Easy Flying Geese

Flying geese subunits are the mainstay of many star blocks.  The challenge with the flying geese subunit is maintaining the points and the distortion because of bias stitching.  All of this results in subunits that are not quite rectangular.  If you try to square them up, another challenge is the math and trimming (squaring the subunit) to keep the ¼” accurate so that the points are nice and sharp.  As a result, many quilters simply avoid making anything with these flying geese.

The good news is that there are several methods and techniques that, when used separately, or combined, result in perfect flying geese.  Not only are these methods and techniques easy, but fun.  In the next several posts I will cover techniques and methods for piecing perfect flying geese.

One Seam Flying Geese

Nothing could be easier than stitching only one seam.  Sounds impossible, but it is true.  Following are two videos that illustrate this technique, one with Ricky Tims and the other with Jenny Doan.  After you see this technique, you will want to run to your stash and start making these easy flying geese by the hundreds.

 

 

 

Your email:

 

 

Avoiding Fold Marks in Quilts

Fold marks on a quilt distract from the beauty of the quilt and over time can damage and weaken the fabric.  Whenever possible use a method that does not involve folding.  Here are a few possibilities for storing quilts to minimize or avoid fold marks.

Storage Methods Without Folding

  1. Small wall hangings can be hung on pants hangers. The area under the clip can be padded with extra batting.
  2. Larger wall hangings can be layered on top of each other and rolled. For support when rolling, use a pool noodle.  These are inexpensive and can be purchased at a “dollar” store.
  3. If you have an extra bedroom, lay the large wall hangings and bed quilts out flat on top of each other on top of a bed. Lay a sheet on top of the pile to protect from dust and especially if there is a lot of sunlight in the room.

Biggest Challenge – Avoiding Fold Marks When Storing

At the end of a workshop I took from Joe Cunningham last fall Joe started packing up his quilts to put into the large suitcase for the trip back to his home in California.  As he was talking to us he casually flopped one corner over, then another, and another, then part of the quilt, and so on.  Thinking this was just a “guy” thing I asked what he was doing.  He stopped and talked to the class about his method of folding and that it helped avoid fold marks.  This was especially important for his quilts that often lived in the suitcase traveling from workshop to workshop and back to his studio.

Folding the quilt on the diagonal places the folds across the bias of the fabrics.  Start by folding in one corner on the diagonal, move around the quilt folding in corners.  Each does not need to be exactly the same.  Then fold across on a diagonal, and so on until the quilt is small enough for storage.  The key is to use a different fold pattern the next time to reduce the stress on the fabric.

Alex Anderson recently discovered this method from a friend.  She shares her experience and the technique in the following video.

Your email:

 

 

Super Easy Flying Geese Quilt

Flying geese are often subunits in star blocks and by themselves make a very attractive quilt.  In the video below Jenny Doan demonstrates the easiest technique I have ever seen to have the look of flying geese, but without all of the effort.  Once you see this technique you will want to be on the lookout for just the right fabrics, or better yet, this might make a good stash buster.  Have fun!

Your email:

 

Correct Method for Adding Borders to a Quilt Top

The Problem

As a professional Longarm quilter I have the privilege of seeing many lovely quilts.  There is, however, a problem that can occur when borders are not correctly added to a quilt top.  Many times a strip of fabric is laid on the quilt top, sewn from one end to the other and then cut off.  Unfortunately, this results in wavy borders and dog eared corners.  No amount of awesome quilting can change the look of an out of square quilt.

Regardless of the precision taken during the piecing process, because of the nature of fabric, the cut edges and sometimes bias edges, a quilt top will not be perfectly square.  As a result, by adding borders correctly, you can square up the quilt top so that when quilted it will look much better, lay flatter, or if a wall quilt, hang straight on the wall.

The Solution

The correct method for adding borders starts with measuring the quilt top in three places, just in from the top and bottom and across the middle.  Two strips are cut the same length for the opposite borders using the middle measurement easing in the fullness, if any.  The same steps are repeated for the other two sides. Although this method takes a few minutes longer, you will be more satisfied with how your quilt looks when completed.  The video below walks you through the steps to correctly add borders to any quilt top.

Sewing Tip

If there was any fullness that was “eased” in by distributing the fullness and pinning as illustrated in the video, always place the eased or fuller side down (next to the feed dogs) when stitching.  The feed dogs will evenly pull the fullness through.  If you try to stitch with the fullness on the top, the presser foot will push the fullness along and make little pleats.  Always stitch with the fullest side down.

If you have never added borders using this method, I encourage you to try it.  You will be love the results.

Your email:

 

Design Wall Options

Years ago I never thought about the angle at which quilts would be viewed.  I simply laid the pieces on the floor or on the bed, rearranged the blocks to what looked OK, and sewed them together.  Today, however, I realize that how quilts are viewed during construction compared with after they are made may be totally different.  The perspective is totally different when looking at a quilt on an angle on the floor or bed versus straight on when on the wall.  As a result, I have found that using a design wall is essential to audition and make choices on the patch colors in a block, block placement, fabric colors, border and binding choices.  In fact, seeing the quilt take shape on a design has even changed some of the choices previously made because they simply didn’t contribute to the quilt as I once thought they would.

What is a design wall?

A design wall is simply a vertical space that is large enough to audition anything from block

design wall

Design Wall

patches to a quilt.  It can be any size that meets the quilter’s needs.  Some design walls are inexpensive or an easy DIY project, others are more costly.  My small design “wall” is a 18″x24″ foam core board with a flannel pillowcase over it.  I use it to audition block patches and to layer block patches for sewing.  It is close to my sewing machine, keeps the patches organized, making it easy to pick up the patches when stitching them together.  My other design wall is larger and attached to a wall in my studio.

Design Wall Options

  • Flannel backed table cloth. Very inexpensive and easy to tack up on any wall surface.  Flannel backed table cloths can be purchased in a range of sizes.  The largest size, however, would not be big enough for a large quilt.
  • Flannel covered insulating board. This is a relatively easy DIY project made from 2’x8’ or 4’x8’ insulation board available from a home improvement store.  It is light weight, yet strong enough to lean or fasten on a wall.  Use this link for instructions to make this project.  http://christaquilts.com/2013/11/11/a-new-design-wall/  Instructions for other similar projects are also available online.
  • Portable design walls. Offered in different sizes, this design wall is made of a light weight framedesign wall portable design wall retractable with flannel stretched across it.  This type of design wall would be ideal if it needed to be used at a class, moved from one room to another, or had no permanent location.  http://www.cherylannsdesignwall.com/
  • Mounted retractable roller design wall. When delivering a Longarm system a couple of years ago, I discovered this unique product at our customer’s studio.  Mounted on a wall or over a closet, this design wall pulls down, like a shade, offering space to audition a quilt.  The beauty of his product is that it takes up very little space and can easily be rolled up out of view or allowing access to whatever is behind the design wall.  It can even be rolled up with the patches or blocks still on it as illustrated in the photo.  This would make an ideal design wall in a small sewing area where a larger fixed design wall would not be possible.  http://www.design-a-way.com/

Regardless of how much quilting you do, the design wall is an important “tool” that allows you to visualize the finished quilt helping you make good design choices.  Besides having a design wall, make sure you also have good lighting.

Other links:

http://blog.shopmartingale.com/quilting-sewing/9-quilt-design-wall-ideas/

For those on Pinterest  https://www.pinterest.com/explore/quilt-design-wall/

Your email:

 

How Needles and Pins are Made

As a former science teacher, I enjoy learning the “how” and “why” of many things.  I find it fascinating to see how products are manufactured, especially things that are used in quilting.  We often take for granted these products not realizing the many steps that are involved in their manufacture.  Or, we complain about the cost without knowing the time and effort involved to make them.

This video from the Science Channel shows the steps involved in the manufacture of needles and pins.  Since I just bought a package of self threading needles with gold around the eye, I now know how these were made starting with a coil of wire and ending with a precision sewing tool to use with my quilting.

Your email:

 

Quilting for the Sake of Good Health

health and fitnessWe live in a health conscious world.  Everything we eat must be healthy for us, low in calories and fat, high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  Soda is bad for us because it has high fructose corn syrup and fast food is terrible because it is high in fat and salt.  Many join a gym or fitness center to keep trim or loose weight.  And, what about those health monitors that keep tabs on our heart rate and how many steps we take each day?  Has all the fun been taken out of life?

Quilters, take heart!  Literally take HEART.  Scientific evidence points to many positive health benefits of quilting.  Not only do we often quilting with our friends, but the right kind of body chemicals are formed when we are happy doing something we enjoy and we have something to show for it.

Next time your family complains about a late dinner or the laundry not done, tell them you were “working” on your “fitness” program for good health.

Read the whole (short) article on Surprising Health Benefits of Quilting.

Henry Ford – Thoughts For Quilters

Henry Ford once said, “If you need a machine and don’t buy it, you will eventually find you

henry ford

Henry Ford

have paid for it, but don’t have it.”

Now I am not advocating that you run right out and break the bank by purchasing every machine, tool, and gadget you think you want for quilting. But, there is a lot of truth to that statement.

Those of us that go back a few years will remember when the first rotary cutter and mat came on the market. The first I purchased was a mat and ruler set, which I still own, 12” wide and 24” long.  The mat did not even have a grid on it. We were very excited to have a tool to accurately cut patches. What a time saver as well as a hand saver from manipulating the scissors. Previous to this new tool we used ruler and pencil to make templates from cereal boxes. Try as best as possible we would cut the templates out following the line. Cutting on the lines was one of the useful skills I learned in kindergarten. Another was learning to wait in line, now waiting in the cutting line at the quilt store. After cutting the cardboard templates we would carefully trace around them on the fabric and again pick up the scissors to cut the patches. Depending on whether you were going to hand piece or piece by machine, the ¼” seam allowance might or might not be included on the template.

quilting tools

Quilting “Tools”

Wow! That was a lot of work. Not only do we have the rotary cutter today, but an even faster and potentially more accurate system, a machine with dies to cut the patches.

Henry Ford, of course, was looking at the “time is money” principle of business as he grew his auto company from each auto as a custom build to the assembly line with the goal of every family in America affording a car (and, of course, employ people and put dollars in his bank account). In business, the more labor (time) involved the higher the cost to produce.

What do we actually need to quilt? Tools and machines that will help us become more efficient. Today we spend money to get time. If a machine or tool will give us more time, then it could be worth the purchase. If the longer bed home sewing machine makes it more comfortable  or easier for sewing, then we are trading the money for that purchase for increased comfort and enjoyment in our craft. If the crank or mechanized cutter improves our quilting, gives us more time to make more quilts, and increases our enjoyment in quilting, it could be worth the expense. And what about a really big purchase like a longarm quilting machine? If you want to have ownership of the entire quilt from start to finish, quilting at your sit down home machine is a frustration, or as in my case, painful to my neck and back, or renting time is not possible, then perhaps purchasing a longarm is the right decision.

There is a trap that many of us fall into. That of thinking we must justify a purchase like an

featherweight and table

Me enjoying my “new” Featherweight and table.

embroidery machine or longarm and do work on it to “help pay for it.” What is wrong with owning something just for the enjoyment of owning it? Or owning it because it makes the process easier, more enjoyable, or simply saves us time? How many men do you know that have purchased a hunting rifle, bass boat, or the latest and greatest lawn and garden tractor want to justify the purchase by making money with it?

Certainly Henry Ford was on to something back in the early 1900’s recognizing the importance of having the machinery (and tools) to get the job done. Without the machinery to take the place of costly labor, those machines were paid for, but not owned.  For us as quilters, not owning the machines and tools we really need may save us money, but could cost us more in time, make us less efficient and productive, and lower our quality of life and enjoyment of quilting.  Although I can’t give you permission to run out and purchase what you want, I do give you permission to seriously consider machine and tool options that will make you more efficient, be more comfortable to use, give greater productivity, and greater enjoyment as you travel along your quilting journey.

Inspiration from the Life of Yvonne Porcella

Yvonne Porcella

Yvonne Porcella

Recently one of the legends of the quilting world passed away. Yvonne Porcella, who never even won a ribbon for any of her quilts, influenced the quilting world for decades. Learning to sew from her Mother when she was growing up, Yvonne was influenced by the art and quilting motifs found in textiles purchased in the 60’s from Afghanistan and other nearby countries. Although trained as a nurse and crafting as a weaver years ago, she began quilting to be able to do something near her children and even sewed standing up with her machine on the kitchen counter top to keep the pins away from the children. Her eclectic art quilts are only made with a couple of blocks and almost always her signature black and white, often checked fabric.

The link below from a 2010 The Quilt Show episode is now available for all to see and

yvonne porcella quilt

Quilt purchased by the Smithsonian.

met Yvonne Porcella. I was first introduced to Yvonne on Alex Anderson’s quilt show years ago. Yvonne reminded me of a hippy with her unique, colorful clothing that she made. Her quilts also had that unique signature, not uncommon for today’s art quilts, but certainly very different from the traditional quilts of the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. Yvonne’s quilts made such an impression in the quilting world that the Smithsonian even purchased one of them in the mid 1990’s as well as having one chosen for inclusion in the 100 Best Quilts of the 20th Century.

yvonne porcella quilt

Biscuits Tris unique Porcella style.

I hope that you will set aside about an hour to watch this video, meet this amazing woman and see how different things in life influenced Yvonne to become the quilt maker she was. More importantly, watching the video should make you think about what has influenced you to become the quilt maker you have become or are becoming.  Most of all, I would hope that we each would be encouraged to step out of the box and express our individuality through our quilting.

The video is broken into chapters (listed to the right on the page) with short advertising interludes, so, if you do not have time to watch all of it, book mark it and go back later.

 Link: The Quilt Show 2010 video with Yvonne Porcella.