Like Grandma Use To Do

When faced with a new sewing project, many people, with their color swatches in hand, look on the internet or browse through bolts of fabric at their favorite fiber supply store. They may even purchase special cutting devices, templates, rulers, threads, pressure feet, the list just goes on. I am not that way, at all. I am a super frugal girl who has a strong background in fiber art, sewing and design. Recently I met this wonderful woman in the parking lot of Walmart, (I can meet people anywhere). Her name is Mary and she is a knitter. Knowing how fiber artists are, she automatically assumed that I had a large stash of fabric. I’m not so sure she believed me when I told her that I didn’t; it’s true though. Here is my fabric supply.


As you can plainly see, I have very little and most of it has been cut up into various size squares and organized into containers that are labeled: 1 1/2, 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2… you get the picture. My art cupboard, which is right next to the fabric shelving, holds all my art supplies and art desk and is much larger then my fabric “stash”. I don’t purchase fabric or supplies just because something catches my eye. I purchase fiber art materials when I need them and the rest of the time I try and use up my scraps. The only exception is when I find high quality sheets at bargain prices.

On this fabric supply shelf are a few of the sheets that I find from time to time at thrift stores. They make great backings for quilts, especially if I am machine quilting. They also are very handy for household projects like the one I completed this weekend.

Completed Curtain 2

These are new curtains for the bathroom that my husband and I are remodeling. I say remodeling, but it is more like the plumbing on the sink had been causing us problems for 13 of the 13 years that we have owned this house and a few weeks ago it flooded the cabinet below it, so we were kind of forced into the remodel. And once you purchase a new sink, then there is floor that has to be patched or replaced, then the toilette started leaking all over the floor. You get the picture, so our remodel was a forced one and because it was all totally unexpected, we had to do it on a tight budget, right down to the curtains.

So I headed off to my mini fabric supply area and started rummaging through to find something that would look nice and had enough fabric yardage to do the job. I found a very nice sheet that I had purchased for $2.50 several years ago at Goodwill. I have always like the fabric, but never had a use for it until now. So I got out my handy dandy tools and set to work.

Basic Supplies

My tools are super simplistic and very cost effective. A yard stick that costs $4.00 at todays prices, but I have had mine for 30 years so I probably paid $2.00 for it. A pencil and $ .25 pencil sharpener, a bowl out of my kitchen cupboard and of course, my scissors.


The kitchen bowl was used to make rounded corners on the bottom of each curtain so the ruffle would flow smoothly around from the front edge to the bottom.

Of course when making a quilt it is undoubtedly quicker to use a rotary cutter as oppose to scissors, but you don’t have to have one to sew or quilt. A really good quality pair of scissors is all you really need.

Completed Curtain 2

Although sewing is a billion dollar business today, we don’t have to actively participate by spending our hard earned dollars on the latest fad. We can make do with what we already have, it just takes a spark of creativity.

Happy Stitching!

6 thoughts on “Like Grandma Use To Do

  1. Exactly! Those old sheets are so much nicer than what they sell today. I had to sew every curtain in our house because every window is a custom size. I probably did the entire house, with hardware for $500. Had I bought curtains, we were looking at $300 minimum for the small windows…13 in all, and two giant picture windows.

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    • The price of store bought curtains is ridiculous Kathy. I don’t know how people get along without being able to sew for themselves. In our previous home, we had 6 floor to ceiling windows in our living room. I made custom curtains for each one. On the day we sold the house and were leaving for the last time, a friend of ours took them down out of the windows and shoved them in my arms. She said the price of curtains is too expensive and that I should not leave them for the next owners. Gradually over the years I have cut them up to make other curtains and many quilts now have squares of them as well. Every time I look at that fabric I am reminded of how much I loved that old Victorian home. It really does pay to be frugal.

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  2. OK first, that fabric is darling. Second, I like your approach to fabric stashing. I learned a while ago that buying big pieces of fabric isn’t so smart for someone like me as my taste changes so I only hoard fat quarters now. All that said, I am now down to 2 large bins of fabric stash, I’m rather proud of that. My goal is to get down to one bin. Third, I agree with you about all the gadgets, they really are just a way to spend money. Sure I have a few rulers I like and a few rotary cutters (most were gifts) but if a technique or pattern requires a special tool I am less likely to want to do it. I remember in the 1980s when our local lumberyard gave away yard sticks for free.

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  3. LOL, you know Stephanie, my yard stick may have been one of the free ones because I don’t remember ever buying one. The shoe box thing is something that I learned at a quilting class I took several years back. The fella who taught it, takes all his left over scraps, under 1/4 yard, and cuts them up into various sizes and stores them into shoe boxes. Incidentally, the class was called “Bob’s shoe box quilt class”. We all made quilts using his vast supply of 2 1/2″ squares that were all stored in shoe boxes. I loved this idea so much that I went right out and purchased $1.00 shoe boxes from Walmart and I have been organized ever since. It really is a great way to store left over fabric. On the topic of gadgets, I agree with you, some are extremely useful and I would not want to have to quit without them. They simply make my life easier and I like that. Some people don’t know anything but what they read in magazines and on the internet though. They think they have to have a special notions to create something useful and/or beautiful, and it is simply not true. If you decide to try the shoe box’s send me a photo, I would love to see how you organize with them.


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