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Fat Quarters (and why you might need them)

by Melissa

When I first started collecting quilt weight fabric, I bought WAY TOO MUCH of the prints that I liked.  It was part fear that I would never see it again, and part worry that I would want to make something large-- like a dress or tunic-- and wouldn't have enough on hand.  It didn't take long to realize that 1. fresh, new designs were coming out all the time, and 2. nobody wanted to see me wrapped up in big swaths of quilt weight cotton covered in balloons and children frolicking about (for example).

Fat quarters came to my rescue.  They are rectangle shaped cuts approximately 18" by 22", that accommodate for more flexible pattern and shape cutting than a traditional quarter (which is usually 9" by 44" or so).  Most people think they are just for quilters but I love them for all sorts of smaller projects. They are perfect cuts for making bias tape, starting patchwork projects, sewing napkins, and making accessories for you or your home. 

The most important bit, however, is that they can get a fabric collector started in a big way.  Bolt carries fat quarter packs (some are grouped by designer/line with complementary colors mixed in) and they also sell them individually.  I got started buying and using up these sweet pieces as a way to get my fabric fix.  They are wonderful pieces to have on hand for last minute wrapping (drawstring bags), or for sewing together as-is for a fast, all over print quilt.  Then the prints that I can't get enough of?  I am happy to justify yardage for quilt backs and pj pants.  Buying fabric can be a slippery slope. 

Books at Bolt that can help a fat quarter sing:

I Love Patchwork! 21 Irresistible Zakka Projects to Sew, by Rashida Coleman Hale 

Patchwork Style by Suzuko Koseki

Kaffe Fassett books (Bolt carries a few different books from this brilliant quilt designer)

Edited to say:   The bias tape link does not include the actual cutting "on the bias", so to do that, you'd need to cut your fabric in strips at a 45 degree angle.  Also, Amy Karol's book, Bend the Rules Sewing (which Bolt also carries), has a nifty way to cut and sew continuous bias strips. 

Laminated Cotton and a Cute Trench

Autumn shares her first venture sewing with coated cottons.  Come to Bolt tomorrow (Saturday, February 27) and receive 25% off all of our coated cottons and other fabrics on tall rolls!  We carry beautiful bolts from both Westminster and Kokka.  You'll also be supporting a great cause.

Now that you've gone to Bolt and bought some of that beautiful coated
cotton, what are you going to do with it?  More importantly, what can't
you do with it?  You might already know my plans... a simple and chic trench coat. 
After I brought my fabric home, I started to feel very intimidated by
it.  Can I wash it?  Can I iron it?  I decided to do without both of
those things. 


Once I cut into it, I started to feel a little better.   I was so happy I remembered that any pins I put into my pieces would probably leave small holes, so I only placed pins close to my seam allowances and never on the fold (I didn't want holes down the center of my jacket). 

I started to get a little scared again when I actually started sewing.  I was really happy that this pattern is so simple.  What if I make a mistake and need to take out the stitches?  Well, it happened.  I really wanted to sew a hood onto the jacket, but after one failed attempt I decided not to.  Fortunately my holes are in inconspicuous areas of the jacket and are hardly noticeable.  

I'm so happy with the finished product-- much happier than I thought I was going to be.  The coated cotton is a really great product and the beautiful pattern choices are hard to resist.  I would love to use the same techniques for a raincoat for my kids.  I'm happy to just wipe down the outside of it when it gets dirty and since kids grow out of a size each season anyway, I can take advantage of all the gorgeous prints!

Thanks Autumn.  While most manufacturers recommend not machine washing laminated/coated cottons,  Kathy wrote a very helpful wash vs. non wash comparison as well as other tips-- there is also a beautiful tablecloth and totebag.

Caldera, part 3

This is the final post showing off the beautiful work of the kids of Caldera, Bolt's featured organization for the month of February.  The first and second posts went up on the 10th and the 14th.  Take a look and marvel at their creativity and skill.  This Saturday, the 27th, all fabric rolled on tall tubes will be 25% off (this includes Liberty of London, knits, wools, coated cottons, some sweater knits and linens, heavy weight canvases, coated cotton and oilcloth).  At the end of the day, 10% of the total sales will be donated to Caldera.  Help us make that a very generous donation.

Caldera's Youth Program provides underserved Oregon children with year-round, long-term mentoring through arts and nature projects, beginning at age eleven and continuing through young adulthood. 
Caldera's adult program offers month-long residencies to professional artists: the gift of time & creative workspace at our blue lake facility in the Oregon cascade mountains.

Woods alive 

The words printed on the Woods Alive quilt all came from our kids and staff…our personal mantras.


III. Woods alive without end: the work

It's not a coincidence that my work, and the many changes that are whirling around me are all commingled into a similar message.

This particular quilt "woods alive without end" is about the work.

It follows on the footprint of the dream (The Dreamtree),

 and intention (Tree of Intention).

The work is the next step in the progression of realizing equanimity.

The work our kids must do to realize their best selves,

and their best lives.

This is a solitary path, not interpersonal…

thus the singular dance of the one tree…

filled with growth, and inspiration and darkness,

and flight and all things that make us who we are.

Spirited, dimensional, affected by the wind.

a small part of us dying each winter,

and celebrating new growth each spring.

It can be a tough cycle of seasons,

but the one true thing that stands constant are

the great possibilities in our reach

Words can be a powerful force within us, or empty vessels.

These words  imprinted on the quilt

represent Caldera’s community life force.

Our truth.

Our wonder.

susan fischer



Close up woods alive

Woods alive closeup: their words