Friday, December 30, 2016

Here's to a Wonderful New Year!

I love hand quilted quilts. Unfortunately I do not own one. But that is about to change. My friend Patti is quilting a new quilt for my bed. I am so thrilled! What a way to start the New Year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Want something more subtle?

Through the ages, ribbons have been a source of delight. Luxurious, colorful, sensuous ribbons raise our spirits and make our hearts beat just a tiny bit faster. Nothing signals treasures within like a prettily wrapped package and the fancier the ribbon, the greater the anticipation of delightful surprise! 

Take any Crazy Quilt or other project up a notch or two by incorporating ribbons in dozens of  ways – couching, ruching, flowers, stems and leaves, bows – the list goes on and on! Perhaps not quite as obviously festive as ribbon but still providing us with a multitude of opportunities for creative expression, there is an abundance of other trims available. I challenge you to think about rickrack, bias tape, cord, fringe, doilies and lace without feeling your creative urges spring to life! Old handkerchiefs or special fabrics, such as lamé, ultrasuede or embossed velvet are other materials that can add that special something to any project. The possibilities are so limitless that they boggle the mind.          

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas to All

I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. ~Charles Dickens

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Few of My Favorite Things

1. The Bottom Line by Superior Threads; quilting, embroidery, bobbin, binding, and appliqué. Comes in 55 colors and is 60 wt. lint-free polyester. Its smooth surface allows it to work well with metallic threads. The smoothness of the filament poly thread does not snag or grab the top thread. If you've had trouble using metallics, give it a try.

2. Golden Threads quilting paper
For use with the No-Marking Method to create tear away stencils. The paper tears away cleanly and easily without pulling out your stitches.

3. Cotton and cotton blend battings
Sticks to other cotton; thin; can be machine quilted & shrunk to produce antique looking quilts or to hide quilting stitches; comfortable to sleep under; it breathes. Cotton endures and will not beard like polyester. A good choice if “shadow through” from the quilt back is a problem. Cotton, bonded or glazed batting won't pull apart and needs to 'relax' after removal from the packaging.

4. Shiva brand oil paint sticks
Make elegant fabric with the look of airbrushing! Paint sticks applied to silk or cotton are simple, fun and permanent.

5. Thread
Lightweight threads are great for “fancy” stitching. They are thin so a lot of thread won’t make your project seem stiff. The easiest to use are medium weight threads, which are great for anyone learning a new technique. Heavy threads are bold and can make a project stiff and very “thready”.

Cotton is probably the easiest of all threads to work with. Polyester looks like cotton and it’s easy to sew.

Monofilament (clear or smoke-colored) thread must come off of the top of the spool. To wind it onto a bobbin, wind slowly to avoid stretching and be sure to wind the bobbin no more than about half full.

Metallic threads need the upper tension loosened one or more numbers, a polyester or nylon bobbin thread and a vertical spool pin.

Flat film polyester demands a vertical spool pin with a felt pad underneath so the spool can rotate easily.

Bobbin Thread - Match it and top thread colors so it won’t matter if your bobbin thread peeks through.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tips for Machine Sewing

I have been sitting behind my sewing machine this week piecing my next creation and thinking about 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. Gray and beige thread; most of my piecing is done with either dark gray and beige or light gray and beige. I put the gray thread in the top and the beige in the bobbin. I find that should I need to reverse sew I 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’.

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.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


1. Will remove excess dye from hand dyed fabrics.
2. Will remove sizing from fabric before dyeing.
3. Use in the dye bath for even color.

 When to use Synthrapol
1. To wash hand dyed fabrics before using them in a project.
2. When fabric is already quilted and bleeds into adjacent fabric.
3. To soak fabric before dyeing.

How to wash hand dyed fabric with Synthrapol
     Machine Washing
1. Fill your washing machine with hot water.
2. Once the washing machine is filled, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of Synthrapol. This should be just enough for 1/4" suds.
3. Add dry fabric and let the machine run for 10 minutes. Let the machine run through the complete cycle with a warm rinse, then dry.
     Hand Wash
1. use the sink, a plastic tub, or an old enamel canning kettle is not used for food preparation. heat the water.
2. Add 1 teaspoon of Synthrapol per gallon of water.
3. Add dry hand dyed fabric. Swish your fabric around in the hot Synthrapol bath with a wooden spoon. After 10 minutes, rinse well in warm water and dry.

How to care for hand dyed fabric
Launder hand dyed fabric in warm water with a cold rinse. Do not wash in hot water.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Ten Tips for Hand sewing

1. Thread a whole pack of needles before you begin a new sewing or quilting project.

2. Thread needles with the 'leading end' of the thread as it unwinds from the spool. You'll proceed take advantage of the natural twist of the thread.

3. Clip thread at an angle to help it pass more easily through the eye of the needle.

4. Hand sewing needles do become dull.  Treat yourself to a few needle for smoother stitches.

5. Try dimming the overhead lights if you have difficulty seeing applique or quilting designs on your light box.

6. Have you ever pricked a finger and stained your quilt? Dab the spot with a drop of your own saliva before trying any other remedy. The enzymes in your saliva will make the bloodstain easier to remove.

7. Choose a light color thread for basting. Dark thread may leave telltale marks when basting is removed.

8. If you have difficulty pulling a stubborn quilting needle through three layers of your quilt, an uninflated rubber balloon will improve your grip.

9. If you spend lots of time in your car keep a project in the glove compartment for unexpected delays.

10. Fingers sore from too much stitching? Bag balm, an antiseptic ointment for treating cows' utters, can soothe your aching fingers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

When to Use Retayne

Color fixative for commercially dyed cotton
Use it in your washing machine or by hand washing with hot water.
Test fabric before washing it for the first time. Only one application is necessary.

When to use Retayne:
Test fabric before washing
1. Dampen a small square of 100% cotton white muslin.
2. Place it on top of the colored fabric to be tested.
3.  Iron the fabrics with a hot iron until dry.
4. Inspect the muslin and if there is any transfer of color, then treat your fabric with Retayne.

How to use Retayne:
     Washing Machine
1. Estimate the amount of water needed to cover your fabric. Fill your washing machineto this level with hot water.
2. Add 1 teaspoon of Retayne for each yard of fabric.
3. Add dry cotton fabric. Set the washing machine for 20 minute wash cycle. Rinse with cold water and dry at once.

     Hand Washing
1. Use an old enamel canning kettle that is not use for food preparation and heat the water.
2. Add 1 teaspoon of Retayne for each yard of fabric.
3. Add dry fabric. Swish your fabric around in the hot Retayne bath with a wooden spoon. After 20 minutes, rinse with cold water and dry at once.

How to care for fabric treated with Retayne
You only need to treat your fabric once with Retayne, then launder it in warm water with acold rinse. Do not wash it in hot water.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

It’s a simple truth – beads are a blast!

A quilt is a two-dimensional work of art. Add beads, buttons, or sew-on jewels and you launch it straight into the realm of three-dimensional pizzazz. There are any number of ways to use beads on your project. You can accent special stitches or highlight specific features, such as flowers, figures, baskets, or stars. A few single beads could add dew drops to a leaf, a string of them will quickly draw the eye to any particular part of a design that you want to emphasize.
One of the joys of embellishing with beads is that there is no real need to plan your designs ahead of time. 

You can start by choosing beads of a particular type or color, or even with a random sample of mixed beads, then design as you go! Make beading decisions one at a time as your work develops. 

Start by threading a needle with a single strand of Nymo thread, about 25” long, and placing a quilter’s knot at the end. Start about ½” away from the first bead location an“pop”the knot between the layers of the quilt or quilted garment. Come up at the point where the first bead will be placed. Put the point of the needle into the bead and push it onto the needle with the tip of your finger. The stitch you make needs to be just as long as the diameter of the bead – any longer and the thread will show; any shorter, the bead won’t lay flat. Take a second stitch through every third or fourth bead – if the thread should ever break, two or three beads will come off, but not the whole group. As an extra precaution, run the thread through bigger, heavier beads three or four times. Keep going until you come to the end of your thread and end as you would for a line of hand quilting. If you allow yourself to make one design decision at a time, beading projects are easy to return to after a lapse of time, so interruptions (and don’t we all have them!) won’t be problem.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Instant Gradification- Beaded Fringes

Beaded fringes
Need some instant gratification? Try sewing a purchased beaded fringe to something. The something can be a blouse, lampshade, curtains or drapes or in my case a purse. About 6” of fringe finished off this purchased purse in a snap.

The only down side to this process that I can see is the fact that beaded trims are not washable or dry cleanable because of their delicate nature. But when was the last time you washed your purse?

Beaded fringes are available in many sizes, styles, colors and price ranges. They come with straight fringe, bell shaped, swaged, and with patterns.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Eye Candy Quilts!

It’s a busy world. So busy, that quilters and crafters ask me for one type of project more often than any other: You want something that is fast and fun! The result, though, has to be absolutely beautiful.
I developed Eye Candy Quilts with this need for instant beauty in mind. These gorgeous mini-quilts so much fun to make, they should be declared illegal! Many of them, like the quilt opposite, measure just 2-1/2” x 3-

1/2”. Since they are small, you can finish one in practically no time. The wonderful variety of embellishments, from beads, buttons, and bows, to silk flowers, trims and countless other little fancies will win your work instant admiration. Their size makes them a snap to display to, making them quick, easy gifts anyone will treasure.

Eye Candy Quilts order your copy now!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Lets Paint!

Using today’s modern products, you can make you own painted quilts. Paint is easy, fast, and so much fun. If you don’t intend to ever dry clean your quilt, try oil paint sticks (Shiva brand is my favorite). Easy to use, paint sticks are shaped like over-sized crayons and have about the same consistency. Amazingly, they can replicate the look of air brushing without your having to invest in or bother with special equipment. Paint sticks applied to silk or cotton are simple and permanent and leave a very soft hand. 

Simply remove the self-healing protective coating of paint from the flat end of your paint stick with an X-acto knife. For the sake of convenience, I suggest you use a favorite purchased stencil. Use masking tape to hold it in place and Post-It Notes to protect any areas you don’t want to color. Rub your paint stick with a stencil brush then dab the brush onto a paper towel to remove any excess paint. A light touch works best, and you can always add another layer or two. Using firm, short strokes, apply the paint in one direction. Start at the outer edges and work inward. When you are satisfied, pull off your stencil.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Color in My World

I'm sitting in my studio thinking about color for my next project. The ideas are in there somewhere.

So much to think about!
Color inspired by the outdoors is fresh, easy to wear and flattering to everyone. Fresh greens that have favored yellow have matured into the deeper blue greens in shades of emerald. Purple’s royal tones are flushed with pink to form rich shades of maroon that lighten to soft lavender. Passionate reds and pretty pinks are seasoned with warmer golden undertones to form the delicious colors of pomegranate, salmon and peach. Modern pastels reflect the delicate colors of sunrise. Clear sky blues and deeper ocean blues offer tranquility and promote peaceful meditation. Healing turquoise tones are modern accents that continue to be a favorite eye catching color. Warm brown colors and soft dove grays are used to balance and ground more brilliant color choices. Graphic black and white add a playful mod note to a generally neutral palette. Crystal clear pieces reflect light beautifully and give a modern look of beauty showing purity, innocence and refinement.

So much to think about!