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Backing Day is Monday, February 28th!

Here's a reminder from your friendly neighborhood Cotton Patch that Backing Day is this Monday, February 28th!  

If you're new here and don't know what Backing Day is...

Bring in your finished quilt tops (100% complete, no more borders to add, done) on the last day of the month and receive 25% off your backing of choice, even Clearance!

The usual rules apply:

  • If the last day of the month falls on a Sunday when we're closed, then Backing Day is the day before (Saturday). 
  • Discount valid on single-fabric backings only.  Sorry, this is not valid on several cuts of different fabrics for a pieced backing.  
  • Sale prices not combinable with any other offer (this includes deals from Five Stars, redeeming points, and coupons)
  • Sale prices good in-store only on the sale day and limited to stock on-hand. 
We can't wait to see what you've created - see you on the 31st!


Our New Freestyle Block of the Month Starts 3/5/22!

2022 might be the Year of the Tiger, but it is also the Year of the Stash.  We all have a stash - some are small, some are big, and some we will never get through in our natural born lives - but all stashes are good stashes and are meant to be used!  This year we are looking at how to help you (and ourselves!) better use the stashes we have and to get more bang for the bucks we've already spent.  

This means re-thinking some things.  Taking a minute to stop and reconsider our approaches to things is never a bad thing to do in general.  Just because we've always done something a certain way doesn't mean we have to keep doing it that way, just because.  So we took a good, hard look at our First Saturday Block of the Month and decided it was time for a change - a Block of the Month where you get to use your stash! 

Freestyle Block of the Month - Starting Saturday, 3/5/22!

Cost to Sign Up:  NONE!  There are no sign ups, and no cost to join.  Come and go as you please.  

Cost per Month: $3.50 (or one pre-cut, regular priced Fat Quarter)

Class time: Every First Saturday of the month at 10:30am (sorry, no Friday class)

What does the quilt look like?

What I can tell you is that there will be nine 12.5" blocks.  Do as many or as few as you want!  You can use our setting at the end of the program, or create your own.  We will have an expansion pattern pack available at the end if you want to make the quilt bigger.  But that's up to you!  And sorry, no sneak peeks :-) 

How Much Fabric Do I Need?:  Well, that's a tough one to answer.  This is a mystery quilt and the idea is for you to use your stash! The background for the nine blocks is one yard.  If you want to make the quilt bigger, you'll want more background, but that's impossible for us to say exactly how much since we don't know how you might approach making it bigger.  That's up to you!  

How Hard are the Blocks?
Can you make a half square triangle?  Good!  There will be some skill builders in here, but nothing you can't handle!  We will go over each block in class and any tips and tricks to look out for.  

Program Perk!  Bring in your finished block for Show and Tell for the next month's class and get entered in a drawing to get your backing fabric of choice for free (First Prize), a layer cake and pattern (Second Prize), or a charm pack and a pattern (Third Prize).  The more blocks you complete, the more entries you will have (up to nine)!  We will also still do our door prizes for class too.  

If you're interested in joining us on this new Block of the Month, come to the shop for class at 10:30am on Saturday, March 5th!  If you're not comfortable attending class, stop by any time after class and let us know you'd like to get the March Freestyle Block of the Month pattern.  

Next week we'll show you what Diane and Lauren chose for their versions of the quilt...yes, out of their own stashes!


How to Get Out of a Color Choice Rut

Here is something we hear at the shop at least once a week - "I'm no good with color."  Choosing colors can be daunting for some at the best of times, but what about when we get stuck and don't know what direction to go at all?  There's little more frustrating than having a pattern you really want to try but being at a total loss as to what to put in it, or just not feeling excited about the colors you've got.  Sometimes we really want to think our first choice will be the best choice, but that's not always the case.  Dead ends happen to the best of us no matter where we are in our quilting journeys.  Here's a few tricks to try to get out of that color choice rut.     

What's Your Favorite Color?
Here's an easy one - start with your favorite color!  It's hard to get excited about a project when you're working in colors you don't love.  Sometimes it's unavoidable - we have to get a project done in someone else's colors who may have a wildly different palette than what we like.  I know I've made a few baby quilts that really made me go ho-hum, and I can honestly say though small, they were a struggle to get through.  I just couldn't get excited about the colors in front of me.  But starting with your favorite color as a focus is a great way to start off on the right foot.  Root through your stash to find a focus piece in your favorite color, and go from there.  This is a great time to dust off the ol' color wheel to see what some good contrasting colors might be.

Start with a Print
Maybe you aren't the kind of quilter that frames projects in terms of color.  Maybe you're more about prints and patterns.  Honestly, it's not much different than seeking out a favorite color.  Choose your focus print or border print first, and use it as a tool to pick the rest of our colors from.  Be attentive to the dominating color and the various lights and darks.  The selvedge shows the colors used in a particular print and can be a great reference to choose colors from.  But remember - they don't need to be exact matches!  There's a time and place for exact matches, but especially with busy prints, often close enough is good enough.  Consider the fact that fabrics will be cut down to a smaller size, and your colors will be separated in different places.  Some colors will never actually touch in a quilt, so you can get away with "close enough" without issue (and a whole lot less stress). 

Check Out Color Stories That Convey a Feeling
What if you don't have a particular color or print in mind?  What if you're looking for a vibe instead?  Looking at color stories online can be a perfect starting point to getting to the feel you're looking for.  This method can be used for any quilt style but is especially helpful for choosing a color palette for art quilts.  A lot of the major paint manufacturers, surprisingly enough, have color story pages you can look through - here's a great example from Fusion Mineral Paint. These colors can translate easily into fabric and into a quilt.  

Use a Reference Photo
Think of your favorite picture.  What is it that you like about it?  Often people will think about the subject of the photo, but there's more to that picture than that!  Consider the colors in the photo drawing you in.  You can absolutely build a palette from a picture.  Check out Coolors to upload a picture and tweak your own palette, or head to Canva's Color Palette Resource to see some pre-made palettes (or to search for your own).  You might also start saving pictures when you stop and marvel at how pretty it is to use as color inspiration for later.  

Find Inspiration in Music
Sometimes we find inspiration in some unlikely hearing a song, and having a color way pop into your head!  This happened to me the other day - I'll share a little more in an upcoming post - but a song from one of my favorite bands filled my mind with images of growth and spring as I struggled to choose fabrics for a new project.  Before I knew it, I had pulled everything I needed from my stash.  If you would have told me at the start that a particular song would have inspired the colors of my quilt, I would have said "yeah, sure." Whelp...cut to me eating my hat, because that's what happened.  So if you are super, super stuck, through on some tunes and give them a good, close listen.  You never know what will come up!

Fashion & Wedding Trends
When in doubt, the fashion world is a reliable resource for colorways that are on the rise and that have been popular in past years.  Look up Fashion Week and take note of the colors.  Every time the high end designers put out their lines for the seasons, you'll see a definite color trend and color pairings.  Likewise with weddings - certain color pairings for weddings go in and out of style.  A few years ago, peach, mint, and gold were the thing.  They may not be the in thing now, but if you like peachy tones then maybe that's a pairing to explore!  

Consider Pre-Cuts
If all else fails, let the manufacturers lead the way.  When they put out fabric lines they often have some kind of pre-cut offering.  Choose a line where you like the colors, and grab a pre-cut.  Other than maybe a background piece, the colors are done for you!  That's the great thing about the lines...if you don't want to have to choose a ton of go-withs, you don't have to.  Pre-cuts are a great solution for those scenarios.  

Monochrome - Always in Style
Monochrome, in both fashion and in quilts, is a classic that simply never goes out of style.  Rather than focusing on a variety of colors, you choose one color and then work in its various tones, tints, and shades.  With Monochrome, it's all about value instead of color.  Working in values presents its own challenges, but you only have a single color to worry about.  If you struggle with discerning values (we all have those moments!) using a red lens or taking a grey scale picture on your cell phone can really help to suss out those tricky shades.        

When in Doubt, Walk Away
At the end of the day, sometimes the best thing to do is walk away and take some time.  Sometimes when we sit there and stare down colors we're not wild about and spend exhaustive time trying to force a color scheme to emerge, it's not actually going to get us anywhere.  We get frustrated, our brains get tired of dealing with it, and we're just over it.  At that point, there's no reason to keep at it. Come back in a little bit or the next day and look at what you have with fresh eyes and a fresh mindset.  Maybe you come back and you love what you have!  And then again, maybe not, but after a little time away you'll be reinvigorated to get back in it and find another colorway that works better.  

What tips do you have to help with choosing colors and getting yourself unstuck?  Let us know in the comments!


No Sewing Mojo? No Problem!

While we live and breath everything quilting, even the most avid quilter gets a case of the blahs and loses their sewing mojo.  Nothing sounds appealing to make.  Inspiration? *shrug*. Want-to?  Nada.  So does that mean it's time to pack it up and call it a day on quilting?  Nope.  It just means we need to have a look at what stole our mojo, and see what it takes to get excited for sewing again.  Here's a few things to consider:

Take a Break
Yes, it's allowed.  Sometimes we have cranked out too many projects too fast and we're just kind of sick of sewing for a bit and need a little space to get the want-to back.  Sometimes the brain needs a little refresh and it's hard to do when you haven't taken the time.  And, I get it.  It's hard to make the time (what even is spare time)?  Life is...chaotic.  I'm not sure anyone has made it through the last couple years totally unscathed.  We're all  t i r e d and there's no sense in adding pressure by beating yourself up for not having the energy to do the thing.  Take the time to rest.  Get some good sleep.  If you're not getting good sleep, get that checked out.  Feeling low about everything that's gone on and can't shake it?  Maybe get that checked out too.  There's no shame in the self-care game.  It's hard to do the stuff you want to do if you're not doing well to start with. Pick it back up when you're feeling better - it's not like your sewing machine will grow feet and walk away in the mean time (if it does, that's a story I'd LOVE to hear more about).  What does a "break" look like?  That's totally up to you and what you need.  Maybe it's a week.  Maybe it's a year.  Regardless, taking the time you need to rejuvenate is time very well spent.  

Clean Up/Rearrange Your Sewing Area

Neeeeeat...who doesn't just love choreing. But as unappealing as cleaning your sewing area might sound, it can be a good way to break out of the sewing rut. I know that for one, I find it overwhelming to try create something when I have stuff all over the place getting in my way (literally or visually), so I mean, that's one benefit.  But really, you get to rediscover some cool stuff you maybe forgot you had.  I can't even tell you how many neat books I've reacquainted with while cleaning, and then got jazzed about something I saw while I leafed through (while yeah, I "should" have been cleaning).  When we rearrange things a bit sometimes we find a piece of fabric in the stash that just calls out and inspires after a second look.  When tidying up notions, you might find a ruler you bought and thought was cool at one point, but put away and forgot about it.  Maybe pulling that ruler out again might spark an idea, or a desire to give it another try.  

Go Through Your UFOs
We have allll been there.  We start a thing, see some shiny new fabric or book, and start a new thing. What happens to Thing 1?  Into the UFO bin never to see the light of day again until ???.  If you're already not feeling like sewing, going through old projects you lost time for or interest in may seem counterintuitive.  But taking a dive into the ol' UFO stack might as well be a trip through the cupboard to Narnia.  Sure, we may not meet Mr. Tumnus, but we will certainly meet some oldies but goodies that are worth revisiting.  Just because something ended up in the UFO pile never meant it was a bad project - maybe we got sidetracked, or had to switch tasks and forgot about it, or maybe even bit off more than we could chew at the time.  You may find a project that inspires you to finish it.  

Get Real About Time Management
Well, if that isn't some gross office lingo.  But time management is everything whether we consciously think about it or not.  Time is a commodity that, like money, for some weird reason simply refuses to grow on trees.  We all only get twenty-four measly hours and we have to spend a good chunk of that time on sleeping, eating, and working (whatever it is that "work" means for you).  I don't know where this idea came from, but we don't have to spend hours sewing.  We may want to, but it's not required.  If you have been feeling like "Well, since I don't have hours to commit, I might as well not bother" might be time to look at time management sideways.   Maybe we can't make a sew day work, but what if we can make an hour work?  Or fifteen minutes spent pre-cutting a project so you can just sit and sew later when you have more time?  It doesn't have to be a large time expenditure, especially if you don't have large pockets of time.  Any time spent sewing is time well spent.  And if you don't feel like you can make it work, refer to Item #1.  

Change It Up
As much as this feels like blasphemy to say on a quilt shop's quilt blog...if you have the itch to make something but simply can't get motivated to make a quilt...make something else.  There's a plethora of sewing projects that yield something practical - bags, rice heat packs, little wallets, stuff for our pets, notebook covers, soft books, fidget "quilts" (they're more like little lap mats), etc.  Pinterest is your friend! Have you ever tried embroidery or cross stitch?  Maybe now's the time to try it.  What about knitting or crochet?  There's TONS of videos out there showing you how (for real, this kid is AMAZING - Jonah's Hands).  Maybe now's the time to dust off the ol' Bob Ross tapes and try painting a little happy something.  There's all kinds of stuff old and new to try. 

Visit Your Local Quilt Shop
That's not a sales pitch!  Nothing feels quite as crappy as feeling obligated ot buy something when you're not in the mindset to do the thing.  But what taking a walk through your LQS can do for you is fill your eyes with beautiful colors and patterns - the fabrics, the samples, and the atmosphere of being with people who have a passion for quilting.   You don't have to buy a single thing, but the love of quilting is infectious.  You may well walk out wanting to get back into your sewing space to try out something you saw there, or just to look at and enjoy the fabrics you have at home.  

These are certainly not hard and fast rules, or even the only things you can do to get that spark back.  This looks different for everyone!  What has helped you get back at it?  Let us know in the comments below. 


Freestyle Block of the Month - Shop Picks

Our Freestyle Block of the Month is just around the corner and as promised in a previous post, we're going to show you our picks for the project - yes from our very own stashes. 

Diane is first up.  If you read the newsletter, then this will sound familiar.  But she decided she wanted to do a blue and white quilt. She had some blues and whites in her stash, and initially picked out a blue and white French General print, but while looking through her stuff she rediscovered some wonderful Dutch Indigos she bought in the 90's.  They are 8" squares, and were pricey even by the standards of the time. She's adored these prints for years, but could never bear to cut them. She'd been saving them for the "right" quilt but questioned what that meant and whether or not she was only saving them to look at every few years but do nothing with. From there she tossed in some other prints from her stash that complemented the Indigos, and there it was - her palette was ready to go.

In case anyone is curious or concerned, when she cut into the first piece to make Block 1, the world did not end. Not even so much as a tremor.  She mused that as quilters we get kind of possessive of these special fabrics and then they sit and mature in our stashes but don't get made up into anything.  A great tip to pick up from her color selections is that maybe it is time to revisit and reimage some of your most precious pieces of fabric that, like her Indigos, were aging on the shelf waiting for the "right" quilt.  

Lauren had a different hurdle to get over than getting into the mindset to use prized pieces.  Whereas Diane had a pretty clear idea of what she wanted to do for the quilt...Lauren had no clue what she wanted to do.  She spent what is (probably) a silly amount of time thinking about it.  Should she use a fat quarter pack she'd been hoarding away?  Another scrap quilt?  Yet another "Falloween" themed thing?  Nope, nope, and nope.  She tried several times to find a color scheme, and kept coming up with bupkis. If you haven't read our previous post How to Get Over a Color Choice Rut, go give it a read because here's the proof in the pudding. She walked away from picking colors a few times as suggested.  But inspiration eventually hit in the form of finding inspiration in music.  

She was listening to a playlist while working on a different project, and the song "Green Man" came on. The song is about the Green Man and the changing of seasons, specifically the change from winter to spring.  How appropriate!   This made her think of foliage and the wide range of greens we see in the springtime as everything is leafing out. She went for everything in her stash that was leafy and green (much of which has punches of purple, go figure!). This time, a song playing in the background did the trick. 

Hopefully this helps give you some ideas with what to use in your own stash!  Let us know in the comments what you're thinking of using.