Thrift Store Finds

Good afternoon quilters and sewers! Today's topic is finding fabric in places like thrift stores, antique shops and other venues that you might not think of when shopping for fabric.

Hubby and I love to roam thrift stores to see what kinds of great deals we can find, so this past weekend when we were roaming around the stores I started looking at different types of fabrics one can find in them. Not only can you find evening dresses, wedding dresses and prom gowns (think yards and yards of fabric), but you can find drapes, curtains, blankets, towels, shirts, and sheets! Not to mention, by shopping this way you are "sewing green" by reusing and repurposing fabric! (Green and cost effective...great combination!)

Now, I know that you might be thinking that a lot of these things will just be worn out and unusable, but that's where you would be wrong. For instance, for $1.99 I found a white flannel baby blanket in very nice condition...that's a yard of cotton flannel for under $2!! I also found satin sheets and pillow cases (think crazy quilt fabric) for less than $4. Curtains are also a great fabric source, and these were all less than $2 each. In this economy, with $8.00 - $10.00 a yard fabric, why wouldn't anyone want to save some money on very nice usable fabric?? Flat sheets make great quilt backs, and I even found some that had never even been taken out of the package...$4.00!! Another great source for cotton fabric is men's Hawaiian or dress shirts...especially the larger sizes.

Of course, you won't be able to find all of the fabric you want/need in a thrift store, but you can greatly reduce the cost of your fabric and add to your stash by shopping this way. Another great source is...believe it or not...antique stores! You can find vintage table linens and vintage fabrics for not much money in antique stores. Vendors in antique malls often have regular sales, and shopping the sale booths is a great way to save even more. Vintage clothing can even be bought for little money. All of these venues are great fabric sources, and if you are a Fabriholic...like me...then you will definitely want to check these sources out!

Ebay (www.ebay.com) is also another great source for fabric and vintage fabric, however, keep in mind that you will usually have to pay some type of shipping and handling costs, and then wait for it in the mail! Although, admittedly, I have bought and sold vintage fabric on Ebay from time to time.

Do you know of other "alternative" sources for fabric? Post a comment and let me know!

Happy Sewing and Quilting!


A Few of My Favorite Things

Ah, the weekend! Isn't it great? Sleeping in late, staying up late, no big plans...except for sewing, quilting and embroidery!! :)

I was just thinking about all of the tools quilters use and how much money we can spend on them...whether they work or not! So, I thought I would review some of my favorite products and let you know that these tools really do work. My plan it to do periodic reviews of quilting/sewing/embroidery tools for you, so that you will know what works, and what doesn't. Please note that when I review products, they are products that I have used and used a lot, so by my estimation they either work well or don't.

Sue's Reviews

Clover Thread Cutter Pendant
Keep on a ribbon around your neck or on top of a spool for easy thread cutting with no sharp edges.

What a great gadget for quilters, embroiderers, and anyone who sews! I bought one of these cutters after the 9/11 airline restrictions on scissors. Even though they have eased the restrictions somewhat, I still use my Clover Thread Cutter Pendant when I travel. I hang mine on a matching chain, and it makes a lovely necklace. This would be a great gift, and for just about $10.00, a very affordable one too!

John James "Sharps" Applique Needles, size 10

I have used a lot of different types of needles for applique, but these John James "Sharps" are my absolute favorites. I use them all of the time, and keep a good supply of them on hand. I highly recommend these needles because they last and are truly high quality needles.

Needle Grabbers

The first time I used these handy Needle Grabbers was in a quilting class. After the class, I went out and bought a couple of packs of them. I use them when doing hand quilting, and I won't hand quilt without them. These are a must have for hand quilters, and are under $2.00 for a pack of 2. I just throw them on top of my hand quilt project and use them as I need them. They are rubbery, so they stay where you put them.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the reviews and learned something along the way. Have product review suggestions? Just post a comment and I will review the product and let you know if it is a good tool or not!
Happy Sewing and Quilting!


Quilting Thoughts

Happy Tuesday to everyone!

Well, I am making some headway on my Pirate Quilt! (Photos coming soon) I finished the Kracken block and am working on the final block...the Pirate...aaarrrrgghh!! I was looking through my stash for the perfect fabric for the Pirate's face and arms...think, tan! Anyway, after much searching and coming up with nothing (yeah...I know...hard to believe) I decided to take a piece of unbleached muslin and tea dye it to come up with something that would work, and it turned out great! I used hot water, tea bag, bowl and fabric. Put the fabric in the bowl with hot water and one tea bag and let is soak for a couple of hours, then rinsed it with cold water and dryed it in the dryer to heat set and voila...tan fabric! This will make great "skin" for my Pirate and I was so excited that it didn't cost anything but a tea bag to get!

So this got me to thinking about using other natural berries, plants, etc for dying fabric...hmmmm...lots of things stain fabric....hmmmm. Then I decided to research the subject, because, let's face it, we need to do all that we can to save money in this hard economy! Anyway, I found this website http://www.pioneerthinking.com/naturaldyes.html and it explains not only how to dye fabric from natural plants, but which plants produce certain shades of color! Now, I have never been much into dying my own fabric, but all of a sudden I find the whole concept rather exciting, especially if I can use natural plants and berries to dye fabric with! I'm not talking about bolts of fabric, but smaller pieces...say fat quarters...when you can't find that exact color that you are looking for. And, bonus...this can be done in your own kitchen with things you probably already have! How much more economical does it get?! I believe this definitely warrants some more experimentation on my part. Have you tried dying fabric before? What were your results? I would love to know!

Oh yes, and I am also working on...finally...a quilt for myself!! I made the top a couple of years ago, so it's about time to finish it. We have had such a cold winter here that I have been using hubby's quilt and thinking, "hmmm...I wish I had my own quilt to use instead of using his quilt all the time!" And then I thought, "hey, I can have my own quilt! All I have to do is take a finished quilt top and quilt it, then I will have one for myself!" So, I have started quilting it! Yep...photos to come shortly!

Have a great day, and Happy Sewing and Quilting!!


Just a Little Beauty...

Happy Freezing Weather! But, this is GREAT QUILTING WEATHER!!

I just wanted to add a little beauty and warmth to your day...so here is a photo of my sweet beautiful granddaughter!!

Ahhh...I feel so much warmer now...don't you??!! :)

I haven't quilted these past few days, but have been pondering about what my next project is to be. I have several quilt tops that need to be quilted and several quilt projects that I would like to start...oh, and then there is my Pirate Quilt that also needs finishing! Sew many projects...sew little time!!

How do you prioritize projects? That seems to be a sticking point for me, as sometimes I am not sure how to choose from so many projects to work on. Do I start with the oldest unfinished project? Do I work on something totally new? Something that I am in the middle of? Does it matter?? I just get into a tizzy thinking about it! Should I prioritize by what brings me joy to work on or money when I sell it? Ahhhh...money is a great motivator, but I like to work on projects that make me happy too. Decisions...decisions...I think I will sleep on it and decide tomorrow!

Stay warm! Happy Sewing and Quilting!


Another Year, Another Quilt and How Do You Measure?

Welcome to 2010!

It is hard to believe that another year has flown by so quickly!! But we had a lot of things happen in 2009 -- some good, some not so good -- so I am excited to see what events unfold in the upcoming year. Funny to think that hubby and I were watching 2010: Odyssey Two the other night...and here we are in 2010!! I was also excited to get my 2010 calendar from Irish Quilting Magazine (www.irishquilting.ie) just in time to hang it up on Jan 1. It is a beautiful calendar and I am looking forward to looking at it each month throughout the year.

I have been madly quilting in effort to finish another commissioned baby quilt (photos above), and actually finished it 2 days ahead of schedule! Hubby was quite impressed and tells me that I am getting faster. This baby quilt went together so fast, and was fairly simple to make. I used chain piecing, which not only speeds up the process, but saves thread and makes it more economical. I was very happy with the results and plan on making the same quilt to keep (since I have enough fabric left to make another one).

How do you measure?
This thought came up when I was cutting out the pieces for this baby quilt. I, probably like many of you, have several different types of measuring tools for rotary cutting fabric. I have the standard rectangular measuring ruler, several sizes of measuring squares, etc. What I noticed is that they are all different brands (as I generally just buy what I need when in quilt shops), such as Olfa, Omnigrid, Dritz, etc. Now you would think that an inch is an inch is an inch, however, if you start out measuring...oh let's say 5" squares...and you are using your handy Omingrid square, then you switch to perhaps your Olfa ruler, you run the risk of not ending up with the exact same 5" squares. I am not sure why...maybe someone knows the answer, but the important lesson here is if you start out using one measuring tool, stick with it! I have also noticed that if you are using a cutting mat for measuring, over time these become slightly inaccurate...again, not sure why, other than warpage through use.

My cutting mat is made by Salem (www.hometownquiltsupply.net) and is about 6 or 7 years old. It is getting quite worn after many years of use and is slightly off if I use it to measure with. Again, if I start using my Salem mat to measure with, sticking with it through the whole quilt project is a must. I love my Salem mat (right now they are on sales!) and purchased it at the Dallas Quilt Show, but I have not seen Salem mats at the quilt show for several years now. They can be purchased on line...I highly recommend them!

Well, that is my thought for the day. Enjoy the photos and please leave your comments regarding quilt measuring tools!

Happy Sewing and Quilting in 2010!!