Back to School Blog hop starts TODAY!


WOOHOO! Here we go!

As all the kiddos head back to school, I thought it might be fun for us to head back too, and learn a few new tips and tricks for our quilting and sewing practices. So I reached out to a bunch of my wildly talented industry pals and asked them to help form this hop just for all our readers.

So please help us kick it off today with a hop over to PetaQuilts for a nifty way to piece a back, and follow along below for a month of really great information.

See you with my post on Saturday!


BTW – Did you join my mailing list yet? Do it here. I’m dreaming up groovy exclusive stuff for you!

Back to School Blog Hop is coming next week!


I’m so excited about this!

I put a call out a few weeks back amongst my industry friends, asking for blog posts for tips and tricks on the basics of sewing and quilting, and WOWZA – do we have a great lineup forming. It’s so good that we’re taking up all of September and spilling into October!

I can’t wait to read some of them – I think I’m a smarty-pants most of the time, but I know that my pals have some stuff up their sleeves that I’ve never even thought about.

So pull out your pretty new notebooks and pencils, and stop back next week for the links –  we kick off on Tuesday September 1st!


BTW – Did you join my mailing list yet? Do it here. I’m dreaming up groovy exclusive stuff for you!


WASWI – Saying NO (or more Snappy Comebacks)

Recently, Karri G wrote with this question:

“What do you say when someone wants you to make them a copy of a pattern without sounding holy than thou?”

First of all, can I just say I don’t care about sounding “holier than thou”. I think a little righteous indignation is a good thing in this instance, because maybe it will change the game.


Instead of “OK, let me copy that for you” being a standard answer, let’s practice a few new ones:

  • No. Copying a pattern is stealing.
  • No. Copying a pattern is a copyright violation.
  • No. Copying a pattern cheats a designer out of the income they deserve.
  • No. If it inspires you, you should honor the designer by purchasing it.
  • No. You wouldn’t ask me to steal food for you, so please don’t ask me to help steal a pattern.
  • No. I don’t copy patterns. Please buy your own.

I know that we nice women prefer not to say NO, but in this case, I think we need to get used to it. Give it a try… it’s pretty empowering!

And Karri – thanks for writing with the question, and linking your copy-happy friends to my WASWI writings! On behalf of my industry, a huge thank you!


BTW – Did you join my mailing list yet? Do it here. I’m dreaming up groovy exclusive stuff for you!

Quilt Talk Bonus Pattern – Do No Harm!

I love quotes. I’ve subscribed to a few “quote of the day” emails over the years, and I’m a sucker for a chunky little book of them. I think this one might be the next in my collection. I like how they are usually a short but precise way to express things, and often come with a built in punch of a message that I usually needed to hear that day!

So I’ve decided to start putting a few of them into fabric, and as I do, I’ll be blogging the pattern notes for them here… consider them free/bonus additions to my book, Quilt Talk, just for you. Just to be clear, you’ll still need the book to access the letters, but I’ll have done a lot of the setting math for you :-)

I started plotting the letters of this one while I was in the writing phase of the book two years ago (TWO YEARS! ARGH!), but life got busy, and it ended up in the UFO pile. I paper-pieced the letters sometime last year, and again, it stalled. A couple of weekends back, I got real, and got to setting the letters. And from there, the finish was an easy one!

Do No Harm

I used the Barcelona line from Brigitte Heitland/Zen Chic – not only is she a talented designer, but she’s a lovely human as well! I used her highly successful Comma line for the Rackafrax quilt in the book.

This finished size for “Do No Harm” is 20” x 40” and this is how to do it:

  • The construction is similar to “She Just Ignored People…” in the book (p 101)
  • Copy the letters for do no, but, and no at 120% (“o” is 3”)
  • Copy the letters for harm, take, and shit at 150% (“a” is 3.75”)
  • Just to note, if you’re not keen on having a cuss word on your quilt, you can either play with the spelling by substituting an asterisk or exclamation mark for the “i”, or just change the word to a sentiment that suits you better.
  • The K space for the letters is 1/2” finished. The Word space between do and not is 2” finished.
  • The A&D strip for the 120% letters is 1.5” finished, and for the 150% letters is 2.375” (2 3/8”) finished
  • The Leading is 1.5” finished, except under do not and no, where is is 1” finished.
  • The top and bottom are 3” finished.
  • The width is 20”. So to calculate the size of the strip on either side of the word, measure the word, subtract 0.5 to get the finished word size, then subtract that from 20, then divide the result in half (one for each side) then add 0.5 to each piece for seam allowance. As an example:
    • 8.5” word
    • minus 0.5 for seam allowance = 8
    • Subtract 8 from 20 = 12
    • Divide 12 in half = 6
    • Add 0.5 to each for seam allowance = 6.5” – so cut 2 pieces 6.5” x height of the word, and sew to either side of the word.

Quilting ideas:


  • I find that a simple cross hatch, or straight lines works well with this kind of lettering, preferably done in a thread that doesn’t scream against any one fabric. I used medium gray Aurifil 2605 in this instance, with the cross hatch about 1” apart.
  • You could also densely quilt down the background with pattern or stipple to allow the letters to stand up.

I hope you have fun making this one – and if you have any suggestions for other short (keep ’em SHORT!) phrases you like to see in a Quilt Talk pattern, do post them in the comments!


BTW – Did you join my mailing list yet? Do it here. I’m dreaming up groovy exclusive stuff for you! And you’ll get the free pattern for the YOU ROCK! quilt in the upper right corner of the website!

Spring Clean Your Studio – my turn!

Don’t hate me. Truly. And no… this is not a Pantene commercial!

This post is supposed to be about showing you my messy studio, and then showing you the cleaned up version, but here’s the thing: I don’t make much mess while I work. And if I do, I clean it up before I go to bed.

So please…. don’t hate me!

Here’s how it looks in here most of the time:


Click on this image to see the larger and more detailed version!

I’m one of the few people that gets her creativity shut down by mess, and turned on by a lot of blank-slate work surfaces. The thought of digging under piles of fabric on the floor to find my fave scissors makes my stomach churn… instead, I pretty much put things back where the came from as I work.

I’ve always been a a relatively neat person (I was raised by parents who were raised by Victorians, and I wasn’t allowed to get messy!) but I honed my current tidying process in a corporate job some years back. I used to work for 4 different project managers at once, and I did it while I was finishing my BA in Sculpture and single-momming my son. At work, I was introduced to the Franklin Covey planning system, and one of the things it advised is using the last 10 minutes of your day to set the scene for tomorrow. It saved me when I was juggling all those crazy obligations, and I’ve continued with it ever since.

So at the end of the day, I tidy up:

  • Put away fabrics (more about this below)
  • Empty the iron and turn it off (I use an Oliso and they last longer when emptied at night)
  • Put away the tools
  • Shut down the sewing machine and computer
  • Lay out tomorrow’s project if I’m mid-stream on something
  • Add my hours to the studio tally sheets
  • Update my weekly lists – check off the DONE and add any new that cropped up during the day

The most important thing it does is gives me end-of-day peace of mind so I can sleep…. when I go to bed without doing this, I frequently wake up fretting about forgetting to do something. If it’s all on paper and laid out, I can rest easy that I’ll know right where to start tomorrow. I feel invited in by a tidy studio.

Now before you think I’m a saint, here’s the place when things can get messy for me – the top surface of my fabric drawers:


This space is where everything goes while I’m working. I pile on the fabrics that I’ve been using or auditioning, scraps, new purchases, bits of patterns in development, and all the quilts that are ready to be quilted. In this image, it’s about half as bad as it can get (while still staying contained to this space). UFOs that are not yet quilt tops are in zippy bags in a bin under my printer (lower left).

When it bugs me, I sort it out, which usually entails trying to put all the fabric away. I love the fabric drawers I have, and alas, this model is no longer made so I can’t buy more. Thus, I made the rule that if I can’t fit my fabric it all in the drawers (with upcoming projects set aside in zippy bags – see the bin in the top right corner), then I must cull the herd. Right now, some of the drawers are so full I can’t get a hand down the side, and yep, that actually makes me a little crazy.

So culling is on the agenda! Here is my plan:

  • Check the UFO bin to see if it’s time for any lingering projects to be tossed out
  • Fit all the fabric into drawers
  • Donate culled fabric, or package it for giveaways
  • Empty the “working scraps” bin (upper right)
  • Bag up the projects in process with all their parts and notes

And here’s the after image:


I love all that empty space! on top! I managed to cull over a drawer’s worth out, and most of it got taken home by my mini group. There’s still a deeper cull to be done, but for now, getting it all put away and photographed for this post was good enough!

If you’re interested in how I use my space, read below for some posts I wrote a while back (in my old studio) about my storage processes:

And don’t forget to check out the rest of the hop!

May 7 Kathy Mathews
May 8 Misty Cole Http://
May 9 Heather Kinion
May 10 Jessica Darling
May 11 Lisa Blevis Filion
May 12 Peta Minerof-Bartos
May 13 Mandy Leins
May 14 Amalia Teresa Parra Morusiewicz
May 15 Sam Hunter
May 16 Debby Ritenbaugh Brown
May 17 Debbie Kleve Berkebile
May 18 Michelle Mattingly
May 19 Cheryl Sleboda


BTW – Did you join my mailing list yet? Do it here. I’m dreaming up groovy exclusive stuff for you!



Come sew with me this weekend

I’m teaching at Fabric Depot in Portland, OR, again, this Sunday (April 12th) – I’d love it if you come play!

(BTW – Teresa Coates of Fabric Depot interviewed me for their blog – read it here)

HDS.003 - Big Block Tumble - COVER

This time, we’ll be working on Big Block Tumble. It’s a delightfully fast and easy quilt to make, and needs only three fabrics in the main body (you can add more in the borders like the cover sample if you like).

You can sign up here:

Best of all, it has NO Y-SEAMS! It constructs in easy, forgiving strips. You’ll probably have the body of the quilt top finished before you go home. And just so you know, I iron and rip for my students :-)

Here are some other versions I’ve made:

BBT OrangeBrown for PS Tumb Blox RedGray cropped


It’s a fun and versatile quilt, and a great one to make when you need a quick gift. I’d love to see you in class!


BTW – Did you join my mailing list yet? Do it here. I’m dreaming up groovy exclusive stuff for you!

Words, words, words

I asked for words and did you ever respond! I couldn’t choose…. I just couldn’t. Too many lovely words and even better stories (seriously… go read ’em). You are all so inspiring – and thank you for the new year wishes too!

So I RANDOM.ORG’d it. Kathleen K – with the lovely word CORUSCATE – look for an email from me!

Here’s what Kathleen wrote:

I came across a good word a while ago but can’t remember how or where.  I like it for the example Merriam-Webster gives because my husband has a 57 Ford Fairlane convertible with an awesome chrome grille.  The word is “coruscate” and the example is: “a classic car from the 1950s, replete with yards of coruscating chrome”.  The actual definition is “to give off or reflect in bright beams or flashes; to be brilliant or showy in technique or style”.  Awesome word!

Yes! An awesome word!


VAT is coming – and it isn’t pretty

UGH. You may or may not have heard about this: the way VAT (Value Added Tax) in Europe is being charged and handled is changing as of January 1st, 2015, and at the moment, it’s being implemented in a way that is a HUGE burden for small businesses.

Until the dust settles and good solutions arise, it means I have to switch off the ability to take digital patterns orders from countries outside of the USA as of December 31st at midnight – so if there’s anything you want for yourself as a late holiday prezzie, hop to it! Note that orders for physical products are not affected in this go around (although there are rumblings that they will be next year). The law is intended to get some good money out of the likes of Amazon, but there is no small business threshold of forgiveness, so yeah, We the Little People are taking the hit, as usual.

This affects EVERYTHING digital… from ebooks to music to patterns, etc. Basically, for all sales to the European Union, I have to collect VAT (at each country’s rate) and file quarterly tax returns and payments to EACH country. I also have to collect a bunch of data about the transaction (like the IP address it came from) that isn’t yet being made available to me by my payment providers like PayPal (they’re working on it, but it’s not in place). And then I have to store that data for 10 freaking years. And if I put my head in the sand and hope not to get caught, I could be forbidden from traveling to the countries in which I would then be considered a tax evader. Go here If you want to read deeper details.

I have already put my Etsy shop on hold, and I will be limiting the payment locales in PayPal, which affect the digital orders from Craftsy (who don’t have a solution in place yet, but I hope are working on it).

So this is how it looks for my customers right now (and I’ll let you know as soon as it changes):

EU folks – until I find a digital provider that will handle the VAT stuff for me (at a rate that makes business sense) I can’t do digital business with you. I can do a credit card and snail mail of a physical product only. UPDATE 1.06.15 – I’m looking into PAYHIP – will probably implement at the end of January. In the meantime, you can order my PDF patterns through (as they are taking care of VAT filing for us)

Canada, Australia, and New Zealand folks – as PayPal currently allows a US customer to block only “non-US” customers (not on a country by country basis) I can’t sell digital files to you either or I risk being open to the EU penalties. I can work around it with a credit card and emailing a file though, so just email me and I’ll do everything I can to get you what you need. UPDATE 01.06.15 – I was able to manipulate PayPal to allow everything but EU – you should be fine now, and if you’re not, let me know.

US folks – you’re in luck. Business as usual for you… carry on. Although you’re probably going to see prices go up all over to cover the costs of dealing with this.

I’m seriously bummed. ALL of my customers matter to me, and I’m thrilled that the internet has shrunk the borders and allowed me to make friends all over the world. I HATE that I have to shut some of you down.

Oh, and other countries like Japan are looking at implementing similar things next year. The global digital economy is about to change. I just hope in the race for more tax dollars it doesn’t kill off all the small businesses that make it so vibrant.



BTW – Did you join my mailing list yet? Do it here. I’m dreaming up groovy exclusive stuff for you!


Quilt Talk – The Blog Tour!

Here we go! Thirteen hops, starting tomorrow!


Who’s hosting:

What happens on the hop?

You visit each stop, and the hop host/hostess will regale you with stories. Stories of making a quilt for the book, stories about me, stories about me and them, stories about choosing a color, etc. It will be good and fun stuff, and we’ll try not to have too many mushy moments (but no guarantees… the people helping out here are dear to me, so I might get a bit soppy in places). And then you comment on their story to win a BOOK. Yes, each hop is a chance to win.

What’s with the COLORS?

So glad you asked! We have special patterns for you. You’ll be able to download the PDF pattern for the COLOR word featured at each stop so that you can make all these colorful scrap buckets for yourself or for friends.

All Buckets stacked

Yes – THIRTEEN free patterns! You’ll get all the letters for the COLOR words, correctly sized so that you can start paper piecing immediately. And you’ll need these COLOR bucket instructions to turn the COLOR word into a word block (that you then plug into the Oh Scrap Bucket pattern from the book).

The hop ends with me, and the ORANGE bucket, of course. I’ll be giving away a signed book, all the COLOR patterns printed on my favorite paper-piecing paper, a package of that favorite paper-piecing paper (It’s like crack, it’s so good), a package of Timtex and some Pellon Fusible Fleece (for bucket making), and some other goodies. It will be a lovely box of stuff. And yes, my dear international peeps… I’m happy to mail across the water, so you’re eligible to win this box too!

See you on the tour!