You know you have too much fabric when …

… you completely forget about two drawers of fat quarters.

In my defence, the drawers are situated under the cutting/ironing table, facing the fabric shelves, and I don’t see them as I walk by. I only remembered when I’d finished cutting strips off my recent FQ purchases and went to put them away.

I feel so stupid now.

The funny thing is that I had another “stupid me” post for today but this had to take precedence. You’ll get the other one tomorrow.

Fabric Haul

Rosemont The Patchwork Shop in Mogo, NSW is having a sale, with 20% off all fabric until 11 June. I haven’t been there in person in a long time (although I have made remote purchases) so I thought it was worth making the two-hour trip.

I bought 10 lovely fat quarters — I think they are all from the same range but I don’t know which one. They’ll make good hexagon flowers.

2023-06-01 Fat Quarters
Fat Quarters

Then I went a little overboard with the batiks (they have an amazing batik selection):

2023-06-01 batiks

Most of the cuts were 1 metre but there were some that only had a little bit left on the bolt so I took what was left (which was usually around 1.5 m). I didn’t need anything in the orange/red/brown range, having bought an abundance a few years ago in preparation for some autumn quilts, but as you can see I managed a good proportion of the colour wheel.

That takes care of the rest of 2023’s fabric budget … but I’m going to have such fun with these beautiful colours!

Small fabric purchase

I spent the weekend in Tasmania (I am hoping to move there later this year) and naturally looked up some of the local craft shops. I treated myself to 15 quarters (some fat, some long) — I would have loved to have bought more but I could only take a cabin bag with me on the return trip so I was limited in my weight allowance. I am still proceeding with my hexagons from stash, but I’ve actually cut most of the warm colours already and I need more if the quilt isn’t to be very blue, hence the pinks, reds and orange here.

Weekend fabrics
Weekend fabrics

Batik Fabric Pull

Now that I’ve got over the Omicron booster I had last week and I can contemplate working a sewing machine without unduly risking life and limb, it’s time to get back to sewing. While temporarily incapacitated I started pulling fabric for the next quilt on my list — autumnal leaves for my cousin Jo. It should not have been a surprise to me that I have around a hundred batik fabrics but somehow it was.

batik selection 1
batik selection 1

After excluding all the teals, blues and blue-violets I was left with an array of around 70.

batik selection 2
batik selection 2

I left them on the cutting table for a couple of days while I thought about things and eventually selected the 42 I’ll use for the leaves.

The background fabric will be Emma Louise in black, just like the Hawaiian appliqué quilt for my other cousin, Suzy. It’s a gorgeous matte shade and will make the colours sparkle like jewels, even the darker ones.

Sorting (some of) the Stash

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m well into FABLE territory — fabrics accumulated beyond life expectancy (I’ve also heard the term SABLE for those whose stashes encompass yarns as well). My large pigeonhole frame, which I acquired back in the 90s from my place of work in return for a new toaster oven, has long been overwhelmed so about six years ago I bought a white Billy bookcase from Ikea and that is now full as well.

I’ve found that the fabrics get easily disorganised on the Billy shelves, especially the solids, where I have small lengths of many colours (average 2 metres), as opposed to prints, where I tend to have larger lengths of fewer designs (5-10 metres) because the shorter lengths are in the pigeonholes. Consequently I tried folding the solids onto cards which were originally the backing cardboard for various carbonless-copy forms at the aforementioned workplace. They are A4 size (21 x 29.7 cm or 8¼ x 11¾”) which is great for fabrics that are generally 44″ wide, but unfortunately the card is not very strong and didn’t do a good job of supporting the fabric so I needed stronger, thicker card. I found some 600 gsm cardstock at Officeworks but it’s insanely expensive — $1.19 per A4 board or $10.98 per pack of 5 A3 boards ($2.20 per A4 equivalent). White mountboard (matboard) seems to be available only in A2 sheets at $8.25 each ($2.06 per A4) so that was out, too.
Comic Boards
I had read that comic boards are very useful but on browsing various websites I found that the size is generally too small (and invariably Imperial) — either 10½” or 11″ in height, which means that the fabric would be overlapping the ends of the board and would suffer from wear. Then I came across an oversized class of boards at 13½” tall by 10¼” wide, so I bought 200 at a cost (including delivery) of 60 cents each. They have now arrived and they are definitely a good choice — stiff enough to hold the fabric up, but not so stiff that it’s a pain to cut them. I’ve spent the last couple of days trimming them to 12″ (because 13½” would waste valuable bookshelf space) and folding all my solids onto them. There were a couple of fabrics that remained on the older boards because there isn’t quite enough to pin together on the wider boards, and some even older 90 cm (36″) fabrics that I’ve had since the late 80s or early 90s that I didn’t bother to swap. I do have white, cream, navy and black solids as well, but they are on bolts and live on a different shelf.
Solids wrapped on the comic boards
I’m pleased with the end result — a full shelf of solids that shows every colour I have and doesn’t need re-adjusting every time I take out a fabric.

Fabric haul April 2021

I only went in for a thimble …
Fabric haul
… and I came out with about 50 metres of fabric.

Actually that’s not quite true — I went in for a thimble and some cotton flannelette. I haven’t been to The Calico Patch (the Australian one, in Canberra) for ages because they’ve been closed on Fridays since the first lockdown and Friday is generally my shopping day, but I was running low on milk so decided to shop a day early. Also it was an absolutely beautiful day and we have an Antarctic blast coming our way over the weekend so I wanted to take advantage of the warm weather.

I got the thimble and the flannelette (though they didn’t have any navy or black, unfortunately) and then … well. I turned around and there was a shelf of pretty small-scale florals, including a couple of pillar prints, so I got those, and then I found some more stripes, and then I found some absolutely gorgeous fabrics that just screamed “robe à la Française” at me so I had to get those.

Here is the flannelette, anyway —
Calico Patch Flannelette
I want flannelette because it looks like wool in photos (once it’s been washed, anyway) and yet is much softer and easier to handle than wool at doll scale. If I need it to be stiffer I can add interfacing, but it’s nice to know that I can make a cloak that will drape rather than stand out stiffly like a windsock.

Here are the quilting cottons:
Calico Patch Fabrics 2
Calico Patch Fabrics 3
Calico Patch Fabrics 4
That one at left in the last picture is one of the prettiest fabrics I’ve ever seen (I love roses on fabric and I’m not ashamed to say it, though I accept that not everyone likes them). I took all that was left on the bolt — a little over 4 m — but I think I’ll have to force myself to cut into it or it will become “sacred fabric”and sit on the shelf for 15 years.

So … that was my fabric budget for the rest of the year.
I regret nothing!

Fine fabrics for fine dolls

As I stated in an earlier post, I tried to make a chemise out of cheesecloth but with limited success — the fabric was too coarse and too thick for a chemise at this scale.

I was searching for some cotton batiste and found the Australian Needle Arts School where they sell various fabrics suited to embroidery and smocking. I ordered 0.5 metres of four different fabrics to try out (I wanted a fifth but it was out of stock). I picked up the parcel yesterday and was amazed at how light they are in comparison with quilting fabrics.

Fine pique, Swiss cotton-linen, Imperial voile, Swiss Batiste
Fine pique, Swiss cotton-linen, Imperial voile, Swiss Batiste

Left to right: Fine pique, Swiss cotton/linen blend, Imperial Voile, Swiss batiste. The other one I wanted was Imperial Batiste — if it becomes available later I’ll get some to try.

Although it’s hard to tell when the fabrics are folded like that, the variation in thickness, weight and transparency is considerable.

Comparison of weights per linear metre and per square metre:
–Swiss Batiste: 40 g/m, 137 cm wide = 29.2 g/m2
–Imperial Voile: 80 g/m, 114 cm wide = 70.2 g/m2
–Swiss cotton/linen blend: 170 g/m, 137 cm wide = 129.1 g/m2
–Fine pique: 220 g/m, 150 cm wide = 147 g/m2

Ignore the wonkiness of the M in the following pictures — I can’t find my block letters so I quickly hand-cut an M to illustrate how much light passes through each fabric.

Swiss batiste
Swiss batiste

The Swiss batiste is amazing — it’s so light it almost floats and so fine it’s almost transparent. Even though it’s very expensive ($42/m) it’s the one I’ll be using for the finest outfits for my own dolls. I think that the main problem will be trying to find a lace light enough to suit it. I may resort to doing white embroidery using silk thread to simulate needle lace … but probably only once.

Imperial Voile
Imperial Voile

The Imperial voile is much finer than the voile I’ve previously bought at fabric shops in Canberra, but a little less fine than the batiste. Given that it’s half the price of the batiste, this is the one I’ll probably buy the most of.

Swiss cotton-linen
Swiss cotton-linen

Fine pique
Fine pique

The pique and the cotton/linen blend are a little thick for a doll’s chemise but they will be great for Empire (Regency) style dresses. I want to make a gown with an heirloom band down the front (ruching, ribbons and lace) so one of them will be the guinea pig for that, and the other may get some embroidery. It’s a shame that the woven stripe doesn’t show up in the photo of the pique because it looks lovely.

I also have a couple of metres of cotton muslin I got at Spotlight a couple of weeks ago — thicker than the cotton/linen blend but finer than quilting cotton, so I’ll try that too. I also found some 3 mm cotton twill tape while I was there, so I’ll be replacing the ties for the hip pads I made last month.


Am I working on the numerous UFOs languishing in project boxes? No. Am I assembling the Oriental Stained Glass top, or making the last two Hawaiian appliqué blocks? No. Am I working on my FAL project (the only one with a deadline)? No, not even that (although I have finalised the layout and written the cutting instructions for it).

Floral fabrics from 1990s
Floral fabrics from 1990s

Instead I’ve spent the last couple of days working out an Irish Chain pattern to use up some extremely old floral fabrics that have lain on the shelves for (at best guess) twenty years. I have been wanting to get these made up for a long time but couldn’t decide on a pattern that would allow them to blend without being too bland.

Quad Irish Chain 9-grid
Quad Irish Chain 9-grid

Quad Irish Chain 7-grid
Quad Irish Chain 7-grid

I looked at various chain types and eventually chose a quadruple chain, but made in a seven-grid block rather than a nine-grid block, so there is less open space in the alternate blocks.

I also decided to use two fabrics for the centre of the alternate block rather than just one (does that make it a quintuple chain?).

Greens from stash
Greens from stash

I wanted to make this entirely from stash, but I also wanted the centre of the chain to be a green solid or tone-on-tone. Unfortunately I only liked one green (second from right) of the ones I already had, and I didn’t have nearly enough of it.

I made a quick trip to the fabric shop and found a Makower print that reads as a solid. It’s a little brighter than I would have liked but no one had the slightly greyed green that features in the leaves of the two darker florals. Luckily it doesn’t stand out as particularly jarring when next to the florals. Vanima seems to like it, anyway.

Final palette
Final palette (with bonus Vanima)

There will also be a pink inner border and possibly some pink appliqué in the alternate blocks, but I’ll decide on that once the top is done.

Quad Irish Chain design
Quad Irish Chain design

Final dimensions will be roughly 80″ x 108″ — a long double quilt or a queen topper.