Some Favorite Tools

In the past year I’ve tried a number of new-to-me tools for my quilting, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorites. As always, these are not affiliate links; they are just for your convenience.

A New Table for My Sewing Machine

I’ve had in mind for years (literally) to get a table I can “drop” my machine into, but goodness! Have you looked at the prices of sewing furniture?!? Not in the budget!

However, I’ve seen a couple of people use the SewEzi portable table and both recommended it. It still isn’t cheap by any means, but it’s a lot less than “sewing furniture” and I’m very pleased with it. I got the portable version rather than the Grande because I have every intention of taking it to retreats with me. I positioned it perpendicular to my usual sewing table so I now have all the large table to the left to support the quilt when I’m attaching binding. The only drawback is that I had to wait several weeks for delivery, but of course we’ve come to expect that these days.

A New Seam Guide

I’ve had the Angler 2 seam guide so long it has turned yellow! I learned that it’s no longer made, so I’m trying Clearly Perfect Angles from New Leaf Stitches. It’s getting a good workout because my current project has about a zillion flying geese.This tool has, as advertised, eliminated the need to draw a diagonal line on the back of my squares. There’s even an auxiliary line that is used to sew the second seam needed to make those scrap HSTs that are a byproduct of the “waste triangle method”. So now I have 2 zillion HSTs….

New Non-Slip Stuff

I’ve tried multiple products, at multiple price points, to keep my rulers and templates from slipping while cutting. Most recently I found Grippy, and after trying it on one template I just lined up all the templates and rulers and sprayed the backs of all of them! On a per-use basis I think it’s the least expensive of the products, and it doesn’t leave a gummy mess on the back of the template like some of the stick-ons did. It’s my fave.

So tell me, what are your favorite tools? I’m always looking for something new to try 🙂

Return of the Fruit Ladies!

I’ll be teaching a new class in August, all because I am so excited to see the return of this fabric! (The fabric is shown on a bag I made many years ago using the original issue of this design.)

This is one I made several years ago

I had the fruit lady fabric when it came out about 15 years ago and made our daughter a quilt because she loves the beach. I made the bag shown above to go with it.

So when I ran across the re-issue of it, I was “forced” to buy some and make another quilt.

Because this quilt involves special techniques, I’ll be teaching it at Studio Stitch on August 11. Class list is here.

Quilt Stats

Name: Fruit Ladies

Pattern: Modification of “Level Up”, a pattern currently offered free here

Finished size: 49″ x 60″

Quilted by: Elisabeth Pugh

A Class and An Orphan Save

First, the class. I taught Happy Scrappy Diamonds at Studio Stitch recently. Here’s the class sample.

It’s made with the EZ Quilting Tri-Recs templates, which everyone agreed are well worth the price.

Here are some in-progress samples of what was made in class:

The templates made the triangles easy, and we all enjoyed putting scraps together to make the triangles, then some of us made the triangles into diamonds.

On the orphan block front…I have hundreds of them. Yikes! So I’ve been making them into 36″ quilts to be used over preemie incubators at the hospital.

Then I came to this, a 24″ swap block that was “wonky”. I’m sorry to say I was the one who recommended this swap block pattern, and it was anything but easy.

I decided that, rather than try to square up the block, I would add wonky borders and see what happened.

It turned out well! Umm, except maybe for that “bubble” in the left border that I hope will “quilt out”. Ha.

How has your week been?

Catching Up

I’m behind on binding quilts, so I’ll be binding one a week for a while during the catch-up.

First is Arkansas Crossroads, one of my favorites among the quilts I’ve finished lately.

When I have scraps, I cut them into strips of standard width ranging from 1.5″ to 4.5″, and store them in drawers. Therefore, there were a good number of 2.5″ strips available for this quilt and it went together quickly. There are free patterns for it on the internet, but of course I drew it in EQ8. Here’s my drawing:

Drawing done in EQ8

The good news is that EQ figures the yardage for you! I needed about 2 yards of fabric for the background, which I found in stash. The rest of the quilt top is from scraps!

The binding is black and white stripes. I buy stripes whenever I find them on sale because I love striped binding!

Quilt Stats

Name: Arkansas Crossroads

Design: Traditional, drawn in EQ8

Finished size: 50″ x 65″

Quilted by: Linda

Update on paper piecing without paper: I found featherweight sew-in interfacing, which is thin enough to see through and soft enough to make no noise at all when crumpled. Unfortunately, it is too flimsy to run through the printer and is somewhat difficult to trace on due to its softness. Also it turns out some stiffness is needed to keep small pieces from puckering when joining on a curve, and this isn’t stiff enough. So overall, not a good option. Too bad!

More Foundation Paper Piecing (Even Fewer Tears)!

There’s another alternative to real paper in addition to the dissolving paper I reviewed last week. Linda Hahn introduced me to a thin polyester sheet that works just like paper but can be left in the quilt! So here’s the scoop on it.

First, a view of the back of one of my blocks made with the polyester “paper”.

You probably can see that I’ve torn off a tiny bit of the non-paper in the upper right corner. I did that just to prove I could. So if you really, really want to, you can remove the foundation. (But why?)

I found a similar non-woven foundation sold by June Tailor. Linda’s are available through her website at 25 sheets for $10–considerably less expensive than the dissolving paper I reviewed last week. I found the June Tailor on Amazon at 50 sheets for about $17, an even better value.

Both these products are just a little stiff. It makes them run through the printer well and they are see-through enough to be easy to trace on.

I washed scraps of each. They didn’t appear to absorb water, and there was no change in texture, no loss of either ink from my printer or from the Pigma pen. The material came out exactly as it went in, with the exception that the washer wadded it up a bit, resulting in wrinkles.

I washed the pieces with the 1″ test squares on them so I could verify no shrinkage, and it’s good on that score as well.

I searched to see if I could find a similar product in larger sheets, but the only candidate, Pellon 911, seemed heavier and stiffer.

The only potential problem with these polyester sheets is that they do crackle a little if you crunch them. I don’t think they’ll do that when they’re sewn inside a quilt, but eventually I’ll find out. I’ll let you know.

And what of the original alternative, paper for paper piecing? There are lots of opinions out there. You can buy Carol Doak’s foundation paper, which seems to me to be the same as newsprint paper, which is cheaper by the ream.

Some people swear that ordinary printer paper tears off more cleanly.

And Elizabeth (OPQuilt.com) uses 17 lb Vellum. I didn’t know what Vellum is, so I asked Ms. Google. It’s “parchment” made from calf skin. I have seen it, and it’s lovely in texture and certainly transparent enough for tracing. I expect it tears out well, since Elizabeth goes to the trouble to find it. Her only complaint is that it’s difficult to find in quantity. Well, Elizabeth, I found I could order larger quantities from one of the big box office supply stores–for just under $100 a ream!!!

If you’re interested in the New York Beauty block, Elizabeth is continuing her series of free blocks, one each Wednesday in June. You can start at her blog or go directly to her Payhip store. But go now if you want the blocks, because I expect they’ll be combined into a paid pattern eventually.

I modified her latest block, but here’s my version:

Paper Piecing Without Tears

That is, without tearing out the paper! Here’s the story:

My friend Elizabeth recently started a series of free FPP (Foundation Paper Pieced) New York Beauty blocks. She’s releasing one free block every Wednesday for the month of June, so if you’re interested, head over there: OPQuilt.com

Here’s my first block from her series:

Foundation Paper Pieced block designed by Elizabeth Eastman

Now back to the issue of what to use for foundation!

I recently saw water-soluble foundation paper at Studio Stitch and had to try it.

This paper is meant to dissolve in water and is intended for many uses, including foundation piecing. The 12 sheets were about $11. Like many Pellon products, it is also available by the yard if you can find a place to buy it from the bolt. The price on Amazon makes it look like it may cost less that way BUT will it run through my printer? I don’t know. At the very least I’d have to cut it into 8.5″ x 11″ sheets first.

The Pellon sheets did run through my printer without difficulty and the image quality was good.

I happily stitched the block and then turned to the issue of removing the paper.

I dampened the seams only, thinking to dissolve the paper there and then remove the pieces as I would if I were tearing it off traditional-style.

The paper turned into a soggy mess along the seams. The pieces did lift off pretty well, but paper pieces remained in the seams.

That said, the amount of paper left in the seams was small and it was very soft, not stiff like the usual FPP paper. I don’t think it will be a problem.

One final test for this paper! I stitched a scrap of the Pellon wash-away paper to a scrap of fabric. Then I put the fabric in a net bag, to simulate having it inside a quilt, and ran it through a gentle cycle wash as I would a finished quilt. Here’s how the back looked:

Back, after washing

This looks acceptable to me. I think the Pellon wash-away paper would work just fine.

Pellon Water Soluble Stabilizer

Pros: It works well in the printer, it does dissolve almost completely in water, it is transparent enough to use for tracing, I was able to glue it with water-soluble glue without problems.

Cons: A bit pricey (almost $1 a sheet). It is water soluble so don’t plan on using a steam iron! And the claim that it “dissolves completely” wasn’t entirely true, though I don’t think the small amount left in the stitching will matter.

However, this wash-away paper isn’t the only alternative to traditional newsprint-type FPP paper. More next week–please stay tuned!

Knot: A Finish

It  seems like forever since I started this quilt, but here it is finally. It’s my modification of Sherry Shish’s “Simply Cornered” pattern.

Quilt Stats

Name: Knot

Design: “Simply Cornered” by Sherry Shish

Made by: me

Quilted by: Linda

Size: 47″ x 47″

This post marks the beginning of my tenth year of blogging. I’m still enjoying it, especially the opportunity to connect with other quilters around the world. Thank you all for reading and following!

Susan’s Ideas Explode

I took a class with Susan Cleveland at AQS-Paducah this year and it was excellent. Susan manages to be both pleasant and precise as a teacher and has many, many tricks for improving quilt making skills.

Thinking of Susan’s creativity and sense of humor, I decided to make my SAQA donation quilt a picture of ideas exploding out of her head.

Here’s the resulting piece:“Susan’s Head Explodes”, 12″ x 12″, a tribute to Susan Cleveland

Susan is known for (among other things) her binding techniques, prairie points, and Dresdens. All these involve her signature precision and attention to detail. I used some of her techniques in this little quilt and added several of my own. Here are some details.

First, the martini glass. Please note that I have no idea whether or not Susan drinks alcohol; I just couldn’t resist this use of a prairie point!

You can see my binding up close in this detail photo. I used a flange to accent the edge. The little spheres are wool balls cut in half, a technique I learned from Susan.

The red exclamation mark is made with Kraft-Tex to avoid any risk of fraying on such a small element.The flamingo is a plastic button! Following a suggestion from a reader (Elizabeth, in response to my Habitat House), I removed the shank and glued the button to the quilt.

For one of the prairie points, I put a clear spherical button inside to hold it open a little. This button was one of my happy finds in Paducah, so it deserves to be in the piece!

The wool blend felt used for batting was a suggestion in a recent book by Sue Bleiweiss. It worked quite well in terms of being stable and easy to use.

Quilt Stats:

Name: Susan’s Head Explodes!

Designed and made by: me, with inspiration from Susan Cleveland

Finished size: 12″ x 12″

Materials include: Commercial cotton fabric, hand dyed fabric (Cherrywood), hand dyed embroidery thread (Artfabrik, Laura Wasilowski), Kraft-Tex (C&T), plastic buttons, commercial rick rack, wool felt balls, a polymer clay button, wool blend felt for batting, and various commercial threads.

Note: As always, the links in this post are for your convenience. They are not affiliate links.

Trying A New Binding Technique

I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve my binding (as well as my other quilting skills). Recently I ran across a video (YouTube, of course) showing how to use the Bernina #71 foot for binding. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpl-7L4SEzM

I have no idea who this woman is, but she’s using 2″ binding, which is my usual. I also use Quilter’s Dream Request Loft batting (the thinnest loft), which is part of why the narrower binding works.

After watching the video several times, I tried it out.

As you can see, the binding looks pretty good, and it’s still all done by machine. I achieved a more consistent width using this foot than with my usual method with the walking foot.

I did have some trouble with the corners, but I thought my binding was pretty good for a first try. (And no, I didn’t take a picture of a messy corner!)

Here’s the finished quilt, which is one of the samples for the beginning quilting class I’ll be teaching later this year. This is a pattern I modified from the book Jump Into Patchwork and Quilting. Specifically, I re-drafted it so the monkey wrenches are made with the flip-and-sew method rather than with half square triangles. This floats the wrenches so beginners will be less likely to cut off a point.

Photo courtesy of C&T

I’ll be using the book as a text for the class so students will have a written reference at home. The book is bright and modern and I think it will appeal.

It also has some easy projects students will be able to do on their own. This book costs only a bit more than a pattern, so it’s a good value. (The book is available from Studio Stitch or C&T.)

I’ll be making another sample before offering the class. Meanwhile, here’s the information on this one.

Quilt Stats:

Name: Making Waves Modified

Source: I re-drafted a pattern from the book Jump Into Patchwork and Quilting

Finished size: 48″ x 48″

Made and quilted by me.

AQS Paducah 2022

After a 2 year wait due to you-know-what, 3 quilty friends and I finally met up in Paducah for AQS Quilt Week.

Paducah is an interesting town to walk around. There are lots of old houses as well as some interesting new ones. These two were next door to each other!

Then there is the gigantic Hancock’s of Paducah, a must-visit for fabric collectors. I saw a woman there wearing a shirt that declared, “Quilting and Fabric Collecting are Two Different Hobbies”. Apparently I agree 😀

There used to be a number of other fabric shops, including Eleanor Burns’ Quilt In A Day, but they have closed due to COVID. We did find an interesting shop, though.

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

Tuscan Rose is a wonderful shop selling clothing, apparently collected from thrift shops and then overdyed. Of course I bought a shirt, and so did one of my friends. Tuscan Rose also had such beautiful hand dyed yarn that I was tempted to resume knitting. (As a favor to the beautiful yarn, I left it to be bought by someone who actually knits well!)

The quilt show itself was something of a disappointment. There were hundreds of beautiful quilts, but before long it was overwhelming. The workmanship was exceptional and I think I would have enjoyed seeing a few of them, but after a couple of dozen my head was spinning.

Modern quilts were rare. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Kandinsky’s Sewing Circle by Holly Hull

Morning Fog by Sarah Lykins Entsminger

I also liked this one, but I can only assume that nobody at AQS understood what “one in every four” referred to, based on the AQS history of avoiding even a hint of controversy.

One in Every Four by Carolina Oneto

I didn’t hear that any of you were going to Paducah. What is your experience with AQS shows?