Considering my quilting is on temporary hold these days, I thought now would be a good time to talk about “the journey of quilting”. As a child, I grew up loving to sew, thanks in part to a loving Grandmother and Aunt, who shared with me their love of sewing. Later in life I discovered quilting; yes, that’s when the quilt bug bit me! So grab a cup and get ready to go on a journey with me!
Most of us have that desire deep inside to be bargain shoppers and many go crazy at the thought of a sale. For us quilters it’s the same excitement – there’s nothing better than going to a fabric sale, or getting together with quilt buddies and going on a shop hop! Just the anticipation of discovering gorgeous new fabrics, patterns and new ideas, it can sure get your blood to pumping. Plus, the food, oh gosh yes, let’s not forget finding those perfect cafés in those out of the way places that will leave us talking for days about the great food! Yes, a shop hop can do wonders for our creative spirits.
Visiting a quilt shop (SHOP), is so much fun to just stand there and take it all in; all new fabrics, samples, etc., plus meeting and talking with individuals who share the same love, is such a treat. I personally find my imagination begins to run wild as I gaze upon the fabrics, bringing ideas into mind that I have to resist least I go broke!! Yet the “feel of the fabric” is so relaxing, dissolving the stresses and cares of the day away with each stroke! Oh my gosh, I’m sure many of you are saying…”she’s weird”. Not really, think of the times you’ve stopped by a SHOP and your mind is bogged down with the cares of the day, but once you leave you find your spirits are lifted and you feel much better than before. To me, that’s the best pick-me-up! From my days of working at the SHOP, I still remember the feel of excitement as the delivery man arrives with new boxes of fabrics; why the anticipation of what’s inside the box was similar to that of opening presents on Christmas morning!
So let’s talk for a moment on purchasing fabrics at SHOPS. For the most part, fabrics at SHOPS are “1st run” from the fabric mills. Manufacturers like Moda, Benartex, Wilmington, Marcus, Blank, Robert Kaufman, Hoffman, Michael Miller, RJR, Windham, Henry Glass, to name just a few, produce quality fabrics. You may have a favorite manufacturer, as I do, but I’m always open to new ones as long as they produce quality fabrics. Most of the larger stores that have fabric, have good fabric, but many times it’s not the “1st” run. Some vendors are large enough that they order large commercial size rolls, then subdivide into smaller bolts and ship those to their stores. Again, don’t get me wrong, most of these are good quality fabrics, but many are “blends” and not 100% cotton, which is the best for making quilts. I remember one specific instance when I ran out of a certain fabric and someone told me they’d seen the same fabric at one of the big fabric stores. Upon inspection, I held the fabric up and what do you know… I could see right through it – I said “no thanks, that’s not going in my quilt”! I’m not quite sure which “run” that fabric was from, but I do believe it could have been better used as a sieve! So just remember, you get what you pay for!
Ok, back on our journey…we’ve purchased our fabric and pattern and once home, the cutting begins. Ugh, I must admit that cutting is not my favorite part, but it needs to be done. Now I can just hear a few of you saying “wait, she didn’t talk about pre-washing her fabric before cutting”. No, most of the time I don’t pre-wash the fabric. From my experience at the SHOP, fabric reps were always saying the dyes now being used are better and for the most part, do not bleed and run, thus reducing the need to pre-wash. So I decided one day to give it a try and as the saying goes, haven’t looked back since! When it comes to “reds”, I still feel the need to rinse the fabric under cold water, dry and press. Please remember that pre-washing/rinsing the fabrics rinses out the fabric stabilizers and finishers that have been applied to the fabric. So if you do pre-wash, you’ll want to use a good quality fabric starch on fabric before cutting. Then once the quilt is finished, it should be washed in cold water, then dried. Now here’s a tip you may want to try – I always use a “SHOUT Color Catcher” with my quilt; simply toss one in with the wash. The color is then collected on the sheet rather than bleed on your quilt. Believe me they work….I even use these when I’m washing new garments…
Back to cutting; being anxious to start piecing, I find the quickest cutting method is to use a rotary cutter and ruler. There are many different “cutting machines” on the market that are advertised to make the process easier and quicker; the Accuquilt, the Go Cutter, and Brother, plus many more. Most of these machines use dies to cut the fabric, which to me results in a lot of “waste”. Hmm, what generation did I come from….I’ve watched as many quilters at the SHOP, use the cutting machine and then simply toss the scraps into the trash or a recycle basket at the shop. Ok, so we don’t need all those bits and scraps of fabric, but just saying, some do come in handy for another project. Now for me, I can usually cut it quicker and smarter than a machine, and still have fabric left over for another project! HA, imagine that, me smarter than a machine. Again, I’m not saying these machines are not great – I’m just saying at this point in my quilting experience, I’d rather use a rotary cutter and a ruler. Now if you do appliqué, then one of these machines may just be what you need.
One additional thought on cutting….If you are new to quilting, there are various types of rotary cutters; Fiskers, Olpha’s, Clover, Ergo, Gingher and many more. So if you have a quilter friend, ask them to try theirs first, as our hands are all different and what feels good to me may not be the same for you. It’s heck to purchase a cutter, get home and not like the feel of it, so when possible, always try it out first.
Next up, piecing….however, since I’ve held you captive long enough, let’s stop here and we’ll pick up on our journey next time. Please leave me your thoughts and ideas and do come back and finish the “journey” with me.
Till next time –