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How to Get a Quilt Book Published…By Accident

People often ask me how I got into writing books. The first one came as a fluke and the others just fell into place.

I started teaching patchwork to small groups in my home in the mid 70’s and there were very few quilt books or patterns available. If you wanted a pattern for a quilt you had to draft it yourself. I figured out that most square patchwork designs were based on a “grid”. The square was divided into a grid of 3 x 3, 4 x 4, 5 x 5 etc. If you knew what grid was used for the block, it was simply a matter of following the lines of the grid to get the design.

Mosaic together

I figured out a no math way to fold paper to get the designs and after teaching it for a few years people were amazed at how easy it. Let’s use the block above, a 4×4 grid which is simpler than it seems. Decide what size block you want and make a square that size out of paper. Fold the square in half, side to side, then in half again, bottom to top. This will produce a “grid” of four squares. Can you see now how the design is created? If not, fold it in half each way again. Now you can see that is made up of simple half-square triangles.

So one day, my Quilters’ Newsletter magazine arrived and in it was an article on how to draft an eight-pointed star. It talked about the Pythagorean Theorem, pi and all sorts of other math terminology. I was completely confused, particularly since I had figured out a very easy way to draft the design by folding paper.

Bonnie Leman_1991_LCPQ_74
Bonnie Leman

I wrote a letter to Bonnie Leman, founder and editor of Quilters’ Newsletter, and showed her my method. In a rash moment, I also wrote, “Furthermore I’m explaining this and how to draft other patterns in the book I am writing on pattern drafting.”

Bonnie phoned me when she received my letter and said how she was so excited about my book and who was publishing it? I kind of hemmed and hawed and said I didn’t have a publisher yet. She said that she might be interested in publishing it and could I bring what I have done so far to a conference we would both be attending the next month. I didn’t want to tell Bonnie that I hadn’t actually started the book, so for the next month I prepared outlines, did illustrations, wrote sample chapters, etc.

Patchwork PatternsWhile it turned out to be a larger project than Bonnie imagined, she encouraged me to find another publisher, and I did. My first book, Patchwork Patterns, had 500 patterns and was organized in categories according to the grid used for drafting them. The book is out of print and I’ve written other, more comprehensive ones since, but that one is still special to me. So that, my friends, is how you accidentally get a quilt book published.

An upcoming blog post will show you how to figure out the grid.

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How to Cut Perfect Diamonds

feature photo ruler diamonds blog

In the last few years, I’ve been revisiting the diamond shape in patchwork, exploring new design possibilities and experimenting with shading and color. Although I love my chalk and scissors, I had to admit that rotary cutting fabric strips and patches was much faster. But I soon became convinced that there wasn’t a good ruler available to streamline the cutting, trimming and marking of diamond patches. (Trust me, I tried a bunch!)

Finally I decided to design my own ruler, which I call the 60 Degree Perfect Cut Ruler.  With it, you can measure and cut up to six inch diamonds, as well as equilateral triangles for six-pointed stars, that come out perfect every time.

 

Just line up the ruler with the strip to cut perfect diamonds
Just line up the ruler with the strip to cut perfect diamonds

 

You can also use the ruler for strips, so you don’t need one ruler for diamonds and triangles and another for strips. This ruler is great for cutting strips of the desired width, cutting out diamond or triangle patches, and trimming points. You can even mark intersecting angles when cutting Y intersections: simply mark the dots with a chalk mechanical pencil and then sew between the dots. It’s so easy! (There’s a video on my website where I demonstrate how to both machine sew and hand sew inset seams.)

 

It's easy to mark intersecting angles
It’s easy to mark intersecting angles

 

The ruler is small enough to slip into your bag when you travel but large enough so you can cut up to six inch fabrics at 1/4 inch intervals.

 

The ruler works well on any color fabric, light or dark.
The ruler works well on any color fabric, light or dark

 

Some people have asked me why I chose the green color for my ruler. The color may seem bright, but we experimented with many different colors, and this one shows up on any light or dark fabric – including prints.

My latest quilt, Florentine, includes 60 degree diamonds you can quickly and accurately cut and mark using my Perfect Cut 60º Diamond Ruler. The pattern is a free download from either RJR Fabrics or our website, and you can choose from two rich colorways. The quilt is made from fabrics from my Milan fabric collection, which is available from your local quilt shop.

 

My Florentine Quilt comes in two colorways
My Florentine Quilt comes in two colorways

 

I also make two additional sizes of diamond templates for cutting, trimming and marking seam intersections when cutting diamonds from 2 1/4″ or 2 1/2″ strips. They are available separately, as a set of two or in combination with my Perfect Cut 60 Degree Ruler.

To get more tips on using your Perfect Cut 60 Degree Ruler, visit the Tips section of our website.

Happy Quilting!

signature Jinny