Sunday, February 27, 2011


How do you tell if you have real silk or a sneaky fake? According to a lot of sources on the trusty internet, you burn it! I got such a good deal on some [alleged] silk I bought on a recent fabric-buying extravaganza that I was a little suspicious of its authenticity. I'm happy to report that what you see here is apparently evidence of the real thing. Here's what you should see if you try holding a flame to it:
  • The fabric should not continue to burn after the flame is removed. (check)
  • The ash should be black and crispy. Black clumps should crumble easily. (check)
  • The burning silk should smell like burning hair. (eww, check!)

Gotta love the scientific method. Now I just have to clean up the mess.

The quilt I ended up making with the silk is a wholecloth one. I wanted to keep the design simple to show off the lustrous fabric. I used a cotton sateen sheet for the back (the mess you see here is me cutting up a fitted sheet!). And I gotta say, this quilt has mad drape! So soft too.

And there you have it. Just listed the [bonafide] silk quilt in my etsy shop!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Color play

Aah, the muse. He helps get my creative flow going (or at least thinking about it). Bugs Bunny is donning a scrap leftover from the wall hanging I'm still working on. I'm still not totally happy with the overall color of the quilt.

One of the most challenging (and interesting) things to me about quilting is working with color. Some people seem to do it beautifully and effortlessly. One of my favorite quilters that creates fabulous studies in color is Victoria Gertenbach of The Silly BooDilly. If you haven't seen her work before you should definitely check it out. She's got this color thing figured out.

Since I like to experiment when I quilt I often try new things that I'm not entirely sure about but wait until I'm finished to make a final judgment. Sometimes I feel like I have a nice and unexpected color play and other times not so much. There's been a time or two when I didn't like particular colors together the first time I saw them and then I actually really liked them down the road. Go figure.

It's all about experimentation, right?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Quilt labels!

I finally put labels on all my quilts. I bought them on etsy (I know, i've gotta stop mentioning etsy). You just email the seller your design and she prints them on 100% cotton. Before this, I've always just embroidered my initials and the year. I've tried to be good over the years and add that to each of the quilts I've sold or given as gifts but many of them just got away before I had a chance to put them on. You know how it is when you're under pressure like finishing a quilt for a baby shower -- I feel successful if I just get it done on time!

Anywhoo, I gotta say I like these new labels. In addition to 'Harvest Crafts', I just have care instructions and my etsy shop url. I may end up adding the year in pen to it. Or maybe I just need to order more. Hmm...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Improper holiday observance

Okay, so I already admitted I have a little fabric problem. Today I went to this cool new fabric store in Charlottesville (UFab) that mostly sells upholstery and big yardage (note foreshadowing). I could have easily spent a couple hours in there perusing all the stuff they have in stock. And they have a basement with remnants. Don't even get me started on the basement. For the most part I behaved myself BUT I fell in love with this adorable screen-printed bird fabric --and like any good addict I bought a yard of it without having specific plans for it. It's mid-weight cotton and almost has a linen look to it. I'm sure I'll think of something to make with it (note rationalization). It reminds me of all that cute merimekko fabric I've been seeing everywhere but can't seem to get my hands on. Aaah, if only Charlottesville had an Ikea.

So that was part of how I spent the holiday. Now I just need to figure out what to make with the fabric I bought (I also got some silk I want to try and incorporate into a quilt). Hope you had a good Presidents' Day too!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New fabric fix

I found a great little etsy shop that sells delicious fabrics. Okay, I'll tell you since I know my secret is safe with you :) It's Fabricana. She's a fabric collector herself and her shop is filled with fabric eye candy. She sells bundles of hand-selected sari scraps, cut into sizes about 20 inches--perfect for adding texture and color to small projects. How cool is that?? I got a bundle of them and am using them to embellish a wall hanging I plan on hanging up in my house. She also sells some cool hand-loomed fabric. Okay, I got some of that too.

The pics above are the wall hanging in progress. Hopefully I'll finish and hang it this weekend!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Trial & Error

I took this pic of a quilt I finished recently and the colors are a little "off". It sure is tough getting good pics of finished quilts! I've seen lots of helpful information from sources like Etsy on how to improve your photos but alas, I'm still struggling. I'm pretty confident in the camera I have so I know it must be my skills (or lack thereof).

I don't have much natural light in my house so I got my boyfriend to rig up a clothesline outside (yay!). I think my pics got a little better but they're still a long way from where I'd like them to be! I've heard a lot of people use photo kits you can buy that include a white "tent" that surrounds your subject and lights that you can place around it. This is great if you have small items like jewelry but not for larger stuff like quilts.

Hmm. I need to look for a photography class and sign up asap!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Kindred spirits

About a month ago I was at a work conference in awesome Austin, TX. Of course, I scoped out the fabric scene before heading out and boy am I glad I did! I found the best fabric shop ever: It's called the Stitch Lab. I went with a couple of friends and we were in awe of their great fabric selection. They carry all sorts of hip designer fabric, offer cool classes and carry lots of other sewing accoutrements. We even got lucky and the owner of the shop was nice enough to give us a ride back to our hotel--how cool is that?? I couldn't wait to get home and make this quilt with some of the adorable fabric I bought called Vintage Dishes by designer Melody Miller. Now, that's what I call a successful work conference! (the quilt's for sale in my etsy shop)

Eggplant inspiration

Food always inspires me :) I've been having fun with a quilting technique in a book called Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson.

You'll have to buy the book yourself (highly recommended) if you want the details but the gist is you start with two each of 9 by 20 inch pieces of 8 different fabrics (in different shades or values of two colors, ideally). The center of the quilt is created from cutting the pieces into strips (freehand; no ruler) and randomly sewing those strips together. It's amazing to see the different unexpected color combinations from piecing it this way.

I used a lot of different fabric types in mine to keep it interesting: batik, shot cotton and dupioni silk. I also added freeform geometric quilting to add some texture.

You should try it! Did I mention it's addictive??

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Appeasing the ancestors

I finally finished! This quilt has an interesting story. Back in 1932 my great grandmother gave her son and new daughter-in-law (my mom's mom) a quilt top she had sewn as a wedding present. Well, that quilt was never finished--which is kinda funny! My mom gave me the quilt top about a year-and-a-half ago and I finally finished putting it together! I didn't even want to work on it out of fear of "ruining" what she had put together if I didn't do a great job with the quilting part. I gave myself a little pep talk and realized it was never going to get finished if I didn't get off my butt! The pattern is sometimes called "schoolgirl's puzzle" and oddly enough, sometimes called "old maid's puzzle". I love the 1930's novelty fabrics she used.

Anywhoo, finishing the quilt somehow makes me feel more connected to those women I never had the opportunity to know (my mom's mom died before I was born). Besides, who wants to be haunted by a quilter for not finishing the job?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Latest obsession

These little beauties are Kaffe Fassett ikats and I'm in love with 'em. They're fairly lightweight and full of beautiful color depth. They remind me of the things I like about linen even though they're cotton. I've used them in a few different quilts lately and it makes me want to throw out my other fabric and only use them. Okay, maybe not throw out all my other fabric but they're really cool!

I used it as the binding on this quilt. I was a little hesitant to use it because I generally use heavier weight fabric for that job but it was really nice to work with. Again-- Love it!