1. National Sewing Month: branch out – sew bags!

    Posted by on September 2, 2014, in quilting & sewing, , ,

    September is National Sewing MonthSeptember is National Sewing Month! We’ll be celebrating all month long at Stitch This! with ideas for out-of-the-box sewing. Watch for fun posts each week about making all kinds of fabulous stuff with your fabric.

    If you’re a regular visitor at Stitch This!, you probably rate quilts as your first sewing love. But there’s another item that pairs form and function perfectly: bags. There’s a bag to sew for every occasion—and every occasion needs the perfect bag.

    From Big-City Bags
    Big-City Bags by Sara Lawson

    If your sewing life has been dedicated to squares, rectangles, triangles, borders, and bindings, you already have the basic sewing skills you need to branch out and sew bags. Let’s take a look at the bags you can create with the skills you already have—and the ones you’re ready to learn.

    Did you know? National Sewing Month was started in 1982 with a proclamation from President Ronald Reagan. He declared September as National Sewing Month “in recognition of the importance of home sewing to our nation.” You said it, sir!

    Beginner Beauty
    Need bag basics? A tote is the way to go.

    Market Beach Tote
    “Market/Beach Tote” from
    Make It Sew Modern by Vanessa Christenson

    Learn bag-making essentials as you:

    • Use fusible interfacing to add structure
    • Make and attach simple handles
    • Sew boxed corners
    • Try a simple technique for gathering fabric

    Make It Sew ModernSee more from Make It Sew Modern
    (<<< such as this “Favorite Bag” on the cover)
    Buy the book, get the eBook free—
    start sewing your tote right now!

    Transitional techniques
    You’re confident with basic bag-making skills, and you’re ready for the next step.

    Satchel designed by Linda Lee
    “Satchel” from Sew the Perfect Bag; designed by Linda Lee

    Stock your technique tool belt as you:

    • Sew a circular, three-dimensional object
    • Learn to fold and sew pleats
    • Make your own drawstring
    • Create a casing to hold the drawstring

    Sew the Perfect BagSee all 25 bags in Sew the Perfect Bag
    (<<< such as this “Leafy Tote” on the cover)

    Buy the book, get the eBook free—
    Show off your new satchel this weekend!

    Bag-Making Buff
    You’ve got the basics and beyond covered: time to put those skills to use—and learn more.

    From Big-City Bags
    “Meringue Clutch” in three colorways, from
    Big-City Bags

    Get a polished, professional look when you:

    • Experiment with different interfacings to add structure and strength
    • Install a zipper
    • Make your own double-fold fabric tape to use as a strap
    • Add hardware like swivel clips and D-rings

    Big-City BagsSee more from Big-City Bags
    (<<< such as this “Picadilly Circus” bag on the cover )

    Buy the book, get the eBook free—
    Get started today on a new bag for fall!

    Rate your bag-making skills: just beginning, moving beyond the basics, or already a bag-making buff? Tell us where you are—and where you’d like to be—in the comments!

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  2. Welcome, baby! Weekend quilts, heirloom quilts (+ sale)

    Posted by on September 1, 2014, in quilting & sewing, ,

    Easy baby quilt patterns - eBooks on sale

    From Sweet and Simple Baby QuiltsDo you know someone who’ll celebrate a birthday this month? I do. In fact, I’ll be celebrating my birthday, and so will two of my grandchildren, a sister-in-law, a cousin, and several friends. I used to think I was unique because I didn’t know many people who were born in September. Now I’ve learned that in the United States, September has become the most common birth month. Who knew?

    Given that fact, there’s a good chance that someone you know is expecting a baby this month. You know you’re going to make a quilt. But do you know which quilt you’ll be making?

    Make It in a Weekend
    The baby shower is next week and you haven’t had time to think about a gift. What to do? Keep it simple with quick and easy quilts that look impressive and go together in a flash.

    Heavenly Squares quilt
    “Heavenly Squares” from
    Even More Quilts for Baby (40% off this week!)

    Bubbles quilt
    “Bubbles” from
    Modern Baby

    Happy Baby Motifs
    Maybe you have a little more time before the big event. Babies love animals; how about an adorable puppy quilt? And ducks are, well…just ducky!

    Puppy Parade quilt
    “Puppy Parade” from American Jane’s Quilts for All Seasons

    Just Ducky quilt
    “Just Ducky” from
    Easy Paper-Pieced Baby Quilts (40% off this week!)

    Another fun motif for both boys and girls is hearts. The quilt below acts as a family tree. Simply write or embroider names around the hearts. A single star features Baby’s name.

    Family Hearts quilt
    “Family Hearts” from Sweet and Simple Baby Quilts (40% off this week!)

    For the Cedar Chest
    Okay you grandmas and great-grandmas: you’ve known about this baby from the beginning. You already have the first quilt(s) finished and are looking for something that will grow with Baby, right? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

    Traditional piecing and beautiful quilting combine in a quilt that’s sure to be appreciated now and for many years to come.

    Baby Waves quilt
    “Baby Waves” from Jelly Babies

    Here’s a quilt that’s adorable, fun to make, and educational.

    Alphabet Soup quilt
    “Alphabet Soup” from Cuddle Me Quick

    And lastly, here’s a Santa quilt that will be a yearly reminder of the love you put into every stitch.

    Baby's First Christmas quilt
    “Baby’s First Christmas” from Baby’s First Quilts (ePattern available)

    Who’s birthday will you celebrate this month? Tell us in the comments!

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  3. How to knit with silk yarns: 3 top tips

    Martingale's Knit and Crochet Friday


    Silk: prized for its durability, strength, warmth, and delicacy—as well as its ability to take color beautifully. Knitting with silk yarns can be a challenge, but don’t let it scare you! With the proper instruction and a few expert tips, you can begin stitching gorgeous silk-yarn knitting patterns.

    3 Top Tips for Knitting with Silk Yarns

    From Silk Knits by Elaine Eskesen

    From Silk Knits> Tip 1: Prevent Snags While Stitching

    Silk is very strong yet can be fragile. If your hands are rough from gardening, put on non-greasy lotion before you sit down to knit. Silk will snag on anything, and your hands are likely candidates.

    > Tip 2: Watch Your Tension

    I notice while knitting with 100% silk that my hands cramp up after an hour or so. Silk is slippery and it’s easy to put more tension in the workings of those stitches, even without realizing it. So I’ll often shake out my hands and stop knitting for a minute to get out the tension.

    > Tip 3: Protect the Fibers

    Handle silk carefully. Keep it protected from everyday life. Silk can pill easily, so avoid excess handling or fussing with it. I keep the silk ball I’m knitting in a canvas bag to protect it from life’s happenings.

    Silk KnitsFind more tips for working with silk yarn + 20 specifically-for-silk designs in Silk Knits by Elaine Eskesen, now available as an eBook at ShopMartingale.com.


    Do you prefer natural or synthetic fibers? Tell us in the comments.

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  4. Staff favorite: a heaping helping of precut fun! (+ special offer)

    Free shipping on Another Bite of Schnibbles

    I have SABLE syndrome (Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy). I’ve had it most of my adult life and my self-diagnosis is that I’ll never recover from it. Do you have it too? Maybe you do, but you weren’t aware of its technical term. Now do you think you might have it and maybe know a few others who might be afflicted as well?

    Precut fabrics

    I must also share that if you were to assess my SABLE symptoms you’d find a well-beyond average incidence of precuts in the form of 5″ and 10″ squares. There’s something about owning a delicious assortment of every fabric in a collection—or maybe it’s just the ease with which I can toss a packet of precuts onto my pile at the checkout counter—that gets my stash all stocked up!

    Another Bite of SchnibblesRegardless of how it happens, the evidence is clear. So, I’m always on the lookout for great patterns that use 5″ and 10″ squares. When I first picked up Carrie Nelson’s Another Bite of Schnibbles, it was like “Eureka!”—a gold mine of patterns for square precuts. The book instantly rose to the top of my all-time favorites list!

    What’s to love? Carrie’s instructions are clear, concise, and amusingly clever. She guides me through every step of re-creating her patterns, but also lets me in on a little of what she was thinking about as she designed each one—and tells just what the heck a Schnibble is. (I confess to reading quilting books the way some read novels. If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy the “read” of this book too!)

    A Field Guide to Schnibbles

    There’s no math required. Want to make a pattern from 10″ squares? Done. How about changing it up to make the same pattern from 5″ squares? Included. EVERY quilt pattern in the book has a specific Materials and Cutting list for both 5″ and 10″ squares. That means you get 12 quilt patterns made with 10″ squares and 12 quilt patterns made with 5″ squares. Brilliant if, like me, you’ve got a stash of precut squares of both sizes just waiting to be converted into quilts.

    Winter White quilt, two ways
    “Winter White” quilt made with 10″ squares (left) and 5″ squares (right)

    Can’t decide between BIG and small? You don’t have to. See every design rendered in two ways, with dimensions included, so you can decide whether you feel like making BIG 17″ blocks or small 4½” blocks or many sizes in between. However you slice it, you’ll end up with irresistible quilts that are a breeze to make with Carrie’s step-by-step guidance.

    Quilts from Another Bite of Schnibbles
    Big “Reveille” quilt made with 10″ squares (left); little “Cindy Lou Who” quilt made with 5″ squares (right)

    I recently made a cross-country move and for reasons known only to the moving company (what! pay by the pound?) I had to edit my selection of books that made the trip. First in the box was Another Bite of Schnibbles, well padded with an assortment of 5″ and 10″ squares, of course! If it’s not yet on your bookshelf, soothe your SABLE symptoms and add it! I’m confident it will become one of your all-time favorites, too.


    Free shipping on Another Bite of Schnibbles

    Free shipping to the US and Canada only. Must sign in or register first for free shipping to show at checkout.

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  5. Blog hop! How to build color palettes for quilts (+ giveaway!)


    Beyond NeutralWelcome to our stop on John Adams’ blog hop for his book Beyond Neutral: Quilts Inspired by Nature’s Elements. John issued a special challenge to his blog-hop participants. The mission, if we chose to accept it:

    1. Choose an inspiring photograph from nature.
    2. Use the subject or colors from the photograph to create a color palette that you might use in a quilt.
    3. Create a collage of fabric choices based on your photograph.

    Accept the challenge we did! Our marketing graphic designer, Sarah, was ready to give John’s idea for choosing quilt colors a try. Here’s how she approached the experiment.

    Sarah's nature color palette
    Photo © Bogdaniacob | Dreamstime.com - Autumn Landscape Photo

    Sarah's Beyond Neutral color palette
    Sarah’s fabric choices, top row, from left: Golden Illusion from Essentials by Pat Bravo for Art Gallery; River Ripples from Emmy Grace by Bari J for Art Gallery; Deep Water Provincial from Botanique by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit; Chestnut Cloud Cover from Bungalow by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit. Center row, from left: Orange Diamonds from A Beautiful Thing by Zoe Pearn for Riley Blake Designs; Teal Aztec Ikat from Botanique by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit; Cream Stampede from August by Sarah Watts for Cotton + Steel; Green Ticking Stripe from Savannah by Dear Stella. Bottom row, from left: Dark Indigo Cotton Solid from American Made for Clothworks; Dark Rust Cotton Solid from American Made for Clothworks; Cantaloupe Mini Confetti Dot from Savannah by Dear Stella; Gold Mini Confetti Dot from Savannah by Dear Stella.

    Sarah says: “I LOVED using John’s method to create a color palette for a quilt! Since I started quilting, I’ve been afraid to combine fabrics that weren’t already part of a fabric line. After trying this, I feel much better about my ability to mix orphan fabrics, whether from my stash or from last season’s leftovers that I found at the quilt shop with favorite new fabrics.”

    Are you up for John’s challenge? Create your own color palette from a nature photograph, pair it with a quilt from Beyond Neutral, and upload it to Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram with the hashtag #beyondneutral. We’d love to see what you come up with!

    Quilts from Beyond Neutral

    > See all 16 nature-inspired quilts in Beyond Neutral

    (buy the book, get the eBook FREE)

    Now that we’re all inspired to make our own versions of John’s gorgeous quilts, we’ve got a copy of the Beyond Neutral eBook to give away! For your chance to win, tell us:

    What part of nature inspires you most: the land, the sea, or the sky?

    Leave your answer in the comments and you’ll be automatically entered to win. We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win. Good luck!

    Follow the Beyond Neutral blog hop for even more chances to win the eBook:

    Monday, August 25: Quilt Dad
    Wednesday, August 27: Stitch This! (that’s us!)
    Friday, August 29: Sara Lawson
    Tuesday, September 2: Molli Sparkles
    Thursday, September 4: Cut to Pieces
    Wednesday, September 10: Lily’s Quilts
    Monday, September 15: Fat Quarter Shop
    Tuesday, September 16: Jaybird Quilts
    Wednesday, September 17: Quilts from the Attic
    Friday, September 19: Mrs. Schmenkman Quilts
    Wednesday, September 24: Monica Solorio
    Friday, September 26: Katy Jones

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  6. Pin it, print it: free printable bookmarks (for quilters)

    Posted by on August 26, 2014, in quilting & sewing, , ,

    Free printable bookmarks
    Own a stash of quilt books? See if this scenario sounds familiar:

    Flip flip flip. Where is that quilt pattern? Flip flip. Which book was it in? Flip. What page?

    We’ve got a solution that’ll eliminate the flip factor: free printable bookmarks—especially for quilters!

    Bookmark detailSimply print, cut out, and start bookmarking your favorite patterns. Choose from four special messages that peek out at the top of each bookmark. You can even write in the name of the person you’ll be making a project for next! An X-Acto knife works great for cutting the triangular tabs.

    Free printable bookmarks

    > Download your free printable bookmarks now

    PIN IT: Pin the image above to your Pinterest board—save this post and share it with your quilting friends. While you’re there, you can follow us on Pinterest too!

    Need a BIG book of patterns for your freshly printed bookmarks? Check out our pattern-packed “Big Book” collections:

    The Big Book of Baby Quilts   The Big Book of Patchwork

    Perfect Quilts for Precut Fabrics   The Big Book of Nickel Quilts
    Available September 2nd

    Happy reading, bookmarking—and quilting!

    Which is bigger: your book stash or your fabric stash? Share which takes the lead for you in the comments!

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  7. Fun strip quilts, 4 ways + a cutting tip (and a sale!)

    Save 40% on select eBooks this week!

    Fabric strips for quiltingWe asked about your strip-piecing skills in a recent post about the new book Remarkable Rectangles. Turns out, some quilters struggle with strip-pieced quilts. Why? Because sewing long, skinny strips in a straight line—at high sewing-machine speeds—can be a bit tricky!

    If you maintain an accurate ¼” seam, the problem probably isn’t with sewing straight strips: it’s with cutting straight strips. One wonky cut can send all of your straight strips into warp drive, causing a permanent bend in the sewing-time continuum. To chart a straight and narrow course, follow this foolproof strip-cutting tip from the book Strip Savvy by Kate Henderson:

    Quick tip: cutting straight fabric strips
    Now that you’ve got a straightforward plan for cutting strips, take a look at what you can create with them. The eBooks featured below all use strips in imaginative ways—and this week, they’re all 40% off!

    Strip piece your scraps

    Strips and Strings by Evelyn Sloppy

    Quilts from Strips and Strings

    Strips and Strings exclusive: learn to sew half-square triangles and 60-degree triangles with scrappy strips

    > See all 16 quilts from Strips and Strings
    $16.99 $10.19 this week only

    Transform strips into stars

    Ribbon-Star Quilts by Nancy Mahoney

    Quilts from Ribbon-Star Quilts

    Ribbon-Star Quilts exclusive: cut rectangle units from bias strip sets to make a single spectacular block design; then spotlight the beautiful block in five showstopping quilts

    > See more from Ribbon-Star Quilts
    $11.99 $7.19 this week only

    Double your strip sets, double your fun

    Quilts on the Double by Judy Hooworth and Margaret Rolfe

    Quilts from Quilts on the Double

    Quilts on the Double exclusive: make two strip quilts from one set of fabrics

    > See more than 20 projects from Quilts on the Double
    $18.95 $11.37 this week only

    Sew, cut, stagger: strippy simplicity
    Instant Bargello by Susan Kisro

    Quilts from Instant Bargello

    Instant Bargello exclusive: use your favorite novelty fabrics in easy quilts that show them off—Susan’s technique skips traditional Bargello tubes

    > See all six projects in Instant Bargello
    $9.95 $5.97 this week only

    Strip SavvyIf your 2½” strips are calling your name…

    Mix traditional blocks and modern fabrics in fun quilts designed especially for 2½” strips—either prepackaged or prepared from your stash. In Strip Savvy by Kate Henderson, she even shows you how to create scrappy pieced borders and bindings with your leftovers. See all the quilts from Strip Savvy.

    Preparing strips for quilts: unrolling precuts or your slicing up your stash? Share your approach in the comments!

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  8. How to join yarn in crochet: No knots needed!

    Posted by on August 22, 2014, in crochet & knitting, ,

    Martingale's Knit and Crochet Friday

    How to join yarn in crochet

    Even if you haven’t graduated to multiple colors in crochet patterns, inevitably you’ll run out of yarn and need to know how to introduce a new skein. The mistake most beginners make is to simply tie a knot and keep stitching. The trouble with that approach is that the knots can show or come untied.

    Instead, try a knotless method from The Essential Book of Crochet Techniques for a flawless transition.

    Joining yarn with two loops

    From The Essential Book of Crochet Techniques by Nancie M. Wiseman

    Insert the hook into the appropriate stitch, work the stitch until there are 2 loops on the hook, yarn over hook with the new yarn, and pull through both loops. Proceed in the stitch pattern with the new yarn. Weave in the ends now or when the project is completed.

    Joining yarn in crochet

    The Essential Book of Crochet TechniquesCheck out The Essential Book of Crochet Techniques for 2 more ways to join yarn in crochet: joining yarn with one loop and joining yarn while weaving in the ends as you go.

    What’s one crochet technique you’d like to learn? Tell us in the comments!

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  9. Blog hop! Revamp a room with a single quilt (+ giveaway!)

    Quilts from Sew a Modern Home

    Is a room in your home ready for an update?

    It can be overwhelming to think about redecorating an entire room—so don’t! The softness of a simple quilt or the punch of a colorful pillow can instantly infuse a so-so space with fresh personality.

    Pinky Patch quiltIn the new book Sew a Modern Home, author Melissa Lunden pairs easy quilt patterns with even easier-to-make accessories—and she’s created simple, clean looks for just about every room in your home. Find stylish quilts and accents for high-traffic areas, plus pretty projects for bedrooms—baby, kid (left), and grown-up rooms are all covered. Simply choose a room you want to revamp; then follow Melissa’s lead!

    We’re happy to be a part of Melissa’s blog hop for Sew a Modern Home, and to have her as a guest blogger today to share some of her decorating ideas from the book with you. Welcome, Melissa!

    Melissa LundenHello! I’m so excited to introduce myself and to talk about my book, Sew a Modern Home. The inspiration came from wanting to decorate my home and make it a place full of beautiful, personalized items.

    Like most quilters, I’m constantly making presents for family and friends. I wanted to share projects that would be perfect for anyone’s home, whether you’re making something to keep or for a special gift. The projects range in size and complexity so you have plenty of options.

    I love all of the projects, but the dining-room projects are special to me. I chose my favorite color palette, but it can easily be made with colors you love. Wouldn’t it be fun to create a version with seasonal or holiday colors?

    Dining-room projects from Sew a Modern Home
    Dining-room projects from
    Sew a Modern Home

    The table runner with matching place mats and napkins shown above makes a great housewarming or wedding gift. One unique detail is the pocket on the napkin (inset). It was inspired by the “quillow,” which is a pocket sewn onto the back a quilt so a quilt can be folded into itself for storage. I love the idea of creating a similar pocket on a napkin to hold silverware.

    The handmade baby quilts I received for my daughter are still some of the most cherished items in her room; that’s why another special section for me is the nursery. I imagined these projects being made by and for expecting parents who need the basics. There are seven projects for nap time and play time, so even the busiest of crafters can find something to make for the next baby shower.

    Nursery projects from Sew a Modern Home
    Nursery projects from
    Sew a Modern Home

    Lastly, the “Horizon Line” quilt makes a great focal point for what might otherwise be a bland guest bedroom. This design had been bubbling around in my head for a while. I wanted something clean, crisp, and versatile. I’m also particularly proud of the quilting on this quilt. I took the time to switch thread colors. Blending the threads to the fabrics creates such a pretty texture. Straight-line quilting would also look gorgeous with this design.

    Horizon Line guest-room quilt
    “Horizon Line” quilt


    When I designed this quilt, I was living in a tiny beach town in California and I was spoiled with a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean. I loved looking at the water and was inspired by the colors. The teal, sea foam, and white work so well together, but I would love to see it with blues or yellows too. The possibilities are endless.

    > See all the decorating possibilities in Sew a Modern Home

    Thank you so much for allowing me to introduce myself and to share my book with you. Happy sewing!

    Sew a Modern HomeThanks for sharing your projects with us, Melissa!

    What room in your home could use a fabric facelift? Tell us in the comments and you could win a copy of the Sew a Modern Home eBook! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win.

    Follow the Sew a Modern Home blog hop. Most of the blogs are still offering giveaways, so be sure to check them out for more chances to win the eBook!

    Wednesday, August 13: Lunden Designs
    Thursday, August 14: Very Shannon
    Friday, August 15: West Coast Crafty
    Saturday, August 16: Boston Sewer
    Sunday, August 17: One Shabby Chick
    Monday, August 18: Cactus Needle
    Tuesday, August 19: Fabric Worm
    Wednesday, August 20: Generation Q
    Thursday, August 21: Stitch This! (that’s us!)
    Friday, August 22: Prudent Baby
    Saturday, August 23: Stitchery Dickory Dock
    Sunday, August 24: Fave Quilts – Seams and Scissors

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  10. 5 reasons to spruce up your sewing space

    Does your sewing space inspire you?

    From Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space

    Or do messy fabric stacks, toppling tools, and piles of unfinished projects send your creative muse into hiding?

    Clutter, inefficiency, and a simple lack of space can build barriers between us and our creative pursuits. But what if you had a guidebook at your side that could help you:

    • Get—and stay—organized and efficient?
    • Use your space more resourcefully?
    • Create more time to quilt?

    Creating Your Perfect Quilting SpaceIn the bestseller Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space, professional organizer—and quilter—Lois L. Hallock offers dozens of ways to make your sewing space a place that will nurture your creativity. From simple strategies for taming your stash to grandiose sewing-room makeovers, you’ll find tips and tricks that will fit your time, space, and budget.

    Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space offers easy-to-implement ideas that will help you:

    1. SEE all of your fabric. Learn to fold your fabric uniformly—no matter what size or shape—so you can see your entire stash at a glance.
    2. FIND COMFORT in ergonomics especially for quilters (no more aching back from marathons at the sewing machine).
    3. RETHINK the location and function of your current space.
    4. DEVELOP habits that support short- and long-term efficiency and organization.
    5. MAXIMIZE your creative energy with ideas for layouts, lighting, and storage, plus options for sewing, cutting, and pressing stations.

    Get a sneak peek at the eBook in these posts:


    Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space Studio PlannerMake your dream quilting studio a reality with Lois’s book and her hands-on Studio Planner!

    • Arrange your perfect studio on paper with more than 40 cutouts representing cutting and sewing workstations, ironing boards, shelving, design walls, and more
    • Use the easy worksheet and graph paper to record measurements, reposition cutouts, and avoid snags like doors and electrical outlets
    • Get the Studio Planner for $12.95 $7.99.

    Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space Studio Planner
    Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space Studio Planner

    What’s the current state of your sewing space: comfy and clean, a bit cluttered, or completely chaotic? Tell us about it in the comments!


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