Sew I got some interesting feedback from some of you on my last post where I discussed obtaining or creating the design and pattern, and thinking through the instructions. Several of my quilty friends…some of them prize wining quilters and teachers…just dive right in and go. So I want you to know that this series of blogs is primarily designed to lead people like me who need a plan to work from through building a good fabric art/quilting project.
Personally, I like to work with a plan. Very often, however, I make so many changes along the way the end result is unrecognizable from the beginning. But it helps me to approach a new project with a plan in mind. I will say though that sometimes I get kind of stuck on the pattern making part and in this case I may just go with a loose sketch and not a fully drawn pattern. I know what I want to do in my head, but getting it down into a pattern or plan is often kind of difficult for me, but I like it when I can. I have friends who can just draw it out on their background fabric and start, or even just cut a bunch of fabric and start. That would be amazing to have such a skill, but that is not me. LOL
Sew once you have a project in mind, how do you pick your fabrics? Do you buy a bundle from a particular fabric line? Do you shop your own stash? Do you just go to the store and buy a new set of fabrics?
I have an extensive stash that I have organized more or less by color and fabric type. So I generally take my pattern I struggled to make, lay it out on my table, and start pulling fabrics from my stash that I think will fit into the quilt. This is quite a messy process. I end up with a pile of fabrics on my table, floor, and chair that might work. Once I get to that insane place, I do a second pull of fabrics. Then I put away the ones I decide definately won’t work and lay out what I have to work with. From there I may eliminate a few more.
My idea is to put together my own kit for the project. Here I will find if I need to buy additional pieces to pull it all together, which is usually the case. I will say, however, that I frequently do not need additional fabrics. I almost always need additional notions like stabilizers for embroidered embellishments, or more spray starch, a certain paint color, or a specific kind of cording or yarn to couch on the quilt. It all depends on my project, but after all these years of collecting and trying to keep things organized I can usually make a nice quilt without buying a lot. I will occassionally make a comfort quilt just to use up some of my stash and then I have a quilt to snuggle in or give away. I think the hardest thing for me to keep in stock is the right battings, because I don’t have a lot of storage space for battings and I like different ones for different projects.
Sew here are the steps I take:
- Referencing the pattern or drawing I pull from my stash the fabrics that seem to me might work. If you are new to this or don’t keep a stash, this would be done in the fabric store making a stack on the cutting table and asking them to let it stay there for a bit.
- Then I arrange the fabrics in a stack according to color or part of the quilt. Here is where those small pieces leftover from some great piece of hand dyed fabrics come into play if I only need a small piece to make that flower petal, piece of armour, or leather saddle (yes, I do use leather for leather saddles on my horses).
- This arranging with the pattern in hand enables me to remove the fabrics that don’t work either because the color is jarring, the print is simply not right for the quilt, the value change is either too much or not enough, or I don’t like the whole set of fabrics so I put them back and start over. Yes, I have done that. Sometimes this fabric selection part can take a considerable amount of tme.
- If I’m shopping from my home stash I can determine at this point if I need to purchase more fabric. If you are at the store, you may find you need to pull another piece and put back a bunch. Sometimes you can get a lot of what you need in a bundle of precuts and save a lot of money.
- Sew now I put away all the fabrics I will not be using and usually spray starch and iron the ones I will be using. I prewash all my fabrics (unless they are not washable for unusual uses) before storing them away, so all I have left is the spray starching and ironing in preparation for use.
Now that I have my fabric bundle/kit put together, it is a good time to pick the threads. Actually, if I’m going to be using a lot of thread changes in my stitching I will just leave the threads in their storage place but check to make sure I have the right ones and that they are sufficient. In my art quilts I use a LOT of threads…different colors, different weights, different types all for different uses, and over the last few years I have built a very nice thread stash, but I use them a lot so sometimes I have to replace a color. It can be very frustrating when I am working hard to finish something and run out of a particular thread at an awkward time. My closest brick and morter fabric store that carries the kinds of threads I like is 45 minutes away, and they may not have the color I want or some such. So I order my threads online and that takes time, especially if I want to wait for a sale. I also purchase threads at quilting and sewing events where they usually have a discount, so I try to keep a list of colors I need in my bag when I go to those. You can save a lot of money on threads if you pay attention to what you use a lot of and what you may need in the future and who is having a sale on those.
The next thing to check for your kit collections is all the additional things that make your project work right…the batting, the stabilizers, the embellishments (paints, cords, beads, and so forth), and things you may not think of like thread nets if you use coned threads, fray check if you use that, interfacing if you are backing your light weight fabrics with a fusible, for instance. I’m probably forgetting something.
So do you have it all together? Are you ready to start the fun part of actually making your project? Do you have the right tools? Oh, I’ll talk about tools in my next blog post.
Sew happy everyone! Enjoy yourselves while you are picking all the pieces for your next project. Petting fabrics and admiring thread colors can be a lot of fun. If you can shop your stash for everything you need on this project you can pretend you aren’t spending anything on it, because once these things are there and settle down into your stash it’s free, right?! LOL