Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Be kind to your fabric... and yourself!

Hi Friends, 
I'm Wendy from Sewing in the Wendy City.
I'm thrilled (as always) to be invited to post today!

You know, when I tell myself I have to go shop for more fabric,
 it's often because I've looked through my extensive stash and declared that what I have is:
not good enough
not quite right for the job
not as ____ as I wanted.  {fun, perfect, stylish, designer, new... }

and sometimes, when I feel down, it's because I have told myself that I am
not good enough
not strong enough
not right for whatever task lies before me


So you know what?

I've made a commitment to being kinder to my stash.
It doesn't deserve for me to be so unkind.  
And I'm using it!
Because really, I almost always have everything here I need.

Oh and another thing?
I'm trying to be kind to myself too.
Because usually I am able and strong.  
But sometimes I need to remember it.

You see, I make and sell quilts.  It's how I pay for my daughters' preschool and activities.  And I sit and hand-stitch the binding while I wait for them in ballet class.  and I have to work from my stash for the most part, because if I buy new fabric for each project I cut into my profits royally or have quilts priced so high I cannot sell them!

And it's also a fun challenge to see how varied of prints I can pull together into a cohesive whole.  

May I show you one?
Good.  Here goes.

So I needed a boy quilt.  A lap size.  
I love this cowboy print.  It's one of my go-to prints.  
I bought 2 yards on sale.  
{Yes, I bought.  But wait to see how much stash gets stitched up with it.}

Did someone ask about a tutorial?  Well, I'm not sure.
Go on, twist my arm.  OUCH!
Allright, you win... in case you want to give it a try, I'll put in a tutorial.  

STEP 1.  Buy 2 yards of a large-scale print fabric.  Something really awesome and eye-catching.
Like the cowboys.  Maybe you have something in your stash?  Bonus points for that one!
Cut 12" off the large scale print, selvedge to selvedge (which I'm going to write as S2S from here on out, ok?)

So then I go through my stash.  And choose things that might work.  
Remember, be FORGIVING!
Even if the fabric's not perfect, that's ok.  In the group, it will be fine.
Notice the paisleys?  Not cowboyish.  But just wait....

STEP 2:   Cut selvedge-to-selvedge strips of various sizes.

Some of those don't look exciting or fabulous, do they? 
Most are leftovers or fabric gifted to me.  All except the cowboys and that red floral at the top, which I bought and then realized I had no use for!

As I'm working, I keep a list of the widths of what I've cut.
Including the 12" width of cowboys we cut.....
I want those to add up to about 65" and the list helps me keep track so I'm not just cutting with wild abandon.

Get as much variety as possible.  I like to cut no smaller than 2" and no larger than about 6" (except the cut of cowboys, of course)

STEP 3:  Find some binding along the way.  Again, be kind to your fabric.  You probably have a lot of fabrics that would work.  Remember you only see a tiny portion of the print in the binding.
Look for a cut of fabric that is 12.5" wide and S2S so that you have enough for binding.  I cut my binding at 2.5", so if you cut yours at 2.25" then you'll only need 11.25"

Go ahead and cut the strips for your binding and set them aside.

STEP 4:  Chain piece it up into stripes.  
While you're there, go ahead and sew your binding end to end.
{sigh.  I LOVE my machine.  Isn't she beautiful.}

Step 5:  Lay it out, admire it.  Press seams.  Square it up.
While that ironing board's out, go ahead and press your binding.

Step 6:  Remember that other large cut of cowboys?  It's your backing.  See?  Now the front and the back go together!  Amazing!  Sandwich it up.

Step 7:  Quilt it up.
Now, I quilt my striped quilts down the stripes.  In loops.  I like it, it's fast, and I think it looks neat.
But do what makes you happy.

Step 8: Bind it up.

So guess what:  In that quilt we used up nearly 2 yards of stash!

 Here's another couple of examples using the same method.  The only item purchased was the large-scale aliens.  on this one I didn't put the aliens on the front as well and I added a vertical stripe in the middle because some of my fabrics I used weren't quite 45" wide.
This one my only purchase was the butterflies in the backing.  Same method, same quilting, but a little smaller.

So be kind to your stash... and yourself as well.
And remember that you are fabulous and wonderful and have many talents and strengths.  
Just like your stash!

love from

Stop by the Wendy City anytime!


  1. Good Morning Wendy...you know what makes me happy? Knowing sew many of you can use scraps and end up with pretty amazing results...and to think I used to throw out all of my scraps...
    and you sell them...ok, that is sew fine....
    You are sew inspiring and thank you sew much for posting today...You always bring a smile.
    Sew what is on for your next quilt?? piece be with you,

  2. I have always wanted to make a quilt, but I'm never quite sure how......I knit, crochet, cross stitch and sew, but quilting has always been a bit of a mystery to me.
    Well not any more, after reading your inspiring, uplifting and very informative post I am determined to have a go. Too many times we believe that something new will be too difficult and we are afraid of failing, but you're lovely post has given me the courage to make my first quilt. I'm off to my craft cupboard to make a lovely mess sorting through all my long forgotten stash.
    florrie x

  3. I can be sure to be kind to your stash - mine consists of mostly "purged" items from others' stashes. I am currently giving life to X-mas fabrics that I am seeing dates of "87, '88, and '89 on - really. They are performing with newer partners, but I am loving the outcome.

  4. Lovely! What a great tut - thanks!

  5. Thanks for sharing, Wendy! And I love that last picture of you, it's awesome! :)

  6. Great post, Wendy! Thanks for the useful tutorial, too - a neat way to use up stash fabrics!!

  7. What a great way to use up my stash! Thanks Wendy and Madame Samm for the guest post!

  8. What a wonderful idea and SEW easy peasy!!
    Thanks for the idea AND the encouragement!
    Gmama Jane

  9. I have to say, as I was reading along I was a little skeptical about the other prints you were going to put with the cowboys. I was just thinking hmmm how is this going to work?

    After seeing the final product, I think it looks great! I totally see what you mean when you say trust and be kind to your stash! Thanks for the great inspiration!

  10. this was an excellent post! really enjoyed it!
    I don't have much stash as I'm a buy it for a project, use it for that project-no waste, kind of girl however I do have trouble going outside of the box and often buy designer fabric "lines" and don't deviate...
    now I think I might start mix and matching :)

  11. Thank you everyone for your kind comments! And thank you to Madame Samm for allowing me to post.

    Florrie, I am SO THRILLED to hear that you'll try a quilt now. That is the nicest compliment I could receive. Bless you!

    Have a lovely day, everyone!

  12. Love these quilts~
    I've made plenty like this, just simple strips, in a row, sometimes I will applique a little 'something' here or there~just for pizazz. thanks for posting and sharing!

  13. Great idea to keep record of the rows of fabric...I seem to forget that part even though I really don't enjoy the mystery :-)
    Your quilts are really cute! Great post!

  14. well, after reading your tut Wendy, I am pretty proud of myself..you see, I am NOT a quilter, have only attempted two..the first quilt, I made just as you directed here, and it is gracing my bed as we speak! The second is unfinished, I am slowly attempting to create a small lap size quilt from my childs clothing..it is proving to be much more challenging, but I will give it a go again. Thanks for the interesting tut Wendy, and the inspiration. xoxo Christel

  15. Wendy ~ Love your words of wisdom of being kind to yourself and kind to your stash. Thanks for your tutorial and your quilt is darling!

  16. I think I could do this~I am new to quilting and really had no idea where to start but you made it good so darn easy.Thanks Wendy. I bet that little boy loved the horse quilt

  17. Love your post. I can sure relate. Love the tutorial. Great way to use up some of those scraps!

  18. Very cute quilt and just perfect for a boy! I love the aliens and the cowboys-he he!

  19. Hey--I have the same machine...and I LOVE it too! It's a real workhorse.

  20. Well done, we can be mean to our stash sometimes.....I love your machine, I have on too and an 801 and a 440 and a overlocker! But those older bernina's to me are like gold.They are great for piecing and quilting and they aren't fussy about threads.

  21. Great idea for doing some stash busting. These would be perfect for Project Linus.

  22. An excellent way to use up some stash & some great quilts.

  23. Thank you for the tutorial. I hadnt a clue where you were going till I came to the end!

  24. I really love your post. I love the concept of being kind to your stash and to yourself. That is so true. I always try to think like that when I'm unsure of a project. I am sometimes too hard on myself. But, we all have to start somewhere. Thanks for the reminder. I love your tutorial. Hugs Ariane

  25. Great post! Can't wait to try the loop quilting idea!

  26. Super cute quilt! I love your sewing machine, i t looks just like the one I learned to sew on!


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