Fabric selection to the beat of a techno drum

There won’t be a creative project finished this week though I do get points for going somewhere new since I’m heading for the Justice Conference in Philadelphia this weekend. I’m definitely taking an empty notebook because this conference fits perfectly with the writing on social issues class that I’m in the midst of teaching. I’m excited to see advocacy and social media session on the pre-conference schedule.

And, I have been working on my next project. It’s another gift quilt, so I can’t do a full reveal or give away too many details, but I can at least show off the fabric for this one. Here are the strips that I’m working from to piece the quilt.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI have no idea yet how many of them will go into the final product; it’s a little bit of a make-it-up-as-I-go type of piecing, but whew, do I lose quite a bit of length in the seams. I bet I’ll use over 150 of these strips by the time the quilt is all finished.

Tonight, since I’m still muddling through with the sore throat, cough and general blech that kept me out of commission and curled up under a massive pile of blankets on Friday night and is now threatening to take my voice away, I decided it’d be best not to hang out with friends and their small children for dinner. Trying to make the most of having to miss dinner, I decided to head to the PA Fabric Outlet.  On a scale of 1-10, this place approaches magical. There are pegboard walls filled with spools and spools of decorative cording, a selection of 99 cent a yard fabrics, baskets of thimbles and threads and zippers, and bolts and bolts of quilting calicoes that average about $5 a yard. It feels a little like traveling back in time to shop in a general mercantile, well, except there is no penny candy or salted meat. Ok, scratch the mercantile. I just like the baskets of thread and thimbles.

I wanted to make it tonight because I had a coupon for 50% off select calicoes. I failed to find anything on the sale table that would work for my current quilt, but I did find an adorable fabric that will work great as the backing for a sailboat baby quilt pattern that I downloaded. It’s hard to beat $2.50 a yard for quilt backing.

Despite its normal ambiance rating of magical, the shop lost a little of its old fashioned mojo tonight. Normally I go during the day, so I’ve never heard the community center next door come to life. But, tonight the place was hopping with techno music and an energetic zumba-aerobics-?? instructor shouting her directions right though the walls. That juxtaposition made shopping for quilt fabric a little surreal. Add to that the conversation between the clerks and the costume designer for one of the local theaters about their connection to Project Runway, and I really had to focus in to select four potential fabrics. Selecting quilt fabrics is an exercise in endurance for me. I can walk through a store and find a bazillion fabrics that I like when I’m just fabric grazing, but when I need just the right one, it seems not to exist.

I gathered up my four choices and spread them all out on the cutting table. Then, I decided to phone a friend. I called my mom to tell her that I was going to text my choices, so she could weigh in. But, I was getting lousy phone reception. I had no bars at the counter where the fabric was, so I’d have to take a picture, pace to the door to get bars, and wait for the text to send… Crazy lady mumbling to her cell phone, techno workout in the background, and me taking over the cutting table. I’m glad the clerks at the store are good-natured. My phone let me get one text through and then on the second fabric text, it told me that my address was invalid or some such nonsense. I was like, “Uh, ok, phone. We’re talking about my mom. I text her all.the.time.” Pace to table, pace back to door, hit resend, power down phone, power up phone. Alas, simple phone beat human, so I had to choose on my own with a little help from the clerk who could see my perplexity growing. In the end, I brought this home.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t know yet if it is the fabric for this project. It’s growing on me. The colors are a good fit and so is the mood of the fabric, and I think it has a certain vintage charm, but I’m still weighing out whether it fits the personality and taste of the person receiving the quilt. Here’s a close-up.

I hope that my blog readers will get to see the final choice sooner rather than later as I’m trying to get through this project rather quickly. It’d definitely my largest quilt project yet.








7 thoughts on “Fabric selection to the beat of a techno drum

  1. Jessica,
    I frequent PA Fabric Outlet all the time. In fact, so often the clerks ask about my mother and my grandchildren! 🙂 You are right, it is a bit like a mercantile. I especially love the big copper kettle full of buttons. Actually, I am convinced the cement/metal roof is specifically designed to block cell phones so customers remember by-gone days when we only talked to the clerks. 🙂 Alas, I too often feel the need to “phone a friend” when making a decision about what to buy. Thanks for the blog on one of my favorite haunts. Maybe we’ll meet in there one of these days, hopefully when the zumba instructor is on recess. 🙂

    • I have a friend who is so fond of that kettle of buttons that she even has worked out a strategy of mining for its treasures. She’s a knitter, and she was showing me the cutest buttons that she had found to add to some of the hats and sweaters that she knits for her kiddos.

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