The FOTY 2017 is not dead, though I haven’t worked on it much beyond cutting a few pieces here and there. As you know from my En Provence and Triple Star posts, I am not cutting a lot, which means no new FOTY pieces to show.
I have always liked to use a variety of fabrics to add interest. This means that I like scrap quilts, but I also like to use a variety of fabrics in the same colors in my quilts.
I learned this technique from Mary Mashuta. Many of you modern quiltmakers probably think she is old time and her techniques are not a useful addition to your modern arsenal. Mary is a really good teacher. She trained as a teacher and taught at SF High Schools for years before she left to become a quilt teacher. Her ideas are easily translatable to different fabrics and styles. I took a class from her about “pushed neutrals,” which had to do with making a background from a variety of neutrals rather than just using one fabric. I extrapolated that idea out to include non-neutrals as well, which evolved into using a variety of fabrics in the same colors for backgrounds. I have since used this technique for foregrounds as well.
Kay V, a longtime reader, made a comment that made me think about my low volume background for En Provence. As you know, the background is a variety of text fabrics. These are, mostly, the same fabrics I used for the Carpenter’s Wheel.
Jennifer’s Quilt is a quilt I made for my acupuncturist who really helped me get back on the road to health. When she died, I got the quilt back. Bittersweet. I would rather have her and never see the quilt again.
It is the first quilt, I think, I made using a variety of black and white fabrics for the background. Some of the pieces are a little heavy and I probably wouldn’t use them again. I also used the same technique for the foreground – the pinks, blues and limes are all a variety of fabrics in the same tones/shades. The blues have more contrast than the pinks and limes.
Flowering Snowball was primarily supposed to be a handwork project – something to take around with me when I needed a to-go project. At that point, I didn’t think as much about the background. In general this is not as successful an exercise in using different fabrics for the background. Some of the prints read grey rather than white. Others have too heavy a hand in the print department.
I got better with the Carpenter’s Wheel. I was focusing on using text prints and, thus, tried hard to make the background work. The scale of the different fabrics all vary, but the overall effect works.
From close up, the background of En Provence looks somewhat chaotic. The foreground fabrics can handle the chaos, however, because there is no bleeding of color into the background. I like the little bit of chaos as it seems to move my eye around the quilt.
As an added bonus, this technique does not require one to have a zillion yards of one fabric to use as a background. 😉
In the process of cutting for the Triple Star, I also cut some pieces for FOTY 2017. Some of the other (non-Triple Star) have been on the wall for awhile. I seem to go in waves: cutting a lot and then not cutting anything.
I really like the plaids in the Chroma line. They are more fun than regular plaids.
I am still cutting for FOTY 2017. It’s only halfway through the year, so why wouldn’t I be?
When I went to crop the photo, I saw that it was sideways from the orientation in which I had photographed it. Since I intend to arrange the rectangles in a horizontal orientation, I thought I would display the latest additions in this orientation, so you could tell me what you think. Lots of greys since I am working ona grey background right now.
It was the end of April when I last posted an update for FOTY 2017. I am still cutting, but the endless Carpenter’s Wheel and brief detour into designing for FOTY 2016 are just two of the projects that have distracted me.
I also started cutting for a new project. This is the reimagined Daisy QAL. Yes, my podcast pal, Daisy, is leading a Quilt-A-Long. I wanted to do it, so I bought all of the materials. After looking at the pattern carefully, I decided I didn’t like the alternate block. I looked around to see what I could add that would be interesting, then decided that was stupid. At the same time, I saw the quilt I have been wanting to make at Back Porch Fabrics, Triple Star (n.18/19) by Kim Brackett from Scrap Basket Beauties.
I changed direction. I am using the materials from Daisy’s QAL to make the Triple Star. I know I have a zillion other projects, but I bought the fabric and am cutting it up in between the Carpenter’s Wheel and En Provence.
The fabrics on the bottom row in the FOTY picture above are from Alison Glass’ Sun Prints collection. That brown probably has to go. I cut it up, but find that there is a lot of it and I don’t like it enough to put that much in. I won’t have enough fabrics from the layer cake to make the whole quilt, so I am adding in other fabrics as well, including some Philip Jacobs. I need to make it more cheerful.
I was so pleased to get so many comments on my Ugly Fabric post! I really enjoy comments, so keep them coming. 😉
The comments you added were full of great ideas. There was also a string of comments on FB when someone posted a link to this post on a secret quiltmaking group in which I participate.
Jackie said “I’m using my “ugly” (no longer my style) fabrics for testing pattern ideas and donation quilts. I know someone will love them.” I thought this was a great idea, if you can do it. I can’t always work with fabrics I don’t like which is one reason the nieces and nephews don’t get a choice in which quilt design they get for their quilt. I do ask them their favorite color, but they don’t get to choose the shade. If they say something like dusty rose or forest green, they are usually out of luck. I haven’t had a quilt returned, so I guess it is ok.
Nonnie commented “I have a ton of fabrics that may or may not be ugly but definitely fall into the WHAT WAS I THINKING category. I have been dividing my stash into two sections. …. LOVE THE FABRIC, use for family quilts and WHAT WAS I THINKING, use in experiments and donation quilts. I often trial a block or technique in a quilt I later donate to various charities or organizations. I work hard to make them beautiful and desirable but I am happy to know … I WILL NEVER HAVE TO LOOK AT THEM AGAIN. ” (Nonnie likes her capitals 😉 ). I guess a ‘what was I thinking category’ could be added to my list of fabric categories as well. I do pick up fabrics from the depths of my fabric closet and really wonder what I was thinking when I bought it. Often these are fabrics with some kind of strange dot or bold pattern choice. I have taken to pinning a note on new fabrics when I have an idea for them. I have so many ideas flitting through my mind that they don’t stick unless I make a note somewhere.
The other thing I noted was that was that fabrics that look great in a shop don’t always look great in my house. I have figured out that this is for a lot of reasons:
- I like colors that I never use
- The other fabrics in the line don’t always come home with me.
- The light in the shop made the colors look different than they do in my workroom
I have really begun to look at fabrics I am considering buying in order to think about how I would use them. I have thought about this with regard to Tula Pink fabrics.
TFQ asked “Now the question is, are you going to get rid of those napkins so you don’t have to risk having an ugly fabric reaction every time you see them?” This is a good question that cycles through my head as I unearth fabric. I have been picking out pieces and giving them to BAM when I don’t think I will use them anymore. The Charity girls cut the fabrics up into 2.5″ squares and my uglies, which may not be someone else’s uglies, get lost in the 16 patch blocks.
Napkins are another story. Despite the poor fabric choice, the napkins are actually really nice. They are thick and do a good job cleaning faces while hiding stains. My SIL volunteered to take them off my hands as the dusty pink goes with her Desert Rose china. We’ll see.
Peg commented “Why should spend my money or my time on something I do not like. But, we may not agree on “ugly.” ” Peg is a new quiltmaker, though an expert knitter so knows her way around textiles. She reiterated what I thought, which is don’t listen to those who say to add some ugly fabric to make your pretties stand out. My Scrapitude Carnivale quilt is all pretties and that is a gorgeous quilt, if I do say so myself.
Of course, we cannot agree on ugly. I like pink, but not dusty pink. I like bright clear colors which may come from living in an environment that has bright, bright sunlight alternated with grey foggy days. Both of these weather phenomenon require colors that can stand up to those kinds of light. I find that bright, clear colors do that. I would be interested to hear what colors you find you use a lot and why you think that is.
I first mentioned tracking my fabric usage formally on a V&S post a few months ago. Peg recently asked about it, so I thought I would write more about it.
First, if you are a beginner, stop reading and go sew. You are too young a quiltmaker to be worrying about fabric usage.
Second, if you are prone to anxiety, stop reading. Fabric usage is not something you need to add to your list of anxieties. Go sew and enjoy your quiltmaking.
Everyone else may continue reading with the understanding that this tracking system is not to judge, but to understand how much fabric my projects actually take and my fabric usage over the course of a year.
I have been tracking my fabric usage since 2015. I did it all last year as well. Having more of a handle on how to use the spreadsheet helped me to understand what fabrics I was using and how much. I made much better choices about fabric purchases and continue to do so. I am not perfect, but getting better and fabric is so yummy that sometimes it is hard to resist. 😉
I use a spreadsheet that I originally got from Pam of Hip to Be a Square podcast. I have modified to suit my needs. Pam has a blank copy of her fabric usage spreadsheet available on a post from a few years back. It is a good way to start tracking your usage as long as there is no guilt involved. Cheryl, a BAMer, wrote a great post about her spreadsheet for the BAM blog. She talks about her theories around it, why she does it and how she does it.
While there is no shortage of fabric at my house, this spreadsheet is not intended to keep me from buying fabric. That would be a effort in futility and acknowledging that fact feels like a victory. I started so I would know how much fabric I am using per year as well as how much I am adding to my collection. I have a good idea of how many different fabrics I purchase in a year based on the Fabric of the Year quilts, but quantities were always a mystery.
Knowing that I used:
2015: 107.16 yards
2016: 181.34 yards
2017: 62.48 (YTD)
There is no adjustment for how much fabric I have purchased and that changes the numbers a lot. The numbers above are gross, not net. I have to say that knowing how much fabric I used in 2015 spurred me on to sew more in 2016. Using a 100 yards is not out of the realm of possibility and if I made goals like that, that would be my goal. Less than halfway through the year, I am already well on my way.
I find the statistics interesting, but I don’t think you should track your fabric usage unless there is no guilt involved.
After putting the used napkins from last week in the wash I pulled out new ones. I had rearranged the napkin drawer in order to circulate in some that hadn’t been used in awhile. One was folded back to front and I immediately had an ugly fabric reaction. It really isn’t hideous fabric, but not my colors. The print is interesting. It is a classic design. I don’t think this particular shade of pink has really ever been my color, but I bought it at some point in the past so I must have liked it or had a use for it.
This napkin brought out a whole slew of ugly fabric feelings and thoughts. I was especially reminded of things I had heard I must do.
-Buy a little ugly fabric.
-Put a piece of ugly fabric in your quilts so your nice fabrics will look better.
-Sew ugly fabrics as backs.
You know how well musts work with most people.
I went through about 5 seconds of buying ugly fabric. Then I decided that, for me, that is a seriously dumb idea. I am not spending my hard earned money on ugly fabric when there is so much great fabric out there. I don’t have enough money to buy the fabric I love (bolts of Philip Jacobs prints, please). I also don’t want to devote precious space to ugly fabrics.
The other thing is that ‘ugly’ is relative. My ugly fabric might be your favorite color. I am not here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t like. Ugly for me will be different than your ugly. Buy your favorites.
Also, what I think is ugly today might not have been ugly to me 10 years ago. Tastes evolve. Also, as a new quiltmaker, you might be trying out different styles to find what suits you. You might also mix what you like. I don’t buy many repro prints, even the cheerful 1930s prints. They just aren’t for me. However, there is a blue in the Civil War arena that I love and periodically I will buy an FQ of one print. I am careful, though to make sure it is more blue than beige.
I worked on a quilt called Thoughts on Dots when I was having a big, fat creative block. This quilt was so painful to make, because I was forcing myself to sew. I was forcing myself to work through the creative block.I had a small child who was going through some stuff. DH was going through some stuff. It was a tough time. I moved around 6.5″ squares for weeks. I finished the quilt top and decided to use some ugly fabric for the back. To be thrifty, I decided to use fabric I wasn’t going to use for a front. The ‘ugly’ fabric isn’t hideously ugly, though it is beige. I interspersed the beige with leftover squares, so the back isn’t completely beige and hideous.
We act like we will never see the back so backs can be a dumping ground for ugly fabrics. Thoughts on Dots is on our bed, so I do see the back pretty often and I sincerely dislike it every time I see it. This is why I have used small pieces of beige for donation blocks. I don’t want beige in my fabric closet. This quilt is nearly the sole reason I use a lot of Philip Jacobs prints for my backs. I have decided I want to enjoy backs as much as my fronts. It doesn’t mean that I buy special fabric for the backs. It means I use fabrics I like from my fabric closet. Those Philip Jacobs prints are so well displayed on a back that I can’t possibly NOT use them now.
I also should have realized that being thrifty didn’t mean I had to use that beige fabric. It isn’t as though there has been a shortage of fabric at my house in a while.
My final thought is that everyone should just use the good stuff immediately. Don’t buy it and save it for some other day. That day is today and you will love whatever you make even more if you can see your new favorite fabric immediately.
I probably shouldn’t have gone to BAMaQG on Saturday because I was still hacking up a lung. After Grand Parlor, however, I needed to see my peeps and get reconnected with some quiltmaking. Despite leaving my lungs everywhere, I enjoyed myself and was pleased to be able to talk to people I care about. This is Kelly’s last meeting before she moves, so I was especially glad to see her. It also got me back in the mood to sew and I sewed a lot on Sunday.
As usual, the group has a door prize drawing. Right before they announced the name, I thought “I am going to win”. Then Gerre announced my name. I couldn’t believe it. I am really not psychic and I am very distrustful of my intuition*, so it was very strange.
The prizes included fabric. Yay Fabric! Ugh Fabric! I only say UGH Fabric because I am keeping track of my usage and I am in the hole.
Still, it is fun to win a prize.
The fabric colors aren’t really ‘my’ colors (except the lime), but the little packet of peaches is kind of growing on me. I can definitely use them for this month’s Color My Quilt. I also have the idea to make something small out of them. A small bag or journal cover or another gift grouping. I’d love to find a pattern that used the exact amount of fabric I have.
* After being certain I was having a girl and getting the YM, my intuition has been suspect.
In Portland, I bought some fabric for the Poolside Tote. And the pattern. I thought I had the pattern, but I didn’t, so I bought that as well.
I really found the perfect fabrics for two totes. The text print is home dec weight and will be the inside.I hope my machine can handle it. I’d love this fabric for some chairs in my living room.
The dots are scheduled to be used for the outside of the totes. I have some grey already that will make great straps. It might be too many dots or it might be super cheerful.
After not cutting for a long time, I am on a jag. Here is the most recent group. They are clear and cheerful. I am pleased that I finally have so many of the mini Pearl bracelets washed finally. I am thinking of making another Sew Together Bag with them.
After stalling out on cutting fabric early in the year, I have cut a lot this week. I have needed fabric that has languished in my ‘to wash’ pile, so I have washed quite a bit of fabric as prep for cutting. Clean fabric cannot pile up on the back of my new chair, so pressing and cutting it is.
I love the mini Pearl Bracelets Julie bought for me as a gift. Having them on the wall makes my imagination go places I wasn’t considering. I having been thinking of making another Sew Together Bag for my embroidery supplies. Except for some Philip Jacobs fabric like I used in my recent One Hour Basket, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to use. I wonder how it would look with the Philip Jacobs on the outside and all different Pearl Bracelets on the inside?
The cutting for FOTY 2017 is going slowly. A lot of it is that I am using fabrics where I only have a fat quarter and I don’t have enough to cut a big chunk out of. I may have to add in some squares in addition to the rectangles to get a good representation for the year.
I know it is confusing to have two of these going at once.
I had to clear off my ironing board in order to put a new cover on it. Mine had a big hole, which wasn’t really bothering me. However, my ironing board is a unique brand and I came across a cover in a store and snapped it up. In order to actually use the new ironing board, I had to move the pressed fabric waiting to be cut. The above picture shows some of it, but also fabric from a recent wash load.
The shape for 2017 is a 3 inch x 6 inch rectangle. I chose that because I want to play with a subway tile look. I think I have decided not to cut smaller pieces for used/in my closet fabric. So far I have only cut new fabrics, so I still have some time to decide. I think I will just make all of the patches the same size. I am also thinking I will stagger the rows like when a bathroom is tiled. This means I need something for the ends. At the moment I am thinking white Ta Dots on Grey. Stay tuned.
I have another group of squares for the project. For awhile they came fast and furious as I pressed and cut like a possessed thing. Now I am back to sewing up a storm. I have a bunch of fabric pressed, but not yet cut. It is such a frustration to have only two hands. This is one of the few times in my life where I’d like to be an octopus.