This being retired is a wonderful thing. My darling husband cooks and does housework, and I quilt. What could be better? AND I have time to do research to find answers and tips for a number of questions I’ve had. The forums on QCA contain gobs of valuable tips and ideas (thank you all), and both QNNtv and F&P’s Love of Quilting are indeed a wealth of information. So, today I want to record some of the things I’ve learned this month. They are probably techniques you already use or have discarded for better solutions. But even the simplest idea that relieves frustration for me is a delight! My explanations are probably not at all clear, but my intent is to simply share how grateful I am for QCA, QNNtv, LOQ, and all of you. Here’s my list.
1. Quilting gloves! My hands dry out pretty fast when I handle fabric, so it’s hard to maintain good control. My gloves are now essential!
2. Binding. F&P LOQ has a great video on binding. I’ve now found solutions to my most frustrating binding issues from that video.
a. Joining the pieces. Now I just lap the ends, stitch on the diagonal, and trim the seam to size.
b. Rolling up the pressed binding neatly and storing it in a zip close bag. As it is applied, just draw it from the bag – no longer all over the floor and getting caught the chair rollers.
c. Starting to sew after turning the corner. Now I just sew a straight line from the top of the quilt top down the seam line. (I think I found this by googling)
d. Making the final join after applying the binding. Cutting the tails to the right length and making that final seam easily has always been a mystery to me. Marianne and Liz make it look like child’s play with their little binding tool. I make my bindings wider than they do, so I may need to use my trusty little square instead.
3. Color Play – picking colors is now a breeze! I’ve talked about this book and the related tool in my last blog posting. Since that posting, I’ve picked colors for 2 quilts with confidence.
4. How to get pencil marks out of fabric. Oops, thought my marks would be buried out of sight – wrong! Formula 409 works great.
5. Stretching fabric out of shape! Ugh!! I was really bad about this. Turns out a couple of simple techniques will save the day.
a. Use the right pressing board. My old ironing board with foam padding was part of the problem – too soft and too much give. So, I found a video showing how one person made her own using OSB board, canvas, and batting. I have all of the materials to make one, but I’m waiting for the board’s glue fumes to calm down. It will be 48” wide and I will use it on my cutting table.
b. Use a dry iron – I’ve always used steam.
c. And here’s a biggie: Starch the fabric (with homemade starch)! You may not agree with that at all, but for me, this has been a life-saver. I just finished a top using starched fabric. Wow – my cuts were more precise, the patches easier to handle, and my seams lined up perfectly!
6. Longarm quilting. I took a day-long longarm class last week. Lap quilts are the largest size I can maneuver through my home machine. Not to mention how tedious it is to have to roll and re-roll my quilt every time I need to move my quilting area to a different spot. So, I am going to rent time from my instructor. The top I finished today is for longarm practice.
7. Pieced batting. Somewhere along the way, I saw/heard a tip on piecing batting. Just butt the edges together and join with a 3-step zig-zag. I set the stitch legth as long as I can, and same with the width. Easy, easy, easy!
8. Last but not least – PAY ATTENTION. I get on a roll and go into autopilot– especially when making the pieces and parts for blocks. I can’t tell you how many sub-assemblies I’ve had to pull apart because I used the wrong fabrics or made too many.
As you can see, January has been very fruitful, and with my top 8 frustrations addressed, my quilting is even more fun than before. Happy, delightful quilting everyone!
January 9, 2010
After a full week of retirement - I am overwhelmed with glee. I've done only a smidge of housework, just enough to get by. Much of my time has been spent getting my quilting documentation in order. I finally organized my data files so I can actually find what I am looking for, and catalogued "new" quilt designs that had been left un-documented, For about 10 years, I have crocheted baby blankets for Laura Schlessenger's My Stuff Bags, so now that I have more time, I thought I might do more of that. But, I met a woman in the WalMart yarn section who told me she knits chemo caps. I got in touch with her contact in Raleigh, and am now playing with cap patterns to crochet to send to her. If you are interested in doing something similar in your own area, check out www.headhuggers.org for ideas.
Now, back to quilting. My husband and I received an Amazon gift certificate, so I spent my part trying to get some help with color selection. I just received Joen Wolfrom's Color Play, which uses the Ives Color Wheel, in which the primary colors are yellow, magenta, and torquoise. I don't know if I will get better at selecting colors or not. All I know, is that if I select the colors I like, all my quilts will look alike! Ha!
I make lap quilts. They are usually between 55 and 60 inches square, and have something to do with pinwheels. I love pinwheels. Lap Quilts are the largest quilts that I can construct comfortably with the tools and space I have. My designs are very simple, no pieces smaller than 2" on a side, and no more than 6 fabrics. Selecting fabrics is the most stressful part of the process for me, so why make it more difficult than necessary? So far, I have designed 11 lap quilts, and have constructed 6 of them. To document my designs, I use MS Publisher to create a title page, and I print the rotary cutting diagrams and yardage from EQ. I also have an Excel spreadsheet that calculates binding yardage for bias, length-wise grain, and cross-grain binding yardage. I put all of those pages, along with samples of the fabrics I used, in a sheet protector and keep it in a binder. There is also a page for the specifications: type of fabric, batting, etc., and notes about the process of designing and constructing the quilt. But alas, I rarely use it.
This is my first experience blogging. I decided that QCA is the perfect place to start since we all share a love of quilting. So, please enjoy my first post!
Quilting is a hobby I got involved in 2 years ago. I've never been satisfied to just go along with any type pattern or recipe, I always make changes. The same goes for quilting. As a new quilter all of the designs I found, even the simple and quick designs, were more elaborate than I wanted. So, being a life-long geek, I bought Electric Quilt and started playing. I am by no means an expert at EQ6, nor am I a gifted designer. However, I completely enjoy the process of designing with EQ6 - and that's the whole point, isn't it? As of today, 1/1/2010, I am retired, finally! So I am looking forward to many years of quilting to my heart's content!