Mindset and Creativity


I don’t know anything. This is a reminder that I need daily. Although I’m wary of pop psychology and cynical about self-help books, I finally picked up a copy of Mindset by Carol Dweck after my 12-year-old told me that I had a “fixed mindset.” What a timely book for me to read.

Basically, the idea is that we have much greater potential when we approach the world with curiosity and try to solve problems rather than accept failure. We get better at things when we give ourselves the opportunity to keep trying. This open mindset is called the “growth mindset”, but those who believe they have limited potential and often seek the path of least resistance may have a “fixed mindset.” The growth mindset opens us up to more possibilities when we realize that if we simply work at something, we can improve. Almost every time I listen to artists talk about their creative process, they mention the hard work that they put in daily. Often creativity isn’t a bolt of lightning, but a series of failed experiments. So there may be artists with innate ability, but without time and effort, they won’t achieve success. I need this reminder to simply show up and try even when I’m feeling uninspired.

At Quilt Market this past weekend, people frequently walked into my booth, saw the cool bags that Kokka had made, and asked for a pattern. I looked at these bags and said, “Well, it looks like a circle with tabs on it — you should try that”. After every market, when I talk with the Japanese team at Kokka about developing patterns for their bags, they seem a bit mystified by the need for a pattern. Japanese craft books, even through the translation, often have fewer and less detailed instructions. I wonder if this need to follow precise instructions is an American phenomenon?

Now these shop owners know their customers — if they hang a quilt in the shop, they need to have the fabric and the pattern for people to make that exact item. Why do some people insist on always using patterns? Perhaps it’s lack of time, fear of failure, or a need to follow the rules? A pattern made with the fabric you see in front of you requires little vision and should guarantee success, right? Well, maybe. I’m not sure exactly what is driving people to stick to the rules, but I think it could relate to this issue of fixed versus growth mindset. If we approach sewing with a growth mindset, I think we can learn more. I would never recommend ditching patterns altogether because of course you need basic sewing skills before you can improvise or figure things out on your own. Or if you’re looking for something to sew quickly and efficiently and don’t have much time, a pattern is often the best choice.

But maybe once in a while we could focus on process, step out of our comfort zone, and try to make something without a pattern. A good place to start is with deconstruction. Try taking apart a piece of clothing to see how it’s made and then sew your own version. I think if you can figure out how to make a sleeve pattern by yourself, you can rule the world! Or sketch out ideas for a bag and the pattern pieces that will transform your flat fabric into a three-dimensional object. Maybe you could just make a few improvisational quilt blocks and see where it takes you. Stretching your brain in this way will improve your sewing skills.

Anyway, I’m going to have a growth mindset and do some new things in the next year. It feels good to keep learning and to realize that we’re never finished. Maybe one day I’ll be an expert in physics and golf. Who’s to say I won’t?


Having said all that, if you are looking for patterns for some of the amazing things that Kokka sews for Quilt Market, check out the Kokka blog. Doing metric conversions and making your own paper patterns should still stretch your mind a bit! And check out this interview with Carol Dweck: Talent Isn’t Fixed and Other Mindsets that Lead to Greatness and watch this TED Talk: The Power of Believing That You Can Improve.




After working on my fall fabric collection using paper cutting, I have been thinking more about working with mixed media. This morning I experimented a bit with cathedral windows and paper. Here I used some double gauze cottons from my Framework collection and the dark gray paper cranes from my Monochrome collection. Just cut circles and fold them over fabric squares. I think this would be a lovely way to display special fabrics. These are 1″ squares, but you could make them any size.


My Cathedral Windows Quilt from 1, 2, 3 Quilt is still one of my favorites and was the most fun to make. This technique seems intimidating, but is really just about folding fabric. Simple.

Sewing with Double Gauze


Some of the prints from my latest collections are printed on double gauze cotton, so I thought I’d talk a bit about the fabric for those of you who haven’t tried sewing with it yet. Above are the double gauze prints in my Charms collection for Kokka (shipping to stores now).

As you can see in the photos below, double gauze cotton is made of two layers of loosely woven cotton, stitched together every centimeter or so to keep the layers together, which you can see on the back side. These two gauzy layers together make for incredibly soft fabric, perfect for baby items, clothing, or quilts.


When I first bought double gauze for myself, I assumed the layers would make the fabric pucker or be difficult to manage when sewing, but in fact, that’s not the case at all. It sews very well and has a nice drape, perfect for garments. It makes a super soft quilt back and I often mix it with quilting cottons and linen in my quilts. Below are some ideas and links for things you can sew with double gauze cotton. I also created a Pinterest board with more sewing project ideas.

Right now, it looks like you can find my Charms double gauze fabric online at Fabricworm, Imagine Gnats, Pink Castle Fabrics, and Gooba Designs. For wholesale ordering information in the US, contact Seven Islands Fabric.


Sailor Top from Fancy Tiger Crafts.

Double Gauze Scarf from Poppy Makes for The Daily Stitch.

Prefontaine Shorts sewn by SewBon.

Circle Skirt from You and Mie.

Lap Duvet from Purl Soho.

Tunic from Stylish Dress Book sewn by Make Something.

Geranium Dress sewn by Probably Actually.

Infinity Scarf from Imagine Gnats.

Shearwater Kaftan sewn by Skirt as Top.


Zippered Pouch Tutorial


Head over to Skip to My Lou for this quick pouch tutorial as part of the Bake, Craft, Sew, and Crochet holiday series. This holiday season, I am going to try to make only useful things!


This pouch’s finished size is 5″ x 7″, so it will hold your phone and cards. You could add a wrist strap to take it with you and skip the purse. I used some faux leather and my Framework fabric that you can buy here and here, among other places.



Emery Dress




I wanted to post another one of the samples that I made for Quilt Market — the Emery Dress by Christine Haynes. Lots of people asked about the pattern, so I thought I’d share. It’s now available in a .pdf version as well as a paper pattern. You can add the optional collar, bow at the waist, or longer sleeves. The fit of the dress is perfect and the instructions were easy to follow. It came together very quickly.

This dress above is made from one of my double gauze fabrics with metallic ink from the new Charms collection for Kokka. The double gauze fabric sews really well and makes the dress so comfortable!