How to Get Rich in the Quilting Industry

The person who invents a self-sharpening rotary cutter is going to be a multi-billionaire, no joke, and  I will be her biggest fan.

Today I trimmed a thousand half-square triangle blocks. It was really only 72, but it felt like much more, because I cut half of them with a dull blade. Sheer foolishness. Most of you probably are smart enough to change your blade as needed but I tend to be stubborn about such things. I mean, they’re so expensive for one thing, and I recently moved my studio so I wasn’t even sure where my fresh blades were located. 

Finally, I made myself step away from the cutting table. Sure, I had to search 20 minutes but once I found the blades and installed a new one, I was glad I did. I went from sawing through a chunk of wood with a dull blade to slicing butter with a hot knife. Amazing difference. So much so, I cut the second half of squares in less than half the time. 

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to never cut with a dull rotary blade, ever again. As a thrifty quilter, that statement makes me cringe a little, but hey, that’s what coupons are for, right?

I am still plugging away on Girlie Mod, the first in my 3-quilt Mod Squad series. I’m almost done with the quilt top, despite my crazy holiday schedule. Are you guys making time to sew? Are you using a fresh rotary blade when you cut? I hope so.

Aloha y’all.

Where Will It End?

Aloha, y’all. I was at my local fabric store today, and I realized – with no small degree of horror – that I’ve become Crazy Cat Lady. Oh, I only have one actual cat, but every time I go into the quilt shop, I come home with a new piece of cat fabric.

Just look at what I’ve done…

From L to R: Michael Miller’s Sassy Cats, Putitdepome’s Mico’s Design, Hi-Fashion Fabrics Pattern # HF-C4704 (from thrift store) and Timeless Treasures Pattern # CAT-C 3645

And that’s not all. Check out these cats from past projects.

You have to admit, though, they’re all cute AF, right? What’s your latest obsession?

It’s About to Get Mod and Manly up in Here!

Aloha y’all. I just ordered the fabric for my masculine version of The Mod Squad and OMG… it’s going to be FABulous! πŸ™‚ I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.

Why am I so obsessed with yellow right now? I don’t know but this gorgeous mustard-colored Art Gallery fabric from the Hello Bear line, Buck Forest, was the genesis of the whole quilt. It’s simply stunning paired with teal and gray.

Like, say… this one.

Indah Batik, Herringbone in Pacific

The Indah batiks from Hoffman Fabrics are so scrumptious I wanted to buy them all. This one is the Herringbone pattern in Pacific.

I was reading another quilter’s profile the other day and one of her “dislikes” was batiks, and I was like, WTF? How can you dislike batiks? Seriously? Are there other crazy haters out there? I was shocked, because I love them SO much. They really speak to me, ya’ know? But…apparently there is at least one quilter in this world who can’t hear their voices. I feel bad for her. πŸ™

Robert Kaufman, Maze Forest

Robert Kaufman’s fabrics are always a treat, and his Maze Forest is really going to man up my quilt. I tried to make myself go with mostly solids for this project but I just couldn’t do it. Once I started browsing on Fabric.com, I kept finding lovelies like the ones I’ve shown you and before I knew it, I had a cart full of prints. I did throw in one Kona cotton in Steel. As for the rest… you’ll be seeing them soon.

Until then, thanks for stopping by.

The Mod Squad

I began work recently on a new, original pattern series called the Mod Squad. There will be three variations:

  1. Girlie Mod
  2. Mod and Manly
  3. Mod One, Mod All

Here – obviously – is the beginnings of Girlie Mod. This adorable fabric – ChΓ©rie by designer Masha D’yans for Clothworks – is just about as girlie as it gets. It’s been sitting in my stash for several years. I picked it up in Wasilla, Alaska, around about 2011 but haven’t used it until now because with it’s large-scale design it doesn’t work for typical, traditional quilt blocks. With such a large center block, Girlie Mod needed something big and bold. Win-win all around.

These pictures don’t do it justice but I’ll get better ones next week when I finish. In the meantime, let me just say, I am absolutely loving this pattern. I’ve been sewing 2Β½” squares for nearly two years, so it was a delight to work with bigger pieces. I would have finished the entire top in a day, except I’m waiting for my new Accuquilt 4Β½” half-square triangle die to arrive. I did NOT want to cut those by hand.

Speaking of Accuquilt, except for five large-ish pieces, this pattern can be cut entirely by that method, which makes me so happy. I despise cutting fabric with a rotary cutter.

I can’t wait to show you the finished top, AND start the quilting, AND share the pattern. πŸ™‚ 

Aloha y’all 

It’s Binding Time

Today, I machine-stitched the binding to the front of my Positively Scrappy quilt. All that remains is a few evenings of Netflix binging while hand-sewing it to the back and the quilt will be cuddle ready.

I love this quilt for many reasons, even though it’s probably not the most beautiful one in the world. 

  1. It’s a visual representation of my sewing history. It contains literally hundreds of memories. I used scraps from just about every cotton item I’ve sewn over the past 35 years, so it is to me what a photo album would be to a normal person. πŸ™‚
  2. This was my first large-scale project using the Brother Muvit digital dual feed foot and I am so thrilled with how it performed. I almost regret buying the Dream Fabric Frame because I enjoy straight-line quilting so much more than free motion now that I discovered the dual feed foot. However, I’m sure there  will come a time I yearn for free motion quilting again and the Dream Fabric Frame will be there for me.
  3. Speaking of the quilting, I did a 2-inch grid pattern over the entire quilt. I considered quilting in the ditch but decided I wanted to be able to see the lines so I sewed about an eighth of an inch from every seam. It turned out great. The gray thread was a spool of Simplicity Pro 50 wt that came with the machine. No complaints there.

I like to review one or more binding tutorials before I start binding a new quilt and there are SO many to chose from. Here are a few that I like:

Well, here it is…Sunday evening again. I’m off to bed and tomorrow I’ll be back at my day job for a few days, so Aloha for now, Y’all. Thanks for stopping by. 

To Baste or Not to Baste…

Can I hire someone to baste my quilts? Is that a thing? I want to do the quilting myself, but I do NOT love putting together that quilt sandwich.

Today was the day to begin quilting Positively Scrappy, so I eagerly spread out my backing, batting and quilt top on my sitting room floor. I gingerly lowered myself to the ground and began the tedious task of pinning it all together. It hurt. A lot. After all, I am on the dark side of 50, my knees are shot, my back aches and I’m fat. After a half hour I felt like I’d been doing intense yoga for several days.

I got about halfway done and said, “forget this crap,” except maybe with a little saltier language. I remembered that I had a can of spray baste in my sewing room. Praise the Lord!

I sprayed the remainder of my sandwich. What a hot mess! There is still fuzz on my fingertips from that little adventure. At one point I thought about taking it all over to the local long-arm quilter, but my daddy always said I was tenacious. He actually used the word stubborn, but I knew what he meant.

Here’s what I learned from this morning’s endeavors:

  1. I’m too old to crawl around on the floor like a baby. I need a couple more folding tables for laying out quilts.
  2. Pinning is painful and I have the bloody finger to prove it. If I try it again I’m definitely buying some quilt basting pins.
  3. Spray basting is sticky, messing and frustrating but it doesn’t draw blood, so there’s that.

How do you baste your quilts? Or do you hire a professional sandwich maker? Also, can you send me his number?

One Bite at a Time…

The Chaos Continues

I’m beginning to feel like this project will never end, so I have to remind myself of the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer, of course, is, “One bite at a time.”

Today I finished Section 12. I did Section 13 some months back, so I now have three left, notwithstanding the three or four I must redo as mentioned in my last post because of inaccurate seam allowances. I’m not counting those today, however, because… well, because I don’t want to. It depresses me.

Despite setbacks, I am quite pleased with how it’s turning out. I can’t wait to finish it and get the pattern ready for release, which I plan to do by the end of 2017. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. πŸ™‚

 

There Was Much Wailing and Tears…

Block 11 of Chaos Theory. It’s not quite finished but unfortunately this is as far as I’m going to get this week. I do love my day job but it interferes with my quilting. πŸ™‚

Aloha y’all. I have a confession to make. I don’t have an accurate quarter-inch seam. I THOUGHT I did, but it was all hubris. I discovered this lamentable fact whilst in the middle of my monster project, Chaos Theory. I’ve been working on it since 2016. I was supposed to finish it by the end of 2016 but for many reasons it didn’t happen. 

What did happen is that I switched sewing machines in the middle of the project. Big mistake. Huge! Turns out my quarter-inch seam was a little big on the first machine and a little small on the second one, a fact I didn’t discover until I had completed two-thirds of my project. Did I mention what a beast that quilt is? Two thousand, three hundred and four tiny squares. It’s taken me nearly two years to get this far.

There were tears when I discovered my mistake. Maybe even some gnashing of teeth. Definitely a few F bombs. I was ready to throw in the towel, because I knew I was going to have to redo a lot of it.

It was absolutely essential that I perfect my quarter-inch seam before sewing another stitch, so that’s just what I did. I read a few excellent tutorials online, which I’ll share with you at the end of this post, but I kept thinking, “My Brother Innovis VQ2400 was freaking expensive. It should practically sew an accurate seam without me.”

To my delight, it does. 

Maybe y’all know all about this quarter-inch quilting foot. I was woefully ignorant until now. If you don’t have one, go get one right now. It will save you a lot of heartache. If you can’t lay your hands on one, though, that’s okay. There are some excellent tutorials that will help you achieve a dead-accurate quarter-inch seam. Just Google “accurate quarter-inch seam” and you’ll find lots of results.

One final note. It doesn’t matter how accurate your seams are if your cutting is off, so your first step to a beautiful quilt is to cut your pieces as perfectly as you can manage. I use the Accuquilt Go cutter whenever possible. I know a lot of you prefer the Sizzix or some other machine and that’s perfectly fine. Do whatever it takes to get perfect cuts every time.

In closing, don’t be like me. Make SURE your seam allowances are perfect before you begin your next project. 

Did You Know?

Did you know the word quilt comes from the Latin culcita, meaning stuffed sack? Well, now you know. You’re welcome. πŸ˜‰ I’ve been reading a lot about the history of quilting lately. Fascinating stuff.

One aspect of our craft I really relate to as far as history is concerned is the necessity of it…the need to stay warm, the need to re-use old fabrics, maybe also the need to create some beauty even while you’re making something so necessary for survival. I guess that’s why I’m so drawn to the scrap quilt.

In my last post, I talked about thrifty quilting. This quilt top I made in 2016 came entirely from my scrap bucket. Even though it has 1,440 squares @ 2 1/2″ each, it barely made a dent in my bucket. I call it Positively Scrappy. Get it? Haha. If you are a seamstress of a certain age, like me, you might recognize some of those fabrics from the 80s and 90s.

It’s the kind of quilt I will probably use at the beach or for picnics. One I’m not afraid to get dirty, you know. It was a ton of fun to construct and it made me feel somehow connected to all those pioneer women who quilted because they had to, but maybe also because they enjoyed it.

Thrifty Quilting

Some of my quilting friends will cringe at what I’m about to tell you, but – like the honey badger – Scrappy Camper don’t care.

I just bought a boatload of fabric from Walmart.

I HAD to. It was only $1.00 per yard. ONE. Dollar.

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The orange piece – while not the most attractive fabric I’ve ever seen – was just 75 cents per yard. I bought all of it, and I’d do it again.

I’m not insane. Like all quilters, I do love designer fabrics. Tula Pink, Michael Miller, Kaffe Fassett, all make my heart go pitter-patter, but at $10-$15 per yard, I can’t buy as much of it as I’d like. I save those for my special projects. Here then, are my top five tips for thrifty quilting, and how I use those lower-priced fabrics.

1. Walmart

For a while, Walmart quit carrying fabric and I was sad. I find their fabrics to be decent quality and even at regular price, it’s about $5-$6 per yard. Then, of course, there’s the $1 per yard sales.

2. Thrift Stores

I have found amazing fabrics at my local thrift store. Excellent quality quilting fabrics, entire bolts, bags full of scraps. All for a great price. The two prints above were in a big stack of quilting cottons I picked up for about ten bucks.

3. CraigsList

Oh, how I love CraigsList. I check it on a regular basis. I once scored two HUGE cardboard boxes of scrap fabrics for $30. HUGE.

4. Yard Sales

This is a little morbid, BUT…I once went to a yard sale where a widower was selling his wife’s stash for $2 per yard. All of it was quite expensive quilting cotton from our local quilt shop. I bought as much as I had cash for. My husband will probably be doing that one day.

I also once bought a garbage bag full of fabrics and inside I found several coin strips, including the one pictured above. I put them together with some of my low-volume jelly-roll strips to make a quilt top. Even though it’s not that attractive, I love it, and I often wonder about the person who made the strips. Did she die, or just get tired of sewing? I’ll never know.

5. Closet

Men’s plaid shirts make beautiful quilts. The fabric is often very good quality, and who doesn’t love a plaid quilt? I haven’t made one yet, but it’s on my list.

You can also check out my Pinterest board, Thrifty Quilting, here:

So, then, what do I do with these thrifty fabrics? As mentioned above, some of my finds are excellent quality and can go into my best projects. As for the rest, I like to use it for:

  • Quilt backing
  • To test new pattern designs
  • For utility quilts
  • Small projects like notebook covers, wallets, etc.

What are your thoughts on thrifty quilting? Yes or no?