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Spools vs. Cones

When I first started quilting, I didn’t realize what a difference thread could make. About a year into my new hobby I started reading great things about Aurifil thread (50wt) so I decided to try it and wow, it does make a difference. Not only does it leave virtually no  lint in the bobbin case (unlike less expensive threads), it’s great to work with, it comes in so many colors and three different sizes.

Once I switched over, I used the mid-size spools for a couple of years but found I went through them rather quickly. And since most of us quilters use our ‘go-to’ thread color for piecing, I wondered if it might be cost effective to use cones instead, and the answer is yes.

I did some price searching and found that craftsy.com has the lowest price on both mid-size spools and cones (I didn’t factor in the smallest size spool because I wouldn’t use that size when piecing).

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Here’s how it works out mathematically:

One Aurifil 50wt cotton mako mid-size spool costs $9.80  and has 1,422 yards which works out to approximately .007 cents/yard. The Aurifil 50wt cone cost $35 and has 6,462 yards which works out to a bit over .005 cents/yard.

There is a savings even though the difference might seem minimal, but you have to consider that you pay for shipping every time you place an order (unless you’ve spent enough to get it free) so to me, not constantly having to order is a savings. Also, Aurifil thread isn’t readily available in quilting stores. And honestly, I’m very environmental-conscience so I don’t like throwing away the spools, plus I like the idea of my thread lasting a long time.

If you do decide to switch over to cones, another thing to consider is a cone stand. It’s an upfront investment but I feel it’s worth it. I found this Superior Thread Holder Handy Stand on craftsy.com. I paid $15 (now it’s $16+). It’s a great product and I can’t see any reason why I would need to replace it (and I highly recommended it). Another option is to make your own thread stand to save on purchasing one.

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So, that’s my thoughts on thread and economics! If you were wondering, my Aurifil thread of choice is #2026 (Chalk).

Note: I am not endorsed by Aurifil or any other product I have mentioned in this post; they are just items I like, use, and I wanted to share information on.

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Matching Fabric Patterns on Quilt Backing

We quilters probably can agree that one of the easiest steps in quilting is piecing the back. I usually wait until the top is finished, making it feel so simple and quick! There are times, though, when you have your heart set on a patterned fabric where matching the print along the seam (or not) can make a difference. Overall, it’s not imperative that you do match it, but it does look neater and seamless without taking too much additional time. Here’s how I did my last backing along with the great results I got with just a little extra effort.

First, you’ll have to decide whether you’re going to run your seam horizontal or vertical, which usually depends on the fabric print. When I chose this flag fabric, I knew it wouldn’t look right horizontal, so I ordered enough to allow for a vertical seam that would run the entire length of the quilt (doing it this way usually means you have to buy a bit more fabric).

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NOTE: Remember to always include a few extra inches all the way around to allow for shifting when quilting.

Since I was going with a vertical seam, I determined that lining up the end of the starred section of the flags would make the seam look less conspicuous and be fairly easy. So, from the end of the starred flag section in the pattern, I cut away ½” for the seam allowance on the right edge of the left-hand WOF piece.

Then I matched the pattern along the top by laying out my right-hand WOF piece and placing the left-hand WOF piece on top (right sides together). Because this fabric has relatively small flags that repeat in closely set rows, I barely had any waste as I matched them as close to the top as possible.

Next, with my left-hand WOF piece still in place, I lined up the starred ends of the flags and pinned. Then, I cut the bottom piece edge the same as the top piece edge (for a ½” seam allowance).

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NOTE: I flipped back the top piece to make sure it would line up before cutting and sewing.

I don’t have a photo of it, but both WOF pieces are now cut with a ½” seam allowance and are pinned right sides together all the way down.

Lastly, I sewed the length of the fabric, pressed the seam open and ended up with a nice match up!

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Because this quilt is quite large and I’d rather not quilt it on my domestic machine, I’m having it quilted by my longarmer—which I don’t do often and I’m pretty excited about!

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And of course, before taking any quilt top to get quilted or quilting it yourself, remember to always cut off all the threads on the quilt top back. Yes, this is the worst quilting task ever, but it makes it looks so nice (with no unsightly threads to be seen!)

I’ll definitely post more photos of this Stars & Four Patches quilt once it’s finished!

 

 

 

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Lovable Elephants Baby Quilt

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I’ve had this quilt finished for quite some time and I’m happy to finally release the pattern! If you’ve seen my circus minis, you’ll recognize the elephants in this quilt; they’re based on the same pattern. I reworked it by changing the elephant’s face direction, increased the size and added centered hearts.

This pattern is fun with easy-to-follow instructions and it’s suitable for various skill levels–a confident beginner could make it with ease and it’s also great for the more experienced quilter.

I hope you’ll give it try if you know someone who’s expecting a new addition to their family or someone who has already welcomed their little one!

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Also, I’d like to give a big thank you to my testers, Ange and Kathie!

additional details and download available here

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Choosing a Quilting Design

Once I finish a quilt top it’s time to decide on a quilting design, and that can be a tough decision. I figured if it’s an issue for me, maybe it’s an issue for other quilters, too. Since actual ‘quilting’ is not my strong suit, I came up with this easy tip to help in the decision making process.

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Often times when I finish piecing a quilt top, I’m unsure of how I want to quilt it. To experiment with a variety of quilting designs, I lay out cut lengths of inexpensive contrasting thread and string them on the quilt top in a chosen design. It’s a great way to test ideas because it allows me to see it what my quilt will look like when it’s finished.

I’m happy to note that this quilting tip was featured in the June edition of American Patchwork & Quilting under tips from readers (page 8).

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I came up with this idea a while after I began quilting as I really wanted to learn (and hopefully become very good at) free motion quilting. After seeing beautifully quilted quilts and projects, I thought for sure it was something I wanted to master…who wouldn’t?!? But after a lot of practice, effort and frustration, I realized I wasn’t very good at it and I really didn’t want to take the time to learn it either. It just wasn’t going to happen so I left that dream behind. Throughout my trial and error, I definitely learned to appreciate what a great skill it is to acquire, and how difficult it must be, but I’ve also decided to leave it to the experts!

As far as my quilts go to date, I usually quilt straight lines and I’ve grown to love the simplicity of it…and I always do some ‘thread painting’ to test my ideas first!

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Design Wall Hanger

We quilters know that a functioning design wall is incredibly useful, if not essential, especially if you’ve ‘had enough’ of laying out your quilts on the floor. I had been hanging my design wall on Command hooks that kept falling down and it was getting rather frustrating. It was obvious I needed some sort of a dependable hanger, and thankfully my husband came up with this great solution.

I don’t have a technical name for it, I just refer to it as my design wall hanger.  In a nutshell, it’s a 6′ wood board with cup hooks screwed in and it’s securely attached (with screws) to my sewing room wall.  I’m sure some people wouldn’t want something semi permanently attached to their wall, but since I have a room dedicated to sewing, I’m perfectly fine with it.

If this is something you’d consider for your sewing space, here are a few photos with details regarding the making process, including the cost & the amount of time involved.  In short, we spent less than $9* & it took about 3 hours to make!  *This price is for the board & hooks (+ tax) as we had other supplies on hand, e.g. sandpaper, screws, stain and finish.

MATERIALS:  One 1″ x 3″ x 6′ select pine board ($5.95); One pack of 6 – 7/8″ nickle cup hooks ($1.98) {both purchased from Home Depot}; Espresso Minwax Wood Finish; Minwax Water Based Polycrylic Protective Finish; general woodworking tools–router & drill; various other supplies such as rags, sandpaper, foam brush, etc.

Since I’m not handy with tools, my husband did all the drilling, routering, etc.  I was in charge of sanding, staining & finishing.

The first thing my husband did was router a plain design around the perimeter of the board to class it up a bit.

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Next, he drilled the three screw holes with a bit so the screws would be countersunk, placing the holes under the routering & toward the top so they wouldn’t interfere with the cup hooks.

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Before staining, I used 220 grit sandpaper for a super smooth surface.  Up next, I applied  one coat of stain.

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Once wood is stained, the grain tends to raise somewhat, so I sanded it again with an extra fine grit sanding sponge.  After wiping away any residue, I applied two coats of polyurethane finish allowing a few hours drying time in between coats.

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Next, we got out my design wall & screwed in the hooks in accordance to the grommets.

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Finally we were ready to attach the board to the wall.  Once leveled, 2 1/2″ screws were screwed into the countersunk holes/wall, making it strong enough to support the weight of a lot of fabric.

Now I can put up & take down my design wall with ease.  It’s such a simple & affordable project & I’m really happy with it!

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(excuse the terrible lighting–my sewing room window faces north!)

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Checkered Baby Quilt

When I found out one of my husband’s coworkers/wife (whom I’ve never met) was having a baby, I thought—-why not make a baby quilt instead of buying something? Every baby needs a quilt, right?

That said, I decided to make an easy, beginner friendly quilt and tutorial with the novice in mind.  It seems to me the more experienced we become as quilters, the less we realize how explaining the basics are needed for newcomers.

If you’re new to quilting or know someone who is, I hope you’ll give this tutorial a try!  It offers in depth instructions, is loaded with photos & walks you through the entire quilting process, including how to make binding.

Here are a few photos of the quilt…

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Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my first blog! I’m happy you decided to take a look.

I know blogs aren’t quite as popular as they used to be and I may be a little late to the game, but blogging seems to be a mainstay for quilters, and a great way to share, so I figured I’d join in the fun.

My new website is comprehensive as to what I have available currently—free tutorial downloads, links to my patterns for purchase, an about page (if you’re interested…) and  in addition, I plan to post my latest projects, quilting tips, ideas, etc.

I’m also happy to mention that I am privileged to have had a recent project chosen for publication in a popular quilting magazine—coming out this fall!

I hope you stop by frequently as I continue to chronicle my quilting journey.

Deb