March 2008 Archives

The Fabric Maverick says... She needs a posse!

March 27, 2008

At the encouragement of several of our faithful readers, I am calling for a posse roundup! My apologies to Victoria for bumping her today. Victoria became a "grammy" Friday, March 21st, with the birth of Sebastian James Earl Abercrombie. He weighed 8 lbs 1 oz. and was 20 inches long. I heard her muttering about receiving blankets being too small.  I last saw her headed to the flannel department. She will be back.

As you can imagine the Fabric Maverick's expense budget is extremely small. I can afford five quilting magazines but not five quilting trips.  I will be publishing a list of great places to go if quilting is your passion. What I need to know from the posse is:

·         Have you taken a quilting vacation?

·         What were your experiences?

·         Would you do it again?

·         If married, did you take your husband?

I, also, need to know if there are special trips for home decor sewers or apparel sewers? I have not found any.

I need research for a future article on sewing machines.

·         What kind of machine do you have?

·         What do you like about your machine?

·         What do you dislike about your machine?

·         What is your dream machine?


Be a member of the posse. If you would like to join, you may respond to this blog or email She handles all my mail. Surely, I can do as well as Mark Lipinski



The Fabric Maverick says...Swimsuits can make a sane woman go crazy!

March 25, 2008

Swimsuit season is around the corner. If you are taking a cruise, it may already be here for you. Women have been known to cry when they try on bathing suits!  Here are a few tips to selecting the type of suit that fits your figure best:

·         For hip and tummy problems choose a color and a print that flatter your skin tone. Use your hair color and eye color for reference. Choose fabric with at least 20% spandex to minimize flab. Choose blocks of color to distract from wide hips and  tummy bulges.

·         For the bosom choose fabrics that have a texture to emphasize a small chest. To minimize a chest, choose a tank top style, choose a dark top.

·         One piece suits are a good bet for most figure types.  Where the body comes in, less is not always best.

·         Bikinis should be left to the very young or the most optimistic.

Making a bathing suit makes a great deal of sense. Many women are different sizes on the top and bottom. A pattern can be adjusted to accommodate those differences.

Here are ten sewing tips from Susan Wigley at Paragon Patterns:

TIP 1: When you apply the swim wear elastic, lay the elastic on the bed of the machine with the fabric on top, then serge the elastic on.

TIP 2: If you are fortunate enough to have a cover stitch machine, use it for all of the hems.

TIP 3: If you don't have a cover stitch machine, use a twin needle for all of your hems.

Tip 4: Sew the side seams from the bottom to the top on both sides to avoid twisting.

Tip 5: A Serger will produce the best results for sewing the seams, however, if you don't have a serger, use a zigzag stitch set at 16-20 stitches per inch. You can also use a straight stretch stitch, set at 10-12 stitches per inch.

TIP 6: Always check your Swimwear Lycra for the greatest stretch before you lay out the pattern.

TIP 7: Lay out the pattern with the greatest stretch going around the body, regardless of the grainline indicated on the pattern. (Often times the greatest stretch is on the cross-grain, rather than the straight grain).

TIP 8: If you can find 4-way stretch Swimwear Lycra in the colors or prints you like, use that.

Tip 9: Always use Swimwear Elastic, Clear Elastic or Raw Rubber Elastic for your swimwear to get best results.

Tip 10: Always use ball point needles when you sew swimwear fabrics to avoid tearing holes in the seams.


Now all you have to do is select a pattern and some swimsuit fabric and create something beautiful.


The Fabric Maverick says... Meet Paige Smith, our guest expert on Prom dresses

March 19, 2008

Here I am again, the Fabric Maverick.  Victoria is taking a few days off. Her daughter is expecting her first child today.  Apparently you can make an appointment to have your baby now. That is not how we did it in my day.  You just had to wait for Mother Nature to take her course. Victoria was planning on discussing Prom dresses with you so I am going to carry on.  I am long past knowing what is “in” for teenagers. I contacted a young lady who came in second in the Miss Teen Florida Galaxy contest.  Her name is Paige Smith. Paige is an extremely talented young lady. donated several yards of garnet duchess satin and matching silk charmeuse to her to make her dress. Within two weeks this young lady whipped up a heavenly creation. This was her first pageant experience. It was quite an achievement to come in second place. If Paige sews this well now, I would not be surprised to see her on Project Runway one of these days.  Paige was nice enough to take time out of her busy schedule for an interview. Here are her thoughts and suggestions.


Fabric Maverick asked “What styles are ‘hot’ now?


Paige said “The Miss Daisy look is hot now. The Cinderella look is also hot.  Size is an important aspect in style.  Not every size can fit into every style.  A person must be conscious of their body size in determining the styles that best outlines and enhances the style and the desirable look according to their body makeup. If you’re not going with the Cinderella look, go with a slim dress and black and white the mixture would be the perfect color for today's style, that's if you go that route."


I asked Paige if there are any trends in colors or fabrics.


She said. “Fabric colors work in conjunction with style.  Body figure size makeup determines the most appropriate colors, and is very important. Small figures & Medium figures stick with spring colors that compliment your skin tone. Large figures & Extra-large figures stick with the darker colors that compliment your skin tone.”


I asked “What advice would you give on fabric selection?”


Paige said, “Again, body size means a lot.  Smaller sizes can consider any type of fabric.  I would recommend stretchy as the most applauding fabrics.  On the other hand, larger sizes should stay away from fabrics that cling to the body that show every ripple but should look for sturdier fabrics that smooth out their figures. The fabric I have experience with, and the most success, is duchess satin. I'm planning to use crepe backed satin for my prom gown. It doesn't stretch as much, and has a great weight that drapes nicely and covers well. Proper undergarments are also important and make a big difference.”


“What skill level should the girls have to consider making their own dress?” asked the Fabric Maverick.


Paige answered “The first gown I ever designed and made was my Miss Teen Florida Galaxy Pageant gown which was a lot of fun, but very difficult to make.  It took about 72 hours to make this gown.  Now, I feel I am capable of making a simple design dress in about 10 hours.  When I say simple design, I mean a gown that is a Cinderella style that does not require asymmetrical seams. That didn't include the time spent for selecting fabrics, trims, patterns, and notions. A first time design should allow more manufacturing time, and it helps to have an experienced adviser available if needed. Most people who sew are happy to give advice.”


“Are there any tips or tricks for working with special occasion dresses?” I asked.


Paige answered “When cutting your pattern, a rotary cutter is your best friend! I blocked my pattern pieces with weights, and only pinned the main corners of each piece. It's important to take your time and double check everything before cutting, and also before putting a seam together. (It's a real pain to rip out a seam of special occasion fabric!) It also depends on what machines you have available for your project, and stitch possibilities.”


I asked “How much time should girls allow themselves to make a prom dress?”


She answered “As mentioned above, hours depend on desired fabric, style and design.  I would say to make a prom gown with silk fabric, plan at least 72 hours.  A prom dress with crepe back satin fabric, I would plan about 45 hours. It depends on the type sewing machines you have available, and the degree of difficulty of your pattern.”


My final question to Paige is “Are there any prom dress styles that you suggest for certain body types?”


Paige answered “Body types determine the style and fabric of the dress.  Be sure your pattern is large enough in all areas. It's easy to make it smaller, but very disappointing if it's too small. It is essential for this to be taken into consideration in designing the gown. The design will assist in the type of fabric. Small figures, I would say go with figure fitting upper half and lower half blossom. Medium figures GO ahead and pull off the head to toe figure fitting. Large figures go small at bust line and Cinderella at the bottom. Extra-large figures go totally Cinderella. “


Paige has given some really great ideas and tips on styles. Take some time planning your creations and have a look at our special occasion fabrics.  We have some great satins and slinky mesh glimmer fabric.


From Paige and We wish everyone a fun and memorable prom night!



The Fabric Maverick says ... quilters can be pirates according to Mark Lipinski

March 18, 2008





DSCN0065.JPGEvery job has its ups and downs. On one hand I enjoy helping people match fabrics; on the other hand I hate filing. The Fabric Maverick had to buy quilting magazines and read them this weekend. It is a tough job, but someone has to do it.


I do not know how many quilting magazines there are, but there are many available on the market today.  I have selected several at random that are readily available at the grocery store, bookstore or fabric store. I cannot subscribe to all the quilting magazines so I must audition them to see which fit my sewing skills and personality. I have selected five magazines:

1. American Patchwork and Quilting

2. Fons & Porter’s For Love of Quilting

3. McCall’s Quilting

4. Quilter’s Newsletter

5. Quilter’s Home


These are listed randomly and not by my personal preferences.  My review of these magazines is all my own opinions. If you do not agree, that is quite all right. I do subscribe to two of these magazines and may possibly add a third. I am an easy sell.  Does anyone have some swamp land to sell?

Beginning with American Patchwork and Quilting, I will list the positives and negatives.


  • Cover is always inviting
  • Photography is gorgeous
  • There are quilt patterns for all skill levels
  • Quilting instructions are well written
  • Show alternative color options for patterns
  • Show alternative sizes for quilts
  • Always an interview with a current designer



  • Sometimes use the same designer over several issues
  • Could improve teaching methods


Fons & Porters’s Love of Quilting is the best teaching magazine.


  • For each project , there is a separate tear-out sheet detailing how to make a block, use a tool or technique
  • Good variety of projects from beginning levels to advanced levels
  • Well written instructions
  • Offer good tips
  • Great articles on subjects not usually detailed such as how to choose the correct quilting thread
  • Provide different size options for some patterns



  • Sometimes a little too traditional
  • Covers can look cluttered and resemble each other over several months


McCall’s Quilting:


  • Covers are attractive and each cover has a different type of quilt featured. List designers and articles on the cover before turning to the inside
  • Good instructions
  • Wide variety of patterns from small projects to big projects/
  • Good photography



  • No alternative sizes or colors
  • Pages can be a little busy


The Quilters Newsletter is meant for the quilter who is ready to challenge themselves.


  • It is very serious
  • Appeals to advanced quilters and fabric artists
  • Good articles on the historical aspects of quilting



  • Not for beginners
  • Very advanced quilts with limited instructions


Quilters Home is a magazine to make you take a less serious look at yourself. This magazine is total fun. It is the brainchild of Mark Lipinski. I cannot begin to describe his tongue-in-cheek style of writing. It is quite similar to my style. Here is an excerpt from “Mark my Word” on appearances and stereotypes.

‘Most of us are way past college age (some of us are waaay past college age), and gravity and calories have taken their toll. That’s a bad combination, btw. Age+ gravity+ weight = the kiss of death. Add to that a passion for quilting and the needle arts and well, sister, most people think they has us quilters figured out, then discounted long ago.’ What he goes on to say is that the same person may have danced naked at Woodstock or protested the atom bomb. Our hobbies or passions do not define us as people. What other magazine would compare a quilter to a swashbuckling pirate?

I am also jealous that with his first name, Mark, he has developed regular articles such as “Mark my Word” and “Question Mark”.  This is no teaching magazine; it is pure inspiration. It tells about new trends, designers, in-depth product reviews and some quilt patterns. You do not have to agree with his opinions, but you will leave feeling invigorated and a little more creative. Also Mark has a posse. Where is the Fabric Mavericks’s posse?


Take some time and look at a few of the many quilt magazines available and see what suits your style.








The Quilter's New Math

March 13, 2008

One of the least fun chores for quilters is to cut fabric.  We search for shortcuts. Designers develop specialized tools and techniques to reduce sewing time. Fabric manufacturers have taken note of their customers’ desire to reduce cutting time


In the beginning, there was charms.  A charm is a 5 inch square of fabric. Charm quilts are traditionally a quilt made up one quilt block pattern and no fabric repeats itself in the quilt.  It is sometimes known as the beggar quilt because quilters would beg friends for fabric scraps to have enough variety in their finished quilts. Common charm quilt patterns are the pyramid, hexagon, polygon and apple core. Grandmother’s Garden based on the hexagon and Thousand Pyramids based on the triangle are two examples of a charm quilt. Quilters have expanded the use of charms as convenient squares to reduce cutting time. You can make a block based on squares beginning with a four patch block.  You may also change the size by cutting rectangles or triangles from your charm. Enterprising designers have created patterns based on charm packs from purses to quilt patterns. A charm pack containing 36 pieces will equal approximately ½ yard of fabric.


Another popular cut is the fat quarter. A fat quarter is a cut of fabric that is 18” x 20”.  Fat quarters offer a nice size from which to cut multiple pieces. These are great for scrappy looking quilts. Two fat quarters equal ½ yard. The fat eighth is a kissing cousin of the fat quarter.  It measures 9” x 20”. Four fat eighths equal ½ yard.


Of course, one cannot forget the fat back. What is a fat back? A fat back is a cotton fabric which measures at least 108” wide. Before the introduction of the fat back, quilters had to piece the quilt back to have a size large enough to finish their quilt. What a pain!


A more recent innovation is the jelly roll. A jelly roll is a collection of fabrics based on strips which measure 2 ½” wide by 42” long. Can you imagine the cutting time that saves?  There are now quilts designed around the 2 ½“strips. “Strip Happy” is one of those books.  Strips can be sewn together and recut as desired. Three strips equal ¼ yard.


The most recent development is the cake layer. A cake layer is a 10” square cut of fabric. Four charm squares would equal 1 cake layer. Imagine combining cake layers, charms and jelly rolls into a quilt. A quilter would be able to reduce cutting time significantly. The accuracy of these cuts would be a boon to beginners unsure of their cutting skills. I guess quilters can have their cake and eat it too!


P.S.  I have designed a quilt pattern called "HAVE IT YOU WAY" which incorporates one jelly roll and cake layers. Quilt top picture will be posted this weekend. Perfect for the beginner.

The Fabric Maverick says... Move over St. Patrick's Day it is National Quilting Day!

March 11, 2008


Quilting has become so popular that the third Saturday of March is celebrated as National Quilting Day. March is now considered national quilting month to some. The National Quilting Association sponsored the first National Quilting Day in June 1991 to celebrate the rich traditions of quilt making and the contributions that quilters make to their communities and families. I bet you did not know that each year groups from around the world have celebrated NQD by creating and donating baby blankets to the first child born on National Quilting Day. Groups from as far away as New Zealand have participated in this event.  The 2008 NQD block is called “Eight Hands Around the World”. Barbara Brackman, renowned quilt historian, has traced the publication of this block to as early as 1895. For more information on this block and directions to make a 40 inch square baby quilt, check out the website for the National Quilting Association.


I have already begun my celebration of NQD by attending the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo. This show is a 3 day event that celebrates all aspects of sewing .It travels from city to city over the course of a year. Fortunately they come to Atlanta every March.  Victoria could not attend so I grabbed Kathy Wallace from our merchandising department and off we went to enjoy a great day.  It is much more fun with friends. If you have never had a chance to attend, this is a great way to take a class in quilting, home décor, embroidery and apparel sewing for little money. If you do not have time for a class, roam the exhibit hall to see what is new. I must warn you that this can be perilous to your credit card! I came away with some great ideas.  I even purchased a CD with patterns for dog clothes.  What is astounding is that I do not have a dog! I was inspired by the stage shows that are held showing different pattern designers' creations.  It is better to visualize these creations when models wear them.  I am talking about real everyday people and not ‘Project Runway” models. Included in this group of models was a dog wearing dog fashions. I was fascinated. One of my favorite treats is the traveling quilt exhibit. It is unfortunate that they do not allow pictures to be taken. I cannot begin to describe the beauty of these quilts. This year there were three exhibits- the Hoffman challenge, the Robert Kaufman contest featuring the collection Tuscany flowers and the contest winners from Fons and Porters challenge to create a quilt in one weekend. Wow! I came away a tired and poorer person.


On the 15th, a group of my friends will gather for a sewing/craft day. Each of us will bring a project we have been working on or wanting to start. We will share friendship, swap stories about sewing successes and disasters, and good food.  A good time will be had by all.


I know that every year Stephen plans something special for his quilters so be on the lookout for special deals from

The Easter Bunny And Other Traditions

March 6, 2008


 The Easter Bunny is not a modern invention made up to promote the sale of chocolate Easter Eggs. The rabbit or hare was considered a symbol of fertility and renewal which fit well with the Christian interpretation of Easter. Did you know that Easter was not widely celebrated in the United States until after the Civil War? The tradition of the Easter Bunny was brought to the United States by German immigrants. Easter baskets came from the tradition of children using their hats to collect the Easter Bunny's eggs. If you would like more information about Easter traditions, checkout Easter Bunny'

When my daughter was small, I would make her a new Easter bunny every year.  Of course, she has outgrown the need for the Easter Bunny if not for the chocolate.  Fortunately, I have a new person in my life who will appreciate my custom bunnies.  I selected pattern IJP-230.  I am not making it from faux fur.  I am making it from Minky.  Melanie's tips for working with Minky was the push I needed to start this project.  The Fabric Maverick will be showing my completed Easter Bunny next week.

Another tradition for Easter is a new Spring outfit.  What is more fun than creating a spring dress for your daughter or even for yourself? If working with a child, let them help you select the pattern and the fabric. Simplicity has some great patterns that will delight your child.  Anyone who has a daughter under the age of 13 knows the name of Hannah Montana. For yourself, check our new dress patterns from Christine Jonson, Stretch and Sew and Hot Patterns. There is a style for everyone.  Take advantage of our great sale, linen is always a great spring fabric. Now is the time to pull out your white shoes.

I have a bunny to stuff so I must go.

The Fabric Maverick Says... Go Fly A Kite!

March 4, 2008

[Ram-air sled]

[Classic diamond]

In Atlanta, spring is battling with winter to take over. One day it is warm: the next day is cold. March is typically a month when the winds blow heartily over the land. What a perfect month to fly a kite.  Kites can be made from a variety of materials from paper to silk.  This is a great project for the entire family.  I have found a website,The Virtual Kite Zoo, that tells all about making a kite from the simple diamond shape to more complex shapes such as the tumbling star.  Being a quilter, I am drawn to the tumbling star.  Should you want to, you can even teach the principles of aerodynamics to yourself and your children.

Before we can finish celebrating St. Patrick's Day, Easter will be here on March 23rd. Family Circle has some great projects to share with your children and grandchildren.  You will find sock bunnies, mini Easter baskets, pinwheels and more. Children will appreciate the time you spend with them creating these crafts.  Woman's Day magazine has some great projects to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. You can create a Leprechaun hat to a green frog chore holder.

Here is my personal list of craft supplies needed for family projects:

  • Glue
  • Glitter
  • Felt
  • Small amounts of fabric
  • Leftover trim pieces for embellishment
  • Polyfil
  • Scissors
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Straight pins or small binder clips
  • Construction paper
  • Crayons and markers
  • Rulers

These will make a nice start to the family craft drawer.

Of course, good food cannot be left out.  Sweet Shamrocks from Family Circle are an easy to fix treat that children can help make.

Sweet Shamrocks

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 Give your child the luck of the Irish this St. Patrick's Day.

To make these treats, cut a prebaked pound cake into 1-inch slices. Cut each slice with a shamrock-shaped cookie cutter. Microwave an open container of vanilla frosting just until you can pour it, about 10 seconds, and tint green with food coloring. Place shamrocks on a wire rack over a sheet of wax paper. Pour frosting over shamrock slices. Sprinkle edges with green crystal sugar. Let shamrocks set 5 minutes before transferring to serving plate.

Copyright© 2003 Parents Magazine.

As a final note the next time someone tells you to go fly a kite, take it as a license to go enjoy yourself.


About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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