Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Fabric Musings and Memories

Since last weekend, I seem to have found my new lockdown project in the form of this English Paper Piecing quilt which I started a couple of years ago.

Beyond knowing that each shape is a hexagon, I have no idea how it will all turn out. I am not sure if my pattern will be made up of hexagons sewn into flower shapes, or if the colours will be arranged in a rainbow or, most likely, if it will be a random assortment of colours scattered over a pale background. I thought at first that I might be really strict about the palate and style of fabric - and if I was going to buy fabric for a quilt now, I probably would - but the point of this project was always to use up my fabric stash which consists of lots of small pieces. Not enough to make clothes - not even enough to make a cushion cover - but lots of pieces left over from old clothes I cut up or fat quarters I bought for crafting projects or to be hung in an embroidery hoop. 

I think this fabric above is by Nani Iro, and I cannot for the life of me remember where or why I bought it in such a small amount, but it's glorious and my favourite fabric so far in this quilt. I am working with all cotton but in a mixture of weights, from the lightest Tana lawn to heavier ones. This is probably not ideal but I am not aiming for a show-piece quilt here, just something  beautiful and cosy and full of memories and character. 

But the nicest thing about rummaging around through my fabric for this project, has been uncovering fabrics I had forgotten I even had, and then remembering what I used them for. It's been lovely.

Take these Cath Kidston prints below.

I wouldn't choose them now, but I bought them for this blue quilt...

...and then used them again in this kitchen for a mouse.

I remember buying the pink floral fabric below at a car boot sale in Wetherby. I think it was something like £1 for the whole vintage duvet cover.

It was enough for an ironing board cover.

The  cotton below, with the tiny floral print, I found in a bargain bin somewhere and I remember being really pleased because I needed a lot for a project.

I used it to line the inside of this vintage suitcase, which I'd bought on eBay. I still use that suitcase to store my yarn and it lives under the TV unit in the living room.

I think I bought this very Cath Kidston-style floral fabric in IKEA.

I remember using it to make these picnic napkins as teacher gifts. Now, I cannot imagine ever having the time!

This dark brown fabric was from a shirt I bought in Gap.

I can't remember why I cut it up but it made a wonderful dog...

...as well as a shirt for a fox. Both of these are still upstairs in Angus's bedroom.

If you look carefully at this pink fabric below you'll see that some are more faded than others.

I made some really simple cushions for Bella's bedroom in 2013 and they are faded from the sun and being washed.

The hexies below are a mixture of Liberty print tana lawn cottons, and probably some of my favourite ever. They're not cheap so I've always used them sparingly, but now is the time to use up every last scrap.

They made beautiful bookmarks...

as well as these dolls.

I bought this gorgeous cloud print fabric to make a PE bag for my youngest god-daughter - very definitely NOT a girly-girl - when she started school. I appliqued her name on the front and it was lovely, and still in use I believe, although I can't find a photo sadly. But the pattern is a good neutral to balance out all those florals. 

I don't much like this fabric, but I have to include it for the memories. Bella chose it when I made her PE bag, right before she started school in September 2011. It hung on her peg outside her classroom in two schools, right up until she left in Y6. She doesn't use it now, obviously, but I think she still has it somewhere....

I arranged these hexagons like this on purpose.


They were framed in embroidery hoops and hung above our sofa in our old house in Leeds.

I hope you can see the fun I am having as I gather together years of fabric collecting, crafting and memories, then put them all together into something new. So far I have made just over 200 hexies and I am really loving having the time to do this. I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane with me. I know some of you have been with me, reading and commenting, for many years, maybe even since the beginning in 2012, and it's lovely to have an indulgent look back at the past sometimes. 


  1. I enjoyed the trip down memory lane. And I love fabrics as much as you do.

  2. i love all the memories and all the beautiful work shared. i also loved the idea of the fabric showcased in embroidery hoops - so clever!

  3. You are just so amazingly talented! You have created lots of lovely things for yourself and family and friends. I am so impressed by the quality and creativity that you have. Well done! Thanks for sharing.

  4. I as sitting here wallowing in a fog of depression, that even 2 days of sleeping and meds hasn't been able to clear, and then I decided to open your blog. Oh the fabrics! They are all unique and beautiful and yet I can imagine them being brought together to make a quilt full of the most wonderful memories. You are very talented and creative, and I'm now thinking about learning to sew to pass the time during this enforced lockdown here in India. We have not even been able to go down to the communal garden area for 42 days now, and as we live in a high rise in cosmopolitan Mumbai, there is only a small balcony that I have filled with plants that lets me 'feel' nature and the outdoors. The walls are really beginning to close in, and your bloggy voice has allowed me to push the cobwebs on my tired brain to the side, allowing for some optimistic sunlight to come through. I think I may sit on a chair in the balcony tomorrow and try my hand at some cross stitch for a change. Thank you. While so far away, you have managed to touch my life in a positive way all the way here in India. God bless.

  5. I absolutely love paper piecing, it is such a lovely way to sew. Loads of gorgeous fabrics there, I shall enjoy seeing your quilt come together. The dog is marvellous by the way, I don't remember seeing him before but I am totally in love. His dear little body and his fat belly and his long nose - utterly perfect. I have just followed your link and I see he is from 2013. Brilliant that he is still loved. How could he not be though. CJ xx

  6. You are a star in every sense of the word - endless talent .

  7. Lovely Gillian & the piles are certainly growing. You've a fantastic memory knowing where you got so many of those fabrics. Well done. Stay safe, take care & hugs from down under.

  8. Oh! what a nice post!! I am new at paper piecing but love it!! And your fabrics are georgeus, its so difficult to find cotton fabrics and you have a really good taste.
    I will wait for the finish proyect :)
    Take care and sew!!!!!

  9. Oh what a lovely sight to find when I stopped by this morning!! So many handmade things and all that fabric....oh the fabric!!! I have a serious fabric obsession - so much so that I have been known to hold anything fabric-y against my body in shops. Just to stroke it and feel it! Texture combined with colour = total bliss for me! Gosh I'm starting a new project now just so I can wallow in my own fabric stash! ;)

  10. This post is sheer delight - just as I imagine playing with these fabrics is for you! I remember many of the things you used the fabrics for in the past; I remember how envious I was (and still am) of your beautiful ironboard cover. Mine is a Cath Kidston one with large seventies-style flowers, but I'd much prefer the proper vintage fabric you have. It reminds me so much of the bed sheets we had at home when I was little, my parents had them in two versions, one with pinks and one with blues, both lovely. I wonder what has become of them.
    I also still very much love the fox and all the other dolls and animals you have made.
    The IKEA floral pattern - I have them as bedsheets, indeed from IKEA.

  11. Who knew that this non-sewing person could find such happiness in a post about bits of fabric? I love the fabrics and the stories attached to each one. Your vintage duvet cover looks very like one I had as a child - and still have. Excellent quality fabric and construction, and it's still as good a new unlike many of our duvet purchases over the years. Sadly it's a single, so we can't have it on our bed, and the children both have double beds. There's a heads-up for you with teenagers and certainly university students - they will suddenly become incapable of sleeping in a single bed, so the single duvet sets languish unused in the cupboard. To say nothing of having to buy new beds! Your green Liberty fabric reminds me of some of Emily Burningham's designs.

  12. Really love the memory hexagons Gillian. I am sure they will another perfect project when you have finished. Can't wait to see it.

  13. Quilts are all about the memories. I hope it comes to make something you truly love. Jo xx

  14. Absolutely loved this post and seeing all the other things you have made with the fabrics you are using for your hexagons. I so wish I was good with the needle/sewing machine. Ok, I can knit and am quite crafty, but there is so much you can do with fabric :)

  15. Love this post about the fabrics in this quilt, great collection for this kind of quilt even if you're not too fond of some of them - generally makes for a better quilt that way. Had to comment though - I also made the little dog (in blue) to cheer my mum up in hospital as she has had and loved dachsies.

  16. Loving all those hexies, this makes me realise I haven't got enough fabric hanging around. How to remedy? CN x


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