I inherited an armful of fabric from a local quilter who passed away and it has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years. She had a tendency toward traditional fabrics and patterns; I don’t share that. I don’t know what to do with this. Keep it until I find a use for it? give it away? I am afraid that the minute I give it away I will find a use for it. And I feel badly since this fabric was a gift from her husband, who wanted other quilters to have it.
But I have little storage space and this stuff is taking up badly needed space…I favor bright colors, batiks, polka dots, not flowers. Any suggestions?
Thanks for writing. If you haven’t found a use for it yet, and you know you don’t really care for it, it’s unlikely you will find something to do with it in the next few years. Since it sounds like you can use the space, you want to explore ways you can either give away the fabric with a clear conscience, or at least swap it out for fabric that is more to your liking.
One idea would be have a fabric swap where you invite some friends over to swap out pieces from your stash. This doesn’t solve the storage issue, but maybe it will make it easier to part with the fabric that you aren’t too crazy about and be assured that this fabric is going home with someone who wants it and has a plan for it.
Another idea is to use the fabric to sew up some quilt for charity. There are always organizations that can use these quilts and this might be a nice use for the fabric since you don’t plan to use it for personal projects. Here’s a link to a list of charities you can check out:
You could also donate the fabric to a local quilt guild. They can use it to make quilts for charity and will make sure it gets put to good use. Another option, less altruistic, is to have a quilter’s yard sale to get rid of the fabric. I’ve done this twice in the past and have had great success. Depending on the quality and age of the fabric, you could get $2 – $5 yard, which can add up quickly.
I still owe you a report on my trip to Alaska and the quilt shops, and you will get that before the end of the year. However, I have been busy working on some fall projects and should have lots to show and tell in the next month or so.
Here’s a cute fabric covered box that I made from a class I took at Liberty Rose. Sharon thought of this idea and taught it as a class. This is one of my favorite projects because it only takes a 2 or so hours to complete from start to finish. When done, it looks like something store-bought!
I found this Sara Lee Bakery Display at the local antique store. It’s the perfect place to store all my works in progress. As you can see, I have quite a few projects going on right now. Most of these are 75% complete and will be done in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!
Here’s a smile for you – my son holding up this love bug mask and saying “Hello Spring”! How can you resist?
I had some good luck with flea market finds this month and found some great knick knacks. I’m not sure what this first item is; it is some type of souvenir tray from Florida. I think this might be for carrying drinks? If anyone knows, please tell me!
This is a handmade Raggedy Ann doll. Her face is hand embroidered and she is stuffed with fabric scraps (very old-fashioned). I figure she was probably made in the 60’s or 70’s based on the fabric used for her dress. I plan to make a new dress for her from my plethora of fabric. She looks perfect sitting on the school desk I found a few months ago.
Here is a wooden bread box. It needs a bit of cleaning (there are crumbs in it), and I may end up painting/distressing this. It would make a perfect sewing box – especially since you can see your project through the window.
When I saw this piece with the handcarved star and the little drawers, I had to have it! According to the signature on the back, this was made in 1986, which makes it 26 years old – so it just qualifies as being vintage!
Lastly, here is a very clever tote bag. This is made from a paper-pieced quilt block that shows a girl jumping rope. Do you see how her rope is actually the handles of the bag? Also, I love her braids!
Good luck with your flea market finds! If you find something fun, let us now by posting in the comments.
Sewing gadgets can make life easier, and if they are the right price, I am happy to try them out. Some of these things include a bobbin winder (used twice), a 1/4″ rule for marking seams (used a lot!), and the Dritz EZ Hem (used once for this dress). As you can see, even when you have the right tool for the job, you may not find that it is a must-have (just a fun to have). However, there are 5 sewing tools I can’t live without.
1. Seam Ripper
This gets used all the time! I used to get frustrated whenever I had to rip out a seam, but now I find it kind of therapeutic. Seam ripping is a nice break during a marathon sewing session. Also, once I learned the correct way to rip out a seam, the job was much faster and easier. There are two seam rippers I recommend (having used both quite a bit): the ergonomic once by Clover and the Dritz one that folds (which is nice for travel). The main thing is to pick a seam ripper you can easily hold in your hand without it cramping up.
An iron is on this list, even though it is probably not considered a sewing notion, but it is a necessity. There are wide variety of opinions on which one is best. Many people swear by their $20 iron, while others say that the more expensive irons are worth the money. I’ve had experience with both types and I find the more expensive irons (like a Rowenta) really do work better for quilting and sewing. This is because of several reasons — and if you can find a cheaper iron that has the following features, get it:
The first thing to consider is the weight of the iron, a big heavy iron is going to work better since the natural weight of the iron makes it easier for you to press down and get a nice flat seam. Some people find that an iron can be too heavy and thus tire out their arms, so keep this in mind. The temperature is another factor in how well your iron works – you want a iron that can get nice and hot, especially when working with cotton – the hotter the iron, the flatter the seam. The final thing to consider is steam – more expensive irons have more holes for the steam to escape, which makes better use of the steam. One caveat is that if you store your iron with water inside, it is more likely to leak. I have heard that keeping water in the iron is the biggest reason why irons start leaking and break down. Each time I finish with my iron, I empty out the water, and I also run the self cleaning function a few times a month.
Again, this is an area where you can spend a little or lot of money. After comparing scissors, I splurged and bought Ginghers (made in the USA!) –8″ dressmakers shears for cutting fabric, 7″ craft scissors for ribbon, wool, and foundation piecing, and a 4″ utility pair for embroidery and applique (also good for travel). There are several reasons that Ginghers are worth the money. First, they accurately cut all the way to the very tip of the blade. This is especially important for detail cutting, where you don’t want to risk a slip of the scissors. They are really sharp and can through cut several layers of fabric at once. They are LIFETIME scissors, meaning they will never wear out and I can send them to Gingher at anytime to get them sharpened (for a nominal fee) and they will be like new again.
One interesting thing to note is the difference between scissors and shears. The word “scissors” is used interchangeably between the two, but there is a difference Scissors are usually smaller, and feature two similar sized round holes for your fingers. The handles are separate and made of plastic while the blade part is metal.
Shears feature a round hole for the thumb and a larger oval hole for the rest of your fingers. This makes the shears easier to control when you are cutting fabric. The handle and blade are made out of one piece of metal. , which means that shears are two metal “scissors” held together by a bolt.
4. Chalk Wheel Marker
Oftentimes while sewing, there is a need to mark the fabric. For example, you may need to draw lines for quilting, divided pockets, o r a hemline. The chalk wheel marker makes a nice sharp line and wipes off very easily. For a few dollars you can purchase a bag of chalk dust for refills and it last a loooong time.
Pincushions are something I can’t live without. They are pretty, functional, and fun to make. I have three that get used on a regular basis, and several others for decorative purposes. They are great scrap busters and you can make them in variety of shapes and sizes.
From a functional standpoint, pincushions are much easier to use — you don’t have to worry your pins falling on the ground as you add and remove pins to your project. If you want to get fancy with your pins and needles organization you can section off the pincushion by type – needles in one section, applique pins in another, and quilting pins in a third.
Finally, the tomato pincushion is pretty much the universal sewing symbol. Why the tomato you ask? According to some, people used to place a ripe tomato on the mantle of a new home to guarantee future prosperity. However, in those days, tomatoes were not available year-round (or would rot easily), so a round ball stuffed with sawdust or sand was used instead. These balls were the perfect place for storing pins, thus the tomato pincushion was born. The strawberry that is attached to most pincushions is filled with emery which is useful for sharpening pins. I wasn’t able to find an explanation for how the strawberry got added to the pincushion…if anyone knows, please enlighten us!
Since everyone needs a pincushion and a place to store all their odds and ends – a Shaker Pincushion is the perfect solution. Click here for my free pattern. Enjoy!
In keeping with the theme of reducing and organizing your stash, let’s discuss the “scrap problem”. Right now, my scraps are stored in a single plastic bin. However, when I take the lid off it literally explores from all the fabrics I have stuffed in there. This method also makes it difficult to track what colors and styles of fabric are there.
Since the Scrappy House blocks are made from scraps, this bin needs organized so that the blocks can come together more quickly. The first one was finished yesterday and only 18 more are needed in order to be caught up! I plan to work on them this weekend so that things are back on track by Monday.
The first one turned out really cute. This uses some of the modern fabrics in my scrap bag – do you see the little bird in the window? My plan is to mix up all the fabric styles. It will look nice and scrappy when completed. In order to give the final piece some unity, the same black and red fabrics will be used to create the border and corner stones that surround each block. The search is still on for these two fabrics.
Anyway, back to to the scrap problem. I purchased 8 clear plastic shoebox bins and will be organizing the scraps by the colors of the rainbow (black/white for the last bin). This seems to be an easy way to get them in order for now. Since I have so many vintage scraps, these will be organized in another set of bins.
How do you organize your scraps? Please post your suggestions in the comments section.