Friday, December 18, 2015

Fabric, fabric, everywhere - and making a plan to use it

Seersucker plaids and stripes for shorts and capris, batik gauze
for tops and solids that went into the stash.
I firmly believe that, like chocolate, with fabric you can't have too much of a good thing. But.... sometimes you need to slow down, take stock and see what's going on. Since the end of the year is traditionally the time for taking stock, and making plans, I thought I'd start with my recent fabric acquisitions and some thoughts on how and why I shop.

Garment fabrics plus some quilt fabrics, on the right. The
snowflake fabric on top will back Christmas items.
The last couple of years have not been much for sewing or creating art, as shown by the lack of blog posts. Work and life in general just took up all my energy. And I've realized that when I'm not sewing, I don't buy fabric. I guess that's a good thing, as I know of people buying when they can't sew, or buying instead of sewing. But when I don't have the time/energy for sewing, I don't have it for anything sewing related - email groups, magazines or fabric shopping. In 2014, I don't think I bought much fabric at all, unless it was for a specific project.

Coordinates, plus two extras,
for star sampler.
After the beginning of 2015, when the only thing I sewed was new curtains for our restaurant, I finally started getting my "mojo" back. I started with pulling out a couple of UFOs that didn't need much work, a Twisted Bargello in batiks and a do-it-yourself Round Robin I led for the quilt guild where I formerly lived.

A little of everything
Then I got the chance to go to North Carolina for our annual gathering of sewing machine collectors, which I'd missed the previous two years. It always inspires me to see and play with all the machines, see the work others have done and make our traditional trip to Mary Jo's Cloth Store in Gastonia. I was thinking of making some new shorts and tops, and found some nice solid color cottons at Mary Jo's, but didn't really buy much. Then I went to the new JoAnn's near our hotel and found they had cotton garment fabric half off - and had some beautiful batik-style gauze fabrics, perfect for tops, and great seersucker plaids and strips, perfect for shorts and capris. Bought some on my first trip, then went back with friends and bought more. Then got home and found a few at my local JoAnn's that the other store didn't have. That was my first fabric splurge of the year.

Backings, backings, they even included the bolts.

Which brings me to another thought about when and why I buy fabric. When I have the chance to buy good fabric at a good price, I buy a lot. And then I shop from my stash. I didn't do this when I was making clothing. I started making my own clothes in ninth grade. For many years I'd buy fabric which I had a general idea what I'd do with it, make things and buy more. I didn't always get to the project - I remember a beautiful piece of winter-white wool I bought planning to make a coat. I never got around to it and don't know what happened to that fabric - it may still be in a container in storage!
More backings. the red floral at
bottom will back the star sampler.

But during that time, I had easy access to good fabric shops. I loved Cloth World (which later transformed into JoAnn's) and later Piece Goods Shop.

But by the time I began quilting, in 2000, I lived in a fabric desert. The only fabric with 20 miles was a Wal-Mart - with a fairly decent fabric department at that time. Drive 30 miles in the other direction and there was another Wal-Mart, a very small independent shop, and a medium sized fabric store which closed soon after I discovered it. For a quilting store or even JoAnn's, I had to drive 90 to 100 miles each way.

So I got into the habit of shopping when traveling and visiting Mary Jo's, quilt shops, fabric stores, and shopping from my stash. That works well for what I do.

Some Christmas fabrics. I don't "do"
flannel, but loved the trees.
One thing I don't usually do is make quilts from coordinated sets of fabrics. But in July, Connecting Threads (one of my very favorite online shops) had a collecting in red, silver and blue, with 30s style prints, on sale. I bought most of the collection - skipped the chevrons - and later added a couple coordinating prints from the local quilt shop. I've started a star sampler with those fabrics.

Early in the fall, I made another big purchase from Connecting Threads, then a small splurge at the local quilt shop, including some great sewing theme fabric. Then Black Friday and Saturday hit, and I did some damage at JoAnn's. The bulk of the fabric I bought there was for backings for quilts. I am up to close to 20 quilt tops to quilt, including the vintage tops I bought in 2014. I now have enough backings for all the finished tops, and a few in progress. And if anything is left over, I still have a big pile of vintage quilt blocks from last year's find, and even bigger pile of blocks from exchanges.

A little of this, a little of that. Some backings, some neutrals
for stash and some just because.

So I am set to sew! I'm working on a plan for the new year for all the things I want to do, but that's a topic for another post.

More later!
And scraps! Someone brought this wonderful bag of scraps
for the giveaway table at guild. I'm already making plans.


Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I'm lucky to live near lots of great quilt shops, and a few Joann's. There are also some great thrift stores, where I can find good, quality quilting fabrics, that others have donated. I'm in 2 different quilt guilds, with lots of philanthropy, and also Quilts of Valor, so, I 'shop' with those things in mind, and, frequently 'pass on' some of my great fabric finds, for those projects (I can't sew everything myself). Some of my ladies don't have the extra cash to purchase all the fabrics, but, they love to sew for philanthropy. It's a win-win for all of us.

Nann said...

I enjoyed reading your stats accumulation story. I still have some winter-white wool, bought at a mill outlet, for something like $1/yd, intended for a suit. Sounds as though you will have a pleasant an d productive quilting year in 2016.