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Drapery Fabric Samples

Sandra Hatch

Drapery Fabric Samples


Dora wants some help. "I have "oodles" of drapery fabric sample books, having retired and closed my drapery shop. I would appreciate suggestions as how to use these fabrics. They are all one of a kind with several compatibles. Suggestions are welcome."

I don't have drapery samples, but if you look at the photos of the fabrics samples I shared above, you will see that I have lots of little scraps. Even though the pieces are often glued to the cardboard, I do pull the pieces off, glue, cardboard and all. I give the smaller scraps to my mother. She actually soaks them in water to remove the stuck-on cardboard and glue, and then uses them in her crazy quilts.

The sets with cardboard headers are easier to work with. I only have to remove the staples to free the fabrics. Sorting them and finding a place to keep them is my problem. These samples are the perfect size for use in scrap quilts. If anyone has other ideas to help Dora use her samples, please write.

Mickey shares: "Regarding drapery samples: My sister-in-law had many drapery-sample books, and she made beautiful cards using the samples. She used mainly flowers cut from the samples, but I am sure a creative person could use many other shapes. I loved receiving her handmade cards."

This type of fabric would be great for cards because it is usually a heavier weight. Good idea, Mickey.

Mary has a hint. "In response to Dora's question about using drapery sample fabrics. I have used them to make gift bags for more than 15 years, usually for Christmas and birthdays in my family. The patterns are pretty and make great bags for gifts for other people. They can keep them or reuse them for other giftgiving. Just use contrasting ribbon or shoelaces for the ties and let your imagination run free."

Myra adds: "Those drapery sample swatches are great for making school bags. The ones we make are a finished size of 12" x 14", with a 3" x 10" handle. They hold crayons, scissors, spiral notebooks, pencils, pencil sharpeners, rulers, and construction paper. They are shipped all over the world to refugees. The same pattern can be used for local school kits. I have even seen them used for walker bags with buttons or Velcro tabs to hold them onto the walker. Oh, yes, we love those drapery sample books!"

Eve has a unique suggestion. "I enjoy your newsletters! I'd like to respond to Dora's request about how to use up drapery material. There is a need for cosmetic bags with zipper/Velcro closures in women's prisons. Local camps were asking for camping bags for toilet articles for needy children as well. School bags with inner pockets for money/pencils/crayons are another good use of this type of material."

Carol writes: "Today's newsletter was exciting to read. I live on the small Caribbean island of Anguilla and operate the Estate Hope Art Studio, making handmade heirloom quilts and art quilts, selling to both tourists and local people. I use many different types of fabrics including linen, rayon, silk, drapery and upholstery fabrics as well as cotton and polyester! I also incorporate dressmaker fabrics, satins and wool in my quilts. You name it, I quilt it.

"I use combinations of fabrics and have learned how to work with them. It is very hard to find information about mixed-media fabrics. I find they add a lot of texture and interest to my quilts. Each has a special quality. For example, rayon is great to quilt. It is very soft, but square or oblong pieces work better than triangles. Drapery fabrics work well in sashings and borders.

"I have considered writing a book on my techniques. Why be limited to just cotton? It's fun to experiment!"

Peggy says, "I noticed Dora's question on how to use leftover drapery samples from books she had when she closed her drapery shop. I used to sew for an interior designer and have many discontinued books and leftover fabrics. I make crazy quilt and regular square (4 1/2" x 5 1/2") purses from the samples. I use a herringbone stitch around all the patches and even make the handles and pockets from the smaller 4 "-wide sample books. Since the fabric comes in the same book, they are neatly coordinated and I use the leftover larger scraps of fabric (from already-made drapes) for the linings. Each purse is one-of-a kind and everyone just adores them."

Linda wants to help. "I belong to a group that makes quilts for charity, and we were given a large amount of drapery fabric samples. We cut them into 6" or 8" squares and sewed them together to make quilt tops. Because the fabric tends to be heavy, we simply backed them with flannel, pillowcase style, and then tied the layers together with yarn. They really make quite attractive quilts."

Ann likes to help. "I make clothes and baby quilts for needy babies in Mexico. I was given 60-plus books by a member of our church. I made shirts/jackets (18-month size) from some of the fabric. I seamed two pieces together for the back and used a different piece for each front, sleeve, collar and facings. Some were made with animal prints that I paired with a tan pair of pants to make safari suits! Much of the fabric was cut into 6" squares and made into 42"-square quilts. I filled them with batting and backed them with flannel, then quilted them by stitching in the ditch.

"Some of these babies die from the cold because they live in tar-paper shacks without heat. It warms me to know that maybe I can help in some way."

Kathy writes: "My church has used fabric samples in two ways. First, the heavier samples, along with their coordinates, are used to make small fabric purses. Chain or plastic handles are attached. Second, we passed out white fabric squares and fabric crayons at Bible School and asked each attendee to draw a peace square. We used squares cut from the fabric samples to piece the drawn squares together in a large wall quilt. The fabric squares broke up the drawings and helped the eye see each one."