Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Swatch Board

So, I've always been pretty anal particular about color placement in my quilts. The thought of putting all my scraps in a paper bag and just taking fabric out piece by piece literally makes me feel super jittery.

About a year and a half ago, I got a smart phone. It was great because my camera had just died, and it was so much faster to turn on than my camera had been! (It was pretty great for other reasons too... email, music, instagram, plants vs. zombies...) So, when I was laying out my quilts, I'd just snap a picture and keep referring to it whenever I needed to. Such a great idea! And sometimes it still works, but if I take another bunch of pictures of my kids, then it gets a little lost.

 If I'm working on a really scrappy quilt, that's still pretty much the only way for me to go. But... sometimes I don't want to get distracted by instagram go searching for that picture. I have a really messy bulletin board in my sewing room, and it's the perfect place for me to put a little swatch of what I'm going to put on my quilt. I've done it a couple of times before, but I've always had a hard time getting the fabric to stick to the paper. I've tried tape, and staples, and nothing was really great.
But then last night I had an epiphany -- why not sew it onto the paper? I'm not new to sewing on paper, and I have a special needle to use just for paper, so it was pretty simple to just tack it down. Here's what I did (isn't it cute?!):

So, I made a little tutorial on how I did it.  First, I arranged the fabrics onto the paper. This was just a little project, so I only needed a half-sheet of paper. I really liked the extra stability of the doubled paper, so I'll definitely be using a double sheet in the future, even if it's a bigger project. I arranged these fabrics a few times -- I told you I'm picky careful! I have an outer and an inner fabric for this project, so I made the outer fabric around 1" x 2", and the inner 1" x 1" so I could keep them straight. Please note the green fabric on the top row in the middle -- I totally used selvedges whenever I can, so I'm only taking away about 1/2" of usable fabric. 

Then, I took off the top layer. I VERY carefully set it all in order to the side, and then used a glue stick to glue down the fabric in place.

Now, that glue is TOTALLY not going to hold your fabric for very long. So, very very carefully, you take the paper over to the sewing machine and tack it down with some quick stitching. I like to do it along the top edge of the fabric, just catching that top edge. The rest of the fabric will be a little loose, but that's okay, because gravity will take care of it for you.  Hopefully you can see that in this next picture (the top edge is to the left in the picture):

After that's done, set the inner fabrics on top of the others, setting each one a little bit down from the top of the outer fabric. If you need to add a little bit of glue, it's best to just apply it to the paper. Then, sew down these fabrics just along the tops.

And now you're done! Hang it on your bulletin board -- even if it's super messy. :)

There's all sorts of treasures up there -- I can't get rid of a single thing.  Do you see the sweet picture my little girl drew me? It's a portrait of me -- in case you couldn't tell. She is definitely a better artist than I am. :) 

The best part about this method is that I can look at it all day long, and it keeps me on track so I don't have to worry about misplacing any of the pieces.  I almost can't go wrong!


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