Oh, the Bundles We Grow!

Well, it’s officially July – and the Summertime livin’ is still easy…except now I’m filling it up with more sewing projects!

On the heals of my recent introduction of our newest Happy Scrappy Stack additions in the shop – I wonder if it’s obvious enough that I kind of have a thing for assembling fabrics that cozy up comfortably with one another. What’s more, even though it does take a little time, I kind of get a kick out of cutting fabric up and assembling it into tidy little, inspiring bundles for you (and for me!).

Okay – so I get that it’s taken me a hot minute to introduce what the above IG-posted images are all about, but great things require time and evoooolving, friends! Continue reading “Oh, the Bundles We Grow!”

Studio Organization and Precut Storage

I’m one of those weird people that has a really hard time creating when things are cluttered. In fact, as I ponder the condition of the rest of my house as opposed to my studio, it’s a bit embarrassing to recognize out loud that this place, my world of creativity, is the neatest, tidiest, most organized spot in the house! I suppose that’s because the rest of the house belongs to ‘us,’ therefore I have this pie-in-the-sky idea that one of these days, my kids will start miraculously cleaning up after themselves!

At any rate, before I zip off to tackle that pile of laundry that’s overflowing atop the (very large) ottoman in the living room, I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some tips on studio organization to help you stay motivated and creative!

For starters, I recommend you get to know my old, extraordinarily useful friend, the 3M command hook.

My most excellent Olfa Splash rotary cutter lives right here, alongside my cutting table.
My most excellent Olfa Splash rotary cutter lives right here, alongside my cutting table.
This is the side of what is now my 'new' fabric shelving unit, which houses all of the fabric I've collected since abandoning my 'old' fabric collection (as detailed in my 'First 4 Posts' Category here at the blog).
This is the side of what is now my ‘new’ fabric shelving unit, which houses all of the fabric I’ve collected since abandoning my ‘old’ fabric collection (as detailed in my ‘First 4 Posts’ Category here at the blog).
Call me an organizational loony, but I'm not a fan of stacking my precuts, especially after I've broken them open. I like to keep the usable bits together with its respective bundle as well, so I don't lose track of which fabric is part of which collection.
Call me an organizational loony, but I’m not a fan of stacking my precuts, especially after I’ve broken them open. I like to be able to see them and also keep the usable bits together with its respective bundle as well, so I don’t lose track of which fabric is part of which collection.
Lastly, see how the binder clips link together, so I can layer the precuts easily and flip through them to find just the right fabric for my project?
Lastly, see how the binder clips link together, so I can layer the precuts easily and flip through them to find just the right fabric for my project? And oh yeah…more 3m Command Hooks that I can easily move if necessary.

My actual shelves look admittedly scant at the moment, since I’ve only begun gathering fabric collections of mostly precuts.  That said, it is organized with purpose so I can find everything I need, when I need it, and it SPEAKS CREATIVELY to me. I think that is the key.

I do currently house some of my precuts in a stacked fashion, since I'm also a fan of cheery little bins and buckets. I found the rectangular wooden box as well as the 'Flowers & Garden' bucket at Target, in their little $3 or less section right in the front of the store.
I do currently house some of my unopened precuts in a stacked fashion, since I’m also a fan of cheery little bins and buckets. I found the rectangular wooden box as well as the ‘Flowers & Garden’ bucket at Target, in their little $3 or less section right in the front of the store.

Fabric Folding

I recently stumbled upon a rather lengthy video detailing how to fold your fabric neatly. I’ve been organizing my fabric the same way for years, with a few other purposeful practices in mind (and I’d rather show you in quick photos than link you to a long video that shows you the same thing):

Lay Each Piece Out Completely
No matter how long it is, lay in out lengthwise with selvedges lined up together. As long as the selvedges line up well, there’s no need to open it completely.
Then Fold it again, width-wise.
Then fold it again, width-wise. This will represent the width of all your stacks, about 12″, given that the majority of quilt fabrics are 42-44″ wide.
Then (no matter how loooong it is) bring your cut ends together.  This way, if you need to ever cut several strips at once, you can cut twice as many at a time, or just one strip, by just laying the top end back.
Then (no matter how loooong it is) bring your cut ends together. This way, if you need to ever cut several strips at once, you can cut twice as many at a time, or just one strip, by just laying the top end back.
As you continue to fold your yardage, try to utilize as much of your shelf depth as possible (so you have the most room for more fabric!). Sometimes that means your last fold will me in thirds rather than in half.
As you continue to fold your yardage, try to utilize as much of your shelf depth as possible (so you have the most room for more fabric!). Sometimes that means your last fold will be in thirds rather than in half.
And Presto. Tidy flat fold.
And Presto. Tidy flat fold.

The last series of photos I want to share are of my cutting table. They warrant sharing as a result of another video I watched recently about a how to make a certain block I’ve been interested in learning.  Though the instruction was excellent, the process throughout the construction of said block made me want to cringe, there were so many scraps flying and bits laying all over. As I said, I can’t create well if my space is a mess – so I reach for ways to keep it neat as I go along.

This is my cutting table. Aside from when I am actively working on something, it almost always looks like this, or not far from it at least.
This is my cutting table. Aside from when I am actively working on something, it almost always looks like this, or not far from it at least.
Ever single time I cut anything, the waste goes directly in here. I think primarily the reason I am so relentless about keeping my cutting area clutter free is that I don't want to cut anything that isn't supposed to be cut, nor do I want anything beneath what I AM cutting, which can affect the precision with which I cut it.
Every single time I cut anything, the waste goes directly in here, immediately. It’s just a good habit I got into in the early days of my sewing experience. I think primarily the reason I am so relentless about keeping my cutting area clutter free is that I don’t want to cut anything that isn’t supposed to be cut, nor do I want anything beneath what I AM cutting, which can affect the precision with which I cut it.
Admittedly small, given that because I'm starting with a new fabric stash, I intend to also have the scraps from said stash, all together and uncluttered by my retired stash.
Admittedly small, this is my scrap basket, which sits right on the other upper corner of my cutting mat. Essentially, if it doesn’t go into my waste bin, it either goes in here, or if it’s a larger piece, along with the fabric or bundle it belongs with. When it gets full, it goes in a larger bin.
I tend to keep my most used books handy, along with whatever background fabric I'm using at the time as well.  The little box? Well, doesn't that just work perfectly for my little 6
This is the other half of my cutting table. I tend to keep my most used books handy, along with whatever background fabric I’m using at the time as well. The little box? Well, doesn’t that just work perfectly for my little 6″ Farm Girl Vintage Blocks, while I make them?

Happy Organized Quilting!

Pam

Next Up:

An update on my Farm Girl Vintage Quilt Along progress, and hopefully a tutorial (if my darn 3.5″ rolie polie would get a move on and show up in the mail already!)

Post 4: Rainy Days, Cheer-Up Bundles, and Precut Storage

For the second day in a row, I awakened to dreary, rainy weather. I like rain, I do – especially when I imagine how fat the little baby robins atop my porch post must be getting as their parents busily harvest the plentiful worms from our yard.  Spring is my favorite for all the reasons that make me loathe winter.  It’s fresh, it’s comfortable, and there is just something magical about witnessing the coming alive of things, year after year. So I get it…rain is necessary and rain is good; but it makes me have to seek out things to brighten my mood rather than just looking out a window or smelling the fresh breeze.  Fortunately, my growing stash of precuts was just the place to look!

Of course I forgot to snap a before-I-cut-it photo of the first precut bundle I bought after finally ditching my 'No-Fabric-Buying-for-a-Year Resolution'; but isn't it just heavenly?!
Of course I forgot to snap a before-I-cut-it photo of the first precut bundle I bought after finally ditching my ‘No-Fabric-Buying-for-a-Year Resolution’; but isn’t it just heavenly?!

I have to say, of all the persistent nudges – the Moda April Showers Collection by Bonnie and Camille was probably the one that made me rethink my resolution the most. I love everything about it, especially the way it makes rainy weather feel joyful instead of gloomy.  So I started cutting…and sewing, and cutting some more…

April Showers & Daysail Aurifil
Of note (surprisingly), the Aurifil thread collection that coordinates with Daysail (also for Moda by Bonnie and Camille) matches April Showers quite nicely!

While I was moving about my studio, I noticed Charlotte busying herself too, collecting scraps.

Charlotte's Favorite Scraps
Oddly enough, Charlie’s favorite scraps are mine too.

Well, leave it to a little studio bunny to give me a great idea about what to do with those too-tiny-to-really-make-anything-with scraps…

'Need More of These' list
Our list of fabrics we love and warrant the purchase of yardage, beyond just the precuts we own (and *gasp* might run out of!)

Which now brings me to what surrounds our little list, which is posted on the side of our ‘New Fabrics’ shelving unit.

Organizing PrecutsWe’re using these handy (and also quite cheerful) little binder clips, which come in varying sizes, colors, and patterns, if you know were to look.

Binder Clips for Precut Bundle Storage
We found ours at Office Depot, but Target has some lovely ones too.

Outside of keeping all the fabrics for each bundle together, I find the binder clips handy for the purpose of keeping the manufacturer and collection name tag right with the fabrics so I can easily keep track in case I want to seek out more.

April Showers Bundle with Handy Binder Clip
The binder clips allow me to keep all my scraps and the accompanying informational tag right with the bundle so they don’t get mixed up. I can even hang it up on a 3m hook (which are also one of my favorite studio supplies).

Oh. and YES – I made something with my April Showers layer cake: A 5″ quilt.

It's the umbrellas in this collection that sucked me in, but also the fabric I used for the binding. LOVE.
It’s the umbrellas in this collection that sucked me in, but also the fabric I used for the binding. LOVE.

April Showers 5‘It’s awfully small for a mini quilt, and kind of too big for a coaster, isn’t it?’  Yep. That’s because it’s neither.

It's meant to live here, beneath my presser foot when I'm not using my machine, so that every time I sit down to my machine, it makes me feel cheery :)
It’s meant to live here, beneath my presser foot when I’m not using my machine, so that every time I sit down to sew, it makes me feel cheery.

I wish you a happy (now sunny here) quilting day!

Pam

Post 3: What I’ve learned about Fabric, Precuts, and How to Bail on a New Year’s Resolution with Class

Up until now here at Charlotte Loves Henry, I’ve been a bit vague about my intended purposes for this blog, in exchange for just laying out the general feel and idea of the site itself. Beyond that, however, what started with a now defunct New Year’s resolution has evolved to bring me to a very new place as an experienced quilter. I think is worth sharing and as I’ve said, I don’t want to figure all sorts of things out and then start blogging about it; I want to share as I go along.

It starts like this – I’ve been quilting for about 20 years. I’ve learned lots about piecing and cutting and precision. Though every day is, and should be, a learning day, I’m not a quilting newby. Still, no matter how experienced I’d become, there was always something with which I struggled to streamline:

How to buy fabric I loved and could truly use effectively all the time,

without just looking at on my shelf in a befuddled stupor 50% of the time

while muddling through and making due the other 50%.

As of January 1, 2015 - this was my fabric stash. Lovingly gathered throughout 20+ years of quilting (and many quite dear to my heart), but frankly, a jumbled collection of unstructured nonsense as I look at it today.
As of January 1, 2015 – this was my fabric stash; lovingly gathered throughout 20+ years of quilting (and many patterns quite dear to my heart), but frankly, a jumbled collection of unstructured, frustrating nonsense as I look at it today.

Over the years, this is what my fabric-buying tendencies resembled (and I suspect I’m not alone):

  • I’d get sucked into any fabric department that existed in any store (including actual big-box fabric stores like Field’s and JoAnn’s, but also craft stores like Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, my local Meijer store and yes even Walmart on occasion. (hey, the first step toward reconciliation is honesty, or so my 7-year-once-catholic-school-girl self was led to believe…I beg you not to judge). Moving on…
  • Once in the clutches of said fabric/craft department, at least one bolt, remnant, or fat quarter leapt somewhat uninvited into my hands, subsequently forcing me to begin the following lengthy, multi-step process that starts with…
    •  Oooooh…PRETTY! (and evolves to…)
    •  Will this match that ONE fabric I’ve had in my stash for eons, such that I can finally use it?
    • If it’s a fat quarter or remnant, are there more if this same pattern in this bottomless bin (which then evolved toward the digging/sifting process of pulling out each one that matched what was in my hand, deciding that if there are 20, I’d have to buy all of them just in case, since Lord knows I’d never find this fabric again)?
    • If so (or no – since the wrestling still ensued), I then began to rub the fabric between my fingers for an undetermined amount of time, while squinting at it up close to ascertain the thread count and overall fabric quality

Okay – since I suspect you get my point, I’ll stop there. What I’m really trying to express is this one thing:

Fabric shopping shouldn’t be that hard.

Regardless, I went about collecting fabrics over the years, becoming pretty proficient as a quilter, yet still never really feeling like my fabric stash was working for me.  It wasn’t until after I set a New Year’s Resolution goal to resist buying fabric for 2015 (so I’d be forced to use up my stash) that I truly began to appreciate just how little useful fabric I had IN my stash. The reality was this – I had nice fabric of good quality and no argument could be made to the contrary, but:

  • If I wanted to match anything with it, at least 50% of it bore no design or manufacturer name along the selvedge edge. So even if there had been a grouping of coordinated fabrics along with it when I bought it, I had no way of going about finding what they were.
  • Some of my fabric I had several yards of, which I didn’t really need, but had bought for the simple fear I might want or need more but would never be able to find it again. Know what I figured out? Just because I love a fabric at first sight, doesn’t mean I’ll want to use it for the next twelve quilts.

Simultaneously, as all these things were occurring to me, I was still committed to NOT buying fabric. I started following fabric and notions manufacturers on social media, and also other quilters who seemed to have such a miraculously easy time assembling gorgeous quilts that I knew I was just as capable of creating. I began to recognize fabric collections by name and manufacturer, all assembled into large groupings of fabrics that coordinated together. Then I started shopping around online (without buying, mind you), seeking out fabric specifically by name. I could even find some fabric collections that were out of print if I looked in the right place, because I knew their name. Lastly, and most importantly, I’d done my research, I knew I could depend upon the quality of the fabric, so no squinting, fabric-feeling or guesswork would be needed!  So I bought a Moda 5″ square charm pack online and tried it…and that was THAT.

Eureka.

That’s when I gave myself permission to bail (the rest of the way) on my resolution and try out some other quality manufacturer brands, and while I was at it – I veered away from my forever good quality thread, and tried some Aurifil; an Italian brand of thread I’d heard of and simply thought, ‘Heck. As if it will kill me to try?’ I promise I didn’t spontaneously explode (obviously), and my seams lay flatter too.

The photo below I’m calling:

Did you know that Precuts are brilliant?

(and see my little thread bowl beneath Henry’s left foot? That’s my collection of awesome Aurifil threads.)

This is my new (heavenly) fabric stash, most notably, a good many precuts.

I’ll talk more about precuts in my next post – why their so great, and especially a cool new way I’ve figured out for storing them.  Perhaps I’ll whip up a fun little tutorial to share too.

Cheers and Happy Quilting,

Pam

PS. Remind me to bridge the topic of this business of ‘scant 1/4″ seam allowances too. I’d like to share about the crummy 1/4″ foot I’ve been using on my Pfaff for years, which, let’s just say, wasn’t terribly accurate to 1/4″, let alone a scant one.

Post 2: Launch Day; Better Late Than Tomorrow!

Whew! By my clock, it’s 9:44pm and doggone it – I said I was going to get this site launched on May 1st, and I’m doing it!  Though it has been an exhausting day, it’s been extraordinarily productive!

For starters, in my last (first) post (which nobody’s read, since I haven’t yet technically launched my site…maybe it wouldn’t hurt for you to read that first…scroll down…yep, that’s it), I mentioned something about there not being any quilts here at my site (which I also explained). Pish. Noble of you to consider waiting (as if you read the post, which you didn’t, so now not only am I explaining the quilt you see at the top of the page, I’m also explaining why it’s there when I said it wouldn’t be).

Plain and simple, I couldn’t launch this, a quilting site, without at least one quilt, no matter how much I may want to take you along on my journey from the very beginning.  So aside from a Women’s Varsity Lacrosse game, a trip to Menard’s with my sweetie, and relentlessly walking two much-too-old-to-still-be-having-accidents-in-the-house puppies, I finished my first Charlotte Loves Henry Quiltworks quilt.

SAMSUNG CSCSAMSUNG CSCI feel like it sort of looks like a full sized quilt when all laid out on the grass on this beautiful day. But it isn’t.

SAMSUNG CSCAs alluded to in my previous post, this is a bunny-sized quilt created at the request of Charlotte and Henry, so they could play cards in the yard without having to sit in the itchy grass.  It measures 24″ x 30″ and was created with my very first little bundle of Moda precuts, which came along with my very first set of (heavenly) Aurifil 50w threads.

IMG_4897A Daysail mini charm pack of 2 1/2″ squares which I combined with some El Gallo yardage (which as you might notice, matches Charlotte’s ears), and some Kona Solid White.  Plain and simple, my goal was to start with plain and simple. Well, it doesn’t get much simpler than 20 – 9-patch blocks!

IMG_4902Oh Gosh – it’s already pushing 10:30 (I’m still launching today, I really am!). Let me just wrap up with a few more photos I just have to share before I drop like a rock onto my pillow.

Charlotte may just be the most photogenic bunny I have ever had the pleasure of creating.
Charlotte may just be the most photogenic bunny I have ever had the pleasure of creating (and she plays a mean game of Rummy to boot).
SAMSUNG CSC
Henry actually won the game, but that’s only because it was his turn to deal and he forgot to shuffle the cards first.

Okay. So that’s that, at 11pm on the nose. Hi and welcome to Charlotte Loves Henry Quiltworks!

Next Post: My first stab at Quilt Along participation. Admittedly, I missed the kickoff for Lori Holt’s Farm Girl Vintage: Farm girl Fridays Quilt Along today in order to get things wrapped up here with my kickoff.  I’m thrilled to say the results of my Monday shopping spree at Sew for a Song’s Etsy Shop to prepare resulted in a happy little (heavy!) package of fabric in the post yesterday.

Mostly Riley Blake Fabrics and a good many from Lori Holt's gorgeous stash of various vintage-y designs, I spent all morning shopping at Sew for A Song's great Etsy Shop.
Mostly Riley Blake Fabrics and a good many from Lori Holt’s gorgeous stash of various vintage-y designs, I spent all morning shopping at Sew for A Song’s great Etsy Shop.

I’ll post a better link tomorrow too, but for now it’s below, in case you’d like to check it out and/or join as well. It’s really awesome. I can’t wait to get started!

http://beeinmybonnetco.blogspot.com/

Cheers and Happy Quilting,

Pam

Charlotte Loves Henry, Post 1

Hello and welcome to Charlotte loves Henry.  It seems a little strange to be writing a ‘first blog post’ when I’ve been blogging for years. You may know me from my original site, Serendipity Woods, where I’ve been crafting and blogging about animals and other wares that I make from recycled clothes. So why the change? Great question; and that one, and more, deserve explanation.

For starters, I’ve long been considering making a change from my original web host to wordpress. There are lots of reasons, but ultimately, let’s just say the old host served my original needs, but not my growing ones. That said, have you any idea how complicated it is to move your online LIFE from one place to another, intact? Let me tell you – it’s brutal. So, for a long while, I just winged it, even though I began posting less and less about the recycling of clothing, and more and more about quilting. Long story short – the hodgepodge was starting to make me twitch, and taking my online presence with me from one place to another seemed less and less important. What’s more, 2015 arrived and little did I know an out-loud declaration to ‘Resist buying new fabric in 2015 and use up my current stash,’ would incite just the opposite, and then some.

My Fabric ALLAs of January 1, 2015, the above is what my fabric stash looked like, all in one place. Many of these fabrics I’d had for eons. Some I loved and treasured, but always seemed to struggle to find other fabrics to coordinate with them on a large scale to make quilts. Some I held onto for the simple purpose that they might ‘match’ something that struck me to make.  As the early part of 2015 progressed, I began to realized that even though I had all this fabric, it looked very little like any of the fabric I’d begun to adore as I stumbled around the web reading blog after blog, and following a variety of quilt makers, manufacturers, and designers on social media.  The other revealing thing I realized was that the vast majority of the fabric I owned – almost none of it possessed a pattern name or designer/manufacturer along the selvedge edge. ‘What does that mean,’ you ask, and ‘why should it matter?’ In a nutshell, it means that although I’ve always been thoughtful to choose fabric that looks and feels like good quality, there were features about fabric-choosing I wasn’t taking into account.

Now, before I lose you into the abyss that is complete and utter – ‘What is your point, really?’ let me just stop there and table a ‘What I’ve learned about fabric’ post for somewhere in the near future.

What I really want to do is wrap up this post by sharing a quick clarity for what happened after that, and what’s to come here at my new place, Charlotte loves Henry (fyi – I’ll explain the name later).  Ultimately, in all that resisting of fabric buying in order to use up what I had, I realized I didn’t want to use up what I had (at least for now).

  • I wanted to start making things like I was seeing online and in current magazines.
  • I wanted to be able to easily seek out a fabric by name and manufacturer (yep, this is where a name along the selvedge edge helps enormously, and not all manufacturers do it). I also wanted to have easy access to other fabrics that were DESIGNED to go along with it.
  • I wanted to start focusing my blogging on other sewing/quilting products like threads and other notions so I could really give people like me a clearer sense of just how to go about making the most of this short life we’re given to make as many quilts as we can! Indeed it starts with great fabric, but there’s a whole lot more to consider!

Last on my list, I wanted to start using and blogging about quality fabric lines and especially PRECUTS. Other than the occasional (non-descript and of marginal quality) jelly-roll with which I had experience, this resistance-to-fabric-buying-resolution had brought me to the realization that (among other brilliant reasons) precut bundles are so great because they include a coordinated collection of heaven – er, I mean, all the fabrics match, and can be combined with solids or used in happy scrappy fashion to assemble just about any yummy, quilty, cheery thing (see what happens when I start thinking about it? I get all befuddled with silliness).

The very last thing I want to clarify in this, my first post, is the answer to the question that you MUST CERTAINLY be asking:  Why is your site/blog so empty, and more importantly – why are there no quilts?  Well, it’s simple, all my past projects don’t really reflect the style I’d like to invoke here. So I had two choices:  Figure all the amazing things I want to share here and lay them all out (and make them) BEFORE I shared my new site with the world (in which case you might think to yourself, ‘wow, this Serendipity Pam chick is a pretty amazing quilter/crafter, which would be a perfectly lovely way to be regarded right off the bat, but…), OR – I could take you along with me in my journey (so we can become amazing together).

I decided on the latter, and am currently in process of building my stash of quality fabrics and precuts.

IMG_4901This is my new stash so far (but OH MAN did I just have some fun shopping for an order that is set to arrive at the end of this week!).  Alongside and above these fabrics, are indeed some of my bunny friends, Charlotte, her dear brother, Henry (who is rarely far from her side) and Big Sophie. Though this blog is not intended to really involve my sharing of recycling projects in the customary way I did at Serendipity Woods, my existing animal friends live all over my studio. Their presence amongst my new venture as cheerful inspiration will undoubtedly find its way into photos, descriptions and tutorials, and of course – the new name of my new place…because Charlotte loves Henry, it’s true – and when you work around that sort of happy, connected joy, it just spills over everywhere.

I hope you stick with me as I share what I learn about great products, cool patterns by my quilting friends and also some of my own as I go along.  Cheers!

Up Next:

Project 1:  A quilt is needed upon which Charlotte and Henry can play cards in the yard (since grass is awfully itchy)

My very first precut project for sharing: A miniquilt project with Bonnie and Camille's Daysail, by Moda.
My very first precut project for sharing: A miniquilt project with Bonnie and Camille’s Daysail, by Moda Fabrics.