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Welcome to My Stars Quilts

We at Kansas City Star Quilts are pleased to announce our newest book-publishing imprint, My Stars. We’ll be bringing you beautiful and inspiring modern quilting books by top authors, with top-notch photography and compelling designs.

Our first book under the new imprint is a compilation effort that will come out in September. We’re leading up to the publication of this book by running Q&As with the authors every week on this site.

From here you can visit our bookstore, go to our other blog site and learn how you can submit a book proposal (buttons on the top menu).  Also, read some fun blog posts and get to know our authors. Enjoy!

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Showcase revisited

More than 80 quilts were on display at the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild’s Showcase at The Star earlier this month.

If you weren’t able to be come to Kansas City for the exhibit — or even if you were — you’re in luck. Photographer Tammie Ljungblad of The Kansas City Star was there to capture the great variety and imagination that was on display. Click here to see her beautiful photos of the exhibit.


Shopping on Instagram

By Tammie Schaffer

Tammie Schaffer

Tammie Schaffer

A trend has emerged in the last few months. People are using Instagram not only as a place to share snapshots of daily life but as a place to shop for their stash.

Just search Instagram for the hashtag #thegreatfabricdestash, and you’ll find more than 23,000 posts of fabrics looking for a new owner. It’s become a daily addiction for some, me included. The photos in this post are of fabric that I’ve bought in the last few weeks from several Instagram sellers.

It’s fun to browse the Instagram posts, looking for that perfect fabric or a super steal. Hard-to-find out-of-print designer lines also are offered up daily, sometimes for a pretty penny.

Instagram is a free app that allows you to take a photo and then share it on multiple platforms instantly. You can post a picture to your Facebook, Twitter and Flickr feeds all at one time. If you’re not on Instagram but don’t want to miss out on the fun, use a site such as Followgram to view the posts.instagram1(1)

Erin Singleton, co-founder of Sewing Summit and creator of this successful Instagram event, is amazed at how her idea has grown.

“I got the idea for the Great Fabric Destash after seeing others destash their fabrics and wanting to do a little destash of my own,” Erin said.

In January, she made an image for the event and shared it on her Instagram and her blog, Two More Seconds. Erin hoped that if everyone held a destash at the same time, it could create some buzz. It worked, and with 23,245 posts and growing, the Great Fabric Destash shows no signs of stopping.

“I think I’m going to pick another date in the next few months to do another group destash one night, since the first one went so well,” Erin said. “But in the meantime, people are more than welcome to keep posting and selling their fabrics.”instagram2

When you’ve found a fabric you’d like to purchase, claim it by leaving your PayPal address, as well as any other information the seller requests, such as your ZIP code. If you are the first one to post, you have bought the fabric. The seller will send you an invoice, usually through PayPal. It’s polite to pay within 24 hours of receiving the bill.

If you’ve been searching for a certain designer or print, you might find it there. Try posting an ISO (in search of) photo of what you are looking for, and someone out there might have some they’d part with.

instagram5Have some fabric you’d like to sell? While there are no hard rules about using the hashtag, there are some common guidelines:

•    Take a clear photo of what you want to sell. Explain precisely what you’re offering and the price. Be sure to state whether the fabric has been prewashed. And don’t forget to tag it with #thegreatfabricdestash.

•    Offer exact measurements, unless you’re selling scraps. Then it’s acceptable to sell it by weight (say, $1 an ounce).

•    Include where you are willing to ship to and how much you charge for shipping. A popular method is mailing U.S. Postal Service flat rate, which includes a tracking number and insurance. Because so many sellers offered only U.S. shipping, new hashtags popped up – such as #thegreatcanadiandestash and #greatukdestash.

•    Consider using PayPal to send invoices and receive payments, which is what most sellers do.

•    Delete the photo to remove it from the feed once the item has sold.

instagram3Pricing can be tricky. Are you just trying to make some room in your studio? You might price your destash lower to help it sell. Or if you have some really special pieces, hold a mini-auction, allowing people to bid top dollar for those rare gems. Just don’t forget to cover your shipping and packaging costs.

Some Instagrammers have even set up a second account strictly for destash fabrics – sparing your other followers a flood of fabric photos. Etsy shops and other sellers are using this platform more and more to drive traffic to their shops and give folks a little taste of what’s new that day. While this is not what the hashtag was initially intended for, it’s becoming a popular idea.

instagram4Whether you’re browsing, buying or selling, Instagram is another option to get your fabric fix.

Tammie Schaffer is a freelance writer who lives in Richmond, Kan. She writes every Friday. Visit her at Crafty Tammie.

Facebook 7,500 likes giveaway!


When we reach 7,500 “likes” on the My Stars Facebook page, we’ll give away FOUR sets of four modern quilting books to celebrate !

But we need your help. Here’s what you need to do:

1.    Hit “like” on the My Stars Facebook page.
2.    Hit “share” to tell your friends about this great giveaway.
3.    Leave a comment on this site to be entered into our giveaway. (You can comment on Facebook, too, but it is the comments on this site that enter you in the giveaway.)

When we reach 7,500 likes, we will choose four winners at random. The sooner we reach 7,500 likes, the soon we choose the winners, so be sure to hit “like” and “share” on Facebook! And leave a comment on this site to be entered in the giveaway.

We will contact the winners by email. One entry per person, please. Good luck!

The four books:

AtN-front-coverAccentuate the Negative: Making the Most of Negative Space in Modern Quilts, by Trisch Price
Join Trisch as she explores six aspects of negative space design: gradation, reversal, interruption, negative form, ghosting and piecing. Each category features three original quilt designs. Trisch takes you through her thought process and guides you to accentuate the negative in your next quilt.




Classic Modern Quilts: 10 Quilts Inspired by Historical Kansas City Star BlocksClassic Modern Quilts cover
With a foreword by Mary Fons

We gave 10 top modern designers this challenge: Create a modern quilt inspired by a historical Kansas City Star block. The results are 10 beautiful quilts that range from mostly traditional to very modern. Each is a true representation of its maker.
There’s a project for every skill level, from easy to intermediate. As a bonus, the designers offer their thoughts on what modern quilting is so you can see how they progressed from the traditional block to the modern quilt.

Quilt RetroQuilt Retro: 11 Designs to Make Your Own, by Jenifer Dick
These contemporary, often quirky designs evoke nostalgia, ’70s vintage fabrics and graphics as well as organic designs. They’re easy to make with today’s popular solids and big prints. Complete instructions are included, along with inspiration so you can put your own spin on each design. Jenifer also offers her tips for invisible machine appliqué. $23.95



Quilting a Poem, by Francis Kite and Debra Rowdenquiltingapoem200

We introduce 16 new blocks created by award-winning designers Francis Kite and Deb Rowden. Travel the literary road as we visit favorite poems by classic American poets, including Emily Dickinson and Langston Hughes, then enjoy the creativity of Francis and Deb as they translate the verse into a beautiful quilt block.



Remember, the sooner we reach 7,500 likes, the soon we choose the FOUR winners, so be sure to hit “like” and “share” on Facebook! And leave a comment on this post to be entered in the giveaway!

KC exhibit showcases modern quilts – quilt books on sale, too!

If you’re in Kansas City this weekend and in the mood to see modern quilts, you’re in luck.kcmqg logo

Come downtown to see more than 80 quilts on display at the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild’s Showcase at The Star.

The free exhibit runs from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 4, and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at The Kansas City Star Press Pavilion, 16th and McGee streets. The exhibit is part of First Friday, a monthly art walk in the Crossroads Arts District, an area packed with galleries, studios, boutiques, restaurants, shops and other creative businesses.

On-street parking is available, and a limited number of parking spaces will be reserved for attendees in the Kansas City Star parking lot across the street.

Kansas City Star Quilts books also will be on sale at the exhibit. There will be more than 30 titles, including 10 titles at $5 each!

Hope to see you there!

Vintage quilts, Take 2

By Lisa Calle

Lisa Calle

Lisa Calle

A few weeks ago, I wrote about collecting vintage quilts, a topic near and dear to my heart.  I covered a lot of the basics, such as determining age, value and era.

Deciding which vintage finds are true treasures worthy of your home – and money – is something only you can decide, but my criteria should help you.vintage-quilts-part2-1

vintage-quilts-part2-2The color palette usually is the first thing that catches my eye. I like unusual combinations and bold mixing of patterns and colors. Old cotton quilts are very likely to be faded, and some old inks fade more than others.

Short of fabric paint or hand-applied dye, there is no way to add color back to a fabric, so decide whether the faded look is something you can live with. If not, consider synthetic quilts of the ’60s and ’70s, which retain their color thanks to the bulletproof nature of polyester.

My current obsession as far as color palettes is anything where yellow dominates. It must be spring!

vintage-quilts-part2-3Condition is one of the areas where I’m least likely to compromise. Well-made and completely intact finished vintage quilts often are out of my budget, so I typically look for more affordable unfinished tops. I look at it as an opportunity to make the quilt my own by choosing the backing, quilting design and binding.

Ask yourself how much time and money you are willing to invest in the vintage quilt before you buy it. It’s rare that an old quilt is truly beyond saving, so don’t dismiss one with a few tears or stains. Can the tears be easily repaired? Are the stains organic (more likely to come out), or are they bleach or ink stains (permanent)?

Kansas City Star Quilts author and editor Donna di Natale recently wrote an article on Kansas City Star Quilts, one of our sister blogs, filled with clever ideas for using some of those quilts that are beyond repair.

Cutter quilts almost never come home with me, but I do make an exception for seasonal items. The single bit of a cutter quilt that I’ve purchased will one day be made into a Christmas pillow or wall hanging.

vintage-quilts-part2-4Cleanliness – a temporary state – is a point to consider. I would often prefer to buy a “dirty” quilt instead of one that has been harshly cleaned. Strong detergent scents are a red flag for mistreatment, but not necessarily a reason not to buy. Just take a bit more time reviewing every inch of the quilt to see if running through the not-so-gentle cycle has caused lasting damage


As a pattern designer, I always am on the hunt for unique quilt blocks. Design plays a part in determining the value of a vintage quilt, and some of the unique items often have a high price tag.

Speaking of price, how much is too much? That depends on your budget, but I can tell you where to go to find some bargains. As much fun as it is to see the beautiful vintage quilts in the booths at big quilt shows and festivals, those lovelies are going to come with a high price tag. It’s a good place to find information about quilts and to see fine workmanship up close, but the budget-conscious might have to stick to flea markets, antique malls and garage sales.

vintage-quilts-part2-6As a lover of all things vintage, I’ve had to set some ground rules for my shopping trips that help me stay on task and on budget.

Before you head out the door:

  • Make a shopping list. You don’t have to find everything on the list in one trip, but this list is key for me to stay on task and avoid bringing fun finds that I have little use for.
  • Set a budget. Bring cash in that amount if you are prone to overspending.
  • Think about the color palette of your home, and decide on colors of interest and colors to avoid.
  • Take measurements, and write down the dimensions, especially if you are looking for a quilt to hang in a particular spot or to cover the guest bed.

Finally, before you part with the cash, ask yourself some questions. Where will I put this? How will I use it? Do I have the time and the desire to make necessary repairs or changes? If you can’t answer all three of those questions, put your find down and move on. There are plenty of vintage quilts in the proverbial sea.

Lisa Calle is a freelance writer who lives in Dallas. She writes every Monday. Visit her at Vintage Modern Quilts.


Baby quilts: New takes on an old favorite

By Lisa Calle

Lisa Calle

Lisa Calle

Given that quilters tend to be such generous and giving types, a baby quilt is something that most of us make at some point.

It’s easy to find patterns on the Web and whip one up over the weekend. Long before I had my own little ones, I made lots of baby quilts. The small size makes it perfect for playing with a color palette or experimenting with a new block design or technique.

The standard crib quilt  is 36 x 54 inches, but there’s no reason to feel confined to such strict dimensions. American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines say not to use blankets in the crib, so quilts for babies are just decorative. Why not make a slightly larger — and therefore longer-lasting and more useful — size? I’m partial to a square design anywhere from 54 to 65 inches, which grows nicely to toddler size and can even be used as a lap quilt for adults.

Image courtesy Anna Brownell, https://www.etsy.com/shop/elliehansenhome

Image courtesy Anna Brownell, https://www.etsy.com/shop/elliehansenhome

While “I Spy” patterns and panels can make for some cute baby quilts, think beyond traditional baby fabrics and try something more cutting edge. Science tells us that babies are attracted to contrast and simple geometric design, and I can tell you from my own experience that this is very true. My son loved the black and white backing on his first quilt rather than the painstakingly pieced blocks on the front.

Simple white backgrounds with one-color blocks such as triangles and crosses and modern classics such as herringbone and chevron are perfect patterns to start with. The simplicity of these designs also make them relatively timeless. (I recently shared my love of two-color quilts on this blog.)

Image courtesy LeAnne Ballard, http://www.everydaycelebrate.blogspot.com

Image courtesy LeAnne Ballard, http://www.everydaycelebrate.blogspot.com

Image courtesy  Meredith Daniel, http://oliviajanehandcrafted.com/blog

Image courtesy Meredith Daniel, http://oliviajanehandcrafted.com/blog

If you’re looking for a more personalized design, why not make a simple monogram? All you need is your favorite font and some lightweight interfacing. A tutorial by Vanessa Christenson explains a simple technique to create letters from fabric.  Instead of a monogram, she’s created a funny quilt that all new mothers will appreciate.

Image courtesy Vanessa Christenson, www.vanessachristenson.com

Image courtesy Vanessa Christenson, http://www.vanessachristenson.com

Another modern trend that translates beautifully to baby quilts is ombre. While lacking the bold contrast of a graphic design, the monotone palette is soothing and will easily transition out of the nursery into a big kid room.

Image courtesy Amber Lee Garrison, http://www.lifeincolorphoto.com

Image courtesy Amber Lee Garrison, http://www.lifeincolorphoto.com

Even if there are no baby gifts on your horizon, small quilts are always in demand for charitable giving. As school auction items or donations to wonderful organizations such Project Linus, these small quilts are a fun way to give back.

Lisa Calle is a freelance writer who lives in Dallas. She writes every Monday. Visit her at Vintage Modern Quilts.

Creative resources for quilters

By Lisa Calle

Lisa Calle

Lisa Calle

There is no doubt that technology is having an impact on the art of quilting, including inspiring design such as pixelated quilts and putting hundreds of quilt block designs at your fingertips. If you can imagine it, chances are someone has created it.

Web sites let you take quilting classes in the comfort of your home – and at your own pace – and create color palettes. There are quilting calculator apps and apps that keep an inventory of your fabric stash. You also can stream video or listen to audiobooks while you’re sewing.

Online resources
There are many sites with large collections of quilt block designs. These are just a couple of my favorites. Quilter’s Cache by Marcia Hohn has more than 1,500 blocks with detailed instructions, renderings of completed quilts, variations and even user versions. Many of the designs are traditional quilt blocks, but there are lots of original blocks, as well.

Screen shot of the Quilter’s Cache Web site

Screen shot of the Quilter’s Cache Web site

McCall’s free quilt block reference library  has several hundred block patterns, with a nice variety of traditional and applique designs. Blocks are broken down by experience level, which is nice if you are a new quilter.

Fabric manufacturers are a wonderful resource for free patterns and other fun content, such as wallpaper and cutting reference sheets. Use Google to find the Web site of your favorite fabric company for free patterns, and be sure to look for links to its blog. These blogs provide a lot of useful information about new fabric lines, the latest in tools and notions, and sewing projects by popular bloggers and designers.

Do you have a favorite quilting magazine? Odds are it also has a Web site with free patterns. Magazine sites are also a useful source for finding past issues and downloading digital versions of the latest issue. A few magazine sites to check out: McCall’s Quilting and American Patchwork & Quilting.

I have to admit that I resisted online quilting classes for a long time. I thought I would never enjoy them as much as taking classes in a quilt shop. While they can’t truly recreate the atmosphere of a classroom, with all of the interaction, they come pretty close. One of the best parts is that the content is typically always there. Once you pay for the class, you can watch the material as often as needed.

The number of sites offering quality classes seems to be growing every day, but the big ones are Craftsy and Creativebug. Both offer classes from some of the biggest names in quilting. The main difference between them is payment – Craftsy classes are buy-as-you-go, while Creativebug offers a monthly subscription.

YouTube is a free resource for quilting lessons. The quality of the video and the instruction varies, but you can find videos on almost any topic. I turn to YouTube often for things such as instructions on cleaning my machine or tips on using a new presser foot.

quilters-resources-03Creating color palettes and choosing corresponding fabrics is one of my favorite parts of the quilting process. I typically start with an object or a photo to come up with a color scheme, and there are some amazing free sites that can help you with the process.  My favorite is DeGraeve  for simplicity and ease of use. Just enter the URL of the photo you’d like to use as your inspiration, and it will generate a color scheme.

Color palette created from a photo

Color palette created from a photo

Apps for smartphones
If you don’t have a smartphone, some of these apps just might convince you that it’s time to upgrade. I first downloaded a quilting app three or four years ago, and I was amazed at how many are now available in the app store. The ones I’ve listed below are ones that I’ve used. Prices range from free to $3.99, and you can read user reviews as well as preview the app before you make a purchase. I highly recommend reading what other users have to say, because apps are updated by the developers frequently.

Quick & Easy Quilt Block Tool includes more than 100 quilt blocks with cutting diagrams and patch sizes for multiple sizes of each block. This is a convenient reference if you are on retreat or somewhere when you don’t have access to quilting books, but for my purposes, this app rarely gets used.

Screencap via iTunes store

Screen shot on iTunes store

Quilting Calc is published by Robert Kaufman Fabrics and is the app version of the very popular calculators from Quilter’s Paradise . This free app will help you with backing and batting, borders and binding and much more. I use this calculator every time I make a quilt for the backing and binding, and I really appreciate how it allows you to customize binding width and cutting bias or on the grain.


Fabric Stash is just what it sounds like: an app designed to help you keep an inventory of your fabric stash. The idea sounds good in theory, but entering the information is a lot of work to begin with and keeping up with new purchases just didn’t work for me. But if you quilt for others or like to keep track of expenses for a project, this app would be useful for you.quilters-resources-07

Entertainment options
One of the obvious uses of technology that most of us probably take for granted is streaming video at our fingertips while sewing. Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu can  keep you entertained while you sew. I also like listening to audiobooks on my phone while I’m sewing.  Audible has monthly subscriptions and a huge selection of titles.

The biggest advantage of audiobooks over streaming content (or just a regular TV) is that I can listen while I sew, stand up to cut or press, and I never take my eyes off the task at hand. But be sure to tuck that headphone cord safely away while you use the rotary cutter.

Tell us: Are you using technology in your quilting studio?

Lisa Calle is a freelance writer who lives in Dallas. She writes every Monday. Visit her at Vintage Modern Quilts.