My Sister the Thrifter

Waverly fabric 1 One bright spot during my bad crafting day last week was a package from my sister, Jenny Goldsmith. In it was an old Waverly fabric sample pack, like you see at decorating stores. What fun!

Each fabric in the pack has a label on it. The price in the day? $2.45 per yard.

Waverly fabric label

The colorways are great, too. There are 10 colorways all together, but here are a few of my favorites. And I was happy to see the brown colorway had the most pieces snipped off.

Waverly fabric 5Waverly fabric 2Waverly fabric 3Waverly fabric 4

The excitement of that package got me thinking about some of the other treasures I’ve received from Jenny. As I’ve mentioned before, she’s a gifted thrifter. The kind of person who can go into the worst-looking thrift store or yard sale and come away with amazing finds. Honestly, I don’t know how she does it.

One of my favorite gifts from her is this fall tablecloth. I love the bright teal in the center, and it fits my small square table perfectly. It was meant to be!

leaf tablecloth

For a while, there was a distinct rooster theme to the items I got from Jenny. This plate was one of my favorites—I like that the pattern around the edge looks almost like charcoal pencil, but the image in the center is so crisp and graphic.

rooster plate

Another theme in recent years? Don Ho drinking glasses. Apparently a lot of people in Central Wisconsin, where Jenny does most of her hunting, visited the Polynesian Palace. We have 5 glasses in our set so far. And they were part of the inspiration for the song Greg and I chose to dance to at your wedding: Sweet Someone by Don Ho. (The other inspiration for that was the Brady Bunch, of course.)

don ho glassdo ho glasses

I don’t even know how long this dresser tray has been on my dresser. The colors are amazing.

peacock dressert tray

A few years ago, Jenny came into a treasure trove of aprons. Handmade aprons. Amazing. This one is made from a border fabric. It’s a little hard to see here, but the orange part is actually orange with white polka dots.

border print apron

I love the treatment at the bottom of this one.

floral apron

And this one I’d wear as a dress if I could (the back is a bit revealing). The green fabric, the yards of rickrack trim—I love it!

rickrack apronrickrack apron front detailrickrack apron detail

Speaking of dresses, Jenny has found several of those for me, too. Some are for my gown collection (I may need to save that for another post), but this one I love to wear in the summer. It’s linen and fits perfectly. Did I mention I don’t know how she does it?

orange linen dress

Jenny does sell some of her finds, too. She has an Etsy shop called The Fancy Tail, where she always has some fun clothes (the stuff for kids is adorable) and household items, too. I am currently loving these buttons. And this corduroy Space Commander jacket. And now I really, really want a plaid skirt.

I’m still thinking about what I’ll do with the Waverly fabric. I think I’ll probably use it in project when the right one comes along. For now, though, it’s a fun gift to just look at. Thanks, Jenny!

My Worst Idea Ever

washed blockI admit, I have some bad ideas. Those of you on the recent family trip to Memphis may remember my idea to walk to Sun Studio based on the map in the menu at the diner. Look, it’s basically just around the corner! Several miles of glass-strewn sidewalk later…

But yesterday, I had one of my worst craft-related ideas. I decided to pre-wash the fabric for a quilt while I was making the quilt. I’ve done it before. I get the top done (usually it’s for a children’s charity quilt), and I decide I want to wash the top and backing so it doesn’t pucker too much after it’s quilted and washed again. True, the top gets a little frayed, but no big deal.

For this particular children’s charity quilt, though, I planned on using the quilt-as-you-go technique, where you quilt individual blocks and then join the quilted blocks into a quilt. So I washed the sewn blocks.

Disaster. They frayed like crazy.

Did you see that giant knot of threads in the photo above? Here’s a better look. The threads I cut from all the blocks ended up being the size of my fist.

thread hairball

And some of the seams even came apart. Good thing that happened to me, though, and not to some poor child at the Ronald McDonald House.

ripped seam

Even after I took the blocks out of the washer and saw what a mess it had become, I didn’t take the hint. I went ahead and washed the batting and backing in the next load. Disaster, part two.

batting disaster

On delicate, the batting still came apart. On the plus side, I think that’s the most lint I’ve ever seen in the dryer lint trap.

The blocks shrunk enough that I need to make a new plan for the quilt, possibly adding borders around the whole quilt to get it back to the 40″ x 40″ size it needs to be for donation to the Ronald McDonald House.

My enthusiasm for this project has cooled off considerably. But I think that’s part of my problem. I get so excited about starting a new quilt that I don’t stop to think if I want to pre-wash the fabrics are not. I just want to start sewing. And I don’t want to pre-wash all my fabrics, because sometimes I don’t plan on washing the piece or I want the pucker.

pinwheel block ironed

But I’ll get back to it before too long. I do think these pinwheel blocks are cute. And I do want to make a quilt-as-you-go quilt.  I just need a little time to recover from this craftastrophe.

Name Tag and Block for Boston

The Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild meeting is tonight, so that means this past weekend was spent finishing up challenges.

First up is our name tag challenge. Each member was challenged to create a name tag for themselves in the colors of the CMQG logo.

When I started the name tag, I decided to step away from my usual color palette and try something different—my plan was pinks, purples and blues. So I started embroidering my really long name. Then I remembered the part about matching the logo…


So I ended up interpreting the red hues in the logo rather loosely and added teals and greens, as usual.

name tag 2

I knew I wanted the name tag to hang around my neck, and I saw some great lanyard tutorials online. But because I didn’t have the necessary hardware on hand, I simply sewed the ends of the strap to the name tag. Pretty easy.

name tag

Finally, because I’m not a nerd at all, I added a pen loop to the back of the name tag. Handy, huh?

pen loop on name tag

pen in loop

name tag with pen

If you’re looking for name tag inspiration, here’s a name tag post from the CMQG blog and here’s a name tag post from the Philadelphia Modern Quilt Guild blog.

The second challenge I worked on was a block for Quilts for Boston. The Boston Modern Quilt Guild put out a call for 12 1/2″ blocks in the colors of the Boston Marathon; they’ll use the blocks they receive to make quilts for the victims of the recent bombings. There’s still time for you to participate in this call—they’ve asked that all blocks be received by May 24. Click here for the details. They’ve even included a photo of fabrics in the color palette to help inspire you.

I chose to make a pinwheel block from the book Modern Blocks by Susanne Woods. The block in the book was 12 1/2″ square, but I liked the yellow so much that I left a little more on the sides (the Boston MQG has asked that all blocks be 12 1/2″ tall, but they can be as wide or narrow as you like). And the book had a circle appliqued in the center of the pinwheel, but I didn’t think it needed it (especially since my points actually matched up!).

Block for Boston

I’m looking forward to seeing the name tags and blocks everyone else brings tonight. Within a few days of each meeting, we post photos from the meeting on the CMQG site—check it out for yourself!

Shopping in Memphis

sew memphis 3

This past weekend, seven of us from my family made our way down to Memphis, Tennessee, for a short vacation. It was the second music-focused vacation for a few of us (our first stop was Nashville several years ago already). But no matter what the focus of any vacation, there’s always time for a trip to a fabric store.

Mom and I both did a little research beforehand, looking for a good shop to try. Many of the more established stores are well outside town. And they were all very traditional. One even boasted that they didn’t carry any “garish” fabric. We kept looking.

Then we found Sew Memphis. It’s a little modern fabric store in the southern part of downtown Memphis, just an 8-minute drive from our hotel. The fabric displays are all adorable; they had found most of the display pieces at thrift stores, yard sales, or on the street.

sew memphis 1

sew memphis 2They also have a great workshop room; the day we were there, they had open studio where anyone can come in and get help on their projects. And while there aren’t a huge number of bolts, there is a nice selection of fabrics that both Mom and I loved. Here’s what I picked up.

sew memphis fabric

I’ve got a navy quilt in me somewhere, so I picked up a few fabrics that might go into that. And I got some orange to build up that nonexistent orange stash.

The next day, we walked down to Beale Street to do a little shopping. I honestly didn’t think I’d be blogging about any of the shops there, but then we came upon A. Schwab Dry Goods Store.

ASchwab 1

A pack of FreeSpirit pre-cuts in the window of the shop caught my eye, so we stopped in. And then the wonderfulness began.

ASchwab 2

This collection of reproduction antique toys is right inside the door.

ASchwab 4 Then Mom and I found the area where they had the fabric. It was all FreeSpirit pre-cuts, along with some FreeSpirit notebooks, cleverly displayed on an old fabric cutting table. The mechanism in the front measured the fabric and made a small cut where it was then torn to size.

ASchwab 5

They had some Moda Home items, too (I bought that compass napkin right there in front).

ASchwab 3

There was stuff for the men, too. As well as just a ton more of everything: shoes, dresses, sauces, candy, and much more. The building was awesome, too; it was three stories, and it looked like part of it was getting turned into a museum of retail. Just a super fun place to explore.

And finally, while this isn’t shopping related, I wanted to share this one picture from our tour of Graceland. It’s not real great (I’m still getting used to the camera on my phone, as you might have been able to tell from the shots above), but the room is covered in fabric. COVERED.


The walls and the ceiling use the same fabric, and the fabric is pleated on both. Over 300 yards of the fabric were used in the room. You can see on the couch, behind the pool table, there are throw pillows in coordinated fabric. Here’s a blog post from Threads with some better photos. Crazy cool.

Other highlights along the way included a tour of Sun Studio (my favorite tour of the trip), the Memphis Zoo, some great BBQ places, and some blues clubs. A great trip, indeed.