Using the Other Side of Fabrics

First off, after I finally figured out how to use Mr. Random Number Generator, and making sure that comment included a trip, I’m happy to announce that the winner of the Itsy Bitsy Scissors is Mary, of Needled Mom.  Congrats!

I figured since I subjected you to a swath of vacation photos, I needed to get real and get some real quilts back up here on the blog.  I started yesterday on the newest Schnibbles for June, Dulcinea, beginning with the background fabric in a navy-blue print:

background dulcinea

A high-quality iPhone photo, uploaded, then recaptured as a screen shot.  Love technology.  Kidding, but it does come in handy.

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I filled in with mostly Comma prints, but a few others (I hate doing one line of fabric), but it just wasn’t going anywhere for me, until I turned the background fabric over to the “other side,” not the “wrong” side (shown in pink circle).  Why do I not say “the wrong side”?  It comes from the era of watercolor quilts, when we tried to blend blend blend our tones across multitudes of itty-bitty squares.  We learned to consider both sides of a piece of fabric as possibilities.

Watercolor Quilt

Here’s my version: Color Study: Night Infolds the Day.  My friend Leisa got us started on this adventure–I think it was her first quilt ever.  We cut about a zillion little squares, and since that cool gridded fusible web hadn’t been invented yet, we pieced them all.

Watercolor detail 2

So the technique was to smooth the colors across the colorful sections, and sometimes no matter how many little squares you browsed through, it just wasn’t possible.

Watercolor detail1

So you flipped the piece over and used the “other side,” like the middle partial square in the upper row, and the full right-hand square in the second row.

Watercolor Back

I used an allover celestial print for the back–that was pretty daring for that time — all of 14 years ago.

Watercolor Label

The label.  I exhibited this is a local quilt show, and stitched on their label, too.  The best part of this story is that our friend Tracy adopted our six pizza boxes full of squares (we sorted them by value, from light to dark), added about a zillion white squares and made herself a wonderful quilt from our leftovers, another value of getting together in a quilt group.  This is #29 on my 100 Quilts List.

Carmel BluesAnother quilt where I used the “other” side sometimes, was on the quilt I made for my mother (mentioned in last week’s post).  We’d gone to a quilt show in Carmel, where I’d picked up a fat quarter pack of blues.  This is titled The Blues of Carmel, and is #19 on my 100 quilts list.  It’s named not only for the ocean at Carmel’s edge, and that pack of blues from the quilt show, but also because my mother has blue eyes.

Carmel Blues Back

The back of this is merely a whole cloth, allover design, which I used as a guide to hand-quilt.  Pretty much the only people who machine quilted their quilts at that time were J. C. Penny’s or Sears.  It was hand-quilt, or yarn-tie.  Quite a range of options, right?  Since this was made in my earlier days, it doesn’t have a label.  I need to remedy that.  This quilt was published in Joen Wolfrom’s book Color Play (page 64). Don’t know who Joen Wolfrom is?  Google her.  Her book, Patchwork Persuasion is ground-breaking.  And just typing “#19 of 100 Quilts” makes me realize how far I’ve come, and how far quilting has evolved, in the nearly two decades since I made this.  Of course, I’M not any older.

Dulcinea Label

This was on my melon for lunch, which reminds me I need to get back to sewing that Schnibbles quilt, another one in Sherri and Sinta’s Another Year of Schnibbles!

Pins and Needles, in New York City

PinsNeedlesDoor

I’ve been in New York City for a week, and while there I discovered a new quilting/fabric shop, on the upper East Side, a few blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It’s called Pins and Needles.

Map to PinsNeedles

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Ring the buzzer, and they’ll let you in.  Head up the stairs to the second floor, and their door is on the left.  It’s like going up to fabric heaven from the gritty bustle of the streets.

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I am standing at the window overlooking the street, and photographing toward the back.  It’s not a big shop, but it has such a variety of modern fabrics and ideas and even a little classroom area, that I felt it had a lot to offer.

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The classroom and looking out the window.  There are basically three fabric stores that cater to quilters and home sewists in New York City: City Quilters (midtown), Purl Soho (Soho, or lower third of Manhattan) and now this gem of a shop.

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PinsNeedlesstaff

I was immediately welcomed by two very friendly women: the owner Rachel Low (on the left) and Lauren Rucci; Rachel gave me permission to take photos. She also maintains a Facebook page for the shop, if you’re interested, as well as a blog.

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Though compact, it felt spacious.  They have a wide variety of modern fabrics, well-edited, and I could see lots I wanted to take home.  But since I had practically sat on my suitcase that morning to get it closed, I was constrained by space.

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While most of us diehard quilters approach fabric with a fair amount of gluttony (unless you are sitting on your suitcase to get it closed), in the shop Lauren has taken more of an arts and crafts approach, as opposed to quilting, even using the term “patchwork,” as their clientele is more geared toward sewing.  Smart move, as you can learn to do the quilting after a good knowledge of fashion sewing has been established.  One of the most successful things a shop can do is to know who their customer is.

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I loved their wall displays.  Rachel has worked in the fashion industry, including a two-year stint at Prada, so the shop incorporates these themes into their decor.

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I loved their wall with fashion pictures, fabric swatches–so many ideas!  I have noticed the trend towards sewing; many quilters are trending towards making dresses and clothes not only for themselves, but also for their children.  I just happened to do it the reverse, majoring first in Clothing and Textiles, then discovering quilting later. I say, no matter how you come to it, sewing something for yourself or for your home is extremely rewarding, and this shop brings all of those ideas together.

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Crafting table.  They hold several classes for children’s crafts.

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I loved the window overlooking the stree, with a comfortable banquette with cute pillows.

PinsNeedlespurchases

And what did make it into my suitcase? Three cuts of fabrics, some Itty-Bitty Scissors, all done up in a very cute bag.  These scissors are about 1 1/2″ inches long, have a point cover; Rachel says her customers have been successfully taking them on airplanes to do their stitching.  I bought an extra, and would love to share it with you.

IttyBittyScissors

Leave me a comment below and I’ll choose a winner on Tuesday morning.  In your comment, tell me where you’ve traveled recently and have needed a pair of teensy scissors, as well as which color you’d prefer: turquoise or pink.  And if you are not a winner, I’m sure that Rachel of Pins and Needles would be happy to ship you your own.  Contact her at her Etsy Shop, or by email (rachel@pinsandneedlesnyc.com).

Garage Sale

My daughter and her children came last weekend, and then we had a big family party on Saturday.  But early that morning, before we even had to wash off the patio chairs, Barbara (my daughter) and I snuck out to a garage sale.  I’d heard about it the night before, at Quilt Night, and wanted to see it for myself.

Box after box after box after box of fabric.  Most had been purchased from a now-defunct dime store, and most were in pieces less than 1/2 yard.  Some was substandard fabric–cheap gauzy stuff with garish prints.  But a lot of it was worth looking through.

They’d dragged out their ping-pong tables, some sheets of plywood and set out a few stacks of fabrics to entice us.  I found a stack of ginghams.  More for my stash.  There were a few interesting vintage pillowcases/sheets.  I got a few of those.  Actually I turned one of the pillowcases into a bag in case I needed to pick up more.

Can you believe all this?  Turns out the owner of this house didn’t collect it all.  He’s a realtor and to get the listing for a house he was pitching, they made him agree to clean out the old woman’s collection of fabric and books.  He called in a used book salesman and they took a slew. Then he dumped the rest of the books — 3 dumpsters full — which about broke my heart, because I’m a book lover.  I know these people, and um, they’re not.

There were even some hand-pieced pineapple blocks, but I didn’t pick them up because I want to make my own pineapple quilt, and the combination of fabrics ranged from sheet batiste to a heavy twill.  And strange color combinations, as you can see.  By this time, as I was lugging my pillowcase of ginghams and sheets, the jokes started among the quilters that were there.  Can you see our daughters having to do this when we all kick off?  Poor Barbara, her friend Shawnie said.  Poor you, Barbara said.  Your mom’s a quilter, too.

I had tried to look through some of the boxes, because it was all just HERE waiting for us quilters to collect it.  But I’m used to the high-quality cottons from my local quilt shops and I remembered my husband home with all of Barbara’s kids and at some point, it all became just too much.  So I paid for my fabrics and threw the lumpy pillowcase into the back of the car.

I walked back and found what few books there were, and selected some to go.  Three of a four-book series on 1000 patchwork blocks.  It reminds me of my Encyclopedia of Quilt Pattern by Barbara Bachman, but a lot more home grown.  I’ve had fun looking through them.

So, I left most of the fabric there.  Be real.  Given the paltry amount in my pillowcase, I left all of it there, comparatively speaking. Lately I’ve been trying to shop my stash and to rediscover some of my earlier plans, so I was okay to leave all those possibilities there on the realtor’s driveway.  So noble. Such restraint.

Can’t say I didn’t think about it for the rest of the day, though.