Friday, February 27, 2009

Harry Potter Nerd Alert!

The truth is out, I'm a huge Harry Potter nerd! I've read all the books (more than once) and have seen all the movies (more than once). I can't wait for the Half Blood Prince. I plan on going the first day to see it at the IMAX in 3-D.

Till next time.... Happy Quilting!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

To and Fro

Today's free quilt pattern is To and Fro. It is based on a similar block called Hither and Yon. It goes together well and would also look great on point. Last Christmas I got a new iron. No one but a quilter would be thrilled with a top of the line Rowenta, but I was ecstatic. My old Rowenta was over 15 years old. It still heated up, but it also spit deposits whenever water was put in it. I used it for over two years without water. Boy the difference is amazing and pressing yardage is so much better.

Having a new iron brings up the topic of pressing while making patchwork. When I write instructions I always include pressing instructions. When you pay close attention to pressing, the blocks lay flatter and it's easier to achieve the correct size. When I'm sewing a block, I almost never press with the iron. I finger press until the whole block is together. I then measure the block before I take the iron to it. After I've measured, I know whether I need to press gently (if the block is the right size or a little large) or agressively (if my block measures a little small). I also use this method when I make pieced borders. All the units of the pieced border are finger pressed during construction. I don't press with the iron until the pieced border is attached to the quilt top. Because pieced borders are long, it is easy to stretch them out while pressing. I get a much better fit when I finger press along the way.

Half time is almost over. It's time to cheer on the Spartans, who are trailing the Wisconsin Badgers. So... until next time.....Happy Quilting.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Toad in the Puddle

This blog's free quilt pattern is Toad in the Puddle. For a long time I called this pattern Spring Beauty, but while researching the history of the block, I realized that Spring Beauty has an extra square in a square block in the center. I like the name Spring Beauty better than Toad in the Puddle, but in the interest of accuracy, I'll start calling it Toad in the Puddle from now on.

Before Christmas I did something for myself that I'd avoided for a long time. I went to a store where I was fitted for a decent bra! The store in East Lansing is called Front Room Underfashions in the Hannah Plaza off of Hagadorn Road. They specialize in masectomy patients, but sell to everyone. The ladies at the shop were sweet and really knew what they were doing. It turns out I was wearing a bra that was a size too large in width and two sizes too small in the cup! The best part was the prices were very reasonable. I told my two best lunch buddies and they went and got new bras, too. One of my friends as it turns out, wears a very odd size that they carried. She also special ordered some other ones. So I want to encourage everyone who has never been professional fit for a bra, to go for it. It was well worth the time and money.

Till next time... Happy Quilting!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Scrap Quilting

Boy, could the news get worse? Everyday there's more and more people joining the ranks of the unemployed. I got layed-off this summer, but am thankfully back to work full time. I keep hearing how supporting art programs comes under the title "pork". It's also thought that these are not job creating institutions. I beg to differ, since I work at a museum. I agree we need to spend money on infrastructure, here in Michigan our roads are terrible. But a refusal to support zoos, museums, local theaters and education is short sited. And when those programs are cut, what part is cut, employees! We either spend the money on unemployment benefits or we can actually get something for our money, by keeping people working.

The bright spot in all this is that I am a long time quilter. I began quilting in 1974 and have been seriously stockpiling fabrics since 1981. I have 28 years worth of fabric to make quilts with. And since my favorite quilts are scrap quilts, I'll be spending the next couple of years using "quilt therapy" to get through the financial mess we're in.
If you're in the same boat here a couple of ideas to help you quilt with just your stash:
  • piece the backs of your quilts
  • use class samples or UFOs you no longer like on the back of your quilts (I got this idea from a lecture at my quilt guild by Sue Spargo)
  • if a pattern calls for one color, say pink, substitute with many different scraps of that color
  • borders are often an area where you need a lot of yardage of one fabric. Substitute that yardarge with squares of the same color of fabric i.e. many squares of tone on tone blacks can substitute for a single black fabric.
  • piece your battings. I save all my batting scraps and sew them together when I need to fill a quilt. I've even used different weights and fiber types and nobody has ever noticed they aren't the same batting
  • even bindings can be pieced with different scraps of fabric
  • just remember the more similar your scraps are the more it will look like one piece
The pictured quilt is done in a scrappy style. The sashing, corners and border blues are all different. I also used all different brands of batting including 80/20 and 100% cotton. In upcoming blogs I will give away the 12" block patterns, as well as the sashing, corners and card trick borders for this quilt.

I highly recommend working as much with scraps as possible. The more you do it the more you'll like it! Right now I'm piecing a scrappy border for a baby quilt. The weatherman promised our temperatures are going to hit 50 degrees today, so in between the melting snow and puddles I'm going to walk Boomer.

Till next time....Happy Quilting!