Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Blogger's Fall Quilt Festival - Sample Book Quilt

It's time for the Blogger's Quilt Festival.  Here's my entry, check the link at the end of the post for more.

When I was a little girl, I loved it when samples were discontinued.  My parents owned and operated a retail business selling carpet, wall paper and draperies.  Imagine all the fun materials I got to play with with sample books and drapery samples were dropped.  I used to make my own Barbie doll houses - more functional than intricate - and all kinds of fun experiments.

For the first few years of my own window treatment business I would give away discontinued sample books. After I saturated the local school and community college design program with books, I decided to keep some of them for myself.  Some of these books had such beautiful fabrics, many that I had not sold but had always wanted to work with.  So finally, I started tearing the books apart and using the samples.  This quilt is one of my first creations with discontinued fabric samples.

I just loved the colors in many of these fabrics yet the rose, corals and yellows were often too feminine for clients to use a lot of in their homes so I never got to work with them when they were current.  To make this quilt, I raided every discontinued book I had at the time to get enough.  I had to buy just a little fabric to finish it out. 

I started trying to construct blocks but eventually just filled in the blanks as best I could. The patterns were already cropped from the sample book so I didn't want to lose more fabric making a specific size block.

Contrary to what I've told customers all these years, you can wash decorator fabrics.  I still don't advise it when it comes to window treatments because the fabric and lining will shrink different amount leaving an undesirable result.  The finish also washes off the fabric leaving too 'soft' a look for a valance yet it is perfect for a quilt.  These types of fabrics are a bit heavy so I used the lightest weight batting in the quilt.  Also, I tied rather than tried to machine quilt all that bulk.  We use this quilt in the winter months and I still love looking at all these pretty patterns particularly these pretty toiles which are now so rare in new samples.

Making a quilt with these samples means a lot of hand prewashing and tons of ironing. But the benefits are free fabric (since the books were free to begin with or paid for anyway long ago) and every fabric is unique!  Since I did this one about two years ago, I did another last year in black, brown and beige tones for my parents.  I continue to save dropped books and every now and then get the notion to plow through them hunting up pretty patterns.  As fewer and fewer chintz are being made, less of these opportunities will arise so I'll keep holding onto books and storing up ideas for future projects. 

Check out the other entries for the 2010 Fall Quilt Festival at Bloggers Quilt Festival Fall 2010.  Thanks to Amy for putting together this great event.


  1. This is so beautiful, love the colors and the composition of your photo!

  2. La trapunta è magnifica!
    Ciao Domenica

  3. Oh my goodness, this quilt is GORGEOUS! I was visiting the quilt festival and this one, even though it was small on the page with the others, called out to me. I LOVE this quilt. They are the exact colors I love. Great job, you must be so proud of this.
    Best regards,

  4. What a stunning quilt from fabric samples. I too, have made many a quilt from designer sample books and it is really fun to see something come from what could have been thrown away. Congrats on a very nice quilt!

  5. Wow! I really love how you put this together. Most of my quilting is with 'rescued' fabrics and your quilt is definitely a 'rescue.' Great work!

  6. Great experience

    A friend recommended I go to Brampton Hardwood and I was not disappointed, he said
    it was the only place to go for hardwood floors.

    Tom, L.
    Toronto, On.

  7. I have a large number of decorator samples. I bought a huge boxful at a church rummage sale for $5 and another huge boxful at a flea market for $20. Almost all were 100% cotton drapery weight. I washed them in the washing machine and dried them in the dryer. So far I've made 2 quilts (which I machine quilted without any problems) using on the samples and I have enough left for many more quilts. They make wonderful, sturdy quilts! Thanks for showing yours!

  8. I love this quilt! I imagine curling up on my porch with it! I have about 4 boxes of decorator fabric samples that I have been looking for things to do with. I recently made a King Size log cabin quilt top with them!


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