Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I love green! It's my favorite color. It's the color I use on all advertising for SoSews T-shirt Quilts. But for bigger reasons than because I like it. The green reminds me of my business goals:

Repurposing & Recycling

~ Repurposing - taking something old and turning it into something new.

That's what SoSews T-shirt Quilts does for you. We help you save your memorable t-shirts by turning them into a unique keepsake quilt that you will be able to keep for a lifetime.

The main reason people have for getting a t-shirt quilt made is to save their memories. Doing something 'green' is only a cool side benefit.

The really intentional 'green' thing SoSews T-shirt Quilts does comes after the quilts are made.

~Recycling - waste nothing, use it all

One t-shirt quilt leaves a lot of scrap t-shirt material. (Enough scraps to fill 3 Walmart sacks to overflowing) But the quilter in me thought 'cool', I'll just turn those scraps into something new. So I saved everything!

Here are a couple tote bags I made with the scrap t-shirt fabric.

Didn't take me long to realize that the scraps were piling up much, much faster than I could use them. In my effort to recycle the scraps myself, I had become literally buried in t-shirt scraps. I needed help. So I placed an ad on Craig's List for free t-shirt scraps and the results were amazing!

Several boxes of scraps went to
Lifestyles, Inc. - an organization that helps individuals with developmental disabilities learn to live on their own. They are going to use it in their College for Living - art and sewing programs.

A couple huge bags went to help a start-up screenprinting business. They need tons of scrap t-shirt fabric for running samples before printing actual t-shirts for customers.

A retired lady with a big heart and some really cool craft ideas took several bags of scraps. She is going to make pins and necklaces for nursing home patients, senior citizens centers and adult daycare centers.

The rest of the fabric went to a group of ladies at the First Christian Church of Fayetteville. They are doing a mission project sewing reusable monthly pads for girls in an orphanage in the Congo. These girls have schools that they can attend to get an education, but they can't attend during their monthly cycle because they don't have any feminine products use. Wow! Providing such a basic need has the potential to improve the rest of these girls lives just by allowing them to keep up in school. Way to go ladies!

I'm very glad that I made recycling a goal for SoSews T-shirt Quilts. Yes, I have done my part to not fill up the landfills. But the most exciting benefits were unexpected. My business has gotten to be a small part of bringing sunshine, experience and even learning into the lives of people here in NW Arkansas and around the world. How cool is that!

Til next time,


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Quilt Block Inspiration

Happy Valentines Day!

When my son was in kindergarden, he came home with a woven paper heart for me on Valentines Day. As soon as I saw it, I thought what a great quilt block! So the next snow day the whole family got to work. We created a quilt using this heart as inspiration.

This is the label for the quilt written by my then kindergarten son. I thought I was going to pull my hair out before he got it all written down! But now, eight years later, it is very precious to have the story written out in his handwriting.

Til next time -


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Gotta Love Those Feathers

Free Motion Machine Quilting - Quilt-to-fill

As a professional machine quilter, one of my favorite things to do is freestyle free-motion quilting. Where there is no pattern to follow. Basically, your just making it up as you sew.

Now to some people it may seem hard to not have a pattern to follow. But what I like about it is that with no pattern to follow, how will anyone know if I messed up. Whatever I quilt is what it's supposed to look like.

Another thing I like about freestyling (if that's a word) is that you can make the quilting fit into whatever space you need to fill.

Feathers are my absolute favorite quilt-to-fill motif. They are always beautiful and you can make feathers fill any kind space.

Odd shaped background areas - no problem.

Odd shaped borders - a breeze

This wonderful little wall hanging belongs to a customer and wonderful artist, Connie Beiber. Connie does beautiful watercolor work which she sells at her online gallery. She wrote me a beautiful note that I wanted to share --

"I think your quilting design on the wall hanging is absolutely wonderful!! I love, love, love the large undulating swirl on the pink fabric and all your other choices for the smaller areas. I love the little circles in the pink squares and the outlining of the triangles. What a terrific interpretation and design for this quilt!! You have a fabulous eye for choosing a design that will work with the size, style and area in the quilt. I love your quilt design and I knew that the 'right' quilting would add so much more and your quilting has done just that. I am an artist (watercolor painter) and it takes a lot to thrill me, but you have nailed this one down tight! I am thrilled."

Wow! Who doesn't love a thank you note like that!

Til next time -


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Charity Quilt Saves The Day

It's Sunday and we're snowed in. Couldn't even get to church this morning. And I thought what a perfect day to work on finishing up some of my own projects. I, like so many quilters, have a lot of "works in progress". And even though I am in my quilting studio, quilting all day long every day, I still very rarely am able to work on my own projects. So this weekend snow day was a gift.

I fixed myself a cup of tea and took it into the quilting studio to decide what project to work on first. Should I start with the living room curtains that need binding and hanging loops? (It's very cold and those curtains are supposed to be keeping the arctic wind from blowing straight through our 100 year old windows!) Or should I work on small quilts? - binding one small quilt, quilting and binding another small quilt? (I have a small quilt exhibit coming up in a little over a month and need to get some of these finished.) Maybe I should start another small quilt that I have in mind.

I was starting to feel overwhelmed already. There was so much I wanted to do and so little time. Then I started thinking about all the other stuff I should be doing. The house looked like a tornado went through it. I really should be cleaning. Or spending time with my kids playing in the snow. And it was late morning alreay, I should get dinner started in the crock pot. My wonderful quilting day was going to crap! (And this was all in my mind) I just wanted to cry!

I decided to start with the small quilt that needed to be quilted. So I was looking for a scrap piece of batting to use. The first piece I pulled out was a very large scrap, big enough for a baby quilt. Instantly I thought of the baby quilt that a friend had made a couple years ago for charity and I was supposed to be quilting and binding it. I have been feeling guilty about not getting to this charity project for years, so I pulled out the quilt top to see if the batting would fit. It was exactly the right size for the quilt. Like it was meant to be. Immediately, I decided that I was going to finish that charity project today.

As soon as I decided that I was going to work on a project to help some one else out, all my overwhelmed feelings left. I felt calm, relaxed and very peaceful. I think the Lord was trying to speak to me - to get me to stop thinking about myself and do something to help my neighbors in need on His day!

My day went great from that point on! The baby quilt got quilted and bound - with "Jesus Loves You" quilted in the border. I got my small quilt bound, went sledding with the kids, made a delicious soup for dinner and now it looks as though only half a tornado went through the house! All in all - a great day! Praise the Lord!

Til next time -


Monday, January 18, 2010

A Quilt or a Shower Curtain?

A Simple Way to Turn a Quilt into a Shower Curtain

A very simple 9 patch quilt adds pizzazz to my bathroom. Guests who use my bathroom never fail to comment on this unique shower curtain. I specifically made this quilt to be a shower curtain. So I was prepared to do whatever was necessary to the quilt so the shower hooks would work. (I was planning to put button holes in my quilt!) My friend suggested that I try hanging it with curtain clip rings instead. They worked wonderfully.

You can use any quilt as a shower curtain by using curtain clip rings as a hanging system. The clips are available at Wal Mart, Target, JC Penny, etc. Just clip the plastic shower curtain and the quilt together in each clip. Place clips evenly across the width of the quilt.

Just another easy, simple, fun way to decorate with quilts. I hope you'll try it out sometime!

Till next time -


Monday, January 11, 2010


Okay, so I've been blogging for a couple weeks now. And I started thinking maybe I should have introduced myself in my first post. But I never do things in the right order - so I'll give you the intro now...

I'm Sonja Koch. I first stumbled into quilting 18 years ago while on summer break from college. My husband and I always spent the summers living with his parents to save on rent and because Tim worked for his Dad making the money we would live off of for the next semester of college. It was a very small town in rural Arkansas, no summer jobs available for me and not much else to do, so I hung out a lot with my new mother-in-law. Now don't get me wrong, I love my mother-in-law very much, BUT we had to find something to do together. A common interest. We tried several different things. Sewing clothes, painting sweatshirts, making stuffed rabbits. Nothing really clicked. One day we were talking about one of her dear friends, Victoria, who was a quilter. My mother-in-law mentioned that she wanted to make a quilt. I said so did I. So we bought a booklet at Wal Mart. Some fabric at Marshall's. And we dove in!

We knew nothing about quilting. Not even enough to know that the pattern I had chosen was challenging even for experienced quilters. My first quilt was a blue and white Drunkard's Path called Leaping Frogs. I made templates out of cardboard and traced each piece onto the fabric. Cut them out with scissors, and tediously sewed the curved pieces together. I loved every minute of it. So much so, that my second quilt was also a Drunkard's path. Between the two of us, we made 6 quilts that summer. We were both hooked.

Summer ended. College started back. Back to the books. But the quilting bug had bit me. I sewed quilts every chance I got. I graduated, got a job at an accounting firm.

Did taxes and audits by day - Ugh!
Made quilts at night - Ahh!

By this time, my husband and I were ready to start a family. I wanted to be able to stay at home with our kids. Quiting my accounting job was no hard decision, but being a one income family was not an option either. I needed to find something I could do from home.

Making quilts and selling them at our area craft fairs was what I wanted to do. But the closest machine quilter that I could find was near my mother-in-law - four hours away. Surely I was not the only quilter in my area who didn't want to hand quilt every top. That was the little spark that started my business - SoSews Quilts.

I bought a longarm quilting machine the next week. And dove in! For the past 15 years, I've been machine quilting tops for many wonderful quilters in the NW Arkansas area. A few years ago, a lady came to me looking for someone who could turn her kids high school and college t-shirts into memory quilts.

That was the start of SoSews T-shirt Quilts. Now I get to use my love of quilting to help people turn their memorable t-shirts into a unique quilt that they will treasure for a lifetime. How cool is that!

Til next time -


Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow Man Quilts


Winter has officially arrived here in Arkansas. The temperature is 1 degree outside. Inside is only slightly warmer. In fact, I just warmed my fingers up over the heater so that I could keep typing. Winter is my least favorite season - but I always try to find something to like about whatever weather we are having. One of my all time favorite winter things happened a few nights ago...

Surprise Snow!
When you wake up in the morning to unexpectedly find the world covered in bright, clean snow. Everything is so beautiful, peaceful and quiet. I love it!!

So now that snow is here, I dug through my little quilts for my snowman quilts. They are now hanging on the doors of my quilting studio.

This first snowman I made 12 years ago. It is the only thing that I have hand quilted ever! (Not that surprising for a professional machine quilter) The reason it is hand quilted is because I was expecting my second child and was on bed rest. I needed something to do with my hands. My daughter was overdue by two weeks, so I had plenty of time! Although - I've never taken the time to add a face. lol

This next snowman was made by one of my customers and donated to our guild's little quilt auction. I quilted it for her and loved the little quilt so much that I bought it at the auction.

I really loved the quilting on the snowman - even if I do say so myself.

The next one is a work in progress. Now that I've dug it out, maybe I will get on finishing it. Maybe?

Hope you enjoyed the snow - I mean show. The little quilt show that is.