March Designer Spotlight Samarra Khaja | OLFA - CraftOLFA – Craft

March Designer Spotlight Samarra Khaja


The March Designer Spotlight is Samarra Khaja. Samarra is an illustrator, graphic & textile designer, and art maker of all things. She works in textile design, illustration, and likes creating clever and whimsical designs. You see more of Samarra’s work at


In her own words:

I’ve been making things since early childhood. Like breathing, I seem to require it, lest I become an unpleasant grump to be around. Sewing has also been a staple in my life since I was little. That’s when I first dabbled in cat couture, sewing up jaunty hats with elastic chin straps, coordinating vests and matching sets of fabric booties to the complete horror of our family cats. I’m an artist, illustrator, and licensed textile designer. And guess what? My first craft book debuts this September with Stash Books. But wait, let’s circle back and discuss that cat couture phase some more, shall we…


With an introduction like that, we had to know more!


What is your favorite OLFA tool & why?

I adore my Deluxe Handle Rotary Cutter. I’m a proud leftie and generally speaking it can be hard to find tools that translate effortlessly for left-handed use. I’m a big appreciator when more specialized tools are 100% universally functional for me too, without my having to contort and adapt to use them.


What is the unsung hero of your sewing box?

Although I wish I nailed everything perfectly the first time – I can dream, so what – I’d have to say it would be my seam ripper.


When do you do your most creative work?

Conceptualizing and plotting out projects seems to go best for me in the morning, right after copious amounts of coffee drinking. Then it’s in the late evenings, after my kids have gone to bed, that I enjoy the follow through and finishing of said projects, because I’ve typically been thinking about them all day and know exactly what I need to do to accomplish my vision.


Which comes first: the pattern or the fabric?

It’s typically the fabric that comes first. Who am I kidding? It’s always the fabric that comes first.


Are you as clever in the kitchen as you are in your sewing space?

Why, yes! I approach sewing and cooking similarly, taking something established then inevitably off-roading to make new things up from there. My improvised spicing combinations are a big hit, especially in my roasted vegetable concoctions. And of course you’re invited over any time to have some.


What important piece of advice would you offer someone on the brink of quilting?

Just do it. If you can sew, with practice, you can also quilt. Ignore the Quilting Police (naysayers that claim there’s only one correct way to do things). It’s not like they can arrest you – did I mention I’m writing this from jail? – so fire up your machine, load up your bobbins and get piecing!


What is something most people would be surprised to know about you?

The single most favorite full-time job I’ve had to date was when I was Creative Director at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in New York City. As a kid I wanted to be a vet and save animals (I’m still a bleeding-heart animal lover), so that job felt like the perfect union with my art background and gave such a sense of purpose and greater good in the world.


Who taught you to sew or quilt?

My wonderful mom taught me when I was 8 years old. It was the late 70’s when there was a big boom in home sewing. Between her making reversible tennis skirts for herself and dresses for me, I got to learn and experiment, finishing my first quilt at the age of 10. I still have random tiny fabric scraps that hail from those formative years! Hoard much? Um, don’t answer that.


If you could choose one for free, which would it be: a new sewing machine or a long-arm?

Let’s just say that, regardless of whether or not I have any logical place to put it, I would not turn down the gift of a free long-arm machine, you know, in case any generous future sponsors might be out there reading this. Wink, wink.



Maybe you’re not supposed to play with your food, but you can’t help but be inspired to have fun when you see this Jacob’s Ladder reversible table runner on your dining room table. The design will bring you back to your childhood, tipping the wooden blocks back and forth, watching as they flip and flop, over and over again. Samarra brought that whimsy to her alternating and reversible table runner design.


– INSTRUCTIONS: Click HERE for the detailed instructions to create Samarra’s Jacob’s Ladder Reversible Table Runner.