Category Archives: Tips

Pressing Matters

Big Board (Medium)

“Quilters don’t iron, they press.” How many times have you heard that?  And, I press a lot.  A good pressing surface is so important to me.  For several years I had a standard size ironing board and then upgraded to a larger ironing board.  Not good enough!  My hubby had a large piece of plywood in his stash that I commandeered. He willingly and quickly made a “big board” to fit my ironing board.  I made the cover and LOVE it!  It is not the standard size you usually see patterns advertised for, but using what was on hand was the economical choice.  And on the very, very rare occasion I iron clothing, the big board easily lifts off.

Wall Iron Board up (Medium)

Wall iron board down (Medium)

Down and out of the way. See the tile at the end? That’s for the hot iron!

 

For little pieces – ironing open seams when sewing small pieces together, I use my travel iron.  I had a travel ironing board that I kept at the end of my cutting table.  However, after rearranging my studio, that no longer worked because the cord was in tripping position – and if anyone is going trip over the cord, I am!  I told hubby that I would love a wall mounted board that would fold down when not in use, but they cost more than I was willing to pop for – need that $ for fabric. Mr. Handy Hubby found that to be an easy fix – he mounted my existing travel board on the wall near an outlet.  All quilt pressing issues solved. I’ll admit, it’s great to have a willing handyman at my disposal and I try hard not to take that for granted!

Irons (Medium)What do I press with? Oh…I have a few irons. Different weights and sizes. There are several more that travel to retreats for all to use. No one big favorite –  I change them out every so often, usually when the one I’ve been using needs a cleaning. And yes, I use steam, starch and a water spray bottle.

Wish I had all Pressing Matters that well under control!

NOTE: There is still room in the Fall II Retreat – check it out today!

Linking up today with Em’s Scrapbag and Let’s Bee Social.

Colorful 16 Patch

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Daffodils and so much more are in bloom, temps have been very moderate for spring, all of which makes staying in the studio a little tough. I also was gone for a week to Florida in January and last week four days to Charleston, SC. I did, however, manage to complete a 16 patch that was started two years ago! I love the brightness of this quilt. All shot cottons were used. These fabrics were a bit challenging to use especially when quilting. I found a secret to using shot cottons is to starch, starch, starch!

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It was an appropriate finish for this early Spring – I couldn’t resist a pic with the daffodils. When it was complete, I looked at all the finished quilts in my home (no, I won’t try to give a number!) and decided this quilt was better designated as a Hospice quilt. It should bring some brightness to a patient or family member.

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Today’s link-ups:  WIPS on Wednesdays, Em’s Scrapbag, Let’s Bee Social

Scrapbuster Sunday – Mini Thank You Quilts

Recently I attended a funeral held out of town for a dear aunt of mine. The few days I spent there were really a marvelous celebration of her life. Her children, my six cousins, were amazingly hospitable and I wanted to thank them in a special way. Of course, I always go to quilting. I decided to do mini quilts from my scraps. Once the blocks were sewn, I mounted them on a solid piece of duck cloth (it is tightly woven). I both glued the block onto the piece and then did a little bit of straight stitching around the outside edge and in the middle of each block. The mounted blocks were then glued onto a 5″ x 7″ plain while card. Making freestyle blocks with piles of scraps was such a rush of creativity!

Sadly, I think thank you cards seem to be coming extinct, having been replaced by a message on Facebook and often, no thank you at all. This was my way to express just how grateful I was to my cousins for the hospitality and love they poured out during their time of grieving.

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These mini blocks were a lot of fun to do and I’m sure I will be creating several more in my future! Bonus – a handful of scraps gone!!

Organization – Fun labels!

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Just got back from a week at beautiful Jekyll Island, Georgia, so no sewing to show for this past week. I did a little applique work and knitting while there, but mostly bicycling and enjoying the ocean. I have, however, labeled all my bins and project boxes in my studio. Do you know about chalkboard labels and chalk pens?  I didn’t until my daughter suggested I use them in my sewing studio. I was like a kid in a toy shop when they arrived. I purchased a pack of 45 – plenty, right? Wrong! I’ll be needing a few more to complete the process.

Now all my supply/fabric bins are clearly labeled. For the few wire bins I have, I just cut a strip to fit across the top of the bin. The liquid chalk pen is so easy to write with.

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The project boxes are now not only clearly labeled, but they look nice too! When a project is complete, I can just erase and write a new project name.

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I know, I know, lots of projects!!

 

Admittedly, I am a bit organization obsessive, but like it even better when it’s easy and looks good!

Strips Make Quick Work!

This is my second quilt with this fabric line. The first was gifted and my guess this one will go into my quilt collection or may very well be a gift to someone in the future.

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I started out by cutting 2 1/2″ strips using my Big Kick Pro. I used to be such a snob about these cutting machines, but now eat my words. Not only do they make quick work of what can sometimes be a tedious chore, they make totally accurate cuts! No more slipping an eighth of an inch and saying not so nice words in frustration. I used a quilt pattern I found on You Tube with Three Dudes. This was quick, fun and didn’t require a whole lot of thinking. I love to sprinkle these kinds of quilts among my other projects. Mindless sewing can be so therapeutic!

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If you have journeyed with me on my quilt adventures, you know I’m all about the borders. A plain white border sets off the center of the quilt nicely. Wanting to keep the pieced border simple, I just sewed strips, cut them, and pieced them into the long borders. Here’s something new I am beginning to do with these pieced borders: an eighth of an inch on each side I am sewing a seam, much like stay stitching in garment sewing. (The seams appear wavy because the fabric is not laying flat.) Now the seams stay closed when I work with the border and when the quilt top is quilted! This is another top for the “to be quilted” pile (you know, the one I never wanted to start to begin with.)

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Mega Scrap Project

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So very many scraps! There are six  boxes (14″ x 11″ x 6.5″) filled with fabric pieces left over from other projects.

scrap bin (Large)

I do not cut mine into strips or squares because I do not want to limit their use. They are sorted by color. I randomly chose a bunch of pieces from each box and cut them into 1 1/2″ strips. As you can see, there is no order to this pile! What am I making? A rug! There is a little sewing involved. I sewed the ends of two strips together, then took an open end and added another strip. I kept chain piecing until many were sewn then just clipped them apart. I do not press the strips in half as some do because that is just way too much pressing!

Have you guessed what I’ve made? Fabric yarn! Using a simple single crochet and a large crochet hook, I am crocheting a rectangle that will be a small scatter rug for my guest bathroom. It is amazingly heavy duty and durable and wonderfully colorful. I also just pile the “yarn” in this wonderful basket (I bought at a show – made in Africa) rather than wind it into a ball. I found that it was not necessary to do that and was another timesaver.

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It’s really fun to have a different kind of fabric project that travels well and uses so many fabric scraps!

A Shout out to Quilters’ Resources This great site posts all things quilting – shows, events, shops, guilds, retreats, etc.  They have listed the Quilt & Sew-In Retreat on the Show and Retreat page – thank you! Check it out – see what you might be missing!!

3 Day Workshop Prep

In a few weeks I will be attending a 3 day workshop. I don’t usually do workshops, but will I not only learn some new techniques, but it will be a get-away and I am sure to meet some wonderful quilters.

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Paws for Comfort

There is some prep so I thought I’d better do it now, because when I get back from the Quilt & Sew-In next week, I might not have the energy to tackle it! After searching through my stash I chose a cute dog and cat fabric that I used when I designed the Paws for Comfort quilt. Cutting instructions for 26 blocks were sent and the cutting is to be done prior to the workshop. It was suggested we label zip lock bags and have one for each block. I do at times use zip lock bags, but I did not want to deal with 26 of them, so…

Notebook I

A notebook with plastic protectors! I have the picture and cutting instructions for each block in the front of a protector and the fabric for that block behind the pattern. I can just flip through the book – easy and organized! For safety, I put a large hair elastic around the notebook – should it be turned upside down, the pieces won’t all come tumbling out of the notebook.

Notebook II

I’ll also have some blank sheets so I can take notes as the old memory is not so dependable any more. I’ve completed all the cutting  and it feels grand to be prepared weeks ahead of time! I’m really excited to be doing so much fun sewing in the next few weeks!

Shabby Chic Mega Project

My guest room is painted white. The bed covering is white. Why? It makes for a peaceful blank canvas that I can embellish with pops of color. My bed scrappy bed skirt is one.

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A scrappy decorative pillow is another. The rack of quilts on the wall certainly add color as does a wall hanging. I have decided, however, that I want a quilted bed covering but want to keep the “white” look.

I love white on white fabrics – perfect for this quilt! I purchased as many different white on white and off white on off white 1/4 yards as I could find. I also set up my featherweight for this project – it is a dream to do lots of straight stitching on!  I am now making hourglass blocks, alternating the white and off white in each block. This is how I construct my hourglass blocks:

First, put two fabric squares right sides together. Draw a line from one corner to the opposite corner. Sew a 1/4″ from the drawn line on both sides of the line. Cut down the center between the two sewn seams; press each section, seams open.

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Now cut across each sewn block, corner to corner, across the sewn seam:

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IMG_0766Place the half squares together as above – note the contrasting fabrics are placed opposite each other. Stitch together, press open seam.

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The completed block

IMG_0771 (Large) I have made great progress on this project, but it will be quite some time before it is completed. I plan to put them all (all 180 blocks that is!) together as a rag quilt. Eighty blocks are made and the other just need one seam sewed to make the last 100. I’ll then quilt each block separately, sew them together and begin the clipping. What are my chances this will be on the bed in time for Christmas??!

 

A Good Start

Bag Otter (Large)

This new year has gotten off to a good start in the sewing studio, but first one last project from last year. Someone special to us loves otters. Funny how some creatures can endear themselves to some of us. Thanks to Fabric.com I found otter fabric – who knew?! I made a large bag with a large front pocket, one that would be great to take to the beach. I also fussy cut one of the otters, used a heavy stabilizer and coated it with Stiffy. I like adding some kind of dimension to adorn a bag like this – often it is yo-yo’s and buttons.

Otter (Large)

As for sewing in the new year, I’ve been working on one of my projects each day. There are no finishes for 2016 yet, and probably won’t be for a while. No quickies in the works. I am challenging myself with some hand applique and some curve piecing.  I think it’s going to be a good year!!

1 11 Progress

 

Scrapbuster – A Finish! & Binding How-To

Meadow Quilt (Large)

Finally – I quilted and bound my leader-ender green scrappy quilt, “Meadow.” I wanted to practice using my BSR (Bernina Stitch Regulator) so I quilted this one myself. I began by quilting it rather close and continued that pattern – it was a lot of quilting! I’m not giving any close-up shots of this one. Doesn’t matter really – it served its purpose.

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I put a lot of hours into it and am ready to move on to something else with my quilting. I prefer to keep it small though. No matter what I do to the surface of my sewing surface, it does not slide nicely. And, I don’t really want to quilt big quilts. I love the soothing green of this quilt. It will be my “travel” quilt – cozy in the car and extra warmth when going to weekend sew-ins.

BINDING HOW-TO – I’m taking this opportunity to share how I have been doing my bindings. I am no longer able to hand stitch the second sides of my bindings unless it is a small wall hanging or art quilt. Unfortunately, my hand cramps.  I’ve taken tips and pieces from several other quilters and have come up with my method. I prepare my binding but do not fold it in half. I put it on a handy roll that my hubby and I came up with. It goes around my neck and the binding never tangles or gets in the way. I love this gadget! I have several of the tubes, so as soon as I complete a quilt top, I prepare the binding and roll it onto the tube.

Binding on Roll (Large)Sew the binding onto the right side of the quilt, mitering the corners and joining the ends.

On the front of the quilt, press the binding open, flat.

Turn the quilt over. Doing one side at a time, first turn the binding over to the back side of the quilt and press down. Then apply a very thin line of Elmer’s White School Glue (have never tried another glue and I understand this is the only one to use!).

Turn and Press (Large)Glue Line (Large)

Press the binding down. On the right side of the quilt, stitch in the ditch at the binding and quilt edge. It will catch on the back.

stitch in ditch (Large)Back side of binding (Large)

Repeat for the other 3 sides.Take a couple of hand stitches on each turned corner.

You’re done! A quilt binding done in a fraction of the time it takes to hand sew. The added benefit is that it will last forever – especially good for baby and kid quilts!

None of my other projects are even close to being complete. This is the first time in a long time this has been the case. Guess I need to get busy!!