Wednesday, April 11, 2018

My Fabric Diet

I know I’ve said it in the past, but it’s time I get serious about shedding some weight from my fabric stash. It’s not about the expense or the storage—although either would be good reason to trim my hoard—it’s how all that fabric, already purchased and waiting to be used, affects my creativity.

More and more, I find myself choosing projects or assembling fabric pulls to use up the fabric I have. It’s hard to justify buying the fabric I want to use for a particular project when I already have enough on hand to make many (many) quilts. (I discuss this briefly in my interview for the Creativity Project.) There are even times I think that I quilt to support my fabric-buying habit. I think it should be the other way around.

If my situation resonates with you, can I suggest ways to trim down the fabric you already have and prevent yourself from buying more?

1. Get rid of what you know you won’t use. There’s something helpful and productive about purging what you no longer love or what’s no longer your style. That subpar fabric can affect how you see all the other good and usable stuff in your stash. Any castoffs can be offered to friends, donated to charity, or put up on Instagram or Facebook and sent to a new home. This past February, I gave some of my unwanted fabric to my guild’s annual yard sale. (I wrote about last year’s sale here.)

2. Start with your stash when planning a project. It’s easy to home in on a new quilt design and immediately think that a trip to the quilt shop is in order. When I start playing around with my stash, though, I’m amazed by the potential. Sure, I may need to augment a fabric pull with a new solid or two, but the bulk of many quilt tops can be found in my stash. Precuts and bundles are especially easy to use up—they’re made to coordinate and require fewer new purchases.

I've started this Modern Medallion quilt, by Lynne Goldsworthy, with precuts
from my stash.

3. Buy what you need when you need it. When embarking on a new project, only buy what that project requires after you’ve confirmed that you don’t have a suitable substitute in your stash. I prefer to buy local when possible so I don’t have to order minimum cuts—which are sometimes a full yard!—from an online retailer. Some more advice on this front: Don’t buy too far in advance. If you’re like me, your to-do list will likely change and you’ll find yourself with fabric cuts you no longer need. Also, be wary of free shipping deals online. Sometimes, it’s better to pay five bucks shipping than add unneeded fabric to your shopping cart just to avoid shipping charges.

4. Identify your weakness(es). How are you likely to blow this fabric diet? Are you a social fabric buyer, someone who heads out with friends for some fabric shopping and lunch on a Saturday morning? Then invite your friends to your house to sew instead. Do you find yourself perusing #thegreatfabricdestash posts on Instagram or getting sucked into browsing fabric sales online? Then unfollow the necessary people or shops, and unsubscribe to retailers’ email lists. (All of these will welcome you back when you’re ready, I promise!)

Fabric on sale—especially if it’s by Denyse Schmidt, Amy Butler, or Anna Maria
Horner—is one of my weaknesses!

5. Give yourself some wiggle room. It’s hard to be good all the time. Decide on some healthy parameters for shopping at fabric stores. If you’re going on a quilt retreat and fabric shopping is on the agenda, determine up front how much you’ll spend shopping. If you’re dieting for a nonfinancial reason, try splurging on something other than fabric, like a fabric-cutting machine, quilting services, or high-quality thread.

A few months ago, I went fabric shopping with my mom and sister. It may have been the first time we did that (admittedly, my mom and I shopped, and my sister spent the time on her phone, researching Sesame Street Live!). I decided before we entered a store that I could buy a backing or two for some projects on the horizon. I scored Amy Butler fabric and Anna Maria Horner fabric for $3 a yard and used one of the cuts, pictured below, immediately. I got to have fun with my family and enjoy the thrill of some good fabric scores!

I bought this floral print from Anna Maria Horner when shopping
with my mom and sister. I paid $3 a yard!

Does the size of your stash affect you? Is it time to start a fabric diet? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to cheer you on!

Linking up to Needle and Thread Thursday and Let’s Bee Social ...

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Modern Plus Sign Book Blog Hop: Rick Rack Runner

I am no stranger to plus sign quilts. I’ve made a bunch of them, and some of my favorites were created by quilt designer Cheryl Brickey. Maybe you remember my Outlined Plus quilt or Birds in Blue project? Both of them were designed by Cheryl.

Recently, Cheryl teamed up with Paige Alexander, of Quilted Blooms, to write Modern Plus Sign Quilts: 16 Dynamic Projects, a Variety of Techniques. I knew before I opened it up that this book would offer unique designs and well-written patterns. It did not disappoint!

For the Modern Plus Sign Book Blog Hop, I decided to make the Rick Rack Runner, a project sized generously enough that it could serve as a bed runner. I opted to trim it down so I could gift it to a friend as a table runner this summer ...

I stayed true to the original—designed, pieced, and quilted by Paige—choosing a light background color (my beloved Kona Snow) that would highlight some carefully chosen fabrics for the pluses. Then I dove into my Bonnie and Camille stash to assemble a modern version of the traditional red, white, and blue Fourth of July palette. I’m delighted with how it turned out!

This is Paige’s original, from the book.
Photo courtesy of C&T Publishing.

I took the back as an opportunity to use more from my Bonnie and Camille collection, making a simple patchwork of 5-inch charm squares. It may seem like unnecessary extra work for the back of a project, but I tend to gravitate toward B&C’s more saturated prints. This back was a great way to give those lower-volume charms a life outside of my stash. (For more on that back, including how I cut corners on the pressing, click here.)

All those angles in the pieced quilt top needed some softening, so following the instructions in Jacquie Gering’s Walk book, I quilted a large, soft S-shape diagonally on the runner and then echo-quilted out from there. It was a fun break from my usual straight-line quilting and was surprisingly forgiving.

I experienced the usual pitfalls with this project—trimming threads I was supposed to bury, unpicking and resewing a binding that should have been easier to finish, scrubbing off schmutz that I managed to get on the quilt top. (Ack!) It all worked out in the end, though, and I’m excited to give this summery runner to my friend in a few months.

The blog hop for Cheryl and Paige’s book continues through March 23rd. Be sure to check out other bloggers’ plus sign finishes and visit the authors’ blogs for daily giveaways! You can purchase your own copy of Modern Plus Sign Quilts here, and both Cheryl and Paige are selling signed copies in their Etsy shops.

Enjoy the rest of the hop!

Modern Plus Sign Book Blog Hop

Monday, March 12th
Cheryl @ Meadow Mist Designs
Paige @ Quilted Blooms

Tuesday, March 13th
Soma @ Whims and Fancies
Ann @ Brown Paws Quilting
Kitty @ Night Quilter
Sophie @ Luna Lovequilts
Afton @ Quilting Mod
Shelley @ The Carpenter’s Daughter Who Quilts

Wednesday, March 14th
Jayne @ Twiggy and Opal
Jen @ A Dream and a Stitch
Abigail @ Cut & Alter
Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl
Sandra @ mmm! quilts
Karen @ Run Sew Fun

Thursday, March 15th
Linda @ Flourishing Palms
Bernie @ Needle and Foot
Liz @ Savor Every Stitch
Stacey @ Stacey In Stitches
Michelle @ From Bolt to Beauty [That’s me!]
Patty @ Elm Street Quilts
Melanie @ A Bit of Scrap Stuff Blog

Friday, March 16th
Myra @ Busy Hands Quilts
Izzy @ Dizzy Quilts
Ruth @ Charly and Ben’s Crafty Corner
Christa @ Christa Quilts

Monday, March 19th
Jessica @ Quilty Habit
Cindy @ Hyacinth Quilt Designs
Jennifer @ The Inquiring Quilter
Julie @ The Crafty Quilter

Tuesday, March 20th
Tish @ Tish N Wonderland
Judy @ Sew Some Sunshine
Emily @ The Darling Dogwood
Wanda @ Wanda’s Life Sampler
Karen @ Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats
Katherine @ Sew Me Something Good

Wednesday, March 21st
Anja @ Anja Quilts
Kate @ Smiles from Kate
Sue @ Sevenoaks Street Quilts
Carole @ From My Carolina Home
Alison @ Little Bunny Quilts

Thursday, March 22nd
Debbie @ Esch House Quilts
Laura @ Slice of Pi Quilts
Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts
Janice @ Color Creating and Quilting
Joanne @ Quilts by Joanne

Friday, March 23rd
Cheryl @ Meadow Mist Designs
Paige @ Quilted Blooms

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday, Needle and Thread Thursday, and Let’s Bee Social ...

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Odori Quilt-Along

Hello and welcome to From Bolt to Beauty! If you’re new to these parts, I’m Michelle and I quilt a lot (like, more than I will ever admit to my husband).

I was so pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Fat Quarter Shop and Art Gallery Fabrics recently to sew my own Odori quilt, a free pattern and tutorial that uses a specialized ruler to make spider webs.

Here is my Odori, all quilted and bound and ready to be used. Beautiful, right?

For this project, I was allowed to choose any Art Gallery fabric I wanted. I love AG—the colors, the variety of designs, the super-soft hand—and it didn’t take me long to home in on Amy Sinibaldi’s Little Town collection. I have a weakness for Christmas fabric, and Little Town’s tiny houses and pine needles have a longer shelf life than other Christmas lines. Its palette contains gray-blues and pinks that, I think, will allow this quilt to be displayed and used from Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day. I often gift the quilts I make, but I may have to keep this one for me (even though I just made a Christmas quilt for my family)!

I knew I wanted to use this print with the tiny houses, but I wasn’t sure
whether there was enough color in this design to use it in the spider webs or
whether it was low volume enough to use it as the background. Once I started
cutting and sewing my quilt top, I came to the conclusion that it would work well
either way.

The beauty of the Odori pattern is that it’s easier to assemble than it looks. Following the instructions, I sewed strip sets and used the Creative Grids Spider Web Ruler, provided to me by the Fat Quarter Shop, to cut my wedges. The process was gratifying and I had extra fabric, so even after I completed my six rows for a 50-inch square quilt, I kept sewing. I added two more rows for a rectangular quilt that measures 50 inches by 67 inches. (Note: If you want to supersize your Odori, buy the foreground prints as listed in the pattern and an additional half-yard of the background. Follow the instructions, saving the extra wedges and the ends of the strip sets for use in the two additional rows. You will also need to make an extra strip set with fabrics B, C, and D.)

I quilted this project with an all-over two-inch grid.

I think the hardest part of the assembly is getting the center points of each block right. Here is how I recommend doing it ...

1. First, place the two halves of a block right sides together, line up the center-most seam with pins, and sew a scant quarter-inch seam through just that intersection. (Don’t sew the entire length of the seam.)

2. Open up the block to see how the points line up. If you aren’t happy with it, unpick the stitches and try again.

3. If you like what you see, place the fabrics right sides together again, pin the other intersections (I like using a pin on either side of the matched-up seams), and sew the entire seam. Be sure to sew right over those initial trial stitches from step 1.

4. Open your block up and press.

Pretty nice, right? I have another example of this shortcut here.

To make your own Odori quilt, head to the Fat Quarter Shop’s Jolly Jabber blog for the free pattern and video tutorial. : )

Linking up to Let’s Bee Social and Needle and Thread Thursday ...

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