quilting 4.012 – gtg

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Question

What’s wrong with my sewing machine and how much would it cost to repair it? While I was sewing, I heard a loud pop and then the machine sounded like it was running low on power. I turned it off and realized the needle was bent. So, I replaced the needle. But when I pushed the foot pedal the needle did not move, but I could hear the motor running. When I turn the nob on the side, the needle moves. Do you think it’s a belt, or something, that broke? If you think you may know the problem, how much would it cost to fix it?
Best Answer Impossible to say from the information given. Broken needles are generally the result of trying to push or pull the fabric under the presser foot instead of letting the machine transport the fabric. Or trying to sew through fabric too dense for the machine, or with too light a needle. Start by taking out your manual, turning to the section on cleaning the machine, and start by taking all the thread out of/off of the machine. Remove the bobbin, bobbin case, needle plate and any and all lint, bits of thread and needle shards you see. Use a vacuum, not compressed air, and brush to get the machine clean. Oil only as directed by the manual, and use only sewing machine oil, not 3-in-1 types nor WD-40 types, both of which will freeze up a machine (for different reasons!). Reassemble correctly. Once you’re done cleaning, rethread the machine from scratch and try again. Does the needlebar move? Does it stitch? (If it doesn’t, is the needle in the right way around?) Do the feed dogs move properly? Does it sound right? Is the machine in time? What you’ve done (new needle, clean machine, rethreading correctly) may fix the problem. I’ve become the neighborhood “last stop before taking the machine in for professional service” person, and in my experience, about 90% of the dead machines I’m asked to look at are magically fixed by cleaning and rethreading and new needle. My guesses as to what might be going on that you can’t fix with the above treatment include timing, a broken gear or cam, a broken belt (though most machines now lack one), an electrical fault, a broken sewing hook, a popped fuse or circuit breaker…. could be a lot of things, and the cost to fix may range from nearly free to “not worth fixing this machine”.

Question

Do you know how to fix my sewing machine? When I push down my foot pedal, my needle gets jammed. when I take the fabric away, it works fine, with nothing under it. I usually solve this problem by re-threading my needle, this time that didn’t work. I would really like to avoid going to the repair shop because they have lost my foot pedal on my previous machine. Its a Singer Tradition so if anybody can PLEASE help. :)
Best Answer Try a fresh, new needle of the right type and size for the fabric being sewn.

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Question

How much money to repair sewing machine? timing might be up on my sewing machine, and if that is the true problem, i will have to take it to get repaired. Anyone know an estimate on how much it would cost to readjust timing on my sewing machine? I called a sewing machine repair place and told them my needle was running into the bobbin case, so they said i might need the timing readjusted.
Best Answer Typically a COA (clean/oil/adjust) aka tuneup around here is $50-90, usually a bit more if the machine is electronic. Why do you think the machine is out of time and not just a bad needle or mis-threaded or in need of cleaning? http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090925205957AAq0xc4

Question

Is there an online guide to sewing machine repair and problems? We have 2 Singer sewing machines that have bobbin problems and are quirky at times. I would like to diagnose the problems and fix them at home. Anyone have any ideas or links that might help? Thanks!
Best Answer My first suggestion is a good, thorough cleaning and oiling. Use a vacuum, not canned air, to get dust out, and pull the needleplate to get good access to the bobbin area. Oil per the manual’s recommendations using genuine sewing machine oil, not 3-in-1 type household oils nor WD-40 (it’s a solvent, not a lubricant.) If these machines are modern (last 10-20 years) non-mechanicals, and they have not had a COA (clean-oil-adjust), they’re probably more than overdue. If they’re mechanical machines, you can learn a lot about doing a basic COA by joining the yahoo group “wefixit”. Electronic and computerized machines probably need to go to the sewing machine mechanic for a COA. At any rate, first try the cleaning and oiling regimen found in the owners manual, and then put in a new needle and rethread with manual in hand. Make sure you’re using the right bobbin — visually, there’s not much difference between a class 15 and a class 66 bobbin, but the machine will pitch a fit with the wrong bobbin. Many user problems are directly traceable to mis-threading, poor quality thread and worn or damaged needles. Give yourself a break when troubleshooting and start with good quality replaceables and the full instructions. Fault tracing: http://sewandserge.com/tshoot.asp http://sewing.about.com/od/sewingmachineindex/a/mtroubleshot.htm http://www.sewusa.com/Sewing_Machine_Repair/Sewing%20Machine%20Troubleshooting.htm http://cahe.nmsu.edu/pubs/_c/c-202.html http://www.singerco.com Most of the problems I talk people through are traceable to mis-threading (especially threading with the presser foot down), bad needle, crummy thread and bobbin in backwards. Next most common problem is filthy machine that also needs oiling. Timing is almost never an issue unless you’ve broken a needle or had loud noises just before the machine quit. Suggested reading, probably available at your library: John Giordano’s Sewing Machine Book and Gale Grigg Hazen’s Owners Guide to Sewing Machines, Sergers and Knitting Machines. Hazen’s section on bad sewing habits is excellent, btw.

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Question

On-line sewing machine repair? My machine’s foot pedal isn’t triggering a response. if I wiggle my foot it will eventually make a connection but it starts and stops suddenly. Sewing is next to impossible and I’m having withdrawal symptoms. Can someone point me to an on-line DIY repair site so i DON’T have to take it in to a shop where they will charge more for repairs than the machine is worth?
Best Answer I have similar problems every few years with one of my old Kenmore machines. Rather than trying to fix it, I’ve bought a replacement for about 25 bucks. Mine seems to be not with the switch in the machine, as others have suggested, but with the cord, as I could get it to work if I kinked the cord just so, but it is such as hassle. No reasoning as to why it happens – my cat isn’t chewing on the cord or anything.

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Quilter’s Profile

I am thrilled to introduce you to the first quilter I ever knew: My mother. Mom discovered the joys of quilting during its great revival period in the mid-seventies; but, how she was first introduced to the concept of quilting is a story worth sharing.

One day at work, Mom saw a fellow 3M co-worker going through the machinery rag bag. Mom asked Barb what she was doing and learned that Barb was looking for new cottons to give to her aunt for her patchwork quilting. Mom asked Barb to explain further and was absolutely fascinated by what she heard. While Mom’s own mother made tied woolen blankets from worn out trousers, it was done out of necessity and never was the word quilting mentioned.

Not long after this introduction, an ad appeared in the newspaper announcing quilting lessons at a local college. The instructor, Anne, eventually become one the founding members of the Oxford Quilter’s Guild. Mom signed up for that 10 week course and never looked back.

It was from Anne that Mom learned the fundamentals of quilting: drawing on graph paper, cutting templates, layout, hand piecing and appliqué, English paper-piecing, hand quilting, color and design. And from Anne, Mom acquired her strong belief in accuracy and her love of a good quilting library.

The greatest challenge for Mom and all quilters at this time was finding good cottons which were few and far between. My fellow employee soon had competition at the 3M rag bag. It wasn’t until two extraordinary women opened a quilt store on the outskirts of town that quilters found a home away from home. They made an annual pilgrimage to the International Quilt Market in Houston, Texas and everyone waited for the new products to arrive just before Christmas.

Another difficulty for Mom was balancing a full-time job, looking after a household and trying to squeeze in time for her new passion. Her ability to get by on five hours of sleep a night was awe inspiring. Until she joined the Oxford Quilter’s Guild in the mid-80’s, Mom continued to learn on her own from her extensive library. With guild membership, came workshops and new friends with whom to share her love of quilting.

Mom finally retired from 3M in 1992 but within a year she lost her husband, my step-father. Mom decided to fill the void by teaching quilting in her home. She continues to teach at her new home which she shares with her sister, Elizabeth.

Mom is now in the process of finishing the many quilts constructed in the years before retiring. However, working with her hands has taken its toll and she will only hand quilt small projects. She has discovered a wonderful machine quilter and now sends the big projects out to be finished. The love and passion for quilting remains and she is passing those sentiments on to a new generation of quilters. Mom was delighted when I finally decided to take up quilting after years of encouraging me to do so. The exposure to her quilting has meant an easy learning process for me as I already knew the basics. A true quilter loves to share! Also, I am now the lucky recipient of Mom’s stash culling and overflow and have become extremely easy to buy for at Christmas.

Women who are taking up quilting today owe a great deal of gratitude to women of my Mom’s generation; it is because of them that the art of quilting flourishes. So, Mom, thank you for sharing, thank you for your passion, and thank you for being you. I love you!

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If you’re looking for a beginners guide to quilting, Alex Anderson’s Start Quilting book is a good choice.

Like a typical beginner quilting book, it starts off with a series of instructions. If you are like me, you may be tempted to bypass this section, to “get to the good stuff” like the quilt patterns.

Actually, the instructions are “the good stuff.” A quilting book at this level assumes you are an absolute beginner. So, while you may be anxious to start your first quilt, take time to read through the first part of the book.

Yes, it may be boring. But what you’ll learn is worth the time you take to read.

So, let’s go over what you’ll be getting.

This quilting book contains pages on tools, fabric, rotary cutting, pressing, basting, hand quilting (yeah!) and machine quilting.

Her supply list is on point. It is brief. It is thorough. And you can feel like you could easily purchase the items.

The keyword for this book is “fundamental.” If you read all the information and follow Alex Anderson’s advice, you will end up with great quilting fundamentals.

A couple of things make this beginners guide to quilting stand out.

First, there is a section on fabric. It is hard to find a beginners book that will give you through fabric selection tips.

Another good thing is the section on hand quilting. Like the rest of the book, you will get just enough information to get started. This is the only beginner quilting book this small that will even tackle hand quilting.

The book contains six projects. All are wall hangings. All include either squares, triangles or both. The book does not cover applique. A good suggestion would be to go through all the patterns from front to back.

The fabric selection for these quilts really makes the difference. These are not some practice projects that will sit in the back of a closet.

You will want to put these on display.

What could be improved on:

There is an easier method to attach binding than what is presented here. Every time I’ve used this method, it looks bulky on the edges.

Also, the author assumes you know how to slip stitch. I don’t. (Is this where I admit that I never took Home Ec?) It is why I machine stitch my bindings.

I only mention this because I am the type of person that one thing would stop me from buying the book. I would say in my mind – I can’t finish it so I’m not going to buy it.

There’s an easy fix for this, though. Just machine stitch your binding down. Use the invisible thread for the front of your quilt. Done.

All in all, this is a great book for your quilting library. It is also a great book to give to someone who is interested in starting to quilt. It is both thorough and encouraging which makes this quilting book a winner.

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How do you find an easy quilt pattern from all the patterns available? After all, you want to spend your time quilting, not struggling to finish a quilt top. First, I’ll go into how you can spot this elusive quarry. Then, I’ll give you some examples from my own pattern stash.

The first thing you want to do is read the pattern’s instructions. I’ve never had a problem at a quilt shop looking at the actual directions for a pattern. If someone did raise a question or request that I not look at them, I would ask the assistant questions about the pattern.

Actually. Can I be honest?

The folks at my local quilt shop know me. They know what I like. And the second sentence out of their mouths when describing a pattern is usually, “It’s so easy to make.”

So, if you can not get a look at the directions, ask for help. This could come from someone who works at the shop or another customer. Quilters are very giving people. I’ve just looked lost, in the past and folks have offered assistance.

Now, you need to do your part, too. Ask questions. Let folks know what tools you have at home. If you are not comfortable with triangles, let them know. On the other hand, if you have a triangle ruler and want to try it out, let them know that, too.

The great thing about local quilt shops is their expertise. That’s why you pay a little bit more than with on-line shops. I consider it a consultation fee.

But what if you don’t have a local shop? What if you’re happy just to have a Joann’s or Hancock’s with folks who are there strictly to cut fabric and ring you up?

Then you’re going to have to go on what you see. Here are some questions to ask when trying to find an easy quilt pattern:

Is this a Strip Piecing Quilt? – Strip piecing is always good. These patterns are mostly made of squares and rectangles. Go for it. If you are not familiar with curves, this is not the time to experiment. We’re talking about an easy quilt pattern, here.

Do the instructions have lots of pictures? – Are there lots of pictures? I like pictures. I like knowing how I’m going to make this pattern when I get home. Actually, I like knowing that I can make it when I get home.

Pictures and different layouts help me make that decision. Which brings me to another point.

Can I understand the directions? OK. I’m sure none of y’all reading this has fallen in love with a pattern, taken it home and realized you had no idea what you were doing? Right? And, uh, I haven’t either.

OK. I have.

Again, make sure you know you can make this thing at home when you get it.

If you can not look at the directions because the pattern is on line, see if you can find a free pattern by the same quilt pattern designer. If you can understand their directions for their free patterns, you will probably be good with a purchased pattern.

How large is the block size? – More blocks mean less piecing. Everyone needs this type of easy quilt pattern. You need a baby quilt in a weekend or you want just an easy project? You can take this one out and whip out an easy quilt.

Of course, if you are really in a hurry you could just purchase a quilt panel. But if you have to make a stash quilt, you do what you have to do.

What are examples of an easy quilt pattern?
Log Cabin Quilt Pattern

Y’all I have not found any book as detailed and picture-intense as this one. This was done by strip- piecing.

The finished block size measures a nice 14 inch. It meets all my easy quilt pattern requirements.

BQ – A favorite.

You want a big block?

How about 18-inch block?

Notice the squares and rectangle shapes?

Yep, this is another strip-piecing pattern.

The picture is of the mini size I made for my laundry room. That smaller size measures a respectable, finished 9-inch block.

Turning Twenty This is a pattern where you cut up twenty different fat quarters a certain way and then have fun mixing and matching.

My version is more like turning twelve because the largest size quilt I make is a lap size.

This is a great pattern if you just want to select a package of fat quarters and start quilting.

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Make a Quilt in a Day Log Cabin Pattern by Eleanor Burns is a great book for absolute beginners and a good reference book for quilters in general. It oozes with step-by-step instructions and lots of pictures.

You may be thinking, yeah, but there’s one quilt pattern. But, you can work off this one pattern for years if you had to.

I’ve made lap quilts, baby quilts and mini quilts from this one pattern. The book contains the fabric requirements for different sizes from a wall hanging up to king size. Plus, there are layouts galore.

For the absolute beginner, you’ll get a list of supplies you’ll need for your very first strip quilting project. At first glance, the list may seem intimidating, but this supply list will last you a long time.

The actual strip quilting instructions are detailed with a picture to demonstrate every single step.

Most folks I know are fine when it comes to finishing a quilt top. They get scared, however, at the actual quilting and binding or finishing the quilt.

The Make a Quilt in a Day Log Cabin Pattern book details instructions on how to finish a quilt two different ways. You can either machine quilt or quick turn and tie. Both have step-by-step instructions.

The book does not cover hand stitching. But with a title called quilt in a day, you can kind of expect that.

Other projects included in the book are a pillow sham and a tote bag. Yeah! These are basic instructions that you can use for other quilt patterns. See why I love this book?

When it comes to machine quilting, most quilt books for beginners only mention stitching in the ditch (stitching in the seam of your blocks to give it an outline effect). This book suggests quilting lines. The difference in batting choices are also discussed.

I was able to move on to individual quilting patterns from this foundation because the book was short enough to not be overwhelmed, but detailed enough to tell you everything that you need.

Alas, all is not perfect.

There is not an emphasis on pressing your blocks as you are piecing. Pressing makes a difference. I was surprised to discover this after I came back to the book to make a mini-quilt. Another nitpick is that the binding strips are not cut on the bias.

And, uh, a first-time quilter would not care about either one of those things. I used this book to make my first quilt and even without bias-cut binding strips and blocks unpressed until the end, it turned out fine.

Bottom line – this book can get you help you finish your very first quilt totally on your own. It is a book you can not pry from my quilting library.

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Looking for a quilt book to start or add to your quilting library? There are three types that you’ll need – reference, pattern and inspirational.

The Reference Book or How do I Do That Again?

Most quilting books of any kind will include basic instructions on how to quilt. But, unless they are a beginning quilting book, that is all that they will contain.

Even beginner quilting books will not contain a lot of information because they want to make things as simple as possible for the beginning quilter. You will usually only get one way to perform a quilting technique such as binding a quilt with a minimal amount of pictures.

So, what’s the solution? A reference quilt book. A reference book will give you options. Instead of one way to baste a quilt, for example, you may get three with step-by-step instructions.

Sometimes even a pattern book can be used as a reference book if the General Instructions section is good enough.

The thing to remember about reference books is that you pull them out when you want to know how to do something. That can be a quilting technique or even how to complete a quilt in 90 minutes. It’s a good quilt book to have in your arsenal.

The Pattern Book or The Good Stuff

This is what most folks think of when they think of a quilt book. A pattern book is just that – a book of patterns. When looking for this type of book, look at what techniques you are familiar with.

If you a strip quilting type of person, look for a book that contains strip quilting instructions . Do you love fat quarters? There are plenty of fat quarter specific books out there. Want to try scrap quilting? There’s a book for that. It’s also a good idea to have a pattern book that is just above your current level . This book should should stretch you and force you to try new techniques or develop the patience that it takes to make a beautiful quilt.

I usually have a rule of three when it comes to pattern books – I’ve got to be interested in making three quilts from the book. That makes the book cost effective when it comes to purchasing a book versus individual patterns.

The main piece of advice that I can give you to make sure that either you are comfortable with the techniques in the instructions of the pattern quilt book or you are ready to make the next leap in your quilting development.

Inspirational Book or Ooh and Aah

Some may call these coffee table books. They are usually huge and oversized. I like just looking at them and getting inspired to quilt and also for quilt designs.

Some books, like Quiltmaking by Hand by Jinny Beyer are supposed to be instructional/reference books, but I get inspired by flipping through them because of their intricate quilts.

I also have the book from the Gee’s Bend museum exhibit that traveled the country. That book reminds me that you can make art out of anything.

Those women used what they had, they broke the rules and in the process of making a functional quilt to keep them warm, they made art.

If that isn’t inspirational, I don’t know what is.

So, if you are looking to start or add to your quilting library, consider a good balance between reference, pattern and inspirational books. A good mix will allow you to get more quilts finished, while still pushing you to become a better quilter. And isn’t that what we all want?

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There are a lot of Gees Bend Quilts products out these days. There are quilt kits. There are books. There were even postage stamps.

But in this mass commercialization, have we forgotten what these quilts were really about? So, how can you can truly bring their spirit into your quilting? Here are three tips:

Tip 1 – They Used What They Had

There were no quilt shops where these ladies lived. When you look at their fabric choices, it is simply because these were scrap quilts in their most basic form – scraps.

The Gees Bend quilts used denim taken from worn clothes. They used corduroy scraps because their quilting bee had a contract to make corduroy shams for Sears.

They did not select material because they were interesting fabric choices. They selected material because it was free.

I mean, when’s the last time you saw a quilt pattern that used the corduroy fabric? I’ve never seen it.

How to put this into use for your life – Think of making a true scrap quilt. I’m not talking about a stash quilt. I’m talking about a quilt from fabric from clothes you are about to throw away or give to charity.

This can be an on-going project. One of mine is a denim quilt. Every time I wear out a pair of jeans, I cut it up and put it one of my gallon plastic bags for use in an upcoming rag quilt. It may take a while, but I’m sure I’ll appreciate the quilt even more.

Tip 2 – They Broke the Pattern

These women prided themselves on breaking patterns. They opened themselves up to experimentation and in that process, they made art.

It’s tempting to follow a pattern to the letter. I mean, I have a tendency to do it even with scrap quilts. I’ll want to make the quilt exactly like what’s on the cover because that’s what drew me to the quilt. I’m guessing that you may be the same way.

The Gee’s Bend Quilts ladies took a different approach – they intentionally took a pattern and made it so that it did not look like the pattern in the book or on the cover. They made their own twist on a traditional pattern.

How to put this into use for your life – Experiment with breaking a pattern. You could have a designated ugly quilt (one of my favorite techniques for getting through a quilt where you are just experimenting.)

You don’t have to copy something exactly. You don’t have to use the sizes given. If a quilt calls for 2 and a half inch strips, you can use 2 inch strips or 3 inch strips. The patterns are only a guide. Strive to make your quilts your own by breaking the pattern.

Tip 3 – They belonged to a network of quilters

For the most part, quilting was woven into the community of theses ladies’ lives. They had a community.

It is hard to be out here on your own. If you don’t have a quilt guild near you, check out some of the on line groups. Consider starting a blog and commenting on other quilting blogs.

I don’t belong to a guild, but I do have a quilting buddy who I visit for a monthly quilting trip. We set goals, hold each other accountable and get each other’s opinions on quilts. It is good to have someone you can bounce ideas off of.

So, you can use the spirit of the Gees Bend Quilts in your own projects. Consider using up what you have, breaking the pattern and expanding your quilting network. Be on your way to making your quilts works of art.

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Quilting Tables

Quilting Tables for Your Sewing Machine
The simplest sewing machine can attach two …..

The Quilting Notions You Have Today

I was talking the other day with a friend who just started quilting as a hobby. If things work out, maybe she will even go in for a cottage micro-entrepreneurship online. In the meantime she was educating herself on the different quilting notions available in the market.

Her great grandmother was master quilter, quite famous in her time (it seems she was booked sometimes six months to one year in advance for quilt making by the then-aristocracy). However, other than a legacy of know-how and some splendid patterns and closely guarded trade secrets, she left no explanations about this art.

The Net Is The Best Teacher: Checking Out The Quilting Notions

Fabric Squares For Quilting

Create with fabric squares for quilting Any Desired Pattern
Quilting has become a …..

I have a great deal of confidence on the Internet. Hence, instead of looking here and there for advice and explanation, we run a search on the Net and came up with a carload of articles which gave in depth description of the many quilting notions available in the market today. I am not at liberty to elaborate too much in the present article, hence I will just touch the highlights of four most popular ones that we stumbled upon during our search.

Maybe these quilting notions are not the best; and maybe these are not the most popular either. However, these will be enough to give a surface idea of what we are talking about here. In case you need a more in-depth analysis you might also go the internet and seek your answers on whatever quilting notions you need elaboration on.

Basing spray is nicknamed as one of the most popular choices available, this is preferred because it is the easiest possible way to do it. Just spread your quilt on a straight surface and then pray. It is simple as 1-2-3. Be careful about the color bleeding, though.

Quilting Fabric For Babies

How to Choose the Right Quilting Fabric for Babies
Quilts are used for many different purposes from keeping warm to decorating the bed, sofa and …..

Quilter gloves are a must-have for the people who have a lot of quilts to make and have no time to waste in arranging it all the time while stitching it. These gloves move the quilt with extreme ease and expertise because they have tiny rubber tips on the fingers and palms region.

Sponge bottom hoops are meant to help you keep your fabric tight while you run it through the machine. Basting guns shoot a plastic tag through all the three layers of the quilt (something like a stapler) and it much more convenient that pinning. The downside is that sometimes, if the material is not compatible, it will leave holes in the quilt.

The bottom line is that you have to be diligent in finding the quilting notions that work the best. Proper quilting notions lead to beautiful quilting.

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Looking For Simple Quilt Patterns for Projects?

Quilting is a skill that anyone can learn. It is smart to start with simple quilt patterns that are easy to understand and doesn’t take too much time to complete a project. These little quilting projects can be used as gifts for most all occasions because they are so beautiful.

if you are looking for some free patterns that are easy to make, you can do a straightforward search on google or any other search engine. Just type into the search bar something like’free quilt patterns’ and you’ll probably find something you can use. There are dozens of places to get free or cheap patterns that will be easy to start with.

Here are one or two ideas that little projects can be turned into something beautiful as well as helpful. Always use your imagination and you can come up with ideas of your own that you’ll be pleased with.

1. A Potholder is a helpful present

A potholder is a great gift when selecting a block from simple quilt patterns to use as the top. I love to use a 6 and a half in. to 7 and a half inch block for this project. You would just duvet and bind the potholder like a regular cover with one or two exceptions. Make efforts to use 100% cotton for your covering thread. If you use invisible thread, it’ll melt when handling hot pans. You may also want to use insulated batting.

two. Give a set of Place mats

I made a set of four place mats and 4 coasters for my parents last year and they loved them! You can use the easiest of simple quilt patterns for this one – a checkerboard. What is great about this idea is that you will get plenty of practice binding quilts.

3. Youngsters love Tote Bags

Make it a market tote and give it to folks who need to break themselves of using plastic bags at the corner store. A quilt block can be employed as decoration. If you make the bag out of novelty fabric such as Sponge Bob or Barbie, you can give it to your favorite pre-teen as a library bag.

Once you start putting these ideas into projects using simple quilt patterns you will become a quilting pro in a brief short time with much pleasure and enjoyment.

4. A Cover for Recliner Headrests

I found out about this idea by mistake. I made my mom a mini duvet version of the larger quilt I had given her as a gift. She used it as a cover for her recliner’s headrest. It looks great. So much so that my dad wanted one for the next year. You will need to make a quilt approximately sixteen by nineteen inches. If the planned recipient has two recliners, be certain to make two.

5 A lovely table topper

Does anyone you know have those accent tables? Make them a table topper. Fab present. Just ensure that it matches the decor of the room. You could also make a table runner with little cover blocks. Anyone would be proud to display such a nice table runner!

Now you have 5 great homemade present concepts where you can use your simple quilt patterns, why not start on your quilting project today?

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Sewing

Sewing Machines for Beginners

The process of choosing the best sewing machines for beginners is a daunting process. Most sewing machines boast features that can easily entice new users or beginners. There are machines that flaunt very ambitious elements that seemed so easy to undertake. As a beginner, you must always be equipped with proper information and knowledge about the machines. Furthermore, you also have to assess your personal requirements against those available in the market.

The variety of choices can make your head spin, so it is essential that you already have a list of what you need and your budget. And remember to stick to those two things.

Below are our top choices for sewing machines. Take note that these can also be used by more experienced users but are also user-friendly enough to be used by complete beginners.

The Janome sewing machine’s price may set you back a few steps but based on both the reviews and features this is actually a sewing machine that is surely a value for money. Whether you are a complete newbie or a pro, this machine can most certainly live up to your standards and skill. If you have the budget, we would suggest to just go with this one as it will prevent you from having to upgrade to a more advanced sewing machine in the near feature.

Before you start to use your sewing machine, make sure you gear up first with the essential beginner’s kit that you will need during the course of sewing. As a beginner, your sewing machine, will need to have the supporting cast to make first few experiences less challenging.

Perhaps the most important support that you can get while going through activities with a sewing machine will come from scissors and shears like the following: bent-handles shears for cutting fabrics only, sewing scissors for facings and trimming seams, pinking shears to create fray-resistant edges and thread clipper to cut through threads easily.

Aside from the scissors, you will need to prepare and buy materials like measuring tools, marking tools, pins, pin cushion, thread, seam ripper, sewing machine needles as you may need to replace them from time to time, buttons, sewing box as your storage and sewing guide books perhaps. Sewing machines usually have sewing manuals and kits with them.

Choosing Sewing Machines for Beginners

There are tons of sewing machines that boast a lot of features and ease of use for the beginner. You might be confused, because oftentimes the attributes you like are not in one machine.

When choosing sewing machines for beginners, you must be certain of the purpose it will serve you. Is it for clothing, crafts, repair and alterations or home decorating? Do not easily be tempted by multi-purpose machines that are available. It is advisable that when selecting sewing machines for beginners, start with something that will dole out the chief intention. This is because you will have the tendency to try out new things with a machine that does several things without having the mastery of one.

For clothing, crafts and repairs use, choose a sewing machine that has good stitch options, such as fast stitching and it will probably be an electrical sewing machine. If you just have started sewing, the basic electronic sewing machine will best suit your needs. The more creative or ambitious your activities will be, the more you need those complex ones. If you plan to sew on a regular basis, a computerized machine might be a good investment.

For home decorations like pillow cases and curtains, use a sewing machine that has programmed embroideries.

Other Important Things to Consider

Aside from the kit, your interest and the purpose, you also need to have answers for these questions: Where will you sew? In the kitchen, in your own room, living room or will you have a designated spot in the house for sewing? This way you can choose the size, arrange wirings and allot proper space for your sewing machine that you will purchase.

It is also recommended to visit local dealers and inspect their sewing machines at hand. With this, you can also bargain on the price and freebies.

4 Fabrics Beginner Sewers Should Avoid

As a beginner sewer the fabric and pattern choices out there can be overwhelming, but the worst thing you can do is choose the wrong fabric. As a beginner there are just certain fabrics you should avoid mostly because they’re difficult for even experienced seamstresses to work with and partly because they’re just too expensive to experiment with. Everyone wants to work with pretty silks and luscious leathers, but save these fabrics and others for when your sewing skills are more advanced and you’re sure of what you’re doing.

Silks, Satins and Delicate Fabrics

Delicate fabrics are often shiny and luxurious, but they’re also slippery and some of the most difficult fabrics to sew. From the fraying, to the ability to easily snag, sewing delicate fabrics like silk is just a pain in the behind. When you’re starting out as a sewer, your focus should be on learning how to sew straight lines and finish seams, not how to keep silk from slipping as you try to sew it. Additionally, delicate fabrics are expensive. Some silks go for hundreds of dollars per yard. Sewing silk and other delicate fabrics also may require special presser feet, pins, needles, and other tools that can quickly make a dent in your wallet.

Chiffon, Organza and Sheer Fabrics

Similar to delicate fabrics, sheer fabrics like chiffon and organza are slippery and tricky to sew. The transparent nature of sheer fabrics makes even the smallest flaw visible from any angle, so you really need top-notch skills to sew sheer fabrics. The most challenging thing about sheer fabrics is stabilizing and cutting them. You have to hold these fabrics extremely tight as you cut them, and it’s not uncommon to only cut through one layer at time for some sheer fabrics. For example, if you’re sewing chiffon and the project would require you to make a cut in the fold, you have to make two of the pattern pieces, tape them together, and then cut them out so you don’t have to put a fold in the fabric. If that just confused you, then yea, you’re not ready to sew sheer fabrics.

Denim

Denim is one of the world’s most popular fabrics, perhaps the most popular in America, but don’t let the popularity of denim fool you– it’s challenging to sew. When you sew denim, you want to use the right thread, needles, and presser foot, because the material’s thickness will do a number on your sewing machine if you fail to use the proper tools and accessories. Denim is notorious for breaking needles, even when you use the right type. The trouble with sewing denim is that the thick material can cause the presser foot to tilt, which puts undue stress on the needle, so if you don’t know how to keep the presser foot level, expect to go through tons of needles and experience lots of frustration. Additionally, believe it or not, denim is well-known for fraying, so if you haven’t gotten your seam finishes down perfectly, denim should never be your first fabric choice as a beginner sewer.

Stretchy Knits

The great thing about sewing stretchy knits is that the fabric doesn’t have to fit as perfectly as other types of materials, and that’s thanks to the stretch. However, stretchy knits can be a bit challenging to sew if you’re a beginner. Stretchy knit fabrics pose two problems if you don’t know what you’re doing. Pulling or tugging the fabric can cause stretchy knits to pucker, and on the other hand, the fabric can gather and become quite lumpy in areas where you want it to lay flat, such as the shoulder area of a top or dress. It is also recommended sewing stretchy knits with a twin needle to give the seams some extra stretch, so if you don’t have a sewing machine that has that capability, it’s best to stick to simpler fabrics that only require basic tools and accessories.

Two Things Sewers Should Always Splurge On

The two sewing accessories than can make or break your sewing are needles and thread. These basic tools are the things that sewing disasters and/or sewing successes are made of. Don’t be lulled by a “deal” on cheap needles or thread, because low-quality thread and needles could end up costing you more money than you bargained for. Most of the common sewing machine problems, such as skipped stitches and tension problems, can be attributed to cheap thread and needles. Quality threads and needles not only produce better looking results, they’ll allow your machine to perform much more efficiently.

Thread

If you think there is no difference between the 3 for $1 spools of thread and the more expensive spools of thread, think again. Cheaper threads tend to be made from cheap fibers which are far more likely to fray. Those loose fibers, although unseen to the naked eye, will impact your sewing machine and cause undue wear and tear. If you want to dampen your sewing machines performance, possibly damage it’s tension disks, and ultimately shorten its lifespan, go right ahead and sew with the cheapest thread you can find. If you want your sewing machine to perform at optimal levels, sew stitches evenly, and ultimately last for decades, invest in high-quality thread.

Some of the best threads are Mettler Metrosene Plus 100% polyester, Gutterman polyester thread, and Molnlycke polyester thread, all of which have very few or no visible stray fibers. Many sewers also like Coats & Clark cotton threads, but it varies from person to person.

Sewing Needles

When you have problems with your sewing machine, the first thing any good sewer or sewing machine repair person will ask you is, “what kind of needle are you using?” Cheap, low-quality needles are the number one culprit behind malfunctioning sewing machines. Cheap, blunt sewing needles can cause severe damage to your machine, and make sewing an absolute pain. Many people erroneously believe that sewing was much more difficult than it actually is because they used cheap needles that caused their machine to lag or improperly stitch their projects. Don’t let something as simple as a cheap needle ruin your sewing technique. Choose the highest-quality sewing needles you can afford.

So what makes a good needle? First, a good needle has a nice, smooth eye. A smooth eye is important because you don’t want the needle to cause the thread to fray or create loose fibers. You should also opt for needles that are chrome plated with a smooth tip. These needles tend to last longer and they’re strong enough to penetrate thicker fabrics and multiple layers of fabric. Lastly, you want a needle that is elastic. It sounds counterintuitive, but elasticity is important when it comes to needles because you need a needle that won’t bend or break when sewing heavy fabrics. Bent needles can damage your fabric, sewing machine, and possibly you.

The second question any good sewer or sewing machine repair service will ask you when you’re experiencing problems with your sewing machine is, “how often are you changing your needles?” Sewing needles aren’t made to last for long periods of time; in fact, the average needle is only good for eight hours. Sewing with a dull needle causes your sewing machine’s motor to work twice as hard, so that means your sewing machine’s output and performance is automatically cut in half. Changing your needle after you’ve used 2 three full or pre-wound bobbins is another good rule of thumb. Additionally, if you’re sewing fabrics that are known to dull needles at a fast rate, such as leather or fleece, you should change your needle before moving on to the next project.

So there you have it; never skimp on these two sewing tools, and cut the probability of experiencing sewing problems down drastically.

Comprehensive Guide to the Best Sewing Machine for Beginners

Shopping for the best sewing machine for beginners is no easy task. Since their invention during the Industrial Revolution, those machines have gone through continuous improvements to make sewing easier for artisans who make a living out of it and people who just do it for leisure. Modern machines now have more sophisticated parts, threading technology and bobbin placement. Which means that, with these new features, it can get quite confusing to choose a machine to start out with. Also, there are more types of sewing machines now than ever, and this may just add to the confusion.

This is a simplified and comprehensive guide for anyone interested in starting out a sewing business or hobby, but has no idea where to begin.

Types of Sewing Machines

The first step to buying a machine is familiarizing yourself with the different types that exist. This is so that you’d know which one you want to work with and that you aren’t buying something that would turn out to be too complicated for your current level of skill and knowledge.

1. Manual Sewing Machine-These old heritage models require you to turn a hand wheel with one hand and guide the fabric under a needle with the other. For obvious reasons, manual sewing machines are no longer in production. There aren’t very much of these around anymore, unless you’re in a dusty attic, museum, antique shop or a collector’s room.

2. Mechanical Sewing Machine-A basic mechanical sewing machine has a foot pedal which drives the motor at different speeds depending on how hard you put your foot down. The idea is that the harder you step on the pedal, the faster the motor drives the needle. In the lower part, it has a bobbin and feed dogs that automatically place the material into the machine right under the needle plate. An electric model works faster and is more accurate than manual machines. It also has a dial that allows you to choose from a range of stitch sizes and types.

3. Computerized Sewing Machine-A computerized machine offers everything an electric model does, plus several other new features. It has built-in computer chips that program the machine to work on an exact length, width, and tension for each stitch style. Most models have touch pads and computer monitors. There are some downloadable programs that can be transferred from your PC to the machine for added features. Some applications memorize past works and hundreds of stitches that you can use without you having to study them anymore. It can also let you do embroidery.

4. Electronic Sewing Machine-This is a sort of hybrid between the mechanical and computerized models. It also typically has an LCD screen that helps you make precise adjustments to your stitches. It allows you to do utility and decorative stitches, buttonholes and alphabets. The only thing it probably lacks is the option to do embroidery.

5. Overlock Machine-This machine can be bought as a sort of added accessory to your sewing machine. It is used to stop fraying, to give a professional finish to most garments’ seams. The machine basically trims while sewing the seams to make it neater. Although you can simply cut the fabric yourself and neaten its edges, this takes more time and usually creates slight ridges in the seams. Overlocks can also have attachments that can be used in stitching rolled hems and in attaching or gathering bindings.

As a beginner, it is definitely more preferable to go for the ease of use that computerized and electronic models offer. The LED screen could show you instructions and generally does all the adjustments automatically. It may also have warning indicators for when you’re running out of thread or when the thread has broken.

However, if you are still unsure as to whether or not you will be using it frequently, you might as well opt for a mechanical machine, which is a lot cheaper than the other two options. Although the down side is that there is more risk of human error and you won’t be able to do fancy stitches unless you study them, it still pays to know how to do things manually.

All in all, choosing the best sewing machine for newcomers to the craft boils down to how often and for how long you will be using the machine, how much you are willing to spend for its purchase and maintenance, and whether you prefer ease of use or complex sewing techniques.

Three Most Recommended Models for Beginners

The SINGER 9960 Quantum Stylist is a top choice for beginner machines under this brand. It has an electronic autopilot for an easy and controlled stitching pace. It offers 600 stitches, 13 buttonhole styles, and 5 alphabet fonts. It also has a stitch editing feature to take care of possible mistakes that you might commit as a newcomer.

The Brother XL2610 is an inexpensive machine that is perfect for beginners who are still unsure of how far they wish to go into sewing. It has directions that are easy to understand, a stitch chart, and other convenient features to guide the user.

The Janome 3128 is a good choice for children. It is a lightweight and portable model that has 8 basic stitches to choose from.

As a final advice, you should note that there isn’t a single machine of any brand or type that can be said to be the best sewing machine for beginners. To be sure that you are investing in the right model, it would do you good to research on the features of each model and see if they are suited for your skill level and for the kind of sewing projects you want to do.

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For some of us, working intuitively is a difficult task; however giving yourself permission to “play without a plan” is a great creative exercise. Sometimes some of the most interesting creative results will simply come from out of nowhere with little forethought or preparation.
Setting boundaries by limiting yourself to a set time period is an excellent way to approach this. It allows you a controlled sense of freedom in which to explore and experiment without feeling a relentless pressure to perform and produce results.
Give your creativity a real workout and take the 15 Minute Challenge. Learning to work intuitively and without planning or preparation, helps to build self-confidence in your decision making process. The ultimate result of these type of challenges is not that you create a great sample or project, but it’s the process of “letting go” that’s important. Letting go of the need to control; the need to plan; the need to be perfect.

The best way to begin is to gather your supplies: a coordinating range of fabrics; threads, yarns and embellishments; whatever you think you might need to complete a small project. Then simply sit down at your machine and begin. This can be difficult – a little like staring at a blank page, but just try it. The first step is always the hardest, but try to relax and allow the process to guide you. Again, these small pieces don’t need to be a work of art, they simply need to demonstrate a willingness to open your mind to possibilities and allow your creativity to take over.

No-one ever has to see these pieces and they can be thrown out or recycled for other purposes, but you just may be surprised at your results.
There is no win or lose, no success or failure with this exercise – what’s important is your awareness of the process and your ability to let the intuitive side of your creativity guide the process.

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Creativity, whether in art, business, or life, is the act of making new things or finding unique solutions to difficult problems. Creativity, just like writing, public speaking, or goat herding, is a skill that can be developed and improved with effort over time.
Besides being a skill anyone can learn and improve, creativity is also variable and fluid; depending on our mental energy, motivation, and circumstances, it can come and go like the ocean tide. However, by taking a few simple steps, you can develop a little more control over those tides.
1. Change Your Perspective. Imagine you were somebody else. How would they approach your task? Would a person of a different social background, gender, race, or nationality approach what you’re doing in the same manner? When you change your perspective and question your assumptions about the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to do a thing, you’ll begin to see multiple solutions to the same problems.
2. Free associate. On unlined copy paper, write down everything that comes into your head. If possible, fill an entire sheet with ideas. Don’t edit yourself or censor what you think are bad ideas. You will only have good ideas after you have a lot of bad ideas. If you like, you can use mind maps.
3. Keep an Idea File. You can’t always create on demand. Sitting down and staring at a blank screen is hard, but when you have a pile of undeveloped ideas, you always have something to draw from. Keep blank paper and pens handy, and carry a notebook with you wherever you go.
4. Keep Your Life Rich. Whenever you can, attend concerts, go to art galleries and museums, meet friends, and read great books. Alter your routines and the routes you take. Try new foods. Give yourself a little unstructured free time.
5. Imagine Your Outcome. When you start thinking about the final destination, you’ll begin to see the different paths you can take to get there. What do you want as the final result of your project? Personal satisfaction? A marketable product? A world-changing work of art?
6. Put In the Hours. The more often you do something, the more likely you’ll find inspiration on a regular basis. The more time you spend actively seeking and developing new ideas, the more new ideas you’ll have. Look at the most creative people in any field, and you’ll see they have put in thousands of hours.
7. Listen to Classical Music. Studies have shown that listening to some types of classical music gave temporary increases in problem-solving abilities and cognitive functions to college students. Putting on Mozart, Bach, or Vivaldi on the stereo is like an on-demand creativity boost.

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First of all, we need to examine how much time we spend procrastinating. Think of all the things in your life that you do, that is really just wasting time. Things like, wasting time in front of the television, playing video games, surfing aimlessly on the Internet etc. These things and more can be the cause of major procrastination in your life. You need to examine the effect that this could have on your life. If you don’t stop these bad habits the chances are you will live a frustrated life.
Step one: Start Setting Goals
Go buy an exercise book dedicated to writing down all your goals. Choose one day a week where you can sit down and think about the week ahead and the things that you would like to achieve in that week. Each day review what you have written that week and try to achieve at least one of those tasks in that day. You can also write down long-term goals such as what you would like to achieve in three months, or six months or one year, or five years or 10 years. Setting goals is a great way to stop the mindset of procrastination because if you focus on your goals you have something to work towards and once you’ve achieved each goal you will feel a sense of accomplishment.
Step two: Create a New Habit
Sometimes there are things that you may not want to do right now, but you need to start thinking of how you can become more efficient in doing these things so you can complete the task and get on with something else. Set time periods where you can do the things that you like doing. If you enjoy watching TV set yourself a time limit. Watch television for half an hour- One hour and then start initiating the tasks that need to be achieved from your goals.
Step three: Approaching Tasks in Small Intervals
Dedicating time to these goals may seem daunting i know, especially when you’re just getting started, so set half an hour to one hour time periods to concentrate on tackling your task. If you start dedicating all your time to the goals/tasks and not give yourself the time you need to enjoy yourself, ie watching television, you will burn yourself out and get caught in your old procrastinating mindset again. So divide the task/goal over a week or a month or several hours, depending on how big it is.
Step four: Give Yourself a Reward
just by completing your set out goals should be reward enough, but you should also reward yourself along the way, take a short break, watch a movie or something that will relax your mind. But make sure it doesn’t take your focus off to set out goals and set out tasks, remember, set time period for these rewards.
Step five: Keep Focused
You need to start building your confidence and your ability to make choices, start saying no to those things that distract you, say “no”, to picking up and playing that guitar, say “no”, to playing that DVD or texting those friends. These things can be achieved once you’ve completed your goal for that day.
Step six: Perfection is Not Achievable
You’ve heard it before, but the truth is, no one is perfect, so that means you probably will make mistakes along the way, you probably will start slipping occasionally into your old habits, but the important thing is, is to jolt that old mindset and replace it with your new goal orientated mind. So when you start slipping back into those old habits pick up that textbook that you bought and read through those goals that you made. If you set those goals correctly this should jumpstart your mind again and get you back on track to achieving them.
Step seven: Get Started Now
If you don’t get started now after reading this, your procrastinating mind will tell you to “do it later”, But don’t let your procrastinating mind prevent you from getting this done. Just going from doing nothing to doing something is definitely the hardest part. But just imagine how good you will feel when everything is put in place and your goals are achieved.
Final Tips:
It is always good to ask for help along the way, remember you don’t have to do this alone. Why not do a course in time management. Try to avoid saying yes don’t take too many tasks on a once, make sure you actually have enough time if you say yes to something.
Buy a motivational CD and make your mind work. There are new mind power techniques that can improve your memory and help you with procrastination and more.
The final thought that I want to leave you with is this, TAKE ACTION NOW! Start planning your future don’t let your future plan you, don’t live your life day by day with no goal. Life is a game so play it and don’t get played!

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I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the various messages we’ve received over the years and generally highly regard. Many success and self-help experts have told us that we need to “Seize the Day”. “Carpe diem” they tell us.
Well, what the heck does that mean? How does one “seize the day”?
“Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live.” ~Margaret Fuller
The dictionary defines the word seize as:
– take hold of; grab
– take or capture by force
– assume, seize and take control without authority and possibly with force
What are we supposed to do? How does one seize a day? Do we wake up in the morning ready and willing to force the desired events and goals of the day to happen? Do we push ourselves and other people to get things done when and in the way we want them done? Do we stay attached to how our day must unfold?
If that’s what “seize the day” means then I’ll pass, thank you very much. No seizing of days for me! Too exhausting! And I’ve learned that whenever I force anything to happen I usually don’t get a good result over the long term.
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” – John Milton
I have learned to “allow the day”. Allowing your day is to be open to all possibilities. It is showing up present, and in the moment, ready and willing for whatever comes next. When I detach from how a day must happen I permit the events of my day to unfold in ways I might not have thought of.
Allowing my day doesn’t mean that I have no goals, objectives or intentions for my day. I wake up each and every morning with a clear vision of what I intend to create for that day. I just let go of how it has to happen and allow intuition and inspiration to guide my thoughts, choices and actions that will deliver the desired outcomes I have intended for the day.
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams
Have you ever wanted something and had no idea how you were going to get it? And soon there came the day when you got it? You had a clear vision of what you wanted and focused upon that thing or event that you desired. Intuition and inspiration gave you ideas that you took action upon and before you knew it, you got what you wanted. Or, the thing or experience you desired came to you as an “out of the blue” opportunity.
“Out of the blue” coincidences are not random coincidences. Without getting too metaphysical, I call them meaningful coincidences because they are the seemingly miraculous fortunate events that deliver what we desire. We could not have planned for that event to happen in the way it did. When you detach from how, you open up to the possibility of a meaningful coincidence.
Instead of using a lot of energy running around trying to seize the day try setting a clear intention and then just allow your day to unfold. Allow your intuitive messages your inner wisdom, what I playfully call the Inner Wizard, to orchestrate the how of what you intend to become reality. It is important to take action on this inner guidance because intention without action is only a dream.
“The art of living does not consist in preserving and clinging to a particular mode of happiness, but in allowing happiness to change its form without being disappointed by the change; happiness, like a child, must be allowed to grow up.” – Charles Morgan

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An inspirational article

I’m a quilt and fabric arts lover, a writer about the topic, and dabble a bit. For several years I’ve enjoyed sharing this interest through my blog. And this past year several guest bloggers have joined me in sharing their experiences, tips, trials, and loves, too. I was pleased to support and give a little shout out for one blogger and her efforts to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. Her success inspired me.
When it came time to find a way to raise funds for the ALS Association, my thoughts immediately turned to quilts. There is nothing more comforting than a quilt and it just seemed the most appropriate medium for a fund raiser. Particularly a fund raiser for a novice at such things as I am.
One woman took on the challenge and created a charming and vibrant double tulip quilt, using an Eleanor Burns pattern and Hoffman batik fabrics. She machine quilted it in a design that gave the quilt a sense of movement and carries the eye from one block to the next. And a special bonus of this pieced design – it includes my favorite – the humble four patch.
She blew me away with her ability to move this project forward. We were on a short time deadline and she worked long hours to reach the goal of a beautifully crafted quilt. She outdid anything I expected. And she added some advice on raffles.
For anyone attempting a fundraiser, there obviously are more things to consider than the product. Thankfully the ALS Association administration has jumped in to help me and have offered their website as the place to go to purchase tickets for this quilt raffle. Tickets are $5 each or three for $10.
You may ask why I chose this disease to support or this organization. Glad you asked. For you see, my husband is dying of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He’s one of those rare birds who has a rare inherited form of the disease so not only is he fighting for his life, but he has a dozen or so family members who have already lost the battle. His brother died at the age of 18. His aunt died at 70. His cousins at 17, 39, 60, 43, 80…. There’s no explanation as to why the disease attacks voluntary muscles, usually beginning at the extremities weakening hands and feet and moving inward toward diaphragm, throat muscles, and face and voice muscles. So far scientists have found nothing to stop it.
The ALS Association offers patient support, information and supports for an extensive and impressive array of researchers and their research around the world. Yet the dollars spent on administration costs is 1 percent. I’ve met these people personally and every one of them works for the association because they have lost a loved one or known someone who had died of the disease. They are devoted to finding a cure and caring for each ALS patient and caregiver – but that takes funding.
My husbamd and I were utterly lost when he was diagnosed and we both still wonder what we would have done without the ALS Association. The quilt community is full of comfort and love – just like the ALS Association. It just seemed a natural fit to offer a quilt in exchange for funding to cure this horrible disease that strikes anyone at anytime, anywhere in the whole world – for no reason.

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Some art quilts were just not meant to be! And it’s usually the ones you’ve spent hours and hours on, and used up all your most beautiful coveted fabric (sigh!!!).
Our vision can sometimes be lacking. Even though we can see a design clearly in our head and transfer it successfully to paper, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will turn out the way we planned.
Picture this: a trapunto peacock, with long flowing tail feathers outlined in thread and maybe bobbin work for effect, surrounded by a beautiful free motion quilted background in delicious threads.
The concept is simple, easy to visualize and put on paper. Then hours spent:
deciding which fabrics to use – there’s only three fabrics mind you, but they must work together of course
deciding what thread to use
transferring the design from paper to fabric
sewing the trapunto design
decorative stitching
decorative quilting
deciding on borders
The peacock looks good!
The background free motion quilting is beautiful (even if I do say so myself).
And so is the border quilting.
The tailfeathers look good also.
But wait! Something doesn’t look right. How did I miss that? Oh my goodness, how the heck can I fix that! A little paint on the tail feathers perhaps. Maybe a little more paint and some more stitching.
Oh rats, I give up !! That is one legless bird!!
If anyone has suggestions on how to give this bird it’s legs, please feel free to post a comment with a hint or two.
At the moment, he sits abandoned in a crumpled heap in the corner (he has no legs to stand on remember), and I am ready to slice out the good bits to use on another more worthy project.
I like the design so I’m going to do him again, but I have no more beautiful watercolored yellow cotton lame (boo hoo!) However I did find some white cotton lame online which I’m going to dye when my dye room is done (a couple more weeks, woo hoo!!)
Stay tuned for the follow up!

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Some art quilts were just not meant to be! And it’s usually the ones you’ve spent hours and hours on, and used up all your most beautiful coveted fabric (sigh!!!).
Our vision can sometimes be lacking. Even though we can see a design clearly in our head and transfer it successfully to paper, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will turn out the way we planned.
Picture this: a trapunto peacock, with long flowing tail feathers outlined in thread and maybe bobbin work for effect, surrounded by a beautiful free motion quilted background in delicious threads.
The concept is simple, easy to visualize and put on paper. Then hours spent:
deciding which fabrics to use – there’s only three fabrics mind you, but they must work together of course
deciding what thread to use
transferring the design from paper to fabric
sewing the trapunto design
decorative stitching
decorative quilting
deciding on borders
The peacock looks good!
The background free motion quilting is beautiful (even if I do say so myself).
And so is the border quilting.
The tailfeathers look good also.
But wait! Something doesn’t look right. How did I miss that? Oh my goodness, how the heck can I fix that! A little paint on the tailfeathers perhaps. Maybe a little more paint and some more stitching.
Oh rats, I give up !! That is one legless bird!!
If anyone has suggestions on how to give this bird it’s legs, please feel free to post a comment with a hint or two.
At the moment, he sits abandoned in a crumpled heap in the corner (he has no legs to stand on remember), and I am ready to slice out the good bits to use on another more worthy project.
I like the design so I’m going to do him again, but I have no more beautiful watercolored yellow cotton lame (boo hoo!) However I did find some white cotton lame online which I’m going to dye when my dye room is done (a couple more weeks, woo hoo!!)
Stay tuned for the follow up!

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The issue of copyright is always a hot topic amongst artists and the rules are confusing and difficult to understand.
I recently came across the Free Culture website which offers up some very interesting information, video and audio articles, including a link to the Creative Commons website. The Creative Commons website provides information on how to go about creating your own copyright policy as well as information on how to police it. In other words, you can now apply your copyright in language that anyone can understand. This copyright can be applied to work published on the internet as well as off the internet.
I am beginning to see more and more around the internet, that people are using a Creative Commons copyright. Images in particular are freely available under a Creative Commons copyright.
As textile and quilt artists, most of us live in fear of our copyright being abuser, a fear that is like a double edged sword. On one hand we fear having our work copied and ripped off, and on the flip side we fear having to deal with the repercussions because we simply are not sure of what they are.
I, for one, have decided to embrace the “Creative Commons” license and will in fact be revising all my online works to be covered under one of these licenses. A great idea in a world gone mad!
It’s amazing what you can do with scraps and leftovers. This little quilt (approx 18×12) was put together from samples and scraps leftover from a surface design workshop I recently taught.
Included in this sample is
tyvek (green squares in middle)
color washed brown paper (prairie points and leaves)
paper fabric with some cheesecloth attached (main pink square)
The color washed brown paper was fused onto some peltex and cut to shape. Then I added some machine wrapped cording around the edge of the prairie points to define them against the background.
Since the paper fabric looked very organic, I quilted organic type lines that look like flowing water and pebbles.
The tyvek was also fused to some peltex and cut to shape. I then hand stitched the edges to finish them off.
Everything was layered onto a machine quilted background and the end result is very three dimensional. I have yet to add a few more embellishments (it’s not finished till it’s embellished!) and then it will be done.
All in all – a cute little art quilt.

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Machine Quilting threads, and threads in general, are usually labeled with two numbers. The first number refers to the size thread (denier), and the second refers to the ply, or how many strands are twisted together. The lower the thread size number, the thicker the thread.
Generally, man made fibers are stronger than natural ones. Therefore, threads with polyester, acrylic or nylon content will be less apt to fray and break than a cotton thread.
When selecting threads, compare color, sheen, texture of thread to determine the effect that you desire, e.g. metallics are shiny and sparkling, rayon produces a high sheen, silk a subtle sheen, and cotton provides matte luster.

Cotton
Cotton is easy to use, readily available and comes in a multitude of colors including variegated. Most cotton threads are colorfast and have little to no stretch. Not all cotton thread is made equal though: a poor quality cotton thread will have a fuzzy finish, whereas a good quality thread will have a smooth finish. Polyester wrapped cotton is stronger than cotton, but the wrapping process also produces a more abrasive thread with a rougher texture.
Rayon
Rayon thread has a high sheen, but is not as strong as cotton. It is neither colorfast nor shrink resistant and it should be used only for decorative purposes.
Polyester
Polyester thread comes in a wide range of colors including variegated, and is strong, durable and colorfast. It can be used for construction or for decorative purposes.
Metallic
Metallic thread can add sparkle to your project. These threads are generally more fragile and difficult to use than other threads, however with the proper machine needle and tensioning, are well worth the effort.
Silk
Silk threads have a wonderful luster and are strong and easy to use, although expensive.
Monofilament
Monofilament, or invisible, thread is available in clear, black and smoke colors. It is available in both polyester and nylon, and is made to “disappear” against the quilt surface. It does have a slight sheen which can produce an undesirable visual effect, and has a tendency to stretch. If using in the bobbin, it should be wound on by hand or very slowly using the machine winder.
Polyester
has a higher heat resistance, does not go brittle or yellow over time, and is softer than nylon.
Nylon
has a tendency to go brittle and turn yellow over time, and has a low melting temperature.

Monofilament Comparison Chart
Sulky: poly
Superior: poly
Coats: nylon
YLI nylon
Madeira: Polyamide (nylon)

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Information
Using the correct type of sewing machine needle for your project will go a long way to determining your project’s success or failure.
Selecting a sewing machine needle is not difficult. The “Types Chart” details the different types of needles available as well as their unique applications.
Use this chart as a guideline only when selecting your needle. Just because one type of needle is recommended for a specific purpose, such as metallic needles for metallic thread, does not mean that another needle will not produce as good or better results.
If you find that one needle does not produce good stitching quality, swap it out for another type of needle.
Remember too, that the eye of the machine needle should be just large enough to accommodate the weight of thread you are using. Too large an eye will result in holes in your project; too small an eye will result in possible shredding of your thread.
And always remember, machine needles do dull over time. Make sure your needle is sharp and this will go a long way towards producing good stitching.
Parts Chart
Shank
The upper part of the needle is called the shank. It is usually round on one side and flat on the other.
Shaft
The shaft is the lower part of the needle that extends from the base of the shank to the point.
Groove
This part is located on the shaft on the same side as the rounded part of the shank. The groove, or indentation, acts as a thread guide and provides a channel for the thread to lie in as the needle passes through the fabric.
Scarf
The scarf is visible on the flat side of the shaft. It is a short indentation located just above the eye of the needle. The purpose of the scarf is to allow the bobbin case hook to get close to the needle eye and catch the thread to form a stitch.
Eye
This is the hole above the needle point through which the needle thread passes. The size of the eye varies with the needle type and size. A needle should be selected with an eye that is large enough to accommodate the weight of the thread that is being used.
Point
The point is the tip of the needle that pierces through the fabric. Each needle type has a different point which is specifically designed for different types of fabric.
Sizing Chart
Sewing machine needles are sized according to two systems – European and American – and both numbers are usually marked on the package.
Needle sizes range from the finest which is 60/8, to the thickest which is 120/19.

European American
60 8
65 9
70 10
75 11
80 12
90 14
100 16
110 18
120 19
Types Chart
Sewing machine needles come in a variety of types. You should always make your needle selection based on the type of fabric, and the weight and type of thread you are using.
Ball Point Needle
Made especially for sewing on knits, its unique point does not damage or break knitted fibers.
Denim Needle
For jeans and similar densely woven materials.
Double Needle
Two needles mounted on a crossbar with a single shaft. Can be used with zig zag sewing machines that thread front to back. Sews two rows of stitching at the same time.
Hemstitch Needle
Sometimes called a Wing Needle, it is used to create decorative openwork or cut-work on tightly woven fabrics. The needle is very sharp and is made to cut the fabric.
Leather Needle
Has a slightly sharp cutting point suitable for leather and heavy non-woven synthetics.
Machine Embroidery Needle
For use with rayon and other specialty machine embroidery threads. The needle has a special scarf, long smooth groove, and large eye which helps to protect these more fragile type threads and guards against excess friction.
Metallica Needle
For use with metallic threads. It has a double sized, polished, and Teflon coated eye to assist with smooth flow of thread. The large eye helps to make threading easier, and also helps to prevent shredding and breaking when using metallic threads.
Quilting Needle
Made especially for piecing and machine quilting. The thin tapered design of these needles allows them to pass through many layers smoothly, which helps to eliminate skipped stitches.
Sharp Needle
A very slim needle with a thin shaft that helps make very straight stitches. The point is very sharp and because of this, is more fragile and needs to be changed regularly. Good for piecing high thread count fabrics like batiks, silks, and microfibers. It is also used for beautiful topstitching or edge stitching.
Stretch Needle
Made especially for synthetic suede or highly elastic synthetic knit wear. This needle has a medium ball point to help prevent skipped stitches.
Topstitch Needle
Has an extra large eye and large grooves to accommodate topstitch thread. This needle helps stitch perfectly straight lines and even stitches.
Universal Needle
A general purpose needle that can be used on knit or woven fabrics. It has a long scarf so it does not damage knits. It has a slight ball point which makes it unsuitable for stitching multiple layers or for use with high thread count fabrics.
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What does embroidery have to do with quilting?
Our friend Joan would like an embroidery machine comparison.
She has been busy looking at quilting machines and has visited several dealers and has done her homework. She was introduced to embroidery machines along the way and before making a final decision she would like a comparison of the different types of embroidery machines that would be suitable for a quilter.

J: Linda, I’ve been to a couple of dealers’ stores looking at quilting machines, and while I was there they showed me some home embroidery machines.
I’ve never seen a home embroidery machine and I can’t imagine that it would be useful for quilting although I was told they were quite popular. What do you think? Can you give me a comparison of machines that would be suitable for a quilter?
let’s get creative

L: Joan, lots of women are discovering creative ways to use embroidery machine designs on their quilts, both traditional quilts and art quilts. Machine embroidery is also used a lot on garments, particularly jeans, jackets and dresses, as well as children’s clothing.

J: The machine I saw looked a little different from a normal sewing machine and somewhat complicated.

L: Joan, a home embroidery machine is really not all that complicated. It does have a learning curve but if you have a little knowledge of computers and their filing system, then it is a fairly simple transition to understand and embroidery machine.
Also when you buy an embroidery machine from your local dealer, they normally offer lessons so that you understand how to use the machine. So if you are thinking of buying an embroidery machine, here are some things to consider. Consider this
There are two main types of home embroidery machines and I’ve listed a comparison of the main pros and cons for you:
EMBROIDERY ONLY MACHINE
Pro:
Because embroidery is all it does, this allows you to sew on your quilting machine at the same time you are using the embroidery machine.
Con:
Space – having two machines, one for quilting and one for embroidery, takes up more space than a single machine.
COMBO EMBROIDERY AND SEWING MACHINE
Pro:
If space is an issue, then a combo embroidery and sewing machine would be the way to go.
Con:
A combo embroidery/sewing machine will not offer the special features of a quilting machine unless you are prepared to spend a lot of money.
decisions
So now you have a comparison to work with, you need to make a decision about what’s important in an embroidery machine:
space saving with a combo embroidery and sewing machine
or the benefits of having two machines – a quilting machine and an embroidery machine
Also the more expensive machines tend to have many great additional features and some top-of-the-line machines have features of a quilting machine as well as offering larger hoop sizes. So if money is not an issue, you could research embroidery machines further and look into it.
J: Thanks Linda, that explains a lot however I don’t think I’m quite ready to go in that direction. Maybe later.
I do have another question though about small sewing machines. I’ve heard that they are a great machine for a quilter. Can you elaborate on that.

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Art quilters have never had it so good with the variety of machine quilting thread that is available to them these days.
Basic Cotton
Cotton thread, originally the quilters’ choice of thread, is now available in a wide variety of colors and weights, with Egyptian cotton particularly, making a huge statement.
And for machine quilters, while cotton thread is still a favorite, it now gets to compete alongside other beautiful and tantalizing quilting threads made of polyester, rayon and metallic.
Price and Quality
Machine quilting thread can be expensive, but cheaper threads will add little to the end result of your project, can sometimes contribute to poor sewing machine performance, and if your project is to be functional such as a lap or bed quilt, it will certainly shorten its lifespan.
Poor quality threads will also produce poor results:
Short staple cotton threads tend to throw off a lot of lint which not only clogs your bobbin area, but can get caught up in the thread itself and result in “bumps” in the stitching line.
Polyester, rayon and metallic threads can also suffer from poor quality and result in weak thread that breaks and shreds easily. Sometimes it is not the fault of your machine or needle, sometimes it is just simply “bad” thread.
Remember also, thread deteriorates over time and becomes brittle and loses strength. So your mother’s collection of old thread, while maybe having some sentimental value, is not going to guarantee you a beautiful finish or trouble-free sewing.
Personality Clashes
Learning to work with your threads is important, and when you work with threads long enough particularly when machine quilting, you begin to notice that each brand and type of thread has its own little personality.
Some threads like a vertical spool and some threads prefer a horizontal spool. Monofilament thread sometimes prefers rolling around in a cup and metallic thread can often act kinky and needs taming with a net.
Understanding that your sewing machine is often not to blame when thread issues occur will go a long way toward a better relationship between you and your machine, and taking time to do a stitch and tension test before you begin on your project will alleviate a lot of anxiety.
Don’t throw it out
Old, finicky or poor quality thread can still be put to use, so never throw it out.
It may be quite suitable for the back of a project
Consider using it in your bobbin for bobbin work
Snip it up, sandwich it between two layers of sheer fabric and use it to make “thread fabric”
Hand quilting thread – a word of warning
Some hand quilting threads have a wax coating which allows the hand quilter to easily work with the thread. These types of threads however, are not good for your sewing machine as it is possible for the wax coating to create slippage through the tension discs causing tension problems with your stitching. Normally the thread label will state if the thread is coated, so make sure you read the label if using hand quilting thread in your machine.

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Machine wrapped cording is a simple technique that produces cording that will color coordinate with your projects.
It’s a great way to use up old yarn, “what was I thinking” fabric and difficult or brittle thread.
It has many applications, both decorative and functional and can be made in any thickness. It can be used on garments, art quilts or even three dimensional fabric art.
By including optional variations you can add interest, texture and uniqueness.
Supplies
Supply List
Sewing machine
Machine Feet
You can use a standard sewing machine foot, however a foot with a “tunnel” underneath, such as a beading foot or cording foot is ideal.
Base Cording
Anything that is flexible and thin enough to fit under the foot of your sewing machine will work for this type of cording.
yarn – a great way to use up old, ugly yarn
strips of fabric – a great way to use up that “what was I thinking” fabric
string
embroidery thread
piping
twisted cording
Thread
You will need a variety of threads in cotton, rayon, polyester and metallic. This is a great technique for using up any old thread that you have lying around
Things To Know
Things To Know
Keep the yarn taut as it passes under the needle
Use the same color or a coordinating color thread in the bobbin
Use up your old thread for the first and/or second layer of stitching as this will become invisible or barely visible by the time you’re done
If your thread breaks or you run out of thread, simply rethread and pull the broken threads towards you alongside the cording, stitching over them as you go
Don’t plan on completely covering the base cord with only one layer of stitching. Depending on the type of base cord, it may take two or three layers of stitching to completely cover it
For soft, flexible cording use yarn or a soft fabric as your base and stitch a minimal number layers on top
For a firmer cording, use a stiffer base such as string, or add more layers of stitching
When cutting the cording, use a little fray check to stop the stitching from unraveling
Basics
Sewing Machine Setup
Machine Feet
The best foot to use is a braiding foot or a foot with a “tunnel” underneath such as a beading foot. These types of feet are the easiest to use as they will allow you to easily guide the cording.
You could also use a standard foot with feed dogs up, or a darning foot with feed dogs down and manually guide the cording under the foot.
Tension
At normal tension, the top thread will wrap halfway around the cording and you will need to use the same thread in the bobbin as on the top.
If you use a slightly loose top tension, the top thread will wrap all the way around the cording and you can use either the same thread in the bobbin or a coordinating color.
The Basics
Cut your base cording to the desired length. Three strands of 8ply yarn will produce approx 1/8” diameter cording.
Set your machine for zigzag stitch wide enough for the needle to swing entirely over the yarn on either side. Length should be about 1.5 – 2.0.
Allow about 2-3 inches of cording to extend out the back of your machine, and holding the tail of the cord with your left hand and twisting the front section with your right hand, guide the cording under the foot. You may need to pull slightly in order for it to feed through smoothly. Zigzag along the length of cording.
Shorten the length of your stitch to about .5, or shorter if you are using fine thread and holding the cording in the same manner, satin stitch the length of the cording.
Using the same stitch length, change your top thread and bobbin thread, and satin stitch the length of the cording.
Lengthen your stitch to 1.5 – 2.0, change to a metallic thread in the top and bobbin and zigzag the length of the cording.
Options
Options
There are many options you can use to add surface texture, color and design to your cording that will make it unique and interesting.
Following are just a few ideas:
1. Stitch a length of fine craft wire into the first or second layers of stitching. This will allow you to manipulate the cording so that it will retain shape.
2. To add texture, you can make bumps in the cording by moving backwards and forwards a number of times whilst stitching. Do this on your final layer of stitching, or before you add a final metallic layer.
3. Wrap strands of fiber around the cording and stitch in place at intervals, or cut short pieces of decorative yarn or fiber and stitch into the cording.
4. Cover your base cord with white thread – cotton or polyester – and hand paint. If you want a bit of sparkle, use a glitter topcoat, or use a metallic paint. If you are adding metallic thread, stitch it after you have dyed the cording.
5. Use bobbin work thread. Wrap the base cord with your main color. Change to a contrasting or blending color bobbin work thread, then stitch over the top. You can play with the tension in both your top tension and your bobbin tension to achieve different effects. This sample is Ricky Timms Razzle Dazzle, one of my favorite bobbin work threads.
This should give you a starting point to work with, but what else can you do; how far can you take this?
Applications
Applications
Now that we know how to make the cording and add variety and interest, what can we do with it? Let’s explore some applications.
Couching
The cording on “Circles” has been couched down around the outer edge of the main circles to add definition. The thread used on the cording is the same as was used for the free motion quilting. This offers a sense of unity.
Attachments
Using cording is a great way to join paneled quilts.
Small buttonholes were sewn close to the edges of the panels and the cording was threaded through, cut to length, and then the ends were tied in a knot to prevent them from slipping through the holes.
This is a good application for irregular shaped panels such as “Scrapbook” since the cording can be cut at varying lengths to provide overall balance and alignment.
Decorative beads were threaded to the cording on “Scrapbook” to provide interest.
Decorative
The cording can be used for decorative purposes. A wrought iron gate on “What Lies Beyond” was designed by using cording with fine craft wire stitched into. The wire enables the cording to be easily shaped. Once the design was complete, the pieces of cording were handstitched together, and then the completed unit was hand stitched to the background of the quilt.
The cording on “Puddles” was shaped without using wire, and hand stitched to the background of the quilt.
Additional Ideas
Weaving
Frogs and Chinese Knot Buttons
Edging
Decorative Cording for Jewelry/Purse Straps

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An artist statement is a necessary component of any professional artists’ portfolio or promotional packet.
When writing your artist statement, DO:
*Write in the first person. It is a statement, after all.
*Be brief, 2-3 paragraphs at most. Always err on the side of brevity. You can write more, but why would you want to? People have short attention spans these days. Load as much punch into the delivery as you can. Combine sentences and delete ones that aren’t vital. As Henri Matisse said in his treatise on painting, “All that is not useful to the picture is detrimental.” The same could be said of your statement.
*Describe the current direction of your work and your approach, particularly what is unique about your methods and materials.
*Sit on it for a few days and come back to it with a fresh mindset. Most artists, in my opinion, hate their statements because they rushed them in preparation for an exhibit and didn’t care to spend any more time on them. How do you expect it to be any good if you don’t work at it?
*Consider more than one statement if you are trying to discuss more than one body of work. If you try to get too much into a single statement, you run the risk of saying nothing and trying to be everything to all people. This is bad marketing/bad promotions.
*Allow your artist statement to grow, change, and mature along with your work. Don’t let it sit on a shelf and collect dust. It should be organic and you shouldn’t be afraid to change it and make it better.
*Make sure your statement passes the litmus test. Above all, viewers should be compelled to put the statement away and look back at the work. Your statement isn’t successful if people read the words on the page, and then put them down and go on to the next artist.
When writing your artist statement, DO NOT:
*Use too many personal pronouns. Yes, I said to write in first person, but try to severely limit the number of “I”s, “me”s and “my”s that are used. You’ll be amazed at how many other ways there are to phrase things. You want people to relate to your words and to your art. Too many personal pronouns will put up an unnecessary a barrier.
*Tell your life story. You can keep that for your bio (as long as it’s interesting). Your artist statement is only about the current direction of your work.
*Quote or refer to anyone else by name. Keep the focus on you and your art. Mentioning another name shifts the readers’ attention from your art to the other person.
*Forget to use spell check and ask someone else to read it over for you.
View the time to write your artist statement as an opportunity to clarify your thoughts. A well-written statement, approached deliberately and thoughtfully, can be a boon to your self-promotion efforts. You’ll use the language on your Web site and in grant applications, press releases, brochures, and much more.

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No matter what walk of life you may find yourself in, creativity is an asset. I’ve seen people be creative in career endeavors and others be creative in putting together dinner parties. It adds spice and zip to life, not only to your own life but to the lives of those around you. Here are my five tips for stimulating your creativity.
1. Turn off auto-pilot. Ever drive somewhere and suddenly realize that you didn’t recall making a turn, only to discover you’d been on “auto pilot?” When we repeatedly perform the same tasks over and over, there’s a natural tendency to find ourselves giving little awareness to what we are doing.
To stimulate your creative juices try going a different way to work, turning down a different street. When you comb your hair, put the part on the other side. Stir your coffee with the other hand. Brush your teeth with the other hand. It will feel a bit peculiar, but you’ll be very much in the moment.
2. Variations of a theme. Just as Mozart or Beethoven may have written a theme, and then variations, be creative. Practice this same approach in your day to day life.There are many things that we do without much thought or enthusiasm. Find a way to make them more fun and more interesting. Find ways to stimulate your creativity in every little task you do.
Anything that must be done more than once is an opportunity to use your creativity. It’s a way of creating a slight variation each time; not just once but every time. Dare to be creative. Make it a game to come up with a slightly new twist. Just changing the time or location can make a difference. Try eating with the fine china, or with real cloth napkins, adding candle light or simply eating in the dining room if you seldom do. You will create an experience that feels totally new. Change your writing style, vary what you normally say or how you say it; write more or less than you usually do. All these things can get your creative juices going.
3. Try some new food. Try some new food that you’ve never had before. Consider something that maybe you’ve always avoided but never really tried. So, how do you know that you don’t like it? Personally, for many years I would just not try sour cream. The name turned me off. When I finally tried it I discovered, of course, something delicious and wonderful that I’d been missing out on.
Be creative, visit a new restaurant. Be bold and daring if you’ve always been conservative. Try a different sauce, maybe some foods that don’t normally go together. You might just come up with something totally new; maybe even start a new trend.
4. Take on a new hobby or course. Taking on something new makes us stretch. It creates new pathways in the brain. It stimulates brain activity and causes us to feel a greater sense of wellness and being alive.
So, if you’ve never taken yoga or martial arts, or a belly dance class, try it. Be creative. Perhaps try painting or take up playing an instrument. Try something you’ve never done before, maybe something you’ve even secretly thought that you didn’t have the ability for. Stretch and try something new. Guaranteed to get the creative juices flowing. And you might just discover a talent you didn’t know you had!
5. The “Mozart Effect”. Don Campbell’s book explains how Mozart’s music, played in schools affected the minds of the young students hearing it. They were more creative and they performed better. He broke the music down into three categories, producing cd’s for each. One, of course, was for “stimulating creativity”. On that cd were very simple themes with variation after variation. It didn’t take me long to see how it did indeed stimulate creativity; how it opened the mind up to new possibilities. I often found that I felt like painting when I heard that music.
I don’t say that it has to be Mozart, but I do recommend listening to some music that is a theme with variations, to stimulate your creativity and get those creative juices flowing. You hear the same thing presented many different ways. It is particularly helpful if you are a musician. And you certainly can’t go wrong by choosing Mozart either.
If you try these five tips to stimulating your creativity, you’ll find yourself paying more attention to your day. You’ll find yourself more creative. You’ll find yourself more involved in your day and I dare say that you’ll find it more interesting too! By constantly thinking and making conscious choices, you are stimulating, using and practicing your creativity. And then when called upon to perform, it is honed and ready to go to work for you.

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By William Larson, Ph.D.

“My alphabet starts with this letter called yuzz. It’s the letter I use to spell yuzz-a-ma-tuzz. You’ll be sort of surprised what there is to be found once you go beyond ‘Z’ and start poking around!” ~ Dr. Seuss
Creativity gets better and better with practice. The more you “poke around” beyond z, the more fascinating and successful your life will become.
Here are some simple techniques that will help you improve your creativity skills:
1) Be open to new ideas. Creativity requires that you be open to ideas and concepts that are new even if they seem impossible. Do not simply dismiss what you do not understand. There is no better way to open your mind to new ideas than to try a new task, learn a new skill, or begin a new hobby. You will be amazed at how doing something new will open your mind to new ideas. Suddenly new worlds will open for you.
2) Be inquisitive. Extremely successful people are always asking questions and seeking answers about better ways of doing things. Curiosity is a way of life for them; it is the hallmark of their success. They are never convinced that anything is as good as it gets. They always believe there is a better, faster, safer, smarter, and more efficient ways of doing things. Never stop being inquisitive.
Revive your childhood curiosity. Never be afraid of asking questions.
Next time you think one of your questions is “silly,” remember the questions asked by these creative geniuses:
Leonardo DaVinci once asked, “Why does the thunder last a longer time than that which causes it?” and “Why is the sky blue?”
Socrates asked, “What is beauty?”
Albert Einstein in his youth asked himself, “What would it be like to run beside a beam of light at the speed of light?”
Just think of the inventions that have benefited humanity in countless ways. Most of them came into being because someone answered the simple question, “What if . . . ”
3) Learn to think illogically. Thinking things through logically is something each of us has learned to do. This is how we “process” information in order to make sound, rational decisions.
It is a process however, that excludes creativity. Choose any idea (whether it is yours or someone else’s), no matter how illogical it may seem, and begin to think of ways that the impossible might actually happen. Connect ideas and see where it takes you.
4) Spend time with creative people. You will soon discover that the most consistently creative are children, especially the ones who have been given a box of crayons but have not yet been told to color within the lines. Their imaginations run wild. They can teach you a priceless lesson: how to think “out-of-the-box.”
5) Quit trying to be perfect. You will never achieve perfection on the earth anyway. There is nothing as inhibiting to creativity as perfectionism. Imperfection is human. Learn to become uninhibited by concern for doing something that is correct. Creativity flourishes in an atmosphere of unconditional acceptance.
6) Be open. Do not judge creative ideas that come your way no matter how “silly” or “obvious” they may initially seem. Creativity thrives in people with nonjudgmental attitudes. Creative people are tolerant of ambiguity, do not impose boundaries on ideas, and take risks in order to achieve great results.
7) Sleep improves creativity. In a recent sleep deprivation study conducted by the Sleep Research Laboratory, scientists using clinically oriented neuropsychological tests found that lack of sleep has a significant impact on creativity. As little as one night of sleep loss has a major affect on innovative thinking and flexible decision-making. Remember what your mother taught you and get a good night’s sleep.
Never stop thinking of yourself as creative. Think positively about the fact that you are creative, and that you are becoming even more creative every day. Remember, creativity is learned. The more you learn about it, the more you practice it, the more creative you will become.
Never forget that you have the right to be creative because you were made in the image of God, the Creator of heaven and earth.

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quilting 3.21 – gtg

Learning to Quilt

I’ll admit it. I was a little intimidated, thinking that I was probably going to be the youngest and only inexperienced member of the beginning quilting class. What would the other ladies think? Did I even have a chance at keeping up? And was the instructor going to be patient enough for a true beginner? Let’s just say I was nervous walking into my first Learning to Quilt class.
As it turns out, I had no reason to worry. The experience was wonderful, and so were my classmates.
Our instructor was a very personable woman who obviously loves to quilt. She began the five-session course by confronting our fears. She wanted to know what aspect of quilting worried us the most. Our class decided unanimously that it was the necessary precision. The evening class had been more concerned with how to choose complimentary fabrics for their projects. Armed with this information, She gave us solid information on how to overcome both of these obstacles.
Other practical information offered in the course included using the rotary cutter and mat, measuring the fabric (measure twice, cut once) and even the best type of thread to use. As we occasionally botched a seam or (in my case) scorched our fabric, the class members became very supportive of one another. Often everyone would gather around to see a classmate’s newest block and to remark on the great color choices or the lovely, straight seams.
Another great aspect of the course was the venue. By attending class right in a store, we had access to any tools we might have overlooked needing, as well as staff members occasionally interjecting really useful bits of advice. I found it encouraging to have shop customers occasionally wander through the classroom to view quilts displayed on the walls. Something about all of those people enjoying the craft would renew my energy.
Aside from my personal distaste for being awake before 11 a.m., the only real complaint I had with the class was that I thought it probably should have been a week longer. Unfortunately, the final class was only an overview of finishing your quilt top, and I would like to have had a little more time with the instructor for those steps. So, since the only problem I found with the class is that it ended, I feel confident in urging others to consider signing up.
I really recommend this class for anyone who wants to learn to quilt but just hasn’t had the chance or has been scared to take the first step. The teacher is patient but knowledgeable, and the shop’s staff is cheerful and supportive. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I have already signed up for this month’s Triple Irish Chain class and have a couple of others in mind. Not bad for someone who was clueless about quilting a month ago, wouldn’t you say?

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How to prepare your quilt top for quilting.
   The time spent preparing your quilt top is well worth it to achieve the best result.
   Wavy borders and uneven edges will not magically quilt out and I could be forced to pleat the edges – you may end up with puckers.
 
Prepare your Quilt Top
   • Press all of the seams well during the piecing process, ensuring that they lay flat to one side.
  • Trim all loose threads from the top as they can get caught in the machine foot and tear the quilt.
  • Clip all loose threads from the back, dark threads on light fabrics will be seen through the quilt.
  • Remove any added accessories, such as buttons or trinkets as these will catch in the machine foot
  • Ensure your borders lay flat. Wavy borders can not be quilted out.
  • Fullness that is pieced into the quilt may not necessarily be quilted out.
  • Stay stitch 1/4 ” from the edge of the quilt if the outer edges are on the bias or have lots of seams in them Your Backing
  • Your choice of backing is very important to the finished look of the quilt and should not be an after thought.
  • Please use a weight similar to the top and 100% cotton where possible.
  • If you have washed the fabric for the top then also wash the backing to allow for equal shrinkage.
  • Size – The backing should be at least 6 inches wider and 6 inches longer than the quilt top. This is to allow for the backing to be               attached to the rollers, to allow for take up of the fabric and to give some space to support the fabric at the sides during quilting.
  • Color – Keep in mind the thread color for the top will be the same for the back.
  • Pattern – small busy prints will `hide’ the quilting on the back of the quilt. All over patterns can look great on a plainer fabric making a       reversible’ effect on the quilt.
  • Joins please remove selvedge from the seams and sew a seam at least 5/8” wide. If at all possible have the seam running across the quilt as opposed to down the center. Please note that pieced backs cannot be centered.
  • Square – the backing piece needs to be square or it will not attach correctly to the rollers and it will not run squarely during                         quilting. 
  • If you supply your own batting it should be a minimum of 6 inches wider and longer than your quilt top.
     Please do not attach the batting to the quilt.

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Where to Sell Your Quilts
Once you have created a couple or 10 quilts you might want to consider selling them. You can give them away to friends and family members and you can even sell them for FUN AND PROFIT. After all, you will need to recoup all that money and time you spent creating your fabulous creations and what better way than to sell a few. Of course, the more inventory you can create before you decide to sell the better. And the more the make the faster you will get at making them. There are various avenues for selling your quilts and Spring and Fall are probably the better times to try and sell them. You can pay the fees for a booth at a local quilting show or even pay the smaller fees at your local Flea and Farmers Market. But if you don’t want to schlep all your inventory to any of these places you can create a website.

If you go the traditional route you will have to pay for a domain, pay for website hosting fees and setup a shopping cart. And absolutely set up a PAYPAL account. PAYPAL is a secure credit card/electronic check processing website that keeps yours and your customers information safe and secure. Check out the GODADDY website for an inexpensive website solution that will give you complete control of how you website looks like, feels like and interacts. If you are not internet or web savvy then you can even try a websites that we use by going to ETSY.

ETSY is a seller/buyer website that gives you a little more leeway in your shop. They do charge $0.20 per item that you list and a small percentage of the amount you sell. They help you get the word out and offer videos and instructions on how to list, take pictures, involve your friends, even pay a small fee to have your items featured quickly. You have to renew your items every 4 months and pay the $0.20 per item fee again. The fees are due by the 15th of the following month. That gives you a little time to list your items and hopefully make a sale or two before they are due. Read through the help sections of any site or service you decide to use. So far we have been happy with the services we are recommending.

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Sashing and setting the blocks
Well congratulations!!! All 20 of your sampler blocks are made and ready to be set into a quilt top.
 
The next step is setting the blocks together. We will be putting sashing strips between the blocks as a frame to set each block off from the other. Blocks can also be set without the setting strips. This is often done when all the blocks in a quilt are the same and a secondary design is created where the blocks join.
Sashing strips are simply strips that are sewn between the blocks. We will be doing simple sashing of just one fabric. You can also put corner squares at the corners of each block to add another design element.
Traditionally sashing was made with short strips going in one direction between the blocks and long strips the other way, i.e. all the vertical strips short and the horizontal long. This leads to difficulty in keeping all the columns in a straight line since the long narrow strips stretch some.
Instead we will use short strips for both the horizontal and vertical strips. Two sides of most of the blocks will be sashed and then the blocks sewn together. This is where you will use the large segment cuts. Review this technique in the basic lessons.
 
1. The sashing strips will finish to 2″ and so will be cut 2 1/2″ wide. The strips will be cut as a large segment cut the length of the strip needed and then the 2 1/2″ strips will be cut from the large segment cut. These will be cut at 12 1/2″ large cuts and 14 1/2″ large cuts.
Cut 1 large cut 12 1/2″ wide and 2 large cuts 14 1/2″ wide. You should get 16 (or more) 12 1/2″ strips and 32 (or more) 14 1/2″ strips from these large segment cuts.
2. Now cut the strips into the 2 1/2″ wide sashing strips. You should get 16 strips from each large cut.
3. Cut from 4 of the 14 1/2″ strips 2″ so that they measure 12 1/2″. You will need 20 this 12 1/2″ X 2 1/2″ size.
4. Sew the 12 1/2″ sashing strip to the top edge of each of the sampler blocks. They don’t have a up or down so whichever side you choose is the top. Press toward the sashing strip. Lay them in a pile right side up with the sashing strip to the top.
 
5. Sew 14 1/2″ sashing strips to the right side of the blocks. Press to the sashing strip. All the blocks now have 2 sashing strips, 1 on the top and one on the right.
 
6. Now lay out your blocks on a table, floor or bed and arrange them in the way you like. I do it on the floor so I can stand back and look at them from a distance. Below is the arrangement that I did but don’t feel that this is the only or “right” way to arrange them.
Your blocks should be all laid out in the arrangement you want. It you need to put the blocks away before sewing them just start on the top left block, pick it up and set it on top of the block to the right. Pick both up and set them on the next block to the right. Pick them all up and set them on the last block. Pin them together with a piece of paper labeled “ROW 1″ onto the pile of blocks. Continue in the same manner with the remaining blocks labeling correctly until the rows all are pinned together. This will keep your arrangement in the proper order.
 
7. Onto the bottom of the bottom row sew 14 1/2″ sashing strips. Press to the strip. These 4 blocks now have 3 side sashing strips.
8. Onto the left edge of the left most column blocks 1, 2, 3, and 4 sew a 14 1/2″ sashing strip and press to the strip. These 4 blocks now have 3 side sashing strips.
9. The bottom left corner block now has 3 sides on it. It will need one more. Cut a 2 1/2″ strip of the sashing fabric. From this cut a 16 1/2” segment. Sew this to the remaining side of the block. Press to the sashing.
All the blocks now have the right number of sashing strips.
 
Sewing the blocks together
 
There are different ways of sewing blocks together to form the quilt top. I will explain 2 different ways, Rows & Columns and Square Sets. Choose one way on this quilt and then try the other way out on another quilt and see which way you like best.
 
Rows & Columns
 
1. As the name indicates the quilt is sewn together in rows and columns. Lay out the top in the arrangement you want. Check with the diagram to be sure your sashings on the blocks are on the proper sides of the block.

 
2. Starting at the top right (row 1), flip the block over onto the block to the left. Pin the blocks together. Now do the same with row 2, row 3, row 4, and row 5.
 
3. Sew the blocks together chain stitching them. (Don’t cut the blocks apart).
 
4. Press the seam of row 1 to the left, row 2 to the right, row 3 to the left, row 4 to the right, and row 5 to the left. This will make the block seams “marry” easier when you get to that point. Remember odd is left and even is right.
 
 
 
5. Now do the same with the next 2 columns of blocks. In this quilt this will get all the blocks combined. If in another quilt you have more blocks just continue in the same way. If you have an odd number of rows, after you sew the next to the last rows together pin and sew the last row blocks onto the left side of the previously sewn column.
 
 
 

6. Now sew the 2 sets of blocks together down the center. Again chain stitch and don’t cut the rows apart. Press as before, the odd rows left and the even rows to the right.
 
 
 
7. Sew the rows together marrying the seams that should all go in opposite directions since you pressed them so well. Press the seams down. The next lesson will put on the borders.

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quilting 3.20 – gtg

General directions for quick half and quarter square triangle blocks.

To make quarter square triangles units: Place two squares right side together. On the back of the lighter of the fabrics, draw a line diagonally from corner to corner. Then another line diagonally from corner to corner making an X. These will be cutting lines. Then 1/4″ on either side of one of the lines, draw 2 stitching lines on either side of the diagonal line. With two squares, right sides together, sew on the two outside stitching lines. Then cut into 2 halves on the line between the two stitching lines. Then divide those two parts on the other line. Press out and you will have 4, 1/4 square triangles. (Diagram)

To make half square triangle blocks: On the back of the lighter of the fabrics, draw a line diagonally from corner to corner. Then 1/4″ on either side of one of the line, draw 2 stitching lines. (Diagram)

With two squares, right sides together, sew on the two outside stitching lines. Then cut into 2 halves on the line between the two stitching lines. Press out and you will have 2, half square triangle blocks.

Directions for Chained Star

Center square:

Fabric B: Cut 1 strip 2 1/2″ by 5″

Fabric C: Cut 1 strip 2 1/2″ by 5″

Sew strips together, matching long sides. Cut across in 2 1/2″ segments and sew together to make a 4 patch.

Corner Squares

Fabric B: Cut 1 strip 2 1/2″ by 10″

Fabric C: Cut 1 strip 2 1/2″ by 10″

Fabric D: Cut 2 strips 2 1/2″ by 10″

Sew a B strip to a D strip, long sides together. Sew a C strip to a D strip, long sides together. Cut both pairs across in 2 1/2″ segments. Sew segments together in 4 patches so you have 2 B/D 4 patches and 2 C/D 4 patches.

Side Squares:

Fabric A: Cut 2 Squares, 5 1/4″

Fabric D: Cut 2 Squares, 5 1/4″Layer each fabric A square right sides together with a fabric D square. Follow the included directions for quick quarter square triangle blocks. Sew together in squares, matching long sides of the triangles.

Square all sections up to 4 1/2″ and assemble as a 9-patch using color photo for placement of 4 patches.

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Greens this month…. you will need 3 darks (Green), 3 lights (Beige on Beige) and a bright contrast (Yellow).

You will cut 2 logs from each dark and each light according to the following measurements.

Cut:

Center:: 1 square each of Bright & Dark 3, 4 7/8″

Darks:

Dark 1 1 Strip 4 1/2″ x 1 7/8″ and 1 Strip 7 1/4″ x 1 7/8″

Dark 2 1 Strip 7 1/4″ x 1 7/8″ and 1 Strip 9 7/8″ x 1 7/8″

Dark 3 1 Strip 9 7/8″ x 1/7/8″ and 1 Strip 12 1/2″ x 1 7/8″

Lights

Light 1 1 Strip 4 1/2″ x 1 7/8″ and 1 Strip 7 1/4″ x 1 7/8″

Light 2 1 Strip 7 1/4″ x 1 7/8″ and 1 Strip 9 7/8″ x 1 7/8″

Light 3 “1 Strip 9 7/8″ x 1/7/8″ and 1 Strip 12 1/2″ x 1 7/8″

Assembly:

Layer the Bright & Dark squares right sides together and make half square triangle blocks.

To make half square triangle blocks: On the back of the lighter of the fabrics, draw a line diagonally from corner to corner. This will be your cutting line. Then 1/4″ on either side of this cutting line, draw 2 stitching lines.

With two squares, right sides together, sew on the two outside stitching lines. Then cut into 2 halves on the line between the two stitching lines. Press out and you will have 2 half square triangle blocks. You will use one for the center of the log cabin and have the other left over.

To add the logs:

Sew the 4 1/2″ Light 1 strip to the bottom of the center and the 4 1/2″ Dark 1 strip to the top of the center.

Sew the 7 1/4″ Light 1 strip to the right side of the center and the 7 1/4″ Dark 1 strip to the left side of the center. Square up to 7 1/4″.

Sew the 7 1/4″ Light 1 strip to the bottom of the center and the 7 1/4″ Dark 1 strip to the top of the center.

Sew the 9 7/8″ Light 1 strip to the right side of the center and the 9 7/8″ Dark 1 strip to the left side of the center. Square up to 9 7/8″.

Sew the 9 7/8″ Light 1 strip to the bottom of the center and the 9 7/8″ Dark 1 strip to the top of the center.

Sew the 12 1/2″ Light 1 strip to the right side of the center and the 12 1/2″ Dark 1 strip to the left side of the center. Square up to 12 1/2”.

Press seams outward after adding each pair of strips.

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Quilting Is For My Generation And Your Generation

Many people think of quilting as something a group of older women do by sitting in a circle and sewing until their fingers bled. Surely this still happens today, yet there are new and improved methods of quilting. And, believe it or not, this hobby is coming back. It has become easy to find and purchase quilting supplies such as quilting fabrics, quilting patterns, and even quilting machines. And just about anyone with a small amount of talent can turn out a beautiful work of art.

Quilting is an art form to say the least. While it is possible to purchase patterns in department stores, fabric and craft stores, and even online, creating a new design is greatly satisfying. And, the market for handmade quilts is huge. Just take a look on ebay. They have many quilts available and the buyer can even have one made by a crafter in the colors and style they prefer. A great way to find a new pattern or design is to look for quilting groups. These people will design their own square or group of squares and swap them with someone else’s. Say they choose a color pattern of red, white, and blue, with an obvious patriotic theme. Each person within the group designs their version and they then trade. Together the squares make a beautiful display of artwork.

How to begin. First, plan to spend some time, and finances, to learn the trade. It is not something to jump into with the ideas of having a finished quilt in no time. Techniques need to be learned. Venture into a craft or fabric store and look at what is available. Ensure that the cost of the equipment will fit the budget. There are many choices of quality whether it is in the quilting fabrics or the threads purchased. Taking a few quilting classes may be a great option. For these, look into community colleges or recreation centers. They often offer beginner classes for next to no investment. Another great tool for learning this trade is the Internet. It is easy to find scores of people willing to help teach a beginner. There are many websites and many forums with just about every question answered. To find one, just search for quilting in a major search engine.

Yet another option available today to quilters is quilting machines. Yes, the average person can purchase and use one to enhance and quicken the process of quilting. But, they are expensive and unless there is a serious quilter about, they are unnecessary. If need does seem big, quilting squares can be sent out to companies who will use the machines and huge frames to build the quilt for a fee. To find these companies, again, do a simple search on the Internet for quilting machines.

Whether a beginner or an advance quilter, quilting is a wonderful hobby to learn and love. It does take some talent and an immense amount of patience, but the satisfaction of a completed quilt will surely out weigh the cons. Begin slowly and learn slowly. Experience is the best teacher in this field.

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Preparing your Quilt Top

The Quilt Top: Please press your top carefully. Press all seams as flat as possible. Clip all loose threads from the back of the quilt top. These threads can show through the top in the lighter color areas and cause unsightly lines and will take away from the beauty of your finished quilt. Please identify the top of the quilt if you have a preference by placing a safety pin along the top edge.

– Your quilt top should be completely pressed with all excess threads and borders trimmed neatly.

– DO NOT baste or pin your quilt. If I hit a needle that is left in your quilt, my machine will be out for costly repairs for weeks.

– Please try to measure your borders when piecing your quilt. Excess fabric in the borders will make your quilt misshapen, and makes it more difficult to quilt without pleating. If you have questions on how to get your borders to come out squared up, I am more than happy to teach you.

Quilt Top

– Clip all threads on the top and back.

– Square the pieced top.

– Press the top, (pressing all seams flat), fold carefully, and place into a pillowcase or proper mailing container(be sure to adequately insure your top).

– Do not baste, pin, or tack the quilt together.

– Indicate the head of the quilt with a safety pin.

– Indicate the pattern direction – lengthwise or crosswise on the quilt. (Note this on the instruction sheet.)

– Be aware that fullness and puckers, which have been pieced in, cannot be quilted out. (I will ease them in as well as I can.)

– Please take the time to snip loose threads from the back of your quilt top. These may show through the lighter colors of your quilt.

– Make sure quilt top has been ironed with all the seams pressed properly. Iron back as well. NOTE: On those tops with photo transfers DO NOT iron directly on the transfer as they will become shiny. Iron them with a pressing sheet or towel in between.

– If you have a pieced border, for best results, stay stitch 1/4″ around the edge of your quilt top. This helps keep the borders from stretching while being quilted.

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Lesson on Borders

It is very important that you take care when applying borders to your quilt. If they are not applied properly, you can expect to end up with wavy border or wrinkles and pleats in the border fabric when it is quilted.

When I receive your quilt, I will measure it and analyze any problems I might have quilting it. If your quilt has flared borders, I will contact you. You may decide to have me correct the borders at my $10.00 per hour rate. I will give you an estimate of the charge before I begin.

Applying Borders

Many of our quilt customers have asked for information on borders. The following lesson should help you get your borders on and your quilt flat before quilting.

After the body of the quilt has been pieced, gently press before adding borders. The logical place to measure the finished top is along its outside edges, and this is a useful measurement. However, measurements should be taken across the center in two or three places for both the width and length. If these measurements are different from that of the outer edge, accidental stretching has occurred. To keep the finished quilt as straight and square as possible, you must measure the centers.

To make a border with straight-cut corners:

Determine the length of the quilt border by averaging the distance of two or three center measurements (see Fig. 1). Cut two borders that length and pin them to opposite sides of the quilt matching ends and centers and easing in the fullness. Sew and press.

Determine the width of the quilt border by averaging the distance of the two or three center measurements (see Fig. 2) Cut these borders that length and pin – easing in the fullness. Sew and Press.

To make a border with mitered corners:

To determine length of top and borders, measure across middle width of the center. To this, add width of border twice plus 1/2 inch (seam allowance). For side borders measure across middle length of center. To this, also add twice the width of border plus 1/2 inch (seam allowance).

Cut borders to length. Fold and press ends at 45 degree angle – this marks miter seam.Fold border in half lengthwise to find center. Find center of top and pin together. Pin each end of border through the mitered crease and center of top (last square etc.), then pin together remainder — distributing fullness throughout.

Sew with border on the bottom. Begin and end sewing at pin that is through center and miter crease. Now just align creases and pin and sew. Sew from outside toward the top. Clip and press.

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I decided to make an art quilt. This was a new venture for me. Even though I have been quilting since the 70’s, I have never tried making an art quilt, but I wanted to stretch myself and try something outside of my comfort zone.

My inspiration was a photograph I had taken of my daughter who was 6 years old at the time.. Both of my children are adopted and are of Indian heritage being born in Calcutta. Among the mothers in my adoptive parent support group, we have observed that many of our children have similar large, sparkling brown eyes that we have coined “Calcutta Eyes”. In the photograph of my daughter, her “Calcutta Eyes” are the dominant feature. I have tried to capture her beautiful eyes in my quilt.

I ended up painting her face in the quilt since I couldn’t get the right look from fabric. The face, hair and shirt are all hand appliqued. The other appliques are applied with fusible web and machine stitched with a pin-stitch. I used some of my daughters favorite things in this quilt — flowers and butterflies. The peacocks were added as a symbol of India because the peacock is India’s national bird. I used a piece of clipart from my computer as the pattern for the peacocks. The butterflies and flowers are patterns from various quilt magazines and books that I own. The leaves are cut freehand.

The fabrics in the quilt are mainly Moda marbles and batiks with homespun used for the hair and the base of the peacocks as well as some of my own hand-dyed fabrics used for the leaves.

The thread used in the machine applique is rayon and the quilting is done with Signature 100% cotton solids and variegated threads as well as Gutermann metallic threads. I used a trapunto technique on the face and neck because I didn’t want to heavily quilt these areas. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the results I wanted and ended up quilting the face anyway.

To make a pattern from the photograph, I scanned the photo and printed it out in an 8 x 10″ size. I then taped the copy to my dining room window and taped another sheet of paper over the print and traced the outline and the details of the face as well as the details of the shirt.

Next, I scanned the penciled drawing and exported it to my “Paint” program on my computer, enlarged it to the size I wanted, and printed it out. The picture printed out on 15 sheets of paper. I had to tape these sheets of paper together to make my master pattern. From this master, I made the pattern pieces by tracing the pieces onto freezer paper then ironing the freezer paper onto the fabric and cutting out the pieces.

I hand appliqued the face, hair, and shirt first. Then I painted the face with acrylic paints and a fabric medium. After the face had dried for 24 hours, I ironed the painted areas to make them permanent. I then applied the borders.

The stems are bias cut and machine appliqued. The flowers, peacocks, and butterflies are applied with a fusible web and machine appliqued. Once all the applique was completed, I loaded the quilt onto my Gammill Classic quilting machine. Using a batik fabric for the backing and Warm and Natural batting, I machine quilted the entire piece.

This project took 6 months from beginning to end to complete.

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By 1860 sewing machines appeared in many homes in the U.S. to assist women in the home production of clothing, bed clothes, etc. From the beginning some adventurous sewers used their human powered treadle machines to quilt their unfinished quilt tops. However, in general, hand quilting was the favored means of quilting the quilts to be especially valued. It took more than 150 years for machine quilting to be readily accepted by many quilters for their heirloom quilts.

When hand quilting, most of the quilting thread ends up in the batting between all three layers. With the continuous flat line created by the sewing machine’s locking stitch most of the thread remains on the surfaces. The graceful curves and feathers of hand quilting were hard to duplicate on the sewing machine. Until, that is, the later part of the 20th century when more elaborate sewing machines with more functions became available.

In 1989 Caryl Bryer Fallert won the Best of Show at the American Quilter’s Society quilt show in Paducah, Kentucky with her quilt, Corona II, the Solar Eclipse. This was the first major award for a machine quilted quilt!

Most quilters agree the it was Harriet Hargrave’s 1985 book Heirloom Machine Quilting (Burden Design Studios, 1987) that began the revolution. The Hargrave book was subtitled A Comprehensive Guide to Hand-Quilted Effects Using Your Sewing Machine. In recent years Diane Gaudinsky has won awards at both the Houston Festival and the AQS show for her exquisite machine quilting.

Gaudynski in her 2002 book, Guide to Machine Quilting, includes these words in the introduction, “The arrival of Harriet Hargrave’s machine quilting book sent me into a world of discovery, of joy, of completion. Finally, I could make quilts with the simplicity of my grandmother’s everyday one’s but with extensive machine quilting.”

Some of the tools helpful for doing quality machine quilting on your home sewing machine are included here. The walking foot, also called an even feed foot, will quilt straight lines and gentle curves. This is a good place for those new to machine quilting to start developing their skills. A basic, inexpensive book with a series of exercises designed to help you build your machine quilting skills is Maurine Noble’s book, Machine Quilting Made Easy (1994). Some home sewing machines have a built in walking foot or have one available as an optional attachment. To purchase a walking foot for your machine you need to know whether you have a low shank or a high shank or an exception (like a Bernina).

To create stippling curves and feathers you need a foot that has various names: free motion foot, darning foot, open-toed embroidery foot. This foot allows you to move not just forward and backward, but in all directions which is the point of free motion quilting. Selecting a foot that allows you maximum visibility in all directions is important.

Another must for creating well done machine quilting is a smooth, flat surface surrounding the needle. Your goal is to create a flat surface so that the weight of the quilt does not pull on the needle in any direction.

Some people find quilting gloves with many small grips useful in moving all three layers under the needle. Using quality needles and thread of appropriate weight for your project is vitally important.

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FABRICS

The quilts you will make from the blocks you send and receive in this swap are meant to be VERY SCRAPPY! Each month you will use different fabric combos and you will NEVER use the same fabric in any other set! You MIGHT receive a block from another quilter who by chance used the same fabrics you did in one of your sets, & that is OK! But do not duplicate any fabrics in the blocks that you make!

Small prints work best, although some medium prints will work. Remember these are teeny tiny cute little blocks!

We will be using a wide variety of the following types of fabrics:

Traditional prints such as calicos, repros of all kinds, checks, stripes, plaids and Contemporary prints such as bright & fun, dots, geometrics, and checks, stripes, plaids, etc.

NO SOLIDS, NO WOW’s & NO COC’s for the LIGHT fabrics! AND NO 30’s! Prints should have only a MINIMAL amount of white or cream in them. Please access the links given on the previous page to see what the blocks look like in the quilts done by other quilters who’ve done this kind of swap. Notice that usually the LIGHTER of the 2 fabrics in each block can be a TOT or a PRINT and does NOT have to be a pastel…it just has to be LIGHTER than the DARKER of the 2 fabrics.

And VERY IMPORTANT: Use ONLY 100% quilters quality cotton fabrics, prewashed and pressed before you cut!

In the 9-patch formation there are 5 darker patches and 4 lighter patches. The DARKER of your 2 fabrics ALWAYS goes in the 5 position. The LIGHTER of your 2 fabrics ALWAYS goes in the 4 position.

INSTRUCTIONS

Now that we’ve discussed FABRICS, here are the instructions for making your blocks.

For one set of blocks:

Sew one of the dark strips to one of the light strips. Watch your 1/4″ seams, sew nice straight seams. Press to the dark. Then sew a dark strip to the other side of the light strip and press again to the dark. Repeat this two times. You now have 3 strip sets with dark on the outside and light in the middle.

Repeat this procedure, using two light strips on either side of a dark strip. Make two of this set.

At this point you should have 5 strip sets, three that are D,L,D and two that are L,D,L and each of them should measure 3 1/2″ wide.

A note on pressing:

When you are pressing these strips, it is good to ‘set’ your seam first, that is, lay the strip down with the side you are going to press TO up, lay your iron down on the seam you have sewn, and lift and press all along the seam – lift, press, lift, press, etc. Then pick up the raw edge of the dark (top) fabric and fold it back to reveal the right side of the fabrics and the seamline and press carefully so that the strip lays down with the fold right at the seamline. (You are pressing on the right side of the fabrics at this point). This should give you nice crisp seams and your strip set at the first pressing should measure 2 1/2″ wide. After the final strip is attached and pressed they will measure 3 1/2″ wide.

Now to the actual blockmaking. First you will crosscut each of your strip sets by cutting them up into 1 1/2″ pieces. These will measure 1 1/2″ by 3 1/2″. You should be able to cut about 13 or 14 of them from each strip set if all your fabrics were 21″ or more to start with. You will need (2) of the D,L,D and (1) of the L,D,L cuts for each block you are making.

First, trim off the first end, taking off just enough to get rid of the selvages there, lining up marks on your ruler with one or both of the seamlines so you get a nice clean cut on that first end. Turn your strip around and start lining up your ruler at the 1 1/2″ mark, and at the same time, line up the marks on the ruler with your seamlines. This will ensure all your pieces are cut nice and straight and your blocks will go together and measure up to be 3 1/2″ square when you are finished. As you go along you may have to stop and re-trim your leading end to ensure you continue with those nice 90 degree cuts.

Once you have all your crosscutting done, line up your little strips in stacks, so they look like the blocks above. I usually sew vertical seams on these, goes really fast. Sew the first two stacks together, then take to the ironing board and press all to the strip with the dark at top and bottom. Then sew the remaining strips to these sets. If you have pressed as suggested throughout, you are still nestling those seams and you will notice instantly if you are starting to sew to the wrong side. As shown above, the darker squares are to be in the ‘X’ position in your blocks.

Press these last seams and you are DONE!!! Wasn’t that fun?! Now get out your square up ruler, measure your blocks and they are ready to mail! Best of all you will soon be receiving some from your friends that are swapping with you in this 9’s Alive swap!

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Gift Ideas for Quilters on Your List

If you have a quilter on your holiday gift giving list this year, consider yourself lucky. Christmas gifts for quilters are abundant and fit in any budget.

Give a gift card or certificate to the quilter’s favorite craft, hobby, or fabric store. The gift recipient can use the gift for whatever quilting supplies he or she needs.

For those who believe giving a gift card is taking the easy way out, there are plenty of other Christmas gifts for quilters.

How about a nice pair of scissors? Good scissors are a tool that every quilter needs. When you shop for scissors as your Christmas gift for the quilter on your list, you will see just how many kinds of scissors there are on the market. Take time to read the packaging carefully. You wouldn’t want to give your quilter a pair of embroidery thread snips instead of a sturdy pair of fabric cutting scissors!

Books and magazines about quilting styles and techniques make great Christmas gifts for quilters. It does not matter how many your quilting friend already has, books and magazines that show new techniques or trends are always a welcomed gift. Quilters often find inspiration for new color choices, quilting patterns and project ideas in books and magazines.

Give the gift of an Internet quilting club membership. Many online quilting clubs give their subscribers great quilting tips and offer one-on-one assistance for members who email them questions. Some websites even feature regular interviews with quilting pros or offer video streams which show demonstrations of various quilting techniques!

Make a quilt yourself. Even if you’re not a quilter, making a quilt (or quilted wall hanging, throw, or even a potholder) will show your quilting friend that you recognize his or her love for quilting. Use your imagination and see what you can quilt. If you’re not a quilter, give yourself plenty of time for your first quilting project.

Give the gift of a quilted look in accessories for the home or office. Even if you yourself are not a quilter, there are plenty of unique Christmas gifts for quilters you can create yourself. Decoupage a picture frame to look like a quilt. Or, cover a frame, desk calendar and inexpensive business card holder in coordinating fabrics. A fabric printed or woven with a quilt pattern would be an extra nice touch!

Give a quilter’s gift basket. Search for a nice basket that will match your friend’s decor. Include several quilting products in it. Good choices are various strengths of quilting thread, a rotary cutter and cutting surface, scissors, scraps or fabric remnants, and quilting needles (if your friend quilts by hand; machine needles if your friend quilts by machine). Don’t forget to add a copy of your favorite quilt pattern or a book full of patterns! If you’re giving the gift of a quilting web club membership, it would be nice to “wrap” your gift in a small gift basket.

If your quilting friend likes to craft with vintage fabrics, take a trip to your area thrift store to pick up a few samples. Keep an open mind. When shopping in thrift stores, you’ll rarely run across a bolt of fabric. Your vintage fabrics may be recycled old ties, old blouses, old socks or old t-shirts!

Any of these gifts would be appreciated and enjoyed by the quilter on your holiday gift giving list. Wrap them in fabric or tie a nice fabric bow on top of whichever gift you decide to give for a great finishing touch!

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Handmade Patchwork Quilt
What Is A Handmade Patchwork Quilt?
A handmade patchwork quilt is commonly a bed covering made up of three layers: a quilt top, a layer of batting, along with a layer of fabric designed for backing. The layers are usually combined using the procedure of quilting. Quilting is the practice of using a needle and thread to join two or more layers of fabric. This step may be merely practical, or else more elaborate, for decoration and design.

A handmade patchwork quilt or even a quilt wall hanging might sell for hundreds of dollars along with hang up on museum walls, not only bed frames. Amish quilts from Pennsylvania as well as Ohio are in particular sought after, to the same extent are vintage and antique quilts. At present designing quilts has turned into an art form. Talented quilters are often called fabric designers instead of the out-of-date seamstress or quilter. Not just are bed quilts all the rage, but quilted outfits in addition to wall hangings are as well. Once upon a time a handmade patchwork quilt was made for basic needs.

If you are lucky enough to have inherited or bought such an heirloom, taking proper care of it will uphold and possibly add to its worth. A handmade patchwork quilt must never be stored inside plastic bags, cardboard boxes or wooden trunks. A handmade patchwork quilt ought to be aired at least twice a year, however not in direct sunlight. Extremely old quilts should be aired level to avert stressing the stitches. There is always a risk in washing old fabric. Spot test it firstly. If you are using a machine, wash in cold water using a mild detergent along with a gentle cycle. Dry the quilt lying on a flat surface. Using a fan and rotating it will speed up the drying process.

Quilts all the way through times past tell the stories of their period and makers. This is especially true during the depression as fabric was not easily available. A few historians even think secret messages and codes had been concealed in handmade quilts at different times right through times gone by. One such story relates to the Underground Railroad. A specific quilt pattern would suggest it was safe for escaping slaves to continue on their journey. Not all historians support this notion, in spite of this it is correct that signature quilts ended up being a popular method of raising funds both prior to and after the Civil War. Signatures ended up being added once a donation was made. These quilts are also known as friendship quilts.

While not all historians be of the same mind on this practice in the past, it is becoming increasingly general these days. To date a handmade patchwork quilt can still be used to raise funds at raffles along with charity events. Quilt guilds are being created and are developing at a rapid rate, preserving and passing on cherished designs and systems. Know-how has even made it possible to add photos to material. Memory quilts plus t-shirt quilts are widespread as well as being precious presents.

If you are a beginner, you can learn to quilt by means of simple quilt patterns that can easily be found to assist you in creating your own treasured heirloom to be. Quilts make great presents for the person who has the lot, they show how much you sincerely care not simply by what you’ve put on your handmade patchwork quilt but the time and effort you’ve taken to create it.

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Handmade Patchwork Quilt – Great Gift Idea

A handmade patchwork quilt makes an awesome gift for someone you love. It is the kind of gift that can be given to someone who has pretty well everything. In times gone by, quilts have been made of scraps of material left over from clothing, linen and basically anything that can be cut up and applied to other pieces of material to form a pattern.

These days with digital photography being prominent and technology improving on a daily basis you can actually use photographs on your quilt. Hence you are then able to create a handmade patchwork quilt out of something other than scraps of material. This will alter the look of your quilt and it will appear to be a little more thought out than perhaps in previous times when scraps of material were the only things that could be used.

A handmade patchwork quilt made from photographs can be made as personal or as artistic as you like. It may well be that you are going to use a compilation of family photographs when you make your quilt. This is a great idea for someone who is hard to buy for especially at Christmas time and around birthdays.

Another option when making a handmade patchwork quilt and using photographs is that you use photographs based on a theme. The photo’s do not have to involve people. The person you are making the quilt for could have at one stage loved a special location like a town, or a beach or even a country and the quilt can be created with that special location in mind. Colors of the quilt can be taken into consideration for this choice of design as well.

Think of a hobby that is of a main interest to the person you are creating your handmade patchwork quilt for. Do they like gardening, if they do, plants can be used as a design together with appropriate colorings. It may well be that they like cooking and you could include several recipes or pictures of their favorite meals they have created in the past.

Handmade Patchwork Quilt – If You Are Not A Quilter
If you want a handmade patchwork quilt and you are not the type of person to actually make one, you can find someone to craft it for you. There are a lot of people out there who love these beautiful crafted quilts but do not have the ability to design and create one themselves. If you “Google” “Handmade Patchwork Quilt – Forums” you should find many forums out there you can become a part of to find the right person to make a quilt specific to your needs.

If you are wanting to learn the art of quilting, a handmade patchwork quilt makes the perfect gift for your loved one as it is made out of love with love. And that does really mean a lot to the person you are giving your quilt to. A handmade patchwork quilt can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.

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Learn To Quilt – Handmade Patchwork Quilt

If you are preparing to learn to quilt, or an advanced practitioner of quilting you are able to discover a lot of publications that will be able to assist improve your knowledge. Quilting books fall generally into several categories, and numerous titles proliferate within each. The different types of books are how-to, pattern encyclopedias, historical, books about the joy of quilting, as well as art books.

Each quilter needs at least one of these publications in their library, and more often than not will manage to collect a number of them. You’ll find it amazing how many times you want a ready reference when you are in the focal point of a quilting task. How-to books are possibly the most well-liked, and the initial stop for the individual who wants to learn to quilt. They extend from books which discuss the whole craft of quilting and offer step-by-step advice, to publications that will capture one feature of quilting then describe how to do it. The instructional publications start with such pre-requisites as cloth choice as well as which accessories you’ll require and proceed through instructions for assembling the blocks of the quilt top and the quilt itself, down to explanations of quilting, both hand and machine.

You must learn to quilt and have on hand an encyclopedia of patterns which include simple quilt patterns – great for the beginner. Every quilter will more than likely end up with one of these in their library as well. These publications collect numerous different quilt block patterns as well as explain the principles of their assemblies. Because their goal is to cover a lot of ground, these publications are beneficial beginning points but will not go into intimate detail. For that you have to turn to books which feature training on a particular pattern. With the wide category of quilting block patterns and techniques, you are able to picture that this category of quilting books is reasonably extensive and stocked with titles.

Since quilting has its roots in American times passed, quilts and the craft of quilting have been studied in detail, and a lot of historical quilting publications exist. Looking at these textbooks as well as seeing what our ancestors accomplished having a small percentage of the equipment and supplies existing nowadays can be a great source of inspiration to modern quilters. Along the similar lines are books that talk about the enjoyment to be derived from quilting, both in its community form (such as quilting bees) or as a private pursuit. Lastly, there is a full segment of quilters who have advanced the craft into art. These quilters often show their handiwork in galleries in addition to museums, for instance the quilt wall hanging. They print publications not only about their quilts, but the thoughts and techniques that went into making them. Sometimes collectors of quilts will bring out books, too. These art quilt books are as inspiring in their way as the historical quilting books.

Irrespective of whether you are choosing to produce a handmade patchwork quilt or a quilt wall hanging, even quilted outfits for that matter, you should make certain you have a book or 2 easy to hand to help you along the way. Part of the thrill of quilting is finding books on the subject, and fortunately for modern quilters, there is a mammoth array of titles to pick from. Learn to quilt is made quite simple with the right books!

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Learn to Quilt: Discover Top Tools of the Quilter’s Trade

When I first started quilting I was just learning how to sew as well. It took a while to figure out which were the tools, also called notions, that I used the most. To help you on your journey to becoming a quilter I have created a list of the tools you will use the most:

1. Rotary Cutting Supplies. This includes a rotary cutter, acrylic rulers, and a cutting mat. These tools are made for precise cutting. Quilter’s worldwide wouldn’t think of starting a quilting project without them. You’ll find that the more accurately you cut your quilt pieces, the more accurately your quilt top is sewn together. Olfa is an excellent brand, and is the leader in the quilting community.

2. A Decent Steam Iron. You can’t start a quilting project without one. Now, you can buy the really expensive Rowenta professional iron, or, you can go to Walmart or Target and buy their steam iron. Both will get the job done. I’ve learned from experience that they both last about the same amount of time, will both do a decent job, but one is a lot less expensive to replace. I highly recommend using spring water in your irons—tap water can lead to hard water stains on your quilt top, and most manufactures say that you shouldn’t use distilled water.

3. A Good Seam Ripper. Most quilters have two or three of them on hand at any given time. Dritz makes a variety of excellent seam rippers. You’ll find they have everything from seam rippers with magnifying glasses to ergonomic seam rippers for those of us quilters who rip out stitches on a regular basis.

4. Spring Loaded Scissors and Shears. These scissors and shears are spring loaded to prevent hand fatigue while cutting repetitively. Quilting, and sewing for that matter, involves a lot of cutting. I have a pair of blunt tipped, which work really well for cutting threads, and a pair of sharp tip, which I like to use for cutting appliqué pieces. I don’t know many quilters who don’t own a pair of these. Fiskers, in this instance, is my brand of choice.

5. ¼ Inch Foot. A quarter inch foot for your sewing machine will get you going toward an accurate ¼ inch seam allowance. Almost all quilt patterns instruct you to use an accurate quarter inch. Many sewing machines come with these feet. However, if you bought a simple hobby machine, you’ll most likely need to purchase one. I would like to recommend a brand, but in this case, there are so many brands for different types of machines that you’ll want to check with your local machine dealership to buy the right one. Don’t worry, they aren’t expensive, but they’re definitely necessary. You may even find them at your local quilt shop.

You’ll discover quilting can be an adventure. Anyone with the proper directions can create an heirloom quilt that will stand the test of time.

Fortunately, with proper instruction, quilting is as simple as following a proven set of steps. Take the first step and learn how fun and easy creating heirloom keepsakes can really be.

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Machine Quilting Patterns- Tips about Quilting Themes and Shopping

The term machine quilting refers to the art of creating a quilt using a sewing machine. A sewer can either do the machine guided sewing or free motion sewing. The former technique results to straight or curvy stitches. The later makes beautiful quilting designs. If you love pattern quilting, you should buy one of the best free motion sewing machines. Using machine quilting patterns makes your task quick and accurate. It acts as a template for a quilt design you plan to make and it can be cut out, joined to a piece of fabric and used as a sewing guide. The quilting patterns are very important. They are sold in a range of designs, each featuring a unique theme. You can get a pattern that complements your sewing tastes and preferences. The various examples of quilting patterns include:

Holiday themes- if you want to buy patterns inspired by a certain season, you can easily find different ones. For example, you can buy Christmas, Easter, or any other famous holiday patterns.
School themes- you are likely to find many patterns featuring college themes
Animal/cartoon themes- when you are making children quilts; animal and cartoon patterns are the most preferable.
Sporty/classic patterns- you can find any sport or traditional theme you are interested in.
Gardening and landscaping patterns- you may want to make a quilt inspired by beautiful landscapes, countryside, or backyards.
Environmental themes- these include floral patterns.
Baby patterns- you have many baby themes to make an interesting quilt for your baby.

Think about your quilting project very seriously before you can spend any money. Once you draft the ideas you have in mind, the next shopping step is easy:

Go shopping for your quilting patterns

It is possible to find a range of machine quilting patterns in a variety of sewing and fabric stores near your home. However, in this day and age, many people prefer shopping online. You do not have to step outside your house if you have a home computer connected to the Internet. Some online sites are available that provide free patterns.

Most of the sites sell different types of quilting patterns though. This explains why you must know exactly what you are searching for. Some web stores only specialize in a given category of patterns. It is much wiser to save up money to buy an Ebook with many patterns. You can use it in the future, without doing any further research online, unless you want to find updated patterns.

Amazon is a major shopping store where you mainly find the Amish and patchwork quilting patterns. Perform a window-shopping exercise first if you plan to purchase the patterns offline. This will make your budgeting efforts much easier. Offline shopping does not compare to online shopping in terms of the ranges of patterns and suitable price deals you can get. All you have to do is to investigate every website you are keen on using. Legitimate online stores exist and you should take your time to find them. Buy from a vendor who gives you a range of machine quilting patterns at the most affordable rates.

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No buyer’s remorse with my HQ Sweet 16
I purchased a Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen mid-arm quilting machine in October. Several have asked for my opinion of it.

The features that convinced me to buy it:
1 — The table it sits in is compact, 30″ x 36″ — (I don’t have room for a long-arm machine.)
2– This is a sit-down machine, and the table height is adjustable for my comfort. I do not want to stand and quilt.
3–The machine stitches from 10 to 1500 stitches per minute, easily adjusted on a touch screen.
4–The generous space between the needle and motor, (16″) plus the roomy flat surface, gives me plenty of room for quilting even large quilts.
5–A heavy duty bobbin winder for the M class bobbins is included.
5–The machine is less expensive than long arm machines.
6–It’s manufactured and assembled in the USA, and each machine undergoes thorough testing before it’s shipped.
7–A local HQ rep came to my house to train me with my machine. She was patient, thorough, and a great teacher. The company knows that a well-trained owner of the machine will be happier with the product.
8–This machine can be upgraded in the future with handles, framework and a computer package to become a long arm, if I’m interested. I can also add a stitch regulator, if I decide to go that direction. (currently about $1000 to add)

I like to be prepared, trying to anticipate the future. I purchased extra bobbins, an open-toe hopping foot, a horizontal spool pin, mass quantities of size 16 and 18 sewing machine needles, and two 18″ extensions to add to the sides of the table.
That last purchase was not necessary. I quilted my first large project before I had an extension attached. I set up our standard card table on the left side. It was the same height as the HQ table and worked great! DH has since added the hardware so I have an extension added to the right side of the table. It can be extended to support the quilt, or it can hang down, out of the way.

[UPDATE: My extra, unused extension has since been sold to a lady in MN to use with her HQ Sweet 16.]

My impressions after using the Sweet 16 to machine quilt–

The visibility is wonderful! When quilting with my Brother 1500, an extended arm machine, I’m always dipping my head, craning my neck, peeking around the machine, looking to see what I’ve done, where I’ve been, where I’m going. With the Sweet 16, I just shift my eyes and I can immediately see my progress. A light ring with 28 LEDs aids visibility while stitching.

The bobbins hold a lot of thread, more than the standard bobbins I’m used to. On my first large quilt, I barely started a third bobbin. (I usually don’t add a lot of tight quilting, so that statement is relative.) Regardless of how densely anybody quilts, large bobbins save time.

The biggest difference, which I’m not used to — there is NO presser foot. I still reach around behind the needle now and then to raise the presser foot lever, and there is none. Oops!

Love the color touch screen. It’s a multi-purpose tool. I can change my speed easily, save 3 favorite speeds, needle up or down, change light brightness or volume of the beeps, troubleshoot with diagnostics that check quality of performance, and my personal favorite — keeping track of # of stitches. It’s like the odometer on a car. I reset the stitches each time I start a project, but the total stitches in the lifetime of the machine continue to add up. In a couple weeks, my total is over 300,000 stitches.

Maintenance is basic. One drop of oil in the bobbin case area after 2 bobbins’ worth of sewing. Gently brush lint away. Replace needles regularly. If there are problems, the diagnostics on the touch screen can help. The HQ rep is available to give advice, and there’s tech support available online or by phone.

Easy set up and take down. If I wanted to move it, I could do it myself, or DH would help. (So far, it hasn’t moved since being set up.) Machine is 53 pounds, and the table may be a similar weight. It’s a strong, solid table and does not shudder and shake when I’m quilting at a high speed.

This machine is not a magic tool for perfect quilting. I have to move the quilt under the needle– just as I did with my domestic machine. The Sweet 16 does not move above the quilt, as with a longarm.
I did not purchase a stitch regulator (though that can be added for an additional price). There are no plug-in pantographs. I’m responsible for the quality of my stitches. I’m responsible for the length and evenness and direction of the stitches. While quilting in the middle of a large quilt, I still have a lot of quilt to settle on my shoulder and/or chest and/or legs until I’ve quilted away from the middle. I’m in charge of manipulating the quilt, balancing its weight, and controlling those stitches. HOWEVER — that 16″ space and the flat surface make it so much easier than quilting with my domestic machine, as I previously did on our dining room table.

If interested, you can read more about the HQ Sweet Sixteen machine on the HandiQuilter website. There are a couple introductory videos, Getting Started #1 and Getting Started #2. You can find the location of dealers (including Australia) and there’s a map of where machines have been shipped. (updated periodically) Plus quilters who have bought HandiQuilter products have sent their stories to the website.

BTW–I’m just sharing my comments and observations here. I have no connection with the HandiQuilter company, other than I bought one of their machines, and I’m very glad I did.

UPDATE: — If you’re curious how much I use my HQ Sweet Sixteen, quilt #87 was finished last week. A few of those were crib-sized, many were lap size, and the rest were twin size, full size, and queen size. The lifetime stitch count on my “Nellie” is currently 4,857,371. (yes–it’s approaching 5 million)

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I had my very first Singer for 10 years – bought it myself when I was still in High School. That’s when I started sewing “for real”. What I mean by that is – that’s when I started making ALL my own garments and doing all of Mom’s mending. Back then, it was mandatory to take Home Ec in school. I had already been sewing “a little” from what Grandmother taught me but my love of sewing blossomed after taking Sewing in Home Ec.

After my Singer, I bought my first true love that was my main machine for 25+ years – a Pfaff 1371. (and a used Pfaff 1471 came along later). I made all our girls clothes on that 1371 – EVERYTHING. It still runs like a gem and sits in my sewing room. It was “stationed” at my daughter’s home but she just brought it back here since we live so close. She says she’d rather sew here when “the urge” hits her since she can leave everything set out here in my sewing room. She doesn’t have that kind of space available in her house with the grandkids.

After sewing our grandson’s baby ensemble when our daughter was pregnant – everything from crib sheets to crib skirt to bumper pads to quilted wallhanging to door knob hangers to window treatments , I told hubby that I was “SEW” ready to look at other machines to take my sewing to the “next” level.

Want to know something? He never even blinked. All he did was to tell me to start researching on the computer. Oh my word, that’s when I discovered the “rest” of the sewing world. Honestly – I had NEVER done any research on sewing machines before because I was so happy with the wonderful machine I had.

I bought my Bernina 200 (which is now upgraded to a full 730). Believe it or not, I had intended to buy another Pfaff – why not – mine had NEVER given me one lick of trouble. But I found, at that time, Bernina had the better website. After googling Bernina, my husband went with me and we went to different Bernina shops. I had never even been to a sewing machine shop since that Pfaff 1371 so many years prior.

We walked into the first Bernina shop, which happened to be a bit farther away – and NOT ONE PERSON waited on us. And, here we were ready to buy a machine. NO kidding, not one single solitary person approached us. So while we were there, we looked around, looked at price tags, looked at how the employees were talking to other employees……we walked out. And, I thought to myself – okay – this is another reason why I want a Pfaff. BUT – hubby convinced me to go to that other Bernina shop that I had googled. Well, it’s history from that point on……………..

I immediately sat down at a “sewing only” machine, NEVER dreaming that I’d like embroidery. Heck, I didn’t even know embroidery was possible for the little seamstresses of the world like myself. Sheesh – another world opened to me. Never realized how many fancy stitches you could have built in ONE machine. Oh yeah, I did research – but seeing these machines in person – WOW! Well, then, hubby asked the saleswoman and salesman (the couple who owned the shop happened to be both there) what else they had in machines. YIKES – wrong question …LOL They lead us over to their newest TOL machine at the time – the 200. I immediately said there was no way I could learn a machine like that. It was actually my husband that said I could. Everyone who knew me knew I was a sew-aholic. I sewed EVERYTHING, yes, I mean EVERYTHING.

My husband said it was high time I got the machine of a lifetime. He was, and is, truly my top advocate. I walked out with the TOL 200, the luggage set, embroidery module, threads, software, a couple extra feet and the biggest smile that you ever saw in your life – AND – the biggest fear that maybe I just bought something that I’d never use – the embroidery.

Nope, I use that embroidery – and now I have TWO embroidery modules that run side by side at many times. Besides my 200/730 I have the 630E and the 430 and the Bernina serger 1300. AND – a sewing room that I had never had before in my life. I always found a “corner” to sew or on the kitchen table and never complained. As long as I was sewing, I was happy – and the kids always had new outfits to wear – no, they weren’t store bought – but they were probably better than store bought. I knew they lasted longer…LOL

UPDATE: I also have the HQ16.
I dragged on …so sorry.

But, that’s my sewing machine story and I’m sticking to it.

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“Quick” Curve Ruler — Product Review

I do love curves and I’m not a novice at doing them even if I don’t do them often. The first actual quilt I ever made was a Grandmother’s Fan. The most ambitious quilt I ever made was a paper pieced NY Beauty — 120 blocks of curved piecing. And I have taken a Double Wedding Ring class and made a small wall hanging.

It’s rare I buy a pattern or a tool. However, I’ve been loving these Metro Rings. Because Connecting Threads was having a 40% off tool sale I caved and bought the Quick Curve Ruler Ruler and the pattern. The pattern calls for strip sets so I decided to use coordinating dots, of course. I write on patterns and make notes to myself. The pattern calls for 2 1/2″ strips x width of fabric or a jelly roll. Then you cut the strips into 20″ – 22″ pieces. My strips were no less than 20 1/2″. Width of useable fabric depends on the size of selvedge as well as the manufacturer and if you pre-wash and allow for shrinkage. When I write patterns I allow for 40″ of useable fabric as it’s rare there is more than that. This pattern states the yardage is based on 44/45″ fabric.

You are to get 7 curve pieces from the strip set. I got 6. That means perhaps the yardage requirements might be off. I haven’t made an entire quilt using the pattern yardage so I don’t know this for sure.

The strip sets sewn together measure 10 1/2″ wide. However, before cutting the curves with the ruler you are to trim the strip sets to 10″ wide, so that’s 1/4″ off of each long side. I found out this has to do with the placement of the ruler on the strip set before cutting the curves. I found it a wee bit of an annoying step. This also means each outer strip is narrower than the rest of the pieces in the strip set.

The cutting directions for the pieces all make sense. That went pretty smoothly. Curves = bias. The pattern specifically says “you do not need to pin.” Well I found at least an initial pin very necessary to keep the two pieces from shifting before I got it to the sewing machine. Does this look like these two pieces will sew easily together?

Well you have to sew slow, needle down, and this ruffling does happen as you try not to sew accidental pleats. It actually did sew together fairly well. The pressing directions are good.

I did not end up with perfect curves but acceptable for a first block. I’m happy I used a darker, patterned background as imperfections would be glaringly obvious if I used a white or light solid.

This is the most confusing part of the pattern — there are diagrams but they sure didn’t make sense for this part. You are to square the blocks to 9 1/2″. Now a square is 4 equal sides. The width of the block measures about 10″. No worries as you’ll be trimming. The height of the block is 8 1/2″. How do you “square” it?

You are supposed to trim 1/8″ above the curve but when you lay the ruler on the block there is a reference mark going the correct direction on one end of the ruler but no 1/8″ reference mark on the other end. It could be my fault but I’m following the diagram here! There is fudging, eyeballing, or use of another ruler. With this entire step of the process I crossed my fingers, grabbed the rotary cutter and hoped for the best.

Now that you have two of these sections you sew them together. As you can see the edges don’t match evenly. You don’t know this until later but it’s ok. There is more squaring up later. The pattern just tells you to pair them up and sew right sides together with a 1/4″ seam. It needs to tell you to match at the seams, pin, then sew or this can happen. Oh and even if you pin like I did, this can still happen. I think it all goes back to that weird 1/8″ thingy. There are a few more confusing parts to the pattern and things I could figure on my own — like you should at least pinch pleat the corner triangle to center properly before sewing. I think the pattern was written with the “assumptions” that people know these things.

And this is one section of the Metro Rings. I made a football. I considered adding laces and stopping at just one but now I’ve made two. Two more to go to get a complete “ring” section. I do love the look. I’m in awe of those who have the math minds to figure these things out.

There is waste but perhaps no more than other rulers or templates or even in applique. So the waste isn’t an issue for me.

Final thoughts: This ruler is not for the faint of heart nor is it for the beginner. A class with a knowledgeable instructor would be very helpful. It’s probably also helpful if you’ve done curves before. Online tutorials are provided which I did not watch, yet. If I buy a pattern and ruler it should be fairly easy to follow with diagrams and written instructions. Now I will watch the tutorials to see if there is more I should know. I would love to make the entire quilt but I’m still sitting the fence…There are lots of possibilities with this ruler and there are many patterns available for using it. So it’s a multidimensional ruler and I feel it’s worth the full price, but best at 40% off price.

As with any product I choose to review, I do it of my own free will. I was not asked to do this review. I did read a review prior to starting this project and it seems I’m not the only person who has had some issues. I think honest reviews are beneficial and not those with sugar coating. I’d love to know if you’ve given the “Quick” Curve Ruler a try.

===================gtg

Packing sewing machines

THIS IS MINOR DAMAGE, I DON’T HAVE A CASE AT THIS TIME WITH SOME MAJOR DAMAGE BUT THIS LITTLE AMOUNT OF DAMAGE TO THE LID MAY HAVE BENT OR BROKEN THE SPOOL PIN ON THE MACHINE.

I REPAIR THESE OLD MACHINES SO I BUY AND SELL A LOT OF THEM AND I HAVE SEEN SOME REALLY POOR PACKING AND THERE IS NOTING WORSE THAN TO SPEND $100+ ON A MACHINE THAT YOU PURCHASED AND GETTING IT AND BECAUSE OF POOR PACKING THE MACHINE ARRIVES WITH DAMAGE AND THE SELLER SAYS “YOU SHOULD HAVE PUT INSURANCE ON IT”.

I WANT TO SAY TO EVERYBODY; “INSURANCE DOESN’T COVER DAMAGE IF IT IS CAUSED BY POOR PACKING, THAT IS THE SELLER OR PACKING COMPANY’S RESPONSIBILITY.

INSURANCE IS PAiD IF THE SHIPPING COMPANY IS RESPONsible FOR THE DAMAGE. OF COURSE THIS MAY VERY DEPENDING ON WHO THE INSURER IS.

WHAT I AM POINTING OUT IS, IF YOU PACK IT WELL IT WILL ARRIVE IN THE SAME CONDITION AS PURCHASED.

WRAP YOUR MACHINE IN BUBBLE WRAP.

DEPENDING ON THE CASE YOU MAY NEED TO TRIM WRAP SO MACHINE FITS INTO CASE PROPER.

THIS IS THE SMALL BUBBLES IF YOU ARE PACKING WITHOUT CASE CAN USE THE BIGGER BUBBLES.

I TAKE PLASTIC OR PLASTIC BAG AND WRAP AROUND ATTACHMENT BOX AND THEN RUN TAPE AROUND TO HELP SUPPORT THE BOX.

IF YOU HAVE OTHER ATTACHMENTS WRAP THEM AND YOU MAY BE ABLE TO FIT IN CASE UNDER THE SMALL TRAY BEFORE PUTTING MACHINE IN.

I ALSO PUT THE BOOK IN A PLATIC BAGGIE AND IF NEEDED PUT BETWEEN CARDBOARD AND CAN BE PUT ALONG THE SIDE OF CASE. IF THE ATTACHMENTS WON’T FIT IN

CASE WRAP AND PUT IN SHIPPING BOX. THE FOOT CONTROL CAN GO IN OR WRAP WITH BUBBLE WRAP AND LAY ALONG THE BACK SIDE OF MACHINE IN CASE.

IF YOU HAVE A FULL TRAY I WRAP FOOT CONTROL AND IF IT WILL FIT IN TRAY WILL PUT IT THERE OR LAY ALONG SIDE OF MACHINE BELOW TRAY.

NOW THAT EVERYTHING IS PACKED SAFE IN THE CASE I TAKE MORE BUBBLE WRAP AND PACK SIDES AROUND MACHINE AND ON TOP SO THAT WHEN I SHUT THE LID IT IS SNUG, NOW NOTHING IS GOING TO MOVE WHILE BE SHIPPED.

TAKE SOME BUBBLE WRAP AND WRAP OUTSIDE OF CASE AND PUT A LITTLE UNDER HANDLE TO PROTECT FROM LEAVING A MARK ON CASE.

AFTER YOU GET IT TAPED TAKE THE TAPE AND RUN A LINE ALL THE WAY AROUND IT TO HELP SUPPORT LID AND CASE, I USUALLY RUN A LINE ON BOTH SIDE OF THE HANDLE.

PEANUTS OR PACKING OF YOUR CHOICE ON THE BOTTOM

I LAY MACHINE IN ON IT’S SIDE AND SIT MACHINE IN BOX AND NOW PACK AROUND SIDES

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT PEANUTS IS IT GIVES THE MACHINE AN AIR RIDE, BUT BALLED UP NEWS PAPER, PLASTIC BAGS WILL DO SIMILAR AS LONG AS YOU USE ENOUGH.

I HAVE POSITIVE FEEDBACK FROM MY CUSTOMERS ON MY PACKING AND HAVE HAD ALL ITEMS MAKE IT TO THEIR BUYERS AS PURCHASED.

I ALWAYS SAY PACK IT LIKE YOUR PACKING FOR YOURSELF!

I HOPE THIS HELPS YOU AS A PACKER AND IF YOU ARE A BUYER OF MINE

THAT IT GIVES YOU A PEACE OF MIND ON HOW YOUR PURCHASE WILL BE PACKED.

THANK YOU AND GOOD LUCK

THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME AND I HOPE I WAS HELPFUL!!

=========================GTG

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Goals are good. We all need goals. The start of a new year is as good a time as any to set goals. It’s a good idea to check the list from last year to see if we deserve a pat on the back. I didn’t do too badly. I see that of the 10 UFOs I finished 8. Only 2 remain untouched. Of course those 2 are the biggest and hardest to do. That is why they remain undone.

I did make 2 quilts from my bucket list. I can’t remember which two and I have no idea if I actually finished them or just added them to my pile of UFOs. I think I need to reassess my Bucket List as well. Some of these just aren’t going to ever get to the top of my priority list.

Knitting 2 pairs of socks was a lesson learned. I am not that crazy about homemade socks. And they cost too much.

I really could cross off the rag rug as done except I keep thinking I want to make it a little bigger. So it sits in a heap by the couch where every now & then I add a few more rows. It is by far the best way I have found to use up massive amounts of unloved fabric.

Keeping the strings & crumbs under control is an act of futility. I traded one problem for another. My solution was to stop saving the tiny bits (just toss them) and sew all the larger crumbs together right away instead of letting them accumulate. Now, instead of a basket full of crumbs, I have a stack of unused “made” fabric. The strings are a whole ‘nother story called The Spiderweb Quilt From Hell.

It deserves a blog of it’s own.

The orphan block goal has been my biggest success. All orphans now become hot pads, pot holders, fodder for crumb fabric, or parts of quilt backs. Problem solved.

So now it’s time to set new goals. Or maybe not. I’ve been wondering if a list is all that helpful. During the last year, whenever I started a new project that darn list sat there staring me in the face making me feel guilty. Sure, it’s a nice feeling to cross something off the list but that feeling only lasts for a minute or two. I don’t need a list to remind me of all the UFOs that I should be finishing. But I need to be in the right mood, you know what I mean? Right now I’m in the mood to start several new quilt projects.

May the New Year bring all my blog friends health, happiness, and may all your goals be met.

=====================GTG