Monday, July 21, 2014


Celestial Star QAL with from blank pages...

Before we begin:

How are your coloring pages and fabric selections coming??? Make sure you link up your pictures of your DESIGN(s), aka coloring pages, and/or FABRIC SELECTION(s) on the blog today! (Link up here or here.) I'll pick a winner for the fat eight bundle from Pink Castle Fabrics tomorrow! If you are on instagram, make sure to tag your photos of your design and fabric with #CelestialStarDesign and #CelestialStarQAL.

Are you having a hard time narrowing down design ideas and color selections? Jennifer of Ginger Peach Studio wrote up a fantastic tutorial of how to color the coloring pages in Photoshop.
And I can't recommend enough to start with a design in black and white before adding in color. It made planning so much easier for me. :)

Instagram Hashtags:

I want to clarify the Instagram Hashtags, so that everything is going in the right spot, and everyone is correctly entered for each of the giveaways.
  • ALL photos go under #CelestialStarQAL. 
  • Coloring pages and fabric selections ONLY: #CelestialStarDesign
  • Completed pieced blocks ONLY (photo of your finished block before quilting): CelestialStarBlock
  • Any photos showing your quilting: #CelestialStarQuilting
If your photo does not fit into one of these three last categories, it only goes under #CelestialStarQAL

The hashtags are to enter your photo for the designated giveaways throughout the QAL, to make it easier for others to see and share their ideas and progress for the specific steps, and make it easier for me to pick winners that are keeping up with the schedule. I don't want anyone's entry to get lost in the mix. Make sense? Thanks for helping to keep them organized!! Plus it's fun to browse through them and see what everyone is making and designing!


Today's Topic: Cutting Templates Assignment: Cut out all your fabrics pieces in preparation for piecing.   On the Blog: Write a blog post about it, sharing pictures of your fabrics cut out, and link it up using the link up at the end of this post. OR you can also link up photos from Flickr* or Instagram. On Instagram: Complete the assignment (cut out your fabrics), take a picture and tag it using hashtag #CelestialStarQAL.

There is no giveaway in conjunction with this topic.  

You can pick up a pattern on Craftsy and Etsy.
*If you are sharing pictures from Flickr, I started a Celestial Star QAL group, where you can also share your photos, or start up a discussion, ask questions, etc. I don't get on Flickr much anymore, but I'll try my best to keep my eye on it for any activity going on there. I still think Flickr has a pretty good platform for groups, even if the rest of the site has changed.
**If you decide to work faster than my schedule, which is fine, be sure to take pictures along the way so you can come back and enter the different giveaways!

That's the short version. If you want to keep reading, I share ALL my cutting template secrets. I wasn't planning on sharing so many tips, but if they are things I do all the time, then you will hopefully benefit from them as well. ;)

Cutting Templates:

Cutting Templates are my favorite thing about my patterns! and I don't say that to be proud. They are awesome. They make paper piecing easier, faster, and more fun! Not to mention, they can save you a LOT of fabric waste. They are pretty basic and self-explanitory, but today I'm going to share all my secrets and tips to making them work for you, so you can get the most benefit from them. :)

EASE OF PIECING with fabric cut with cutting templates:
First I'm going to show you how easy it is to align fabric that has been cut out with cutting templates. This is especially useful when you are piecing a weird angled piece of fabric on a weird angle and are struggling to get it aligned correctly. The example below is pretty basic, but can be applied to any piecing. I'll cover paper piecing in more detail on Wednesday. If you are new to paper piecing just ignore this for now and come back to it on Wednesday. :)

Here I am using one of my cheater templates (see below) for the white piece, and whichever number the other piece is. :D

1. Lay your fabrics over the sections where they will go (I actually piece them on the opposite side of the paper, but it's easier to see the lines for tutorial purposes on the print side. So when I really do this, I do it on the opposite side of the paper. It still works here though because the print fabric is a mirrored piece (see below for more details on mirrored sections.)) Make sure that all lines are overlapped by at least 1/4 inch.

2. I move my base fabric out of the way so you can see the lines. Flip your fabric over and fold over the edge that is on the sewn line by 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch (no more, no less). Crease the fold with your finger.
*This is the best part about cutting templates!! If you cut around them exactly, then you can always know that whichever edge is going to be sewn down, can be folded over by the above amounts (1/4" to 3/8"). Fold it evenly along the entire edge, and your piece will always cover the entire section! It will always be big enough! and you won't ever have to play with what angle to fold your fabric to make it fit. You don't have to fold it on the pattern either, I did here to show that I'm folding the correct edge.

 3. Flip your fabric back over. Align the fold with the seam line. Make sure that all sides overlap the edges by at least 1/4". (My patterns already have the seam allowance added, so the fabric only needs to reach the very edge of the outside of the pattern piece. If you are using a pattern that doesn't have the seam allowance added, you will need to make sure your fabric extends at least 1/4" beyond the paper.

4. Place your fabrics to paper piece, line up the crease in the top fabric with the sew line on the pattern. Now you just need to check that it's not too far to one end of the sew line, but if you center it, it should be ok. Double check, and then start sewing! :)

Cutting Templates: How-to:


1. Set your paper SIZE to BORDERLESS 8.5inch x 11inch
2. Set SCALE 100% or NO SCALE.
3. You only need one COPY of each page, as you can use them over and over again. I usually print mine on card stock, but it doesn't matter. Some people print them on freezer paper so they can iron them to the fabric while they cut. It's up to you.
4. Print only the PAGES with the templates.

5. Cut around the outside of the shaded area of each template piece.

6. Place the template with print side up on fabric right side up.

7. Cut closely around the template.* It doesn't have to be exact, but the closer the better. Cut off any odd left over fabric scraps that make your fabric piece a weird shape.

 I used to always leave that little extra piece on the corner, as it's not a big deal, but I find it easier to piece if my fabric is the exact shape as the template.*

*I used to say in my pattern instructions that if you want more wiggle room, cut generously around the templates. DON'T DO IT! Here's why: Cutting exactly around the template makes piecing your fabric so much easier! I will show you my tips on Wednesday in the Paper Piecing Tutorial, but for the short version, it eliminates all the adjusting trying to get your fabric aligned just right, as well as making sure it covers all the edges.

8. Repeat until you have all your pieces for your block cut out.*

*As I cut, I lay my fabric pieces out as they will look in my block. This helps me make sure I don't miss any and have to cut more fabric later. It also makes it easier when I start piecing so I don't get my fabrics confused and piece them in the wrong place.


Fussy cutting with paper piecing is AWESOME! But can be a lot of guess work and luck when you are doing it without templates. Here's my secret to perfect fussy cutting:

1. When you cut out your templates (Step 5), also cut out the center of the template.

2.  In step 6, align your template over your fabric until you are happy with what you see through the template window. *To help me remember how my templates align to the block, I drew an arrow on my template pointing to the center of the block. This helps me to orient my template correctly so my fabric designs are all pointing in the right direction.

3. Cut exactly around the template (step 7). The closer you cut around the template, the better luck you will have when you piece that fabric.

4. Repeat as necessary.

I have included a few cheater templates to the pattern. If they are not in your pattern, go back to where you purchased it and download it again. (I left them out of the 18" and 24" patterns without realizing it, but updated the patterns on Saturday.)

The Cheater Templates for the 12 inch pattern are mixed in with the other cutting templates.

The cheater templates work in the exact same manner as mentioned above. Whether for fussy cutting or not.

The benefit of cheater templates is that they are awesome for those sections where you are using the same fabric for multiple sections. You save fabric, you have less seams making for a cleaner design, saves time by cutting and piecing less fabrics, you can use larger print designs for amazing fussy cutting. I have only created three cheater templates, as I think these will be the most common.

Here is where you could use cheater templates, in reference to this design:

 This template combines sections 1 and 2 in the outer pattern piece.

This template combines section 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the outer pattern piece.

If we alter the pattern just a little so it looks like this: 

Then we can use this template to combine sections 1, 2, and 3 in the inner pattern piece.

If you have other shapes that you want to create with a single piece of fabric, here is how you can make your own cheater templates, or templates for another pattern that doesn't have cutting templates.

1. Print out a copy of the pattern on cardstock, at 100% or No scale.
2. Mark the template you want to make.

3. Measure 3/8" from each marked line, and draw a line. This will create an outline around the entire pattern.

4. Color/shade in the new border.

5. Cut around the outside of your new shaded area. You can stop here and start using your template.

6. Or cut out the center and use it for fussy cutting. I marked my border with the sections it includes.

Solids are awesome because they don't have a right or wrong side, which means that you don't have to worry about using the templates on the right or wrong side of the fabric. Here is my speed trick for cutting out solids.

{Video - I ran out of time to upload the video, and I need to leave. I'll upload this tonight.}

1. Place your template on your solid to get an estimate of how much area it takes up.
2. Fold your fabric accordion style, making sure that each layer is large enough to fit the cutting template.
3. Make about 4 layers at a time, or as many as you need of that solid for your pattern. If you have too many layers, it will be harder to cut through.
4. Place your template over your layers, making sure it fits on all layers. Cut around template as mentioned above.
5. Repeat until all your pieces are cut out.

*If you attempt this with a print fabric, half of your prints will be backwards and depending on your shape, might not be compatible with your pattern. I'd hate for you to waste your fabric.

There are a few sections in this pattern that are mirror images, as it were of another section in the pattern. They are:

If I am not fussy cutting these prints I will often cut them out in like manner as cutting solids, accordion style. BE CAREFUL, it's easy to mess up. If you are cutting prints in this manner, always cut in PAIRS (a pair is one of each mirrored section), otherwise you could end up with a bunch of extra pieces of fabrics that are the wrong size/shape for piecing.

Since I didn't have time to upload the solids video, here are some simple photos to show you want I mean about cutting out fabric accordion style:

1. Lay pattern on fabric, estimate how much you'll need to fold it over by.

2. Fold over fabric, creating layers for how many pieces you need. I have two layers in this photo.

3. Cut around the template. I have two layers. One will be backwards, but since this pattern piece is symmetrical, when I flip it over it will still be the correct size. 

4. See, they are both the correct size and shape. :) and that was faster then cutting them out individually. :) 


It may seem like this is useless information, or might take too much time, or maybe it's too much information, but when you are piecing twelve sections per block, and especially if you are making multiple blocks, it really makes everything so much easier and faster!! Trust me. If you don't want to bother with the templates, at least try it with one section, and then tell me what you think. :) As you get more comfortable using the cutting templates, using these other tricks will become a lot easier and make more sense. :)

Link up your QAL progress here:




Friday, July 18, 2014

Celestial Star QAL: Come One, Come All! Come Win when you QAL!

Due to some technical difficulties, Nicole's guest post will be delayed. There will be a minor change in schedule, and that's alright, because we're just here to have fun!

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Are you sitting on the fence about joining the Celestial Star Quilt Along? Or maybe you are ready to start, but are dragging your feet a little? If that's the case, I have a little motivation for you! :) I mentioned about a month ago that if I was going to do a quilt along, and had enough interest in one, I would do what I could to get some awesome sponsors and prizes lined up. Well, I did! Things have been crazy on my end, but I received an awesome response and am so excited to finally share with you all the goodies you could win when you join in the fun. ;)

***I want to add, that I am not receiving anything personally from these sponsors. I sent out some emails asking if they wanted to be a part of the quilt along, and they said Yes! Everything they are giving away is for YOU! I just get to sit back and watch all the goodies go out the door. *sob* just kidding. :)

How you win:

To make it fun, I have split up the prizes into two different ways to win.

First, you can win a prize when you participate actively in the QAL by:
  • keeping up with the schedule
  • share pictures on your blog or Flickr and linking them up on my blog posts
  • share pictures on Instagram using the designated hashtags
If you go faster than the schedule, that is fine! Just be sure to take pictures along the way so you can link them up. For your progress pictures to count you must be caught up to where we are at, i.e. for the coloring pages you need to have it colored, for the completed block giveaway you need to have at least one complete block (it can't still be in sections), for the quilting giveaway your block or project needs to be quilted. I will pick winners one week and one day after I've posted the tutorial about it, so hopefully that allows enough time for you to finish that step.

I will pick one winner from the blog link up and one winner from the designated Instagram hashtag pool. Participate in both to raise your chances of winning. ;)

Second, you can win some amazing prizes by finishing your project!
  • At the end of the QAL (Sept. 1st) I will have three linkys that you can link up your finished Celestial Star project under. 
  • All prizes will be picked from my blog. If you have been participating on Instagram only, you must link up on my blog to be entered for the grand prizes.
  • They are divided into how many blocks you made to create your project: 1 block, 2-4 blocks, 5 or more blocks. 
  • The grand prize giveaways are not related to any of the link ups during the QAL. You just need to have a finished project by this date to enter. (Winners announced Sept. 8th - this is the date to finish by, or before.)
I will pick a winner from each category for a grand prize! I will also pick three more winners at random to win three more prizes. I think all the prizes are awesome! and hopefully they will help us all push through and finish whatever it is we make! ;) (Say "No" to WIPS!)

Do you want to know what the prizes are??? 

Prize 1: 2 - Fat Eight bundles donated by Pink Castle Fabric
You have until Tuesday Morning (July 22nd) to enter. The link up will remain open past this date for anyone joining in late. IG hashtag: #CelestialStarDesign

Prize 2: 2 - $25 Gift Certificates donated by the Fat Quarter Shop
Linkup/hashtag starts July 30th and the winners will be announced Aug 7th. IG hashtag: #CelestialStarBlock

 Prize 3: Fat Quarter bundle: 
1 - Moda Cross Weave bundle donated by Material Girl Quilts,
1 - 9 piece FQ bundle of Up Parasol by Heather Bailey, your choice of color palette, 
donated by I don't do dishes.
Linkup/hashtag starts Aug 13th and winners will be announced Aug 21st. IG hashtag: #CelestialStarQuilting
1 bundle per winner. 

Grand Prizes:

1 Block projects: 1 - $20 Gift Certificate donated by Westwood Acres

2-4 Block projects: $50 Gift Certificate donated by the Fat Quarter Shop

5+ Block quilts: $50 Gift Certificate donated by I don't do dishes AND 1 - fat eight bundle of Mochi Linen dots donated by Knotted-Threads

More Grand Prizes: will be drawn at random for any finish

Fat quarter bundle of Butterfly Dance by Cinderberries donated by Llama Fabrics

Liberty Scrap Pack bundle donated by Queen Bee Fabrics

Birch by Joel Dewberry Charm Pack donated by I don't do dishes

Drooling just a little over here. ;) I hope you will join me in the quilt along, and especially stop by and support all these amazing sponsors! Their generosity is overwhelming! :)

Thank you!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sponsor Introduction: Pink Castle Fabrics

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With so many great sponsors contributing to the Celestial Star QAL, I thought it would be fun to get to know each of the shops a little better, as well a the people who work so hard behind the scenes to give us such beautiful fabrics. It's so easy to forget that there is a face and a family behind these shops, and I want to give a big shout out to them and their hard work to contribute to our quilting obsessions. :) I have ordered from these shops and can attest to their fantastic service. I know most of them, or follow them closely, on Instagram and around the web and am thrilled to have wonderful people joining me and sponsoring this quilt along. Thank you!! You can check the schedule in this post to see the entire round up of sponsors and when I'll be introducing each one.
Today I would like to introduce you to Pink Castle Fabrics. If you are on instagram you can follow them @PinkCastleFabrics. They are a great shop! Every time I visit their website I end up filling my cart with hundreds of dollars and just have to walk away. There are too many beautiful fabrics to choose from. ;) They often have great sales and coupons too, so go stop by and sign up for their email list so you don't miss out. Renee was so kind to write up a little bit about Pink Castle Fabrics, as well as tell us all about the great events they have going on. 

 Pink Castle Fabrics

Pink Castle Fabrics is ensconced in beautiful downtown Ann Arbor (if you've never been, you should come visit's especially lovely in the fall), but for the longest time we operated completely out of the basement of our owner and founder, Brenda Ratliff. In fact, Pink Castle had very practical beginnings; having discovered quilting as a nice, soothing hobby while at home taking care of her newborn son, Brenda desperately wanted a local shop that would satisfy her modern fabric obsession. Unfortunately, Ann Arbor had no such thing, so Brenda resolved to do it herself. It started innocently enough - a bolt here, a bolt there, taking what she needed and selling the rest off to her friends - but before too long she had her own Etsy shop...and not long after that, an entire online store! She hired her first full-time employees and Pink Castle was born! We've since moved to a proper brick and mortar location, where we host quilt guilds, classes, and special events of all kinds for our local quilting community, but our primary business remains online as we ship hundreds of orders a week everywhere in the world. 

Our guiding philosophy remains the same as that very first day, though. We pride ourselves on variety, innovation, great prices, and the friendliest service possible. That's why you can find all the newest fabrics, lots of fun and exciting imports, tons of blenders and basics, and solids in every color of the rainbow at Pink Castle. We spend our days imagining what other quilters need and then give it to them! Just starting out or need to give your stash a jolt of life? We created the Stash Stack Club just for you. Want all the solids? We have two clubs for that - Color Inspirations and No Prints Allowed. Love Japanese fabric as much as we do? Check out Kawaii Club! In the mood for a totally unique quilting retreat featuring amazing guests like Tula Pink, Bari J, and Vanessa Christenson? Look no further than Camp Stitchalot! Do you need something color-matched, suggestions for a project, a special order, fabric by the bolt, or something similar? Just email us and we'll do our best! Need ideas for new projects? Check out the Pink Castle Blog and see what the blogging team of Amy, Jacey, and Hayley are up to!

Oh, and right now, we're doing one of our biggest promotions of the year! For every $50 you spend at Pink Castle Fabrics, you receive a Golden Ticket with your order. Every Golden Ticket is a winner, worth at least $5 in savings, but possibly as much as $100, redeemable in the month of August! Except for one, that is...the Grand Prize ticket! The lucky person to find that ticket in their order takes home a huge (144 fat quarters!) bundle valued at over $360, featuring every blender from last year's Stash Stack Club! It's our biggest giveaway of the year and we love's like giving away an entire stash to someone. You can check out our blog for even more details!

Special thanks to Diane for letting me talk about Pink Castle...I love it! Good luck on the Quilt Along everyone; the Celestial Star looks amazing and I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with. 


Thank you Renee! and Brenda, and everyone at Pink Castle Fabrics! and thank you for donating these beautiful fat eight bundles!

How to win a bundle:
  1. Print out the coloring page(s) from the Celestial Star pattern. 
  2. Color your design. 
  3. Share a picture by linking it up on this post or this post (it's the same linky and will show up in both places). 
  4. and/OR share it on Instagram using the hashtags  #CelestialStarQAL and #CelestialStarDesign. 
For a second chance to win:
  1. Take a picture of your fabric selection for your block
  2. Repeat steps 3 and 4 above.
One winner will be drawn from the blog link up and one from the IG hashtag #CelestialStarDesign on Tuesday the 22nd.



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