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Tips for Piecing a Radiant or Lone Star

Piecing a Lone or Radiant Star with its many 45° diamonds can seem like a daunting task. However, with strip-piecing techniques and a few tips we think you will find this much easier than expected.

Our staff pattern tester, Diane, has given us 10 tips to make this process go smoothly.

1. Offset the strips when sewing to use as much of your fabric as possible. Don’t be worried when your strip-sets have a small curve to them.

2. Draw a straight line on your ironing board. (Ours in the Studio has a pattern on it so we covered it with muslin first.) We’ve drawn a second line at 90 to the first and drawn tick-marks at 1-inch intervals along each line.

3. Since she is a hand quilter, Diane presses her seams open. She also finds it easier to match seams this way.

4. Line up the 45° angle line on your ruler with the raw edge of your strip set to trim.

5. Rotate the strip-set and cut your segments to the appropriate size. Check the 45° angle every few cuts and trim if necessary.

6. Diane likes to trim off the points before joining the segments. Line up the first two strips to see where you need to trim.

Align the marks on the trimmer with the raw edges and trim.

7. Take your first two segments and place them right sides together. Mark your ¼” seam allowance on the right side of the bottom segment and on the wrong side of the top.

8. Not everyone is a pinner but, in this case, we recommend it. Place a pin on the mark one thread away from the seam allowance on the top, going through to the same side of bottom segment on the drawn line.

9. Hold the pin straight up and down and pin just next to the aligning pin, taking a small bite of fabric.

10. Here’s how it should look.

You are now ready to sew! Follow these tips now and when joining the pieced diamond units together.

For more information, check out this wonderful video on the McCall’s Quilting, showing how to make Jinny’s Lone Star Salute quilt.

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Fragmenting: A Whole Quilt Design from a Single Block

I often use fragmenting when designing quilts. The concept of fragmenting a traditional patchwork block is not new. It has been used for centuries with the traditional Lone Star design.

In the Lone Star design, each of the diamonds of a traditional eight-pointed star has been broken up into the same number of smaller diamonds.


The diamond units in a traditional eight-pointed star block (left) can be fragmented (center). We know this “fragmented” design as the Lone Star quilt. You can fragment the background squares and triangles, too. That’s what I did for my Stained Glass Star quilt!

Traditionally, each round of diamonds from the center outwards is the same fabric. I used this same idea to create the quilt, Star Sapphire. Each of the diamonds has been broken into eight divisions per side, but the coloring is different from that of a  traditional Lone Star. I treated each large diamond unit as being made up of four smaller diamonds, and then shaded the patches within each of those four diamonds to create a non-traditional effect.



In the traditional lone star design (right) the colors radiate out from the center with each round of color the same in each diamond unit. In Star Sapphire (right), I switched up the color shading to get a design with a more faceted look.

When I developed the idea of fragmenting an entire design, I still started with a traditional quilt block.  However, then I broke all the shapes in the design into smaller versions of that same shape. Each shape had the same number of divisions. In addition, when coloring the fragmented shapes, I shaded each of them from light to dark. Let’s look at a recent example.


I developed Rajasthan from a traditional design called Beginner’s Delight. Below you can see the original design, the fragmented version and finally the quilt. The larger sized quilt uses four of the blocks. And rather than fragment the central square, I opted to use a border print square. (You can learn how to do this in my Creating Border Print Squares lesson.)

The Rajasthan wall-sized quilt is really just one big block!

The larger version of Rajasthan is four blocks sewn together. A border print triangle is used in one corner so that when the quilt is assembled, you get a center medallion.

How to Fragment Your Own Block

Fragmenting is fun.  It gives you the opportunity to really play with color and shading, or simply to use lots more fabrics. When selecting a design, a simpler one will best.

To fragment the block:

  •     Divide each side of each shape into the same number of equal divisions.
  •     Draw parallel lines from the sides of the shape to one of the other sides.
  •     Draw the second set of lines.

With a triangle, you need a third set of lines. Sometimes I find this last set makes the shape too busy and I opt to eliminate it.


Because a triangle has three outside lines, none of which are parallel, to fully fragment the shape you need to draw three sets of lines (Triangle 3). However, you could decide to just stop at two sets of lines as in Triangle 2 and use diamond-shaped patches to fill the unit. You might also decide to remove a different set of lines as in Triangle 4: in this example, you’ll fill the shape with square and half-square triangle patches.

Shade the units from light to dark. Try shading in various directions until you find the one you like best.



Different light-to-dark progressions can make a big difference in how your quilt will look. Having the lightest fabric in one unit against the darkest in another unit can create a nice glow. Take another look at Star Sapphire to see how this can work.

For more detailed information on fragmenting, coloring fragmented designs and creating templates for each of the shapes, see pages 45 to 48 of my book, The Quilters Album of Patchwork Patterns.


For other examples of my fragmented quilt designs, take a look at Mayflowers, Summer Lily,  and FabergéAll of them are free pattern downloads!

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Patriotic Quilts

The new McCall’s magazine, The Best of McCall’s Quilting – 22 of Our Most Popular Patterns, features a quilt I designed for them several years ago, Lone Star Salute.

lone star
Lone Star Salute

Upon seeing it again and with the election in the forefront and the Fourth of July approaching, I began thinking about commemorative quilts. We have certainly seen many patriotic-themed quilts over the years and, I must admit, I have done my share to add to the pool of these types of quilts. Some of them are personal quilts and others are ones that I designed for patterns.

Dolly Madison Star
Dolly Madison Star

In 1976 when I had been quilting for only four years, a friend asked me if I was going to make a quilt commemorating the bicentennial. I hadn’t thought about it but decided that was a good idea. While I think the overall design and balance leaves a lot to be desired, I learned a tremendous amount during the process of making it. First of all, I wanted the blocks in the quilt to have been named for some event in our country’s history. I have blocks such as Dolly Madison’s Star, 54-40 or Fight, Mrs. Cleveland’s Choice. I even Patchwork Patternscreated my own block of the bicentennial logo.

All of those blocks were to be a 10-inch finished size.  Since I knew it would be impossible to find all the patterns in a 10-inch size, I had to figure out how to draft all of those designs. Intrigued by the drafting process, I began teaching pattern drafting to my students and that lead to my first book, Patchwork Patterns, published in 1979.

Drafting the 50 five-pointed stars to fit into a larger five-pointed star was a challenge but I eventually figured out how to do it. Another challenge was fitting exactly 200 triangles into the border that surrounds the central motif.

bicentennial quiltMy quilt Windows was another commemorative quilt with a red white and blue theme that I made following the terrorists attacks on September 11, 2001. I wanted at least one piece in the quilt for each of the victims of the attacks. In the end, the quilt has 4,777 pieces.Windows largeThe patriotic quilts I have designed which have patterns available include Lone Star Salute, shown above, September Sun, another that was designed shortly after the terrorists’ attack, and Fourth of July Star. Smaller projects include my new Wings wall quilt and our row for this year’s Row By Row shop hop, Eagle’s Pride.

September Sun
September Sun
Fourth of July Star
Fourth of July Star
wings quilt sm
row 2016 photo
Eagle’s Pride, 2016 Row by Row, available in shop only

Why don’t you give a try at creating a patriotic-themed quilt.

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By now, you have all heard of our blizzard this past weekend which has been nicknamed “Snowzilla.” The snow started around noon on Friday and didn’t stop until the wee hours of Sunday morning depositing over two feet of snow in most of the region. Of course, one of our official totals is only about 18 inches taken at National Airport but they lost their measuring stick in the snow early Saturday evening. Really. They lost it in the snow.

Obviously, this amount of snow is not something we are used to in this area so we are without all of the big, wonderful snow removal equipment which many of you take for granted. When big storms hit, we hunker down and, as quilters, our snow days become sew days.

The cars are barely peeking out of the snow.
The cars are barely peeking out of the snow.
Luke and Gus stayed warm by the perfect symmetry.
Luke and Gus stayed warm by the fire…in perfect symmetry.

There were lots of emails going back and forth among all of us from the Studio. In one, Dana passed along an e-mail from Quilting Adventures: “A CEO isn’t what you think. It refers to a Completely Executed Object, what you get when you finish up all those UFOs (UnFinished Objects)or NESOs (Not Even Started Object)or CUPs (Completely Unstarted Project)!”  It seems we all have lots of those UFOs, NESOs and CUPs on hand so I thought I would share some of the projects my staff and I worked on while the snow flakes fell. Snowzilla6Marion is preparing last year’s Craftsy BOM quilt to “quilt as you go” on her home machine. It will be a first for her which she says, “I experience often with quilting, so the confidence is not there yet.”

Rebecca has two projects she’s working on. Snowzilla7She took a “Lone Starburst” class from Kimberly Einmo this fall and here are her blocks.  She used the Palette Tropics pixie strips and a Palette fabric for the background. She has been rearranging the layout of the blocks on her design wall and this is her current favorite.

Snowzilla8She is also working on a “One Block Wonder” from the book by Maxine Rosenthal.  A group from her guild decided to make this with each making their own using completely different fabrics. They got together to do the first round of cutting and plan to get together again at the layout stage.


Snowzilla18It seems quite a few people are working on two projects. Diane just finished this cute purse and is now working on the applique for Calliope.


Snowzilla10Nancy is working on getting one project ready for basting and finishing up the binding on her fat eighth quilt (from this week’s web special).

Snowzilla12 Linda put a her “Sunset Walk” quilt in the hoop and is looking forward to having a hand project to work on this winter. It is made from my palette #8 collection and she says when finished it will be a perfect quilt for her guest room.

Snowzilla13 Julia shared this UFO she’s working on now – Foundation String Pieced Eight Pointed Stars – started in a workshop with Fran Kordek of Elkins, WV in the spring of 2004.  It has lots of older fabrics. And yes, that is a “Perfect Piecer” she is using to mark the intersections of the pieces. She said she will keep making stars until the green strips in the box are used up.

Snowzilla14 Janet says she is always working on multiple projects. She decided to share this one that she started after Christmas.  She is hand piecing “Ballet with Kaffe Fassett” from Millefiori Quilts 2. “But I should call it Ballet with Jinny Beyer!  So far this is all I have.  Get back to me in a few years when it is further along!  The pieces are quite small, so it is time consuming, but I’m enjoying sewing it.”

Others are busy on other projects (but we don’t have pictures) and I even took the time to baste my Calliope quilt and have started quilting it.

Snowzilla15 I sent my son-in-law, Rob, who made my quilt frame, a photo of the quilt in the frame and said I FINALLY had time to put a quilt in it after several months. This was his response.

“It’s nice when time sort of stops and you can get to do some things you wouldn’t have done otherwise.”

Time stopped for me this weekend and I’m enjoying doing some quilting!

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Copyright Laws & Quilting

Lotus Amazon BlogQuilting and the copyright right laws which apply to the subject come up every now and then in magazines and online. Each attempts to summarize and explain the law often with different interpretations. If you are anything like me, it just takes a little bit of “legalize” for my eyes to glaze over. Protecting the rights of others is important but sometimes it is a little difficult to figure out what it all means. A recent post found on the internet brought this all to mind.

Ginger Davis Allman came up with this wonderful chart of copyright guidelines.

Copyright-Infographic-craftersJust as a lawyer would, I will start this with a brief disclaimer. I am not a lawyer, never dreamed of being one and know very little about the law. Nothing I am about to say should be construed as legal advice. I simply want to talk about what is fair and considerate to others.

A copyright is a form of legal protection granted by the legal system to protect the original work of individuals. According to the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), “Works eligible for protection under copyright include patterns, diagrams and instructions for making quilts, written materials that talk about quilts and the making of quilts, and quilt designs, regardless of whether those designs appear in a pattern or diagram for the quilt, in a software program that lets the user make the quilt, or in the quilt itself.”

Many of us design our own quilts whether we do it professionally or just for our own enjoyment. Let’s use my Lotus quilt as an example.

Lotus green center

The center of the quilt consists of a large Lone Star. This is a traditional design and I certainly can’t lay claim to that. I carefully chose each fabric making sure they shaded nicely to get the effect I wanted. Around the Lone Star is appliqué which I also designed. This is my own creation.

Lotus green applique1If you make my Lotus quilt, I would hope that you let people know it is my design. If your friends want to make one, you can let them know where they can obtain a pattern or a kit. It is not alright to take the pattern, make copies and distribute them whether for free or certainly not for money.

If you want to take parts of this design and incorporate it into a work of your own, give credit. If your work includes anything for profit, you should ask permission of the designer.

I would hope you would stop and think for a moment of all which goes into the creative work of others—endless hours of design, pattern writing, pattern testing and copying costs. There is an old saying about giving credit where credit is due. Let’s always try to remember this.

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Designing Fabric

swatchestMost of you know that I have been designing fabric for quilters for a lot of years. My first line was introduced in 1981 by a company that shall remain nameless. I did three lines for that company in two years and they decided that quilting had reached it’s peak in popularity and they were getting out while they were still on top. Hah! Little did they know.

RJR Fabrics heard that I would no longer be with that company and asked me to work for them. It has been a great partnership between us and I have been working with them since 1983. RJR is in the Los Angeles area while I am on the east coast. We mostly meet remotely but manage to get together a few times throughout the year.

Recently, I flew to Los Angeles and went to the RJR offices to meet with the new art director, individuals from the Japanese company who work with my screen print fabrics, and those from yet another company who I work with in producing my batik lines. It was a whirlwind day and a half but we got a lot accomplished.

RJR has moved to new offices in the past year so it was great seeing their new place and touring the facilities. When you walk through the door, you are struck by the openness of the offices and color everywhere. Quilts are hanging all around and it is just a colorful, happy environment.

Sorting batiks
Demi, the head of marketing at RJR, sorting batiks with me

While at RJR, I sorted fabrics from my three batik collections, mixing the groups. RJR plans to make pixie groupings of these (2 ½” strips of 40 fabrics per group) and I am designing quilts that can be made with each group. In fact, I am recoloring our popular Crayon Box quilt using these pixies. Here is a sneak peak of one of the colorways.

Front entryway at RJR Fabrics
Front entryway at RJR Fabrics


Quilts at RJR
Summer Lily and Lone Star Salute in the halls at RJR
A small portion of the warehouse
Working on kits in warehouse
Women making kits for other retailers (we make our own here in the Studio)
The shipping department
Folding fat quarters for bundles
Packaging kits and bundles
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Enjoying My Stolen Moments

It’s been quite busy here at the Studio. Even though two new lines of fabrics have just come out, I’ve been working on several new collections for the coming year. I’ve been designing new projects to go along with all of this fabric. I’ve been traveling. And, I’ve been sewing.

I’ve had a so much fun piecing my latest design, a quilt for our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest, coming in November. If you read our September newsletter, you saw a little peak at it. Here is a little bit more.  I should be able to show the quilt with some of the appliqué background in the next couple of weeks.

QQ Star

This Lone Star quilt will combine piecing and appliqué. I first started doing this about 20 years ago with soft-edge piecing.

Renaissance Garden
Renaissance Garden

For another Quest a few years ago, the Midnight Garden quilt and tote combined beautiful appliqué created by staff member Diane Kirkhart along with my central pieced design.

mid basket- finalThe introduction of new appliqué tools to the market inspired me to create another quilt combining piecing and appliqué. The color palette for this year’s Quest is made up of vibrant jewel tones and I’ve used these colors to create my Lone Star. In what is normally just empty background around the star, I’m adding elegant vines and flowers. I’ve had the most wonderful time working on this project, always looking forward to the opportunities when I could sit down and sew.

appliquick imageWe have recently started carrying Apliquick tools. I’ll admit that I tend to stick with methods I’ve used for years but I do find these products really do simplify the process, making it much easier to achieve success. We have an introduction to these tools under our “Tips and Lessons” tab.

The pattern for this quilt will be available during the Quest for free.  You get a free pattern from each participating shop during this 10-day period.

Maybe more than the design process, I’ve simply been enjoying the sewing. In my Quiltmaking by Hand book, I quote Rose Wider Lane from The Woman’s Day Book of American Needlework, 1964: “Then you thread a needle and settle comfortably in your chair. The needle runs easily back and forth through soft cloth while nerves relax and useless worries fade away.” So when life seems a little hectic, I’m just going to enjoy my stitching every chance I get.

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Learn Without Leaving Your Sewing Room

Often I hear comments from some of you that you wish you lived closer and could take advantage of some the classes that I teach. Many of you watch our class calendar and plan your trips to the Washington, DC area so that you can attend my classes. One of the most popular ones I teach is Quiltmaking by Hand. In that class, I cover all of the techniques you would need to know to tackle any hand piecing project. Those techniques include:

Supplies to have on hand
The basic running stitch
Making templates
Joining 4 points
Sewing curves
Joining 3 points
Joining 8 points
Setting in seams
Working with border prints



It occurred to me as I was proofing the DVD containing all of the video lessons for the 2017 Mystery Quilt, Moroccan Mystery, that everything I teach in my Quiltmaking by Hand class can be found in that DVD. The lessons in the DVD include all the techniques described above. You do not need to make the Moroccan Mystery quilt to learn the techniques. The DVD works as a stand-alone product for learning all the basics of hand piecing.



Speaking of a “mystery quilt,” our 2018 Mystery Quilt, Kyoto Mystery, will be launching April 7th. Subscribers to our newsletter will receive the first clue and video lesson on that day. The quilt is rectangular, 59” x 63”, and we are preparing kits in the four colorways shown here. Those kits will be available for purchase starting March 3rd. Keep an eye out for our March newsletter.

Watch this video teaser for more information on our new BOM mystery quilt.

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Join Us on the Quilters’ Quest Bus

Jinny has turned the blog over to me today so let me introduce myself. My name is Nancy Fallone and I’m half of the marketing team here at the Studio. That job keeps me behind the curtain at the Studio or at the keyboard at home working on newsletters, web specials, classes, Facebook and such but what I want to talk about today is the most fun part of my job. That would be organizing and riding on the Quilters’ Quest buses.


Ladies on Bus


Quilters’ Quest is our annual shop hop which encourages quilters to explore 10 area quilt shops this year running from November 9th through the 18th. For details on how the Quest works, visit


Quest Quilts


For many, driving to each of those shops can seem a bit daunting so we offer the option of riding one of our Quest buses.  As in the past, we have two buses, one on the weekend and one during the week each covering all 10 shops, each in two days. Jinny is there to greet you bright and early each morning with a continental breakfast and the chance to shop before the Studio officially opens. We then bid the Studio farewell and the true fun starts.


The Material Girls always have lots to tempt us.
The Material Girls always have lots to tempt us.


While traveling from shop to shop, the former park ranger in me just can’t resist passing along not only information on the next shop but a bit of area history and attractions. To ensure an attentive audience, prizes are given out in our famous trivia contests. We provide beverages and snacks along with an optional bag lunch.


What quilter wouldn’t smile with so much beautiful fabric and all those amazing quilts.
What quilter wouldn’t smile with so much beautiful fabric and all those amazing quilts.


Every shop on the Quest has a unique feel with new and different items.  There are demos and special projects many using fabric designed exclusively for that year’s Quest.


Dick and Wendy from Traditions at the White Swan
Dick and Wendy from Traditions at the White Swan


My favorite part of the Quest, though, is spending time with the wonderful quilters from across the country (and sometimes from around the world) who join us. I don’t know how we get so lucky to have such a great group each year.


It is always wonderful to see how well everyone gets along.
It is always wonderful to see how well everyone gets along.


I recently asked one of the quilters who has been with us each year about why she keeps coming back all the way from upstate New York. Linda had seen the Quest advertised in the newsletter but didn’t want to drive it.  When the bus trip started, she bribed her daughter, Belynda, who didn’t quilt or sew, into going with her by paying her way.  By the second shop, Belynda was buying fabric with ideas for what her mom could make.  But guess who sews now.


Mom, Linda, and daughter, Belynda, never miss a Quest bus trip.
Mom, Linda, and daughter, Belynda, never miss a Quest bus trip.


Linda writes “Last year when Belynda was expecting our wonderful gift of a granddaughter, we bought lots of fabric to make things for the baby. I said to her that I supposed that that would be our last Quest bus trip.  Her comment was ‘What are you talking about? My husband is perfectly capable of babysitting for 2 days!’”

Our weekend Quest bus is Friday and Saturday, November 10th & 11th (with just a few seats left) and our weekday bus is Wednesday and Thursday, November 15th & 16th.  Details can be found on our website. We would love to have you join us!


At the end of two days of serious shop hopping, everyone is still full of smiles.
At the end of two days of serious shop hopping, everyone is still full of smiles.