Use the discount code SILLY to get your first month of the Funny Faces Quilt Block of the Month Club for free!


Work with What You Have

Work with what you have - from Shiny Happy World

Sometimes working with limitations leads to awesome results – creative choices you wouldn’t have made if you had unlimited access to supplies.

Here’s one of my favorite examples.

red quilt with wonky yellow squares and one lavender square

Many years ago I designed this quilt for a book called Simple Contemporary Quilts. I had already made a smaller, lap-sized version for myself, and that’s what I sent in for my pitch. They loved it and accepted it, but wanted a larger version for the book.

Here’s the thing – the smaller version was all yellow squares.

When I made the larger version I miscounted the yellow squares and ended up one short when it was time to sew the blocks all together.

And I was out of the mustard yellow fabrics.

And I was on a deadline.

I didn’t have time to go out and try to find more of the same yellow fabrics – so I decided to work with what I had. I made the last square lavender and LOVED IT. In fact, I think that lavender square is what makes this quilt.

(Luckily the editor of the book agreed.)

Give it a try sometimes. Make a small project using only what you already have on hand. Or work with what you have to solve a problem that crops up in the middle of a crafty project.

I’ve been trying to play around with lettering this year, and one of my goals is to make something new every week. I naturally gravitate toward stitchy letters, but this week I had no time. What I did have was an iPad, some patterns I had already created, and about an hour. Here’s the result – and I learned some new skills in the app (Procreate) I’m trying to teach myself.

Working with what you have doesn’t always result in a masterpiece – but it almost always pushes me to try something new. 🙂

Happy stitching!




  1. I enjoy doing that too – limiting my selections. It keeps decisions from becoming overwhelming and prevents perfection procrastination. I once made a quilt using only scraps available in one shoebox. I could only use whatever was in there.

  2. Ellen SAYS...

    Your “make do” practice is one I try to adhere to. I was just making bedspreads for doll beds and couldn’t decide on a fabric at the store. I came home and went through my fleece scraps and by adding some trim and a decorative stitch made some that my granddaughter adores. Somehow though, I never seem to have fewer scraps!

  3. Helen SAYS...

    Love your thoughts on use what you have …

    seems like many times we only need to be told “hey, use what you have”

    thank you

  4. Dottie SAYS...

    People give me their scraps and it’s fun for me to figure out how to put them together to make quilts. I enjoy the challenge. Thanks for sharing.