Think your smart phone can’t help you finish a quilt? Think again!
They’re not called “smart” for nothing. With phones, a camera, a browser to search for the nearest shop, and a GPS to help you find it, your phone can help you accomplish a lot. Here are a few tips for combining smart phones and quilting:
Use photos to help you lay out your quilt blocks. There’s something about a picture that provides a bit of distance between your blocks and you, and sometimes that’s just what you need to see that you’ve bunched your reds on the right side of the quilt, rather than spreading them evenly throughout. You can also use a filter to change your photo to black and white, which removes the distraction of color and can help you spot the positioning of dark and light fabrics and blocks.
Take photos of your block layouts. If you don’t have a design wall, a photo can relieve stress when your dog decides to roll in the middle of your layout or your kids run through the room, creating a mini-tornado that sends blocks flying. I’m working on a long-term project involving several hundred different hexies and the photo I took of them laid out on the floor is one I refer to again and again as I slowly stitch them together.
Keep quilt photos in a separate album on your phone. How many times have you wanted to show a friend or shop owner the quilt you just made but can’t find it amidst pictures of grandchildren, your cat, and last night’s dessert? Most photo programs allow you to sort photos into albums, making it easy to go quickly to the source when you’re ready to share your latest creation.
Keep your shopping list on your phone. Before you head to the quilt store, take photos of the fabrics you’re trying to match. You can snap each one individually or lay them out together, showing the interplay of color and pattern. Take a picture of your shopping list, too. That way if I lose it in the depts of your purse or it falls out of your pocket, you’ve got a back-up. (I use this tip for all my lists—groceries, the hardware store, etc. Just remember to delete it when you get home.)
Listen to podcasts while you sew. There are lots of fascinating podcasts, including plenty about sewing and quilting. Here are some Moda designer, staff, and commenter favorites. You might want to invest in a speaker that pairs with your phone, to help you hear it above the whirr of the sewing machine.
Check YouTube videos when you need a reminder about a technique—how to put in a zipper, whether you sew your binding to the front or back of the quilt, how do you achieve a scant ¼ -inch. You can find EVERYTHING on YouTube! Here’s Carrie making a cake mix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhZQYNb0zpM
Get inspired. Quilters abound in cyberspace, from Facebook groups to your local guild web site. Poke around and find people with similar quilting interests, or whose style or techniques you might never have imagined. I find Instagram to be especially fruitful for getting a daily dose of awesome—follow friends, quilters you admire and see what they’re up to. Then follow some stitchers whose style is nothing like your own. You might be surprised by what you see. In addition to actual quilters, I follow a number of museums, including the International Quilt Study Center and Museum (@quiltstudy) and the National Quilt Museum (@nationalquiltmusem). And I check out art museums near and far, too. Some, like the American Folk Art Museum (@afamuseum), include quilts in their feeds. I follow others, too, who post works from their collection—a work of art may inspire a color-scheme for a quilt.
But don’t neglect your sewing machine! While I’m a big fan of the online world, I sometimes have to force myself to put the phone away. It’s easy to get caught up in the beauty of online quilts, or the idea that if you watch just one more YouTube video you’ll really know how to do it. So after awhile, put down that phone, pick that fabric, and sew!
How about you—do you have any tips for using your phone to make quilting better/easier/faster/more fun?