Kawaii Polaroid Swap

Friday, July 29, 2016

I'm hosting a Polaroid block swap with a focus on kawaii Japanese fabrics! Keep reading for details and sign ups! Check out the hashtag #KawaiiPolaroidSwap to see what people are making.


1. Make your Polaroids according to the instructions from Occasional Piece but do not trim your finished polaroid as stated in step 5. We will be mailing our Polaroids untrimmed.

Image from Occasional Piece

2. Use quilt shop quality white (not off white, cream, or beige) solid fabric for your Polaroids. Kona White is the preferred brand/color, but other quilt shop brands like Michael Miller, Art Gallery, and Moda are fine.

3. "Photo" fabric must be kawaii. We're looking for cuteness, not traditional kimono prints or boring florals. Look for themes of fairy tale characters, cute food, animals, ordinary items with faces, and lovable characters. 

4. "Photo" fabric must be of Japanese origin. We want Polaroids featuring fabrics that are less commonly found in the US, so no Cotton + Steel, Lizzy House, Heather Ross, etc. Even if the print fits the kawaii aesthetic, it still needs to be Japanese. Western designers who designed for Japanese companies (like Heather Ross for Kokka) should not be used either. Good shops for kawaii fabric include Bunny's Designs, Pink Castle Fabrics, Super Buzzy, and various etsy sellers.

5. Send no more than 3 blocks from the same fabric. We want variety so that everyone gets something new.

6. Blocks that do not follow these rules will be returned to their owner.


You will ship your finished Polaroids to me in increments of 5 with a maximum of 20 Polaroids. I will sort through all the Polaroids and send you new ones made by other participants. You will receive the the same amount that you sent, so send 10, receive 10, etc. 

This swap is open to US residents only. Include an unsealed self-addressed envelope, including postage with your Polaroids. I will use this to send new Polaroids back to you. 

Shipping deadline is September 30th.

To sign up, fill out the sign up form by clicking this link. Once you submit, the form will show you my mailing address.

Pokemon Starter Mini Quilt Tutorial

Thursday, July 28, 2016

I post my impromptu Pokemon starter mini quilt yesterday on Instagram and today I'm sharing a tutorial so you can make your own!

You will need:

  • (33) 2.75" low volume squares
  • Scraps of fabric for your applique pieces 
  • Paper backed fusible web (I use Pellon Wonder Under)
  • Invisible thread or thread to match your applique
  • 28" x 9" backing and batting
  • Binding, about 50"
  • Pokemon Applique Templates PDF (download here)

Start by piecing your low volume squares into (3) rows of (11) squares each, then sew those rows together to make a 25.25" x 7.25" background.

Trace the template components onto the fusible web, fuse to the wrong side of your fabric, and cut out with scissors. Now start fusing your pieces to the background, starting with the bottom layers, working up to the top. Normally you'd stitch around each piece using a blanket or applique stitch to secure it, but since I'm just hanging mine on the wall where it won't be handled, I skipped this step.

Once all your pieces are fused, baste your quilt sandwich and quilt away! I did straight lines in my background with white thread, then switch to transparent thread to quilt around some of the details in my Pokemon to give them more dimension (like around Pikachu's cheeks, Bulbasaur's mouth, etc). After that, all that's left is to bind it off and hang it up!

4 Things Quilters Need to Do More Often

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Clean the lint out of your machine

People don't realize how much the build up of lint can affect their stitch quality. Hint: it's a lot. My bobbin will actually start to make a distinct rattling noise once it's passed a lint threshold, so I'm always mindful. If you have a drop in bobbin, it's important to lift out the entire bobbin case and dust under there as well. Just remember not to use a can of air unless you have an open path for that dust to exit the machine. Otherwise you're just blowing the mess further inside.

Give your cutting mat a spa day

Cutting mats take a lot of abuse and don't get nearly enough love. You can extend the life of your cutting mat by keeping it hydrated. Yes, hydrated. Once a week (or sooner if it seems dusty), I spray my mat with a water from a squirt bottle and wipe it down. Every couple months or so, I'll put it in my bathtub and fill it with enough warm water to cover it. I soak it for 10 minutes before rubbing it down with a washcloth to work out any fiber bits that have gotten stuck in the cuts on the mat.

Stretch those muscles

I always feel silly when I tell people how I'm experiencing muscle pain in my upper back and shoulders from binding a quilt or doing EPP. At a recent checkup, my doctor made me feel a little better about it. She told me that any kind of repetitive movement, even small movements like hand stitching, are likely to cause pain over time. She showed me some upper back stretches to do every half hour or so when doing handwork and it's helped immensely! Doing stretches for quilting may sound dorky, but it's better than an aching body.

Wear sunscreen

Just because you're sitting inside doesn't mean you're immune to sun damage. Chances are you have some kind of natural light in your sewing area, and that means you're being exposed to UV rays. Even compact fluorescent light bulbs can emit UV radiation (which is one of the reasons I use LED bulbs). Sun damage is the number one cause of skin aging. If you don't believe me, just look at this photo of a professional truck driver. I wear sunscreen on my face every single day. And no, the SPF in your makeup is not enough. You should be applying 1/4 teaspoon of sunscreen to your face. As a personal note, I've found that Korean and Japanese sunscreens both feel and perform better than heavy, greasy American brands that leave you looking like Casper. I personally love Tonymoly's Mango SPF50+ PA+++.

Tips for Aspiring Fabric Designers: Pitching to Manufacturers

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

There are tons of great resources out there for aspiring fabric designers when it comes to the actual design process. Creativebug's video course series and Kim Kight's book, A Field Guide to Fabric Design, are two of my favorite resources I suggest to newbies. But over the past several months, as I was helping a friend on her fabric design journey (she just signed to her top choice! Yay!), I realized there aren't as many resources out there for the process of pitching your collections to a manufacturer. Let's try to change that. I'm going to share some tips with you based on my experiences when hunting for a licensing deal.

1. Look for manufacturers where you stand out, not "fit in"

For starters, don't put your eggs in one basket. Unlike with magazines and book publishers, it's acceptable to submit your work to multiple manufacturers for consideration simultaneously. So which ones are you going to try first? Well, almost every aspiring designer (myself included) seems concerned finding a company where their style "fits in well" with the other designers in that company's catalog...wrong move!

While pitching to one manufacturer, the art director commented that my work would likely end up competing against a designer they represented because we're both into colorful, playful, modern prints featuring animals. She explained that shop owners would probably choose to buy my collection or the other designer's due to the similar themes and colors. They generally look for things they don't already have because manufacturers are looking to reach new audiences rather than have their designers compete for existing ones. Of course their are exceptions. Companies like Cloud 9, Art Gallery, and Blend have a more narrow brand image and may be less likely to consider collections that don't assimilate with their style.

Visit the websites of manufacturers look through their roster of designers. Ask yourself, "Does this company represent a broad range of designers?" If so, ask yourself if you can fill a gap in their portfolio.

2. Pitch in person

Manufacturers get dozens, sometimes hundreds, of emails every week with submissions from artists. Some review them as they get them. Others have regularly scheduled meetings where they flip through submissions as a team. Either way, your work can easily get passed over. I believe pitching in person has a stronger impact and creates a more memorable impression. Furthermore, modern quilters tend to be interested interested in the designers themselves, which means personality and presence sometimes plays a role in marketing. As the designer, you're part of the "product," so showing up in person will help convey how serious you are about your aspirations.

3. Don't fuss over a pretty package

When I was in the pitch phase, another aspiring designer I met eagerly looked through each other's portfolios. Mine was just an album of designs on my iPad while she had a beautifully crafted scrapbook. Each page featured a print along with photos of her inspiration for that print (plants, architectural elements, etc) and a paragraph about the design. It was kinda like one of those "nailed it" Pinterest fail memes where my iPad portfolio seemed like the fail in comparison. I tried to regain my confidence by telling myself my work didn't need a fancy book to earn a licensing deal; the quality of my designs would speak for themselves. And they did! In talking to various art directors, they confirmed that they don't pay much attention to the "fluff". It's the fabric they're concerned with. Instead of slaving over the perfect presentation, focus on creating more content.

4. Make some digital project mock ups

Have you ever been "meh" about a certain fabric collection that later won your heart when presented as a finished quilt? Why not do the same thing with your fabric designs? Make a digital mock up of quilt patterns using your fabrics to show how great it performs as a collection. This tip has the added bonus of helping me work through issues I might not have noticed with my designs, like a lack of color contrast or scale. Manufacturers like to see that you have an eye for quilt design as well as fabric design because it'll make the collection easier to market. Make your talents easy to see.

5. Be bloody persistent

Early on, if I didn't get a timely response to an email, I took it as a flat out rejection. We women are conditioned not be "nags" so we sometimes feel bad about being persistent. Well, in this industry you need to be persistent as hell. It's nothing personal, these are just busy people and it seems very common to have to pester people for a response. As a general rule, I follow up on emails 1-2 times a week until I get a response. I've only ever gotten a snarky reply once, and it was pretty tame, so don't worry about being annoying. As long as you are polite and professional, no one will hold it against you.