Alexander Henry Fabrics has sent another visual valentine to us fabric lovers.
It is a Must Have Fabric! I have spoken and it shall be so!
With last year’s Ghastlies series, we reveled in wonderful fabric that featured images from the strangest dinner party ever, and this year we can join this oddball group in A Ghastlies Family Reunion.
It comes in several colors, including mauve, grey and green. (I suspect it comes in a white background, too, but I haven’t seen it yet.)
Clad in costumes from the Roaring 20’s, these upper-class socialites seem to be frozen in tableaux whose meanings we can only guess at.
Last year’s fabric featured a beribboned girl holding a hammer. My friends and I refer to the dress-wearing tomboy as “little Alethea.” She really reminded me of myself, the dress, the tool, and the perpetual pout!
There is a new (old) member of staff, the butler Cobblestone.
We also have some new family members.
One wonders what is going on between these two ladies. There must be more than meets the eye. Could it have something to do with the expecting mother and her wayward husband?
So now the question remains… what to make with this fabric?
I can see some great bags, placemats, and pillows on the horizon.
Think of the fun fabrics and images you could put inside the frames. Alexander Henry has some fun companion fabrics that will read solid for the frame fabric.
One of my friends from Wooden Gate Quilts is already making a 9-Patch Pizzazz from Judy Sisnero’s fabulous book. (Which I wish I had written!)
I can’t wait to see how it develops!
Large-scale prints like this are also great for quilts from my book Maverick Quilts. Try it in Superstars, California Housetop, in the off blocks in Bella Boxes, or as the central panel in Lovely Landscape. Any of these would be great!
Or, how about the Show Off pattern in the book?
As always, sorry for the photo quality! (The publisher sent me a CD with all of the nice photos from the book, but I can’t figure out how to open them, silly me!)
For my Ghastlies quilt, I chose the Show Off pattern.
This quilt is made from the fabric which came out last year, and I used both the green and grey background versions for the block centers. The frames are made in black, grey, green, pink and then I threw in some purple just for fun.
Unlike the Show Off Quilt in the book, I included sashing between each horizontal set and added a wide band a single fabric. On the band I created a funny portrait gallery with images from the fabric.
I made frames for each portrait by fussy cutting fabric and fusing it wown. You should have heard me cackling as I finished each one!
Love the hair!
Do you see the cat’s ears on the top of Father’s portrait and the four cat feet on the bottom? I will stitch everything down with the quilting.
Please send me photos of what you make from this MUST HAVE FABRIC! I always love to see your work!
I am in fabric stores all the time, and I admit I haven’t even been looking at fabric lately.
It goes like this – my creativity and how it unfolds is very cyclical. Each stage is intense and each one is quite distinct, even if they sometimes overlap. Without going on all day about it, I will just say that I have been in a finishing phase. Projects are getting completed right now. That means resolving perplexing visual issues and getting the tops off of the design wall. Then, on to making the backs and to loading the long arm sewing machine and to the quilting. I’ve completed several good quilts lately, even including the dreaded bindings. (I’ll share them with you soon)
The finishing phase this time has been followed by an intense designing period. I have designed five new quilts in the past few days. I’ve got sketches done, new diagrams and cutting lists, and sample blocks made. This is a reversion for me to an older working style, as all of the maverick quilts came fabric first and quilt design second. But, in this case, I have a clear theme in mind and the new quilt designs have just tumbled out complete, ready to make, and wonderful!
This brings me to the point (finally!). I need some new fabric. Yeah!
It was Sunday night and I was READY for new fabric. There was no waiting the 12 hours for the fabric stores to open! So, I opened up the trusty old Macintosh computer and did a little online retail detective work. Not ten minutes in to the search I found Kate Spain’s new fabric line, happily called Good Fortune. My investigation lead me to a certain fabric store, and look what showed up on my doorstep today…
One of the new quilts is designed with the possibility of using a jelly roll, and the Fat Quarter Shop specializes in pre-cut fabrics and packets. I was so pleased that they had just what I wanted – both the jelly roll and 5″ charm packs.
Would you just look at these? MUST HAVE!
Those of you who have read Maverick Quilts, taken my classes, or heard me lecture, know that I think white does an important job in a quilt. You also know that I love fabric with white in it!
Kate Spain’s new fabrics have a good dose of white, a delightful, whimsical nature and an Asian influence. They come in five different color ways and have a great variety of scale and design. The blossom fabric is so pretty you want to eat it! There are dragonflies, fans, pagodas, and sand that has been gently raked by a master gardner!
These little 5″ swatches just made me crazy. What the heck is going on with this print?!? What does the whole repeat look like? I just had to know, so more detectiving had to happen.
The first stop was to Kate Spain’s website, where I found a wonderful place to go and see her extensive work. She is an absolute design powerhouse with products at JoAnn’s, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Crate & Barrel, to name just a few. Who knew?
I read about Kate and learned that she graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design (lucky!) and has been designing for over 15 years. I like this quote from her “about” page:
Her style radiates with natural balance and freshnessin palettes that offer a unique, sophisticated and widely appealing mix of harmoniouscolor.
So, I was still looking for clues as to what that fabulous fabric looked like and then I found Kate’s cheerful blog. I know you, my dear readers, will love this little tutorial from Kate.
What I did learn is that this design from the Good Fortune fabric line has been translated into a line of dishes at Crate & Barrel.
Soooo – you could make cool quilts, tablecloths, aprons, placemats, napkins and the like – and have matching dishes – how cool would that be? Read more about the dishes on this blog post from Kate.
So the investigation eventually lead me back to the Fat Quarter Shop, where I was able to find a larger image and the name of the fabric.
It’s called Good Fortune Zen Pond Garden in this color
It’s Good Fortune Waterfall Garden in the periwinkle…
and Good Fortune Spirit Garden in the orange. Yummmmmmy! I MUST HAVE some of this, and soon!
The jelly roll is so pretty that I haven’t even opened it yet!
But wait! You also get the Lantern Tranquility flowers. Are you kidding me?
I JUST HAPPENED to be at my local fabric store yesterday and LOOK what I found…
It is absolutely exquisite in person – I actually saw it from across the store and had that little lurch in my fabric heart. I practically ran to see what it was. I was stunned and delighted to discover that it was from the line I had just ordered online! Now, that’s Good Fortune! The hand is so soft and smooth – Moda can really make a fabulous fabric!
I cannot wait to show y’all what I am going to make.
So, kids, run right out and get some of this Must Have Fabric – I have spoken! (I am so excited that I am not going to be able to sleep tonight!)
AND be sure to send me photos of what you make, and we can share your work with everyone!
The blog has been quiet but the sewing machine loud! I have been working on quilts like a madwoman and have lots of new work to show y’all.
I have just made a new version of the Goddess quilt in the super-hip Alexander Henry Rivoli Girl fabric. These modern, slightly-coy girls just called out to me to be featured in a quilt. Boy, do I love fabric with people on it.
I know you can get some of this fabric at the delightful Wooden Gate Quilts store in Danville, California right now. I have also spied this fabric in other colors at Fabric.com, and I just Might have to get me some in anther colorway – just MIGHT! Rivoli Girl fabric from Fabric.com.
I love making these curved blocks. I use half of a quarter yard (a fat eighth) and free-cut the curves. Each pairing of fabric makes two curvy blocks and then I have some fun long strips to play with and put into the blocks.
I audition all the curve strips on the wall and play with possible sashing ideas.
I am teaching this quilt as a class in Danville at Wooden Gate Quilts. You can contact them for information about the class. Wooden Gate Quilts If you are nervous about trying this on your own, sign up; I would love to teach you how to make these fun curves.
For the Rivoli Goddesses, I made the blocks 17″ and used a 2″ sashing with posts. I used the left over fabrics for a fun scrappy outer border. Yes, please!
For those of you who are making the Goddess quilt out of the book, and for those of you who are making the curvy border for the Jalousie quilt in Maverick Quilts, the following images might help you get into the rhythm of the cutting and pinning. This is meant simply to give further information if you’re working out of the book; it is not the whole set of instructions.
First – you must make sure that you stack your two pieces of fabric so the right sides both face up – do not make them pretty sides in!!!
Then use your rotary cutter to create a gentle curve down the middle of the block.
Clip the inner part of the curves a scant quarter inch and about 1/4″ apart.
Again I want to remind you that the image in the book for the curves cutting is wrong!
Clip the concave part of the curve only – the image on the left of this image is very naughty – it’s wrong. Just cross it out so you remember that the image on the right is the correct one! Thanks!
Put the pairs pretty sides in and mark opposite sides of the seams to create markers for the pin placement.
Mark the apex of each curve and its opposite side. Then you will pin only where you marked.
The rest is just sewing, pressing and trimming. Easy-ish!
I really hope you try this technique out! I really love it.
Here is a close up of Goddess flowers, which is in the book.
Is it like a regular burp only more metropolitan? Is is a burp you only have in a big city?
NO! It is when you go to this amazing fabric store in San Francisco and you see a vintage fabric that startles you like a friendly ghost of the past. It might be a floral print that Granny had for her kitchen curtains, it might be a 70’s fabric from a skirt that you had, or it might be a fabric that you had in your bedroom growing up in the little house in the big woods. When you see it at the store you exclaim something along the lines of, “Holy cow; that’s the couch fabric from my weird Uncle Melvin’s cabin in the Ozarks.” That’s the burp – that zing of emotion you feel when you have that blast from the past.
My burp came on my first visit to the store two years ago, when I spied George Washington peeking out of a large print that I recognized from a maverick 1960’s quilt that I bought at an antique store. It is a strange Dresden Plate pattern made out of decorator fabrics attached with large stitches on to a bubble-gum-pink field. It is tied with several colors of acrylic yarn that has stiffened over the years.
You might be wondering how I recognized this image from such a small piece of fabric in an old quilt that I didn’t even make. All I can say is, That Is The Power Of The Burp!
You are going to have to go – it is truly an amazing experience!
Urban Burp is the creation of Electra Skilandat, who offers fabrics from Arts & Crafts movement to Mid Century Modern and beyond. She has been collecting vintage fabrics since she was a teenager, and is now willing to share them with us lucky buyers at her store in SF’s cool North Beach.
Electra can tell you about each fabric in the store and she knows more about fabric than anyone I have ever met – times ten! She has an encyclopedic knowledge of fabrics, designers, and fabric companies.
And she is very kind and helpful.
The walls are lined with bolts which have been saved for decades or even generations. This creates a strange feeling as you move through the store or hold a piece of fabric in your hands. You have thoughts like: This fabric is older than I am. This is possibly the last piece of this fabric on the whole entire earth. The creator of this fabric painted this image fifty years ago.
One of the most delicious thing about being in Urban Burp is the colors. They really don’t make fabric like this any more.
I can just feel you quilters out there getting excited and nervous at the same time. You are wondering what you could make out of these fabrics. You don’t want to wreck it. You don’t want to waste it. I say, “Cow Poop.”
And I say, “Go forth and make a Maverick Quilt, silly.”
Buy it – Cut it – Use it! Just Strap on Your Spurs, and Get Started.
So long as you love the fabric and make something to look at, you are honoring and preserving the fabric. You honor the work the designers did all those years ago. And you are honoring Electra for keeping it safe for us until now. This is one of the pieces that I bought. It is about 20 inches square and cost me only $12.00. It is heavy fabric like upholstery fabric or bark cloth. I washed it and it didn’t bleed or run and I am featuring it in the center of a quilt.
Here is what I have added so far (below). Stay tuned for more.
Here is a photo gallery of other fabrics that I found (bought!) at Urban Burp.
Now – I don’t want you to think that red, orange and green are the only colors in the store – that’s just me these days!
I was delighted to be able to take my dear friend Ashley to this wonderful store – she was on her first trip to California (from North Carolina) and I drove her directly to Urban Burp, without passing go or collecting $200. (Well – we did drive down Lombard Street on the way. Really!)
I did let Ashley buy fabrics in any color she liked! We had a wonderful time.
I know you will all want to go there, now. Here are two sources for more information about the store:
Check out Urban Burp’s Website. Be sure to look at the services offered. Electra offers her expertise in using fabrics and will work with your furniture for the perfect new look for a beloved piece.
Wanna see why this is a must-have fabric? I made a wonderful quilt using the roaming elephant print from Tina Givens’ Pernilla’s Journey.
As I showed you before, I pulled out half a million strips from my strips bin and went about making blocks. (See Must Have Fabric # 2, click on link to the right)
I used a pattern from my book called the California Housetop. (So you can make one of these quilts, too!) In the quilt below I was using my boyfriend Alex’s Camaro fabric. Of course.
This quilt pattern was directly inspired by a quilt I saw in The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, from Tinwood Books; 2002. It was made circa 1935 by Rachel Carey George. It uses flour sacking as the white background and has stripes of reds, plaids, and gray.
The housetop block is a common motif in the quilter’s of Gee’s Bend’s work. It is a modified log cabin block that builds out on two sides from a corner square.
In Rachel’s quilt there are fifteen housetop blocks and one anomalous stripey block. I think it is interesting to note that the quiltmaker used the red only as stripes and not as any of the centers.
This quilt called out to me and said, use that large-scale fabric. Use those bright and bold colors. Go nuts.
And I did!
So, for this quilt, I made twelve housetop blocks and sewed them together with large sections of the elephants.
I cut the large-scale fabric to let the elephants galumph horizontally across the face. Each subsequent row is taller than the one above so that the image is reveled more in each row. I used the green balloons as the columns in between the blocks.
With the twelve blocks in place, the quilt was a little tall and thin for me, so I set about making funky square-in-a-square blocks for side borders. I pieced the light fabrics in between and then added the marching elephants up and down the sides.
The Tula Pink Prince Charming fabric was a great color match with the Pernilla fabric, and I was able to use the frog in the center of one of the blocks. I made sure to add in fabrics of colors that didn’t match to create some zingers, like the pink and yellow floral above.
One of the tricks to making one of these quilts is to use a transition color at the outer edge of each block, one that works well as a bridge between the colored stripes and the large-scale sashing. It should be the color of the background in the sashes. In this case, each housetop block has a green and white fabric on the outer edge.
I quilted it using a zebra-stripe Superior Rainbows thread that went through shades of gray to charcoal. I really loved giving all the little people funny curls on their hats.
Elephant Parade, a new fabric by Tina Givens, is a delicious new fabric I found at Woodengate Quilts in Danville, California.
I just HAD to have it so much that I bought seven yards. Plus three yards in another colorway.
It is part of Tina Given’s line called Pernilla’s Journey from Westminster Fibers / Freespirit Fabric brands. This colorway is called Licorice Cloud.
You can see a wonderful booklet of the whole line of fabric in three different wonderful colorways if you go to: https://www.tinagivens.com/Fabrics.html. Click on the Pernilla booklet thing and you can turn pages and everything!
Of course this inspired a whole new quilt. I bought some grays and then pulled out a million and two scraps from the scrap bin.
The I pulled out my copy of Maverick Quilts and went to town making a new California Housetop quilt. Here is the audition photo.
These are 10″ blocks to give you a sense of the size and scale of the fabric. I am loving making a quilt out of my very own book. I keep having to check out the sizes and stuff to be sure I am doing it right. How funny is that? And I love making a quilt using some of my scraps! Just a reminder that the trick to making the California Housetop quilt is ti use a transitional color as the last strip in each block. (one that blends well into the background color)
Please hold for the finished quilt – It’s looking great!
One of the frusterating things about being an author is that you have to keep your new work a secret for the almost-two-year time that elapses from proposal to publication. This is a hardship when one always wants to share one’s new work as they go – that is when the energy is strong and the affection for the new quilt is always highest. With all of this in mind, I want to at least share the fabrics I am using with you. This way you can see what excites me and inspires me as I go!
I have to give you a disclaimer of sorts. I CANNOT get my colors right in my photos and that is because every wall in my house is yellow and the photos NEVER come our right – even these which I took in a white box. Poop! I will continue to work on this, but you’ll have to trust me. I will also provide links to the ACTUAL fabric websites when I can, and you can see them in correct color for yourself! I copied the image to the right from their website so at least you can see how great it is! But the rest of the photos are yellowed. Poop!
The fabric industry is always creating new product – each quilt market, Spring and Fall, has a staggering amount of new fabrics for vendors to choose from. Each store chooses fabrics that they like and which they think their customers will like. This way each store gets a “personality” which often reflects the buyers aesthetic. Each store is unique as a result. This gives us a good excuse to have to go to every single fabric store in creation. It is only there that they can provide us with that precious item that we all need – new fabric.
One thing you have probably noticed is that fabric rarely hangs around for very long. The “good stuff” gets snapped up very quickly – sometimes by the fabric store workers themselves the minute the box is opened, so you really have to be on the ball to get the “best” stuff! If you see fabric in the store that is more than a year old, it’s unusual. In fact, if it has been around for a year, it’s usually moved to the sale racks to make room for the flow of new stuff that lumps its way through the doors in cardboard boxes.
If you are buying fabric because it is new and you love it but don’t know what you’ll use it for, then how much to buy is always the issue – I try to get fabric in the quantity I would use it in a project. Usually the larger the print – the more I get.
If you go back later there is a big chance the fabric will be gone. At that point you go to plan B – ask your quilting friends. Then, of course, Plan C is start searching online. You can usually find just about anything online for a while. It helps to have the name of the fabric and the manufacturer. This info is to be found printed on the selvage edges. In today’s tekkie age you can just snap a digital photo of the selvage info and have it available if you end up needing more later.
This week I found an organic cotton at Woodengate Quilts in Danville. It is the monaco line from monaluna, a new fabric company that is located right here in lovely Walnut Creek, California. It has the best scooter fabric and these yummy bird silhouettes. I fell in love with it immediately and have already made a whole quilt from it. (I can’t show you the quilt yet, unless you are willing to self-destruct in 30 seconds, as it is all confidential and on the Q.T.!)
The fabric has exquisite colors and the hand is delicious like a favorite cotton sheet! You might use it with some subtle prints like these Patrick Lose mixables and this brown plaid from Lecien.
If you are feeling more adventurous (like me) you might put it with some of Tula Pink’s Prince Charming frog fabrics! Yumbalia!
Again, I apologize for the off-color photos – the real fabric has a crisp white background and the sweetest blues and greens. Check it out yourself at www.monaluna.com. You will see that they have some wonderful fabrics that go with the scooters, too. And get some of this fabric – Quick!