Friday, August 19, 2016

Stashbusting - Bindings

Do you forget about bindings until you're done quilting and then are all like "what the heck am I going to do about binding this thing?"

Because I do! I don't know why because it's a pretty important/obvious part of the quilting process. But, most times, that's exactly how it happens. Sometimes I'll have what I need in my stash, sometimes I buy fabric to match.

Bindings take 1/2yd to 1yd of fabric depending on the size of the quilt. That makes bindings a great stashbusting opportunity, especially since you have to do it anyway.

I love using solids for bindings (red seems to be my favorite):



Or solids accented with prints if I don't quite have enough (sometimes I add in a print even if I DO have enough, I just love how it looks):


Nicey Jane Quilt

My new favorite binding is gingham (or other plaids) cut on the bias. It takes a little more work to cut and I have to take more care when I handle it so it doesn't stretch but I think it's totally worth it.

lake quilt

Moonrise Kingdom Quilt
I didn't have to bias cut this one since the plaid was diagonal to begin with.

I'm pretty particular about my bindings matching the quilt. Binding is the frame, it ties everything together. The wrong fabric could just ruin a beautiful quilt, right? Maybe not, I guess we'll see what happens when I get to that point. I'm actually kind of excited to try a scrappy binding and also maybe a contrasting binding. Can I bring myself to do it? I might not have a choice.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


kal quilt

Do you remember Don't Call Me Betsy's Kaleidoscope Quilt Along from way back in 2011? I do because I actually joined it and actually finished the quilt top in a timely manner. It was the summer I turned 30 and I was laid off of work for three weeks because of the MN government shutdown. It was the best three weeks of my life! It was super hot and muggy outside the whole time so I just stayed in, sewing all day, every day!

kal quilt 2

At some point between 2011 and now, I decided that the quilt top was too small and, even though I can't actually remember doing this, I added a piano key border around the whole thing. I'm so happy I did because I think the border really finished the quilt. I'm not usually into borders but I really think this quilt just needed one. That and it's now large enough to use on the bed!

kal quilt3

The back is this really great Valori Wells flannel and since I wanted it to be a light summer quilt (haha, I know, flannel is not a summery fabric), I skipped the batting.

The binding is my favorite, bias cut gingham, in orange no less! How cheery! I didn't have quite enough so I filled in the gaps with a peachy orange Kona cotton...Mango, I think?

kal quilt5

I'm keeping this quilt for myself because it reminds me of an old wooden loveseat we used to have in our backyard growing up. It had big puffy cushions and my mom made the covers out of a vintage sheet, all yellow and orange, flowers and butterflies. The fabric was worn smooth and soft through years of use and it always felt cool on hot days. In the summertime, we'd lounge around in the shade under the tree and read books. I remember that I was sitting on this couch when I learned to embroider, a unicorn kit that my aunt brought for me one day, just because she thought I might enjoy it. That was the very start of it all: my love for sewing, reading, lounging, sun falling through leaves, cool summer breezes. And this quilt feels like that...a kaleidoscope of memories...and that's exactly what I wanted.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Stashbusting - Quilt Backs

For me, I think the fastest way to use up my stash is to make quilt backs. I used to only back my quilts in flannel which used up zero quilting fabric.

Each quilt back takes 3-5yds of fabric which should start to add up pretty quickly. This weekend I sewed 5 quilt backs and although I didn't see a visible reduction on the shelves, I know I probably used up 15-20yds of fabric. That's a great start!

Depending on your top and your stash, there are a ton of great ways to use up fabrics on quilt backs.

Large pieces:


If you have 3-5 yds of a print in your stash, you can usually make an entire quilt back with just one seam. Smaller/baby quilts often just need one piece.

Audrey's Quilt

I really love the clean look of just one fabric, especially if the front of the quilt is very busy or has lots of seams. But, since I'm not buying new fabric, I'll soon run out of large cuts and this type of backing won't be an option.

Large-ish pieces:


Anything in the 1/2yd to 2yd range will make for a super fast quilt back.

Medium pieces (or variety of sizes):


fly the flag quilt

la carlotta3

Scrappy or organized, these backs take longer to piece but since there are more seams, they actually use up more fabric.


Moonrise Kingdom Quilt

Yardage plus scraps is actually my favorite way to back a quilt. I love the simplicity of the yardage plus the fun pop of color and interest from the scraps. Here are a couple more quilt backs that I love.


Castle Peeps QuiltCastle Peeps Quilt

Who says a quilt has to have an interesting front and a plain back? Why not make a quilt with two unique and interesting sides? Sometimes I try to use scraps from cutting the front to create a totally new quilt top, a top that I usually end up liking better than the first. So, why not pair these two quilt "tops" together? I like the challenge of using up scraps and coming up with a second quilt design with the same fabrics.

Another option would be to pair up two completely different quilt tops (color, styles, etc.) that are similarly sized. I like the idea of two totally different quilts taking up the space of just one quilt, especially since I have a very tiny house. I haven't tried this yet but I might (I like things to match so this kind of freaks me out a bit). The key, I think, would be to pick a binding that compliments both sides.

I'm going to focus on sewing up backs for all finished quilt tops and once that's done, I'll post another picture of my stash. Hopefully we'll be able to see a difference!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Stashbusting - Priorities

So, we all know I have a lot of fabric and will be able to make a ton of quilts with it. But, if I go about this stashbusting thing without at least a bit of a plan, I might end up with more challenges than necessary.

First, I need to take stock of finished quilt tops and think about what kinds of fabrics I'll need to finish them. Do I have appropriate (in my world that means matching) fabrics for backing and binding? Some of my quilt tops are really old and I don't have many of those fabrics anymore. But if I do (or if there are other good color matches), I will probably want to set those aside to use in the backing or binding.

After that I need to plan for any projects or quilts that require large cuts of fabric. I'd better make them or reserve the fabric now before those pieces get cut up into bits.

log cabin top

This quilt top, for example, was one I made years ago and I have very few of the original fabrics left to use for the back. Fortunately, I found this really great Heather Bailey print that matches well. I might not want to work on finishing this quilt right away but I'll make the back and binding now and then store it with the top.

This weekend I'll be making quilt backs and doing some quilting. I'll be back next week with ideas for ways to use up a fabric stash as well as a finished quilt of two. Why can't it be Friday already??

Monday, August 8, 2016

Stashbusting - Why?!

Alright, first things first: why am I doing this?

There are three main reasons. First, I feel I simply have too much fabric. Not just space-wise, the amount of fabric I have is cluttering my mind as well as the sewing room. I feel overwhelmed, I'd like to use some shelves for other things but I can't because there's just so much fabric. I don't want my stash to feel like a burden and sadly, I feel like that's what it's become.

fabric stash3
I tuck my scissors, rotary cutter and tape measure in one of the scrap bins when not in use. I'd really love to have a dedicated shelf for my most frequently used tools and rulers.

Second, I would like to buy pretty new fabric but I can no longer justify doing so while my shelves are bursting at the seams (plus, I did spend a disgusting amount of money on the fabric I already have). I loved all these fabrics when I bought them and now they sit, neglected. And when I say neglected, I mean it: some fabrics have been untouched so long that they have faded along the fold. That's bad! I don't have the space in my tiny house to store fabric I'm never going to use. So, I can either use it or give it away. I'm choosing to try to use it: to finally work with my long hoarded favorites, to make useful and pretty things for other people and to make room in my house for new fabrics that are more my style these days.

fabric stash2
This is my much hoarded Heather Ross and Tula Pink fabric collection (plus some Erin Michael's Lush reprints, love those!) Also lurking on the shelves are some wips, some Liberty of London fabric that I just bought on my trip and some giveaway prizes, more info on that soon.

The third reason is one I always seem to forget: I'm more creative when I'm forced to use what I have. I love the idea of making do, of using up every last bit. I love the challenge, I love how an original idea morphs into something new, all because of what I do or don't have available to use. I feel free, I can be myself, wing it, go with my gut, go with my heart. It's exhilarating! And because of all that, those kinds of quilts are always my favorite, both the process and the product.

Later this week I'll talk about some of my plans for stashbusting. I'm already feeling quite inspired!

Friday, August 5, 2016

A New Goal

For the past year and a half I've focused on changing bad habits, one of which is my inability to finish any project I start. Turns out, if you want to finish something, you just have to work on it until it's finished. Obvious, right?

And so I focused and worked hard and set monthly goals and finished 27 quilts in 18 months. Some were new from scratch but most were wips or finished tops. And the best part: I gave 20 of those quilts to friends and family.

It took 18 months but I finally feel like a finisher. I like to get things done, I like to give things away, make room in my tiny house. It all feels really, really good.

And that's why I've decided to kick it up a notch, to set a new goal. It is neither original nor sensible but I want to try anyway: I want to use up all my quilting stash before buying any more fabric. That's right, I'm stashbusting to the max!

I will get into the how's and why's later. For now, I'll just say that it's exciting to have this new goal. It's already sparking new ideas and making me look at my stash in a new light. And best of all, this goal goes nicely with finishing things up!

To get things started, this is my entire quilting stash as of today, not including wips:

fabric stash

Not pictured: a 10(ish?) yd bolt of Kona white and a 10 yd bolt of Nicey Jane: Hello Roses. The white bins are filled with scraps sorted by color. The bins on top of the shelves are filled with yarn and the drawers below have paper and miscellaneous things, no fabric though.

This is the only space I allow myself to keep fabric and as you can see, it's just about maxed out. And I have nowhere to put my cutting tools or rulers or anything. I'm so excited to start freeing up some space. This is going to be fun!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

La Vie en Rose


Since I was a little girl, I've dreamed of going to Paris. To see the Eiffel Tower, to walk along the Seine eating a croissant, surrounded by lovely songs played on lovely accordions played by lovely Frenchmen.

This summer, my dream finally came true! Ian and I, along with his parents, sister and niece, spent a week in London followed by a week in Paris. It was such a fun time!


Before our trip, I wanted to make a quilt for our almost 5 year-old niece who just so happens to be obsessed with the Eiffel Tower. I pulled scraps from the Bon Voyage quilt, added in some Liberty that I bought last time I was in London and purchased a few fleur de lis and Eiffel tower prints to round out the colors and theme. The back is an Eiffel Tower print by Michael Miller.


The pattern is Penny Patch by Rachel of Stitched in Color. It is such a great pattern and shows off the fabric beautifully!


Olivia loved her quilt and shows it to everyone who comes to her house. I'm so happy Olivia and I could see the Eiffel Tower together, to have our dreams come true. And I'm happy she has this quilt to help remember our trip together. I know I'll never forget it!

eiffel tower2