29 September 2010

Home and Away

I've been a bad girl  :-(

If you follow this blog, I'm so sorry for being quiet recently. We've had a lot going on, starting with the end of Ramadhan and the celebrations of Eid. To top it off I've been away Away, but now I'm back Home and things have somewhat settled back into routine, so here we go again!

Now I may not have been posting, but I've been thinking a lot about quilting, and I have many things to share with you.

But first things first, some photos to get you in the mooood. Rows upon rows of beautiful fabric!

And notions, trims, patterns etc to boot...

The pics are from some of the quilt shops I visited while away Away. A special thanks to Yummy Hubby for patiently accompanying me and waiting for me while I oohed and aahhhed my way through them. One thing that intrigued me about this trip was applique, which is something I really don't do enough of. I saw some really awesome applique, I wonder if I'm brave enough to try some?

Too soon our trip was over, and it was time to go Home.

Now guess what's the best bit about Home?...

Home Sweet Home!

13 September 2010


Just a short one this time. We are in the middle of the Eid celebrations here, so posts are going to be touch and go these couple of weeks.

Anyways, I find that quite a number of people who visit A Fabric Case are new to quilting. If you are one of them, Thank You!!! for your interest, and I hope you keep reading, and that the quilting bug will come and bite you one day :-)

Just for you guys I thought I'd give a glossary of some of the terms used in quilting. I'm definitely no expert though, and am myself learning new things everyday, which I will share with you also, for sure.

Let's start with a favourite topic - Fabric.


Quilters like to use cotton, because it's easy to work with. Imagine trying to cut out small pieces of, let's say, satin. Or chiffon. It would be an effort trying to get straight edges, let alone stitch them together in straight lines. Also, because of the nature of quilts, cotton is much, much more durable. But you may ask, if that's the case, why then don't we use something sturdier, like linen for example. Well, can you imagine cuddling up with yards and yards of linen? Or unbreathable rayon? I didn't think so. Again cotton trumps them all in terms of comfort.

Of course, some other types of fabric share the above qualities to some acceptable extent, like poly-cotton, and you can use this to make quilts, but 100% cotton still remains the number one choice.

Ok, so where can we find this cotton? At the moment, the most obvious choice is American Cotton. In my opinion at least, they've got the market cornered in terms of quality and choice for patchwork and quilting. Many a times I've found myself silenced and awestruck by just the choice of beautiful prints available. But American Cotton is pricey. Especially by Malaysian standards. If you're just beginning to quilt, I'd suggest visiting some of the local textile shops, like Nagoya and Kamdar, where cotton and cotton blend is more affordable, although choice might eventually become an issue.

Fabric here is sold by the metres. In America cotton is sold by the yard. That's slightly skinnier than a metre. A yard typically measures 36" X the width of fabric (WOF). Normally the WOF is 42-44".

Because a quilt is made up by piecing together many different prints of fabric, the fabric is often sold in smaller increments. Sometimes you need just a small amount of a particular fabric, so you wouldn't need to purchase a whole yard.

As the name denotes, this is half a yard of fabric. Our local textile shops don't sell fabric by the half-metres, unfortunately, but I've managed to get away with it once in a while. You just have to try your luck and ask.

Fat quarters
A fat quarter is a quarter of a yard, but cut in a particular way so that each quarter of the yard measures (approx) 18" X 22". This cut gives quilters more fabric space to play with than if the yard is cut in 9" X 44" quarters.

Fat eighths
A half of a fat quarter, a fat eight is an eighth of a yard.

Now we move on to the pre-cuts. This is where the fabric manufacturers cut up their fabric into measured  pieces, and sell them in pre-cut packages. From my (maybe limited?) experience, Moda does the most extensive range of pre-cuts. Some of the most commonly used are:

Layer Cake
These are 10" X 10" squares of fabric. Normally there're about 40 squares in each layer cake. Each square should also be different (but coordinating) fabric.

Charm Pack
A charm pack is a pack of 5" X 5" squares. Again there're usually about 40 squares (all different fabric) in one pack.

Jelly Roll
A roll of 2.5" strips of fabric. The length of each strip is basically the width of that fabric (ie 42-44").

Honey Bun
Also a roll of fabric strips, but this time, the width of each fabric strip is 1.5".

I think this is enough to chew on for now. More next time!

01 September 2010

A Small Quilt With A Big Story

Now this is A Small Quilt With A Big Story.

Make yourselves comfortable, because I'm going to tell you the story.

On 31st August 1957 Malaysia celebrated independence. Formally from British colonial rule. A long time ago, in 1786 to be exact, an English trader, Captain Francis Light, while sailing on his boat one day landed on the island of Penang in the Malay Peninsula, and therefrom began a history of British rule. He's still there, in Penang, and you can visit his grave if you happen to be passing through.

Now this part of the world was quite popular at that time, because of it's strategic position in terms of regional trade. We had people from all sorts of places coming ashore to trade.

Which was why another state, Malacca, became very popular as a trading zone. The Dutch came and colonialized Malacca for a while, but eventually in 1824 a treaty was signed which officially turned Malacca over to the British as well. Next in line was Singapore (you may have heard of Stamford Raffles?) which was a part of Malaya at that time, and the British stronghold on the three major trading hubs on the Malay Peninsula was complete.

Some time passed and British Malaya continued to expand to the other states on the Peninsula. We all lived quite simply and comfortably, until the Japanese came and did their thing in the 40's. It was a terrible time, and I vividly remember some of the gruesome stories my grandparents have told. Everyone was affected, whether Malayan or otherwise. When the war ended and the Queen re-established her reign over Malaya, we thought life would go back to its blissfully ignorant state. But not so. We then had to deal with communist insurgents.

This was a very bad time too. There was an emergency, and thousands of people, including innocent villagers were killed. For us here, it was almost as bad as the war itself. Many, many people came in selflessly to help us, some at an immense cost to themselves. British, Chinese, Gurkhas, Aussies to name a few. Finally, under the helm of the no-nonsense British High Commissioner Sir Edward Gent, the communists were defeated, and its leader the notorious Chin Peng exiled to Thailand. What followed was a road paved for self-government, and independent Malaya was born on 31st August 1957, with Tuanku Abdul Rahman as our first Prime Minister.

We are also celebrating our Malaysia Day on 16 September, to remember the formation of Malaysia on that day in 1963, when we were divorced from Singapore.

Today Malaysia is gratefully peaceful and multi cultural. A Small Quilt With A Big Story is my small tribute to the past, to our history, our people, and to others from various parts of the world who played a part, whether big or small, in making it what is today. Without them, we would not have this abundance of opportunity to live, love and quilt in peace and harmony.