A Perfect Helper in my Sewing Room!

I feel very fortunate to have a wonderful space for my sewing, quilting, and crafting. It brings me joy and I spend as much time there as I can! I was reminded of a handy little extra I use when I read the blog post by Yvonne, @Quilting JetGirl, about her portable design board.

It starts with a tray table…20180110_155742_2

You know, one of those things that our parents had around back in the day, made of metal with wobbly legs! My DH hates the idea of them…oh, unless it is dinner time and he wants to watch football in the tv room! (Another story!)

Note that I use the up and down motion of moving from chair at machine to ironing board and design wall as exercise, but sometimes it is just too much. Little pieces that need to be pressed with every little seam, etc.! So, I tried using this as an extention of my sewing table. I covered it with a pressing mat that is made for a regular table. (I like the side with the measurements marked, but it also has the shiny ironing side.) For starters, I used a simple placemat to iron on. You can make your own with fun fabrics and some batting. The possibilities are endless.

You can see in the pictures above that it sits right beside me in handy reach. Oh and look what else…another one is holding my scraps, as I work!

One more picture shows yet another tray table in use on the OTHER side of me…

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This one works for quick trimming of the little projects I am working on.

So, I may not get as much exercise, but these are sure convenient! I don’t have to keep them up all the time, as they are very portable, so there is much flexibility.

I am surrounded…and loving every minute of it all!

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Thanks for reading! Do you have any handy tips for us?

Happy Quilting!

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Wonky Stars Swap

I feel pretty good about the accomplishments of this first week of 2018!

I joined the #wonkystars2018 swap for January and have made 21 wonky star blocks. I forced myself to stop so that I could get them sent out and move on to my next project. I love making them though! I posted about this already, so I won’t go into more here than to reinforce that I love those stars and can’t wait to see what I get from my swap mates! Here is my finished design wall with the 21 stars shining:

wonky stars shining

Today is Sunday, so technically a new week, but whatever week it is, I also finished my #stashbeehive5 January block today. It is for Cathleen, @kitchkouture. Her inspiration for the block is inspiring! Here is my block…

Stash Bee Hive 5 January

It will be fun to see what she ends up using for a background on this project! In case you are not familiar, and are interested, each participant is Queen Bee for a month and plans, designs, requests, and posts a block every month. My first time in this bee.

Have a good week everyone and Happy Quilting!

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Reposting about our Charity Quilt

Thanks to Jude, my sew mate and friend, for posting this to her blog about our group, SewIMQs, and our charity quilt for QuiltCon West 2018! It is a pleasure and honor to be working with these gals in our tiny group! Thanks, Laurie, @langdon 13; Adrean, @quiltfabulous; and Jude, @judemadeit! The link to Jude’s post is below the picture. Check it out for more pictures and details!

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via MQG Charity Quilt

First Week of the Year

is January and we all start out with great intentions! The gyms are overloaded, the resolutions are recorded, the plans are in place…and who will follow through? I am not big on resolutions, but I do hope to keep up this blog about my quilting journey, so let’s get to that!

Jan goals

I am setting off to make wonky stars for my first bee in 2018, “Wonky Stars 2018”, coordinated by Rachel Lancer, @bylancer.  This is my first “bee” and I am excited because you end up with several blocks and therefore, a good start to a project, rather than just one block.

On my priority list for January (seems like a good idea to plan a month at a time…so maybe I won’t feel like I failed!):

  1. Organize – my room, my thoughts, my plans…CHECK! That is until I started the next project!!!
  2. Wonky Stars – I am doing improv stars, though I have patterns from @JeliQuilts and @sewhookedjen. There are others out there and I appreciate the willingness of people who create and share their efforts. I am using the improv technique, as I got into that last year with Debbie, @aquilterstable, and love it!

    wonky stars 2
    start to the wonky stars
  3. 2018 Stash Bee – This is another bee I have joined. This one is coordinated by Diana, @reddeliciouslife. I am in Hive 5 and Cathleen, @kitchkouture, is the hive mama. I will not be Queen Bee until August, but there is a block to make each month. Fun!
  4. MQG Swap – This happens at QuiltCon West in February, so more to come on that, but I must get to work on this.

SEW everyone…I am off to a good start and hope that you are too! Until next time…

Happy Quilting!

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Update – Starch Your $$$$

Repost from August 1, 2017…I am still using this as it makes a big batch and I use lots of it!…

Last post was about homemade fabric finish for pressing…starch. Quilters Moonshine 2

Just want to add that I am into my second bottle of “Quilter’s Moonshine” and it is going well. NO stickiness on fabrics or the iron! NO smell! NO problems!

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I DID, however, go back and add more starch than the recipe calls for. I poured it all back together and added about 2 more tablespoons of starch. I think this is about preference. I suggest you start with the recipe, as is, and go from there.

Some of the things I have been pressing recently:

Back to my sewing…and pressing…for now!

 

 

Feeling Frugal…Starch your $$$$

Repost from July 16, 2017…

Ha! Gotcha’ didn’t I? I could call it STRETCH your dollars, but this was more fun!

Well, if you are a quilter…or love to iron things to a nice crisp finish…I am blogging about something I have been wanting to try for a long time.

Everyone…I mean EVERYONE knows how nice Mary Ellen’s Best Press is! I love it too!

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We all also know there is a plethora of info on Pinterest. Some time ago I saved this post about “Quilter’s Moonshine”  and finally tried it this morning. Maybe because I used my last spritz of Best Press and didn’t have a backup!! Woe is me!

The recipe calls for starting with a gallon of distilled water, but I wanted to test it out first so cut the recipe down, using only 1/4 of the ingredients.

Quilters Moonshine Ingreds The very expensive ingredients…NOT…use the cheapest vodka you can find.

Quilters Moonshine recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used 4 cups distilled water (I actually used filtered water), 1/8 cup (2T) starch, and 1/4 cup vodka.

 

 

The result is a little on the cloudy looking side…

 

 

So, I put it to the test. No sticky residue on fabric or iron. The finish is a bit softer than Best Press, but that would only mean adding a bit more starch to your recipe for your personal preference.

Quilters Moonshine 2

Just look how much it makes. If you are frugal and want to give this a try, I am thinking you will not be unhappy with the result. I pay $9.95 (if not on sale) for one bottle of the great Best Press. I am NOT knocking it AT ALL! This concoction, which I do not plan to drink, by the way, was just a few cents for this batch!

Happy Quilting…Happy Pressing!

I will post if I have any further results to share.

Foundation Paper Piecing

Repost from February 10, 2017…

20170209_084530-2 My favorite, so far!

As mentioned in my last post, quilting has become one of my very favorite pastimes. One of the new skills I have been working on is foundation paper piecing. It creates perfect points and is like working a puzzle (something else I like). Well, it is like working a puzzle only backwards!

There are many tutorials available online (linked here is a free tutorial from Craftsy), so I am not going to try to teach you anything new here, just give you a few pointers and hints from my growing experience.

  1. Start with a simple pattern! Getting the hang of when to place the pattern and fabric right side together or not is the first thing to understand. It requires that backward thinking at first…at least for me. Again, this link (Craftsy) is a very simple straight-forward and basic pattern. You can find lots of free patterns online too. Check out Pinterest.
  2. Selecting solid fabrics can help. In the beginning, selecting solid-colored fabrics will help, as it makes no difference about right side out or in. That said, you will still have to learn to deal with prints at some point, so perhaps mix in a couple of them in your early work.20170201_114708
  3. More on fabrics…be sure to use preshrunk cottons. If they shrink after the fact, or even as you press them, you will be very unhappy.
  4. Don’t try to scrimp on the fabric too much…especially when you are learning. I hate to waste and I am cheap, but it is very disappointing to find that you have stitched your seam and the fabric does not cover the area required. You will get better as you practice! Then you can try to save!
  5. About specialty fabrics and fussy cutting…this is fun and works on many paper-piecing patterns. However, be sure to THINK and rethink your plan and placement. I find that the first piece is the easiest to fussy cut. When you hold your pattern and fabric to the light, you will easily be able to see where your design will fall in that first section.  20170208_123210-2
  6. Learn to LOVE your seam ripper! That sounds intimidating, I know. I hate to rip out and would often prefer to start over, but you will very likely make some mistakes. I would hate to think that I am the only one!
  7. In order to avoid the seam ripper though, think before you stitch! You have heard “measure twice, cut once”…well, this calls for hold it up, look at it three times, fold it back to get a rough idea, think again, then sew.
  8. Speaking of sewing those seams…a tiny stitch is recommended so that the paper will be perforated well and tear off easily. I use a setting of 1.5 on my machine. That will vary with different machines, but that trusty seam ripper barely fits into those helpful tiny stitches. I have tried other longer stitch lengths and the smaller ones do tear off more easily. However, I suggest that you start out with a bit larger stitch in the early stages and go smaller as your confidence grows.
  9. More about the seams…most quilting directions do not encourage you to back stitch at the beginning and end of seams. This is just my opinion (and I don’t always do it), but if you secure the beginning and end of the seam with a fix stitch or even one back stitch, it can help when you tear off the paper. You see, the tearing process can cause some of your stitches to come out and when you are working with 1/4″ or scant 1/4″ seams, there is not much room for error. It also bears consideration about the possibility of ripping out…securing the ends of the seams can make that more difficult too. On more detailed patterns, some of the seams might only be about 1/2″, so if you lose any of those stitches, your seam is almost gone!
  10. More on seams…trim as you go. Where the layers build up the project can get quite thick, so carefully trim your seams to 1/4″, as you go. CAREFULLY! Again, this is backward thinking, so don’t cut off the part that will fold back to be the finished pattern! I have done it! That requires ripping out AND redoing!
  11. About the paper. I can’t tell you much here. Let’s face it, as I said, I am cheap, so I use printer paper. It IS thicker and does not tear as easily. You can purchase special papers for this at around $10 per pack of 25 sheets. I will probably do that the next time I can take advantage of a sale. Some quilters mention using freezer paper. The more detail in the pattern and the smaller the pieces, the more this matters.
  12. How to finish these items? I am getting a collection of paper-pieced goodies and have not decided what to do with them yet. They can be used in any way you would use fabric. They are typically quilted…think blocks, wall hangings, table runners, place mats, hot pads, mug rugs…the list is endless. If you are particularly crafty, you might use them to embellish bags, clothing, and more.

Finishing with some simple hand embroidery is also fun and adds interest.

Another saying that applies here is “slow and steady wins the race”! If you are considering trying foundation paper piecing, I do encourage you to give it a go. It is fun and once you get it, you may be just as hooked as I am!

Have you already tried it? What was your outcome?

(all images ©Valorie Webster; patterns not mine)