American Patchwork & Quilting | Staff Blog - Part 4

American Patchwork & Quilting

67 posts.

Quilt Along With Us!

What I love most about taking a quilting class is that in addition to what I learn from the instructor, I also always take away something I learn from other participants in the class. There are so many great ideas for ways to make quilting more fun, more precise, more enjoyable, more distinctive…more amazing. The downside is I don’t always have time to take all the classes I want. That’s why I’m thrilled about this first-ever quilt along with American Patchwork & Quilting magazine. It will be like taking a class with nine top instructors, AND I can quilt along in my pajamas from the comfort of my own sewing room.


Join these designers, below, and follow their progress as they Quilt Along on Tone It Down.

Between November 19 and February 5, they’ll each be sharing their version—along with the tips, tools, and tricks they used in making their quilts. You may wish to join in the fun by making Tone It Down just like the original quilt, or you may find a colorway you prefer from one of the other designers. The choice is yours. The quilt pattern can be found in the February 2014 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine, available beginning December 3rd.



If you’re a subscriber, your copy should arrive soon. If you’re not a subscriber, look for the issue at quilt shops or on newsstands, or download the digital edition at The rules are simple—there are none! Make your quilt the way you like it in the size and color palette you love!



First up, let’s talk about low-volume. That’s what the original quilt started out as an exercise in for designer Lissa Alexander. An antique quilt inspired her design. “I don’t ordinarily piece with a variety of small to medium light-tone background prints,” Lissa says. “That’s just not what I have in my stash. For this quilt, working with those prints became the challenge. I tried to keep the contrast to a minimum. I do know I turned the volume up when I started mixing in reds, oranges, and dark blues. Much like a favorite song on the radio, I just couldn’t help myself. I had to turn it up a bit!”


Much like asking a group of listeners what constitutes low volume when referring to a television’s sound, asking quilters for a definition of low-volume quilts can elicit varied responses. But here are a few similarities most low-volume quilts share:

  • They generally are pieced from a scrappy mix of prints that all have light or white backgrounds. These low-contrast fabrics can appear almost solid from a distance, but up close you can see the texture and diversity of the fabrics.
  • The finished quilt often has a delicate appearance with a soft cottage or even faded look.
  • Once pieced, the quilt pattern takes a backseat to the myriad incorporated fabric patterns.




When I began selecting fabrics for my version, I wanted to stay true to Lissa’s idea of challenging myself with a fabric palette I might not otherwise work with. What did I choose? Taupes.

 Ordinarily, I’m a high-contrast quilter who uses a scrappy assortment of colors in my quilts. But for this project, I was inspired by the beautiful palette used by many Japanese quiltmakers. So I pulled some Japanese Daiwabo fabrics out of my stash and then added some other taupes (from Maywood and EESchenck) I had stashed away long ago. What I love about these fabrics is that it’s not only about color, it’s about texture. Look at the great textures in these prints.



Then, because I’m not really a purist at heart, I threw in some brushed cottons that I felt would round out the palette.


This was a bundle of Whimsicals fabric by designer Terri Degenkolb. Again, it’s an older line I had in my stash, but I thought some of the colors would work and I like the idea of using a variety of textures too.


As an experiment, I thought I’d try to work with only the stash fabrics and not add anything else. Since most of what I had in this palette was fat eighths or fat quarters—it adds to the challenge (thrill?!?) when it comes to cutting out the required number of pieces for each block. But, I love a challenge…. Next week, I’ll share how I added and removed fabrics from the mix.


Jennifer Keltner,

Executive Editor


P. S. If you decide to join in—don’t forget to share! We’re so excited to see what everyone’s making as they quilt along! We created a hashtag you can use on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Simply hashtag any uploaded photos to your own social media sites with #APQquiltalong. That will make it easy for all of us to see what everyone is working on! I’ll be back to share my progress with you soon.



Now, check out these other Quilt Along participant’s blogs:

  •  Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side, Amy’s planning to make a guy-worthy quilt, with a scrappy mix of blue, green, and gray fabrics.
  • Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs, A rich, vintage look in hues of beige, purple, and rusty brown is what Anne is seeking.
  • Camille Roskelley of Thimble Blossoms, A scrappy, cheerful assortment of Bonnie and Camille prints ups the contrast.
  • Carrie Nelson of Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co., Carrie adds a French twist, working in a scrappy three-color palette of French General fabrics.
  • Jane Davidson of Quilt Jane, Jane’s version is all about text-ure—text prints mixed with solid-color wovens.
  • Kimberly Jolly of Fat Quarter Shop, The big blocks pop when separated by colorful sashing on Kimberly’s quilt.
  • Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings, Lisa turns up the volume with black backgrounds and cream and tan print patchwork.
  • Lissa Alexander, Lissa shares her experience and tips about the process of making the featured version of Tone It Down.
  • Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life, A fan of primary colors and American Jane prints? Sherri’s version might be just what inspires you!



Blogs We <3 This Month

Once a month, we highlight blogs our staff is reading right now!


This month, we’re showcasing an amazing group of women who are starting their own division with RJR Fabrics. Called Cotton+Steel, the new company of designers includes Melody Miller, Rashida Coleman-Hale, Alexia Abegg, Kim Kight, and Sarah Watts. Each have their own style and bring a different design process to the table. Watch a video of their story and meet all the designers here. They’re set to introduce their first fabric collections in Spring.


Melody Miller


Not updated too regularly anymore (hey, she was busy starting Cotton+Steel!), it’s still fun to go through her past posts! Melody has such a unique design style and cute photography. The fabric designer and author of Rudy Star Wrapping blogs about her products, what she’s working on, and some behind-the-scenes info.

Read her blog here. 



Rashida Coleman-Hale


Rashida, from the blog i heart linen, has a great mix of posts–everything from tutorials and patterns to what products and fabrics she’s loving now. If you’ve ever seen her fabric line with Cloud 9 Fabrics, you’ll know that she’s deeply influenced by her time spent in Japan growing up. We can’t wait to see what she’ll do next!

Read her blog here.



Alexia Abegg



Alexia comes from an art and fashion background. She’s runs a sewing school and also a pattern company called Green Bee Designs and Patterns. You can find patterns for fashion items, such as clothes and bags, as well as quilts on this blog. Look for free tutorials (like the one pictured above!) and little peeks at her classes, fabrics, and sewing events she’s going to.

Read her blog here.


Kim Kight



Kim is a self-labeled fabric collector with a particular interest in midcentury prints. Her blog True Up showcases different fabric lines from around the world and tells about the design and a little of the history. She also has a great bank of designer and store interviews. She takes a different look at the fabric industry and makes for a refreshing read!

Read her blog here.



Sarah Watts


Sarah is a book illustrator, fabric designer, and licensing artist. Her work ranges from whimsical designs to dark scenes, but all with a beautiful hand drawn look. Her blog showcases sketches, designs she’s working on, and stories of her travels.

Read her blog here.


Blogs We <3 This Month

Once a month, we highlight blogs our staff is reading right now!


Diary of a Quilter


Amy Smart, the blogger behind Diary of a Quilter, is the lady you’d like to quilt with! She has an eye for design and color, is a helpful teacher, and is just plain fun! Her blog showcases tons of free patterns (like the cute pumpkin table runner above), tutorials for beginners on topics ranging from rotary cutting to binding, and beautiful images of what she’s working on now! If you visit often enough, you’ll even notice some fun giveaways!

Read her blog here. 



Betz White


Betz White sees beauty in everything! The author of Sewing Green uses everything from old sweaters to organic cotton (she has her own collection with Robert Kaufman Fabrics) to make whimsical and happy projects. Her blog is filled with a mix of free and for-purchase patterns, sneak peeks into her design process, and tool reviews. She also does the cutest crafts with felt (see the ornament above)! We’re in love with felt for the holiday season and love seeing what warm and cozy decorations she’s making next.

Read her blog here.



Lindsay Sews

We’ve been huge fans of Lindsay  Conner since she did this awesome fabric bookmark tutorial for our sewing blog How To Sew (see it here). She’s an all-around crafty gal and even runs a blog for people with their own handmade businesses. Her quilts are modern and bright. Her new book Modern Bee: 13 Quilts to Make with Friends is a great intro to modern quilting and a fun idea to try with quilting buddies! Her blog is filled with amazing tutorials, sneak peeks into sewing events, and, we’re hoping in the near future, pictures of her on-the-way baby!

Read her blog here.

Blogs We <3 This Month

Once a month, we highlight blogs our staff is reading right now!


Victoria Findlay Wolfe Quilts

Victoria Findlay Wolfe of Bumble Beans Inc. is am amazing quilt designer that has been featured in our magazines multiple times. She’s also an author and teacher, traveling the country to teach workshops. With an art background, her quilts are fresh, modern, and playful. Her blog (which she updates almost every day) is full of great tutorials, photos of her current projects, and pictures of her really cute dogs! Victoria has such an eye for color and design. Just looking at her quilts and they way she plans blocks is sure to be inspiring and thought-provoking!

Read her blog here.



Quilting is My Therapy


This blog belongs to machine-quilting rockstar Angela Walters. For anyone who loves to drool over beautiful and intricate quilting designs, this blog is for you! Not only does Angela share photos of the quilts she’s quilted, but she also gives great tips and techniques for anyone looking to improve their own quilting. Plus, she has an amazing new fabric line with Art Gallery Fabrics that she’s using in new projects. Angela makes quilting seem easy, but also completely attainable for all those that want to take their quilts to the next level!

Read her blog here. 



Stitched in Color



There’s one word that describes what Rachel Hauser’s Stitched In Color blog makes us feel: happy. Rachel has only been sewing for four years, but you can tell the passion and talent she has for quilting! The fabrics she uses are bright and colorful, and her designs range from classic blocks to improvisational piecing. Her blog has something for everyone! She features free tutorials for projects, sells her great patterns, and even hosts quilt-alongs and giveaways. And best of all, she’s using her talents to help others. Many of her quilts, like the one pictured above, are donated to charities.

Read her blog here.

Trend Talk: Hexagons

Every month, we highlight a trend in quilting and show you how you can add this hip style to your projects!


We LOVE hexagons! And if you’ve seen our Fall issue of Quilts and More, you’ll know that they’re a very versatile shape. (Buy the latest issue here.) Stumped at how to use this shape in your quilts? We chose some of our favorite products and patterns that will make it a snap to add this six-sided shape to your quilting.



Four hexagon books for your must-read list:

Three acrylic templates you need to own:



And now that you have all the tools, browse our collection of free quilt patterns that feature hexagons! See them here.