Holiday Gift Ideas

It’s that time of the year when we are scrambling to make gifts for Christmas that should have been made in July! Don’t fret. Here are some great ideas that can be made quickly and easily, but look like you spent a lot of time (or money) on them.delph-blue-rooster-1

Kitchen dish towels machine embroidered with a pretty design, make a great useful gift. Make them fancy by putting on a bottom trim of fabric, rick rack or ribbon. Pot holders are always another useful gift. Why not make them to match your kitchen towel, and you have a lovely Christmas, house warming or party gift. Better than a bottle of wine. Better yet, wrap the towel around the wine and tie with a pretty bow. Sounds good to me. Pretty machine embroidered  cloth napkins make every holiday dinner seem even more special. Especially when they come from you. Continue reading “Holiday Gift Ideas”

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Thick or Thin, Which do I Use?

thread-clip-artI taught a free motion quilting class yesterday and I was explaining the difference between the thread sizes. For some people, thread thickness can be very confusing. It’s hard to compute in our brains why the higher the number, the thinner the thread and the lower the number the thicker the thread. I am going to try to simplify  which is which.

Normal sewing thread is usually 50 weight thick.This is the standard in the industry.  This is the normal thread you buy at Joann’s or wherever you buy your everyday sewing or quilt piecing thread.

To sandwich my quilts together I like to use a 30 weight quilting thread. (use a 90-14 needle or higher)  It’s a little thicker and shows up nicely whether you are machine quilting or hand quilting. There are many good brands of thread but my personal preference is Sulky quilting thread solid or variegated, or King Tut solid or variegated. King Tut has nice large spools. Great if you are quilting a large quilt that will use a lot of thread. Continue reading “Thick or Thin, Which do I Use?”

To Hoop or Not To Hoop, That is the Question?

Hooping can be a mystery to a lot of “newbie” embroiderers and for some old timers who maybe don’t know some of the new techniques. It all really depends on what you are getting ready to embroider. The consensus is that hooping your product is always the best way to have a design turn out with little or no puckering. Sometimes you can’t.

Decisions are made depending on whether the product will get what they call Hoop Burn. (a ring left from the hoop crushing the nap down)

If you are going to embroider a  flat or waffle kitchen towel  hooping is your best bet. You can use a tearaway stabilizer with 505 spray or Floriani Perfect Stick. For a Red-work style design using Floriani Wet n Gone Tacky wash away type works nicely. Continue reading “To Hoop or Not To Hoop, That is the Question?”

Free is Fun!

Every body likes to get things free. In the quilting and embroidery world there are a lot of companies who every month give you a free quilting pattern or free embroidery designs. If you can’t afford to immediately buy “everything you love” then these free designs are a great way to build your stock of patterns and designs, try out their company and find they are always beautiful. Naturally, I will always buy a design or two along with my free designs.  Embroidery Library (see link) always have 2 designs free each month in multi sizes and formats. They also have amazing sales each month. $5 to $9  designs can be purchased for $1 to $1.25. You will need to register with them to get their emails. Trust me, the buys are worth it. Smart Needle designs always have cute freebies and Zundt Designs has several designs you can try free to see how you like their company. I can tell you Zundt designs are beautiful. They may be a little more expensive than some of the other companies, but they are worth it. Anita Goodesign is another company with exquisite designs.(see link) Up until now, you could only purchase their designs from a store like ours, Expert Sewing, but now you can purchase designs direct. Register with them and you will get word each week about a $5 or $10 “mini pack” that you can download immediately. Continue reading “Free is Fun!”

A Whole New Language

A Whole New Language

When I had my dance studio, correct terminology was very important. When I started quilting, I learned a whole new set of terminology. It was like learning a whole new language.  Sashing …. what’s that? Sandwiching …. Are we going to eat the quilt? It seems so confusing. When I start a beginning quilt class, I start by teaching the terminology of quilting. I’m going to try to explain it as best I can for those quilters who may not have access to a quilting class with a good instructor.

Piecing – The process of sewing different pieces of fabric together to make a block.

Block – The pieces of fabric put together into a square of desired size ie; 6″, 8″ 10″ etc.

Sashing – The narrow fabric stitched between the block to divide the  blocks and put  into a single row and again into multiple rows.

Pieced Top – The various blocks put together with or without sashing to make the completed pretty top of quilt.

Batting – The lining between the pieced top and the backing. Usually  all cotton or cotton polyester blends of various thickness depending on quilter’s preference.

Backing – The fabric used for the back of a quilt. Can be plain or print fabric to match or blend with fabric used for pieced top.

Sandwich – The process of putting the pieced top layered with the batting in between the pieced top and backing fabric to make 3 layers.

Quilting – The process of sewing the 3 layers together to make one quilt or blanket as some people call it. This can be done by hand as they did in the old days, by home sewing machine or by a long arm quilting machine.

Binding – This is the fabric strip that is used to finish off the raw edges of the quilt after the quilting process is finished and the quilt is “squared up”

Square up – The  process of making all sides even and perfectly square so that all blocks go together evenly. In the case of the finished quilt, squaring up takes off all the raw edges to make quilt smooth and even to prepare for binding.

There is more terminology that I could give you but these are the basics. I will give you more as we discuss individual styles of quilts. These are the most used.

Until the next time …. Happy sewing!

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Embroidery Yesterday and Today

bingo-bag-1I’ve talked a lot about quilting and embroidery on quilting, but I want to take a break and talk about embroidery old and new. Embroidery today is a far cry from what it used to be. In the “olden days” embroidery was done by hand. It was and still is beautiful but took a lot of patience and was time consuming. . If it was machine embroidered on clothing or linens, it was done on a commercial machine and was expensive to buy. You were also limited by whatever designs they sewed on the item. Continue reading “Embroidery Yesterday and Today”

The History of Quilts

donnas-star-1Quilts have been around for a long time but they started out as a necessity. They were made of old clothing, ragged blankets, or whatever fabric the pioneers could find.  I guess you could call it, early recycling. If they were wealthy enough or lucky enough to get hold of some nice fabric then those quilts turned into beautiful artistic treasures that were  handed down through the generations. All the piecing and quilting was done by hand and could take years to make depending on the designs. These quilts were made of many different blocks or one or two of the same blocks

The “blocks” as they are called all had specific names and for the most part those names have survived and not changed much since their inception.  There are always new ones that creative quilters come up with but your traditional  blocks are still the same, like the Churn Dash, Pinwheel,  Rail Fence, 9 Patch, the various stars and my favorite, the Log Cabin.

Quilts were made for different occasions. Like for a wedding, for a new baby, or just because! But during the Civil War, they were made to help direct escaping black slaves to the next safe house on the Underground Railroad. These quilts were made of one pattern. A pattern that would tell the slaves if that house would give refuge, or food, or a warning that slave catchers were nearby. I’ve heard some people say this isn’t true. Knowing quilters, I would like to believe these stories are true. Continue reading “The History of Quilts”