Six-Step Process for Fabricaholics

To every addict comes a time when they must admit they have overstepped the line and must seek help. Hence, a fabric-aholics Six-Step Process, condensed down from a 12-step process therapy.

1. Take everything out of your fabric closet, your fabric shelves, and leave it in a heap while your husband/spouse/other walks in and says nothing.  Their eyes say it all.  Like, Wow.

2. Refold the fabrics because we all know that really helps. Because you can always get more in the closet after you refold them, right? And because scientific studies have proven that working with tactile items keeps the old blood pressure down.  It’s a health issue.

3. Start putting them back in.  Realize that you’ll never get your stash back in its “box” after its been sprung.   Organized fabrics take WAAAY more space.

4. Re-think your organization plan.  Try sorting them by color groups — only six: yellow, green, blue, red, purple, grays (see photo).  Browns? Decide if they are a yellow-brown or an orange-brown or a yellow-orange brown because that’s the basic three places brown comes from.  (I learned this in college.  I give it to you now, free of charge.)  Or you can group the browns/blacks together. Put the darkest of the colors on the bottom of the color stack.  Or try organizing by theme: like those food fabrics you’ve been collecting since you learned how to thread a needle.  It was always going to be a “basket quilt” and now you look at some of them and wonder if you could stand to see them in a quilt.

5. Realize that you have accumulated enough fabric for 20 years worth of quilts. Why?  We need to subdivide this category.  These observations are not all autobiographical, but come from almost forty years of being a quilter/involved with fabric (before I was a quilter, I was a sewer and don’t even kid yourself — they’re stashers too):
a) you were at a quilt show and we all know they spray fabric pheromones in the air at those events, or
b) you were shopping with friends and they bought some, and you didn’t want to be left out, so you did too, or
c) you were feeling blue and needed a little cheering up, or
d) you were taking a class with _________ (fill in the blank) and needed more yellow-green, or
e) it was a beautiful day (weather or other) and you just felt like a stroll through a fabric store would be a great thing and you noticed the clearance racks, or
f) you are doing your part to help the economy and your local fabric store, or
g) the online email that your favorite online shop sent you had that new line and while you were really excited about only four of the prints, their fat-quarter bundle of nine prints would be a better bargain, or
h) it was a really horrid day (weather or other) and you just felt like visiting those people who you have made friends with at your local shop would cheer your day, or
i) you were in the mood for some new fabric, or
j) you saw a quilt on the blogs or in a magazine that you wanted to make, and of course, this required new fabric, or
k) you are a blogger and have to have something new to show on the blog, or
l) ______________ (fill in the blank).

6. Realize that you will probably always buy fabric (here’s where we differ from traditional 12-step programs) but that a little restraint now and again would be a good idea.  And if you are going to buy, consider making a quick quilt or two to give away to a woman’s shelter, or the Quilts of Valor , Home of the Brave, or other such charitable and worthy causes** such as 100 Quilts for Kids because they don’t need the latest fabric and you can use up the stash at the back of the closet.

But most of all, enjoy the process!  Enjoy the new idea, the cutting out with friends or while listening to a great book, the stitching (gives you time to think about your loved ones) the colors coming together, the design working, and the glorious finished quilt top.  Because if you fill yourself up with high-quality experiences while creating out of cloth, it will satisfy you far longer than a stack of fabrics in your closet.  I love my Come A-Round quilt, and I still savor the many months it took to create.  I have stories associated with all my quilts, and they are my legacy.

They’ll be yours, too.

(**Caveat: don’t give the charities junk! I worked with a woman’s shelter quilt drive once and we had to pitch a few smelly quilts (think: mildew) and quilts that were made of sub-standard fabric.  Just throw that shoddy stuff away and don’t acquire any more.)

Entering a Quilt Show

I haven’t entered a quilt show for ages, largely because I haven’t had time to make a quilt that was quilt-show level.  I’ve been making lots of quilts for children and daughter/daughters-in-law and some to throw over our sofa at home, but I always think it has to be a hard-enough quilt to enter a show.

I read the application and they said clearly, “no color correction.”  Oh-oh.  I’d taken all those photos for my quilt journal, but I had to color correct some to get the gray day out of them.  And then they said “no cropping.”  So I had to retake them all.  I hope the judges enjoy the photo of my garage door studio.  I tried to get in close enough, and covered the lock with a tissue (for disguise).  Above is Come  A-Round, one I’m going to enter.  I’ve seen this design before in this show, and they may not want to have it in again.  Plus I don’t quilt every 1/4″ all over the top of the quilt (I like my quilts to “move” a little) and that has sort of become popular at this particular show.

But still.  I’m going to try.  Lyon Carolings, above.  This one doesn’t have the garage-door-studio look.  I found out a setting on the camera to counteract the grayed photos I’d been getting, so I didn’t think that was cheating.  I guess it’s only after-the-fact that they don’t want us messing around in Photoshop.

The last one is I want to enter is All Is Safely Gathered In.  It’s harder than you think to get the quilt perfectly squared up in the frame, and it has to do with making sure that your camera lens plane is absolutely parallel to the quilt plane, or surface, and that your camera is also physically level with the center of the quilt.  This is trickier than it sounds.  (I have seven of this photo to prove it.)

Then I thought about the close-up, and what they’ll do with the close-up.  We have to submit digital photos and I just know they are going to get their computer out and magnify everything.  Every missed stitch, every unbalanced thread, every backstitch instead of burying the tails.

It’s like looking at your morning face in a 15x magnifying mirror.  Frightening!  Now to fill the application out, put the photos on a CD, write the checks for entry fees, and wait for the rejection acceptance letters.

FSF-Pink Junk

So, what I have finished this week?  Well, Quilt Frolic quilt top and back, for one. And I cleaned out one of my fabric cupboards as I was trying to put the Amy Butlers back in.  It was a mess.  Or, as they might say in the art world: I deconstructed it.

And I found this, which I’ve titled: Pink Junk.  It is an idea gone south, a cake that fell, a headache turned worse and a sewing idea that never should have seen the light of day.  I had this idea to sew strips of pink fabric on a fabric base, cut it out and quilt the jacket and then (horrors!) wear this Pepto-Bismol-Mary-Kay color out in public. (No hate mail.  I was once a Mary Kay consultant and even met The Woman Herself.)

I like pink.  But I am actually really glad that this is a UFO.  I’ve pressed it and cut the sewn parts into 6″ blocks.  My plan is to sash them up in some fabuloso fabric.  I’ll probably have to find something darker to make the contrast work because all these colors are the kind you would find on Bunny Rabbits in the Easter displays.  Come to think of it, maybe that was its genesis?  As a planned new Easter outfit?

Saved by inertia.

Today I picked this Kaffe Fassett print at our local fabric shop, as all the Kaffes were on sale.  And she kept calling them “Calfs.”  (I heard from someone who would know that his name has a long a in it, as in KAYfe.) This is the shop that sends out emails with typos and misspellings in them, but at least it makes the shop memorable.  I might have mentioned to her the idea that a spellchecker would help the email writer.  Can’t be sure.  I did make sure that she wasn’t the writer before I might have mentioned it.

They had a terrific Halloween display up with lots of very appealing quilts and fabrics.  This was also on clearance (they had three bolts).  I loved it, esp. the group of witches in the middle with the scribble overhead.  Maybe they’re gossiping?  Trading barbecue recipes?

Lastly, in the back of my now-desconstructed closet, I found this group of fabrics.  I remember distinctly where and when I bought it.  It was in Amish country, outside Washington DC.  Two of the quilting ladies from my guild took me to tour the Amish/Mennonite fabric shops, about 90 minutes from where I lived.  This grouping, by Robert Kaufman in a deliciously heavy-weight cotton, was all in a row in the last shop we went to that day.  What made this place memorable was the lack of electricity (everything was done by hand, including the ringing up of things) and the black Amish buggy parked just outside.  From what little I knew about the Amish, I couldn’t believe that they had a fabric shop set up in the side room, just off the patio.  And the woman who helped me couldn’t have been strict Old Amish, because her clothing was more contemporary.  It was an interesting day, that’s for sure.  About six years ago.  And I have no idea what I’m going to do with these ornate cottons, but the stack is too beautiful to leave in the fabric closet for another six years.

I think I’d recently been to Venice, Italy and as I look at it, it reminds me of the Carnivale Masks with their swirls and flourishes and gilt touches, as well as the tightly inlaid marble floors in the Cathedral. Do you ever clean out a closet and come face-to-face with fabric you had to have, for some really pressing and urgent reason, yet now it languishes?

If anyone has any suggestions for this fabric, let me know. Right now I’m thinking quilt backs.

Quilt Frolic, some thoughts

Home stretch time.

Here’s the quilt top, hanging over the upstairs stair rail.

And here’s the backing hanging over the rail.  I’ve spent most of the afternoon on this.  Do you sometimes feel that making an elaborate back is as much work as the front?  And while I do like the idea of pieced backs (I do it quite often) I also REALLY like it when I can stretch out a swatch of Merimekko fabric and just cut out a back in about 20 minutes. Not 3 hours.  I had to add some Kaffe Fasset trees on the bottom of the quilt, as I’m saving some of my Amy Butlers for a travel bag.  And the trees were just hanging around and given the price I paid for them some time ago, pretty economical.  I really have to think hard when the price tag on a yard of quilt fabric is $12.  I must admit, I have walked away more than I might have in the past.

I mentioned yesterday that I would post a chart to help keep straight the cutting for this quilt.
Click here to download a PDF file: Quilt Frolic cutting directions

I am not interested in giving away Ashley Newcomb’s fine design, originally titled “Rubik’s Crush,” so you will find that you’ll need the magazine  “101 Patchwork Projects and Quilts 2011” to help you complete the quilt.  My chart is ONLY for clarity for those who want to make this quilt.  Once the cutting difficulties are figured out (the chart should help) it goes together really quickly.  I’m quite fond of this quilt!

Note: if requested by either of the above mentioned parties, I will remove the PDF, and you’ll have to contact me by email for my tips.  Leave a comment and I will respond.

WIP–Quilt Frolic

Thanks to Lee for hosting WIP Wednesday, where we can gather round and have a virtual quilt frolic.  Yes.  Quilt Frolic.  According to the book Wild by Design, by Janet Catherine Berlo and Patricia Cox Crew:

“Numerous early-nineteenth-century diaries refer to the fun to be had at an all-day quilt frolic.  We think of ‘quilting bee’ as the term for such an event, but in the early ninteenth century, ‘bee’ was reserved for prosaic tasks, like a corn-husking bee.  ‘Frolic’ more accurately capture the excitement and high spirits of a quilting party.”

So, since I’m writing this at night and I’m in my jammies and I can only use a flash in my sewing room, I present to you my slightly less-than-wonderful photo of: Quilt Frolic!  My husband left for a business trip and our school has a flex day for the full-time teachers, so I get a free day.  And I used it to get this sewn up. My work in progress for this week.  So glad to have it at this point. Part of the reason I’ve been sort of hem-hawing around about it is because it didn’t have a name.

Some thought about this “modern quilt,” titled Rubrik’s Cube in the magazine.  I hate pressing seams open.  Period.  Unless I need to control for bulk or for seaming purposes (think “Y” seam), I’m going to go with pressing them to one side.  Whether it’s an representation of the Modern Quilt movement currently in our lives or a carryover from dressmaking, I don’t know, but I can’t see the value or it, since it didn’t seem to impact my accuracy at all either.  And I missed how the seams “lock” into each other while sewing it (pinning is a pain, but I did it).  Since I have some blocks pressed seams to one side and some blocks pressed open I can compare their look on the wall.  In this particular pattern I can’t really tell the difference unless I get up close.  Can you tell I’ve lived through a lot of quilt cycles and fashions?  Yes, I have.

The piecing of the 9-patch parts of the quilt were one demon short of a nightmare.  Either there was something wrong in the printed directions, or else the way they were laid out was extremely confusing.  Some sort of chart would have been more helpful.  I’ll put one on the blog at some point, for those following in my footsteps.

And for those of you readers who skip over all the text and head straight to photos, here’s a close-up, still in “terrible nighttime picture mode.”  I had been purchasing lots of Amy Butler and large-scale prints for a long while, and even after I piece the back out of that collection, I’ll still have. . . well. . . probably enough for another quilt or two.  Anyone else ever over-buy fabric?

I’m sure that’s like asking if the sky is blue.

Here’s a good morning shot of the quilt–much better lighting.

Click *here* to return to Freshly Pieced Fabrics and Lee’s fab quilt-frolicky blog.  Happy Piecing!

To Temecula!

What does that mean?

It means that today was the day I dropped off my Red/White Challenge Quilt to the Temecula Quilt Company.  The grand opening is October 1st and will run for a month.

My friend Leisa helped me measure them for the tags we placed on them.

I received a very cute thank you gift, shown here with one of Temecula Quilt Company’s patterns (they have a line of their own).  I love the slogan printed on the top of the pattern: What has been done will be done again, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecc. 1).  This is so appropriate for their shop as they use a lot of traditional patterns with reproduction fabrics.

This is a little kit to make a pillow (see above photo) and on the back of the thank-you gift were three magnets from the great Red White quilt show in New York!  I was pretty jazzed about this.

One of the things I love about this shop are the displays.  Everything is so creative and interesting which makes you want to take everything home.  But of course you can’t.

So this is why I bought the pattern.  I may make it in different colors, but their theme resonates with me.

Another clever display.  Most of us have these wooden spools hanging around and here’s what you can do with them: make a mini quilt and wrap them up for display.  The spool will keep the quilt from flopping over, and you’ll have done something interesting with the spools.

Check the  website of the *Temecula Quilt Company* for more.