A Quilter’s Dilemma—Or Not!

As I do almost every year, I’m working on UFOs this year. I hope to complete 13 in ’13. This idea came from QM Scrap Squad member Marty Dyer-Allison. (The girl also goes for 52 quilts in 52 weeks. Overachiever. icon smile A Quilters Dilemma—Or Not! )

misc11 A Quilters Dilemma—Or Not!

So yesterday I was merrily attaching the binding to the back of this pink and green quilt I pieced about 10 years ago. I had cut the binding back then, rolled it up neatly and stuck it in a drawer. The rest of the fabric is long gone.

bind1 A Quilters Dilemma—Or Not!Here’s what happened. As I’m approaching the place where the binding ends will be sewn together, it becomes clear that I’m ever-so-slightly short. It was only about two inches. AARGH.

MH900423155 A Quilters Dilemma—Or Not!

I take a deep breath and think these things:

  1. “I’ve run out of fabric before and have come up with a solution. So many times, in fact, that I’ve thought of creating a whole guild program/lecture about it. CALM DOWN.”
  2. “This is a utility quilt. I’m not trying to win any prizes.”
  3. “I’m a creative person. Surely I can solve this problem.”

nebraska1 A Quilters Dilemma—Or Not!

I live way out in the middle of nowhere (see the green neon square?). I’m almost an hour away from a quilt shop, so shopping my stash seems like the way to go.

bind7 A Quilters Dilemma—Or Not!

So-so options for a substitute fabric

I’m lucky to have a pretty healthy stash and much of it is sorted by color. So I dive into the red/pink drawers and come up with a few so-so options. If I had known sooner, I could have used all of these fabrics for the binding and it would have been great, but it’s a little too late for that option.

bind2 A Quilters Dilemma—Or Not!Eventually I land on this fabric. Not perfect but pretty darn close. Close enough for me and this utility quilt.

bind3 A Quilters Dilemma—Or Not!I cut a bit off of the original binding so as not to have two joins just inches apart. I set in the substitute fabric. Looks okay from the back.

bind6 A Quilters Dilemma—Or Not!Once it’s turned to the front and sewn down, I’m actually pretty happy with how well it camouflages itself.

If you run out of fabric, how should you proceed? Here’s what I have learned.

MB900423169 A Quilters Dilemma—Or Not!

  1. Keep things in perspective. It’s just a quilt. It’s not a terminal diagnosis.
  2. Embrace the situation as an opportunity to be creative.
  3. Look for substitute fabric in your stash or at the quilt shop. It will need to be similar in these ways:
  • Color
  • Scale (how large or small the print is)
  • Value (the lightness or darkness)

Sew it in and move forward! Sometime soon I’ll do a blog post with examples. This has happened to me so many times and I’ve learned how to roll with it. You can, too!


About Diane Harris

I'm an editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I wrote pattern instructions, product reviews and how-to articles. Then I spent four years as QM's Interactive Editor, working to generate much of our online content. Now I'm back to patterns and how-tos, which is a great fit for me. I still love writing about quilt-related topics for Quilty Pleasures, and I always have my finger on the pulse of the quilting world. I teach a variety of quilt classes and give guild programs, too. Reach me by email: editor@quiltmaker.com.
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