Scrap resolutions

Happy New Year! Are you starting off your new quilting year off with a resolution to use up your scraps? Or maybe just get to some of those lovelies that have been living in your stash and are looking for the perfect project? Great! Because String Theory 2.0 is here!

String Theory 2.0. is the second issue of the Lab Manual series and features projects that are made for 1 1/2″ wide fabric strips, or sometimes called strings. String quilts have been around for a long time and have been a favorite of scrap quilters for ages. I love them and they are one of my favorite standard scrap bucket sizes because you can do so much with them!

2.0 offers six new projects, all based on 1 1/2″ strips, and this time around, some of the projects add in the A-word. Yes, appliqué! Now don’t be afraid! It’s not scary appliqué I promise and all of the projects will burn up a serious amount of scraps! Be brave!

Now, winter weather and my schedule have not been great for getting a lot of outside quilt shots but I did luck out with a recent sunny day and ran out to put up my project “Happy Lattice” out in the garden to catch the sun. Beautiful quilting on this one by Tracey @thequiltingninja .

I had so much fun bringing these projects together and I hope you will find something that tickles your scrap fancy. To help start you off on your scrap resolutions, I’m offering free shipping in the U.S. on all on-line orders of String Theory 2.0 for the month of January! Yeah! No discount code needed, just shop an go!

And of course, your support and purchases are always appreciated at your favorite local quilt shop. String Theory 2.0 as well as all of my other patterns and books are available to shop owners through their distributors.

If you’re in my Pacific Northwest neighborhood there are some upcoming workshops and trunk shows featuring these new projects so check them out!

Are you a member of the Northwest Quilt Connection? I’ll be visiting NQC, Saturday, January 11th and I’ll be sharing a trunk show program. See their site for more details.

Upcoming classes at Two Thimbles Quilts Shop in Bellingham:

Saturday, February 8th I’ll be teaching the Flora runner.

Sunday, March 1st, Walking Foot Quilting.

Sunday, March 29th I’ll be teaching Petal Pusher.

Another great opportunity coming up in January, February and March, will be Scrap Science Club at Quilting Mayhem in Snohomish.

Well, my year is off with a dash and I hope yours is too! More soon!

Happy new year’s quilting,


Two new for wool!

Hello December! I can hardly believe it! Time to catch up on some new pattern details…and a SALE! First up is Deco Rose, one of my latest patterns just recently introduced this Fall.Deco Rose cover frontDeco Rose features wool applique on cotton background – and my favorite – two background options: low volume or dark prints – this time using a mix of 5″ charm squares. Same applique pieces, completely different look! Of course, if scrappy is not your style, pattern includes option for single fabric background. Make it your own!

Deco Rose can be a quick-make – even with hand stitching! – and could easily be made as a gift for someone special for the holidays 🙂 I can’t say that for all of my crazy-scrappy projects but it’s true for this one!

My second new(ish) pattern featuring wool applique is Hungarian Picnic!Hungarian Picnic cover front

This pattern has a special place in my heart because it was inspired by my home-away-from-home country, Hungary, and the wonderful people there. This pattern originally appeared in Quiltmania’s Simply Vintage in Summer 2018 and is now available as an individual pattern.

A-mazing quilting by Tracey @thequiltingninja 

The image above is the same quilt, just different lighting! Some projects you know you will just keep forever, and for me, it’s this one for sure.

And guess what? For the next 48 hours, I’m having a pattern sale in my shop just in time for Cyber Monday as a small way to say thank you for all of the wonderful support and encouragement you’ve given me this year. All individual print patterns are 25% off and ship for FREE in the U.S. – including Deco Rose and Hungarian Picnic! Just use coupon code “Thankful2019” at checkout. Sale runs through Tuesday, December 3rd.

Happy holiday quilting,



Quilt Market re-cap & recovery


Quilt Market is the quilt industry trade show that happens twice a year, fall always in Houston Texas followed immediately by the Quilt Festival, and each spring in a changing location. This was the first time I had my own company booth at Fall Market and it’s pretty daunting when you are a one-woman company! Fortunately, I have lots of support from friends, professionals, and my go-to guy, my husband 🙂

So much effort, energy, business, and at the end of the day, fun. It takes a bit to get back to normal! Here’s what you start with…20191028_1626472313150095825871148.jpg

Not very inspiring, is it?! Everything else has to be hauled, shipped, rented, or bought on site. To make something wonderful, where people want to be and ultimately buy. This is a business after all and if you don’t make money, you can’t make more patterns, quilts, fabric, books, or whatever you have to offer.

Some shots of my booth after setup…20191026_0905011191069875788962882.jpg


img_20191026_130421_9632900443156523833334.jpgOne of the downsides of having your own booth is that you actually have to be in it – all the time! Which makes it hard to get out and around to see other booths and all of the other sights. It’s kind of a trade off in many ways. So I did run around the show in the mornings before the floor opened. At the end of the day, I’m just too tired to even enjoy. Here was the view from my booth – business was hopping!img_20191026_130421_9467458333198870884729.jpg

Besides the opportunity to meet lots of new industry faces and catch up with friends and business partners from before, I introduced three new patterns and the second installment of the Lab Manual Series, String Theory 2.0, which are now available to shops and directly on my site as well. More on those soon but they are all now available!

And before you know it, it’s over and everything comes down in a flash! Just like it never happened…


After the wheels touched back down on the runway in Washington State, I hit the road for my last two travel teaching/speaking trips of the year – and now, THANKSGIVING! How can that even be possible?!

Happy quilting,


Drumroll please…

O.k. o.k. o.k.! So excited (and mildly stressed out – in a good way!) The countdown is on. This time next week I’ll be opening my booth at the Houston International Quilt Market 2019 and introducing my newest patterns and offerings to quilt shops, distributors, and retailers alike including…..String Theory 2.0!!!Lab Manual Series 2 coverv2

Quilt market runs October 26-28 before the International Quilt Festival in the Houston Convention Center (everything really is bigger in Texas – this thing is gigantic!). It’s the industry trade show for everything quilty – fabric companies, pattern designers, notions, distributors, retailers, publishers, and every auxiliary industry you can imagine.

Like most things, I’m working towards this with my hair on fire! I sure can’t do this alone – HUGE thanks to the consummate professionals and friends that make my designs come to life: long-arm quilter and thread whisperer, Tracey Fisher, graphic designer extraordinaire, Lindsie Bergevin, and keeping me honest, my much-needed technical editor,  the awesome Elizabeth Beese. With their efforts, here’s a peek at some of the things I’ll be introducing there!


If you are a retailer attending Market, please stop by my booth #2208 and say hi! I would love to meet you. My booth is in the LAST row of the show floor (or maybe, the first, depending on where you start!) Let’s just call it the end row – and the easiest to find!

You can also pick up your passport for the Pattern Designer Booth Hop – a fun way to discover some great independent designers and a chance to win PRIZES! Who doesn’t love that?


If your not a shop owner but your favorite local quilt shop peeps will be attending – send them my way and let them know what you’d like to see in their shops. You can be there in spirit and have them bring something home for you 🙂 Your support is soooo important and they appreciate your business!

I promise more feature posts on the individual new patterns and the new Lab Manual – String Theory 2.0 after market. (I heard some of you may still have a few scraps laying around so it was necessary!)

To be sure to get the latest updates from Market – follow me on Instagram @stashlabquilts and also follow the tag #quiltmarket2019 for great posts from everyone on the show floor.

Next stop, HOUSTON!


Summer Lab updates

September, here we come! What a busy end to summer! Just a few quick updates about what has been going on here in the Stash Lab…

Studio space in the house has been under construction and I’m almost moved in! Actually, I’m moved in, I don’t even have that excuse, but it’s still (a mess) kind of a work in progress. A full blog post with pics in the future, I promise!

Some of the biggest events to hit our household this summer involved these two…00560016-x25216688556197491552.jpg

I couldn’t resist, how cute were they?! My not-so-little, little guy turned 21 this summer and my baby girl graduated from high school! I’m so proud of them both. Big changes ahead!

There were fun, event-filled teaching trips this summer, first to Annie’s Star Quilt Guild in Chico, CA. What an amazing group. True caring and support among those quilters, many of whom or whose neighbors lost their homes in the tragic Paradise Fire last year. And a very special treat for me, they made my quilt, Stamp of Approval from Stash Lab for their Opportunity Quilt. It was beautiful and I was beaming with quilt-parent pride! Annie's Star opp quilt

Then a whirlwind trip last week down to Salem, Oregon for some time with the MidValley Quilt Guild. Double meetings, a Big String Star workshop, and lots of fun in between! There’s some serious concentration going into these string blocks but it was fun, I promise!20190829_1546245739792926417913942.jpg

I think I’m going to re-name this month “September Scramble”! I’ve made plans for Fall Quilt Market in Houston – so now I have to get my new patterns finished up! More on that soon as well and some sneak peeks for sure.bc084103-c424-409b-ab82-5e1d8ea2dbf1

But to close out, if you haven’t already spied this cute, new addition to our home on Stash Lab Quilts on Facebook or Instagram, let me introduce you to Winston!20190804_1710152295633628281465222.jpg

He’s just 3 months old now and full of fur, teeth, and puppy energy! This picture is from his first day home and he’s DOUBLED in size in the last month! Pushing 20 pounds now. He’s a mixed doodle, mom’s a Golden Doodle and dad’s an Australian Labradoodle. We’re just trying to keep up! Right now he’s learning his studio manners so he can hang out with me. Fingers crossed!

In between, I’ve actually gotten some quilts done – shocking, I know! I hope whatever your summer plans were, they included some quilting and creative time as well. We all need it!

Happy end-of-summer quilting,


Low Volume Light Love

You probably already know how much I love low volume fabrics. They are easily my favorite fabrics to work with and I tend to sneak as many into every project that I can. And that goes beyond quilts! Whenever I find a new way to feature my favorite fabrics, I do. So let there be low volume light!

Last spring for quilt market, I featured low volume scrap strips on a lamp shade for my display table. After market, I gifted it to a friend (who happened to have lent me the lamp base!) How could I not? I loved it so much, I decided to make another one for my work desk in my studio space. After the chair project, this was a snap!

Any lampshade will do but white or some other light color would be best and the straighter the sides the better. So look for a drum style shade instead of a flared one. You can use a flared one but your fabric strips will just need to be wider to cover it and most of my scrap strips are my beloved 1 1/2″ wide strips.

You’ll need:

  • lamp shade
  • roll of wrapping paper (to trace your template)
  • fabric strips of your choosing – low volume only for me! as many as you need to go around your lampshade
  • twill tape ribbon or similar to trim your shade
  • spray adhesive (not basting spray)
  • Add-a-Quarter ruler, or other acrylic ruler with marked 1/4″
  • hot glue gun
  • your normal sewing supplies

So pretty easy, especially if you’ve done some paper foundation piecing. The first step is to make your paper template. I like to use a roll of cheap, flimsy wrapping paper. It can be any color or design because it will get torn out after sewing all of your strips together. Flimsy wrapping paper can be frustrating when you’re trying to wrap a gift but tears away beautifully for this project. Lay out the wrapping paper and roll the lamp shade a full turn, tracing the top and bottom as you go.

Cut it out along the traced lines.

After you cut out your template, test it out by wrapping it around the shade to make sure it’s covered. You can overlap by about an inch and trim more later if you want to.

Next, we need to mark sewing lines on the template. You have two choices: you can either draw your stitching lines with a ruler or you can fan fold and make creases to mark your stitching lines like this:

How close together you draw or fold your lines will determine how skinny or wide your fabric strips will need to be. With almost every lampshade, there will be a slight flare at the base. If you don’t pre-mark your lines and just sew straight cuts of fabric together, you would end up with your fabric slanting all the way around.

Time to sew! Begin somewhere in the middle of the paper template. Place two fabric strips right sides together so that they cover one section and extend over the next crease by at least 1/4 inch. Your strips should be long enough to extend 1/2″ beyond the template at both ends. Pin in place. It should look something like this. Stitch on the marked line, in my example, the crease line.

When you turn it back over, it will look like this.

Remove the pins, and flip over the top sewn strip. Give it a press with your iron – NO STEAM for now! Depending on how flimsy your paper, using steam would be asking for trouble. You should now have something like this.

Turn your piece back over and fold back the next crease or marked line on your template. I like to use my trusty Add-A-Quarter ruler when I’m doing this kind of foundation piecing. Placing the ruler 1/4″ beyond the fold, trim off any fabric excess beyond the 1/4 inch to get ready for your next strip.

Lay your next fabric strip right side up on the table and place the template piece on top, aligning the strip edges.

Again, open the template over the layer pieces and pin the three layers into place. Sew again on the next marked line.

Keep adding your strips using this flip and sew method on the paper foundation both directions until your paper template is completely covered.

When the foundation is covered completely with your fabric strips, give it a nice hot press with the iron. Look at all that low volume loveliness!

Time for the trim along the top and bottom lines of the template. Scissors or rotary cutter make quick work of this.

After you tear away all of your foundation paper, you’re ready to cover your lampshade. Position your fabric piece on the lampshade to see how it will lay. Take away and spray the surface of the lampshade all over with the spray adhesive (you might want to do this outside or be sure to cover your work surface and ventilate well.) Lay your pieced fabric piece back on and smooth over the surface of the lampshade, working out any creases as you go.

Ready for the final trim! Measure your trim ribbon to fit and cut to size. Using your glue gun, run a bead of glue around the top edge a few inches at a time and attach your ribbon trim. Repeat for the bottom of the shade.

I found binding clips to be helpful holding my trim pieces in place as I worked my way around with the glue gun.

All you have to do now is put your shade back on your lamp base and flip the switch. Ta-dah! Low volume light love! Now comes the hard part: deciding where to put it 🙂



Have a seat!

So not a quilty project but a fun, creative one for my quilting space to share with you. We’ve recently been doing some minor remodeling of the downstairs for my new studio space (more on that later) and I’ve been looking for fun and funky furniture to live in that new space. Nothing sedate, nothing bland. Colorful and bright need only apply!

I found a couple of garage sale chairs that I thought would be good candidates for reupholstering. After looking into professional upholstery, I decided this was definitely going to be an opportunity-to-learn-DIY-project!


YouTube videos I found particularly helpful and encouraging: one from Miss Mustard Seed about how to upholster the back of an open frame chair. Another one great video about how to make the double cord piping was by Broadway Upholstery School.

I found some home dec weight fabric and collected all of my supplies, including a new electric stapler. I was in no rush to get started but then on a recent weekend the power went out and since I couldn’t sew, I figured it was a great day for deconstruction of the chairs!

Deconstruction in process.

After I reached the point of no return, I decided they needed the paint freshened up. Power still out, great time to spray paint!

Smurf Blue to Caribbean Blue in one day!

After tearing them apart and repainting, I tackled the backs first, making the piping. I thought the busier print would be a good choice for my first attempt at the piping to hide my first-timer errors. In hindsight, good choice.

On to the chair seats. Much easier than the backs if only because I could use the worktable and didn’t have to be a contortionist with the staple gun.

Piping under construction.

Now that they’re done, I’m so glad I gave this project a try. Are they perfect? No. Do I love them? YES. Things I learned doing this project:

  1. Upholstery takes more time than you think.
  2. It takes more fabric thank you think.
  3. It takes way more staples than you can imagine!

But I’m pretty sure there are no other identical chairs out there and these are all mine. It makes me chuckle to imagine someone coming across these in a future garage sale years down the road, rolling their eyes and saying “what was this person thinking?!” Ha! Pretty sure I’ll stick to quilting, but I’ll enjoy sitting in my new chairs while I do!

Happy quilting,


Simply Stars

Sometimes, the simple way is the best way – or at least a little quicker! That’s my thinking with my newest pattern, “Simply Stars”.

This new pattern might look a little familiar – it’s a variation on my string quilt project “Rock Star” featured in the String Theory Lab Manual. A re-boot, if you will! Similar layout, different finished sizes, and no string piecing but using single fabrics instead. Here’s the Rock Star string quilt version…

The new pattern uses different striped fabrics for the star points, giving a similar effect of the string version, but with about 10% of the effort or time! Simply Stars can be made in two sizes, 70 x 90 twin size/large throw or 35 x 45 crib size/small throw, making it a perfect option for a quick baby quilt gift! This project comes together quickly, no matter which size you choose!

This pattern is so versatile and can look great in so many fabric variations. The pattern cover image is the large version done in Kaffe Fassett brights and here’s the crib size version I did in Kaffe pastels (did you know there are pastels? Yes indeed!)….

Choosing a multi-directional neutral print for the background makes this come together in a snap. The wavy echo Quilting was done on my domestic machine using my handy walking foot – love that thing!

Want to see the back?

I’ll spare you and leave out the cute-as-a-button puns for now but pretty hard to resist!

While I’m not at Spring Quilt Market this time around in Kansas City, Simply Stars will be and is currently available to shop owners through Checker Distributors. Or you can get it directly from me here.

That’s it for now! Happy spring quilting!


A boulder, a book, and a few other things…

Just south of town there’s a giant spray-painted boulder referred to locally as “Blue Rock”, “Graffiti Rock”, or simply “the Rock.” It’s the unofficial billboard for the masses: team cheers, memorials, prom proposals…You name it, this boulder announces it to the world and has been doing it since at least 1966!


So, what does this boulder have to do with quilting? Well, it’s a stretch but it’s a great analogy of life, my life and the boulder of life I’ve been living under for the last 4-5 months. Sometimes you’re on top of the boulder of life, sometimes you feel like you’re underneath it! And I think if I were to connect the boulder with quilting, it would be that sometimes we have a great amount of creative energy and mental space to create, and sometimes we just don’t. And that’s o.k. Some may ask, Tonya, where have you been? What are you working on? Why aren’t you posting three times a day on social media? Your last blog post was in OCTOBER!

Well, my personal boulder would have several things written on it over the last few months and it would say something like this:

Sell house #1, buy house #2, pack house #1, move to house #2, sell a house #3, pack house #3, move house #3 across 3 states to join house #1 at house #3, break out in shingles, survive the holidays,  and sadly say goodbye to puppy #1 after almost 14 years as a member of our family.

Now as complicated and stressful (at least to me!) as all of that sounds, there’s LOTS of good in all of that, with the exception of losing the puppy. It just took a few months of focus, or should I say, distraction, to get there.


Sugar Shack, by Tonya Alexander

I’m happy to say I made it through the muddle, life is returning to a better balance, and we’re in a beautiful home, including a dedicated sewing space! Yeah! While I’ve been under my own personal boulder, a new book came out that included one of my favorite projects, Sugar Shack. (See, I did finally bring it back around to quilting!) And with all of my house-related drama lately, it seems pretty perfect!

Martingale just released a big, beautiful new book of lap quilts and it’s called, you guessed it,  The Big Book of Lap Quilts. Sugar Shack is making it’s second appearance, first being featured in another Martingale title called I Love House Blocks as part of their popular Block-buster series.


Sugar Shack is a project perfect for fat quarters and uses some easy half square triangle piecing for the roof line making it a quick and easy project. So if lap quilts are your thing – they are one of mine – then you’ll want to check it out. You can visit my shop page or ask for it at your favorite local quilt shop, they’ll be glad you did!

Other fun things are happening, visiting quilt guilds, teaching workshops and classes, and even finding a little time to sew with friends. More about all of that another time. But for now I think I will close with one more pic of the BEST. DOG. EVER. We miss you, our beautiful Seamus. Thank you for being a such a beloved part of our family. You were a blessing and made our lives full of unconditional doxie-love that is hard to imagine ever replacing…

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Until next time, happy scrap quilting my friends – on top of all of the boulders of life!


Pressed Leaves…Homeward

Making a pattern more than once? A rarity for me – but not this one! I’ve made so many of these table runners from my pattern “Pressed Leaves” I’ve lost count! It features a traditional leaf block in a not-so-traditional setting. It’s pretty quick and easy and looks great in every color combo of fabrics I’ve seen. And the perfect project to get you in the mood for Fall!20180804_0936351274309439.jpgThis time though, I had the pleasure of using a beautiful new fabric line by Natalie Barnes from Beyond the Reef Patterns for Windham Fabrics called Homeward. When I saw the beautiful mix of bold, saturated color and low volume prints, I knew my next “Pressed Leaves ” runner was on its way! The fabric line includes a great range based on a beautiful floral focal print…20180804_2043321664419046.jpgI chose to mix up several of the low volume white/gray/black prints in the line for my background. The leaf blocks practically made themselves I had so many great combinations of prints to pick from. From the looks of this photo, I need to clean my design wall!I added my go-to favorite quilting on this project – an echo quilted wavy line using the walking foot on my domestic machine. Choosing scrappy binding from all the bits leftover means you don’t have to pick just one! There are so many great choices in this line and it will look great on my dining room table.Thank you Natalie and Windham Fabrics for a beautiful line! Look for Homeward as well as my pattern “Pressed Leaves” at your favorite local quilt shop!Happy fall quilting,