Tuesday, June 9, 2020

updated favorite quilting tools

I was recently at a quilt retreat, and a newcomer asked us each to share what our favorite quilting tool was.  I had to think about it.  Of course, I didn't have just 1.  Here's my list:

You've probably all seen these magnetic pin bowls in the quilt stores.  Anything magnetic will work, but it might as well be cute.  I rarely use pins, but when I am using them, a magnetic bowl comes in handy.  These past few months, I've made almost 500 masks for Covid19.  And I did pin, and this bowl sure came in handy.  

Somewhere along the way, I got into a habit of using tags.  I start and stop sewing with them.  I don't get those birds nests on the back of my fabric when I start sewing.  My rule is to trim at the tag, and leave the tail of thread on what I'm sewing.  This post better explains how and why I use tags.
It's just a personal preference of mine.

I love Aurifil thread.  We are good friends.  We like each other.  And so does my machine.  So, we don't go looking anywhere else.  It is made with long strands, so the lint is minimal in my machines.  

I love this light gray for sewing a quilt top together (notice the shade above).  It blends well with all colors.  

I use these quilting rag sheers when I'm cutting strips on a raggy binding.  It's much faster, and easier on the hands.  Here is a post about raggy bindings.  and another post about rag sheers.

Singer Feather Weight.  This machine is my traveling buddy.  It goes to retreats, on trips, mostly when ever I need to transport a machine.  It's easy for other people to use if someone needs a machine.  It's light weight and travels well, unless you are going into a foreign country, which is not recommended (from experience!!)  This is also my back-up machine when my regular Pfaff is getting a check up. 
**NOTE-  I do not recommend changing machines in the middle of a quilt.  Your seam allowances will be off .   

 lint roller - use to clean off those little strings on your ironing board, design boards, your clothes, the floor around you if you're too lazy to go get the vacuum . . . the list goes on and on.

I free-motion quilt all my quilts on my sweet sixteen and I've tried most everything to help grip my quilt as I'm quilting.  These quilting tips seem to grip the best.  I use them on both hands, just those 3 fingers.

I have also tried numerous products to keep my rulers from slipping while quilting.  This product works well.  Simply paint it onto the back of your rulers and they don't slide as easily.

I love a little squirt of canned air into my bobbin housing unit each time I change my bobbin, as well as into the bobbin.  Some of my friends tried this and it messed up their machine, so be careful.  It works great on a Pfaff.

A simple thread cutter for cutting chained pieces is helpful.  Children or grandchildren love to help with this part.

(If you're over the age of 50), you may need a little extra help with ripping seams out.  This nifty tool is called Mighty Bright.  It's a seam ripper with a magnifying glass (which has a light) attached.  

I'd love to hear about your favorite tool.

scrappy strip quilt

The vortex quilt project was a great scrap buster.  I got 2 quilts out of that.

But for some reason, after all the mess all over my sewing room, and working several months on those vortex quilts, I still had a huge pile of scraps!!  

They just seemed to multiply!!!

So I decided to try scrap strips instead to see if I could lesson my scrap amount.  I put into piles strips that were about the same length.  

I had 6 or 7 piles of different lengths.  I pulled two from the first pile (let's say they were 5 inch strips), and sewed them together, then without cutting strings, I sewed 2 together from the next pile (lets say they were 7 inch strips), and on down through all the piles. 

When I had sewn 2 together from each pile, I started back at the top.  I picked one from the 5 inch pile and sewed that to the existing 5 inch strip, without cutting strings. 

I kept my nice big scissors near by, there was a lot of chopping at the machine.

This was a donation quilt.  So, I used a sheet for the back, and wrapped it around for the binding.  I was careful to start and stop my quilting just 1 time because when you're carrying the backing around to the front, you can't just go running off the edge when you're quilting.  

Do you have a good way to get rid of scraps?  I'd love to hear your ideas.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

100 day vortex quilt-along

100 days?  really?  Making a vortex quilt is so addicting!  After 30 days, I had enough for 2 queen size quilts!!  That's A LOT of therapy, folks!  And all for FREE!!!  No buying fabric.  Pull out ALL your scraps, even from those nooks and crannies, the ones that you were saving as a set just cuz you might use them some day.

You start by sewing 2 pieces together that are the same size, and look good together.  And you do that for a long time.   The idea is that if you are sewing 2 pieces together that are squared before sewing, you won't have a bunch of trimming to do after you press.  (keep your long scissors close to your machine, and square pieces as  you choose them, no pressing)

Then after you've done a bunch, you take those together and do the same thing.  Find pieces that are about the same size, and look good next to each other, and sew them together.  For. a. long. time.  

Then you do it again, and again, and again. Oh my . . . some of those fabrics are VERY old! 

Till you decide to put them all up on your design board and you realize that you have enough to make several quilts!!!

It's quite a messy process, which is why I found that I couldn't work on anything else at the same time.  

My regular machine is getting a check up.  This Singer Featherweight was made in the Czech Republic in the 40's.  It sews a solid stitch, never wavering, a very good back-up.  You can find them on e-bay, and they are relatively easy to maintain. Notice my big scissors there, you will need to keep them in a handy place to help square up pieces.  You don't have to be exact, just eye-ball it.  Seam allowances don't really matter.  

Towards the end, you'll have big squares that you try to fit together like a big puzzle.  You night need to trim some back or add to one to make it fit into the your finished top.

When you think you've had enough, and you can fit all the pieces together to make a good size quilt, you give it a good starchy pressing, and "stay-stitch" all around the circumference. 

I have not quilted these 2 vortex quilt tops, but I have cool plans for their back and quilting process.  You will read about those at a later date.

I learned this technique from the amazing Amanda at Crazy Mom Quilts.  You can find her instructions here.  Thank you Amanda!  We miss you :(

In Amanda's blog posts on Vortex quilts, she gave us permission to throw away scraps that we didn't like.  You know, we hang onto them because you can't waste them.  Hmmmmmm,  one of those scraps is probably worth maybe a nickel.  If you hold it up and it doesn't bring you joy? ** Thank it and throw it out!!!!  WOW!  It felt sooooo good to throw out those few scraps that have been haunting my scrap bag all these years.  And I will like those vortex quilt tops for years to come, cuz I didn't try to fit ugly scraps into them that I just couldn't throw away.

** "Tidying Up" now available for all you Netflix bingers :0

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Christmas Count Down bags

These Christmas count down bags have been on my "to-do" list for years.  

They're fun for all ages.  Since we are now empty nesters it was just my husband and I doing fun things with each other.

We read Christmas books, went for walks, listened to music by the fire place . . .

The numbers are written with a permanent pen onto duck canvas.

A nice new Christmas tradition to enjoy for the whole month.

Friday, October 12, 2018

llama patchwork quilt

This snuggly quilt accidentally got left at my house the other day.  After a year of loving, it is even softer.  I washed it and decided that it would stay at my house for a day or two (mean Nana :)

I keep wanting to make one for myself.  I think I'll start today :)  (cuz I've only started 1/2 a dozen other projects today . . .)

38 x 47 - washed
5" squares 
llama minky, (I prefer the kind sold by Fabric.com)
essex linen in charcoal
other fabrics: 
several lines by Carolyn Friedlander
Figures by Zen Chic
Big letters found on etsy 
plus sign, Cotton and Steel
And a square of that number fabric sold at Ikea a long time ago.

This quilt is not quilted and the linen essex (it may chambray) tends to fray easily so after sewing the top together, I stitched a running zig zag along the seams so that they wouldn't fray.  

After the top is made, pin top and llama minky, right sides together, trying to push in the llama hairs that are trying to sneak out.  Sew around all 4 sides, leaving a 6 inch hole in the middle of one of the sides.

Turn right sides out, and stitch opening closed.  Then, top stitch 1 1/2 inches all around the edges.  

Minky gets all over the place while you're moving it around, so try to finish the minky process all in one go.  Your lint roller will come in handy after that.  

Minky is 100% polyester, so it machine washes on cold and dries on low.

Have you used the llama minky before?  What have you made?  Do you have any tricks to share?  

Monday, September 17, 2018

figures sampler - Blogger's Quilt Festival

Last summer, I started seeing all these fun blocks pop up on IG from Tula Pink's sampler QAL so, afraid I'd miss out on the fun, I jumped in.  It was loads of fun seeing all the blocks pop up each day.  

I borrowed my friend's Tula Pink's sampler book.  Instructions have their place :)

"Figures" by Zen Chic had been sitting around waiting for the perfect project.  

I see some Cotton and Steel thrown in there too.  

And some Carolyn Friedlander

I loved the freshness of each block being different.

I was going to town making all these blocks but after a while, it was getting too crazy for me.

  After seeing Robin Picken's version here,  I decided to start going in a different direction. . . more of an "organized chaos". . . .

pulling each color outward to their own corner.

It actually went much faster at that point because I found my favorite blocks (which are usually the easier ones) and made them in 5 different colors.

Sometimes I just sewed a bunch of scraps together and called it a block :) . . . My quilt, My rules :)

I knew exactly how I wanted to quilt it.  There isn't much I can draw . . .

But I can do numbers.  So I drew a bunch of random numbers in random directions.

You may notice that the quilting is not continuous.  

The reason why this quilt took so long (a year!), is that I buried all those beginning and end threads into the middle of the quilt.  Thank goodness for the tennis open and some other championships that were going on.  

There probably aren't too many 8's in there since there are 6 threads to bury on that one.

This just may be my new favorite !!!

Have you entered a quilt in Amy's quilt festival???