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.

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).
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!

Cheers and Happy Quilting,