Part 2 – Hopelessly Unenthused October Baby Seeks Joyfully, Non-Creepy Halloween

Hi Quilty Friends,

Okay, remember a few weeks ago when I shared my rather soul-baring story about how Halloween is historically my least favorite holiday?  In the event you need a refresher (or you just plain didn’t read it because maybe creepy, scary, gory Halloween is your chosen bag of chips), you can catch up HERE for Part I of this post.

The update is – I did it! I found something really joyful about Halloween.  In short, it started with seeking. You might remember in my last post that I shared about a really treasured childhood story I loved when I was a kid:

Gus was a Friendly Ghost

I have to mention here that the above book is not actually my copy from childhood.  I didn’t ever have one, just read it whenever I stumbled upon a Weekly Reader copy in a doctor’s office of some kind. This book came from a library book sale I went to in my twenties. Regardless of the fact that it was a crummy copy with a loose binding (a result of all those perforated pages in the beginning which had obviously been torn out for kids to send in for their ‘copy of this book FREE’), I still bought it. It was Gus. I loved Gus and wanted my kids to have a chance to love Gus too.  Even though it was a lousy copy, we read it often.

As also mentioned in my first post – a few years ago, in my quest to find something Halloween happy with which to decorate, I picked up a few more copies of various Gus books. For the last several years, That small stack of books has been my only Halloween decor:

Gus BooksThen…I opened a fabric shop last June.  Everybody knows you have to sell seasonal stuff, right?  Hence, the seeking…

Scary Fabric 1Scary Fabric 2

Scary Fabric 3

Mmm Hmmm…

Sally Ugly Crying

After a while I stopped figuratively blubbering, and kept seeking until finally – I was able to assemble this:

Serendipity 2015 'Happy' Halloween Bundle
Our 2015 Halloween Happy Little Bundle. Fabrics from various Moda lines, and (as you may have noticed) scrumptiously non-creepy, at least from my point of view.

which somehow felt joyful, in part, because it gave me the same warm feeling as this:

Gus was a Friendly Ghost

And what I really wanted to tell you in this Part II post is that as a result, I made this:

My Halloween Joy Quilt, made with fabrics from Moda's Farmhouse, Mixologie, Tiki Tok, Feed Company and Meadowbloom, Kona Snow for the Background and Backing, and topped off with Aurifil 2021 for the machine piecing and quilting.
My Halloween Joy Quilt, made with fabrics from Moda’s Farmhouse, Mixologie, Tiki Tok, Feed Company and Meadowbloom, with Kona Snow for the Background and Backing, and topped off with Aurifil 2021 for the machine piecing and quilting. The pattern is Woven Scrappy Strips, available for digital download at the Fons and Porter website.  With the exception of navigating my blocks to the on-point layout (which is always a little confusing for me, since I don’t do it often), the blocks and quilt went together really fast and both contain only minor imperfections!

…which was triumphant enough in itself, until I stopped to realize that much to the tradition of quilters past and present, I have never – in all the quilts I’ve made – labeled the back of one single quilt I’ve ever made. G’head – gasp, all you wonderfully judicious, never-made-a-quilt-I-didn’t-label quilters out there. I envy the fact that everyone will always know which quilts are yours and which quilts were made by that one gal who never labeled her quilts (thumbs swinging right back this way).

I can’t say there is really a solid reason I haven’t ever labeled any of my quilts, except I guess I’ve just never taken the time; or maybe more that I can’t say that I’ve ever made a quilt for which I wanted to yell from the rooftops – I made this! Even if you see a flaw or a mistake, I don’t care – I made this, it makes me happy, and I’m really proud of it!

Until this quilt.  So I made a label, which began with a sacrifice:

Gus Book Sacrifice 1
Seam rippers are useful for more than just loosening threads from more than just quilt pieces.

And then, go ahead – tell me I’m infringing upon copyright laws – but I think Jane Thayer wouldn’t mind if she knew I’d copied my favorite page (which I know by heart), onto printable fabric for this important something I would never, ever sell…

Gus Quilt Label 1
Toasted. Cheese. Sandwiches. All those pillows, which I envision to be velvet for some odd reason (Aha! Next year’s Halloween craft idea! And I have all year to seek just the right fabrics!)

…especially because I made sure that her name was there too, along with Seymour’s, above mine…

Gus Quilt Label 2

So there it is, friends. My first labeled quilt, and some of the most unbelievable Halloween Joy I have ever felt.

Even if you see a flaw or a mistake, I don’t care – I made this, it makes me happy, and I’m really proud of it:)

P.S. My ‘new’ copy of Gus should arrive within a few days, thanks to the Peach Street Bridge Shop at Etsy, who had a really lovely, gently used copy. In case you didn’t know – I’m a pretty big fan of used books and the shops that so lovingly seek to find new homes for them.  I’ll share more about that another time 🙂

How to Fall in Love with Every Fabric in Your Precut Bundle

Today, I had every intention of sharing with you a tutorial of this great little mini quilt I just finished.  I even spent a really loooong time putting it together, but to be truthful – it was so long (and still wasn’t done yet), I decided against finishing it, in exchange for just giving you the nuts and bolts of some things I learned as I made it, that are much more important than a tutorial would be in the first place.

For starters, I’ve been thinking a good deal about how attracted I am to so many little bundles when they’re all neat and tidy in their little roll or stack.

1 Moda Chirp Chirp By MoMo
Take the above little beauty I fell in love with recently and had to have. It’s called Chirp Chirp, designed by MoMo for Moda fabrics. So cute, so springy!
2 See How Pretty?!
I opened it and still loved it!

Invariably, however, as I began to sort through all the difference fabrics in the little collection, I started picking favorites. Then I started separating my favorites from my not-so-favorites.

Can I talk to you for a sec about this not-so-favorite fabric in my Chirp Chirp bundle? It reminds me of a 1978'sh shower curtain.
Can I talk to you for a sec about this not-so-favorite fabric in my Chirp Chirp bundle? All on it’s own, it reminds me of a shower curtain from 1982.

My point is, when I first started using precuts, I was tempted to only use the ones I loved, considering that maybe I could use the ones I didn’t love in some other project. Then I realized that I’d never use them with some other project. Why? Because they’re all meant to go together. What’s more, even the fabric above that reminds me of that dated shower curtain, is really a beautiful fabric on a larger scale!

So with the mini quilt I made this week, I decided to cut in half one fabric strip each of my Chirp Chirp jelly roll, ignoring my preferences, in exchange for just trusting the designer and manufacturer of the fabrics in the collection.

I put all my strips in a bowl and selected each strip blindly as I pieced.
I put all my half-strips in a bowl and selected each strip blindly as I pieced.

Incidentally, I also threw caution to the wind and didn’t press a single block until it was finished.

Look how awful it looks before I pressed it :/
I knew it was straight though, because I cut my strips perpendicular to the straght edge of the block, every time I cut, even if it looked uneven with the other edge of the block.
I knew it was straight though, because I cut my strips perpendicular to the straight edge of the block, every time I cut, even if it looked uneven with the other edges of the block. See how the top edge aligns with the backwards 9 measurement line? (it’s backwards because I’m a lefty, folks. I roll with backwards often. I consider it character building!)

Anyway – when I did get to pressing each block, one edge at a time, they all turned out straight.

...and hmmm. Those fabrics sort of look pretty darn good together, don't they?
…and hmmm. Those fabrics sort of look pretty darn good together, don’t they?

My finished Chirp Chirp Mini Quilt

Barn-Raising Mini Quilt Tutorial
Eureka…just as I suspected. Even though individually I wasn’t fond of every single fabric of my jelly roll on its own – I LOVE how each fabric plays it’s own role. See the shower curtain fabric in there?  Looks great doesn’t it?
My relatively recent love affair with Aurifil thread is also going strong! I pieced and machine quilted with Aurifil 50 wt, 2021 which is the perfect Natural White to match my background fabric.
My recently acquired love affair with Aurifil thread is still going strong too. I pieced and machine quilted with Aurifil 50 wt, 2021 which was the perfect Natural White to match my background fabric.
Even Sophie Bunny loves our new Chirp Chirp quilt!
Even Sophie Bunny loves our new Chirp Chirp quilt!

And there it is – my favorite quilt project to date with lots of good thing learned.

Happy chirpy, springy, quilty Friday, friends!


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!


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.


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,


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.

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.