Sunday, December 15, 2019

Fabric studies with quick sewing projects

Don't ya love small, quick sewing projects? Using those eclectic fabric leftovers you can't bear to throw away is so satisfying! But quick projects also offer opportunities for experimenting with color, pattern, texture and different fabric substrates... without a huge investment in time or materials.
The Melba Flower Basket is an ideal quick project for experimenting with color, print and texture.

I've made the Melba Flower Basket [pattern from The Textile Pantry] many times over the years. Recently, I pulled a variety of quilting cottons, batiks, digital prints and yarn-dyed textured wovens to do studies with color, pattern and texture... and crank out a few little fabric baskets in the process.

Fabric Studies
On occasion, quilting teachers and quilt shop owners hear this question, "Can I mix _____ (batiks, wovens... you fill in the blank) with cotton fabrics?"

The answer is: "YES!" ... and these small projects are ideal for experimenting with this concept.
Selecting and pairing fabrics for the flower baskets.

Actually, many different fabrics can be used together in quilts, garments, home dec and other items. Currently, there is a trend out there where quilters are intentionally incorporating recycled clothing in their pieces. This is not a new idea, however, as generations past have applied a "make do" concept to prolong the life of textiles or for economical or emotional reasons. 

When mixing different fabrics in a single project, the maker should be aware of each fabric's properties and its fiber content so the proper tools (needles, threads, cutting tools) are used, and what stitches, machine settings and care instructions are ideal for working with and caring for these fabrics (especially if a project incorporates several different fabric types).

Fabric pairing study.

The basket (below left) is an example of combining a digital print [P&B Textiles] with a Stonehenge blender [Northcott Fabrics]. The other basket (right) combines an Australian aboriginal design [M&S Textiles Australia] with two yarn-dyed wovens [Diamond Textiles].

Left: a digitally printed fabric with a cotton blender.
Right: Aboriginal print with yarn-dyed textured wovens.

Two different textured yarn-dyed cottons were used for the outside of this basket.
Two yarn-dyed textured cottons are used for the outside of this basket.

Half Square Triangle Bonus!
A bonus of making the Melba Flower Basket is the triangles that are generated while cutting the fabric pieces for the baskets. This is another opportunity for a fabric study.
Fabric trimmings.

NOTE: the Bloc-Loc HST ruler tool is very handy for squaring up these HST [half square triangle] units.
Half square triangle units [HSTs] trimmed using the Bloc-Loc ruler tool

What to do with fabric baskets? 
I hope you give the Melba Flower Basket project (or another quick project) a try and experiment with different fabrics. Studies in color and pattern will build your color confidence and help in your understanding of what does or does not work for a project. Experimenting with a variety of fabric substrates—batiks, yarn-dyed, denim, rayon, etc.—will improve skill mastery and expedite the process with larger projects.

And, what can you do with your new fabric baskets?
Fill fabric baskets with Fat Quarters or other sewing notions.

Fill them, use them, or give them away!

Fill the baskets with sweet treats—or even doggie treats—and give them as gifts!

They make sweet, thoughtful gifts.

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