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/

Thanks for leaving a comment! Please be sure to include your name, and make sure your email address is enabled so I can respond. If you are a SPAMMER, you will be fat quartered, stitched, fused, ironed, knotted and tossed away before you know what hit you."

July 08, 2014

The Slow Movement – Another Perspective

In June of 2014, The Slow Stitching Movement became an “official entity” on the Internet as a blog, podcast, magazine, gallery and a Facebook Group. The Slow Stitching Movement was launched by Mark Lipinski to adapt the principles of the Iinternational Slow Movement to the fiber and needle arts. You can read about it on his blog, or watch his presentation online for $19.99 through details found at http://www.shopfonsandporter.com/.

You can read about the International Slow Movement at http://www.goslowworld.com/the-slow-movement/ without spending a dime, and I encourage you to do so. Four basic principles of the Movement are:

1. We need to stop rushing through life so fast that we lose track of ourselves

2. We need to stop applying the same turbo-speed to everything that we do.

3. We need to stop doing everything at once.

4. We need to slow down and find the energy to get involved with the world that we live in.

Since you are reading this post on www.caronmosey.com, then chances are pretty good that you might be a hand quilter, and that you have no trouble supporting these ideas. I know I totally agree!

As a hand quilter for going on 40 years, hand quilting provides me tranquility, peace, time for meditation and contemplation, and a chance for creativity and use of my hand sewing skills. I have always said that if I didn’t have time set aside each day for some hand stitching, I would go crazy.

A hand quilter needs very little in the way of supplies and tools for his or her craft. You can get by with fabric that you have on hand! Think back to the quilts of the 1800’s, made out of old clothing, scraps of fabric left over from clothes which were made at home, and basic thread that was already in the house. You need scissors, a thimble to protect your finger, batting or something to put in the middle of your quilt for warmth, and a backing fabric of some kind. A quilt frame or hoop would be a good thing to have, but many quilters get by without one. (I don’t know how they do that, but they do!)

On July 6, 2014, Mark Lipinski posted an article on his blog called “What is Ethical Shopping, Why it Matters, and How it Benefits You.” You can find it at http://bit.ly/1kzY1u5 . He talks about:

  • Ethical Consumerism
  • Shopping from Your Stash First
  • Supporting Your Local Businesses
  • Being a Courteous Shopper
  • Buy Quality and The Very Best You Can Afford and
  • Shop Thoughtfully.

Don’t we all want to be ethical, supportive, courteous, quality-driven and thoughtful? Gosh, I would certainly hope so! I’d like to add a few points that he missed (or expand on what he said):

  • Know the difference between a WANT and a NEED. Mark mentions this, and I totally agree. I am a graduate of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, and proud of it. Dave stresses knowing the difference between WANT and NEED.  When I start a new quilt project, I know what thread I NEED (because I’m out of it or don’t have that color). I also know that when I shop online, at a local quilt shop or at the quilt show vendor area, if I see a gadget or special fabric or quilty thing that I like, it is a WANT, not a need. I WANT it, but if I don’t get it, it won’t kill me. Oh, I might pout for a while, but I will survive. Do you really NEED that fancy new gadget that Tremendous Trixie the Famous Quilter pushes at her workshop? Or is that gadget just something she’s pushing to make money, and you really don’t NEED it at all?
  • Choose your quilt business wisely. Get to know the owner. Whether the business is an online or a brick and mortar (LQS) shop, if you have problems, can the owner help you? WILL the owner help you? Does the owner have the knowledge and time to assist you? Or is the shop and its owner(s) such a large corporation or entity that you are just one of a gazillion customers? Or is the owner a friend or fellow quilter who will take the time to sit down with you and help you? Many local quilt shops are closing as the cost of a brick and mortar shop is difficult financially. But it’s a different world today, isn’t it? Many of us purchase items online, but we just have to do it wisely and know who we are buying from.
  • Be yourself. Don’t feel like you have to follow the crowd. Quilters are easily sucked into trends… trends in fabric choices, colors, and patterns. You can go to any local show and see quilts with similar patterns – because groups of quilters are all working on the same pattern (often with the same fabrics!). I bet if I mention one word (just one!) you will know what I mean… hexies!

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  • Every quilter is different. Every quilter has his or her reasons for what they do. My reasons are as important to me as yours are to you. I rarely buy patterns, I seldom publish them. I like to do my own thing with quilt design. I’m the same way about quilty trinkets, stencils, and fancy notions. I usually don’t buy them. I’m a pretty simple person. If you were to ask me how to create a pattern or transfer a design onto fabric, you and I would sit down together and get the task done. If you live far away, I’d walk you through it by email or blog or phone. The way that I do something might be totally different than the next quilter, but it’s not wrong… it’s just how I do it. And I’m happy to share how I do it with you, as long as you understand that.

Caron at Hand Quilting Supplies

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