Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sorting, Saving, and Using Fabric Scraps

I love scraps. I think most of us sew-y, crafty people love scraps because we see so much potential in them. (And because we also recognize the investment in all of that fabric!) 

As anyone with experience with fabric scraps (or small breeding rodents) knows, they can quickly multiply and get out of control! So I thought I'd share a couple of ideas about managing your fabric scraps.

Sorting, Saving, and Storing Scraps:
First of all, find a simple solution that you'll actually do. If you're just getting started, then definitely go simple because it's more likely to be effective.
When I finally decided to start getting organized I took everything smaller than a fat eighth out of my regular stash and sorted my scraps by colors only. I still use clear plastic bins from Target/Walmart/etc. and just automatically add my scraps to the right bin. 

The other benefits to storing scraps by color is it's easier to find something I need AND they look prettier, they inspire me to make something with them and therefore I'm a whole lot more likely to actually do some thing with them!
Size: people have asked me many times what size scraps I save: I save anything bigger than about 2" x 2" and smaller than a 10" x 10" square in my scrap bins. Bigger than that I put them with my yardage (which I also sort by color).

I save little pieces to use for English Paper Piecing projects. (Video tutorial for EPP here.)
Sorting scraps by size:

In recent years, I also started sorting scraps a little bit by size as well. A while back I read a post by Lori Holt about organizing and saving fabric scraps. She's a genius. I'm not quite as well organized, but I have started saving two sizes of "precuts" when I'm cutting fabric or have left over jelly-roll strips, etc. I save 2 1/2'' squares and 2 1/2'' strips. Both are useful in lots of patterns, and they've come in handy. I still keep them sorted by color so they look pretty are I'm more inspired to use them.

My last Scrap Management tip: purge. Routinely go through your scrap bins and pull out scraps that just don't inspire you any more and let them go. Give them to a friend, a quilt guild, or a charity and let someone else create with them. I guarantee that you will be more inspired to use your scraps after you've got rid of the ones you don't like anymore.

These are just a couple of suggestions that have worked for me. There are loads of great ideas out there for organizing and using scraps. Most importantly, do what works for YOU! Saving and organizing scraps is only worth doing if they're something you'll use, not because they're something you feel guilty about.
Scrap Busting Extravaganza Square-01
Today I'm sharing a little project for using scraps at Flamingo Toes. Bev has organized a series of tutorials for busting your scraps - and they're more than just fabric scraps - there's paper, trims, etc. involved as well! I'm excited to see all the projects and ideas as the series continues.
I'm sharing mini-quilt tutorial perfect for using up fabric scraps. You can find 

If you're looking for other ideas for using up scraps, this post is full of ideas for using your fabric scraps

I've also started a Scraps pinboard that I update regularly, if you want to follow it for the latest projects and ideas:

Enjoy sorting and using those scraps! Feel free to leave any tips or methods that have worked well for you.
Craftsy Blogger Awards - Vote for Me badge
Post Edit:  I just discovered I was nominated on Craftsy's blog for best tutorials! (WHAT?!) And voting ends today! So just in case you're surfing around the internet and curious to check out the other categories and nominees, and cast some votes of your own, here's the link. And a HUGE thank you to those who nominated me!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bundles on Sale and new Bag of the Month kits at Pink Castle Fabrics

Pink Castle Fabrics

Some fun things going on at one of my favorite online fabric shops: Pink Castle Fabrics. I am such a fan of their selection - lots of my favorite collections, all in one place. Some of their new collections include Pam Kitty Garden, Minny Muu (so cute!), Doe, and new Cotton+Steel.
This weekend (Saturday Jan 23 - Sunday Jan 24) all bundles and precuts are 20% off with the code BUNDLE20. 
Pinhead Dots - Fat Quarter Bundle
This includes new Cotton+Steel collections, Architextures crosshatch, lots of great rainbow bundles, including this great stash builder, pinhead dots bundle. I also love this Word Up text prints bundle. I may need to order that one.

Bag of the Month Club Kit - Sew Sweetness
In other fun news, Sara Lawson is starting a Bag of the Month club and Pink Castle is pre-selling kits for the full bag or hardware only

You can keep up to date with all of the other latest additions or announcements by following Pink Castle fabrics on their blogFacebook, or Twitter. Be sure to check out the details on their upcoming sewing reteat, Camp Stitchalot, this spring. Looks amazing.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

New Quilt Block and Scrappy Trip Around the World

I mentioned last week that I was working on a new block design. This is that block. I am both sad and pleased to announce that I will probably never make another one. I like the way it turned out - it definitely looks best if you stand back and squint your eyes - but it was TOO much work to make. (I guess I'm an impatient quilter.) And I could never quite get the measurements right (hence don't look to close.)

I made myself finish it (despite my frustrations) thinking I could make it into a pillow or mini quilt. Then as I was taking the picture, I realized it might make a great medallion quilt center - then I could keep building the quilt with the fabric I pulled. I'm liking that I idea. But it's heading to the WIP (Works in Progress) pile for now. Maybe it will live on my design wall for a time... So there's that.
Speaking of WIP's this is my first WIP I pulled out to work on (in keeping with my goal to finish 4 before I start something new. This is the Scrappy Trip Around the World quilt I started two years ago, back when there was a #scrappytripalong craze going on. (Directions here.) But I'm not in love with it. (Hence the dragging my feet.) Still, I'm determined to finish it.
I'm still going for the old, eclectic, scrappy quilt you'd find in your grandparents Air Stream camper (minus the weird smells and polyester), but it's not funky enough. I tried adding more mustard and different shades of green and a little turquoise. I think it needs more.
I've been throwing random fabrics on the floor. I think I just need to go for ugly at this point and then I might start to love it. We'll see how it turns out. Because it will get done, whether I'm in love or not. I've invested too many valuable scraps in this one. (You know what I mean?!) Now I just want the time to sit and work on it...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Labeling your quilt

Now that 2015 is in full swing, I'm setting three realistic quilting goals for the year.
  1. Take an inventory of all my WIP's (a.k.a. Works In Progress) and finish up as many as I can. My short term goal is to finish 4 WIP's before I start a new project. 
  2. Get rid of half of my stash. Either by using it (to finish the aforementioned WIP's), destashing, or donating. (When I told my husband this goal, he may have responded by snorting because he was trying not to laugh.) But, I'm proud to say, I've already started cleaning out and passed along a bunch last week!
  3. Start labeling my quilts.
I'll probably post more about the other two, but today I'm going to talk about quilt labeling.
I am THE. WORST. at labeling my quilts. For years I've said I'm going to start doing it. I think of all the quilts I've made over the years (which is not a few) I've labeled maybe 5. It's a travesty.

I have all kinds of excuses. One being I don't like my handwriting on fabric. The second being, it's just one more added step that I need to think about and isn't part of my routine.

There are some great resources out there for labeling quilts. One of my favorite's is Crazy Mom Quilt's quilt label tutorial- she makes is so simple to do. I've used this method - simple, no thinking, easy to sew on - but it's my handwriting that is the hang-up for me.
So I think you can imagine how thrilled I was when my friend April gave me a set of pre-printed custom quilt labels with my name already on them! I love them! The set came in a variety of styles and colors so I can match the label to the individual quilt. Having a go-to label that's ready to sew right away eliminates so many of my excuses. I'm committed!! Yay!
April is the owner of Modern Yardage - a custom fabric printing business. They sell blank labels, personalized labels, and quilt care labels as well. If you'd like to order your own, you can visit Modern Yardage for all the details. (I'm thinking custom labels would also make a great gift! I should add the them to the Gifts for Quilters list.) 
Whether you make your own or get some custom labels, here is an easy method for sewing a quilt label to your quilt. Give the label a little spritz of starch to make it nice and crisp. Using the starch, fold back the sides of the label - starting with the top and bottom, then the two opposite sides. The starch will make the edges nice and crisp and easier to sew.

You could also fold the fabric back on the straight edge of a piece of a cardboard cereal box to make sure your edges are perfectly straight.
Pin the label on your quilt - I like to put it in one of the bottom corners - and using a hidden applique stitch, sew the label in place. Slide the needle through the label, the backing, and batting, avoiding going all the way through the front of the quilt. I personally would recommend sewing it to the back of a new quilt before it's washed, whenever possible. That way your quilt itself is still a little more stiff and then if you wash before you give the quilt away, you can make sure the label is still securely in place. 
This label cracked me up. (But it's truth, right?)

April from Modern Yardage has generously offered to give away sets of customized quilt labels to 4 of you! To enter, take a quick trip to Modern Yardage and have a peak at their site. What they do is so unique where all of their fabric is printed on demand. There are lots of really neat panels and projects available. Come back and leave a comment telling me something you like.

Giveaway open until Saturday, January 24 at midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED


I really like the custom quilt labels and the labels with washing instructions. Both are going on my gift list. Thanks!

Those labels look amazing! I love the Midnight Garden line, might have to snatch up some of that!

I do label my quilts but I'm always looking for a more efficient way. I don't like my handwriting either. I love that you can order labels from modern yardage. 

Oh my goodness, I love Modern Yardage! I really want some of the labels, panels, and fabrics, and I really like that I can buy specific letters to personalize some of my works. Thank you for sharing this site! It's affordable and has lots of cool stuff. I'm a fan!

You can see some projects and ideas with Modern Yardage fabrics on their Facebook page.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Broken Dishes Baby Quilt Tutorial

Half Square triangle blocks are one of the basic elements of quilting. The design options are endless. At the bottom of this post is a link to a Half Square Triangles pinboard where you can get all kinds of half-square triangle inspiration.

For this tutorial I'll be sharing the traditional "Broken Dishes" layout of half square triangle blocks. It's such a simple pattern - perfect for showing off pretty fabric like the quilt above (more details here). It also works well for a simple, graphic design like this example using only solid fabrics.
The design works well when there's some contrast between light and dark fabrics. You can see in my solids version of this quilt, that the contrast is more stark between light and dark. In the crib-size version I used a variety of prints as well as different colors for my 'dark' fabrics and I like the over-all scrappi-ness of the finished look. You don't have to use 'lights' and 'darks' - just an overall random selection of fabrics would look equally great.
Fabric requirements for 40" x 50" crib quilt (prints quilt):
  • 40 light' 6" x 6" 'squares 
  • 40 'dark' 6" x 6" squares
  • 3/8 yard fabric for binding
  • 1 5/8 yards for backing
  • 42" x 54" batting
Fabric requirements for a 54" x 68" lap-size quilt (solid orange and navy quilt):
  • 24 'light' 10" x 10" squares
  • 24  'dark' 10" x 10" squares
  • 3/8 yard for binding
  • 3 1/4 yards for backing
  • 55" x 72" batting
Fabric requirements for a 68" x 85" twin-size quilt:
  • 40 light 10" x 10" squares
  • 40 dark 10" x 10" squares
  • 5/8 yard binding
  • 5 yards backing
  • 72" x 90" batting

Choosing fabrics:
There's no right or wrong - just different options. You could use a commercial collection - like I did on this one - or just pick out fabrics and colors that you like. This design is very forgiving and embraces a wide-variety of looks! So don't over think your fabric - just go for it.

Let's start with the crib quilt using the 6" x 6" squares:

I cut my squares from fat quarters. 7 light FQ's and 7 dark FQ's will give you a nice variety of fabrics. If you are cutting from FQ's, you'll get the best use of your fabric by cutting two  6" x 18" strip from the 18" side of the FQ, and then cutting them into six 6" x 6" blocks.

You could also buy 1/6 yards of fabric (if your fabric store will cut 1/6 yards) for this quilt - 7 light fabrics and 7 dark fabrics. 1/6 of a yard is going to be 6" x about 42". Cut at least six 6" x 6" squares from each 1/6 yard. (You'll have a little extra fabric left over.)
How to make Half Square Triangle Blocks: Match each light 6" x 6" square right sides together with a dark 6" x 6" square. Draw a diagonal line on the back of every light square.
Sew a seam 1/4" away down both sides of the line. (Here's a demo using dark thread so that you can see the seam allowances.) 

Optional: There is a great method for marking your machine using tape so that you don't have to draw a line one all of your fabric squares.
Rotary cut directly on the drawn line to create two separate blocks.

Square up each block to 5 1/2" x 5 1/2''. This step can seam a little tedious, but it makes a big difference when it's time to assemble the blocks. Here is the traditional method to square up half-square triangle blocks (HST's) but this is my favorite quick square-up method

Press blocks flat with seam allowance toward the dark fabric on all blocks. (This will come in handy when you assemble your rows.)
Starting with the first row, layout 8 HST blocks with dark triangles rotating like this. Repeat this layout direction for all odd rows (rows 1, 3, 5, and 7). Press seams to the right on all odd rows.

Starting with the second row, layout 8 HST blocks with dark triangles rotating in this pattern. Repeat this layout direction for all even rows (rows 2, 4, 6 and 8). Press seams to the left on all even rows.

(I recommend laying out the entire quilt before you start sewing blocks into rows so that you can play with colors and prints and get an overall picture of the finished quilt. Then pick up rows, keeping blocks in order, one at a time, and take to the machine to sew them together. Label each row (1, 2, 3, etc.) so that you can keep the rows in order once they are assembled.
Pin and sew rows together in order. By pressing the seam allowances in opposite directions on odd and even rows, your seams should but up against each other, helping your triangle points to match up.

Press row seams in one direction.
For more information on finishing a quilt, go to these tutorials on Choosing Batting, Quilting, and Binding a Quilt. My quilt was machine quilted by Melissa from Sew Shabby Quilting.

You could make twin size quilt with blocks this size (5" x 5" finished), if you like, using 238 squares 6" x 6" (119 light squares and 119 dark squares.)

However, I would recommend using 10" squares (which are easily found in pre-cuts) for a larger size quilt. This will simplify the number of squares you have to sew, piece, and square-up and the scale works well for a bigger quilt.

See the fabric requirements above for a 51" x 68" lap quilt or 68" x 85" twin-size quilt version using 10" squares.
Use the same method for creating the half square triangles: matching up two squares, sewing on both sides of diagonal line, cutting into two units, etc. When squaring up, square up these blocks to 9" x 9" (8 1/2" x 8 1/2" finished).

For the 51" x 68" quilt (shown) sew the rows into 6 blocks across by 8 blocks down. Use the photo  here for direction placement.

For the 68" x 85" quilt, lay out the 9" x 9" blocks 8 blocks across by 10 blocks down. Use the same placement guide as the 40" x 54" crib quilt.

Now that you know the basics for sewing half square triangle (HST) blocks, your design options are endless. I'm constantly updating this pin board with HST designs and layouts if you're looking for inspiration.

If you're looking for other simple baby quilt ideas check these out:
Charm Pack Baby Quilt
Baby Lattice Quilt
Fast Four Patch

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fabric. And more fabric.

I sketched a new quilt block design one day over the holiday break and started sewing it up. It's made up of a lot of little pieces (definitely not fabulously fast) and at this point I've only made half of one block. But that didn't stop me from pulling fabrics and colors I'd like to use should this block turn into a quilt. 
I started with some of Jen Kingwell's Gardenvale collection I picked up at Market and then added more fabrics from my stash in the color range I was using. I seem to often gravitate toward reds, yellows and blues, and greens, so the addition of the purples and blacks are kind of a new look for me. (*pats self on the back*) Excited to see where this goes!

Since the pieces in the block are small I stuck with mostly small-scale prints that almost read solid. Bigger prints would get lost in this design. Maybe by next week I'll have one block done and I can show it off. :)

Speaking of stash...

*warning: enabler alert*
...have you heard about Westwood Acres' newest monthly subscription club: the "I Want Her Stash" Fabric and Pattern Club. Each month a bundle of 16 fat quarters picked by a different designer + an original pattern from that designer will arrive in your mail box. And guess who's month is January? Me. (Pressure!)

As of last night there were only a few spots left... UPDATE: the club is full but there is a wait list. 

Here's a list of the designers for each month. Whoa - I'm honored to be on that list! Can't wait to see what they all do! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

FQ Bundle Giveaway from Mad About Patchwork

Today I am hosting a giveaway for Pam from Mad About Patchwork. Mad About Patchwork is  a beautiful, well-organized, online fabric shop located in Ontario, Canada. Their site is easy to navigate and search and has fantastic customer service.
Mad About Patchwork is a great resource for the latest modern fabrics including Carolyn Friedlander's latest, Doe, Lotta Jansdotter's Follie, and Modern Quilt Studio's Modern Plaid Collection. Also available this month, pre-order's for Julie Herman's amazing Gravity Block of the Month kits.

Also new to the shop are the three Elizabeth Hartman Aviatrix Kona bundles as well as her Aviatrix pattern.
Through the month of January, Mad About Patchwork is having a BUNDLE UP sale with 20% off all designer and stash bundles in the shop! A great time to stock up on collections or build your stash in specific colors. I think my favorite is the Shot-Cotton bundle
Other markdowns include 25% off on Heather Ross's Far Far Away. Kona Sunrise and Sunset rolls are also 20% off. Check the rest of the Sale selection for some great deals.
Today, Mad About Patchwork would like to generously giveaway this custom FQ bundle called Winter Sunrise to one of you. I think it's SOoo pretty. (This bundle is currently on sale through January 18.)

To enter to win this Fat Quarter bundle take a quick trip to Mad About Patchwork and come back here to tell me something in stock that you love. One comment per person. Giveaway open until Saturday, January 17 at midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED

WINNER: Faye NettlesJanuary 13, 2015 at 12:31 PM
I like Doe and Aviatrix Medallion bundle in Autumn.

You can keep up with the latest happenings and arrivals at Mad About Patchwork on their blog or their Facebook page as well.

Friday, January 9, 2015

One Word Challenge: Essentials

For the past few years, I've watched people take the "One Word Challenge" at the begining of a new year. Basically, inviting people to bag the idea of setting a list of goals and resolutions to keep track of, and instead choose one word that would be emblematic of your over-all motivation or goal for the year.

Frankly, I've never had the discipline to do it before (and maybe therein lies the bigger problem). So I was grateful when my friend Tauni challenged me to really do it this year. It made me sit and actually think about it.
necklace from Charmed Collections
My "one word" for 2015 is Essentials.

And here's why. Like most everyone out there, I try to be and do too much to too many people. And I hate the burnout that comes when I do that. Too often, I was getting distracted by so many little things that by the time I circled back to the most important things/people/responsibilities I wasn't able to give them my best self/effort.

This year my goal is to put the Essentials first: making time for personal devotion, family, time to exercise and eat right, and helping the people closest to me. You can read more about my thoughts of starting with the essentials and still being able to fit in some of the "nice-to-do" things on the list too in my One-Word Challenge post at SNAP Creativity.
A few weeks ago, I also started reading Greg McKeown's book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less and didn't even make the connection until this week that it goes hand in hand with my word of the year. His book talks about focus and making choices - which means saying no to a lot of things so that your emphasis is on the biggest goal and most important things in your life. That emphasis is personal and different for everyone, but finding it and defining it is important to do for yourself, since no one else can do it for you.

I'm excited and hopeful about seeing where this focus takes me. I'll probably continue to take on too much and drop balls here and there, but hopefully progress will be made with more peace of mind to be had a long the way.

Anyone else out there taking on the One Word Challenge?