Sunday, August 9, 2015

Presentation: "From Field to Fabric" at Quilters Etc. guild

Recently, two quilt shop owners (from Sew 'n So Quilt Shop and Lana's Quilts and Sew Much More) asked if I could give a talk on the difference between "quilt shop quality fabrics" and the "fabric" [term used loosely here] one can get at big box stores.
"From Field to Fabric" presentation
The shop owners, in conjunction with the Quilters Etc. quilt guild, put out a great spread and hosted a delightful—as well as educational—evening for shop customers, guild members and their quilting friends at Lana's quilt shop. Here are some highlights from the evening.

In preparation for my talk, I did a little pre-presentation investigation at non-quilt shop locations where I purchased several fabric samples. The unmarked samples were presented to the attendees for inspection. 
Can you tell the difference between quilt shop fabric and others?
Attendees were asked to look at the fabrics . . . feel 'em . . .
Checking the fidelity of the designs and the softness and hand of the fabrics.
shake 'em . . .
Determining the differences in fabric.
light 'em up . . .
Holding fabrics up to the light provides insight
into opacity and weave structure.
and vote for the ones they thought were the better quality.

Unwashed vs. washed: how much shrinkage? does it ravel excessively?
surface qualities? any bleeding? fading?
The better quality batiks have a good hand, a smooth, soft finish and
crisp, detailed designs. After washing both brands, a noticeable distortion
and shrinkage was revealed with the lower quality batiks. 
The difference in the depth, detail, color palette, and richness of the prints
was very evident when comparing fabrics from different sources.
All in all, the quilters could identify the quilt shop fabrics from the "others." But why is there a difference?

My presentation continued with an overview of the steps and processes—from field to fabric—and the whys and wherefores that affect the quality of the finished product. From the planting, growing, maintaining and harvesting of the cotton crop, . . .
Bales of cotton.
the classification, drawing, carding, and spinning of the cotton fibers to the weaving of the greige goods (pronounced "grey goods"), . . .
Drawing the cotton fibers.
Spinning cotton fibers into the yarn for weaving.
the singeing, de-sizing, bleaching, washing and drying of the greige goods in preparation for printing, steaming, finishing, drying and final inspection of the printed fabrics that get rolled on tubes (ROT) for shipment to a fabric company's warehouse.
Prepping the greige goods.
Printing the fabric.
Fabric finishing.
There are a multitude of processes—and steps in each process—that go into the manufacturing of the first quality, beautifully designed, limited edition fabric collections that are delivered to your local quilt shop (YLQS).
Geo Flow fabric collection by Blank Quilting.
These fabrics are designed, manufactured and supported with project ideas and patterns specifically with you, my dear fellow quilters, in mind.
Quilt top made with the Geo Flow collection by Blank Quilting
by Anna at Sew 'n So Quilt Shop.
Visit and support your local quilt shop. In addition to top-quality quilting fabrics, their value-add includes:

  • you're greeted by friendly, knowledgeable shop owners and associates 
  • who are interested and invested in your quilting and sewing success
  • and can assist you and answer your questions
  • and are a resource for instruction and education through classes, demonstrations, presentations, programs and events
  • and provide you with a pleasant shopping experience
  • to offer the quality fabrics and tools you need to make your quiltmaking experiences enjoyable and fun!

Can you get this (and more) elsewhere? I've not.
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