Entries in Fabric (34)


Project Simplify - Day 17

You know that saying "misery likes company"?  Well, apparently crazy like company too.  I don't feel any less crazy about my fabric issues, but I sure do feel like I'm in very good company.  Thanks y'all who chimed in.  You guys are funny!

So, from that barfing scrap bin, here are the prints my helper & I picked from my scraps for this quilt.  And I chose this light taupe on white print for the large border from my main stash. 

I haven't committed to a fabric for the colored inner border yet.  (Scroll down a bit to see the first picture of yesterday's post).  I usually wait until the main part of a quilt top is pieced before picking one - especially when I'm using scraps.  I just never know which color I'm going to want to accentuate ... although pink is usually a pretty good bet! ;).

There aren't enough years left in me to list & describe all the things I've made from these fabrics.  I couldn't possibly give you each piece's history.  There's everything from brand new Robyn Pandolph charm squares to 5 year old 3 Sisters by Moda prints to more Susan Branch to 20+ year old Laura Ashley scraps.  But you're looking at a fairly good representation of what sorts of colors & prints make me happy.

Ooooh, this is gonna be a pretty quilt (if I do say so myself)!


Project Simplify - Day 16

Chapter Three.  A scrap quilt.  I adore scrap quilts.  I think of them as a collage of the quilt maker's history. 

But I've been dreading this chapter for one reason.  You see, I sorta feel like a fraud because you might have the misconception that I'm a really neat & tidy person from seeing this picture of my stash that I shared with you a little while ago.  (It took 5 hours to make it look this nice.)

Yeah.  Here's what I didn't show you ...

My shameful scrap bin.  Doesn't it look like it's barfing?  I keep it under my sewing table, which is probably very bad Feng Shui.  And every time I try to get it under control I turn into someone who should be on a reality show about hoarding. 

  • "But I could use that for ____!"
  • "But this piece is way too big to throw out!"
  • "But I really love that _____!"
  • "But this would be great for _____!"
  • "But that's my very last piece!"

See, I have a weird love/hate relationship with my scraps. 

I love them because I can make something pretty without spending money.  It makes me feel ... frugal.  And I love the challenge of making things from scraps - no pattern, no guidelines.  It forces me to exercise a different sort of creativity.  Plus they're very handy when you just need a little bit of something.

At the same time, I hate using up my scraps.  The only reason they are still scraps and not garbage is because I love them too much to throw out.  Using up and throwing out a scrap is the same to me - either way, it's gone.

I don't quite understand why I can get so emotionally attached to fabric.  I almost always buy it because I fall in love with it, not because I need it.  I rarely find a pattern first and then look for fabric.  I'm always drawn to fabric first.  Then I buy it.  Then I wait to find something to make out of it.  This pattern of behaviour (pardon the pun) goes a very long way to explaining my stash.

So for me, my "scrap bin" is a sort of "scrap book".  It's like going on an archaeological dig every time I search through it.  Memories of past projects come flooding back.  Feelings about the objects made and the people I made them for bubble up to the surface ...  much like I experience when looking through a photo album or scrapbooks.  Some are old and dear friends, some are just aquaintances and some have grown old, tired & out-of-date but I still feel great fondness for them.

Anyone else feel the same?  (Please don't leave me out here all alone in crazy fabric addict land.  I could use some company right about now!)


Project Simplify - Day 15

I l.o.v.e scallops.  Love them!  Not so crazy about binding them, but I've never regretted the extra time required to make a beautifully scalloped edge on a quilt.

The awesome thing about the scallops on this quilt is that they aren't on the edge!  They are cleverly appliqued on so you get the same scallopy sweetness without messing about with all the things that come with a scalloped edge.  (Anybody else suddenly have a craving for piping hot cheezy potatos ... mmmmmmmm!)

Remember I talked about shadowing in my last post?  Yeah.  Same problem here.  Maybe not as severe as the stripes & flowers because it's just little uniform polka dots.  But I guess I just felt like making things more difficult for myself ... again ... and I reverse appliqued the scallops too.

If you follow the instructions in Camille's book, this scalloped border is fairly simple to make.  And it just looks soooooooo sweet!

So here's the quilt top.  I think it looks so bright and happy & fresh.  I can't imagine how any quilt made with Flower Sugar can look anything but!

Oh, and I'm calling this one "A New Day".  I just realized I forgot to tell you that I made this quilt solo - no assistant this time.  You see, there are 9 quilts in the book and I only have 2 girls.  If you've ever had the fun of doing "fairsies math" you'll know why I had to do one by myself ;).

Quilts for Quake Survivors was accepting quilt tops so I didn't worry about top-stitching it.  (But I did make a back for it.  Sorry, forgot to take a picture.) 

I have mixed feelings about not top-stitching this quilt.  On the one hand, I am anxious to "practice" some more free-motion quilting so I'm sad to miss the opportunity.  On the other hand, I have absolutely no idea what design I'd use!  The quilt in the book is beautifully, professionally long-armed and there is no way I could replicate that design myself.

Do you have any suggestions for a nice FMQ design for this quilt? 

Stash Redux:

  • Yardage - 9.8 yds / 8.9 m
  • Weight - 1.8 lbs / 0.9 kg

For a grand total of:

  • Yardage - 31.5 yds / 28.7 m
  • Weight - 11.4 lbs / 6.4 kg

                              *          *          *          *          *

Well, I didn't quite make the deadline for the quilt to be shipped to Japan (I got a confirmation email saying they received it just a few days late).  But they are setting up an Etsy store to sell all the post-deadline quilts they receive.  The money raised is going to Mercy Corp.

I'm very excited about being part of this initiative and hope the quilt makes at least a few dollars for them.  I'll keep you posted on what happens ...


Project Simplify - Day 14

Shadowing - at least that's what I call it.

It's an evil thing that happens when you applique a lighter fabric onto a darker one and the dark fabric shows through.  This is a pillow I made for my daughter 4 or 5 years ago.  (Notice the cross-hatching?  Told ya I need to learn FMQing!)

See how the dark hearts show through the pink?

What does this have to do with the green flower?  Right.  I'll get there. 

I had chosen a rather busy paisley print for the flower's center and it worked great with the light green polka dot. 

However, I thought the paisley was too busy to go with the busy-ness of the new green print and I wanted more contrast between the petals & the center of each flower.

So I went with a solid white which I'm also using for the scallops on the border. 

And here's where the problem lies - shadowing.

Ugh.  Now, one could always just cut away as much of the green from underneath as possible.  But you'd still see a shadow line just inside the seam.

My solution?  Reverse applique!  That means instead of positioning the flower's center on top of the petals, I cut out the middle of the green petal piece and put the white fabric underneath.


And then just trimmed away the excess.

In the clear?  Not quite.  See how the stripes of the background are now shadowing through the white? 

It's a little hard to see in the picture, but trust me, it's there.  And the shadows will only get worse after top-stitching.  (I've made the mistake of hoping that top-stitching over shadows wouldn't make a difference ... )  So I just cut them out too.

It might seem like a lot of trouble for one little flower.  But every time I look at my daughter's heart pillow, I cringe.  And I just couldn't - in good conscience - make a quilt with shadows.  To me, it was so worth the effort.


Project Simplify - Day 13


You know how you find yourself with a few spare hours and you're in a good mood, looking forward to a nice romantic date with your sewing machine? 

Then, all of a sudden you need a few yards of a weird thread color for some machine applique because you want to color match for invisible stitches?  So you pop into the nearest quilt store and they don't have a thread that really works but the saleslady talks you into something that's "close enough"?  And you don't really believe her but you're praying she's right so you buy it 'cause you just want to get back to your machine?

But when you get home and start sewing you realize to your dismay, "Not even for a giveaway is this good enough!"  (It looks worse in person.)

You know what I mean?  Totally annoying.

But you can't keep this quilter down for long.  Even though my options were limited based on the colors of the background strips - there just so happened to be another shade of green fabric in this line that was a somewhat better match to the new thread - kinda sorta.  So I cut out a new flower.  Problem solved?  Well, yes ... but then I had another issue ...

(Cue the "oh no" music.) 

Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of the green flower conundrum.  (I used to be a Soap Opera junkie ...)


Project Simplify - Day 12

Figuring out how to make "Sugar Rush" with these fabrics presented an interesting challenge.  I had fat quarters aplenty, but not enough full-width pieces to meet the pattern requirements.   I didn't want a crooked line of pieced "cheater" seams across the middle of the quilt AND I didn't want to repeat any prints - that would just be just way too easy.

However, during one of many drooling sessions through the book, I noticed that one of the appliqued flowers is strategically positioned to hide a handful of seams made from piecing FQ strips.

I was able to hide all but 2 seams - one seen below in the yellow and another one on the opposite edge of the quilt.

The other bit of planning was to figure out which fabrics to use for the flowers - based on the prints I'd chosen to be pieced.  I didn't want a flower to sit on the same print/color because to my eye, the flower would lose some definition and just look a little weird.

I've done tons of machine applique and I'm always looking for ways to make the job easier.  If I can stitch smaller pieces together before joining them to a larger piece, I will.  So here I appliqued the centers to the flowers before attaching them to the quilt.

A word if you're planning to make this quilt.  There's a small error with the template for the large flower (page 106).  It has an extra petal and will result in an oval-shaped flower.  I think the quilt would still look pretty with an oblong flower and the integrity of the quilt is not compromised in any way should you use the template as is.  But here's what I did ...

The original template:

I drew a pencil line across:

And then cut along the line, removing the extra petal:

Easy bow-breezy!


Project Simplify - Day 11

Just shy of a few weeks ago I was visiting Posie Gets Cozy - the very first blog I ever read cover to cover - and noticed a button for "Quilts for Quake Survivors".  When I clicked on it, I found a wonderful group of women collecting quilt blocks & tops to make into quilts that were being sent to Japan.  Without hesitation, I knew I wanted to contribute.

I already mailed this quilt top to them - to try to make their April 22 deadline - but I'll spend the next week or so sharing the story behind the making of it.

                              *          *          *          *          *

My original plan for Project Simplify was to go thru the book in order by Chapter.  But my absolute favorite quilt is Sugar Rush ... in Chapter 6 ... way, way off in the distant future ... weeks & weeks away ...  .  So when I discovered this cause I thought not only was it ok for me to change my plan, it was necessary.

And I had the perfect fabric for it too - "Flower Sugar" by Lecien, a Japanese fabric manufacturer. 

This fabric found its way into my stash from three separate shopping trips over eight months.  That's one of the many wonderful things about Flower Sugar - every new collection works with the previous one.

The first batch of fabric - from the 2009 collection - I found last summer when we were on vacation.  We drove to California and on our way home I did a random search with my GPS for a quilt store and luckily found this little gem of a quilt shop just south of Salt Lake City.  I could have spent hours in there.  If you're ever in the area I highly recommend checking it out. 

Next, I bought a FQ bundle (ok, ok,  - 2 bundles) at Quilt Market in Houston 2010 on impulse (remember the agreement we have that Quilt Market purchases are always classified as impulse buys and are, therefore, exempt from any justification?). 

Then my local quilt shop had a lovely roll of 10" x 40" strips ... just the thing to satisfy my need for width-yardage.  I must have been subconciously planning to make this quilt for myself because I also got a few metres (yds) of the blue with white dots which are perfect for the border. 

So, what have I used this fabric for already?  Well, again before Project Simplify was born I made this quilt from Chapter 3.

I'd never made an aqua/red quilt before (Camille's signature colors) so I gave it a try combining both "Flower Sugar" and "Sweet Divinity" by The Quilted Fish (another Market 2010 impulse buy ...). 

I love how the quilt turned out.  (Notice my standard cross-hatch ... now a thing of the past?!)  But looking around my house I just couldn't find the right place for it.  So now it lives at the quilt store on display.

I've made a few other little things from this fabric, but they were birthday gifts for my daughters' friends so I don't have photos.  

Because that was before I became 'crazy blogger lady' who photographs everything ... (here comes a tangent).

"What's that sweetheart?  You hurt yourself at school?  Tell me what happened.  Maybe there's a blog post in there somewhere for me.  Yep, there it is!   Just give me 5 minutes while I take a picture of some books with a bandaid." 

Or how about,  "Yes Honey, I know I'm still in my pjs, but the snow on the trees isn't going to last long!  Don't worry, the neighbors won't see me." 

Uh, yeah they will. 

Note to Self:  If you're gonna wear pjs outside in broad daylight, at least put on the black bottoms that could sorta pass for active wear, not the bubblegum pink flowery capris ... with black snow boots, still unzipped ... and a chocolate brown corduroy jacket.  There's just no way to look 'not crazy' in that ensemble - especially while holding a camera & ruler - when Mr. Jones from down the street is looking for someone to talk to and happens to catch you on the sidewalk.   Just exactly how DOES one explain blogging to an 86 yr old, hard-of-hearing, retired construction worker who's never used a computer? 

Go ahead.  Give it a try.  I dare you.  No, I DOUBLE-dare you!  ;)


Project Simplify - Giveaway

Look what accidentally happened to the leftovers!

How about a giveaway to celebrate a successful first Chapter? My helper & I would love to find a good home for this little package.  Just leave me a comment saying ... well ... anything nice, and you'll be entered to win.

This giveaway includes:

  • fabric requirements - precut by yours truly - to make the same quilt top I made with one little change:  the background fabric is red paint spatters instead of the multi-colored flowers (but still from the same fabric collection)
  • extra yardage (red checkers) in case you'd prefer to make regular binding instead of the raw-edge
  • a little label - also from the same collection - that says "Memories are made of this"

It does NOT include:

(My home is smoke/pet free ... unless you consider dust bunnies pets ... then I have a few.)

Comments will close 9:00 pm EST (North America) on Sunday, April 10th and I'll announce the winner Monday morning on the 11th.

(I'm very excited about this - my first giveaway.  But also kinda nervous.  If no one enters, I'll give the prize to a local guild so they can make up the quilt and donate it to a charity of their choice.)


Project Simplify - Day 1

Hello, hello!  If you missed Friday's introduction check here and you'll be up to speed :)

When I first thought about doing this project, I saw my quilts looking quite different from those in the book.  My stash has a “shabby chic” flavour.  I definitely gravitate towards soft, light fabrics.  The more pink, the better. 

But I do have a few stacks of brights and settled on this collection to make “Square One”, which is similar to the American Jane - "Snippets" used in the book.

I bought this happy fabric when it first came out in 2007.  I’m a big Susan Branch fan (fabric, patterns & scrapbooking stickers/paper/stamps) and was excited when this line came out. 

I bought almost every print and planned to make this & this – one for each of my girls.  Well, I did make the red one - for the quilt shop where I work - but then I don’t know what happened.  Guess I'd satisfied my red pinwheel craving.  (Although thanks to Carrie's post last week, I think I feel a new craving coming on!)

Love these cute little quotes on the selvedges. 

From top to bottom they read:

  • It’s believing in roses that make them bloom.
  • The strongest of all warriors are these two:  Time & Patience.
  • Creativity is really the structuring of magic.
  • No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap.
  • Today, if you’re not confused, you’re just not thinking clearly.

And my personal favorite:

  • "Stay” is such a charming word in a friend’s vocabulary.

I just added it to my sidebar.  (Thank you Susan!)

In my defense, I have made a few things with this fabric.  A couple of years ago my girls were taking an art class and needed something for their pastels & charcoals etc.  So I made these little bags which have become their Nintendo DS storage/travel cases.


Every year, I make my girls a new backpack for school.  When I first started (in 2005), I was in charge of fabric selection.  But that control didn’t last long.  Soon they wanted to choose and the conversations would go something like this:

Her:   “Mommy, can I have this fabric?”

Me:  “No, I just bought that.”

Her:  “What are you going to make?”

Me:  “I don’t know yet.”

Her:  “How about this?”

Me:  “No, I have plans for that fabric.”

Her:  “This?”

Me:  “No (can’t come up with a good reason and she doesn’t understand the concept of hoarding yet).  How about this?  This is really pretty, don’t you think?

Her:  “No, I don’t like it.” 

Then we’d go to the fabric store and buy something they liked.   I think you're starting to understand why my stash is out of control ...

This year my 9 year old finally wanted this fabric for her backpack and I made a lunch bag with matching placemat too.


But that backpack & lunch kit didn’t make much of a dent.  Let’s see what making a quilt will do ... :)


"Project Simplify"

Hello & welcome to “Project Simplify” – my plan to:

  • reduce my fabric stash (& finally learn how to free-motion quilt already, I’ve only been quilting for 24 years!) as I
  • make every quilt/pillow in Simplify with my daughters so I can
  • donate (quilts & pillows, not daughters) to help raise money for non-profit organizations and hopefully
  • inspire you to reduce your fabric stash (if you want/need to) for a good cause as I
  • share my journey with you
  • Oh, and there just might be a giveaway or two!

How did I get here? 

Well, to say I’ve become borderline obsessed with Camille’s book lately is an embarrassing accuracy.  I hope you won't think I’m banana-nuts-crazy but - in the interest of full disclosure - I’ve been carrying it around with me everywhere.  (For example, when I had to take my little one to the hospital to deal with this, I wouldn’t leave the house without it – you never know how long a wait you'll have in the Emergency Dept. and I needed something pleasant to pass the time.)  I love the photography and the projects look like so much fun (and pretty, and easy). 

I met Camille at Quilt Market in Minneapolis 2010.  She’s so nice and I’ve been reading her blog since.   I’ve gotten to really like her as a mom, a quilter and a very creative person.  For me, her blog has been a source of beautiful pictures, charming tales of motherhood and general quilting loveliness.

Now, I have a problem.  Well, two.  (Ok, several.  Way too many to mention.  But only two that pertain to this conversation.)

  • I have a hard time making a quilt for myself  “just because”.  My house is too small for a prolific quilter and I’m running out of beds ... and sofas ... and closet space.
  • I’ve been “collecting” pretty fabric for a long time and have this fear of cutting it & sewing it and using it up until it’s all gone and I don’t have it anymore. Clearly this hoarding thing isn’t working for me.  I need to let my fabric fulfill its destiny by making it into quilts for people to love.

Last month I received a request for a fundraiser donation.  I quickly selected some fabric from my shelf and whipped up one of the quilts in the book.  I was done in a few days.  That felt so good – helping a worthy cause, making something from the book and using up fabric I wasn’t ever likely to use for myself. 

A few days later I found myself feeling very stressed (ok, maybe it was a hormonal PMS thing) as I faced the overwhelming task of organizing my fabric.  This is what it looked like AFTER five hours of re-folding & rearranging.  I didn't think to take a before picture.   I would have been too embarrassed to show you anyway.

Obviously, my fabric addiction is way outta hand.  There's more in those boxes, in the cupboards below and under my rather large sewing/cutting table.  Plus the shelves are deep and even more fabric is hiding in behind many of those piles.  I thought, “I reeeeeally need to get rid of some of this stuff.”  Followed by, “Maybe I should make another quilt for the fundraiser.” And then “I really want to make more quilts from Camille’s book.”  These three ideas – and having recently watched the movie “Julie & Julia” - suddenly converged into an idea:  “Project Simplify”.

So here I go.  I’m so excited.  Over the next few months I’ll be sewing my way through the book - starting with Chapter 1 - and sharing with you things like:  when & why I bought fabric, what (if anything) I’ve previously made from it, the process of making each project, the experience of including my daughters (8 & 9 ½), the finished quilts & pillows and whatever else happens along the way.


#1 - NO BUYING FABRIC.  None.  Not even a little FQ.  I must make due with what I have. 

#2 - Get over fear of free-motion quilting and just do it already!  If that means hours of practice (and I hate practicing) then so be it.  I've had it up to here with my safety-net crosshatch!  I really need to expand my top-stitching repertoire.  Seriously.

#3 - Donate at least four quilts and all four pillow covers to fundraising intitatives to raise money for causes that are important to me and/or you, dear audience.

One more thing, just for fun:  I see this project as a "stash diet".   During the marathon five hour tidy-up I was reminded of just.how.heavy fabric is!

And as many of us know, when you go on a diet, both weight & inches are very important things to track.   It’s motivating to see results.  I think it’ll be fun to see how many pounds/kilos & yards/metres (in fabric) I use up. 

Maybe you’ll be inspired to simplify your stash and share your time & talent - as a quilter - for a good cause too.

Wish me luck and I'll see you next week with the first quilt!


And the Winner of This Quilt is ...

... the highest bidder.  That bidder could be you!

A very good friend of mine – Lani Donaldson – is hosting her 2nd Annual Fundraiser for Literacy (a cause close to my heart as a mom of a dyslexic daughter who struggled to learn how to read.  I’m happy to report that because of her experience with Beacon Literacy she’s a very active member of her Grade 4 Reading Club!).  I wanted to donate something for the Silent Auction portion of the event so here’s what I did.

As a quilter, I a) am always looking for quick patterns to make and b) have lots of fabric that’s been in my stash for far too long waiting to be made into something pretty.

I came across this fun pattern for a throw-sized quilt in my newest and favorite book (see sidebar on right).

I thought it would look great made with these beautiful Japanese prints. 

I enlisted my helper to sort the block fabrics.  She named them (L to R) “Black Leaves, Paris, Dots & Green Fern”.

Paris is my favorite – I have a thing for fabric with words, especially vintage-looking script.  (Did you notice it in my blog banner?)  I also thought it was appropriate, considering the cause. :)

And now for my embarrassing confession:  I can’t do free-motion quilting.  I took a class on it about 20 years ago, but at the time I had a really crappy sewing machine and the results were frustrating, to say the least.  I’ve never really tried since.  (If I can't do something well on the first or second try, I tend to give up.  I know, it's totally immature.)  So all my quilts are top-stitched with either a crosshatch or in-the-ditch.  That may seem kinda boring.  But in my oh-so-humble opinion, you can NEVER go wrong with the classic crosshatch.  It always reminds me of Chanel.

In the interest of using fabric economically, I (almost) always piece my backs.  It gives a quilt that one-of-a-kind touch.  In this case, I had a large piece of brown that obviously had been used for bias binding so it was missing a big corner.   Ta da!

Even though these colors aren’t typically me, I love this quintessentially Japanese palette - all earthy, natural, easy to live with colors.  My goal was to make a quilt with broad appeal to really get those bids up!

So if you want to own this original, handmade quilt please get tickets for this fabulous event and bid on it.  If this quilt isn't your thing (how could it NOT be?!), I'm sure you'll find another treasure at the auction. 

Take someone special out for a wonderful evening (May 6th, 2011).  You’ll be glad you did!

PS:  If you aren't able to attend but are interested in bidding, please leave me a comment.  I can bid on your behalf and then ship it to you!


Instantly Well Loved

I know many quilters and most have a strong opinion about whether to pre-wash fabrics before making a quilt.  I'm a "don't bother" kind of girl for two reasons:

1 - It's an extra step that requires too much time & energy (wash, dry, iron, refold …)

2 - I love quilts with that "oldy-worldy" look, even if they're brand new.  And the best (only?) way to get that look is to wash the quilt in warm and dry on high after making it with non-preshrunk fabric. 

Before ...





Eye of the Beholder

Sometimes I catch myself thinking things like, “I have pretty garbage.”

Is that weird? 


Paisley & Me

I used to dislike paisley.  Almost to the point of hating it.

As in had a negative emotional response whenever I saw it. 

I have absolutely no idea why.  I don’t recall a bad experience with it.  (I did, however, endure the “what were you thinking” fashion sense as a child in the 70s ...) 

Anyhow, one day I learned the symbolism of the paisley motif:  it depicts a sprouting seed and symbolizes new life.  If you can give me the back story or history of something, I'm usually far more interested in it.   This new piece of information made me look at paisley in a different way with a softer, more compassionate attitude.

Since then I’ve developed a sort of friendship with paisley, mostly as it relates to quilting fabric in my stash (don't think I'd ever have drapes made with it or a sofa covered in it).

For example, when it comes to choosing fabrics for a project, I think about more than just color. 

I also pay attention to these print elements – all of which contribute to the project's end result:

  • scale (small, medium, large)
  • subject matter (flora, fauna, geometric, ...)
  • direction (parallel, diagonal, random, ...)
  • movement (busy, quiet, ...)
  • personality (traditional, delicate, sweet, ...)
  • mood (happy, serene, vibrant, ...)
  • texture (printed, woven, glazed, ...)

For me, paisley can be very … bossy.

But sometimes it adds just the right amount of something to perk up a quilt. 

Regardless of my continuing hit & miss results with paisley, I don’t ignore it anymore. 

Sometimes I invite it to play with the other prints in my stash. 

And on a really good day, it makes its way into one of my quilts.

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