Category Archives: Fabric


My sister needed to clear her head last week. Unsure of where to go for peace and quiet, she ended up at the fabric store where she sat down and began browsing through pattern books.

She wasn’t alone. Another woman sat next to her turning page after page in search of a design similar to a picture of a dress she had ripped from a magazine. The woman’s head bobbed side to side comparing the photo in her hand to the different patterns in the books.

At about the same time, I was several states away surfing through bolts of fabric in a store lined floor to ceiling with rolls of discount decorator fabric and accessories. I was clearing my head, too.

Surfing through uncut fabric with all of its possibilities calmed me, like watching colorful fish swim in an aquarium or viewing the vivid colors of various petals in a garden.

The possibilities of making something beautiful or clever, functional or whimsical made me feel hopeful and happy. The feel of the fabric, the texture and weight ignited ideas through my fingertips.

After more than an hour of browsing, my sister came home with a pattern and fabric. I came home with fabric, too.

And we left our head clutter at the stores.





During February, my mom, sisters, and I decided we would all make blankets.

We like to get together and work side by side, but because of scheduling conflicts, each of us worked on our own separate projects alone. Someone started knitting a blanket. Another chose a baby quilt project. I wanted to finish a picnic blanket that was almost complete but got stalled without material for the backing. Foiled in the progress, I started cutting up T-shirts to make a quilt to give my son in celebration of a special achievement.

All I needed were the T-shirt fronts, which featured logos and artwork from memorable places he has attended over the past few years. Most of the T-shirts were in good condition, so as I cut the shirts apart with my rotary cutter, I started stacking the plain backs of the clothes in one pile and the 12 fronts that I needed for the blanket in another.

While working on the project, I realized that I also wanted to do something nice for the fellow moms who have helped my son reach his achievement. They have encouraged and supported him and me for many years.

After positioning the T-shirt fronts, I returned to the leftover material. Admiring how the orange, brown, green and gray fabrics complemented each other, the idea came to me. I could make rose pins out of the discarded fabric and give them to the moms as a show of appreciation.

My niece showed ChatterboxBeach how to make the flower pins several years ago. We sat in my mother’s den cutting fabric from outgrown T-shirts and chatted away. At the end of the day, my niece gave me an orange flower to keep. I pinned the flower on a thin, black jacket that I have worn on many dressy occasions.

The flowers have other uses, too. They can be pinned to a wine bottle cover, placed in front of a picture frame, or added for decoration to a table setting.

rose pin

I got excited about making the roses for the moms and put the quilt on hold. Soon I was tracing patterns, cutting curves, and bringing out the hot glue.

Later in the day, one of my sisters sent an email that she had temporarily abandoned her blanket project to spend her Saturday making T-shirt roses for a client. I was thrilled. Once again, we ended up crafting together on similar projects, even though this time it wasn’t planned. She offered to make a few roses for the moms on my gift list, too. I love having sisters!

March has arrived, and we at ChatterboxBeach continue to work on our blankets. Hopefully, we will all finish soon and have a lovely show-and-tell when we get together to begin a new craft project in March.

–Caroline at ChatterboxBeach


Eggplanet art 001

Throwing away scraps of fabric hurts the crafter in me.

Every small square of material can lead to an amazing project, and the challenge of making it happen peaks my interest. I’m constantly looking for ways to use my fabric stash wisely to prevent waste and create art.

Recently, leftover scraps from a snack quilt became part of an art piece entitled “Eggplanet.” My imagination transformed images of tomatoes, onions, peppers and pickles into appliqued planets in outer space. Paired with an alien from another scrap and an upside down coffee cup as a flying saucer, a silly universe was born. Leftover tulle and ribbon made a fine comet, and soda can tabs and a bead added a 3-dimensional satellite to the cosmos. I entered the wall-hanging into an art show called “Beauty in the Dark.” The piece was rejected, so I hung it on a wall in my home. Friends see something new in the quilt each time they visit. I like to see their reactions.

Leftover material also can create more than art.

As a novice, I learned how to tie quilts by making blankets for charity from discarded Laura Ashley fabric. My quilters’ group spent many evenings together rotary cutting squares from the donated material. Then we formed an assembly line to sew the squares into strips and blankets. We stretched out on a parish hall floor to tie the quilt layers. The project was win-win. We kept material out of the landfill and provided warmth and comfort to those in need.

Rescuing fabric runs in the family. My sister is especially creative with local finds.

doll dress

A great fan of Lilly Pulitzer fashions, she up-cycles materials from skirts and dresses to make doll clothes with matching headbands. In addition, she recently repurposed pink and green Lilly Pulitzer fabric by covering a bowling pin. The result was a cute décor item great for a bedroom, porch or any special spot.

rose pin

She and our mother also have found uses for rarely-worn T-shirts. My sister turns strips from the castaways into colorful knitted rugs and bathmats. Our mom uses T-shirt scraps to make rose flower pins.

As Earth Day approaches on April 22, we celebrate finding new ways to generate art and crafts from everyday items. A little imagination helps turn useless scraps into useful products.


quilts and miranda sings 002

Last year, my quilting friend and I talked about getting together each month to sew, which rarely happened. But 2015 is a new year, and yesterday we met at her home resolved to sew.

She worked diligently with her rotary cutter to make pieces for a placemat. Her daughter, who was home from college on break, joined us needle in hand to sew a cross stitch picture. And I stared blankly at three unfinished quilt projects that I had sprawled out on their dining room table.

Each of my pieces had promise, but my creativity was stumped. I was ready to stick each project in a drawer never to be seen again, much less to be completed, when my friend rearranged some of the squares of the first project, offered her suggestions on the second and admired the third.

Seeing my work through her eyes breathed new life into the dormant quilts. I wrote down her suggestions and some of the ideas that they sparked within me. Now the projects are moving forward again.

Needle arts are more than the mechanics of stitching. They also involve the sharing and communicating of ideas.


soccer ball for sisterchatter

My favorite part of crafting is the creative mystery.

My quilting projects begin with pieces of material that come together like the view in a kaleidoscope, and I never know what beauty the shapes are going to create.

Recently, I participated in a fun quilt challenge. Quilters were asked to turn strips of fabric into a wall-hanging. When my material arrived in the mail, I was frazzled and on my way out the door to take my son to soccer practice. But I couldn’t resist stopping to take a peek at the fabric.

I was disappointed. Inside the manila envelope were strips of black and white fabric. I had expected something much more bright and colorful to work with over the next few weeks.

“What on Earth is black and white?” I asked my son, who was standing at the door with the answer in his hands.

A soccer ball is black and white.

So while he was kicking around different moves at practice, I began kicking around ideas in my head.

The result was a wall hanging that featured his red jersey and a black-and-white soccer ball bordered with strips of the black-and-white fabric.

My favorite part of the quilt is the soccer ball, mostly because my son and I collaborated on the pattern. I drew the circle, and he filled in the details. When fabric was added, we gave each other high fives over the results. The red jersey in the back ground gave the ball an extra visual pop.

I didn’t win the contest, but my son now has a great soccer keepsake to hang in his room, and another creative mystery is solved.


fortune cookies, soccer, etc 014

I can’t resist eating cookies, and now I can’t stop making them.

But forget flour, sugar and chocolate chips. These cookies are made of fabric.

Fabric fortune cookies are lots of fun. They can be used as place card holders, a home decoration or a special gift. Just slip a note inside the fabric cookie for party favors, valentines or invitations.

The first time I made them was for my book club. We were meeting for an end-of-the-year party, and I slipped quotes from the different books we had read during the year inside a batch of my homemade fabric cookies. Because we all have different tastes, I made the cookies out of a variety of colors so the club members could select the ones they liked.

Then we each took turns reading the quotes and guessing which book they came from and which character said the words. I mixed the batch with serious and funny lines. We laughed so hard, we were the loudest table in the restaurant. But it was great revisiting our favorite characters and moments from the novels.

I made fortune cookies again for two friends who enjoy needlework. We get together about once a month for coffee or to visit quilt shows. I slipped quotes about friendship and sewing inside the cookies and shared them. My friends were delighted by the experience.

fortune cookies, soccer, etc 012

It’s truly what’s inside the cookie that counts. Messages can be simple such as “Get Well Soon” or “Happy Birthday.” They also can be more heart-felt. I’ve thought of slipping one in my son’s lunch box with a “good luck on your test” message or putting one on his pillow to say “thanks for making your bed this morning.”

I’m planning to make several sets for stocking stuffers this year. I’m hoping the personalized messages will be a hit, especially for two difficult names on my list. A similar gift should work for my neighbors, a favorite aunt, my teen-aged nephews and teachers, too.

I also plan to pair my fabric cookies with a restaurant gift card delivered in a to-go box to celebrate my good friend’s birthday.

Fabric cookies don’t add calories, but they can be served for almost all occasions.


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