Which way quilt top finished!

August 31, 2010 § 3 Comments

Finally I motivated myself to get the sewing machine out again and finish the Which way? lap quilt top. I’ve decided it’s too big for a baby floor quilt. I used some of the Clover fork tip pins to align the seams. They seem (no pun intended) quite good.

Well here it is…I’m planning to machine quilt this but I’m going to have to get some practice in first. I still haven’t unpacked the Janome since it came home from hospital.

To wash or not wash?

August 30, 2010 § 7 Comments

I know that many quilters wash all their fabrics the moment they get them home. I’m afraid I’m not one of those and one day it could end in tears I know. However, when I was learning to appliqué we were instructed to wash our fabrics first and I did so. Since then I haven’t and you know I think it’s harder to appliqué without washing it. The fabric is stiffer and doesn’t form curves as nicely as it does when it’s been washed. So, I’m afraid I’m going to have to become a washer of fabric – if only before I appliqué. What do you do?

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the boidies is?

I don’t know where that comes from but my mother used to say it. Well it might not be officially spring in Australia for another day but my garden is certainly showing the signs and today is a little warmer than the last few days too.


Quilting the Arabesque and the basting experiment continued…

August 29, 2010 § 5 Comments

Having basted my Arabesque the other day I set straight into quilting it. It’s coming together nicely and I’m very happy with it so far. I found a tiny nick in the background in one place so I think if I’m going to continue with reverse appliqe then I’ll need to invest in a pair of duckbilled scissors. Has any of you used these? And if so, do you find then helpful?

The basting experiment continued…

Doing the actual basting was relatively easy. In fact, easier than using safety pins because I didn’t have to do them up. If you have any bent pins though, then save them up for this activity because it would be much easier if the pins weren’t straight. As to quilting with this set up… Hand quilting is not as difficult as it is with safety pins as the pins themselves don’t get tangled when you fold the quilt up but the thread does tend to wrap around the pins which is a pain. In my case that often whips the polystyrene plug off the pin. This may not happen with the Pinmoors because they are denser and larger. I think you could fix this problem by pinning your quilt upside down and having the backing on top when you pin so that the pins are underneath when you quilt. This would also help for hand quilting with safety pins though it wouldn’t stop the damage they cause.

The verdict

I think Pinmoors would be great for machine quilting because they are more easily removed than safety pins. I think they’d be fine for hand quilting if you pinned the quilt upside down. On my next quilt I’m going to try a variation of the normal thread basting and see how that goes. I’l let you know.

Apropos of nothing…

I made a salad last night to go with dinner and added some Kiwifruit. I thought it looked so lovely that I took a photo. What do you reckon?

A basting experiment

August 28, 2010 § 5 Comments

I detest basting with safety pins. I have bought two different kinds and each one has caused holes in the fabric, split threads and got caught together and with my thread when I’m hand quilting. I really prefer to baste with thread as per Sharon Schamber.

However, I recently saw a very interesting way of basting using ordinary pins and some sort of foam plugs. The system is ingenious and is called Pinmoor. I wanted to try it but they are quite expensive at US$19.95 for 50 plus postage to Australia. I wanted to see if the concept would work for me before I shelled out all that money. (I don’t think 50 will go very far.) A lady called Helen, on a list I subscribe to, suggested using Moroday Gap Filler Rod Draught which is a polystyrene draught excluder and cutting it up. I bought the 5mm diameter one for $2 and cut it up. I concede that these will not last like the Pinmoors and if this system suits me I plan to invest in the real thing. So I sandwiched my Arabesque and used my pins and the draught excluder.

Already I can see the advantage of using the Pinmoors which look more dense than the polystyrene. These ones come off quite easily and I think the denser Pinmoors would adhere a bit more to the pins. [Edit: they must as she says they don’t even come off in the washing machine!] Anyway I’ll let you know how it goes when I start quilting.

Organising a quilt studio – a case study

August 27, 2010 § 5 Comments

One of this blog’s readers is Tina Bonifacio, a talented and enthusiastic professional organiser. She commented one day that she had helped a quilter client to organise her studio. I thought it might be interesting to learn what she did. I’m sure there are some of us whose studios are perfect but I’m equally sure there are more of us who could learn a thing  or two. Tina has sent me her case study so here are some edited highlights and photos of the transformation.

Bringing quilting order to quilting chaos by Tina Bonifacio

How do you organize a space to quilt, sew, scrapbook, and do crafts? Here’s an example of how to use organizing to maximize your ability to produce creative works.
One of my clients had switched spaces with her pre-teen daughter and her quilting area now occupied the daughter’s former bedroom, which was a 60% downsize. When I arrived the room switch had been made, but little organizing and no decluttering had taken place as you can see…
My client had a piece of furniture for closed storage of fabrics and notions that were not linked to a project yet but, it had been packed full for some time and needed some purging of fabrics that no longer interested her, and reordering. The floor was covered with bins, totes, and bags of fabric. Where could we go could we go but up?

My client was firm about wanting to re-use the organizing products (bins, containers, baskets) she had on hand and we did that with the exception of one purchase that was in line with her budget and her DH’s handyman ability… wall-to-wall, 12″ deep Rubbermaid white wire shelving. We used the shelving along one entire wall and hid it behind a few sets of inexpensive sheets  selected to coordinate with her newly painted room.

Once the floor and surfaces were clear and everything had a place my client was thrilled. She knew where everything was and where to put it back when she’d finished with it.

A word of caution!

Will you hold it against me if I admit to you that my client later had to have shoulder surgery because she was able to do so much more quilting?  The good news is, now with her newly repaired shoulder, she can do even more quilting and crafting!

Take home points

Thanks Tina for sharing this transformation. My take home points from this case study are:

  1. Sort through your stash and if a fabric no longer speaks to you then get rid of it. Sell it on eBay or donate it to charity quiltmakers.
  2. Re-use the containers you have. You don’t need to buy expensive, new and matching containers.
  3. Vertical storage is a “must”.
  4. Simple solutions – such as the sheet curtains for hiding the Rubbermaid shelving – can be attractive, functional and inexpensive.
  5. Have a system. This is probably where I would need to he help of a professional organiser as my brain just doesn’t function this way. But once you have a system in place that tells you where particular items should be stored then it’s easy to put them back there when you’ve used them. If you don’t, then each time you use them you’re tying to make decisions as to where they should best be stored. The answer for me is usually I can’t work it out and so it gets left out and not put away.

I hope you’ve found this useful. I know I have. I still have a question though and maybe you have the answer. I can never work out how to sort my fabrics. Should it be by colour, by collection, patterns or solids, or value? I’d love to know what you think and how you organise your stash.

A flannel, QAYG, pinwheel quilted blanket

August 26, 2010 § 6 Comments

When I first started quilting I was warned off flannel. I was told not to try anything fancy (i.e. anything other than squares) with it. I was also warned to be super careful about getting the grain right because it stretches badly. And finally, I was told to wash it first because it would shrink and if that happened after I made my quilt it would be a disaster.

Well I’m happy to report that, being an extreme newbie at the time, I tried to adhere to this advice , failed and made a quilt/blanket in spite of it.

A flannel, QAYG pinwheel quilted blanket

First, I don’t like making extra work so I didn’t pre-wash it. Second, I did start out with squares, making four patches. However, when I laid it out I found I didn’t like the pattern so, throwing caution to the wind, I flouted the other two rules. I sewed my four patch squares together around the four edges, face-to-face. Then I cut them across both diagonals and reassembled them into pinwheels.

Once I had assembled the new pinwheel squares I decided to make a quilted blanket. So I bought some polar fleece, cut it into the same size squares and quilted them in the ditch. Then I assembled the whole top the way a raggy quilt is except I put the raggy seams on the back because I wanted the front to be smooth. And then, I washed it and dried it in the dryer. It didn’t shrink.

Personally, I’m happy with it. It’s one of my favourites and it’s very snuggly on a cold day. Anyway here is the blanket. What do you think?

Action Kivu Sewing Workshop Fundraiser

August 25, 2010 § 1 Comment

Alissa over at Handmade by Alissa is hosting a give-away/fundraiser on her blog this week. I have to say it is going like a jet! She aims to raise US$7,500 to assist Action Kivu – a not for profit organisation that helps victims of violence in the Congo rebuild their lives and restore their sense of dignity and hope. In particular, it runs sewing workshops for the women affected by the conflict. These skills enable them to support their families. Alissa’s twin, Cate, works with Operation Kivu, so you can be assured that any donation you make will be fully utilised for the purpose for which it was intended.

How you can help

When I last looked Alissa and this wonderful sewing/blogging community had raised US$4,175 of the needed US$7,500 in less than 2 days! You can donate on Alissa’s site either here or here and can donate as much or as little as you feel able.

As a way of showing her thanks Alissa is giving away some great prizes (see below). Full details of Operation Kivu (including a video), the fundraiser and the give-away can be found on her blog. So why not head on over there and let’s help these women who are traumatised  and despairing and show them that this virtual community of sew-ers really cares.

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