I live in a wonderful small city, with a few fabric sources – WalMart has some fabrics, and JoAnn is only ten miles away. And, of course, I have enough fabric living in my attic and studio to keep me sewing for a very long time. There is a Hobby Lobby 25 miles from here, and a sewing machine repair shop that carries some quiltshop-quality fabrics in that same city. There were two quilt shops there, but they have both closed within the last ten years. There used to be a quilt shop right here in our town, where I taught classes, but it closed, too.
The problem with quilt shops and most other fabric stores/departments is that they carry what is trendy. And you know… I am seldom trendy. My tastes are eclectic, and my quilt-spiration even more so. I have works-in-progress in several different styles: batik, flannel, very modern, romantic, youthful, primitive, brights, darks, monochromatic, Civil War reproduction prints, Depression Era reproduction prints, Christmas, autumn, polka dot, plaid, traditional, contemporary, art quilts, bed quilts…. You name it, I’ve probably got it sitting half-finished on my sewing room shelves.
So once I had exhausted all of my local resources and found just four different fabrics appropriate for setting those unfashionable “lodge look” Nine-Patch blocks, I started scrounging. My husband didn’t have any tan plaid shirts in his closet, so we made a trip to the Salvation Army. Our Salvation Army isn’t particularly large, but it is crammed full of clothing. There were probably 500 shirts! The “tan stripe/plaid” section had about 30 shirts. The first thing I did was weed out any that weren’t 100% cotton. Then I eliminated any that had too much texture, like seersucker. A few of them looked as if they had been well-worn. Ugh. In the end, I collected three nearly-new shirts. I found another one in the women’s department, with some pretty beaded embroidery on the front.
Just a note here – buying these items does not deprive some poor low-income person of the opportunity to get clothing at bargain prices. I left nearly 500 shirts there. And our Salvation Army isn’t all that cheap. And I recycle! All of the buttons will be cut off and strung together so I have a full set ready when I need one. Anything I can’t use for these blocks will be used for household rags or cut into 2” strips for my stash! There is nothing wrong with buying clothing at the thrift store to cut up for quilts.
The next and very important step: I took them home and laundered them. Thoroughly! No matter how nice the fabric is, that thrift store smell is nasty.
I love scrap quilts. They look so natural! I wish I had another four or five fabrics for these quilts, but this will have to do until I can make a trip into the big city. And I will probably have moved on to something different by then.
LOOK! A squirrel!