5 Summer Sampler Organization Tips // Summer Sampler 2019

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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