Fabric Friday

On Wednesday I mentioned that The City Quilter was having a 20% off sale (psst: it’s still on today). And yesterday was also Visit Your Quilt Shop Day, which a lot of people blogged about.

Between the two of those, well, I practically felt an obligation to go see what they had. I’m sure you know what that’s like.

I have to admit, I am trying not to buy anything unless something leaves my stash, because I am simply flat out of space for fabric, but yesterday I made an exception. (For better or worse, I’m good at those.) But I could always count it as part of the replacement for the fabrics I pulled from stash for my scrappy trip quilt, if I really need to rationalize it.

I did go in with restrictions in mind: blenders and grays. I was hoping to pick up some Simply Color sprigs in graphite, but couldn’t find it. Instead I picked up a number of different grays (and one text print) in one-yard cuts:
Full-yard haul 01/24

And I picked up some half-yard cuts of Flea Market Fancy, Madrona Road and the City Quilter’s subway map print in white:
Half-yard haul 01/24

I’m planning to use the madrona road prints for a pincushion, with a solid neutral as the third color. I have no idea what I’ll do with the others, but my stash was low on grays, and I love the Flea Market Fancy flower dot print so much that I’m sure it will get used up quickly.

Organization! It’s a wonderful, if short-lived thing.

I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning and organizing and getting-rid-of-stuff over this winter break. I culled something over seventy books from my overcrowded bookshelves, which means that the books I own now fit on my bookshelves without stacks on the floor for the first time since I moved back to NYC. (Some of them are still double-shelved, but shh, that totally doesn’t count.) I left the bookshelf-bit in this photograph, which is theoretically all about the fabric stash in the top half. You can see all the books! I am irrationally happy about this.

Bookcase+StashJan2013

I also took the opportunity to re-organize my fabric, which is now organized by color, as well as by cut size (more than 3-yard cuts are all in one place), and my sewing cart, which has made getting to things a lot easier, as well as giving me a bigger box for scraps (which is amusing, since right now I’m at probably the lowest level of scraps I’ve been at in months, what with the Scrappy Trip quilt decimating my scraps. Even the contents of the fat quarter box are really organized! The pieces stuck in the left side are long quarters, so I don’t pull something and then get all disappointed when I realize that, no, I can’t cut a 17″x15″ piece from a long quarter-yard.

FatQuarterBoxJan2013

But I also got some fabric in the mail, as belated Christmas presents. I didn’t photograph much of it, but I couldn’t help but get a picture of the Pearl Bracelets fat quarter set that I got from Stash Modern Fabric. Look, isn’t it pretty? All the colors! I love this print so much.

PearlBraceletsFQs

I couldn’t resist pulling some of it right away — cosmonaut, anchor, and river bend are the colors I chose — and I made these three fabric boxes using a tutorial on The Sometimes Crafter.

AllThreeBluePearls2

I used an iron-on interfacing (Pellon 809, which is really stiff) instead of sewing in interfacing, and I think it’s working out pretty well. I pinned them carefully, with vertical pins at each corner, to hold things in place and horizontal pins for three sides, so I wouldn’t have to pull out the pins while I was sewing. I marked the turning hole with vertical pins, because I have been known to sew all the way around something and only then realize that I needed to leave part of it open to turn the project right-side-out.

MidBluePinned

Ironing them square was really fun, though I didn’t take any pictures of that stage. There’s a good tutorial on The Sometimes Crafter.

I’m using them to hold leaders and enders (light in the light box, dark in the dark, sewn pairs in the medium blue box), and I’ve already emptied the medium blue box once, because it was full of paired ones, and I needed more space!

BluePearlsInUse

These are actually my first finish of the year, so I’ve added a picture of them to the 2013 Finish-A-Long Flickr pool.

Finally, because I found it tremendously amusing, have a picture of my cat, Clio, attempting to supervise my sewing while I worked on the Scrappy Trip quilt. (She’s just next to the computer, which plays music or audiobooks while I’m working.)
ClioHelping

Scrappy Trip-Along

ScrappyTable

I have enough projects half-done that I really ought not take on another one. But we all know how that works, right? The Scrappy Trip Around the World quilt has been flying around, and I’m afraid I caught the bug big-time.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out photographs on the flickr group, or the tag “scrappytripalong” on Instagram. (In fact, even if you do know what it is, go check out those photos, because, WOW, are there some great blocks and quilts going together! I love how very different this quilt ends up from different people’s stashes.)

The idea for this pattern is basically to use up scraps — you cut strips 2 1/2″ x 16″ and put them together more or less at random. The pattern is really quite ingenious. I’ve really only just finished cutting, so I’ve only made a couple of strip sets so far: I’m going to do at least ten, and then pull out the iron and cut them into proper strips and make up squares.
Two-blocks

Compared to a lot of people out there, I haven’t been quilting for all that long. And I tend to cut fabric as carefully (obsessively?) as I can, so I went through all my scraps pretty fast and didn’t have enough strips cut for the size quilt I wanted.

So I went through my “mistake” fabrics — you know the ones, the fabrics that looked great on the shelf or in the picture online, that showed up and made you wonder what you were thinking. Then I went through my fat quarter box and pulled a ton of Jo-Ann fat quarters that I bought on sale a few years ago, to so “something” with. And then, with absolutely perfect timing, two scrap packs I bought before I was even thinking about this quilt arrived in the mail, so I cut those all up and added them to the count!

In the end, I cut kind of a lot of fabric.
ScrappyTable

Why so many? I could tell you that it’s because Brenda, of Pink Castle Fabrics did the math to tell how many strips to cut for various sizes of quilts, and you need 336 strips for a queen-sized quilt. I could tell you that! I’m certainly planning on a queen-sized quilt.

But, um. I kind of just got caught up in the joy of hacking up scraps. I also tossed in every once in a while something that I really do like, so that I’ll be able to look at the quilt and find squares that I love hiding in all the scrappiness.

Now, this quilt thrives on randomness, and I’m really bad at random. So I cheated. I divided up my fabrics into color groups.
Strip-Piles
In case you’re wondering, I cut 74 Pink/Red/Orange, 74 Yellow/Green, 75 Blue/Purple, 38 Dark Browns, 40 Blacks, 71 Light Neutrals, and 20 OMGWTF ALL THE COLORS strips.

With this pre-color-selected setup, it’s really easy: all I have to do is make sure that each block contains one black or brown, and something from each other pile. Or two from one pile, if I’m feeling in a blue and purple mood. It makes putting together the blocks really easy for me, which it would not be at all if I had to pull from a giant pile on the floor.

I’m trying one new thing for this project: I’m using leaders and enders. I’ve got more than enough 2 1/2″ squares, between my own scraps and some mini-charm-packs I picked up from FatQuarterShop.

I’m using a shortcut for those, too: I’ve divided them into “light” and “dark” and made three piles of each. When I need to pick up another two squares, I match up whatever’s on top of those piles with whatever else is on top and looks best. So far, I’m getting quite a few of them, and it’s really satisfying. Not to mention, not having to hold down the thread ends every time I start a new strip? SO NICE.

LeaderEnderPiles

I’ve still got a few Christmas presents that haven’t made it up here yet, and a finished quilt to show off on Friday, if I can get decent pictures between now and then.

My (new) sewing space

I just re-organized quite a bit so that all my crafting materials are in one room, and my desk and schoolwork are in another: having the sewing machine next to my computer was too good for procrastination.

I pulled a table and an old TV cart out of the basement, and now one wall of my bedroom looks like this:
Whole_setup_plus_stepstool

(I haven’t found a chair yet. The step-stool works okay for now.)

If you turn to your left while sitting at the table, you see this:
Stash&bookcase

All of my fabric, fiber and yarn in one place. There was some serious tetris-like packing going on while I organized this, and I have a sinking feeling that it’s going to be like packing a suitcase for a trip: on day one, everything fits, but by day three, you can’t shove it all back in no matter how hard you try. So far, though, it’s been great incentive to use what I have and work from stash, because I simply don’t have enough space for more fabric to join me.

The bookshelf below actually holds a lot of books that ought to be in my study, but they fit here, so I have to get up and go get them, if I suddenly need something on Troilus and Criseyde, or on how to date manuscripts, or late medieval literacy rates. The top right shelf is history/biography that’s not related to school: I call it the “shelf of depressing” because it’s all things like Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, and a biography of Ernest Shackleton, and 1491, and so on. Interesting stuff, but a lot of lying, betrayal and death, none of which is fictional.

But back to crafting. Here’s a closer view of just the supplies, not the books:
Stash&bookcase_close

The basic layout is: top row fiber, second row mostly fabric (but some fiber on the right), bottom row mostly knitting stuff (but fabric & books on the left).

There’s very little on those racks that isn’t yarn, fiber or fabric, so I’m using an old TV cart to hold tools & supplies. When I’m not using it, it fits snugly under the table like so:
Cart_under_table

The cart’s organization is still something of a work-in-progress itself, but it’s working well so far. The top left is a box that holds my rotary cutters and scissors and sewing machine feet, as well as any small random things that I don’t want to have to get up to put away right away. The top left is my sewing kit, with chalk pencils, velcro, binding tape, needles, pins, a pincushion, etc. Behind them is a work-in-progress: my second Mabel bag, which is waiting on the arrival of more fusible interfacing.

On the bottom left, there’s a box that holds my bags of scrap fabric. On the right, there’s a little Lane cedar box. When it opens up, you see:
Lane_thread_box

Some of these are spools I’ve had for years (from well before I knew how to pick thread) and I’m planning on gradually replacing my thread with better quality as it runs out, but for now, I’m using what I have.

The top of the tv cart is where I lay out works-in-progress. The tabletop I’m using as my bench is only about 18″x36″, so the extra space is handy.

Speaking of the tabletop, here’s what it looks like close up. The left side has pieces for my Kitchen Window quilt:
Left_side_table

The center is where the rotary cutting mat lives! It has pieces of the Hot Pink Quilts baby quilt I’m making for our downstairs neighbors, who just had a baby boy:
Middle_table

The right is where the sewing machine lives. I move it to the back when I’m cutting, or line it up along the edge of the table. It’s not perfect, but it works!
Right_side_table

Overall, I’m pretty happy with it: it makes a distinct space where I can sew and quilt, which doesn’t overlap with my desk at all.
Whole_setup

I do have to be careful, though — if I leave the tv cart out, I can’t get into my closet! Gotta love living in NYC.


PS: I’m still de-stashing fabric and a little bit of spinning fiber.

Fabric Stash

Having already shown you all my yarn stash some time ago, I figured it was time to do the same for my fabric stash. I always love seeing the way other people organize their fabric, and how they store it: hopefully some of you feel the same way.

This is all of it at once:
All_Fabric

It’s a disaster area right now. To the left there are two cubes that are only about half fabric: one has my neutrals-and-or-miscellaneous pile and a bunch of black fabric; the one below it has interfacing and bags of scraps.

The floor is usually … well, no, it’s not usually any neater than that. I’m trying to figure out what to do with the leftover blocks from the Mixtape quilt (probably pillows?) and I have the fabric for two skirts that I haven’t started just yet.

And, well. That’s almost all of my fabric. There are also the blue and brown fat quarters I pulled for the Dresden quilt, and the coffee-themed fat quarters that will become a shoulder bag, and the bits I’ve cut for the Kitchen Window quilt. *ahem* I think I just need a little more time, and I’d be able to tame it a bit.

I fold all of it the same way, following this method, on In Color Order for uniformity’s sake. For cuts a half-yard or larger, I make one less fold, leaving me with a long rectangle of fabric (that fills up the back of my deep shelves) instead of a shorter, fatter square. Fat quarters are shorter squares, and I shelve them two-deep.

I’ve got it largely organized by color. There are the purples to yellows (mostly warm colors, though some of the purple might not count):
RedYellowStack

There are the greens to blues (can we tell these are some of my favorite colors? Yeah, just a bit.) This stack lacks the navy blues, because there’s just not space:
BlueGreenStack

There are the neutrals, though this stack also houses the navy blues and any fabrics I have that don’t have a single dominant color:
BrownBlackStack

I break one other “rule” in my neutrals stack: you see that fat quarter block of Summerville? Well, I shelve my fat quarters separately, because of the way I fold things. Those Summerville blocks should be in one of these stacks!

This one is my back row of fat quarters: solids and single-color prints and stripes — since taking this picture, I’ve integrated the stripes into my color-sorted piles and used the Circa 1934 on the bottom right of this photograph.
FatQuartersStripedSolid

This is the front row of fat quarters. Some of them aren’t fat quarters after all, but quarter yards cut long: I don’t worry about it too much:
FatQuarters

Finally, there’s the miscellaneous stacks on the bottom. They hold larger cuts of fabric, fat quarter collections, or complete lines.

This one is all 1001 Peeps, which is absurd. (I found it just as I started quilting, and decided it was fabulous. And then I found a sale. And, well, this is what happened. I just have to get myself to actually USE it!)
1001PeepsStack

This one is a hodge-podge:
FatQuarterCollectionStack

The very top is Curious Nature, by Parson Brown. The next one down is Circa 1934 in blacks. The next after that is a rainbow bundle from FabricWorm, which sits on an enormous cut of white Kona cotton. Below that are two fat quarter bundles from Pink Castle Fabrics.

The first bundle, Smooth Sailing, looks like this:
Smooth Sailing bundle

The second one, Sea Glass, looks like this:
Sea Glass bundle

Beneath those are some striped blue and brown fabric that I’m going to use as the backing of my Dresden quilt, whenever I make it, about a yard and a half (or two yards?) of a key print, and several yards of a punctuation print in navy. You can also see the red and white striped fabric I just used as a backing for my Filmstrip Quilt

I have projects in mind for much of this — certainly for most of the fat quarter bundles. But I do pick things up from time to time not because I know exactly what it’s going to be, but because they’re pretty.

How do you organize your stash?

Knitting stash mini-tour

I tend to acquire things and hang onto them. With books, okay, that’s fine. I just finished my MLS, I’m in graduate school in medieval history: books are easy to justify. With yarn and fiber, however… well, I’ve been knitting for about eight or nine years now, and spinning just a couple fewer. And in that time I’ve gone to Rhinebeck and a couple of local fiber fairs in Indiana and lived near lovely, wonderful, friendly LYSes that had great sales. Turns out, that all adds up. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, right?

That’s all the yarn and fiber I own, all in one place. There was a time when I would have looked at a photograph like that and thought “Man, is she nuts, or what?” Now I look at it and think that, but I also sometimes think “but there’s nothing I want to work on!”

In case it’s hard to see what’s going on in that enormous set of wire racks, here’s a mini-tour of the yarn. (I’ll do fiber and fabric on another day.)

Today we’ll start with the lower half, which is all yarn.

In the lower-right-hand corner, there’s all the yarn that is destined to become sweaters. The brown will be the Indigo Playmate sweater from Wendy Bernard’s Custom Knits. The blue and purple will both be cabled cardigans, though I haven’t settled on a pattern or design for either of them. The red are balls that go with a cabled cardigan I’ve got on the shelf for now: it’s about halfway finished, and I’ll love it when it’s done, but right now it’s driving me crazy.
 
 
 
 
 
The other main collection of commercial yarn is my stash of sock yarn:

The purpley-grey in the top right does not want to be socks, so I’m planning on making it into some kind of wrap or scarf. The Lorna’s Laces below it (light blue and black) pools like crazy if I knit it into socks my size, so I’ll have to find someone with small feet whom I like enough to give hand-knit socks. (Sadly, this rules out absolutely every member of my immediate family. We all have huge feet.) The ones I’m looking forward to knitting with the most are the two greens. (Well, and the second skein of Claudia hand-painted, because it’s so sproingy!)

The majority of the rest of my yarn stash is handspun. There are the natural-colored yarns:


The lighter yarn is for a sweater: probably the Tangled Yoke Cardigan, if I got the yardage and weight of the yarn right. The darker is for colorwork with a lighter yarn that I haven’t finished yet.

There are the dyed yarns:

The enormous green skeins are enough for a sweater for someone else, but not for me — there is a downside to being 5’11” with long arms and a long torso, and it’s that spinning up for a sweater takes a little longer. The white-pink-green-yellow is probably going to be socks for a child: I dyed the fiber with easter egg dyes and it ended up a little too pastel for my taste. The rest mostly tend toward lace-weight, so I’ll be knitting a good number of light, lace pieces in the future.

Overall, I love spinning with color, but I find it hard to get enough fiber to make any particularly sizable project — and I only need so many hats and mittens, even in the Northeast.

If you happen to spin, what do you do with small quantities of handspun yarn? If you don’t spin, what would you like to do with it, if you had a couple hundred yards of handspun colorful yarn?