What are the Tried & True quilt blocks all about?

Have you noticed the Tried & True quilt blocks we feature with projects in both Love of Quilting and Easy Quilts?

These little gems are useful in so many ways.

We create these blocks to give you optional fabric suggestions for the quilt featured.  But their main purpose is to test the written instructions. Our Sewing Specialist makes the blocks using the Technical Writers' instructions. Most of the time, the instructions check out perfectly, but if she finds an error or has a construction suggestion, she goes back to the editorial department with her comments. 

Fabric companies send us samples of their new fabric collections, and these are used randomly.

 We hope you check these out! They were made with care just for our readers!

Happy Quilting!

Diane Tomlinson, Assistant Editor

Have you been to International Quilt Festival?

I hope you all get the opportunity to attend one some day if you haven't already. It's a total sensory overload of what this industry has to offer!

If you can imagine, there were over 220 vendor booths at the Cincinnati Quilt Festival this last weekend—many more in some other locations.

Festival is a great place to try out a sewing machine or iron you've been dreaming about, or to ask questions about products you've been wanting to try. Many times, new products are also introduced to the public here.

One of my favorite things is visiting the booths of different quilts shops throughout the United States, and sometimes other countries.  Each has its own style and special techniques to make it unique, but the people are what makes them special, as are the people in attendance! 

Check it out and share what you see with us and other members!

Happy Quilting!

Diane Tomlinson, Assistant Editor


So--what's going on this morning?

Here are a few pictures snapped this morning, here in Winterset.  Some of us are at IPTV taping our next PBS series this week or scheduled to go later today to help out, but here's a quick trip around to see what's happening!

Laura, our Website Assistant comes in early every day and brings her smile with her!  Would you believe she gave up caffeine a month ago?

Kristi, our Publisher, is smiling because she didn't give up caffeine and has her all-important second cup of the morning! 






Here's Deb, our Managing Editor, sorting through tips that our readers have sent in, and deciding which ones will go to IPTV later today for Mary and Marianne to present on the shows.






Jean, our Editor, catching up with email before she starts final proof on Kids Quilts. She's off to IPTV later today also! 




Tony, our Art Director for Easy Quilts and many other projects, is busy working on layout.  You'll find him walking his dogs later this evening and possibly stopping at the local ice cream shop for doggy ice cream cones!  Lucky dogs!


Kris, our Technical Writer is busy figuring out instructions for a project  for Easy Quilts.  Any day you go by her desk, she is writing instructions and figuring out yardages needed for the next project.

And here's Sharon, our Retail Manager, smiling and cutting fabric to ship out for the 2 quilts we are offering for the Alaskan cruise in May.  

Whatever you are up to today, enjoy and Happy Quilting!

Diane, Assistant Editor

When you quilt, do you like to stitch in the ditch or free motion?

For me, I like the free motion because I don't have to follow a specific pattern. Partially patience and partially, the artsy side of me.  

For my Time Square, which is scheduled for the Sept/Oct issue of Love of Quilting, , I think the design, itself, and the use of color gives it motion, which fit with the free motion movement instead of the starts and stops of stitching in the ditch and straight line quilting.  I'm sure someone is dying to tell me I'm wrong, but hey! it's my quilt!

On another note, Jean's Imperial Diamonds, which is scheduled in the July/Aug issue of Love of Quilting,  is geometric, which works quite well with the straight lines and stitching in the ditch. She's patient and meticulous when it comes to quilting and this works with her style and design well. It takes practice, and some tricks to make those nice straight lines, but it sure makes the design of the quilt blocks and fabrics pop! A curvy design could make it look like a very different quilt!

So what's your style? There's alot to take into consideration, but in the end, you have to be happy with it. 

After all, it is your quilt!  

Do as you like! It will not only make your quilt unique, but make it yours.

Happy quilting!

Diane, Assistant Editor




What about the frosting?



Quilting can be like frosting on a cake!  Like Chef Duff on the Ace of Cakes, I want to rise to meet the challenge!

I am working on finishing my Crayon challenge quilt and Jean, our Editor is working on finishing her cruise to Alaska quilt!

We have some great  Sulky and Florianni  threads we've been wanting to try. Both of us used batiks, and both of us love the range of colors that these companies offer! 

But before I actually started stitching, Jean, who is a seasoned quilter, reminded me to take time in not only choosing my thread, but also in the preparation work before I even took one little stitch!

In choosing thread, don't just lay the spool on the fabric and expect the thread to look the same when you stitch. You need to pull out some thread and lay it on the fabric you will be stitching over. I was quite surprised at the results compared to how it looks on the spool!  Lighting also affected it. I found that it is a good idea to walk around the thread and fabric to see if there is anything that bothers you about the color you chose.

Also keep in mind, that whether it is in your regular sewing machine or a long arm, you may need to adjust your tension, especially if you are using heavier, lighter, synthetic, or decorative threads that you are not used to sewing with.  

Make sure you have test strips of the quilt sandwich on which to test your tension. There is nothing more annoying than quilting for a while and finding out your bobbin thread is leaving loops all over the back of your quilt. Make sure the top and bottom threads are meeting in the middle and there is no looping on the top or bottom.

Also, check your needle. If it is dull, it can poke batting through the quilt backing. It can also affect the tension. A rule of thumb that some quilters use is that they change needles every time they start a new project. I'm sure you'll develop your own way of knowing when it's time to change the needle.

It's a lot to think about before you actually start to quilt, but like using good ingredients in a cake, the results are worth the extra effort!

Happy quilting...and frosting!

Diane, Assistant Editor



GO! Baby

Just in! The Shop Fons and Porter store has the Go! Baby by AccuQuilt. It's a great tool to make repetitive cutting a breeze! It's not only accurate every time, but speedy and very portable! What a fun toy to take to a quilt retreat!

I love that you can cut multiple layers at a time. I'm thinking I can precut shapes for a future quilt, and use up some of my stash. I'll include a container for future charity projects!

Sharon, our retail manager and fabric ordering guru, found an appliqué quilt she really wants to make. For two years, she's been dreading cutting out all of the little pieces, which number in the hundreds. She said it may as well be a mountain of them since she is not a fussy cut kind of person! Was she surprised when she found the fabric cutting die in just the right shape and size!

Check it out! The GO! Baby cutter just may be the right tool to get you started on that quilt you've been thinking about!

Happy Quilting!

Diane, Assistant Editor

Best of Scrap Quilts and Table Toppers is here!

Everyone has their favorites! You've spoken and we're delivering!

We are so excited to tell you that Best of Fons & Porter Scrap Quilts and Best of Fons & Porter Tabletop Quilts are now available at Shop Fons & Porter!

You'll find skill levels from easy to challenging, and quilts and table toppers for every season and decor. Whether you are a batik lover, traditionalist, or a fan of contemporary, you'll find plenty to love about  these books. 

You'll also enjoy the trademark Sew Easy lessons that will guide you via step-by-step lessons. 

 We predict you'll have a hard time choosing only one project to add to your to-do list!  

These are must-have books for your quilting library and great gifts for a special quilter! 

Happy Quilting!

Diane, Assistant Editor


Is it in the paper or someone to help you tear it away?

As you may have read, my color challenge is also to use paper piecing.  It's by far the most labor intensive quilt I've ever made, but as it goes together, the most rewarding!

I've learned a lot about paper piecing. All the papers I tried copied well. I did find out that when using my printer at home, using the best quality print setting is not necessary.  I use the lightest setting, and I can see the printing just fine. In fact, the heavier ink marks up my ironing board cover when pressing more than the low quality printing did.

I think the deciding factor when choosing a paper is in how easily the paper tears away when the piecing is done.

The paper that tore off the best, was Carol Doak's Foundation Paper, but I did find that if you have to remove stitching, the paper also tears more easily. All in all, it was worth printing a few extra patterns just in case.

Unfortunately, the paper I used the most, does not tear off so easily!  I recommend a wooden stiletto to help remove the paper pieces. It helps rip and pick at paper without the danger of poking a hole through the fabric.

Depending on the size of the project, I also recommend the help of a friend or husband, as it is very time consuming!  

Mmmm—do I show him this picture I took with my phone?

I think I'll wait until he's done!

Happy paper piecing!

Diane, Assistant Editor



What?— me English paper piece?

Our sewing specialist Cindy said she would never English paper piece. She tried it and why frustrate herself again when she can piece other shapes on a machine?

Mind you, she's tried about every tip and technique there is to piece blocks for magazine test blocks in Tried & True and Sew Easy steps, and is responsible for setting up almost every step and sample needed for our Public TV shows. No matter what it is, she's a trooper and works it out.

So when this technique came up for a future PTV show and magazine project, not only did she look like a deer in the headlights, but she started searching for volunteers in the office!  That was, until Gail Kessler, from Andover, who designed this project, explained her machine technique to Cindy!  

You too could be pursuaded!  Stay tuned for an upcoming project called Jewels of the Garden, due out in a fall issue of Love of Quilting and is scheduled for an upcoming PTV taping.

Happy Quilting!

Diane, Assistant Editor


Did you ever wonder how to put those neutral batiks to work for you?

Since a trip to New York, our Editor, Jean Nolte has had her eye on Timeless Treasure's Tonga Sugarplum collection of strips and squares.  She also likes the shy tones of their neutral batiks and wanted to use both together with her favorite accent color— a beautiful royal purple. 

 As soon as Jean got back to her room, she was busy designing a quilt to use her new found favorite color palette. The neutral batik not only sets off the Sugarplum palette and accenting purple, but makes your eye go to the background to see what design is going on there as well.

She has it almost done and will be teaching it on the Fons & Porter Alaskan Cruise and it will be featured in the July/Aug issue of Love of Quilting. It's called Imperial Diamonds and she's worked out an easy method to make this difficult looking quilt very do-able.

Here are a few more shots of her quilt in progress!

Stay tuned—we've got some more quilts to sneak peek coming soon!

Happy Quilting!

Diane, Assistant Editor





Have you checked out the Quilts of Valor project and fabric collections?


If you like patriotic fabrics, you've got to check out these fabric companies and the collections they've put together for Quilts of Valor. They should be coming to a fabric store near you soon!

At market in October 2010, nine fabric companies launched designs for this special program to be released in Spring of 2011.The companies are Andover, Clothworks, Marcus Fabrics, Moda, P&B, Quilting Treasures, Red Rooster, Timeless Treasures and Windham Fabrics. 

The mission of the QOV Foundation is to cover ALL service members and veterans touched by war. This foundation is not about politics. It's about people.

While you're there, check out Marianne's favorite project  Under Our Wings. It's a great program you can organize or participate in by simply taking someone who has never made a quilt before under your wings, and help that person make a Quilt of Valor for a combat veteran. 

Make a difference!

Happy quilting!

Diane, Assistant Editor








Have you heard of Shweshwe fabrics?

Our March/April Love of Quilting issue features a quilt made by Evelyn Young called Monkey Business. It is made from a fabric called Schweschwe, that has an interesting and amazing history. 

You have probably seen this fabric in historic and contemporary quilts and not been aware that it is still dyed in much the same way it was several hundred years ago. Maybe longer!  It is still dyed using natural indigo from many plants.  Indigo itself is not a true dye, but when used, produces a chemical reaction between the fabric and the agent. When the fabric is pulled out of the dye pot, the agent oxidizes with air to produce the beautiful blue color.

To top it off, Shweshwe has a positive social impact on impoverished communities in South Africa where it’s manufactured.  Read more about Shweshwe fabrics at Marula Imports . 

You can also get the kit, including the Shweshwe fabric at Shop Fons & Porter.

Happy Quilting!

Diane, Assistant Editor







Color surprises!

I've finally decided what I'm doing for my Crayon challenge and to my surprise, my color choices are quite a bit different than what I started with! 

I've arranged and rearranged blocks and pieces of blocks, auditioning colors and arrangement. I've even worked in the colors orange and pink, which I  didn't even

consider when I began choosing colors.

Orange seems to add warmth to the cool blue tones. I've chosen to use yellow, mostly orange, to rust for variation.

 My friends in the office talked me into just trying a few blocks with pink. I know I made a funny face, but decided to try it anyway. To my surprise, pink added the sparkle and movement the quilt needed to bring out the New York Beauty block design!

I am also considering a border worked in with these blocks. What do you think? 

The Editor, Jean, has challenged me to get it done for a late summer/fall issue of Love of Quilting. I think that's just the challenge I need to do it.  Wish me luck! 

Happy Quilting,

Diane , Assistant Editor



Friends and their opinions are priceless!

How do you work out a quilt design?

My friends and I enjoy designing our own quilts.  We are traditional, practical, contemporary and eclectic—sometimes all at the same time!

We all use our own techniques at home. Graph paper, sketching freehand, EQ Software, Adobe, and Corel Draw to name a few.

But, the best design tool we have, is each other. When we get together at retreat or classes and give each other feedback about projects we are working on, it is invaluable. We cut and paste paper designs, hold swatches up for each other, and go grab swatches out of our own fabrics to audition in someone else's quilt.  

Sometimes that means we set about remaking or redesigning the quilt we started, but we're happier with the results. Our opinions—good, bad and truthful are priceless, as are the laughs and good times we have doing it!

I hope you all have a group of friends to share with, whether it be a quilt guild, small group or friends over coffee (or a glass of wine, of course!)  If you don't get the opportunity to get together in person, why not check out QCA (Quilter's Club of America) and join other quilters like yourself in conversations, show and tell, and special interest groups like Civil War Sampler, Mystery Quilt #3Quilting for Charities, and the Show and Tell Gallery to share what you are working on and see what other quilters are working on as well!

Happy Quilting!

Diane, Assistant Editor




Check out the Video on the Civil War Ladies Quilt!


Check out the video by Jodie Davis, on the Civil War Sampler quilt, featured in the Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr and will wrap up in the May/June issues of Love of Quilting. Just click here to check it out!

You are also welcome to join the Civil War Sampler group anytime, here at QCA, and share as we work together through the Civil War Sampler Quilt.  It's a place to share your blocks, fabric choices and just chat about the quilt as we go!

Hope to see you there!

Diane, Assistant Editor

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