July 21, 2014 § 16 Comments
This may be blasphemous to say in the quilting world… and I’m certain I am in the crazy minority… but I am not a big fan of the Wonder Clips. They are all the rage right now.
Let me explain myself and you can judge me if you like. See how the red half of the Wonder Clip curves? Well, it doesn’t keep my binding flat unless I put the clip on upside down. I guess upside down is okay. But it kind of bugs me. So I haven’t been using them.
These are the older binding clips that look like hair barrets from the 70′s. That’s what I use. See how it keeps my binding nice and flat? Mmmm Hmmm. I know. Go ahead and judge me. I can take it.
But I did discover that the Wonder Clips aren’t completely useless. They are perfect for holding my sock knitting needles while traveling. Ha!
See how that curve so perfectly accommodates the needles and a little bit of the sock? Yup! It works quite nicely.
However, I will give the Wonder Clips an extra point in their favor. They definitely have a strong grip. So maybe they can be used for things other than sewing binding. Now I just need to find something to sew where I might need a strong grip to hold the parts together while I’m stitching. Maybe something with the laminated fabric I have stashed away in my closet?
You can now go back to your regularly scheduled day. Thanks for listening.
July 11, 2014 § 16 Comments
Quarter-inch seams. Why are they so important in quilting? While consistent seam width is important for simple quilts. It’s the good ol’ 1/4-inch standard that will guarantee better success when making complicated blocks.
Your machine may have one of these types of 1/4-inch presser feet above.
1. The foot that came with my Brother PQ-1500s.
2. The foot that was sold to me for my Featherweight when I took a maintenance class.
3. The foot I purchased off the Internet and comes with some brands of machines.
4. The method that my Janome uses to achieve a 1/4″ seam is a pre-programmed needle position. No special feet involved.
No. 1 is by far my favorite presser foot with No. 3 as a close second. No. 2 is my least favorite and I would rather go without a 1/4-inch foot altogether than try to work with it. And I could live with No. 4 if I had no other choice, but I would certainly prefer a special 1/4-inch foot far & above a pre-programmed needle position.
So let me explain why I have the opinions I do. You are free to form your own opinions and are under no obligation to change them just because I happen to prefer something else. Use what works for you.
I like presser foot No. 1 because it shows me where a 1/4″ seam is but doesn’t force me to follow it if I don’t want to. And the second bump on the right side is the guide for a 3/8″ seam, which is what I generally use when sewing binding, sort of. Or maybe making bags or some home deco type of item. It’s my go-to all-purpose foot. I like that extra little bit of width in the back to keep the fabric stable, yet it doesn’t intrude on achieving a 1/4″ seam when necessary.
Foot No. 2 is my least favorite because I’m not quite sure where a 1/4-inch really is. It has a hard edge guide on the right side that forces the fabric to go no further. What if I wanted to sew a 1/4-inch top stitching line? I can’t do it because the metal bar is in the way.
And do you see that little gap between the foot and the bar? It seems to ever so slightly slant out further in the front than in the back. So is the 1/4-inch in the back or the front? It makes me feel like I am constantly pulling the fabric one way or another when I’m sewing. And where is a scant 1/4-inch? That bar is in the way and I can’t see what I’m doing.
As you can tell, this presser foot really gets on my nerves.
And that is sort of why I am not overly fond of the pre-programmed needle position in No. 4 either. It’s much too fussy and I’m still not quite sure what is a full 1/4-inch and what is a scant 1/4-inch. I’m a visual person and I like to “see” what is going on. I don’t like computers telling me what they think I want. In quilting anyway. But I could learn to get used to it if I had to. It’s better than nothing.
So, now I’ve thrown another concept out there. What’s the difference between a full 1/4-inch and a scant 1/4-inch? A full 1/4-inch only includes the seam allowance from the thread to the cut edge without including the thread. A scant 1/4-inch is anything less than that. How scant does it need to be, you ask? Well. That depends on the thread you are using and the thickness of your fabric. It’s something that you need to learn for your own personal machine and your thread & fabric choices.
The above photo shows my scant 1/4-inch seam that includes the thread. It is what I need with this thread, and this fabric on this machine.
The objective is all about making the math add up. In theory, the above image is five 2 1/2-inch finished size squares sewn together plus a 1/4-inch seam allowance on each side. So the width needs to equal 5 x 2.5 + .5 for a total of 13 inches. When you sew it all together is your block at this point measuring 13 inches? What if you had twice as many seams and lost only 1 millimeter for each seam? Eight millimeters adds up to nearly a centimeter which is approximately 3/8-inch. So your block would be short by that measurement and it would be difficult to match up to whatever the next block might be. Certainly you can fudge. But then you may be sewing blocks together with only an 1/8-inch seam or less in places.
Additionally, if you have thick thread, every little millimeter of variance adds up. Thick fabric when pressed to one side is impossible to make completely flat without loosing a couple of millimeters or more. That little fold of fabric can take out a couple of millimeters, easily. Add on a few more seams and suddenly your block is not the size you thought it was going to be.
One trick to making flatter seams if there are a lot of tiny little seams is to press them open. Then only one fold of fabric is being taken in with the seam allowance rather than two. I don’t know if you can see the difference in the photo above. The left is the flattest seam and the right is the bulkiest seam. The middle is the average seam pressed towards one side and of medium thickness.
I prefer Aurifil 50-weight thread. It feels just a hair thinner than most thread and therefore adds just a smidge less to the seam allowance. The topic of thread could be a whole separate discussion.
In continuation of talking about 1/4-inch presser feet are the feed dogs underneath the feet that help you achieve the seam that you desire. These are the feed dogs on the above machines.
1. Brother PQ-1500s
3. My grandmothers Singer 15-91
4. Janome Horizon 7700
This is one of the reasons I prefer older, vintage machines for piecing quilts. Numbers 2 & 3 are vintage Singer machines. Do you see how close the feed dogs are? And that there is one that is extremely close to the needle hole? This helps to keep the fabric straight and flat while sewing small seams.
My Brother happens to follow in the footsteps of these vintage machines and one of the reasons why I love it so much for making quilts.
The Janome’s feed dogs are wider and farther from the needle hole. Which is not as favorable for sewing together small pieces of fabric with small seams. It’s great for sewing clothing and decorative stitches where you may have a lot of fabric being fed through. But it’s not so great for tiny little pieces with tiny little seams. To me, it feels like the fabric isn’t as stable under the presser foot as it could be. It feels like it has a little more room to slide around and shift during the process of sewing.
Well, I hope you found this interesting or useful. I could continue with more about leaders & enders, single hole plates vs. zig zag plates and thread. But this post is getting too long already. So those may need to be separate topics another day.
Meanwhile, sew on!
July 1, 2014 § 11 Comments
Recently a friend came over and helped me sort through all of my quilts. I have made a lot of quilts!
So I thought I would run a Summer Series on tips that could improve your piecing.
Let me just say that even though I know these things… sometimes I am lazy and I don’t do them. In the quilting world, rules are made to be broken. And there are many, many methods to accomplish the same thing. Try all of the methods and then choose the one that works for you. Okay? Good!
TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR PIECING
These are the topics I plan on covering. Newbie or seasoned quilter, it’s always good to have more knowledge under your belt. Then, you can proceed with that knowledge to reach your quilting goals.
- Quarter-inch seams – scant vs. full, thread, & more
- Accurate cutting – squaring up fabric, rulers, & measuring
- Pressing vs. ironing – dry irons, finger pressing & pressing direction of seams
- Matching intersecting points & point trimmers
- Maintaining your machine in good working order
BTW, those photos above are my test run at making a feathered star… in preparation to making the Star of Chamblie quilt. It was a good exercise. I’ll blog about that experience sometime this summer as well. I think this block will make a great a pillow!
June 24, 2014 § 9 Comments
We went camping over the weekend with some friends. One stop along the way was at Palouse Falls where we had the privilege of meeting up with a rattle snake. I didn’t see it but heard it. My husband actually saw it. We all got away safe and sound. Even the snake. But it sure makes me more aware of nature. And I’m glad we didn’t have a more intimate encounter!
My sewing is suffering. I can’t seem to settle on one thing and finish it. Which doesn’t leave much to blog about. Do any of you have questions or things you would like me to talk about? Maybe that will help me get back on track. Ha. Or maybe not. The summer seems to be passing me by and I can’t catch up!
June 23, 2014 § 6 Comments
My husband, the human random number generator picked the winners of the American Made blog tour. I have emailed all of you.
Dianna, you have won the neutral fat eighth bundle.
Donna, you have won the cool fat eighth bundle.
Debbi, you have won the warm fat eighth bundle.
And… Helen, you have won the fat quarter bundle from Clothworks.
Thank you so much, everyone, for visiting Washington (virtually) and for your lovely comments!
June 19, 2014 § 8 Comments
A few weeks ago I made this bag that I am planning to give to a friend. I only had a fat quarter of the Big Blooms fabric by Kaffe Fassett. So I added a dotty fabric to the sides.
I used the same dotty fabric on the inside with a splash of yellow gingham on the sides.
The inspiration came from this bag I picked up at the grocery store last Christmas. The grocery store has been contracting with etsy artists to design reusable bags. I love the guy with the cat & his bicycle! If only I could get my cats to ride on my bike with me. Ha! The artist is Matte Stephens and his illustrations are fabulous!
I love the size of this bag! It is a little bigger than my Square Bag yet smaller than a regular grocery bag. The Square Bag is perfect for a sock knitting project. This bag is good for a scarf or a shawl project or a small sewing project. It seems that one can never have enough bags.
June 16, 2014 § 191 Comments
Originally part of the Oregon Territory, Washington became the 42nd state on November 11, 1889. If I asked you what came to mind when I said Washington state, you may think of Mt. Rainier.
Or you may think of Seattle.
But there is so much more! There are outdoor quilt shows.
There are rolling prairies.
There’s really not enough room here to mention everything. There’s hiking, biking, beaches, wineries, shopping, historic buildings, native American art… and coffee! The list can go on. So much to do and so little time to explore it all. In case you were wondering, here are some trivia facts.
- Nickname – the Evergreen state
- Motto – Alki, an Indian word which means by and by
- There are 39 counties, 2.1 million acres of state forest land, and over 1000 dams.
Oh yeah, here’s my block. It was hard to narrow down all of my ideas to just one. I really wanted to include the whole state! So… I decided to work off of our state nickname, the Evergreen state. Because you will find them in every corner, nook, and cranny of the state.
Download the pattern here.
The pattern is on 8 1/2″ x 14″ legal size paper.
Or… choose the “poster” setting to print it on two 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets of paper and tape them together.
I used fusible web to machine applique the state abbreviation & the trees. The trunks of the trees are stitched with a heavier brown thread. And, I used the following colors:
Background – 32 Light Aqua
WA – 30 Dark Blue & 1 White
Small trees – 18 Lime
Large trees – 24 Olive
Leave a comment by Friday, June 20 at midnight to win an 8 fat-quarter bundle that Clothworks is giving away.
You can also win one of three different bundles of 15 fat-eighths of the colors that I didn’t use in my block. There is a cool bundle, and a neutrals bundle and a warm bundle. Tell me which bundle you would like and then I’ll draw 3 additional names. I hope you enjoy working with these American Made Brand solids as much as I did!
The give-away is now closed.