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Hand quilting is alive and well all around the world! Join with fellow hand quilters to share techniques, tips,
and the BEAUTIFUL quilts being made by others who share your passion for quilting... by HAND!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hand Quilting for Beginners: Batting

This is the seventh article in a series of articles by Caron Mosey geared for the beginning hand quilter.  If you have NEVER hand quilted before or just dabbled in it with no instruction and want to know how, this is for you!

What kind of batting or wadding should I use?

There are many different types and brands of batting available to the quilter; the choice of batting depends on the look you are trying to obtain, and how much experience you have with had quilting.

As a brand new hand quilter, you want to have a good experience.  That means you will want a batting that is easy “to needle” (the needle goes in and out of the batting easily and won’t fight you as you create your stitches).  For a beginner, I always suggest a lighter polyester batting such as Mountain Mist Light.  I started with Mountain Mist Quilt Lite as a new quilter, and it is still one of my favorites! 

Another great batting that I have used is Hobbs Tuscany 100% Wool BattingThis batting is in the Feathered Star quilt I have in progress, and it gives me a stitch every bit as nice as working with the batting mentioned above. 

Quilters have great success with Quilters Dream 100 percent cotton.  I am a traditional hand quilter, and many of my quilts are based on traditional patterns.  I love the look of an old quilt… with all the puckers!  Any batting that will shrink will provide that pucker when you wash it.  As a 100 percent cotton, the pucker is guaranteed!

As a new quilter, it’s important to learn about batting choices and how batting is constructed.  I could write a good explanation for you here, but there is already a perfect article and I’d love for you to read it.  Please read this article written by Teri Stillwell and bookmark it for future review.  It’s well worth your time. 

From hand quilter, Tim Latimer: 

“I love Hobb's Tuscany wool batting when I want loft and definition, it is easy to quilt and washes well. When I want a very thin quilt I like Hobb's Tuscany silk batting. It is so easy to quilt, beautiful soft finish and drape, washes beautifully...but the most expensive. For cotton I like Mountain Mist Cream Rose....It is easy to hand quilt, and wash, nice thin cotton batting"

One thing that I caution new quilters about is quilting distance.  Whenever you purchase batting, look on the wrapper.  It almost always tells you how far apart your rows of quilting can be.  Some batting shifts more than others, and requires more quilting to hold it together.  BUT… just because a batting tells you that you can quilt four inches apart doesn’t mean you should do so.  The closer the quilting, the more insurance you have that the batting will not bunch up in the unquilted areas.  There is nothing worse than having a quilt that bunches up into globs in the unquilted areas.  This can happen during regular use, and especially when it is washed.  Hand quilting takes a long time.  We all know that.  And, quilters can run out of patience just like anybody else and try to get by with as little quilting as possible to get the job done.  But really, when you think about it, you’re only cheating yourself.  If you’ve put that much time and money into making the top, don’t you want it to look its best?

Take your time… keep stitching!

Hands1

Have you read the previous articles for beginners?

1) Fabric  2) Needles  3) Thimbles 4) Thread 5) Hoops 6) Frames

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Two needles going at once!

Friday I started binding the quilt I am working on for my honey we call "The MAN quilt" :)  By Sunday I was slow stitching the binding down...

I was so excited to use the new labels I found on Etsy!  And the new Wonder Clips to hold my binding in place as I sew it down by hand:)  I had hair clips I used gifted to me by my quilting mentor but lost them... she gave me a gift card so I bought these and they work GREAT for lots of stuff!!!

Look how good this corner turned out too!
But for this quilt... my first to stitch more on AFTER it is bound... I have a bit more quilting to go...

You see I decided to stabilize all the fancy swirls by doing ITD (in the ditch) stitching on either side of all the feathers and cornerstones... So I am using 2 needles... one on either side... like this :)
And heading back down another feathery path is where I am today...
Have you ever quilted using more than 1 needle at a time?  Would love your feedback on this... I am loving how it is going so fast and easy and fun to race the needles ;)

I am using a John James #8 Quilting needle and Aurifil thread for this project... and my fave batting is Pellon Cotton you can find at JoAnns and I have seen it online too... but is is so nice to quilt and bind through!  No peeking through to the front on my binding! lol

Have a blessed rest of your week and thanks for reading!  Would love a comment on how you like to quilt straight lines :)





Monday, May 26, 2014

Hand Quilting for Beginners: Frames

This is the sixth article in a series of articles by Caron Mosey geared for the beginning hand quilter.  If you have NEVER hand quilted before or just dabbled in it with no instruction and want to know how, this is for you!

Tell me about quilt frames!

Caron1984In our last article, we talked about the different hoops available for hand quilters.  While hoops work great for some people, others prefer a frame to hold their quilt for the entire quilting process.  I love using a frame.  My frame was built by my husband around 1976-77.  Hubby is a woodworker by trade, and I adore my two-rail frame.  Most of my early quilting was done on that frame.  However, as I got older, sitting at the frame and quilting for hours caused my shoulders to ache, and I rarely use it anymore.  Such is the burden of getting older, I suppose.   In addition, the house we now live in doesn’t have space for my frame to remain set up permanently, so I’ll have to wait for the next house (if that happens) to use it.  Here’s a photo of me working on my frame… 1983, if memory serves.  Wow, was I ever young!

There are two basic design styles of quilt frames: two-rail frames and three-rail frames.  A two-rail frame requires that work be done before the quilt is put on the frame.  That work includes putting the quilt sandwich together and basting the three layers with small pins or basting thread.  I have always used small brass pins.  I could show you the process here, but here is a link to my personal blog with a good explanation.  

http://blog.caronmosey.com/2009/09/preparing-for-hand-quilting.html

With the two-rail system, after the quilt is basted, one end tworailframeof the quilt is attached to one rail by pinning the quilt to a fabric strip which has been stapled to the frame.  That rail is then carefully turned to roll the quilt around the rail.  The other end of the quilt is then fastened to the second rail with pins, and the quilt is tightened into place.  Once this is done, you are ready to stitch!                                                   

 Photo by FA Edmunds From Baby (48") to Full Size (96") Traditional Quilt Frame, Pinterest.

GraceFrame.3railA three-rail system has been developed for hand quilters which requires no pre-basting work.  I would love to have the three-rail Grace frame, as shown here.  It would save a lot of time, and it is a beautiful frame. Follow the link below to see how a quilt is installed on the Grace frame.  http://www.graceframe.com/site/grace-blog/entry/attaching-fabric-to-a-hand-quilting-frame

Qsnap.quilting_frame

 

A third option for quilting frames is the Qsnap frame.  This frame is made of high impact polystyrene (PVC pipe).  It is perfect for someone who doesn’t have room to keep a frame set up all the time, is quite portable, and adjustable in size.  http://www.qsnap.com/

 

There is a wide variety of different frame styles available to today’s quilter.  If you are interested in a frame, I urge you to do quite  a bit of research before you invest in a frame.  Visiting a good quilt show is a great idea.  Any of the AQS or national/international shows should have several vendors who specialize in quilt frames.  Look at them, compare and try them out until you find the one that has YOUR name on it!

 

batting

 

Have you read the previous articles for beginners?

1) Fabric  2) Needles  3) Thimbles 4) Thread 5) Hoops

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hand Quilting for Beginners: Hoops

This is the fifth article in a series of articles by Caron Mosey geared for the beginning hand quilter.  If you have NEVER hand quilted before or just dabbled in it with no instruction and want to know how, this is for you!

Do I need to use a quilting frame or hoop when I quilt?

Yes, it is strongly suggested that you use either a frame or hoop for quilting.  This article will explore quilting hoops, and the article which follows will cover frames.

sandwichQuilting refers to putting three layers together that make up a “quilt sandwich.”  These layers are the quilt top, the batting (or wadding, as it is called in some countries), and the quilt backing. 

The three layers need to be held together so they will not shift during the stitching process.  A quilt frame or hoop holds the layers together.



Quilting frame or hoop?
Hoop
Frame
A hoop is portable.  You can sit with it anywhere and stitch.
A frame is a stationary item, much like a large piece of furniture in your home.  You quilt where the frame is.
A hoop is more affordable than a well-crafted frame that you would purchase.
A frame can be expensive, but once you have a good frame, it will last you for life.
If you have a bad back or any arthritis, a hoop may be a better choice, as you can position yourself to be comfortable.
Sitting at a frame for an extended period of time may cause your shoulders, back or arms to become sore.  For some people this is a problem, but not all.
When preparing to use a hoop, the quilt sandwich should first be basted together with thread or small pins to hold it together.
Depending on your choice of frame (two or three poles), you may or may not need to baste your sandwich prior to quilting.
With a hoop, the entire quilt will be in your lap while you quilt.
With a frame, only a narrow strip of the quilt is in front of you.  The rest is rolled up on the poles out of your way.  Nothing is on your lap.
With a round or oval hoop, it is more difficult to quilt the borders of a quilt.  This is easily solved by using a border half-hoop.
Edmonds quilting_hoops2 
Quilting borders is easy!

What kind of hoop should I get?

woodhoops

There are two basic kinds of hoops:  wooden and PVC.  Wooden hoops are available in a variety of sizes and are either round or oval.  The hoop that I use the most is a free-standing hoop, 18 inches across.  Anything larger is too cumbersome, anything much smaller and I have to reposition the quilt more often.


ovalhoopstandYou can also get a hoop on a stand.  This is the kind of hoop I started with.  The stand helps support the weight of the quilt so that it doesn’t all rest on your lap. 


Hinterburg

I also use a Hinterberg hoop from time to time.  It pivots on the stand, which is mighty handy!


qsnap frame

Some people prefer a small frame/hoop made of PVC pipe.  This one is called a Q-snap.  I haven’t tried it, but the fact that it is made out of plastic/PVC pipe just doesn’t work for the wife of a woodworker. 





There ARE some people who quilt without a hoop or a frame.  I don’t advise it, as the quilt can easily shift, distorting your pattern and making the quilt batting uneven between the top and bottom layers.  Your quilting stitches can be more uneven when you quilt without a hoop or a frame as well.  If you’re going to put the time and effort into hand quilting, it’s best to make a small investment and learn to do it the way quilters have been doing for hundreds of years. 
frames
Have you read the previous articles for beginners?
1) Fabric  2) Needles  3) Thimbles 4) Thread

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Learning how to write and send photos on blogger.


This is the center I have just completed. It is a design I found on a photo of a glass plate.  


Quilting Mama's Drunkard's Trail

by Joy Rusonis
      It seems appropriate to start my first blog by writing about my current project. This special quilt has a lot to do with why I have embraced quilting.
         The quilt is a patchwork Drunkard’s Trail with a mint green background. There are some puckers. There are some bunches. The seams don’t fit together in some places. The fabrics range from feed sacks to dress material. 
The quilt in the "flimsy stage"


It is not quilt show material. But maybe it should be. It was made for me in the 1960’s by my grandmother Mary Ida Fair Suder.  Ida, or Mama to us, was born in 1885 in a very small town in Bedford County Pennsylvania. The daughter of a cabinetmaker and undertaker and the wife of a farmer, she never moved from the town where she was born. She and my grandfather never had much money and I know she worked hard and sewed for her six children.

Mama and Pap


I was the youngest grandchild and by the time I knew her, Mama no longer had sewing she had to do. Instead, she spent her days doing the sewing she loved—piecing quilts. She sometimes made aprons or rugs (in later life, crocheted from bread wrappers!) but she always had a hand piecing project started. She made quilts for everyone—children, grandchildren, and friends. She could no longer quilt the tops herself, but she could make the colorful tops. And they were really colorful. She loved to use mint green and pink. Mama used scraps of all kinds—leftover pieces of feed bags, scraps from the clothes my mom made, even pieces cut from worn out clothes. She loved Drunkard’s Trail or its alternate configuration Devil’s Puzzle and newlyweds usually got a Wedding Ring quilt. I am not sure if Mama was ever an expert seamstress, but by her 80s her eyesight was failing and things did not always go together evenly. She didn’t consult the color wheel and just put together what she had and what she liked. I know it gave her great joy to give the tops to those she loved.

I lost track of my Drunkard’s Trail for many years. After moving several times, it somehow ended up in a box of other sewing things. I found it (and a finished quilt that my mother and grandmother had made) when looking for something to use for another project. I almost cried to know that I had been in danger of losing these treasures.

After several years of practicing my quilting skills, this spring I was finally ready to put the Drunkard’s Trail in a frame and quilt it. It took some looking, but I found a tone-on-tone green backing material that closely matched the green for the backing and binding. I decided to outline the patchwork pieces and use a pinwheel stencil in the green spaces.
 
In the frame
It is the first quilt that I’ve put in a frame; quilting in several directions and dealing with the various fabrics have been quite a challenge. I think it is about one third done, and I have stopped to finish a couple of other projects. But I am anxious to complete it and display it in my home as a lasting reminder of a very inspiring quilter.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Hand Quilting for Beginners: Thread


This is the fourth article in a series of articles by Caron Mosey geared for the beginning hand quilter.  If you have NEVER hand quilted before, or just dabbled in it with no instruction and want to know how, this is for you!

What kind of thread do I need to use for quilting?

Please note: The thread mentioned below is thread used for the QUILTING process: stitching the three layers of the quilt together (the top, batting, and backing of the quilt).

There are so many different kinds of thread available today, that for a beginning quilter it can be mind-boggling. Let’s learn a few basic things today; we can add more information at a later time.

The thread that you use for piecing your quilt top should not be the same thread that you use to do the quilting. Quilting thread (thread used to hold the top, batting and backing together) is a stronger thread. Quilting thread should never be used for applique, as you need a thinner thread that will be almost invisible when you do applique.

In most situations, quilting thread should be 100 percent cotton, or cotton-wrapped polyester. 100 percent cotton is strongly recommended. Invest in a quality thread, not the cheapest thread you can find. Thread you pick up in an estate sale or auction may not be your best choice either, as you don’t have any idea how long it has been sitting around or in what conditions it has been stored. Thread can weaken and rot, which is not a good thing! You want a durable thread that is easy to stitch with and will last for the duration of the quilt.

Thread made specifically for quilting will be durable, should not knot up when you are using it (unless you tie a knot in it), and should have minimal tangling. There is nothing more frustrating than having to continually stop your stitching to pick out a knot or tangle that should not be there!


Cotton thread is measured by plies (think about toilet paper… how many sheet layers are put together to make a square?), only with thread “ply” refers to a strand of thread. It is also measured by thread count. A good hand quilting thread is 40/3; a number higher than 40 means that the thread is thinner. Don’t put hand quilting thread in your sewing machine. It can be very linty in a machine, which is not at all good for the machine.


As with needles and thimbles, the brand of thread you use is a matter of personal choice, often found through trial and error. Everyone has a preference. Experiment until you find what you like best.

I don’t consider myself a “thread snob;” I don’t have to have the most expensive thread in my quilts, but I want a quality product. It doesn’t matter how popular it is, or how gorgeous the colors are, but if it is a nasty thread to work with, it isn’t worth my time and money.

photo a
I like the colors of YLI thread which are available. I am using a variegated YLI quilting thread in my Feathered Star quilt which is in progress (see photo, left). I love the subtle change of colors along the thread (the thread I’m using is called “Sticks and Stones”). What I have had a problem with is knotting. A BIG problem. It could just be this particular thread color, or it could be the YLI thread in general. Or, it could possible be the wool batting that I have in the quilt. I know many people who swear by YLI, so I won’t rule it out for the future. I’d like to try it in a small quilt with Mountain Mist Poly Light batting and see how it works.
 
 

Recently, I was given three spools of Presencia thread to try.  Presencia is 100% extra-long staple Egyptian cotton grown in the Giza Valley, home of the highest grade of cotton available. I am in love. Seriously! The thread is 40 weight, and it makes me smile. I have had few problems with knotting and tangling; I won’t say no problems, because I have never met a thread that didn’t tangle. But very, very few problems. This thread is soft, gentle, yet strong.

photo h

The quilt that is getting the Presencia thread (above) has 100% cotton fabrics and a Mountain Mist Poly Light batting.  It is like quilting through butter, and the thread just glides through. I love the feel of the thread.  It is very soft, and doesn't have the wiry-stiff feel that so many hand quilting threads seem to have. I was concerned about breakage, but have had none at all.  I tried it as-is off the spool, and also tried it using Thread Heaven thread conditioner. It is really not needed at all.  The colors are absolutely yummy, and this will be my new go-to thread!

Other brands of thread available for hand quilting that you might try:

  • Treasure Hand Quilting thread
  • Gutermann
  • Coats and Clarks
While I don’t have a problem using a poly batting in my quilt, I will not use a polyester thread for the actual quilting. Polyester thread tends to be stronger, and I have heard too many stories that it could, over a period of time, cut through cotton fabric. This could be fact or fiction, but I don’t want to take any chances, so I stick with cotton. You can choose for yourself.

What color should you choose? That depends on several things.
  • If you are a beginner, you should start with a thread that will blend into the fabric, not jump out at you. You are just learning the quilting stitch, and when any beginner starts, stitch length is variable. This is to be expected. If you go with a black thread on white fabric, every little flaw will glare at you and laugh. The longer you quilt and the more practice you get, the more consistent your stitch length will be.  So for your first quilt or two, blending the thread color into the fabric is best.
  • What look are you going for? Colorful? Traditional? Modern? The thread you use should match the look you want. Example: If you’re making a quilt to resemble an old Amish style, use a black thread.
  • You can never go wrong with an off-white or cream colored thread. Any neutral thread is a good choice. Light grey! Tan!
When you purchase thread for your quilt, make sure you buy enough of the color you want. I always buy twice as much as I need so that I make sure I have enough for the WHOLE project. I put a lot of quilting into my quilts; the Feathered Star quilt will probably have 12 spools of thread in it when it is complete. One spool is 400 yards.  Do the math… that’s a lot of thread! If you attempt a whole cloth quilt at some point in your quilting career, expect to use a lot of thread!

Hoops


Have you read the previous articles for beginners?
1) Fabric  2) Needles  3) Thimbles
















Thursday, May 22, 2014

An occasional blogger. An obsessive hand quilter. The next Wholecloth.

By Judy Leckie  

While having breakfast yesterday I was checking my emails and found a PayPal invoice. I paid  it and that  means that the Lilian Hedley Traditional NorthCountry quilting designs books will be on their way soon. Immediately I felt some excitement knowing that the books, very shortly will be on their way.

Around lunch time I opened  the front door to go to the shops and found two parcels on the doorstep. The previous day I had ordered some  solid blue Emma Louise fabric and some 100% wool wadding/ batting from a new source. The Emma. Louise comes from an online shop just a few suburbs away and what I spend on  the postage I save on her prices, so it's well worthwhile.

The batting came from a new source I've just discovered. It's a farm about 100 Ks from Melbourne. It was only $2 extra to have it express delivered.

So both parcels had arrived in less than 24 hrs since I'd ordered them.

I ordered the Emma Louise in blue as I already had a small print in blues that would've a great backing.
So now........ The difficult part.....I have to decide on a design for a small quilt, probably a cot quilt.
It's handy to have a small  Quilt on the go, it's easier to take places,  especially for demonstrating.
I feel inclined  towards NorthCountry design, but being blue it would be a cot quilt for a boy, and I'm wondering if feathers and roses are appropriate  for boy babies.

Also I'm just finishing a north country design small quilt and before this a Welsh design one. Also,
Lilian has  told me that  ' it's a quilters maxium not to do the same design twice'.

Such difficult decisions!

I haven't yet learned how to attach a photo  on here,  or I would show a photo of the fabrics.

I'm sitting here looking at pictures  and designs, I really want to get  started but don't know what design to choose! Also  really looking forward to seeing how the new batting needles.
If you have any suggestions feel free to say.

Happy Quilting everyone.....
Judy

Well I didn't get to post this yesterday but almost immediately after I finished  writing, a new idea came.  Make it a  stripy!  Both Lilian and Andrea Stracke have made great stripy quilts and I already have some white Emma Louise.
Another suggestion from Tuija.  ......Welsh hearts.

So I'm on the way girls and boys !  Hopefully tomorrow I'll get the top pieced and ......



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hand Quilting for Beginners: Thimbles

This is the third article in a series of articles by Caron Mosey geared for the beginning hand quilter.  If you have NEVER hand quilted before or just dabbled in it with no instruction and want to know how, this is for you! 

What kind of thimble do I need for hand quilting?

In our second article in this series, we talked about needles and how the choice of which needle to use was mostly a personal choice and up to the individual quilter.  This is also true with thimbles. 

Perhaps the question above should read, “Do I really need to wear a thimble for hand quilting?”   Here is my response to that.  YES.   Let me tell you why, then we’ll discuss the types of thimbles available. 

My mother was a seamstress, and from a very early age, always made me wear a thimble on the middle finger of my right hand whenever I was sewing by hand.  Hemming pants? Thimble.  Sewing on a button?  Thimble.  Making doll clothes?  Thimble.  It is just what you did.  The thimble is a necessary tool for a seamstress or hand sewer no matter what you are sewing by hand.  It protects the finger that is used to push the needle.  Stitching through some fabrics is more difficult than stitching through others.  Some fabrics are thin, some are thick.  Sometimes you go through one layer, sometimes two, maybe three!  For a quilter, there’s also the batting to be considered.  The thicker the fabric (or sandwich), the harder you have to push to get the needle through.  The thimble protects the pushing finger.  It gives it strength.

Some quilters refuse to wear a thimble.  They argue that you can get by without it.  Here is my reply to that:   Nuts.  I have tried going without a thimble.  I don’t like the feeling of a needle being jammed between my fingernail and bone.  Something about a needle in the nail bed is not comfortable, makes me scream, cry, etc.  Not a good feeling.  Actually, a needle in the skin anywhere is not a good thing!  For example, here is a photo a friend and former pastor of mine posted on Facebook on April 25, 2014.  Don W finger

 

Above the photo, it said, “Good news...I found that needle you dropped in the van.”

OWIE!

 

Now, I know his wife Shelley is not a quilter, and I could tell that just by looking at the needle.  It doesn’t look like the eye of the needle is large enough to thread with quilting weight thread!

If you never get used to sewing with a thimble on your finger, you are losing some control of your needle.  And remember from the last article, a needle is a TOOL.  It is a requirement of being a quilter.  And what good is it if you aren’t able to use a tool correctly?  The best way to get used to using a thimble is to put one on and wear it constantly until you are so used to it you feel naked when you take it off.  I’m not joking!

Normally, a thimble is put on the middle finger of the hand you use to write with (your dominant hand).  Your thimble should be snug on the end of your finger so that it won’t come off if you shake your hand hard, but not so tight that it digs into your skin and hurts.

You don’t need an expensive thimble.  In fact, if you are a new quilter, I would suggest you look for a thimble that fits and is fairly inexpensive.  The two thimbles shown here are very inexpensive (which to me means just a few dollars each).   The one on the left has a rounded top.  The one on the right has an indented top, and is my go-to thimble for quilting.  The dent in the top helps control the needle better (for me, anyway).

IMG_4823

You can purchase expensive thimbles made out of fancy metals, thimbles with jewels, thimbles you hold in your hand, and thimbles made for your thumb.  There are so many to pick from, but until you have quilted a large quilt or two, I would suggest refraining from spending your money on anything expensive until you know what you need and want.  Remember, these are tools, not status symbols.  (And if it is a status symbol, REALLY!  Who sits with you and watches you quilt very often anyway?!?!?) 

But if you are inclined to want to see other kinds of thimbles, take a look around at these:

If you need more to look at, go to http://bit.ly/1lRdIzS for more thimbles than you’ll ever need.

 

Thread

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hand Quilting for Beginners: Needles

This is the second article in a series of articles by Caron Mosey geared for the beginning hand quilter.  If you have NEVER hand quilted before or just dabbled in it with no instruction and want to know how, this is for you! 

What kind of needles are best for hand quilting?

In this article, we take a look at needles used for sewing the three layers of the quilt sandwich together AFTER the quilt top has been completed.

There are so many needles available for hand sewing, it can be confusing to the new quilter.  If you were to walk into a room with 100 hand quilters and start asking which needle works best, you  might just get 100 different answers.  That’s because a needle is a very personal thing to a quilter.  What works for me may not work for you.  That is because I know my hands and how I stitch, I know what batting I am using, and I know how I have prepared my quilt for the actual quilting.  Knowing all these elements makes a difference on the needle I choose to use.  I often find that newer quilters want to know what kind of needle I use so that they can get the same look in their own quilting.  Achieving a specific look or number of stitches per inch involves a needle, but the needle is just a part of the process.  It is a tool, and it’s how you learn to use that tool that makes the difference.

photo 3
Here is the needle I am currently using.  It works well for me, doesn’t bend, and is easy to thread.  I also love John James needles (size 11), and several other brands are also in my sewing basket.

Needles are one of the least expensive parts of quilting, yet they can be one of the most important tools that affect your stitching.  As a new quilter who has little to no experience, please understand that choosing your needle is a trial and error process.  Try one.  If it doesn’t work for you, try another.  Let’s learn a little bit about needles and quilting.





Needles are not at all sized like your blue jeans.  With blue jeans, the larger the number, the bigger your bum.  With needles, the smaller the number, the larger the needle! Beginning quilters should use a larger needle than experienced quilters.  A larger needle is easier to hold on to, which will assist in the stitching process.  As you have more practice, you will want to try gradually moving to a smaller needle.  When you do, you should find your stitches getting smaller. 

Smaller needles will usually be thinner than larger needles.  Even though you are quilting through soft fabric and batting, there will be pressure on your needle, and that pressure can cause your needle to bend or snap in half.  Keep in mind that the thread you use works WITH your needle.  Quilting thread is thicker than regular sewing thread, so make sure that whatever combination of needle and thread you choose will play nicely together (i.e. can you thread that needle with the thread you have?).  On the quilt pictured above, I am using Presencia quilting thread #40, and it works beautifully with the Bohin needles.

I like this article by Addy Harkavy at Planet Patchwork.  While her shop is now closed, her article reflects a careful study of needles.  Please take a stroll over to her page for great details on a comparison of needles.

I want to emphasize how important it is that you learn about the tools you are using.  My husband is a 5th generation woodworker.  It’s what he does for a living.  He knows in an instant which tool is appropriate for the occasion.  What size drill, what size bit, etc.  He has also made me aware that unless you use the correct tool, you won’t achieve the correct appearance.  Be aware of your tools.  Learn about them.  Ask questions.  Know what you are using and what it does for you.  Be able to compare different tools. Know how they sound!  (Can a needle and thread going through a quilt sandwich make a sound?  Oh, YES!)

Thimbles
Q: Who is the cat? 
A: This is Stormie Mosey, official Quilt Supervisor and Inspector.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Hand Quilting for Beginners: Fabric

This is the first article in a series of articles by Caron Mosey geared for the beginning hand quilter.  If you have NEVER hand quilted before or just dabbled in it with no instruction and want to know how, this is for you! 

What kind of fabric is best for hand quilting?

100 percent cotton fabric is the best choice for any hand quilter.  Quilters have been working with cotton for as long as quilting has been around.  It is basic, it comes from the land, and you won’t go wrong with cotton.  That is not to say that eventually you might add another type of fabric into your quilt, but for starters, stick with all cotton.

fabrics1We know that when we purchase sheets for our beds, we see a mention of so many threads per inch.  That is called “Thread Count.”  For information on thread count, visit the article “What does thread count really mean.”  When you shop for fabric for quilting, here are a few guidelines that do not include a mention of thread count.

  • For your first few quilts, visit an actual quilt shop and not a “big box commercial store.”  A manufacturer of fabric usually makes two different versions of the same fabric.  One is of higher quality than the other, and you want a good quality fabric.  Visit a quilt shop for your best fabrics.
  • Feel any fabric that you find appealing.  Touch it.  Close your eyes and rub it between your fingers.  Does it feel soft or coarse?  You want a fabric that is soft rather than one that feels like a scrubbing pad you want to wash your dishes with.  For your first quilt, you might consider a fabric called a Batiste.  It is very soft and gentle, often used for baby clothes. 
  • Fabric is expensive.  There is no question about that.  The money you invest in your quilt is precious.  Buy quality fabric.  Not just for the front, but for the back as well.  Please do not buy a bed sheet for the back, even if it is 100 percent cotton.  Here is a video on YouTube by Alex Anderson that talks about using a bed sheet for the back.  Please watch it!
  • As a beginner, you might hear quilters arguing whether or not to prewash fabric that you will use in your quilts.  Here are the Pros and the Cons of prewashing.

prewash

Always Prewash

Never Prewash

Fabric from any  manufacturer is treated with things like chemicals, starches, anti-insect sprays, etc.  As a quilter, you don’t want anything extra in or on your fabric that will make it more difficult for you to quilt. (Keep this in mind when we talk later about basting a quilt sandwich together!) Remember, you will be quilting by hand, and you want your needle to glide through the fabric as if you are stitching through butter. The fabric looks good when you bring it home.  If you wash it, that  means that you will need to dry it and press it to get it to look the way it did when you bought it.  Do you really have time to do that?  Do you like ironing?
Fabric that has any color in it has gone through a dye process at the manufacturer.  Much of the excess dye has been removed, but not all.  If you do not check the fabric for this on your own, you have no guarantee that the dye won’t bleed onto any other fabric in your quilt.  Quilts can take hundreds of hours to make and hand quilt.  Do you REALLY want to take the chance that when you wash your quilt, it will be ruined by bleeding dyes? You might hear quilters say they never prewash and have never had any fabric bleed onto their quilts.  These people are lucky!  Please take a moment to visit this article and read about a major problem I had with bleeding. 

Color Catchers are a help, but not always 100 percent successful. 
You are a beginning hand quilter.  You are reading this article because you want to learn something new.  Please be good to yourself and follow good information.  After you have made a few quilts yourself, feel free to change your mind.  Please don’t take a risk on your very first quilt. 

it.RAN

See the block in this photo?  It was included in a group quilt.  Everyone was asked to prewash their fabrics.  This reddish-brown fabric did not get prewashed, and the dye bled all over the white fabric.  The fabric on the front, AND the fabric on the back! 

Don’t let this happen to YOUR quilt!  Please always prewash your fabric. 

 

 

Needles

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hollyhocks in a Castle Garden

By Rose Marie Castonguay

My hexagon quilt is done!  To read about this quilt, please visit this post on my blog.



Thursday, May 1, 2014

In the hoop now.

By Ann-Mari Duffy


Front


 and back


This is a design of Jo Morton. She made her quilt in black and tan colours.
The top is made by machine, I am now handquilting it. I use wool batting in it. It is pure joy to quilt with.
The plan is to have it done well before august this year. Jo Morton is coming to Norway in september to do some classes at "Norsk Quiltefestival" ( Norwegian Quilt Festival). I am attending one of her classes there, and are bringing this quilt.

Happy Quilting