Dandy Days with Sarah J. Maxwell

Sarah J. Maxwell‘s Dandy Days for Studio 37/Marcus Fabrics grew out of the joy and inspiration found in simple dandelions. Her colorful mix of low-volume prints and three Centennial Solids come together perfectly for her BOM quilt top, with two cool and relaxing greys as background options. Sarah’s coordinating thread collection offers both LG and SM boxes with a versatile combination of 50wt, 28wt and 80wt threads.

Dandy Days
12 Large Spools, 100% Aurifil Cotton
2435 – 5004 – 1320 – 2535 – 1148
2600 – 2525 – 2520 – 2588 (50wt, 1422yds/spool)
4660 – 4663 (28wt, 820yds/spool)

Dandy Days
10 Small Spools, 100% Aurifil Cotton
2435 – 1320 – 1148 – 2600 – 2520 – 2588 – 2105 (50wt, 200yds/spool)
5004 – 2606 – 2600 (80wt, 300yds/spool)

To view this info on our website, click the images above. For purchasing, please contact your local Aurifil Dealer.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you first got started in the world of sewing and quilting?

My love affair with quilting began in college—when I got my first apartment I didn’t have a lot of money to furnish it. My mom said I could take anything I needed from home and I found a pink dogwood applique quilt in the closet made by an aunt. It was a classic kit quilt from the 1930s. Dogwood trees were always the first sign of spring at the Lake of the Ozarks where I grew up so I knew it would be the perfect reminder of home while I was away. I used that quilt for 3 years, not understanding that it was a vintage treasure. As it began to show lots of wear and tear, I put it back in the closet always thinking I would make my own quilt someday.

Sarah with Pieces of Me at QuiltCon

Do you remember the process of making your first quilt and how you felt once it was complete?
While pregnant with my daughter, Megan, I got a serious nesting instinct and wanted to make something for her nursery. I bought an inexpensive sewing machine and a “teach yourself to quilt” book and cut out my first quilt with scissors and cardboard templates. With a full-time job and a new baby, I didn’t have much time to sew, but I kept the machine set up on a corner of our kitchen table, working a few minutes here and there. When I finally completed that baby quilt I knew I had found a life-time craft.

Dream at Dawn by Sarah Maxwell

Who or what has been your greatest creative inspiration?
As a long-time traditional quilter who spent years making super-scrappy, intricately pieced quilts, my greatest source of inspiration for original work has been my daughters, Megan and Shannen. Like most kids, they didn’t fully understand or “get” what mom did as a quilter. They definitely didn’t appreciate the Civil War style or palette that I worked with for many years.

Once they left home, I wanted to send my quilts with them. The desire to create quilts that they would want in their own homes sparked a new creative journey for me and my entire Designs by Sarah J business. Stepping back and reassessing my entire creative process and trying new styles, new colors and new techniques has me excited about quilting all over again.

Dandy Days by Sarah Maxwell

How did you first connect with Marcus and what do you love most about working with them?
I connected with Marcus initially because of my interest in Civil War reproduction fabrics and quilts. I had an idea for a book and wanted fabric that would allow me to create the quilt in my head. Stephanie Dell’Olio and Pati Violick met with me and embraced the idea of producing fabric to bring that vision to life. We spent several years collaborating on historic projects. Then, a couple of years ago, Stephanie asked me what I would create if I had no limitations. This was about the same time I had the whole epiphany that my daughters didn’t want a single one of my reproduction quilts and that the industry was changing.

So, Designs by Sarah J was born and a whole creative journey exploring brighter colors, simpler fabric designs and new techniques is underway. I still love super-scrappy quilts and intricate piecing, but I always pause after creating a new design now & think about how it could be simpler or cleaner or less fussy or what adding a few solids into the fabric mix would do to the overall design.

The best thing about working with Marcus Fabrics and their Studio 37 imprint is that they truly let me embrace my inner-ADD personality. I’ve always loved having multiple projects underway and I’ve always loved lots of fabric styles. If you could peek into my messy, chaotic, overwhelming sewing room you would find a little bit of everything and every color. Marcus lets me design cotton prints, woven plaids, batiks and they let me experiment with palettes—they don’t make me adhere to a given “look” which I would find boring and stifling.

Dandy Whirl Quilt by Sarah Maxwell

What inspired Dandy Days?
Dandy Days is all about lazy summer days full of bright sunshine where the possibilities are endless. A gentle breeze can lift a kite in the wind or spin the blades of a pinwheel or carry a dandelion seed across the yard. I know some people view dandelions as pesky weeds—I view them as possibility—a gust of wind can result in bright pops of color everywhere.

Dandy Days

Do you have a favorite project made with the collection? 
My favorite project from Dandy Days is currently a tie:

With Supernova. I added several solids to a limited group of prints from the collection and created a quilt with a strong graphic impact. The quilt uses large blocks—24” square so it’s also a fast finish.

Supernova by Sarah Maxwell

With Trippy Traps, I experimented with deconstructing an English paper piecing project. I worked with Paper Pieces on an acrylic template suitable for EPP or rotary cutting and machine piecing. Because I sometimes like to see instant results, I decided to play with piecing some units & then appliquing them on a background. The quilt captures the overall statement of Dandy Days—a summer day full of color & pinwheels. It also gave me a chance to really try out the 80 wt thread and I can assure people that it’s perfect for both English paper piecing and applique.

What is your favorite thing to make? 
Large, bed-sized quilts have always been my favorite. There’s nothing like seeing something you made on your bed.

Dandy Days by Sarah Maxwell

When did you first discover Aurifil threads and what do you love most about them?
I discovered Aurifil about 8 years ago. I was doing a lot of professional sewing for magazines and for Marcus. I was SO tired of cleaning out mountains of lint from my bobbin case and a friend suggested I try Aurifil. I bought a spool & never looked back. As I’ve expanded beyond traditional machine piecing, I love the variety of weights and the rainbow of color that allows me to create all the ideas whirling around in my head.

Do you have a favorite color/weight and why?
50 wt color 2324 is my all-time go-to for piecing. I buy the large-cones and there’s always one on a thread stand next to my machine and a backup in a drawer so I never run out while I’m staring down a deadline.

Recently, I’ve fallen in love with the 80 wt thread. My appliqué and English paper piecing stitches are invisible with this thread.


To enter-to-win 1 Large Dandy Days Thread Collection and one Fat Quarter Bundle of Dandy Days by Sarah Maxwell for Marcus Fabrics, click here to head to the Rafflecopter entry page, or simply click on the image above. You do not have to complete all the options to be entered but the more options you choose, the more entries you have!  Entries will be accepted from now through 11:59pm Eastern Time on Wednesday, May 17! Winner will be randomly selected and announced here on Thursday, May 18. Good luck!

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Sarah’s love of quilting stems from her college days, when her mom sent her pink dogwood quilt to grace the bed in her first apartment. The quilt was a comforting reminder of her home in the Lake of the Ozarks, where the dogwood blossoms always signaled the start of spring.

A few years later, married and expecting her first child, Sarah caught the nesting bug. Inspired by the treasured dogwood quilt, she bought a Teach Yourself to Quilt book and crafted her first quilt. She continued to improve her skills through classes at local quilt guilds, as well as learning from gifted teachers throughout the United States, fully taking advantage of modern conveniences, such as rotary cutting and computer design, as they became available.

Today, Sarah is a fabric and pattern designer for Studio 37 Fabrics, a division of Marcus Fabrics, with countless quilts to her credit. Her work has been featured regularly in both McCall’s Quilting and McCall’s Quick Quilts for the past several years. Additionally, Sarah’s quilts have appeared in Make ModernSimply Moderne,  American Patchwork & Quilting, and Quilts & More, as well as many other magazines.


  1. What a wonderful interview. i think i would make a table runner or some pillows

  2. I wasn’t familiar with Sarah before reading this article. I really like her color sense and design style. I now have quilter to follow. I would love to make the Dandy Days quilt.

  3. i would love to make a springtime quilt for my daughter. love all these cute and colorful prints.

  4. These fabrics are so beautiful and I’ve always loved Aurifil thread. I make quilts for the babies of my grand nieces and nephews. My niece is expecting a baby girl in July. Perfect timing.

  5. I’d love to make some new placemats with this gorgeous fabric. Thanks for sharing

  6. I would like to make a small quilt with this fabric. The fabric and thread are very very nice. Beautiful quilts too!!!!

  7. I would keep the goodies in my eye site for awhile until just the right project came along. Beautiful collections of thread and fabrics. Thank you for a chance at winning this generous package!

  8. I would like to make a quilted bag. Then I would have the colors and patterns to carry along with me and enjoy wherever I go.

  9. I don’t quilt but these would
    make such delightful bags
    and totes!
    Carla from Utah

  10. I think a new bag. Maybe a quilt-as-you-go type. These fabrics and threads are fantastic.

  11. I’d like to make a SuperNova table runner and one pillows with the wonderful Dandy Days fabrics

  12. This is the correct one – I’d like to make a SuperNova bed runner and some pillows with the Dandy Days fabrics!

  13. I would love to make some fun dresses for my great-nieces. Great prints, and I love the thread colors, too.

  14. I would love to make that Super Nova quilt. Thanks for the opportunity to win.
    kakingsbury at verizon dot net

  15. Love the Dandy Days quilt!! Of course, I would make that quilt with the fabric and thread. Love the color combinations. They are very soothing.

  16. I think I would try and make a quilt for our bedroom. I’ve always done for the kids so it would be fun to make one for myself.

  17. I would love to make quilts with these fabrics, they are so gorgeous! Dandelion motifs on fabrics are a particular favorite of mine.

  18. I think theses fabrics are calling for a quilt. I would make two small ones rather than a large quilt.

  19. I would make a bunting quilt with the fabrics and thread. It has been on my to do list. The different designs would be perfect for it. Thank you for the chance.

  20. I love the bright colors of the light fabrics & the rich deep colors of the dark fabrics-A Fabulous quilt is in order here for sure! Thank you, Susan

  21. Ooooh this fabric is soooo fun & definitely summery!! LOVE it!! I would like to make a Churn Dash(My favorite Pattern!) for our bed!!

    Thank you for chance to win your give-a-way too! 😀

  22. I would love to make a throw quilt with this fabric for my porch swing. Maybe even matching throw pillows. Very cheerful.

  23. Such a beautiful selection of colours. I’d love to make a star quilt with them.

  24. I would love to make the BOM featured at the top of the blog. It is GORGEOUS!

    Thanks for the chance to win!

  25. I like all these quilts, but I can tell you if you’d been MY mother, I’d have wanted one of those repro fabric quilts! That’s still my favorite thing to sew. Thanks for an interesting interview.

    1. The thing I’d most like to make with Dandy Days is a graduation quilt for a friend – she has a couple of years to go!

  26. A lovely fabric and thread collection! Thanks for the opportunity to have them to play with!

  27. Gorgeous fabric and thread! I would love to make a quilt as a donation to a local women’s shelter. These women need more joy and beauty in their lives! For me, I enjoy the process and playing with beautiful fabric like this.

  28. What delightful fabric! I would make a ruffled skirt for my granddaughter with this. Thanks for the chance to win!

  29. I know my niece would love to have a quilt made with this fabric–the colors and motifs are so vivid.

  30. I’d like to make a couch quilt with Sarah’s cheery fabrics. And I’d gift it to a friend with a thing for dandilions.

  31. I see Sarah’s quilts in numerous McCall’s Quilting magazines. I have bookmarked a few of them that I especially like. She is usually with another designer, Dolores Smith. It looks like she is sewing a lot of quilts, and different styles, on her own now.

  32. I’d love to make placemats and a matching table runner for my dining room table with this bundle!

  33. I love any of the bright colors this year in the quilt shop, I don’t have a particular line that I am pulled to. It is all beautiful and I just can’t seem to find enough time to be at my sewing machine since I am still working full time as an RN.

  34. My daughter needs a new piece for her bedroom. She has darker walls and I think these would do great in there! Bit of brightness! My first love is scrappy civil war reproductions! But we all need an occasional change

  35. I would make a quilt for my great grand baby due in August 2017, the colors are perfect they fit my granddaughters color scheme.

  36. Beautiful fabrics! I can see a great throw and pillows with this! Thanks for the chance to win 🙂

  37. Very interesting article, love learning about quilters and their stories. Think I would make a log cabin quilt, or maybe courthouse steps. Beautiful colors!

  38. I am currently making a lot of flying geese and this design is another interesting use of them. I would make a baby quilt.

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