Keep Fabric and Thread Samples in Your Sewing Space

Keep Fabric and Thread Samples in Your Sewing Space

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Location is everything

If you haven’t considered keeping samples of the fabrics and threads you work with on a frequent basis, I’m here for advocating that you start. I live in Mammoth Lakes, California, which is a small, out of the way town at 8,000ft altitude in the Eastern Sierra Mountains. The nearest sewing/fabric stores to me are a one hour drive south in Bishop, California. And If I want the convenience of larger, more well-known establishments, I have to drive 2.5 hours north to Carson City, Nevada. Needless to say, I do a lot of shopping online. This is my first argument for keeping a collection of samples in your sewing space. If you can’t readily get to a store, then being able to look at what you need and order online is a life saver.

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Make exactly what they want

Sample swatches and cards are helpful for showing to both customers and friends and family that you may be sewing for. I try to never sew gifts as surprises. Sometimes I break this rule when I’m fairly certain the gift recipient will like what I’m making, but usually I don’t chance it. Why spend time and money on a handmade gift that someone may not like? I use my sample swatches of minky, for example, when I make gifts for my daughters or their friends. The kids can touch and feel the fabric, read the names of each color, and fall in love with the gift before it’s even finished.

2

How does it feel?

Speaking of feeling, many sewists I know don’t like to order fabric online because they like to feel the fabric in the store before buying. I understand where they’re coming from, but usually have to order online. Because of this, I’ve ordered samples of the brand of solids I like to use (Hawthorne Threads) because I already know how their fabric feels, looks, and washes. If you have a brand you love, look into getting sample cards or even buying charm packs of a line of fabric that you tend to buy over and over.

3

Samples versus supplies

A supply can be a sample, but a sample can’t be a supply. I keep a lot of supplies on hand in my fabric stash and my thread wall and I often will check my supplies to see if they will work in an upcoming project as well. I can’t, however, keep EVERY color of thread on hand, nor can I buy ALL THE FABRIC, like I want to. When the colors I don’t already have on hand won’t work, then I turn to my thread sample card to see what I need to order.

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What kind of samples do you keep on hand to make your sewing life easier?

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
“Pin”ny Time Savers

“Pin”ny Time Savers

All you need are clothes hangers, clothespins, and a marker or pen (not pictured).

All you need are clothes hangers, clothespins, and a marker or pen (not pictured).

Whether you are new to sewing and quilting or just love to follow commercial patterns, you quickly find out that once you cut out your pattern pieces, they are EVERYWHERE. Along your pattern cutting journey, you may get a little lost, especially trying to keep track of “which piece goes where” and “what label is this piece?” After all your cutting is done and it is time to reach for your cut pattern pieces to begin sewing or quilting, you find you find yourself spending even more time figuring out which one is “A, B, C” or “1, 2, 3”. Here is a handy solution to help you organize your fabric pattern pieces with items you probably already have at home.

First, use a marker or pen to label the clothespins based on the labels found on the pattern pieces or the pattern guide.

First, use a marker or pen to label the clothespins based on the labels found on the pattern pieces or the pattern guide.

All you need are clothes hangers, clothespins, and a marker or pen (not pictured). First, use a marker or pen to label the clothespins based on the labels found on the pattern pieces or the pattern guide. Using a permanent marker may make it easier to write on the clothespin, especially if it is made out of plastic. When choosing the marker and pen, make sure that you choose an ink that will be very easy and quick to see on the clothespin. (The goal is to make find your pattern pieces easier.)

Second, once you have labeled the clothespins, clip them on the hanger. To make finding the pins easier, place the labeled clothespin in alphabetical and numerical order. Continue clipping the pins onto the hanger until you have all your pins in a row. If you run out of space, use additional hangers until you have all of our labeled clothespins on a hanger.

Once you have labeled the clothespins, clip them on the hanger. Finally, attach the cut fabric pieces to their corresponding labeled clothespin by clipping the fabric to the hanger.

Once you have labeled the clothespins, clip them on the hanger. Finally, attach the cut fabric pieces to their corresponding labeled clothespin by clipping the fabric to the hanger.

Finally, attach the cut fabric pieces to their corresponding labeled clothespin by clipping the fabric to the hanger. For quilting patterns, there may be many pieces that same labels (for example, a repeating quilting pattern). In those cases, clip several pieces with the same label on the same pin. If there are a large amount of pieces with the same label and the clothespin get too bulky, create several clothespins with the same label. Organize the clothespins with identical labels next to each other for convenient and quick access.

Now you can hang the hanger on a door handle, a rod, or a rack. Place your fabric pattern hanger in a location this close to your project a quick reach to start your sewing and quilting. This idea not only helps to organize your pattern pieces, but it also helps to organize your sewing process. It can be such a distraction to have pattern pieces scattered all over your sewing and quilting workspace. A great sewing and quilting project takes focus and time. Organization around you in the workshop help you focus on project and saves you the time of having to search for your pattern pieces and figure out which piece it is.

The beauty of sewing and quilting is its creativity, attention to detail, and precision. Let this handy solution give you the freedom to put all of your time and energy into those things. So check out your closets or laundry rooms for the clothespins and hangers that will save you sewing and quilting time. But, just in case you want to go a purchase new one just for your sewing and quilting space, have fun with colors, prints, textiles, and more. From hardware stores to houseware stores, the possibilities are endless. Spruce up your creative environment with fashionable hangers and fancy clothespins to create a simple gadget that will help to make your sewing and quilting experience less frustrating and more exciting.