Category: Quilting

A Quilters Life

A Day In a Quilters Life
I didn’t even walk into my sewing room yesterday. Usually not a good indicator of my mental health status for the day. But yesterday turned out alright. In the morning we did some shopping around town and at the Farmer’s Market. We even splurged and bought a mixed berry pie from the Mennonite booth. Can you believe that we got a day old pie for just $5! Regular price it was only $9. Wow, was it good. In the afternoon I helped Parker clean his room.Quilting Fun Actually I bribed him with a new Hot Wheels car if he did a good job, with my help. He had an entire tall kitchen garbage bag full of trash and junk in his room, mostly on the floor! Most of it he didn’t even know he had. I had to be sneaky though to throw so much stuff away. I would make a pile and tell him to take this to the playroom, then while he was gone I stuffed things in the trash bag. He did pull out one item later, a tamborine made in school last year out of two paper plates and some beans. We’ll see how long his room stays clean. In my seven years as a parent, I have learned that you can not force your organizational style on your child. (You can’t force it on your husband either)

I did get to do a little cross stitch in the evening while watching a bit of TV. For the past few years I have been making ornaments for my nieces, nephews and close friends of the family kids. This year I have 12 to make, including Parker.

Let me give you a little background on this practice. Growing up my Aunt Sue would send my sister and me an ornament every year for Christmas.Quilted Christmas Ornaments Usually we got to open them on Christmas Eve which is certainly one of the reasons I looked forward to getting one every year. Now that I’m old, every Christmas I love pulling out all the ornaments and remembering when I got them, who gave them to me, etc… For the past couple years Parker has been old enough to help me decorate the tree. While we do this I tell him about the ornaments and who gave them to me or where I got them. It has been so much fun that I want him to have that opportunity someday, as well as the other children I make ornaments for.

I guess the most important thing though is that I enjoy making them. I’ve just started so their isn’t much to show yet. When I get one done, I’ll post a photo. For now I’ll post a photo of my most recent favorite quilt. I finished it in April 2008. I actually never planned to finish the quilt. I took a class at my local quilt shop to learn a new paper piecing technique. The worst part of paper piecing is pulling all the paper off afterwards.quilted christmas ornaments With this technique, you don’t actually sew to the paper but you get the same level of accuracy. I had such a great time doing it that I went ahead and made all the blocks for the pattern we were using but I set them in a different way. Usually, my favorite quilt is the one I am currently working on. This one will be a favorite for a while though. Originally, I thought I’d give it away, but after I was done I couldn’t part with it.
Here’s a couple detail shots. I always love to see the quilting up close so I thought you might too. See more on pinterest

crosswise grain and lengthwise grain

Q: What is the difference between
crosswise grain and lengthwise grain?

Why should I select one over the other?
A: “To answer the first question, grain is the direction the threads run through
the fabric. Which type of grain is defined by how the fabric is manufactured.

Lengthwise grain runs the direction of the selvages.This is the warp on the loom when the fabric is made; so it is tight and does not have much give. The crosswise grain runs perpendicular (ideally) to the lengthwise and is called the weft. It is not pulled as tight when the fabric is made. Otherwise the fabric would draw in from the sides as you may have seen on someone’s first attempt at weaving. Because it is not as tight, there is some give in this direction of the fabric. Checking the amount of stretch with the grain is a great way to test a piece of fabric, if you need to know which direction had the selvages.

Any other direction is bias. True bias, which has the most stretch, is 45 degrees from both grains.

Knowing these main properties of the grain can help you choose when to use them to your advantage. Many quilters elect to use the lengthwise grain for borders because it does not stretch as much as the crosswise. Marti Michell chooses to cut lengthwise grain strips for strip piecing. (She often buys 3/4 yd lengths.) Then, when she is piecing the sub-cuts together, she uses the stretch of the crosswise
grain to match points. (This is exactly opposite of most strip-piecing instructions which start with crosswise cut strips.) Marti cuts crosswise strips for binding because she stretches the binding as it is applied to draw up any excess in the edges of the quilt.

In my teaching, I have found that a majority of quilters align the lengthwise grain (by aligning selvages) and cut crosswise strips.
If the fabric is woven well, this will also mean that the crosswise grain is aligned. If the weave is not square, there will be some extra stretch on the edges of the strips because of the slight bias and the fabric will ravel a lot. To remove these effects, cut crosswise strips with crosswise grain aligned. See description below. To minimize these effects, consider following Harriet Hargrave’s recommendation of applying starch or sizing to washed fabrics to stabilize the grain.

Now that you know some reasons why to select one over the other, here is how to align each for cutting:

To cut strips aligned with the crosswise grain (rather than assuming that the fabric is woven perfectly), tear one end of the fabric. Fold the fabric in half as usual, selvage to selvage, but align the torn edge with itself and allow the selvages to be askew if needed.

Keep the ruler lines parallel to the fold and strips will be cut following the crosswise grain.

One caution on this method, if the fabric is of poor quality and the crosswise grain is bowed, there is no easy way to cut a straight strip that is in line with the grain across the entire strip.

To cut strips aligned with the lengthwise grain, for borders, open fabric completely, fold end to end, aligning selvages on both sides and smoothing out any twisting.

The shorter the yardage the easier this is to manage. Keep the ruler lines parallel to the fold and strips will be cut following the lengthwise grain.

Cutting a straight strip, without an elbow or “V”, does not depend on the grain of the
fabric. If you get crooked strips every now and then, learn how to always get a straight strip, even when folding the fabric a second time, from our Know Before You Sew, Rotary Cutting, Basics reference card.

This tip – Tool Tips: Rotary Cutter

Here are a few tips that can help you with choosing, using your rotary cutter
and replacing the blade when needed. Blades can be very expensive, it’s a good
idea to be careful with them so they last longer.

Use the most comfortable rotary cutter you can find. There are many ergonomic models and sizes. “Test drive” a few at the store to see which one fits you best.Use a small rotary cutter (28mm) to cut and trim small items.

Use a large (60mm) if you are accustomed to cutting multiple layers at one time. Choose a medium size (45mm) for all around use.

Always cut away from you. It’s not only safer, but you have more strength pushing than pulling.

Always use a sharp blade – it requires less strength and makes a very clean cut.

Try out your rotary cutter on a mat – it should roll easily without a lot of force. If not, you may need to clean the lint from your blade, or loosen the screw attaching the blade to the cutter.

Clean the lint from your blade periodically. It will make your blade last longer.

When you clean your blade, wipe the blade with a little sewing machine oil. It will help your blade roll smoother. For this reason, new blades will always be a little oily when you buy them.

If you have rust on your cutting blade, wipe it with a little piece of fine sandpaper or steel wool, then replace it and use a drop of sewing machine oil

Try not to hit the blade on your ruler, the ruler can dent or nick your blade. If your rotary cutter blade has a nick, it can create a skip in the cut in your fabric.