Monday, January 28, 2019

~ Designing a project with Judy ~

A few months ago my neighbor and new quilting buddy Judy Stanton and I were fabric shopping.  Judy fell in love with  "Love You" by Sandy Gervais.  She immediately asked if I could help her make a small project with a charm pack.  Before we left the store she knew exactly what she would be making and had purchased all the fabric. 

For some reason we just couldn't seem to find the time to get the project started.  Finally it's winter and things have slowed down for the both of us and it's time to get this party started!  The Dresden's were decided on months ago so we started cutting and piecing those without having a set in stone design.  As Judy cut and pieced we discussed what she wanted the finished bed runner to look like.   Sashing, no sashing, room for quilting, very little quilting and of course size.  I like that Judy has ideas and isn't relying on me to read her mind.  She could be a designer if she really wanted.  She has a great eye for color and design.  You can see this as soon as you step foot on her adorable farm.   She loves to decorate and is amazing at doing so!   Anyway, this Dresden block is her baby.  She took the designer reins and started adding pops of color and when that wasn't enough she added the Yo-Yo.  I couldn't help but notice her designing stance is pretty much the same as mine.  She stares at the block, cocks her head to one side....hmmm...cocks her head to the other side....well...."what if".  And the magic began.  She played with several ideas until she was satisfied.  But the designer in me knows this is not set in stone.  Judy might change her mind before its all said and done.  Which is fine by me, that's how I design also!  The finished product is always a surprise.

Before heading home I had taken some notes about what she had in mind for the rest of the bed runner.   This is how all of my quilts start.....scribbles.

We need a plan for the blocks.  So to my EQ7 program I go.  EQ7 allows for quilters to add fabrics. You can scan in what you have in your stash or for newer lines you can get the images for free from most manufacturers websites.  Not all fabric companies do this but I knew Moda was one that had images available.  This makes designing so much easier.

 I found the "Love You" fabric with a quick search and had it ready to use with in 5 minutes.  Easy as pie.  So let's start baking up something sweet!

Using my notes and a little bits from our conversation I worked up a few quilts.  I won't be giving my opinion on any of these because this is Judy's quilt.  She will need to decide if any of these are what she had in mind.   There's no hurry so we can change these as many times as she wants.

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

 Option 4

Option 5

Option 6
This one has solid corner stones.  The circles are representing the 2 circles and a YO YO just like in the middle of her real Dresden. 

Do you have a favorite?  Wanna make one along with us?  I don't know how long it will take or when the next part of this project will be posted.  We are flying by the seat of our pants.  Judy has an important engagement coming up in February that will put this on hold for a week or two. 

#dresdenquilt #dresdenbedrunner #electricquilt7 #EQ7 

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

~ Squeezing It All In ~

  Sundays are usually pretty laid back with not much sewing.  But this week I wanted to get in a few things before Mr. Podunk rolled out of bed.  I've had many request for the project below to be turned into a pattern.  Ideas had been tossed around in my head of making more blocks but I really just don't want to add any more.  So this morning I gathered up the templates and notes for turning this into a pattern.  I'd like to have it quilted and ready to publish sometime in February.

Then it was time to work on the scrappy quilt that is taking over the studio.  I managed to get two blocks completed this morning so far.  

The stack of block design boards is getting shorter.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel as the sun starts to peek through the studio windows.  Usually on the weekends Mr. Podunk wakes up right after sunrise.  I've been up for 3 hours when he bounces through the dining room heading towards the coffee pot.  In that 3 hours I've done 2 loads of laundry, 2 quilt blocks, prepped for pattern, and drank a half a pot of coffee!

Before breakfast is done I start prepping for lunch.  Sundays is dinner with dad.  Dad doesn't get too many home cooked meals since mom passed.  Weather permitting, I take dad a home cooked meal every Sunday.  I would do it during the week but this ole man still works a full time job, 40-60 hours a week.  Not because he needs the money but because he wants to stay active.  He plans to retire sometime this year at 73.  But even then he has a long list of things he would like to do around the house to keep himself busy.

 Getting everything around here done requires lots of go-go  So lately I have been breaking my own rule of no food or drinks in the studio.  I think after having dinner with dad I'm going to stop by the store to buy a spill proof cup.    One drop of coffee on my pretties would make me so sad.  Better to be safe than sorry.

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Saturday, January 26, 2019

~ Simple Thread Catcher ~

Recently I've had a real bad case of .....SQUIRREL!   And then I'll start working on something else and ......SQUIRREL!  By mid afternoon the studio is a mess and I....SQUIRREL! ...I gotta clean up this mess and focus on one project.  So that's what I was doing when it occurred to me(squirrel!) I need a thread catcher.  The new studio layout doesn't allow for a trash can beside the sewing table.  Laying the little snips of thread on the corner of the sewing table isn't working.  They eventually ended up on the elbow of my shirt.  So I grabbed a little piece of white flannel and stuck it under the pin cushion.  While it's functional, it's not cute.

 I made this one years ago and really didn't like how the thread was hard to get out of the basket.  So I trashed it after a while.

After a little brainstorming it became clear to me, I like the flannel idea.  It just needs a little something to spruce her up a bit.  I could add batting and backing, kinda make a little quilt.  EH...that's to much effort.  I could just add binding to the flannel but I think the binding would be too heavy for the flannel.  Then I remembered the self binding receiving blankets.  That could work.  It would be smaller but doable!  A quick little Google search to refresh my memory of the tutorial and I was ready to make my mini receiving blanket thread catcher.  Here's the tutorial I used for reference.

Pinning the little squares was quite the trick.  The red fabric had been starched quite heavily in a previous project

For some reason this gave me a chuckle.  

Slow and steady on the itty bitty corners.

Well it's not as cute as I had hoped but it does look better than a plain ole piece of flannel.  Maybe I should have made the red fabric a couple inches larger.  For now it works until something else......SQUIRREL!......

 #threadcatcher #podunkpretties

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Friday, January 25, 2019

~ Making a Dresden from a Charm Pack ~

As you all know I'm a sucker for Dresdens.  So when my friend Judy asked if I would teach her to make a Dresden bed runner I couldn't resist.  Judy is fairly new to quilting...or so she says....just look at her perfect Dresden!  Doesn't look like a newbie block to me!   No waves, no puckers, no issues what so ever in her first Dredsen.

She used a charm pack by Moda called Love You.   Her background fabric will be the gray speckled.  I'll keep you updated on the runner as it progresses.  If all goes as planned it will be made into a pattern.

Miss Judy has a real eye for detail.  I see a new quilt designer in the making.  She didn't think the traditional center circle had enough pizzazz.  So we added another circle.  Nope, still not good enough for Goldilocks.  Then she had a needed a WOW factor....something to make it sing.  "Can I add a YO YO to the center?".  Well yes you can Miss Judy!  Perfect idea!

Judy, unlike me, is a gadget person and had exactly what we needed hanging right there in her Studio.  The Clover Yo Yo Maker was the perfect size.  What size is it?  I have no idea, there was no size information on the package but I can tell you the finished YO YO is about two inches.  I'm old school when it comes to making YO YO's. I cut a circle double the size I want the YO YO to finish.  So if I want a 1.5" YO YO, I cut out a 3" circle, turn the edge under about a quarter inch and make a running stitch 1/8" around the circle, leaving long tales of thread.  Once I've made it all the way around the circle I pull the tales and I have YO YO.   

Her little Dresden was so cute I had to make one this morning.  While I'm at it I might as well share this technique with my online quilting friends!  So here's what you'll need.  
A charm pack with 42 charms.  An Easy Dresden ruler.  The glow line tap is optional, it is just used for marking the line we'll be using on the Dresden Template.  You'll also need a fat quarter for the center of the Dresden.

 TIP: Dresden wedges are stretchy.  Avoid pulling and stretching on the wedges.  Do not iron wedges, PRESS UP AND DOWN.  

Before you start cutting make sure your charms measure 5".   They can be a little smaller but not by much.  Both the charm packs we used were a little short by about 1/8". You can layer 4 or 5 charms to make the cutting go much faster.  A rotating cutting mat would also be great for this project. 
 Line up the 4" line on the ruler with the top of the charm and at the far left corner.  Carefully cut one dresden blade.  Turn the ruler upside down and line it up with the bottom of the remaining charm and the previous cut edge(bottom left photo).  Cut.  Rotate your ruler again to right side up and make the final dresden cut on the far right edge of the charm.  Repeat this on all charms in one pack.  It will make 6 dresden blocks that have 20 blades.

Fold each wedge in half longways with right sides together.  Lightly crease the center with your fingers.  Stitch the top of each blade(top right photo).  Trim away the excess fabric at the top of the folded edge, careful not to cut your stitches(bottom left photo).  Press open the seam at the top of the wedge. 

Carefully turn the wedge right side out.  Line up the crease and the seam on the back of the wedge, press the wedge tip.  Repeat on all wedges.

 When stitching together your wedges it is important to line up the two wedges at the top.   Don't worry about the bottom of the wedge, don't stretch the bottom of the wedges to make them line up.  The center will be covered by a circle template.  Stitch them together along the long side of the wedge.

When all your wedges are stitched together press all the seams in one direction. If you have some fullness in your Dresden try a little steam, but don't iron or stretch.  

  I've pulled a charm from another charm pack of the same fabric line to make a traditional circle center.  But you will need to use a fat quarter for the center circle.

Each Dredsen will finish at about 10" across.  We haven't decided on the size of the background fabric.  This week we are just focused on getting the dresdens together.  As soon as we move to the next step I'll let you know.

#quiltingtutorial #dresdentutorial #charmpacktutorial

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

~ Quilt Ruler Reviews ~

We all have them, quilting rulers.  They have become one of the basic necessities of quilting.  The invention of the rotary cutter and quilt ruler has transformed the way we make quilts.  But not all rulers are created equal.  This post is not about the actual measuring but about the features of some basic rulers.  

Before we get started I want to say I'm not sponsored by any company.  I'm on no ones payroll, I've not been asked to review any of these rulers.  This is just me giving my opinion.  Should I say something negative about a ruler you love, please don't take it personal.  If you love it and it works for you, it tickles me pink. 

Before making any purchase these days I always like to do my homework with a little online research.  This is not the time for Google.  Googling for reviews is just asking for a promoted ad paid for by the company.  Another bad idea is the company website or a "famous" quilter that works for the company.  She/he is getting paid to say good things about the product.   One of the best resources for honest reviews is Amazon.  People rarely leave good reviews if they love a product, but they love to complain about bad products.  Again, be careful, take it all with a grain of salt.  Some people are just grouchy.  If an issue keeps coming up in the comments it might be a good idea to  do a google search to see if the company has addressed the issue.  Or you could contact the company via email and ask what steps they have taken to fix the issue.  Facebook or quilting forums are also great resources for asking questions.  I belong to several quilting Facebook Groups and let me tell you, everyday, several times a day someone asks what the group thinks about this product or that product and boy do quilters love to give opinions.  HUNDREDS of quilters will tell you exactly what they think good or bad.  Then, more often than not, they start arguing until a moderator shuts off comments.  Even though it's drama filled I find it to be the most honest reviews. 

During this review of rulers I will not be mentioning any brands but you will be able to plainly see the brand of the product.  I also will not be adding links to products. 

So lets get started with the 6 x 24.  I've owned several over the years, many have been tossed in the trash.  These are the two I currently own.

This one I really like for its thin lines and extra markings.   It's great for the beginner quilter who jumps in with both feet but needs a little extra help with those odd measurements.  The only things that I can find bad about this ruler is the paint and it slides.  After about a year of use, the markings on the edge were wearing off.  Even with it's paint issues I would recommend it to a beginner as long as they add something to the back to keep it from sliding.

 Next is the newest to my collection of rulers.  I've had this one about 6 months.  So far the paint is holding up great.  The lines on the ruler are thin which  makes for better accuracy.   I think the circle around the numbers are over kill and get in the way, and I find them a bit confusing.  So when I use this one I'm extra cautious.  The thing to remember with this ruler is, if the number is upside down don't use it!  But I love this ruler and I'm glad I finally made the purchase.  The little textured dots on the back of the ruler help to stop it from sliding on the fabric.

6.5" Square rulers.  As you can see I have several.  2 I have purchased and 2 were gifts.  

This is the most recent addition.  And I have to say I can't find a thing about this one that I don't like.  At first I thought the frosting was going to be an issue.

But as you can see, it's not.  It's AWESOME!  No sliding but at the same time it doesn't over grip the fabric like little sandpaper dots.  The lines on this one are perfect.  They are thin and not overly lined.  Overly lined?  You know some rulers have too manly lines.  It can be hard sometimes to find the line you need.  This one is simple and to the point.  No big circles around the numbers.  Yep I'll be purchasing more of this brand.  I plan to look at their website before making any new ruler purchases.

Next is a square up ruler.  There's 4 of these in a set 4.5", 6.5", 9.5" and 12.5".   The lines are thin, and you know I love that!  The paint is still on the ruler just like the day it came into my life over 10 yrs ago.   My only complaint about these is the blue frame.  It's too dark.  On some fabrics I can't see the edge of the fabric.  

The only good thing I say about the next one is it doesn't seem to slip as bad as most rulers.  It has too much paint, which is still in place because I rarely use it.   What's the point of the yellow?  The yellow makes it hard to see the fabric.  It's hard to tell where the line is landing on the fabric below.  Then there's the mini grid in the upper 3".   Very poor design in so many ways.  I've been tempted to throw this in the trash but for some reason I keep it around.

This one is fairly new and it's the second one I've owned.  Great lines and markings, nice visible numbers.  But I know the paint will wear off the edges.  It is super slippery and without the tape on the backside I have a hard time getting to stay in one spot.  

Up next is another one that is lucky it hasn't hit the trash yet.  I keep it only because its narrow and long, and it comes in handy sometimes when squaring up smaller cuts of fabric on a clutter cutting table.

It would be a perfect ruler if it didn't have the white paint around the lines.  The white paint makes it almost impossible to get accurate cuts.  Can you see the teeny tiny little gap in the line that allows you to see the edge of the fabric?  You might need to get a magnifying glass, its tiny.

 Square Up Rulers. These are rarely used in my Studio.  I prefer to square up block units if needed so I don't need to square up a block.   You know how I feel about the blue framed rulers so we'll focus on the other one.  Well, we'll focus on what we can see of it. As you can see or not see, the paint is badly worn away after very little use.

However even with the paint gone I still really like this ruler.  Can you see the raised numbers and lines on the back?  This comes in very handy.  

I'm not going to mention any brands but this ruler LOCKS in place on HST's just like another brand that is currently on the market.  The locking in place on the edge as well as on the angle makes squaring up HST's a breeze.  This one is much cheaper than the other brand and you can do up to 12.5" HST or block.  

So that's it for the basic rulers.  I'm not a gadget person but I do like good tools.  When I first started quilting money was a little tighter and I used what I could afford.   I always try to encourage everyone to buy what they can afford whether its fabric or tools.  Fancy gadgets and designer fabrics do not make a quilter great.  It's the love hobby and the willingness to get out of the comfort zone and push past the failures.  Over the years I've learned some of the best quilters have struggled in the beginning to have the basics.  When you have those kind of challenges you learn so much more.

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