“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?

Digital Stash Management

I am a late baby-boomer, but I am an information specialist working in a progressive academic library.  So I’m more “millennial” than many others my age.  I get that. I am also an avid sewist, manic knitter and occasional crocheter.  If it involves a needle, I’m there.  I am tired of living in two completely separate worlds!  When is the sewing industry going to get a clue?  

There seems to be a huge sewing revival among the younger generations – the generations that do not go anywhere without their smartphone and know all the free wifi spots along their route.  They are blogging and posting to all forms of their social media about their sewing adventures.  So do you mean to tell me that they have fabric scraps taped to index cards  and photocopies of their favorite patterns in their purses when they go shopping?

I long for a means to create a digital stash……..something where I can have the patterns I own and the fabrics I own all managed in a website or better yet, a smartphone app.  I’ve been researching this.  I can’t seem to find that anyone uses anything.  The couple of apps that I have looked out are very problematic and don’t get the job done.  I’m currently testing one idea……more to come.

Mobile Sewing Center Of My Dreams

2014-03-21 15.14.08I have found the perfect mobile solution for my sewing needs!  Thanks, Happy Zombie, for your blogpost.  I’ve searched high and low for some sort of storage and travel option for my treasured featherweight and associated sewing notions.  My husband’s shopping gravitates toward sporting goods stores and home improvement centers so I tend to make the most of it and do some creative re-purposing  that I’m sure would surprise the tool makers.  I had not noticed the Stanley-3-in-1-Rolling-Workshop until your posting.  “Walt’s cherry new ride” is indeed perfect.  If Stanley were smart, they would market a version in the sewing and quilting industry.

2014-03-21 15.24.43My as-yet-unnamed, treasured 1946 featherweight slid down in the bottom like it was made for it.  I had tried to find a way to jettison the original 1946 box because of the extreme weight and molded mildew smell that was embedded in it.

All my tools fit in either the compartment tray with the bright yellow lid or the sliding tray in the top toolbox.

The handle is very functional. I was not a fan of the telescoping ones but this one seems very sturdy.  The upper toolbox is so spacious that it inspired me to whip up a quick iron cozy since my iron had plenty of room to ride in the box.

This rolling workshop, coupled with the portable folding cart that I received for Christmas have allowed me to take my sewing “on the road”.  I stuck a large cutting mat, ruler and small ironing board in the portable cart along with fabric supplies.  I rolled into teach my first Learn To Sew Class without the need of multiple trips to the car to pack in multiple boxes of class supplies. I feel confident that I can sign up for any workshops that require a sewing machine now without fear.

Now, I need stickers….some sort of creative embellishment…….’cause that is how I roll! LOL

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”.