Thursday, April 1, 2010

Quilting and Ironing!

I don't know of anyone who really likes to iron.  We all know the people who iron their sheets, their T-shirts, and maybe even their jeans (I'm not sayin that's bad :) but they likely don't really love it.  When I was growing up, one of my extra "jobs" was to iron.  And no, I did not love it! Well the ironing piles were not small.  Baskets and baskets full (yep, my Mom had me iron T-shirts!) I was supposed to get a certain amount for each item I ironed.  So I would iron and sweat my guts out, and go onto the next basket.  I would total up the bill for my parents, but alas I would get a few bucks here and there. I could say my ironing bill is still unpaid, but then again when I need fabric, I just go shopping at my Mom's! I can call it even--Okay probably not, I had a roof over my head and food to eat, right?!  In all reality, I'm probably WAY in the hole, but who's counting.
Ironing clothes and ironing fabric are two completely different things!  I find a small amount of joy in ironing when I quilt.  Mostly because it makes the next step that much easier and the professional look of the quilt is MUCH higher.  If you hate ironing, I have one suggestion, get a cute ironing board cover.  If you can't find one, make one!  Check this one out! I LOVE IT!  There are instructions on how to make it on this link too!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Quilting Peeps!

I am so excited to start the quilting group again this year!  Last year was a hit (at least I thought so!)  The word has gotten out what we've been doing, so we've had a few people ask if they can join the fun too!  The answer to that is WELL OF COURSE!!!  I finally got organized and we had our first class last week!  Check out my post on quilting basics.

I couldn't believe all the people who came!  They came from as far as 75+ miles away!  And they were workers too!  Each class I bring some quilts to show examples of variations of the block and ask people to show and tell, then I begin the demonstration for the month.  Well this group watched and listened to the first part and while I was sewing they got to work squaring up their fabric and cutting out strips!  Then I finished and was ready to show the next step and they all stopped and listened, and then carried on working!  In the past we've made a whole night of it, but with this group, there was no messing around!! Down to business!   They were packing up after an hour and a half and were ready to go (They also had big drives ahead of them).

They got their assignments and I'm sure will be rearing up for next month!  Each class I will teach a different baby step to make a whole quilt and hopefully we'll have them all finished by September! Or sooner!  I designed this quilt to cover multiple techniques so that in the end you'll most likely be able to look at any pattern and figure out how it's done!

I had a really hard time choosing fabric to go in this one for some reason!  I LOVE IT ALL!  One of my new favorite fabric lines is Riley Blake Designs!  I used this orange in the quilt, but they were out of the coordinating fabric and I was in a rush, so I found a fun yellow dot and green with tiny plaid to go with it! It should be nice and springy!

Quilting Basics

This past year I have been teaching a basic quilting class at church. People were asking me if I would teach them, so we got a group together, and I am HAPPY to do so!  Hey, the more quilting buddies I have, the better!  Strength in numbers!!  I am so proud of the accomplishments of the class, and they wanted to keep going!  We took a break over Christmas, and I have finally got myself together and just started again last week!

Last year we did a sampler quilt.  Which is where I taught a different block / technique each month and then we sewed them together to make one big one.  It was so fun to see everyone's different taste in fabric and what different colors, lights and darks in different places turned out for each person!  They were proud of their accomplishments too!  Baby steps people!  WE CAN DO IT!

So I'll post every now and then what we're doing in class!  If you're around here (or even if you're not) you are totally invited to attend!  It's every 2nd Thursday of the month until September at the church.  Call, comment, email if you want to come and I'll give you details!!  The more the merrier!!

Here are just a few basics to get started, and I will put in tips every chance I get.  I'm all about getting the job done as quick and efficient as possible!  If you have any tips too, please let me know!  HAPPY QUILTING!

(Pictured Above)
Rotary Cutter and replacement blades:  The most common size is 45mm
Cutting Mat: Average size is 18” x 24”
Ruler: I prefer the 6” x 24” it’s versatile
Sewing machine  

100% Cotton is best.  There IS a difference in fabric quality.  Specialty quilting stores will have higher prices, but it is a higher grade of fabric.  Use the best quality materials you can afford.  Use coupons and watch for sales!
It’s good to have a good balance of contrasts (Darks, Mediums, and Lights).  The same quilt block pattern can have different appearances depending on the contrast in the fabric.
There is no need to pre-wash your fabric, but it is totally up to what YOU PREFER.  I personally love the crispness of unwashed fabric.  IT’S YOUR QUILT!

Cutting the Fabric:
Square up the fabric: have a straight edge to work with. Make sure to cut off all of the raw jagged edges. (I can do a whole post on this one!!) This ensures a straight line to measure off of for your quilt pieces. MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE! 

Use good quality thread.  You are spending the time to sew, and you don’t want your thread to break and your seams to pop when it gets quilted. 

Pressing / Ironing:
I do not love ironing clothes, but I love ironing when I quilt.  Ironing is ESSENTIAL!  It helps keep your seams crisp and looking professional.  Iron as you go.
Never press the seams open.  Always press to one side.  If you have a light and dark, press towards the DARK.  If one side of the seam has joining seams in the seam allowance, press it to the other side.  Sometimes you get bulk—press away from the bulk.

Seam Allowances / Stitch Length:
Always use ¼” seam allowance.  If there is an exception, the directions will let you know.  Each machine is different.  Measure BEFORE you start. Seam allowances must be accurate and consistent. 
It is best to use a short stitch length (about 2mm) for piecing quilts, so there IS NO NEED TO BACK-STITCH when starting and ending a seam. 

Helpful Hints:
When sewing a quilt, it is best to use an assembly line technique where you do all of one operation on all pieces before moving to the next.
Chain Sewing: Sew the pieces together in a long chain rather than sew a seam, cut, sew another seam, cut over and over.  This wastes time and thread.  Put the pieces that are being sewn together as you go, placing one right after the other.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

So Much Fabric, So Little Time!!

     I used to get a lot more done than I do now.  I could stay up late and finish up a quilt I was working on and start a new project the next day. I have an 18 month old, a 5 year old, and an 8 year old.  I don't think I've sewn three whole quilts in the last 18 months!  That's sad! I have plenty to do though!
     I've been getting the quilting itch and really wanting to finish a project for a change.  I went downstairs in my "sewing" area to see what to do next and WOW!!  Thanks to my Mom and her quilting addiction too, I have at least 10 quilt kits to do and about 4 others with fabric ready to go.  So much fabric, so little time!
     So this is a picture of SOME of the stuff I have to do.  If you check out the background on the left, there's a desk with a big stash of fabric too, not to mention the cupboards oozing out fat quarters and quilt patterns!  So, do I shoot for the stars and tackle the springtime / summer quilts that I have planned, or do I play it safe with the Christmas / fall quilt kits that I have and hope to finish them in time to enjoy them at the end of the year!!!
     It's hard to get excited about a reindeer quilt when I'm completely sick of the snow and have a serious case of spring fever.  I need some flowers to pop up NOW! (Yes, it snowed again today!! And we were just starting to see grass.)  Check out this cute spring fabric! It makes me want to go add to the stash! You can never have enough fabric! SERIOUSLY!
     So the plan is to get into the swing of things and bust out a few quilts soon!  And I just can't do a Christmas quilt now.  I have too many half finished projects to do.  My goal is to finish off  some of these quilt kits.  So I will state for all who care to know...I will finish at least one quilt in the next two weeks!!!  Then I can head down to Mom's and fire up the quilting machine!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sunny Flowers

I'm Taking a photography class and we took pictures of flowers.  It was lots of fun.  It's a lot harder than it looks to take a decent photo.  So many things add to the beauty.  I have a new appreciation for the art.  I've always loved photography and have wanted to learn more. Hopefully you'll notice when my skills grow!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Be My Valentine

I made this a few years ago. I got it as a quilt kit from one of my favorite quilt stores American Quilting.  It was so fun to pull it out to decorate! It definitely brightened my day!


Here is one of my favorite quilts!  I love all of the funky fabrics!  I got it in a kit and probably would have never picked out the fabrics individually!  It was so fun to make!