Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fussy Budget

Fussy Budget

When I was a little girl, occasionally my mother would refer to me as a “fussy budget”. This was not an endearing term, and usually meant I was not going to have my way in the matter at hand. Oftentimes, when reading quilt patterns, I feel the old, familiar whine begin to rise in my throat, especially when I see the words “fussy cut”. It just sounds wrong to be instructed to be fussy.

But a beautiful quilt sometimes requires a little fussiness. Fussy cutting can mean several things, actually. Simply put, to cut fabric in a fussy manner is to pay attention to the print, not just the measurement, before attacking it with scissors or rotary blade. It’s usually easy to tell from the picture on the front of the pattern if fussy cutting will be necessary. For example, if there are blocks that contain a large flower in the center, you have to cut carefully to center the flower in the square. Sometimes a border will use a striped fabric that must be centered in the strip. If a fabric is very patterned and you are making very small cuts, you may find the resulting pieces look very different from one another, unless you turn on the fussy. Some quilts are appliquéd after the basic top is complete. An appliqué can be an object, such as a flower or bug fussy cut from a printed fabric.

Keep in mind that fussy cutting increases the yardage necessary to make the quilt, as there is usually some waste. But don’t get fussy about that! Find a pattern that lists the yardage requirements as “a pile of scraps” and you’re all set.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pitter Pattern 2

Pitter Pattern 2

OK! Now you have a pattern. You feel a sense of completion and accomplishment. Until you open it and look at the directions… Sometimes I think pattern writers’ sole purpose is to confuse the daylights out us. Here’s how I go about untangling the obfuscated instructions.

First, if the fabrics are labeled with letters or numbers, celebrate! If not, mark them on the pattern with whichever you like best. Careful! Sometimes a fabric is listed twice if it used in more than one place in the quilt. For instance, a piece in a block may also be used as a border, or the binding. Scan the list before you label to see if this is the case. If so, repeat the label as required.

Next, I like to repeat the labels on the picture of the finished quilt on the front of the pattern. This helps me visualize what the finished quilt will look like with the fabrics I’ve chosen, and to construct the blocks without straining my brain too badly. I also like to put the fabric labels on the pictures of the blocks in the middle of the instructions.

Before cutting, it is a good idea to walk through the directions completely to see if there are any mistakes. We have found that quite often there are, especially in the free patterns offered by fabric manufacturers. It is a terrible thing to be in the middle of a project and discover you don’t have enough of a fabric, or the directions told you to cut it incorrectly. Also, the required yardage listed may not have taken into account a directional print, or the repeat of a print.

Finally, see if you need any special equipment in order to cut or sew the quilt. Sometimes a template is required or helpful. Some patterns include templates that you can make yourself. Do you need a different color thread for an appliqué? Again, reading through all the directions before you start will help you avoid any nasty surprises later. And who knows? Maybe that direction-reading thing will rub off on your significant other the next time a grill needs to be assembled…

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pitter Pattern
Got little feet on the way? Thinking of making a quilt to wrap the little darling in? First thing to do is find a pattern, which is no little feat! There are more patterns out there to choose from than baby names; it can be quite daunting. Here are a few suggestions to help you on your way.

Some patterns are marked with a difficulty level. This is definitely something to consider. If you are a beginner quilter, or do not have a lot of time to finish the project, choose a pattern marked “beginner”, “easy”, or “quick”. If the pattern does not indicate the difficulty level, there are some things to look for that will help you know. Straight-line seams are easier than curves to line up and sew flat. Lots of curves require more cutting time and sometimes, special templates.

Next, check for “points”. A point is the corner of a piece of fabric. This can be a triangle, a square, etc. If the point “floats” i.e. does not touch the end of another point, the pattern is easier than one where your points must line up exactly.

Now look at the blocks. A block is the basic unit of the quilt that repeats in the pattern. Some blocks are constructed from many small pieces, others from larger, simpler units. The smaller the pieces, the longer and more complicated the cutting and piecing time will be.

Finally, check the borders. How many are there? Are they pieced, or cut from long strips of fabric? Strip-cut borders may take more fabric, but they go together much faster than a border that must be pieced.

Once you’ve chosen the pattern, the next step is figuring out the directions. We’ll tackle that next time!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Quilting 101

Quilting as an art form has been experiencing a resurgence for some time now. For the last decade the number of quilters in the US has grown dramatically. Younger women and men are exploring the world of fabric and the ability to express themselves through the use of it.

Quilting was once an intimidating form of fabric expression-even to experienced seamstresses. Not so anymore! Patterns have become more user friendly and there are classes taught all around the US and the world. Many for beginners and many classes with an approach to quilting that is not as rigid and rule bound as quilting was in the past. In fact, there are almost no “rules” now..Quilting is really being viewed as a form of self expression as well as a utilitarian craft.
A beginner has a few things to consider when embarking on a quilting adventure. First, a general plan or “feel” he/she would like the quilt to have. Is it going to traditional, impressionistic, geometric, or a mix? Once you have your general idea in mind, you can begin the process of choosing fabrics. Some people work from a pattern that they like first and others choose a mix of fabrics and find a pattern or design one that best expresses those patterns.
Choosing fabrics involves several considerations: Scale, colors, tone, repeat of pattern, and fiber content. Manufacturers today design whole collections with different prints of many scales and tones which could be used to make your quilt. Or like many, you will want fabrics from a variety of manufacturers to meet the needs of your particular project. A focal fabric is the beginning of the process of coordinating your fabrics. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a single fabric, but a general theme that you will want to use as a guide when incorporating other fabrics into your project.
The Specifics of Fabric Choosing will expand on the process of selecting fabrics for your project.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What’s Quilting Fabric For, Anyway?

Well, for one thing, you can make a quilt with it. Surprised? Maybe not yet, but wait! What is quilting fabric, anyway? What makes a fabric “quilt” fabric and not curtain fabric or dress fabric? It’s perplexing, I know, but here we go.

One difference in fabrics is the composition, or what it’s made from. Fabrics can be made from synthetic or natural materials. There are many synthetic fibers available today, and certainly they have come a long way from the polyester used in suits of the 1970’s! There are also many natural fibers, such as silk, cotton, or even bamboo.

There are many schools of thought in the quilting world as to what type of fabric is suitable for quilting. In the end, it comes down to personal choice. That is, after all what quilting is all about – making something that is unique and personal. However, quilting can be difficult enough without struggling with fabrics that don’t lie well, or slip when stitching. If a fabric has a nice “hand” it feels good to the touch; makes you want to wrap yourself up in it. A quilt should get better with age, and invite you to wrap yourself up in it for years to come.

Another difference is the weight of the fabric. Fabric weight is defined as a weight per unit area. Our fabrics are all 4 – 5 ounce per linear yard quilting weight fabrics. At Seaside, we carry only 100% cotton fabrics, because it is what we prefer to quilt with. We strive to stock fabrics that are not only beautiful, but that will stay soft and comforting through many washings.

But are quilts the only thing you can make with these fabrics? No! Cotton fabrics make beautiful projects of all kinds. Cotton is wonderful to wear because it breathes and is naturally hypoallergenic. Just as it is easy to work with when matching quilt points, it cooperates with little-girl pleats as well as curtain ruffles. We have customers who use our fabrics for all sorts of projects, from quilts to dog beds!

If you are not sure about your particular project, or if you need help with measurements or quantities, send us an email, or give us a call. We’d love to help you figure it out!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


A husband stepped on one of those penny scales that tell you your fortune and weight and dropped in a coin.

"Listen to this," he said to his wife, showing her a small, white card. "It says I'm energetic, bright, resourceful and a great lover."

"Yeah," his wife nodded, "and it has your weight wrong, too."

Whether they’re the kind we step on and see bad numbers, or the kind that are on scary critters, most of us don’t like the idea of scales. But there is one kind of scale we don’t have to fear – fabric pattern scale! When choosing fabrics for a particular quilt pattern, the place to start is with the main, or “focal” fabric. Quite often a pattern will incorporate one fabric that is the centerpiece of the quilt. It may be in the center of the blocks, the borders, or the corners. Usually, this fabric will be cut into the largest pieces. So, how do you choose the right fabric as the focal? Grab a ruler! Look through the pattern directions and find the measurements of the focal fabric cuts. Let’s say it’s 5-inch blocks, and you want the focal to be a floral pattern. Simply measure the flower groupings and see how the one you love would fit in a 5-inch block. The flower or flower grouping should mostly fill the space, with just a small amount of background showing. It should also not be cut off such that you can’t really tell what the flower is.

Choosing focal fabrics online can be a little tricky if there is no scale with the picture. At the shop, we are more than happy to measure any print for you, whether it be a flower grouping, or the length of a repeat, or whatever! Just contact us, and we’ll happily grab a ruler.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Do These Fabrics “Go” Together?

I don’t know how old you are, but when I was a teenager, we used to “go together”. This meant stuff like you passed notes to each other in class, maybe held hands on the sly at recess. In high school it meant you traded class rings, went on dates only with each other, and everybody knew you were not available. When my daughter became a teenager, I was summarily informed that you don’t “go together” anymore, you “go out”. “Go where?” I would ask, only to be sighed at. “What do you call it when you want to go somewhere? You can’t say you’re going out, because you’re already doing that…” More sighs.

Sometimes, at the quilt shop, we are asked if fabrics “go together”. Hmmm, I wonder what the real question is? Fabric manufacturers create fabric collections, which usually contain a number of coordinating prints. These lines also often come in several color families. They are a set, so to speak. Obviously, a set of fabrics from one line goes together. But what about combining fabrics from different lines or even different manufacturers? Is this legal? Will the quilting police come and take you away if you do this? Or, most importantly, will the finished quilt look good?

The answer is yes! (Except for the part about the quilting police…) We try hard at the shop to put together fabric groupings that “go together”, even if they didn’t “come together”. After all, what is a quilt anyway? A bunch of fabrics blended together in an artful way to create one harmonious piece. The first step in creating a quilt is to see in your mind’s eye what a blending of many fabrics will look like in the finished work. If that is difficult for you, or too time consuming, take heart! We love to do this part. And we promise that any collection you see on our site “goes together”. Once you quilt them together, you could even consider them married!

Friday, August 8, 2008


If you have visited our site, you know that we have great photographs. Especially if you go all the way to the largest blow up of the fabric. And if you have shopped with us (Thank You!) then you know what an amazing package we send. No fabric crammed into envelopes here! (yes, we can fit a lot in a flat rate envelope, but it is carefully, and beautifully packed.)

The photos are all done by my 15 yr. old son Jake. He has an amazing "eye". He just got a Nikon D80 and he has been doing some beautiful work for us. Shooting fabric is not as easy as one might think. Depending on the color and contrast of the fabric pattern, there can be many adjustments to make to have the photo turn out "true". Jake is amazing at that. We are very grateful for his beautiful work.

My youngest son, Jonny, now 13, builds our boxes for us along with his friend Aaron. They have a piece work deal with us and they frequently renegotiate their terms...Always to my shock and amazement when we are done. Jonny also has an amazing eye for fabric coordination. He put together his first quilt kit when he was just 11 (no, he doesn't quilt at all). And it sold in two days. All of his items sell really fast. We can't get him down to the shop very often, school, and TF2 keep him busy.

So, as you look at our site, just know that the photos are absolutely as "true" to the fabric colors as we can make them. And while every computer monitor is different, our photos do their best to reveal the real nature of the fabrics. We are always happy to email you a photo if you want a single shot to try and be sure if this is the piece for you.
The weekend is here and today and tomorrow will be just gorgeous here in the mid atlantic. 83 degrees today! Wow! So after a long day at work today, there will be Monk, of course (new season and all) tonight, and baseball tomorrow. Then a restful Sunday and school starts here on Monday! Then things get really busy!

Soon, it will be "shell gathering" time. We go a couple of times a year and gather so many shells to pack in your orders that DH often thinks we will need an extra truck to get them home. lol..

I keep telling him I need them for the business. But the "process" of shelling is for me. The shells are for you.

Next week, we'll work on a few quilting techniques..While the boys are in school, we can have a little "quilting shool"..

Til then, I'll be dreaming of shelling and enjoying the moments in between,

Thursday, August 7, 2008

It's Snowing!

Well, not really. At least not here in Virginia. Actually it’s what we call the “dog days” of summer (which means it’s not even fit for a dog to be out…) Upper 90’s, not a drop of rain in sight, nor barely a breeze. What better time to think about snow and Christmas? Besides, it must be snowing somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, or on a very high mountaintop.

Another part of quilting that is fun: quilts take some time to finish, so you have to start way ahead of when you want them. That means we can look at, handle and sew beautiful or fun winter-y, Christmas-y fabrics now! What a nice break from the dog days outside. We have been having great fun unpacking all sorts of winter holiday fun in the shop. Seaside1 drew the line when I began my rendition of Jingle Bells, but we all know how she fails to appreciate fine musical talent, don’t we?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fabric Stories

If you have visited our site, you may have noticed our novelty beach fabric section. And the store name is Seaside Quilting Supplies. I have had many comments over the years about the name when people discover that the store is actually in the mountains of Virginia.

I thought I'd use today's blog to explain the store name and my love of all things "beachy".

I am from Ocean City, Md. My grandfather was a commercial fisherman-he fished both the bay and the Atlantic for a living. I never knew him. He lived a hard life and passed away while still a young man. My mom was only a young teenage girl when he died.

We grew up camping EVERY weekend of my life in a pickup camper top on the beach at Assateague Island. There were 5 of us in a small pickup camper for 3 days every weekend from May til October. Obviously, we didn't spend much time in the camper. My sister and brother and I were outside from 7:30am til well past dark. Swimming, building sandcastles, fishing and shelling until we couldn't anymore. I used to think I never wanted to be "sandy" again.

Time marched on.....I married and moved to South Central/Western Virginia and began to quilt. Our family has vacationed on the Outer Banks of North Carolina every year since we had children. The oldest kids are now 23 and 21. Our kids have never wanted to go anywhere else(although we have been other places) for our family week together. Our only daughter was married on Coquina Beach, which is a little piece of perfection, just to the left off of Highway 12 as you head to Hatteras.

I decided that I so enjoyed putting fabrics together (nearly as much as the actual quilting process) that I would begin an online shop. With the intention to keep my shop as an online store only, I began contemplating a name. My heart and soul are strengthened by the sea and the sand and the shells. Thus the name..hidden here in the Virginia mountains, and hopefully not so hidden on the Net is our little shop. We intend to move it the Outer Banks one day very soon and make the name a reality.

Until then, we will keep a good selection of "beachy" fabrics and the sound of the seagulls running. (Remember, you can turn off your speakers!)

With warm beachy thoughts,


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mustard Yellow Polka Dots

One of our favorite things to do in our little quilt shop is open boxes of fabric that arrive at the door. Quite often there is a long time between the placing of an order and the receiving of it, so we never know what a particular box may hold. But there's always excitement abounding when we hear the familiar thud when one lands by the door after it is tossed by the UPS guy.

One day, in great anticipation, we opened a new shipment and gasped with horror at what we beheld. The ugliest mustard yellow polka dots we had ever seen. Yuck! We didn't order that! As it turned out, it was shipped by mistake, so our supplier said we should just keep it. Hmmmm, dare we place it on the shelves with all of our other very beautiful & carefully chosen fabrics? We decided it could go on a very back shelf, next to the wall, where we wouldn't see it much.

Then came the day when I was designing a quilt kit, and I thought "maybe, just maybe..." Amazing!! Those ugly dots were just the perfect complement to the kit. They might have even been the pull-it-all-together fabric. Next came the beach charm squares. What do you know? They were just the thing with those cute little beachy prints.

And so I come to what I love the most about quilting. A scrap of something, all by itself ugly and useless, is transformed into beauty and art when placed in a quilt. I try to keep that lesson foremost in my thoughts when life hands me an ugly scrap, and I have to find just the right spot for it in my life's quilt.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Monday Mania

Welcome to August! Wow, where has the summer gone? School time is coming fast, as are those Holiday gift projects. We have tons of great quick quilt kits and patterns for that special person in your life. Remember, it's not the amount of time you invest in the gift-it's the amount of love!

We had a lovely weekend. Had the service at the Church by the Birch, which is always beneficial...Spent Sat. evening at Seaside2's house with all the children and Sat morning and a little work in the shop on Sat afternoon. We do really lovely thank you gifts for our first time customers and keeping up with keeping them stocked is quite a job! But, one we enjoy.
I have been sewing a little. Seaside 2 and I put together a "beach quilt" for ourselves from some R Kaufman fabric that we fell in love with. (Nearly sold out now of course, but not quite). It was one of the few (as in only the 3rd time) times I have ever taken stock out of inventory for a personal project. DH was convinced I started the shop for a never ending supply of fabric!

Seaside2's top is done (mine is not, naturally). We did it using the All Washed Up Pattern, 5 & 10, which is I think, THE fastest top I have ever put together. It is simple, so if you are into intense layouts, this one won't be for you; but if you choose gorgeous fabrics that don't need a lot of help, this is the Perfect pattern for a really quick weekend quilt!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fabric "Notions" Part 2

Yes, welcome to our blog! You'll notice my dolphin has its mouth open - that's because Seaside1 calls me a "chatty Cathy doll" most of the time. Or she threatens to throw something at me from across the room if I don't stop singing. (How can you not like the Banana Phone song?) I think the REAL purpose of this blog is her attempt to keep me quiet by giving me other people to talk to.

All kidding aside, we are the very best of friends who are carefully wading into the business waters together. She may groan at my quilt kits with 20 fabrics in them, but she smiles when she remembers who has to cut them... Which I do gladly as long as she keeps the latte machine humming. We do have different talents, but the same love of the ocean and life and each other.

So, fire away! If we don't know the answer to a question, we will make every attempt to help you figure it out. And we LOVE special requests and challenges, as long as it doesn't remind me of a song that will cause her to throw things at me...

Fabric "Notions"

Welcome to our blog!

I began quilting long before I opened my own shop. A friend taught me to quilt and then she disappeared from my life..but left me with love for fabric and quilting.

As a young quilter I read all the quilting magazines and all the varying opinions on what constituted "art" in a quilt. There was the "only hand quilting counts" camp, the "only abstract quilts are art" camp, the "only hand dyes are art" camp, and on and on it went (and still goes!).

As I contemplated the many beautiful fabric projects I had enjoyed the pleasure of viewing in my life, it occurred to me that those opinions were above all else-arrogant and small minded. "Art" and "beauty" in quilting or anything cannot be defined by one group or affiliation. When we look beyond the narrow confines of our "world" we can find beauty in places we never dreamt of..

Each quilter, and for that matter, each seamstress (male or female) takes a piece of cloth and weaves into it a bit of themselves..that alone creates beauty. As we work with cotton fabrics or synthetic fabrics and turn them into things others find beautiful, we have created "art" by any definition. The fabrics available today, not just for quilting, but for sewing and crafting, offer opportunities for each artist to express him/herself with color and patterns that speak without words.

My shop began as a very traditional online quilt shop. I carried a very narrow spectrum of prints and colors. However, as I have begun to explore beyond the narrow confines of "my world" in many areas of my life, my shop too has expanded in its spectrum of ideas and fabrics. We now carry mostly cottons, but in many patterns and colors. We love to coordinate fabrics for our quilting patrons, for whom, choosing the fabrics is the hard part-the art for them is in the physical building of the quilt. We also love to compose entire quilt kits for people based on a color idea or a theme. Some of us are "scale challenged" or "tone" challenged and for those of us who have been gifted with a color eye, it is our joy to share that with others.

A friend and I are testing the waters to see if we are able to work together without jeopardizing a treasured friendship of many years. She, too will be posting here. I will sign my posts as Seaside1 and she will sign as Seaside2. While just a tender young quilter, she has a wonderful eye for color and scale that has been a gift to me.

We don't do just quilt kits though! We have patterns for totes, and throws, and wall hangings! And we have many great retro fabrics in stock and more coming for those stunning diaper bags, totes, quilted purses and beach bags that are so popular now.

Before I go for today I must make a confession- I was once a "cotton only" elitist. I am no longer. I believe you can incorporate into your quilt whatever fabrics are speaking to you. I do believe that there is some truth in the assertion that synthetic fabrics will degrade cottons more quickly than if you use only cottons; but if your project is loved and brings joy to others for the time it is here, then it has served its purpose.

With warm beachy thoughts for today,