Friday, February 1, 2013

Using fabric

I have been wanting to use up the fabric that I have accumulated over the years. I don't buy "so and so's" line of fabric and I don't buy pre-cuts (even though I do have some charms and jelly rolls I picked up on sale.) I buy what I like, when I like it and as much, or as little, as I like. Fabricland's remnant bin has been a favourite place to look around for various pieces. I sew clothing too and, when my children were small, the sales at Fabricland were wonderful to keep me stocked up on all kinds of fabrics and in all sizes too since little skirts or shirts didn't take much fabric to complete. I still sew items of clothing but I really want to use up my quilting stash.

I, like a lot of you, have my favourite colour(s) so there are lots of fabrics in various shades for me to use up. Also, there are some colours that I am not fond of or don't use much of so they aren't plentiful in the stash. I am determined, though, to use what I have and because the quilt police are busy elsewhere, I can do what I want, when I want. I can alter patterns to suit myself and I can use alternative fabrics in whatever colours my heart desires. Have you ever thought how liberating that is? Making a purple cow perhaps or leaves on a vine that are multicoloured when you are making a Baltimore Album quilt? A stem for a vine or flower made out of that really ugly fabric that is a big print and you wonder now why on earth it's in your stash? Think of the possibilities.

I like using fabrics that are solids or that read as solid. I always have and my eye always go to those quilts that are made of solid fabrics - as opposed to printed fabrics. Years ago, cotton solids didn't come in a whole lot of colours (and were very expensive) so I used poly-cotton broadcloth. I have several yardage pieces to use up in many different colours. I also have cottons now in all different colours to use up but what I don't have a lot of is the colour brown. I had to buy some to make my daugher a quilt (still unfinished) and it got used up because what I bought was fat quarters.

Recently, I went looking through my stash to see exactly what browns I did have - or even caramels, since I wanted to applique some bears. The brown couldn't be too dark. I nixed several pieces for various reasons - usually because they were too dark, not really brown or they had a pattern that just didn't look right for a little bear.

See? Even though the colours are not true, one is too red, the middle one isn't really brown and it does have some issues (I didn't want my little bears to be pock marked) and the fabric on the right is clealy patterned wrong for what I wanted to use it for. I can't find the other rejects but if they were too dark, then the embroidery on the face would not show up.
Here's my little bear. The pattern is from Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, issues 223 and 224 (June and July/August of 1990) and it's called Fun Time Bears by Theresa Eisinger.
 (I believe in giving credit where credit is due.)
This is the fabric I found in my stash that I just knew was the right brown. I really, really didn't want to go out and buy anything. The colour, of course, is not true in this picture. The first photo of the bear shows the colours better.
I just had to flip it over to know that I would be using this.
See, most of the bear's body is the reverse and I used the right side of the fabric for the feet.
This is the caramel coloured fabric that I used for the bear's muzzle. I plan on using the reverse for another bear.
So, you see, doesn't matter what fabrics you have, improvise, and take a look at the reverse side. It may hold the key to what you are looking for. If not, then use up what you have and improvise. Make a purple sky with white polka dots and blue flowered grass.


  1. Cute bear! I often use the back of my fabric too in order to increase my colour choices.

  2. Cute teddy bear... looks so real and cuddly, that I would like to hug it!

  3. I, too, use what I have, and sometimes the fabric is not even close to the colours in the design or pattern in the magazine or folder.Love the bear, he is just right. Cheers from Jean

  4. The quilt police never comes to this part of the world, and I totally share your thoughts of using fabric. My stash of "real" quilting fabrics is growing, but most of my quilts are made of all kinds of fabrics, usually recycled too. -The bear is really nice and friendly looking.

  5. Really cute bear. And your post was right on the mark about using what we have. Just by looking at things differently you added so much depth to this little cutie!

  6. aawww - cute little bear! I am really trying to use up my stash too, and I'm always using both fronts and backs of fabric in either my denim jackets or my crazy quilting.

  7. Your bear is darling! I also am trying to use my stash fabrics, and I also use the backs of them...

  8. Adorable bear - and good reminder about looking at the back of the fabric.

  9. He's sweet! I really should find a use for some of my stash. I have lots of bits of ribbon and lace. I need a plan.

  10. Your bear is great. I try to think of my stash as shades instead of colors. Thanks for the advice of using the backside.

  11. Well Dolores.....I am going to be doing things with my stash too....but, not making quilts or doing any sewing... cuz, I don't sew much.... just a lot of fiddling to make dolly things..... and .... when I get around to it....... if I find anything brown...or that could easily be misconstrued as brown....I know exactly where to send it.


Thank you for commenting. I appreciate your thoughts.