Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mystery Quilt Top

 Well, the mystery quilt top is finally done.  It was a project begun during an in-house quilt retreat offered by my favorite shop in Reno, Sierra Sewing.  The instructions were to bring ¼ yard solid accent, 2 yards background and 2 ¼ yards focus fabric (of course I bought extra), along with all the normal scissors, rotary cutter, cutting board, etc.

What a nice retreat. The retreat was limited, but enough to make it social. The participants were mothers and daughters, neighbors, sisters, friends. They fed us snacks, meals (killer lasagna made by the owner!) Oh, and there is a coffee place/smoothie place right across the parking lot. What more could you ask for? Well we asked to have a sleepover in the store the next time  J Big girl pajama party! Not that anyone really plans on much sleeping!

The pattern turned out to be the Chained Nine-Patch from Twisted Classics by Jeannie Stauffer and Sandra L Hatch. This was my first go at paper piecing. I will give it another try, but not a fan at this point—removing the papers is a bit aggravating to me.

Michelle HIbbitt was the instructor. She was very good, and helped with ironing and seam ripping <sigh>. She had the clues (steps) cleverly done, and paced them well to the tenor of our particular group. Everyone got their picture taken with the finished portion of their quilt. We all brought an apple recipe and are anxiously awaiting our class recipe/scrap book.

It did turn out so nice that I wanted to make it bigger, so the delay has been that I have been agonizing over the borders. I finally decided on those, and ta-dah!! Now it is on to backing it and then basting it together.  I will be hand quilting it, not quite decided how yet. Some ideas, but I don’t have to make that decision until it is basted and ready for marking. Probably get to this over the weekend.

I think the next project is a flannel quilt that is not a rag quilt. Patchwork Pennies by All Through the Night-Folk Art designs with a bit of Whimsy-Designed by Bonnie Sullivan. Seems we have been forecast a   long, wet (in the form of snow) winter  L I am not a fan of snow. At least you do not have to shovel rain!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

To Pin or not to pin...

This is one of those no right answer questions. But I pin. Why? Because that is the way my Grammy taught me. Like measure twice cut once, she and many others believe it reduces errors. Some people think it is a waste of time. I made this very protest to my Grammy, her answer was: Well, you can pin now or seam rip later, that takes much more time. Which if you make a mistake is true. Rip the seam, pull all the threads, re-iron…time time time. So I pin.

This rule saved me a lot of time last night. I was sewing the last row of blocks on the mystery quilt. And I pinned the row to the wrong side…luckily the quilt was not yet square so it was obvious when I had a whole block left; so I just had to unpin instead of rip a whole seam out. My daughter exclaimed that my Grammy was looking down laughing her head off...it was pretty funny. Such a silly mistake.

But on the subject of pins and pinning….like all things in sewing there are different pins for different purposes. It really does make a difference. Pin sets area an easy was to try different ones.

Some machines do not like to sew over pins… broken pins can hurt your machine. I always try to pull the pin before I get there, but accidents happen. I have to wear glasses all the time so never had to worry much about the chance of a broken piece hitting the eyes. But make sure if you break a pin or needle you account for all the pieces. On the floor, if you sew barefoot like many of us, they hurt when you foot finds them. In your machine they can do major damage. I use a magnetized telescoping pick-up tool to make sure.

Also, if you nick a pin—throw it away (make sure you know your areas sharps disposal rules—sewing needles and pins count as sharps.) I also change my needle (if it didn’t break), because nicking a pin will normally cause a rough spot on the needle that can snag your fabric and break your thread. Replacing the needle is better than replacing the fabric. You will always see the snag, even if no one else does

And the mystery quilt from a retreat class my favorite sewing store in Reno, Sierra Sewing Center is getting its borders now, so closer to a picture.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tools, tools, and more tools!

In general, Men have nothing on us when it comes to tools—unless you are just starting out. Words of warning; you sewing/quilting tools can become targets of acquisition to others in your household.

Scissors are the most obvious. I mark utility scissors-for paper and all other non-sewing activities with a sharpie “Utility” or “Paper.” Family members know these are safe for them to use without incurring sewing only wrath. I also keep a pair of marked “paper” scissors in the sewing room to keep myself from doing a dumb thing with a good pair of sewing scissors. I also have a full set of paper crafting scissors for making nice gift cards and such to go with my creations. And no, I could not get them all back into the plastic container they came in…they now live in a Tupperware tabs container.

That buttonhole spacer—well it works very well for spacing nails for many purposes. Rulers and T-squares are often subject to “borrowing.”  If you find them being “borrowed” very often, purchase them their own. You’ll be much happier.

Since I have been sewing, quilting and jewelry making for a long time, I have a lot of tools, as evidenced by today’s pictures (no that is not all of them.) If you are new to this hobby, do not try to buy them all at once. Try before you buy if at all possible. The best place to do this is at your favorite sewing store. Even if they do not have a demo, they will probably still have an opinion. And PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE. Do not assume because you don’t see it they don’t like it, don’t have it or won’t/can’t get it. ASK if you do not see something. If you do not support your local store and let them support you; they will end up going out of business and that is bad for both of you.  Having lived in a small town where the nearest sewing/fabric store was more than a three hour drive, mail order was the only option; please do not take your local stores for granted.

Classes are also a great way to try things. Sometimes the instructor will actually be demonstrating new (or new to you) tools and techniques. But the other great source is your fellow classmates. Everyone has their favorites and there is always a good selection of tools. I have NEVER been to a clad where someone would not let you try out their favorite.

My newest tool is an Accuquilt Go cutter  I have not had a chance to really put it through its paces yet, but I am expecting to as soon as I begin making candle mats for holiday gifts. I can’t wait to cut my felt on it instead of having to cut it by hand! And why did I decide I wanted it? Because I tried it several times at my favorite sewing store.

Rulers—I have MANY. But still I have found a set I want to make roman squares without paper piecing, it’s a Flip N Set Tool. My favorite rulers are Nifty Notions rulers. They are fantastic rulers, but they also support Komen for the cure, which is one of the charities I strongly support.

And life being what it sometimes is no real progress has occurred on the Mystery quilt. Hopefully it will get borders tonight and you’ll get to see pictures of the top soon.

What is your favorite sewing/quilting tool?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Buy good ones or you will end up spending more buying lots of cheap ones. Also, find a good sharpening service. I use a mobile one. Depending on my project list (and completion) I usually have him come twice a year. It usually costs about $100/per visit. I have a lot of scissors.  I keep a plastic tray to put the ones that need sharpened before use in.  When the scissor man comes, I round up all the scissors; kitchen, utility, first aid, etc. so everything is sharp when he leaves.

Yes I use a rotary cutter for most cutting. But you always need good scissors. And you need different scissors for different things. I even found the need to buy a few more pairs when I got this new sewing machine that can embroider- the bent ones to get under the hoop. I have the standard dressmaking shears, pinking shears, appliqué scissor (my Grammy called them duck bill scissors), a pair that I use for fussy cuts, and on and on.

One quirky thing; I have my Grammys old pinking shears; they are an OLD pair of WISS, and they have a different “pink” than my newer Fiskars.  They both work, I just noticed that they are different.  I do prefer the heaviness of the WISS ones on wool and felt.

I have many pairs of thread nipper type scissors…you always need them one pair at each machine, one pair at the ironing board, one on the cutting table, one by my chair where I quilt….almost everywhere.

Do you have a favorite pair/type of scissor? Which one(s) and why?