Thursday, August 31, 2017

Back to School Blog Hop 2017 -- Securing Machine Quilting Knots

Sam Hunter is running a fabulous Back to School Blog Hop for Sewists and I'm honored to share some machine quilting tips today.

Securing machine quilting knots is one of the most-often asked questions in my classes, so I thought I'd show you how as part of this blog hop.

Starting knot:

Ending Knot:

I offer more tips like these in my newsletter, so sign up here!

Be sure to catch up on your lessons and follow along with the rest of the blog hop!

Day 1 – August 15 – Sam Hunter: How to spray baste a BIG quilt –
Day 2 – August 16 – Mandy Leins: Thread Dread: removing stray bits after quilting –
Day 3 – August 17 – Nancy Stovall: The Sweet Creamy Filling –
Day 4 – August 18 – Ebony Love: 7 Indispensible feet for your sewing machine –
Day 5 – August 19 – Michelle Freedman: Machine throat plates –
Day 6 – August 20 – Teresa Coates: Edge/Under/Top stitching –
Day 7 – August 21 – Kelly Cole: Ten ways to regain your sew-jo –
Day 8 – August 22 – Megan Dougherty: Choose to Fuse: tips for working with fusibles for applique –
Day 9 – August 23 – Kim Lapacek: Tricks to being productive while hauling your kids around –
Day 10 – August 24 – Yvonne Fuchs: Circuitboard quilting on Domestic and Longarm Machines –
Day 11 – August 25 – Sandi Hazlewood: Chain Piecing Quilt Blocks Tips –
Day 12 – August 26 – Juliet van der Heijden: Paper-piecing with children –
Day 13 – August 27 – Maddie Kertay: Fabric folding for any storage solution –
Day 14 – August 28 – Cath Hall: Working with Lawn fabric –
Day 15 – August 29 – Tracy Mooney: Tips for the perfect seam –
Day 16 – August 30 – Teri Lucas: How to bury thread –
Day 17 – August 31 – Debby Brown: Securing machine quilting knots – www.
Day 18 – September 1 – Flaun Cline: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 1) –
Day 19 – September 2 – Jessica Darling: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 2) –
Day 20 – September 3 – Trish Frankland: A bigger blade really IS better?! –
Day 21 – September 4 – Lynn Krawczyk: Build a simple design with hand stitching –
Day 22 – September 5 – Jane Davidson: How to make scrappy HSTs –
Day 23 – September 6 – Linda Pearl: Low cost tips for organizing your sewing room –
Day 24 – September 7 – Christa Watson – Top 10 tips for quilting on a domestic machine –
Day 25 – September 8 – Sarah Nunes: To Starch or Not to Starch –
Day 26 – September 9 – Suzy Webster: Testing fabric for bleeding –
Day 27 – September 10 – Sarah Goer: Machine bind your quilts like a pro –
Day 28 – September 11 – Vanda Chittenden: Beginner paper-piecing tips –
Day 29 – September 12 – Cheryl Sleboda: Needle threading tips –
Day 30 – September 13 – Kim Niedzwiecki – Different thread weights and when to use them –
Day 31 – September 14 – Sandra Healy: Conquer Your Fear of Machine Appliqué –
Day 32 – September 15 – Sandra Starley: The Basics of Antique Quilt Collecting –

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

On The Road: Paris

While I was in England a few weeks ago, Super-Hubby and I took a quick trip to Paris.  I've been to Paris a few times, but I've never left the airport so it hardly counts.  The goal of this trip was to have fun, but to not wear me out physically as many European trips can.  Super-Hubby booked a hotel a few blocks away from the Louvre since that was a must-see for us.  It was a risky choice of hotel, but the location and price were right.

We stayed at the Hotel Odyssey, a concept hotel based on Ora-Ito design concepts.  This hotel room made cruise ship cabins look large.  Seriously.  But it was PERFECT!

There are only 29 rooms in this hotel, and "they decline 29 tones of the chromatic scale" which means they were each different vibrant colors.  Our room was purplish.

Walking in the room, my first thought was "Where is the toilet???"

I seriously had to look for it.  It wasn't at the foot of the bed:

It wasn't behind the bed:

Was it in the hallway?

Running out of places to look, I opened the closet behind the door.  There it was!

This bathroom made airplane bathrooms feel spacious.  I have enough hours in the air to state that with complete authority.

Do you doubt me?

The hallway was teeny-tiny, too.  Every time we were in the hallway, we prayed we wouldn't pass any of our neighbors:

The website doesn't hide the smallness of the rooms.  It states "The very functional space is structured around very few things; everything is at arm's length."  They were completely not kidding, and it completely worked!  Everything was small and it was comfortable.  

I have stayed at luxurious hotels, scary hotels, homeless hotel (NOT PLURAL), and many others, but this was the oddest hotel I've ever stayed at and it made Paris even more memorable for us.

Do you have a weird hotel experience like this that ended up being perfectly lovely?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Postcards for Houston

Along with many, I am glued to the news watching the devastation in Texas.  If I were home, I would turn off the news, run to my sewing room, and make postcards to bring peace to myself and to others, but I am traveling this week with my family.  I have no machine or fabric and not even a single thread with me.

I do have my computer, though, and I turned there to help me personally deal with this tragedy as I wait for updates from friends and family in Houston.  I've had this 4.25" x 5.5" postcard design in my head for a while:

I wrote up this pattern and have added it to my store.  If you look closely, you'll see that the downloadable pattern sells for $0.  In exchange for this pattern download, I ask that you make a donation to the victims of Hurricane Harvey.  I have friends who work with Samaritan's Purse; please add links to your favorite relief charities in the comments below.

When I return home, I will stitch this and publish tutorials in my newsletter.  You can easily make postcards from the scraps in your sewing room.  If you need supplies, though, check out my Postcard Trimming Tool and Postcard Supply Kit on my website.

Please share this post wherever you can.

Monday, August 28, 2017

On the Road: Birmingham

I recently taught Simply Sixteen classes in the Pinhole Quilting stand at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK.  Due to a packed schedule and limited internet access, I couldn't show you all of the wonders of this trip in real time.  Please enjoy some delayed posts about a FABULOUS trip!

When I was in Birmingham, Super-Hubby and I stayed at a beautiful bed and breakfast in Hampton in Arden.

Beauty was in every detail:

 I want this wainscoating in my house!

My 1970s house in New York has none of these beautiful touches:

Why can't I be served breakfast here EVERY DAY?

Did I mention charming touches?

And beautiful details everywhere?

 The owners should be glad that this chandelier wouldn't fit into my carry-on luggage:

So, my time at the show was wonderful but my time away from the show was wonderful, too!

Are you jealous of my job?  Because I'm pretty sure I have the best job in the whole world!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Simple Pleasures: Cleaning Wipes

Since I travel for work about 50% of my life, I like my time at home to be as simple as possible.  I have already mentioned my simple laundry routine, but other cleaning chores could take up all of my time at home, leaving no time for quilting.  The horror!

Years and years ago, I ready Flylady's book (affiliate link*) and learned that a little cleaning done regularly can keep the house pretty clean.  I've adapted her system to work with my traveling life and cleaning wipes are my answer.

I use cleaning wipes to keep my sewing room clean as well as the rest of the house.  I can't breathe when I use harsh chemicals, so I make my own wipes.

I cut up old towels from my wedding shower (30+ years ago) and zig-zag stitched around them.  If none of your towels look like my old towels, I suppose you could buy cheap washcloths instead.  I cut them to the size of my Swiffer so that I can use these to mop my floor as well as wipe grimy surfaces.  I store the wipes in plastic containers and then cover them with this home-made cleaning solution.

2 C water
1 1/2 cups vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
1/2 cups super-cheap vodka**
1 splash of soap -- Dawn, Dr. Bronner's soap (affiliate link*), or Soap Nut cleaner (affiliate link*)

I keep a container of wipes in the kitchen, each bathroom, the laundry room, and the sewing room so that I can have them at hand whenever I need them.

When the tables on  my longarms get dusty, I grab a damp rag and wipe the dust off.  When my floor mats (affiliate link*) get dusty and grimy, I put a damp rag in my Swiffer and do a quick mopping.  This prevents the grime from the mats getting onto any fabric that might fall on it.

I use these same cleaners for the rest of the house.  Warning: this cleaner dries with streaks/spots, so I wipe surfaces down with a dry towel.

Whenever I'm in between steps of a sewing project, I grab a wipe and clean something quickly so that I can get back to quilting as soon as possible!
*An affiliate link means that if you click on the link and buy the product I may, at no additional cost to you, receive a small commission to help keep this blog running.

**My vodka is in a Mason jar because the lid broke on the vodka bottle.  I promise that I didn't make my own hooch.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Postcards for Peace: Pole Dancing

Yesterday I wasn't at peace.  It wasn't the injustice in the world or interpersonal relationships that had me disturbed, it was an IV bag of steroids I received as part of a routine medical treatment (full store HERE).  If you've never been treated with high dose IV steroids, you might not be able to appreciate the jumpiness, shakiness, sleeplessness, pent-up energy, and emotions that come with it.  Even though I do my best to keep to myself, I apologize to my husband for my behavior before, during, and after treatment.

I was pacing in circles yesterday, unsettled, so I decided to make a postcard.  I hoped that focusing on a small project would give me a little peace.  It did!

My postcard design was inspired by my recent treatment.  When I get my IV treatments, I bring a disco ball with me for "pole dancing" my way to the ladies' room:

In my sleeplessness, I thought "I can quilt a disco ball!"  And so I grabbed my Versa Tool and sat in front of Hedwig, my HQ Stitch 710:

I used the half-circle on top of the Versa Tool to make a 4" circle using silver metallic thread.  Then I started filling in the rows of mirrored tiles:

Once finished, I wasn't sure what to think.  Is this a disco ball?  I don't trust my minds on days like that:

I fused the disco ball to stabilizer and trimmed it with my Postcard Trimming Tool:

I was still worried that it looked like the Death Star rather than a disco ball, so I added some peridot crystals left from another project:

This card is already in an envelope and on the way to a friend who will appreciate a disco ball of her very own.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

MAIL CALL: Flag of France

While I was at Festival of Quilts in Birmingham this month, I took some extra time and headed to Paris.  This sparked a new postcard for Little Boy.

I pieced the three strips, fused them to stabilizer and a backing, and then trimmed the postcard using my Postcard Trimming Tool:

I wrote a few facts about France and the flag on the back of the card, added a personal message, placed it in a cellophane envelope, and arranged to have it mailed to Little Boy from home while I was in Paris:

I'm home this week, planning more postcards for Little Boy.  I'll finish the alphabet and then figure out my next series of weekly surprises in the mail.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

On the Road: Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK

Follow along on my trip to Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK.

This show was completely busy, as in "no time for restroom breaks or lunch" busy.  I saw very few quilts but I saw thousands upon thousands of quilters, so it evens out.

One of the quilts that I saw was MY quilt:

Victoria Findlay Wolfe thinks that it is her quilt but I quilted this quilt for her and it's my blog, so its my quilt!  Our quilt has traveled the world and been published in this book (affiliate link*).

I was tickled to meet up with my best friend:

Most shows have a theme.  The theme of this show, for me at least, was chocolate.

Pete from Pinhole Quilting brought me chocolates to inspire my devotion and encourage hard work in his stand at the show:

My sister (we think?), Susan Brown, brought me some chocolate, too:

The fabulous Lynda Jackson brought me chocolates as well.  If we look manic, it's because we were running at light speed between the Handi Quilter longarm machines helping all of the quilters:

Since there was no time for lunch, my personal assistant (boss) brought me Dr. Pepper to keep me going:

Yes, I'm horrible at taking selfies.  I'll likely never improve.

I was thrilled to meet with my friend Janet Clare:

Although not shown in the photo, Janet also gave me chocolate and told me that I had to look up the commercial for this treat.

Those are all of the photos I had time to take at the festival.  It was exciting and lovely and I hope
to return here another year!

Stay tuned, though, because my trip didn't end with the Festival of Quilts.  More later!
*If you purchase something through an affiliate link I may, at no additional charge to you, receive a small commission to keep this blog running.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Quilt Finish: Placemats

Squeal!!!  These placemats make me happier than I can possibly explain:

I recently received donations of dishes from folks who got married in the 60s.  Does it show?

These placemats started when I had some scraps left from my Field of Flowers Cutie quilt:

I took some of those scraps and made miniature blocks using Victoria Findlay Wolfe's Snack Set templates.  Oh how I adore them!  Then I used the rest of the scraps to piece them into placemats.  I loaded my HQ Stitch 710 machine with FabuLux Lullaby thread.  It blended soooo well!!!!  Using Pat Sloan's technique, I stitched a walking foot spiral:

Helpful hint from this machine quilting professional:  properly install your walking foot else your quilting will look all bumpy and uneven from forcing the fabric through the machine (see center of spiral above).  If I can't be a good example, at least I can serve as a cautionary tale.  I left the icky quilting because I'm giving these placemats to my mother-in-law and they will soon be covered in spaghetti sauce.

Recently, I taught at Bits 'N Pieces Quilt Shoppe in Pelham, NH.  While I was there, Nicole showed me how to machine bind in a way that finally (!!!!) clicked with me:

Note:  I think I'm in love with Wonder Clips.  Seriously.

Seriously, isn't this the cutest placemat you've ever seen?

I hope my mother-in-law enjoys these!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

1000 Postcards for Peace: Zig Zag Coils

I am getting in the habit of making a postcard most days that I'm home.  I really enjoy playing with thread and small pieces of fabric.  I'm currently having a love affair with my walking foot on my HQ Stitch 710.  This is the last postcard I made before I left for the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham:

My friend is going through a medical ordeal and I wanted to let her know that I love her and haven't forgotten about her.  She loves black and white and pink and polka dots.  I thought FabuLux Cloudy Skies and FabuLux In the Pinks were perfect for her and that this card represented some of her favorite things.

I started my love affair with the walking foot when I read Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Machine Quilt book (affiliate*).  I've never played much with my walking foot, but her book has inspired me to do so.  I love trying new things and these postcards give me a small, risk-free project for experimentation.

Have you tried making postcards?  I have kits of stabilizer and envelopes and also a Postcard Trimming Tool in my shop to help you on your journey.
*Affiliate links mean that if you purchase through this link I may, at no additional cost to you, earn a small commission to help keep this blog running.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

MAIL CALL: Flag of England

I'm taking break from mailing Little Boy the alphabet postcards.  Instead, I'm mailing him a travel postcard!

I was at Festival of Quilts in Birmingham last week so I sent Little Boy a postcard of the flag of England.

I guessed at the proportions of the flag, fused it to stabilizer and a backing, and then used my Postcard Trimming Tool to trim it accurately:

I wrote some information about England and the flag on the postcard, put it in its cellophane envelope, and arranged to have it mailed to Little Boy from my town while I was away:

I will resume the alphabet cards once I return home.

What else should I send as postcards to Little Boy?  Eventually I'll run out of the alphabet...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cutie Quilt: Summer's End

I'm on a "low-volume" kick and re-creating all of my Cutie Patterns in low-volume fabrics.  I'm really pleased with how Summer's End turned out:

I started piecing this quilt when I taught my Summer's End class at my local quilt guild:

Even though I started it this spring, it looks vintage with all of the traditional cross-hatching and feathering:

Do you like feathers?  I teach feathers in one of my Craftsy classes (50% discount in LINK):

I have no idea where this quilt will find its forever home, but I think I'm going to enjoy keeping it as a sample until then.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Batting Joining Tutorial

I experiment with many quilting techniques when I make my Postcards for Peace.  Since these are experiments, I use mostly fabric scraps.  This way I'm willing to take risks without worrying about 'ruining' good fabric.

When I'm adding machine quilting texture to my postcards, I use a thin batting, typically Quilter's Dream Angel (affiliate link).  I have an abundance of scraps of this flame retardant batting since I am making many, Many, MANY baby quilts during this season of my life.

I trim the batting with a straight edge and stitch it together on my HQ Stitch 710 machine.

To keep the seam from showing through the project, I use WonderFil DecoBob thread in both top and bobbin.

This is an 80-weight polyester thread.  It's strong but thin and doesn't make the seam bulky.

I've tried many different stitches, but I currently use a triple-stitch zig-zag stitch to join the batting pieces.

I prefer a 7mm stitch width and a 1mm stitch length.

As a decades-long machine quilter, I have never been a fan of an automatic thread cutter.  Well, my beloved HQ Stitch 710 machine came with this feature.  I tried it for when I join strips of batting and Oh. My. Heck.  How I love this!

I will still not use it for machine quilting, but it's great for piecing batting.

Once the batting is pieced and cut to a sized that fits my postcard project, I layer it with the top fabric.

I then machine quilt without any backing since this piece will be trimmed and fused to postcard stabilizer, edge-stitched, and then sent out into the world with love.

Do you think about the cost of your supplies when you are experimenting?  Will using scraps make you more willing to take risks?