New Year and a New Quilt

Friday, January 1, 2010

I know I left you in the middle of the 12 relaxing days of Christmas and I'm very sorry! Between the Gingerbread House parties, cooking, visiting friends and playing games with the kids, time just flew by. Hope you all had a very merry relaxing holiday!

We've had tons of snow and the day after Christmas I pulled everyone away from all electronic gadgets and told them to get the sleds....we were going to hit the sledding hill. What fun...rosy cheeks and a bit of exercise and laughter....although I'm paying for it now! The snow was a bit bumpy....and I fell off a couple of times.

Today Barb and I are beginning a new quilt. We talked on the phone about all the projects we want to finish in the next month. A new spring quilt book with the Kansas City Star, cross stitch market and an engagement calender are all on our list.

We are picking out the prints and colors for our new quilt today. Hopefully we will get a block finished. We each do one quilt pattern, but we choose different color ways. It's the agony and ecstasy for me. Hard to pick the prints without seeing the whole picture but great when it all works out!

This process made me think of a shop owner I talked to at quilt market. She shared with me that she was exhausted. Her customers only wanted to purchase kits of quilts they had seen at her shop. So, she had to choose a quilt pattern, make it, figure out how much fabric needed for the kits and then cut and package the kits. It changed how she purchased fabric for her shop also. She now purchases great quantities of certain prints for the kits...but reduces purchases of prints that she won't be kitting up. She said in the "olden" days customers would come in and purchase pieces of fabric and plan their own projects.

I remember going to my local shop and purchasing pieces of fabric that I loved, coming home and planning the quilt myself....but I'm guilty of the kit thing myself.

My niece was coming for a visit and I went into my local shop to find something I thought she might like to make with me. I saw a quilt by Tula Pink on the wall and thought...."I've got to get to the grocery store, visit my son, do dinner and it's 4:30pm." Finding all the fabric for this project almost felt overwhelming. Lucky for me, the shop owner had a kit. I relieved to say the least! In and out of the shop in record time....and the kit was packaged in a cute way too. So I understand the appeal of kits myself. No know it's going to work out because you have seen the quilt on the wall. Fabric is expensive and I've made some fabric mistakes. I have several UFO's in my closet because of poor fabric choices.

Here are two tools that I use to make fabric choices a bit easier.

The small tool on the right is a "door peep." You can find them at the hardware store. It's the eye level insert in your front door, that you look through and see your visitor before opening the door. It's a small reducing glass. My friend Cherie's husband took the metal peep and lathed a wooden spool to go around it. Makes it so cute! But the regular one at the store will work great. Looking at your fabric through the reducing glass makes you see your fabric as it will look from a distance. Sometime when working with fabric, we choose those prints that look great close-up. The problem is that when you walk away from the quilt those cute close-up prints can read as a solid and you loose the dynamics you might have with a larger scale print.

The red plastic piece was cut from a folder sold at an office supply store. When looking through this piece you are able to determine the value of the fabric.

Look at the fabrics above. Can you pick the darkest to lightest prints?

I valued them left to right....darkest at the left and lightest at the right. When I began to post the pictures on the blog....I noticed that really the green print was a bit darker in value than the pink.

This red plastic tool really helps. It takes the color away from the fabric and lets you see the value of the print.

Try these and see if they help you!

Let me know what works for you. Today I can use all the help I can get!

Wishing you a very prosperous New Year.



  1. Happy New Year. I was given one quilt kit as a gift as a newbie, it hangs in my powder room. I have not bought any other kits for quilts. I like to choose my own fabric and it gives me an excuse to buy more. Looking forward to seeing your new work.

  2. Right now I'm a kit girl. I'm just too new to quilting and I do not trust myself yet. I have found a focus fabric and gone in and asked my shop to help me find others to go with it. I am saving all my scraps because one day I will be able to pick for myself and I know I'll use up my extras then.

    I also bought myself one of those red thingies it has been a big help to me with color. I do need a green though, I use too much red and the red plastic isn't so good with red fabric.

  3. Happy New Year Alma. I went through a phase where all I bought were kits or I "kitted my own", becaues of time restraints. Now I am stuck with some 40+ kits!

    I like the idea of the red plastic folder. I have the Ruby Beholder and it is sort of small. I have been known to lay my fabrics on a copy machine and copy in black and white. It is a great way to pick values.

    Right now I need to finish a kit for "Frost on the Ferns"


  4. Happy New Year, Alma!!

    Thank you for the hints about the red plastic and the "door peep".

  5. Wow! Thanks for these awesome tips!!
    HNY to you too!
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Alma, you always have the greatest tips. I need to get me both those tools! I love that kit you bought for the Flutterby quilt -- beautiful! Glad you had a great time with your family over the holidays. Sounds like the sledding was fun if a bit painful. lol! I'm so looking forward to what you and Barb have in store for us in 2010! Happy New Year!!!

  7. I like to pick out my own fabrics, even if I am not that coordinated;) I look forward to seeing your new pattern and book.


  8. what a cool trick - that pink plastic sheet.
    thanks for sharing that with us!
    Happy New Year!
    xo Jone

  9. i have only made a few small quilts, but i love fabric. thank you for the great tips i think they will come in very handy. i hope to include some of my stitch projects i've yet to frame into a quilt this year. i love all your ideas and your creativity. Thank You so much and have a New Year filled with more days of play.

  10. I wish you a beautiful 2010 year !!
    I am not really a kit buyer , I prefer imagine and change some pattern in my way BUT I have to say that I am sometimes not very glad of the result !

  11. Bonne Année from France, Alma !

    Thank you for all the pleasure you and Barb give us every year. My needles wait for your new charts and fabrics in 2010 !
    Let me wish you a wonderful new year for all your family and friends.

  12. Happy New Year. Thanks for the tip about the red plastic. I have to go looking for something like this now. To find the value of my fabircs I have (up to now) put the fabrics on my copymachine and made a black and white copy. It works, but your way sound sooooooooooo much more easy.

  13. I wish you a happy, healthy and creative 2010.
    I am not a kit-buyer but I have to cut a lot of fabrics for kits.
    I work in a quiltshop in Amsterdam in The Netherlands.

  14. Very clever tips! And resourceful too! I like quilt kits too as I am a beginning... I hope to pick my own fabrics for a quilt when I get a bit more "feel" for color planning and quantity of fabrics involved. Have a Happy New Year!

  15. I just started with the quiltinglessons so I can use some tips. Thanks Alma.
    Wish you a Happy New Year!

  16. Happy New Year to you and Barb! I love reading your blog, glad you hadn't been abducted by aliens after day 7! ;)

    Glad you enjoyed the holidays with your family, and sledding as well!

    I love scrappy quilts, especially using fabric that was included in other quilts I've made. Jo

  17. Happy New Year! I love buying kits. They make a working Mum's quilting life much easier. Can I please ask where you purchased your kit?

  18. Très bonne année, que cette nouvelle année vous apporte joie, bonheur, santé et beaucoup de petites xxxxxxxxxxxxx.

  19. I haven't quilted in about ten years (but want to get back to it) and fabric packets weren't as readily available back then. I have a few quilt sites bookmarked just to drool over the packages... I think that'll be the way for me to go as an overseas quilter with no access to a local shop. One of my quilt teachers taught us to stand at a distance from the bolts of fabric, cover one eye, and squint with the other eye to see the color values. That said, I have some doozies in the attic that won't see the light of day!! I can't wait to see our new quilt.

    Wishing you and Barb a happy new year to you and yours.

  20. Happy new year! This year am planning to stitch my way through the calendar with your little stockings (only one year behind, so not too bad). Can't wait to see the November and December ones, and whatever else you have in store this year! All best,

  21. Happy New Year!
    I love fat quarters and I don't even quilt. I use them for backing my stitching pieces and have quite a collection.
    The tips you have here are wonderful!!!
    I just finished stitching one of the January stockings from the pamphlet and I love it!
    I think though that if I quilted I would like to buy them as a kit for my amateur experience. LOL

    Thanks for the tips on color and I never thought before of using that peep hole thing for that effect! Great idea!

    Feathers in the Nest

  22. My first quilt teacher had cut up the same file folder and i still have it... many years later. It sure helps with those fabrics in variable degrees!! I have _____ kits to sew now, but now find myself purchasing fat quarter bundles or other precuts, just so I get a piece of each fabric, because they are all so fabulous!!! Cant wait to see what you have it store for us!!
    Happy New Year

  23. How nice that you took the time and effort to really show how to use that little value finder. I've seen them, heard about them, but never really watched the differences in value-- especially showing the pink vs the green and which is darker. It's the 'little' things that matter sometimes. Thank you.

  24. Happy New Year!
    I'm a non-kitter and a non-pattern for the most part. I love the surprises as a quilt goes along. I use the red window, but my favorite is the peep hole. Yours is especially beautiful!

  25. What great tips! Thanks for sharing.
    So fun to read about your sledding trip as well! What fun!

  26. For those who are getting Valentine's Day candy this year, save the red celophane wrapped around the heart box, and use it to view your fabric.
    That's the best of both worlds...chocolate and a red fabric beholder!

  27. Thankyou Alma. You have hit the nail on the head. That is my project for this year - to dabble in colour and learn how to choose fabrics randomly rather than keep buying fabric ranges and being a "colour coward". I want to be able to throw in colour with confidence! Thankyou for your help.

  28. Great tips with those little 'tools' you have. I'm curious to know... Why is it important to know the darkest from lightest prints?

  29. Great blog, I love your articles and reports, good luck.

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