Friday, September 23, 2016

Stitching Through the Layers

Should I say it? Christmas is just around the corner. Need to finish those gifts?  Stitching Through the Layers: The Art and Elegance of Straight Line Quilting is just what you need!

Quilting for me is part of the original design idea. It’s as important as the color or piecing design. I like
all the parts of quiltmaking, but design and fabric selection are my favorites. As I travel and teach quilting design workshops, it became obvious to me that many quilters find choosing a quilting design to be very challenging. Most realize that a good design can make or break a quilt. But free motion can be very intimidating. There had to be a better way. 

In my machine quilting workshops I try to help everyone get past that apprehension. Sometimes I find that we just don’t have enough hours in the day for all the things we need to do much less want to do, and good free motion takes practice, lots of practice. There just had to be a better way. So Stitching Through the Layers; The Art and Elegance of Straight Line Stitching was born. The slogan became “Move your quilt one big step toward stardom! This book makes it EASY for you to decide how to maximize the ‘wow’ factor by using the right stitching in the right way and in the right places!”

Osterman Media ISBN 978-0-9838274-0-5 paperback
28 pages, 8 1/2" 11".   $19.55

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tips for Machine Piecing

I have been sitting behind my sewing machine this week piecing my next creation and thinking about
Thread for piecing
what makes a quilt successful. The first in a long line of things is piecing accuracy. Here are my tips for piecing by machine.

1. I prefer to use colored thread. It's more trouble but well worth the effort. If this is too much of an investment for you consider using dark gray and beige or light gray and beige. Put the gray thread in the top and the beige in the bobbin. This makes reverse sewing easier. You'll know right away to cut the top ‘gray’ thread and pull the bottom ‘beige’ thread.

2. Sew with smaller thread; I use a machine embroidery thread or one of the newer threads made for piecing like Superior Threads ‘Masterpiece’ or Aurifil cotton 50wt.

3. Use a sharp needle and change it often; I prefer to use a smaller needle Sharp/Microtex size 70/10. Other good choices are Sharp/Microtex size 80/12, a size 75/11 quilting needle or a Jeans/Denim size 70/10 or 80/12.

4. Press seams open; I press as many seams open as possible. Now I’m not totally crazy, if it is easier to have seams pressed one way or the other I do so, but I press seams open most of the time.

5. Use ¼” foot with guide if possible; Many machines have a ¼” foot available. I prefer the foot with the guide. I need a ‘wall’ that allows the fabrics to ride along. If you want to try the guide idea, use either layers of masking tape or moleskin and place it exactly ¼” from the needle.

6. Use the single stitch throat plate; The normal throat plate has an oblong hole which allows the machine to eat the thread tails or fabric.

7. Change needle position; Even though I use a ¼” foot, I still feel that in order to get a scant ¼” seam, I move the needle one very small step to the right. Be sure to check and make sure the needle won’t break.

8. Chain piece; I piece as many pieces as possible one right after another. Saves time and thread.

9. Even seam width the whole length of the seam: Use a stiletto to guide the last little bit of a seam if necessary to get an even seam width.

10. Starch: I starch a lot. I prefer the old fashioned liquid starch that I find at a big box store. I mix it
half and half starch and water for heavy use. The hardest part of doing this is finding a bottle that likes to spray facing down at the work lying on the ironing board. I prefer this to aerosol cans because it never flakes!

11. Press not iron: I do not want any distortion, so I carefully press and lift, not rubbing back and forth as in ironing.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

About Judging

The purpose of judging a quilt show is twofold: one is to award excellence, and the other is to give critique. ‘Critique’ is not criticism. A critique is defined as ‘a critical analysis or review’. A good critique should point out the areas in which the quilter has demonstrated success, as well as suggest areas which need improvement.

Much of my judging is done locally and I sign all judging cards given to the quiltmaker. Sometimes I get comments. 'Thanks" other times there is more of a conversation. One quilt maker just didn't get it. I evidently made the comment the I thought the piece would benefit with more quilting. She said "but it has a warm and natural batt" (this batt requires lines of quilting a minimum of 8" apart). I kept saying "how would I know that?" I don't think she ever got it.

I might make comments like these;

FEATURES OF THIS QUILT ARE:                               

1.    Excellent visual impact
2.    Stood up well against stiff competition
3.    Edges flat
4.    Colors and fabrics well chosen for quilts style
5.    Innovative use of color
6.    Innovative use of pattern
7.    Well balanced design

8.    Color impact could be improved
9.    Good effort
10.    Bearding is apparent
11.    Loose threads should be cut (threads shadow)
12.    Remove basting threads and/or pencil marks
13.    Edges wobble or ripple

1.    Piecing well done
2.    Points match
3.    Block size is uniform
4.    Straight lines are straight
5.    Curved seams are smooth

6.    Piecing needs improvement
7.    Corners and points should meet precisely
8.    Block size should be uniform
9.    Straight lines should be straight
10.    Shadowing-through detracts
11.    Stitches should be secure
12.    Piecing thread should not show

 1.    Appliqué well done
2.    Design well centered on block
3.    Curves are smooth
4.    Points are sharp
5.    Stitches are even
6.    Stitches are unobtrusive

7.    Appliqué needs improvement
8.    Design should be centered on block
9.    Curves should be smooth
10.    Points should be sharp
11.    Stitches should be even
12.    Stitches should be unobtrusive
13.    Background shadows through
1.    Border well done
2.    Border compliment’s central design
3.    Corner miters well done

4.    Border techniques need improvement
5.    Border should compliment central design
6.    Corner miters should be done carefully
7.    Borders should be straight
8.    Sashing inconsistent (not aligned)
 1.    Binding well done

2.    Binding techniques need improvement
3.    Batting should fill binding completely
4.    Corners should be stitched closed
5.    Width of binding should be consistent
6.    Fabric bias more appropriate than commercial bias
 1.    Quilting well done
2.    Stitches are even
3.    Stitches on back are even
4.    Straight quilting lines are straight
5.    Curves quilting lines are smooth
6.    Quilting pattern appropriate

7.    Quilting techniques need improvement
8.    Density of quilting should be consistent over surface
9.    Stitches should be of even length
10.    Stitches should go all the way through
11.    Beginning and ending of quilting threads should be invisible
12.    Quilting design should enhance design
13.    In the ditch quilting should stay in the ditch
14.    Tension on quilting stitch should be even

Friday, September 16, 2016

On Judging

The Rialto
I don't enter very many competitions, but once in a while I want the feedback I can only get from a judge. So I entered one of my favorites The Rialto.
 Here are the judges comments:
Strong use of contrasting colors that 'sing' against each other.
Innovative use of old crochet and embroidered doilies.
Good choice of pieced fabrics in background, but perhaps the proportion of background is a bit large for the purple circles.
Pleasing quilting design.

So I have two questions: What embroidered doilies?
Large pieces? This is all about the doilies the large pieces were chosen so that the background would just be there.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Tear Continues!

Now it is my studio's turn.  Things to toss/delete or just plain remove from my life

Bits and pieces of stabilizers
Quilts I no longer need, want or like
Bent pins
Old rotary blades – starting with the one in my cutter!
Fabric scraps too small for any possible use
The pattern I bought in a moment of weakness and will never sew
Unwanted fabric – the what was I thinking stuff
The squares from my stash of scraps that I know have been there for years, still unused
Duplicate tools
Worn rulers

Monday, September 12, 2016

Recharge your creative juices

I don’t know about you, but I often feel the need to recharge my creative juices. You may be inspired by a walk in nature, or writing ideas for the first 20 minutes of your day - before eating breakfast or talking to anyone. Listening to music or books on tape might also be inspirational.

Creativity has been attributed to everything from divine intervention to chance. Some say it is a trait we are born with; others say it can be taught. I think creativity is letting new ideas into your conscious brain.

For me, new ideas usually stem from new experiences. These experiences often come from

travel. It can happen in far away places or as close as your hometown. On a recent trip to  Puget Sound I saw these kayaks. I remember the shapes and colors.

This is a picture I took earlier this year at The Getty in California. Again it's the shapes that I find interesting.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

It is still summer!

I love summertime. The sun shines. It's true the sky is bluer in Seattle. One of my favorite ways to celebrate summer is a quick visit to the local Saturday, Farmer's Market. Today I went to Des Monies Washington.

Set against the backdrop of the Olympics and the Puget Sound, Des Moines Farmers Market is a must-see destination for buying local. Located in the close-knit Marina District of Des Moines, WA, the Des Moines Farmer’s Market offers fresh and tasty seasonal crops direct from the growers, an appetizing array of food vendors, a veritable collection of local crafts people, and toe-tapping live musical offerings.

It fascinates me that what's old is new again. Here was a lady selling macrame jewelry! I used to make the stuff before I dedicated all my time to quilting.  Just so you know: I painted ceramics, made macrame jewelry along with pot hangers. I also crocheted (still do once in a while thanks to YouTube!)

Complete with live music!

Friday, September 9, 2016


Definition? The Ribbon Room at Nancy's Sewing Basket!

Nancy's is a local, family owned, fine fabric store specializing in fabrics and notions for creating wearables. They carry wool, silk, linen, cotton, and synthetic fabrics. The button wall features over 3,000 buttons and, my favorite, a room devoted to ribbons and trims. 
Nancy's Sewing Basket
2221 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 282-9112

Thursday, September 8, 2016

I'm on a tear

All year my stuff has been toooo much! Here is a list of things to do for the next 30 days. If I start at the top surely I can do one a day! Wish me luck.

30 things to toss/delete or just plain remove from my life

Wrapping paper scraps
Empty jars or storage containers
Expired coupons
Worn out/burned pot holders
Canned goods – past pull date
Scratched Teflon frying pans
Old pots you never use
Old pillows
Worn out sheets
Skinny jeans
Old shoes
Purses that never see the light of day
Mismatched or old socks
Raggedy t-shirts
Scarves you never wear
Product samples
Expired meds
Thick nail polish
Old make-up
Un-matched earrings
Old electronics
Old phones
Apps you never use
Delete bad or out of focus photos
Old texts
Junk emails
Delete apps or emails from stores where you never shop
Gifts you don’t need or want
Old Christmas cards
Christmas lights that don’t work