Monday, July 16, 2018

Controlled Scrappiness Versus Hot Mess Scrappiness

I've been spending long days at Camp Oda May, working on my summer quiltalong project. Join us over at the Moda Bakeshop! I am just thrilled with how the Color Cuts are working out in my quilts. The grays add enough contrast to the low volumes without overwhelming the softness of the lighter fabrics.

I love the look of scrap quilts, but I always strive for "controlled scrappiness" and try to avoid what I call "hot mess scrappiness." Controlled scrappiness, as the term suggests, involves some planning and thought, not just reaching into the scrap bin and pulling out whatever happens to be in there. If you have a defined style, controlled scrappiness can be easy to achieve, but for those of us who work with lots of different types of fabric, some editing is required to avoid the hot mess look.

Here are some of my tips for controlled scrappiness:

Consider your color palette. You don't necessarily have to limit yourself to three or four colors, but you should decide what look you're aiming for (muted? bright? specific colors?). It's okay to have some variety within that palette--that is, every green you use should not be exactly the same shade. In fact, visual interest is increased with some variety in tone. But throwing in a random color may look jarring. If you use all pastels and then add a lime green fabric, it's going to look out of place.

Think of your fabrics as families, and consider what families will work together best in the project. There is some wiggle room here, as fabric styles overlap a good bit (and good neutrals and background fabrics nearly always can work), but you probably don't want to mix Civil War prints and uber modern prints. They likely won't jive well together.

Consider outliers carefully. If you use all tone on tone prints, and then throw in one multi-colored print, the viewer's eye will go right to that multi-colored print. If that's your goal, great. But, if not, reconsider that multi-colored print. Other examples of outliers would be one fabric with a gray background when the rest have cream backgrounds. You can also address outliers by adding fabrics in the same category as the outlier so that it's no longer all by its lonesome in the quilt.

Definitely mix scales. You should have large, small and medium scale prints in your project. 

Don't get too matchy-matchy. Scrappy quilts benefit from some variation. If your prints are too similar, your project will look too sterile.

More is more. When in doubt, add some fabrics. After all, the goal is scrappy!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Heading to Camp

I never had the opportunity to go to summer camp when I was young. I think it would have been a blast! This summer, I get the joy of being a camp counselor at what might be the most awesome summer camp of all time--Camp Oda May! I've been working behind the scenes with some other talented designers to plan a summer quiltalong for Moda's Bakeshop. We had such fun planning the project and being part of such a collaborative effort was a joy.

Camp has just kicked off, so there is still plenty of time to join in the fun. Start here, and pack your bags for Camp Oda May!

My quilt is going to be done in grays and low volume fabrics, mostly from Moda's Color Cuts, a fun curated selection of fabrics from their most recent lines. I love low volumes, and I'm excited to play with such a fun mix of fabrics. I threw in some fat quarters from my stash to make the quilt extra scrappy. Happy sewing, campers!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018


I made my podcast debut! I had the opportunity to chat with Pat Sloan on the American Patchwork and Quilting podcast about my work with the Moda Bake Shop and my love of quilting. It was a blast!

For the uninitiated, podcasts are basically radio shows. There is a huge variety of styles--some are serialized, with new episodes building on previous ones. Others are standalone episodes. Some are audio versions of familiar shows (the Daily Show has a truncated version in podcast form called the Ears Edition). Topics are wide-ranging, and there is truly something out there for everyone, including sewists! I love listening to podcasts while I sew. It's a great way to entertain yourself while creating. I find wireless headphones are particularly handy, as there's no cord to get tangled around (or accidentally cut!). 

I enjoy several quilting and sewing related podcasts. Besides American Patchwork and Quilting (long a favorite!), I like While She Naps, Modern Sewciety, and Sit & Sew Radio. For non-crafting podcasts, my favorites include Freakonomics, TED Radio Hour, From Scratch, StoryCorps, and Endless Thread.

I listen to podcasts on my phone through the iPhone app, but there are several other platforms to use. Most podcasts are free to enjoy and you can even subscribe and have new episodes automatically download to your device.

What are some of your favorite podcasts? 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Bag Lady

I've been on a pouch making kit lately. Small projects are super fun to make and it's satisfying to work on a slightly different skill set. Most pouches don't use a huge amount of fabric, and I've found they can be great to use bits leftover from larger projects, especially small bits left from precuts and the large strips leftover from backing quilts.

I usually have long, four to six-inch strips of fabric left after trimming the excess away from the quilt, and I found that these pieces are great to use for bags and pouches. I often use large scale prints on the backs of quilts, and it can be hard to find a use for little bits of large-scale prints, but they work beautifully as the lining of pouches.

I recently made a couple of Sew Lux's Brickyard Double Zip Pouch. Rather than a mini-charm pack, I used some bits leftover from a layer cake for the pieced front. And I had plenty of trimmed backing fabric to use as the lining fabric. All I needed was a coordinating solid, some interfacing and two zippers to complete the pouch!

The pattern was a delight to use. Clear directions with clean illustrations enhanced the creative design of the pouch. I will certainly be making more of these pouches and will likely be buying more pouch patterns from Sew Lux Fabric in the future!

Please note: I purchased the pattern from Sew Lux for my personal use. No consideration was given and these opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

On My Way

I'm off to a weekend quilt getaway shortly and thought I'd share my packing list. Did I miss anything? Hope you enjoy your quilting-related travel as much as I do!

Sewing machine
Quarter inch foot
Walking foot
Free motion foot
Any specialty feet required
Thread (including different colors for different projects)
Sewing machine needles
Foot pedal
Power cord
Extension cord
Extension table for machine
Lint brush
Sewing machine oil

Thread snips
Rotary cutter
Extra blades for rotary cutter
Self healing mat
Quilting rulers
Seam ripper

Portable iron mat
Seam roller
Spray starch


Disappearing ink fabric pen
Mechanical pencil

Portable light
Ziploc bags
Water bottle

Monday, December 11, 2017

Gift Ideas for Quilters: 2017 Edition

With two weeks to go before Christmas, you might be wondering what to get the quilter in your life. Here are some ideas, either taken directly from my own list or based on products I've used and loved this year. Please note, I was not sent any of these products for free, these are simply my opinions!

I’ve been a subscriber to the Tagged label club from Sweetwater for several months. Each month I receive a beautiful, personalized label (sometimes two!), ready to be affixed to a quilt or other project. I keep meaning to make a zipper bag with one! These labels make a great gift because they are both practical (who doesn’t need a bit of a push labeling their quilts?) and this is a subscription-based product that won’t break the bank that the giver will enjoy for months to come.

I love enamel pins in general, and I especially love this little pin and the story behind the word “sewist.” I’m a lover of words, and I feel having the perfect word to use is important. “Sewist” combines the words “sewer” and “artist” and has the advantage of not being misread as the other type of sewer (you know, the type underground that smells rather unpleasant). The pin is available is aqua and pink.

Another great stocking stuffer is one of Moda’s Matchbox quilts. These small kits include nearly everything to make a six-inch quilt. You can get one or a few of these darling little projects. 

For a more functional gift, a seam roller is a practical gift that surprisingly is not in every quilter's toolbox. I like being able to press seams quickly, especially when paper piecing. I use this curved, wooden one made for pressing wallpaper seams (a flat roller can leave lines on the fabric). It is sturdy and works wonderfully. Clover also has a smaller, ergonomic version called the Roll & Press that is readily available in quilting stores. 

One of my favorite gifts last year was a box of Aurifil thread that my husband surprised me with. It's like candy for quilters! I'm still working my way through the box nearly a year later (those spools are large). You can't go wrong with a box of neutrals, or, for something more cheerful and bright, pick up one of their many boxes curated by various fabric designers.   

Finally, the big gift on my list this year is Electric Quilt 8. I'm a big fan of Electric Quilt, but have been chugging along with Electric Quilt 5 all these years. I think I'm due for an upgrade! The new version looks chock full of great new features and I'm excited to check it out if I find it under the tree this year!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and find lots of quilting goodies under the tree!

Monday, October 23, 2017

DIY Washi Tape

I make a lot of quilts using precuts and often have a lovely pile of coordinating scraps leftover at the end. I generally toss them in a baggie together and now have a pretty substantial collection of scraps from various projects.

Over the coming months, in an effort to make use of some of these scraps, I'm going to work on smaller projects that can showcase these pretty little bits that I don't want to just toss. It's going to be Scraptastic!

First up: DIY washi tape. I hesitate to even call this a tutorial since there's not much to it. But for the smallest leftover bits in your stash, consider making some homemade washi tape. The uses for washi tape are endlessyou can brighten up mail, use it in craft projects, or dress up items around your house, like boxes, picture frames, or clothespins.

Simply attached doubled sided fabric tape (I used Dritz Res-Q-Tape) to scraps of fabric and trim. You can cut the ends straight, or trim them at an angle for a bit more flair.

I keep an extra rotary cutter with an older blade reserved for cutting paper. I used it for this project since the backing material on the tape might dull my other blade. Be particularly careful when trimming as the backing material was pretty slippery.

Since washi tape can be skinny (mine was 3/4"), this is a particularly good use of those really small scraps that would otherwise go in the trash bin.

I put my washi tape right to work dressing up some mail!