Thursday, January 21, 2021

Making Changes to On Podunk Pond Quilt

 One of the great things about quilting is there's more than one way to do just about anything. If you don't like making half square triangles by cutting and sewing two triangles together you have other options.  There's techniques to make two at a time, four at a time, eight at a time and rolls of paper for making oodles at a time.   The unit below is for the inset border triangle of my version of Bonnie Hunters quilt pattern On Ringo Lake.  The pattern calls for these units to be oversized and trimmed down after piecing the quilt.  For me this method doesn't work well.  And I'd really rather not spend anymore time ripping out stitches this week due to trying to do a technique that I know doesn't work well for me.  Let me say before moving on.  Bonnie's pattern is perfect, I'm not in anyway saying she did anything wrong.  I just need to do things the way I know works best for me.

 I decided to use EQ8 cutting instructions.  Bonnie's way of making these units were easier to cut and assemble than this odd shape below.  Since it's an odd shape with uncommon cutting measurements I made a test piece from paper before cutting into my precious fabric.  Using paper to make test pieces can be done with any pattern.  Years ago I would make test blocks from fabric.  If it came out wrong I wasting fabric.  Then one day I had an epiphany....make the block with paper.  It can be tossed in the trash or upcycled for a cute way to take notes or leave messages on the fridge.

For this test piece I used construction paper.  I keep construction paper on hand for when the grandkids come to visit.

The two different colored paper were layered together and cut at the same time.  

It was much easier than it looked.  So far things are looking great.

Now to sew the paper together.

That's right, I'm going through the motions and pretending it's fabric.  

I even pressed the seam to the dark side.  Wouldn't want the quilt police on my tail. Haha!  Tip if you try this method of sewing paper:  You'll need to make your seam allowance just a tad larger.  On my sewing machine I move the needle to the left 2 clicks.

If these triangle units fit on the top then I start cutting the units from fabric.

It doesn't look like it's going to fit.

I was teasing you! It fit perfectly!  Yah!

It's smooth sailing from here.  The process was repeated using fabric.

Layering the fabrics right sides together before cutting makes things a little easier.  I can cut a left and a right odd shape at the same time and they are ready to be sewn together.

All they need is a few little pins.

This unit will fit perfectly with no trimming after it's in the quilt.  I think I'm going to go the extra mile for accuracy sake and trim those tips with this ruler by Fons and Porter

TADA!  No trimming the entire quilt top or in my case no wonky quilt top.  Now I can start piecing the rows with confidence.

What do you do to add a little sunshine into your life?  Is there's something that always makes your heart sing?  For me it's fabric play.  Of course listening to some 70's rock music also puts a pep in my step and a smile on my face.  Word of warning,  put done the rotary cutter if your going to disco dance in the sewing room....that's a story for another day.😂

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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Tips and Tricks for Picking Out Stitches

 Ripping out stitches is part of the process of quilting.  No matter how seasoned of a quilter you are, you're going to make a mistake every once in awhile.  The first tip to ripping out stitches is a good seam ripper.  In my early years of sewing/quilting I would purchase the cheapest seam ripper available.  I've learned that spending a  couple more dollars is worth every penny.  Right now my favorite ripper is the Singer Comfort Grip Seam Ripper.  It fits nicely in my hand and it is as it states....comfortable for me to use.  The larger white rubber handle makes holding the ripper much easier.  The rubber also helps to remove stitches after they are cut and you have pulled the fabrics apart.  Lay the rubber handle on the stitch and pull.  It will grab the loose thread and remove it from the fabric.

My next favorite ripper is the one below.  I've been using it for years and have no idea the brand.  It has a nice large handle that is easy to grip.  

This one is used primarily for smaller stitches such as when I'm quilting on the frame.  As you can see in the picture below the point is much smaller and so is the blade part of the ripper.  I love it when I need it but I don't use it unless I have to.  The little point and super sharp blade can cause some damage to a quilt if you aren't careful.  Yes, I've accidentally cut a hole in my quilt with this little bugger. 

In the last few years this lighted seam ripper has been all the rage.  Why?  I'm not sure.  For me it was hard to use.  My best quilting buddy bought it for me because she love it so much.  

Sure sometimes I need magnification for picking out stitches but I prefer to use a larger telescoping lighted magnifier like the one below.  

So what have I been ripping?  Everything on the design wall looks great, right?  I can't tell you how much this quilt tickles me.  I love it!  The pattern is On Ringo Lake by Bonnie Hunter you can find it in her online shop here.  I call mine On Podunk Pond.

After putting all the blocks and sashings on the design wall I was left with these units.  Which is what I thought I was supposed to have....WRONG.

Each block has four of the units, one in each corner.

My error was not reading the pattern correctly.  I remember going back and cutting more yellow because I had several red and green units leftover.  Lesson learned, read the pattern a little more carefully before thinking she or I had made an error.  Her pattern was correct, I was wrong. 

 The extra green and red units are to used for the inset triangles because the quilt is set on-point.  It's an easy fix.  I just need to rip out those stitches very carefully.  The fabric is cut on the bias so stretching them out of shape can happen very easily when handling them to much.  Thankfully I starched the dickens out of my fabrics before cutting and piecing.  Starching helps reduce stretching and fraying.  It also allows me to finger press with great precision.  Finger pressing makes picking out stitches easier.   Setting the seam with an iron pushes the stitches in to the fabric and is supposed to make your piecing more accurate. I almost never use an iron when piecing my quilt.  When the top is complete, if needed, I press the entire quilt before quilting.

If possible, when ripping out stitches I try rip from the side with the least amount of stitches.  I've cut the threads on the piece below but it's hard for you to see. 

So for demonstration purposes only I'm going to pick these stitches from the red and green side.  This allows you to see what I'm doing.  Folding the unit with right sides together as it was when I made the seam makes it easier to get the point of the ripper under the stitches. In the next picture you'll see why. There's no reason press these with an iron.  Leave the crease in the fabric, pressing will only push the thread father down into the fabric and make it harder to get your ripper under the stitch.

If you look below you'll see how leaving the unit pressed makes a ridge on the fabric.  This ridge is in the way of the seam ripper that's why I folded the yellow fabric back as in the picture above.   Then I cut every 4th or 5th stitch.  If you look closely you'll see the cut stitches.  Since I'm working near other stitches on this side(on the green fabric) I'm very careful to not slice the threads on the unit I'm trying to save.  Ripping a stitch or two before and after the intersecting threads I don't want to cut.

Next pull them apart carefully and slowly.  If it doesn't want to pull apart don't force it.  Instead go back and cut a couple more stitches in that area. 

Free at last! With just a few loose threads.  Some quilters would use a lint roller or tape to remove the loose threads.  I DO NOT.  This can cause fraying.  I pick out them with my fingers or use the rubber on the seam ripper handle to help remove them from the fabric.

On the back of the other piece is one long thread.  Give it a little tug and like magic it will help pull out the little cut threads from your fabric.  See them hanging onto the thread?

Of course it almost always leaves one or two small threads behind but it's easy to remove them with the seam still pressed back.

A quick press and the triangle is ready to use in another project. 

From start to finish it took about 20 minutes to disassemble and remove stray threads.  Nothing looks out of shape and that makes me happy.  

I see many quilters ripping out seams by pulling apart the fabrics and clipping the threads on the inside seam or the "V" as shown below.  This can distort the fabric and make it harder to work with after you get the seams out.  Take your time and it will save you time and heartache later.

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Friday, January 15, 2021

Fabric Friday

 I'm starting off the year with a bang. Normally at the beginning of the year I make a promise to myself to only purchase fabric if needed for a project.  Well I'm over denying myself of fabric.  I love fabric, I want fabric, and I need fabric.  Below is my Merry Christmas to me Prim fabric, my Happy New year to me Vintage Farm Girl fabric and my Happy Valentines day to me Granny Chic fabric.  All Lori Holt Bundles.  

 Sure I have more fabric than I could ever use in my lifetime.  But does a woodworker say no more wood?  Does a gardener say no more seeds?  No and no.  So why should I or you deny ourselves fabric.  It may seem silly to those who are not quilters, like Mr. Podunk.  But he has a garage full of what I consider useless tools.  And lets not forget the endless supply of fishing tackle and hunting equipment. The justification for those items is..... they are useful and needed for when we need to off grid due to some type of fall of the U.S.   Seriously?  

Ok if that's your(his) argument then think about the past year and the crazy run on toilet paper.  Was I stocking up and worried about TP?  Heavens no, I have a huge cabinet full of fabric I really don't like.  It could be used as TP, napkins, sanitary napkins, clothing and of course quilts to keep us warm when we don't have electricity.  That's also a good reason to keep moms treadle sewing machine.   So no more guilt for quilters.  We are stocking up for the Apocalypse. You'll thank us when you need a coat of many colors and something more than a poison ivy leaf for your bottom end. 

 And just so you are all prepared to make a coat for your loved ones here a great tutorial by Laundry Basket Quilts that makes it quick and easy.


The quilt pattern above, Sweet Sixteen,  can be found in my pattern shop.

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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Throwback Thursday ~ Vintage Embroidery Quilt

 Today I want to take a little trip down memory lane. I've shown this quilt here on my blog before and I'm sure I'll share it again.  It's by far the most memorable and loved quilt I've made during my quilting journey.  Not because it was complicated to make or designed by some so called famous designer but because of the story it has to tell.  Sure every quilt I make has a story but this one extra special.

My mom started making the hand embroidered blocks way back when I was pregnant with my first child in 1987.  I had no idea this little quilt top even existed until my first born child, Amanda, was pregnant with her first child.  Mom gave it to me and asked that I finish it for my daughter.  I was not the least bit interested in finishing this quilt.  The embroidered blocks were stitched on a very thin muslin and the yellow background fabric was a whimpy boring yellow polycotton.  Don't get me wrong, I'm no fabric snob.  There's a few older polycottons in my stash that I love and use often and no one is none the wiser.

How could I make this look great?  Maybe some applique or add some more embroidery.  I was stuck and uninspired.  To be honest I hated this little project and had absolutely no interest in finishing it.  It was pushed aside and eventually shoved in a box out of site.  

A year or two later it somehow managed to find it's way out of the box and back on my mind.  My grandson was here and like any new grandma I made several new cute quilts for him.  Did he really need another?  The embroidery seemed a little too girly for a little boy named Hunter Remington.  So....NO, I was struggling to finish it, let alone make it look like it was meant for a boy.  

After many hours of doing the quilt stare and cocking my head this way and that way it became obvious, remove the hideous yellow background fabric.  Then it was time to work some quilty magic and I needed help.  

Where do you go when you need help with quilting?  The quilt shop of course.  I took those embroidered blocks to the local quilt shop and asked the staff for assistance.  They immediately suggested 1930's reproduction fabrics.  Geesh,...why didn't I think of that.  I left the quilt shop with six 1930's prints and absolutely no idea what I was going to do with them.  They were my inspiration pieces.  Then the strangest thing happened in an online quilting forum.  Someone was selling a big ole box of 30's reproductions scraps.  The timing and price was perfect.  The powers that be were listening to plea for more 30's fabrics to make a scrappy quilt.

After a lot of digging around the internet there was finally a quilt plan.  The first thing I needed to do was to enlarge the outer edge of the embroidered blocks and add another layer of fabric to the back of the very thin muslin.  The quilt pattern I chose is called Hug's and Kisses.  A free pattern then and still is today. You can find it here

I wanted custom quilting but this was before I learned free motion or had a longarm.  Paying for custom quilting was not an option for my budget.  Did you know you can quilt with an embroidery machine?   My embroidery machine wasn't as fancy todays machine.  This was not an easy task but it looked much better than my quilting at the time

I was so happy how this turned out.  Now to add a label.

The label is hard to read due to the camera I used at the time.  It reads....

L.F. Mason
Pieced and quilted
L.A. Brummett

Giving both mom and I credit was a way for me to document to the family this quilt is an heirloom and is  not to be sent to Goodwill when we die.  Next I needed to tell my daughter about the quilt and my plans.   She agreed with me, mom should have the quilt. 

  The look on moms face was priceless.  Her ugly little duckling had turned into a beautiful swan.   With tears swelling up in her eyes she stated she was going to show this sucker off to everyone she knew.  Those her exact words, a proud momma.  Proud of our combined effort and happy that my daughter and I thought she should enjoy her hard work.

Mom passed away a 4 years ago this month. The day of her funeral was my daughters birthday. The quilt is still on the bed in the spare bedroom of my dads home.

L.F. Mason
L.F.  Mason

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