Love you SO much I can barely stand it!

I love holidays, and really, any reason to celebrate by making something for someone, especially my kiddos and grands. I especially like corny or cliche sayings that I can find something cute to go with. Sometimes my ideas are pretty cute, and sometimes they are way dumb, but always meant to show the recipient a little bit o’ love. 

  

This Valentine’s Day I decided to make these phone/tablet stands that I found a free, online tutorial for. I had found it quite a while ago, but had forgotten about it until a friend reminded me about it. You can find the pattern by clicking Factotum of Arts.  

  
There were a couple of Open Studio days scheduled at The Green Apricot, so I offered kits for the “insides” of the stands and invited friends to come and sew with me. I replaced the rice with poly pellets, as food stuffs have a tendency to attract critters. I also cut the stabilizing piece of Pellon to 5 1/2″ rather than 5 3/4″ because it seemed easier to work with, but that was about it for changes. 

  
On the first 6-hour day, I made 10 stands. I got two out of one fat quarter, with a decent chunk left over. Because the cut is 9″x12″, you can get 2 out of a 1/4 yard of non-directional fabric. If you are using directional fabric, be sure to cut it so that the top to bottom is the 9″. The pics on the website are with directional fabric, so just look at the pic carefully for proper placement.

  
On day two, I made 10 more. A few more than I need for my family for Valentine’s Day, giving me a little stash of gifts for later in the year. They make great pin cushions as well as device stands- perfect for that next pin cushion exchange. They also are a cute shape, and I think I may be inspired to get a little more creative next time. I’m thinking gnome or Santa heads.  Or a chicken. Or marshmallow Peeps. Hmmmm. 

Quit judging me for living in my phone.

I think I may begin a series of posts under the category “The Rants.”  It may tick some people off, but I think it might make me feel better.

I am sick to death of negative comments regarding social media and people like me, who live in their phone.  There are some points that are accurate, but like most arguments, only tell a portion of the story.

Excuse me, in-real-life peeps, but how many of you want to talk with me about the things I love to do most on a daily basis?  Not that I blame you.  I know you couldn’t care less about the latest fabric phenom.  And that you don’t know the difference between an afghan and a quilt.  And that you have no idea why I could possibly need another sewing machine.  I get it.  I understand that it takes an incredible amount of self control for you to continue listening to me while I describe the difference between fusible webs, or why I think it is worth paying $12 for a bottle of Flatter rather than getting a bottle of spray starch at the grocery store.

That’s why I don’t talk to you about it.  Instead, I post it all over social media.  I lay it on the table for whomever else might be interested in what I have to say to pick it up.  The great part about that is if you aren’t interested, you can move on, and neither you or I are bothered by it.  But if you are, we can chat.

Not only that, but what do you care if I sit on my phone and text my friends or roll through my Instagram feed while you are watching a program on television that I couldn’t care less about?  And is there really a problem with me passing the time in line or in a waiting room?  Waiting rooms everywhere are loaded with magazines.  Why?  Because sometimes strangers don’t want to talk to each other.  Trust me, I love talking to people, I talk to people all of the time in lines and other places, but sometimes, the world is a better place if I am NOT talking to anyone.  And, I DON’T CARE about the latest celeb screw ups, and if I read one more crock pot recipe I think I might explode.  So, thanks, but no thanks, I’d rather be on social media than read a magazine.

The other thing that ticks me off is when I hear people say that the people standing in front of you are more important than the people in your phone.  Really?!?  Really?!?  I love the people in front of me, and I am grateful for the time I have with them.  But they are not more important than the people in my phone.  (Except maybe my husband.  Pretty much no matter where he is, he’s the most important person to me.  He happens to be my favorite human, but we have learned that it is totally possible for even us to have too much face time.)  The friend/family/random person that is in front of me is not more important than the one communicating with me through my phone.  And vice versa.  The one in my phone is not more important than the one in front of me.  The issues they are dealing with may need prioritizing, but they themselves DO NOT EVER outrank each other in importance.

And let me be clear about something else.  I am SO grateful for the opportunity that SM has given me to feed and nurture relationships that otherwise would languish and probably disappear.  Or maybe not even exist at all.  Because of Facebook, I can keep up with my cousins cute boys, who I have actually never seen in real life, and quite honestly, may only see a couple of times in mine or their lifetimes.  But because we connect on social media, not only do I know their names, but I get to “watch” them grow, and they are a part of my heart.  I get to have them as a part of who I am because of this online phenomenon- a chance I would not ever have otherwise.  Likewise, my dad’s ex wife’s son is also on Facebook.  While we aren’t super close, I watched that boy grow up, and I have fond memories of him playing with my kids when they were small, and it thrills my heart to see him become a dad and live a great life.  I’m also grateful that when my brother and I see each other we don’t have to be all awkward about our polar opinions on politics and religion because it’s already been laid out on the table, and we know we aren’t going to change each other, so we don’t try and we just enjoy being together.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally get all of the bad things about social media.  I am not blind to how addicting it is.  Nor am I blind to the dangers of exposing too much of one’s self online.  Or to the ease with which one can create or imagine some serious drama.  Or damage to your own or someone else’s reputation.  And trust me, if you are continually offensive, hateful, using SM as a tool to be passive aggressive, or just looking for drama, I will unfollow, drop, or block you quicker than quick.  Or, I’ll just keep scrolling.  Because I don’t have to pick up what you are laying down.  And that, my friend is the beauty of social media.

So if you see me with my face in my phone, you have a few options.  One is to get off your high horse and quit judging me.  I’m pretty sure you have your own problems to deal with.  Another is to keep on judging me, and while I live in my happy online world, you are perfectly welcome to keep living in your hateful real-life world.  Another option would be to try talking to me, and be willing to not only talk about what you want to talk about, but maybe also what I want to talk about.  You may also consider being prepared for me to not want to talk, and then be respectful of it.

Just a thought.

 

The fuss about fusibles…

Recently I had the opportunity to do a guild presentation for the Plantation Quilters at Jarrell Plantation in Juliette, Georgia.  The program was a mashup of info on curved cutting, piecing, and applique with a discussion on fusibles and pressing aides.  One simply led into another.

I was grateful for the experience, as it gave me a chance to discuss fusibles and what the difference is from one to another.  There are a lot of products on the market, and I don’t pretend to cover all of the options here, but I just wanted to take a minute to explain the difference between some of the big players.

When someone asks me which fusible I recommend or is my favorite, I’d have to answer with “It depends.”  Fusible webbing products all basically have the same end purpose- to fuse fabric and/or fibers to each other, either temporarily or permanently.  Fusible webbing isn’t new on the market.  I remember when I first discovered Wonder Under, and was thrilled with the possibilities.  I think the first projects I made with it were three dimensional flowers, and I think maybe some garlands or something like that.  You know, 1995-ish.  However, there have been a number of developments in the fusible webbing world over the years, and there are many more options available today.

One of the biggest differences between fusibles has to do with weight, and the feel of the fabric after the fusible has been applied.  Some fusibles are very heavy and leave fabrics feeling particularly stiff, and can gum up a sewing machine needle quicker than quick.  And don’t even think about hand appliqueing through it.  Your hands will fall off.  It is important to read the packaging when it comes to which grade of fusible to buy.  Heat’n’Bond Ultrahold says plainly on the packaging “No Sew”, and trust me, it’s best to believe them.  Having said that, I have found that the Ultraholds of the world are not the best products for how I want my applique to finish.  I prefer products that have words like “lite” in the title.  They hold my pieces appropriately in place until I am ready to sew them down, and depending on the fabric and the fusible, generally finish with a soft hand, just the way a quilt should.

 

It doesn’t take a lot of experimenting to learn the difference between weights of fusible webbing, but there are other differences as well.  The three products shown above are my current favorites, and yes, I have a need for all three.

Let’s start with Soft Fuse.  It is the most similar to what I grew up with in my quilting experience.  It is a paperbacked, heat activated fusible.  Draw or trace images on the paper side of the fusible, then follow the directions to heat-fuse the adhesive side to the back of the fabric intended to be fused to the background.  (Remember- how ever you draw the images on the paper is how they will look when you fuse them to the background.  For instance, you must reverse letters before drawing them on the paper, or the letters will be backwards on your project.)  Cut images out following the drawn lines on the paper.  (I will say this multiple times- nothing beats Kay Buckley Perfect Scissors for this.)  Peel off paper backing, leaving the shiny adhesive on the fabric.  Again, following directions, use an iron to adhere the applique pieces to the background.  So, how is this any different than the traditionals?  It is remarkably lighter, but still does the job.  No heavy hand to the finished product.

Next in line of my favorite fusibles is Lite Steam-A-Seam 2.  Notice “lite” in the title.  Original Steam-A-Seam 2 is too heavy for most of my projects, although I use it from time to time on an unusual application.  This product is not used in the traditional manner.  It is a double-sided fusible that is both pressure and heat sensitive.  With this product, the fusible has paper on both sides, very different from traditional fusibles.  One of the papers has a blue grid printed on it.  The grid makes drawing images, particularly letters, much easier, and also makes it very obvious which is the “right” side.  Draw images on the paper with the blue grid, but just like with Soft Fuse, you must reverse images before you draw them on the grid.  Roughly cut out images, leaving both papers and the fusible in tact.  This is where you can run into a problem.  The papers have a tendency to come away from the fusible, and it can take some manipulation to make sure the fusible stays where it is supposed to.  When the backing paper is peeled back, the fusible should stick to the blue grid paper.  After removing the backing paper, stick the fusible (and the blue grid paper) to the back of the fabric simply by using your fingers to apply pressure.  Using the drawn image on the blue grid paper as a guide, cut out the applique shape.  (Again, Karen Kay Buckley scissors!)  Peel off the blue grid paper.  And here’s where the value of Steam-A-Seam 2 comes out- finger press the applique piece onto the background as desired.  Don’t like it?  No problem.  Move it.  When it is finally where you want it to be, follow the package directions and use the iron to heat set the adhesive.  It has a slightly heavier hand than Soft Fuse, but has the ability to be moved around repeatedly until the desired design is achieved.

Last is MistyFuse, which is a pretty amazing product.  Totally different than other fusibles because there is no paper involved at all.  The fusible looks something like a gauzy spider web, and comes in white, black and UV.  Black is used in a number of art applications, and the UV has been tested for it’s ability to stand up to UV light better than other fusibles, which can turn light fabrics yellow over time as exposed to sunlight.  The white is the most commonly used, and what I will focus on here.  With this product you must use a pressing sheet, of which there are plenty on the market, but MistyFuse likes the Goddess sheet in particular.  I can talk about those sheets as well another day, but what you need to know is that there is no difference (except maybe size) between the Goddess sheet and the Bo-Nash Giant sheet, and that you can essentially get the same effect from a roll of parchment paper.  Parchment paper will eventually burn, and need to be replaced with another piece of parchment paper, but other than that acts very similarly to the pressing sheets on the market when it comes to fusible webbing.  To use MistyFuse, draw images on a piece of parchment paper using a pencil.  Keep in mind that the image will be automatically reversed when using this process.  (In other words, write letters the correct way on the paper, they will transfer reversed on the back of the fabric, which will make them correct when fused to the background fabric.)  Lay the piece of parchment paper on the ironing surface, drawing side up.  Lay a piece of MistyFuse on the parchment paper, covering the images.  Lay fabric on top of MistyFuse.  Lay another piece of parchment paper on top of the fabric.  Following the directions, use the iron to fuse the MistyFuse to the fabric.  If done correctly, the fusible will be a very light, shiny surface on the back of the fabric, and the pencil-drawn images will have transferred to the back of the fabric as well- all ready to be cut out and fused to the background.  (One more time- Karen Kay Buckley…)  The other thing about MistyFuse is that you can prepare large-ish pieces of fabric ahead of time, and if you allow the fabric to cool and cure for about 20 minutes after applying MistyFuse, you can fold it up, put it in a drawer, and return to it at a later time.  Then it is possible to rotary cut shapes using templates, or draw directly on either side of the prepped fabric for whatever your heart desires.  Pretty cool stuff, if you ask me!

So, there it is.  Hopefully it wasn’t dreadfully boring.  I just wanted you to know you have options.  Now go forth and fuse.

The First Juan

There is this friend in my life who has been a great cheerleader to me. She comes to just about every event I host. She has sat through programs at the studio when no one showed but her. She sends me ideas, asks me what I’m doing next and reminds me to follow up. 

She also dropped off a quilt to me for Juan. The first customer quilt. Before I even knew what questions to ask. Or how much to charge. 

  

“Sometime by December.”  “However you want to quilt it.”  “Just let me know at the end.”  Totally trusting me with her work. Wow. 

So, Juan and I discussed the possibilities. Everything about this quilt seemed to say “snow,” so we dug through Juan’s brain. Not snowflakes- too obvious. Not meander- too boring. How about swirls?  And oh yes, there are plenty of those to choose from. We settled on “Swirls Two” by Lone Pine Quilting, and loaded the quilt into Juan’s arms. 

Now, I could, in the interest of promoting my business, and protecting Juan’s reputation, skip the gory details of what happened next. But, I can’t do it. I thought about it, but in the end I just can’t dress it up in an unrealistic outfit. It is what it is, and I’m glad it happened because I learned from it. (And the quilt turned out great in the end- don’t worry-)

  
This is the reality of quilting. This is the reason quilters cuss. After ripping out stitching THREE times, I finally made a call for help. 

  
It turns out that if you don’t thread the bobbin winder correctly, it screws with your bobbin, which in turn screws with your tension, which in turn screws with your sanity.  It also turns out that there’s this really helpful thing on the Internet called YouTube that shows you how to do stuff. Like use the equipment in your studio. 

  
Once I got that figured out, the rest was a breeze. Until I had to try to create an invoice. Hello. Took longer than quilting the quilt. 

  
  
I was pleased with Juan’s work, and we had a good discussion on the importance of understanding the mechanics of thread tension. According to Juan, this was just the beginning, and there are many more lessons to come. But he also seems to think that I can be taught. 

  
Makes me wanna put on a big, wooly sweater and drink a cuppa hot cocoa in front of a fire. 

Except I live in Georgia. And it’s 68 degrees outside. 

 

#FQS1930FarmersWife, Week 5

One of the things I am loving about this quilt along is the pace.  Yesterday I was thinking that I was so far behind and that I would have so much trouble catching up.  Ahem.  Two blocks.  An hour and a half.  Yeah.

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  1.  Thanks, iPhone, for keeping track of exactly how inactive I am outside of Quilt Market.  Too bad that doing this twice a year doesn’t really add up to much.

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2.  Sometimes you have to bribe your teenage daughter with a little lunch to get her to help you take pics for a tutorial.  Getting her to be in the pic with said lunch and block #45, Jenny, just cost too dang much.

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3.  This is what Snow White would look like if she was a Senior in High School preparing to go to college in 2016.  Happy Halloween!  (haha- she’s gonna kill me if she sees this!)

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4.  Being in a panic does not change the task at hand.  It only makes it a miserable experience.  This is a lifelong lesson for me.  If I dwell too much on the list, I just make myself crazy.  So, I think I will just keep moving forward, and celebrate the victories as they come.  Block #41, Granny.

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5.  This is my view from my front porch.  I love crisp autumn mornings, and I am so grateful for this simple thing in my life.

Magic binding. Okay, maybe not magic. But close.

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So, binding has been a thing for me for years.  I can’t say that I feel like I make perfect binding, or that I don’t have any more room to learn, but I’d say that I’ve come a long way from the slightly rounded, thinly filled and seriously scary stuff I used to do.  Binding is a skill that is important to master, for a number of reasons.  First, it is the first part of a quilt that wears out, so it needs to be done in such a way that it can be replaced as needed.  Second, it is like the frame around a masterpiece, and it can either add to or detract from the overall work.  Thirdly, it’s important to understand that binding is one of the number one things that will cost a quilter competition points.  Not interested in competition?  I get it.  However, there are a number of modernists that would like to see their work get more respect and attention in the traditional shows.  In order for that to happen, there need to be more submissions of modern work that is also a showcase of mastered skills.  As I have often said, there is nothing wrong with breaking the rules of quilting, but you have to know what the rules are in order to know which ones should be broken when, and for what purpose.  I’m not going to go into detail about those rules this time, but I would like to show what I know about joining binding properly.  And without wanting to hurt somebody in the process.

There is great discussion and variance in the width that binding should be cut, and whether or not it should be cut on the bias.  Those are thoughts for another day.  So, just for today, I have cut this binding at 2″ WOF on the straight of grain.  I pressed my seams open at the joins, and pressed the binding lengthwise, wrong sides together.  I have sewn the binding to the front of the quilt, lining up the raw edges of the binding with the raw edges of the quilt top.  I left a generously long tail at both the beginning and the end of sewing the binding to the front of the quilt.

First, line one of the unsewn tails to the edge of the quilt.  It’s easiest to use the shorter of the two, but it really doesn’t matter which one.

Next, using the second tail, cut a small piece off of the end.  It does not matter how big this piece is, but about an inch works perfectly.  Open this small piece out.  The measurement you are interested in is the width of the piece, not the length.  In other words, my binding was cut at 2″, so I am interested in the 2″ measurement of the cut.  If you had 2 1/2″ binding, the piece would need to be 2 1/2″.

Layer the two binding tails on top of one another, aligned with the edge of the quilt.  Using the width of the little piece cut from the tail as a guide, cut the top tail so that the overlap of the two tails is the same as the width of the binding.  (In this case 2″, but just to be extra clear, if you have 2 1/2″ binding, the overlap needs to be 2 1/2″.  If you have 3/4″ binding, the overlap needs to be 3/4″.)  Discard the little piece cut from one of the tails.

Draw both tails out and away from the edge of the quilt and onto a cutting mat.  Open the tails and lay them both face up.

Without changing the orientation of either tail, use the Folded Corner Clipper to cut each tail at a 45 degree angle, with the 1/4″ seam allowance also trimmed off.  (It is possible to do this with a straight ruler with a 45 degree mark, or with other 45 degree tools, but for me, this is by far the easiest one to handle while cutting binding tails for joining.)

Lay the two tails along the quilt edge and notice that they match properly for joining.

Pin the short edges together, right sides together, and sew together with a 1/4″ seam.

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Press seam allowance open.

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Align raw edges of joined binding with the edge of the quilt and stitch loose binding to the edge of the quilt.  Complete binding as desired.

Told ya it was magic.  #boombaby

the Tula Pink Coloring Book: 75+ Signature Designs in Fanciful Coloring Pages

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A few months ago I was standing in line at the craft store and saw a stack of very intricate coloring books near the register.  I was immediately drawn back 30 years or so ago when my cousin and I would spend summer afternoons laying on the floor coloring in black and white booklets full of tessellating patterns and repetitive graphic designs.  I also collected unusual coloring books from the places we would visit as a family.  I don’t know what ever happened to those books, but oh, how I loved them.  I kept them hidden away from my younger siblings, and chose each color carefully whenever I did break down and actually color in them.  It seems I am not alone in that experience, as the market has recently exploded coloring books designed with the mature aesthetic palate in mind.

The Tula Pink Coloring Book has certainly hit this nail on the head.  Some of the pages beg that pack of special markers to come out of their hiding place, while others whisper, “Wouldn’t it be nice to buy a new pack of colored pencils?”  I’m even curious about using those little oil pastel sticks- harder to stay in the lines with those, but I’m not sure I care.  I like that the pages are perforated so they can be carefully removed and laid out on the table for optimal coloring.  If one dares to take it apart from all of its glory.

This particular copy is going to our daughter who is currently on an 18 month mission to Brazil, and I happen to know that she would find this especially relaxing on her day off.  But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I’d like to sneak a few of the pages for myself- especially the ones from The Birds And The Bees and Bumble.  And Prince Charming.  And Neptune.  And Nest.  Oh for pity’s sake.  I guess I have to get my own.