Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ballard Locks (Hiram M. Chittenden Locks)

Weekends often find us at the Locks to hear a few tunes and check out the boats.

The locks can elevate a 760-by-80-foot vessel 26 ft, from the level of Puget Sound at a very low tide to the level of freshwater Salmon Bay, in 10–15 minutes. The locks handle both pleasure boats and commercial vessels, ranging from kayaks to fishing boats returning from the Bering Sea to cargo ships. Over 1 million tons of cargo, fuel, building materials, and seafood products pass through the locks each year.

It's fun to watch the water level change.

And of course visit the garden!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Piecing Thread

If you are using high quality quilting fabric, be sure to piece your projects with a high quality thread.
When piecing with 100% cotton fabric, it is important to use a 100% cotton thread. Choose a neutral color (many quilters use white, cream or gray for all of their quilting projects) or choose a thread to match the fabrics you’ll be sewing. (I use matching colored thread).

For years I pieced with light gray through the needle and beige in the bobbin or dark gray through the needle and dark beige in the bobbin. With an occasional black or white when necessary. But I have converted to using colored thread. It seems to make the thread much less noticeable.
Piecing thread showing here is called hounds tooth.
Good quality cotton threads produce less lint than lower quality cotton threads and are visibly “smoother” than the lower grades of cotton thread. High quality threads, which produce less lint, are also good for your sewing machine.

Excellent thread choices for piecing are Superior Threads MasterPiece, Wonderfil Tutti or Aurifil Mako 50 weight cotton thread. These threads are smooth and fine, while at the same time, strong and durable.
Superior Threads MasterPiece

Aurifil Mako 50

Wonderfil Tutti

Friday, July 24, 2015

Beads are a Blast!

Love that shiny stuff as much as I do? Let's bead. I love the repetition of the stitching. I do not care for hand quilting, it goes too slow. Don't get me wrong I love hand quilted quilts, just don't care to do the stitching. But I love to bead. With a few simple tools, and some beads of course, I can bead for hours.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

SuperFast Binding and Piping

This class description reads "Is binding the quilt your least favorite part? Tired of humdrum finishes? Come and learn piping and binding techniques to make your quilts stand out in a crowd. In class you will be making samples of finishing methods to take home and use on your own quilts. Bindings will never be boring again" And believe me its true! All done by machine I can bind a square 104"quilt in four, that's FOUR hours. No hand work, that's completely finished ... and it looks good too!
Here it is, HUGS 104" square.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Fine Line - Designing The Stitching Through the Layers

A Touch of Red, borders on the traditional, so the design is a traditional feather.
Quilt as desired! Do these words strike fear into your life? I used to think so too. The stitching has always been one of my favorite parts, but I'd dreaded those words. A number of years ago I decided to study the art of The Quilting to solve the mystery. I now have written two books about the Quilting Design, A Fine Line and Stitching through the Layers (straight lines only)

In the workshop A Fine Line I address this subject only. In an informal group setting we discuss things like your skill level and desires for you quilt and brain storm ways your quilt might be quilted. Not only do students go home with ideas for how to quilt their quilts, but lots of ideas to quilt many quilts.

I decided to play with the proportion, note the quilting does not follow the piecing lines.

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Studio with a VIEW

I should have known an artist works here, the goat greeted us at the door.
This studio is really wonderful!
The next thing you see are these self portraits of friends.
Then the view draws you in making it easy to forget to look at the studio!

The view, the question arises, how does anyone look away from this long enough to sew?
If you can tear your eyes away long enough to look at the studio there is a lot to see.
The fabric
So beautifully displayed

Cup of coffee anyone?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

More Facts About Thread


Unfortunately, there is no single system used to describe thread sizes.

One common size designation is depicted as a fraction, such as 50/3. The first number reveals the thread's weight and the second tells us the number of plies -- a 50/3 thread has a weight of 50 and is made with 3 plies of yarn. With this system, thread weight decreases as weight numbers increase. A 50/3 thread is commonly used for piecing, but other equivalent sizes work just as well.

Sizing systems are complex, and often inaccurate as threads that are imported and exported around the world are re-labeled for a new country. 
I think about thread as thin, normal and fat. The thinner the threas the smaller the eye of the needle needs to be. With a normal thread, I use my regular piecing needle. For fat thread, using a large needle with a large eye works very well. When in doubt, check the manufacturers web site!

More Thread Terminology

Shopping for thread may introduce you to new terms. A few words you might hear are:

Mercerized... Cotton thread is processed with chemicals that give it more luster, improve strength and help it retain dyes. The process also makes thread more fuzzy, which is reduced by putting it through a gassing or singing process.

Crocking occurs when dye on the surface of dry thread (or fabric) rubs off onto other materials.

Denier, a sizing method that's often used for continuous filament threads. The number indicates the weight in grams of 9,000 meters of the thread. 

The Myth
You can help avoid future wear at the seams by choosing a thread that's not stronger than the fabric, so avoid polyester threads and overly strong cotton threads. The theory being that if the thread is weaker than the fabric, repairs are easy. I agree with this theory when piecing my quilts.

HOWEVER all bets are of when it comes to quilting my quilt. I'll use any thread that I can get through a needle and if it won't fit through the eye, I'll wind it on the bobbin!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Thread Tips for Quilters

Just thinking about the variety of threads available can give me a headache. The choices are endless. Thousands of thread color choices are just the beginning, and possibly the easiest aspect of choosing thread. Beyond that, you'll find threads designed specifically for quilting - hand or machine, piecing, embellishing, applique. And if that isn't enough thread is made from cotton, silk, wool, and polyester!

Cotton thread is created by spinning cotton fibers together, and then pulling and twisting a narrow strand of yarn away from the mass. Individual strands of the narrow yarn, each called a ply, can twisted together to create a stronger thread.

Polyester, a synthetic product, can be spun together in a similar way to create threads that look like cotton, but have more stretch. Polyester can also be drawn out into long, continuous-filament threads.

Another type of thread is made with a polyester core encased in cotton, resulting in a slightly stretchy thread, but with a traditional look and feel.
Rayon is derived from cellulose, but is not classified as a natural fiber because the transformation requires quite a bit of manipulation. Colorful rayon threads are very popular with quilters, and are typically used for machine embroidery and other decorative work. Rayon thread is not for piecing.

Nylon is a synthetic product used to make transparent monofilament thread (one ply), which becomes fairly invisible when used for machine quilting. A very fine transparent polyester thread is a more durable choice.

Metallic threads are typically made from a core of nylon or polyester that's covered with a decorative product. Quality metallic threads also have an outer coating to help protect the delicate metallic layer.

More Threads

You'll encounter threads made from other natural materials, including wool and silk.
  • Wool threads are typically thicker than other threads, and sometimes used to embellish a Folk Art quilt or project with a homespun look.
  • Silk threads are sometimes used for applique -- they are fine and make stitches that seem to disappear. Silk threads are also a good choice when beads are added to fabric.
Water soluble threads dissolve when a project is washed. They are used for basting, or for any task where temporary stitches are needed.

Fusible threads are used to sew a typical seam, but when pressed they stick the sewn fabrics together. Binding and applique are two possible uses for fusible threads.

You'll find other specialty threads when you explore thread manufacturer web sites.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Mount Rainer

Blue lupine and red paintbrush

I love living in the Pacific Northwest. Close to mountains and the ocean. We recently day tripped to Mt. Rainer. The flowers were in full bloom!

Mount Rainer's renowned wildflowers bloom for a limited amount of time every year. The "peak" bloom for wildflowers is heavily dependent on weather and precipitation patterns, so accurate predictions are difficult. In most years, many flowers will be blooming by mid-July, and by the first of August the meadows should be very impressive.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Nine Patch Blocks

Traditional set, one I'm probably not going to piece.
Early block designs allowed thrifty quilters to use very small scraps of fabric. Some of the earliest blocks consisted of blocks made up of 4 squares of fabric sewn together (4-patch) or 9 squares of fabric sewn together (9-patch) in many different variations. I'm not sure why I love them so much but I do!

A recent warm afternoon, found me inside playing with nine patches.

I haven't come up with a quilt quite yet, but I will!

Same traditional set, but the corner blocks make it more interesting

Like those 'half' nine patches.
Something to think about.
When in doubt, put blocks on point!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

I need a hand project!

My mother taught me to embroider when I was about 5. She tried to teach me to crochet, but I did not have the manual dexterity to manipulate the hook. I still love to embroider! When I need a hand project, especially one to carry around, I look to embroidery.
I designed a butterfly, I need to be able to see the line so I chose to mark the fabric with a thin brown Micron Pigma pen.

Laying down a layer of white crayon first aids in the coloring process later.

Coloring the butterfly with crayons would simplify the embroidery process. No need to change the thread color.

Now I just need to decide on the thread: Traditional black floss?

This lush hand dyed purple rayon? Hummmm!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts - March 25, 2011–March 30, 2011

 Happy Fourth of July! I thought I would share some of my favorite red and white quilts from the Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts exhibit I attended in New York City!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Threadneedle Street - an Uncommon Thread Store

Wrapped in a brown building is Threadneedle Street. They have a wonderful selection of threads, beads, buttons, fabrics, and patterns.  I was left to my own devices to peruse the store, and felt comfortable being able to poke around and ponder. I will definitely be back!

Threadneedle Street
485 Front Street North, Suite B
Issaquah WA 98027
(425) 391-0528
Store Hours 10:00 am-5:00 pm Pacific time Monday - Saturday

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Thread - Decorative Stitches

By now you all know I love thread! I'm always looking for new ways to use in for my quilting.I'm not bashful about the thread I use. Sometimes I feel like using an easy thread. This example is Aurifil- Cotton 50wt Piecing and Applique. The blue stitching on the right is a regular straight stitch. The stitching on the right is the triple stitch. Sometimes called the lingerie stitch or stretch stitch. It's great because you get three times the thread, no extra work. Same needle, same tension, just push a button and sew! (The orange thread is 30 wt rayon).

Aurifil- Cotton 50wt Piecing and Applique Thread is also used for:

Hand Appliqué,  the 50wt is thin and with all the colors available you can match your shape perfectly.
Machine Appliqué, ideal when a very fine finish is desired. This weight disappears so your fabric is the feature.
Machine Embroidery, use 50wt in the bobbin as well, or your regular bobbin thread – in which case tighten the top tension a little. Use a Microtex 80/12 needle.
Machine piecing, gives a great result with a nice flat seam every time.
Machine (domestic and longarm)quilting, use for very detailed machine quilting with a lot of back tracking such as feathers and heavy background quilting . Perfect for quilting that creates texture when you don’t necessarily want to see the quilting lines. Use the same thread in the bobbin and a Sharp/Microtex, quilting or even denim needles 80/12.

The 270 Colors are available in Small Spools, (220 Yards), Large Spools (1422 Yards), and 6452 Yard Cones.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Quiltmania, a quilt shop

What a wonderful surprise!  This is a fantastic store with a HUGE fabric selection.  From batiks to Asians, children's, blenders and more.  Curb appeal left a lot to be desired but when I walked in, I was so happy! Happy friendly people working were super nice, gave me good suggestion for my next stop.

If you love fabric, don't miss this store!

1442 Jadwin Ave Suite C
Richland, Washington
(509) 946-7467