Interviews With Designers Featuring: Melody Miller!

It's Here! Melody Miller's newest collection for Cotton + Steel, Playful, has arrived and we are beyond excited!  I love Melody Miller's vintage style and brilliant use of bright colors and unique prints.  I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to pick at Melody's creative mind and learn about her journey as designer.  Take a look at our interview to find out Melody's background story and inspiration behind her stunning creations.

Q: What got you interested in becoming a designer?

A: I used to have an Etsy shop where I sold small sewn goods, like tooth cushions.  They got some nice media attention, and sold pretty well.  So well, if fact, that I actually got a herniated disc from all the sewing!  Quick change of plans: I began brainstorming, and though I might like to design a line of baby bedding (that was manufactured elsewhere) and though the most authentic way to do it was to use fabric that I designed.  After looking into fabric printing options and realizing the expense involved, I decided to shop my portfolio around Quilt Market to see if I could find someone else to print my fabric.  None of the American companies went for my designs, but I got a call back from Kokka two weeks later.

Q:  How many collections have you designed?

A:  Six for Kokka, two for Cotton + Steel that have been introduced, and several more that are upcoming :)

Q:  What would you consider your style to be with the fabrics you have created?

A:  In a nutshell: vintage modern.  I also have lots of influences from artists on the edge of the pop art movement like Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, and Jasper Johns.

Q:  Is there an overarching theme with your different collections?

A:  There's not a specific theme, but i do lean heavily on fashion and design influences from the 1960's and 70's.  I love vintage objects, and color, and pushing the boundaries of our printing techniques.

Q: How do you find inspiration for your next collection?

A:  Often by shopping in flea markets, antique stores, and estate sales.

Q:  What was your inspiration for your current collection and or your previous collection?

A: My inspiration for my first Cotton+Steel collection, Mustang, was the fact that I had tried something very scary in my career, and succeeded.  I was trying to bridge the gap between my former life with Kokka, and my future with Cotton+Steel.  I included references to my old fabrics, but tried lots of new things because I was able to print on quilting cotton for the first time.  My inspiration for my second collection, Playful, is vintage games and toys.

Q:  What is the most rewarding part of being a designer?

A:  For me, helping to run Cotton+Steel.  I have a strong creative vision that I get to exercise both in my own artwork, and as I do my work as a creative director of Cotton+Steel.  I love working and collaborating with the other designers.  I'm also business-minded, and get to flex my strategic thinking and problem solving muscles on a daily basis.  I feel very lucky that I get to use both sides of my brain in my job :)

Want to know more about Melody Miller and Cotton+Steel?  Click HERE to learn more!
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Did you know we make our own precuts?

We are on COLOR overload and want give you all a chance to win a little color.  Did you know we make our own precuts? We have hundreds of precuts that we make in house that you can't find anywhere else.  TO ENTER: Head on over to facebook and find this post.
Then, L-I-K-E, S-H-A-R-E, & C-O-M-M-E-N-T what is your favorite cut (Fat Quarter, Layer Cake, Jelly Roll or Charm Pack) and collection.  We will choose one lucky winner Tuesday night to choose a Southernfabric Layer Cake or Jelly Roll of their choice.

Some of our fun pre-cuts that we make that you can't find anywhere else.

Art Gallery
Bonnie and Camille
Dear Stella
Free Spirit and Westminster
Michael Miller
Robert Kaufman

Tips and Tricks for Making HST's

I have been making a lot of HST (Half Square Triangle) projects lately so I thought what better than to show a quick tutorial from the thing I have learned.  The biggest thing that I have learned over the years is it is the small things that matter, and this is one of the small things that really does mater.  If you want things to line up in the end then it is small tips and tricks like this that will make it stand out (or not stand out) in the end.

First get your squares that you are planning on using.  We have used all sized from 10" to 5" to our current size 2 1/2" squares.  Turn the suares so the prints are facing each other and use your ruler to match corner to corner.  Draw a line from corner to corner with what ever tool you like the best.  You will never see this again so you can use anything from a dandy quilting pen to a regular around the house pen.  Sew a 1/4" on both sides of the line that you drew.

Get you handy dandy ruler and rotary cutter and cut on the line that you drew down the center.

It should look like this.

Now get your ruler and line it up to cut off anything that might not be of the right size.  Even it if is only by a 10th of a inch this will make a difference in the end.  Cut it off to make you square as square as possible.

As you can see this did not cut off much but it cut off just enough to make my new square perfect.

Using your rotary cutter trim the two out edges so you won't have any tags hanging out when you open your finished block.  That is it and believe me when I say this little thing will make all the difference in the end.

Projects that use the Half Square Triangle:

Pinwheel Quilt Tutorial

Last week we learned how to make this very simple pinwheel block.  You can go HERE to find the tutorial.  Our finished block was 9 1/2" by 9 1/2".  We made 9 blocks to make up a finished size lap quilt of 35 1/2" x 35 1/2".  If you want your finished quilt be be bigger just use larger squares or add on more blocks.

Please read all instructions before you begin.

What you will need:

-1/2 Yard Coordinating fabric for sashing
-9 Pinwheel Blocks

Coordinating Sashing:

(This is how you will cut your 1/2 Yard Coordinating fabric for sashing)

Cut 6 strips 2 1/2" x 9"
Cut 4 strips 2 1/2" x 31 1/2"
Cut 2 strips 2 1/2" x 35 1/2"

To make our exact quilt you will now need to add your sashing to your 9 blocks that you made.  We once again used 1/4" seam for the entire project.   Cut six strips at 2 1/2" x  9 1/2".  Add sashing in between two of your blocks like the picture below.  Do this three times using all 9 of your blocks. You should have three identical stips that look like the picture below when you are done.

Now add sashing on one of the sides.  This should measure 2 1/2" x 31 1/2".   Do this twice.

Now sew the two together.  

Add you third strip and it will look like this

Now add your border.  First add sashing along the top and bottom.  Each strip will measure 2 1/2" x 31 1/2"

Add you last two sides and you are done.  They should measure 2 1/2" x 35 1/2"

Want to learn how to Quilt this Quilt?  Go HERE.
Want to learn how to Bind this Quilt?  Go HERE.

Getting to know Us! Did you know we make our own precuts?

The Beginnings of

In 2004, Aubrey was trying to make a baby quilt for her brother when she realized how difficult the process was to get together the right fabrics easily. She went to quilt store after quilt store and found nothing. At that time, precuts didn’t really exist. Using her local fabric stores, she began experimenting with colors and patterns, trying to come up with various custom precuts. She saw a need in the market and started selling custom precuts online. Aubrey had just graduated from Utah State University in marketing and economics and found herself the breadwinner for her new family while her husband finished working on his PhD in computers. Working at her kitchen table on a shoestring budget, she slowly built with lots of hard work, persistence, and loads of patience. Her focus was on building a large customer base of happy returning customers.
Since then, most large fabric companies have realized the huge demand for precuts and have started manufacturing precuts. Aubrey has always loved creating precuts, mixing and matching fabrics, and experimenting with what goes well together. She knew that not all manufactures would make precuts and some would not cover the demand, so she began the long process of acquiring the right industrial equipment to make her own precuts. Right now she is capable of making Jelly Rolls, Layer Cakes, and Charm Packs with a precision industrial grade machine. She also has cutting tools required to cut half yard and fat quarter bundles. Over the last 10 years, we have been through many changes – from cutting by hand to cutting by rotary cutter to cutting by light machinery to finally going to heavy machinery to give you that precise cut that you have all asked for. The exclusive precuts that you purchase have been die-cut for exact precision so you can make sure that your piece will be perfect when making your quilt. We have hundreds of precuts that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. We also sell lines by colorways, from many companies that do not separate out the different colorway options.
Over the last decade, Aubrey has added nine employees to her small quilt shop and has moved into a 3,000 square foot warehouse. She loves fabric very much and considers this her dream job where she gets to create bundles and precuts for quilting projects. She likes to think of as the small-town quilt shop for those that don’t have one or are too busy to get to their own. Her staff loves taking phone calls and talking fabric.

Want to learn more about our staff?  Head on over to find out more about who is helping your process along the way.  You can also read about our mission and focus.  We love to make the process better and strive each day to make changes that will make you happy.  If there is EVER anything we can do to make it better let us know.  We can never fix it if we don't know there is a problem!

Shhh! It's a secret. Tips for Making a Scrappy Quilt.

I am working on my next project for my boys and I am always looking for little tips to help my projects go a little faster.  After all who here is not busy and wouldn't want a little more time?  Well hopefully this will help you out.

When ever I make a Scrap Quilt one of my biggest problems is having that scrappy feeling making sure all of your fabrics are pretty evenly spaced without having the same fabric touch each other.  We have all been there and you know how frustrating it is when you are all done and you notice the two identical fabrics are touching each other. "NOOOO" you yell, and everyone thinks you are crazy. Well I started using this tip and it really helped me out.

Years ago I made quilts for my boys out of a line called Reunion by Sweetwater.  I was recently going through all of my fabric and realized I had a lot of 5" squares left over.  I took the 5" left over squares and cut them into 4 of the same piles are realized I am going to have a hard time making my project look scrappy so I used this technique.

Step 1 - Cut your fabric up.  You can use any size you want (10",7", 5")  I used 5" and turned them  into 4 stacks of 2.5" squares.

Step 2 - Flip the entire top left stack upside down.  The bottom will now be on the top.

Step 3 - Take the pile in the bottom left and cut it in half and put the top half chunk of fabric on the bottom and the bottom half on top.  You are just trying to shuffle your fabric.

Step 4 - Do the same thing as step three to the bottom right hand corner.

Step 5 - Now take the bottom right hand stack (the one you just shuffled) and flip it over just like the very first top left stack.  The bottom is once again now on the top.  You are not going to do anything with the top right stack.  You're done!

It's not too late!

There's still time!

Our "Fat Stash Club" is the most coveted club in Southern Fabric HISTORY! It's that time of year again to sign up. There are 12 stacks with 12 fat quarters in each. Go see which color you like the most. Choose to have them sent to you each month or save $204 and have them shipped to you all at once. That is right, $204 savings shipped right to your door shipped for FREE with in the U.S.