Friday, July 25, 2014

Ugly No More!

Readers of Stitched in Color are a few weeks into a purge of our unloved and neglected fabrics. Heaven knows I have a stack of them that needs to be used up. (Because, of course, that will be the green light to buy more fabrics—ones that I super-promise not to ignore!)

But there was one fabric that I thought was beyond hope …

I bought a half-yard of this Michael Miller print for my Penny Sampler quilt last fall. But honestly, when I received it in the mail (it was an online purchase, made sight unseen), I knew it didn’t belong in my quilt. There isn’t anything subtle about it. The printed design is thick white lines that give the fabric a substantial, almost stiff, hand. Ick. I tucked it under prettier fabric in my stash and conveniently forgot about it until recently.

In a moment of clarity, I realized I had been regarding this fabric only through the eyes of a quilter. I stopped thinking about what might make this fabric tolerable in a quilt and started to consider what other selections may suit it—and actually make it pretty. This is what I came up with: a print from Denyse Schmidt’s Chicopee line and Kona Tomato.

Once I had selected the fabrics, choosing a pattern was easy. I went with s.o.t.a.k. handmade’s  drawstring pouch, something I had been meaning to try for a while.

So I made one and liked it so much that I made another exactly like it. And then a version with Stitch Circle in navy. And then, clearly excited by bringing new life to this Michael Miller print and throwing all caution to the wind, a version with a chartreuse casing and kitty-cat lining.

Wow, it was helpful to realize that I’m capable of pigeon-holing myself as a quilter. Actually, it was surprising: I’ve been sewing for well over a decade, but I’m just a one-year-old quilter.

Furthermore, this experience solidified something I caught intimations of when I made my Hope Valley quilt. Just cutting a not-so-loved fabric into a manageable size instead of viewing it as a big swath can change how I feel about it. (With Hope Valley, there was one fabric I did not like. But in the context of the quilt and paired with all that white fabric, I love it.)

OK, one quick question for you before you jet off to the blog of another Finish It Up Friday or Sew Cute Tuesday participant …

Do you have any recommendations on what to use as drawstrings for bags like these? I used black leather cording for mine, but I’m not completely sold on it. In the past, I’ve used shoestrings for pouches for kids because they’re nice and durable. I like the look of ribbon until the pouch has been used a few times and the ribbon is no longer looking so great. Thanks in advance for your help!

Update: OK, so I have another question. The push to purge at Stitched in Color focuses on fabric, but I also have some accessories I would like to use up. What fabrics would you pair these handles with? I’d like to use them on a Miranda Day Bag from Lazy Girl Designs, but they’re a little fancy for me. And they’re brown—I’d be more likely to use them if they were black. Do any fabric lines come to mind when you see these handles? (Hmmm … maybe I should look at Art Gallery’s current offerings?)


  1. Oooh, these are so cute! And how exciting that you were able to master this transformation! I really should go through my fabric stash and do the same.

    I've used ribbon on drawstring pouches before, but you're right, it can get to looking yuck. I recently purchased some twill tape, and I'm hoping that will be a good solution. In fact, I really should finish up the bag I'm working on today! :)

    Happy finishes!

  2. When I make drawstring pouches I often make fabric "strings" in a contrasting color. I've also used the cording you can buy by the yard in the drapery section. As well, I like the satin cording by the yard for drawstring bags when I want a bit fancier look.

  3. very cute bags, I love all the different linings.

  4. You really took on the Purge challenge well! I am still thinking quilts for my unloved fabric, but you have inspired me to look beyond that. I use those twill/ ribbons that come around a fat quarter bundle as a drawstring

  5. Those bags are fabulous! I often use cord by the yard for bags, though I do like the sugesstions of twill tape, that would look fabulous with these bags!

    1. Thanks! Another thought: I just bought some dark brown suede cord to coordinate with another pouch I made. Ah, so many pouch options, so little time!

  6. OK, you've got me! Yours is the first blog I've signed up for and the reason is your wonderful descriptions and insights into the quilts. I really enjoy your stories and, more importantly, the ideas you generate from them. When I go on your blog, I find myself clicking on the many quilts and other sites you mention in the writing. It is amazing to me what is out there. As a short-time (2 yr) quilter, I am hooked, and will continue to look to you for inspiration.


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