Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tutorial - How To Hand Tie A Quilt

Wow!  I received so many questions yesterday about how to hand tie a quilt and how I get my quilts to look so puffy.  Soooo.....ask and ye shall receive!  Here's my method for hand tying a quilt and making it super fluffy.  And fortunately it's pretty easy to do!

I use high loft batting for my hand tied quilts.  I sandwich it just like I would any other quilt.  I lay the backing down (wrong side up), lay the batting on top and lay my quilt top on top of that (right side up of course).  I pin it with lots and lots of large curved safety pins.  I usually pin about 5" apart. 

These are the tools I use to hand tie my quilts.  Size 8 Crewel Needles, Perle Cotton (size 8) and hemostats.  You can also use curved needles but I've found that I prefer working with a regular old straight needle and that's what I'll be talking about today.  You can also use 6 strand embroidery floss or crochet thread.  I've even heard of people using very narrow ribbon to tie quilts!
The first step in hand tying a quilt is to move your ridiculously cute cat from the quilt for 5 minutes and convince her not to run off with the needle and thread.....
To start a tie, you'll want to have one hand under the quilt pinching the three layers of the quilt together in the area that you are tying.  I put my needle in at a 45 degree angle in the OPPOSITE direction that I want the needle to go.  I don't go straight down.  I do this so I can get a big enough "bite" of the backing.  You're going through a lot of thickness and if you just try to go straight down or angle it in the direction that you'll be pushing the needle you won't get enough backing or you might miss the backing completely.  In the photo below I'm angling the needle to the right but I will be pushing it to the left once it's through all three layers.
Once you've pushed your needle through all three layers you'll "rock" or swing your needle to the left and push your needle through.  I usually try to make my "bites" about 3/8" on the front but they end up being about 1/4" on the back because I'm going through a lot of layers.  Pull your thread through and leave about a 1 to 1 1/2" tail of thread.
Next up you'll tie a surgeons knot.  This is where the hemostats come in.  If you don't have some I HIGHLY recommend you get a pair.  They are awesome for all sorts of sewing and crafting projects.  You'll start on the long side of the thread.  Not the side with the little tail.  Lay your hemostats down on top of the thread. 
And wrap the thread around the hemostats TWICE.  Two full wraps.
Then grab the tail end of the thread with the hemostats.
And pull the tail end of the thread through those two wraps on the end of the hemostats.  You'll gently slide those two wraps down the hemostat as you pull the tail end through.
Pull it tight.  You've just created ONE throw which is HALF of a knot.  ONE knot has TWO throws.
Now, you'll repeat the process but you'll only do ONE thread wrap around the hemostats before you grab the tail end of the thread.  You'll be working from the other side of your knot as you make your second throw because that is where the long end of the thread is now.  After you make the second throw you'll have a nice, tight secure knot.  Then you'll want to do TWO more throws with one wrap each to create a second full knot.
To summarize:  First throw has two wraps.  Then three more throws with one wrap each.  This gives you two full, secure knots.  You always use the long end of the thread to wrap around the hemostats and you always grab the short tail end. 

Then I cut the threads to be about 1 cm long.
I usually do my ties no more than 2-3" apart.  And I kind of let the design of the quilt tell me where the ties should go.  I love putting ties in the corners of the blocks and in the middle and along the seams.  And yes, you can tie knots in seams, corners or in the middle of blocks.  Wherever you like.  Just do what looks good to you.
And that is how you get a super puffy looking quilt!
O.K.  I hope I explained everything o.k. and that the pictures weren't too blurry.  I wish I could have had Col. Sew Fab take the pictures and proofread this for me to make sure it makes sense but for some reason he thinks his job of helping to defend the country is more important than hand tying quilts!  What's up with that?!  (You know I'm totally kidding, right?).

Anyway, please let me know if you have any questions.  It's pretty easy to get the hang of making hand ties with a little practice and it's such a great project to work on while sitting in front of the t.v. and sipping on some tea or wine!

Happy Sewing (and Tying),

P.S.  Someone asked me if this replaces machine or hand quilting and the answer is YES.  You don't need to do additional hand or machine quilting on tied quilts.  The ties ARE the quilting.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Work In Progress Wednesday - Monotony

Two rows down.  Seven to go.  And loving every moment of monotonous, soothing, no-thought-required tying of this quilt.
Quilt made with Little Lady by Holly Holderman for Lakehouse Dry Goods
Daisy loves it too. 
Quilt made with Little Lady by Holly Holderman for Lakehouse Dry Goods
And do you happen to remember the big, huge, secret project that I started working on back in November?'s almost's so close to being done that I can almost taste the celebratory champagne......but the project is at a stage that is so boring and monotonous that I look forward to taking breaks to fold laundry and do dishes.  Yeah.....sometimes monotony is good.  And sometimes it makes you delusional.  With a little luck and a lot of work I'll be putting that project in the DONE column next week.

Happy Sewing,

Monday, February 25, 2013

It Was A Dark and Stormy Night.....

The new poster child for Canine Storm Phobia......  
Emma a Blenheim Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Emma Jane hiding under my desk in a thunderstorm
It has been raining and storming here for FOUR. DAYS. STRAIGHT.  Well.....the rain stopped long enough on Sunday morning for me to get in an eight mile run in 88 minutes (Holla!) as I try yet again to train for a half marathon (I tried but I couldn't do it last year due to illness and injury) but it's been raining and storming every other minute of the day and night.  It. Won't. Stop.   And Emma hates it.  And panics.  And claws at me.  And hyperventilates.  And now she's added "pees on thing" to her "fear repertoire."

After a few particularly loud booms of thunder she peed all over the sofa.  And the ottoman.  And the Hooterville quilt that I was in the middle of hand quilting while watching a Tudors marathon (Netflix streaming) on Saturday.  Oh Emma......King Henry the 8th was about to marry his 500th wife and now I have to pause the show for dog pee clean up!  Don't worry.....I wasn't mad at her.   I know she was terrified and she was found "not guilty by reason of insanity".  

Fortunately, everything is now free of dog pee (thank you to whoever invented slipcovers!) and I learned that a hand appliqued and partially hand quilted quilt with NO binding on the edges will survive an adventure in the washing machine with Woolite and the Delicate Cycle and will come out smelling like flowers on a spring day....not dog pee.

So, as I waited for Hooterville to air dry I desperately needed something for my bored little fingers to do so I quickly sandwiched the Little Lady quilt.....
Pink and black quilt
And started hand tying the quilt with my loyal assistant Daisy who loves to help me by unwinding the spool of Perle Cotton.  She's good at things like that.  And I am absolutely loving how this quilt looks with hand ties - so poofy and snuggly and warm and inviting! 
Quilt made with Little Lady fabric by Holly Holderman for Lakehouse Dry Goods
Daisy guarding my quilt as I hand tie it was your weekend?  Tell me all about it!

Happy Sewing,

P.S.  The Tudors is an AWESOME show.  I highly recommend it.  But it's not something you can watch with kids around!

P.S. #2 My walls aren't bright, neon yellow like they look in the photo above.  They're actually a warm golden color with a hint of terra cotta.  Sherwin Williams calls it Ambitious Amber but I think it should be renamed "Golden Retriever Fur" or "Warm Tuscan Sunshine."  I'm going to use that color for my dollhouse French Winery because it looks so good on my walls.  You should always test a color on your real walls before you use it in your dollhouse!

P.S. #3 Please excuse the poor picture quality.  It's hard to get good pics in bad thunderstorm lighting.

P.S. #4 We have a little bit of the Little Lady fabric collection left.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Work In Progress Wednesday - No Turning Back

Quilt made with Going Coastal by Emily Herrick for Michael Miller Fabrics
There's no turning back now.  I picked a sashing color and started sewing.

After all of the sashing "audtions" and requests for votes and orders of new bolts of fabric and my complete inability to decide I finally did what any sane girl would do.....I turned it over to the "man of the house."  And no.....I don't mean Bailey the Sourpuss Cat......
Long haired orange tabby cat with white feet
I mean Col. Sew Fab....

I showed him the options.  He immediately picked Royal Blue.  Yup.  I let a Fighter Pilot make my quilting decisions for me.

And speaking of Bailey the Sourpuss Cat did I tell you that he's no longer a sourpuss?  He's been an incredibly sweet and kind and affectionate and loving cat since he had oral surgery in January.  He's not beating up the other cats.  He's not hissing.  He's kind to the dogs.  He's even being nice to Col. Sew Fab who he used to glare at with utter contempt and disgust!  What's going on?  Did he have a bad tooth that was making him grumpy for his WHOLE life?  Is he just trying to behave himself so we don't do that to him again?  Or did they just give us the wrong cat at the vet's office?  Hard to say but I'm leaning towards the "wrong cat" theory!

Happy Sewing,

P.S.  The "Royal Blue" that I'm using is actually Moda Bella Solids in Dusk.  It just looks Royal Blue to me so I call it Royal Blue.  And the bolt of "Navy" fabric that I ordered is actually called "Royal."  So confusing!

P.P.S.S.  Thanks to everyone who who left comments about the sashing color.  It was really fun to read all of your opinions and ideas.  And it seems like Royal Blue was winning in the voting when I let Col. Sew Fab cast the final vote!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Work In Progress Friday?

I know, I know....Work In Progress Friday doesn't have quite the same ring to it that Work In Progress Wednesday does but somehow the week just got away from me.  I feel like we magically fast forwarded to Friday and I don't know what happened to the rest of the week.  But sometime during this whirlwind of a week the bolt of Navy fabric arrived so hopefully I'll be able to make some progress on the Going Coastal Granny Square quilt very soon....if I can ever make a final decision on the sashing color.  I like them all and I just can't commit to a "winner!" These are the options.....

Quilt using Going Coastal by Emily Herrick for Michael Miller Fabrics
Royal Blue.....
Quilt using Going Coastal by Emily Herrick for Michael Miller Fabrics
Quilt using Going Coastal by Emily Herrick for Michael Miller Fabrics
And White......
Quilt using Going Coastal by Emily Herrick for Michael Miller Fabrics
So what do you think?  Which one should I use?  If you "voted" in the original "Vote For Sashing" post do you still like your first choice?  Or have you changed your mind?  Maybe I should just draw a color name out of a hat.  Or lay out all of the fabric options and use whichever one Emma lays on first.  Or maybe I should just make 3 more full sets of Going Coastal Granny Squares so I can have four different quilts with four different sashing colors!  Isn't that a great idea?  And practical too!

Happy Sewing,

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pinkalicious Weekend

Col. Sew Fab went on a snowboarding "Mancation" in Utah last week and I decided he shouldn't be the only one having tons of fun!  So, I decided to work a half day on Friday, start the weekend early and have my own little mini-Staycation - long weekend - craftathon.  And it was a heavenly, pinkalicious, girly, totally indulgent, carefree weekend!

I did a bunch of hand quilting on Hooterville.....
pink and green Hooterville owl applique quilt
And I pulled out an old quilt top that I started FOUR YEARS ago using Little Lady fabric by Lakehouse Dry Goods and gave it some much needed attention.  My memory kept telling me that the quilt still needed a lot of work but much to my surprise all of the piecing was just needed some borders.  I guess you forget a lot of things when you ignore a project for a few years.  And now I think it's just begging to be hand tied, don't you?
quilt made from Little Lady fabric by Holly Holderman for Lakehouse Dry Goods
I also did some prep work on the Vintage Valentine quilt.  The one thing I'm really starting to understand about this quilt is that there is no rushing it.  Not that I ever really rush making a quilt.  I take my sweet time making quilts and they're antiques by the time I finish them.  But this quilt has so many pieces.....and there are so many steps to doing freezer paper's going to be a slow, leisurely, relaxed process requiring just a bit of patience.....
pink and green fabrics for applique quilt Vintage Valentine by Verna Mosquera
And I did tons of work on the dollhouse bakery.  This is the view through a window opening.  And yes, my dollhouse bakery has crown moulding and hardwood floors.....
dollhouse crown moulding and hardwood floors
And this is the exterior of my cotton candy pink bakery......
miniature pink dollhouse bakery
And now I need some help!  What should I do with the roof of the bay window that I'm holding up in the picture?  Paint pink and white stripes on it kind of like a striped awning.  Paint it a different color like a darker pink or brown?  Do some sort of copper roof?  Shingles?  What???

And finally.....I did lots of online shopping!  I bought all sorts of things for the dollhouse winery/boutique and I finally got up my courage and bought an inkjet printer that will print fabric and photos!  How fun will that be???!!!

Hope you had a great weekend too!  Tell me all about it!


P.S.  You can see the Hooterville pattern here.  We still have some of that Little Lady fabric available here.  You can see the Vintage Valentine pattern here (image below).
Vintage Valentine applique quilt pattern by Verna Mosquera

Friday, February 8, 2013

Victory Garden

Victory Garden Quilt Pattern with red and blue fabrics
I've been wanting to make a Victory Garden quilt for a long time and I finally got the pattern for the shop (it's on my Must Make list).  And I've been creating a stash of pretty blue and red fabrics for a long time too.  And I think these two (the pattern and the fabric pile) are a match made in heaven, don't you?  But I am absolutely NOT going to start this quilt before I get the Going Coastal Granny Square Quilt DONE.  I promise!  I'm just planning ahead and not "Project Jumping" again.

And speaking of the Granny Square Quilt.....I've ordered some Navy blue fabric that I'm going to "audition" as the sashing.  A lot of the people that "voted" for blue mentioned that it really would look better as Navy blue instead of Royal blue.  And I'm really curious to see how that will look too!  Sooo....I'd rather wait a week for new fabric to arrive instead of compromising on something that might be less than perfect.

And thank you to everyone who left comments about the sashing color.  I loved reading all of your thoughts and ideas! 

Happy Sewing,

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Write In Vote

Blue binding in Granny Square quilt using Michael Miller fabrics
Well.....I was all ready to start cutting the gray binding for the Granny Square quilt.  I had been leaning towards gray even before I asked everyone to vote for sashing.  And the majority of votes were for gray.  So gray was the clear winner!  Easy, breezy.  Decision made.

And then Mary (a.k.a. Spoolhardy Girl) just had to go and suggest navy blue in the voting. spinning!  Why didn't I think of that?  It's so nautical and crisp and fresh and just plain awesome.  So it looks like the "Write In Vote" of blue is going to win.  What do you think?  Should blue be the surprise winner?

Happy Sewing,

P.S. Yes, I know....Mary suggested Navy blue and what I'm "auditioning" in the photo is more of a royal blue but it's the darkest solid blue that I have.  And I actually used that fabric in one of the blocks.  It's Moda Bella Solids in Dusk.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Work In Progress Wednesday - Vote For Sashing!

All.  The.  Blocks.  Are.  Done!!!  I am getting this quilt done in record time.  Usually, a few weeks into making a quilt, I'd still be planning it.....thinking about it.....talking about it.....and looking at the fabrics I'd picked for it.  But for me....actually having all of the quilt blocks done in a few weeks is miraculous!  Maybe I should slow down and start procrastinating so no one has to wonder "who are you and what did you do with Jenny?"

This is my tentative plan for how I'm going to lay out the blocks.  I tried to evenly space out the blues and oranges and the lighter blocks and the darker blocks but does anyone see anything that I should consider rearranging?
Block arrangement of Going Coastal quilt using Michael Miller fabrics
And now for the really big question.  Should I use gray sashing to pick up the gray in the center of each block......
Gray Sashing in Granny Square quilt using Going Coastal by Michael Miller
Or white sashing to keep it clean and fresh.....
White Sashing in Granny Square quilt using Going Coastal by Michael Miller
And as for all of my other projects this is what's going on.....

Active WIPs: 6 (Up one from last week because I officially started on the winery!)
-Going Coastal Granny Square Quilt - Blocks are done.  Time for sashing!
-Dollhouse Bakery - No progress
-Hooterville:  Happily hand quilting in the evenings while I watch t.v. and sip wine

-Little White Dollhouse:  No progress
-Vintage Valentine:  Staring at it.....thinking about it.....drooling over the pile of pretty fabrics

-French Provincial Winery:  Upgraded from Must Make to Active WIP because I've started buying supplies for it so there's no turning back! 
Must Make: 
I've been wanting to make a Victory Garden quilt and I just found the perfect assortment of fabrics in my stash for it!
Back Burner WIPs:  5
Ready To Go:  19
Must Make:  10 - That number is unchanged from last week!
New Projects:  NONE
Forgotten/Abandoned Projects:  Didn't find any last week - Yay!

Happy Sewing,

P.S.  The prints in my quilt are from the Going Coastal Collection by Emily Herrick for Michael Miller.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Project Jumper

French Provincial dollhouse fabrics you've probably already figured out I'm a huge "project jumper."  I never actually start a project and finish it without working on or starting about ten other projects during that project.  I'm easily distracted.  And this weekend was no exception.  I actually finished all of the blocks for my Going Coastal Granny Square Quilt and instead of starting on the sashing I jumped on over to the French Provincial Dollhouse Winery and Boutique.  
I started looking for swatches of French Country fabrics and wallpapers online and this is what I came up with.  I thought the images looked soooooo pretty scattered on the computer screen that I actually took a picture of it.  These colors and prints and style are such a departure from what I normally work with.  I'm more of a cutesy pink and green or casual beachy kind of girl.  But I am so infatuated with these swatches that I look at them about every ten minutes.  So hopefully these swatches will become teeny, tiny paper goods (gift bags, boxes, rolls of wrapping paper, etc) and teeny, tiny fabric goods (pillows, aprons, bolts of fabric, itty bitty sachets!) once I get my new inkjet printer that WILL PRINT FABRIC.  Eeek!  How exciting is that???!!!

And by the way....we actually have that A.D.D./chicken shirt.  I bought it for Col. Sew Fab a few years ago but I probably should have bought one for myself too.  We now just say the word "Chicken!" to each other if one of us is talking about ten different things at once. I'm off to go work on Illustrator Class.....or maybe practice on my Wacom tablet.....or maybe clear out a space for the new printer.....or maybe do some paperwork.....or maybe work on the Granny Square Quilt....or maybe work on the dollhouse bakery.....I think you get the idea!