Fabric Quality for Quilting

My meter is in the middle this morning!

This morning I have been (once again) reading online about the difference between LQS and chain store fabrics.  My quilting has advanced to the point that I am more comfortable spending more money on the fabrics, but curious if fabric standards have changed over the years and considering just how I should look at my fabric purchases.

Having just finished a major quilting endeavor, I cringe to think that it won’t hold up over the years, no matter what fabric is in it. Love, sweat, and much joy does, indeed, go into a big quilt project and it would be nice to know it will be around after a few washings!

I have learned to feel the fabric, the “hand” of it, the differences in thread count, does it bounce back when you crush it in your hand, and all those kinds of tests. I have learned that it probably is a good idea to wash and press before using (depending on the final use of the item being made). These are all things that I knew from being a seamstress for years before taking up quilting. I still find myself drawn to pretties in chain stores, sales, and simply the other part of quilting…collecting fabrics.

Using good fabric from a chain store sometimes fits the bill for me for backing, for fun prints, or for fillers. Also, when testing a pattern or trying something new, I might use a lesser quality. Yes, I do have some fabric quarters that came from the chain store when I first started quilting – and that don’t compare. They will have to be used for who knows what…bookmarks? bibs? or nothing!

Here are a couple of pictures grabbed from my stash this morning:

20180612_0955301154601776.jpg 20180612_0954451909094044.jpgI know you would have to do the “touchy feely” thing, but these are all a mix of fabrics from LQS, chain store, and even sheets!

I plan to use them all!

 

 

 

 

When I was reading online this morning, I ran across this comment that I found compelling…

MaryAnn had this to say:

“Don’t be fearful. Buy what you like but pay attention to it. If it is a cheaper fabric, but you MUST have that color or that pattern, just be aware of it’s possible weaknesses. Example: If it’s not a good tight weave, then don’t use 1/4″ seams; use wider ones. Not all fabric is created equal, but all fabric is wonderful and can be useful… if you pay attention and get to know what you are working with. (Quilting since 1975) And I think it helps to remember our grandmothers who made their quilts from shirts and dresses and flour sacks… and hoarded every scrap that came their way.”

Your thoughts? I would love to hear what you think. Sometimes, I fear we become too snobby about everything in life! (Forgive me…no judgement intended!) Let’s just have fun and love what we do!

And remember…Life is short - buy fabric

Be IN-joy and Happy Quilting!

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June is Here

What to do in June???

I did finish my big secret sewing project on time…just two or three days before deadline! It was a great challenge and a great finish.

However, that leaves me in June with a little less than strong intention and focus! Is that always a reaction to finishing a big project for you? Do you need a little down time to recuperate? Here I am trying to figure out what to do next. Yes, I do have at least one specific project in mind, but not quite ready to start it…no deadline.

So, here is my reasonably blank sheet for June goals…20180605_092217358716420.jpg

Looks like the plan is to finish up some WIPs!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to try to decide what those…or even one…might be, I spread things out on my work table, chairs, and design wall.

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Oh my!  I have so many and all the stars don’t even show! ( I can say here that if another wonky star swap comes up this month, I WILL join 🧡💛💙 I love them!)

Speaking of Stash Bee, I didn’t post about my blocks for May, but I did complete them.

20180523_092251775921263.jpg Julia requested blue and gold stars. I was excited, as I love stars (repeating myself here), but these felt just OK. She was sweet about them though and said she liked them. I always find that blocks added to a bigger group look better than alone!

The June Stash Bee project looks fun, as usual. I will get to that too!

Back to all those WIPs. DH (Dear Hubby) want me to finish the giant Sienna Sunburst, as a wall hanging. I am less than excited about that, as noted in the linked blog. BUT…it would be a fairly easy finish!

People like different parts of quilting. I get that! Some like to just make blocks, some like to make flimsies, some like to hand quilt, some just long-arm, I have not decided what part I like best, but I don’t like cutting! I would say that might be why I like improv so much!

One thing I have heard said…

Jenny Doan - a finished quilt So, I had better finish something!

Oh, and then there is this part of quilting…which takes LOTS of time…and is a favorite!

Life is short - buy fabric

I guess future posts will tell how it goes in my room this month. I don’t want to rush through beautiful June, but there are some things on the calendar for July that involve quilting and I am looking forward to them!

I am trying to be a better blogger, but you can follow me on InstaGram, @facetfully, for more frequent posts.

See you around…and be sure to be IN-joy!

Happy Quilting!

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Oh, and one more PS…I don’t really like my new Bitmoji, but I cut my hair, so I changed it. They don’t offer a short hairstyle with bangs!!! 🤷‍♀️ I know, who cares!

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The Ali-Grad Quilt

The “secret sewing”…the graduation quilt for Alex, our college graduate grand-daughter has been completed and gifted!!!

As I have said before, every quilt has a story, big or small, and this one has a huge story of love, gratitude and vision.

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The picture above is one side of the finished quilt. Call it the front or back, either is fine with me. This side is expected to be the one that shows if Ali uses the quilt on her bed. However…20180505_1336361075854682.jpg

This is the side that took all my efforts and thought and time. I can honestly say there is barely a stitch that isn’t planned and full of love!

I started with the idea to do a row quilt of all the things she loves. Well, I ended up with so many ideas that the quilt might have stretched across the country! I began collecting  fabrics, and patterns. As I started putting them together, I could see that rows were not going to work. So, it is more of a collage of her life up to college graduation. (She finished at KU this year with a major in dance and a minor in psychology.)

Here are some closeups of the Ali side of the quilt (Please note that quality of the images was obviously not the goal on these shots…they were taken before the quilt was completed!):

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Dogs and cats have always been a love and they still stop her for some petting when she sees them! The center of this section is an embroidered square of Ali and her cat, Mabel.

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Spoonflower helped me insert pictures of Alex from over the years… happy, pensive, loving and a beauty!

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Ice cream cones and cupcakes. She has a love of baking, so “a balanced diet means a cupcake in each hand” fits! Part of this section is a stand mixer…

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I have heard it said that getting a good mixer is a good reason to get married! We are pretty far from that right now, I think! 🙂

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Thanks, again, to Spoonflower, I was able to include this square. This is a piece of artwork Alex left for us after a visit several years ago. It depicts many of her memories with us up to that point and is very special to us. I did not include the personal message she wrote on the back. She worked on this every night after she went to bed and it was a very heartfelt gift!

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Ali’s mama dubbed her Ali-Bird long ago, so there are plenty of birds in the quilt…these and others that are more hidden.

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The little birdie above was handmade by me with sunprinting and then some machine- stitched outlines.

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L-O-V-E abounds in this quilt!

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A little photoshop, Spoonflower, and this happy image was able to become part of this quilt.

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Our Ali is multi-talented and I love this flower that makes up one block…she just blooms everywhere! And choose happy…

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As a final work in college, Alex produced a show called Boundless with a few other girls from her class. Her personal piece, Residuum, was a stunning work choreographed to be presented as theatre-in-the-round, which was a first and a major goal of Ali’s.

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One of my favorite squares is a FPP girl looking into the future. Her suitcase was later adorned with a “joie de vivre” label. And speaking of the places she will go…here is the label for this quilt…

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Interesting that the Dr. Seuss quote was also used in one of the speeches to the KU graduating class during commencement!

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When she opened her gift and got a glimpse of the fact that it was fabric, she said, “Yay! My quilt…I was hoping for a quilt…I am the last one to get a quilt!” That pretty much made it all perfect for me. It isn’t that she was last by design, but her quilt is certainly the most involved I have done to date and I can’t think of a better person to receive it!

Many people have been part of Ali’s success, but none more than her mom (my wonderful daughter)…

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I can’t post pictures of everyone or all that transpired around this milestone, but here are a few from the day of convocation and her party…

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And off she goes! It happens all that quick! Let the wind and your dreams carry you to the places you want to go, Alex…you have what it takes!

We love you…so very much! We know you will succeed in whatever you choose, as you prepare for your Masters Program at Northwestern in Chicago, and beyond!

Love,

Granny

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April Sort Of Kicked My Butt!!!

April was a month where I operated on overload most days! Why, you ask? I simply had more on  my plate than I could do…and I hate that!

This is how my goal sheet wraps up for April:

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Stash Bee Square was one I was not sure I would like. It was a Union Jack flag in bright colors. Our queen bee, Lauren, @laurenmlir5 on IG, shared a tutorial from Granny Maud on WordPress.  She requested a rainbow of colors for this FPP block that measures 15″ x 7.5″ when finished. I ended up really enjoying it and appreciate that it was easy paper piecing…not all of them are! Here is my block…

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The Riley Blake Challenge for the MQG was due this month and it was a fail for me. I liked my idea and did get started, but it is still sitting in the WIP pile! Here it is…in no glory!

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I am sure the concept does not come through on this picture…it was to be Spring Breeze. Well, maybe for next spring????

The Wonky Star Swap is always fun…I do adore them. And I did finish that one even if I shipped a day late on May 1!

20180501_110703912183670.jpgWonky stars are always so unique, but they play well together! Thanks to all my swap mates and Rachel, @bylancer on IG, for this one!

That brings me to the SHHHH….Secret Sewing! Believe it or not, this has been my main focus for months and it is actually almost finished. It must be done in a few days and IT WILL BE!!! YAY! This makes me so happy and I can’t wait to post about it pretty soon!

The other carry-over project that is moving on into May is a semi-secret. Our grand-daughter turns 8 and has asked for another quilt. This one is to be about her creativity…it runs in the family! It won’t be done in time for the birthday, but it will be getting my focus once the secret is revealed. Can’t tell a sweet grand-daughter no!!!

So, I can’t say I got nothing done in April. On top of the sewing there was a nice trip to California to see family…always a blessing! beautiful places, good food and wine, boys baseball, laughs and love!

So, here’s to May…you notice my goal sheet is pretty simple!

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I hope this new month brings you much joy and some finished projects along the way!

Happy Quilting!

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April Goals

It is now April 3, so I’d best get a post about my goals up if I am going to keep the goal of posting goals! How is that for a sentence about goals? I do find that it helps me stay better on track, just knowing that all my thousands of readers are waiting to see if I made it! Just kidding, of course, about the thousands of readers!

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Down and dirty today…must stay FOCUSED, as I mentioned on my March goal sheet. And I did! I have already blogged about the Sienna Burst QAL…kind of a fail, in my mind. But I did feel it was acceptable to check off everything on my March list. And, I did work daily on that Secret Project too!

So, for April, I continue to keep it a bit small, but have added a Wonky Stars Block Swap. I just love them, so I couldn’t pass them up. I also have a “semi-secret” project on the list that I hope to start and nearly finish along with that secret one! Call me a glutton for punishment! That said, I guess I will go have some lunch and then get back to my progress!

Congrats to everyone who completed their goals for the month of March! Until the next post…

Happy Quilting!

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Process Pledge…Sienna Burst QAL

Hi Friends! Well, it is the last day of March and I fear it has not been the best month for my goal sheet. Actually, I have made much progress on some not-to-be-mentioned projects and I have done the things on my list, BUT I am falling off the Sienna Burst QAL wagon.

  

If you follow me on IG, you know that I super-enlarged the block and planned to make four giant blocks for the top. I also had DH (dear hubby) pick the fabrics. It just isn’t my favorite. Here is the flimsy, hanging on the railing, as it will be (at DH’s suggestion), whenever it does get finished.

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It will be bigger, of course, when completed, but it will be just this one big burst, I think.

These kinds of things do happen…I suspect often…and we don’t always report on what feels unsuccessful. However, that is part of the Process Pledge, so here you see it!  I do really like the pattern and will likely go back and try again…with MY fabric choices. It is part of the discovery process and I could also use some lessons on enlarging patterns. It is not as simple as make each piece bigger!

At any rate, I remain very busy and happily working on projects daily. I will try to come up with a report on all that for my April goals report.

Keep on keeping on and enjoy the process!

Happy Quilting!

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Experience IS a good teacher!

“Practice makes perfect” is a pretty common concept…and it is true. That said, I am thinking about what we learn from experience. Experience IS  a good teacher! Since this blog is focused on quilting, I want to talk about some of my experience over the 3 years, or so, that I have been at this craft. More specifically, I want to talk about prepping your fabric….

I hope some experienced quilters will join in on this topic with comments about what they do. Sharing can only help each other, and especially help those starting out. That is, unless they tend to be like me and have to learn for themselves! It is not my most proud revelation, but true. Today’s topic is an example.

I am following along with Meghan and the Sienna Burst QAL. “This week is all about getting ourselves set up for success to start tackling the blocks. Starch, iron, cut; mix and match fabrics and learn all about HRT.” What I want to drill down on even more in this post is about the STARCH.

Side note: I previously posted on “Quilter’s Moonshine”. Meghan offers up her own version, that I have heard works very well too! You need starch…lots of it!!!!

Preparation…Meghan says to Starch, Iron, Cut. I decided I was going to do every step this time, as directed. In my EXPERIENCE, I have seen how fabric can shrink up when being pressed with either water or starch. You might think this only happens with lower-end fabrics. I hope the pictures I am including below will help you see that it happens…and not only with cheaper fabrics!

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This is my first piece of fabric. It is Kona cotton, an acceptable quilting fabric from Robert Kaufman. You will note that I have folded it flat and removed the selvedge. (Another post for selvedges, one day…I love them!) On the cutting mat, you can see where the edges fall. Right side at the 1″ mark, left side at 22″.

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Zoomed in a little to show the 22″ marking. The other side is at the 1″ marking.

Now I will press with starch. (Yes, the following pictures are the same fabric…just different lighting.)

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Now I have pressed one time with starch. Do you notice those bumps? Those are created from the fabric shrinking in some places and not others. Probably not enough saturation with the starch!

Second…and third…pressing with starch has been done…

20180316_1124561699311820.jpg Now that looks good! 

I attempted to get videos of the process…

You can see the bumps almost disappear when the starch is sprayed on them! This process took THREE times starching and pressing. Prepping about 1.25 yards of fabric used about 12 ounces of starch. Yep! that is why “Frugal Frieda” here likes the homemade version!

Now, I hope the pictures below will tell you, in plain sight, why this preparation is important! Remember above, the fabric was laid out on the mat starting at the 1″ mark and it measured to the 22″ mark. The following pictures are after the starching process.

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We have lost 1/2″ in width.
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Notice the difference in the bottom that WAS straight.
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Notice the variation in width and length across the piece of fabric that WAS straight before starching and pressing.
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These are the trimmings left after cutting the fabric to be straight, squared up, and ready to cut.

So why is this important? What EXPERIENCE has proven to me is that if this process is not done first, your blocks will likely be really out of shape and proportion when you starch and press them AFTER you have made them! This results in seams and blocks that don’t match up and much frustration. Also, if your fabric is preshrunk and crisp before you sew, you will have a much better chance at perfect points!

If you want to learn by doing, go for it! That will work too, but once you have progressed to the point of buying quality fabrics, working more challenging patterns, and expecting a well-finished piece, you will understand..JUST DO IT! Prep your fabics!

From one who learned by doing, had some good outcomes, and some very frustrating finishes!

Happy Quilting!

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