One of the great uses to which I put my computer and the internet is finding yardage of fabric that would otherwise be unavailable to me. Recently I signed up for a One Block Wonder class on impulse...the class was set to go the next day, so it was a scramble for suitable fabric. I walked into a fabric store and immediately spotted something that was perfect, but there were less than two metres left on the bolt. I decided to use what they had for my class, which meant some fancy fudging to get six identical pieces to stack, and was able to order enough to complete my quilt via a quick online search. You can, if you know the fabric name, use any search engine, but www.quiltshops.com is worth checking out. It is useful, say, for searching for something specific, like "blue homespun".
And it is often while browsing fabric sites that I get shots of inspiration for projects that have been brewing in my mind. My middle daughter has a love for all things Japanese, has studied the language and visited the country, and has asked me to make her a quilt to take to first year university in the fall. Obviously, using Asian inspired fabrics is the way to go, and in a quick browse of the 'net, I found this project:
Shiki Paper Lantern Kit from In the Beginning Fabrics
The quilt struck me as a little over-the-top feminine for Emma, but set off a whole shower of creative sparks. I realized that for Emma, a gifted artist and night owl, something reflecting the dark, mysterious and creative journeys of the night is more suitable, and so my thinking about that project was both refined and began to coalesce into something entirely different from what I had initially set out to do.
The Shiki line, though not suited for Emma, struck me as perfect for a crib/charity quilt (I love crib/charity quilts...fun, you can complete in a reasonable time frame, and a great way to expand and refine your skill set), and for myself and some future project, one fabric really stood out:
From the Shiki collection by In the Beginning Fabrics
That one, luscious fabric sent me on a browse for specific fabrics online, and ended in an order for a charm pack. Charm packs are fantastic for previewing collections...you get a square of each fabric in the collection, can play on your design wall with relevant combinations, then order online once you make your choices. And yesterday I turned up a pattern I am eager to try that is based on....charm packs! It is a crib quilt from the Moda Bake Shop, which is stuffed with wonderful, inspirational projects.
This has become a critical element in my quilting...the ability to draw from the internet a much wider exposure to fabric collections than is available in my local fabric shops, the ability to preview the entire collection via charm packs, and the ability to then order exactly what I need.
I have sympathy with and an affection for my local bricks and mortar fabric shops, to which I often go for spur of the moment projects and inspiration. But so often, they can only afford to stock a limited number of fabrics from any given season or collection, and that choice rarely reflects my own needs or tastes. And all too often, that one fabric that really stands out? They take the entire bolt and cut it up for inclusion in kits. Aarrrrghhh! Most frustrating! And, as I found when shopping for my One Block Wonder, they often do not have enough of the particular fabric I want, and no way to secure more for me. As the economy has stagnated, so has the fabric offerings in my local shops...fabrics which don't sell linger on, and eventually choke up the shelves. I support them as much as I can, but online fabric searching and shopping frequently comes to my rescue.
Just for your delectation, here are a few fabrics I came across yesterday in my search for Asian prints:
Miyabi Leaves Black, by Moda
Neptune Sea Creatures, by Moda
Let It Snow Batiks, by Laundry Basket for Moda
I haven't got enough money, time or space to collect all the fabrics that ignite my imagination: hope this little sampling starts you off on a creative journey of your own!