How fabric shrinks…

I always wash my fabric in the washer and dry it in the dryer before I use it in a quilt. One of the reasons I do this is because cotton fabric shrinks and I like to use fabric at its final size.

Individual fabrics shrink at varying rates. I didn’t think about shrinkage details until I washed a 10″x10″ Layer Cake. Like all Layer Cakes, the squares were perfectly cut and all the same size before I washed them.

After laundering, I stacked the squares with the top and left sides even. Notice that the pieces are not square!


The pieces are all about the same length (close to 10″ long), but they vary in width. Once I got to thinking about it, that makes sense. Fabric should shrink more from side-to-side (between the selvages) than it does along its length.

I took the top piece off the stack and turned it sideways. The blue fabric is 5/8″ longer than it is wide. Remember, these began as 10″ squares. The shrinkage across 40″ would be 2 1/2″! Some fabrics shrunk less.


All of the fabric seems a little skewed. I think it’s probably because none of the squares were cut truly on-grain.

So, what is the takeaway?

  1. When you use unwashed fabric in your quilt, don’t be surprised if the shapes skew a bit when your quilt is washed and dried. (It’s possible that air-dried quilts won’t shrink/skew as much as quilts dried in a dryer.)
  2. This skewing effect is likely to be more noticeable on bigger shapes than on small shapes.
  3. You should not count on pre-cut fabric holding its size or shape.
  4. For me, this confirms that it pays to pay attention. You never know when you might learn a new thing.
  5. This is just one more reason to consider laundering your fabric before you use it.


Would you be interested in silk scraps?

While I was in NYC, I bought a scarf from an artist, Lydia Crespo, at Chelsea Market. We talked, and when she found out that I sewed, she asked if I would be interested in her silk scraps. She has a lot and hates to throw them away. I assured her that even though I didn’t need them, one or more of you might love to have them.

Email Lydia ( or click here to go to her site and email from there.

I bought the Black Gold Speckled Raw Silk Cape.


Could I have made it myself? Yes. Would I ever make it myself, and speckle it? Probably not. Am I glad I bought it? Absolutely!!! This is the only scarf I own (and I own way too many scarves) that stays where I put it. And it is neither too warm nor not warm enough.

This is also the only scarf I own that has slits that are useful and that disappear when I wear the scarf like a scarf.

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So, there you go. If you are interested in Lydia’s scraps, I hope you get some!

Magical Unicorn Fabric Bundle

Alison Glass designs lovely fabric that just happens to be perfect for The Magical Unicorn. I asked if she could put together a magical fabric bundle and I am very happy to announce that she has!


The rainbow starter bundle above will get you well on your way to having a great selection of fabrics for your Magical Unicorn quilt.


Depending on your specific color choices, you may need to add to this selection. You will also need to add larger cuts of some colors due to size and background needs. Alison has add-on options with the bundle and you can also visit the yardage section in her online shop for the white base/background fabric.

I want to add that I’ve been sewing with Alison’s fabric on two of the Bullseye quilts and it is a joy to work with. It will be a constant in my stash from now on. Happy stitching!


One thing leads to another…

I spent 12 years with an admittedly fine sofa from Crate and Barrel. I loved the chocolate brown color, until I didn’t. CandB announced their annual sofa sale 2 weeks ago and I did a happy dance. Our new Petrie sofa is exactly the same as the old sofa except that it’s a little shorter, charcoal gray, firmer, and cleaner.

I have 2 midcentury modern arm chairs whose cushions were covered with a lovely brown print that I had also grown very tired of. They looked so bad with the gray sofa that I couldn’t put off recovering them.

Why is it that there are so few choices in upholstery fabric, especially if you don’t live in a big city? I could have shopped online but I wanted to see and feel the fabric. I was amazed that I found the perfect fabric at Hobby Lobby — and it was even on sale!

You know me and dots…

Just so you know, recovering cushions is not hard. You have the skills to do this. Use the old cushions as a guide and go for it!

I made the brown the cushions years ago and it wasn’t hard to use them as patterns for the new covers. The foam inserts did not need to be replaced. I spent a few hours carefully cutting all the pieces for 2 seat cushions and 2 chair backs.

And then I sewed. It took longer than I thought it would, partly because I made the covered cording too. My trusty BERNINA 1140 handled the many thicknesses of this thick fabric just fine. I love that machine!

I finished the last cushion just before the eclipse which, when you look at the fabric, felt perfect.

I bought more of this fabric than I needed. There’s probably at least a yard, but there are diagonal cuts from where I cut the bias for the cording. If you would like what I have left and are will to pay the postage, it’s yours :-). Email me at The first person I hear from gets it. I’ll send you a PayPal invoice for the shipping.


I’m home from vacation feeling refreshed and ready to go which is good because my desk is buried under things to do. But I can do it! I’ll begin sharing photos and stories tomorrow. Today I want to give you an opportunity from another quilter.

Renee Arnett was cleaning out her stash and came across a fabric kit, with each block pattern, for our Flourishes quilt. (The border pattern is not included but you can download it for free here.) 

Renee has sold the kit shown below. If I hear of another one, I’ll let you know. 


Fabric love at first sight…


I love Alison Glass‘s fabric. That’s a fact.

You know that the fabrics in any collection, by any designer or from any company, are designed to work together. I have found that even though I may like a collection, there are only a few fabrics that I actually use. It is a rare thing to find a collection of prints where everything works together as well as these fabrics do. Why is that?

  • In addition to being just luscious, there is a nice mix of values.
  • These particular prints add texture without being distracting. That works really well in both piecing and appliqué.
  • There are both clear colors and gray colors. When used together, clear colors come forward, grayer colors recede. In a quilt, the combination of clear and gray colors adds dimension to the design.

This is what I have right now: a mix of Alison’s Chroma and Handcrafted Indigo collections as well as a text print. It’s a great start but I know I’m going to be adding more AG fabric to this mix because more is obviously better in this case :-).


If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’m working on a foundation paper pieced quilt. The first quilt top is sewn and I’m now making variations of the pattern in AG fabric. I don’t want to ruin future surprises but this gives you an idea of how these prints work together in a pieced block.


One last thing: When I was in St. Louis last week I picked up some give-away scraps of vintage fabric from the guild table. Too many quilters are nervous about mixing vintage-style prints with modern prints. Don’t be! This is a happy stack of fabric that would make a great quilt.


I don’t often go on and on about fabric on my blog, but these prints are special. You should consider adding them to your stash.

Happy fabric shopping (is there any other kind?).


Weeding tips…

anudge asked for tips on how I weeded out my stash. Here goes:

I used to keep my linen, vintage, hand-dyes, etc., in their own separate groups. I realized that I forgot about them when I was pulling fabrics for a quilt so I decided to merge all of my fabric.

I emptied the top shelf in my closet. I worked standing up at the long dresser in the bedroom where my fabric lives. I worked with one stack of at a time. I touched every fabric and decided to keep it, or not. The ‘nots’ went into bags.

The keepers were sorted into stacks of solids, lights, mediums, or darks. Where it made sense, I grouped similar shades of a color together. For example I have yellow-greens in one stack and blue-greens in another. I know that my stacks are going to eventually get messed up so I didn’t spend a huge amount of time on this.

Next I pulled my ‘special’ fabrics, sorted them and added them to the cottons in the closet. 1-yard big print pieces that will be used for backings are still separate.

Fabric Weeding 4

Let me show you how it works with a much smaller group of fabrics. The back story is that I have been inspired by friends to work on a quilt using Liberty of London fabric. My friend, Kathy (hi Kathy!) sent me a fat quarter bundle from the Liberty shop in London — how cool is that! I do love these fabrics from the bundle…

I don’t love these 4 fabrics. If they were just plain old fabrics in my stash, they’d be gone.

But I’m going to make a Liberty of London quilt and can’t afford to be picky! Plus all the fabrics in the bundle actually do play well together. (It goes to show that you can make just about any fabric work, but that’s another story.)

And the bundle fabrics look really good with my other Liberties…

So what does this mean? It means that there are some fabrics I like and some that I like less. When I have too much fabric, I have to decide what no longer fits. Making decisions is hard and it can wear you out if you over-think it. So I don’t think too much as I’m sorting. I put the cast-offs in a bag so that I’m not tempted to bring them back.

If you have more fabric than I do (and that’s a real possibility) I would suggest tackling one color at a time. If you start with yellow, pull all of your yellows, from everywhere. Put them on a big table or bed. Work through them. Put your tidy stacks on the shelves, ignore the cast-offs, move on to the next color. Don’t give up (you’ll be tempted). Power through it, you’ll be glad you did