Humble Beginnings

Humble Beginnings
Today I’m going to take you on a little journey behind the scenes. Let’s go all the way back to a quilt’s very humble beginnings, the cotton plant.
clip_image002Cotton plant

Now this is what I call a blank canvas. What do you see: quilts, a summer dress, soft towels, or hard working jeans?

clip_image004Cotton field in Suffolk, Virginia
Two innovations that helped create the growth of the cotton industry in the United States were the cotton gin and mechanical spinners. Once cotton was easy to clean and spin, it didn’t take long for it to become an affordable and universally worn fabric.
clip_image006Picked cotton waiting to be processed

This is where the magic really begins. The cotton gin separates the plant into two products, the seed and the fiber.

Cotton seed is high in protein and oil. It’s sent off to become a variety of products from mayonnaise to rubber. Did you know cottonseed oil is on the American Heart Association list of “good foods”?
clip_image008A cotton gin, Virginia
The fiber, now called lint, is bundled into large bales. One bale could make 1200 pillowcases!
clip_image010Cotton bale

Next it’s off to the textile mill where it’s pulled, combed, twisted, and eventually woven into fabric. You may have heard the term greige goods, pronounced like the color grey. That’s the plain cloth from the loom.

 
How It’s Made Fabrics by Ian Collier on Youtube
Finally, our favorite fabric companies dye and print lovely yards of fabric for us to pet, purchase, and turn into quilts.
That’s a lot of people involved in the making of your quilt!
 
Printed Fabric Production by Avlyn Fabrics on Youtube
Grab a trip souvenir while you’re here. QuiltWoman.com carries a variety of fun kits!
19” Vintage Patchwork Snowman Kit DML-201 $15.50
This pattern and kit includes an antique beehive bobbin, complete instructions for making fringed snowman, mini quilt with template, fringed trees and fringed snowman pincushion.
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by:
DML – Down Memory Lane – Nancy Hughes
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Vintage Spool Pincushion Kit DML-177 $11.00
Kit includes quilted time worn fabric, 4″ tall x 3″ diameter genuine antique yarn wrapped silk spool with wood core, one jumbo button for top of pincushion and complete easy instructions.
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by:
DML – Down Memory Lane – Nancy Hughes
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Star Spin Kit ROG-1014K $26.99
Kit includes all fabrics (100% cotton) for quilt top, back, and binding. Also included are batting, quilting designs, precise patterns and complete illustrated instructions.
Finished Size: 22″ x 22″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by:
ROG – Rachel’s of Greenfield
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Midnight Snowman Kit ROG-9205K $15.99
Kit includes foundation fabric, iron-on transfer pattern, ALL floss to complete the project (DMC cottons), and illustrated instructions.

Finished Size: 3″ x 4″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by:
ROG – Rachel’s of Greenfield

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Always sew for fun!
Carol Steely, FunThreads Designs
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2 Responses to Humble Beginnings

  1. Joan says:

    I live in rural northeast Alabama where most fields look snow covered in the fall but it’s actually fields of cotton as far as the eye can see. I love your cotton story. Keep buying that beautiful quilting fabric. It helps keep the food on the tables of my hardworking farmer neighbors. As a quilter, I do my part!

  2. Edna Drakeford says:

    I was born and raised in South Carolina where I grew up picking cotton. We still see some but not as much because the government does not help the farmer to grow cotton which use to be a stable in the South, then it’s shipped over seas where it is turned into fabric for us to buy for our quilts. There are not many factories here in the US to product our fabric any more so we continue to buy from foreign countries. What a shame.

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