Friday, February 20, 2009

So much fabric, so little time

How to make fabric work for you and save you workshop time - a continuation of hints and suggestions as a result of my experience at Nancy Crow's Strip-Piecing I & II in October 2008.

Wash the chemicals out. Do wash and iron your fabrics. If you're building a fan deck, cut a little ½" wide strip for your card and take measurements.

You will be cutting selvedge to selvedge with one fold. So fold fabric in half lengthwise – selvedges meet - and trim at least one end to square it up. This will save you an extra step and workshop time.

Make mini bolts. Place an 8x24 cardboard template at the uncut end and flip and fold to the other trimmed end. Pull the template out and fold in half. You will end up with an 8.5x11 bundle.

Folding this way will minimize handling and save workshop time when you cut strips. Just open up the last fold and flip out enough to cut.

Nancy wants your fabrics laid out with only one bulky fold showing rather than distractions of selvedges, cuts, or multiple folds. Stack fabrics with the single fold all facing the same way and save workshop time.

Organize your fabrics into color groups. Organize each color group by value, i.e. light to dark. Finding fabrics for the exercises would be easier this way. Stack fabrics this way to save workshop time.

At the workshop, Nancy may tell you to put them in value order regardless of color. DON'T DO IT. After everyone did this, Nancy gave us permission to not do it. Maintaining a handle on a 100 fabrics - even if organized by value – is difficult. Make the module smaller - organize into color groups.

Because you've used a template, the fabric bundles are similar in size and two tall stacks will fit nicely into a 17x11 box. To ship I lined boxes, which formerly held reams of paper, with a big plastic trash bag – then stacked a little beyond the brim. Even so they did crush down some. Update: FedEx no longer accepts boxes with separate lids, like the ones for reams of paper. Use boxes with the integral flaps that fold down.

During the workshop fabrics are flying. You have so many exercises and so limited time. Keeping a handle on fabrics will help.

When you cut from a fabric, put it on back on top of your stack. It'll be easier to repull a color you've already use. Plus you get a better sense of what and how much you've used so far. If you pulled out a color but don't cut from it, try to insert it back into its color group. You won't need your template to refold fabric at the workshop. Just follow the folds.

I think some limits on the palette will make the final quilt more cohesive. However, you don't want to use a color so much that you'd have none left after the workshop. You may want or need to duplicate the pieced fabric later.

Taking these measures does not necessarily mean you will not be working from 7am to 10:30pm.

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