Quilting · Sew Steady · Step by Step · Tips and other useful info · Videos · Westalee

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.

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

Applique · EQ7 · Quilting · Step by Step

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?

Quilting · Tips and other useful info

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.

Quilting

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.