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Summer Sampler 2016 – Quilt Along With Us This Summer!

Five years ago (could it really have been so long?), Katie, Faith, and I hosted a quilt-along called The Summer Sampler Series. Hopefully a few of you have been around here long enough to remember it. : )

Our goal back then was pretty simple: Teach modern quilters how to make traditional blocks. Crazy though it seems now, at the time, there wasn’t a lot online with that specific focus. There were traditional block tutorials online, using traditional fabric—and then there was modern quilting. Only infrequently did the two mix and mingle.

To our delight, we found that people were very interested in combining those two quilt genres. The Summer Sampler Series was more popular than we ever expected! It eventually led to the three of us authoring our book, Vintage Quilt Revival, in which we tried to take modern-traditionalism to a new level. These days, I’m happy to say that modern traditionalism is everywhere—it even has its own category at QuiltCon. I like to think (hope) that the three of us played a role in that.

And what better time, on the 5-year anniversary of the original Summer Sampler Series, to bring it back? We are so excited to announce Summer Sampler 2016

One block a week, starting May 16, running through September 26. Ten designers (Katie, Faith, me, and seven of our blogger friends.) Twenty blocks total. Quilt along with us all summer long!

This time around, we’re offering the Summer Sampler as a block-of-the-week subscription program. Click here to pre-order Summer Sampler 2016 for $19.99. That’s just $1 per block—for a limited time, ending May 15. After May 15, the price goes up to $24.99, so don’t miss out on the chance to save! (European Union customers: You can purchase the Summer Sampler 2016—and now all my other patterns!—through my Etsy shop. Click here to purchase.)

Each Monday, starting May 16, you’ll get a link to download that week’s block pattern. The last block will be delivered on September 26, and instructions for three sampler layout options will be delivered on Oct. 2.

The Summer Sampler 2016 subscription includes:
• fully-tested instructions for each weekly block, with step-by-step diagrams
• three sampler layouts and full instructions for each, delivered at the end of the subscription
• digital mock-ups of ways to use each block in its own quilt layout, for future inspiration
• coloring pages for planning purposes
• access to a private, subscribers-only Facebook group, where you can interact with the designers and other quilters

More about the Summer Sampler 2016 skill level and techniques:
• The different blocks vary in skill level, with some being simpler, while others are more advanced. I would say the overall skill level of all 20 blocks is intermediate—but if that’s not you, don’t be afraid to try it! We’ll include lots of links to tutorials for the techniques involved, so it’s a great skill-builder!
• Several are paper-pieced, while others use traditional piecing. There are four blocks with curved piecing, so it’s a great opportunity to learn more about that technique!

The Summer Sampler 2016 designers are:
Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt
Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced
Faith Jones of Fresh Lemons Quilts
AnneMarie Chany of Gen X Quilters
Nicole Daksiewicz of Modern Handcraft
Holly DeGroot of Bijou Lovely
Lynne Goldsworthy of Lily’s Quilts
Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew
Karen Lewis of Karen Lewis Textiles
Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter

We can’t wait to quilt along with you this summer!

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Greek Key Quilt Complete

Just a reminder that my Greek Key Quilt-Along wraps up today on Bernina’s website, We All Sew! Of course, the final instructions post goes live today, but all of the Greek Key posts will be available indefinitely (here is Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. So you can make this quilt any time you feel like it, whether you’re keeping up with the quilt-along or not. : )

I’ve also got a few simple hints in today’s post for doing the diagonal straight-line quilting that I used above, so go check it out. And don’t forget to hashtag #greekkeyquilt, so that we can all admire your hard work!

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Greek Key Quilt-Along Starts Today

My Greek Key quilt-along that I’ve been teasing for weeks now is finally happening! Fabric requirements and cutting instructions are now posted on Bernina’s website, We All Sew. And additional instruction posts will follow each Monday for two more weeks.

So the full schedule will be:
Monday, Feb. 8Fabric requirements and cutting instructions
Monday, Feb. 15Making the blocks
Monday, Feb. 22Assembling the top and quilting

Head over to We All Sew to read all the details!

I hope you guys will make this quilt along with me, since that’s what quilt-alongs are for! And if you do, you can post your progress on Instagram with the hashtags #greekkeyquilt and #weallsew. Or, if you’re not on Instagram, just click here to check out everyone else’s progress! Enjoy!

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Making my Fair Isle quilt? How to keep those seams straight!

Just dropping in with a quick tip for those of you who are working on my Fair Isle pattern!

Do you find that your seams bow a little when you’re sewing together long strips of fabric? (And of course, you have to sew together long strips for Fair Isle.) Click here for a quick video that shows how to keep those seams nice and straight. Wish I would have thought of it myself. : ) Enjoy!

You can buy my Fair Isle pattern here, and don’t forget, my Fair Isle Quilt-Along posts from last year have lots more tips for making this pattern!

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Fair Isle Sew-Along: The Big Finale!

Welcome to the final post in the Fair Isle Quilt Along! This week you should be ready to make the back, baste it, and quilt it! : )

So, this is where I admit: I haven’t started quilting mine just yet. Yes, you heard me correctly, I have not kept up with my own quilt-along. LOL. My excuse is that I already have one Fair Isle quilt to keep me warm this holiday season. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. : ) But my top is done and ready to go—I just need to come up with some time to make the quilting happen! I have to admit, I’m sorely tempted to send this one out for long-arming.

First, let’s talk about the back! For the back of my original Fair Isle quilt, I used the Riley Blake Christmas Chevrons, Medium Size. I can’t even tell you how much I love this print for a Fair Isle back. You’ve already got the zig-zag rows on the front, so the chevrons play up that element nicely. I’m strongly considering ordering this same print again for the back of my new red-and-white Fair Isle!

But of course there are so many other cute options when it comes to Christmas fabric. You can keep up the reindeer theme with this one:

This Mid-Century Christmas print is perfect for a back:

Or go full-on folk art with something like this:

 

As for the quilting, I just went with a classic stipple on my original Fair Isle. I’m thinking about a nice diagonal cross-hatch for my new Fair Isle, which somehow seems to play in with the knitting theme.

But this is the kind of design where you could really go crazy with the quilting (long-armers, I’m talking to you!) You could quilt each row differently if you wanted to, to highlight the differences in the rows. I could see that being really fun.

Or you could do some star/snowflake details like Cornelia did (silberregen1 on IG). This is beyond my quilting abilities, but I love it so much! It’s perfection for a Fair Isle quilt, don’t you think?

Okay, this is it—it’s finally time to link up your completed Fair Isle quilt! It’s so exciting, I can’t wait to see what you all did with the pattern! This link (along with all the Fair Isle Sew Along links) will stay open indefinitely, so you can link up your Fair Isle quilt whenever you finish it, to share with everyone who’s working on the pattern now or in the future!

Thank you all for sewing along with me, I hope you enjoyed it! This is the type of quilt that’s always more fun to do with others. Now go wrap up in your new Christmas quilt!

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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 7: Assembling the Top

Welcome back to the Fair Isle Sew Along! It’s an exciting moment, because this week we finally get to assemble the top. Home stretch, you guys!

Theoretically, when sewn together, all of your rows should measure 72-1/2″ wide. Theoretically. : ) But in reality, there are a lot of seams in these rows—and of course, being just a tiny bit off on your seam allowances can add up to major differences across all the seams in each row. My zig-zag rows, for instance, actually measured 73″, not 72-1/2″. (My reindeer row ended up surprisingly accurate. I’m sure nobody is more surprised about that than me!)

So my advice for this week is, don’t worry about the size of the blocks or the rows. Don’t even think about it (much). I’ve left some room to trim from the sides of each row if necessary.

So start by getting all of your rows sewn together. This should be quick work, since the zig zag and checkerboard rows should already be done. Next, measure all of the completed rows. For any rows that are too long, trim them down to 72-1/2″. If you find that one or more rows are too short, trim all the other rows to the length of the shortest row (you will need to trim your long sashing pieces as well).

Now you’re ready to assemble all of the rows into a completed quilt top! It’s like Christmas came early (literally)! I found that it worked well to sew the sashing pieces onto the top and bottom edges of the zig zag and checkerboard rows. Once you have that done, you should have only two more sashing pieces left, which go at the top and bottom of the quilt. Then it’s just a matter of piecing everything together and …. done.

Next week is our final post in the sew along, and we’ll be talking about the back and the quilting. Great job, everybody, I have just loved seeing all of your versions of Fair Isle! That really is like Christmas for me. : ) And remember, if you still want to play along, you can buy the pattern here.

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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 6: The Checkerboard Row

Welcome to Week 6 of the Fair Isle Sew-Along! This week we’ve officially arrived at the Christmas season, and all of the busyness that entails, but if you’ve been keeping up with the sew-along, you’re in the homestretch now! This is your last row prior to assembling the top and quilting it, and it might be the easiest and quickest row of all.

As I mentioned before with strip-piecing, pay attention to your seams when cross-cutting the strip sets, NOT the raw edges of the sets. My suggestion is to keep adjusting the long strip sets as you cross-cut, so that the seams are always lined up with the grid on your cutting mat, and cross-cut at an exact 90-degree angle to the seams, not the raw edges. That way, if your seams curve a little, you’re accounting for that as you cut, and everything will work out anyway.

Then sew ’em up, and in no time at all, you’ve got your checkerboard row.

And with that, we’re ready to put it all together into a completed quilt top next week! I know a number of you are ahead and already have your tops together, which is awesome. I can’t wait to see all the completed tops in all the different colorways. It’s so much fun!
And remember, if you still want to play along, you can purchase the Fair Isle quilt pattern here.
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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 5: Zig Zag Rows

Welcome to Week 5 of the Fair Isle Sew-Along!
So how did everybody do with last week’s reindeer blocks? I saw some really cute reindeer out there on the Interwebs! But I know some people also had some frustration with getting seams aligned. If your seams look puckery or wobbly, or your reindeer generally look like they had too much eggnog at the Christmas party, I’ll return to what I said in last week’s post, which is that your 1/4″ seam is probably not as consistent as it could be. You get that seam consistent, and I promise your reindeer will be perfect and completely sober. : )
It’s not easy though, so above all, please don’t get discouraged. A few suggestions that might help are putting masking tape down on your machine bed to help with alignment, or you could do what I saw from sew-along participants a few times this week and eliminate some seams entirely, and just make your reindeer out of unpieced horizontal strips. That will require a little math, but if you’re proficient in such things, go for it! I went back and forth about whether to actually write the pattern that way, but in the end I decided it would make the pattern-writing too complicated and the pattern would have to be even longer than it already is. It also would have made the cutting a lot more complex, and I’m sure you all agree that cutting this bad boy was plenty complex enough as it was. LOL. But for those of you who are able to do the calculations, it’s a great time saver.
And the bottom line is, the real key to happy reindeer probably just comes down to practice—practice, practice, and more practice. I’d bet good money that your seams were better on the last reindeer than they were on the first, right? So just keep at it, and don’t worry if your deer are a little wonky—quilting covers many evils! : )
Okay, so on to this week’s task: The Zig Zag rows. Honestly, I don’t have much to say about these, other than that they’re really easy and fun, especially right after the reindeer! LOL. It’s just strip-piecing, cross-cutting, and piecing again.
And when you’re done, you end up with this (these are from my first Fair Isle quilt):
So have fun with the Zig Zags, and I’ll see you back here for the next installment!

Want to play along with us? You can buy the Fair Isle pattern right here. I’m going to publish the next installment on Friday, Nov. 28, since the 27th is Thanksgiving. Until then, can’t wait to see how you’re doing—don’t forget to either link up below, or use the hashtag #fairislequilt. And have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with joy, love, and pie!

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along

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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 4: Reindeer


Welcome back to the Fair Isle Sew Along! It’s Reindeer Week! Kind of like Shark Week, but more festive. : ) (I promise these reindeer won’t eat you alive!)

When I designed this quilt, I wanted the reindeer blocks to be very pixelated, because I felt that was the most Fair-Isle-ish look. But pixelated quilts are a huge pain—it takes forever to sew all those tiny little squares together. And I find it especially frustrating when you’re sewing dozens of tiny squares together that are the exact same fabric! So I’ve incorporated some short cuts into this pattern that could potentially save you days of your life, but we’ll still end up with something that looks like a pixelated quilt. Or as close as we can get to fully pixelated without pulling hair out. : )

My number one tip this week is consistent seam allowance. Say it with me: Consistent seam allowance. An accurate 1/4″ seam is soooo important when you’re making something with so many seams. If your seam allowance is even the tiniest bit off, that adds up across 12 seams.

But even more important (for this pattern, anyway) than a pinpoint-accurate 1/4″ seam is just that your seam allowances are consistent. If your seam allowances are a hair-width off, but they’re all the same hair-width off, you’ll be fine. It isn’t crucially important for your Reindeer row to be exactly the same width as your Fir Tree row or your Poinsettia Rows—I’ve got some extra space built in along the sides of the quilt to trim and even things up a little if necessary. So don’t freak out if your finished Reindeer blocks aren’t measuring exactly what they’re supposed to. It’ll all be good in the end, I promise. : )

On the other hand, if your seam allowances are all over the map, that’s when you’re going to have problems with this block, because that means your squares within the reindeer won’t line up. If you have issues lining up your seams when you’re sewing together the reindeer, an inconsistent seam allowance is probably to blame. Don’t whip through this as you’re sewing the strips together—slow and straight wins the race here. And if you need to, get out your ruler and measure your seam allowance in a few places. Again, consistency is the key, so if you find your seam allowance veering off here and there, try to pinpoint why in order to correct that.

I spent about 2-1/2 hours sewing together all the strip sets, and another 4 hours or so sewing together the cross-cut strips to complete the block. So all in all, this week’s time commitment for me was around 6-7 hours. Plan accordingly, based on how your time spent has compared to mine in the previous steps. (I know we all sew at different paces—my timing is just meant to help you judge yours!)

Want to sew along with us? You can buy the Fair Isle pattern here. Can’t WAIT to see all your finished reindeer! It truly is satisfying to finish these guys. And once they’re done, all we have are a few simple rows left. Don’t forget to link up below, and/or hashtag #fairislequilt on Instagram. See you next week!

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along

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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 3: Fir Trees

Welcome to the third installment in the Fair Isle Sew Along! Have you guys seen all the amazing Poinsettia blocks from last week? I’m so impressed with all of the creative color palettes and prints! I didn’t this particular design was one people would change up very much, but I’m loving the creative spins.

This week: Fir tree blocks. I know last week’s Poinsettia blocks were time-consuming—there are lots of little pieces in the Poinsettia blocks, and with 10 in the quilt, it’s not quick. So I think you’ll enjoy the simpler, faster assignment for this week. : ) And in fact, these blocks are so simple that I don’t have many tips to give you this week.

My one tip is that good pinning is crucial when making these blocks. And if you find that the length of any of these units is a little off, just fold the units in half and press them to make a crease. Then line up the centers, not the edges. That will help you compensate for any units that don’t end up exactly 11″ long.

It took me a little over 2 hours to make the Fir Tree blocks this week, so plan accordingly. (Told you they were fast!) Which is good, because next week, we’ve got reindeer on the schedule. : ) Don’t forget to link up your blog posts below, or use the hashtag #fairislequilt on IG! See you next Thursday!

Want to make this along with us? Click here to purchase the Fair Isle pattern!

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along