Category Archives: shopping

Fabric Shopping with a Double Mission

Shopping started when a friend suggested we have lunch and visit fabric stores. I do much better when I have a purpose for shopping than when I merely drift through stores. The mission began when I read about American Made Brand Fabrics–grown and manufactured in the US. Currently they offer 50 solids. I checked the website to see which Portland shops carried them. We chose three to visit and added another shop near by. One shop had about ten, another 25, and the fabrics had not yet arrived at the third. We suggested that the fourth shop consider carrying them.

The second part of the mission: what project.

A while back I’d become fascinated with the Urban Chicken block (here). I decided I wanted to make a single size quilt for my bed. When I was queen bee, I asked my bee to make Urban Chicken blocks. (Here are some they sent) When I wrote that post I thought I needed 18. Not sure what I was thinking. Maybe a BIG border? This time I think I need 48–planning no border. That’s four graded shades times 37  blocks. (I have 11 from the Bee.)

Preparation for shopping.  I got out all my solids and started cutting sets of four 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 squares. (Yes, my sewing room is a mess.)


I’d thought to arrange them in fours (or threes with a missing fabric to search for), but that was taking too long, so I just started cutting everything.

I didn’t have time to finish cutting everything, so had to try to remember reds and yellows.

Fabric not cut I doubt that I’ll use all the very light fabrics. And I’d prefer to use more blue/green/purple, keeping red/yellow/orange for accents. We’ll see.

So here is what I bought today.

New fabrics

I am not a purist; they are not all American Made Brand.  If a saw a color I needed that was manufactured by another company, I bought it. I need more blues and purples; they were not plentiful.

Linking with

Molli SparklesA


Filed under quilting, shopping

This brought back memories of the three “five and dime” stores in my town and one Christmas shopping event. It starts with a punishment. I was a bit clumsy and frequently broke dishes as I washed or dried them, and the ritual punishment was that I replace them from my $0.25/week allowance. I broke four cereal bowls.
Next bit of background. My mother would take me Christmas shopping for all other family members and help, not only with decisions but with paying. No one thought to take me and do the same for her, so I was on my own and her gifts were usually some little thing I had made or something from the five and dime.
That year I thought I had the perfect solution. I was never too good at knowing what she might want or need, but that year I knew she needed four cereal bowls.
So I bought them for $0.25 each, wrapped them and put them under the tree.
Her amused reaction when she opened her present puzzled me.


Neisner's (1024x795)At Christmas time, my little sister and I loved to go to Neisner’s 5 and 10 (“the dime store”, we called it), a treasure trove of gifts for children, or adults for that matter, with small coins in their pockets.  We circled around and around the counters, picking up cards with beautiful jeweled earrings or flowered boxes of dusting powder or the ever popular Midnight in Paris perfume in small cobalt blue bottles.  These would be wonderful surprises for Mother, the Grandmas, the aunts – if we pooled our money.  There were small bottles of shaving lotion, glistening emerald green on the counters, which were standard fare for the men in the family.  For small cousins there were jack sets, paddle balls, tiny dolls – such an array!

Now, that 5 and 10 stores are a thing of the past, I remember all those dear people opening our dime store…

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Care and Feeding of a Stash

A stash. Quilters and knitters have them. Some have STABLEs (Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy). And here is how it happens.

About a week ago, I posted about needing 16 fat quarters for an upcoming mystery retreat and after looking at what I had, shopping and adding five. I sorted and selected and got ready to cut, which necessitated rereading the directions. Uh oh.  All of the fat quarters were to contrast with the background. I had, instead, a nice variety of shades, some too light to “contrast with the background.” So I sorted again. Have I told you that one of my favorite stages of quilting is the hunting and gathering stage?

I ended up with these–more than sixteen

first "sixreen"

but that is okay. The directions indicated more would work well, but not fewer.

I still had some that looked too light and I really, really wanted  more green to balance the blue and lavender.  And that led to more shopping, more stash feeding.

But let me back up a bit to the history of this portion of my stash.

I started out avoiding thirties print fabrics, thinking it a responsible way to moderate my collecting.  It seemed I had enough other collections going to skip starting a new theme. Then a local quilt shop held the proverbial “$5.00” quilt sale. You pay $5.00 for the first block, then bring it back finished the next month to get the next one free. Usually this continues for twelve months. You get instructions, a chance to buy small pieces of the same fabrics in your block (it is a good design approach to repeat a fabric in two or three places), and a chance to see some new item that is available at the shop.

Here are the blocks I made at that time. Even though I put them away while I worked on other projects, I could see potential in them, and I realized I’d need a big variety if I were going to make a queen sized quilt, the size I often opt for. So while the blocks and ideas incubated, I shopped.

thirties blocks

Now I have been hunting and gathering long enough to know that manufacturers make fabric designs in limited quantities and very often do not repeat. So if you like something you have to grab it when you see it. That is the first principle of feeding a stash.  So I tried for variety of color and print and shopped till I couldn’t remember if I already had that one or not.  Now if I had been caring for my stash properly, I would have known. Fabric needs to be looked at and patted.  But I had turned my attention elsewhere and was neglecting the thirties group;  not wanting to duplicate, I  quit buying them for a while.  The earlier shopping, however, provided  fabrics to select from to start this new project.

Now, back to the current project, and my wanting green.  I logged on to the computer and pulled up my three favorite sources.  Previously, the search term “thirties” had brought at least a page of thumbnails to select from. This time I got only plain colors at one site, about five at another, and only prepared combinations (quilt kits, various sized squares and strips), and all I wanted was one perfect green. Was this the end of a fabric era?

I inquired of my friends and was directed to a few more sites. One of them led to a Close Out shop. And when I landed on local quilt shop sites, many listed sales of half off or listed how few yards were left. More handwriting on the wall?

So while some thirties prints still remained, I evaluated against the possibility that a fabric theme was ending. (I have a picture of the hoarding at the grocery store before either announced bad weather or an announced shortage.)  I had an abundance of pinks and reds and lavenders. I had added yellows, but was still a bit light, and was definitely low on oranges and greens. So look at what “one green” morphed into.

New thirties fabrics

With these additions,  I could now get serious about selecting my sixteen or more. And I did.

Last selection?

The only decision left is whether or not to include a red fabric or two.  Would you?

The retreat is next weekend. Tune in again to see what the mystery turns out to be. Meanwhile, I now  have more greens and oranges than reds and blues…and so it goes.

How does your care and feeding of stash compare to mine?


Filed under quilting, shopping

Quilt retreat coming up

I have three quilt events planned between now and Fall, and I am getting ready for the first one.

The first time I went to a quilting retreat I just took bags of fabric that had intended projects.  Of course, the line at the ironing board and at the cutting table created lots of waiting. Fun chatting in line, of course, but still slowing the progress. I observed how others did it.  Ah ha, they had precut their quilts and could sit and sew. If they chain pieced, they didn’t use the ironing board very often–but long when they did.  And another member mentioned that she did only easy things so she didn’t have to concentrate.

The people who really seemed productive were those who brought quilts that just needed binding and did the bindings. Another rather monotonous part of quilting that it is nice to have conversation while doing.

The April retreat, put on by ScottieDog Quilts at Eureka, CA, is a mystery retreat.

Now I have mixed feelings about mystery quilts.  I hate giving up the control over color and placement. But I enjoy group projects. So every once in a while I do one.

The first one I did was an online group on New Year’s Day for those of us not into football.  We got a clue an hour.  Of course I got behind–but that worked in my favor.  I did enough of each step to be sure I knew how while the leader was online to answer questions.  And I got to where the flying geese were to be attached to something with square parts. And though I thought my seams had been accurate, the sizes did not match. (I have since had that same problem with other patterns, so it was operator error, not a problem with instructions.)  But because I had not attached anything yet beyond the small parts into small segments, I could change directions.  Instead of the cool, precision pieced wall hanging I was supposed to end up with, I made three child-sized quilts for charity. There is a photo on my website of my three and a link to the wall hanging it was supposed to have become.

So we will see what happens this time. I need at least 16 fat quarters (any theme will do, they say), a background and an accent inner border.  I debated just shopping Vs. digging into my 12 big boxes of fabric, and because the thirties box was near the front and top, decided to take a look.  I have way over 16 fat quarters here, but nothing for border or background, so I got to shop too.  And while I was at it, there were a couple colors that would look better repeated. So I looked for–and found–five. (I’m not in stash busters yet. VBG)

Then there is the need for something to do if I finish a stage of the mystery before the next clue is given. Optimistic, I know, but you never know.  And just in time, someone in an online guild posted a link.

So I will be cutting a lot of 2 1/2 inch squares.  I really like the look of the Fading Charms quilt. I have enough scraps, though I may not be able to make them all different.

Check back after the end of April for a progress report.


Filed under quilting, shopping

Auction Acquisitons

auction items

I love an auction, be it silent, F2F onsite or online.  And the recent fund raiser for Sisters of the Road was no exception.

I like auctions for a purpose more than just those for buying stuff because then I can feel good about spending money.

I start out with an idea of how much I want to give and place my opening bids. Then I wait to see where I am outbid and where not.  When I am outbid I have to think about how much I want the item. Sometimes I really really do, so I bid back.  Sometimes I was rather lukewarm, so I let it go and either save to bid up on some other item or add a couple opening bids.

This time I had to let a couple ticket offers that I really liked go by. They just got too high.  But then that is another way to feel good even about losing.  The organization gets so much more because I tried a couple times to get an item, this time tickets.

But what you see here are the four things I managed to stay first on. Maybe next year I’ll get one of those tickets.

It is an annual event–maybe you can try next year.  There are plenty of items that can be shipped as well as events and services that are donated by Portland businesses.

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Playing Tourist in Portland, OR

Although I now live in Portland, OR, I still feel a bit like a tourist as I explore.  This past weekend was heavy duty exploring.  First I got my veggie fix at the Saint Johns Farmers’ Market.  Don’t they look yummy?

I can tell you the peaches, beets and lettuce are wonderful.  After I got home I pondered whether I’d gotten beets or radishes, they looked so red.  So I cut one up for salad. It was a beet, but tender and tasty.  I’d not tried eating raw beet before. There are larger and smaller Farmers’ Markets about town, but this one is just the right size and quite easy to get to, so it has become my first choice.

Next stop was the Overlook Village Street Fair on N. Killingsworth St.

FatDog MustardI didn’t do a lot for the economy, but I enjoyed browsing the booths of jewelry, food, and other crafts.  I couldn’t pass up this handcrafted mustard after I’d sampled it, though. And I did have my first VooDoo Doughnut.  I’d often been advised to taste them, so with a booth brought to me, how could I not?  They didn’t have their specialty at the booth though, something like maple bacon doughnut. So I still have to find the shop itself.  There is a cool yarn shop on N Killingsworth along the street-fair route, The Naked Sheep. (Don’t you love the name?)  They were having a sidewalk sale, and they also had a tent for people to sit and knit a bit.  When I joined there were 3 others there; during the hour I was there about 10 passed through, most stopping to knit, one to spin, and a few just to chat. We were also in good listening distance of the stage, so got the full effect of the music.

The next stop was the free concert in the Park.  The Portland Festival Orchestra offers six concerts throughout the summer at different city parks.  I actually knew where the first two were located and which bus would get me there, so I attended both. The first was in Cathedral Park. No trouble seeing where the park name comes from, is there!I had wondered if the orchestra played the same concert in the six different venues, but no, there is variety in the first half. The second half is a tradition.  Often they play Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf  and always Haydn’s Toy Symphony.  For the latter they call the children forward and hand out whistles with bird like warbles. The children blow them (and stop) at the director’s signal. Since the concerts were different, I went again on Sunday to the one at Peninsula Park Rose Garden.

There is a larger, more famous, rose garden in Washington Park, but this one is lovely!  I’ll have to check for location of the other parks and the buses that will get me there. Also later in the season another orchestra provides concerts at the Washington Park. I will have to drive to that one because the last shuttle through the park is at 7:00 pm, and I have been told it is too large to walk to public transportation. I’ve also been told it is large enough to get lost in while driving. Maybe I should explore it during the day before trying to get home in the dark (even with my new GPS).

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