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The Fiber of My Being: Fabric Dialogue

Once upon a time, as I headed out the door to a quilt show, my husband kissed me and told me to have a good time. He also suggested I leave some fabric for the other ladies. Hours later, I mentioned this to the saleslady who cut yardage for me. “Oh honey,” she said, “just tell him the other ladies already have theirs.”

Sometimes, when teaching, I’m asked about the quantities of fabric I buy. Do I buy a quarter yard, a half yard or even more? I qualify my answer because for several years I’ve been acquiring fabric for myself, my work and extra just in case of mistakes. If I rotary cut in front of a video camera, there always will be extra yardage, ready and waiting. I’ve made my share of fabric mistakes. Early on whenever I saw tantalizing red fabric, I bought some for a traditional log cabin quilt. I was unaware that for the most part, only the center of a log cabin block is red.

Anita Quilt

I went through a phase of sashing. To sash the above quilt I purchased 2½ yards. It was a success. Thereafter, whenever I came across a potential sashing fabric by the same manufacturer, Alexander Henry, I bought at least 2½ yards. But you know how it is… a clerk unrolls the bolt for cutting. It looks so, so good that I nod and say, “I’ve changed my mind. Please, may I have four yards?” I amassed a collection of enviable Alexander Henry fabric. I’m still buying. I buy fabric because it’s irresistible. Developing construction techniques for quilts is my passion and job. Buying fabric is my hobby.

Solomon Stars, quilted by Jancie E. Petre

Solomon Stars, quilted by Jancie E. Petre, from the book “Rock Solid: 13 Stunning Quilts Made with Kona Cottons” | Photograph courtesy of Brent Kane, Copyright 2017, Martingale

This star quilt inspired me to step up my sashing. I could go on and on about my method to create a star out of a square-on-point block, but it’s best you enroll in my class to learn the cutting technique. Know that the quilt and its layout are only in the just released book “Rock Solid.”

Talk about happenstance, I was already working on star blocks when, out of the blue, I was invited to contribute a quilt made of Kona cotton fabric to a book. I cut 108” wide fabric lengthwise for the frames, sashing, borders, back and binding. I didn’t have to piece any strips; I cut them continuously. For once I easily met a deadline and now have a new favorite quilt.

Fabric Labels

Fabric ephemera

Liberty Tana Lawn cotton fabric being so precious, I saved tags from my early purchases. Even a star kit of it purchased at a quilt show went untouched. I didn’t think I was up to it. That was then. Now I’m cutting into it for a new block. How the world has changed, this brand of fabric has become easier to find. In fact, I purchased the purple Liberty paisley below on Craftsy. I twice reordered it but I did save some for others.

I’m trying to get a grip on my scraps. When I have an expendable piece in hand, I toss it into the scrap basket before I change my mind. When my guild meets, I’m prepared for the scrap table. When girlfriends visit, I offer scissors with an invitation to trim down my stash.

Anita's Scrap Bin

My friend Bee, below in orange, took some blue fabric off my hands. I was happy to oblige and lower my stash by a few inches. She contrasted the darks with her collection of brights, making pairings that she said she wouldn’t have done ordinarily. If only she’d ask for my reds.

Quilt Guild Show and Tell

NYC Metro Mod Quilters Guild Show and Tell. Photography courtesy of Chris Dodsley, 2017.


Sharla Dial Anderson

Thank you for sharing your love of fabric. I absolutely loved both of your Craftsy classes and have all of your books! You are a fabulous instructor and gifted artist. ❤️❤️


what a great article!


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