Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fabric has a mind of its own...

Fabric has a mind of its own. Believe me it does. You can measure it several times, starch it and iron it and use precise cutting tools and fancy precision rulers. Yet, it will still shift and taunt you.
Don't get me wrong. All those things - rulers, tools etc. definitely improve the quality of the outcome. But there is no way of making sure that every seam will match and every line will be completely straight. Where does that leave us poor quilters? Two things are important:
1. Respect the fabric
2. Do not expect perfection.

Some time ago, I had seen a quilt pattern/block at Love Laugh Quilt and I immediately bought striped fabric. Time passed and other quilts and baby blankets had to be made. The striped fabric sat patiently. Then, I saw some more striped fabric on sale at Connecting Threads and wasted no time in adding to my stash. Inspiration struck last night - Stripes!!! Yikes!!!

So, I pulled out the striped fabrics and noticed something.

In the fabric on the left, the stripes are not quite straight and parallel - they curve ever so slightly and waver. If the pattern you are looking to make requires (rather) precise piecing of blocks, this fabric won't work. It is cute and the bright colors might work well for something else. Oh well!
In this picture on the right, you can see that the lines on the fabric match the lines on the ruler - this is just beautiful. And this fabric, although the colors are not as bright as the first one will be my choice for making (trying to make) the near-perfect blocks with well-matched seams.

Why are these striped fabrics different? The analytical mind in me would not rest. And then I had my Aha moment - in the first fabric the stripes run selvage to selvage (bad idea) and in the second fabric they run along the length of the fabric!!! Yippee. I had actually figured something out!!!

When precision is important, make sure the stripes run along the length of the fabric. When buying fabric online, make sure that the stripes on screen look vertical (they will appear horizontal if they run from selvage to selvage). And when you are cutting the striped fabric, you will be better off to cut along the length of the fabric to maintain integrity. This is what I mean by "Respecting the Fabric"

I tell you, there are pitfalls of being self-taught, but then I do like my AHA moments!!! And speaking of AHA moments, spring came to my backyard, even if it is Fabric Spring!!!

Ideas are going to spring from my brain on to the cutting mat and the sewing machine - the fabric colors are the seeds of inspiration...

And here is one inspiration to begin the Spring Season!!!



  1. Bless you for wanting to brave the stripes. I have used some in very little pieces, but only when it did not matter which way they were going and they did not have to match up anywhere. Cant wait to see what you do. The fabrics are really pretty

  2. What great advice about stripes. I made the mistake of choosing stripes for my first baby quilt with a checkerboard border. Ha! That border was a disaster and I decided to pick other fabric (and the quilt is still not started). I love the look of stripes, but yes, you have to respect them and be careful. My personality doesn't do "slow and careful" very well!

    BTW yes, I 'm on for Sunday morning. I'll text you or call to shore up plans, okay?