July 25, 2014

Dream…

Dream, dream, dream, dream
Dream, dream, dream, dream
When I want you in my arms
When I want you and all your charms
Whenever I want you
All I have to do is dream
Dream, dream, dream

Ahhh, yes… The Everly Brothers’ song about quilt fabric, thread, patterns, notions…

          Say WHAT? It’s not a song about quilting supplies? I was SURE that it was!

 

flimseyIn the United States, July is usually full of hot weather, and many quilters don’t do much quilting except for perhaps bits of hand sewing here and there, or sitting in their air conditioned sewing area with their favorite sewing machine. I don’t have a problem with hand quilting in the summer, as my house usually has the air conditioning running, and it’s fairly cool. But this IS the time of year when I plan ahead for fall and winter sewing. There is nothing I like better in the cool months of the year than sitting in my leather chair by the window with my feet propped up and my quilt hoop on my lap. My project this fall is to get back to working on my Feathered Star quilt. There is still much to do on the quilting, and I’d like it finished before Spring quilt show time.DSC02807

Another quilt I’d like to get back to is my baskets quilt… I have many more blocks to make, and it is fun to put all the different fabrics together so that each block is unique.

I would also love to start a scrappy Churn Dash with lots of grey tones in it, but I think I had better finish some other quilts before I start a new one. At least, that is the plan. We’ll see if I stick to it or not!  You see, I LOVE Churn dash quilts!  I even have a whole Pinterest Board for them!

I like to plan ahead for my fall/winter sewing and make sure I have all the tools I need. There is nothing worse than jumping into a project and finding out you need this… and that… and of course more of that other thing. I HATE when that happens, don’t you?

I’m a list-maker, and my list has been started. I need more quilting thread for my Feathered Star quilt. I need thread for sewing my basket blocks together. I prefer to piece with 100 percent cotton threads in neutral colors like tan, cream and grey. I will need more of those colors, so I think I’ll order them soon. The basket handles on my baskets quilt are appliqued to the background, and I need another pack of straw needles.

Before my list is complete, I want to carefully visualize what I want the quilting to look like on the baskets quilt. I think I will sketch out some designs for the area between the basket and handle, and also determine whether I want the blocks set with alternating plain blocks, or have each block be a basket. Still not sure. More dreaming to do!

Have you started your fall dreaming yet? Is your list on your table or saved in your phone or iPad? If not, what are you waiting for? Let’s get crackin’!

Caron at Hand Quilting Supplies

Your “online” LQS

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July 22, 2014

Think Like a Scientist!

 

Things do not always go smoothly when you’re a quilter. The color in a favorite piece of fabric can bleed onto another fabric. Fabric can shrink when you don’t want it to. Batting can fight you if you’re a hand quilter who has chosen the wrong batting. Your thread can break, fray, or knot not just once, but over and over and over. What is a quilter to do?!

Unfortunately, for many of us, we forget that once upon a time we took these classes in school that were called SCIENCE. We watched the teacher do experiments. We were forced to do our own experiments and write reports about them. And, somewhere along the way, we forgot there was a process to science, a pattern we should follow no matter what the experiment was for. Does this sound at all familiar?

Here are some science words you might remember from way back:

  • Systems, order, and organization.
  • Evidence, models, and explanation.
  • Change, constancy, and measurement.
  • Form and function.

Let’s take a look at two areas of hand quilting from a scientific point of view.

ONE. Which marker will work best to draw my quilting design on my quilt top?

hoopThis is easy! Get out a small quilt hoop (10-12 inch). Now, we’re going to make a little sample quilt to play with. Take a piece of the same fabric as you are using in the quilt top (if it is going to be a whole cloth quilt) or several strips of fabric that you used in your quilt top and sew them together. Make sure your sample top is larger than your quilt hoop! Grab a piece of the same batting that you plan to use in your project and cut it larger than the quilt hoop. Take a piece of the same fabric that you will use as your quilt backing, cut it to match size of the top and batting. Layer the three pieces together as a quilt sandwich. Don’t eat it.sandwich

Using several different markers that you might want to use, draw a simple shape with each one on the sample top.

Put your little sample quilt sandwich into your hoop.

Get out your needle and the same thread you plan on using on your quilt. Quilt each shape. Which marker was easiest to follow? Make a note of that. (Example: Liked the blue washout line, hated the chalk, it smudged, etc.)

Take your quilt sandwich out of your hoop, toss it into a bath of cold water in your kitchen sink and let it sit there for about a half hour. Squeeze the water out of it, and flatten it out on your kitchen counter. What do you see? Are there markings that totally vanished? Which ones disappeared? Which markings stayed visible? Now toss your sample into the washing machine with regular laundry detergent and let it run for a full cycle. (It’s ok if you put it in with your laundry…) Take it out of the wash when finished, put it back on your kitchen counter, and give it another look. What do you notice?

Which marker did the best job for you? All markers were used in the same manner. They were all rinsed in plain water, and all put through a regular wash cycle. Everything is consistent EXCEPT the markers.

TWO. Why does my hand quilting thread fray/break/knot/twist? How do I fix that?

If you have ever had a problem with your thread when hand quilting, you know the frustration. Let’s do some experimenting and see what might be causing the problem.

First, make yourself a small quilt sandwich just like we did in the first experiment. Don’t worry about drawing stitching lines on your sandwich. You can just quilt randomly without markings. Grab your thread, the needle you’re using, and your thimble. (You DO use a thimble, right?) Start quilting. Just relax and stitch in a grid or crosshatching fashion. Does your thread twist? Fray? Does your needle grab the fabric? Listen to your needle as you put it into the quilt top. Does it make a little POP sound? If so, perhaps the top of your needle has a burr on it.

If anything happens as you quilt to cause your thread to fray/break/knot or twist, stop. Get out a different kind of thread (note: a different brand of hand quilting thread). Thread the SAME needle and thimble that you have been using, and start stitching. Watch what happens. Be very aware of what is happening, listen to the needle go in and out, watch the thread, let your hand experience what happens. If the thread starts to fray/break/knot or twist, stop again.

This time, get out a new needle from the SAME pack. Keep using the same thread and same thimble. Start stitching, listening, feeling and watching. See what happens. If you STILL have a problem with the thread, time to try a different brand of needles.

Now keep the thread the same, use the same thimble, but a different brand of needle. Try it again.

One more thing you might want to try is adjusting the tightness of your quilt hoop. If the quilt sandwich is pulled too tightly, that could cause your problems.

Does this seem monotonous to you? It might. But if all of a sudden you change your thread, needle AND thimble at the same time, you won’t know what is causing your problem… and you won’t know how to correct it.

Remember, when experimenting you want to keep a constant variable (control). In science, a constant variable is a factor that does not change during the course of the particular experiment. The independent variable is the one that is changed by the scientist. To insure a fair test, a good experiment has only one independent variable. As the scientist changes the independent variable, he or she observes what happens. In our first experiment, the marker was the independent variable. In our second experiment with the thread, we actually had several little experiments. The words above in red show the independent variable each time.

Oh my goodness. Did we just do SCIENCE? Cool! And it didn’t even hurt!

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JJ12011  Want to try a different brand of needle289

          How about trying a new thread

 

Check out www.handquiltingsupplies.com !

July 18, 2014

Opening a New Quilt Business – The Reality

Back in the late 1970’s I worked at a quilt shop in downtown Flint, Michigan called “Quilts, Kits and Caboodles.”  It was in an old Victorian house which had been painted bright pink, a stark contrast to the neighboring court house and legal offices.  There, I had the opportunity to learn what it was like to organize a quilt shop, run sales, cut fabric, accurately measure how much fabric was left on a bolt without unwinding the bolt, and so much more.  But nothing prepared me for operating an ONLINE quilt shop; that has been learned by jumping into the water feet-first and just doing it.  Since the business will be one month old this Sunday, July 20, I am still learning and will be for quite some time.


The hardest part about starting an online business,  www.HandQuiltingSupplies.com,  is navigating through the creation of a website.  I went with a company that offers “shopping cart” website services, as doing that took a lot of the technical work out of my hands.  I have been pleased, though I want to make some changes to the design of the opening page.  What you see there is temporary. 

Setting up credit card service was a challenge, and I wasn’t fully aware of all the fees that were involved in the process. Holy Rip-Off, Batman!  I much prefer the use of PayPal, and am pleased to see that many of my customers like PayPal as well.  However, not everybody does.  Opening a business meant opening a business bank account, which was not very difficult, but involves more paperwork on a regular basis.  Dealing with all the legal documents, financial advisors, accountants, forms and procedures adds a lot to the schedule when you are starting out, and I’m glad I’m past that initial hurdle.



Because my focus for the business was on supplies for HAND quilters,  that meant that I didn’t need to worry about locating and purchasing lots of fabric or supplies and notions that machine quilters need.  I did need to find sources for hand quilting supplies, and fortunately most of that fell into my lap or was suggested by friends in the business.  Each supplier has their own legal forms to fill out if you are going to be a wholesale customer. Choosing which items to carry took careful planning, and knowing how much of each to stock was mainly guess-work.  I didn’t want to buy too much at first, yet didn’t want to run out during the first week.  Even though the business is still in its first month, I have found myself reordering already, and have added more items to the inventory. 



What am I enjoying the most?  My customers!  I can’t begin to tell you how heartwarming it is to get so much positive feedback from you, and I love that you are asking questions and wanting suggestions, not only for what supplies you need, but HOW to do things.  My goal was to offer a personal service to hand quilters, and I hope that offer comes through loud and clear.  Any time you have a how-to question, please know that you are welcome to contact me and just ask.


What do I like the least?  The shipping costs.  If I could remove all shipping costs, I would.  I realize that shipping outside of the United States is so expensive, but unfortunately there is nothing that can be done about that.  It’s out of my hands.  If we all had a quilt shop within five miles of where we live, AND if that quilt shop had a hand quilting expert willing to help new hand quilters, we wouldn’t have to talk about this.  But sadly, that’s not how things are. 
Kudos go out to Colonial Needle Company and Tom Collingham for being so supportive of this new venture!  Tanya in Customer Service and Sherrie in Graphic Arts have been a tremendous help to me, and are worth their weight in gold.  And I could not have done this without Pepper Cory’s friendship and guidance, and Tim Latimer’s friendship and encouragement.  That means SO much!


Lastly, to my AWESOME husband Dean for being open to this new venture, his excellent ability to look at all sides of any issue and make suggestions and discuss pros and cons, and his tolerance for my less-than-stellar organizational skills.  I couldn’t do this without you!
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Published by Caron Mosey at Michigan Quilts! 2014. Visit Michigan Quilts on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/119294870401/

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