fabric stash

  • Hooked - How did y'all get here?

    by Sarah Curry

    Sarah Curry

    I don’t mean Here-here – I mean Quilty-here –Hooked-here; totally awash in books (usually bought for the one quilt with those “oooh” colors, teeny-tiny patches, and curves and angles inside); astonished and embarrassed at how those four Fat Quarters of fabric you bought that said, “Oooooh” apparently bred like rabbits (like those old wire coat hangers used to do) during the night, and you suddenly have a Stash.  Hooh, boy. 

    I guess I got the Q-gene from both sides, because both my maternal and paternal grandmothers were quilters – as was my mama before me. Mama’s mother (Nana) was built like a Pouter Pigeon - soft to cuddle up to.  Little wire spectacles. A cardboard box in the closet that held kid-stuff – old jewelry, most of a deck of cards, battered pot lid. She baked with cinnamon. And she made quilts.  Completely UTILITARIAN quilts, made of men’s WOOLEN suits and all were rectangles and squares. And they were tied with red yarn. H-E-A-V-V-V-Y. 

    Grandma Curry, on the other hand, lived in an old Victorian house in West Texis (not a typo – I spell it like it’s pronounced).  I remember the gables, the wraparound porch, the gingerbread, the “hidden” rooms, and that “children are to be seen and not heard". Grandma Curry looked like the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz” (squinchy eyes, hook nose, thin lips), and as far as the grandkids were concerned she was just about that distant and scary.  She made “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” and “Lone Star” quilts with patches that were about the size of a nickel - finished.  All cut with scissors, hand-pieced, and hand-quilted. E-X-Q-U-I-S-I-T-E. 

    Mama was a quilter, too, although she didn’t really enjoy the cardboard-template-pencil-scissors routine.  And her sense of color wasn’t the best.  But she quilted. Also hand-pieced, and hand-quilted.  And WASHED those quilts, every weekend, with the sheets. Not one of her old quilts survived.  But they were definitely clean! 

    By the time my boys graduated from high school and went to college (thank gawdess!  I got’erdun!), I was SO-O-O-O ready to begin the next phase of my life (after a 48-hour nap). That's when Mama burst into the living room one afternoon, laden with all sorts of bags and suitcases and more bags and an ironing board and what looked suspiciously like one of Daddy’s old tackle boxes. Mama travelled like that. She had “discovered” the rotary cutter and mat and was READY to make a quilt for the “Sweet Darlin’ Angel Baby Boy” who didn’t yet have one. 

    So the next morning off we shot to the quilt shop. By noon, we found appropriate fabric for a 6-log “Rail Fence” (blues for a hockey player – no florals), with 1 ½” finished “logs".  What?  Can’t start yet?  Gotta wash the fabric (with salt & vinegar)?  Geez.  Press same.  I became the “cutter”.  Woo-HOO!  Lookit how FAST that is (still don’t understand what I’m doing, but that’s OK)!  As I cut strips (fast), Mama sewed (slowly – she insisted on PINNING every seam).  Then I pressed the strips (Mama was always behind, still pinning).  Then I cut some more.  Mama pinned and sewed.  I pressed and cut.  And had a WONDERFUL time! 

    Finally, about midnight, Mama lurched up and announced that I could quit cracking the damn’ bullwhip, ‘cause she was tired and going to bed, and she did.  I did not.  How COULD I?  The pattern was REALLY starting to show!!!!  YOWZA!!!!!  So, when Mama arose the next morning, bleary-eyed and demanding coffee, there was a finished quilt top laid out on the couch.  Every time she told the story, Mama never forgot to mention the fact that I had pressed those seams “everwhichaway, bless her heart.”  Hmph.   

    And I was hooked.  Beyond just “hooked,” I had bumbled onto the fourth passion of my life. I haven’t a clue how much money I’ve spent on that stash (from which I am working, these days, almost exclusively), or even how many quilts I’ve made.  I did make 6 (SIX!) “Rail Fence” quilts before I “graduated” to “Double Irish Chain.”  Made 6 of those before I “graduated” to another level, and I reckon I’ve averaged a quilt every 2-3 months for 30 years.  Yeah, it’s a Passion.   

    So. That’s how *I* got hooked.  Passionate.  How did YOU find quilting? 

    ...

    Our glorious guest blogger, Sarah Curry...

    "3d-generation quilter, 3d-generation grammarian/teacher, born and raised in Hobbs, NM. NMSU, twin sons (and when they started coming in litters, I was done with that sort of project), happily divorced since 1977, UNM Law School, civil litigation for nearly 20 years, now retired, 4 grandsons,  but still quilting – these days, almost exclusively from a legendary stash.  AllieCat and I grow old together, but she’s still an excellent “Quilt Inspector/Block Re-arranger”."

  • New Quilting Toy

    by Brian Partin

    One of the first things that drew me to quilting was appliqué. I remember seeing a very simple primitive quilt at the Dade County Youth Fair. It was a red plaid angel quilt, and each angel was made up of a heart body, round head and a halo. I wanted to buy the quilt, but I couldn’t afford it. I kept thinking, “I could make that”. After taking beginning quilting, an Appliqué class was next on my list, and yes, I did make that angel quilt.

    Ever since then, appliqué has been one of my favorite types of projects. It addresses my need to be creative better than anything else. The only down side is the length of time it takes to crank out an appliqué quilt as opposed to pretty much any other type of project. The holiday and season quilts that I want to make keep stacking up, and the time keeps slipping away. Not to mention the long list of family members and friends that think they deserve a quilt from me as well. Something had to give.

    Purchasing laser cut and pre-fused appliqué soon became my "go-to" for putting together an appliqué project. The precision cutting made the shapes clearly identifiable, and the project's a breeze to snap together. Just peel, place and press. I only wished that I could get them in exactly the size that I wanted for my project. And wouldn’t it be great if I could get them out of the fabric that I already own to match collections that I have already bought?

    Well, it turns out I can. Enter fabric cutting machines. These new cutting machines allow me to buy SVG files and cut the designs at home, using my very own fabric, in any size that the machine will cut. It did take a bit of a learning curve, but that is a part of the journey, isn’t it?

    My Quilting Toy by Brian Partin
    Here are a few things I've learned so far:

    1. Designs don't always open the size that is specified, but I can scale and rotate them anyway I want. Pretty cool ... right?

    2. I have to “select all” so that I can ungroup the design. This allows me to separate the components of the design so that I can cut the pieces from various fabrics. The machine also cuts better when the cutting is separated a bit from each piece.

    3. Since I am cutting the fabric face down, I want to flip the design to keep it facing the right direction and the lettering readable, if there is any.

    4. Any items that are showing on the "mat" will be cut. Those that I drag off the "mat" will not cut. I can drag off items now while they are the right size and cut them later in a different fabric. I just go back to the design after cutting and switch the items that I want to cut next.

    5. When I load my fabric on the mat, I place the right side of the fabric face down on the mat. Using a lot of pressure I hand press that fabric onto the mat to make sure it is flat. If it is loose it will get pulled up while cutting and make a mess. I have pre-fused the Steam-A-Seam II onto the back of the fabric, and make sure that it is freshly ironed and the paper backing is still tight on the fabric. I will lift the paper, and re-iron it flat if there are any creases in the paper that might catch on the cutting knife during cutting.

    6. I have read that some people soak their fabric in Terial Magic, available at Amazon or at your local quilt store, to stiffen the fabric, but I have yet to try it.

    My Quilting Toy by Brian Partin

    Who knew that after quilting for 27 years that I'd find something totally new to learn? And it's a good thing because I think learning new things makes life more interesting, and it also makes me more interesting too.

  • Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornaments Tutorial

    by Heather Spence

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament Tutorial by Heather Spence

    I've got scraps.  A. Lot. Of. Scraps.

    Sometimes it's overwhelming when I think about them.  So, most of the time, I ignore them.  Until I get a brilliant idea.

    Now ... not all my ideas are brilliant.  Heck ... sometimes they’re not even that great.  But, if one can combine scraps, with cute, quick and simple ... well, then.  Now we're onto something.

    And that is how these little cuties were born!

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornaments

    Size:  3 1/2" square

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    What you need:

    Nine 1 1/2" squares cotton quilting fabric (i chose four white, four green and one red ... but you can choose any colors you want)

    One 3 1/2" square cotton quilting fabric to match

    One 3 1/2" square of fusible batting

    One 6" length of mini ric-rac

    Start Sewing:

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    1)  Sew one green square to both sides of one white square.  Press seams towards the green.  Make 2.  If you're using directional fabrics such as mine be aware of the placement ... unless you don't care they are all going in different directions.  :)

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    2)  Sew one white square to both sides of the red square.  Press to the red square.  Make one.

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    3)  Match seams and sew the two green rows to the top and bottom of the red row.  Press seams open.  (see pic below)

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    A mental note on pressing (which is another complete blog post so this will be short):  Press seams to the side where needed (to match seams) otherwise, press seams open to reduce bulk, especially at corners.

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    4)  Place your mini-block on top of the fusible interfacing.  Be sure the glue side is up!  Otherwise you'll glue the batting to your ironing board.  That would be bad.

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    Quilters Dream sent me samples of their new fusible batting.  All I can say is ... Oh.  My.  Gosh.  It's amazing.  This is the poly that I cut into first.  Once it's gone I'll use the cotton.  If you want to give it a try ask about it at your local quilt store or send them a message!  Be sure to tell them Urban Elementz sent you!!  (as a mental note here ... if they send you the free sample and all you're using is scraps then ... guess what ... you've got free ornaments for all those exchanges in December!)

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    5)  Fold your piece of ric-rac in half.

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    6)  Line up the raw edges of the folded ric-rac with the middle of the raw edge of one side of the mini-block.  Secure with stitching about 1/8" from the raw edge.

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    7)  Lay the 3 1/2" square on top of the mini-block, right sides together, matching all four corners.

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    8)  Pin the four corners.  I guess you could pin the snot out of it but it's so darn little it may not be worth it.

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    9)  Using a 1/4" seam allowance sew around the outside edge leaving a 2" opening at the top.  (i guess it could be any side ... i liked the top though ...)  Remove the pins.

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    10)  Trim the corners.

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    11)  Then, at a steeper (right word?) angle, trim the corners again.  This removes even more of the bulk fabric and batting from the corners.

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    12)  Turn right side out through the 2" opening.

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    13)  Push the corners out with your finger.  (they'll look like this.)

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    14)  Then I went and pushed them out further with this little purple tool.  It's not That Purple Thang, but very similar.  (there's no name on it and i threw the package away years ago ... whoops!)  That Purple Thang or any tool like that would work great for the corners.

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    15)  I then folded the edges of the opening in ...

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    16) and gave it a press.

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament

    17)  Top stitched a little less than 1/8" from the edge so as to close the opening, trimmed the threads and ... voila!  This little cutie guy got to join his friends!!

    Quick Scrappy Christmas Tutorial

    I've got a whole bin full of 1 1/2" squares and a lot of mini ric-rac so I'm going to have some fun.  Maybe try some other variations!

    Thanks for following along.  If you make any please feel free to share a picture of your Quick Scrappy Christmas Ornament with us on Instagram and Facebook!  Be sure to tag us.  :D

    xo,

    ~ heather

  • Stash Guilt

    By Jane Hardy Miller

    I've been thinking about the fabric stash phenomenon lately, mostly because I'm trying to work from my own and minimize my fabric purchases. (Spoiler alert: It doesn't work.) This is partly due to age, mine as well as some of the fabrics', and partly due to space. My own stash has seemingly of its own volition subscribed to the Storage Corollary of the Peter Principle: The amount of stored goods will expand to fill all available space. So I'm trying to make quilts from some of the fabric I have. Luckily I make a lot of scrap quilts so the smaller pieces that I can't bear to toss at least have the possibility of future use. But that's not really the problem; the problem is that even scrap quilts require a unifying factor. Sometimes that can just be value placement, but sometimes you need more of one fabric, and when you're consistently working from your stash you use up the bigger pieces first. The biggest pieces, those large enough for backs, are the easiest to use because the backs don't have to actually match the tops—they just have to sort of blend, and "sort of" can be a very loose term. But the ¾ to 1 yard pieces disappear fairly quickly, or at least are whittled down into smaller, less versatile chunks. In time theoretically all the fabric will be tiny pieces, but even then I could make postage stamp quilts. Continue reading

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