Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fabric store trip

I just realized I didn't take any pictures, but there are some in a previous post. I traveled to India with my sister and two of her kids. We arrived on Friday around 9:30 at night and we were at the fabric store at 11 o'clock the next morning. We went back there three times! I don't have pictures, but I will try to describe the shop.

Madhar Sha is a well known fabric store in Madras (Chennai). It has been around for almost seventy-five years. OK, I just checked and the shopping bag says since 1938. There are four floors and each floor is specific to a fabric or fabric use. The basement is filled with cotton solids and silk blends used mostly for choli sari blouses. The first floor is the men's department with all sorts of fabric for shirts, pants and suits. School uniform fabric is also on this floor. The second floor are saris of every kind imaginable- silk, cotton, polyester, beaded, embroidered, plain. The third floor has something on it, but we didn't make it up there. I think furnishings maybe?

There are thousands of bolts in the store. The pictures in the previous post shows that. As a customer you don't get to touch the bolts. They are behind a counter and there is someone to help you for every department. You request the bolt you want to see and they will hand it to you. While that may seem restrictive, it really isn't because the men are very, very helpful and have a lot of experience and knowledge.  Oh, that's an interesting thing- there really aren't any female sales staff. Most of the time, people are looking for a colour match, so they hand over the fabric swatch or sari that needs to be matched and the man behind the counter picks several colours for you to decide from. If that is what you want, they will cut your required amount. It then gets moved in a pile by the checkout and when you are done with all your choices you find your pile. No waiting at a cut counter because it is cut immediately after you decide that is what you want.

I wanted silk, but real silk can be pricey. I went with spun silk which uses the cocoon 'leftovers' and the broken cocoons. The poor man behind the counter was sick of us because we would say "Can we see the blue?", he would point to one blue and we would say, "No, the next one. The next one. No, one more", to get to the one we wanted. My niece enjoyed weighing in on my choices and she was a good little colour consultant. I didn't go crazy buying. I made a conscious decision to get only what I could use. It is very easy to get carried away and I didn't want to be greedy.  Well, my sister got it in her head that she could use the fabric to make table linens, specifically napkins. She wanted them to be 20 inch square. Fabric is sold in meters in India so 20 inch squares with seam allowance is a little over half a meter. She had to buy a full meter. Very unfortunate for her but wonderful for me. I told her I would take take her scraps. My mum was a little suspicious of my math, but 20 inches= 51 cm. My sister wanted a set of 12 (varied colours) so I made out like a bandit! There is some overlap between her choices and mine, but I added about a half dozen colours. She drove the poor man more crazy than I did. Everything gets drug out when my sister is involved. Since we were there on a Saturday morning, it was busy filled with women shopping with their saris looking for matching fabrics, but he was very patient with us.

We went back another day because we were looking for a silk sari as a gift. We went through several different types before we decided on a Kancheepuram silk. That was a very enjoyable experience. I got so carried away with picking it out, I went back for the third time and got a cotton sari for myself.

I apologize for the very wordy post and lack of pictures. My words can't do justice to the experience, but I hope it shares a bit on how things work on the other side of the world. Pictures of the purchases in a later post. I'm still running only at half speed.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I went to India. I bought fabric. I will share stories when I am not jet-lagged. I apologize for this message not making much sense, but now you know what a delirious person's blog looks like.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chasing Chevrons quilt along

I don't need a new project, but I loved the sketch and decided to join the Chasing Chevrons Quilt Along over at That girl. . . that Quilt. The timeline is to get it done before Christmas. Yeah, that isn't going to happen, but I am hoping for New Year. Take some time off work around Christmas and get things done. Today's post was about choosing fabric. I wasn't familiar with the site Design Seeds, but it is pretty cool for choosing a colour palette. I think I am going with solids, so I need to look through the site or visit Lowes and look at paint chips. Need to decide what size I want to make.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bloggers Quilt Festival- Fall 2011

Ah, the naivety of a new quilter. I had pieced one throw-sized quilt and a table topper when last summer I started on a twin sized Double Irish Chain quilt. I used the Time for a Chain book which was a great book and just a good resource as well. Had options for single, double and triple chains and various sizes. It is an older book that I found at my local Half Price Books and that added to the appeal of the project.

I had no idea what I was signing up for. In hindsight, I am glad I was clueless because I may not have taken it on. I went online and ordered Kona cottons in Kansas State colours at the request of a friend. He went to KState and decided on the colour scheme- Black, Medium Gray and Mulberry. Interesting how college colours look OK when used for athletic gear, but hideous for quilts. Still can't get Purdue to work. I hated the colours the entire time I was cutting and piecing. While it was a large project, cutting strips and chain piecing made it a lot more manageable. My piecing skills were far from perfect so I made more blocks than needed and used the best for the quilt. I didn't realize it at the time, but using solids is considered modern and now looking back I love the use of 'modern' solids with the 'traditional' Irish Chain.

Well, hated it while piecing and hated it while it laid on the design floor. Even my friend was skeptical when he saw the finished top. BUT then I handed it over to Jenny. BEST. DECISION. EVER!!! I hadn't met Jenny in person (just knew her sister), so I wrote her a note saying that I hated the quilt top and she could just do whatever she wanted. She worked some incredible magic. She took a very flat and boring quilt and gave it dimension. I found it very hard to part with it once it was done.

I am glad I gave it away, because it has been much appreciated and much loved. It has been used for just a year and already has quite a few stories to tell. I know it will be treasured for years to come. I just talked to my friend and he said he still loves it. "It is a great quilt. It turned out really nice. I could tell Karen put a lot of time into it. It will definitely be an heirloom."


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Goal update- October

9. Start and finish Christmas quilt The quilt came back from Jenny and it looks lovely. The tree skirt is not done and I will say it again- it is ALL Emily Mae's fault. 
10. Fig and Plum layer cake something quilt This turned out SO well. I need to finish out the binding.

11. Skinny Strips Quilt using Prayer Flag jelly roll  Laying out and half done, but need to finish.

15. Batik quilt Still not done.

16. String quilt I am not starting anything until I finish up other projects.

17. Stash busting Yeah, I am not busting. After this post I had planned on getting on Fat Quarter Shop and ordering Halloween fabric on sale. 

19. Fat Quarter Shop Block of the Month Now 4 months behind!

20. Moose on the Porch Quilt Along I didn't join in and I am glad I made that decision. Too much stuff going on. I am watching the blocks showing up and they are lovely.