Proceed with Caution

Searching for Answers

                      Searching for Answers

There is an awful lot of information out there in cyber space. I’ve said it before, not all of it is accurate and honest. Some of it is just outright garbage.  Anyone can publish anything about whatever. Don’t misunderstand me, most of it is fabulous and has greatly supported my most recent obsession with nail art. I recently read some information on a sewing forum that has led to the following.

Just because someone published a blog or a video, doesn’t mean it will work that way for everyone. This is especially true in the sewing world. Possibly other worlds as well, but this is the world I’m comfortable in. There are too many factors that contribute to, “it worked for them, why doesn’t it work for me?” Those variables include, weather, needles, thread, thread color, fabric, prewashed or not, and on and on. Let’s look at some of these.

Weather: I live in the Southwest of the United States. Most of the time it is very dry here. When it does rain, I find that I need to adjust settings on my machine to get the same stitches I get when it doesn’t. I’m sure the same holds for when it gets super cold, but I haven’t personally experienced this. Obviously, what I do may not work for someone who lives in Minnesota.

Needles: I am the first one to ask, “did you change your needle?” and then not do it myself. Yes, sometimes a brand new needle can have burs, etc. Make sure you are using the right needle for the fabric. Click here for more info on needles.

Thread: I would not have believed that thread color could make a difference, until it happened to me. I changed thread color in the middle of a project. I did not change the bobbin, only the top thread, same brand, same line. My stitches were not as perfect. Then there are different manufacturers. I have 3 Berninas. Only one of them likes a very popular thread brand.

Are you with me now? You are the only expert on your machine and all its  nuances. No one sews like you; the combination of your hand weight on the fabric and speed. Your environment.

The only suggestion I can offer is to use what you read/see as a jumping off point. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to play with the knobs on your machine; most of them have a way to easily go back to the default settings.  Once you get a setting you like for a type of project, write it down. Needle, thread, settings, fabric, etc. This is no guarantee it will work exactly the same way the next time, but it’s a great place to start.

Lastly: for a lot of people, sewing is a hobby (“an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure”). Pleasure should be your guideline. Have fun, experiment, stretch yourself creatively, and enjoy the process. By all mean, scour the internet for information, just be open to what you find.

**I generally like to go to manufactures websites for information on their products. I really like Superior Threads education section of their site. This is definitely a great place to start.

Why I love to Sew

Credit goes to Smashed Peas and Carrots Facebook Page

Credit goes to Smashed Peas and Carrots Facebook Page

Found this on my Facebook page the other day accompanied by, “This is your thought process, right?”

A few other comments followed making reference to the cost and need of expensive computerized sewing machines.

First let me admit that I don’t make doilies and probably never will, but yes, an expensive machine would more than likely be necessary. Who wants to attempt heirloom sewing without the proper tools? (Feel free to compare this to your favorite past-time or profession; drills, sanders, paintbrushes, high-end cookware, etc.Don’t even get me started on motor sports; bikes, cars, airplanes, boats…..oh my.)

So why make it, when you can buy it for less money?

First of all, the sheer joy of creating is in itself reason enough. Now imagine your family and friends admiring your work and cherishing that Halloween costume,  table runner, quilt, wall hanging, tea towels, whatever and associating that feeling with YOU; the creator. Memories made..,by you! How awesome is that? Perhaps they will fight over it when you die. (Ok, that might be stretching it, but one can dream can’t they?)

Regardless, said homemade creation is now being enjoyed by future generations. That $2 doily has long been trashed and decomposed…. or not. If it wasn’t made with 100% natural fibers it’s sitting in a landfill; who wants that guilt?

Eventually one of yours or your friend’s great great great…..great grandchildren will make a snap decision to part with above mentioned memory. All they know is that some person, generations ago made it, rendering putting it in the trash unthinkable. So after many many years of being loved by countless people, it will be donated to a charity. This act will provide job security to some, much-needed support to others and create countless volunteer hours to a few thankless individuals.

Still need a reason?

I made all my daughter’s Halloween costumes from the time she was 1 until 18. Many years, she helped. While she was in elementary school, Hippy costumes were all the rage amongst her friends. On the day of the school party, she had the most fabulous flower power print outfit, along with a headband, wire rim glasses, and crimped hair. Walking out the door, my eyes got teary eyed when she exclaimed, “Mom, I’m gonna have the best hippy costume, cause you made it.” Honestly, I’ve never looked back and will continue to make things that my family loves and cherishes.

You can’t really put a price tag on that now can you?

EQ7 Tutorial

Purple appliqued butterfly on a blue background.

Butterfly Quilt

 

I am so excited to be able to share this. The goal was to print applique shapes from EQ7 without the letters and text so that I could publish my pattern.  This led me on a internet search and then a twitter post introduced me to Al Navas.  I’ll let him explain what we did, but if you use EQ7, this is brilliant. If you don’t, there’s a great section on Inkscape which is a nifty free program that I can now use for more than patterns and other fun stuff. Please hop on over to his site, EQ7 Training, to download the lesson AND the pattern. For Free!  How awesome is that?

Working on a project with someone who has same passion for bringing quality instruction to the web is now one of the highlights of my summer. I am hopeful that this will not be our last collaboration.

What are your EQ Challenges?

Getting Ready to Publish

birdiehouseAugust (2)

Well, I’m getting closer to publishing my first pattern. I teach an applique class and was getting really frustrated with the patterns that are readily available, so I made my own. EQ7 made designing a snap.  I taught a class and the students were really great about testing this pattern and yes, found a few mistakes. I ran into issues when printing the templates; I won’t get into the details now, let’s just say I wasn’t happy with the process I was using.

Then Twitter jumped in. I’d been lax in using my Twitter account, but finally decided to jump in. Within hours, I got a tweet from an EQ instructor of all people.  This eventually led to us working on a great (and super efficient) way to do what I wanted. Ok, he did most of the work, I just added comments here and there. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but.,,,,,there will be a lesson posted to his website…..soon. When it is, I’ll post a link.

Protect Your Electronics

20140705_165711

Living in the desert southwest, we get our share of glorious thunderstorms, aka monsoons, in the summer. They are one of Mother Nature’s most spectacular shows and I cherish the evenings I can sit on my covered patio and watch the lightning fill the sky with color and listen while the thunder echoes off the mountains.

These storms can also raise havoc with our electronics. So…unplug your sewing machines, sergers, irons, etc when you’re not using them in the summer. These toys  tools of ours are expensive to replace. I, for one, would not want to do so.

Yes, there’s another one coming and I have double checked that all my tools are no longer tethered to the wall. Perhaps an afternoon on the couch with one of my favorite quilting books is in order.

Birdie House

image

Finally finished my applique sample. I used EQ7 to create the design. I’ll post more details later. 

Partial Seams

I’m working on a quilt where the designer chose not to use partial seams where they would have worked really well. This decision might have been based on classifying the pattern as suitable for beginners.  I have always thought that less seams means not only less work, but less room for error.  This is the way the block was designed, which requires 8 seams.

Original Design

Original Design

I went with this design, which requires 4 seams.

Redesigned block

Redesigned block

This is the math. (Don’t be afraid, it’s not complicated)

The strips are the width of unfinished border x (length of inside unfinished block + the width of the unfinished border – ½”) Subtracting the ½” takes a ¼ “ seam allowance into consideration.

If your inside block is 6 1/2” x 6 1/2” and the borders are 2 ½ ”, cut the strips 8 ½ ” (6 ½” + 2 ½” – ½ “) x 2 ½ “

Here’s how it goes together.

Step 5

Step 5

This is the finished block

I hope that you will incorporate partial seams in future projects. It really is a nice way to border a block.

Should of gone to Paducah

Hind site is always 20/20 and this was no exception. I spent a week in the Midwest recently. Not really close enough for a side trip to Paducah, Ky, but maybe I should have figured it out. Most quilters will find a way to work their passion into any trip, whether it is 100 miles from where they live or half way across the world. There are quilt shops and sewing machine dealers that are just begging for out of towners to pop in.

During this trip, I was staying about 90 miles from the Quilter’s Hall of Fame and what kind of quilter would I be if I didn’t go check it out? Plus, Eleanor Burns was inducted a few years ago and besides being one of my favorite quilting celebrities, I had the honor of taking her Teacher’s Certification course. She really is an amazing woman and I encourage you to meet her if you have the chance. Who wouldn’t want to see anything of hers?

So, I found myself driving through rural Indiana or my way to Marion. The drive was reminiscent of my days as a youth; driving through farmland, quaint little towns filled with red-brick buildings and white picket fences. I have lived in the desert for over 35 years, so I’ll admit to chuckling when crossing rivers with running water. Where I live, the river beds are dry, save for a few months in the summer when we’re lucky enough to get enough rain to fill them.

When I arrived at my destination, I found a cute yellow house. There is quit a history to this building and I encourage you to read about it. And that is where the interest for me ended. I’m not sure what I expected and if I had done more reading I might not have been disappointed. I was hoping to see more works and information on all the inductees, but the only HOF display was of this year’s recipient. I’m not minimizing their accomplishments, just wish there had been more to see.

They did have a book for sale with previous inductees ending in 2011. Eleanor was inducted in 2012. I didn’t buy the book.

I filled my heart with a few little purchases in the gift shop: pins, holiday ornaments, knick knacks and the like. On the way back to my hotel (90 miles away), I took in the scenery and the trip became more focused on the journey and not the destination. In the end, I would have regretted not going so I am glad that I did.

Paducah is still on my list and one day, I’ll make the journey. I understand it has changed some since I was there over 30 years ago.

Happy Birthday Discount to Me!

Quilting fabric, patterrns, and booklets

My Birthday Haul

 

Yesterday, I went to two local quilt shops to cash in on my birthday discount. One shop offers 20%, the other half your age. The one day it actually pays to be older!

I came hope with 2 jelly rolls and fabric to make gifts for friends. A quilt kit for me!  Seriously, I actually bought something to make for myself. Picked up a Halloween applique pattern and a few free motion books. One of these days, I’ll conquer free motion. For the icing on my cake, I added quilt themed microfiber cleaning cloths. If you don’t own those, you should.

Hope you’re lucky enough to know quilt shops that offer birthday discounts.