Tag Archive | Quilting

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, a Promoted Instructor for Sew Steady.

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.

The next session starts April 10, 2017.  The cost is $30 for the full 7 month series. Click here to register.

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.

For 3 days, I made  quilting magic with the Westalee foot and templates. You can see me in action on Nancy’s Notions’ FB page. It’s the one titled: Enter here for a chance…. The look on customer’s faces at the first sight of this product never gets old. I truly appreciate the opportunity to share the possibilities with fellow fabric lovers.

One of my online students stopped by and after the show, we went to dinner. Always fun to meet folks in person that you connected with via the World Wide Web.

To top it all off, I had the honor of meeting Nancy Zieman. The respect I have for that woman is off the charts. She is definitely a trailblazer and I can not even count the amount of hours I have sat in front of my TV on a Saturday morning just to watch her. She is literally the reason  I sew. I have met my share of celebrities over the years, but meeting Nancy brought tears to my eyes. I am in the industry I am supposed to be in: for that I am extremely grateful.

nancyzieman

Pam and Nancy Zieman

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.

 

December: Classy is Always in Style

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Classy is Always in Style

The final Christmas gift.

I love a simple pattern that packs a lot of punch. My daughter loves classic designs and hounds tooth is one of her favorites. I took her shopping last spring to buy some fabric. You probably can’t tell in the photo, but the white is a white on white hounds tooth. Even though she had seen the fabric, I kept the project hidden until she opened it.

Most of the patterns I found wasted a lot of fabric, and I mean A LOT OF FABRIC! I knew there had to be a better way.

Missouri Star Quilts to the rescue. I love how Jenny Doan breaks down a pattern and makes it simple. Her Hounds Tooth Quilt was exactly what I was looking for. Simple, quick, and very little waste. Even if I tried, I couldn’t improve on this method.

The quilting is boring; in the ditch with light grey thread. I used aurifil thread and I should have used something thinner. Do as I teach, not as I do!  OOPS. I know a lot of quilters who cover up mistakes with fabric markers; I know….brilliant! I grabbed a black fabric pen and went to work covering up those few lines of stitching that didn’t exactly go where I wanted them to.  A pressing to set the ink, a label and off it went to be wrapped.

My daughter loves it! I do too.

November 2nd Project: Microwave Bowl Pot Holders

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In my excitement to get these wrapped, I forgot to take pictures. So this is one I made for myself. It’s a little smaller than I like, but you get the idea.  I plan on making another one for me.  These little handy pot holders for your microwave make great gifts. There are tutorials all over the internet on how to make them.  They are machine washer and dryer friendly. Basically you set your bowl in the holder, pop it in the microwave, and use the corners to lift your now hot bowl out of the oven. **Contents will be hot, so use caution.** If you stop reading at this point, please note; YOU MUST USE 100% COTTON PRODUCTS WHEN MAKING THESE BOWLS. I have heard of fires starting because someone used what they thought was cotton batting or polyester thread.

I purchased a Layer Cake (a package of 42 pre-cut 10″ squares) knowing I wanted to make a bunch of these and it was faster than cutting the squares myself. I used a product called Warm and Plush for the batting and cut them into 10″ squares. That’s when my mind went off again. There had to be a better way to stitch each square corner to corner, but with 10″, simply marking a center line on my sewing surface wouldn’t work. Then I came up with template. Basically, I took a 10″ square piece of construction paper (cause I had some) and cut it in half on the diagonal. Then I trimmed a quarter inch off of that. I clipped the paper to my fabric/batting layer and stitched along the edge with a quarter inch foot.

Template for corner to corner

 

 

Next were the darts, and my mind went thinking again. This time I used cardboard and marked the top and the side with my dart markings. Cut that off, and then trimmed off a quarter of an inch.  I just held the template in place and stitched my darts.

Dart template

 

I could have just as easily marked my lines, but each bowl has 4 lines of stitching and 8 darts. Multiply that by 10+, well you get the idea. I normally use my #10 foot on my Bernina for top stitching, but I found the #20 foot seemed to work better on the bulk. I was able to butt the fabric against the inside of the right toe and moved my needle to the left.

Everyone on my list got one.

 

October: Something For Everyone

Something For Everyone

Something For Everyone

I started this quilt in January of 2012. It was a block of the month at a local shop. You pay a minimal amount to join and then if you bring in the finished block form the previous month, the fabric for the next block is free. Then there’s no incentive to get the 12th block done, let alone the top finished.  Let me just say, I’m not a fan of most blocks of the month. There are usually way too many colors and not enough consistency for my taste. This quilt is no different. That being said, I do them to learn and hone my craft.

The pattern called for the blocks to surround a large colorful piece made of 3″ blocks.  I made an error in color choice and didn’t like the way it looked. So I will save that center for another project.

Once I started laying out the blocks, it became obvious who would receive it. A family with 3 small children who ALWAYS fight about color. Each has a favorite color and the others don’t want anything to do with anything that is in their sibling’s favorite color.

At first I was going to do some complicated quilting on the frame using QuiltMotion (a computer program for quilting.) The plan was a block motif for each block and then something different for the sashing and cornerstone  pieces. Then reality kicked in and I quilted it with a simple pantograph. I’ll save the complicated quilting for another time.

One major Christmas gift ready to wrap!