A BOM Update & Why You Need a Sewing Corner

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A tiny upcoming BOM hint.

First – a BOM update in the form of the above photo.  Yes indeed, kits are being assembled and gorgeousness is about to happen, friends!  We’ve still got a little over a month before the July 22nd first ever Serendipity Woods Block of the Month project kickoff and I’m pleased to announce that already – the response has been extraordinary!  Rather than spend too much time reiterating about it (of course if you need a refresher or are newly in-the-know about it and want more info – DO click the link – quicklikeabunny!), I want to inspire some thoughts on sewing spaces and why they matter.

First, let me start by saying I completely GET that for most of us, available space is at a premium, especially in busy homes with children. Often that means sewing machines come out of a closet when needed, only to be tucked back into that closet when we’ve whipped up whatever something we wanted or needed to make.  Sometimes that’s unavoidable and it is what it is; yet its hard to feel inspired to sew when the process of sewing involves SETTING UP all the time.  Ideally, having a space somewhere where all our sewing happiness can live without having to be put away is so great because it allows us to sit down to sew whenever the mood strikes or whenever the free time presents itself (like naptime…oh yes, I remember naptime!).

When my kids were small, my machine was set up in a fairly large space in our basement.  It worked great because for one thing, my sewing space didn’t have to be neat all the time! It was also right off our family room so the kids could be playing nearby and I was close if they needed me.  The other great thing about basement sewing spaces is that often there’s plenty of room to spread out. I took a moment to search ‘Basement sewing room’ (since I just don’t seem to have a photo of mine from the past) and just LOOK what I found:

Miss sews a lot Sewing Space Progress
This space belongs to Miss Sews A Lot and reminds me a fair bit of my (past) basement sewing studio – in a word: SPACIOUS!

Now, while I do miss the spaciousness of my basement sewing studio, I learned a couple of things – first of which is that I honestly don’t technically  need that much space all in one spot (but trust me, I love spare closets!). Not to mention – the biggest drawback to having a basement sewing studio is DINNER; rather, having to drop everything to go upstairs and make it.  I realized what I really wanted to do was to sew some and work some, then sew some and work some more.  I found that with a basement studio, I was less inclined to volley back and forth between the two and more inclined to do one for a long period, then the other. That wasn’t really working for me.

So. Enter a room like this:

Phamplet 1971 Governor's Residence
This isn’t MY formal dining room, nor was it ever (not even in 1965, before I was born, for the record). It’s the formal dining room of the Minnesota Governor’s Residence , just for fun – I picked it so we could all bask in its superfluous, nonsensical (and especially golden) formality.

Formal.  I am not. WE are not. Never have been. But still, for the last few houses, we’ve been graced with a superfluous room – a formal dining room…usually right off the kitchen where clearly I make dinner…or someone (like my handsome Superman) does. Did I mention not technically needing all that much space in one spot?

Fast forward to this afternoon when I took this photo:

Sewing Corner
Yep – you guessed it.  This is a small corner of my dining room, right off our kitchen.  Were it not for the fact that the rest of the room is occupied by bolts (and bolts and bolts) of fabric, I may have more room for my sewing space; but remember – I technically don’t need very much room all in one spot (I could use a little more room for bolts of fabric, however, as evidenced across the hall in Superman’s office. That’s obviously where Bonnie & Camille’s Little Ruby Collection lives).

For sewing – I really just need one corner.  You really just need one corner.

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A foldable TV tray covered with several layers of quilt batting and a layer of Insul Bright with my favorite pretty fabric makes for a great block pressing table.  My iron lives on the little wrought iron shelf/stand too, so it’s handy but not taking up space on the mini ironing table I may want to fold and put out of the way.  See my little basket of fabrics I’m using for one of my active projects? And my scrap bowl, for just especially the scraps I’m using for our BOM project (for reasons I can’t possibly share just this very second)?  All handy and only what I need – not what I don’t. Don’t get me wrong – there are nearby closets for the ‘don’t need right this minute,’ and you’d better believe I use them!
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A portable block pressing board is a must as far as I’m concerned so I can carry my pieces from wherever I’m cutting (in my case, an adjacent table that always has my mat set up, but maybe yours is on your kitchen counter temporarily for the day).  Mine portable pressing board/carrying tray is a Quilter’s Cut & Press by June Taylor that I simply recovered on the one side with my favorite happy fabric. There are a variety of brands out there, but I like this one best because I can hang the handle from my next favorite studio tool…
3m hooks
Never underestimate the value of the almighty 3M Command Hook . I’ve mentioned it in previous posts – I use them everywhere.
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I get it. It may not be practical for you to hang your projects from 3M hooks in your sewing corner, but I love them. What you see are the 3 projects I’m currently working on as well as some clip boards for shop happenings. Even my wire file holder on the wall hangs from 3M hooks. Also, because I can see my WIPs, I’m a whole lot more inspired to spend a few minutes here and there to make progress on them.  It also keeps me thinking twice about starting a new project if I can see the ones that aren’t yet finished. I like to have a few projects going at once, but not too many or my crafty brain gets cluttered.
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Two more magical words: Binder Clips. Another one: Brilliant.

 

Sewing Corner
You’ll obviously see that a good amount of what also occupies this corner is shop stuff – superfluous to your needs as a sewist who just needs a corner of space for sewing.  The printer, the monitor, the patterns on the wall (with more 3M hooks – I’m telling you, they’re genius). The bottom line is that everything is handy and nothing is there that I don’t need to just sit down and sew when I have a free minute or two.  Even my sewing machine…
Charlotte and Jane
…is Jane, my 1956 Featherweight. She’s small, portable, and great for piecing.  I do have other machines and sometimes get them out for various reasons – but I love Jane most because she’s small and usually all I need to sew a nice little seam (or two, or a hundred).

So ‘What’s the update on the Modern Heritage Block of the Month prep,’ you ask? Okay, okay…

Large Cross Block
…one more sneak peek photo of my progress in prepping for our upcoming Modern Heritage Quilts Block of the Month. Of course click on the link if you haven’t yet signed up to join us. It’s going to be incredibly fun!

I’m really excited for us to get started on our Block of the Month project too.  In the meantime though, I wanted you to have a chance to spend a little time thinking about your space and how to make it most inspiring for you to create, JUST when you want to create. I hope you have at least a little sewing corner you can call your own.  I’d love to know more about it, if you feel like sharing.

Until next time – happy sewing 🙂

Pam

Sugar Stars Hazel Quilt – Finished, with Lessons Learned

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Sugar Stars pattern by Lori Holt, created with Hazel by Allison Harris of Cluck, Cluck, Sew for Windham and some Kona White for the background.

Well, remember how totally on FIRE I was a while back with my progress for the above Sugar Stars quilt? Then everyone was like – ‘Seriously? What happened to that quilt she was making? She never. Even. Published. The. Finish.’

It’s true – this is the first time I’m publishing my finished quilt because, as on fire as I was to get it finished, this happened:

Short
The teal pinwheel fabric is my backing, and I cut it THIS MUCH too small.

Wouldn’t you freeze too?  The bottom line is that quilting, like life in general, presents us with brick walls. Sometimes we freeze because, doggone it, we just wanted to start something, move along with a comfortable sense of propulsion, and get it done so we can enjoy the pleasant fruits of our labor.  When we meet those brick walls, however, it sometimes becomes less about propulsion and more about learning something along the way.  My response to that? I didn’t want to learn something along the way…I just wanted to start a quilt and finish it in a timely manner.  No fuss no bother.  Pth.  The Quilting Universe had other plans, evidently.

As it turned out, it took me a while to admit out loud that I had two choices – Either cut a new backing piece (which sounded wasteful and I don’t do wasteful very well, especially when it comes to fabric) or veer to the more time consuming remedy – piece it with scraps.  The cool thing is that my Sugar Stars Quilt is made up of 168 Easy Corner Triangle units like this:

Sugar Stars Units

Which, after sewing a white square in the corner on the diagonal and accurately cutting off the scrap with a rotary cutter and ruler, leaving an exact 1/4″ seam allowance – left me with a whole lot of these:

Sugar Stars lots of Triangles

which I sewed together…

Sugar Stars Pinwheel Sewing

to make these…

Sugar Stars HST Squares
Four of each fabric with lots leftover.

which then could become 3″ pinwheels like these:

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That worked out perfectly if I cut my backing fabric into 4 quadrants, using some of the excess I had lengthwise to create the little 3″ alternating squares.

So as much as I hated how long it took me to rectify my error, I love the back of my Sugar Stars quilt so much more than if I’d cut the backing piece the right size in the first place.

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Oh – in case you wondered, the backing fabric is flannel, and the result of another error I made with our first order of fabric for our shop.

In a nutshell, the fabric is from the Roots and Wings Collection by Deena Rutter for Riley Blake.  It wasn’t supposed to be flannel. I ordered the wrong fabric.  So, even though a fair bit of it did sell at the shop, it was the only flannel we had at the shop and I didn’t want people to get confused as I had been, accidentally buying something they didn’t mean to buy.  So, I’ve used it for the backings of the last two quilts I’ve made. It’s quite soft and has coincidentally coordinated perfectly!

Anyway – one more quilt down, and more quilting lessons learned.  The moral of this story: If you know you’re going to have a whole bunch of scraps that will be about the same size and shape – cut them accurately with a rotary cutter, instead of just lopping them off with scissors at ‘about’ 1/4″.  You might thank yourself later that all your scraps are exactly the same size. I sure did! Happy Sewing, friends 🙂

Oh – Quilt kit. Yes. Here:

Sugar Stars Quilt Kit with Hazel by Cluck Cluck Sew

 

 

 

The Best Sewing Scissors Ever

Happy Monday, All. Though I had not planned it as such (since housework was totally on my docket instead) it’s been a sewing sort of weekend. As for bailing on the housework, all I can say is that sometimes being a mom is really hard, and sometimes housework isn’t what we need to give us the peace we need to ease the pain in our hearts. As I rise this morning to start my day, I’m especially grateful for so many things; my faith, my family, and quilting – because quilting is sometimes the one thing I can do successfully, regardless of my mood. When I quilt, I can be happy or sad; angry or anguished; joyful or relieved. It’s a solitary craft as well, so thinking time is automatically a part of it; but it’s also become for me a way to pull joy into the dreariness that may exist on any given day. That’s a pretty valuable gift and I’m awfully glad of its presence in my life.

Emotional prelude aside, I wanted to share a quilt-related tip about scissors that I thought you might find useful. As I continue to move toward building my quilt business, I’m always reaching for lists assembled by various crafters of what tools are their favorites and why.  Sewing scissors seem to be a bit of an all-over-the-map sort of tool, which seems be a good deal less about what works best, and more about what people just grab on the fly, hoping to cut threads effectively. If I’m being totally honest, I’ve used an awful lot of crappy sewing scissors. The most frustrating ones are those that wouldn’t cut hot butter from the moment I pull them out of the packaging. I could make a wind chime out of the amount of those I have lying around!

Late last week as I was cleaning out a little travel tote I had stuffed full of yarn at some point (likely enroute to another girls’ lacrosse game), I discovered a little pair of scissors I had obviously lost track of. They’d been my grandmother’s and as I think about it, she always kept them in her yarn basket alongside the ‘davenport’ (her fancy word for couch). She too, had lots of other sewing scissors lying around, but it occurred to me that these were the ones she used most and for good reason: They work miraculously well! Except they’re not sewing scissors at all…

Manicuring Scissors for Sewing
…they’re manicuring scissors!
Blunt-tip manicuring scissors are thin and bend upward at the end.
Blunt-tip manicuring scissors are thin and bend upward at the end.
blunt-tipped manifcuring scissors for sewing
The bend allows me to cut my thread nice and close to my fabric, while the blunt end keeps me from nicking my fabric in the process.

Lastly, I have recommended little 3m Command Hooks before – they’re darn handy!

Today's 3m Command Hook installation will hopefully ensure that I never lose my favorite sewing scissors again!
Today’s 3m Command Hook installation will hopefully ensure that I never lose my favorite sewing scissors again!

(note to self: Pick up another pair of manicuring scissors, just in case, the next time I’m at the grocery store…and more 3m hooks).

Cheers and Happy Quilting,

Pam

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.

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.