Saturday, December 20, 2014

Versitile Wave Bag

Anne, who works here, found this pattern and made herself a bag.  When she brought hers to work, we knew it would be popular.  I ordered the patterns, the swivel hook hardware and the zippers. 
Here is the store sample she made.

This bag has an inner black purse that is lined and zippered.  The outer part is reversible.  The shoulder straps are attached to the wave outer part so it supports the weight of your valuables.  The outer part is buttoned on so changing it is quick.

I would be tempted to make the purse part in another colour than black.  What about a nice gray with the reversible part in a day print and an evening metallic?  What about a neutral springy colour from the Pantone top 10 colours for spring 2015 and the reversible in one of the brights and one of the lights? 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Hexagons One Way or Another

How many ways are there to make the currently popular hexagons?  Here are a few:

1.  English Paper Piecing
Use precut paper templates.  Baste the fabric to the paper and whip stitch the folded side to the next hexagon.  The papers are reusable.  Handstitchers who want a project to take wherever they go like this method.

2.  Die Cut
    Moda has die cut hexagons in their collection of Bakeshop items.  We have had some off and on.

3.  Templates
You could use these for hand or machine work.  There are small holes at the seam intersections for ease of piecing.  When you machine piece hexagons, you stop and backstitch at the intersection point.  This makes it easier to fit the angle into the next hexagon. 

4.  Hex n More
This special tool makes hexagons, half hexagons (trapezoids), 60 degree triangles and jewel shapes.  It is produced by Jaybird who has lots of great modern patterns for intermediate quilters.
5.  Creative Grids Hexagon Trim Tool
This is the Creative Grid Hexagon Trim Tool.  It works like the log cabin and pineapple trim tool.  The basic process is to cut a centre shape to size and add larger than needed pieces to it.  Then, use the tool to trim the fabric to the perfect size.  If you are trying hexagons for the first time, this tool will make seam allowance challenges go away.  The instructions are clear and you can follow them step by step.  If you are a more visual learner, Creative Grid's website has great videos to demonstrate how to use the tool.  I made the tea hanging from a Cut Loose Press pattern.

There are very likely more ways to make and sew hexagons but these should be enough for you to get started!  Happy Hexies!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Heart of Quilters

The December blog posts are about things quilters would like to give or receive as a gift for creating and making quilts.  Today is the yearly post about the giving nature of quilters, their thoughtfulness and their caring for others. 
Quilters, alone and with others, give away countless hours and dollars worth of materials to help others.  There is little recognition other than from quilting peers. You don't see it on the news. You may read about it in a little article in a paper if there is room that day but, most of the time, quilters carry on supporting others without fanfare or celebrity. 

In the last couple of years, more and more quilters are creating Dignity Quilts.  In nursing homes or other group care homes for the elderly, people felt the need for moving the deceased out of the building with dignity.  A quilt made to gurney specifications can cover the person as they are moved out.  Many Dignity Quilts are made with symbols of passage that signify a life lived and moving on.  Butterflies, the tree of life, doves and symbols of friendship were used in some of the quilts I have seen.  What a thoughtful way of moving on!

Many guilds have outreach quilts that can be shared in the community.  Here are some of the people who have received a quilt to hug them in their time of need:
cancer patients
flood, fire and tornado victims
children in homes, not there own, in need of a warm hug
children with special needs
Alzheimer patients
and so many more.

Wherever there is someone in need, there will be a quilt for the asking or given anonymously by a quilter who cares. Thank you for being the heart of quilting; you know who you are!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wool, Wool Felt, Wool Applique

The other day someone called and asked if we have wool felt.  So today, let's talk about wool fibres and felting.
Wool fibres will felt together when exposed to warm water, a little soap and friction.  Remember wool sweaters that were mistakenly thrown in the washing machine and came out many sizes too small?  I belong to the Canadian Embroiderers' Guild, London chapter, where I took a class on wet felting around a rock. We took some pieces of loose wool roving, wrapped them around a rock and then wet them with warm water and a little soap.  We started working the fibres to create friction until they started to mesh together and form a firm fabric tightly around the rock. 
Needle felting is the process of melding fibres into a fabric using barbed needles instead of water and friction. The needles cause the wool fibres to hook together.
We sell some wool felt in black and white.  It is not woven but is felted until it makes a fabric.  You know it is 100% wool because it is at least $25 per metre.  We have had other colours of wool felt for under $15 per metre but, even though we called it wool, it was mostly acrylic fibres with a little wool.  Both work for wool applique.  Because the fibres are tightly bonded together they fray very little when cut so are easy to applique with a blanket stitch. 
Wool applique can be done with woven wool fabric.  It can be felted to make it more firm and denser but this I call felted wool fabric.  Marcus Brothers came out with a line of wool fabrics this fall in about 20 antique like colours for wool applique.  It is $54 per metre but we have cut it into 9" by 10.5" pieces for $3.25.  Usually you use smaller pieces for applique so you can get a wider variety of colours without having to invest by the metre.
If you search through second hand and thrift shops you may find wool suits, coats or sweaters.  You can take them apart and felt the wool fabric for applique. 
Aurafil makes a wool blend thread.  We have a few colours which I like for wool applique.  There is no shine to the thread so it blends well with the fabrics.  The thread is 50% wool.
Now, knowing a little about felting and wool, you can figure out that wool batt may take special care.  If you machine wash wool batt in a washing machine with warm water and soap you will be encouraging the batt to felt.  If you go the expense of using wool batt for warmth, take extra care to clean it very very gently!!  If you choose wool batt because you want a warm quilt remember this.
It is not one quilt's job to keep you as warm as you want to be!!
I am up to 3 quilts upstairs at the store (we live here).  If it is a cold winter like last year, it may be a 4 quilt winter.  The last quilt is Aunt Bessie's wedding present, a 100% polyester crimplene top and bottom quilt with polyester batting and hand quilted.  No heat escapes under that quilt!

Book Clubs

At Quilt Market, the trade show for quilt industry retailers, there is a day before the show opens called Schoolhouse.  Every half hour from 11 am to 6 pm there are information sessions to attend.  Every half hour there are 10 or more sessions to choose to visit.  You have about 5 minutes to change sessions.  Sessions are put on by fabric designers, book publishers, pattern designers or product designers.  There are a couple hundreds of quilters hurrying to change sessions.  By about session 4, I need a break because there is so much to see and enjoy.  By 6 pm I am overwhelmed, overstimulated and over informed but very excited and happy!

In October I went to a session by Martingale, one of the larger book publishers of quilting books.  As the presenter was talking about great new books I began thinking about book clubs.

We love books.  We gather together to talk about fiction books so why not have quilters' book clubs?  Gather together with a few friends to talk about your favourite books.  Share ideas, talk about family and quilts you are working on.  It wouldn't have to be once a month.  Since we are not gathering to hand quilt at quilting bees anymore, a quilt book club would give us an opportunity to gather together and share time with friends.  No sewing machines and tasks involved.  Here are some thoughts to get you started. 

1.  Create a group of quilter friends who want to share ideas by talking about quilt books.
2.  Pick a date.  It could be once a month, once every other month or four times a year.
3.  Pick a topic.  Not everyone has to bring a book or the same book but the group should have some to share.  Topics could range from applique to colour to art quilts.
4.  Pick a location.
5.  Meet, snack and chat.

Other than that, meet and have fun.  We learn by sharing!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Foam Batting

Foam batting is a layer of foam with tricot or soft polyester fabric on either side.  It is easy to sew, washes well without shrinkage and is great for adding dimension to projects.  We use it for bags to make them stand up and look good for long periods of time.  I made 2 tote bags with the Whistlepig Creek pattern, 'Six Pack Stack'.  It is used 6 fat quarters and is reversible. 

I was going to take a photo of the two bags so you can see what a difference the foam batting makes.  However, did you know I was away for the last 11 days and have been posting while on the road?  I prepared all the posts before we left and posted them each day.  I know you can set the time for posting each one but I have never had success with that.  So, today I cannot find the second bag with the foam batt.  I know Murphy's Law of quilting states I will find it as soon as I post this but you will have to wait another day.

Or not!  The phone rang, I answered it and, while talking, spied the bag.  So here they are:

The bag on the left is made with regular batting, 80-20, and the bag on the right has foam batt. These days it is nice to have a bag that doesn't fall over and require you to touch the floor to get it.  Many of Brenda's bags use the foam batt.  You will see the results in previous posts for 'The Voyager Bag' and 'The Girlfriends Bag'. 

Leftover pieces of foam are great for cosmetic bags for travelling since they sit up straight on a hotel bathroom counter and protect breakables in transit.

Another new pattern of Brenda's this year is the 'Simply Dry'.  Use charm squares or make your own 5" squares and foam batt to make a cushioned drip dry mat for your kitchen or bar.  The foam batt dries quickly, you can test and practise machine stitches for decorative work and make a gift all at the same time. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lynette Anderson and Block of the Month

For those of us who have been quilting since the early 1990s, it occurred to me one day that Lynette Anderson is my new Debbie Mumm.  Her fabric has a folksy air to it and features the themes of family, friends and pets.  She does lovely embroidery work too.  When I first ordered her fabric she was with a company called Lecien.  Now she is designing for RJR.  Her new line features brighter colours but still with a country feel.

Lynette is from Australia, produces cute wood buttons and has a great sense of whimsy. 

She has designed a Block of the Month for RJR called 'Daisy Chain Cottage'.  The image does not do justice to the colourful fabrics but is here to give you an idea of what the quilt is like.  You can check it out better on the RJR website. 

The pattern is free online and the fabrics are all in stock waiting for me to make the store sample so you can see how delightful it is.  I saw the quilt at Quilt Market and love it, can't wait to start making it.  Want to sew along?  It just occurred to me that I don't have to finish my sample before you start.  We can work together, gain inspiration from each other and have a great time while working away.  You in?