Monday, April 16, 2012

A Little Lemon Juice

On Saturday afternoon, Bonnie and I drove to the outskirts of Ambler to participate in the grand opening of the long-awaited new quilt shop near Philadelphia, The Round Bobbin.

It is a wonderful place. Large, uncluttered, room to walk around. Bright and beautiful. Two spacious cutting stations. A huge, well-lit classroom. Friendly, helpful staff. Charming furnishings and gorgeous samples. Pre-cut FQs here and there. Rulers and cutters and bears -- oh my!  batts. And a glorious selection of fabrics: batiks, contemporaries, solids, read-solids, Civil War, 30s; truly something for everyone. I loved it. I'll return. For sure.

But I must say that the visit got me to thinking: I don't remember when it was that shops stopped organizing fabrics by color and genre and started organizing them by line. And I so wish that they hadn't! I used to like finding a fabric and auditioning go-withs. It was fun to pull out three or four greens to coordinate with the green in the focus print, and agonize over which one was the right green.

I really prefer it that way. In recent years, I've been lured by the lines and made some quilts entirely from one line of fabric. Going Rouge is an example; I love this quilt. I really do. But I think I'd love it even more if it were not completely  made from the Rouenneries line. The same is true with some of the -- gasp -- William Morris quilts I've made. Fabrics made from one line of fabric are, to me, just too matchy-matchy. They need a squeeze of lemon juice or something to make them sing. Or zing. I've written on this theme before more than once.

I'm sure that shop owners have found that quilters will buy more fabric if it is displayed in lines, and they've got to make a living. But they've taken away a piece of the fun.

Challenge to self: Before 2012 is over, start a new project, and pick the fabrics the old way. Anyone else?

17 comments:

Suzan said...

I am a sucker for anything from 3 Sisters and I will buy just about every fabric in every one of their collections. If I am in a hurry to throw something together, I will also shop by line. That being said, I still love the hunt. I have one customer that always picks out one piece of fabric that I have and then I build a quilt around that piece of fabric. One place I know for sure that does not put collections together is Wooden Bridge in Kutztown. Everything (and they have a lot of fabric) is by color.

Exuberant Color said...

"lines" are so much more predominant now than they were when I was working at a quilt shop (1979-2000). I'm with you, I want them all mixed up and do my own choosing. I still like to see batiks separately, but they get mixed in with regulars sometimes in quilts.

Janet O. said...

I have made a few quilts using mostly Kansas Trouble fabrics from several years worth of their releases, but that is as close as I have come to using a single line. And when each one was finished it was a relief to go back to choosing fabrics and having the variety in shade and value.
I gravitate to Sandy Gervais and Jo Morton, but not by design. I just often find, after having picked out a fabric I like, that they are frequently the designers of said fabric.
My LQS displays things by collection when they are brand new, but soon, new collections come to take their place and those bolts are placed in the "color wall". Other than the remnant baskets, that is my favorite place to shop!

Gari said...

I have always refused to buy "lines" for just the reason you state. I like to choose my own combinations of fabrics. I like to walk all over the store(s) hunting down just the perfect one. I don't what anyone to take that away from me.

Salem Stitcher said...

There are so many more "lines" of fabric now than before and we see a lot of folks that come in specifically looking for a line of fabrics they saw in a magazine or online. IMHO, having so much matchy-matchy becomes a crutch and folks tend to not stretch their imaginations. It's a crutch I use quite often. I do feel the need to "go all old school" and think outside the French General.

Hmmm....I think I'll do that tomorrow...

creativedawn said...

Wow! My heart was broken when The Country Quiltworks closed, so a new fabric shop is awesome.

Maybe I'll see you there sometime!

Pam

Grey Cat said...

I hate the reliance on matched lines fabric companies have built into consumers! I'm making my FIRST quilt using an entire line after doing this for sixteen years, and I'm still adding fabrics in to get some pop.

Quilts from entire fabrics lines are way too matchy matchy and way too boring!

LizA. said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I see the shop reasoning for arranging things that way but I don't care for it. Thankfully, one of my favorite shops will have a couple displays of the latest lines but then, when something new comes in, the older line gets put away by color.

OT Quilter said...

I completely agree. That's why my (very) occasional trips to Keepsake Quilting are so wonderful. Everything is arranged by color, with some additional areas for batiks and children's fabrics and flannel. Although I have made quilts using several fabrics from a "line," I usually add something "foreign" to shake it up, and I do enjoy strolling around a quilt shop trying to find my own combinations.

anne bebbington said...

Nothing quite like a bit of recycled mens shirting to add that lemon juice into the mix and take off the sugary sweetness of all the pre-matched florals

Bobbi said...

Totally agree. Funny story, my first time there, I grabbed two bolts from one display. Walked around, found a great fabric that "worked" great - from the other side of the room. When I put them on the table for cutting, the cutter exclaimed how daring but wonderful they would be if I used them together. Uh, yes. That was the point. She also asked me if I'd quilted before. Yep, 20+ years.

Quiltdivajulie said...

I only ever make quilts with fabrics pulled from hither and yon (and mostly from the stash if at all possible). The few times I did try to use a "precut" or "line" grouping, I was never happy with the results.

I understant displaying the batiks in one area, blenders in another, reproductions and wovens and wide backs each in their own area . . . but then I prefer a wonderful mish mash of combinations like blacks/whites, blues/yellows or greens/reds, seasonal mixes that change through the year, pink/lime or creams/WOW/neutrals.

I like to wander and browse ... and make my own choices - not be controlled by the manufacturer's dictates about "this goes with that"

Like quick and ready-to-eat items at the grocery store, quilt shop owners seem to be following the "make it easy" approach for harried and insecure fabric shoppers . . .

Patrica said...

I think that pre-cuts got us on the 'line' band wagon and whenever I go the line route I think of it as the lazy way of choosing colors for a quilt and like you not as fun but a whole lot quicker. I still prefer a mixed up quilt and will try to do mine that way when I really want to be creative and completely original.

Chris@Cats On My Quilts said...

I 100% agree with you. I too have made quilts from lines of fabric but I love the quilts that I make that I just pick and choose the fabrics from assorted lines. There's a quilt shop in Maine called Alewives and when I go there I love that they have fabric sorted by color. They also have this giant table with fat quarters and I love picking up some interesting fabrics one by one that way.

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

I agree with the sentiments expressed here. Choosing the fabrics is my favorite part, I guess, but then I'm really visually orientated and like to figure out my own designs as well. Now I shop mostly in my stash. And just when I don't really need any more fabric, lo and behold, a shop opened only 1.5 miles from my house. Previously I had to go 26 miles at least.

When my quilty friends talk about lines of fabric or pattern designers, I am totally out of it because I don't follow those things at all.

Deb said...

It's been that way for a while at my LQS, but I haven't noticed that once the new wears off the line, then she's moving them into color position, separating the line, which is fine with me!

Lynn Dykstra said...

It does give a cookie cutter look to many of the quilts being made right now--and may have led to that recent copyright dust up.
When I shop for fabrics now it is usually to just pick up a fat quarter or two that catch my fancy. The stash has become a burden, but can freshen up with just a small purchase.