I’m having some fun with fabric and design ideas
Playing around with ‘virtual’ fabrics and designs on my pinterest boards is filling me with inspiration.
But I need a place to begin. So its time to stop being inspired, and start making some choices
I’ve decided to pick a basic color scheme and get some initial pieces of fabric from a single ‘range’ so that the colors complement one another.
I was expecting to have to buy fabric by the metre or yard, but soon discovered that nowadays, online retailers have range of fabrics aimed at quilters and sold in what is known as ‘fat quarters’.
I have also figured out what exactly a ‘fat quarter’ is.
What is a fat quarter?
Normally, if we buy a particular length of fabric, we get the full width of the fabric on the ‘bolt’.
So for example, if we purchases a quarter of a yard in the normal way it would be only 9 inches long but up to four feet across.
Which isn’t terribly useful, unless all you want to make are nine inch squares!
Athough it is the same total ‘area’ of fabric, a fat quarter is much more practical because it is made by taking a whole yard of fabric, and cutting that yard into four similar sized quarters.
A fat quarter usually measures around 18 by 22 inches.
Choosing my color scheme
I decided to go with a rich burgundy red theme with some golds and greens mixed in. The collections in stores often include a bundle of anything from six to a dozen or more fat quarters in co-ordinating colors
I didn’t buy a bundle as I wanted to choose my own, but I chose about handful of fat quarters as my starting point.
I ordered these online from sewandsos.co.uk
A similar site in the USA is shabbyfabrics.com These stores both have some gorgeous material, and sell fat quarters in suitable fabrics for quilters
How much material to buy?
One of the great things about a patchwork quilt is that if you don’t buy enough fabric, and the stock is sold out when you come to order more, it won’t ruin your project.
At least that is what I am counting on!
I should be able to simply adjust my design to incorporate more squares of a fabric that is still available.
So I’m not ordering enough fabric to finish my quilt right now, just enough to cut some squares, lay them out on a table, and start playing around with different designs.
I want to make something fairly simple that won’t take me too long so that I don’t get fed up and abandon the project half way through.
I’ll probably incorporate some quite large pieces into my design.
final size of the finished quilt
How big will my finished quilt be?
I’ll decide what the exact dimensions of my quilt will be before I make my final order of fabric
I don’t use quilts as bedspreads to cover the whole bed, I use them to ‘decorate’ a bed, typically folded over and draped across the bottom half of the bed,
So what I am making won’t necessarily be a conventional queen or king size quilt.
Something the size of a single quilt and a little bit more, is fine to drape over the foot of a double bed.
Again, with patchwork, if I’m not happy with the size once it is assembled, I can alway add some more, or a border, around the edge to make the quilt bigger. It is a very adaptable project.
The fabric arrives!
It is so exciting getting your first parcel of fabric in the post! I couldn’t wait to unwrap it and I wasn’t disappointed.
There were actually some really nice greens in my little collection and I am toying with the idea of going for a green quilt instead.
Or maybe even making one of each!
Somewhere in the dim and distant past, I seemed to remember that the fabric needs to be washed before cutting and sewing the patches together.
I could’t remember why, and turned to google for help. This is what I discovered
Washing quilting fabric before cutting
Apparently, if you don’t wash your fabric before you make it into a quilt, then when you first wash the quilt the fabric may shrink just a little, and you may get a ‘crinkling’ effect over the surface of the quilt.
This can look quite attractive and ‘antiquey’. But it sounds a bit scary. I decided to wash my fabric first so that I get a smoother, more predictable result.
As soon as I had collected the different fabrics I had chosen, and before I cut into it in any way, I put all the pieces of fabric inside an old pillow case and ran them through a gentle wash cycle on the machine.
The great fabric escape!
Unfortunately the pieces did not stay inside the pillow case as intended and were instead thrown around inside the machine. This caused quite a bit of ‘fraying’ around the cut edges.
My tip for you: Secure your quilt fabric in the pillow case!
I’ll also consider buying larger pieces next time, so that the raw edge is a smaller proportion of the whole than it is in a fat quarter.
Ready to cut!
Ok, so my first batch of fabric is now washed and dried. It just needs pressing and then I can start cutting out my shapes.
It’s starting to feel a bit more real now!
I’ll need to gather some equipment, as my old sewing shears were lost long ago, and my only ruler is a six inch kids one with hedgehogs on.
I think there are also rotary cutters and other fascinating tools available now.
It’s time to go and investigate..
Of course it could be that I am simply putting off the moment when I take the irreversible step of cutting into this gorgeous fabric. Plenty of scope for disaster there.
Until next time then!
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