Archive for the ‘Fabric’ Category

Starting in the Fields – The Beginning of Fabric

September 2, 2012

Since Labor Day was first celebrated in 1882, to honor the hard work and achievements of Americans, it has also become synonymous with the end of summer, picnics, parades, and a last wave of summer release movies. Here are some films that look at the hard work that goes into growing the crops that ultimately become fabrics that we use to make quilts, clothing and many other everyday objects.

Please note, I am not a farmer, textile expert, or scientist. As you move through this list, I hope you are inspired, motivated to learn more, and will take a moment to pause and think about the story behind the fabric or clothing you are about to purchase …

Irish Flax Farming in the 1950s. I may be romanticizing here but the film shows the sense of community in this farming endeavor – certainly a lot of work but everyone pulls together. I especially love how the kids have found play in the hard work.

This short film, Be Linen by Benoit Millot is absolutely beautiful.

The Conventional Trap is a heart wrenching look at conventional cotton farming in India.

After the above video, I had to include one about organic farming in India, Back to Growing Organic Cotton, and one organization, Chetna Organic, that is helping farmers integrate organic farming processes that are sustainable  and profitable.

Fold Over Elastic Hair Ties – Quick to Make, Fun to Wear

August 5, 2012

Over the last few years, we’ve gone through a few tween trends – Japanese erasers, rubberbands, and scented pencils – but none as affordable or useful as fold over elastic (FOE) hair ties. In recent weeks, they have been appearing in a lot of the shops in our area, usually around $4 for 2 or 3. The hardest part of making the hair ties is selecting the FOE colors – and at about 50 cents a yard, you can actually afford not to be selective! The best part, they take about one minute to make. Here’s the how-to:

1. Gather the supplies: 5/8″ FOE, scissors, 12″ ruler. FOE is available at most fabric shops; we purchased it at The Needle Shop in Chicago.

2. Cut a 10 to 12 inch length, angling the ends. This will allow you to loop the tie over your hair two to three times. My daughter has been wearing her ties a lot and we have not had a problem with fraying. If your’s don’t cooperate, try a bit of Fray Check on the ends.

3. Tie a knot and, if necessary, trim the ends a bit to shorten.

4. Wear!

Some girls are making FOE headbands – just experiment with the length to cut or measure the circumference of an existing favorite stretchy headband and add a couple of inches to tie it off. And, Sew Can Do has instructions for making shoelaces … who knew!

On a side note, I’ve used FOE for pajama waistbands and it is a bit trickier to work with than I would have thought. One of the best tutorials on the topic is here at Angry Chicken.

Happy making!

Jazz Club, a Quilt Featuring Marcia Derse’s Fabrics

May 14, 2012

Several weeks ago, I was asked by Troy Fabrics to design a quilt using Marcia Derse’s wonderful fabrics, including her latest collection, Nouveau Chic. If you’ve been following this blog since the beginning, you know I am a big Marcia Derse fan; in fact, one of my first posts featured her fabrics.

I finished the quilt, entitled “Jazz Club,” last week; here is a sneak preview:

The quilt will be displayed at the International Quilt Market in Kansas City on May 18th – May 20th.  For those of you going, visit Troy’s booth located in spaces 1800 – 1813. A free download of the pattern will be available on Troy’s website along with photos of Marcia’s fabrics. You can also see Marcia’s talent on display on her website.

Sale in the Shop: All Patterns, Kits, and Marcia Derse Fabrics

February 29, 2012

March Madness is equated with basketball for many, but it also seems like a good name for a sale, so beginning March 1st and running through March 14th, all patterns, kits, and Marcia Derse fabrics will be on sale for 15% off in the shop. Just enter MARCHMADNESS at checkout.

All Shop Items 15% off During March Madness Sale

Happy sewing!

A Spring Scarf with “Dancing Flowers” Fabric from M and S Textiles Australia

February 13, 2012

With spring perpetually around the corner this winter, I sat down to make a cotton scarf to go with one of my favorite cardigans, a sea green one from the Land’s End Canvas line. The fabric, “Dancing Flowers,” designed by June Smith for M&S Textiles Australia is absolutely delightful and is all about spring. I bought the green colorway but it comes in a pink, too.

I was feeling particularly frugal the day I bought this fabric and so only purchased 1/2 yard. Rather than making the 22″ square scarf I initially envisioned, I made a rectangular scarf measuring 39-1/2″ x 10-1/2″ when finished.  Here are the steps:

1. Cut fabric to the dimension you want. Look at a favorite scarf to help you decide how long/wide you want it; also think about what you are going to wear it with and how you like to tie scarves. I cut the fabric selvage to selvage and 11″ wide, allowing for a 1/4″ hem all around. I would have liked it a bit longer, but since I was working with a limited amount of fabric … sigh.

2. Stay-stitch 1/4″ in all around the edge of the scarf. (Note: Click on the picture to enlarge it and see the detail more clearly.)

3. Starting with the long edges, fold the raw edge to the wrong side of the fabric all around using a generous 1/4″ fold; as you do this steam press the edge in place (watch that hot steam on the fingers!).

4. Make a rolled hem by rolling the raw edge under the fold to the inside and using a blind stitch to tack it down; roll and stitch as you go beginning with the two long edges of the scarf and ending with the two short ends. When finished, your hem will measure a generous 1/8″, all raw edges will be concealed, and the stay stitching will not show when the scarf is flipped to the right side. Suggestion:  Start at one end, not in the middle as shown below.

5.  Wear it!

Looking for scarf tying inspiration? Check out this Liberty of London You Tube Video, just one of many scarf tying videos.

If you love the “Dancing Flowers” fabric but can’t find it in your locale, Pieceful Heart Fabrics in Lisle, Illinois still had a few yards left in the store the other day. When I did a quick search of other fabric places that carry the M&S line here in the U.S., some online retailers that popped up were: CantonVillage Quilt Works in Canton, CT;  FiberWorks in Billings, Montana; and Heart Song Quilts in Hot Springs, South Dakota.

Now better focus on the holiday at hand and make cards and cookies (the traditional Jackson Pollock inspired sugar cookies) for my daughter’s school party.

The French Seam – A Must See Fabric Boutique in Indianapolis

December 16, 2011

Over Thanksgiving, while visiting my brother and his family in Indianapolis, I discovered The French Seam, a place where “Vintage and Modern Meet,” according to this fabric retailer’s website. So, while most people rushed out on Black Friday to pick up the latest electronic for someone on their Christmas list, I went to the The French Seam. 

Photo Courtesy of The French Seam

It is hard to write this post without gushing, but The French Seam is truly a lovely fabric boutique – yes, “boutique,” not “store” because, well, store sounds too common, too JoAnn Fabrics. The French Seam is not pretentious in the least; on the contrary, when I walked in the door, it was like walking through a magic portal into a  welcoming, relaxing, inspiring environment – a respite from the busy world on the other side of the doors. The French Seam is a family endeavor with Courtney Young full time and her mother, Linda Compton stepping in when not at her day job. They are experienced sewers with an impeccable eye for fabric; the fabrics (linens, silks, wools…) are simply gorgeous – the feel, look, colors. Even though I have not made a pair of trousers in years, I want to make a pair (or twenty)!

Photo Courtesy of The French Seam

The store is smartly laid out and there is much attention to details: There are comfortable chairs on which to sit and contemplate what you are going to make or to peruse patterns and books (or even balance your checkbook to see if you can afford to buy EVERYTHING you want). The lighting is good and there is space to move around. The 1000+ bolts of fabric are nicely displayed so that you can see color options and the quilting cottons are laid out in collections or interesting palettes that work together. For example, I found Lotta Jansdotter’s fabrics grouped together and promptly selected an arm full to purchase. The notions are easy to find and the assortment is well-curated – many are of high-quality, there are just enough choices and each one has a purpose (i.e., no gimicky devices here).

The store caters to people of all sewing abilities – from the beginner to the professional. This is evident in the fabrics, patterns, books, and now class offerings. The boutique is also extremely customer focused – so important if much of your competition sits in the form of a computer in front of many of your customers 24/7. Courtney and Linda (and the other employees working the day I visited)  were attentive to each customer, not in an intrusive way at all; they simply wanted to introduce themselves to customers and offer to help in any way if needed. While some of the customers were new to the store that day, many were returning and on a first name basis with employees. My bet is that this store will play a key role in attracting a new generation of people who sew and provide inspiration to those who all ready enjoy this craft!

Photo Courtesy of The French Seam

Whether you are visiting Indy from another place or just “playing visitor” in the place where you live, there are many places to explore in this very drivable city. My ideal itinerary (in no particular order) …

The French Seam

Mass Ave Arts District to stroll through the independently owned shops, including the Mass Ave Knit Shop

Broadripple area shops

Zesco – a restaurant supply company that I have not personally been to, but have received the best ever muffin tin from; it is open to the public and it is on my list next time I go to Indy.

Lunch at Taste

Dinner at La Piedad

This ideal day in Indy is going to have to wait for now, however, because its back to the sewing table for me to finish up some gifts. Happy sewing!

Only Five More Days Till Liberty of London Arrives at Target

March 9, 2010

In less than a week, on Sunday, March 14th, the Liberty of London for Target home collection will hit stores across the country. The first round of products will focus on home and garden, including decorative accessories, storage products, garden boots, watering cans, and even a bike! Apparel will follow in future weeks. After seeing the video on Target’s website showcasing the new line, I can’t wait. Maybe it’s just that I’m so done with winter and am hoping I can buy spring by purchasing a few floral mugs . . . wishful thinking I know.

The clothes look great, but unfortunately I don’t think they were designed with my body type in mind. Personally, I am eying the men’s shirts – and I’m not sure many men are going to go for the florals so I am hoping to have my pick. You can see the clothing here.


With Liberty of London fabrics, it is all about the high thread count, beautiful colorwork, and fine printing – the cloth feels and drapes almost like silk even though it is 100% cotton.  I’m bracing myself for a different interpretation from Target but hope they don’t go too far in compromising what Liberty is all about in order to meet their price points.

If you have not checked out Liberty of London’s yard goods, you can visit their website to see the complete line. The fabrics can be hard to find here in the U.S., but a couple of great sources are Purl Soho and International Fabric Collection. It is indeed expensive, but on the few times I have splurged, I have tried to justify my purchase with the fact that the fabric is after all 53 inches wide. Here are a couple favorites from PurlSoho’s collection.

Enjoy browsing!

Fabric Tiles Table Runner

November 24, 2009

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, my attention is totally focused on the table right now — the people who will be sitting around it come Thursday and the foods that we will be preparing and enjoying — as well as all that I have to be thankful for.

Therefore, when I sat down to play with Marcia Derse’s wonderful fabrics, I shelved my original idea to make a purse and instead designed this simple, modern table runner.

After finishing the one above with an off-white background, I played the “what if” game and made another table runner, this time  in green. As you can see it is not quite finished; I think I will quilt this one.  I’m not sure if I will get it done for Thanksgiving, but I can definitely envision some Fall decorations on it — dried flowers, small ceramic pumpkins, or a simple wood candleholder/candle.  Here is a free pdf of this pattern TableRunnerPattern.

When I was photographing these runners, I realized what a nice wall hanging this design makes, although I would definitely quilt the piece so that it would hang better.

A New Fabric Collection from Textile Artist Marcia Derse

November 16, 2009

Last week I made a trip to Troy Fabrics, a fabric distributor in Chicago, to purchase fabrics for several commissions that I have underway.  As I turned the corner on the first aisle, I let out a gasp: the fabric on my right looked just like Marcia Derse’s beautiful hand-dyed fabrics! Okay, I admit only a fabric lover would have this reaction, anyone else would just not get it.   When I picked up one of the bolts and read the selvage, I learned this was indeed her design.  It is beautiful and so closely resembles her hand-dyed fabrics.  My intent when I walked into Troy was to buy two bolts of fabric and not one more.  In a flash, I quickly loaded seven “gotta have” bolts into my cart — and threw out my shopping list. I thought this was pretty good considering the collection consists of 25 different pieces.

Marcia Derse Fabrics

Marcia Derse is a textile artist from Ohio.  Having met her several years ago at a quilting show in the Chicago area, I contacted her to find out more about the fabrics and their availability.  She explained the “Gerta” collection is her first fabric line for Troy; it consists of eight designs in three colorways, plus a “cheater cloth” version (cloth that mimics a pieced quilt) that is a compilation of several of the designs.  The designs were culled from her vast collection of hand-dyed fabrics that she has produced over a number of years. (And, I thought I had the difficult job of choosing just 7 bolts from 25!)   In most cases, Marcia provided Troy with the actual fabrics which they then replicated for this line.  In others, where a lighter fabric was needed to fill in the collection, she painted the design and provided that to Troy.

Marcia uses a rich palette of colors, including pumpkin, terra cotta, red, magenta, purple, and moss green (my color descriptions, not her’s).  In her original fabrics, there is a slight color variation to each one resulting in a very rich look and making each piece unique.  This same variation has been reproduced here so that even though the fabrics are produced by the hundreds of yards, rather than in quantities of less than a yard, they truly have retained the look of the original hand-dyed pieces.

You can visit the Troy website to view the entire “Gerta” line and a listing of quilt shops that will be carrying it.  In addition, you can view and purchase fabrics from Marcia directly by going to her website.  Right now, Marcia is at work on a second line for Troy.

Within the next several days, I will be posting a project that uses this wonderful fabric.  In the meantime, happy sewing!