I know, I know…it’s been a while, again! That said, what a wonderful November we had at Serendipity Woods Shop! While it’s true that we’ve been bringing in lots of pretty new individual fabrics every day, we’ve also brought in some pretty full collections too, like…
We’re also extra excited for the continued growth of our very own cheerily entitled Happy Little Bundles section. It’s actually the fastest growing section of our shop!
Some of our newest bundles include:
But I really want to tell you about another new addition that’s arrived in the Happy Little Bundles section – we call them Happy Little Scrappy Stacks, and they look like this:
…and a lap full for Sophie, who’s feeling quite festive these days.
Happy Little Scrappy Stacks…
with pretty bows…
Happy Little Scrappy Stacks are made up of 100 – 2.5″ precision cut pieces of 50 different fabrics. ‘How am I supposed to make a quilt out of that?’ you ask?
Easy peasy. Here’s one for ya…
…you pair each of your 100 – 2.5 squares with some 2.5″ Kona Snow strips to go around each one (sewn just like a log cabin block only without so many rounds), use 1.5″ strips of Kona Medium Grey (or any other handsome solid that strikes your fancy) for sashing strips, sandwich it, quilt it, toss on a binding – and you’ve got a 72″ square Happy Scrappy Quilt. It goes together quite quickly too!
This week, I’m moving on to creating a quilt with Hazel – a line mentioned above by Allison Harris of Cluck, Cluck, Sew. You may or may not see what I see, but I’m in love with this fabric line because even though it’s awfully springy – it has struck me from the start as quietly and JOYFULLY Christmassy too. I’ve decided to whip up up a quilt designed by Lori Holt (of Bee in my Bonnet/Farm Girl Vintage fame) called Sugar Stars.
Happy December, friends. I’m going to work really hard at getting right back here by week’s end with a post of my finished Sugar Stars Hazel quilt. Thanks, as always, for sticking with me 🙂
Whew! What a whirlwind of a July and already HALF of August! Happy Thursday, All. I’m inclined to apologize once again for how long I’ve been away from my CLH Blog, but as is abundantly clear to me now – the early dynamics of having a Quilt fabric business are more than a bit consuming! With that in mind, how about if I don’t apologize, and just get right at what I’ve been up to! Perhaps I’ll categorize a bit as well, so my head doesn’t just explode onto my keyboard in a completely nonsensical manner…
First – A few views of our shop, this very day:
Studio photos aside, things have been going really great and we’re learning lots! While Superman continues to navigate brilliantly through the financial logistics, storage solutions, and just cheering me on in general, I’ve been having great fun interacting with so many new and returning customers, as I ship them the treasures they’ve been finding in our little shop.
Especially popular in our shop:
One more thing I have to admit – I’ve been bitten by the Farm Girl Bug myself! A few of my blocks…
We’ve also had some pretty impressive (and unexpected) success with all kinds of patterns in our shop!
While we still put emphasis on selling precuts because they’re so versatile, we’ve started to also carry yardage. Recently, we picked up the whole line of Tree of Life by Sue Zipkin for Clothworks.
Okay – so I think I ought to wrap this post up so I can get some much needed sewing done! Before I do that, I wanted to share one more recent addition to our shop that I’m particularly excited about. To preface, we’ve been thinking about the fact that an awful lot of quilting going on today is of the scrappy nature. So great quality fabrics at great prices for stash building is important to you, and we’re on it! We’re thrilled to introduce a whole dedicated shop section called Serendipity SALE. It’s all the same premium quality fabric we pride ourselves in carrying (Currently from Penny Rose and Riley Blake – but look for more manufacturers as we go along!), all at $3.00 per half yard/$5.95 per yard.
I’ll bet you know that I’ve lots more I’m dying to spill into this post – but how about if I just hold tight and give you a ‘Next up’ hint…It’s scrappy, classic, and interactive – all at the same time. Stay tuned!
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.
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.
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.
Incidentally, I also threw caution to the wind and didn’t press a single block until it was finished.
Anyway – when I did get to pressing each block, one edge at a time, they all turned out straight.
My finished Chirp Chirp Mini Quilt
And there it is – my favorite quilt project to date with lots of good thing learned.
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 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 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):
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.
Happy Organized Quilting!
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!)
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:
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, 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:
Are 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
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.
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!
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…
While I was moving about my studio, I noticed Charlotte busying herself too, collecting scraps.
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…
Which now brings me to what surrounds our little list, which is posted on the side of our ‘New Fabrics’ shelving unit.
We’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.
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.
Oh. and YES – I made something with my April Showers layer cake: A 5″ quilt.
‘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.
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%.
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.)
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.
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.
I 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.
As 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.
A 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!
Oh 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.
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.
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!