Troubles, troubles, troubles

OK, I think I am done with sewing (at least on this project) for the day.  Here is what is on the machine today.


Paper piecing a modern wedding ring quilt (or at least getting a bit more done with it).  This is a foundation pieced block in EQ 7 (Electric Quilt 7- a computer program to help draft quilts).  This is for a group I am part of, Modern Meet-up.  I will also finish it to enter into a guild quilt show later this year.  The theme of the show is “Everything old is new again”.  So I decided while I was at it I might as well do some videos on paper piecing (finding it easier to explain what I am doing rather than trying to explain it with pictures. But since I also have the pictures I will start with them and then add the videos after.


So here is what I am starting with today.  I have already sewn and pressed the 1st seam.  But with paper piecing, the fabric for each piece is not cut precisely.  so it needs to be trimmed before the next piece is sewn on.IMG_0904

So I place it with the fabric down and place my guide along the next line to be sewn on.


Fold over the paper and make a crease.IMG_0906

Using my add a quarter ruler I butt it right upto the folder paper.  This ruler has a lip that will make it stop at that edge.  IMG_0907

Then I use my rotary cutter to trim the excess fabric.IMG_0908

Unfold the paper and it is ready to sew on the next piece.  So here is the videos of those steps (and more).

Here are a couple of videos of the machine stitching those blocks.

Ok, now here is the trouble I ran into.  I thought I had cut enough for this 3rd piece I was putting on, but I ran 1 short.  That is OK, I do have enough fabric, so cut 1 strip for 1 piece. Then when I was ironing, guess what? I found my missing piece.  I had sewn 2 on instead of one because they stuck together.  Now I know I am the only one who has ever done that.  But just in case it ever happens to you and you have enough fabric to cut another piece. Here is what you do so that you don’t have to do any unstitching (which is really hard when you have reduced the stitch length and the paper tends to tear as well since it has already been stitched.  



So here is a picture of my 2 dark blue pieces sewn together.


So carefully cut the top fabric as close to the stitches as you can (I have to grab my reading glasses and go slow so that I don’t catch the stitches or the fabric beneath it.IMG_0915

I have these cute little stork scissors that are perfect for this job.IMG_0916

And here it is after I have carefully pulled both sides away from the stitches.  I’ve learned this little trick from when I’ve caught the excess backing fabric under the quilt when I am doing my machine quilting.

Not the end of my troubles though.  These triangle blocks are put together in pairs to form squares. 2 of them will have yellow triangles in the corner and 2 will have blue.  I have 1 set of triangles done and am working on the other 3.  Guess what I discovered?  Yup, I sewed the yellow triangle to the block that should have the blue triangle.  Do I want to have to take off triangles from 32 block? No, I definitely do not.  So I go back to EQ 7, so I can recolor the block and see what to do.  But guess what?  I can’t find the file.  Then I remember, I had to recover my computer from my backup (which was about 40 days old).  And I must have made this file after I had done that last back-up.  Well, since it was a block that was already in EQ7 it was pretty easy to redo it and then redo the colors to see which blue to use in the corner.  Was going to use the dark blue, but now the fabric it would next to is that dark blue.  So I did 2 versions; 1 with a medium blue and 1 with the light blue.  Decided to go with the light blue.  All my problems are solved (for the time being), good thing I am making 16 blocks in addition to the practice block I made.  Going to call it quits for the day (and go have dinner with my daughter and her boyfriend’s family-yay, I don’t have to cook!).  Have a good day and I hope I have taught you something you didn’t know that will help you on your quilting journey.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spray Basting

Sorry for not blogging for such a long time. 2 more weeks of teaching, then all my time can go into my business so I should be blogging and putting up tutorials on a much more consistent basis.

Had some customer quilts to baste so I thought I’d take some pictures of how I do it and put together a tutorial.  I’ve done spray basting for a few years now and absolutely love it.  I have quilts that I basted months ago and they have not lost their holding power.  I use June Taylor Basting spray (I purchase it at JoAnn’s with a coupon or when it is on sale).  I can usually get about 6-7 lap size quilts out of 1 can.  And I usually baste 5-10 quilts at a time.  I started out basting on the floor (either in our enclosed patio room or the garage). But that was hard on my knees (one time I ended up with large fluid filled knots on my knees-turned out to be swollen bursa), so now I have construction knee pads. Now I have a couple of tables and prefer to do it that way.  So this is what I will do my tutorial on.

I have folding tables from Walmart (I prefer these to the folding tables from Costco or Sam’s Club because they are thinner and work with the clamps I got from Home Depot). They are about 30″ by 72″ so when I put them together I have a 60″ by 72″ to work with.

Please excuse my junky backyard-I will have time to get it in shape this summer.  I have a patio that I will be able to set my tables up there instead of in the dirt also, but need to clean and organize it as well. If I have a large quilt I use some tablecloths on the ground to keep the fabric and batting off the ground.


So for this quilt I wanted the seam to be near the middle of the quilt so I centered it on the tables and used my clamps (got these at Home Depot for $.99 each).


Then I use tape on the opposite side (I like to use regular masking tape rather than the blue tape-it seems to hold better).  I’m lucky with the climate we have here as it isn’t really humid.  I did spray baste one day early in the morning when it was a bit more humid and the tape didn’t stick after a while as everything became a bit damp.


With the way this backing was I was able to use the clamps on 3 sides. Most of the time I can only use them on 2 sides. You want to pull the fabric tight enough so there are no wrinkles, but make sure you don’t stretch the fabric.


Then I lay the backing out on the backing fabric. I like to use cotton fabric over polyester as it see,s to stick to the fabric better and I don’t need to use very much spray.  If you didn’t know there is a right side and a wrong side to batting.


Not sure if you can see it, but the right side of the batting will have what look like little holes going down through the batting (top photo), and you want these to be going down (kind of like the holes your needle will make as you quilt the quilt).IMGP6749

This is the bottom side of the batting folded onto the right side.iAnd you can’t see the little holes on the backside, so you want this side facing the backing.  Another thing to look for with cotton batting is if it has a side that is nubbier (has little bumps) than the other.  This nubby side should be facing up right under the quilt top.

Then I fold it halfway over.


And this is the basting spray I use.  I have not had any problem with it gumming up my needle or machine, even when I start quilting right away.  I spray this half and then smooth the batting back down.  When I bring the batting back over the [art that has been sprayed I first smooth it down the center and then work on each side.  If you get a fold or wrinkle you can pull the batting up and reposition it.  Then I do the same with the other half.


Then I lay the quilt top on the batting (making sure it is even and going the right direction if it is direction (either the top or the backing).


Then I do the same thing with the top.  I fold over half, spray and then smooth it down. Then I do the other half.

Ok, I was able to get a few quilts tops together to do some more spray basting videos, this time with instructions.  Hope they help you.

Here is a video of a larger quilt that fits the tables and I am able to use clamps on all sides.

Here is a video of basting a quilt that is larger that my tables.  Not my largest, but to one larger on all sides you simply need to shift it more times.  It helps so much to have someone helping you.


Posted in Basting, free-motion quilting, quilting, Tutorial, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

New line on my resume: Pattern Tester

I was given the opportunity to test a pattern for a designer in February.  It was a paper-pieced snowflake pattern called “Hoarfrost”, now available at Canuck Quilter.

I had been part of her facebook page “Snowflake Sew-along” last year where she shared her snowflake patterns on Craftsy for a few months before for free before charging for them.  2 things I loved about that was the snowflakes and they were free. Unfortunately I never did anything with them.  I grew up in Colorado and have lived more than 22 years now away from my beloved snow. I  love snowflakes and seem to collect quilt patterns that have snowflakes, but have not finished any of them. This is the second one I have started and it is basted and ready to be quilted (when the inspiration on how to quilt it comes). I have about 4 or 5 more patterns-that I can think of right now-but haven’t done much except for gather some of the fabric.  It has to be the right fabric, these are special quilts-all for me.

Anyhow Joanne (the designer) posted a picture of the quilt and asked for pattern testers.  I jumped up and committed to doing it because it seemed very doable. It is a lap size quilt (48″ X 60″) and it only has 3 snowflakes randomly put on a field of various blue squares.  The pattern call for about 13 fat quarters for the blue fabric.  I just used my stash to make it scrappy.

Here is my completed quilt top.IMGP6538

I really love how it turned out and can’t wait to see it when I quilt it.

The pattern was very easy to follow.Joanne has done all the hard work of figuring out exactly how big to cut the pieces for the snowflakes. Each snowflake takes 64 pieces of fabric.  But it is really not that daunting.  As this is a PDF pattern that you print at home the biggest tip that I can share is to print just 1 page (make sure to check the actual size box in the printer window) and then check to make sure the 1 inch square is indeed 1 inch, if not you may have to adjust your printer up or down to get it the right size.  I used regular copy paper, but a foundation paper like Carol Doak’s would have been better. When I cut out the pieces I used sticky notes to label each stack shown in the picture below. I really like that she gave the sizes to cut for the paper piecing.  There is some waste, but not a whole lot.  It does take a little bit to figure out how to put each rectangle, but once you have it then the rest goes smoothly as you are sewing about 36 of the same piece (just with different designation (A, B, C, or D).  And since the paper is kept on and labeled it is easy to reorganize if they get mixed up. IMG_0432

So below is a picture of the B and D parts trimmed and the C parts yet to be trimmed.  I started with the D blocks as they were the smallest sections and ended up doing the A sections last.


If you have never paper pieced before you sew the fabric on the wrong side of the printed paper, fold the paper on the next sewing line and cut off the ends 1/4″ away from that fold.

Once al the A, B, C and D parts are made and trimmed you match them up with A sections to sew together.  What I really liked about this patten is she had even marked to trim off the dog ears.  So if you had trimmed them on the cutting lines it was very easy to line up.  I did pin the first one to make sure the points would match.  After that I just lined up the edges and used the clover clips.

They came out perfect.


Here are the snowflakes before the corners are added (and my snuggly bear slippers doing a photobomb-and I’m too lazy to go back and edit the picture because they are so cute).


Oops, forgot about this.  Another great little tool to save time (and the chance of getting burned) is half of a clothespin.  Take the spring out of the clothespin and you have 2 tools (cause you always misplace 1 right). Then use the sloped end to press the fabric once the seam has been sewn.

And after, beautiful.  Again I was a bit lazy and since Joanne did such a good job of having the pieces cut without a lot of excess I didn’t trim each and every little seam to the 1/4″.  Because of that you may see a little bit of a shadow on some of the pieces when the dark fabric was just a little longer than the white.  But it doesn’t bother me, I was anxious to get this done.


Here is what happens after you have them all squared up, you take out all the paper. Botton right-back before taking out paper. Bottom left-back after paper has been taken out. and top left- right side of block. And of course top right- the tub of paper pieces.


After piecing and putting together the middle section it was time to work on the border.  At first I thought I could do the easy Delectable mountain block using the HST method to make it easier.  I even asked Joanne if she knew about that method.  She did, but these were shorter than that block so it would work. Rats.  Had to cut out and sew all 384 squares and rectangles for the border.  I cut the strips first and then used the shape-cut ruler to cut the squares and triangles.  Then came the chain piecing.  Again I like to do assembly line piecing and I have a tool that I love to use when sewing a diagonal line without having to make the marks on each and every piece. It is called the Sew Easy Guide 2 ( not affiliated, but love the product), it attaches to your presser foot and goes over your fabric so you can line it up as you sew.

Now for each size you are sewing 32 with the diagonal going one way and 32 with it going the other way.  I thought I had it figured out right.


Then I went to turn them around to trim off the triangle ends.  Look what I saw.


So out came the seam ripper and I had to undo all 32.  But after a few blocks I realized the part of what I had sewn wrong was going to get cut off anyway so I only had to undo half of the seam (which was good in a way because it kept the blocks in together and in place.


Another handy tool to have is this Cutting Gizmo.  It has a razor blade at the top, so when you need to cut apart your chain piecing you just hold one block on each side and bring the threads down onto the razor to clip them instead of using your scissors or snips.

The longer rectangles were a bit more challenging.  But I used my Frixion pen (boy look at me with all these product placements-I should go to the company and see if they will pay me for my adveritsing).


So I made just a small mark on either the beginning or end of the block that I was able to see through the Sew Easy Guide 2.

I would say to put together 1 of these border blocks, press and check your measurement.  I didn’t because I was using my quarter inch foot (even though the guild had popped off).  I guess I was being a little careful without it and my seams were a tad too shy of 1/4″.  Not a problem though I just had to sew some of the seams a few threads over and it turned out perfect (but would have been better if I had taken the time to test 1 block first). IMG_0474

And here again is the completed top.  You can buy the pattern directly from the designer, Canuck Quilter,  here.  And check out all of her other patterns.


Posted in quilting, Tutorial, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

What’s on the Machine today?

This is a customer quilt that I started yesterday.

It is a customer quilt using kind of a free-motion graffiti quilting, consisting of feathers, flowers, swirls and hearts and some echoing around the motifs. I posted it on a Facebook group and someone asked about the gloves I use.  I use Fons and Porter quilting gloves that I have modified.  IMG_0484


And since I have just got a new camera to try out for videos (my old one had a hard time staying focused when I did a video the other day) to show you how I modified them and how they work when I quilt.  It wasn’t quite as easy as downloading my photos here has been,but on the plus side I now have a youtube channel for my business and have added my first video which I will also share with you here.

I hope you like it and if you are tired of taking your gloves off and putting them on again all the time or your hands just get to hot and sweaty, give this a try.  There are also other things you can use to grip the quilt like sponges or shelf liner if you don’t like wearing gloves at all.  Let me know if a comment if you liked my video or if you want to see videos of the other things to use to grip you quilt.  Have a great day!

Posted in free-motion quilting, quilting, Tutorial, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Productive morning

Not as cold this morning so got dressed and raked the spiky balls from the lawn (sweet gum tree). Got it all done before the street sweeper came, but I did take 2 trash cans full to out in our cans. I don’t think the street sweeper would have liked me if I would have put all that in the street. Feel much better when I get my exercise doing something productive.

Dog beds!


 Had a ton of scraps I’ve been saving and was going to give to someone to make dog beds. Found a video on how to make them with fleece on Missouri Star Quilting and since I also had some fleece decided to try it myself. Made 4 this morning and have fleece for 2 more. Will wait until I’ve quilted some more quilts so they can have some batting in them as well as the fabric scraps. Why is it so hard to part with scraps from projects when I don’t have any plans for these fabrics? I did save some pieces though as I have been wanting to make some fidget quilts for Alzheimer’s patients.

Got new rulers for my free motion quilting. Tried to make a video but it kept going in and out of focus so will try again later.

Posted in quilting, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Pinwheeling seams

So excited to share this trick. No, I did not invent it so I can’t take credit for it.  I was going to do a video but decided just to do pictures.  Let me know if you would like a video and I will do one (or find one).  It really is simple and definitely help with the bulk in those seams with so many fabrics.  So here is my tutorial. I usually make my half square triangles by making a grid.  This was for a kit so it had the measurements for cutting it into strips and then cutting the strips into squares and then triangles so that is what I did.  When you make half square triangle blocks you want to cut (or mark) your square 7/8″ larger than you want the finished size to be.  So for a finished 4″ block, cut the blocks at 4 7/8″. For a pinwheel you will need 2 blocks of each color and at this size it would finish to a 8″ pinwheel block.  You can always cut the blocks 1″ over and then trim them up at the end so you know you have nice square blocks (I do this if I can as there is some trimming to do anyhow-the dog ears). So here are my squares I cut. First you cut the squares and then cut them in half.


Then you stack the triangles with right sides together. And chain sew the triangles together with a 1/4″seam on the long side, being careful not to stretch since it is on ethe bias.


Press the seams to one side (usually the darker fabric), and then trim off the points (called dog ears).


Lay out the blocks in a pinwheel.


Take the upper right block and flip it over onto the top left block.IMGP6173

Do the same with the bottom right and bottom left. so they look like this.IMGP6174

If you ted to get things turned around when you take them to the machine I would put a pin in the upper right corners of each block and then stack them with the top set on the bottom set. Now you are ready to go to the machine and sew these blocks together with a 1’4″ seam (I chain stitch them which means that as soon as I am done stitching 1 block I put the next one under the presser foot and then stitch that one without breaking the threads (I can do a video on this if you need more clarification-just send me a comment).


Now when you open them up they will look like the block on the right (if they didn’t, you can cut the thread in between them and lay them out so they look like a pinwheel-or you may have to take out the seams if you did not sew them in the right order).  When you flip the bottom it will look the one on the right.  Now make sure when you sew it that you are sewing the side where all the pints meet in the middle.  When I sew this seam (boy there are a lot of things I do that I did not take pictures of-again if you need more help just comment), I would have the seams going in opposite directions (in this case the top seam going down and the bottom seam going up and making sure the seams nested properly) so the seams are going the same way all around the block (counterclockwise in my example).


This is what you get before pressing.IMGP6188

And what I usually do at this point is just press the seams to 1 side (does not really matter), and you would end up with this big bunch of seams on 1 side and just a few on the other, which can alter the look on the other side (the pints not lining up, etc.) and can affect the quilting (you may even break a needle and damage the machine trying to quilt over that seam.


So instead of pressing the entire seam to one side this is what you will do.  If you chain stitched you need to find that connecting thread and cut it.IMGP6183

On the next pictures I did a block with 1/2″ seams so it would show better.  I finger press the seams in opposite directs (following the direction of the other 2 seams that connect blocks (not the diagonal seams).IMGP6192Then you will gently pull the first couple of stitches loose (you may need to use a pin or seam ripper-don’t cut the threads just take them apart).


If you do it correctly you should see a small pinwheel in the center like I have.IMGP6195

Then you can press the seams and have a much flatter center that can be quilted without much difficulty.IMGP6196


The block in the center is the one that does not have the pinwheeled seam.IMGP6199

You may not be able to see much difference, but you will definitely be able to feel it.  I encourage you to give it a try, either with some scraps right now or with your next project.  Here is the project I was working on when I decided to give it a try.


A soon to be project will be putting up a design wall so I won’t have to take pictures on the floor while standing on an ottoman.  Hope you enjoyed my pinwheeled seams tutorial.

Posted in Tutorial, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

New Year, New Business

I have been saying for the last few years that I need to get organized and get my quilting/crafting business going.  The plan has been to do it during the summer when I am not teaching and then decide if I will be teaching the next year.  Only problem is I have been doing other things during the summer; visiting grandkids, planning the guild’s Quilt Show, going on vacations.  I decided this year that I need to start now, no time is going to be the perfect time.  I teach on Tuesday and Thursday, so Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s will be my business days.  Trying to get as much done this week as I still have this week off.  Already have my sewing room cleaned and ready for the new machine.  Got a great deal on a Babylock Tiara II sit down long-arm quilting machine.  While it wasn’t a Christmas present from my husband, his present was the best-his supporting me in this new journey of mine.  I’ve really enjoyed free-motion quilting and will be able to do much more with this machine while still having a machine to piece on and a lightweight one to take to workshops and classes.  I also have a serger and my other lightweight machine that is on its last leg.  I think I read somewhere that quilters have an average of 2.75  machine.  So I was over that average before, I am really over it now with a total of 5, no make that 6-I forgot about my antique hand-crank swing machine.

Still have a lot of planning to do this month.  Need to do a business plan, an operations plan, do research and get a pricing plan, customer worksheets, business cards.  My plan is to be ready to go by the end of January where I will help my sewing machine dealer by doing some demos on his machines and hand out my business cards at Road to California.  Also have signed up for a quilting business class.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment