21 January, 2012

January Challenge - Day 21

I hope you're following along with TinaJeanKrista, and Kat. If anyone else wants to play, just let me know and I'll stick you on the 30 Day Challenge blog roll. :) My list (with links to each post so far) is here.

Today's challenge is to post a picture of something that makes me happy. There are so, so many things to choose from, but I thought I'd share something that's a really important part of my creative life.


My shelved batik fat quarters.
I have more in yardage and fat quarters stored with various projects.
Lots more.
I am a fabric junkie, especially batiks. The photo above is almost entirely batik fat quarters (made from cutting a half-yard piece in half again crosswise) it's my primary batik working stash, and it's about one half of one shelf in my fabric closet. There are close to 300 fat quarters in that picture - there are 27 whites, for example, stacked on the right - plus I have lots of other fat quarter batiks in bags with various projects, and I have stacks and stacks of batik yardage on another shelf. But I look at my batik shelf, and it always makes me smile.

I don't just sew with batiks - they are my favorite, though! - but with all kinds of cotton prints. I generally don't do solids and I honestly don't think I even have any anymore - a tone on tone works better for me.

Most of my quilts have black backgrounds and Hoffman 1898 Ink Batik is by far my favorite fabric (it's a black-black with a blue undertone) and I usually buy it at Quilter's Cupboard because they stock it and, if it's sold out, they happily order it for me and ship it (so far) for free. Heck, any place that I can call from a hundred some miles away and say, 'Hey, it's Tammy and I'm out of black again' and they know EXACTLY who I am and what I'm talking about is a damn great quilt shop.

When I first started sewing, I bought almost all of my fabric at a BenFranklin store not far from where we lived (because it was really inexpensive and we were broke), but now I shop almost entirely in quilt shops and I pay a lot more attention to the fabric and its color than how much it costs.

There are about 40 different blacks in this quilt's background
and I lost count how many other fabrics (80 some, I think). All batik.
Photo by Roni Rork from our 2010 quilt show.
Quilt in the collection of Stuart MacBride, Aberdeen Scotland
Here's another picture of the same quilt, with my super quilting helper (damn, I still miss her!) that shows some of the background fabrics better.

Malaysia always helped me put on binding.
Can you see some of the different black fabrics?
She's laying on the lower left corner of the whole quilt shown above.

I am a scrappy quilter in that I tend to use a LOT of different fabrics in any given quilt instead of choosing a few coordinating fabrics, but there is usually a method to the apparent madness. First, I almost never use 'scraps', the leftover bits and pieces from other projects, although I do dip into my scrap stash if I need just a smidge of something I'm otherwise out of. No, I go to my stash in the closet, ponder awhile, and start pulling fabric which I then custom cut as the quilt demands. 40-80 fabrics in a quilt are not uncommon for me, and I think the most I'd used in one quilt was over 400.

There are approximately eighty background fabrics alone.
I made it for us, and it's the only bed size quilt I kept.
I don't just 'scrap' the main pieces, I use a variety of background fabrics, too. In the quilt above, I intended to make a red and tan quilt, but there are a lot of fabrics that aren't red, or tan, but the quilt reads as red and tan because of careful attention to color and value. The backgrounds in this quilt range from bright white to coffee and all of the potential varieties between. There is one solid tan triangle, just one, everything else in the quilt is a print or a batik.

Sometimes my preference to 'go scrappy' drives other people a bit crazy. I made the quilt below during a class taught by the pattern's designer and she was pretty insistent that scrappy would not work for the pattern and I needed to choose 3 or 5 fabrics. I think it turned out great.

About 40 fabrics, all batik.

I don't always go scrappy, or batik. This next quilt is neither. Despite having 100 fabrics, it's actually made from one charm pack, 100 5 inch squares from the Fossil Fern fabric line, and they are prints, every one of them. I liked it so much I kept it, and it hangs over my sewing desk. :)

Charm Dance Color Wash,
and, yes, this is where I sew. :)
I'd like to take a moment to mention that most of the quilts I make are smallish - wall hangings, table runners, bags, book covers, and baby quilts. I sew one bed sized quilt a year, on average, but dozens of the smaller things. Also, I give almost everything I sew away. I have - in my possession - one bed quilt, two table runners and four wall hangings that I've made (two of which are in this post). Everything else, 15-25 projects a year, I give away. Yep, you read that right, I give them away. I don't do commissions, I don't make them to sell, I make them for specific people or reasons. I donate some for fund raisers or charities, but almost all go to people. Always. So don't try to talk me into making one for money, it isn't going to happen. I have my reasons and they're not open for negotiation.

Sometimes I see a fabric that just screams a particular person. Sometimes there's a compelling reason to make one (like a baby on the way). Sometimes I see a pattern and think Oooh! I know who would love that!! Then and only then do I sew.

The last quilt I want to show is the most recent baby quilt I made, for my friend LeAnne's daughter, Katie, and her newborn daughter, Kitsune.

Kit's quilt, from a Moda Bakeshop pattern.
One charm pack, one background fabric.
Those little triangles are folded fabric and it's soooo CUTE!!!

So there you go, a quick survey of my quilting. I quilt because it makes me happy.


Mikaela said...

Your quilts are wonderful :). It makes me wish I could quilt. Maybe I could start with making a pillow, or something.

Kat BM said...

the first quilt pictured is huge major drool !!!! I still love the 2 quilts I have you made.. the big quilt is on my daybed where it won't get messed with (used it so much it needs some repair/new batting... I really should get that done so I can use it on my reg bed again!) and the baby quilt hangs out up in the studio mostly for the cats to lay on. they love the quilts!

Tammy Jones said...

Hi Mikaela!

There's a really great quilting tutorial (with lots of pics) at http://ihavetosay.typepad.com/randi/fresh-squeezed-sew-alongs/ that goes from cutting the fabrics, through piecing, layering, quilting, and binding.

It's really not a difficult craft, just takes some patience and practice! You can so do this!! {{huggs}}

Tammy Jones said...


I am so, so glad you love your quilts. Good god, I made them back when we lived by the college!! That seems like a lifetime ago! {{huggs}}

Linda said...

My favorites are the third from the bottom, which works great as a scrappy quilt. The designer needs to expand her creativity if she thinks it doesn't work. And the wall hanging you kept that's pictured below it. Someday, I'm going to try quilting. It's one of the few needle arts I haven't done, but love.