There is so much information available in cyberspace for the quilter, but where do you find it? And how do you find the really good stuff? For every really good site, there are a few dozen crappy ones. The kind that are overloaded with advertising, have only one or two actual projects, or have poor instructions. I’ve accumulated a list of links to sites with useful information. I hope this list can help beginners get started and will give some good tools to the more experienced quilters.
Quilter’s Cache is the best block site available, bar none. Marcia Hohn has provided over 1500 blocks with detailed, illustrated instructions. She includes an illustration of what a finished quilt might look like, and the instructions are broken down into printable pages. There’s always at least one photo of a finished block, and sometimes even finished projects. Some of the blocks are traditional, while others are original designs.
McCall’s Free Quilt Block Reference Library
Several hundred block patterns, clearly presented. It has a nice combination of traditional block that you may recognize and variations that are little less familiar. There are a few appliqué patterns as well. The blocks are clearly labeled with their name, size, and experience level. More are added every month, but it’s listed alphabetically so you never know what’s new.
Early Women Masters – Antique Geometric Quilt Designs
I just happened upon this site – it includes over 300 beautifully illustrated blocks. There aren’t any instructions, but if you’re looking for inspiration and are good at breaking down the pieces to create your own patterns, this is a great place to start.
The best place to go for full pattern instructions is to the fabric companies’ websites. It makes sense – they want you to buy their fabric, so they hire a professional to design a beautiful quilt using their fabrics. They give away the pattern, and you buy the fabric. The great thing about these patterns is that there is no advertising. The only thing they want to sell is their fabric. Some of these are PDF files, so you’ll need the current Adobe Reader. If you don’t have it, you can download it at the Adobe site. Other patterns are in HTML (regular web pages) or even Word documents. The PDF’s are great because you can save them to your computer, and look at them whenever you want. I have a folder set up for my patterns, so they’re all in one place.
Andover Fabrics – Slow loading, but a decent selection of quilt patterns.
Art Gallery Fabrics
Benartex – click “View More Quilts” then click on “Pattern and Instructions”
Dear Stella Design
Free Spirit Fabrics – Part of the Coats brand, so the site is a bit tricky. Just a few projects.
Henry Glass Fabrics
In the Beginning Fabrics
Kona Bay Fabrics
Maywood Studio – click Quilts & Projects at the top of the screen, then click Free Patterns
Michael Miller Fabrics
Northcott Fabrics – Current free patterns
Northcott Fabrics – archived free patterns
Red Rooster Fabrics – Click either Current Patterns or Retired Patterns at the left. Patterns with an asterisk are for sale.
Robert Kaufman Fabrics – lots of projects!
South Sea Imports
Studio E Fabrics – click either Current or Archive
Westminster Fabrics – just a few free patterns underneath each of the new product lines
Fons & Porter Sew Easy Lessons
Fons & Porter Free Designs
Requires subscription, but you can choose a free option. The first link is for techniques rather than complete projects. It includes everything from half square triangles to binding to paper piecing. The second link includes some projects, including a few knitting projects, as well as size charts for quilt projects that were in the magazine (NOT the entire instructions).
Quilts With Style
Requires subscription, but you can choose a free option. Small selection of projects.
Quilter’s Home – This is a newer magazine, with a fresh, young style. Preview pictures are very, very small and many “projects” are just templates or foundations, not full patterns.
This site has a fantastic collection of quilting info, including blocks, full patterns, techniques, lessons, and best of all, they’ve updated their pages so they are MUCH easier to navigate.
This site focuses primarily on string quilts, and is an excellent resource for a beginning quilter or for someone looking for fast, fun quilts. Check the left column for projects. She provides beautiful photos of the projects, as well as PDFs that you can save on your computer.
The Quilter Community
This site bills itself as an online magazine, and it has a nice selection of both blocks and full projects.
Connecting Threads free patterns
See more info on Connecting Threads below in the Shopping section. This page includes both quilting and crafting patterns.
Fat Quarter Shop Free Patterns
See more info on the Fat Quarter Shop below in the Shopping section.
Debbie Mumm Projects
This link takes you to the current projects page, but be sure to click on the Project Archives link at the bottom. This site isn’t just about quilting – she has all sorts of creative projects, including scrapbooking, home decor, and other crafts. The Archives page doesn’t have photos, so you have to click into them to see the project. However, the are well organized and the titles are fairly descriptive.
There are literally hundreds of online shops out there. These are just a few of my favorites, focusing mostly on larger companies:
Hancock’s of Paducah
This is the biggie – the site I check first when I’m looking for new lines, specific fabrics, or great bargains. They also send out catalogs that are fun to flip through for inspiration. They have a huge selection of quilting fabric in every style imaginable, as well as home dec fabric, notions, books, patterns, batting, you name it. You have several options for navigating the site – they have links for new fabrics, shopping by brand or searching by name, or my favorite – by theme. Are you looking for sale fabrics? Check their Closeouts links. Want cat fabric? There’s a link. Quilt backing, jelly rolls, charm packs, reproduction, conversational, children’s, food, modern? There are links to everything. I’ve purchased a lot of fabric here, and their prices are comparable to quilt shops – even better if you keep up with their closeout selections, which go as low as $3 per yard! They cut generously – usually a half yard (18″) is closer to 20″ or more. Their shipping is reasonable and generally very fast.
Connecting Threads is one of my favorite quilting book resources. They sell books, patterns, tools, notions, and their own line of threads and fabrics, including kits. Also with a mail order catalog, their site is a joy to use. Everything is clearly marked and easy to navigate. My favorite feature, though, is the “View More Images” button at the bottom of nearly every book. No more buying a book because you love the cover quilt, only to find that it’s the only project you like in the entire book! Here you can see as many as ten different projects from the book, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Another mail order catalog, Keepsake Quilting has a great variety of fabric collections, books, patterns, supplies and even some fun collectibles. Their site has a variety of navigation options – want to see everything suitable for appliqué? Click on the Techniques link. Looking for a block of the month project? There’s a link. Keepsake Quilting will do the fabric selection work for you. They sell a lot of fabric medleys – collections of several fabrics, either in the same line or coordinating colors, that are sold as a group. They also offer unique die cut pieces, so you can buy a set of pre-cut leaves, hearts, octagons, butterflies, diamonds, triangles, stars, Christmas shapes, tumblers, circles, teddy bears, scottie dogs, and even dinosaurs! Because they cut their own, their charm pack and strip selections are fantastic. You aren’t limited to a single line, but can choose by color or theme. Neither are you limited to 5″ squares, as they offer 2″, 4″, 6″ and 10″ collections.
Fat Quarter Shop
Don’t the the name fool you, the Fat Quarter Shop isn’t limited to fat quarters. They offer charm packs, jelly rolls, layer cakes (10″ charm packs) (and hmmm, I’m getting hungry!), books, patterns, kits and yardage. Navigation is a breeze, and it’s a fun site to explore.
Fabric.com – All types of fabric, not just quilting, with some fantastic sales. Great shopping experience.
Fabric Depot – Also with many different types of fabric. Everything you can think of.
Choosing fabrics is one of the biggest stumbling blocks quilters face. Some people love it, but a surprising large number of quilters are uncertain about color. If you want to play it safe, choose fabrics from a single line, with an extra fabric or two thrown in for sparkle. For those who’d like to experiment with their color palette, try some of the tools below.
Color Schemer is a color matching application that you can purchase. However, people can upload their color schemes into the gallery, and viewing the gallery is free! You can browse the schemes, look at the most popular, and even search for keywords.
Color Wizard is a tool that will help you with those “fancy” color theory ideas like monochromatic, analogous, triadic, complementary, split complementary… Just drag the sliders (Red, Green & Blue) until you find a color you like, or click Randomize until something pops up that you can work with. You can click on any color you see to choose that color as your base. Then click the tabs for monochromatic, analogous, etc. color schemes.
Color Scheme Generator 2 is easier to use when defining the starting color, and it’s been updated so it’s much easier to adjust the colors, intensity and contrast. The biggest negative is that it’s a Flash site and you can’t click your back arrow to undo something. Click on the starting color in the ring, click on Mono, Contrast, Triad, etc. above the ring to choose your scheme, then click the “Adjust Scheme” tab below the ring to choose a different tint or shade and adjust the contrast.
Kuler has two functions – the main page allows you to create color schemes by choosing a starting color then clicking one of the categories – analogous, complementary, etc. You can also play with a custom combo where you move the points around on your own. It is very intuitive to use. Then click on the Explore link at the top left to find a collection of pre-selected color schemes, created by users. The schemes are limited to only five colors, and the schemes are not necessarily created by professionals, but it can trigger ideas.
Idee Multicolr Search Lab works with Flickr to show you photos that include colors you choose. Not really a color scheme generator, it’s still a great way to see how colors look together “in real life.” Add more colors by clicking on the color boxes, and your photos will change. (Thanks Kris!)
How value works in a quilt is important. Today’s quilts seem to be less about value and more about throwing everything in, but I still think understanding value is a “valuable” skill. (Hah!) If you really aren’t sure you have a handle on value as it relates to hues, check out this post by amy a la mode. It’s one of the best explanations I’ve seen lately, with a whole bunch of photos to illustrate her point.
Learning to Quilt
I’ll add to this section as I come across websites that present the information clearly, accurately, and without a ton of advertising.
McCall’s Lessons – McCall’s has a great collection of lessons for the beginner.
crazy mom quilts binding tutorial – Amandajean is a goddess. She makes beautiful, simple quilts, often completing a quilt in a week, and she has some of the best, most clear tutorials available. Her binding tutorial is a definite keeper. I’m sad to report that she is no longer blogging, but she has kindly left her blog out there as a resource.
Applying continuous binding – This is a fantastic tutorial in a single sheet format. The illustrations are clear and the writing is complete but concise.
Isn’t the Internet fantastic?! You can actually watch videos about quilting right here on your computer. Here are some of my favorite sites:
Simply Quilts – For years, Alex Anderson had a show on HGTV called Simply Quilts. Although the show is no longer airing on television, you can view the episodes at the HGTV website. Use the search function if you’re looking for something specific, or just browse through the segments. Each video is less than 10 minutes, and the episodes are broken up into segments. You can find print versions of most of the projects – look under the video and you’ll see a link to “Get Free Step-by-Steps.” UPDATE: It looks like most of these videos have disappeared. There are just a few left.
The Quilt Show – Alex Anderson joined with Ricky Tims to create this website that includes videos. This site does require a subscription, but you can view a couple of free episodes to decide if it’s for you. Both Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims are highly respected quilters, and the videos are very well made.
Quilt As Desired
Do you hate this phrase, or do you consider it an invitation? Whichever applies to you, these links may help you finish that quilt.
Patsy Thompson Designs, Ltd. – Free motion quilting motifs for you to download in PDF format – free, of course!
365 Days of Free Motion Quilting Filler Designs – Doesn’t the name just make you a little giddy? Leah Day is blogging every day with a new free motion design. Not just any free motion – actual FILLER designs, which to me is the holy grail of free motion designs. Sure, you can find designs for “continuous line” puppies and butterflies, but what about plain old overall designs? If you’re tired of meandering and looping, check out this blog – it will blow your mind.
Here’s all the stuff that doesn’t fit into a category.
Sew, Mama, Sew! – There’s a little bit of everything here – fabric shop, tutorials, blog, discussion forum – for every kind of sewing, not just quilting. The annual month of Christmas gift links is amazing, and that alone is worth adding the blog to your reader. Plus, they are very nice people!
Quilter’s Travel Companion
You may have seen this book, but did you know they had a website, too? Next time you’re going on a trip in the United States or Canada, check out the quilt shops along your route or near your destination. It doesn’t list every shop, only the ones who advertise with them, but it does have quite a few! The site is extremely easy to navigate using maps (click on either the US or Canada map at the top of the screen), so you can see where other shops are. Some shops have links to their websites directly from the map, while others show their ad from the book. Most ads list a website so you can look them up, too. Not only are there quilt shops, but they list quilt guilds and quilt shows, too! Again, everything is listed by maps, but the the shows are also listed by date below the maps. Remember, though – this site lists only shops that have advertised with them.
Amish Country Lanes Quilt Size Calculator – quilts come in every shape and size imaginable, but sometimes it’s nice to know exactly how big your quilt should be to cover your bed. There are “standard” sizes available everywhere on the web, but this site helps you calculate exactly what you need based on your bed’s dimensions, how far you want it to drop, even if you need it to cover a pillow or whether your bed has a footboard! It gives you a “standard” mattress size to start with, but you can tweak it with your exact dimensions. The only negative is that it provides standard sizes for full, queen and king only – if you want to make a twin size quilt you need to enter the bed’s dimensions.
Lily Street Quilts Fabric Calculator is a fantastic calculator to help you determine how much fabric you need for backing, borders and binding.
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