Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Taming Your Selvages

I always pre-wash my fabrics before they enter The Stash, and sometimes I notice that the selvage will shrink more than the rest of the fabric. (This is one of the reasons to not use selvages in your patchwork!) Even after pressing, I end up with a gently curved edge along the selvage, which I don't want. I want a nice, straight edge to start with so all my long cuts parallel to the selvage are also nice and straight.

Now, if I just plunk my rotary ruler down and trim off that wonky curved edge as it is, I will end up with a cut edge that is curved in the opposite direction. Still not what I want.

To fix this problem, there is a simple solution. Snip into the selvage every few inches with scissors, for the whole length of the fabric edge. This will relax the shrunken edge and, after you re-press it, your selvage edge will lay straight.

Now you can trim off the selvage and be sure that your freshly cut edge is straight, too.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Un-sexy Scraps

Here is a confession. No. Strike that. A declaration- I do not have a gorgeously arranged, carefully organized scrap stash.

Why am I mentioning it at all? Just a little reassurance that beauty can indeed be made out of chaos. There are as many kinds of quilters as there are quilts, and some are highly organized, and I totally honour that. I am organized in my own way for the bulk (and I mean BULK) of my stash, but scraps? They get collected in a reusable shopping bag that hangs from the back of my sewing chair, and then sometimes, for fun, I dump them all out on the floor and sort by colour. Then they get stuffed back into bags (reused Ziplocs, old gift bags) that roughly represent a broad colour group and then they wait for me to paw through looking for a gem.

I have mentally established a minimum size that I will use to determine if a scrap is actually useable. That size is about the size of a playing card. If it does not meet this minimum size, out it goes. Will I ever use a skinny selvage that I trimmed off a fat quarter? Really? No, I won't. I'm all for frugality, but even my thriftiness has its limits. I don't want bags of miniscule scraps lurking around making me feel guilty.

And that is my highly specialized system for Scrap Management.

Monday, March 21, 2011


I've been on an embroidery rampage lately.

I got onto cross stitch a few years back, as my go-to stitching during times of "lost quilting mojo." It happens, and it seems to happen seasonally, right around the end of June and lasts until Labour Day. Anyway, feeling the need to branch out and embrace all that might possibly involve the use of embroidery floss, I've begun to do "free embroidery" or "surface embroidery."

I can tell you: it is a LOT of fun. The satin stitch, especially, is very gratifying, both in the execution and in the finished stitches.

This little hanky ended up with my mom. The design is from "Embroidery Companion" book by Alicia Paulson. Lovely book.

(I do some work as a custom framer, and any needlework that comes through the shop needing to be stretched and framed is referred to as a "stitchy/pin" on our work order sheets. So, this little embroidery is a "stitchy.")