Thanks for dropping by to take a look at some of my thoughts and ideals. Hope you will let me know if this has been helpful, useful, inspiring or whatever, and remember to come back soon.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Another quilt top in the works.....

Okay, I'm officially and unofficially a quilt addict.  They don't have "QA" (Quilter's Anomious) meetings so what's a girl to do?  My plan is to keep on quilting.  This year I'm doing a block of the month at a local quilt store.  This is in addition to the block of the month with the local quilt guild.  Of course both of these are in addition to the other projects I have ongoing. 

Here are a couple of the blocks we have finished so far.  I really love them especially because these blocks are actually suppose to be different sized that you make an extra sashing to keep the blocks the same size!  Not many patterns will tell you to do that, but it is something that I have used in doing the T-shirt quilts and so I am familiar with the process.

This particular block was really easy for me since I had just
completed presenting my block of the month to the quilt guild and the patter was basically identical.
So strange.  I didn't even look at the pattern!

I know you aren't going to believe that I had to take this apart twice
before I got the placement right!  Some days I'm in another world.
 I'm really liking the blocks so far.  I'm not too sure about the colors and where I may want to use this particular quilt but we will see as time goes on how it evolves.

Really and truly taking these block of the month classes is a wonderful way to get some tips and tricks from fellow quilters that they may otherwise never even mention in the normal course of events.  Typically or maybe I should say historically they were very inexpensive and quilt shops used this as a draw to get customers into the shop so they could showcase their new products and new fabric lines.  The intent was that the customers once in the shop would typically buy other items before they left so having them in on a Saturday morning could increase sales 400 to 500% over other regular Saturday sales.  Historically these classes were not very expensive because basically they were advertising and using the advertising budget to purchase the fabric that went into the kits was less expensive than purchasing radio or television advertising and this had more impact on the bottom line that either radio, television or newpapers.  I can remember in the not too distant past when you could join a block of the month club for as little as $5.00.  If you attended every meeting and took in your block you had completed each time at the end of the day you would have squares for a regular size quilt for $5.  Then you would need to purchase the borders, backing, binding and you would have a quilt that was much less expensive that purchasing everything you needed to make a quilt.  This was a great bargain!  Alas I fear those days are gone.

Most shops now, if they have a block of the month club, you will pay anywhere from $39.00 to $129.00 for the full years blocks and then you must purchase the backing, borders, stripping and whatever else is needed to complete the quilt. 

Some of the members of the local guild have started something a little different.  As a guild, we make a block each month that will be collected and sewn into a charity quilt.  The guild purchased the background fabric and now we are making blocks and each month people bring in the blocks for the charity quilt and depending on how many people have brought a block that month, we may have enough blocks for a quilt and have some left over so we have a quilt that is made of blocks of the same pattern but with different fabrics except the background fabric is the same to give the quilt continuity and this works quite well.  Other blocks are saved and will be used at a later date in a sampler style quilt.  In addition to making the block for the charity quilt, some of the members have picked out coordinating fabrics they like and are using those fabrics to make a block and then at the end of the year they will have 12 blocks made from their fabric and the blocks will all coordinate to make a lovely quilt.  There are many ways to go about making a sampler quilt and many different block patterns available.  If you don't have a store or can't afford to do a store block of the month, and you don't have a local quilt guild then make up your own.  You can use whatever blocks and fabric you want.  My normal problem is I want to do it ALL!!!

Oh well, isn't that the definition of an addiction, not knowing when you need to stop!  As I said I am officially an addict!

I have also started a couple of new things.  On thing I am doing is finishing up a top that I put together about 3 years ago in a double wedding ring pattern, but it is non-traditional.

Now what the heck does non-traditional mean?  What it means is taking a traditional pattern and making a change and that will typically make the quilt look very different.  The "Double Wedding Ring" quilt top was typically made using a white background.  I decided to use a bubble gum pink with a tiny dark rose colored small dot.  The bands of the rings are done in greens all the way from yellow green to aqua with every shade in between.  I have finished the borders and it's on my machine now.

Just a little thingie that I want to mention about borders.  I recently picked up a book and when I was looking at the book I noticed that the quilts that were pictured in the book had borders that were obviously wavey.  That made me really start looking and what I saw was that a full 90% of the quilts pictured in the book had obvious problems with the borders and with the binding.  Some of the corners were more of a curve instead of square and this was very obviously not intentional.  When looking further at the book I noticed that the directions told you to cut strips across the width of the fabric for borders.  Problem!!!!

Fabric is woven with threads running across the fabric from side to side and threads going up and down the length of the fabric.  The threads running lengthwise have less stretch that the threads running across the width of the fabric.  A line running at a 45 degree angle from the selvedge of the fabric is the bias and has the most stretch.  When making a border you want to have the smallest amount of distortion possible, therefore a border cut on the straight grain of fabric (lengthwise) will have the least distortion, the border cut on the crosswise grain of fabric will have some distortion and this will give you a wavy border.   Now I do understand that you will have to purchase more fabric in order to cut your border this way, but if you really want to best possible quilt this is what you will need to do.  If you are making a quilt that you really want to get it right, then purchase the extra fabric and build your stash a little.  If it doesn't matter, then go ahead with the crosswise grain if you like.  I don't always do the straight of grain for borders, but I know when I don't my quilt border will be wavy, and every border that you add increases the amount of wave. 

Alone with the above I will say that there are different qualities of fabric.  There is good quilt shop fabric, and bad quilt shop fabric.  Get to know your shop and teach yourself to recognize if your shop is carrying a high grade of fabric or a cheap grade of fabric.  Just because it says quilt shop over the door does not mean the owner is purchasing the best for resale.  She is purchasing what she can sell at a price that will afford her the most business and the profit she desires.  Some quilt shops will sell you fabric that is a cheaper grade than Walmart or Hancocks or JoAnns.  As time goes by and you use fabric and see it as it goes through the washer multiple times you will begin to recognize the difference in a high quility fabric and the lower quality fabric.  Price does not tell the story!!!  Don't be fooled into thinking if it cost a lot then it is good fabric!  Also take into consideration the dyes used in fabric.  Dyes that are not heat set will fade rapidly in the sunshine!  Heat setting the dyes is an extra process that you will not find in the typical Walmart quality fabric.  My best advise is chose the best fabric that you can afford at the time you are purchasing.  Sometimes we have more disposable income than others and this will determine how much we have to spend on our quilting.  Take all of these things into consideration when making your purchases of fabric, and books!  Okay I won't start on books today!

I hope you have all had a great day and look forward to seeing you and seeing your projects soon!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Something "new" for scrap batting! Something else too!

Okay, it's new to me, but you may have been using this for a while and I just didn't know about it!..This is a very nice product to help us use up those bits and pieces of batting that are just too big to toss and too little for those quilts we are making.  I'm really a very frugal person and like to use up those things that I have rather than constantly filling our landfills and purchasing more.  Yes, I'm with you Ben Franklin, a penny saved is a penny earned and it is amazing how those saving add up over time.  Okay for a picture of this new product.

As you can see it isn't very expensive when you take into consideration you are getting 10 yards of the tape and most quilts are around 100" in length so  if you have trimmed off the edges of too wide battings, just putting 2 or 3 of these may net you a batting large enough for your next quilt or maybe two will net you a couple of lap quilts.  Won't that be nice.  It really is because it's so very easy to do.

Just open the package and remove the roll of tape.  Now the next part is what I had the most trouble with.  Remove the plastic wrap around the roll.

What you will have is a roll of cloth tape and one side is rough and the other smooth.  Now please be aware that this tape is a poly blend and while it is cloth, it is not cotton.  It will melt!!  I found this out the hard way.

The above picture is a little hard to see but I hope you can make out the melted section in the middle.

Next take you batting that you want to make into one piece and align the edges on the ironing board.

Now in this picture the edges are not butted against each other which is what you want to do.  Then lay the tape over the two edges and iron using a polyester sitting on your iron.  Of course if your batting is a poly blend you are going to need to have your iron on poly anyway to keep it from melting and having hard spots.   I found quickly that I prefer to use short lengths of the tape and move it section by section.  This of course is if you don't have a big board for pressing which many people don't have since they prefer to spend their money on fabric and not accessories.

Now you may want to even up the edges of the piece but you will have a lovely large piece of batting for your next quilt or wall hanging or whatever.  One of the best parts about this is that it holds together very nicely, is not stiff, and does great with needling.  My machine sews through it and you don't even realize when you have sewn over the pieced seam.  There is no basting together and no problem with the abutted seam seperating and creating a gap in the batting inside the quilt.

Look for this product at your local quilt shop or online.  (I got my at the local quilt shop).  If you do very much quilting and have those bits and pieces of batting laying around this is a great way to use them up!!

Now guess what!!!  I found a pattern, new to me, for houseshoes.  Really great pattern that has that wonderful gripper cloth on the bottom so you don't slip.  Uses several layers of batting in the sole and this pattern is small so wonderfully small scrap pieces will do the trick!!  Look for more about this pattern later and pictures!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My "Working" Trip

Well double drat!!  I have to take a trip for work!  Gosh, those are so boring..well usually, but what can I do to make this one better.  Let's see...  I know that I can take a person with me and they can stay in the room with me at no additional cost.  Gee why not get someone to ride with me..  Now who to ask.  Dear hubbie refuses to go..he'll be bored, poor baby..  Hum, what about best bud..oh well, she just had surgery and is recovering and can't do much walking right now.  Darn, that won't be any fun for her and she will stress if she thinks I am passing anything up because she can't walk a lot right now.  Hum, oh I know.  I have another really great friend who shares a lot of common interest, quilting of course and gardening and most importantly to us both our Savior.  Hum, she loves going to Florida.  Maybe...... Yea, she can get off work and she doesn't mind riding with me!  Trip time.  Oh dear, I had to call those people in Florida and talk with customer service and they commented they were looking forward to seeing me so I thought why not and asked, "do you think you would be able to get the names of any quilt shops there so I could visit them while I'm down there?"  Oh boy, I got an e-mail from one of the people at the business in Florida and she is a quilter and will be happy to give me the name of her local quilt shop, and she will can't wait to talk with me and see my quilting.  Now what to take on my trip....Money....I do have one quilt that I love that I did some special quilting on, and I do have that book that I made several years ago of my quilting that year.  Those have to go into the car..

Time to leave and of course there are shops on the road that both Kay and I want to stop if we have time and anything else along the way.  Well if you are ever heading South on I 75 south of Atlanta at McDonough, GA,  "A Scarlet Thread" is a don't miss stop.  They have wonderful fabric, great samples, and friendly staff!  Of course we had to pick up a few things there including a pattern for some soft houseshoes and they even had the fabric to put on the bottoms.  (You know that really neat stuff that we used to see on the "footies" of childrens pajamas so they wouldn't slide.)  Goodness this is great stuff.  There was a pattern for casserole covers that I had not seen before and I have a friend who I know will use those so got to get the pattern.  And then there were a couple of the "Quilt Diva" patterns that I just had to have for sometime in the future when I have more time to sit and sew.  Boy I can't wait until I retire.  I'm really saving all this stuff so I'll have something to do then!  I'm afraid I may get bored if I don't have a lot to do. hehehe  I also picked up a flyer for the "Greater Atlanta Quilt Shop Hop" which will be coming up in March.  Have to start planning now!

Well after leaving "A Scarlet Thread" we headed further south and eventually crossed the Florida state line and guess what...they have quilt shops down there too!  Saw a billboard advertising a quilt shop at Lake City, Florida so decided to stop by there.  Well golly gee when I got almost there I remembered, I've been here before but it had been a couple of years.  I can't believe I forgot this place.  Really great smaller shop where they cut their own 2 1/2" strips for jelly rolls and you can just drop in and buy some strips out of their basket so if you just need a few more lights or darks or whatever and don't really have anything you want to cut then they have you covered.  Lots of fabic and again lots of samples hanging on the walls.  "Fabric Art Shop" in Lake City has some wonderfully helpful people who are willing to help or just let you wander around and decide what attracts you.  Well I had to pick up a couple of things there also, some really great fabric that I know my bud will love. Oh, if you get by there be sure and pick up their "Quilt Witch Gazettte" and if you don't do anything else take a look at the classes.  Just reading the description will give you ideals galore.  Hum....

Oh well, got to get a move on if we are ever going to get there.  No more stops along the way.

Finally made it down to Weston and met a wonderful lady who is a quilter.  We spent some time ohhing and ahhing over each others pictures and Tessa was kind enough to share some of her ideals and things she does like putting this incredable little pocket on the back of her quilts with a little something special coming out of the pocket and using her embroidery machine to put a little something special in there.  So many new ideals!!  I've just got to remember them!!  Her love of butterflies and nature has her putting a butterfly signature piece on her quilts that is precious.  Her comment that she found this fabric at Walmart and she just loves the print gave me pause until I had the time to drive over to her local shop.  Then I understood why!! 

Walked up to the door and had to ring a bell to be "buzzed" into the quilt shop.  (Sorry, but we don't have this in my neck of the woods and it really doesn't make you feel safe and secure.  Oh well, let's see what they have...)  Some really cute samples hanging around with signs on some that indicate they have the pattern available for those.  Of course, wouldn't you know the one I loved the bestest was not available and when I asked about a pattern for that was told, well "if you don't have one of these sewing machines you really can't do that quilt".  Well excuse me, but maybe I can't do that exact quilt, but I may be able to do something very similar but no go.  Oh well.  Sorry I was not impressed at all.  While the fabric was good quality quilting fabric there really wasn't much to choose from.  This quilt shop seemed to focus more on knitting and selling machines and obtaining work for the owner to do on her longarm machine than helping quilters.  Of course I know if you don't make money then you can't stay in business, but a friendly attitude will increase sales dramatically.  Smile, your face won't crack!!!  I left feeling quite depressed that my new quilting friend doesn't have a "really good" quilt shop.  Went right back and invited her to come visit me anytime and I would be happy to take her to some "real" quilt shops!!!  I'm so thankful for our local shop and the friendly customer service and helpful sales people in addition to great samples and wonderful fabric!

Oh well, it's time to go home.  No more quilt shopping this trip.  After all this is a business trip!  Oh I've just got to stop by that hydroponic vegetable farm on the way home......

A great time was had, and I have a new quilting friend, who I hope will keep in touch and lots of new ideals.  Now let's get quilting!!!! 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Coming to the end of this chapter.

I'm always amazed at how very busy everything gets at certain times like in the summer when I am gardening and canning and freezing.  Those are full time jobs in the summer.  Then I'm always amazed in the winter when I am trying to get ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas at how much there is to do and it isn't that I don't enjoy those things, they just take time.  There are always the unexpected things that pop up also that take so much of our time, like illness when I don't feel well, and then there are family members that require help when they aren't well.  All in all sometimes it seems like I just can't even find time to sit down for a few minutes and relax and do something I want to do without feeling guilty for those things I am neglecting.  Right now with trying to get ready for spring and planning to start a new phase of my life things have been hectic.  Now the problem is I function well with hectic to a certain extent so I really am enjoying some of this "stuff" I am doing.  What I really want to talk about today is coming to the end of this chapter of my life.

I can almost hear the gasp and indrawn breaths out there as you read this, but never fear I'm still quilting.  How many quilts have you finished.  Particularly if you have put a lot of time into making that gorgeous top and overcame all of the little things that seem to throw up road blocks to getting the product finished!!  I seems to me, when I put a large block of time, over several days, or weeks, into making a top and then I finally put the borders on the top I feel a sense of loss.  Now I don't have that to work on anymore and I'm at a loss as to what I will start next!  Can you tell I was a topper in a past life.  I love the making of the tops. 

Next I have to get that quilt on the machine and get it quilted.  Now I really very rarely have a quilting design in mind when I first start a quilt so I have to put some thought into what I want the quilting design to be on this particular top.  I've been to many quilt classes over the years and everyone uses some different inspiration to decide which design they will use on a particular pattern on the top.  The old standby when you can't think of anything else is meandering but after a while I just don't want to do meandering!

Eventually I will just start sewing and the quilt is usually sectioned into different aspects so I do several different patterns on the quilt tying them together with the fabric and the pattern.  Finally I finish the quilting and take the quilt off the machine.  Now it's time to make sure the quilt is squared.  This means my corners are actually corners and not dog earred and not a curve, but an actual corner.  Imagine that!!!  Believe me I have had many quilts where the corners where different geometric shapes and none of them resembled a true corner so I know of which I speak, or type in this case.

Several years ago I found a ruler which I have come to love.  No it isn't just a simple square up ruler though those are great for smaller items, but I tend to make large quilts that are bed sized.  This ruler is a great help when I start to square up a quilt.
One of the great things about this ruler is it's 24 inches in each direction.  I can use this ruler to cut both sides of a corner and since it's 24" that is a significant cut.  First I use the ruler and trim all 4 corners to square and then I connect the dots so to speak and cut the difference.  After cutting a total of 48" that really doesn't leave a lot in the middle to be trimmed out.  I use my longest straight ruler when I connect the dots to finish each side, top and bottom.  This has really worked well for me.  Another thing I love about the ruler is it closes up for storage.

When it is folded if you have a slot in your ruler holder that is somewhat wider than normal this just slides into the slot until the next time you want to use it.  It also works well for squaring up blocks for your quilt.  After cutting the first two sides you can turn the block around and cut the remaining two sides at the same time and it's easy to make sure it's square just by being sure the length measurement is the same for both "legs" of the ruler.

Now I will have to say this ruler was a little pricey, but if you make several quilts like I do, then it is well worth the price just to your sanity alone and the stress over making sure you don't cut it wrong!!  I picked this up at a quilt show several years ago, but I have noticed that "Linda's Electric Quilters" does have this item for sale if you are interested.  I'm sure there are other sites that also carry this but this is just one I have found.

I hope you all have a great day and a ton of success in getting those quilts squared up and ready for binding.  Next week I'll try to write a little about what I have learned about binding and what type binding I enjoy.