Finishing School Friday · Quilts

Gingham Quilt Top All Done!

I sewed steadily while listening to The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafron, a worldwide bestseller when it was released in 2001, and finished my gingham quilt top.  At an especially gripping part of the novel, I sewed in a border block backwards.

I discovered this AFTER I’d dropped it off at the quilter, so had to run back there this morning and retrieve the quilt top to fix it.  She’ll have it to me in time for our Gingham Reveal Date, which is July 4th.  And no, I’m not going to show you the quilt before that.  Okay, maybe a little.

All I’ve got to say is I’m converted to gingham!

On the sewing part: some of the gingham was that lighter weight fabric that is found in JoAnn’s and some of it was cotton.  I really had no trouble at all sewing them together.  I used Kona white as the accent, and the blend fabrics worked fine with the cotton.  My thread was the polyester Guterman from JoAnn’s, and the only difference is how it smells when you press it–you’ll see.  But don’t hesitate to grab some large check ginghams and mix them with the cottons you can buy.  It all worked just fine.

Krista, of KristaStitched, and I dreamed up this gingham thing because I’d come into a load of ginghams.  I researched where to buy more (see this post) and bought a few more.  The finished quilt is so amazingly fun.  There’s just something about gingham that says summer and high spirits and picnics and lazy days.  I’m so glad we decided to do this, and I hope you’ll all play along!

This coming Wednesday, June 6th, we’re hosting a giveaway on three different blogs (ours, plus Cindy’s blog: Live A Colorful Life), for a chance to win one of these fat quarter bundles, which also includes in each bundle is a full half-yard of Kona white.  If you win the Gingham Giveaway, you agree to make a quilt or a block or a mini-quilt or something and post it on your blog  and link back to our blogs as well. For my blog, I want your entry to include a favorite summertime memory from your childhood, whether it be a childhood game or event or taste or activity, so start those memory engines.

And judging from the following photos, snapped in secret in Macy’s, gingham is going great guns in ready-to-wear also.

and this one from my Dad, who writes:
I’m expressing my pain on being photographed. It’s like shooting yourself.

Ah, Dad.  Now you know why I like to be on THIS side of the camera lens.  But in answer to your question–yes, that’s a gingham shirt too!


WIP-Gingham Quilt

I spent the better part of the evening last night researching potential blocks for my gingham quilt–got to get that done so I can move on to other summer projects.  Here’s a slideshow of my Work In Progress: Gingham.  I’m going to make up some samples today to entice you to comment on the Gingham Giveaway Day.  It’s a week away!

WIP–Freshly Pieced

Imagine Lee’s Logo here from Freshly Pieced Fabrics. Because of the vagaries of WordPress slide shows, if I put that image in here it will show up as one of the slides–so, please forgive that it’s not here, yet hop over to her blog to see other great Works in Progress!

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As you have probably figured out by now, gingham is a strong graphic print that has its Own Thing To Say in a quilt.  So after working with these prints and blocks (digitally, using my QuiltPro program) I think lots of white makes gingham really shine.  I also like minimal seams, for as Roberta Horton noted in her seminal book on working with plaids, Plaids & Stripes, the more seaming done with a check, plaid, or gingham, the busier the design will be.

I think any modern-type design could be used successfully, as many of them are based on simple shapes (think: squares, rectangles) with minimal piecing.  One example of this is Lee’s of Freshly Pieced Modern Meadow quilt here or Mod Times here.  Ashley’s quilts (of Film in the Fridge) trend towards this variety and some examples that would work well are here and here.  And who can’t find a quilt to love over at Red Pepper?  Her latest quilt here would look really beautiful with a pop of gingham in those centers, as would her version of flying geese here.  So I think ginghams, although indicative of an earlier, more nostalgic time, could adapt to the modern life easily.

Hope I’ve given you some ideas for a quilt block or two, or even a quilt.  And check back next week for the Gingham Giveaway: three different sets of fat quarters (that also include a full half-yard of Kona white)!

Quilts · Something to Think About

Gingham Dresses

A few years ago, my granddaughter wore this Dorothy blue-gingham dress for trick-or-treating, a gift from her grandmother on the other side of the family (and a hand-me-down from her older sister).  A classic.

A couple of years later, her younger sister wore it on her trick-or-treating forays, and the youngest granddaughter from that family will probably wear it also in a couple of years.

What is it about this blue gingham dress?  What is it about gingham?  Since I’ve been on an gingham jag, several have left comments that indicate there’s a certain nostalgia for this fabric.  It seems to be associated with childhood, easier times, a dress that had lots of gathers, a dress with a big bow in the back.  Gingham always looks crisp, clean and fresh.  Gingham just has that certain something that reminds of us when we were children, of when staying out until after dark was a delicious treat as we played Hide and Seek, or Red Rover-Red Rover.

Gingham was for dress-up occasions, like Easter Sunday.  There’s an old home movie of three of us sisters all decked out in gingham dresses, with white rickrack along the neckline and armholes.  Mine was pink, Susan’s was blue, Cynthia had a large gingham on in a blue color and Christine, my eldest sister, was apparently too old for gingham as she wore a simple shift.  The quality of the movie was spotty, as home movie cameras were a new thing, the focus flitting as from person to person.  (My parents were just trying to learn this new technology, only they didn’t call it that–it was a great new invention!)  But gingham is ageless, and like Simone, in the earlier posts, when we throw on some gingham it carries with it not only its history (back to England) but also our particular group of memories and associations.

For me, it will always be that pink gingham dress, flounced and tied with a big fat bow at the back, worn on hot summer days.  Or the backing for my second son’s baby quilt–the large blue check a counterpoint to the colorful sashed nine-patches.  Or the flip side of my daughter’s baby quilt, those pink gingham checks making her soft skin glow in those few baby pictures I have of her.

Or perhaps, after this, it will be this summer, with its events and hot days, as I cut and sew new memories with new friends.  Come and sew some gingham with us!



It all started when. . .

I went to a gigantor garage sale and found boxes of fabric, and tons of gingham.  Gingham?  I hadn’t used or sewn with gingham for years.  I sent some to Krista, of KristaStitched and she suggested we do something fun this summer with our gingham.  One thing led to another and last week a box showed up at my house with some more gingham, woven this year:

Gingham is an interesting fabric because it’s not printed, it’s woven.

Here’s some printed fabrics–we call them checks because there’s only two colors.  In gingham, there’s three.

Check on the bottom, gingham (blue and chocolate brown) on the top.

I call them yarn-dyed, because the color is not applied, like it is in printed cottons, but the yarns are dyed the color present in the gingham, in this case some aqua and some chocolate brown yarns were woven to give us that “checked” appearance so typical of this fabric. The blue yarns overlapping the blues give the solid blue color and ditto for the browns.  But when the blues and the browns intersect, you get that half-toned looking square with both colors in it.  This also means that there is no right or wrong side to ginghams, which when I started to make my paper pieced block (in the Gingham Giveaway logo) I didn’t have to worry about that at all.  And that was one complicated little paper-pieced block.  You can find it here.

The new cottons are 100% cotton, made for traditional and modern sewers.  Okay, so when that box arrived, I thought . . . what was I thinking?  Way too much to use all myself, so Krista and I thought we’d have a Gingham Giveaway.

But it’s not just any giveaway–we want you to play along, and make something gingham-y for yourself and for all of us to see.

So I put together some packets of 3 fat quarters of gingham and a full half-yard of Kona White cotton.  If you are selected in the giveaway, you agree to make a quilt–or a quilt block–or four quilt blocks–or a mini-quilt–or something along those lines with your ginghams.  We’d ask that you then post it up on your blog linking back to both Krista and my blogs.  That’s all!

Dates: The Gingham Giveaway will be held early in June.  We’ll let you know when to leave a comment on our blogs, but we’d like you to be thinking about it.  We’ll announce those who want to play along with us, and because gingham is so picnic-Americana-looking, we ask that you blog about your block(s) or your quilt top on Wednesday July 4th.

Because this is a summer fun project, we don’t need your quilt to be quilted, or your blocks to be finished.  We just want you to have some fun with some ginghams and play, play, play!

Check back. . . or should I say. . . gingham back!


Gingham on my Mind

Well, I have gingham on my mind, but other things too.

Like these three grandsons of mine who showed up for the weekend.

Like this stack of papers who arrived on Wednesday and are Still Here.  (Definitely a work in progress.)  (Right now I’m taking a break.)

But this one is somewhere in between there and here, in terms of Works In Progress.  Here I’m sewing the borders on, but I finished (yay!) and it’s at the quilter’s right now, getting all stitched up.

Here’s some gingham things I’ve found while trolling the net. . . a book.  Is it me, or does that person they identify as “Jakie Kennedy” NOT look like Jacquie Kennedy?

I think the heel has some sparklies that move around.  Talk about elevating gingham beyond where it should go.

This is what I look like when I grade papers.  Ewwww!
However, her shirt is cute, don’t you think?  Love the covered buttons.

Now head over to Freshly Pieced to see what Lee’s got on her mind, at WIP Wednesday.


Gingham Fabrics

I know Krista and I scored a bunch of vintage ginghams at a garage sale, but I was curious to see if I could still buy them commercially.

Yep.  JoAnn’s had them in the “homespun” section, along the wall.  They had a range of large to small checks, even micro-checks measuring 1/8″ inch.  I hope you’re not wanting an exotic color or anything.

Fiber content: I have been used to ginghams in the 50-50 range, but this one is 65% polyester-35% cotton.  What this means is that is has a bit different hand, or how the cloth feels when you touch it.  The polyester, since it is over 50%, will be dominant, so the surface will have more of a commercial feel, rather than a homemade feel.  It will be more wrinkle-free, and probably won’t shrink at all.  The colors most likely will not run or bleed, so you can combine any combo you want.  No need to pre-wash this either, as the character of the fabric won’t change much.  It will wear like iron.  I once made a dress out of gingham–it was a Betsey Johnson Vogue pattern, way back in the 1970s on Betsey Johnson’s first go-round. Because this is more poly than cotton, the drape will be finer and the fabric will feel a little lighter-weight.  I say all this not to scare you off, but to reassure you that when you take the fabric in hand and touch it, what you are feeling is normal especially if you have been sewing with only cotton.  As far as the China part, over 90% of the world’s clothing and textiles and thread and trims comes via China.  As quilters, we’re more used to Japan for thread and fabrics.

I saw an apron done by my mother-in-law with chicken-scratch embroidery on it.  I guess I could have ironed it to show you, but I just pulled it out of an old sewing basket up on top of my armoire.

This is how far I got–the square of gingham cut out, the embroidery half-way across.  Add this to list of Things To Do When I Retire.

Doesn’t gingham just remind you of days gone past?  It has such a timeless quality and that’s why I suggested to Krista that we try to use up our little find by combing it with some Kona White or something and seeing where it goes.  Some times it’s interesting to get an idea and explore it, without a pattern or pre-determined place to arrive.

You can buy gingham-look-alike fabric.  This one’s from an Etsy shop online (I did a search for gingham and Denise Schmidt, as this is her fabric line.)  But the unique quality of gingham is the fact that it is yarn-dyed, and that the plaid is made from the white threads crossing the colored threads.  I much prefer that to printed ginghams.

Luckily for you, Robert Kaufman has yarn-dyed ginghams listed on their website, and it looks like you can order directly from them.

I also found these at–look for the Carolina Gingham fabric, as it is yarn-dyed, and that’s what you want if you are looking for a true gingham.