I made more progress the other day. When I think about this project, I don’t want to work on it. When I actually work on it, I don’t mind it. It’s weird, but I think it comes from not working on the right project at the right time.
Obviously, work is getting done on this, however I am not working on it as quickly as I had hoped. I want to work on something else, something with more mind sorbet type of piecing. Perhaps one of the Vanessa Christensen patterns using her ombre fabric that has been sitting around waiting for my attention? I want to work on something easy and fun and not as dark.
I recently saw a post by Jolene over at Blue Elephant Stitches called The Secrets of My Fabric Stash. I thought she had a good idea and I am always looking for content, so I am writing a similar post. I did change the name of the post, though I wanted to have a link to her post. I don’t like the word stash. I am, after all, not a drug dealer. I also feel justified in having supplies on hand so I can do my work. I have, however, lost the fight in the quilt world to call my fabric a palette.
How you select your fabric for your projects is correct. I am going to describe the way I do it, but that doesn’t mean your method is wrong.
Jolene said that she gets asked two kinds of questions and writes in her post”… how I choose fabrics for a quilt, and the other one is how I choose fabrics from the store to add to my stash. ”
I have been buying fabric since the early 1990s, so I have a lot. I was influenced back in the day by stupid ideas like “buy ugly fabric” and “always use a fabric you dislike in your quilt.” I say unabashedly that these are stupid ideas, because they aren’t good advice. It isn’t fun to use ugly fabric, so why do it with an activity I love? I dislike brown and beige intensely, so I feel justified in refusing to use them. They do not make me happy when I use them and they do not work in my quilts. I may use fabrics that I don’t like as much as others, but I have given up using fabrics I actively dislike. The other thing is that ‘ugly’ is subjective. What is ugly to me may be gorgeous to you. The concept just doesn’t work.
I always have to remind myself that a group of fabric on display on a website or in a shop is not going to look the same when I get it home. I love the look of French General fabrics. I love the dream of what they represent, but I almost never buy them. They won’t look right, or the same, as they do in the shop with the fabric I have at home. My fabric has a brighter, clearer tone than these fabrics. I know I won’t use the creams and dustier tones included with these fabrics. I might as well not buy them.
I really enjoy fabric shopping in stores. I like to see the fabric. Having enough money to buy whatever I want is wonderful, but I have to save my pennies and be aware of storage space in my workroom, so I am very selective.
When I shop in stores, I am generally not looking for something in particular, e.g. more of a specific background fabric. Usually, I am just looking, getting inspired, hoping to see something that will work for a project I didn’t know I was making.
If I shop online, it is very dangerous. I have found that when I shop online, I am either tempted by something or feeling bad and need a pick-me-up. Neither mean I made good fabric choices. I am a visual person, so I take cues from the size of my stack of bolts. It is easy to just keep adding things to my online cart without realizing just how much I have purchased. It isn’t always so easy to remove the fabrics from that same online cart. I can easily end up with a lot of fabric coming to me in the mail and not realizing exactly how much I bought.
Also, I have a hard time judging the scale of prints. I like having a variety of prints, both in scale and color. In online shopping, those things are hard to judge because they depend on things out of your control. Some shops have rulers showing the scale, but that doesn’t always help me. In the end, it is a crap shoot and I try to shop in person. During COVID-19, that is impossible, so I am happy to have enough fabric on hand.
Like Jolene, I almost never buy a complete line of fabrics. I have in the past and have been sorry. I also have been happy. If I buy a full collection, there are prints that languish and I eventually end up using those prints for gift bags. They frequently go to the guild free table or end up in donation blocks. Sometimes, like the recent purchase of a line of fat quarters of Alison Glass/Guicy Guice, I have been happy. These were tone on tone fabrics that I can use for a variety of projects, though there were some colors (like that orangey-brown) that I probably won’t use.
The other reason I don’t buy (and use) a full collection is because of variety. There usually isn’t enough variety in scale of prints or colors for the full collection to be useful. I remove a certain number of prints from the full collection and replace them with other fabrics that will add contrast and interest to my quilt.
Even with my man, Phil (Philip Jacobs of the Kaffe Fassett Collective), I don’t buy all of his fabrics. Some of the colors are not colors that I would use and a recent horse print he designed was not a favorite. I stick to his large flower prints, because I do love those.
Now, I only buy what I like AND what I think I will use. I don’t have a collection. My fabrics are there to be used. In the past, I bought fabrics that I loved and saved for the right project. Now, I feel kind of ‘MEH’ about some of these fabrics. That is so sad to me, because when I bought them I adored them. Now I try to use beloved fabrics right away. It is awesome to see them in a quilt, especially one that I use.
I have found that I there are fabrics that I decline to buy even though I like them, because I don’t think I will use them. If I can’t envision them in a quilt, I don’t buy them. I also don’t buy fabrics, even if I like the print, if they fray too much. Fraying fabric = imprecision and problems with fitting. It also means I have to pick threads out of seams continuously. That makes me crazy.
Access to your fabric is important. If you can’t pull down your bins or reach your bolts easily, you won’t use your fabric. I use the fabric I can reach most. Climbing up into the top of my fabric cupboard is a production and even though I don’t want to, I avoid it.
Jolene has a much nicer fabric storage solution than I do. Her cupboard is really nice and I would love to have something like that. My fabric closet is larger. 😉 If I won the lottery, I would redo my fabric closet in such a way that all my fabric was out of the plastic bins and I could rifle through it more easily. Still, I can see the amounts that I have based on the number of bins. Nobody who reads this blog regularly will be surprised that I have 3 bins of turquoise.
Storage is an issue. As I said, I have a large fabric closet, but even that is overflowing. Using 100 yards per year is not a whim. I want to use up fabrics, so all of my fabric fits in my fabric closet and I can reach it.
I also want to use my fabric so it doesn’t go to the Salvation Army or Goodwill when I die.
First and foremost, I use fabrics that I like. If a pattern calls for a blue, then I will probably chose a turquoise rather than navy.
Pulling fabrics for a quilt happens in two ways: proximity and value. I will often start with fabrics I have close at hand, especially if I am starting a project without planning. Generally, however, I start by devoting a project bin to a potential project. I toss in the pattern, or the drawings or inspiration pages, and fabrics I want to use. Everything – pattern, fabrics, drawings, special ruler, etc. – gets tossed into the project box. When I am ready to work on the project, I have a starting place.
Once I decide on a set of colors, I will go hunting through my stash to find other colors that are similar, but with different prints. The photo (above left) shows this technique very successfully with the red-violets and somewhat successfully with the turquoises. This is a technique I learned from Mary Mashuta back in the dark ages of quiltmaking. Basically, you use different fabrics in the same value to add interest. I don’t really use neutrals, except occasionally, but I have expanded this concept and use it in the foreground and the background. This allows me to use the smaller pieces of fabric, like FQs, I purchase without a plan, scraps and other pieces leftover from other projects. I don’t have to commit to several yards of a fabric I don’t know how I will use. I think quilts look more interesting with a variety of different fabrics. Also, viewers (at a show, for example) get a reward by taking the time to look closely at a quilt when they find you have used many different fabrics.
I used the ‘pushed neutral’ technique for the background of this quilt. I go back, over and over, to Scrapitude Carnivale, because this is the most perfect fabric selection I have ever done. It is not completely perfect, but mostly perfect. Every time I look at it, I am happy. After several years, I still like it. This quilt made me realize that looking at a favorite fabric in a quilt is much better than seeing it unused on a shelf.
The other important aspect is lighting. I live in a place with fog all summer long. That means I have to contend with grey days frequently. Sometimes I can’t see across the street. If I have quilts on my design wall that are too dark, I start to feel depressed. If want to make a purple quilt, I do it is January when the light is clear and there is no fog. I am currently working on a black quilt and that was a poor choice for this time of year, because that feeling of sadness keeps creeping up on me. Most of my quilts are bright, light and cheerful, because it is grey outside my workroom window and the bright colors reflect light back around the room.
More about brown: there is one brown I have found that works for me. It is a rich chocolate brown, slightly darker than milk chocolate, but not quite as dark as 80% dark chocolate. I have found that using a little of this color with turquoise does work and I don’t want to throw-up when I see it. I don’t use it a lot, but sometimes I’ll add it in. I used it in Calm and liked the effect.
This is Personal
Jolene writes “This is something that is very personal, but I’d say it’s a better idea to buy fabric that works with the quilts you want to make, rather than make quilts that fit with the stash that you impulsively purchased. (speaking from experience).” This is true, which is why I think more about the fabrics I am purchasing now than I did when I first started quiltmaking. I also remember that there is always more fabric and I will like the new fabric as much or more than the fabric I see on the shelf but can envision using.
That being said, I still buy some fabrics that I just like without knowing why I am buying them, without a project in mind and not even sure IF I will be able to use them. This piece of Field Guide: to Art History 101 By Marcia Derse from CURIOSITY. Marcia Derse has an edgy, urban quality that I can’t stay away from but also don’t use much. This print may be telling me to make a drawstring bag from Jeni Baker. For what, though?
I hope this gives you some ideas on my thought process. I am not telling you to go out and buy more fabric. I am telling you what makes up my fabric stash/palette and how I use my fabric. I hope this gives you some insight and helps you with your fabric buying as well.
I need to get more masks finished. I have several from the video pattern in progress, but haven’t gotten to finish them. I need a few more since I seem to be going out a little more. I want to change them after every day I go out. As I mentioned, the YM needs some solid versions for work. I found some fun fabrics leftover from pillowcases.
On Sunday when I wasn’t sewing on the Red Scribbles quilt, I made a couple of masks using the pattern from Jen Carlton Bailly and some Bonnie & Camille fabric. I was pleased to be able to use my rotary templates form her class. The pattern went together very quickly and I used some wire that my mom sent me when nose pieces weren’t available.
One nice thing about this pattern is the little bit of trim that is created when inserting the nose piece. Also, the nose piece isn’t as fiddly to insert as on my other pattern.
I haven’t tried these on as I plan to give them to my neighbor and I don’t want to share my germs. I need to make myself one to see if it fits, however.
I made a little progress on the black & red quilt I am now calling Red Scribbles. I am calling it that because I think it looks like someone took a red crayon and scribbled all over my quilt.
I thought I would get more done, but Sunday was not a good sewing day. It may be time for some four patches or mind sorbet sewing. I do want to finish this piece, though. Oh well, I am sure things will even out.
I spent some concentrated time on this donation top and back and was able to finish it.
I did something a little different with the borders. Since I had an extra sashing strip, I added it to the left side after accidentally sewing one to the right side. Then I added another border all the way around using a different fabric. There is no first border on the stop and bottom. I think the piece looks ok like that.
I will say that this top looks more like a column quilt or Chinese Coins quilt than the other Color Strip quilts I have made. I think the sea green I used for the sashing didn’t have enough contrast. However, I kind of like the difference.
I have stayed away from fabric purchases for the past month or so. I am stocking up a bit on zippers and I bought some FlexFoam in anticipation of making more bags and Minikins projects. With this tactic and sewing as much as I can, I am regaining some of the ground I lost on using 100 yards of fabric. I have used 50.25 yards net (89 yards total) so far this year, which is half of my goal. I reached this goal just before the end of July so only a month behind. I need to use 10 yards per month for the rest of the year. Gift bags may be on the agenda. 🙂
Finished 2020 Quilt Projects
I still only have two quilts completely finished for the year, but three quilts are on their way back from the longarmer. I am also making progress on my UFOs, which you have seen on various posts, so there is hope
Cool Windmill – finished March 2020 – I gave this quilt to its new owner and she was thrilled.
The ‘In Process’ is used to denote projects on which I am actively working or are on the design wall waiting for me to stitch. I am continuing to try not to put away projects. I find putting a project away ensures I never work on them. I just lose steam.
I still have WIPs. Who doesn’t, after all? A project in the ‘UFO’ category means I am stalled. A nicer way of saying UFO is a WIP. The list is a lot shorter and the projects are newer, for the most part.
FOTY 2019 – this is now on the list since 2019 is over and I have the squares, theoretically, ready to sew.
Handbag Sampler – this is still the forgotten project. It should be on the UFO list. Too bad I don’t have one. The blocks were teaching samples when I taught a sampler class the time before I started writing the quilt class sampler tutorials. I found one block recently, but otherwise I actually don’t know exactly where the blocks are hiding. I have an idea and still have to crawl up in the far reaches of my fabric closet soon and see if I can find them. I haven’t even found a picture of all the blocks. Sad.
Lobster – I think I might make this into a tablerunner for the buffet. I think that will be a good and fun use of the piece even if the colors aren’t quite right for the dining room.
Pies and Points from 2016 Victoria Findlay Wolfe class. The last time I worked on it was when Julie and I had a playdate in April 2018. I brought this piece with me so I could cut more elements (Julie has a Sizzix). I lost my excitement about this piece shortly thereafter and still have to get it back. Thus, I had to move this to the WIPs area.
For the first time during the pandemic, I ordered take-out online, went and got and took it to a friend’s house where we ate on their deck. I had a specific time I had to pick up the food. I left the house, ran some errands and then went to the restaurant. I was 15 minutes early. The neighborhood has a lot of nice shops so I decided to just walk around for a few minutes and then go get my food. It was interesting to read all the pandemic related signs with different rules about accessing their store (order online with curbside pickup, temperature check, physical distancing – you name it, I saw it). I also saw a lot of people out and about with a variety of masks. There are more people wearing fabric masks than the small blue pleated paper masks. I was less anxious about being out than I have been, but some people wouldn’t stay away from me. That was anxiety provoking.
I also saw some tile. It was on the doorstep of the IOOF and would make a GREAT quilt.
That line at the bottom could be one of 3-4 columns in a quilt. It looks a little like bargello. The squares are clear enough so that I could make a pattern without very much problem. I don’t think I have seen a design like that before. It is pretty distinct.
I was disappointed that whoever is the tenant can’t be bothered to clean the tile.
The corners would make interesting blocks as well. The black and white diagonal line would make an awesome secondary pattern.
I just keep making donation blocks. Some of these 16 patches look really weird. Mostly that is because at the beginning of the month I was getting to the bottom of the donation patch bin. I know Peggy will find a good way to use them regardless of how they look. Eventually, I cut some cream background fabrics, so the blocks don’t look as weird. Still, I worked on other things, like finishing the Blue Strip #2 donation top, and didn’t make as many blocks this month. I sent her the 50 or so blocks I made last week, so I don’t have any blocks right now.
Have you heard of a Glowforge? I hadn’t until the other day. It looks like a Cricut, Accuquilt and a 3D printer all rolled into one. I have to investigate more to see what it can do. I hope it will be terrible so I won’t want one.
I really like the new Prism fabrics by Guicy Guice. I like the art swatches as well as the splatter prints.
I know some of you like to knit. I signed up for the Maker’s Mercantile newsletter because of Franklin Habit. He is really funny. Now I enjoy looking at the yarns and projects. I am NOT buying, but I thought the Gradient yarns by Schoppel-Wolle were gorgeous. Maker’s Mercantile has fabric and super fun buttons as well.
Mary C (not my mom) turned me on to British bagmaker Mrs. H. I went wandering around the web the other day and found her Companion Carpet Bag. I am sorely tempted, but have another carpet bag pattern AND the frame, so I need to make that one first before purchasing another pattern. After going to her website, I found that she has a book called The Complete Bag Making Masterclass**. It isn’t yet available in the US, apparently, but is available for pre-order. I am not pre-ordering YET. 🙂
Need a fun face mask? These animal masks will bring a smile to people who see you. (Thanks, La!)
Owl Bee Crafting has a face mask pattern. This is a similar shape to some of the other patterns, but one thing I liked about the tutorial is that she shows some edges are pinked. Genius! Why didn’t I think of that to keep edges from unraveling?
Jen Carlton Bailly has posted a tutorial using the templates that she sells when she gives workshops. She also includes templates, so you are not forced to buy her templates. C’mon, though, you know you want them. She first posted about it on IG, which made me happy but also say DUH! Why didn’t I think of using them? Perfect idea. And another good use for those templates. There are other templates you can use as well, such as Drunkard’s Path templates. The size is the issue.
*Check your local public library for access if you don’t have a subscription
**I use affiliate links and may be paid for your purchase of an item when you click on an item link in my post. There is no additional cost to you for clicking or purchasing items I recommend. I appreciate your clicks and purchases as it helps support this blog.
I made good progress on the Blue Strip #2 donation top. It was getting on my nerves on my design wall with no progress. I was busy during the week, so it languished. Finally, I just sewed the strips together with the sashing.
The photo looks a little wonky. The quilt is not wonky. I plan to put another border on it to hem in all of the movement of the blocks. I have to search out some fabric for that. I also have to make a back.
Of course, there is a lot of turquoise, but the combination of the splatter print and the greys are really great. The darks anchor the overall design and the pink gives it a little pop. I just love it.
I am so impressed with Tim’s zipper, too. Look how perfect that looks!!! I need to practice to do so well.
I am surrounded by people who provide excellent inspiration. I feel very fortunate.
I have talked about the two other pouches, Green and PJ Ivy, I made last weekend. This, however, is the main one. I decided to make this one, then added the others on to the project.
I tried to think of how a non-sewing person would use this pouch (or any pouch??) and could only come up with a makeup bag or a cord carrier. I hope the recipient will find some good uses for it. It is a large pouch so it might be good for a project. I know she started an embroidery or cross stitch project recently.
I made the inside light, as I try to do, so she could find whatever she puts in the bag. It is a kind of fun newspaper print that I haven’t used before, though I have used fabric like it. I still like the text fabrics.
I used some of the Michael Miller French Journal Collection from London Portfolio for this pouch. It has good areas to fussy cut. I bought a lot of it several years ago and keep cutting bits off for this and that. It is fun fabric.
I don’t know what the recipient likes, so I made some thing that I liked. Also, this pattern lends itself to fussy cutting and I was able to cut this fabric in such a way as to highlight the featured flowers.
This is kind of busy fabric, so I used the black and white dot fabric to keep the French Journal Collection under control.
A few months ago, Angela organized a swap for the guild. The rules were that we were to use a pattern that we had been wanting to try. As mentioned in the post about what I made, I used one of the Minikins patterns.
Since our guild meetings are on Zoom now, we all took turns opening them on ‘camera’ one at a time. Cheryl was selected to make me something and she made me a POUCH! I told you it was pouch week here at AQ!
How do you like that bird (cardinal??) on the front? I love it! He looks sassy. I don’t know why I think of it as a ‘he’.
This is a really nice wide mouth pouch. It will be really good for a small knitting project or some EPP or something that needs some space, but not a lot of tools. There aren’t any internal pockets, but I think that is ok.
One really nice thing is that there is some corduroy fabric included in the piecing. It is so soft! I want to stroke the corduroy parts of the pouch.
Perhaps I will use it for my bias tape makers? It’s a little big, but I have it available.