Fabric Salad

Green goodness for quilters and sewists

Super scrap buster

This sparkly project grows as you go. It’s the Twinkle Coverlet from Malka Dubrawsky, and it’s hand-stitched. Just add circles until you have the size you prefer. In this cold weather, I love having  a project I can work on while I’m snuggled up on the sofa. How about you? Grab the pattern and start going round and round! You can see more photos here on Malka’s blog.

Twinkle coverlet pattern

Late to the party

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock with me, you quilters know there’s a whole lot of stripping going on around the quilty universe. Seems everyone and her sister is making a version of the trip around the world quilt and posting it on Instagram (#scrappytripalong).

Seriously, there are more than two thousand photos on Instagram of these scrappy darlings. It warms my eco-green heart to see so many folks heading to their stash and discovering how much beauty they can conjure up.

After seeing a demo of the process at last week’s meeting of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild, and reading the tutorial on Quiltville I joined in the fun….even though the last time I made a quilt from a pattern I had a headache for days. This isn’t really like following a pattern, though. Much can be left to chance and the blocks go together in a jif.

Here’s the progress so far….


Three sheets to the wind

No, this is not a post about a drunken debauchery: It’s about eco-friendly laundry practices (a tiny departure from the usual Fabric Salad information on sewing and quilting–but we’ll get back to that in just a few paragraphs.) Shop Ethica offers some common-sense guidelines on its web site for greening your laundry routine. (By the way, the shop also sells a wide range of eco-happy goods.)

One way to save energy is  by hanging sheets (and your other laundry) in the wind. I made a foray into outdoor drying after receiving a top-of-the-line (pun intended) drying line from Lehmans. The habit didn’t last, since I seem to find myself always doing laundry late at night. I’m re-committing myself here and now. Even just one load hung outside each week will save on electricity.

Are you with me? One way to get motivated might be to stitch up an adorable clothespin holder. Here’s some inspirational eye-candy (see more on my Pinterest board).

Fun fabrics make these bags from TieDyeDiva a cheerful sight on laundry day. Grab the pattern and make your own:

clothespin bag pattern

Make a bag with vintage charm using this tutorial from Knick Knacks and Ric Rac:

clothespin bag from Knick Knacks and Ric Rac

Make a bag super fast by re-purposing a handtowel. This tutorial from the Happy Housewife shows you how:

clothespin bag from Happy Housewife

Happy, scrappy hearts

I took down the holiday decorations yesterday. I love the sparkle of the lights and ornaments, but every year it makes me happy to have it all put away. I actually look forward to that feeling of  open space and a blank slate where the tree stood and mantel decorations heaped up. To me, the fresh-swept look so perfectly echoes the possibilities of a new year.

But then…

Just when the novelty of that austere look starts to fade and the world outside seems lifeless and dreary, the Valentines pop up, with their candy-sweet colors and velvety luxury. Why not deck the halls (just a bit) with a few easy-to-whip-up hearts? I’ve gathered inspiration for you on a Pinterest board. Here are a few highlights:

First up, from The Adventures of Blue Girl XO, this lovely:


Find a tutorial on her blog. 

Tracy B Designs sells all manner of adorable-ness on etsy. These stuffie bouquets are so sweet:

Tracy B Designs

Finally, this beautiful wall decor is shown on Honey Bee Vintage in paper, but it could easily be translated to a scrap fabric project. Just cut out the hearts and run a line of machine stitching down each to create “columns” of hanging hearts. What a charming way to tuck your loved one in to bed each night.

Wall decor from Honey Bee Vintage

Snug-as-a-bug rug

This Christmas, my sister surprised me with a handwoven rug she made with the help of my kids. Woven on a loom like this one, the rug is so soft and super thick, perfect for the cold floor under my desk. I recognize some of the fabrics they used–several were of the “what was I thinking?” variety, but they look great woven in strips. Metal bars along the sides of the rug loom help keep the weaving straight and even. My sister swears this was not a difficult project. How lucky am I?

woven rug

Totally tatty

So, what’s in a name? When it comes to fabric that’s new to me, I usually refer to it as “upcycled” or “thrifted.” So, does that sound better than “used” or “second-hand”? Words do have power–dealerships no longer refer to not-new cars as “used”: Now they’re “pre-owned.” We don’t covet “old” clothes, but vintage? That’s another story.

Funny, when we bought our Victorian home, no-one referred to it as “pre-owned.”

Now that I’ve read about HappyTat, a British collective whose aim is to refurbish furniture and sell it to benefit local charities, I’m adding “tatty” to my list of adjectives. Seems the Brits like to throw this term around when we ‘Mericans might use “trashy” or “worn out.” Like “dodgy” and “telly,” the word “tatty” just seems so much more charming.

I’m looking at the “tatty” linens in my stash and considering a project like this originally from BLHDN.com. Wouldn’t this be oh-so-refreshing to hang once the holiday trimmings come down?

bunting from BHLDN.com

A whole shirt-load

My stash of dress shirts and blouses is dangerously close to critical mass. I thrifted them for a make-and-take project that upcycled the cuffs into luggage tags…Thrifted shirts

So, now what to do with the leftover shirt-age? Considering a quilt, I’ve started poking around for inspiration…

Love this trick of turning the stripes to form pieced squares, adding the solid center is brilliant. Go to Flekka Journal to see the finished stripey quilt.

This shirting quilt, from the blog Carpe Lanam, uses varying sizes of squares, making it a stand-out.


Pairing stripes with polka dots? Yes, ma’am. Not having to cut and piece triangles would be a bonus, too. And this quilt is just adorable.

quilt from inspiration.au.com

Spots and Stripes quilt

Whatever my shirts become in their next life, it’s clear I need to add a few solid colors to this collection. Meet me at the thrift shop?


Wrap It Up Organically

Can’t part with any fabric from your stash to use as gift wrapping this season? Chewing the Cud, a San Francisco  company, has the answer with Give Wraps. Viola, the designer behind the wraps, chose organic cotton for her product. “Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that are gentle on our planet,” Viola says. “Soy-based inks are less harmful to the environment, compared to petroleum-based inks.”

The wraps make a gift even more special, with imprinted messages like “Give joy”, “Give peace” and “Give thanks.” The wrap can be reused as a scarf, pillow cover or in the sewing project of your choice. One bride used a handful of Give Luck wraps to create a quilt for her wedding guests to sign.

And don’t worry, you can make your package look just as lovely as the photo, using the step-by-step instructions on the company’s blog.

Give Wrap from Chewing the Cud

It’s a Wrap

According to Earth 911, wrapping paper and shopping bags alone account for about 4 million tons of trash annually in the U.S. Ummmm, what does this have to do with quilting and sewing, you ask? Well, green gal, just think how you could help the earth by using fabric (new or upcycled) for some of your gift wrapping this year.

Stash-busting, unexpected and stylish even, wrapping with fabric can be easy, too. Look for tips at Sustainable Baby Steps or, if you’re up for a bit of sewing, follow this easy fabric gift bag tutorial at The Happy Housewife. Can’t quite break the gift wrap or bag habit? You can at least substitute fabric scraps for the predictable curly ribbon. Charissa at The Gifted Blog shows you how. If you need longer ribbon, Charissa suggests, just tie two pieces together. Brilliant!

So ditch the snowman paper and reach for fabric instead. Wouldn’t you be stoked if someone handed you this gift bag? Fabric Scrap Ribbon