Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Scrap Attack {Link Party}

Alrighty folks, we've been scrapping for a month in our Scrap Attack Quilt Along.  Let's see your progress!  Oodles of lovely projects have been floating around the Scrap Attack flickr group this January.  Here are a few of my favorites with links below to the talented artists:

Scrap Attack January Favorites
1. Scrap Attack - 20, 2. 4x5 Blocks 4th Qtr, 3. String Quilt Progress, 4. Scrappy Baby Quilt, 5. New York Beauty #3, 6. snuggled up, 7. Scrappy mini quilt, 8. A pile of jewel squares...., 9. scrap attack quilt along

But this is just a small sampling of your fabulous projects and I know that many of you are not on Flickr, so today let's connect here with a link party thingamabob. Please add a photo of your Scrap Attack project, one photo per project please.  You may include a link to your blog post or Flickr account, if desired so that we can learn more about your project, or if you don't have a link that's perfectly fine too. 

Next month I'll have more features with inspiring bloggers and quilt designers who love to work with scraps.  And tomorrow I have a new scrappy project to show you, inspired by one of the featured bloggers this month.  But right now... I can't wait to see what you've been up to!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Little Stitches

Way back when (it seems like ages ago) Stitch Magazine gave me an excuse to spend some time needle in hand. Their "Sewing Unplugged" focus on hand stitching was originally planned for the Winter 2011 issue.  But it happened to land in Spring instead, so I've waited until now to share these projects.

Stitch Magazine spring 2012'

I try to propose projects to magazines that I would like to make anyways.  At the time of their call for submissions, I had just learned how to work with metal clasp purse frames.  The small canvas of a coin purse seemed ideal for some handwork, so I sent Stitch these project mockups along with my description of the project.

Rainbow purse mockup

Seed Stitch purse mockup

There's nothing very exciting about these mockups, but I know that many of you are interested in working with magazines, so I thought I'd show you some of the materials I send with my submissions.  To submit your work to a magazine, find the "submissions" info page on their website to learn about what kind of work they'd like to feature.  Usually, you'll work within a theme like "Sewing Unplugged" and (loosely) within the colors they suggest for that theme.

I believe I thought they'd want one or the other, but they asked me to make both versions of the coin purse.  Alrighty then.  I got my frames from While Baby Naps.  She ships from the US and also carries Gutermann glue, which works quite well.  I'll admit that gluing the fabric into the frame takes guts, but it's nothing you can't perfect with a couple of tries.  Definitely make a test project before gluing in your hand stitched version!

Seed stitches

The seed stitch purse was my favorite to make because there's no right or wrong way to tease out those stitches.  My background fabric is a Moda crossweave in blue-white.  Moda crossweaves (also at Marmalade Fabrics) are a heavier weight than quilting cotton, as opposed to the lighter weight Kaffe Fassett shot cottons.  I think I prefer the crossweaves since my shot cottons tend to stay wrinkled after prewashing. Maybe I just need a better iron?

on Moda Crossweave Blue-White

The Seed Stitch coin purse turned out much as I expected.  I think she's pretty.


But in this shot she kind of looks like a hippo?  I don't know.  That Kona pacific sure does delight the eyes, though.

Rainbow coin purse

The Rainbow coin purse didn't have quite the slant I had mocked up, but she'll do.   I used multi-colored embroidery floss on natural linen.

Garden Party lining

The Garden Party lining (an out of print fabric by Anna Maria Horner) is my favorite part.  Is that bad?  I just love the colors in this print!   For how-to's see Stitch Magazine's Spring 2012 issue, available at Bloomerie

So now these little purses are home... and I don't know what to do with them.  I actually have a stockpile of crafted treasures that need to find homes, so I know I should open an Etsy shop to move some things along, but the idea of pricing and listing my things makes me nervous.  I'll admit it - I'm afraid of failure.  It's so vulnerable to put things out there as good enough to sale and then wait, wait, wait to see what happens.  Maybe after Curves Class I'll tackle that beast?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sew Modern Giveaway!

What's almost as good as stashing new fabric?  I'd have to say that bundling up favorites to giveaway comes in right close!  Lauren of Sew Modern invited me to create a custom bundle to giveaway today.  Her physical store is located in sunny Los Angeles, where you can find classes for kids and adults from beginners on up.  She also has a pretty webstore stocked with every Kona color and tons of really current lines. 

I was drawn right away to Domestic Bliss by Liz Scott.  The whole collection is lovely, but this particular print (Window Seat in Garden) is my favorite.  It's fresh and springy, but with that dark tealish-gray that adds a sense of sophistication.  This print was the inspiration for my bundle.  I added a few more prints from Domestic Bliss that did not include red and then started browsing the store for compliments.

Can I just say, I love doing that?  It's always exciting to discover new connections.  In the end, I pulled several cuts by Lizzy House, Lotta Jansdotter and two Robert Kaufman Quilter's Linens as near-solids.  Kona Ash and Kona Snow would be great neutrals to add in too.

This set of 12 fat quarters is a gift for one lucky reader.  It's kind of an eclectic set, but those are all fabrics I know I would use.  You can also find my custom bundle right here at Sew Modern.  Lots of tonal geometrics and even a text-like print that I hadn't noticed before - that Scribble from Half Moon Modern.  If you're interested, Lauren has extended a 10% off coupon to Stitched in Color readers for any order placed by midnight February 2nd. Just use coupon code SIC10 at checkout.  So if you were feeling that Domestic Bliss anyways... well that 10% will cover the shipping!

To enter our giveaway Lauren and I want to know what color combos you're really loving right now.  So, if you were putting together a custom bundle, what colors would you gravitate towards?  Enter with your comment now through noon EST on Monday.  I'll announce the winner then!

****Comments Closed*****
Winner is Kristen N of Gemini Stitches.  I'm contacting you now!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Behind the Scenes with Curves Class

Thanks for all your well-wishes yesterday.  Last night I put together a triple star block (designed by Angela Pingel for Modern Blocks) that was a lot of fun and went together so nicely.  Phew! Now that I have that moment behind me, I feel like I can focus on finishing touches for the Curves Class again.  Isn't that funny?  I just wanted one nice non-curvy moment. 

Stargazing, design by Angela Pingel
Yesterday a friend reminded me that Curves Class starts in just one week.  One week!  I'm getting a little performance anxiety.  Thank-goodness I don't have to sew and lecture in real time!  All of my demonstration videos are complete.  I've begun working on the lecture videos where I actually talk to the camera face to face.  You all promise not to expect much, ok?  There will be plenty of goofy faces and blathering.  I've always dreaded public speaking, but I do like teaching my friends.  So I'm just pretending that there are only a few of you listening anyways....

Scallop Quilt project

One of the projects I've received lots of good feedback for is the Scallop Quilt for week 3, Precise Curves.  When I began developing projects for Curves Class the improv curves ideas kept flooding in.  But the precise curves were a sticking point.  I wanted to come up with something original, but it seems like everything precise has been done.  One night through several hours of TV I brought my notebook to the couch instead of my hand sewing.  Oddly, that worked for me.  I sketched and erased, sketched and erased until I had 5-6 precise curves design ideas.  The distraction of watching TV helped me relax!

Well, in the light of another day, most of those ideas were just "eh" or way to complicated, but this Scallop Quilt design had some potential.  I didn't know if it would be way too difficult to sew a half oval like that (I mean everyone uses the Drunkard's Path quarter circle for curves, not a half-circle block).  So, when I finally tried to sew a block, after Brandon had drafted the pattern pieces, I was thrilled to discover that it was totally doable!  And, actually, this project was one of my favorites to make.  Just one repeated block and a whole lot of negative space.  How easy can it get!  I used Kona Aqua, Grass, Everglade and Chartreuse. 

finished sidewayssmall

I can tell you that I would never, ever, ever have designed a quilt like this if I wasn't preparing for Curves Class.  I am so thankful for the impetus to stretch my horizons in designing and sewing as I've pushed to make creative projects for you.  I hope I remember to pursue simple designs like my Scallop Quilt in the future. 

If you're interested in joining us, Curves Class is a 5-week class that starts February 1st.  You can register for Curves Class $45 or Curves Class {Premium} $65.  Both class versions include access to all 14 projects, with the Premium version adding access to video tutorials and a pdf eBook to be delivered in April.  Find more details here and register here.  Thanks for supporting my work!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Does it ever happen to you?  Last night I really wanted to sew - not read blogs, not write Curves Class tutorials, not any computer work.  Wouldn't it be nice to just sew something new, like a quilt block or whatnot and share it with you today?  If that sounds easy enough, let me tell you, it wasn't. 

First I had a Curves Class project ready to be started.  But I kind of wanted a break from it and I wouldn't be able to share that work with you today...

Modern Whimsy

Then I had this assortment of playful Modern Whimsy fabrics, a gift from Robert Kaufman that I'm totally wanting to cut into.  Only problem is I want to do a 2nd version of a Curves Class week 5 quilt in these fabrics.  But I wouldn't be able to share that with you today either.  Nuts!

So, let's see... I could sew my endless string of Flying Geese.  Bor-ring!  (Not really, truly boring, but that's how I felt last night.  I wanted to finish something!)

Do you see where this is going?  There were a few other options on the table, like bee blocks, but nothing fit all my criteria.  It's so frustrating to waste precious time hemming and hawing about what to sew instead of actually sewing.  Grrrr!  Tell me this happens to you too!

Paper Piecing finished!

In the end I decided to work on finishing my Star Blossoms project.  I'm done with the English paper piecing, so its ready to be transformed into a table runner.

pressing open outer seam allowances

I've removed all the basting stitches and the papers, and last night I pressed open the seam allowances on the outside edges.  Once pressed out, I trimmed the work into a rectangle, leaving quarter inch seam allowances beyond all of the star points.

Blech.  Must remove border!

I thought it might be nice to put in a thin border before backing/binding the runner.  So after auditioning a zillion prints I settled on this black and white Hayworth print from Circa 1934.  I carefully sewed it in, slowly and precisely so as not to chop off any star points.  Pressed the seam open and....

promptly hated it.

1. Possibly too distracting from Star Blossoms. 
2. The print isn't printed on grain, which makes it look crooked. 
3. With the border it's too big for my table.

I'll rip out this border and just go ahead and bind it, perhaps with that Alexander Henry floral shown with the work-in-progress above. 

The moral of the story is....  sometimes I get stuck. I'm betting you've been there too.  Please do wish me better sewing mojo tonight.  I really need it!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Scrap Attack {Granny Square Block}

It's a happy day indeed!  Do you know the occasion?  Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches has a lovely new tutorial for you!  When I was gathering ideas for our Scrap Attack, Jolene posted her first Granny Square blocks.  I mean, hello? Scrappy potential? 

Granny Square Quilt Blocks

Affirmative!  Look at the way she's used same colors, but different fabrics to create rounds that echo the Granny Square crochet pattern.  Simple and genius!  I zipped an email over asking her to join in with our event and she very kindly obliged.  Eee!

So, if you don't often visit Blue Elephant Stitches, you'll want to hang around her blog for a good look. She has a light, bright feel for color, often using lots of white in her signature look.  I actually became a fan of her baby quilts through browsing Etsy before I knew her blog.  And now she's also a host for the Joy circle of our charity quilting bee, do. Good Stitches, so we've had a chance to get to know each other.  All around a great gal, that Jolene.

Oh, but you want to see more of the quilt, don't you!

Granny Squares Scrappy Quilt

Here's a snippet to tempt you.  I won't hold you up any longer.  Run along to Blue Elephant stitches for the Granny Square block tutorial and all the info you need to make the lovely lap quilt.   This quilt is definitely on my personal wish-to-make list, but I think I'll do the background color in something other than white.  In a full-on COLOR perhaps!  Hm.... 

If you're new to this Scrap Attack thing, catch all the details, the button and links to all of our posts Right Here.  I'm off to catch up on the Scrap Attack Flickr group now.  Maybe I'll see you there!

Monday, January 23, 2012


When I started this quilt at the end of December, I was in it for the fun and with our Scrap Attack quilt-along in mind.  As it grew and grew, I came to really love it - the colors, angles, solids... just the whole personality.  The best part was when I realized it was the perfect quilt for my friend Angela, who is moving across the country this week.  In fact, it totally matches her living room pillows and contains lots of purple, her favorite shade.  With a vision of gifting, I was gifted the energy to go big.  Because, let's face it... this is not the easiest quilt to make large scale (tutorial here).

light + color

But, large scale did not disappoint.  All this scrappy investment created a quilt with such movement and color.  Definitely one of my new favorite quilts!  I want to thank Ungt blod for her inspiration in design and to thank you all for being my partners in craftiness. Creating events like Scrap Attack actually inspires me to do more, enjoy more, reach for more.  It's a circle of happiness (bring on the cheese, but I mean it).

Triangle-ing finished!

So, the finished throw quilt is about 55" x 70", the same size as my Colorbrick Quilt (tutorial here).   Lately I've experimented with larger throws.   Although they cover more of us, they tend to end up in a crumpled heap rather than folded over the side of my couch.  And that's not to say that the Colorbrick Quilt doesn't get lots of use.  Oh my gosh, it does!  It just somehow sees lots more folding than our over-sized Christmas-y quilt.

For batting I joined together 4 pieces of leftover Warm & Natural with a zigzag stitch.  I guess that's one of the benefits of always using the same batting!

the back

I backed it with that Bermuda Zigzag by Ann Kelle for Robert Kaufman (available at Sew Modern, Hawthorne Threads and Fat Quarter Shop), alongside misc. fabrics that have been languishing in my stash for near on a year.  Those yellow "sunglow" trees from Modern Meadow I always prefer to leave whole.  Same goes for Laurie Wisbrun's Tufted Tweet chairs.  There's also that orange Nap sack from Modern Meadow.  Anyways the collection is very colorful.

scrappy zigzag binding

But it's the binding that really does it for me.  I finally, finally, made a scrappy binding, just pulling out leftovers from other quilts and a few strips of fabric from my string bins.
any which way

Every which way you look, there's new colors and patterns to see!

Thanks again for all your advice on the quilting.  Listening to your comments stirred up my creative juices... so I opted to quilt it diagonally with a twist.  You know how people sometimes quilt in on a diagonal and then turn, changing the direction of the quilt line midway?  And then they will echo that first line to fill in the rest of the quilt?  Well, that's what I did. Since the triangles already created a nice diagonal grid, no marking of any kind was needed.  It's pretty hard to see the quilting on such a busy quilt, but it's there!  Maybe in a couple of years, Angela will notice (wink).  Nothing against Angela, mind you, it's just that I think we quilters are way more cognoscente of the existence of quilt lines than your average quilt-user.

quilted on diagonal

So there she goes, all bound up and labeled with those nice little ribbon tags.  I was a trifle sad to say goodbye, but then again this just means I get to start another.  Win, win!

P.S.  Before I start another, I have to finish another.  But, hey, we're still getting closer....

Friday, January 20, 2012

on my mind

At this moment my mind is a river of thoughts, a jungle of options, a slew of emotions.  No, nothing traumatic has happened.  There's just so much going on.  I'm weighting a million different homeschooling choices, as I'm knee-deep in planning for our next school year.  The current book-writing negotiations are flitting through my consciousness as is a recent email along the lines  of "how do you do it all".  That question is such a can of worms.   So here's what's on my mind...

*  I swear, I don't do it all.  Seriously.
*  My house just appears to be clean (unless you look at the baseboards).
*  You think homeschooling is hard, but in our home it's just an extension of being together.  Our "school" takes maybe an hour and a half of our day.  But, learning happens all. the. time. 
*  Our first grade year has rocked!  Aria's reading Amelia Bedelia in front of the fire before the rest of us get out of bed. Today she wants to know what caused the ice age.   She's hungry for all kinds of learning, even math, even worksheets.
*  But that's because we hardly ever do worksheets.  This is not "school at home."
*  The secret to being happy is to realize that you love your life right this moment.
*  Today I loved unpicking some free-motion quilting in front of the fire.  What a nice reason to put up my feet.
*  I have an incredible amount of energy for "projects".   Homeschooling is one of them.  The Curves Class is another.  I'm nervous about what it will require of me to write this book.  So much time, so much energy.  And all that comes from me and my family.  How should I decide?
*  What you choose to give your time to defines you.   Family?  Craft?  Health?  Entertainment?  It defines you not so much because it's your job as because it reveals what you value and shapes who you become.
*  Darn it this is way too deep.   
*  I'm actually preposterously satisfied with life today.  And optimistic about this coming year.
*  I'm not afraid.  That's key.
* But I'm planning on doing 2nd grade different and I'm considering letting Aria attend a 2-day homeschooling program.  This is forcing all kinds of value-processing inner discourse. You poor things are getting the brunt of it.
*  This would be so much better if you and I were sharing tea and cookies. 
*  But, ya know,  I do feel better now.  Do you think it's OK if I go sew?  Will you mind?  I promise not to cave and plan history units or search online for local drama programs for kids.  Eeek, good thing I promised!
*  Because, sometimes the best thing to do is walk away from the computer and go do life.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How to Hang a Mini Quilt

So, I am really not an expert on mini quilts.  I've finished.... two?  But, I've been working on several lately, with two more due to finish this weekend, so I've been experimenting with how to hang them.  Here's a tutorial for hanging a mini quilt with two nails and a long dowel.  I'll show you how to make a long dowel pocket from extra binding strips.  It's fast and subtle and probably not the first time someone's done this, but I thought you might like me to share.  If your mini's really small you can go with one nail, hung at a center point.  In that case, I'd make the pockets a little differently, which I'll discuss.  Here goes!

Step 1: Prepare the Dowel

First measure your quilt back from just inside the binding at the very top.  Overall, my Retro Flowers quilt measured 25.5", but inside the binding it's just 24.5".  You'll want a dowel rod about as wide as this inside-the-binding measurement - so 24.5" in my case.

Sleeve Tut - 1

Purchase a dowel at any home improvement store or many craft stores.  You don't need a real thick one unless your wall quilt is very large.  Mine is about 3/8" in diameter.  Cut it down to the correct measurement with a sharp utility knife used in a sawing motion. 

Step 2:  Make the Pocket

Cut a piece of fabric as long as your dowel rod and 2.5" wide.  I used a 24.5" length of extra binding.  If you're planning ahead, purposely make extra binding for your mini so that your pocket will match the binding.  It looks very subtle on the back!  Prepare the fabric pocket by pressing it in half longways with wrong sides together so that raw edges meet.  This is the same way you prepare binding strips.  If you're using leftover binding, it's already pressed in half!  For step-by-step binding instructions see my Zigzag Binding tutorial.

Sleeve Tut - 2

Unfold the end of your fabric strip a bit to allow you to fold in the raw edges by about 3/8" and 3/8" again.  Press after each fold to create a nice hem.  Do this on both sides to hem the ends of the pocket.  Stitch the hem in place.  I made two lines of stitching, which is totally unnecessary.  Just felt like it!  Be sure to sew close to the fold on the inside though, so that the dowel won't get stuck in that fold when you push it through.

Sleeve Tut - 3

When the hemming is complete, fold the ends of the pocket in half longways again, and press.  Now you have a long, hemmed pocket ready to attach.   It should be shorter than your dowel rod because of the hemming process.  Mine is 22" long.

Step 3:  Attach the Pocket

Slide the pocket under the binding at the top of your quilt.  Ideally you're adding this dowel pocket before stitching down your binding.  If the pocket is an afterthought (like mine), just unpick the binding at the top edge.  Since I machine sew my binding in place, unpicking is not a mental hardship.  So, tuck the raw edges of the pocket under the binding, matching its raw edges with the raw, trimmed edge of the quilt.  Be sure to center the pocket on your quilt.

Sleeve Tut - 4

Lay the binding over the pocket and pin in place.  Secure your binding down as usual.  I zigzag stitch it down from the top of my quilt which catches the pocket and fastens everything in place.  If you prefer to hand stitch your binding from the back, do so sewing through the pocket and into the quilt back.  This might be a little tricky?  You'll have to tell me how that goes.

Sleeve Tut - 5

Now that the top, raw edges of the pocket are sewn in all that remains is to secure the folded edge of the pocket that extends below the binding.  Hand stitch that folded pocket edge to fasten the pocket in place.  Don't stitch all the way through to the quilt front.  Just poke your sewing needle through the backing and batting for a firm hold.

Step 4:  Hang!

 Sleeve Tut - 6

Now insert your rod, which should extend a little bit more than 1" beyond each side of the pocket.  Using a level, place two nails in the wall on which the exposed dowel ends will rest.

Sleeve Tut - 7

Ta da!  Properly hung!  Because you've used two nails, your mini will not slip off-kilter as time passes.  My Retro Flower quilt hangs by our main door, so this was a must for me!  If you're hanging a smaller quilt, you can use just one nail.  In that case, make two shorter pockets, hemmed on both edges, with a space at the center to expose the dowel.  This is just a tiny more work in hemming, but creates a shorter length of pocket to hand sew, so it all comes up about even in time invested.

properly hung!

This is just one way to hang a mini quilt.  I'm also experimenting with using grommets on a quilt I worked on last night.  If you're a veteran mini-maker, I'd love to know your favorite way to hang them!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Scrap Attack {with Badskirt Amy}

just one of Amy's iconic hippos.  See more of her animals here.

This is Amy.  Isn't she adorable?  Ok, so this is actually just the face we know and love her by on Flickr, but you get the point.  Soooo much personality.  And lots of fun.

When I first contacted Badskirt Amy about joining in with our Scrap Attack Quilt-Along she was very upfront about having a "unique" perspective on scraps.  She said, "I don't actually own a "scrap bin" of any sort.  I work from FQs or 30cm strips, and cut off what I need as I use them.  Reasonable size pieces are folded back into the fabric shelves rather than put into a scrap bin. If I don't think I'll use it, I give it to local friends who use them in craft fair projects for local school..."

Well, I couldn't leave that alone!  I mean, here we are scrap attacking and there she is humming along with no care scraps in the world.  So off we go on a little interview!


RachelDid you decide from the get go not to keep small scraps or was this approach something that developed over time?  We want the full dish!

Colour and Shape Test.
Colour and Shape test, at Badskirt

AmyI used to be a scrap keeper. When I started out, they filled one small tub. Then two. Then three... The theory was they were scraps and I could use them as I tested out patterns or new ideas. What I realized though is crap is at the core of the word scrap. And if it's crap, why keep it?  To me a piece of fabric is either useful or it isn't. I either love it or I don't. I'm judicious now in deciding what I'll keep. If I have an offcut that's usable to me, then I fold it up neatly and put it back in my fabric stack. Otherwise it goes to donations, friends or sometimes the trash.  (And friends have been known to pick through my sewing room trash in the hopes of finding little scraps.)

I think there is an important distinction between a scrap and a small, special piece of fabric. Not every fabric I buy is special. Not everything I cut is worth keeping.

I'm not sure what brought on the mental shift, but my husband was a big influence. He's the kind of guy who keeps very little.  It evolved over a period of a few years but I soon realized bins of scraps were weighing me down. Though I kept them sorted by colour and size, I'd still spend hours looking through them for just the right fabric for a project. It made no sense, I'd wade through stacks of fabric that I no longer loved in the hopes of finding a tiny square of something I did.

the blacks
part of Amy's stash

So I let them go and haven't looked back. My sewing room and sewing time is much more functional because of it. I don't have a hard and fast rule about what I keep. It's more of a mental checklist.  

a. Do I still like it?
b. Am I likely to use it?
c. Do I think it will play a role in my evolving creative style?
d. Can I store in neatly in a way that I will easily find it?

If it passes all four questions in that checklist, then I keep it. Otherwise, the fabric goes out the door.

Me:  Do you think you have less fabric diversity in your creations since you don't have a scrap stash?  Or does donating scraps actually increase variety I wonder?

Amy:  The truth is that I find having too much fabric paralyzing. As it stands, I have a large and usable stash. Let's be honest for a minute. If WW3 broke out tomorrow, I'm comfortable that I'd have enough fabric to survive a long war.   That's not to say my stash is huge. It's not. As a lover of colour and design, I buy new fabric because I am enamoured with the print. I buy new fabric because it helps me move in a new creative direction or helps me explore colour, shape and scale. Buying new fabric is a good thing. By purging scraps and old fabric, I keep my stash in check.  My stash is also evolving. Fabrics I like today are different to fabrics I liked three years ago.  So I've adopted an "out with the old and in with the new" approach.  

Purging scraps means I have less variety immediately available, but in the long run it has led to more diversity moving through my stash. It also helps me overcome fabric paralysis. For me, having too much choice can be just as bad as having not enough.

More tidy shelves.
Amy's tidy space

Me:  From examining your notes on your stash picture (see notes on Flickr) it seems that you organize your fabrics sometimes by color and sometimes by project.  Does it get pretty crazy in there sometimes?  How easy is it for you to find things?  Is an organized stash important to you anyways?

Amy:  If you asked me last year about how crazy my studio got, I would have have a different answer. Today though, I can honestly say that I've found a system that works for me. I could walk in with my camera and take a photo and it would look much the same as the one shown. It is exceptionally well organized and tidy. I've tried a number of organizational methods. I've sorted purely by colour. I've sorted purely by size. I've sorted by designer. For me, I found those methods didn't gel with how I approach projects. While the themes seem random, I've mentally categorized all my fabric by potential future project. I know that the orange stripes are with the teal dots waiting for me to dive in to the road trip print. I know there's a stack of yellow and black intended for  my pinwheel project. I know the nature prints are all near each other. Most importantly, I've mentally catalogued every piece of fabric in my stash. I'm lucky that the database in my brain is a good one. Aging has taken it's toll on historical dates, science formulas and mathematical thereoms; but I've still got a strong memory for my fabric.

Cogwheel, a "random" block at Badskirt

An organized stash is important to me because it allows me to work without hangups. Pairing fabric is the slowest part of the creative process for me. Doing it in advance gives me a leg up when I'm ready to sew. The IKEA tubs that hold my stash work well for me because it keeps things organized and portable. I can easily move a stack of fabric from the shelves to my desk. I can easily grab a stack of fabric to take on the road for a camping trip or day at the beach. Tubs fit with my lifestyle.

Me:  So be honest (and I know you will), do you ever wish you had small scraps when you see pictures of them piled on the cutting table or neatly gathered in bins or jars?  Or... or... or.. is your honest reaction something along the lines of "thank goodness, not for me!"    And, ok, also was there ever any project that made you wish you had saved scraps?

Will be loved despite it's 
 Amy's most recent quilt, at Badskirt

Amy:  I've been looking at the jars of fabric scraps in the Scrap Attack flickr group. They are admittedly pretty, but they aren't for me. What is great about quilting is that everyone can find their own niche. Some people are amazing when they work with tiny pieces. They bring out the best in those tiny morsels. Right now, I'm not one of those people and that's ok with me. I'm not turned off by their pictures, but I'm not envious either.

As for scraps that I've left go, nothing zings to mind. There are some prints where I feel a pang of sadness when I use the last piece, but I can't think of anything that I've given away or purged that I now wish I'd hadn't. That said, I can't wait to see how the Scrap Attack projects evolve. I know some people have amazing style when it comes to scraps. Who knows, maybe I'll be lured back into saving my own scraps?! 


Thank-you, Amy, for letting me pick your brain over this scrap business.   I don't know about you, folks, but I love mulling over a completely different and thoughtfully cultivated perspective like this.   I do value the idea of letting one's stash "evolve" and perhaps sometimes the best way to accomplish that is to pass unwanteds along.  I know I've felt that drag before... "I don't really like this, but maybe I could use it somehow???"  Sometimes I do find a way to use it and to enjoy a project in spite of those feelings and sometimes I use it and regret it.  Other times, Aria uses it!  

Also, I think Amy's mental checklist for keeping or passing on fabrics is right on the money. What a freeing, self-aware way to live.  If you likely won't use it, why keep it?  Someone else might love it.  There's no reason it should go to waste.

What I'll take away from this conversation is still-emerging.  But, how about you?  Hmmm?  What do you take away?  Shiny thoughts welcome! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Scrap Attack {Japanese x & + block}

Ok, so you've seen the Japanese x & + block, right?  I mean, it is the block that forced us to Scrap Attack after all.  When my friend Jessica of A Little Gray started her Japanese x & + quilt I just couldn't keep sitting on my hands.  A little chatter in Pinterest and here we are.

This block has become a bit of a legend.  Its fame launched when Jan photographed a quilt submitted by Setsuko Inagawa for the 2011 Tokyo Quilt Festival and shared said photos on Flickr.  Check it out:

Detail 4

Then Badskirt Amy popularized the block in blogland by creating her own version and an awesome tutorial.  Last year, a quilt-along for the Japanese x & + block resulted in some lovely quilts like this stunner by Leila of Where the Orchids Grow.

+ & X blocks Quilt

And even now another Flickr group has sprung up for folks who are swapping completed Japanese x & + blocks so as to create some super-scrappy concoctions.  (The swap is likely to repeat, in case you want to get on the list for next time!)

Isn't this all completely wild? It totally gets me going to think that one fabulous quilt can stir up such a fire of creativity.  The world is a dazzling place!  Here, here!

another gem by Jessica at A Little Gray

This tiny block finishes 7.5" square, so all those pieces use up modestly-sized scraps. I haven't made one myself.... yet.... but when I do I'll imagine that each block is a miniature fabric portrait   Sweet and scrappy.  Mmmmm....

So, if you'd like to make this block, do hop skip and jump over to Badskirt Amy's rather happening blog for the complete tutorial.   What, you don't know Amy?  Oh my, let's fix that.  Amy's a fascinating gal and she and I had QUITE the chat.  It was chock full of gutsy scrap-rebellion that could inspire a paradigm shift.  The interview turned out too long and too good to cram in with today's post, so I'll let's do this thing again tomorrow.   Until then, keep "Scrappenin" (thanks, Jessica) away on your Scrap Attack quilts.  We'll do a link party here at Stitched in Color at the end of January so we can all enjoy the great work that's already been done!

x and + quilt
Gorgeous version by the Berlin Quilter

Monday, January 16, 2012


This weekend I...


grew my triangles quilt.  My rows are now 30 triangles long with 15 rows total to make a nice throw-sized quilt.   I found it annoying to go back and enlarge the original rows (not sewing annoying, just mentally annoying), but it had to be done because....

1.  I kept cutting triangles (it's addictive), and
2.  I decided to gift this to a family

For starters I had only committed to a baby-sized quilt.  I wasn't sure how much triangle-ing I would handle, nor how many solids I really had in my scraps.  Well, this is like ALL my solids scraps. I did have to cut a bit from yardage to finish, but sewing the triangles did not get old.  Before it was too late, I started mixing in some fun, multi-color prints like those Ann Kelle owls to please the little ones in the family I have in mind.  I guess since my color scheme was already so defined and my layout was full of solids, working in the multi-colors didn't bug me like it did at the beginning.  In fact, I used up every single, ingle triangle that I cut post fabric-murder episode. I think I'm sporting a halo now.

masking tape labels

And then it was time to join those rows.  After much rearranging, I had defined an order that prevented any same-fabric triangles from meeting.  Of course, at that point it was time to pack up and clear out the floor.  (Now that we have kitties, I can't leave fabric on the floor and expect to find things anything like I left them next morning.)  So, I marked the row order with numbers scrawled on masking tape.  I'm  sure I picked up this idea somewhere around blogland.  It's so easy and cheap and foolproof.

finished, but how to quilt?

Now we're all pieced!  Joining the rows went just fine.  I sewed them together with a generous 1/4" seam and was pleased with how the points turned out.  They're definitely not the epitome of perfection, but I think it looks great!

in my space

Today is my chance to quilt it.  Any ideas?  I'm thinking something straight-lined, but hopefully not too incredibly time consuming.  Today is my first "Stitched" Monday.  Now that I don't have the other job, I get to spend Mondays at home working on Stitched in Color stuff, while my MIL has the kiddos.  I'm so excited to have a whole day to spend in this space!   Of course, my fantasies of what I can get done are larger than life (don't we all do that?), but it's 9:30 am and here I am finishing up my blog post.  So, I'm off to work on writing out Curves Class tutorials, catching up on blog-reading and Flickr (can't wait to see what you've been adding to the Scrap Attack Flickr group!) and then later I'll baste and quilt the Triangles quilt as my reward. 

Sounds like a plan. Catch you (and your ideas?) later!
Related Posts with Thumbnails