Hello! If you are looking to shop Kansas City Star Quilts books and products, please go to ctpub.com/brands/Kansas-City-Star-Quilts. While you’re here, enjoy your favorite cartoon, Mrs. Bobbins, read some fun blog posts, and get to know our authors. Enjoy!

July 15, 2016

Sewing Four-Patches with Bonnie K. Hunter

Hi everyone! Happy July to all of you!

I’m here on the blog for a little refresher on simple unit success. Easy units such as four-patches, nine-patches, and half-square triangles are the building blocks of more complex designs. If you break down many quilt blocks into their individual components, you’ll find these simple units laying the groundwork for how the rest of the block comes together.

If you were to stop me on the street and ask me what my favorite block is, I’d tell you right off the top of my head… a four-patch!

Four-patch units can be dynamic, classy, whimsical, scrappy, or understated… and it all depends on how you personally shade them to place them in the block.

You can do four squares all from one color family in each four-patch. You can do scrappy lights and darks. You can do one background and one foreground. You can do three squares of one color, making the fourth corner an accent square.

I will never tire of the simple four-patch. It may be simple, but it gives your block a lot of bang for the buck!

SOMETIMES, BUT NOT ALWAYS, we can spin the seams on the back side of the four-patch to facilitate nested seams where the four patches will be joining each other.

Here are some tips and photos for simple four-patch success:

It all starts with the cutting! If you missed my post on Making the Best Cut on the C&T blog, you will find it HERE.

I like to work with short strip sets when making scrappy four-patches, so I can build my variety as I go. I always sew a test seam to make sure my strip sets are coming out the correct width before I get started. Better to check early on than to sew them all only to find out my seam allowance wasn’t correct.

Make the job of cutting super easy by pairing two strips right sides together so they are ready to cut in matched pairs. I match the pieces that are going to end up next to each other during the cutting process so that when I get to the machine things are ready to sew.

Here I’m making 3″-finished four-patches for my Celtic Solstice quilt, which ran as a mystery quilt on my blog. Two 2″ strips sewn side by side should give you a strip set measurement of 3 1/2″. If it doesn’t, fix the seam before you carry on.

The direction you feed four-patches into the machine MATTERS! Take a look:

These pairs are being fed with the top seam allowance pointing up toward the needle. This way the bottom seam allowance will not fight with the feed dogs or get flipped the other way in the process of sewing. Because the seam on the top is pointing up toward the needle, I can easily control it. If the four-patch were fed the other way, with the top seam allowance pointing down, the one underneath would be catching the feed dogs where I couldn’t see it or control it, and let’s face it, in quilting, sometimes Shift Happens!

I KNOW my seam is where it needs to be when the units measure the size they need to measure. There should be LITTLE sliver trimming happening at this point, if any at all. These units measured 3 1/2″ like I wanted them to. Hooray! Do what you can in the cutting and the seaming process so that units come out the right size the first time. If your units are consistently too big, it means your seam allowance is not wide enough. Fatten it up. If your units are too small, put that seam allowance on a diet!

Let’s spin those seams! I know this technique has been around for a long time, but in the beginning, I couldn’t figure out WHY half of my four-patches would spin clockwise, and the other half would go counterclockwise. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason, and it meant that when I sewed four-patch to four-patch, my seams wouldn’t butt and oppose any more, and it drove me nuts. Are you with me?

It all goes back to how the pairs are fed through the machine! If you want your four-patch seams to all go around in the same direction… they have to be fed through the MACHINE the SAME way when you are joining the two-sies! SERIOUS!

To get them to pinwheel like this, I grab the four-patch with the center seam going side to side as shown. Hold the seam allowance DOWN on the right, and UP on the left. A quick twist will let a couple stitches loose within the seam allowance and allow you to spin them around. Which way will yours go? Look at the TOP seam allowance to see which way it is pointing. In this case, they are pointing right, so mine will go clockwise.

To Spin or Not to Spin… That Is the Question!

Do I always spin four-patch seams? If the spinning seams on the back of the four-patch will nest with the units I am sewing them to, or if there is no seam that they need to match to at all within the unit, such as in a plain square, then YES. I am a spinner.

However, there are some blocks where spinning seams will NOT work.

This block is called Idaho Square Dance and is featured in the quilt by the same name in my new book release called Addicted to Scraps. Be watching for it SOON! Because the pieced bars around the center needed to be pressed a certain way, the four-patches in the corners would NOT work with the spinning method.

There is a time to spin and a time to not—always check your block to see if it helps or hinders your progress.

I hope this info is helpful to you, and as always, if there is something you’d like to see me post about in the future, please leave a comment below! Your question may be featured in a future post!

Bonnie K. Hunter is the author of several C&T titles, including Scraps & Shirttails, Scraps & Shirttails II, String Fling, Adventures with Leaders & Enders, and More Adventures with Leaders & Enders.

Bonnie is also the Addicted to Scraps columnist for Quiltmaker magazine, giving hints, help, and tips in every issue to help put your own Scrap User’s System to good use, making more quilts in less time.

Follow Bonnie’s daily blog at http://quiltville.blogspot.com.

Facebook: http://facebook.com/quiltvillefriends

Facebook Group: Quiltville’s Open Studio

Instagram: @quiltville_bonnie

Filed under Books

July 11, 2016

Addicted to Scraps!

What Bonnie Hunter wrote as the Foreword to her new book, Addicted to Scraps, will touch the hearts of most of us quilters. You can’t help but feel the love in this quilt that was shared with her family.

“I am completely and utterly Addicted to Scraps!

And I know I am not the only one. Do you feel the way I do about scrap quilts?

The first patchwork quilt in my life, as far back as I can remember, was a battered and tattered scrap quilt—a Triple Irish Chain made by some unknown quilter, though it had been passed down through my father’s side of the family. Was it a great-aunt? No one seems to remember. Too much time passed without that information being handed down.

I have fond, vivid memories of family vacations at the beach in Santa Cruz, California. My two brothers and I played in the water along the shore of the cold Pacific Ocean until, with teeth chattering and lips blue, we ran back up to the warmth of the sun-soaked sand and flung ourselves on top of this quilt to dry off.

Nose pressed to the tiny squares, I inspected each piece, every print, and every stitch.

Many years later, when I was in my twenties, I rescued that quilt from the trunk of my dad’s car. By that time I was a budding novice quilter, interested in quilt history, and appalled that we had treated this quilt thusly.

But you know what? That quilt has had a lifetime of love and memories. Even in its shredded state, just like the Velveteen Rabbit from the beloved children’s story, it knew it was loved due to spots wearing thin, binding coming undone, and fabrics giving way to disintegration after generations of covering family members while they slept and dreamed deeply.

This simple quilt was the start of my exciting journey with scrap quilting.”

Make one of the twelve quilt projects in this book to be a part of your family’s story.

Carolina Fancy

I love the positive/negative aspect of this traditional block, and any quilt that has chains running through it is a definite favorite in my book.

Moth in the Window

This quilt is a combination of my best-loved recycled fabrics mixed with solid black and a few other stash yardage favorites.

Pinwheel Fancy

Things that twirl, things that spin! Quilt blocks with motion provide endless possibilities for quilt designs from simple shapes and units. Throw in a secondary block, turn the whole thing on point, and you create vertical columns where pinwheels can happily spin away.

Filed under Books

June 20, 2016

Mrs. Bobbins Is Back!

You read that right: starting this month, there will be a new Mrs. Bobbins comic, right here on this blog, every month! We couldn’t be more excited to have Mrs. Bobbins back in our lives, so without further ado, here is June’s comic.

Looking for more great laughs? Mrs. Bobbins cartoonist Julia Icenogle has a whole collection of Mrs. Bobbins comics: The Big Book of Bobbins.

Filed under Books

June 17, 2016

Fine-Tuning the Stitch & Flip with Bonnie Hunter

Hello everyone!

I’m back again for a June blog post, hoping to share with you something that makes my quilting life easier as I work from project to project.

On our previous post, Making the Best Cut, Ellen commented: “I love all of Bonnie’s tips. Since I read her blog my accuracy has improved significantly. I am however still having trouble with flip and sew corners. No matter how careful I am it seems that I get a wide variety of results and so I am unable to diagnose my own problem. I would like to see any help on these.

Thanks for all the valuable information so far and I’ll look forward to more.”

Ellen also asked for help cutting with specialty rulers, and I’m happy to cover that in a future post, as soon as my new Essential Triangle Tool by C&T hits the market and we can do a video as well as a photo tutorial. It’s coming!

So today, let’s tackle the first of Ellen’s requests: the stitch & flip corners!

Shown here are some common units now easily made with stitch & flip corners.

I’d love to thank whoever first invented these. Remember life before these? We’d have to cut triangles, octagons, or trapezoids and actually sew cut half-square triangles in place, hoping that things would line up and we’d get the desired result.

Not so easy when sewing a triangle to a trapezoid! When that didn’t work, I resorted to paper piecing the units because it was the only way they would come out accurately.

Then along comes the technique of placing a square on top of the unit, sewing across the diagonal of the square, and folding up the triangle and clipping away the excess beyond the seam. AWESOME!


There appear to be some issues and some various ways of dealing with these issues.

Here is my experiment:

Today I’m starting with two identical units made from 2 1/2″ X 4 1/2″ rectangles with a 2 1/2″ square for each corner.

I have drawn a diagonal line on top of each neutral square.

There are many reasons WHY I draw lines instead of using something that tapes down to my machine bed allowing me to feed a diagonal square from point to point through my machine. The first reason is my vision. I need the line on TOP of my work so that I can get a straight seam. I am sewing blind if there is a line underneath my unit.

Yes, drawing lines takes time, but I can make up for the two seconds it takes to draw a line in the time it takes me to sew it accurately because there IS a line.

The second reason might not be obvious to everyone, but I want you to think here. Most of the time we read the directions, “Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner and SEW ON IT.”

IF you sew ON that line, your unit will ALWAYS be a bit short and will never reach the end of your base unit because the fold has to be made from the LEFT of the thread. If the stitching is on the fold line, you’ve short sheeted your unit!

I’ve got two identical units going through the machine. The first one will be sewn ON the line. The second one will be stitched to the RIGHT of the line, just into the seam allowance, with the thread up against the line but not on it.

When sewing diagonals like this, I make sure to sew a bit slower and aim for accuracy. It’s important to just breathe, slow down, and watch what you are doing.

If you have a foot that has a 1/4″ edge guide that doesn’t like to travel “across country,” you may want to switch to any open-toe foot that gives you good visibility for sewing across the fabric. Here I am sewing on my 1958 Singer 301, and I can see quite well where the needle is as I sew because it has a slant shank for greater needle visibility.

The proof is in the FOLD OVER! Look at the difference!

The one on the left was sewn ON THE LINE. The one on the right was sewn NEXT to the line, to the right of the line just into the seam allowance. Same thread, same machine. BIG difference.

Those patterns that direct you to stitch ON the line may also say that “it’s okay if it doesn’t reach all the way when you fold it over, just leave your base unit in place and only trim out the middle layer.”

I beg to differ, especially if the stitch & flip corner is a light fabric. The dark fabric underneath may show through, dulling the brightness of your lights.

Leaving the background unit in place also adds a lot of bulk in areas where units join to each other. Who wants double the thickness in these areas?

Always remember that the diagonal line is where you want the fabric to FOLD and in order for it to fold there, you need to stitch next to it, not on it.

And then there is that whole issue of the fun of bonus units that are possible—be watching for that in a future post!

If you want to give stitch & flip corners a try, head on over to my free tutorial for lozenges! You’ll get lots of practice, and sew up a bunch of scraps in the process!

Is there a topic you would like me to discuss or a question you would like answered in a future blog post? Leave me a comment below and we may feature you in a future post.

Bonnie K. Hunter is the author of several C&T titles, including Scraps & Shirttails, Scraps & Shirttails II, String Fling, Adventures with Leaders & Enders, and More Adventures with Leaders & Enders.

Be watching for a new book release from Bonnie and C&T in the fall of 2016!

Bonnie is also the Addicted to Scraps columnist for Quiltmaker magazine, giving hints, help, and tips in every issue to help put your own Scrap User’s System to good use, making more quilts in less time.

Follow Bonnie’s Daily blog at http://quiltville.blogspot.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/quiltvillefriends

Facebook Group: Quiltville’s Open Studio

Instagram: @quiltville_bonnie

Filed under Books

June 16, 2016

Spring Quilt Market Recap

We went. We saw. And now we’re here to share all about Spring 2016 Quilt Market and what we experienced with you!

Clockwise from top to bottom:

1. Jocelyn, tradeshow coordinator, and Tristan, marketing coordinator getting ready to unload the crate to begin setting up the booth!

2. The talented panelists: Kristin Link, Heather Givans, Becky Goldsmith, and Angela Walters with moderator Amy Marson during the Make It as a Maker business seminar. We were so excited to have Craftsy there to announce their Quilt Designer fellowship program! Find out more here: http://craftsy.me/20RTSrb

3. Prepping for a series of YouTube video shoots with some of our authors. Look out for new videos coming soon to our channel! Featured quilt: My Cozy Village by Felicia Brenoe.

4. Diane Knott during her book signing of Scrap Quilt Secrets.

Spotted outside of our booth…

1. Angela Lan, author of #OOTD Sew & Style in the Babylock booth. How cute is the skull tee that she made?!

2. We’re still drooling over the gorgeous Rifle Paper Co. and Cotton and Steel fabric collaboration that debuted at market.

3. Sew Timeless’ booth display was adorable. These are some dresses made from patterns in Doll Days (pictured on the wall) by Erin Hentzel.

4. Michael Miller Fabrics was serving up some serious design inspiration with these pretty paper flowers in their booth!

We hosted a grand total of 13 Schoolhouse sessions the day before Quilt Market began. It was a whirlwind, but a blast because many of our authors got to meet and present their books together.

1. The Schoolhouse schedule.

2. Becky Goldsmith presenting her quilts from Piecing The Piece O’ Cake Way.

3. Sandra Clemons showing her gorgeous ‘Birds’ Quilt.

Curious to get a behind the scenes peek at the presentations? Many were streamed live on our Facebook page, and they are still available for viewing!

Take a peek at all of our #QuiltMarket photos on Instagram.

Do you know if your local quilt shop attends Quilt Market? Let us know in the comments!

Filed under Books