Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pillow Talk Swap 10 (Let's talk about fabric.)

I think most of us have a fabric comfort zone right? Most of it has to do with taste, but some of it has to do with confidence. Like sometimes, you might really like a certain type of fabric but you fear you might not have the skill to do it justice. Like it's too unfamiliar to wield it's power. 

I think this project was out of my comfort zone for both of those reasons. If you aren't familiar, the Pillow Talk Swap happens on Flickr between about 100 quilters and sewists from all over the world. Being in its tenth round, it's gained a certain level of expectation. If you join that swap, you do not want to be the one that makes a clunker of a pillow. (Round 9 was my first time joining, you can see the pillow I made last time here.)

So my partner likes things that are light and girly and pink and vintagey. I appreciate that a lot, but it's not my zone. I need edge and angles and contrast and some black in there somewhere. But that is what makes these things fun and stretching right? 

Before I whine too much about these fabrics not being my style, I should say that I really do love them at the same time. Is that weird? I do, I think they are gorgeous. They are mostly from Liberty Lifestyle's Bloomsbury Gardens line and I picked them up at Sewn Studio.  If you didn't know, I work at Sewn and it's a really beautiful modern fabric shop. Here's the thing that's happened to me since working there- I just love every fabric we have. Yes, I still have my tastes and I definitely can't buy and use all of it, but nearly every bolt that comes in the door makes me think about what I would do with it. And even if I kinda "hate" the style of it, I still love it because it's pretty fabric. If we had not got this Liberty stuff in at the shop, I never would have even considered buying it online or anything. I wouldn't have paid any attention. But then you see it in person, and it's just PRETTY. And then you touch it... case closed. I may complain about it's girly-ness, but if I'm being honest I needed an excuse to buy it. (And it was actually my second time buying it, so what does that tell you? Who am I?) 

The pillow is made up of 16 little 4 inch "tea plate" blocks. At least I think that's what they are called. I saw them in a random quilt block book at the store one day and thought they had a great vintage look that would go with my fabric pull. Plus they seemed like they would lend themselves to playing with low-ish volumes and a bit of linen. I don't normally go for something involving appliqué anything, but it really wasn't that painful. I added one linen border and quilted with close together straight lines on the di-ag. That quilting is definitely my zone. I had to hang on to one shred of stubbornness here.

So although this was one of those projects that had me wondering if my choices would actually work out the whole way through, I think most of them did. I'm happy that I made something I like even though it isn't something I ever would have made for myself. But most importantly, I think my partner might love it and I really hope she does. It's on its way now!

This is the new project I'm working on now. Simple block, scrappy, all circles and geometrics, with a limited color scheme involving brights with some gray and black. That is totally my zone. It's funny because someone commented on this IG picture (I'm @alittlegressica there) that they were "glad to see me back" because that pillow cover I had been posting had them a little worried. I kind of love that, because it means to them I have a certain style. Sometimes it's hard to see that in yourself, but I'm seeing it now. I don't think that person was being mean about the pillow, it's just not something they expected from me. It's a very nice compliment. 

So just to make sure I'm not a crazy person, could you tell me about your fabric zone? And what's the type/line/substrate/designer of fabric you might like, but are also slightly afraid of being clumsy with?


  1. YES! Totally. And actually, you've been the biggest push for me on boy sewing - to add bright/unexpected color when it's not quite expected. Before that I'd just go boy = blue/green/gray and I was fine with that, ya know? Brightness wasn't in my comfort zone. Anyway. This pillow is beautiful, and though it's not "you" I'm sure it fits your partner perfectly.

    And that brick block reminds me of Mario Bros.

  2. I totally get the, that is not remotely my style...but I really love it confusion. Unrelated to fabric I tend to feel that way about a lot of modern design/styling in home spaces.

    It is also hard not appreciate something that is quality even if not right in line with your design aesthetic.

    I really like the block you used, and it sounds like the fabrics will be right on for your partner.

  3. I love this post! I definitely have comfort zones and preferences in fabrics, but I can appreciate other's tastes. Congrats on doing something different.

  4. Sorry - I hit publish too early! I also think that's the great thing about swaps. The ones I've participated in have pushed me to try different colors, fabrics, or combinations that I might not have done.

  5. oh this is really nice!
    My zone leans toward geometrics for sure and small-to-medium scale. Kind of not 100% secure using solids tho I do love them.

  6. Anything with pictures on it is out of my comfort zone. Like you say, I love some of them when I see them on the bolt - they just never seem to fit in my designs.

    Swaps are so great for stretching, even if they are a bit nerve-wracking :)

  7. My zone is solids. I rarely work outside of them :/ need to expand and not be afraid to cut!

  8. Great post, Jessica! Your pillow turned out beautifully, so way to go on morphing for the swap. That plate block was the perfect pic. As to your question, I've been told I have a style, but I would have a hard time describing it. I wonder if my style really hasn't solidified? I can totally see why you took that IG comment as a compliment!

  9. Loved reading this! You did a phenomenal job. I like your style a lot. Black and white are a staple for me, gray too. :) I like brights as well though and prints. I feel like I sort of like a little bit of everything. So I'm not sure! ha. You're making me think deep here. :) I think that there are some prints that I steer clear from because I don't relate to it and I wouldn't be able to help it reach it's full potential...like you said. Like for instance...fabric with cheesy singles want ads all over it. ;) But you rocked it when I sent it to you. I need to be more like you and try new fabrics! Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. I think it's fun to be thrown out of your comfort zone every once in a while. Finding how to put some "you" in to something that totally isn't you can be a good challenge. It would be a great series to have people dealt some fabrics or a pattern they definitely wouldn't have chosen for themselves, and then have to figure out how to make something they like out of it.

    Lately I'm finding that having too much print or busyness in a design freaks me out, and I tend to need the comfort of some calm space in there. Like pairing two prints or contrasting patterns in one garment makes me scared. lol. Except when it comes to stripes. I could pretty much wad a bunch of stripes up into one outfit and feel happy about it.


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