Tag Archive | Quilting

Westalee Snowflakes; Tips and Tricks

Thinking about snow in October? Some places have already had their first flurries, but I suspect it will be a while before we see any in the Desert Southwest. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be making them out of foam board, pom poms, pipe cleaners, paper & glue, or any other items you can think of.  I’ll be sticking to fabric, batting, and Westalee Templates this season.

Like the other templates in the Spin-E-Fex collection, the Snowflake templates have reference lines that work with the 8 point Crosshair Square. I want my snowflakes to have 6 points. Oh, and I don’t want to mark my fabric. Then it occurred to me. I don’ t have to if I spend a little time preparing my templates. In the following video, I show you how to mark your templates instead of your fabric, how to stitch out the snowflakes and stick around to the end for how to clean your templates.

These are the products I used.

Mini Cross Hair Squares

Snowflake Templates

Grid Glider

Permanent Marker

 

Jewel of a Pillow

JewelPillow

Whenever I start with new templates, I almost always work the design out on paper first. The Jewel Series was an exception as I couldn’t wait to see the results. I ended up making a few mistakes which turned into a great design. I call those “Personal Design Variations” The following is a tutorial, including a video of how this pillow came to life.

Supplies, etc

Templates: The Jewel Collection; Pearls, Diamonds, and Hearts. All 1” and of course a Westalee Design Ruler Foot
A foot that can do a zig-zag stitch
6 Point Crosshair Square
Sew Steady Table and Circle Sewing Tool (I used my Wish Table)
1 yd of fabric (can get by with ¾: see cutting diagram)
16” square batting
Thread for quilting
Thread for construction
Needle, scissors, and pins.
Something to stuff the pillow with, like FiberFil.

Optional:

Stable Tape: I use this exclusively to keep my templates from slipping.
Grid Glider: Makes everything sew much easier.
Westalee Design Adjusting Locking Ruler: If you haven’t seen this system, you really need to check it out.

Waxed Dental Floss: I use this for gathering. The person who came up with this idea is a genius!
Two 14” squares of muslin for the pillow form.

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Why I Love to Teach/Learn

cel-lisboa-73969

Photo Credit: Cel Lisboa

 

School is back in session; seems like a perfect time to share my love of education.

I have always loved the process of learning and I am fortunate to be able to teach. For over a year now, I have been hosting the Quilt as You Go Sampler Quilt designed by Leonie West of Westalee Designs. In this course, students learn Ruler Work on their domestic sewing machines by using 7 different templates. Currently, I am conducting the course on-line.  Leonie’s husband, Bill, filmed while she quilted every block. In these videos, she guides the students with her extensive knowledge of the products she invented. The two of them are an amazing team. The brilliance behind their collections of quilting ruler templates is beyond compare. They are so perfectly engineered and paired with their true 1/2″ ruler foot, a quilter will never lack for inspiration.

Why do I teach online? Ruler Work requires a flat surface and many quilters have their machines in a cabinet.  The bigger machines that so many of us love, are too cumbersome to transport. Then there are those who either don’t live close to a local quilt shop or lack the means to get to one. I provide a place for them to go.

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Learn to use your Westalee Rulers

QAYG Sampler Quilt

So you bought the Westalee Ruler Foot and Sampler Set. Now what do you do? If you can’t find a local class or your machine is in a cabinet that you can’t load in your car, take an online class.

The class we offer is hosted by Pam Varner, Westalee Design Accredited Teacher.

Each month you will have the opportunity to attend a Live Webinar which will include videos by Leonie West, Tips from Pam, and Q&A.  Learn how to use Stable Tape (the white bumpy stuff). Discover the ways reference lines both on the templates and your quilt, can assist you create beautiful designs. On going email support is available for all students.

A word from Pam:

What you will learn is how to use all the templates in the Sampler Set. Using the reference lines on the templates and on your quilt are explored.  In addition to learning the basic shapes, you are shown alternative ways throughout the course to use the templates. The goal is for you to become comfortable using them and build your skills. My intention is for you to take these skills and apply them to your own tops.

Click here to for more information and to regiser.

Contact us by emailing mysassynotions@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Madison Quilt Expo

I am the luckiest person I know! This past weekend, I had the honor of demoing Westalee Design by Sew Steady® products at the Madison Quilt Show. If that wasn’t enough, I was doing it in Nancy’s Notions’ Booth. I found myself in Southern Wisconsin, not far from where I grew up in Northern Illinois. The trip started shaky, with a 2 hour flight delay, but that proved to be the only hiccup.

Let me begin by saying the folks at Nancy’s Notions are some of the best I have every worked with and the customers were too much fun. Bucky Badger (from UW) and the band marched in and gave a performance that literally stopped the show for about 30 minutes. Only in a college town, could a mascot distract a quilter with a shopping bag. We all enjoyed the entertainment.

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OPEN FOR BUSINESS!

 

BLOGsHOT

 

WHAT!

Well fellow quilters, I’ve decided to become an educator for Sew Steady®, showing tables (we all love those tables) and Westalee Design for Sew Steady. What is Westalee? Well it is a designer of ruler feet and ruler templates for the domestic sewing machine. I am super excited. I have been working with the templates for a few months now and plan to share what I have learned very soon. Apologies for being absent this past month, but once the decision was made there was a lot to do. Now that my store
is open, I hope to devote more time to YOU!

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.

Jimmy’s Journey

Jimmys Journey

I like my quilts to mean something. This one is for my brother. He recently came to visit and helped me clean out my garage. This is my Thank You to him. Jim loves to drive and takes road trips on a regular basis, even just for a day. He hates to drive on interstates and is much more likely to spend 8 hours on the road getting to a destination where most of us would spend less than 4. Makes him happy; I’m good with that. I wanted to make something that would reflect that sense of wandering. The printed fabric represents the roads. The quilting is where my brother drives. The backing is a blue batik that reminds me of Hawaii. It also happens to be where Jim goes for vacation annually. I think all in all, it is absolutely perfect!

I found this pattern in the Moda Bake Shop. Mine is 64″ x 80″. It was labeled easy, so I knew I could get it done quickly.

I thought I had a color palette all picked out, but once I started auditioning fabrics, I started second guessing myself. As you can see from the photos below, taking fabrics out and laying them together will often give you the answer you’ve been agonizing over.

Background Choices 1 & 2

Background Choices 1 & 2

Background Choice 3

Background Choice 3

 

 

 

I didn’t like the look of the printed fabrics  on both of the background choices (1&2) on the left, but the one on the right was the perfect color for the jelly roll I had picked up. Plus his car is orange, so the decision was actually quite simple.

I don’t always follow directions to the T and instead of using a second jelly roll for the background, I cut my own. I chose sewing the strips together and then cutting them down instead of cutting first. Next time, I’ll try to remember to do the math first, as I think I had enough left to piece a binding with the printed fabric. Unfortunately, they were all cut up by the time I thought of that. Putting the top together was a snap and was done in less than a week.

 

piece 1piece 2

The blocks are coming together!

Quilting Process

I used QuiltMotion by Grace for Bernina for the quilting with a curly q pantograph.

I’ve yet to put it in the mail, so I hope he doesn’t see this.

Do the Math……PLEASE

calculatorNot all things, like patterns, are created equal. (yes, that could be a math pun, but it’s not.) This is unfortunate. What really frustrates me is when I get into a pattern and things just don’t add up. No matter how many times I do the math, unfinished blocks minus seam allowances do not equal what the pattern says it should. Can’t someone take the time to check this out before it goes to press?

I will admit that sometimes striving for perfection gets the better of me. I tell my students that their quilts don’t need to be perfect. I honestly believe this to be true. The problem is when the pattern isn’t perfect, and it should be.

Good designers have others test their patterns for them. They use the same image size for the applique layout AND the applique template. They make sure that the finished block size times the number of blocks equals the border length. They do the math.

Great designers take the average quilter’s checkbook/credit card into consideration as well. A little math goes a long way when cutting fabric. Fabric companies often given designers free fabric.  This way the consumer can see the fabric in a quilt, which not only sells the fabric, its sell the pattern as well. Think of the times you have gone into a quilt shop and bought a pattern and fabric because you have seen it hanging on the wall. Sorry, back to the math. If you don’t have to pay for your fabric, you probably don’t really care how much is wasted. I do. I don’t collect fabric and I don’t want to start.

Sew, what do you do?  Support the designers who create patterns that go together nicely. Support designers who engineer cutting methods that don’t waste fabric. If the mood strikes you, contact the ones who don’t and let them know how you feel. Maybe all they need is a calculator.

 

The Pros and Cons of Pre-Washing

 

washing machine

Quilting would be simpler if there were hard and fast rules, but there’s not. So, now the big question, should you pre-wash your fabric? It’s a choice. When I first started quilting, I prewashed all my fabric. This more often than not resulted in a tangled mess. Then I learned to trim the fabric with pinking shears prior to putting it in the washer.  This only needs to be done on the cut edge, not the selvage. This practice led me to purchase a pinking blade for my rotary cutter; much healthier for my hands.

Then one day, I ventured into a Quilt Shop on Block of the Month day. How fun. I paid a minimal fee to start which got me a short demo (this is a nice way of saying a commercial featuring the newest/greatest/need to sell item) and fabric to make a block. I had to provide the background, but still fun! The bonus? Every month I got the fabric for free if I brought in last month’s finished block.

The fabric pieces were really really small. I was afraid they would join the black hole of socks if I washed them and since I don’t hand sew, hand washing wasn’t even close to an option. So I eagerly attacked the block with unwashed fabric! No one scolded me and the block came out great. Tell that to the Quilt Police!

Giant light bulb moment!

What is the point of prewashing? What are the pros and cons? Will anyone know? Do they really care?

Prewashing:

Pros: May be necessary for those with sensitivity to some chemicals which may be on the fabric.  This goes both for the creator and the recipient of the quilt. Can help with colors that bleed.  If not allowed to completely dry, the fabric can be steam pressed without additional water. Your finished quilt won’t shrink the first time you wash it.

Cons: It takes a long time. If you wash any of the fabric, you need to wash all of your fabric for that project. This includes the backing and binding. Almost impossible to get all the wrinkles out of good cotton fabric without using steam, and even that sometimes doesn’t work.  More likely to fray unless you starch the fabric. I like starch so maybe that’s not a con.

Not prewashing:

Pros: You can start the project right away. Fabric less likely to fray; unless it is loosely woven in which case you may want to starch. Everything will shrink together and give your quilt that over all loved look.  You don’t need to wash the backing and since some backings require piecing….well enough said.

Cons: The colors may bleed the first time the quilt is washed. This could be heartbreaking. I use special sheets in the washer that are made to collect color and that has proven very successful. In fact, I include them with quilts that I give as gifts. The person receiving the quilt may have a sensitivity to any chemicals that may be on the fabric.

Well there you have it. As for me, I no longer prewash. I honestly don’t have the patience for it and trying to keep track of what has been washed would probably send me over the edge.  I often steam press and/or starch prior to cutting. I treat the backing the same way. Depending on the project and how I’m going to quilt it, I may water spray the batting and toss it in the dryer. Then again, maybe not.

Honestly, I don’t think anyone cares. And if anyone can tell, I doubt they’ll say anything.

So, wash or don’t wash…..like everything else, it’s your choice.