Specialty CQ Fabrics That Really Add That Special Unique Touch!

Julie Yonge © 2008

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At the Houston International Quilt Festival I am privy to some of the most beautiful fabrics and textiles one could ever dream of seeing. Strolling the many exhibits and booths at the George R. Brown Convention Center where the Houston International Quilt Festival is held, to me, is similar to going on a five-mile hike into a magical land where everywhere you look there are beautiful, enticing things – different textures, colors; some sparkling, some fancy, some plain, some embellished so that they bring an immediate smile to your face; some just mesmerize and draw you in to tickle the keys of your imagination. Many of the fabrics offered are cotton for the traditional quilter, but these days with crazy quilting and mixed media coming to the forefront of design interest of many artisans, there are also beautiful silks, velvets and other specialty fabrics to tickle one's fancy and add that perfect touch to a project. I want to share with you some of the vendors I visited offering some unique and beautiful fabrics which would work perfectly in your next crazy quilt or embroidery project. I have pieces in my stash from each one of these wonderful vendors – I just couldn’t help it!

Langa Lapu Fabrics:

Langa Lapu’s business owner and designer is Pru Bolus. Now these ARE cotton fabrics, but as you will see, they are very unique and can add beautiful design to your project. The magnificence of the sea, mountains, forest and complex floral kingdom of the Southern tip of Africa is reflected in their colors and designs. They work within environmentally sensitive boundaries, using nontoxic dyes and recycling when possible. Production is limited by the time consuming hand-dyeing process and the season of September to May, since sunlight is essential to producing the magic of Sun Cloth. At her booth at the Houston International Quilt Festival, she offers fabric packs of fat quarter mixes with leaf prints, crackles and solid fabrics that are just scrumptious. See the pictures below - aren’t these fabrics just stunning?

And each one is unique. You can find the outlets in the United States that offer her beautifully designed fabrics at her website: www.langalapu.co.za .

Silk Adaptations – Mary Jo Hiney Designs:

Business owner and designer - Mary Jo Hiney. Many of you may be familiar with Mary Jo Hiney; she is a gifted seamstress, designer, and teacher. Mary Jo has a degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and has been in the sewing, quilting and crafting industries since 1993. But before that, Mary Jo was the owner of Something Special, Made By Hand, a manufacturer of handmade gifts and decorative accessories sold to the gift market. I was fortunate to take a class from Mary Jo last fall and become familiar with her new line of Silk Adaptations, which is an enticing collection of silk fabrics in an inspiring array of colors. They can be purchased as individual pieces or as a package of seven coordinated color fabric pieces. Here is a scan showing her packaged color ways.

These are beautiful dupioni silks of the finest quality and would add beauty to any crazy quilt project. Mary Jo also offers a selection of blended silk and metallic fabrics which have a wonderful and inviting texture.

Mary Jo also has many patterns available for purses, pillows and small quilt hangings, and has a line of beautiful and inspirational hand made cards called “Give Your Heart”.

Last year Mary Jo and Helen Gibb joined together to offer hand-dyed silk ribbons as well. And, she has a book, published last year, called Simply Silk that is just amazing. Gorgeous and unique projects along with patterns are included in the book. See the book review in our Book Review section. Be sure to visit her website: www.maryjohineydesigns.com for further information on all these items.

Libas, Ltd.:

Libas, Ltd. is a wholesaler who imports specialty silks that are just beautiful. These are sold online through Loraine Torrence Designs. Loraine Torrence carries Libas solid silk dupioni colors by the yard and in fat quarter packs (six to a package), as well as some silk noil and a fat quarter pack of Libas signature silks which are patterned silks of plaids and stripes - these are my favorite:

They are really nice additions to crazy quilt piecing, embroidery or appliqué. I have used these signature silks a lot in my work and just love them. Here is the link to Libas silks at Loraine Torrence Designs: http://www.lorrainetorrence.com/cgi-bin/Store/store.cgi?cart_id=6581319.10216.s0&lastmenu=&product=1102


Many of you may be familiar with Artemis as distributors of Hanah Silk Ribbons, but have you seen their silk/rayon velvet? Oh my gosh, the colors and texture of this velvet is simply amazing. If you are looking for that special velvet in a dreamy color, take a gander here, you won’t be disappointed. Barbara Blankenship, one of our staff writers, is also a designer for Artemis and uses these beautiful silk/rayon velvets and Hanah silk ribbons in her designs and they always come out winners!

Here is the link to the Artemis silk/rayon velvets:  http://www.artemisinc.com/Velvet.html


Owner and designer – Victoria Adams Brown.

Again many of you may be familiar with Victoria Adams Brown. She is the owner of RibbonSmyth, an online shop for the crazy quilter, embroiderer and fiber artist extraordinaire. She is also an accomplished artist, seamstress, teacher and writer (with several books published on silk ribbon embroidery). She has studied among the best, including the Ecole de Broderie d’Art LeSage in Paris; she belongs to many of the online groups focusing on crazy quilting and silk ribbon embroidery, sharing her wonderful wit, techniques and designs. Vickie has some beautiful color assortment packs of dupioni silk solids, Chinese brocades and velvets, including crushed velvet and burnout. Any of these fabrics would really add elegance to your projects.


Check the RibbonSmyth website for these fabrics and lots of other embellishments: http://ribbonsmyth.com.

Princess Mirah Silks:

I have to admit, I was not familiar with this line, but as I strolled through the vendor booths, these really caught my eye. The colors were luscious. Princess Mirah Design is a division of Bali Fabrics, Inc. and has been producing beautiful, hand-made batik fabrics, designed exclusively by Princess Mirah Design, for over twenty-five years. Their line has been inspired by the vibrant batik designs and exotic colors of Bali. They specialize in batiks; however, they have introduced a line of silks that are just dreamy. They have silk satin, silk chiffon, and silk crinkle.

These fabrics can be found at Quilting Arts, link: http://www.quiltingarts.com/shop/fiberstrimsimages6.html or at Joggles, link: http://www.joggles.com/store/catalog/index.php?cPath=30_266. The colors and textures these fabrics provide will definitely add a special touch to any project.

To be sure, between the quilt shows, quilt and fabric shops and online vendors, our choices for beautiful specialty fabrics have really opened up and the choices can be quite overwhelming. I just wanted to share a few of those I visited at the last Houston International Quilt Festival that “tickled my fancy,” enough so, that my crazy quilting stash had increased quite a bit by Festival’s end. I encourage you to visit their websites and browse all they have to offer to entice your creativity to flow – you won’t be sorry!.

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