Organization is harder than I want it to be

I’ve struggled with organization for a long time and that’s no secret. I want it and love it when it’s done, but it’s really difficult for me to figure out exactly how to organize things and the upkeep is incredibly hard. I look at other people’s tidy studios and wonder just how they got there and how in the world do they keep it looking that way. I don’t have any answers yet, but I’m trying.

When Sam Hunter, of Hunter’s Design Studio, told me she was starting a new business to help creative people get organized, I was eager to get involved. She started Creatively Sorted late last year, dedicated to helping those of us who struggle with keeping a creative space working for us (and not against us) through personalized and caring assistance. As much as I’d love to her to just come to my studio and tell me where to put things, that’s not how Creatively Sorted works.

We met up in Portland earlier this year and over coffee, we discussed my own feelings, thoughts, disappointments, frustrations, joys and wishes for my sewing studio. I had an opportunity to have a space again and I wanted (and still do!) to take advantage of it as best I can. It was incredibly insightful, in totally unexpected ways. I hadn’t realized that I was thwarting my own tidiness by expecting more tidiness than needed, i.e. instead of having a space for my marking tools, I had been trying to dial in down to marking tools for separate substrates. While this seemed logical to me, what I realized is that my having to be *that* organized made me more inclined to leave the marking tool on the table rather than finding the exact container it belonged in. Not helpful.

So as I’ve started putting my new KC studio together, I’ve been extra mindful of where things go and why: how does it make me feel about finding it? About putting it away? How often will I use it? Does it need to be tucked away or in line of sight? And every time I really wonder: Am I on the right track? I reach out and Sam is there, encouraging me and assuring me that I will get to the place I need to be if I just keep at it.

And she’s right.

I have been considering my fat quarter collection since I started unpacking boxes. None of the options that I’ve tried have felt right, comfortable. It’s been five weeks of staring at a pile of FQs on a shelf and in a nearby box. But every weekend, I wander the local shops and antique dealers hoping I’ll find something that feels right. And on Saturday, we found this beauty and I filled it up with (most of) my fat quarters. I love the look, the easy accessibility, the inspiration that comes from just seeing the array of color choices.

I think it’s going to continue to be a slow evolution as I spend weekends dialing in the studio to be the best studio for me. I’m excited to see it coming together bit by bit and know that in another month it will be even closer to the studio I want and need. Until then, I’m gonna try to figure out what to do with all my batik fabrics…

Happy Sewing!

P.S. If you struggle like I do, Sam is doing both virtual and in-personal organization help as well as virtual project management and will happily have a no-strings-attached chat with you. Reach out to her via

Sew Together Tuesday: Lovey Loves by Melly&Me

This week we worked on the absolutely adorable Lovey Love pattern from Melly & Me, just in time for Easter! I was introduced to this pattern months ago and I’ve just been waiting to share it for this episode. It’s easy to construct and is a fun mix of cotton and Cuddle.

If you’re new to sewing 3D objects or you’re interested in sewing plushies, this is a great start. You’ll learn how to: appliqué on Cuddle, sew a shaped head, and sew a sharp curve on Cuddle the easiest way possible.

I hope you’ll join us to make your own lovey and show it off by using #loveylove and #sewtogethertuesday hashtags.

I’ll be back on April 11 to show how to make an easy pet bed with Luxe Cuddle on Sew Together Tuesday.

Happy sewing!

Finally–Sew Together Tuesday is back

It’s our third week live from the new Kansas City studio, but it was our first episode with a full sewing project and man, did it feel good to be back at it. The set looks good. The new Baby Lock Chorus sews like a dream. The viewers are there and commenting. And the Lovey Love (pattern by Melly & Me) went swimmingly.

Today’s project was a sweet little toy, perfect for folks wanting to try sewing with Cuddle®, but aren’t quite ready to jump into the deep end of stuffed animals with me. The head is only three pieces and requires some careful sewing, but the rest is so simple there is nothing to keep anyone from being able to create it. Plus there were a few fun extra tips that I got to share and it all went really well, I think.

Last year was an adventure, for sure, getting to meet so many shop owners, sewists, and quilters out there on the road. But there’s something really good about being in one place producing sewing tutorials. The continuity of space, not to mention internet, cannot be overstated. For everyone who supported the Sew Together Tuesday: On the Road series, I cannot say thank you enough, for their patience, acceptance, cheerleading and hospitality.

We’ll be taking a break next week and getting ahead of the next few projects, but I’ll be back before then. Until then…

Happy sewing!

Support Your Local Quilt Shop Day!

It’s Local Quilt Shop Day once again and after the last year and a half of visiting numerous quilt shops every month, I can say it might be my favorite day of the year. I had the joy of visiting dozens of shops from California to New Hampshire and there are plenty of great ones!

Quilt Parlor in Battle Mountain, Nevada
Quilt Parlor in Battle Mountain, Nevada

One of the things I love about an independent quilt shop is the attention and understanding that comes from the folks who work there–usually quilters and sewists themselves. My first experience with a local quilt shop was with Cool Cottons in Portland, OR in 2009. It was late in my sewing game and I hadn’t even realized that shops like this existed prior to getting a job with FabShop Network. I had gotten one of my great-grandmother’s quilt tops and wanted to find a backing for it. My boss suggested I check out the shop nearest where I lived, so I headed over to Cool Cottons with my quilt top and complete lack of direction on what to do with it.

Thankfully, the owner Marie was there that day and spent a good half hour with me, auditioning fabrics that could work for the backing. I wanted to keep the vintage feel to it, and was hoping to find something that would coordinate with those Pepto-Bismol pink quarter-circles. We settled on a lovely print from Denyse Schmidt and off I went.

Now, never mind that 14 years later, I’m still working on hand-quilting my great-grandmother’s quilt… the point is that the fabric was perfect! And it was all thanks to a local quilt shop that cared about me and my project.

This is what I see quilt shop owners and employees doing all the time–helping quilters and sewists find just the right fabric, pattern, tool or class to help them. It’s lovely and I’m so grateful to have a part in this industry and supporting local quilt shops along the way.

Here are a list of some of my favorite quilt shops, ones that we saw along our Sew Together Tuesday: On the Road tour.:

Cali Quilt Co (Rancho Cordova, CA)

The Fig Leaf (Fort Collins, CO)

The Quilt Shop (Wakefield, NE) 402-287-2325

Old Alley Quilt Shop (Sherburn, MN)

Red Roxy Quilt Co. (Decorah,IA)

Time Flies Quilt & Sew (Negaunee, MI)

Blue Bar Quilts (Middleton, WI)

Always in Stitches (Noblesville, IN)

Quilt Beginnings (Dublin, OH)

Sew It Up Bernina (Hurst, TX)

Poppy Quilt & Sew (Georgetown, TX)

KC Maker Studio and Fabrics in Mission, KS

KC Maker Studio and Fabrics (Mission, KS)

The Pin Cushion Mitchell, SD (605) 996-0947

Sew On & Sew North (Langdon, ND)

Quilts & More (Sidney, MT)

Backdoor Quilt Shoppe (Billings, MT)

Cozy Creative Center  (El Cajon, CA)

In Stitches (Dixon, CA)

Quilt Parlor (Battle Mountain, NV)

Sunshine Quilts/Quilter’s Market (Tucson, AZ)

Quality Quilterz (Tucson, AZ)

Cupcake Quilts (Spring, TX)

Sew Much Love (Granbury, TX)

The Cotton Blossom Fabric Shoppe Ridgeland, MS

Willow Tree Fabrics Inc. (Decatur, AL)

Tiny Stitches (Marietta, GA)

5 Little Monkeys (Weaverville, NC)

Bobbin & Bolt (Richmond, VA)

Patchwork Plus (Dayton, VA)

Tomorrow’s Treasures (Crofton, MD)

Sew What’s New and Yarn Too! (Islip, NY)

Bits & Pieces Quilt Shop (Pelham, NH)

Pins and Needles (Middleburg Heights, OH)

Creative Passions (Chesaning, Michigan)

Linda Z’s (Arlington Heights, IL)

Patched Works, Inc  (Elm Grove, WI)

Sew Much More (Waukesha, WI)

Sew Trendy (Eagan, MN)

Calico Hutch Hayward, MN

Inspired to Sew (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Quilt Cabin/Interior Connection & Quilt (Colby, KS) 785.462.3375

Quilting Mayhem (Snohomish, WA)

Montavilla Sewing Center (Lake Oswego, OR)

Green’s Sewing & Vacuum Distributors (Medford, OR)

Tater Patch Quilts (Merrill, OR)

What’s your favorite quilt shop and where are they located? They don’t have to be YOUR local quilt shop these days, since it’s so easy to buy online, but they can still be your fave.

Support local quilt shops and independent retailers however and whenever you can. We’re all in this together. <3

Happy sewing!

#SewPINK: Sewing to Support Survivors

It seems to me that we all know someone who has been affected by breast cancer these days. Co-workers, family members, neighborhood friends–it’s far too common. In those times when we hear of a loved one’s new diagnosis, we want to be helpful, do something kind and thoughtful.

That’s where the tutorial for the mastectomy pillow came in. I thought it would be a good project for those like myself who know people diagnosed with breast cancer and can sew. We did this a couple years ago for Sew Together Tuesday and since then many have reached out to say that they made one for a friend or family member.

But recently a viewer reached out to let me know that she’d made more than one mastectomy pillow. In fact, she made 52 of them!

Jennifer Roney is a breast cancer survivor and while she signed up to participate in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer fundraiser and walk, she wanted to do more. She bought a few yards of Cuddle® fabrics and got to work. She was able to make eight pillows out of every yard and kept going until she had made more than 50.

With each one, she printed out a note to explain her motivation, then gathered them up and brought them to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon. Jennifer suggests to reach out ahead of time, as she did, to your local hospital to make sure the donations will be accepted.

I love this idea and wanted to share with you because even when you don’t have someone specific that you need to sew for, you can share your talents with strangers that do. If we all work together, we can combat breast cancer and the toll that it takes on men and women.

You can find the pattern we created for Sew Together Tuesday here: Mastectomy Pillow Pattern and the tutorial video here: Mastectomy Pillow Tutorial You can also use my tutorial for the ByAnnie Bosom Buddy made with Cuddle® if you want to add a little something extra.

The #SewPink Initiative was created by LLC to raise awareness for breast cancer throughout the year. Our efforts culminate in an annual blog hop during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month to promote self-care, awareness, early detection and support for those affected by breast cancer.  To learn more and see the calendar of events visit:

To find screenings available near you: 

This year we are again joining forces with Fat Quarter Shop to promote a fundraiser. Their goal of raising $20,000 to donate to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. will match every dollar raised on the #SewPINK fundraising page.

Make sure to check out everyone’s blog posts this month for lots of ideas and inspiration:
Oct. 1 Kick off

Oct. 3 : Emmaline Bags

Oct. 4: Hugs ‘N Kisses

Oct. 5: Clover and Violet

Oct. 6: Fat Quarter Shop and the Jolly Jabber

Oct. 7: Sewfinity

Oct. 10: Teresa Coates & Shannon Fabrics

Oct. 11:Beyond the Reef

Oct. 12: Sallie Tomato

Oct. 13: Suzn Quilts

Oct. 17: Snuggles Quilts

Oct. 20: Pat Sloan

Oct. 21: Knot and Thread Design

Oct.23: Sookie Sews 

Oct. 24: Mister Domestic

Oct. 26: A Bright Corner

Oct. 27: Sew Cute and Quirky

Oct. 1 : Final Wrap Up

Happy sewing!

Sew Together Tuesday at Pins and Needles (OH)

After eight weeks off the road, we had our first stop at Pins and Needles in Middleburg Heights, Ohio and boy was it a good one! More than 100 folks showed up for the livestreaming of Sew Together Tuesday. They were as excited to be there as I was and were just the cheerleaders I needed to get this season off on the right foot.

As you can tell, the store is huge! Owner Jan Brotek bought the building and converted half of the huge space in to a sewing machine and fabric store, while the other half became a classroom. It was amazing to get so many people in there, and they have it all wired up with microphone, speakers and a projection system so that everyone can take part. Ideal!

Located southwest of Cleveland, Pins and Needles sells new and used machines, including sewing , embroidery and long-arm quilting machines, as well as fabric, notions, patterns, tools, thread and much more. It was impressive!

Over the two days, I taught the Sweet Sixteen Pillow workshop, Self Binding Blanket workshop and the Sew Simple Blanket workshop to 50+ folks from all over the area. There were ladies who’d driven in from southern Ohio, as well as western Pennsylvania. What a fun crowd and some lovely finishes.

We managed to corral about half the class near the end to show off some of their projects outside the store (luckily it had stopped raining earlier!) .

Thank you so much to Pins and Needles for hosting Sew Together Tuesday and workshops with me. I had a great time with everyone and it was nice to see another part of Ohio! If you missed the show, you can watch via YouTube:

This week we’re live at Creative Passions Quilt Shop and Retreat Centers in Chesaning, MI. You can catch that one live Tuesday at 10amPST on the Shannon Fabrics YouTube and Facebook.

Happy sewing!

A Visit to the Dairy Barn Arts Center

Sometimes I know just enough about certain places to want to go, but not enough to tell you why you should go, too. Dairy Barn Arts Center was one of those places until last weekend when I took the opportunity to visit since we were in the area prepping for the Sew Together Tuesday tour. I knew that Quilt National was held there and that lots of famous quilters go… so it must be worth a visit, right? Definitely right.

Nestled in the trees surround Athens, Ohio (known in some circles as the home of Ohio University), the Dairy Barn Arts Center is in fact an old dairy barn that was saved and converted many years ago and has become the home to a number of beautiful quilt events and displays throughout the year.

The current exhibition is Layered and Stitched: 50 Years of Innovative Art and is on display for just a few more days. The show opens with an amazing piece by Ruth DeVos called “Not Even Solomon.”

Not Even Solomon by Ruth DeVos

What grabbed me most was the interplay of pieced work inside of other pieced work and maybe some applique? The blending of colors and combos struck me as something I’d like to try, too. You can find more of her work on her site: Ruth DeVos

Not Even Solomon (detail) by Ruth DeVos
Not Even Solomon (detail) by Ruth DeVos

I’m ashamed to admit that I almost passed this piece by Jenny Hearn with just a cursory glance. Then I noticed some of the details and had to stop and look.

Pele IV by Jenny Hearn

The big stitches caught my eye first, then the more detailed cross stitching and embroidery fills. There’s so much texture and color variations–it’s a gorgeous blend of fabrics and threads and layers.

Pele IV (detail) by Jenny Hearn

Earlier this year I signed up for a couple of classes on Creative Spark and one of them was with Valerie Godwin, so when i saw this quilt I recognized it as her style. Turns out it was hers and absolutely wonderful to see in-person. I love her takes on map-making and layering, so I really should get back and finish that class so I can try my own hand at it.

African Burial Ground II by Valerie Goodwin
African Burial Ground II (detail) by Valerie Goodwin

I love when someone turns quiltmaking on its head, or–as in this case–into a head. This piece by Susan Else is like nothing I’ve seen before. The details, the placement, the perfection deserved hours of inspection, truly.

Family Life by Susan Else
Family Life (detail) by Susan Else

Looking more like a painting from afar, I love the combination of handstitches, portraiture, traditional quilt blocks and vintage fabrics in this piece by Leslie Gabrielse. Much of his work is this same combination, sometimes adding in paints.

Star by Leslie Gabrielse
Star (detail) by Leslie Gabrielse

Here are a few more that grabbed my attention, but truly all were just amazing works.

American Still Life: The Weight of a Nation by The Pixeladies
The Drifter by Mary Pal
Certain Restrictions Do Apply by Carolyn Mazloomi
Geometric by Fumiko Nakayama

Taking the time to slowly wander through the gallery, looking closely at the different pieces and investigating their techniques did my creative brain a world of good. There are new things to make, do and explore that I’ll hold on to until I get the time to sit down with a bunch of scraps and try them out.

If you find yourself in southern Ohio, don’t miss the chance to visit the Dairy Barn Arts Center and visit their website to learn how to submit to Quilt National (it’s open now!).

Sew Together Tuesday hits the road again

Here we are, back at it again with another cross-country trip. In the spring and early summer we made our way across the southern states and all the way up to New Hampshire for classes. This time we are starting in Ohio and heading across the Midwest and over to the West coast for the winter, stopping at a new quilt shop every week to film an episode of Sew Together Tuesday.

If you’re near any of the shops along the way, I’d love to see you! Our Lives are open for anyone to come (though you’ll need to sign up through the store first) and watch behind the scenes as we broadcast my sewing endeavors on Facebook and YouTube. If you’re at home, you can watch it, too, of course!

Join me for a Sew Together Tuesday LIVE or a workshop (or three) at these shops. Reach out to the store directly to sign up:

08/30 Pins and Needles (Middleburg Heights, OH)
09/06 Creative Passions (Chesaning, MI)
09/13 Always in Stitches (Noblesville, IN)
09/20 Linda Z’s (Arlington Heights, IL)
9/27 Patched Works (Elm Grove, WI)
10/04 Sew Trendy MN (Eagan, MN)
10/11 Calico Hutch Quilt Shop (Hayward, MN)
10/15 Red Roxy Quilt Co (Decorah, IA) guest appearance
10/18 Inspired to Sew (Cedar Rapids, IA)
10/22 KC Maker Studio & Fabrics (Mission, KS) workshop only
10/25 Quilt Cabin (Colby, KS)
11/1 & 11/4 International Quilt Festival (Houston, TX)
11/8 Quilting Mayhem (Snohomish, WA)
11/15 Hunter’s Design Studio (online only)
11/16 Montavilla Sewing Center (Lake Oswego, OR) open sewing
11/29 Green’s Sew & Vac (Medford, OR)
12/06 Tater Patch (Merrill, OR)
12/13 Cali Quilt Co (Rancho Cordova, CA)

Continue reading “Sew Together Tuesday hits the road again”

Road Trip Reads: “This Long Thread” by Jen Hewett

I heard about This Long Thread: Women of Color on Craft, Community, and Connection late last year and have been looking for it at quilt shops ever since we hit the road, but it wasn’t until I got the opportunity to visit Gather Here in Cambridge, Mass. that I finally found it. (They also have Jen’s Print, Pattern, Sew book!)

This Long Thread is the compilation of survey responses and essays from women of color about a variety of topics–some I can totally relate to and others that are a brand new perspective for me. The book is broken down into sections relating to the politics and history of crafting, the business and teaching side of it, the personal why of crafting and more. Each provides insight by women of a variety of backgrounds, ethnicities and professions.

Continue reading “Road Trip Reads: “This Long Thread” by Jen Hewett”

Sew Together Tuesday: How to use Cuddle® Minky to Self-Bind a Cotton Quilt

This week I’m talking all about using Cuddle® on your cotton quilt, in particular about how to wrap the backing around and make an easy binding with Cuddle®. I’ll be live at 10am PDT/1pm EDT on Tuesday, June 14.

To help you out, I’ve made this PDF for reference to know how to make a mitered corner with Cuddle® and how to figure out the sizes to cut both the batting and backing.

Download the PDF: How to Make a Self-Bound Quilt

Continue reading “Sew Together Tuesday: How to use Cuddle® Minky to Self-Bind a Cotton Quilt”