Let’s Roll Those Quilts!!

When I left you yesterday the quilts were all piled on my table, waiting to be hauled up the stairs and put away!!

Since I had all of them out at the same time I decided to try another Bonnie Hunter technique and to ROLL the quilts for storage rather than folding them.

I have always worried about folding my quilts, knowing that creases were not going to be good for them and it seemed that rolling might just be the ticket.

I made a video of the process and you can see how easy it is to do. In the video I mentioned that the process was a bit tedious but that was an overstatement. After I had done 6 or 7 quilts it became much easier to do.

It was extremely satisfying to view the finished process…..

I got so encouraged that I moved to the pie safe where I store my “monthly” quilts and rolled those as well……

The quilts on the top shelf FILLED the space when they were laid flat but now I have room for several more!!

AND…..since I now have SO much extra space, I have a reason to MAKE MORE QUILTS!!!

You guys keep reading…..I am off to the studio!!

The Importance of Lighting

We all know how important lighting is in a studio. And, as I get older and my eyes get weaker, it is becoming even more important!!

The other day I purchased light bulbs but accidentally bought “daylight” versions instead of the usual “soft white”….

When I replaced a bulb in the den, it looked like I was sitting in an operating room rather than a family gathering place.

At first I was frustrated that I had bought the wrong thing but then started thinking about other places that these bulbs might work. I am sure that it comes as no surprise that my first thought was …..MY STUDIO!!!

I first replaced one of the bulbs and tried to take a photo to show the difference, but that didn’t work well. However, after I had changed three of them, I noticed the reflection in one of the tables so took that photo instead…..

LOOK how much difference it makes.

So now my studio is even brighter and I am elated!!

Is there a way that you can you brighten your work area?

Quilters toolbox

My last “Quilter’s toolbox” was a simple piece of paper. This one is just as simple…..

White fabric may seem like an UN-exciting tool but I am finding it to be one of the best things in my toolbox. And I am not talking about a high quality fabric…just a simple, cheap cotton.

I happened upon this treasure trove quite by accident!! Lori, one of my crafting friends, was cleaning out her studio and invited me to “shop” in her fabrics and supplies. Among other things, I walked away with these stacks of fabrics……

(And I know you are all thinking that I need more fabric like I need another hole in my head!!! But, if it is offered, what’s a girl to do.)

When I walked in Lori handed me the stack of white fabric (about 15 yards in total) and said that she had put it back especially for me!! I gratefully accepted it, but the thought in my mind was “what will I EVER do with this much white fabric”.

Believe it or not, I have already over 10 yards of it!!!!! On what, you might ask……

  • I made a prototype for a skirt that I was thinking about making.
  • I used it as part of the base fabrics in the “Meadow Walk” project
  • It was the base for my recently pieced crumb blocks.
  • Most often it has been used to make quilt sandwiches that I can use for FMQ practicing…..

….and as you can see, I need a LOT of practice.

It has been so nice to have a stash of these sandwiches all ready for me to grab when needed…..

There are several morals to this story. First, never look a gift horse in the mouth!!! Secondly, a good tool is a good tool…..no matter how simple!!

Don’t Throw That Away

As many of you know, I have recently expanded my studio and have been continuing to clean out “stuff” as I go. I pulled out yet another box full of “not remembered items” (aka UFO’s) and found this…..

This is not an actual rust dye but is a photo of one that has been printed on fabric. The quilting, however is real!! When I was making this quilt……

“Sunflowers in the Rust”

…..I wanted to practice before I took off on the real thing and decided that quilting on a copy would work just fine

I have no idea why I thought it was necessary to keep this practice piece but I am so glad that I did.

I used my special tool, a piece of card stock (read the blog here), and tried out several different orientations …..

When I was happy with the plan, I moved to the garage to play with frames. MANY, many years ago, I ended up at a craft supply sale that had wood frames for $1 each and mats priced at 4 for a $1. I stocked up, not knowing if I would ever use them….

….but over the years I have used over half of them and I’m dead yet so I have hope that my kids won’t have to figure out what to do with them!!!

I played first with just using a single frame….

….and then decided to dress it up a bit and use a mat as well…..

It now decorates a shelf in my office….

…….and I LOVE to see it when I walk to my desk. It not only reminds me of my favorite Sunflowers but also of the fun quilt that I made so long ago!!

So the final moral of this story is to Never….Ever…. EVER…..throw anything away!!! But, if you are reading this blog, I think that I am preaching to the choir!!

Let’s iron those chains!!

We all know that ironing is a BIG part of quilting and sometimes it takes longer to iron than it does to piece. And, woe to you if you don’t get it ironed flat!!!

Back when I was working on the Brown Stripe quilt, I made a video about an easier way to iron when you have been chain piecing. While it isn’t actually a TOOL, it certainly is a technique that will go a long way…..

But sweetie….he followed me home!!

Wednesday started out like a normal day. My plans were set for working in the morning and spending the afternoon in my studio. Then, we went to the gym….and you know that NOTHING good ever comes from that!!

While plodding along on the treadmill, I started listening to a quilting podcast and towards the end they started talking about Quilting Machines….long-arm, sit-down, mid-arm etc……

Slippery Slope: What It Is and How to Respond to It – Effectiviology

Back at the house, I couldn’t get the conversation out of my head and kept thinking about the Color Wheel quilt that is 82 inches square and wondering how I would ever quilt it on my Juki. Also, I realized that I actually have room for something like this in my new studio!!

Finally, I picked up the phone and called my local(ish) Juki dealer and started asking questions about the 2200QVP Sit-Down machine. I found out that this machine is being phased out and replaced by the identical machine, except with a stitch regulator (and a lot more $$$$$). Since I really wasn’t interested in the Stitch Regulator, I decided to make a trip to the store and give it a try.

I went prepared with rulers, quilting gloves, practice pieces and a basted charity quilt. I was immediately pleased with the stitch quality……

….but continued to sit and play!!

After about 2 hours, I was hooked and decided that this machine HAD to come home with me.

After huffing it up the stairs, Michael paused to take a photo of me and Julio……

On Thursday I found a couple of hours to keep working on the charity quilt and am again pleased with the results…..

There will definitely be things to learn and it will take a bit of time to get used to, but I am thrilled with my new purchase!!!!

Another tool in my Quilter’s Toolbox

As I said in my last post, this month was the second installment of the “Morewood Mystery” presented by Meadow Mist Designs, and this month centered around making Half-Square Triangles in two different sizes.

Cheryl, the moderator of the mystery gave some amazing suggestions for how to easily trim these HST’s using a Rotating Cutting Mat and the Bloc-Loc ruler. Check out my video to see these latest tools that I have added to my Quilter’s Toolbox…..

Quilter’s Toolbox….Cardstock

Yes, you read that right…..today’s quilter’s toolbox is a simple piece of card stock!!!

It started with the making of the “Thank You” quilt that I talked about in this blog post.

I knew what the flower would look like but wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted it to fall within the quilt. My solution was to cut a piece of card stock into three pieces…..

….throwing away the center section, leaving two L-shaped strips to be used to create temporary edges so that I determine the layout of my quilt……

When I decided which format I liked best (the center one above), I placed a ruler over the piece, having 1/4 inch sitting on top of the card…..

I carefully pulled the card strip out…..

And used the rotary cutter to make the first cuts which I then used to square up the second set of cuts…..

I also used this very special tool to audition borders. With this small quilt top, I could place it on top of any fabric that I wanted to try and then use the tool to contain the border so that I could analyze it…..

…..including whether I wanted the border to be on all sides or just on one.

After I found out how helpful this tool was I added another one in grey. I covered the card stock with a lamination sheet which gave it a bit more structure. I also cut the grey piece in a different format (totally unintentionally) which gives even more flexibility about sizes.

So….there is another of my favorite tools!!! Obviously it will only work on smaller scale items but it sure made the decision process easier on this particular quilt.

Why is this happening…..

As I was happily sewing along on my brown stripe quilt, I started noticing that some of the stitching tension wasn’t great……

I worked thru the list of all of the usual suspects….

  • re-threaded the top
  • re-threaded the bobbin
  • adjusted the tension dial
  • cleaned out the bobbin area
  • put a few extra drops of oil in the proper areas

But it did not improve!!

I finally decided that it had to be the needle. For the last two years I have been using Superior brand Titanium coated needles…..

Because of their durability, I do not change the needle nearly as often as I used to. Here is what Superior has to say about them……

“With Superior’s Titanium-coated needles, you will hear a different sound when sewing (a soft, constant thud, thud, thud) when the needle is getting dull. This is because the thin layer of titanium-nitride coating is wearing off. Every time the needle penetrates fabric, there is a microscopic amount of wear on a needle, no matter what it is coated with (nickel, chrome, or titanium).

There are many other cues of a dulling or dull needle that are more recognizable, such as skipped stitches, the top thread shredding, and/or puckering while stitching. If your thread starts to behave strangely and you are experiencing these types of problems whereas you weren’t before, chances are that your needle should be replaced.

So, I replaced the needle and….magically…..the tension issues went away!!!

AH…..much better…..

Now…back to sewing!!!

Quilter’s Toolbox

My husband, Michael, regularly does product reviews called “Things that don’t suck”. In that vein, but not quite as sarcastic, I am presenting “What’s in Your Quilter’s Toolbox?”.

Today I want to talk about Easy-Thread needles and decided that the best way to do this was with a video…..

As I said, I love these needles and find many uses for them. I even keep one stuck to a magnetic screwdriver on top of my sewing machine……

It is amazing how often I reach for it during the quilting stages.

I hope that you try these special needles and enjoy them as much as I do!!!