Monday, June 25, 2012

Pre-Washing Quilt Fabric

I always pre-wash my quilt fabric. Here is my rationale- if my fabric is going to run, shrink or otherwise misbehave, I want it to do all that before it has been sewn into my quilt. I don't want that sort of surprise.

Some quilters advocate the use of obscure special detergents or soaps and extra special fabric handling. I do not. When I get new fabric, I have no qualms about sorting by colour and throwing it in right along with my regular laundry- both washer and dryer. These are sturdy new quilting cottons, not precious antique fibres. I always wash in cold water with a cold water rinse, except for towels and sheets.

The only drawback is the tangle of fibres that will come loose through agitation and contact with the other contents of the washer and dryer. I have been just cutting or ripping off the tangles, shaking out the fabric and throwing it in the dryer.

However, I have a new method that gives me multi-faceted Win. I'm trying just a quick cold water hand wash in a plastic tub with a squirt of Soak Wash. One thing (among others) I like about Soak is that it is a no-rinse product. I do rinse, but I feel like it's not important to make sure that every speck of soap is totally rinsed out.

What I'm trying to do with a pre-wash are three things. First, get the fabric wet so I can dry it in the dryer, which will provide shrink-action if it's going to happen. Second, I'm also getting rid of the chemical sizing used in the manufacturing process, along with any cooties accumulated during the packaging and shipping process. Third, I'm checking for excessive dye bleeding.

So, I just give the fabric a swish in the Soak-y water for a minute or two and squeeze out the extra water. Then I give it another swish in clear water to mostly rinse out the soap. I wring it out- no kid gloves here!

I give it a shake and a sharp snap and throw it into the dryer with a waiting wet laundry load of the same colour.

This is a Multi-Win because-
  1. I've saved time, water and power with a quick hand wash.
  2. If colour has run badly,  I can see it right there in the water and can decide what to do, which might be chucking it out.
  3. The fabric is significantly less thready and tangly.
  4. I still get the heat-shrinkage by piggy-backing my quilt fabrics with a load of laundry I'm already drying.
Plus, my fabric is stash-ready that much faster, and that is the best Win of all.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Olde Country Shopping

I've been in Canada for quite some time, but I'm still a Michigan girl. So when we travel back to the Olde Country, a few side trips for stocking up on my favourite Michigan essentials are a must.

Jiffy baking mixes? Check! Giant pretzel rods and oyster crackers? Check! The indescribably delicious Detroit delicacy known as Sanders Milk Chocolate Hot Fudge Sauce? Oh yeah. This is "eat right out of the jar" good stuff. And don't forget the Vernor's Ginger Ale!

The other major non-grocery destination is Joann Fabrics. The store I go to always has a very good selection of quilting fabric, and I cross my fingers on hitting a sale on already (usually) less expensive fabric.

As an added bonus, Joann carries an exclusive line of fabric by Denyse Schmidt. I bought some, of course (the four fabrics on the left), but what caught my eye was this folded and beribboned yard of DS Quilts fabric...

Hey! Four different Fat Quarters printed all on one chunk of fabric! Yes, please!

 Now it's all in the wash en route to The Stash. Can't wait to work with it all. Glorious!

Friday, June 8, 2012

New Sewing Box

Ok. Prepare for Extreme Sewing Nerdiness...

This is what I was using for my portable sewing kit that I kept my stuff in for teaching classes and generally corralling my tools- a pencil case from Staples.

Meanwhile, while teaching, I have witnessed a parade of super-cute hinged tins and other adorable boxes that folks use to contain and tote their sewing supplies.

I decided it was high time to liberate my inner Sewing Nerd. After a trip to Michael's, the hardware store and my Stash, here's what I came up with...

Yes, it all fits in the box.

Melody Miller scraps!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Jubilee Pineapple!

In honour of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, I give you...

 the Jubilee Pineapple Log Cabin Cushion!

God save The Queen!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tutorial: Curved Bias Quilt Label

Hi! I've been sewing my brains out lately and it's time to catch up!

Here is my new favourite way of making a quilt label. I've used it three times so far and I love the way it looks. Here's how...

Cut a 1" wide strip of your label fabric on the true bias, and long enough to fit your label information plus a little extra on each end. 

Carefully iron it right side up to a scrap of freezer paper on the shiny side. This stabilizes the fabric so it doesn't shift as you write. 

With a Pigma Micron Pen, write your quilt information in the centre of the strip. Write smallish- the edges are getting turned under. The finished label is 1/2" wide.

Now, I run the strip through my handy Clover Bias Maker (1/2" wide finished). If you don't have one, you could just carefully press the edges under, but the Clover Bias Maker is really quick and neat (and super fun!).

Then, with the right side up, gently pull the strip into a curve while you press it with your iron.

Position the curved label in a corner on the back of your quilt, with the ends hanging a bit past the edges of the quilt. Pin and hand appliqué in place. (Just stitch the two long sides; the short ends get caught in the binding.) Trim ends flush with quilt edges.

Attach your binding however you like. For the binding in the photo, I did the first stage of stitching attaching the binding to the back of the quilt, then folded it over and machine finished it from the front...

...and there you have it! A neat, easy and unusual way to label your quilt. I hope you try it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cathedral Windows

I love pale grey and "punch-me-in-the-nose" bright orange.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Black Wedding Ring

Another UFO completed! The top had been done for who knows how long. I attached a readymade label to the back. My mother had these printed when I first got married and moved to Toronto, and they are my Go To for a quick label. Thanks, Mom!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pillow Back = Shirt Front

My favourite way to finish off a pillow top: chop out the front of a thrifted buttondown shirt, and use it as the back of a pillow! The button closures are cute and, more importantly, already there. So, you get to look clever and have a quick, professional-looking finish all at the same time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Eye Candy

These delicious goodies were found at a new-to-me fabric shop called FabricTown in Mississauga (Ontario). I could not resist buying some to play with!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kitchen Art!

Another batch of UFOs made into something...

I found some lonely yo-yos in a bag while reorganizing my sewing room. They are lonely no more! The flower stems were made with the help of the wonderful Clover Bias Maker gadget, and I drafted the vase and freezer paper foundation pieced it. The whole thing is backed with flannel to give it some body, and I did some simple running stitch embroidery to add a bit of detail.

I hung it in the kitchen, and somehow it looks like it has always been there.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Scissors Completed!

Here it is! Finished!

Another scrappy backing; check out the huge chunks I used up from the Stash. I used the quilting bar attachment on the walking foot that came with my machine, and I really enjoyed not marking parallel lines. I added a bit of free motion quilting action on the scissors blocks, and finished it off with some old buttons and a contrasting blue binding.

Time to cut on a new quilt and take a little break from the UFO pile…

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Scrappy Scissors

Here is yet another top that has been languishing in the pile of UFOs. As I am fond of the Scrappy Backing, I threw some fabric from the Stash on the floor, and I’ll be straightening up the edges and making my backing from what you see here. I had originally selected a big chunk of solid beige for the back… boring! I like this a LOT better. Let’s see how fast I can get this thing finished…

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Blue & Cream Log Cabin

The UFO Round Up continues…

This top has been finished for ages, and the first stage “in the ditch” quilting had been done for a while, too. So, hot on the heels of Cog and Wheel, I slapped this one into the hoop and finished the quilting by hand, taking quilting passes through two rounds of “logs” in each block. Quilted, bound, DONE.

Next up, Scrappy Scissors…

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Stash Builder Shirtings

Thrift shops are a great place to supplement your stash with lovely, non-quilt shop fabrics. I spotted these two gorgeous violet cotton shirts (can we call them "mulberry" instead?) at my local Value Village and snatched them up. They are absolutely delicious.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Cog and Wheel: Mine's Done, Too!

With the decision to NOT enter an epic quilt competition this winter, I feel a measure of relief and happy anticipation of the new year and all the quilty promise it holds. I have some new projects brewing, but I am also eager to hammer away at older unfinished quilts and get them done!

My Cog and Wheel quilt had been pieced quite a while ago and had been quilted, but hadn't been bound yet. So, I kicked off the New Year with finally attaching and hand-finishing the binding. Hooray for a finished quilt! Plus, recent blog posts by Karyn and Katherine provided a boot to the behind...