Things I’ve Learned from Carol: 9 Patches

How to Correctly Sew a 9 Patch

Sew together three sets of two squares, right sides together, using a leader piece to sew on and off. (you should end up with three sewn pieces)

Important tip:  Don’t clip the threads between patches, and don’t press them yet.

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Sew on the last block for each row.  Again, don’t clip threads, and don’t press.

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match edges
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sew on third square of each row

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Match the first two rows, right sides together.  Adjust the fabric pieces so that they match on the first seam line in the middle. They should “kiss” each other.  As you sew the rows together, flip the seam allowance up away from you for the first square. This allows the corners to “snuggle” in together nicely.  Use your stiletto and hold the fabric on that middle seam allowance. Gently pull the fabric so that the two pieces “settle” into their proper, matching spots.

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Notice how the seams “kiss” each other.
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Top seam allowance is flipped up, away from you, and bottom seam allowance is flipped down, towards you.

Once you’ve sewn to the middle seam allowance, stop and adjust your fabric again.  The second square of the row is opposite:  Flip the top seam allowance down and towards you, the bottom up and away from you.  Because this “feels” funny for the fabric pieces, they will likely slip a little.  Hold the seams firmly, or better yet, put a pin ahead of the matched seams.  Once you’ve sewn to the second seam allowance, stop and adjust your fabric again, this time matching and then holding the bottoms of the fabric.

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Top seam allowance is flipped down and towards you, bottom seam allowance is flipped up and away from you.
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Placing a pin in front of, or ahead of, the seam allows the fabric to remain in place better.

Repeat this process with the third row of the block.

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You can see by this picture that I still need to work on getting those second seam allowances to snuggle better.   You don’t need to unpick the entire row, however!  Just a few stitches ahead of and behind those mis-matched seam allowances.  Re-position them, remembering to let them “kiss and snuggle.” Re-pin, and re-sew.  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

Pressing a 9-Patch

Similar to pressing a 4-patch, shown here, correctly pressing a 9-patch will give you flatter results.

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Start by clipping a thread from the seam allowance on the raw edge side.  Then, carefully open the center seam allowance so that it lays flat, and mimics a 4-patch.
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Press the seams one at a time, going around as if a clock.  The seams should lay down based on how you’ve opened up the center little 4-patches.

I finished my 9-patch off by adding a cute Around the World sort of border.  I love how it looks!

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Let’s Bee Social!

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Things I’ve Learned from Carol: Four Patches

So… (pun intended)… I have pieced many a quilt.  I’ve been quilting for at least 20 years (yes, I started quilting while still in my mother’s womb!) and until last month, I didn’t realize how many bad habits I had, or even that although I had taught myself adequately, my techniques needed work.  And some things I have been doing for all these years were just plain wrong.  I could never figure out why my blocks would never come out square and the size the pattern would tell me it should be.  Instead of investigating, (remember I am the LAZY quilter of this bunch!) I just chalked it up to the weight of the thread, or the weave of the fabric, or rulers that scooted, or whatever other excuse we have all made for getting wonky squares.

And then I sewed with Carol.  And she taught me how to finally get a block to come out square and flat, and even have matching seams.

I pass along this information for two reasons.  The first is selfish:  I learn best when I have to regurgitate information and teach it to others.  The second is more altruistic:  I  simply hope that it will help someone out there in cyberspace take one more baby step on their journey to being a better quilter.

How to Correctly Sew a Four Patch

Sew together two sets of two squares, right sides together, using a leader piece to sew on and off. (you should end up with two sewn pieces)

Don’t iron the first two pieces you have sewn together!  (This is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT step I never knew!)

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Sew them first to the other two patches, matching the top of your two pieces.

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Use a leader, sew onto the fabric and stop.

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Adjust the fabric pieces so that they match on the seam line in the middle. They should “kiss” each other.

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The seam allowance of the top piece should always face away from you and the bottom towards you. This will allow the fabric to “fall” or “snuggle” into it’s correct position.

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Use your stiletto and hold the fabric on that middle seam allowance. Gently pull the fabric so that the two pieces “settle” into their proper, matching spots.

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Once you’ve sewn to the middle seam allowance, stop and adjust your fabric again, this time matching and then holding the bottoms of the fabric.

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Sew off onto your leader.

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To iron your four patch:

Clip one of the seams from the seam allowance of the middle, bulky part of the patch. This will allow the seams to be pressed the correct direction.

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 Looking from the back, seam allowances should go clock wise around the square. So, press one down towards you (just the seam, NOT the whole patch), then move to the next one going clockwise around.

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Because you clipped that seam, the center seam allowances should now open up and lay flat- no more bulk!  It’s like magic! 🙂

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Once the seams are pressed, press again (from the back still), gently pulling the corners into square position.

Flip the four patch over and press again on the seams, going clockwise.

 

Pull the pieces gently to allow the iron to make sure the seam is nice and flat with no “lips.”

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Voila!  That is one good looking four-patch!

*A huge Shout-Out to my 16 year old photographer!*

Let’s Bee Social!

Things I’ve learned from Carol

I belong to a local quilt group- we are loosely organized, and in no way resemble a guild, but we get together once a month and work on quilts.  Sometimes we are all doing the same one, and sometimes we are just working on our own things.  We are lucky enough to have a woman in the group who also teaches classes at the local quilt stores.  She is amazing, and I have learned so much from her.

Recently, we started working on an awesome new pattern put out by Lori Holt of Bee in my Bonnet called Farm Girl Vintage. (I have yards and yards of fabric from Art Gallery that is just dying to be used, and I think this quilt will look awesome in a sort of bohemian look, but I digress…)

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As we began our first blocks, and Carol showed us how and what to do, I realized that I had taught myself wrong, and that if I followed her instructions, I would be much happier with my final results.  (Now mind you, I JUST learned this, like a week ago, so I’m still in the process of learning.)  It occurred to me that if I didn’t know these things, maybe others didn’t either. I happen to learn best by regurgitating information, so, I am going to write a blog series called “Things I’ve Learned From Carol.”

  • Always start and END seams with the leader fabric. This way you don’t get bird’s nests at the beginning, and the feed dogs don’t try to eat your fabric at the end.

This is leader fabric.  I just grab some smaller, scrap pieces and use that:

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  • Sew onto your fabric, then pause and match up the bottom of the pieces, holding them in your left hand. Gently pull and adjust the two pieces so they lay straight and match up.

Sewing onto the fabric:

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Matching up the pieces.  You don’t need to use pins for small piecework like this:

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  • With your right hand, guide the fabric as you sew using a stiletto as a mobile “pin”. Your left hand is holding the bottom of the fabric that you just matched, making sure it stays matched up.  If you gently “tug” the fabric in this way (with your left hand holding the bottom, and the top being kept still by the needle), the fabric should just fall into alignment.

Keep the stiletto on the fabric, moving it down, until it hits the needle and runs out of room at the bottom:

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Sewing off the fabric:

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  • Ironing: Before you set a seam, make sure the edges of both fabrics lie straight and match each other. Otherwise, the fabric tends to swoop out and make ripples once it’s opened up:

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Setting a seam is an important step of quilting.  When you set a seam (simply pressing the seam after you’ve sewn it, but before you open it up), it allows the thread to sink into the fabric.  This will make your patchwork flat and lovely.  It also will smooth out many tension issues that can cause wrinkles and puckers.

Setting the seam:

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  • After the seam is set and both ends of the pieces match, open the fabric and using the tip of the iron, gently run down the length of the seam opening the fabric as you go.

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  • I like my seams pressed open unless I’m doing a really bulky corner. (I know, I know, this will probably cause a riot in the comments section… have at it!  What are your reasons for pressing closed or open? I’d love to hear!) I have a neat little tailors seam stick that allows me to press the seam open really nicely.

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  • Finally, turn the fabric right side up, set the iron down across the whole seam and “press.” (Don’t iron- the ironing motion stretches the fabric out)

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I would love to hear if any of this helps anyone but myself out!

(BTW, a big kudos and shout out to my 16 year old who is my photographer… it always amazes me how tech savvy these kids are!  She is taking photography this semester and loves it… she definitely has a knack for it, too!)

Let’s Bee Social Today!

Calendar Makeover 3 Ways- JANUARY

Calendar Makeover 3 Ways -JANUARY

Jan-Ohio Star

January is always a great time for fresh starts & new beginnings!
(Although I am not opposed to needing a fresh start in February or March as well! 😉
It has been a great year of revisioning and modernizing traditional patterns.  And it has been so inspirational to see the creativity blossom as we have put our own style on each of the patterns.  We also have realized more than ever that fashions and fads cycle through about every 30 years so it is really true that “old becomes new again.”

And as we complete our Calendar makeover this month, we invite you to take inspiration from us and take this year and work thru this project, in which ever form you choose.  There is no time like the present!  Without further adieu we present our final makeover:

StashMomma
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I love snowmen!!  One of my favorite winter songs has always been “Frosty the Snowman” and a few years ago decided that since January has always been such a “blah” month for me that I would use snowmen as my decorating theme.  It has been so fun to shop for the perfect snowman to add to my collection.SnowmenA few years back, one of the quilting magazines had a snowman quilt made from flannel that I fell in love with so I purchased the kit.  I made the quilt for a daughter-in-law but the fun thing is that I had enough leftover fabric to make a second quilt for me plus this cute wall-hanging.
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From the original wall-hanging I took the design elements of two columns, the block pattern for three of the blocks and the remaining 3 blocks I used the fabric squares of snowmen.  I machine quilted in the ditch around each square and then did a criss-cross for the triangles.  Super simple yet effective!
I love how it turned out and with it hanging on my wall, I smile each time I see it.
And maybe that is because the snowmen evoke a feeling of warmth and happiness despite the snow falling around them and that reminds me that I need to smile regardless of what is going on around me!!

Happy New Year!!

 

 

Quilted Harmonies

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My Makeover this month stems from my Thanksgiving visit to StashMomma’s house… she is the Queen of having anything and everything you ever thought you needed, or even Everything You Never Knew You Needed!

Speaking of “Old becoming New Again,” as we were playing in her stash (and by “playing,” I mean I was pawing through it and drooling over it all), I found a cute collection from Riley Blake I fell in love with that just screamed “make snowflakes out of me!”

Now, in the interest of Full Disclosure, you should all know that I have heaped much abuse upon my mother over these many years over her choice of wedding colors.  Yes, you heard me.  Wedding colors.  Even as a child, I thought they were the ugliest choice known to man.  I mean, in my six year old mind, whoever heard of spring green and turquoise making a good color match?  (And this is coming from a girl who got angry because that same mother wouldn’t let her wear her knee high pink cable knit socks with her awesome red corduroy pants.  At the same time.  On the same day. Humpfh.)  
Well.  In front of you all and the Universe, I would like to apologize to StashMomma for completely undervaluing her awesome sense of fashion and style.  She was obviously on the forefront of fashion in 1973, and remains so today. (In that same vein, maybe I should apologize to StashPoppa for hating his much beloved 1973 Pontiac LeMans-orange with a cream roof…  hmmm….nope. nah.  Sorry, PopPop!  Not happening!)

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But I digress…  Now that I am a much older and *cough, cough* wiser woman, I can admit that I was wrong as a child, and see the beauty in this colorway.  So, I borrowed StashMomma’s Accuquilt, and cut ALL of the shapes I needed for this quilt- the squares, the half-triangles, and the snowflakes.  I twisted the small quarter-triangle square blocks on their heads to give the overall impression of a crystalline shape.  In the negative spaces, I planned to appliqué blue snowflakes in the middles.  However, while auditioning the snowflakes, I was a little disappointed that the blue didn’t pop more off of the green background.  I left this lying on my family room floor for several days as I considered how to make it better.
My problem was solved when I remembered some chunky TulaPink Renaissance Ribbon I still had that matched the blues and greens.  It has a bit of pink running through it as an accent color, and that’s when I hit on it:  Use the ribbon as the border, and bring the pink into the quilt by appliquéing the edges of the snowflakes with shiny pink embroidery thread.  (luckily, I collect just as much thread as I do fabric, so I was covered in that area!)

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Check back for an update when I get the snowflakes all “pink-i-fied!” And follow my progress on Instagram! @quiltedharmonies or @stashladies
LovinglyLexi
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I have thoroughly enjoyed “expanding” my creative juices with this calendar makeover project.  To look at a quilt piece that is largely very traditional and spin it into a new and modern direction with paper was such a fun experience.

One of my favorite things about January is the fresh clean slate that it brings.  My house looks a little bare after I take down all of the Christmas decorations. But in that bareness I can see where the dusting and vacuuming may have been neglected during the festive month.  So even though it is cold and icy outside, my house is fresh and clean.

I used this approach to my January makeover.  Using this beautiful “icy blue” paper with a little bit of glimmer and shimmer, I tried to emulate the feelings of a fresh cold January.  Mimicking the original pattern, I switched out the 6 blocks with 6 snowflakes.
 

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I added a dark frame around both the focal point photo block and underneath the snowflakes to really make them pop.  Then I added strips of foil paper to really accent the middle of the page.
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Using one of my staples, Thickers, to make the title really gives it an elegant pop.  The letters are soft yet big enough to stand out and be noticed.    

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One to the tricks I used to make my snowflakes stand out was to only glue down the very center of the flake.  This give the arms movement and it really gives the look of 3 dimension without adding a ton of bulk to the page.  

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We hope that you have enjoyed our year long Calendar makeover and it has inspired you to pick up a small year long project this year!

Stay tuned for our Next “3 Ways” StashLadies project!

 

The Hexi Bat Buster

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

As I was decorating for Thanksgiving this year, I needed a little something for my round table.  It sits sort of in the foyer area of our home, so I love having a candle burning as our guest walk into our home.  I didn’t have any linens that were appropriate for this size table so I hurried and whipped up this cutie.

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It is a revised version of the The Bat Buster Quilt.
Which you can get for free by going here!

The best part about this cute little table hexi is that you can make it as big or as little as you like.  And you are busting thru that stash of fabric and batting quick as a whistle.

Here it is before i adorned my table.  I love the colors and the shape. Perfect for Fall and Thanksgiving. thumb_IMG_4843_1024

And here is my table adorned with a garland and my hexigon shaped lantern.

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And because we are SO SO SO grateful for our StashLadies Friends, Family and Supporters: This also is a free downloadable pattern for you!  Just click here, (register if you need to) and it is yours.Thank you! We are so Thankful for your support!!

Dollar Store Project Organizing

Recently a text message chain between the StashLadies has prompted me to think about my Project Organizing and how much I really love the system that I have going on.

I have a “temporary” studio set up in my unfinished basement.  I have wonderful morning light, two awesome 8 foot florescent lights that my honey hung for me, AND my AWESOME Stella Lamps, that work perfectly in the low light hours.  Our plan is to eventually finish our basement and like the planner that he is, Hubs decided to make my studio “expandable” to see how much space I really need.  I have several shelves and utilize bins for easy mobility and re-arranging.

The text started as a question from Quilted Harmonies:
How do you keep your on-going projects organized?”

I use white dish pan basins from the dollar store.
This is what it looks like all stacked into the basin. I can move it around,
pile stuff on it and have it available when I am ready to work on it.

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Here is what I have in this project basin today.
~Prairie Points ready to go, stored in an old stamp container that snaps shut.  Playing 52 pick up isn’t really fun with triangles! This keeps them tamed! 😉
~My Lace Trim
~My Binding all ready to go
~A baggie of the selvedges.
~All the left over fabric. In case I need it prior to finishing the project.
~My pieced backing is ready for a sandwhich
~The Empty $1 Basin

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And in all fairness, the above project is very OCD organized. I am at the tail end of my project and took a minute to clean up my studio the other day.

This dishpan is more what my on going projects look like:

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I do try to keep like items grouped but sometimes at the end of the day or if I need to quickly clean it up, it just gets “swiped” into the basin and piled up.  This project isn’t nearly as complete, so I don’t have any binding, trim or backing ready. It is just the block material I have going on in here.
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As OCD as I am, my natural tendency is to be a pile-er. So, I work with that weakness and pile into baskets, basins, & bins.

How do you organize your ongoing projects?

 

In-an-Afternoon Grocery Bag Tutorial

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I have these awesome fabric grocery bags that were “gifts” from an former employer (stamped with the company logo as big as you please).  They are bright and colorful and I got compliments every where I went with them.  After a good 8-ish years of use, and the fact that I no longer work for said company, I decided it was time to look around for new bags.  What I found just didn’t work as well as the ones I had.  So the other day, I was at the local chain fabric store and I saw this darling bag fabric.  It is stiff, yet light weight and the colors were adorable.  I just had pick up some yardage and make my own bags.
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I present you:
In-An-Afternoon Grocery Bag


Supplies for 1 bag:

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-1/2 yard Lightweight Bag Fabric (My fabric was 59” wide from selvedge to selvedge)
-Double Fold Bias Tape (I bought 0.875 wide and cut it in half lengthwise re-pressed and re-folded it.)
-Thread


Cutting Instructions for a 12″x16″bag:

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Cut 2 each 13”x16” fabric
Cut 2 each 7”x29” fabric
Cut 2 each 2”x31 fabric
Cut 2 each 44” of bias tape
Sewing Instructions:
Step 1:Fold and press 1 of the handles pieces in half lengthwise. You will have a piece that measures 1”x31”. Sew 1/4” down all four sides. Repeat with the second handle piece.
 
Step 2:Take your 2 pieces of 7”x29”. Measure 13” from the end of both pieces and mark with a marking pen. Line up the end of one piece to the 13” mark and you should have a 16” over lap on each piece. Sew 1/4” around this 16”x7” section.
This is doubling up the bottom giving your bag more stability.
**If you prefer to skip this step you can cut your fabric 7”x42 and
skip ahead to step 4.

 

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Step 3: Mark an X from corner to corner of your sewn bottom. Sew on the X to secure the bottom together.

Step 4: Line up one side piece, 13”x16” to the sewn bottom. (The 16”sides will line up). You can find the center of each piece and pin and sew it if you wish. Putting the material wrong sides together: Sew from the edge of the side piece along the 16” line to the end of the side piece. Repeat with other side piece.

piping markedGrocery Bag Tutorial
Step 5: Take the long section not attached and fold it down (see Figure A.) to create a triangle off the bottom/. Next fold the length back up matching up the sides. (see Figure B) Pin and sew down the left side. Repeat on the right side. Repeat Step 5 on the other side of the bag.

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This is what my bag looks like when I am sewing the 2nd side on.
This fabric is pretty stiff!

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Step 6: Sew the piping onto the bag. I sewed the piping onto the front and back of the bag. I started at the top of the bag, sewed until 1/4” off the bottom. Mitered the corner , turned the corner, sewed across the bottom, stopping at 1/4” off the side, mitered the corner, turned the corner and sewing back up to the top.Step 7: Trim the piping to match the top of the bag.

Step 8: Turn down the top of the bag 1” and sew 1/2” down to finish the top.

Step 9: Pin handles 3” in from each side. Sew a 1/4” seam around where the handle overlaps the top hem of the back and to secure the handle, sew an X across the box the seam formed.

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Viola!! Enjoy your adorable shopping bag!

Extra Bonus: Click here —-> for a FREE PDF of this pattern, including the cutting dimensions needed for a 14″x12″ bag.

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My Favorite Things: Tool Junkie

I am a self-professed tool junkie. I love any tool that will make my life easier.  The problem is that I usually have to learn how to use the tool before it makes my life easier!  But in the case of the following 5 tools I didn’t even have to look at the label or instructions before I could use them.  How easy is that?

 

AdvancedNotions

#1 Thread Holder by Superior

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Tool #1 is the thread holder by Superior.  How many times have I needed a larger thread holder for those larger cones (up to 3.5″ in diameter) lining my wall?  Threading is a snap and it works with all brands of machines and even smaller spools of any size.  Standing at 15″ tall, this baby can be used vertically or horizontally.   I liked my first one so much that I added a second one so now each of my machines has their very own-no more sharing!!

#2 Quilter’s Retractable Tape Measure by Fon’s&Porter

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Tool #2 is the retractable tape measure by Fons&PorterTape measures are a must tool to have in your sewing arsenal.  This tape measure actually saves me time because it retracts on its own and I’m not spending valuable sewing time rolling up a tape measure!

#3 Brass Seam Ripper by Nifty Notions

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Tool #3 is the most used of all my tools.  I love this particular seam ripper, not only because it looks so pretty, but it is so sharp and performs its function so well that if I’m not careful, I unpick too much.  This week, particularly, I have been best buds with this nifty notion!! 🙂

#4 Mary Ellen’s Best Press

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Tool #4 is the best!!  Ever tried to iron out those wrinkles and no matter how much water you sprinkle on the fabric they just won’t erase?  Well, Mary Ellen’s Best Press to the rescue!  Just a spritz and those wrinkles are seen no more!  And it smells good too!  In this bundle you get a 3 oz. random sample of one of the fragrances. 


#5 Snip-Eze  4 3/4″ Embroidery Snips by Havel’s

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Tool #5 is in no way the least important of my tool arsenal.  If you do machine applique or embroidery then this tool is almost mandatory.  When trimming fabric for an applique shape you need a tool with a sharp blade that can trim very close to the stitching without clipping the stitching or cutting through the bottom fabric.  This tool is the best!  But that’s not all!  “Snip-Eze”  can also be used for precise snipping of threads as it fits nicely under the pressure foot.  Because of the gentle squeeze action required, those with tired or arthritic hands will find that these snips reduce hand fatigue.

Click here for tools that make your sewing/quilting/patchwork as easy as pie!
Thanks for visiting our shop!

 

My Favorite Things: My Perfect Tool Kit

I got my first set of “sewing” scissors what I was probably 10.  My mom signed my sister and I up for a sewing class at our local fabric store.  I grew up in a small town in North Dakota and I think we had to drive to the “city” to take this class.  At any rate, I still have that first pair of scissors my mom got me.  As my sewing and crafting and quilting evolved I realized, that while a great pair of scissors is great, there are other vital tools of the trade.  I would like to present to you

My Perfect Beginning Tool Kit

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#1. A Cutting Mat.  A very important aspect in quilting.  This is the base that allows you to make all of those teeny tiny squares.  
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#2. A Nice long ruler.  I find it much easier to make the cut in one pass and having a long ruler is important.  
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#3. A sewing gauge.  This tool is awesome.  I keep one by my ironing board at all times.   This thing is great for everything from hemming curtains to measuring seams.  
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#4. A great box of pins!  There are some mixed feelings in my family about “to pin or not to pin” but whether or not you are a casual pinner every once in a while having a pin handy is a good thing.  
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#5. Rotary Cutting Tool.  This is my favorite tool of all.  I love how quickly you can get such a precise cut with one little “zip” and when you are done, you pop the little button and the blade automatically retracts.  This is a must have tool!  
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And there you have it folks!  My favorite tools! My must have list for any quilter whether beginner or just needing a tool refresh!

Click here to get yours today!

 

A Patriotic Re-Vamp: The importance of auditioning fabric

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One of my favorite designers is Verna Mosquera of Vintage Spool.  She is amazing, and I love every one of her appliqué designs.  In fact, I have several of them, and am in various stages of completing them all.  (I have a chronic problem with starting a project, and then starting something else, and then something else… you get the picture.)

Of all of those patterns, however, my favorite is her Faded Glory.  I began it with the intent of learning a new turned-appliqué technique on my sewing machine. I love hand work, but I also am always looking for a faster way to get the same results, and Verna uses some teeny-tiny pieces!!

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Each block took quite a lot of time… not as much as it would have by hand, but still!  I was so excited, it looked beautiful.  And then I started my favorite block… the little red wagon.  I had saved a favorite piece of fabric to use as a background especially for this block, and thought it would be perfect.

Now, I am pretty much a self-taught quilter, and so I learn bit by bit any good habits that happen to stick in my poor brain.  One thing I had heard of, but didn’t really think was important, was to Audition Your Fabric.  Oh, how I wish I’d taken the time!  I sewed my beautiful little wagon onto the beautiful fabric I had saved,

and instantly HATED it.

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Why didn’t I really notice before I’d sewn it?  Well, I sort of had, but in my hurry to finish the block, I pushed that little dissenting voice to the back of my head, and plowed on anyway.

oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.

This was a project that ended up thrown in the corner for a long time.  Because I just couldn’t get past that block, and what I’d done to it.

In preparation for this blog post, and having used that piece before in quilt talks to highlight the “what NOT to do” of choosing fabric, the rest of the StashLadies gang suggested that I finally fix it.

So I did.

Sometime after this disaster, I had heard Verna give a tip she uses:

Sometimes, if the pattern of the fabric is too bold or vibrant, it works well to simply flip it over and use the back of the fabric.

So I did.  And I have in many instances since then.  And it WORKS!!

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I haven’t yet sewed the block back to the other pieces, but my little red wagon can finally be seen, and I have fallen back in love!

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