It’s better to give…

than to receive.

Receiving? Also good.

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I received a couple of truly lovely surprises this week from my friends Daisy (Ants to Sugar) and Michelle (Factotum of Arts).

I happened to mention on Instagram (@sarahschraw) that I didn’t have any brown fabric. As in, none. At all.

So Daisy and Michelle each sent a fun little package with some brown fabric and a few extra surprises thrown in. (Because when quilters pay postage, we make the most of it).

Thanks so much you guys!

Now for the giving part!

I have 2 custom bundles to give away from 2 different events this past weekend: the Grow your Blog blog hop and Sunday Stash.

From the Grow your blog giveaway, Mr. Random chose lucky number 2-5!

I love your quilts!! I would love for you to pick what color bundle.. I love any!!!

Whitney blogs at The Running Stitch, so after a little super-secret investigation this is the bundle I came up with for her:

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I hope she loves it!

From the Sunday Stash giveaway, Mr. Random chose lucky number 1-0-5!

I added my link!

Nick (who blogs at Quilts from the Attic) requested purple and green. It was an extra fun challenge to create a fabric bundle for a man! I had to stalk him a little to be sure I got it right.

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I hope this works for you Nick!

Maybe it really is better to give than to receive. This was a ton of fun! These bundles will go out tomorrow, along with the bee blocks I’ve been dreading. Must. Do. Today. 48 HSTs, here I come…

Barn door quilt along: week 4

I thought you guys might need some encouragement at this point in the process! Keep it up you guys, your quilts are looking amazing. In no time you’ll have a quilt top like this:

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I really like this second version. I’m going to give it to my 2 year old. We’ve already been talking about it and he reports that he especially loves the animals and bridges.

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After this quilt, and my previous barn door, and my penny sampler, I think I am officially ready for a short break from text and low volume prints! My next quilt is going to be a little brighter (and yet darker). I can’t wait to show you.

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I know you guys are not quite ready for instruction on borders yet, so I’ll hold off on that until next week.

Let’s go ahead with the link up though, so I can see where you’re at. Next Monday I’ll do a post on borders and have a new schedule ready for the rest of the quilt along!

If you are looking for the previous posts in this series, here are the links:

Sunday stash of shame (and a giveaway)

Not really. I’m just being dramatic. Ok maybe a little shame. 10% shame, 90% happiness.

I warned you last week that I was expecting quite a few packages.

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First up, I’ll show you the fabrics I got directly from #thegreatfabricdestash.

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These dotty stripes are from Katie Jump Rope, Denyse Schmidt’s classic 2nd collection (after the original Flea Market Fancy). I really wish they would reprint this line. I’m getting obsessed with the idea of collecting it.

Image credit: dsquilts.com

Image credit: dsquilts.com

This too.

image credit: freshlemonsquilts.com

Image credit: freshlemonsquilts.com (used with permission)

That’s Picnic and Fairground, Denyse’s first-ever line for JoAnn’s. This was out when I first started quilting and a few of the fabrics are featured in my earliest quilts. How I wish I’d known to buy it all!

Continuing our tour-de-Denyse, my other detsash purchase was this Flea Market Fancy.

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I like these a lot more than I thought I would. I’m probably the last quilter in the world to acquire these. I think they’ll be pretty easy to use in a wide variety of projects.

Speaking of easy to use, how bout these neons?

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Ok, maybe not easy to use. But so cool. They practically glow in the dark. You’ll definitely be seeing these in my next big project. More about that soon!

I got the neons from a cute little Etsy shop (A Vintage Fairytale), along with this little bundle of the old Sew Stitchy line by Aneela Hoey.

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And we all knew it was only a matter of time before this bundle fell into my shopping cart:

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True Colors by Anna Maria Horner. The colors in this line are amazing in person. Some of them are actually pretty close to the neons! Perhaps they would pair well together in a project. Perhaps…

But my primary intent for my destash proceeds was to acquire a good number of basics. These all came from Westwood Acres, one of my personal favorite fabric shops.

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Lots of dots.

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Subtle stripes.

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And jewels.

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I will neither confirm nor deny that there are 2 more destash packages that haven’t arrived yet. You’ll have to come back next week to see.

As part of my hosting duties today I have the honor and privilege of sharing a little stash with you all! To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below telling me what color your stash is most lacking, and I’ll put together a very special bundle just for you.

Extra entry for linking up your stash and/or being a follower. Just leave an extra comment for each. I’ll leave the giveaway open until Wednesday at noon, EST. (And yes, I’m more than happy to ship to our international friends! You guys invented Sunday Stash, didn’t you?)

Now it’s your turn. Anyone else get a huge pile of mail after #thegreatfabricdestash? Show us!

As always, here are the rules:

1. Link up a blog post welcoming any new sewing supplies to your stash.

2. If it is fabric from your existing stash that you’ve showcased before, please use new photos with as much natural light as possible, and provide as many manufacturing details about the fabric.

3. Try to leave a comment on at least two other links. We want this to be a safe space for sewing supply collectors, after all!

4. Grab the button, and proudly proclaim you endorse Sunday Stashing!

A special thank you to Molli for allowing me to host today!

Molli Sparkles

“Grow your blog” blog hop

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Welcome to everyone stopping in from the Grow your blog blog hop! (If you’ve already been hanging around here with me a while feel free to skip this one. But if you’re a relatively new reader you might find something new!)

I know you’re visiting a million blogs so I’m going to try to make this easy on you. Here are the top 4 things that come to mind when I think about what’s been going on here lately:

  • Your 1st quilt series – if you’ve never made a quilt before, this series is especially for you! I take you through all the basics you’ll need to make your very first quilt.

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  • Sewing room – I shared my new sewing space here:

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There’s still plenty of time to join in!

  • 2013 year in review link party – click here to see all the quilts I made in 2013, as well as links to 42 other bloggers’ year in review posts.

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As a little “get to know you” gift, I’ll be giving away a specially selected fabric bundle. Just leave a comment telling me what color you want. You don’t have to be a follower to enter, but followers (new & old) do get an extra entry. And if you really love giveaways be sure to come back Sunday morning for another! I’ll leave the giveaway open until Wednesday at noon.

I’m glad you stopped here and I hope you come again soon. Happy hopping!

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Barn door quilt along: week 3

There really isn’t a lot to say this week, except keep up the good work! I loved seeing your progress last week.

Now, if you are feeling behind, please do not stress. Let’s see how everyone is doing next week when we do another link up. If we need to adjust the schedule we’ll do it then!

Here’s a recap with links to the posts:

  • Week 1 (January 6) – center rows (9-15)
  • Week 2 (January 13) – top rows (1-8) & link up for week 1 progress
  • Week 3 (January 20) – bottom rows (16-23)
  • Week 4 (January 27) – borders & link up for weeks 1-3 progress
  • Week 5 (February 3) – quilting & finishing
  • Week 6 (February 10) – final link up celebration & giveaway

Sunday stash: countdown to the big one

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I’m very excited to be hosting Sunday Stash next week, but I’m also feeling a little Sunday morning guilt about all my recent purchases.

If you’re on Instagram, you were no doubt aware of the HUGE destash party that occurred under the hashtag #thegreatfabricdestash. (It’s still going, actually.) It was crazy fun, and it just so happened to fall on my birthday. I had already been planning a couple of acquisitions because I sold my Accuquilt, but now I had the opportunity to add to those funds by a little destashing of my own.

A perfect storm ensued and now I actually don’t even know how many parcels are coming my way. I sent off quite a few too, so it’s not as bad as it’s going to look. But I’m warning you now, it’s going to look bad. Come back for that next week and do your best to keep a straight face when you tell me it’s not that bad.

So this week I need to be sure I share everything already in my possession so my list next week will be a little lighter. Thanks to the uber-talented and generous Kelsey and Amanda of Everyday Fray I received this bundle from Westwood Acres.

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Catnap! So cool! And not something I necessarily would have thought of on my own, in a good way. The colors are fabulous and the prints are cute in a kind of hipster way.

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There are some great basics too, which is something I’ve been focusing on lately.

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I’m not going to set out to make a completely Catnap project, but I greatly look forward to the playful element it will add to many projects.

I gave you a peak of this happy bundle last week, but I didn’t really talk about it.

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I got a fat quarter bundle of Color Me Happy by V & Co. This is definitely her best line yet. So pretty, which is a welcome change after working with the more masculine prints of Botanics for my barn door quilt.

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My final recent purchase was this charm pack of April Showers.

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I’m loving the greens, navies, and grays of this line.

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Definitely some great basics – contenders for ordering yardage when it comes out.

Ok, come back next week and see my Sunday stash of shame! Maybe I’ll get lucky and some of it won’t come in time.

(Linking up with Sunday Stash, obviously.)

Friday finish: my 1st art quilt

Do you guys remember when I was inspired by Ann Loveless (art quilter)?

Last Saturday morning (when the kids were with grandparents) that inspiration led to this:

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Pretty cool, right?

It was really fun to try something completely different. Ann is writing a book about this method, so I think it would be wrong of me to do a full tutorial. But in short, you rough cut 1/2 inch squares and use interfacing to attach them to muslin. Then use more interfacing to attach the focal point (in this case, a fussy cut butterfly) and stitch over everything in the design of your choice. I’ll let you guys know when the book comes out!

This is the perfect use for those pretty strings that are maybe just a little too skinny for their own good.

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This is definitely something I’ll be trying again, perhaps with Anne and Adrianne’s Radiant Orchid challenge in mind.

On an almost entirely unrelated note, I came across the best tip on Pinterest the other day: Lynne from Lily’s Quilts has a quick tutorial on reinforcing a too-scant seam. I wanted to share that with you right away because it’s something I really wish I’d known when I was assembling my penny sampler! Then I wouldn’t be so afraid to wash it…

Linking up my first art quilt with Crazy Mom!

Why pin? (a tutorial)

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After some interesting email discussions with some of my barn door quilt along participants, I decided to take the time to talk for a minute about pinning.

Every quilter has to determine her (or his) own personal pinning system. Most quilters are not going to pin every single seam they sew. Some quilters never pin at all. I’m going to share what I do in case you find it helpful. The goal is for you to make your own decision in order to maximize your enjoyment of quilting and your satisfaction with your results.

When I first started quilting I used pins whenever my strips were longer than 6 inches because that is what the Learn to Quilt DVD instructed! I didn’t understand the hows or whys, and I didn’t have good results. I got really frustrated when my strips didn’t seem to line up so I started over cutting and trimming afterwards.

(Edit: by “over cutting” I mean cutting the strip longer than it needs to be, sewing, and then trimming).

This went on for some time and I made several very useful and pretty quilts that way. They always had a little wonk to them but I did my best with the information I had at the time.

In fact, allow me to show you something you probably didn’t notice the first time you saw barn door:

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Woopsa-daisy! The triangle should be a normal, complete HST (half square triangle) and the first piece of the bottom border should line up with it. Completely not a big deal and not anything you’d notice if you view the quilt as a whole.

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When I make mistakes that don’t ruin the quilt, I frequently leave them in. I’ve said before that it’s not fun anymore if I have to sew it twice. But I do try to understand what went wrong and how to avoid making that same mistake again.

In this case, the mistake was over cutting and trimming instead of carefully measuring and pinning.

I had similar problems with the solid stripes quilts I made my nephews. In that case my incorrect pinning technique caused my quilt top to completely refuse to lay flat. I don’t have any good pictures of that because it was before blogging. You’ll just have to trust me: it would not lay flat and it was extremely frustrating. (By the way, if you have trouble with your borders “waving” or “smiling” this is why!)

After watching a few Craftsy classes and receiving some very expert instruction from my husband’s aunt, my results (and enjoyment!) have improved quite a bit.

Here’s what I learned.

Most importantly, you have to pin in the right order. Besides the over cutting, this is the biggest thing I was doing wrong.

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Line up and pin the outer edges first and then place a pin in the middle. If this was a longer strip I would add additional pins in the middle of these pins and then keep adding pins in the middle until I had pins every 3-4 inches.

If your strips are slightly off, you still line up the outer edges. Use even more pins (every 1-2 inches) and leave them in until your needle is just about to hit them. You’ll be amazed by the way that extra fabric somehow eases into the seam and disappears. If it doesn’t, that may be because your strips were too far off for “easing in” to work. Then you have to decide whether to go back and redo something or live with it the way it is and try again on the next strip!

If your strips have seams that you want lined up (as is the case for barn door) you line that area up and pin it first. Then you proceed with normal pinning procedure: outside edges followed by the middle.

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On this strip I pinned my 2 triangle points first

That’s all there is to it! It’s simple and effective and I’ve personally found it worth it because of the frustration it saves me later in the process.

As always, if you have any questions please let me know via comment or email. And if you have any additional pinning tips or techniques we would all love to hear them.

Barn door quilt-a-long: week 2

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Welcome to week 2 of the barn door quilt-a-long!

Confession time: it occurred to me last week that there is no reason in the world to write “quilt-a-long” rather than quilt along. So if you see that change soon you’ll know why. (English major fail.)

This week we’re going to sew the top rows (1-8). Don’t worry if you’re behind! If you’re able to focus a few good hours on this project you’ll have no trouble catching up. You may have seen hints on Instagram (@sarahschraw / #barndoorqal) that I am actually almost done with my quilt top. Once you get rolling it truly does come together fast. And good news: all the math is working perfectly!

There’s not a lot of new information this week. Last week’s assembly chart is all you need for the first 3 weeks of the quilt along. (You can reference the week 1 post here). Here is how your quilt will look at the end of week 2:

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After some good email discussions with a couple of you I decided a little more instruction on the pinning step might be helpful! I’m going to do that under a separate post later this morning (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise).

Now, the link up. I’d love to see your progress, even if it’s still just a pile of fabric!

Link up by clicking below. I’ll leave the link open one week (until January 20).

Friday finish: sewing room

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I’ve been thinking recently about why quilting is so enjoyable and satisfying to me. It’s definitely because after all the hard work I’ve created something beautiful and useful. But it’s also definitely because of the beauty of the process.

I love fresh, uncut fabric.

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Color me happy

I also love cut fabric.

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And partially sewn fabric.

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I’ve come to believe that fully half of my enjoyment of quilting is being surrounded by pretty things.

So when we recently decided to bunk Mr. 2 and Mr. 4 together in the same room (which they are loving by the way), I took care to make my new sewing room a beautiful place to spend time. Lots and lots of time.

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Of course priority number 1 was effective fabric storage. I have been folding my fabric Jeni Baker style for a while now. I love how it looks, but the stacks can be a little tippy. I saw some shallow craft shelves on another blog and it occurred to me that a little back support is exactly what these stacks need. I enlisted the services of a talented local carpenter and could not be happier with how it turned out.

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On the left I wanted some larger cubbies for collections. Pretty, inseparable collections. Part of me resists storing them this way because I know it discourages integrating the different lines together, which is something I personally strive to do. But seriously. I can’t help it. Too pretty. And anyway, how would I begin to sort my AMH by color? Who else has selvedges with 15 colors?

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Well, ok, Amy Butler gets a shelf too.

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Some lines lend themselves more readily to integration. I do plan to sort this Color Me Happy into the rest of my stash eventually. But I’m enjoying looking at it for now. Maybe this shelf will be sort of like a fabric inbox. (I’m very much looking forward to adding Catnap to it soon, thanks to Everyday Fray!!)

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I also designated a shelf for the project I’m working on at the time. Right now that’s barn door.

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The rest of the shelves are organized loosely by color.

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Look at the poor lonely solids in the upper right

I’ve promised my husband that when the shelf is full I’ll stop buying fabric. At least until I use enough to make more room!

Even if I’m the only one who’s really going to see it on a daily basis, I think it’s worth it to keep my stash as beautifully organized as possible. Maybe this is one of the keys to actually wanting to use the fabric I already have instead of always feeling like I want to buy more.

We made a special trip to the nearest Ikea for the counter-height cutting table with handy shelves for scrap sorting and ruler storage.

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I have one scrap bin for usable scraps to keep and one for unusable scraps to also keep – in case I need to stuff something or make an art quilt.

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And here’s my thread organizer and matching cork board for inspirational notes, fabric bits, and pictures. And my Juki! You can read about my love for my Juki here.

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I think my 2nd most favorite element in my new sewing room is my scrap organization system. But!! I want to share that with you in a slightly different way. I’m guest hosting as part of Sarah’s Scraps 101 series @ mila+cautro today! You really must click over and visit me there!

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In case you’re wondering, here’s a rundown of the main expenses:

Of course I’ll be back Monday for week 2 of the barn door quilt-a-long. I am so excited to show you my progress and see yours! I have been posting regularly to Instagram. I’m @sarahschraw and we’re using #barndoorqal. I also added a little Instagram widget to my sidebar for anyone who’d rather check in here.

Lastly, the Year in Review party is closing in just a couple of hours! I am about half through visiting all the links and it has been such fun to see what everyone did last year. I plan to visit the last half as soon as the party closes so I don’t miss anything.

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom to celebrate the completion of my sewing room and my 8 scrap baskets! Don’t forget to visit me here to hear much more about those. And I think all these pretty fabric pictures entitle me to link up for Sunday Stash as well!