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!


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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


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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!

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Welcome to the Solitude Star Quilt Along #solitudestarquiltalong

Get your Pattern Here

Solitude Star Quilt Along: Introduction

Solitude Star Quilt Along: Tips for Choosing Fabrics

Solitude Star Quilt Along: Cutting Your Fabrics

Solitude Star Quilt Along: HST Tips, Tricks, and Templates 

Solitude Star Quilt Along: Piecing Tips I Wish I Had Known [this post]

This week’s task: Piece the Quilt Top

I included a few piecing tips from myself and others. I would love to hear your favorite tips!

Don’t forget to post photos to Instagram using the #solitudestarsquiltalong, and it isn’t too late if you still want to grab a pattern and join in the fun!

quilt top ready to be pieced by @jennaquilts

I made my first quilt almost 20 years ago, and I helped tie quilts long before that. After I got married, my mother in law, my sister in law and I did a block of the month quilt. It was awesome–if we completed one month’s block, and brought it back, we got the pattern and fabric for the next month’s block. At the end of the quilt, my mother in law quilted it for us!

Ironically, I was scared to sew the blocks and mess it up, and instead just cut everything out, because I thought it was the least important job. It took a while for me to realize that cutting out the fabric is the most important part! If you mess that up, its all downhill from there.

1. Cutting Matters! [see story above] Related: Change your blade often. If you can’t remember the last time you changed your blade, change it. I keep an old case with “old blades” in a sharpie to dispose of blades safely.

2. Unpick early and often. If in doubt, unpick.

3. Use the same machine throughout the entire quiltmaking process. If you use two machines, double check to make sure the 1/4” is the same! My mom and I pieced a quilt together on two machines last summer, and the seam was different! Luckily the quilt top [below] was improv-y enough that it didn’t matter too much.

Ready to learn from the pros?

Keep reading, and enjoy!

5 Tips to Piecing More Accurate Quilts by Amy Ellis

8 Tips to Improve Piecing Amy Gibson

9 Piecing Tips and Tricks by Melissa Mortenson



If you want to know more about the quilt along and pattern, keep reading.

If you are signed up for my newsletter or follow me on Instagram, maybe you have seen the Solitude Star Quilt?

Let’s Quilt Along together, started Monday, March 18. It isn’t too late to join in! 

If you already have a copy of the pattern, I hope join in! If you don’t, you can grab one here: Solitude Star Pattern

The pattern includes instructions for two sizes, baby and large throw (44” x 44” and 76” x 76”).

This graphic quilt looks great with solids, prints, or a combination of the two–make sure to tag your quilts and projects with #solitudestarquilt.

This 7 page pattern has clear, tested instructions, full color illustrations, a coloring page, and additional color ideas to help plan your quilt.

I originally purchased the stack on the left, and then realized that I had some long saved (hoarded) Heather Ross Fabrics that would work perfectly for this quilt! Yay for using stash fabric.

Since the Quilt Along doesn’t start until 3/18, you have plenty of time to gather/find/purchase fabric.  This quilt is a great scrap buster.


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