Perfect HSTs with no marking or trimming, in a fraction of the time!
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Perfect Half-Square Triangles In Less Time!

Perfect HSts without marking or squaring up, in a fraction of the time!

Happy Monday! I’ve got something super exciting to share with you all today! It’s my method of making perfect half-square triangles (HSTs) in a fraction of the time, with no marking diagonal lines or squaring up the finished units! Yes, really. LOL.

I’m calling it “Perfect HSTs.” Perfect HSTs is an instant-download PDF that includes the following, all for only $7.99:
• Templates to make half-square triangles in 10 sizes (finished sizes of 1″, 1-1/2″, 2″, 2-1/2″, 3″, 3-1/2″, 4″, 4-1/2″, 5″, 6″)
• Complete step-by-step instructions for using the templates, with photos
• Fabric requirements and a cutting chart for all 10 sizes, in quantities of up to 300 HSTs each—so all the quilt math is done for you!
• A quick-and-easy pillow project pattern that you can make in less than two hours, using my templates

Perfect half-square triangles with no marking or squaring up - in a fraction of the time!

As we all know, HSTs are in just about every quilt design out there. : ) And these templates have been my go-to method for making them for ages, since it’s so fast and makes them perfectly. It’s what I used when I made the my mom’s quilt that I posted about last week.

If you’re familiar with half-square triangle papers, my PDF templates basically work the same way. But since I’m offering it as a PDF, you pay one price for TEN different HST sizes, ranging from 1″ to 6″ finished. You can print as many as you need for all eternity—no going back for more pre-printed papers when you run out—and the templates are specifically set up for printing on 8.5″ x 11″ paper.

Here’s how it works:

Perfect half-square triangles with no marking or squaring up, in a fraction of the time!

1. Print the template.

Download the “Perfect HSTs” PDF and print out the template in the size of your choice.

Be sure to print your template at ACTUAL SIZE (100% scaling). This setting can be found under “Page Sizing and Handling” in the print dialogue box (“Shrink to Fit” is often the default, which will result in HSTs that are too small!). After printing, use a ruler to check the template’s 1” scale (see below) to ensure the size printed accurately.

I print my templates on standard office paper/copy paper, or try printing on blank sheets of newsprint for even easier tearing later on. (Here’s a pack of 500 sheets of newsprint paper for $8.74.)

Perfect half-square triangles with no marking or squaring up, in a fraction of the time!Perfect half-square triangles with no marking or squaring up, in a fraction of the time!

2. Cut out the fabric and the templates.

Cut two pieces of fabric to the size specified on the template, and trim the templates on the outer dashed line. The template size is designed to approximately match up to the size of the fabric pieces you will be using.

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3. Stack fabric and template.

Stack two pieces of fabric, right sides together, as shown above. Place trimmed template on top of the stack, printed side facing up.

Perfect half-square triangles with no marking or squaring up, in a fraction of the time!

4. Sew.

Turn down the stitch length on your sewing machine—I set mine at about 1.5. (The shorter stitch length will help you tear off the paper when you’re done stitching.) Sew on the dotted lines that say “Sew here,” through all three layers (two pieces of fabric and the paper template).

Perfect half-square triangles with no marking or squaring up, in a fraction of the time!

Perfect half-square triangles with no marking or squaring up, in a fraction of the time!

5. Cut.

Using a rotary cutter and quilting ruler, cut along the solid lines marked with scissors icons. Cut the template’s vertical lines first, then the horizontal and diagonal lines.

Perfect half-square triangles with no marking or squaring up, in a fraction of the time!

6. Remove paper.

Carefully remove the paper by folding it back along the stitching and then tearing it along the seam line.

Perfect half-square triangles with no marking or squaring up, in a fraction of the time!

7. Press open.

That’s it! Perfect HSTs in no time flat!

Want to give it a whirl? Click here to download the Perfect HSTs PDF! And if you give it a try, I hope you’ll post about it on Instagram with the hashtag #perfecthsts. Perfect HSTs work great ANY time you’re making HSTs and with any existing pattern, but I’m also planning to put out some patterns that specifically use Perfect HSTs—one is already in the works! So I hope you enjoy the templates, and have a wonderful week!

Perfect HSTs without marking or squaring up, in a fraction of the time!

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HST Quilt for a Kidney Donor (My Mom)

HST Quilt for a kidney donor

I’m finally getting around to blogging about a special surprise quilt that I made over the holidays!

For the past several years, my mom’s husband has been dealing with declining kidney function. The doctors had been keeping an eye on it for some time, but unfortunately there isn’t much that can be done for people whose kidneys are failing, apart from dialysis or kidney donation.

Long story short, he eventually got to the point that he needed a kidney transplant, and upon investigation, they learned that my mom was a match and could donate one of hers. The transplant was a few weeks before Christmas, and things are going well for both patients! But going into it, my mom (who had never had surgery before and never even spent a night in the hospital apart from when my sister and I were born) had a request. “Could you please bring me a quilt?” she asked. “Just any quilt you have sitting around will be fine.”

HST quilt for a kidney donor

I don’t know, it didn’t feel right to bring her just ANY old quilt. LOL. I felt like this was an occasion that called for one made especially for her! So I got out my bundle of Essex Yarn-Dyed Linen (the Pond color coordinates), and this was what came out of it. The background is all Kona Snow and Kona Ivory.

HST quilt for a kidney donor

After years of working in bright colors, I have to say I’m really feeling the softer, more subdued neutrals in this quilt! Some of the Essex Linen I used was the metallic linen, which has a little bit of a sparkle to it, so that jazzed things up in a really good way. I love how it all turned out.

HST quilt for a kidney donor

I played around with the color placement a lot on this quilt. I liked the idea of not making it a straight graduation of color—I threw in some of the neutral half-square triangles at strategic spots in order to give the design a little more depth. (Also making it a little trippier for when she was on pain meds. LOL.)

HST quilt for a kidney donor

As you can see, the entire quilt is made out of 4″ half-square triangles, set on point. Making all those HSTs actually wasn’t AS painful as it could have been—I made some templates for fast HST stitching that worked great! No marking diagonal lines on the backs of the squares and no squaring up afterwards. In fact, my next project is to make up a PDF with the templates I used, for any of you who are interested in making HSTs the same way.

HST quilt for a kidney donor

Here are the blocks, slowly coming together on my design wall. I was working from a digital mock-up that was on my computer screen. This quilt took major forethought and planning to put it together correctly!

HST quilt for a kidney donor

I finished it off with my go-to quilting method recently: Straight diagonal lines about an inch apart. I’m loving straight-line quilting lately! I use masking tape to mark off the first line somewhere close to the center of the quilt, then just set the quilting guide on my Bernina 770 and go. As a bonus, because the blocks were on point, the seam lines on this quilt helped guide me and keep me from getting off track as I worked my way along.

My mom is now enjoying this quilt as she and her husband make their recoveries.

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Exciting New Pattern-of-the-Month Club – 2 Months Free!

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Hi friends! Today I’m excited to be posting about an amazing new pattern-of-the-month club called Pattern Drop!

My co-author, frequent collaborator, and good friend Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt created Pattern Drop, which offers a new PDF quilt pattern every month for an amazingly low price—as low as $6.99 per month!

Pattern Drop will be offering high-quality, modern patterns from some of your favorite designers (including me—I’m Miss February!), as well as commissioning brand new patterns that will be available only to subscribers. (January’s quilt is a gorgeous pattern that is available exclusively to subscribers.) Plus you get access to members-only deals, a private Facebook group for subscribers where you can share your progress and chat with fellow quilters, and much more!

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Pattern Drop‘s first quilt of the month is Amy Smart‘s Hopscotch pattern, which will be sent to subscribers in December. Hopscotch is one of those patterns that looks much more complicated than it actually is—which to me is the gold standard for quilt patterns! LOL. So if you sign up for Pattern Drop now, this will be the first PDF delivered to your in-box!

And even better: If you sign up for an Annual Membership, you’ll get 2 months free! Just use coupon code 2FREEFP. You already get two free months when you choose an annual membership, so that means you actually get 4 free months! Four completely free patterns just for signing up now. And the best part of this discount is that it’s a forever discount, meaning that each year you renew, you’ll get the same low introductory rate! But hurry, because this offer expires on December 5, and it will not be repeated at any time after that. Click here to sign up!

For more information about how it works, visit thePattern Drop website or Katie’s website. Happy sewing!

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Mega Sampler Quilt-Along!

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So, my Summer Sampler 2017 is done, but I’m feeling a little lost without a regular weekly block to make. Lol. So Katie and I decided to take on another sampler project! Remember this mock-up that Faith made? Yes, Katie and I are doing it! And we hope you’ll join in our insanity (or at least watch it unfold!).

This mock-up is EVERY SUMMER SAMPLER BLOCK that Katie, Faith, and I have put out, over the course of three Summer Sampler patterns—2011 (the original quilt-along), 2016, and 2017. It’s 49 blocks in all! When I saw them all together like this, I knew I needed to do it.

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And so we are: One block a week. Who’s in?

Hopefully most of you already have the Summer Sampler patterns! If not, they are available here. And for a limited time, if you order two or more Summer Sampler patterns, we’ll give you $5 off. Just enter the promo code “MEGA” at check-out. (Please note that the 2011 blocks are also available for free in blog posts—click here for links to all the posts—or you can purchase the 2011 blocks in one convenient PDF.)

My plan is to just post the blocks as I finish them on my Instagram feed, which you can follow here. I’m starting the week of Oct. 16—the schedule for the first several months is below. I’ll be posting my blocks under the #megaquiltalong hashtag and I hope you will too! You can also post your blocks in the Summer Sampler Facebook groups (the Facebook groups are available to verified pattern purchasers only), and I’m sure I’ll be updating you on my progress here occasionally as well.

MEGA QUILT-ALONG SCHEDULE
(The first several months of it, anyway.)

Week of Oct. 16
Star of Virginia (by Katie Blakesley, Swim Bike Quilt)
Summer Sampler 2011, Block 1

Week of Oct. 23
Turkey Vulture (by AnneMarie Chany, Gen X Quilters)
Summer Sampler 2016, Block 1

Week of Oct. 30
Millcreek Star (by Katie Blakesley, Swim Bike Quilt)
Summer Sampler 2017, Block 1

Week of Nov. 6
Greek Cross (by Faith Jones, Fresh Lemons Quilts)
Summer Sampler 2011, Block 2

Week of Nov. 13
Summer Slice (by Allison Harris, Cluck Cluck Sew)
Summer Sampler 2016, Block 2

Week of Nov. 20
Tilted Star (by Karen Lewis, Karen Lewis Textiles)
Summer Sampler 2017, Block 2

Week of Nov. 27
Mosaic (by Lee Heinrich, Freshly Pieced)
Summer Sampler 2011, Block 3

Week of Dec. 4
Snow Cone (by Nicole Daksiewicz, Modern Handcraft)
Summer Sampler 2016, Block 3

Week of Dec. 11
Celestial Star (by Holly DeGroot, Bijou Lovely)
Summer Sampler 2017, Block 3

Week of Dec. 18
Flower Garden Path (by Katie Blakesley, Swim Bike Quilt)
Summer Sampler 2011, Block 4

Week of Jan. 1, 2018
X Spot (by Faith Jones, Fresh Lemons Quilts)
Summer Sampler 2016, Block 4

Week of Jan. 8
Rosetta Star (by Lee Heinrich, Freshly Pieced)
Summer Sampler 2017, Block 4

Week of Jan. 15
Star Block (by Faith Jones, Fresh Lemons Quilts)
Summer Sampler 2011, Block 5

Week of Jan. 22
Sugarhouse (by Katie Blakesley, Swim Bike Quilt)
Summer Sampler 2016, Block 5

Week of Jan. 29
Alchemy (by AnneMarie Chany, Gen X Quilters)
Summer Sampler 2017, Block 5

 

 

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 14 – Saddle Star

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We’re on Block 14 of Summer Sampler 2017—when did that happen? : ) This week’s block is Saddle Star, designed by Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt.

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And check it out, it’s my last block in the 6″ size! I’ve decided I have a love-hate relationship with these little guys. They’re such a pain, but somehow so satisfying when they’re done!

Anyway, for this week’s tip, when you’re making the hourglass unit at the center of the block, I would suggest pressing seams toward the aqua fabric, rather than open as the pattern suggests. It’s all really just personal preference, but I find hourglass units just come together better when seams are pressed to sides, and you can nest them together when sewing the second hourglass seam. So if you’re having trouble getting that center point nice and neat, pressing seams toward the darker fabric might just do the trick.

That’s it! Want to make this block, but haven’t signed up for Summer Sampler yet? You still can—just click here! When you make the purchase, you’ll receive a link to download all of the blocks that have been released so far. It’s instant gratification! : ) See you next week for Block 15!

 

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 11 – Pixie Dust

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It’s Monday, so that means it’s Summer Sampler day! Ready for Block #11?

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This week’s block is Pixie Dust by Kelly Bowser of Kelby Sews. This week we’re going old-school with half-square triangles, and a whole lot of them. My favorite thing about this block is how geometric it is, yet still so starry!

This week’s tip is a doozy you guys: It is pay attention to what you’re doing. I know that doesn’t sound like much of a tip, but it bears repeating with this block! If you want to make the color placement look like the mock-up, you really do have to pay close attention to the written instructions and the diagrams in the pattern. You’re basically making some units that are mirror images of other units, as you can see from mine in the photo.

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It’s not a difficult task—it just requires close attention to what you’re doing. Without that, this block is a prime candidate for one of those where you sew it together wrong and don’t realize it until the whole darn thing is done. LOL. And as always, remember that the key to this block is accurate trimming. These units are trimmed in the exact same way as hourglass units, so click here to revisit my tips for trimming.

Have fun with this week’s block! And thank you,Kelly, for designing such a pretty addition to the quilt! If you’d like to play along, click here for all the details, and don’t forget to hashtag your posts #summersampler2017.

 

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 10 – Spring Star

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It’s Monday, so are you all ready for Block 10 of Summer Sampler 2017? This week we’re working on Spring Star by Faith Jones of Fresh Lemons Quilts.

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This time, we’re turning from the usual 4-patch/9-patch set-up and branching out with a kaleidoscope-style block that’s pieced in wedges instead of triangles or squares. As a result, the look of this star is a departure from what we’ve been doing all summer—but thanks to paper-piecing, it’s shouldn’t feel a whole lot different in terms of the skills involved.

So here’s my tip for the week, and it involves what happens after the paper-piecing. Here’s what I do to line up the paper-pieced sections neatly:

1. First, I leave the paper on until I’m completely finished with the block. As I’ve mentioned before, I feel like the paper stabilizes the pesky, skinny little points on these units.

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2. I start by lining up the seams, not the edges of the units. (If you to choose to align only one or the other, go with the seams! Uneven edges can be fudged when you assemble the quilt top.) To align these seams, place your thumb right at the point where the seams dissect the outer-edge seam allowance, and fold the paper/fabric back against your thumb (as shown in the photo). This allows you to clearly see whether your seams line up exactly 1/4″ in from the edge, like they’re supposed to.

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3. If the seams are aligned correctly, you should have a dog ear at one edge of the unit, while the bottom points should be generally lined up (as shown in the photo). Once you’ve got everything aligned the way it should be, pin right next to that point, and sew.

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4. If all went as planned, the seam you just sewed should hit right at the point where the dog ear meets the edge of the unit, as you can see in this photo. If it does: Great job! If it doesn’t: Oh well, no worries. Uneven edges won’t show later!

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Here’s what it looks like when you’ve got the two units successfully aligned and sewn together.

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And keep going in the same way until the whole block is together.

Enjoy this week’s block! Don’t forget that you can always join us, any time—all previous blocks will be available with your first download! Click here for more info, and be sure to hashtag your progress with the #summersampler2017 tag.

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 7 – Turning Star

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Good morning! Block 7 of Summer Sampler 2017 has arrived! It’s Turning Star by Lynne Goldsworthy of Lily’s Quilts.

I’ve been looking forward to making this one since we first got Lynne’s mock-up! Love love love this block. And it’s not a difficult paper-piecing project—it comes together so nicely!

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Now for this week’s tip. If you would like to do color placement similar to what I used in my block (a color-gradient center and alternating colors around the outside), it’s very simple to do. Start by lining up the colors you’ll be using in the center, from one end of your gradient to the other, like I did above.

Since the inside pieces are the first piece you’ll use, just work your way through the templates using the colors in the order you laid them out in—just be sure to alternate Template A and Template B as you go. By doing that, you’ll always have As and Bs next to each other, just the way you wanted them. (It doesn’t matter if you start with A or B.)

Then, when you get to pieces 3A and 3B, just make sure all the A templates use one of your outside colors, and all of the B templates use the other outside color.

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Just following that simple plan should allow your block to come together perfectly! (Well, from a color-placement standpoint, anyway. LOL.)

Want to make this block? Just purchase the Summer Sampler 2017 subscription! You’ll get this block, along with 16 more equally-beautiful star blocks, plus finishing instructions, all for only $24.99! Click here to purchase.

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 5 – Alchemy

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It’s Monday, so that means Block 5 of Summer Sampler 2017 is here! This week’s block is Alchemy by AnneMarie Chany of Gen X Quilters.

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I did the block in the 6″ size this week, and found it to be surprisingly fun and easy, even in the smaller size! Cool block too—I would love to make a whole quilt out of this one! (Want to make this block? Join the Summer Sampler 2017 quilt-along right now! Click here to join.)

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This week I’ve got a time-saving tip. When you’re making a lot of half-square triangles (as you do in this block), save some time and skip marking the backs of the squares. Instead, put a piece of tape down on your machine bed (I used some fancy orange washi tape, but duct tape or masking tape will work just as well). Make sure one edge of the tape is directly in line with the needle.

Then, as you’re sewing, keep the corner tip of the fabric squares aligned with the edge of the tape as you stitch from corner to corner. If you need to sew directly down the center of the square, leave your needle aligned with the edge of the tape. If you need to sew 1/4″ out on both sides of the center (as is required with this block), move your needle position 1/4″ over.

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Then trim and press as normal!

Happy sewing, and see you next week for Block 6! Don’t forget to use the hashtag #summersampler2017 to share your progress!

 

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 3 – Celestial Star

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It’s only Memorial Day, but we’re officially three weeks into summer with Summer Sampler 2017! Here’s block 3 of the Summer Sampler 2017 quilt-along, Celestial Star by Holly DeGroot of Bijou Lovely.

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Last week we dipped our toes into the paper-piecing pool. This week we’re really taking the plunge. So if you haven’t paper-pieced before (or even if you’ve only done last week’s simpler block), I suggest you start by visiting one of Faith’s paper-piecing tutorials to get the basics down.

Did that? Great! Now I’d like to share with you my extra-special favorite mind-blowing paper-piecing tip that will help you place those pieces perfectly every time! Sound too good to be true? It’s totally not. Read on.

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Let’s use position 6B of today’s Celestial Star block as an example. Because I’m here to tell you, piece 6B is a tricky little minx. We’re dealing with a strange angle on 6B (even more so than on 6A), so unless you place the fabric exactly right, you’re not going to cover what you need to cover, and you’ll screw it up. That’s frustrating, I know! So here it is—this is what your B unit should look like when you’ve got pieces 1B-5B sewn on. So far so good. Now we need to add 6B.

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Before adding the 6B fabric piece, flip the unit over and fold back the paper, right along the line you’ll be sewing, between 6B and everything else. (You can tear the paper a little as you pull it back if your previous stitches crossed over where you need to fold—you can see I’ve done that in the photo above.)

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Once the paper is folded back, trim all of the excess fabric 1/4″ out from the folded paper, like so.

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Here’s what it should look like after you’ve trimmed the excess fabric.

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And now here’s what it should look like from the other side (the fabric side). You’ll notice that you can see some of the folded paper sticking out beyond the purple piece. That little bit of folded-back paper peeking out is the key to placing the next piece of fabric correctly.

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So here it is with fabric 6B placed. Just line up the edge of piece 6B with the edge you trimmed off, but make sure piece 6B also covers that little flap of folded-back paper. As long as you’re covering the folded paper that sticks out, you’re golden! You’ll cover what you need to cover, every single time. No missed points!

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Next, flip the whole thing over (sewn unit and new fabric piece 6B), making sure to leave the 6B fabric in the exact same position (you may want to pin it into place before you flip). Then unfold the paper template and flatten it out so you can sew.

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Stitch on the line as usual (with shortened stitch length), and press piece 6B into place. Ta da! Piece 6B was in the exact spot it needed to be to cover every bit of space you needed to cover. Easy, right?

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This tip works any time you’re paper-piecing and it’s not obvious where the next piece needs to go—you can visit my post on the Bernina blog for a more thorough explanation of how it works. It will change your life, I tell you! : )

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And finally, here are all three of my Summer Sampler 2017 blocks together—two 6-inchers and today’s 12-inch. I love seeing them come together like this!

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There’s still time to join Summer Sampler 2017 and make the blocks with all of us! It’s only $24.99 total, for 17 block patterns in two sizes each (6″ and 12″), plus instructions to finish it into this gorgeous layout! Click here to purchase. I hope you’ll join us! And don’t forget to check the #summersampler2017 hashtag to enjoy everybody else’s blocks! See you next week.