Sunday, June 16, 2019

My Journey to Becoming a Scrap Quilter Part II

Just to recap, I am trying to reorganize my stash to make it usable. I used to look at it and think "nothing goes together". Not anymore....boy was I wrong! To start from the beginning of my story, read Part 1 of this story first!

So after I organized my fabrics, which I talked about in Part 1, I thought about what color I wanted to use in my first quilt. I don't use red and pink very often so I had A LOT of those colors. I decided to jump into very uncomfortable waters with this quilt. I read in the book "Oh, Scrap!" that it is okay to throw in a bunch of variations of the same color and neighboring colors on the color wheel. So here is my quilt:

Here is my color wheel and how I used it: I stuck to the colors on the theses "pages", which are red, red-blue, Magenta, blue and chartreuse.  You need to use a variety of shades, meaning lots of lights, mediums and darks. You can't mix together colors that have grey and no grey!! That is one of the main keys to success. None of my colors have grey in them. Once I took out any grey toned colors, all of a sudden my stash looked like it matched. The "Ultimate 3 in 1 Color Tool" makes it easy to sort your fabrics into "grey toned" and "no grey".

So let's look at the next quilt I made. I decided I wanted to make a quilt with just blues. Well, blues and lots of low volume background fabric. I stuck with "true" blues, not ones tinted with red or green. I matched up each of my fabric choices to the card to make sure I was picking a cohesive group of blues. The blues I picked were on the "blue" and "cerulean blue" cards. The lighter blues I picked were on the turquoise blue card. I didn't really have lights on the other cards, and it looks fine. 

 I was able to include all sorts of low volume fabrics in this quilt. My favorites were ones with bits of blue and green in them, but I included most colors. It worked out well because the blues were strong enough to share the quilt with other smaller bits of color, meaning they were never over powered by the other colors. Blue is overwhelmingly the main focus of the quilt, which is what I wanted. You can purchase the pattern to this quilt here, in my Etsy Shop. It comes with directions for five sizes, so hopefully you can make several over the years!

Here is the last quilt I made. I love purples, so I wanted that to be the focus of this quilt. I didn't have a bunch of purples on hand, so I bought about eight fat quarters on the internet to make sure I had a good selection. In this quilt I used magenta, fuchsia, purple and red-violet. On the back of the color card it shows colors that play nice with the focus color. One of those colors is green, so I chose a few greens from the chartreuse card to complement the purples.

The pattern for this quilt is in my Etsy Shop. I wrote this one in five sizes as well. I always like to try to write the pattern for multiple sizes to make it more useful! The blocks are fairly small. They finish at 7 1/2". I have made several Churn Dash quilt patterns but this one sets itself apart because the actual churn dash is quite small. You can use 2 1/2" strips to make them! They can also be made with layer cake squares if you want. This is a forgiving pattern because none of the seams have to matchi up, it makes things easier!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Journey to Becoming a "Scrap" Quilter Part I

Really I have no intention of becoming a true scrap quilter, but I do have a burning desire to use up some of the wonderful fabric that is left over from my projects. I am a quilter that uses precuts. I also design patterns for precuts (Sweet Jane's). I have no art background and as far as I can tell, no natural propensity for understanding color either. (Insert weepy sad face).  Up until now, I have saved my layer cake or jelly rolls strips and keep them grouped together in the line for a year or two, then I either give them away or throw them away😮. I know, right? I can't believe it either. Mostly my stash contains left overs from background fabric, backings and bindings and unused fat quarters from fat quarter bundles. I have two separate "stashes", this one is my modern brights, or "happy" fabrics.

I actually rearranged my fabrics after the above picture. I bought small bins that can be moved easily and basically put one color in each bin. I bought the bins at Target for about $2.00 each. Buy extra, because you will need more than you think and you will need more in the future!

But honestly, I don't like a lot of clutter and I am terrified of accruing so much fabric that it becomes overwhelming and out dated and just a monkey on my back. I have made two "scrap" quilts in the last two months and I can tell you my stash doesn't look much smaller. And I only have a small stash! So I have learned that even if you are determined to sew your own stash so you can use what you have, you are going to have to make A LOT of quilts. My interest in "scrap" quilting actually started because I hang out with about six ladies in their eighties and they all have a lot of fabric and it really upsets them. One lady put it well: "You know the joke about the one who dies with the most wins? Well it's not really that funny." Then, I see all of the amazing quilts people are making with fabrics from their stash, and they seem so amazing, that I want in. But...ugh...can I do it? I have always used precuts! I have very little color confidence 😰.

I took the first step and bought a color wheel. It has some good educational material in there about color, suggestions of how to put colors together and red and green tinted sheets to help determine the value of your fabrics (light, medium and dark). I sell it in my Etsy Shop and you can get free shipping if you purchase a pattern with the color tool:)

Look at all of the fabric you own. There are obvious things you will include in your stash, like left over border, binding and backing fabrics, but you are also going to want to think about partially used fat quarter bundles that you may be keeping separate. Sometimes it's hard to use them once all of your favorite fabrics have been used, so it's okay to include them in your stash. I also split up full fat quarter bundles that I knew I would never use. It was scary but very gratifying cutting open those bundles and giving these fabrics a new lease on life! I also had bundles of blenders  and solids that added a lot of variation to my stash. You can even consider opening up kits you may never make and add them to your stash. Just a few exception of fabrics I did not include in my color coordinated bins are: busy prints/florals, 1930's if you have a lot of them, holiday fabrics and Batiks.

You want to separate your fabrics into two general groups, and keep them separate! Using your color tool, figure out what fabrics have a grey tone and which do not. Using the Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool makes it easy, so don't worry!  My non-grey fabrics are my favorites, so that is what I am sorting and making quilts with.

Then I sat down with my stash and gathered one color at a time. I started matching them to the color swatches in my "color tool" and basically learned all about the nuances of color through this process. As an example, I took out the reds & pinks and sorted them from orange-red to fuscia. Basically as the reds got closer to blue on the color wheel, they changed from red and basically got a purple hue to them.

What I love most about quilts these days is the use of low volume background fabrics. I was feeling sorry for myself because I thought I didn't have a nice variety. OMG, look what I found when I emptied the small bin I keep them in!
Such a beautiful surprise! This just shows me once again that although I might have a fraction of what most quilters have, it is still plenty! I recently got the books "Oh, Scrap!" by Lissa Alexander and "Scrap-Basket Bounty" by Kim Brackett. I would HIGHLY recommend these books. They talk about being "scrap ready", meaning to have strips already cut, so when you want to tackle a project some (half?) of the cutting is already done. Otherwise it would be too overwhelming. Which is actually how I have always felt and it turned me off from scrap quilting. Bonnie Hunter has a great system of how she cuts her fabric for future projects. Her blog is a must read for those wanting to organize their stash in this manner. So what I did with maybe 1/3 of my background fabrics was I pressed them and cut them in 1 1/2", 2". 2 1/2" strips, and 2 1/2" & 5" squares. Here are the results:
Basically I cut up the fabrics that were on the small side (I did the same with my colored fabrics). I also took some fabric from large pieces and cut a variety of widths. You want to leave some fat quarters and bigger pieces uncut so you have plenty of options when you start a project. I also had at least 20 unused jelly roll strips from various lines that I was able to put in this pile. As of now I have no plans for a specific project, but I don't think it will be too hard to figure something out.

Stay tuned for PART II of my "Journey to Becoming a Scrap Quilter" series.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Interview with Pat Sloan!

Today I will be a guest on Pat Sloan's "Quilting Radio". I can hardly believe it! I have been preparing for the last week or so. Pat gave me a questionnaire to fill out to basically get the conversation going. I hope I am not too nervous! One of the subjects we will be discussing is my new book, which was released July 2016. It has 12 patterns, and each pattern uses a precut bundle of fabric, and NO ADDITIONAL fabric is needed. I just love the idea of making a whole quilt and the only thing you have pick out is a jelly roll or layer cake! It doesn't get any easier than that. Plus it is great for those older precuts you might have in your closet...since coordinating yardage might be difficult to find. You can scroll down to a prior blog post to find more info on my book.

So meanwhile, tune into Pat's show! It is a podcast, so you can listen to older shows all day long if you want:) magazines-more/quilting- podcast

Head over to my Etsy Shop and check out my books and patterns!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

One Bundle of Fun

by Sue Pfau

Do you love precuts as much as I do? My new book, “One Bundle of Fun”, has 12 quilt patterns that use one (or two) precut bundles of fabric, and require no additional fabric to make the entire quilt top! I thought up the idea for this book several years ago, but honestly I thought it was impossible. Of course you really never know if things are possible unless you give them a try. Much to my surprise, I did it!

"Magnetized" is made with two Layer Cakes and measures 65" x 65"

This quilt is made with 42 Layer Cake squares (one Moda layer Cake), and measures 48" x 57"
When you think about it, nothing is easier than picking out a Jelly Roll, Layer Cake or fat quarter bundle and then making a complete quilt top with that fabric! Whether it be from your stash, your local shop, or the internet, picking out fabric for a project has never been easier. More time to sew! Let me also mention that I didn't use any special or unique precuts, just regular old precuts, mostly from Moda. So what I am saying is you can easily make these beautiful quilts yourself!
"Sweet Sixteen" is made with two Jelly Rolls and measures 65" x 81". There are also directions for making this quilt with one Jelly Roll, measuring 49" x 49".
This Churn Dash quilt is made with 21 Fat Quarters and measures 57" x 69". This is one of my favorites!

All of the Jelly Roll quilts are perfect for that pile of strips you have been accumulating in your stash! One in particular, “Striptastic” would be perfect to use as a group to make up some charity quilts. It goes together fast, and it is 48” x 48”, which is a good size lap or baby quilt.

These two quilts require one Jelly Roll or strips from your stash. The entire quilt can be made in one day!

The projects range from easy to intermediate. There are some quick and easy patterns in baby and lap quilt sizes for beginners or quilters who need to make a quilt in a weekend. There are larger, more complicated designs that will challenge a confident beginner and teach them new skills (half-square triangles and flying geese), and keep the seasoned quilter happy as well.

Some people love the pastel version, and others love the bold colors of the Batiks. Make this quilt with 15 Fat Quarters!
I think you are really going to get a lot of use out of this book. If you like precuts, it will become a staple in your quilting library. I hope you go back to it through the years and make many quilts for your family and friends! 

Buy a signed copy of my book in my Etsy shop. You can also order a copy through your local quilt shop if they don't already carry it!!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Creatively Yours Zipper Pouch

I love those little mini charm packs! As a pattern designer, I am always thinking how I can use these precuts to make something fun. I like to just use one pack, because if you need two, it is the same price as a Charm Pack (5" squares), which seems a little wasteful. sound logic can be such a downer.

Here are some of the projects I have come up with for mini charms packs. This is my newest. I wanted something fun to bring to Quilt Market this year. This type of pattern is nice for classes and retreats. People can make several to give out to friends and family, after they make one or two for themselves :)  The variety of colors and fabrics comes together so nicely, and you just need one fat quarter for the bottom and lining. Picking out the zipper is half the fun of the bag, with all of the gorgeous colors to choose from.

This pattern below is for three different pillows. Each pillow is made with one mini charm pack! If you want to be economical, you can buy one Charm Pack and cut all of the 2 1/2" squares yourself, ops, is that too practical??

I don't blog much, and oddly enough one of my old posts is on MINI CHARM PACKS. Why am I seemly obsessed by these little guys?? I don't want to repeat my older post, but I will show you a few pictures of my older mini charm patterns. These two are equally addictive and also great for classes and retreats. If you want to have a class making any of these projects, ask your local quilt shop, I bet they will say yes!
Basket of Charms pattern

Mini Charm Drawstring Bag

I hope I have inspired you to break out your mini charm squares and make a few things! Here is another idea. Next time you work with a jelly roll, save the scraps! I always cut my jelly roll scraps into 2 1/2" squares and put them in a little baggie, so sometimes I don't even have to buy one of these little guys. Happy Sewing!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

75 Fun Fast Fat Quarter Quilts

About a year ago I was approached by C & T Publishing to submit an idea for a new book they were working on. They were looking for quilt ideas that could have several various, so you could use the same pattern several times and come up with a different quilt each time. I was so excited when they picked my design to be included in their new book!

 The book is called 75 Fun Fat-Quarter Quilts and this is a blog hop tour! If you go over to my Facebook page, you can enter to win a free copy of the book. Domestic winners get a hard copy and international winners get a digital copy. If you want to check out my book and my individual patterns, head over to my Sweet Jane's Etsy Shop to see what is there. 

Let me introduce my quilt! We had to name each variation, so I used names from my family. I made the block a little bigger than I usually do, so the quilt will go together faster. My main quilt has sashing with no borders.
                    I used a Fat Quarter bundle of Fresh Cut by Basic Grey for Moda. 

My variations include a border, which increases the size of the quilt to fit a bed. There are directions for no sashing, and also examples of turning the blocks different ways to change the whole look of the quilt. I also have directions for swapping the light and dark fabrics. I wish I could show you more pictures of the variations, but I guess you will need to buy (or win!) a copy of the book for that.

There are 14 different contributors to this book, each with a unique design and a bunch of variations. I am always getting questions from quilters on how to change the quilt patterns they purchase from I know there are a bunch of people out there who will really appreciate written directions for all sorts of variations.

Here are the other stops on the blog tour. You can enter to win for each blog, so good luck!

12/17 Kate Colleran (that’s me!)
12/18 Sue Pfau
12/20 Ellen Murphy

12/22 Jo Kramer
I wanted to include a few more pictures of quilts in the book, some of my favorites!

Good luck! Remember, to enter to win my giveaway for a copy of 75 Fun Fat Quarter Quilts, head over to my Facebook page to enter!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Simple Owl Tote Bag Tutorial

I made this awesome tote bag as a teacher gift this year. Usually I cut everything up and then piece it together, like most self respecting quilter's would do. But this teacher loves OWLS, and you can't cut up material this adorable. So here are some directions if you would like to make this tote yourself.     I copied most of the directions from a pieced bag pattern that I sell. If you like my tutorial, you should check out my pattern shop. I have patterns for quilts and a few pieced bags.

Just a word about the accent fabric I used. This fabric is called Sketch for Timeless Treasures. This fabric comes in a bunch of colors and they have saved my butt more times than I can count. They work out great as neutral blenders and binding. I have an assortment in my house and they are very useful to have laying around!! I found a shop on Etsy that sells a really nice bundle.

Finished measurement of this tote is: 14"T x 17"W x 6"D

1/2 yard main novelty fabric
1 fat quarter or 1/3 yard cut for accent fabric (top and bottom fabric)
5/8 yard of fabric for lining
7/8 yard of medium or decor weight interfacing (I use Pellon 809)

From the accent fabric for the top and bottom, cut:
(2) 3" x 18 1/2" strips
(1) 12" x 18 1/2" rectangle

From the main novelty fabric, cut:
(2) 10" x 18 1/2" rectangles (make sure you cut it so the print is going horizontal....for example, my owls wouldn't be as cute turned 90 degrees)
(2) strips 4" x 24" for straps

From the lining fabric, cut:
1 rectangle, 18 1/2" x 36"

From the interfacing, cut:
1 rectangle, 18 1/2" x 36"
2 strips, 4" x 24"

One piece of low loft batting, I use a cotton or cotton blend, 22" x 40" to quilt the outer bag.
(Optional..... and you need to buy extra interfacing for this. If you DON'T want to quilt your bag, cut one additional rectangle of interfacing 18 1/2" x 36" for your outer section).

If you want to make a pocket, I suggest (2) 8" x 16" pieces of fabric and one piece of interfacing the same size. I am not including directions for a pocket in this tutorial.


Arrange the fabric for the outer bag section and sew the pieces together. Be sure that your novelty fabric will be facing the right way when the bag is upright!!

Layer a piece of low loft batting under the outer bag section. Spread smooth over the batting and safety pin the two layers together at 4” to 6” intervals. If you want to use fusible interfacing in place of the batting and quilting, that is fine too.

Using a quilter’s ruler and rotary cutter, trim the batting off around the edges of the outer bag section.

Prepare the Lining, Straps and Pockets

1.  Iron the fusible interfacing onto the wrong side of the straps and the lining (follow the directions on the interfacing).

If you want to add a pocket, sew it onto the lining now! (I forget to do this now half the time...)

2. Working on the outer bag section first, fold in half with the right sides together and sew down each side with a ¼” seam allowance, or larger if necessary. Make sure you use the same seam allowance for the lining! Take the lining section and also fold that in half with the right sides together. Sew one side closed. Start sewing the other side closed, but leave a 4” to 5" section of the side open in the middle of the side. You will turn your bag through this opening in the side. Make sure you sew the bottom of the side and the top of the side. Also backstitch over the seam where you start and stop near the opening.

3. Trimming the corners.   To construct a flat bottom, you must trim the corners. Keep each section of the bag with the wrong side facing out. Flatten out the corner so the seam is in the middle of the “V” that the corner makes. Snip the seam open at the point. Press the seam open. To ensure that the seam is centered, place the 3 ¼” line on the ruler directly over the seam. Also place the point of the “V” at the 3 ¼” horizontal line on your ruler. Make sure there are equal amounts of fabric on either side of the seam. If there isn’t you need to readjust the corner to move the seam. 

4. Draw a line across the corner. It should be 6 ½” wide. Sew across the line. Backstitch at the beginning and end of your seam. Repeat for the other corner. Trim off the excess piece of the corner, leaving a ¼” seam allowance. Turn the outer section of the bag so the right side is facing out and press the side seams. Repeat for the lining section, but leave the lining section with the right side facing in.

5. Prepare the straps. Make sure the interfacing is ironed onto the back of the strap fabric. Fold the 4” x 24” fabric in half lengthwise and crease with the iron. Fold each half in toward the center crease so each raw edge will almost meet in the center. Press. Fold again on the original center line. All of the raw edges will be hidden. Topstitch with an 1/8” seam allowance on each side of the straps with matching thread. Make two.

6. The outer section of the bag should be right side facing out. Find the center of the outer portion of the bag on each side of the bag. Measure 3” out from each side of the center and pin the ends of the straps in place. The insides of the straps will be 6” apart. The raw edges of the straps will line up with the raw edges of the bag and the straps will be “pointing” down. Sew the top of each strap onto the bag within the seam allowance. Sew over each strap several times to secure them to the bag.

7. The outer portion of the bag should be right side facing out. The inner lining should be wrong side facing out. Place the outer portion of the bag inside the lining portion. The right sides of the outer and inner portions of the bag should be facing each other. The straps should be tucked inside the bag.

8. Match up the side seams and pin. Pin the two sections together along the raw edges.  Sew all the way around the top section, completely closing up the bag. I like to use a seam allowance a little bigger than a ¼” to be on the safe side. You have to catch all of the fabric and sew below where you attached the straps.

9. Find the hole in the lining and put your hand in. Start pulling the bag through the hole so the right side of the fabric is showing. Push out all of the corenrs. Tuck in the unsewn seam in the opening, press and pin closed, then sew closed. Push the lining inside of the outer portion of the bag.

10. Press the top seam of the bag. Topstitch the top edge of the bag with a coordinating thread. I like to press the side seams of the bag now as well. You are done, I hope you love your bag! Visit my shop for more patterns, and check out my book!