posted in Guest Blogger, Mary Kate Karr-Petras | Tagged , , | 64 Comments

Workshop Wednesday: Patriotic Projects

Fellow Quilter-Americans, I bet you know what’s coming up! Summer is here, and that means it’s almost time to celebrate July 4th, our nation’s Independence Day. Do you like to decorate for this holiday? While it’s generally pretty warm for a big quilt around this time of year, smaller projects like table runners, wall hangings and throw pillows are a great creative alternative, and keep your home festive for you and your family or for 4th of July party guests. I’ve compiled a selection of small, fast, fun, patriotic projects that can sew up quickly, just in time for the holiday.

First of all, the most recent issue of McCall’s Quilting has 4 specifically patriotic projects, including throws, a table runner and some place mats, along with all the other great patterns. So that’s a great place to start; the issue is available in print and digital formats from Quilt&SewShop. There’s even a free patriotic mini quilt pattern available; click this link to download the free pattern. The mini quilt measures 26.5″ x 31.5″ and is based upon the dynamic cover quilt, designed by Candy Hargrove.

MQ10717 Workshop Wednesday: Patriotic Projects

Make the cover quilt, or a mini version of it with the free mini quilt pattern.

Read about Candy’s design process and enter to win a one-of-a-kind salt cellar pincushion made by Candy here. Also included in this issue is a table runner, Somerdale Sparkler designed by Pam Boswell. It’s a great looking centerpiece, and the digital pattern download is available here, but it’s even available as a kit so you can make the exact project as shown in the magazine. Take a look!

MQK17084 2 Workshop Wednesday: Patriotic Projects

Somerdale Sparkler by Pam Boswell

It’s just that time of year when there are a lot of fast, fun, smaller projects to make. Printed panels are one of my favorite ways to give a project interest and they always sew up quickly. This Proud to Be quilt kit, designed by Whirligig Designs, features an eye-catching panel from Northcott, along with coordinating prints. Making and displaying this project is the perfect way to express your patriotic pride.

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Proud to Be, by Whirligig Designs

Do you ever choose projects just because they incorporate a technique that would help your skills improve? I find it a nice way to get a finished product that I know I’ll like, plus I’ll get a better understanding of whatever techniques I’ve just used to make it. For those who would like to work with applique (to improve skills or simply to enjoy the process), may I recommend the Red Rockets digital pattern, a cute, cheerful wall hanging from Margie Ullery.

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Red Rockets by Margie Ullery

If you’re into foundation piecing, or you would like to be, try this lovely table runner pattern from Thelma Forrest, Land of Liberty. It’s got a cool look, and the foundations are suitable for beginners (or anyone who likes this project!).

DPMQP160813 2 Workshop Wednesday: Patriotic Projects

Land of Liberty by Thelma Forrest

How about Y-seams? They can intimidate people sometimes, but they’re not hard, they just take a little extra care and attention. And they can yield such beautiful results, so mastering Y-seams is a worthwhile endeavor, in my opinion. You can make so many more lovely things, like the Patriot table topper, designed by Kelly Ashton, available as a digital pattern. The pattern walks you through the basics of Y-seams and offers lots of opportunities to perfect the technique.

DPQNP1509 Workshop Wednesday: Patriotic Projects

Patriot by Kelly Ashton

The very first video I ever did for QNNtv was for a patriotic project; a bargello style flag project (Try not to judge my performance too harshly; it was my first time on camera and I was very nervous!). One of my favorite things about this project is the back—it doubles as a zippered pillowcase OR a wall hanging complete with hanging sleeve. I use this backing on a lot of my projects to this day. It’s great because you or anyone who receives one of these as a gift can decide where they’re like to display it. And then they can change their mind. On Monday it can be a pillowcase, but on Friday, it could be a wall hanging, then back to pillowcase after the weekend. Check out the preview videos below, and watch the full episodes on QNNtv with a subscription.

What are you planning to make for the holiday this year? I’m still deciding from among all these great projects, so I’m not quite sure yet but luckily most of them are pretty quick to make! Happy holiday quilting!

Posted in Free Quilt Patterns, Gigi Khalsa, McCall's Quilting Issues, Staff Quilts, Workshop Wednesday | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Design Wall Tuesday – Baby Quilts

Welcome to Design Wall Tuesday!

I hope you’re enjoying your summer so far! It was a busy sewing weekend for some of us here at Quiltmaker and McCall’s Quilting.

From Content Director, Carolyn Beam:

Beam Carolyn 150x150 Design Wall Tuesday   Baby Quilts

I spent a lot of time in my sewing room over the weekend working on three different projects. I finally got the top for the 100 Blocks Sampler for Quiltmaker‘s Nov/Dec ’17 issue completed and packed up for the quilter.

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100 Blocks Sampler

I’ve got a baby shower coming up this weekend and worked on a quilt top. I wanted something that was simple but still interesting. I want the recipients to feel it’s ok to use and wash this quilt without feeling like they’re harming a masterpiece. I remember my sister telling me that she thought I would be angry about the quilt I had made for my niece when she was a baby. I couldn’t imagine why she thought I would be mad. She said that the quilt had been used and washed so many times that she thought it was ruined. I was thrilled to see a picture of my niece’s daughter with this same quilt and was happy to see that it had been used and loved! Continue reading

Posted in Baby quilts, Carolyn Beam, Design Wall Tuesday, Mary Kate Karr-Petras, Quilting Community, Quilting Inspiration, Scrap Quilts | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fixing a Mistake

Finished1 300x282 Fixing a Mistake

A PIG No More

Finally, finally, I’ve finished this queen-size quilt. It was supposed to be my second PIGS (Projects in Grocery Sacks) finish for May but I just didn’t make it. I’ll tell you a little about it.

You can read about the first part of finishing this PIG here.
Continue reading

Posted in Quilting Inspiration, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Friday Free Quilt Patterns: Miniature House Quilt Pattern

The House that Kaffe Built WEB BONUS large Friday Free Quilt Patterns: Miniature House Quilt PatternThis Friday Freebie is a Web Bonus from our McCall’s Quilting May/June 2011 issue, a wonderful foundation-pieced miniature (17¼˝ x 20¼˝) version of The House That Kaffe Built. Collect some of your favorite scraps, refresh your foundation-piecing skills, and have a great time making the 30 2⅛” x 2⅛” school house blocks for this charming mini!

Click here to find the FREE Lap Version of The House that Kaffe Built mini quilt pattern.

Posted in Friday Freebies | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Homeland: A Visit with Candy Hargrove

homeland style 500 200x300 Homeland: A Visit with Candy HargroveWelcome guest blogger and quilt designer Candy Hargrove. Candy’s throw quilt Homeland is an easy-to-piece patriotic design that is almost entirely made of scrappy triangle-squares and is compliant with Quilts of Valor specifications. You’ll find this quilt in the McCall’s Quilting July/August 2017 issue. We’re happy to have Candy here to talk about her quilt!

Oh boy, I was surprised and excited to see my quilt Homeland on the cover of McCall’s Quilting July/August issue.  One more thing to check off my quilting bucket list! Continue reading

Posted in Guest Blogger, Mary Kate Karr-Petras | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments