Search the Web

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Dreaded Cleanup

I'm a scatter-brain. And my sewing room reflects this fact.

Or at least it did till yesterday.

My beloved Cousin C came to see me, and, more to the point, came to help me clean up my sewing room.

I needed the help.

I had tried on my own to organize my fabrics - I did, in fact, have them separated into solids, prints, batiks and specialty fabrics. But a couple of weeks ago I watched a webinar where the speaker said she further broke her stash down into color sets. (Blue/purples, blue/greens, yellow, reds, etc.) So my Cousin sent me off to the dollar store to obtain smaller trays than the storage boxes I had been using.

We put things away, we sorted fabric, and sorted fabric, and threw things out, and sorted more fabric. Old UFOs came out to haunt me, every time I thought we'd seen the last of the half-heartedly begun projects, another bag would peek out at us from the corner where it had lain forgotten for a year or two...It was getting embarrassing.

She made me deal with every single thing in that room, no matter how much I begged for mercy. And wouldn't let me just toss stuff into any old container. I did try, a few times, but she'd heave an exasperated sigh at me and make me pick it up again and put it where it really should go.

A moment's thought. That's what it takes. A single, focused moment of actual grey matter processing time. That's what it takes to actually put things away.

I'm now casting my mind back to earlier this year, when Daughter's Fiancé J helped me clean my sewing room too. He had less time, having only an afternoon, and less experience getting me to do what I was told than Cousin C, who has known me all her life! I do not wish to belittle the help I received from J. But this was a much bigger deal. C was not going home till the job was completed to her satisfaction. And she doesn't fall for ploys, or pouting, or crying...And she definitely does not have my scattered-brain tendencies! She can see what needs to be done.

And I am so grateful! Now I have a tidy sewing room where I know where everything is, and I'm looking forward to this weekend to be able to get in there and...

...mess it up a bit?

And then put stuff away!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Fitting a Border - without bordering on a fit!

I've known the theory for some time now, about how to properly fit a border to a quilt top. And by "properly," I mean so that they're not wavy, but instead lie flat.

You take the vertical and horizontal measurements through the center of the quilt top - not the top, bottom, or sides.

That's because the edges get distorted. The closest measurement you will get to the "true" measure of the quilt top is through the center.

Once you have that exact measurement, you cut your borders that same exact length. You pin one of the borders to the quilt, with a pin in each end, and you find your centers and you pin all along the length of the edge, making the quilt edge fit the border. Sometimes this involves (gasp!) s t r e t c h i n g the quilt edge, sometimes it involves gathering it. Note: if there seems to be a lot of either, check your measurements again.

Today was the first time I had to wiggle the quilt to get it to fit the border - a testament, I guess, to either the care with which I had constructed previous quilts, or to the lack of care with which I constructed this one!

*Ahem. I digress!

If you don't do this process, you get borders that look like they're drunk, or you were, when you made them. The quilt never lies flat. And it's not actually that much more work to do properly. Yet I know quilters who routinely bypass this step, because they're in a hurry.

You can never be in a hurry when you're working on a quilt. Every skipped step will show, and you simply won't be as happy with the final result as you would have been had you done it "Comme il faut!" as they say here in Quebec! (the way it's supposed to be done.)

Anyway, I did it, and it worked, and my borders lie flat, and I'm happy as a clam!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I am currently in Louisiana, visiting my father, who has just been widowed after 45+ years of marriage.

My stepmother was from down here (the deeeeeep south!) and she had four children of her own when she married my daddy, so I have two step-sisters and two step-brothers.

Well, around 35years ago Mother made me a quilt. I was in my twenties (and that's all I'm saying about that!). She and Daddy had come up to Canada for a visit, and they brought with them one of Mother' neices, a lady called Fay. Mother had the quilt all sandwiched when they got in the car and set out to drive to Montreal, a three-day trip. (Note: it might take a normal person five days, but Daddy was a bit of a maniac behind the wheel in his heyday!)

We'll, Mother sat in the co-pilot's seat, and Fay sat behind her, and each of them took a needle and started working furiously on that thing for the duration of the drive to Montreal.

And they did it! By the time they pulled up in our driveway, they had hand-quilted a queen-size quilt!
Sure, some of the stitches were a tad large, and not every seam was was a pattern if hexagons made into diamond shapes. Some of the little hexagonal inside seams didn't get done, but it has held together for all these years, despite some rude treatment by yours truly...

See I knew absolutely nothing about quilts at the time I received this wonderful gift. It went through the washer, and yes, I am sorry to report, it went through the dryer as well. Till about a decade ago, when I began quilting and I suddenly realized the value of what I had. Then I started treating it with a tad more respect!

Well, about three years ago my step-sister asked me to come down south and visit my daddy and my stepmother while they both still knew who I was. See, they both had either Alzheimer's or dementia, and their faculties were slipping away visibly. While I was down on that visit I told my step-sister the story of the quilt, and she couldn't hold back her tears, because apparently, though my stepmother sewed her heart out on her machine every day of her life till she got sick, she never made a quilt for her children.

We'll, I started looking at that quilt differently after that. See, being a child of divorced parents, I know how the parent you don't live with becomes kind of super human in a child's eyes, having no discernable faults in the eyes of the child. And the same process happens to parents. So, because I was the child that was far away, I kind if became set on a bit of a pedestal. I'm very much afraid that my father and stepmother probably talked a lot about me to their children. It was more than likely a case of "Debbie-this" and "Debbie-that" for all the long years they lived in Louisiana. And that is why I received the gift of a quilt when none of them did.

We'll, my stepmother passed away last Sunday morning, and the family flew me down so I could be here with them and with my daddy, who is quite far gone in Alzheimer's now. And I brought the quilt down with me and gave it to the sister who has been caring for them in her home, who had wept that her Momma had never got around to making any of them a quilt.

Of course she cried again when I gave it to her, but this story doesn't stop there.

At Momma's funeral I met up again with Fay, and we clung on to each other for dear life and wept our hearts out. I don't know anything about Fay' life before or since that one summer I met her, but being a woman over 50 I could see she had endured some hardship in her life. We clung to each other, two women connected by the life of one woman, and by the quilt Fay had helped her make for me.

And seeing her, and helping care for my dad, and just being around my step-family, has been just like tying a knot and burying the threads of a quilt. It is the end of a story, the finishing-up of one pattern, the securing in place of bonds.

If I can, I'll post a picture if the quilt before my day on the blogathon, but I'm doing this from my cellphone and it's pretty hard! I hope you all enjoy the blogs that link us as quilters together, and more importantly, enjoy making those quilts for the people you love, and who love you.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Batman Oven-Mitt Covers

As you can see, the Batman oven-mitt covers got a great reaction! So here's the palm side...
and here's the back of the hand side...
Notice the grey drop-shadow on the text! So, all this is machine appliqué, done in satin stitching. Yes, I used fray-stop on everything, but a little word of warning about Fray-stop...

It can change the color of your fabric slightly. Even if your fabric has been previously washed. Now, since these are to be used on oven mitts, they're likely to get washed frequently and vigorously, so believe me, I laid the Fray-stop on pretty thick! I poured some Fray-stop into a small container and used a Q-tip to apply it to the edges of the fabric.

If you're going to use Fray-stop, I'd recommend laying your piece down on a scrap fabric, lighter than your piece, or else using a teflon pressing sheet as the background while you apply it.

You can hasten the drying time with a dry iron - I'm REALLY impatient!

My only regret is that I did "Pow!" on both mitts. Half way through the second one I thought, gee, I should have done "Bam!"

Oh well.

Monday, July 28, 2014

And here's the Venn Diagram...

First, I wish to remind all readers that I did not design this. The Owner is a fellow by the name of Crispian Jago and the image is from his blog,

So the pieces started out as squares or rectangles with the shape the words had to fit into drawn in disappearing marker. Then I used the text function on my sewing machine to sew the words onto each piece, and finally trimmed to within 1/8 of an inch of the outline. I used temporary spray adhesive to stick the pieces down to the background and outlined each piece in a plain stitch, after which I went over them with two rows of satin stitching.

On the front, in the bottom right-hand corner, you can make out Crispian Jago's name and blog site. I didn't do it in a bright color, but it's visible.

I have only to make a label for the back and a sleeve, and then it's ready to be given to the lady at work who said she wished she had a copy of it.

Perhaps a bit over the top - I could have just printed it out for her! But I bought that particular sewing machine because it could do letters, and it's been ages since I've done any raw-edge appliqué.

My daughter was quick to ask me why some of the words showed on the back and some didn't. Of course, that's because I didn't have my wits about me after I'd appliquéd the diagram onto the dark blue background. I was in such a hurry to sandwich it and do the satin stitching I forgot to do the words on the blue background until after I had sandwiched it!

It'll never win any awards, but I hope it helps my friend remember me as she starts a new phase of her life.