Category Archives: Quilting

The importance of open-toed presser feet

Today i have been testing a new fusible web product.  I will talk about it once I have completed the test (which includes running it through the washing machine a few times) but another topic came up in the process.

I fused some simple shapes to a background and stitched around the edges with a small blanket stitch.  I used the “N” foot on my Brother VQ 3000, also known as the monogramming foot (could also be called the satin stitch foot or embroidery foot).  I had trouble seeing my stitching and was not very happy with the result.  Here is a closeup of the stitching; you can see I wandered off on the bottom right side and the background fabric shows between the thread and the fused piece.  Yes,  I know it could be a lot worse — but I freely admit to being way too picky! If I can make it perfect or nearly so, then that is what I want.

applique edge stitch wandering off on the left

I used the “N” foot supplied with my machine.  I was so frustrated by the lack of visibility I was about to take some cutters to it and cut away the plastic parts in front of the needle.  Fortunately I calmed down enough to call my dealer, Quality Sewing, and ask it there was another presser foot that would do the job. There is another foot and they have it in stock!  The two different feet are shown below — the first photo is the “N” foot that comes with the machine, and the second photo is similar to the other foot I am going to buy.  Nice and open so you can see what you are doing.

Plastic in front of needle makes obstructs the viewopen toe embroidery

Next time I visit the dealer I will get the new foot and I expect my machine applique is going to improve significantly when I can see what I’m doing!

Scrap Management

Recently I have been thinking about how to plan  and organize my scraps.    I have them stored in bins sorted by color but it is very labor intensive to use them, because each piece has to be taken out,pressed, and cut to the desired size.  Today I led a discussion at my quilt guild about scrap management.  Here are some thoughts I had and some ideas contributed by other members.

  1. What is a scrap?   – Anything much less than a fat quarter or equivalent. What is too small to be a scrap? Your choice, but if it is smaller than 1 ½ inches square I wouldn’t save it.
  2. Should you keep your scraps? You decide. I keep them and use them (although they are accumulating faster than I use them up).   If you don’t use them, give them to someone who will!
  3. If you keep them, how should you keep them? Sorted or unsorted? Boxes, bags, bins, drawers?
  4. Sorted is best for me; I store in plastic bins for easy accessibility.
  5. Some quilters sort by value (light, medium, dark); others by color.   Would you mix up lots of colors in a scrap quilt? Then value may be best. If you would tend to make scrappy quilts with a limited color palette, then color sorting may be best. Another option would be to sort by brights, tints, and muted colors – if you would make scrappy quilts along those themes.
  6. Scrap management systems. There are probably many, but here are three possibilities:
  7. Bonnie K. Hunter scrap management system, described at http://quiltville.com/scrapusersystem.shtml . Basically Bonnie keeps scraps as strips (anything longer than 12 inches) that are 1 ½ inches, 2 inches, 2 ½ inches, and 3 ½ inches wide; also as squares of the same dimensions or rectangles that are2 by 3 ½, 2 ½ by 4 ½, 3 ½ by 6 ½. These sizes “play well together”
  8. Quilter’s Lumberyard™. This is a system developed by Cheryl Coffman and Patty Bowers, who teach it in workshops.  The basic idea is to cut your scraps into 2 ½ in squares, 2 ½ by 4 ½ in rectangles, 2 ½ by 6 ½ rectangles, 2 ½ by 8 ½ rectangles, and 4 ½ by 4 ½ in squares (and maybe some other sizes). These sizes can be assembled into blocks and the storage should be a little simpler than Bonnie’s system, but also a little less flexible.
  9. Scrap Therapy™.   Developed by Joan Ford. Website is www.scrap-therapy.com . This is the simplest system for storage, because there are only three sizes of squares: 2 inches, 3 ½ inches, and 5 inches. These sizes will also play well with charm packs and precut strips. Joan has written several books about this topic. First book is Scrap Therapy: Cut the Scraps.
  10. Another member suggested a method of storing “nickels, dimes, and quarters”  — 5 by 5 inch squares, 10 by 10 inch squares, and 2 1/2 inch strips.  These are fairly simple to store and very flexible sizes — as well as being the sizes marketed as precut strips and squares.  Some members store smaller “miscellaneous” pieces in plastic bags hanging on a wall.  One member saves strips and has them pinned to a chain hanging behind her sewing room door — they can be easily seen and accessed when needed.
  11. How to get started?
    1. decide on some ground rules, such as the sizes you are going to save and what you will throw away.
    2. arrange a scrap sorting party with a friend; set a manageable goal such as just sorting by value or color. Start with bags or cardboard boxes as storage containers; don’t buy any containers until you know how much you have to save.
    3. Set a fixed amount of time to work on your scraps each day – 15 minutes, 30 minutes.
    4. Pick a pattern for a scrap quilt you like and pull out and cut scraps for that quilt.
  12. What do you think?

Pattern Page Reorganized and New Quilt Galleries added

I decided a couple of my pages here on my site – Patterns and  Gallery – were not very user friendly, because they were just one long page that required scrolling down to read.  I reorganized the Pattern Page with sub pages for the first three patterns.  Now you just click on the thumbnail image of the quilt and it will take you to the page for that pattern.

The second change is to the Gallery.  I have added several sub-galleries:  Abstract Quilts, Black and White Quilts, Oriental Quilts, Landscape and Portrait Quilts, and Traditional Quilts.  If you put your cursor over the “Gallery” title you will see these sub-Galleries listed.  Click on the name of the sub-Gallery and you can see thumbnails of each quilt.  Click on one of the thumbnail photos and you will be taken to an large photo of that quilt and can also view a slideshow of all the quilts in that sub-gallery.

I haven’t deleted the content in the main Gallery page yet because I haven’t figured out how to add comments to the sub galleries (techniques used, size of quilt, etc.).  But I wanted to quickly post about the changes, since they are now up and running!

New Pattern – Squares Upon Squares – available

I now have another pattern available.  It is shown, along with the link to my PatternSpot.com “store” where all my patterns are available for purchase.  Just as a reminder, there are a bunch of free patterns shown on my pattern page in this blog that you can download directly if you need an easy pattern for a lap quilt.

Here is Squares Upon Squares.  The focus blocks were made with Shiva Paintstiks and rubbing plates, as I described in a post last spring.  A great pattern for showcasing those small blocks you like a lot but don’t know quite what to do with!  All those little borders in the blocks allow size adjustments as necessary to fit your particular block.  Or just leave out a border or two if your special blocks are bigger.

Squares Upon Squares 51 by 64 inches

Squares Upon Squares 51 by 64 inches

Cabin Fever Quilt Show Sept 26-27

My guild’s biannual quilt show was last weekend.  We all enjoyed it; it is a great group experience to present our work to the public and our friends and family. Chris Bates, the husband of our current guild president, took photos of the quilts on display and prepared a slide show.  It is posted on our guild website at:   http://www.cabinfeverquilterswa.com .   To see the slide show of our quilt show, go to the website link, then click on the tab “Our Quilt/Our Show” at the top.   

My new thread storage cart

My fabric stash is pretty big, but fairly well organized.  My thread stash has been out of control for some time — various threads tucked away in drawers and boxes.  My old sewing machine cabinet had only one drawer and a large empty space where I was able to slip in a couple of those plastic drawer stacks, and I used that for some of my threads.  Here is a photo of the stacks inside my old cabinet.

My previous thread storage bins

My previous thread storage bins

Recently I purchased a new Brother Dreamweaver sewing machine and a new Koala cabinet to put it in.  My old thread storage system wasn’t going to work.  I also wanted more capacity so I could get all the thread consolidated in one place.

I checked out drawer stacks at my local sewing machine store and online but didn’t find anything suitable, since I wanted lots of skinny drawers.  Finally I found a roll around storage cart made by Stanton that works well.  Here is a photo of it:

My new thread storage cart

My new thread storage cart

It is designed with a dropleaf on the left side that can be put up to make a larger work surface.  I will probably never use that feature, but it doesn’t get in my way.   The unit is 30 inches tall, 21 inches wide, and 14 inches deep.  The drawers have a slot in the sides that hold them rather than metal slides, as you can see here:

Drawers slide on side tracks

Drawers slide on side tracks

This unit came fully assembled except for the casters on the bottom; they were easy to attach with screws.  I also sanded the slots on the drawers and rubbed a little paraffin on them to make them slide smoother — they would probably have been OK without that, but I decided to do it before I filled up the cabinet.   And each drawer holds a lot of thread:

Piles of thead begging to be organized!

Piles of thead begging to be organized!

Someday (soon, I hope) the thread drawers will be organized and nicely divided.  I purchased some really slick custom DIY drawer dividers  from The Container Store and so far have only divided the top drawer as you see here to hold various pens and tools that I use frequently:

Custom drawer dividers from The Container Store

Custom drawer dividers from The Container Store

You can accomplish the same drawer divisions using foam core board –  there are YouTube videos explaining how to do that, as well as how to use these fancier ones.  The videos are useful for deciding which way you want to go; I watched them before deciding to purchase the ones I am using.

This storage cart was a good value compared to the drawer stacks available to match sewing room furniture — less than half the price as well as giving me the size and number of drawers I wanted — but it is still not cheap.   The  cost was about $280 .  I purchased it through Amazon so the shipping was free; here is the link to Amazon where it is available: Stanton Single Gate Leg Storage Cart, 30″Hx21″Wx14″D, WHITE.  It is also available through homedecorators.com, but was cheaper at Amazon the day I made my purchase.

One of my goals is to settle on one brand of cotton thread on one spool size so my storage is easier and occupies less space.  My goal will be to have every color of that one kind of thread and no others.  More about that subject in another post in the future!

 

Quilt Show in Jefferson County Sept 26-27

My quilt guild, Cabin Fever Quilters, is having their biannual show at  the Jefferson County Fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday, September 26th and 27th . The show opens at 10 a.m., and closes at 5 p.m. daily. The fairgrounds are located at 4907 Landes Street in Port Townsend. Parking is free.

We’ll have lots of quilts and quilted clothing items made by our nearly 100 members to see. In addition, we’ll have vendors of various quilt-related and sewing items, a wonderful display of antique sewing machines, and demonstrations of various quilting techniques. And last but not least, you’ll be able to see our beautiful Opportunity Quilt, and have a chance to purchase a ticket for the drawing on Saturday afternoon. Tickets are just $1.00 apiece, and proceeds go toward supporting our efforts to promote the art and craft of quilting, while making and donating over 100 comfort quilts a year to Hospice of Jefferson County and to Child Protective Services.   Breakfast and lunch are available for purchase on site. We’re asking for a $5 donation for entry, children are free.

I will be demonstrating free motion quilting at the show each day from 10 am to 2 pm.  Come by for a visit; the demo is very informal so there will be lots of opportunity for asking questions or just having a chat.  Hope to see you there!

 

Scrappy Blue Diamond Quilt

My blue scrap bin has been overflowing, even after I pulled out an assortment of light and dark blues for the pinwheel quilt I posted last time.  Many of my scraps are long strips, so I decided to make a blue quilt using these strips. I also cut more strips, ranging in width from 1 1/2 inches to 2 1/2 inches wide.   All these strips came out of the blue scrap bin, often from wider strips.  The length of the strips varied from 5 inches to 40 inches.

I cut out a bunch of 6 1/2 inch squares from newsprint to use as foundations for the blocks.  The blocks I made used light fabrics on one side and medium/dark on the other side, as shown in the photo below.  I found I had to mark a straight line on the wrong side of the fabric to ensure the seam was straight.  In spite of the spiffy laser line on my new Brother machine (more about that in another post), I couldn’t get a really straight line without marking.

Six inch finished blue diamond block

Six inch finished blue diamond block

After I had 80 blocks made like this, I arranged them into diamond shapes and sewed together the blocks to make the quilt top below.

Scrappy Blue Diamond, 48 by 60 inches

Scrappy Blue Diamond, 48 by 60 inches

There were lots of strips left over so I used them to make the quilt back as shown here.  I had been careful to stay with a limited blue palette in the blocks so the colors would blend, but I used some stronger blue colors in the back.

Strip pieced back for blue diamond quilt

Strip pieced back for blue diamond quilt

And here is what is remaining in my blue scrap bin.  It doesn’t even look like I made a dent in it!  Actually I did, because before I started it was hard to get the top closed.   I used up most of the lights but still have plenty of medium and dark blues left.

My blue scraps after finishing the blue scrappy quilts

My blue scraps after finishing the blue scrappy quilts

I think it is time to either get serious about managing my scraps or give them away!  More about scrap management in another post coming up — several quilters have developed systems for organizing scraps, and I’m going to investigate them to see if I like one.