Saturday, March 29, 2014

new quilt planning

I worked some more on the current top last night - I'm almost done sewing the blocks, and it will just take me finding time (when I am sufficiently energetic) to lay them out.

But I also started planning for a new quilt top. The newest issue of McCall's Quilting had a pattern called Light Festival in it. Sort of a vaguely Japanese-lantern like design, pretty simple and graphic. When I flipped past it on the first look through the magazine, I thought, "That looks like a fun pattern to do."

(A lot of the quilts I make, it is as much because the pattern looks like it would be fun to plan out and sew as it is because I really want the finished quilt.)

Then, flipping through the same magazine again last night, I thought, "I bet I have some Japanese-inspired fat quarters tucked away that would work for that." So I went and found them:

(We'll see if that works. Flickr has changed its interface YET AGAIN. I just get used to how something works, and then it is changed for the sake of changing. In a similar vein: we're having major problems with the rollout of new BlackBoard (an online class-management system; the people who teach online use it and I use it some, mainly so I can tell students, when they come to class and go "durr, I forgot my lab hand out" to go to the computer lab and print another one out (rather than me running to my office to find a copy). But the people who use it for online classes are very frustrated - apparently the testing module is totally hosed, and that's kind of a bad thing, when you are teaching a class online and it's roughly midesemester)

Anyway, I found the fabrics. They are ones I might not want RIGHT next to one another in a quilt (they don't all "go" perfectly) but in this design, they will work.

I also found that I had an "uncommited" four-yard piece of white Kona cotton (Kona cotton is my fabric of choice for solids. It may not be the most luxurious ever but it's well made and dependable and not too expensive and it comes in a good range of colors). I think I got that chunk at JoAnn's when they were having a good sale on it.

And I even found a backing!

I've had this in my stash for quite a while - I know I got it at one of the Sewing Studio's New Year's Day sales. I often buy "unloved" (well, unloved by other quilters or seamstresses) fabrics at those sales - it's first-quality fabric, at a good price (often half or more off the original) and I can get big chunks of cool large-scale prints to use as backings.

At first I thought I was going to have to piece this out with another chunk I have (a cherry-blossom print) because when I measured it last night I didn't see I had it folded and I thought I only had three yards.
When I am measuring a large piece of fabric "casually," just to see if I have roughly enough, I use the old tailor's trick that the distance from your nose to your outstretched fingertips is about a yard.

When I picked it up to photograph it this morning, I realized it was folded the long way - so I actually have close to six yards of it, easily enough for the backing.

And yeah, it's called China Pearls, so it is depicting Chinese rather than Japanese women, but I figure it's okay as someone I once knew who was of part-Japanese heritage said that a certain amount of Japan's culture probably originally came from China.... And anyway, I really want to use this for a backing.

So this is going to be an almost entirely out-of-the-stash quilt, which pleases me a lot. First, because there's no big monetary outlay, second because it frees up a little space in my stash, but mainly because it makes me happy to take some of those fabrics I bought because I loved them and turn them into something....they were just waiting for the right pattern to come along.

The one fabric I lack is the "solid" fabric, the blue fabric on the original example. I think I'm going to go with a gold fabric or a soft orange, seeing as most of the prints have those colors in them. I also think I want a slightly marbled fabric rather than a true solid. I do have a piece of gold-ish fabric (actually "Depression Era Butter Yellow reproduction") but it didn't seem QUITE right, and anyway, the idea of an orange marbled fabric looks "right" to me for this in my mind's eye. So I have the fabrics along with me and on the way home from my office I'll stop at the quilt shop - I know they had a lot of the Moda Marbles just recently, so I expect they still do.

And this kind of thing is why I look a bit askance at the advice I saw in a back issue of Quilty - that you should purge everything older than 10 years from your stash, because "you'll never use it." I tend to figure I'll use most things eventually, and if I don't, if I find something I don't love any more, I can swap it, or I know of at least one charity group that makes quilts that will take unloved fabric. But a lot of the fabric I have (and I do have a lot) is stuff I bought and then didn't have a pattern in mind for, until the right pattern shows up. (I tend to think "one size fits all" rules are kind of stupid. Okay, if you're someone who is fickle and whose tastes change quickly, or if you live in a Manhattan studio, I can see being really ruthless about purging anything that's excess from your collection. But for someone like me, not so much. I also admit I take a bit of a "bomb shelter" mentality about my craft supplies: what if there's a REALLY bad economic downturn, and all the quilt shops close? Or what if some giant plague wipes out almost all of the cotton everywhere, and it becomes super expensive? Or what if we have to take giant pay cuts just to keep the university going, and I can't afford new stuff? Having a "stash" gives me a certain weird level of security....that as long as I have some fabric and yarn and books stored up, I can probably survive some pretty tough times.)

1 comment:

Diann Lippman said...

Hi Erica -- How much of the orange solid do you need? I have a fair amount of Cslifornia-poppy orangey gold batik that I'm willing to share. It was bought to use as backing on a badly thought out quilt several years ago, and unfortunately I pre-washed it (before I learned better).
Let me know if you're interested and I can post a photo on my blog so you can see the color.