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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June Block of the Month Photo Recap

We are half way through our Block of the Month class and we hope you are fully enjoying yourself!
Here are your photo references from class for the month of June. Check back with us next month if you need any visual help finishing your blocks.

 We would love to see pictures of your progress so far or any stories you have to share of your experience making the Stitching Star quilt. Send us an email at See you next month! 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Fabric Center's Fabric School! Things to Know: Saving Salvages

We have a new installment of Fabric School: Things to Know! This time, we wanted to inform you of the importance of keeping your salvages once you've removed them from your raw yardage in the early stages of making a project. Many times a week, we have customers who come in looking for help locating a particular fabric but without any detailed information about the fabric beyond the colors and what it looks like.

By keeping your salvages, you keep a lot of good information about the fabric you have bought and make it easier for you and us to help locate a certain fabric when you run out or measure too short.

The first big piece of information that can be learned by keeping our salvages is who made it. This little piece of fabric real estate is a great way for manufacturers to get their name out there and stuck in your head. If you remember seeing "Riley Blake" on the edge of your fabric, you will remember them the next time around when you're out shopping. Plus, it helps you and us narrow down where it's located in the store and if it's something we can reorder.

The manufacturer Riley Blake is really good about including their name and pattern numbers at the bottom of their fabrics.
Riley Blake is also good about working with their designers to get them to include their brand name on the bottom of fabric salvages to further give you information about the fabric you purchased plus to help you to recognize each of their designers' unique design styles.
Another valuable piece of information is the line name and the pattern number. Now these are not always as consistently printed on salvages as manufacturer names. However, many designers and manufacturers are catching on to how important this information is to consumers who have run out of fabric, cut incorrectly or just plain love the print and want more! Some designer lines can have upwards of 20 different prints, all with the same colors and many with very similar designs. By having the pattern number, you and/or us can narrow down exactly which print you need.
Designers are also jumping on the fabric real estate bandwagon by including their brand name along with the line name they designed to get you, the consumer, to turn their name into a quilting household brand. 

Other pieces of information that are commonly included in salvages are fiber content and important cautions as to the fabrics' use limitations. These are important because a) it gives you an indication of how it needs to be laundered and if there is the potential for shrinking and b) legal safety information you need to know in order to decide if the fabric will work for your project.
Any natural fiber like cotton is susceptible to shrinkage the first time you wash it, but it can withstand higher temperatures in the wash making it a great option for baby blankets and burps. Cotton is also the worst at wrinkling, so if your fabric salvage indicates a high cotton fiber content, you know you will need to iron your final product after every wash. 

Another important line you will frequently see on raw fabric, like the kind you can find from us and other fabric stores, is "Do Not Use for Children's Sleepwear" or "Not Suitable for Children's Sleepwear". This is a legal safety precaution for the manufacturer as these fabrics have not been treated with fire repellant chemicals that are commonly applied to store bought children's pajamas. This does not mean that you cannot make children's pajamas from the fabric, but rather that you are now fully aware that by making your child pajamas from that particular fabric, your child will be more susceptible to burns if caught in a fire while wearing said pajamas. The manufacturer is no longer at liability if this should unfortunately happen; that line is there to let you be informed of this lack of fire safety. 

This next feature is not only information about the fabric you have just bought, but is a great feature to help you match colors if making a large project or quilt. Many fabric salvages will have each individual dye used in the print with a number or a cute, little design. Many times dyes, when close to one another in a print, can play off each other creating the illusion of a different color. By cutting off your salvages and just going off the pure dye colors on the end, you have a better chance of matching colors closer than if comparing the print as a whole. Plus, it allows you to only have to carry around a few small strips to each fabric store instead of each cut print on your journey to finding all your project's pieces. 

However, a word of caution about this: as was mentioned, sometimes colors play off each other when in close proximity on the overall print of the fabric. This means if you were to match a certain color by the dye samples on the salvage, you may actually find the color doesn't match the overall print. Depending on how important you find matching exact dye colors or overall general color schemes, you may want to take the cut yardage of the fabric you're matching instead to see if potential fabrics work with the overall color scheme. 

Unfortunately, you will find some fabrics where manufacturers print only some of these valuable information tidbits and others where they print nothing at all. In these cases, if you think there is even the slightest chance you will need more of the fabric or want to protect your bases in case you cut incorrectly, it is a good idea when purchasing the fabric to take a snippet of the fabric salvage and tape it to a piece of paper. Next to the sample, write down important information from the top of the bolt such as manufacturer, line name, pattern number, color number, fiber content, etc. That way, you have a document to refer to should the occasion arise where you need help finding more.

Not only will these tips help you be a more informed fabric shopper, but if the time should come where you need help finding a specific fabric or print, it allows us to more quickly and more accurately help you and your needs.

Is there something you would like to know more about the fabric or quilt shop industry? Send us an email or leave us a comment and we'd be happy to do some research and provide you with more installments of Fabric School!