I pulled this quilt out of the dryer yesterday, and started thinking about WIPs–those projects that go from super exciting to Works-In-Progress-no-womans-land.

This quilt lives on my son’s bed (or floor, lets be realistic). We started it together as part of a Not Your Mama’s Quilting Bee (a group of friends with kids 6-10 at the time thought it would be fun to sew with our kids, and have them participate in a bee).  We made good progress, and then the quilt sat for about 2 years.

Works in Progress--most creatives have 1 (or 30) works in progress. Projects that you were excited to start, and that for whatever reason (no firm deadline, didn’t love the fabric pull, got bored making repetitve blocks, lost a chunk of sewing time you were used to, got distracted by a new project or one that *did* have a deadline) ended up in a project pile/bin.

p.s. You can find Fresh Lemons Quilts greek cross block tutorial here:

Here are 5 tips I use to tackle works in progress. 

1. Write them all down 
Did you know we have a WIP tracker? You c

an download it (for free) at the link below. Go through, inventory, and write them all down!  We have also included a sheet of graph paper, and a sheet of on-point graph paper.

Free WIP Tracking/Project Chart [teal]

Free WIP Tracking/Project Chart [black and white]


2. Give away, throw out, or set aside the ones that don’t bring you joy
It sounds cliche, but sometimes, works in progress aren’t worth finishing. You can do a Marie Kondo on them, thank them for the joy they gave you, and get rid of them. I have given blocks to friends, given projects away on Instgram, and given them to guild-mates to finish for charity projects. On the rare occasion, I have just thrown them away. Works in progress can cause some people stress–and even if they don’t, if you know you aren’t going to ever finish them, getting rid of them can free up mental space for new projects.

3. Choose your favorite project, and start there
WIP are like anything else–if you rediscover a project and find that you love it, you will be much more likely to finish it. And if you finish one project, you will be more likely to *want* to finish another!

4. Team up with someone to finish the part in the process you dislike most
I don’t like basting quilts. It isn’t so much the process as the idea. Mop the floor, make the quilt back, spend the time. I’ve found that getting together for a basting party with friends, or sending my quilts to be long armed, clears up the backlog of WIPs for me.

If you hate piecing quilt backs, look into 108” wide fabric. Sometimes you can find it on killer sales, and there are so many great prints out there now. If you don’t like binding, see if you can trade services. I have traded babysitting for binding before, for example. I’m lucky now, my mom loves binding, and she has bound a bunch of quilts for me!! Or learn to machine bind!

Machine Binding Tutorial

5. Join a finish a long
Sometimes, being able to post photos with a hashtag (I like #finishit2019, started by Megan @canoeridgecreations), or signing up for a more formal finish a long is just the motivation that you need to finish a project.

Happy finishing!

And, if you are looking to start something… the Mt. Olympus Quilt is a great one 😉

Buy the Mt. Olympus Quilt Pattern–includes instructions for baby and throw size quilts

Posted in Favorite Things, Quilt Blocks, Quilts, Works In Progress | Tagged , , , , | 1 Response

This is my 5th (!) Summer Sampler, and I’ve learned a lot over they years. I wanted to share five sampler “management” tips with you–its so much easier to start the summer quilt along out organized.

Sign up for the Summer Sampler 2019 here

This is my first year following the Sampler mockup using solids–I roughly followed the mockup last year, but chose my own brand of rainbow.  In 2018, I pulled solids in and out of my stash, and dropped all of my scraps in my scrap bin after each block. This rather haphazard method led to lots of searching for that particular lime green solid I used in block 3, or blue I used in block 7, and wasn’t very efficient.

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years–its easier to stay organized (and motivated!) if you start out strong.

Tip #1: Store all of your sampler fabric together in a bin or basket that is easy to access. I really like the Y-Weave baskets from Target--they are inexpensive, cute enough to leave out on a cutting table or desk, and come in a number of different sizes, widths, and heights–depending on how much fabric you have for the quilt, you can choose the size that works.

Tip #2: Not every fabric cut requires that you cut across the entire width of fabric. For example, in Week 1, there are a few 1-1/2” squares. Instead of cutting 1-1/2” x wof, I just cut one or two squares, depending on what I needed. If it’s a 5” or 3” cut (one I’m pretty sure I will use again), then I often will cut a wof strip and just set aside the scraps for a future block. There are sooo many different cut sizes in a sampler;  I save my scraps in the same bin with my yardage, and then make sure to cut from those first each week, if I can.

Tip #3: Label your fabric! There is no way I’m going to be able to remember which solid is Admiral Blue and which is Prussian Blue (I am using the Sewtopia kit). I cut from the selvage, attached the label (thanks for labelling the solids Sewtopia!) and then taped them above my cutting table. Easy, peasy. If you aren’t using the solids kit, I love the way that Debbie Jeske, one of last year’s Sampler designers, organized her swatches.

Tip #4: Save your weekly block pattern printouts in a binder or folder. I use this one.  Some years, I have just recycled the patterns, or left them in random places (some in a filing cabinet, some in my sewing room, etc.) Almost every time, I can’t find the pattern I’m looking for, either mid-sewing or after the fact. Save them in one place and skip the frustration.

Tip #5: It can be tricky to keep track of all of the cut pieces. I usually make a check mark next to the pattern once I’ve cut the required pieces. I use a mini design board to keep my pieces in one place, to transport them from cutting to sewing, and to lay out my blocks. My mother in law made this Lori Holt design board for me–there is a tutorial here to make your own. You can also purchase them here. Or, follow my tutorial to make a 5 minute version here!

Decide early on what you hope to learn from the sampler this year. This year’s theme is “Piecing Bootcamp,” and my mantra is “growth, not perfection.”  [I’ve never twirled my seams before! Yay for a tutorial this week from block designer Lynn Carson Harris].The blocks are meant to stretch each of us as quilters, and in lots of these blocks, being off even 1/8” makes a big difference! Take your time, measure to make sure your 1/4” foot actually gives you a 1/4”, and rest assured that the blocks go through a rigorous testing process! My goal in the sampler is never perfection; my goal is to learn some new skills, and to grow as a quilter. The blocks don’t need to be made in a single setting, or finished on Monday, either!  The sampler is meant to be fun, not stressful.  Additionally, feel free to follow the mockup exactly as it is, or mostly follow it, swapping fabrics as you want, or don’t follow it at all! I’ve done all three methods, and all three result in fantastic quilts.

Bonus Tip: I always keep a [pretty] trash bin on my cutting table. Makes clean up so much easier. This one is a planter from Target that I got on clearance years ago.

Bonus Bonus Tip from Krista @Poppyprint, one of our block designers: Take 10 minutes to do a 1/4” Tune Up Test to make sure your 1/4” seam allowance is actually that. I’m going to do this today!

Happy sewing, everyone!


Posted in Sew Alongs, Summer Sampler Series | Leave a comment

I’m so happy to announce the 2019 Summer Sampler: Piecing Bootcamp!

21 original blocks, 17 different designers [keep reading for a list!]

Quilt Along Dates:  May 20-October 14, 2019; participants get an email each Monday with a link to download that week’s block. Join in the quilt along via the Facebook group and on Instagram using the hashtag #summersampler2019.

Use the Coupon SWIMBIKEQUILT for $5 off the one-time purchase price of $29.99. Coupon expires Sunday, May 19.


A large mix of piecing styles and techniques–21 different techniques, including improv piecing, paper piecing, curves, half square [and half rectangle] triangles, diamonds, tiny piecing, using color, and more!  Perfect for the confident beginner who wants to jump right in, and a more experienced quilter who is looking to expand their skill set or participate in this fun, summer quilt along.

2 different sets of finishing instructions [curves or diamonds]

Welcome PDF — The Quilt Along doesn’t start until May 20, but once you sign up, you will receive an email with a link to a Welcome PDF. The PDF has fabric requirements/estimates, kit information, answers to questions, information about the Facebook group, etc.

Facebook Group –Find information in the Welcome PDF on how to join the Summer Sampler 2019 Facebook group. This optional group is a great resource for when you have questions, or want to show off your blocks!

Quilt Kits –Amy from Sewtopia is offering kits in the Moda Bella solids based on the colors in the digital mockup. Sometimes colors appear a little differently on different monitors and screens; I’m excited this year to make my quilt based on the mockup!


Finally, I’m so happy to announce this year’s list of designers. The blocks are fantastic and I’ve loved getting to know them better. They will each pop into the Facebook group during their block’s week!

Top to Bottom, Left to Right

Row 1: Heather Black @Quiltachusetts, Krista Hennebury @poppyprint, Lynne Goldsworthy @lilysquilts,  Lee Heinrich @lee.a.heinrich, Krystina Hopkins @khquilts

Row 2: Andrea Tsang Jackson @3rdstoryworkshop, Jemima Flendt @tiedwitharibbon, Faith Jones @freshlemonsquilts, Kitty Wilkin @nightquilter, Yvonne Fuchs @quiltingjetgirl

Row 3: Lynn Carson Harris @lynncarsonharris, Stephanie Zacharer Ruyle @spontaneousthreads

Row 4: Jen Carlton Bailly @bettycrockerass, Amy Friend @duringquiettime, Justin Stafford @keatonquilts, Katie Blakesley @swimbikequilt, Jo Avery @mybearpaw


Posted in Quilt Blocks, Quilts, Sew Alongs, Sewing + Friends, Summer Sampler Series | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m so happy to share that the Summer Sampler Quilt Along is back for a 5th year! Sign up to be notified when details are announced and subscriptions go on sale…and you get a coupon code too!

Can’t wait to share more in the next few weeks!

Posted in Sew Alongs, Summer Sampler Series | Tagged , , , , | 1 Response