Author Guest Post: Susan Ache on "Sampler Spree," Sorting Scraps, and a Quilt-Along!

Today, we’re excited to let author Susan Ache take over the blog and share the scoop on "Sampler Spree," sorting scraps, and an upcoming quilt-along! Heeeeere’s Susan:

I am a creature of habit, and it isn’t something new nor is it something I change from year to year.  Back in the days when I worked at a quilt shop and the temptation was too great and the fabrics were right at my fingertips, I had to come up with a plan to get through some of the stacks of fabric that I was bringing home AND a system that worked for me.

That’s when I came up with my plan to just group everything by color, it didn’t matter the designer, the amount of fabric or the style of the fabric. Just group by color, stack by color, and small pieces went into separate bins sorted by color as my “scraps”. Since I take everything apart almost as soon as I get it in my sewing room (I hear some you gasping), Jelly Rolls, Layer Cakes, and Charm packs are put directly into my scrap bins. Any fat quarters or fat eighths are folded and put into my color wall. (See photo for Susan’s coveted color wall! Dreamy, huh?!)

Now many of you already know how fast scraps grow (am I right?) and that created a new challenge. That’s why I spend every single summer playing in my scraps, one color at a time. I have always given myself a week with one color and then I move on. Sometimes the blocks I create make it into quilts, sometimes they end up in my “orphan block” basket to be used at another time. But at the end of the summer, I do feel a sense of accomplishment to see that I have used (and played with!) what we usually think of as “leftovers.”

When Martingale asked me about creating a block book (Publisher’s note: Because we saw you creating so, so many gorgeous blocks on Instagram @yardgrl60), my first thought was “how can it look and feel different from other block books out there?”  Blocks from scraps were my first thought and thankfully that thought never left my mind. I knew how many blocks I needed to make and I went about it the same exact way I plan my summer sewing.

What’s crazy is that the blocks in "Sampler Spree" are 6” blocks, and I didn’t even make a dent in my scraps. Oh well! I did set a goal not to repeat a fabric if I didn’t have to while I was making each block in each color category. I even went as far as using my backgrounds from scraps. I don’t feel guilty with repeats of those backgrounds, but I did keep track of how many times they were used to even them out across the entire quilt.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to crack open a new bundle of fabric (I do it all the time, sorting it by color right away of course). Many quilters enjoy playing with a new bundle for one quilt. If that’s your jam, go for it! For me, I enjoy challenging to myself to see what I can do with random leftovers and maybe you will also.

Join me in a Sampler Spree quilt-along this summer with the Moda Blockheads group. You can find all the details on the Sew Alongs page at or the Moda Blockheads Facebook group page. And be sure to sign up for Moda’s Inspiration + Resources blog to learn more! The official start date for the quilt-along is June 9th. Order your copy of the book "Sampler Spree" here or pick one up at your local quilt shop. (Visit this page and scroll down to see a list of quilt shops that have copies of "Sampler Spree".) You’ll need the book to sew along. We’ll be working color by color and which block numbers we’re sewing are being shared one week at a time. Here’s my challenge to you, try and hit up your leftovers first to see how you feel. These 6” blocks don’t take much and don’t take long and if you really don’t like the feel that your quilt is giving you, then crack open a new bundle and start fresh.

This is your quilt, make it the way you love to see colors and make it your own. To enjoy the entire process of the quilt making, you’ve got to love the colors you’re playing with. So have fun in your own way!

Hope to see you sewing along with "Sampler Spree!"











If you LOVE Susan’s designs as much as we do, visit this link for a list of all the Martingale books she’s contributed to or solo-authored, then make sure to follow her on Instagram for inspiration aplenty!


5 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I love this book. It has a great layout and easy-to-follow instructions. It has great tips printed throughout the book. I purchased this book because I needed a couple of new ideas for a sampler quilt I’m working on. I figure I’ll end up making all the blocks for one reason or another. Last night, I wrote in the inside front cover of the book "I love this book." and dated it. And, by the way, I find your system of organizing by color and especially taking those charm packs and layer cakes apart intriguing. Many thanks for sharing all this great information!

    —Sharon Burns on May 7, 2021
  • I am in AWWWWW 💝at this color wall, and the rows of lovely fabrics. It is dreamy for sure,🔹🔺🔷 and there is a row behind the first rows! Just wowie. 🧵🌷🌷 You are very enthusiastic Susan!
    How do I separate the charm packs and layercakes, and jelly rolls for that matter? Should I use scrap boxes? or bins and sort by colors in a jumble? 🔻🔸 Thank you for this encouragement !!

    —Rosemary B on May 7, 2021
  • Gorgeous quilt on the cover

    —Geri A on May 7, 2021
  • Te a tocado el coche acuático le tienes que dar a la cruceta izquierda o derecha

    Darla on May 9, 2021
  • I believe that my fabric scraps get married and make babies when I’m not watching them, otherwise how can I explain that they are always more numerous?
    I’ll buy this book as soon as possible.

    verveine et lin on May 10, 2021

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