We’re Up and Running – Really…Finally…and With Bunnies to Help!

Hi All,

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you already know that our new Serendipity Woods Shop is up, running and feeling groovy! While not originally intended, my bunnies just sort of eeked their way into this new, otherwise unrelated, world of quilt fabric and notions, and frankly – I couldn’t be more delighted to have them along.

Charlie, our new resident Aurifil Expert, who really just loves all the colors!
Charlie, our new resident Aurifil Expert, who really just loves all the colors!
Sophie & her Favorite: 1930's Minis
Sophie & her Favorite: 1930’s Minis
Charlotte & Henry with our New (Yummy!) Kona Solids!
Charlotte & Henry with our New (Yummy!) Kona Solids!

And Lastly…

Henry Loves the Blue Wiltshire Daisy Bundle Best.
Henry Loves the Blue Wiltshire Daisy Bundle Best.

As always, I thank you for the support you’ve given us so far.  I promise, now that we are finally really up and running, I’ll be able to stay better in touch!

Cheers,

Pam and Crew

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!)

Why (and how) I Made the Switch to Premium Quilt Fabrics

Happy Monday! I’ve been posting quite a lot about ‘quality fabric buying,’ and up until now (without necessarily meaning to) – I think I’ve been a little cryptic. What I want to share today is what I mean by quality fabric. What I’m really talking about is Premium quilt fabric, but what does that mean and why does it make a difference?

For starters, I’ve been making quilts for a long time. As I’ve said before, I’ve used fabrics that run the gamut, including those that I look at now (from beneath a quilt I spent hours and hours making), and I cringe. The truth is that mostly, I bought what I could afford at the time, and as a young mom of six growing children, it wasn’t a lot. Rarely did I have time to even go to an actual fabric store, so oftentimes it meant strolling through the craft aisle with a cart full of kids, in whatever store I was in for another purpose, being pulled in by a fabric that caught my eye based on pattern, and buying 2 or 3 yards. That fabric was then added to my ‘stash’ for later use and coordination with some fabric (or two or five) I intended to find later (but often never did), once I fell in love with some pattern I’d find in a book. All well and good, right? Not really because half the time I didn’t have that fabric with me the next time I was at the store, which then only meant another one-hit-wonder would catch my attention in the same fashion. So what I wound up with was a bunch of fabric whose patterns I loved, but really didn’t coordinate together.

That said, I certainly had plenty of success over the years at coordinating fabrics together to make quilts. However, the process became about matching colors, which then opened me up to the dilemma of ignoring my discerning eye for quality fabric in exchange for a color or pattern that matched perfectly. Are you beginning to follow me, here? In a word:

Hodgepodge.

Moving on. Let me now share an image of one such fabric that caught my eye in the store a year or two ago:

Cute FabricCute, right? It’s good quality too; 100% cotton, nice dense thread count, very soft, like any good quality fabric should be. And it has lots of colors I like for the purpose of creating a whole quilt, beaming with lively colors! Now let me show you the selvedge edge:

SelvedgeAre you getting where I’m going with this? No pattern name, design collection, nothin.’ What if I need more of this fabric? What if I’m trying to match it perfectly with the same quality, same exact color match, same everything? I could call around and explain what it looks like or search online, but odds are – I wouldn’t find it.

About the time all this started occurring to me, I began learning more about Premium fabric brands and the thoughtful collections they assemble. I fell in love with Moda’s Little Apples, April Showers and Color Me Happy. Then I discovered Riley Blake. Have you SEEN Country Girls? To Norway with Love? EVERYTHING designed by Lori Holt? These are fabrics that a) have a recognizable name I can seek out, b) are great quality so there is no guesswork to be done in terms of even feeling the fabric, because I already know it’s great, and c) are part of collections of several different fabrics intended to coordinate together. There are several premium manufacturers out there; these are just the two I love most.

Aren’t premium fabric brands really expensive?

The answer is yes and no. In general, premium quilt fabrics are of better quality and yes – tend to be more expensive than your average ‘Printed Exclusively for Hobby Lobby Stores’ fabric. There are, however, ways to conquer the price difference from what you or I may have bought previously (see how I plopped you right into my happy little sand pile of Premium quality goodness? That’s because if you are not already basking in my sand pile by your own choice already, I want you to join me!). Here’s how I did it:

  • Once I figured out which collections I was in love with, I started shopping around. I can tell you that some brick-and-mortar quilt stores will carry part of a collection, but not all. I have found that to be true with my local Field’s Fabrics. If you can catch a good sale, you’re in with at least some. That said, I have all of ONE real quilt store in my area (that isn’t a ‘big box’ store like Field’s). I stopped in about six months ago, for the first time, delighted to meet the owner and share my new status as a lover of premium quilt fabric. She then cheerfully walked me around the store, showed me where to find all the different brands and lines (as the energy of this fabric heaven welled up inside me), then told me on the slide that they customarily DO NOT HAVE SALES. What? For a few moments I thought, well, it’s premium fabric; I guess that’s the trade off. Then reality spoke and I left the store, never to return. I suspect that this ‘No Sales’ policy is not universal, so do visit your local merchants and ask questions. If we can support local, I think it’s right to do so, as long as they meet us halfway.
  • I started shopping online. After leaving the aforementioned ‘No Sales’ store, I began to really delve into the online world of fabric shopping. Because I now had names of fabric lines I loved, I could search and compare prices. Craftsy.com is a great source, and they have amazing sales! FatQuarterShop.com is also on the up and up. Lastly, since I have an Etsy shop myself (where I used to sell my recycled animal friends, but am on hiatus for now), I seek to support my comrades. There are some great little sellers out there whose prices are more than fair.
  • Consider last season’s fabric lines. Like fashion, manufacturers are always introducing new lines. If you have to have the new lines right when they come out, you’ll simply have to be comfortable with the MSRP – manufacturer’s suggested retail price (but there are sales to be had – so find them). Otherwise, I find that I’m still discovering some of the retired lines are fabulous enough that I want to grab them before they’re really gone. As a warning, you WILL encounter sellers (on etsy, in particular) that treat retired fabric lines like out of print books, by pricing them sky high because they are out of print. I guess it’s just a matter of how badly you want the fabric as it relates to how much you’ll pay.
  • As previously (perhaps relentlessly) mentioned, I discovered PRECUTS.
    • 2.5″ or 5″ Charm Packs, of the entire line
    • Jelly Rolls or Rolie Polies (depending upon the brand) in either 2.5″ strips or 3.5″ strips, of the entire line
    • 10″ Layer Cakes, of the entire line
    • Fat Eighth, Fat Quarter, or Half Yard Bundles, of the entire line
Charlotte's favorite activity:  Playing with my fabrics. She's quite a little coordinator!
Charlotte’s favorite activity: Playing with my fabrics. She’s quite a little coordinator!

The thing about precuts is that although if you really add it up, they are a bit more costly by volume than yardage, I believe it’s worth the trade-off. They allow me to incorporate a variety of fabrics into my quilt projects, especially when combined with solids like white or ecru, to really accentuate the patterned fabrics. I recommend either Moda Bella Solids or Robert Kaufman Kona Solids. They tend to be more reasonable in price than the printed fabrics created by these same premium manufacturers, yet still the same great quality. The best part is that most big box stores sell the entire collection of solid colors, so I can find them locally.

Next Up:

Storing your Precuts: My Eureka Technique