John Putman, Quilter

Last night I visited the Davison Evening Star Quilt Guild – what a wonderful group of people!  The speaker was John Putman from the Lansing, Michigan area.  How delightful!   He’s such a great speaker – funny, lots (tons) of quilts to show, and very personable.  I fell in love with this quilt…

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I can’t show you the whole thing, but it is made up of Kaffe Fassett fabrics.  I wanted to run right out of there and make my own.  Isn’t it gorgeous!?!?!?

 

Looking forward to more of this quilt guild… I’ll be joining next month.  Ladies, thanks for making me feel SO welcome!

What Quilt Goes With This House?

I love houses of all styles and ages.  I like to imagine what they look like inside… how they are decorated, who lives there, what hobbies the people have (if any), and best of all, what kind of quilts they might have in their home. 
Want to play along?   Below are a few random houses.  Leave a comment following this post, and number from 1 to 5 and describe the kind of quilt you think the owners would have in their house.  Then tell which house you like the best! 
1) 56493_wallpaper280
2) floweryard
3) farmhouse 
4) house_neview_bodycomb
5) Henderson_House

A Washed Quilt = So Cuddly!

Emma.closeup

After a quilt has been quilted and the binding put into place, I think it just BEGS to be tossed into the washer and dryer, don’t you?

There is nothing like a good wash and dry to add in those adorable puckers and softness that makes a quilt feel right.

EmmasQuilt

This little crib quilt is for a baby girl and was designed to match her nursery. The big blocks have free-hand meandering quilted in place to look like “little girl scribbled flowers.”  Then over the rest of the quilt, a meandering stitch with the same flowers (only smaller), squiggles and little leaves helps fill it in and add those precious puckers.EmmasQuilt3

 

What a great place to play and explore?!?

Ironing Applique

Delphi_sampler 004 Do you applique? Whether you applique by machine or by hand, applique takes time and patience for you to have a beautiful end result. One of the important steps to consider in applique is ironing or pressing your block. The worst thing you can do is put a hot steam iron on the front of the applique itself. Always, always always press from the back.

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Here are the steps I take to press my applique:

1) Put a terry cloth towel on the ironing board for extra cushioning.
2) Place your applique right side down on top of the towel.
3) Wet or mist a pressing cloth (see below) and place over the area to be ironed.
4) Using a dry iron (not a steam setting), press through the pressing cloth with an up and down motion. The key is to not slide your iron back and forth, but go up and down in different areas gently. The moisture from the pressing cloth will be sufficient to get any wrinkles out and set your applique.

DeeDee

What is a pressing cloth?


A pressing cloth is 100 percent cotton piece of fabric that you reserve for ironing purposes. A turkish towel (sometimes called a Tee towel or dish towel) works wonderfully and is the right size for your ironing board. You can also make a pressing cloth out of a cotton sheet or fat quarter of white or muslin fabric. To use, you wet the towel in a bowl or sink or with a mister, wring it out, and place it between the iron and the item you are ironing. If the pressing cloth becomes dry, simply wet it again. Using a pressing cloth prevents scorching, shine or damage to whatever you are pressing.

Want to learn more about pressing?

There is a great pdf document available here. It is geared more towards clothing, but offers some good information.

Fabric Quality – Is There REALLY a Difference?

You may have heard that buying fabric for quilting from a big box store is a bad idea. It is said that the quality of fabric is much poorer than what you can purchase at your LQS (Local Quilt Shop). Is that really true? Why?

DSC01984First, let me say that I generally purchase the bulk of my fabric either from my LQS or from a large online store. I know their quality to always be high, their service marvelous, and prices fair. With that being said, quite often I will purchase fabrics for quilt backings that are on sale or at a good price at my local Hobby Lobby. Here’s why.

From my own experience, I have found big box store cottons to be thinner than the same fabric purchased at my LQS. They are often of a smaller thread count, but higher in starch/finishing products. I don’t like the treatment that is put on fabrics to make them appear to be of higher quality. It bothers my allergies, and after washing the fabric is considerably more flimsy than before. However, I have also had very good luck purchasing Bali Cottons at Hobby Lobby. I have found them much less expensive and of the same quality as I can purchase locally. I have used them on the front and back of my quilts and been very happy with them.

There is a large discussion on this topic at http://www.fabrics.net/cotqual.asp. Here’s the question that was posted:

“My question has to do with fabric quality. I am looking for resources on how to determine differences between fabrics and is there really any difference. Why is fabric so much higher priced at quilt stores but less so at the chain fabric stores. Is there really any difference. Sometimes the prints are exactly the same and the manufacturer on the end of the bolt is the same. Can you help me with this question or suggest resources? thank you so much.”

Please visit the website to read all the great comments that have been left. What has been your experience? Please do share your thoughts!

Show Me Your Thimble Week

Do you wear a thimble when you sew? How about when you quilt?

My mother taught me the importance of wearing a thimble when I was a little girl. Mom sewed all my clothes until I was in high school and learned by working with a seamstress in the fashion industry in New York where she worked after high school. To this day, I can’t sew unless I have a thimble on the middle finger of my right hand.
Why wear a thimble? For two very good reasons.

ONE: The thimble protects your finger. Have you ever been pushing on a needle or pin and had your hand slip… and jammed the sharp point into your skin? OUCHIE! Major pain! Whenever you are hand sewing with any kind of needle, there is always a possibility for injury.

TWO: A thimble is a tool. It helps you push the needle through the fabric with more force than your bare fingertip. It has little indentations on the tip that grab the needle and allow you to give direction wherever you want it to go. Without a good thimble, the rocker motion that hand quilters love for hand quilting is next to impossible.

Caron's Thimbles

There are many different types of thimbles; metal, rubber, flat, curved, thimbles for your middle finger, thimbles for your thumb, fancy, plain, gold, silver, black… People have been collecting thimbles for hundreds of years. I don’t have a lot of thimbles, but those I have are special to me. I have all my Mom’s thimbles. I have a beautiful thimble my hubby bought me for Christmas one year. I have one that my dear friend Ami made for me when she was taking a class at the Flint Institute of Arts. It even has my name on it!

My thimble

Here’s a picture of the thimble I use the most… in action!

What thimble do you use the most?

SHOW ME YOUR THIMBLE!

Post a picture of it on your website or blog, and in the comments area below, give us the URL (website address) where we can see it.

Beginning Quilting: Pressing Seams

One of the questions I often hear from new quilters is “Which way should I press the seams?”  There are so many guidelines for pressing… let’s begin with two simple suggestions today.

Pressing seams open - not a good idea!Long seams, such as you might need on the back of the quilt to piece two big pieces together, are best pressed to one side.  When you are quilting the three layers together in the later stages of your quilt, you will have lots of pulling and stretching going on.  Pressing a seam open gives you more of a possibility of the stitching popping open (see sketch). 

DSC03300 When piecing a light and dark fabric together, whenever possible press towards the dark fabric.  This helps prevent something called shadowing, where the dark fabric shows through the light fabric.  Sometimes it isn’t avoidable.  To show what this looks like, I held up an example to my sliding glass door to let the sunlight through from the back.  See the blue fabric and stray threads peeking out around the edges?  That’s called shadowing, and whenever possible, you want to avoid that.

When you simply have to press towards the light fabric, trim your seam so that the darker fabric is just a smidge (technical word) smaller than the light.  I guess this is one area of my most recent quilt I forgot to trim.  Oops!Emma

Happy Ironing…

Happy Quilting!

Quilt Blog


Do you have a quilt blog?


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Should I enter a quilt show?

Entering a quilt show can be a scary but worthwhile process for any quilter. How do you know when you are ready to take the plunge and jump into the pool of quilts ready to be examined and evaluated? What does it mean to enter a “juried show?”

It is my personal belief that every quilter owes it to themselves to display their work in at least one quilt show. There is nothing like seeing your work hung on a wall or from a full-size display for everyone to admire. The best place for your first-ever show is a non-juried exhibit. Many quilt guilds will have regular shows that showcase their members’ work on an annual or semi-annual basis. These are often held in a church, school or other public space and open to the public for a small fee. A show such as this is a wonderful way to see quilts of all styles and levels of expertise together in one space. Because ribbons are not awarded, all quilters are able to enjoy entering their quilt without fear of being judged on their workmanship.

Jack's Beanstalk1980 Caron Mosey A juried show or exhibition is one in which photos of quilts are submitted months ahead of the competition. A panel of judges selects quilts which will go forward in the competition and be exhibited in the show. Quilters are then notified of their status, and ship their quilts in time for the competition. A second round of judging takes place prior to the show opening, and winners are selected in a number of categories. Quilts are hung, and ribbons are placed on the winning entries.

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It is always exciting to walk into a show and find a ribbon on your quilt. The joy that you feel when you see people admiring your winning quilt is unlike no other. In contrast, when you enter a show and do not receive a ribbon, it can be very disheartening.

Bars With Stars1983 Caron Mosey How you react to the outcomes of a juried show depends on what you expected when you entered the show in the first place. Were you expecting a ribbon when you entered, or were you entering the competition looking for constructive criticism? Personally, I look for feedback to help make me a better quilter!

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A juried competition must have experienced, highly-regarded quilters for judges. NQA certified judges are always preferred, as they go through a rigorous certification process and know what to look for. Always keep in mind that judges are only human. If they are comparing three quilts of equal excellence, they will choose the one they like first. It is tremendously helpful to have written feedback from the judges following any competition. That is the feedback I always look for when I enter. What was good about my quilt? What do I need to work on? Are there classes that might help me improve in these areas?

DSC02032Studying winning quilts during a show helps me better understand what I need to be working on. What do good bindings look like? Quilting stitches? Applique and piecing techniques? By looking critically at blue ribbon quilts and by taking good notes during the show, I create for myself a list of items to focus on in my own work. No one improves in any aspect of life unless they practice and self-analyze their own work.

Enter a quilt show. Help yourself grow!

Michigan Guest Bloggers: Janice Duerr

What is your quilting history?  Did anyone in your family quilt when you were growing up, or are you beginning that tradition in your family?  Janice shares hers in this latest guest blogger post.  Why don’t you share yours in the comment section?

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My grandmother was a quilter. I loved watching her sit at her frame as she quilted pretty designs into her quilt tops. She gave me scraps of her fabrics and I started my lifelong love of fabric and sewing rather ugly doll clothes. It wasn’t until many, many years later that I learned about the feedsack fabric scraps that I first used to make doll clothes. I still have doll clothes made from feedsack material made by my mother, grandmother and then me.

Today I have a great passion for finding vintage fabrics and love to fondle my fabric collection which includes a few hundred feedsacks, whole and pieces, wonderful barkcloth pieces and beautiful cotton prints from decade gone by. I love to make vintage looking quilts from feedsack fabrics, and even though I have a drawer full of 30’s reproduction fabrics, they just aren’t the same as the real feedsack prints with so much history packed into them. We are so lucky to be able to explore the world via the internet as well as local antique shops for vintage textile treasures.

I began making my own quilts many years after my grandmother passed away, but I hope that somehow she knows I have carried on this wonderful art form because of her influence. I have also been lucky to inherit some of my grandmother’s quilts as well as a top or two that have now been completed and lovingly warm my guest room bed.

Now I have followed my quilting hobby down another path where I am fortunate to be able to help other quilters turn their quilt tops into treasured family heirlooms. I loved machine quilting my quilts, but when the quilts got bigger and bigger, it became stressful on the body to finish them on a domestic machine. That’s when I decided to look into the world of long arm quilting. I purchased a mid arm machine and after a year of quilting my own tops, I began to quilt for others. Late in 2009, I upgraded my equipment to a Nolting Pro Series 24 on a 14 foot frame, so now there isn’t a quilt too big for my frame to easily handle.

clip_image002 This quilt was for my daughter’s wedding 5 years ago
This was a fun quilt that I filled with feathers clip_image004
clip_image006 I enjoyed hand appliquéing this quilt.

I still love to work on my own quilts, and I try to make each new project about a different technique, such as chenille landscapes, hand appliqué or creating my own patterns with EQ. I find there isn’t quite as much time for my quilts now that I have developed a new passion for long arm quilting for others as well as for me. I hope you will visit my website!