Friday, 10 February 2017

Sew Your Stash

We’re going to make a sweeping generalisation here and assume that if you’re reading this, you’re a fan of fabric. And that you take pride in your stash, which may contain more fabric than you could possibly turn into quilts in the next year (or five). But despite all this, you will more than likely buy more fabric for the stash over the coming year. Can I see a show of hands?

Here at Make Modern, we are huge fabric lovers. We buy it, pet it, sometimes even sew with it. But a lot of it goes straight to the stash, where it stays (in some cases, in OCD colour coded glory). In previous posts, we’ve talked about maintaining a workable stash and organising your scraps. But all of that is null and void if you don’t actual USE the fabric you’ve got, which is why we’re talking about sewing your stash.

It seems simple enough… buy fabric, then use it. But it’s not always that easy. Sometimes we snap up the must-have bundle of the moment while it’s still available or we buy something for a specific project but don’t get around to sewing it up. Sometimes the lure of a big sale sucks us into buying things we don’t really need. Often we deem certain fabrics too precious to cut. All these factors contribute to having a stash that is bigger than any one quilter can manage. End result: you’ve got so much fabric that it’s guilt-inducing and overwhelming. This is why it’s important to take a long, hard look at your stash and actually use it. A commitment to sew from your stash isn’t as strict as a fabric diet, but it does force you to look to what you already own and be a little creative with your supplies.

organise your fabric
It goes without saying that if your fabric storage is in a state of disarray, it’ll be harder to sew from your stash. We’ve covered this extensively in previous issues so won’t go into too much detail now, but it is important to get that stash in order. This is your first plan of attack. Once your fabric is in order, it’s time to do something much more fun – pull some fabrics! Even if you don’t have a particular plan in mind, take a few minutes to pull some fabrics that work together. Explore new colour schemes. Mix and match things you wouldn’t normally put together. Pull out your treasured bundles. Take pictures of your fabric pulls on your phone and store them for later inspiration, then when there’s a particular project you need to make, you can pull up your pictures and see if you’ve got the perfect fabric selection already thought out. This is a great exercise to help you really understand and appreciate what’s in your stash.

ditch the ‘precious’ attitude
We all have precious fabrics in the stash. Maybe it’s out of print and valuable. Or it’s something you truly adore. Sometimes, the very thought of cutting into that fabric is terrifying. But here’s the thing: the purpose of fabric is to cut it up and use it. Take a look at your most favourite fabrics and come up with a plan for them. Make it something special just for you. When you’re sleeping under a quilt featuring your favourite fabrics every night, then it’s going to be more special than having that fabric on the shelf. The same goes for using fabric for things like home accessories, cushions or kids quilts that might suffer a lot of wear or tear. We’re not saying you turn your Liberty stash into potholders, but other than that, almost anything in your stash is fair game to become useful items around the home. If they wear out eventually, that’s okay – just make more (from the stash) and remember the joy you had using things made from your favourite fabrics and how much nicer they were than store-bought.

use your resources
Your stash extends beyond your fabric collection. It’s also threads, floss, zippers, buttons, books and magazines. All of these are valuable items that cost money, so make an effort to use them up. Before you race out and buy a zipper, button or thread, look in the stash to make sure there’s nothing else you can use. It’s useful to be a little resourceful in your fabric choices too. Sometimes you can alter a pattern to use what you have on hand. Perhaps you have a project that requires two yards of a low volume background print – before you race out and buy two yards of a single print, consider whether you could use the four half-yard pieces you have in the stash. A bit of lateral thinking can get the stash down fast, especially if you have a lot of small cuts of fabric. It’s likely you’ve bought a few patterns or books that you haven’t made a single project from yet – it’s time to look at them and plan to marry some of your hoarded fabrics with your favourite patterns. Win-win.

reduce temptation
If you buy fabric because it’s on sale or you see the latest ranges online, then it might be a good idea to avoid temptation. It sounds counter-productive, but it’s also a good idea to keep a stockpile of essentials like sewing machine needles, rotary cutter blades, neutral thread, interfacing and batting on hand. Every time you go to the local big box retailer to pick up more needles or a cushion insert, odds are you’ll go past the quilting fabric section, ‘just to see’ what new fabrics they have in. It’s much harder to avoid temptation when all the pretty bolts are looking down on you, begging to be bought.

make small stuff
Make a commitment to use your stash for more small projects. Whether it’s for gifts, swaps, home accessories or just cute things for yourself or your kids, small projects don’t require a lot of fabric, so you’re likely to find everything you need for a particular project in the stash. They’re also quick, which means you can make more of them, using more fabric as you go along.

embrace scrappy
Your quilts don’t have to be perfectly matchy-matchy, some of the greatest quilts contain a huge collection of prints. Scrappy quilts are the perfect way to use up your scraps and small cuts of fabrics. If you’re worried about things getting too scrappy, infuse a common feature into the whole design, such as white, low volume or a certain colour.

piece your backs
We love pieced backs, they’re almost like a whole other quilt! Buying backing is a big expense, so instead look at what’s in the stash. If you’ve got some fat quarters or half yards of fabrics that work well with your quilt top, why not create a scrappy back for your quilt? You’ll use up a lot of fabric this way and save yourself running to the store for more.

give yourself leeway
One thing to remember about sewing from your stash is that you’re not on a fabric diet. If you need extra fabric to round out a fabric pull, that’s totally okay. If you have to buy yardage of a background, go for it. It is a good idea, however, to only buy new fabric for the specific project you’re working on right now. When you fall into the trap of buying fabric ‘for the stash’ or the next five projects on the list, that’s when your plans fall apart. The key is to plan a project, shop the stash first (while being resourceful and thinking laterally), then buy any extra stuff you need to complete the project. Of course, if you have absolutely everything you need for another four projects, you do need to ask yourself if the project you’re buying for now is really your top priority (sometimes it is, but often it’s not).

use it or lose it
Let’s face it. Sometimes we outgrow fabric. Our tastes change, or we wonder why we even bought
it in the first place. There’s no shame in admitting you won’t use certain fabrics, but there’s no point
keeping them in the stash to remind you they weren’t your finest purchasing moment. A fast way to thin out your stash is to destash fabrics you know you won’t use. Need help destashing? See #9 from our 2017 New Year's resolutions for quilters post.

You may remember the feature we did on Leasa from (on IG as @projectleasa) back in Issue 4 about how her innocent little new year’s resolution hashtag started a stash sewing movement. Well, the good news is she has just kicked off the 3rd year of #sewmystash and everyone's welcome! Read more and join in here. See you there!


Thursday, 12 January 2017

Our top ten 2017 New Year's resolutions for quilters

Out in the real world, some of the most commonly broken New Year’s resolutions include losing weight and saving money. In the quilting world, we have a few of our own that seem to get broken before you know it – like finishing all the UFOs and WIPs, or not buying any fabric...sound familiar?

Just like in other areas of your life, it’s the most extreme resolutions that slip away the fastest. That’s why we’ve thought long and hard to come up with some resolutions that’ll make you grow as a quilter and stretch your creative muscle, while being easier to actually keep.

1. Only buy fabric you love
This mantra isn’t as strict as a full-on fabric diet, but it does keep you in check. Rather than buying things just because they’re on sale, you’re visiting a new shop, or it’s the line everyone is talking about, instead buy fabric you LOVE. Really, really love. Treat your stash as a carefully curated collection that reflects your impeccable tastes. The upsides: your stash will fill up with absolute favourites, and you will buy less. There are no downsides.

2. Learn something new
Before you make this resolution, you need to be specific. Do you want to try English paper piecing? Screen printing? Hand appliqué? Art quilting? Think about one thing you’ve always wanted to try ‘one day’ and make this the year you’ll be doing it. Then make a plan – from gathering materials to finding how-to-guides to setting a start date. Then do it.

3. Finish some WIPs
Some people love to start and finish projects in a linear fashion. The rest of us ebb and flow, moving from one project to the next, sometimes leaving a trail of WIPs in our wake. While we are not saying you shouldn’t have any WIPs, remember that too many can be overwhelming. If your WIPs are out of control, then make a plan to finish some, without being too strict about it. Let yourself start new things in between, but make it a goal to at least reduce your UFO count. If you need some encouragement, the 2017 Finish A Long has just begun and the word on the street is that the prizes are awesome!

4. Keep a design book
Resolve to design more. Whether or not you consider yourself a quilt designer or not, you will stretch your creative muscle if you start looking around you for quilty inspiration. It’s everywhere, from clothing to nature to man-made objects. Sketch your ideas, and before you know it you’ll be coming up with original creations. Tip: A graph/grid paper book (the one with little squares) makes turning designs into quilt blocks so much easier!

5. Try a new craft
We know you love quilting, it’s our favourite too. But sometimes it’s refreshing to try another craft, such as knitting, scrapbooking or cross stitching. Doing something else will help improve your eye for design and teach you new skills that might apply to quilting. And you’ll find that sometimes you just don’t feel like quilting and it’s nice to do something else for a bit. Then you can come back to quilting all refreshed.

6. Slow down
In the world of social media sharing we are always so busy trying to create another finish, write another blog post, and meet another deadline. Productivity is good, but too much of this can suck the fun out of quilting. Instead, start a complex quilt with no end point in mind. Relish in the taking it slow. A few years ago, I started an EPP project with over 2000 diamonds in it. People frequently ask me how long it’s going to take me, and I’m happy to tell them ‘forever’.

7. Make time to sew more
There are weeks when you discover that you barely have time to touch your sewing machine, let alone make any significant progress on anything. Set a time to sew every (or at least most) days. If you change out your routine to include half an hour of sewing a day, you’ll find another 182 ½ hours available to you over a year. Imagine what you could do with that!

8. Organise your space
We’re all for the imperfect, honest craft room, but if your sewing space is such a hot mess you don’t know where anything is, you’re going to waste time looking for things you’re sure you had, and money on things you didn’t need to buy again. There are a million ways to store craft supplies and inspiration galore on Pinterest, so start looking for solutions that fit your space and budget. We recommend housing your stash all in one area, making sure your tools are always accessible, and keeping your threads and notions in a single location.

9. Destash what you don’t love
When you sort out your sewing space, you’re likely to find things you no longer love, you know you’ll never use, and some that you don’t even know how they got there. This might be fabric, supplies from another craft long forgotten, and even UFOs. You do not need to keep these things. They take up space, induce guilt and don’t have a place in your creative arena. Sell them, give them away, throw them away... it doesn’t matter how you get rid of them, as long as you do. There are groups on Facebook dedicated to helping you find new owners for fabric you've fallen out of love with (try the Aussie Patchwork Fabric Destash Group or search for one in your area) or you can list fabric you're destashing on Instagram (If you've got a lot, you may like to make a dedicated Instagram account so you don't lose followers or try to post all of your fabric on a certain date and time so you don't clog up the feed. If you're in Aus, tag your photos with #greataussiedestash and you might even gain some new followers. Perfect timing: Cole & Taffy just published her top 12 tips for Instagram destashing).

10. Sew for yourself
We all love making handmade things for others, but it’s important to be careful that sewing doesn’t become a chore as you churn through your to-do list. Remember that it’s okay to sew for yourself (I don't believe in the term #selfishsewing!). If you don’t have a quilt for your very own bed, this is the year to put yourself first and make one! Happy sewing!

- JK & LM

Friday, 25 November 2016

Thread Basics: a simple guide to choosing threads for quilting

Like any aspect of quilting, it seems that as soon as you talk about threads, everyone has an opinion on which ones to use. Then there’s weight, fibre composition, colour…. Before you know it, this simple little stitching essential is making your brain explode! Here at Make Modern, we like to keep things simple and practical. We know quilters have all sorts of budgets, particularly when starting out. Essentially, we abide by one rule when choosing thread – choose quality! There are many goodbrands available, some you may have heard of include Aurifil, Rasant, Metter, Gutermann, Superior, Signature and King Tut. These brands are widely available at general sewing stores, specialist quilt shops and online. We’re not going to debate which of these brands are the best.

We will, however, say that anything you can buy at the supermarket or in three packs for $3 should be avoided at all costs! There is such a thing as crap thread, and if you are paying prices that seem too good to be true, then these threads do not belong in your quilts. They are not pleasant to sew with (think breakages and snags) and they will not last as long. It is well worth investing in decent threads, given the amount of money spent on fabric and the hours of work that go into a quilt. Better quality threads are made using better quality cotton and longer cotton fibres, so look for phrases like ‘longer staple length’ when choosing your thread. The better quality the thread, the less lint it will produce. When comparing the cost of the different brands of threads, make sure you apply the old unit pricing rule and compare the actual amount of thread on each spool – you may be surprised.

Test Driving
It is worth trying different brands of thread to work out which ones you, and your sewing machine, like best – particularly before you invest in a lot of them. You may hear people say ‘my machine doesn’t like that thread’ – this is not necessarily an indicator of ‘bad’ thread, some machines are just quirky like that. I have had the experience where I could piece and straight line quilt with a particular brand of thread on my old machine with no dramas, but free motion quilting was too much pressure on the thread and I experienced a lot of breakages. Now I can free motion quilt with the same thread on my Juki machine and it works fine. Go figure.

It is often tricky to figure out what colour to piece a quilt in, especially when you use lots of different colour fabrics. Grey is a very good bet – choose a light grey for lighter tones, or a darker grey for more saturated colours. Grey has the ability to blend with almost any fabric beautifully and is a great neutral to have on hand at all times. Choosing a thread colour for the quilting component of the project is a different story – you need to choose a colour that complements your fabric choices, deciding whether or not you want the quilting to stand out or blend in. Some manufacturers, such as Aurifil, have teamed with fabric designers and companies to curate collections that work perfectly with particular fabric ranges – if you have a favourite designer who tends to use a constant colour palette, threads that match perfectly are a great investment. Colour cards are also useful – once you decide on a brand of thread you like, you might choose to invest in their colour card so you can match threads to projects. Colour cards are usually made from actual threads which makes them far more accurate than viewing colours on a computer screen or print out. If you don’t have a colour card, take your project with you to the store when choosing threads, it’s amazing how tricky it is to match threads by memory.

You can use a regular thread for handwork, many hand quilters prefer to use heavier threads, such as 40 weight or 28 weight for extra strength when hand quilting. Remember to use shorter lengths of thread when hand quilting, as longer lengths tangle and strip as you work, reducing their strength. Also, be sure to invest in quality hand sewing needles. You can purchase specific hand quilting threads that are wax coated for strength, or simply run your thread through beeswax to strengthen it. It’s important not to use these coated threads in your sewing machine as the coating can damage it. For example, Gutermann produces hand quilting threads in 50 shades. You can also hand quilt using thicker perle cottons or heavier weight threads like Aurifil’s Aurifloss.

Fibre Content
Many quilters swear by the ‘like with like’ rule, which means you use cotton thread to sew cotton fabric. While this is not set in stone, it is a good one to consider, particularly if your quilt is going to be washed a lot. It is said that the stronger fibres in polyester thread can cut through cotton fabrics over time, damaging your quilt. It is simpler to mend a hole produced by broken threads than a hole produced by damaged fabric fibres. Most thread manufacturers produce cotton threads in a wide range of colours. Core spun threads, such as Rasant and Signature’s Cotton Wrapped Polyester threads, are also an option – they have a very strong continuous filament polyester core covered in cotton fibres to provide the best of both worlds. Of course, if you are exploring art quilts or really want to stretch your creative muscle when quilting, fibre content rules go out the window as you enter the world of polyester machine embroidery threads, silks threads, metallic, clear monofilament threads and the like. Fibre is very much a personal experience, and it is worth investigating the wide
variety of quality threads available in fibres other than cotton.

Not all threads are created equal, and most thread manufacturers produce threads in a range of weights for various purposes. The higher the number on the thread, the finer it is. It would be simple if there was a universal system for calculating thread weight, but there’s not! The TEX system is the standard for industrial sewing thread, which incorporates the Cotton Count System (NEc) for sizing spun threads. Unfortunately there is no standard for home sewing thread, but if you want to read a bit more on the theory of thread, YLI have a very useful document here. Most simply, a fine thread is best for general piecing and applique because it sits in the seam well. Move to a slightly thicker thread for general machine sewing. Aurifil recommends their 50 weight for piecing, 40 weight for general sewing. Superior recommends their MasterPiece thread for piecing because it is high quality Egyptian cotton in a 50 weight with very low lint. When machine quilting, you can use a wide variety of thread weights for different effects. Wonderfil offers a range of threads from 100 weight to 12 weight (with 20, 30, 35, 40, 50 and 80 weights in between!) and recommends 100 weight if you just want to texture the background without seeing the colour from the thread, or 12 weight if you really want to make the thread a feature.

Remember that there are a few things you can do to make your threads work better. Using the right type of needle for the thread and fabric is critical, as is replacing needles regularly. You may need to adjust your machine tension to accommodate different types of threads. Clean out the bobbin casing of your machine regularly to get rid of the lint bunnies. Make sure you’ve got the thread loaded correctly – it should be released anti clockwise. Most thread spools have writing on one end, make sure this is to the top. For most purposes, match your top and bobbin threads (decorative quilting may be the exception). If you don’t want to match colours, use the same brand thread in the top and bobbin. For best results, investigate thread manufacturer’s websites to establish which of their threads they recommend for different types of sewing. Regardless of which brand you choose, you are always going to get better results if you choose the right thread for the job. While it seems tedious, taking the time to trial different threads and carefully considering your thread choice will yield better results and improve your sewing experience.

- JK

Friday, 21 October 2016

Scraps Happen: a guide to dealing with your fabric scraps!

Scraps. For quilters, this word can spark the same mixed emotions as ‘basting’ does. We have a love/hate relationship with our scraps – they’re happy little reminders of quilts and blocks gone by and the last morsels of delicious yardage. But as the scrap collection grows and grows (seriously, do they breed?) we begin to get the guilts about how to deal with them.

Most of us keep our scraps. Only the bravest few pass them on to friends or (gasp!) throw them out. While you don’t have to keep your scraps, bear in mind that you paid just as much for them as the yardage on your shelves. And some of the most interesting quilts feature a myriad of fabrics – which means you need lots of little bits of lots of different fabrics, which is where your scraps come into their own. And it is fabric (need we say more?). But many of us don’t actually use our scraps, and there are plenty of us who don’t have an effective way to store our scraps. I suspect these two facts are closely linked – if you can manage your scraps effectively, you’re more likely to use them. So it’s time to crank your favourite tunes, grab your favourite beverage, and tackle your scrap stash.

Step One: what should I keep?
The first step is to cull the scrap bin. Yes, I know we’ve just talked about how scraps are worth the same as yardage, but your scrap bins shouldn’t be full of ugly or unusable fabrics. So grab a garbage
bag, and be ruthless. Dump all your scraps out and sort the keepers out from the rubbish. It is okay to throw out fabric that is a) seriously ugly, b) seriously out of date, c) poor quality, d) too small to be useful, e) stained or damaged in some way.

Some people like to use ugly fabrics, cutting them small enough to hide the ugly – but it’s up to you to decide if you want to use them or dump them. Same goes for crumbs, those tiny, funny shaped
pieces. They can be great for small-scale improv piecing, but not a lot else. If you decide to keep your crumbs it may be useful to put them all together in one place (like a large zip lock bag).

It is preferable to keep your other (non-quilting) fabric scraps somewhere else so you know anything in the scrap bins can be used for a quilt.

Step Two: how big is a scrap?
How long is a piece of string? What is a reasonable serving size of chocolate? You need to decide what constitutes a scrap for – some people say anything smaller than a fat quarter is a scrap, but my stash includes a lot of fat quarters, so I choose to sort anything smaller than a fat eighth into my scrap bins. On the other end of the spectrum, I keep anything that is bigger than about two inches square (the more precious the fabric, the smaller the scrap). You need to decide what is useable to you based on how you use fabric – if you do appliqué you might keep tiny pieces, whereas someone else might deem anything smaller than a charm square as too small.

Step Three: how do I make my scraps useable?
Now you’ve got down to the fabric you want to keep, you need to get it useable again. Iron all your scraps (they’ll take up less space and they’re ready to go) and trim all the funny shapes and loose threads off them.

Step Four: how should I sort it?
I used to store all my scraps in a huge basket. Just tossed in all together, waiting for inspiration to strike. FYI: this system didn’t work at all and I’m pretty sure that it’s not one anybody would recommend, except maybe the cat who thought it was a good place to sleep. After extensive research, I discovered that most quilters with effective scrap storage systems either store by size or by colour, so we’ll look into those systems further.

Sorting by Colour
This is my preferred option, because it reflects how I quilt. I usually work by colour and I think in colour stories. I bought a bunch of cheap plastic storage containers and labelled them with each colour. I then sorted my scraps into each colour box.

Sorting by Size
Bonnie Hunter at has written extensively about storing scraps by size and it’s well worth checking out her website to see how she does it. The premise behind sorting scraps by size is that there are a few very common measurements in many quilt blocks and if you cut your scraps to these sizes then it’s very easy to start a scrap quilt using these pieces and you’ll make a huge dent in your scraps in the process. Here are some of the more common sizes to cut: squares in 1 ½”, 2”, 2 ½”, 3 ½” and bricks in 2” x 3 ½”, 2 ½” x 4 ½”, 3 ½” x 6 ½”. You can also keep strips in the same width as squares and then save them to cut down later – strips are great for blocks like log cabins. You can cut the same shapes as pre-cuts – 5” squares, 10” squares and 2 ½” strips and then you can use any pre-cut pattern.

Strings are strips of anything more than about an inch wide. Save all your strings together. It seems time consuming, but if you take time to cut your scraps to size at the end of every project, or in small blocks of time, it will get done and you’ll be left with a whole lot of useable pieces. Next time you have a project that requires a certain size of fabric, you simply go to that box and start with a whole pile of pre-cuts.

Sorting Exceptions
You may decide you want to keep certain types of fabrics together, such as 1930s prints, low volumes, fussy cuts and novelties or Libertys. Many designers make ranges that coordinate well together, so you might want to keep all scraps from one designer together, like Heather Ross, Kate Spain or Bonnie & Camille.

Step Five: how should I store it?
There are plenty of storage options and they don’t need to be expensive. As I mentioned, I use cheap plastic boxes that fit neatly on my shelves. These work whether you sort by colour or by size. Plastic storage drawers or even the humble zip lock bag are also practical options. Jars or baskets or decorative boxes are also a great solution that double as craft room eye candy. In their book Sunday Morning Quilts, Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison use scrap fabric to make supercute storage boxes for their scraps (this book is a fabulous resource for any scrap quilter) – the boxes shown here are made from this pattern.

Using your Scraps
Now you’ve got your scraps all beautifully sorted out, it’s critical you actually use them if you want to keep them under control. Even though it seems they multiply on their own, they don’t sew themselves!

Scraps are perfect for little projects like pin cushions and pouches, and they lend themselves beautifully to English paper piecing. They’re also great for bee blocks and paper piecing. Hit up your scrap bins often enough when you’re making these little projects and you’ll make a dent in your scrap stocks.

Of course, the obvious answer to keeping your scraps under control is to make scrap quilts. There are many amazing scrap quilts out there – take a look on Pinterest for endless inspiration. The trick is to think of your scraps as a mini stash, pull fabrics that you think will play nicely together and use them together.You may choose to work in one or two colours, or the whole rainbow and then some. It is effective to choose a simple block and repeat it, like a nine patch or a log cabin. You can make each block in a single colour, or make each one in many colours. Or you can improv piece sections of fabric together for a different look.

It is useful to pay attention to value when scrap quilting, separate your lights and darks and use this to create contrast. Low volumes are also a great asset in scrap quilting as they act as white space.

It is also very effective to tie your blocks together with a commonality, like solid white or grey. Remember you don’t have to make a quilt from scraps. When you’re doing a fabric pull for a new project, make sure you pull out your scrap bins too and utilise the fabrics in them. Constantly using scraps will keep them under control. Get them organised and make a conscious effort to use them and you’ll find your scraps stay under control all on their own.


Friday, 16 September 2016

Instagram for Quilters: a what, why and how guide

You’ve heard about it. Your favourite bloggers talk about it. Your quilty friends mention events happening on it. Not surprisingly, Instagram (or IG) is one of the most favoured social media platforms in the quiltosphere because it is photo-based and we’re all about sharing pictures of our work. But starting up on Instagram can be daunting, we know, which is why we’ve put together this guide to get you online and posting in no time!

Simply put, Instagram is an app that you download to your iPhone or smartphone. It allows you to take a quick photo and share it along with a brief comment. Sounds simple, right? But it’s a whole lot more than that. It’s a community! Plus it’s a bit fun. Okay, it’s a lot of fun. Please note: Make Modern takes no responsibility for any ensuing IG addictions.

Once you have the app installed, you need to set up a profile. It’s a good idea if you use a name that people might associate with you already – perhaps your blog or flickr name. That will help people to find you on IG. Fill out the description so people know what you’re about, it helps potential followers to ‘meet’ you. Don’t forget to add a profile pic! It doesn’t have to be you – it could be one of your favourite quilty projects, your blog logo or your cat. No pressure.

You can set your profile to public or private. If you’re going to be posting family photos and want to approve everyone who can see them, go for private. If want to enter challenges and competitions, and develop a presence within the online quilting community, make your feed public so you’re easier to follow.

Now you’re ready to start the fun! First, find some awesome people to follow. That way you can get started liking and commenting on pictures. If you have friends on IG, add them and then check out who they’re following to find followers you might also be interested in. Or you can use the ‘Search’ feature (click on the magnifying glass icon) to help you find particular people. The names of your favourite quilty bloggers, fabric stores and designers are a great place to start.

You might also notice throughout our magazine that we have included IG names. Right there are some great people to look up and follow! Just look at the end of each article on where to find the contributor and type that @name into your Instagram and voila! New awesome people to follow!

While you’re learning your way around Instagram, tap on that little magifying glass (explore) second from the left on your toolbar. That’s where you can search for names or hashtags. It’s also where IG puts photos it thinks you might like. Once you start following people and adding awesome quilt candy to your feed, you’ll soon find the Explore page fills with awesome quilt candy you haven’t seen yet but might like to check out. Clever, clever IG. (Okay, so you may also find some random what-the?! photos in your Explore but it’s okay, move right on back to those awesome quilt candy photos!).

 Photos posted by the people you follow can be found in your Newsfeed(the home icon). What next?! Show your fellow IGers some love. If you’re in a hurry, you can simply double tap the picture to ‘like’ it, or click the heart button. If you absolutely love something and want to let the poster know, click the speech bubble icon and leave a comment. Everyone loves comments! If you want to reply to someone else’s comment on a photo, or tag a friend in it you can type the @ symbol and the other person’s IG name so they receive a notification to let them know you’re talking to them.

Now we’ve got you sorted to check out other people’s awesomeness it’s time to set up your own! Take some photos! You can muck around with cropping, different filters or effects until you’re happy with how your photo looks. Add a caption then share it with the world! Or at least with your new IG followers. Congratulate yourself because you are well on your way to IG fun!

Want to be more involved? You can be with those magic things called hashtags. By adding a hashtag (#) in your caption, your photo gets filed under that name. Click on the hashtag and you can see all the other pictures tagged with that hashtag. For example, if you’d like to check out other projects that people have made, look up #makemodern. Quilt eye candy!

We do hope that you’ll share photos of your own MM projects using the hashtag. Checking out hashtags is also a great way to find people to follow. Keep an eye out for different hashtags to join in on – #greataussiedestash and #honestcraftroom are just two of many! Or go ahead – create your own and invite everyone to join in!

Often you’ll see competitions on IG where you’re instructed to regram the photo for a chance to win. What the?! Don’t freak out! Regramming is simply copying the photo and putting it on your own feed. You can use a reposting app like Repost, which do the hard work for you and also credit the original poster. It’s always good etiquette to give credit where it’s due. Alternatively you can take a screenshot on your phone (on an iPhone you hold down the power button and home button simultaneously, Android phones have various methods depending on your phone) then crop it and share it to your own feed. Put your post in the centre of your crop box and make sure you include the
username of the original poster. Also tag the original poster in your comment so they can pop by and see. Once you have the power to regram, remember the importance of doing it right – photos on Instagram belong to the original poster and are protected by copyright, so share with care.

There are other apps you can use outside of Instagram to enhance your whole IG experience. Instacollage lets you collage multiple images into one picture. Over lets you write on your photos. Apps like Canva and Snapseed offer photo editing right from your phone.

IG is a wonderful way to share a little glimpse of what you’re currently working on, or a shot of a finished project. Perhaps you’re doubting yourself and need a bit of instant feedback (should I go with the grey solid or the green? Help!). That’s the beauty of IG. You can get feedback rather quickly and be back to sewing in a flash.

You can also tag people who you think might be interested in seeing your photo. For example, you’ve just made a drop dead gorgeous, super-duper eye catching quilt with the newest line of fabric from your favourite designer. Why not tag the designer so they can see what you’ve created? They might surprise you and even comment on it! Don’t feel dejected if they don’t comment though – can you imagine how many notifications quilt celebrities get each day?!

To see what’s been happening on your own IG between visits, click on the Following button (the little heart icon). This tells you who has started following you – you might want to follow them back – who has liked your pictures, who has commented on your pictures and if you’ve been tagged in other pictures.

In the end, how much you get out of IG depends on how much you put in. You might simply enjoy looking at the pretty pictures but rather not post your own. You’re likely to find plenty of inspiration! Or perhaps you’ll post a photo most days and start to interact with followers, meet new people and even join in block swaps or quilt-alongs. The most important thing is to have fun! We look forward to seeing you there!

- KL

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Kristy @quietplay

Stash Happens: building and maintaining a workable fabric stash

Let’s talk about something near and dear to every quilter’s heart – fabric. Regardless of our personal style or favourite colour, we all seem to be inexplicably drawn to cotton fibres the minute we take up quilting. And as soon as we become dedicated quilters we express our dedication to the craft by buying fabric. And more fabric, and more fabric, and a little more fabric, until we’re looking for new storage options and pushing STABLE – stash totally above and beyond life expectancy.

All this is well and good and keeps the industry going (which means they’ll keep making more
fabric, woohoo!), but if you buy random fabric with no particular plan in mind, you may find that
you end up with an unmanageable stash that’s creatively stifling and totally overwhelming, and that wasn’t the intention at all.

Take a moment to think about how you quilt – that is, your personal style. For example, I like scrappy quilts with tons of different prints mixed in, but I tend to stick to one or two colours in each quilt. Kristy, on the other hand, will find a fabric line she loves and a pattern she loves, and marry up the two. And Lara, swings a little both ways. Each of these are perfectly valid ways to work with fabric, but they require different approaches to purchasing and storing.

Single Ranges
If you fall in love with a range of fabric, buying a quarter or half yard bundle is a very convenient way to get the whole range. You’ve got the makings of a perfectly coordinated quilt right there, ready to go. One thing to note: only buy fabric ranges you’re totally in love with. Trends come and go in the online quilting world and particular designers get hyped up – but it is totally okay to decide you don’t like whatever the current big thing is and pass it over. Don’t succumb to peer pressure or you’ll most likely wind up with a stack of fabric you’ll never use.

Pre-cuts are very useful and time-saving if you like to make patterns that require certain sizes of fabric, and they are a fantastic way to get a tiny taste of an entire fabric range. However, they can be limiting, so fat quarters are usually a more economical and versatile way to buy unless you’ve got a specific pattern in mind. It’s no surprise that Moda named their pre-cuts after sweet treats; they’re the quilt shop version of candy at the supermarket checkout.

Single Colours
This is my personal preference, I look at the blenders in each line and if I fall in love with a print I’m likely to buy it in every colour possible. This means that when I decide I want to make a quilt in a particular colour, I already have plenty on hand and I’m not relying on sourcing what’s in the market right now. I made a quilt last year in blues, aquas and greens and I don’t know if I should be proud or embarrassed that I didn’t have to shop outside my stash for the 100 prints required.

Remember to only buy the colours you know you will use. Hate orange? Don’t buy it. Love hard-to-find shades? Snap them up when you see them. Your stash doesn’t have to represent every colour of the rainbow if there are colours you never use. Just remember if you’re involved in bees or block swaps you may have to use colours you hate, so you can choose whether or not to keep a few of those
colours on hand or to just buy them as you need them.

Note that those multi-coloured prints that feature all your favourite colours in them and look very useful usually aren’t useful if you work by colour. They will end up shoved at one end of your stash. Look for prints that are a single colour plus white, or have very small amounts of other colours in them. Because I keep a large variety, I prefer to buy small cuts – a quarter to half a yard – of each print.

If you aren’t colour confident but want to build up a colour stash, look for blogger or shop curated colour bundles in lots of online stores – this takes the guesswork out of choosing particular fabrics.

Solids are a staple in most modern quilter’s stashes. If you make a lot of scrappy solid quilts you may like to keep small yardage of a variety of colours on hand. It is useful to label your solids with the manufacturer and colour name so you can order more of the same later on.

Because solids are always available, you don’t need to stash in the fear you won’t be able to get that fabric later on – this is why it’s often more economical to buy solids for a specific project in the exact quantities you need. It is worthwhile investing in a colour card by your preferred solids manufacturer so that you can match colours.

You may want to keep a bolt of white and grey, or other colours you use often, in your studio – if nothing else, owning entire bolts of fabric makes you look like a serious quilter.

Low Volume
Low volumes fabrics are prints with very little colour in them, usually they have white, cream, grey, beige or pastel backgrounds and they are very useful as neutrals. They’ve become increasingly popular with modern quilters in the last couple of years. If you like the low volume look it’s useful to buy them in half yard quantities and build up a stash that you can use in lots of different projects. Again, lots of quilt shops put together low volume bundles to make finding them easier.

Novelty Prints
These are a bit of a love-them or hate-them type of fabric. They are brilliant in small projects like pouches, and lend themselves perfectly to fussy cutting, but they are harder to work with in scrappier quilts as they love to steal the limelight. Only buy novelty prints you absolutely love and only buy them in small quantities unless you have a specific plan for them.

Storing Fabrics
I will admit to being very fussy about how my fabrics are stored. They are folded uniformly by colour and it is very easy to see what I’ve got. I started using the ruler fold method where you fold over a 6 ½” wide ruler, which works brilliantly. I’ve had to modify and now I fold over cardboard so that I can fit two piles of fabric on my IKEA Expedit shelves. Some people like to use comic book boards as mini bolts, which is beyond cute. You can store your fabrics on bookshelves (not in direct sunlight), in plastic tubs, in drawers – whatever works for you. As long as your fabric is easily accessible and you can maintain your storage system, it will work.

Again, store fabrics the same way you quilt. If you choose fabrics based on colour, sort by colour. If
you know you want to use a whole bundle together, store it together.

Scraps can be wonderful reminders of quilts past,or a perpetual challenge. They are like bunnies, multiplying when you turn your back. To tame your scraps you need to use them, and to use them you need to know what you’ve got. Throwing them all in a basket is the equivalent of storing your clothes in a pile on your wardrobe floor – totally impractical. I discovered that when I stored my scraps by colour in small plastic tubs that I started using them much more. I also recommend pressing scraps before you store them as they take up less space that way.

If you don’t like making scrap quilts and you don’t use your scraps, give them to friends who will use them. It. Is. Okay. They are not your children.

Backings, Borders and Bindings
You will always need larger quantities of fabric for backings and borders. If you are making a quilt from one fabric range it is worth buying the exact quantities you need for borders and backings while the fabric is still available. But otherwise, unless the fabric is an absolute steal, keeping large quantities of fabric on hand can be expensive and take up heaps of space. If you prefer scrappy quilts it’s better to buy backing fabric as you need it.

It is well worth spending the time organising and maintaining the organisation of your stash. Doing this makes it easy to discover what you need and prevents unnecessary purchases. Be willing to play around with your stash management until you find the perfect solution to your needs.

What our Facebook friends say
We polled our FB likers and discovered heaps of methods of buying fabrics – this is why you need to match your stash storage to the way you buy fabric and how you quilt.

Jenny: I buy fabric I love. I usually buy a whole range in either FQ bundles or half yards.
Alyce: I've done a lot of different things over the years! But I've settled into half yards of colours/blenders as my standard purchase method.
Janine: I buy what catches my eye; usually I get fat quarters or a 25 cm strip.
Kathy: I buy much less now than 15 years ago. I love FQ bundles and pre-cuts. My stash is ridiculous but oh sew fun!
Emily: I like bundles – FQ or 1/2 yard bundles.

- JK

Got a stash photo you’d like to share with us? Use #makemodernstash on Instagram!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Being Aussie

Here at Make Modern, we are a team of three Aussie girls who happen to be passionate about quilting and sharing that love. As it’s Australia Day (oh, and Angie of GnomeAngel suggested it), we thought we might share a bit about why the ‘Aussie’ part of Make Modern is important to us.

We love all quilters – modern, traditional, art. We love quilters from everywhere, whether they’re up the road or across the globe. We love you all – you quilt, you’re cool. And we really appreciate that quilters from Australia and around the world have given us so much support – thank you.

Because we all get so much input from the internet and social media, quilting influences come from everywhere. But one thing we love about being Australian quilters is that our inspiration is so unique. The colours of the outback or the beaches inspire us, the forms of our natural flora and fauna serve as design inspiration. We’re not as caught up in the holidays or seasons as some parts of the world, so create quilts a little more freely. We like to infuse a bit of humour, fun or larrikinism into our quilts too – after all, that’s the Australian way.

As Australians, we are quilting at the right time. We are lucky enough to have the global (US based) quilt industry at our fingertips via the internet – information and hard to find materials are accessible like they’ve never been before. But we’ve also got a thriving Australian quilt industry, with Australian designers, shops, classes and shows that has been built over many years of Australian quilting. While it is easy to get caught up in the global scene, we think it’s important to also continue to reach out to our Australian friends to keep the Aussie quilting scene strong.   

 In the digital world, boundaries get blurred as we share so much information. But being an Australian magazine, we do like to have a good amount of Australian content – we very much want to promote quilting in this fabulous country. Our approach is to highlight some amazing Aussie designers and makers in each issue of our magazine, whether it be sharing their patterns, profiling them, local MQGs or feature articles. We love to go “Hey, check out this awesome Aussie who makes great stuff!”. We love that people from all over the world are reading our magazine and can see that quilting is so strong in Australia. 

By the way, if you know of a great Aussie quilter or quilting related business you think we should consider including in the magazine, why not drop us a line? ( Because while we do love everything quality, it’s only fair to admit that we do heart our Aussie quilters just a teeny bit more. Can you blame us?

Pop over to Angie's blog and find out a bit more about some other Aussie bloggers and their thoughts on being Aussie!