Category Archives: Quilting

Dritz’s Soft Comfort Thimble: A Review

Dritz's Soft Comfort ThimbleI am on a never-ending quest for the perfect thimble. The new Soft Comfort Thimble from Dritz comes very close to satisfying me.  After giving this thimble a try, I put some time and thought into how this new thimble compares to other thimbles available on the market.

I am very demanding when it comes to thimbles. I have high expectations when it comes to a thimble’s comfort, durability and effectiveness.  My hands are not designed for sewing. They are thick and large and I feel like I am the perfect picture of a person who could be described as “ham-handed”.

Thimbles are round. My fingers are not, so therefore, I value a thimble that will conform to the shape of my finger.  The Soft Comfort Thimble is made of a flexible rubber-like substance that molds to my finger along with being vented to allow for air circulation that reduces sweating. This allows the thimble to be very comfortable and maintain a snug, non-slip fit. I bought a large and it was a tad too snug. I usually wear a medium size thimble, as a large is too big.

This thimble is one-sided with a hard plastic pad that sits against one’s finger tip pad.  This pad is dimpled with deep indentations that are designed to capture the eye of a needle and discourage needle slippage.  I like this pad though admittedly it took a little time for my finger to adjust to mentally judging for the added distance from the actual tip of my finger. The pad plastic tip is a tad too thick for my taste but I think I could eventually become accustomed to it. This thickness added to my reassurance that the eye of the needle would not pierce the thimble which is something that occurs often with hands as large as mine. That being said, I found myself an hour later in the kitchen preparing lunch with the thimble still on my finger.

The “hard, textured tip” works wonderfully well.  I jabbed the eye of my needle into my ring finger but it was my own fault.  I did not have the needle in one of the dimples.  I discovered I am a needle “side pusher”.  There are not enough dimples on the sides of the thimble to capture the needle and secure it for side pushing with one’s finger.

All in all, I am adopting this as my new favorite thimble.

Score:  4 buttons (stars)

Pro’s:

  • very comfortable
  • vented for air circulation
  • lightweight
  • good value for the price

Con’s:

  • not designed for side pushing
  • dimpled pad is too thick
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Super Pants-hemmer? Not!

As of June 1st, Fruit From My Hands became established as a business.  That is, as far as the Internal Revenue is concerned.  What kind of business is it, what do I do?  Good question! I’ve listened to webinars, read blog posts, studied theories, meditated and everything else I could think of to do.  There are some very good materials out there for creative entrepreneurs who want to go into business for themselves.  I especially like the free streams from CreativeLive, but alas they never solved my major problem. What should I do?

What do I “do”?  What is my craft, what is my skill?  One of the first workshops I listened to informed me that I cannot do it all. I should define the single thing I do and do it.  This is the one step that stymies creatives, I have found.  I was frozen in place for several years on this step.  My Etsy shop has many random items with no central theme other than I had a bright idea and wanted to try them.  (I’ve been advised that is the sure sign of death for an Etsy shop but it is what it is.) The exercise from the speaker suggested looking at the past six months and decide what one “thing” had people paid me to do the most.  Okay, so I looked back over the past six months to a year.  Wow, people really love to have me hem their pants!  So, by their estimation, I should be the Pants Hemmer. Be the best pants hemmer out there, market myself as that and sleep, eat and breathe pants hemming.

Um, no.  I’m pretty sure that I will be paying the rent in the future with pants hemming and I am not opposed to doing it but I have too many skills to confine myself to one task, one skill.  While I was looking at the past six months activities, I saw so many other things that tied for second place but they did not net me a lot of money.  I’ve written articles, I’ve dabbled with an ebook, I’ve investigated my own ecourse, I’ve taught classes, I’ve advised creatives, I’ve consulted on projects.  No, I can’t be the great superhero, Pants-hemmer.

So without much fanfare, I made a command decision.  I choose to be a sewing and craft consultant.  A Jack-of-all-crafts, so to speak, that can help, advise, teach and further spread the joy that is creativity.  So whenever someone says, “Do you know anyone that does ______?” or “Is there someone that can teach me how to __________?”, my name can go in that blank.

Now to figure out how to make that into a tagline and find a market….hmmmmm.

“Pulling” Fabrics for a Quilt

IMG_2788As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve signed up for a quilt class and I’m pretty excited about spending a day sewing.  Now that I have signed myself along with my mother up for the class, the rush to select the perfect fabrics has begun.

I don’t know if other quilters are like me or not, but I’m pretty picky about my fabrics, textures and color combinations.  I see photos all the time on Instagram of quilters who have a stack of fabrics that they have “pulled” for their latest project.  I can’t go to my stash and pull the perfect fabrics and start cutting right away.

Here is my process:  I go to my stash and pick a few possible coordinating candidates.  I usually have one particular piece in mind before I start.  I start pulling fabrics that will possibly match that focal piece.  I take these pieces and then arrange them how they will appear in the quilt.  I fold and tuck and stack until the correct proportion of fabrics show and then I lay this “stack” in a prominent place in my house.  And then I let it lie for a while as I walk by it, sit near it and watch television while glancing at my fabrics during commercials.  Occasionally, I will decide I want to try another arrangement.  Many quilters use a design wall.  I use my living room sofa.  My design wall is tucked away in my sewing room and I never walk by it.  I want to study on this for a while, glance at it from across the room, and see if the whole combination works for me.

The combination above (pardon the poor photo) is part of my plan for the upcoming quilt class.  I’ve changed the arrangement a little by replacing the large floral print with another less obvious print.  But, at this point, I’m happy with it.  That is…..until my mother called.

I had a nice set of black, white and red fabrics pulled for this quilt until I visited her house.  She pulled this blackberry fabric combination out of her stash, thinking the purple would appeal to me.  She was correct and boom, I dropped my red and black fabrics and have moved on to this purple.  It was like dangling a carrot in front of a horse.  I fell for it.  I had almost settled on this combination and then she called me.  “I have some more purples for you to look at and try”, she tempted me.  And I bit.  She knows me too well.

So my debuting and arranging and re-arranging fabrics will continue for a few more days.  That is part of what makes it fun.

Do you just pull fabrics or do you audition and debut like I do?

Quilt Classes – Live or Video?

IMG_2761Quilt class opportunities are few and far between for me.  Sewing class opportunities are totally none existent.  Nevertheless, I keep my eyes and ears posted for any chance to make something or learn a new technique.  One of my local fabric stores offers classes but they are rarely for anything that catches my interest.  They do lots of rag quilts and t-shirt quilts. I’m sure those serve the population but they don’t do anything for my intermediate skills.  I’ve done several of those type quilts and they don’t really interest me enough to pay a class fee.

My local quilt shop, Backyard Fabrics, recently expanded her tiny store to include a large room that includes a classroom.  She has begun to offer some classes.  She tells me she has a long list of teachers anxious to teach.  Thanks to the wonder of Facebook, she has posted photos of the upcoming classes and last week, she posted one that really caught my eye. The class is for the wallhanging photo posted here named Chick N Stars.

I am above the moon excited about this.  And I don’t really know why.  I’ve tried to decipher it.  I can sit down at my pc and take a virtual class any day of the week.  I can pull up a tutorial on my pc and make a quilt at any time.  But there is just something special about an in-person, hands-on workshop where you arrive with sewing machine and fabrics and leave with a completed top (or wallhanging).

My best guess about the reason for my excitement is a couple of things. First, a class for me is like a spa day for other women.  I get to sit, play with fabric, chug along on my machine and immerse myself in patchwork.  I have a good excuse to turn the phone on silent.  I don’t have to walk the dog, put a load in the washer or prepare a meal.  The prospect of spending 6-8 hours involved in a beloved hobby is so luxurious I get giddy.

Second, I am forced to do something under someone else’s direction.  Someone else will set my agenda for the day. Someone else will set my goal for the day and there will be no argument.  I will not be able to get distracted and wander off. I will not be able to make a multitude of excuses for why I shouldn’t be “wasting” this time away from chores or work.  Video classes and tutorials, while excellent for some things, give me too much freedom.  I can click stop on the video and walk away. The phone can ring, the daughter could need something or the husband could come home early from work. I can procrastinate and never start, much less never finish.

The instructor will help me meet my goal.  I like that most of the time.  I have had instructors that were drill sergeants and made me rip and rip and rip. Those women will never be forgotten but I really can’t blame them.  I have a beautiful quilt to show for their efforts training me.

I don’t know what kind of person that instructor will be but I’m prepared to surrender my day to her and let her guide me to a perfectly pieced wallhanging.  I began pulling fabrics this weekend. The excitement is building.

So, do you prefer video classes or in-person classes?  Am I the only one that needs a leader?

Product Review: Clover Protect and Grip Thimble

My hand quilting has been on a hiatus for a couple years while I have been doing the whole “get healthy, get active” thing.  When I returned to my project, I quickly found out there had been a change.  My favorite thimble no longer fit.  I had no idea a 45lb. weight-loss could affect the tips of my fingers.  So I frantically began searching for a new thimble.

REVIEW: The Clover Protect and Grip Thimble is an innovative thimble trying to satisfy two sides of the thimble-wearing community.  It features a dimpled and ridged metal tip attached to a flexible rubber body.  The flexible rubber body has an unusual scallop design that is “for air flow keeping your finger cooler”.  I picked up a hot pink one in a size medium from my local fabric shop.  My finger fit comfortably through the size guide that is provided on the packaging although I think perhaps I would find a size large more to my liking.  The thimble goes on easily, a problem I usually have with metal thimbles.  A round thimble does not fit on my oblong-shaped finger.  Once situated, the thimble was securely in place and I did not worry about it slipping off.  I tried a few stitches with it.  The metal tip seems to be off-balance and perhaps even too thick.  It was difficult to judge the tip of my finger with the added length of the metal tip. I generally push with the pad of my finger and that is not possible with this thimble.  The flexible rubber sides are too soft and will puncture so there is no pushing with anything except the very top of the tip.  I find this awkward considering I’m not quite sure where the tip of my finger is with the added length of the metal tip.  Instructions on the back of the package, in fine print, instruct users to remove the thimble by rolling the rubber sides up instead of pulling it off by the metal tip.  I imagine that it wouldn’t take many tuggings and the tip would come off the rubber body.  All in all, the Clover Protect and Grip Thimble is not a bad thimble but it will not work for me as a daily workhorse.  It would be an excellent choice for a beginner that needs to become accustomed to wearing a thimble but is not a good choice for experienced quilters that are accustomed to a metal thimble. I will probably keep it as a backup thimble to use on small projects.  It is not a bad value at $8.99, although I would like to try a larger one to see if the metal tip would be more balanced for me.

NOTE:  This is an unsolicited product review.  All opinions express are those of the authors.

I will revert back to a very old metal thimble that I have taken a hammer to until I can attend the American Quilter’s Society Quilt Week in Paducah, Kentucky at the end of April  and search for a better thimble.

 

 

 

Thimble Problems

ImageI’ve been on the a health and fitness kick for the past 2 years.  You know, the whole “Get fit, get healthy” thing?  I have been doing Weight Watchers and while, yes, it works, and yes, I did lose weight, I have had to give up so many activities that make my soul sing.  In getting fit and adding exercise to my daily routine, I have trashed my knees and feet while being separated from quilting, sewing, and knitting, and all for what?  That is for another post and another day.

Now that the knees are injured I have returned to quilting and sewing.  Recently, I slipped on my old trusty thimble to find that I could not keep it on.  My fingers had lost weight!  I know I should be rejoicing but I spent years trying to find the perfect thimble.  I have agonized over all types of thimbles and have tried almost every one on the market until I found a wonderful thimble called the PQF thimble. (It is not the thimble shown in the photo.)  The PQF thimble was perfect for me.  It was made out of an indestructible black rubber and was guaranteed to last a lifetime.  I have the hand strength of a lowland gorilla and can snap or bend a size 10 quilting between needle in one stitch.  The PQF’s rubber body would conform to my not-round shaped finger where metal thimbles had never been able to fit securely.  I was able to push the needle with any part of the PQF thimble through multiple layers of fabric and batting with no fear of puncturing the rubber or my finger.  And now, this miracle of modern engineering does not fit!

So, being a modern woman, I turned to the internet to see what the current technology is providing by way of thimbles.  First I searched for my favorite, the PQF.  Every link to those thimbles leads to a Japanese website or a woman’s fashion store.  I had to take a few hours to mourn the passing of my thimble.  A lot of good the lifetime warranty has done me.  So now I find myself in desperate need of a thimble that fits and works for me and the industry has little to offer.

Stay tuned for more thimble agony as I search for that thing that has gone the way of the DoDo …….the “perfect thimble”.

Zac and Ashley’s Wedding Quilt

 A dear nephew married over 4 years ago.  We were unable to attend the wedding in Houston but remembered an idea his mother, my sister-in-law, had given me years ago.  So I set about making memory blocks.  I used a block from an Eleanor Burns book and pieced together muslin with several 30’s reproduction prints that I had left over from another project.  I boxed the blocks up and sent them on their way with my sister-in-law.  She distributed them, along with sharpie markers to family, friends, and guests. 

Each block was inscribed with a sentiment for the couple. Some chose to send them best wishes, some bible verses and some sent along suggestions on how to have a happy marriage.

My circumstances changed and life happened and I was unable to get the quilt together in a timely manner.  Then, the couple moved out of the country.  I was hesitant about shipping the treasured memories to other countries.  There were too many things that could happen to it. Then, they became parents.  And older family members passed away.

And as time often works things out, the young family was able to come state-side for a holiday visit.  So my little fingers went to work and in a flurry of pins and needles, here is their memory quilt.  It is smaller than I had planned but, oh well, best laid plans…… 

After one whirlwind trip to Chattanooga, the memory quilt has been delivered and presented to the jetset couple with their precious little boy.  And I have completed the last unfinished project that has been heavy on my mind for a few years now!

2010 was the year to finish several UFO’s! (unfinished objects)