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Waterproofing cotton with Glue Gel {product review}

Back at Fall Quilt Market in Houston, the folks from ODIF came by the Shannon Fabrics booth to show off a couple new products they have.  I happily promote their 505 Basting Spray in my classes (it really is the best/least stinky), so I was excited to see what else they had. My co-worker Ellen handed me a piece of cotton that was slick and lovely like oilcloth, but not as thick.  “It’s waterproofed cotton,” she told me and I nearly lost it.  Seriously? They’ve been trying to do this for a while and it’s rarely worked.

A couple decades ago someone came out with a product that you could iron on, a vinyl coating that was supposed to make cotton waterproof.  It worked for one use and then it started to crack and peel and just generally look like crap.  There have been a couple of sprays, but they still tend to wash out and not give a nice sheen to the fabric.

This on the other hand had me intrigued.

Fast forward a few months and a bottle of OdiCoat O’Fabric Waterproof Glue Gel showed up in the mail for me at work.  It’s a weird name, but I figured I’d give it a shot anyway.

I found some fabric I’d want to use for the inside of a new make-up zipper pouch (an old print from Thomas Knauer with Andover) and a flat brush that I had from some Christmas craft I never to around to making.

The gel is thick but easy to spread over the fabric.  I did it back and forth, then up and down to make sure the fabric was well-coated.  The instructions are to brush the gel over the fabric completely, then wait an hour. Re-coat it, wait an hour and then do it once more.

It is easy to see where you’ve covered thanks to the high-gloss.  Just get it all covered then leave it there. I put the fabric on a couple sheets of paper to keep it off my board.

After the third coat, just let it sit and dry for a full 24 hours (per the instructions). At this point it has a sort of gritty feeling to it.

Use a pressing sheet or parchment paper and iron it.  I used a warm iron (at the high end of the wool setting, just at the bottom end of the cotton setting) and ironed back and forth for a good 10 minutes.  It gave it a nice sheen and smoothed down the roughness. My sample isn’t quite as slick as the one I felt at Market, but I’m super satisfied.

 

I sprayed it with my water bottle and let it sit for a  minute or two to see if it would soak through, but instead it just pooled up.

And then I flipped it over to see if there were any spots the water had soaked through and NADA! Not a bit of the back was even damp.

According to the package, it’s now washable and the waterproofing won’t come off.  I have laundry to do this weekend, so I’m just gonna throw it in and see what happens. At this point, though, I’m really happy with the Waterproof Glue Gel and will totally use it.

Good to know:

  • A little goes a long way. I used only about 1/10 of the bottle to cover a full fat-quarter of fabric.
  • It doesn’t smell strongly and didn’t leave a lingering smell while it dried.
  • The water stayed where I wanted it to, on top of the fabric and not in it.
  • Don’t rush it; give it all the time requested to let it dry.
  • I’d recommend it and will totally use it again.

It’s available on Amazon and while ODIF did send me the stuff, they didn’t ask me to review it anywhere.  I’m just telling you about it because I like you.

 

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Getting started on a denim quilt

Late spring last year, I was able to help Luke out with some piecing for a quilt he did for the Stagecoach music festival, piecing the denim/star part of the quilt background you can see in this cute pic from Instagram (I have no idea who @sophieschillaci is, but it’s her photo with some country music star). Anyway, while I was piecing that Greg, our mutual friend, saw it and decided he really loved the denim and wanted something similar, but not the same. He wanted the stars and the denim, but wanted to add a spiral and less structure.  I took him up on it and together we started brainstorming.

First stop was the local Goodwill, then St. Vincent’s and another thrift shop or two, buying the cheapest and largest jeans we could find. He washed and dried them all then brought them back to me to start chopping them up.

 

I cut them so that most of the seams were gone, but left a few intact.  I also purposely left some holes that I then patched and darned.

I’m piecing it together more boro-style than anything else I can name.  Just laying them on top of each other and topstitching close to the raw edge.  I’ll built it out, incorporating about a dozen of those stars. I plan to back it in flannel, then will quilt it with thick yellow thread and top it off with some hand-stitching.  It’s slow and tedious, but I’m learning along the way.  The rugged and raw nature of the denim is lovely. The precision of puzzle making is equally enticing and I love how the two aspects work together.

Denim quilt being pieced

My advice so far:

  • Buy more denim than you think you’ll need. I cut up 23 pairs of jeans.
  • Use a 90/14 universal needle.
  • Denim is heavy so work in sections.
  • Don’t expect to get it done quickly.

Expect more soon (but not too soon!)

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What’s What: Top-stitching, Edge-stitching, Under-stitching

 The Back to School Blog Hop is back and I’m excited to participate again this year.  We had a great run last year (I talked about all sort of pressing issues – pardon the pun) and it’s back again with 32 sewists and quilters sharing our hard-earned wisdom with y’all.  Thanks to the amazing Sam Hunter for spearheading this yet again! Check out the end of this post for a link to all the participating blogs.


If you got your start with sewing in the quilting realm, top-stitching, edge-stitching, and under-stitching can seem a bit foreign when you find them in your apparel/bag/accessory patterns. They sound pretty similar, and they actually are, but each serves different functions in the construction of your sewing project.

Let’s start with the most common: Top-stitching.

This is the one we are most familiar with; it’s used to emphasize the structure of a garment’s design and gives a nice, flat edge to collars and cuffs, pockets and necklines.

Technically the top-stitching should be 1/4″ from the edge, so if you have a 1/4″ foot for your machine, this is the perfect time to break it out.  You will get a much straighter stitch line and since the whole point is for the stitch line to show, it’s important. If you don’t have a 1/4″ foot, use something that will bump against the edge of your fabric to keep it in place (a stack of Post-Its work great).

The top-stitching on the denim jacket was done with two stitching lines, 1/4″ apart, but if you’re doing this kind of top stitching someplace where the back won’t be seen (along a waistband, a mock flat fell seam, etc), you can use the wide double needle instead.

The purpose of top-stitching is really two-fold: keep the edge flat and add a design element. The second aspect means it’s a time you can use fancy and/or heavier threads. If you have some nice 30 wt. threads, this is a great way to use them, especially on heavier fabrics such as wool, denim and linens. I used 30 wt. (Coats and Clark) and 40 wt. (Aurifil) red thread on this piece of wool and you can see that the top one shows up a bit better.

But the real difference is the stitch length.  Take note that extending your stitch length on top stitching is important. When I use a 4.0mm stitch length, it looks best to me.

On these I used the wide double needle to create parallel top-stitching on wool, merino wool, and canvas. You can see the the coarser wool eats the thread a bit more, so I’d probably want to use an even heavier thread for top-stitching if I really want it to pop, while it shows up beautifully on the canvas.


Edge-stitching is a close cousin to top-stitching, but makes for an even crisper, neater edge. It’s generally used on collars and cuffs, as well as alongside zippers on pouches, pocket edges, bag straps and bag openings.

   
Stitching line is about 1/8″ (or less) from the edge/fold and is used more as a tool for keeping the edge flat than as a decorative addition. Use a standard weight thread that matches your fabric.

But how do you get it to stay straight, you wonder… a lovely little invention called an Edge-stitch foot (sometimes it is referred to as a Joining foot or Stitch-in-the-Ditch foot). I first stumbled onto it about five years ago when I was teaching at Modern Domestic.  I was instantly sold and if you don’t have one already, I want you to head over to your local sewing machine shop and pick one up. Now.

The little guide down the middle keeps your edge straight and with a tick of your needle, you’ll be sewing a consistently straight line down the edge of your piece.  It’s a little magic for your machine and adds a whole level of ‘pro’ to your sewing, I promise.


And for the one that confuses too many: Under-stitching.  Used almost exclusively in garment sewing, it can be a bit bewildering.  It’s a technique that is very important when sewing apparel, though, so make sure you don’t skip it because it seems unnecessary. It can make a huge difference in how a garment lies on the body.

First, you’ll sew your seam, then press with your iron (on an appropriate heat seating) to set the seam.  From the wrong side, press the seam allowance toward your facing/lining.  Turn it over and press from the right side (use a pressing cloth if needed), keeping the seam allowance to the facing/lining side.

Use your edge-stitch foot, ticking your needle over just slightly to the left, and run the guide down the seam line, sewing the facing/lining to the seam allowance.

 

You will use a standard weight thread that coordinates with your fabric so it doesn’t show (i used red only so you can see it).  Then fold the lining at the seam and it will automatically pull toward the inside, hiding the lining and the hard edge of the seam.

This is the lining of a little girls dress, made with Embrace double gauze, and you can see how neat it makes the whole neckline look, both the back where we can see the facing and the front where the outer fabric curves over beautifully.


So there you have it: Top-stitching, Edge-stitching and Under-stitching.  Each has purpose and learning how to master them will make all your sewing and quilting better, more handmade and less homemade.  If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!

Don’t forget to check out everyone else in the Back to School Blog Hop 2017!

Day 1 – August 15 – Sam Hunter: How to spray baste a BIG quilt – www.huntersdesignstudio.com

Day 2 – August 16 – Mandy Leins: Thread Dread: removing stray bits after quilting – www.mandalei.com

Day 3 – August 17 – Nancy Stovall: The Sweet Creamy Filling – www.justquiltingpdx.com

Day 4 – August 18 – Ebony Love: 7 Indispensible feet for your sewing machine – www.LoveBugStudios.com

Day 5 – August 19 – Michelle Freedman: Machine throat plates – www.designcamppdx.blogspot.com

Day 6 – August 20 – Teresa Coates: Edge/Under/Top stitching – www.crinkledreams.com

Day 7 – August 21 – Kelly Cole: Ten ways to regain your sew-jo – www.vintagefabricstudio.com

Day 8 – August 22 – Megan Dougherty: Choose to Fuse: tips for working with fusibles for applique – www.thebitchystitcher.com

Day 9 – August 23 – Kim Lapacek: Tricks to being productive while hauling your kids around – www.persimondreams.blogspot.com

Day 10 – August 24 – Yvonne Fuchs: Circuitboard quilting on Domestic and Longarm Machines – www.quiltingjetgirl.com

Day 11 – August 25 – Sandi Hazlewood: Chain Piecing Quilt Blocks Tips – www.craftyplanner.com

Day 12 – August 26 – Juliet van der Heijden: Paper-piecing with children – www.thetartankiwi.com

Day 13 – August 27 – Maddie Kertay: Fabric folding for any storage solution – www.badassquilterssociety.com

Day 14 – August 28 – Cath Hall: Working with Lawn fabric – www.wombatquilts.com

Day 15 – August 29 – Tracy Mooney: Tips for the perfect seam – www.sewmuchcosplay.com

Day 16 – August 30 – Teri Lucas: How to bury thread – www.terificreations.com

Day 17 – August 31 – Debby Brown: Securing machine quilting knots – www. higheredhands.blogspot.com

Day 18 – September 1 – Flaun Cline: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 1) – www.ipleadquilty.com

Day 19 – September 2 – Jessica Darling: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 2) – www.jessicakdarling.com

Day 20 – September 3 – Trish Frankland: A bigger blade really IS better?! – www.persimondreams.blogspot.com

Day 21 – September 4 – Lynn Krawczyk: Build a simple design with hand stitching – www.smudgeddesignstudio.com

Day 22 – September 5 – Jane Davidson: How to make scrappy HSTs – www.quiltjane.com

Day 23 – September 6 – Linda Pearl: Low cost tips for organizing your sewing room – www.onequiltingcircle.com

Day 24 – September 7 – Christa Watson – Top 10 tips for quilting on a domestic machine – www.christaquilts.com

Day 25 – September 8 – Sarah Nunes: To Starch or Not to Starch – www.berrybarndesigns.com

Day 26 – September 9 – Suzy Webster: Testing fabric for bleeding – www.websterquilt.blogspot.com

Day 27 – September 10 – Sarah Goer: Machine bind your quilts like a pro – www.sarahgoerquilts.com

Day 28 – September 11 – Vanda Chittenden: Beginner paper-piecing tips – www.chittenden.co.za

Day 29 – September 12 – Cheryl Sleboda: Needle threading tips – www.muppin.com

Day 30 – September 13 – Kim Niedzwiecki – Different thread weights and when to use them – www.gogokim.com

Day 31 – September 14 – Sandra Healy: Conquer Your Fear of Machine Appliqué – www.sandrahealydesigns.com

Day 32 – September 15 – Sandra Starley: The Basics of Antique Quilt Collecting – www.utahquiltappraiser.blogspot.com

 

 

 

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Free-Wheeling Single Girl, the quilt and me

I first saw the Single Girl quilt from Denyse Schmidt years ago and knew that someday I’d have to make it.  I’d been single again for a decade already with no intention on re-marrying and while I adore the double-wedding ring pattern (and in fact made one for a wedding gift last year), I knew it wasn’t for me. I needed a Single Girl quilt.

But those templates. Ugh.

Then two years ago Denyse came out with the Free-Wheeling Single Girl quilt pattern that uses paper arc templates to randomly piece together scraps and I was sold. I bought the pattern and, as we are wont to do, stuck in the pattern file and let it age appropriately before pulling it out again.

Back in March, I was up at Sew Expo and on my road trip from Seattle to Portland, I stopped at a few shops including the Ruby Street Quiltworks in Tumwater, WA where I found the Newsprint Gray fabric from the Compositions collection by Basic Grey for Moda. I bought the rest of the bolt. Sorry.

And then, like a good quiltmaker, I let that age on the shelf for a few months.

I figured I’d get around to making it sooner or later, but then my friend Paula said she didn’t think I’d ever actually make a quilt for myself. I’ve been quilting for 25 years and have yet to keep a bed-sized quilt for myself.

Challenge accepted.

A week later I’d cut out all the background pieces. 

Then I knocked out the arcs over the next two weeks, using scraps from a variety of projects as well as some sent by Instagram friends.  Another weekend later and the quarter-circles were ready to get together into full circles. I threw in two empty squares because there are empty bits of me, too. And a silver ring made from a crazy metallic suit jacket that I cut up, adding it because I wear silver rings all the time.

I pieced it together, sent it off to the super talented Karen at Cosmic Quilting down in Laguna Hills and waited a whole three days for her to return it.  Seriously, she turned it around so fast it almost made my head spin! A quick machine binding and it was ready to go for my housewarming party that weekend.

So finally, two decades after making that first quilt, I have a quilt for my own bed. I can’t really explain why it took me so long, though I’m sure it has something to do with being a mom, a woman, and not putting myself first. I’ll dig into that later. But for now, I’m going to enjoy seeing it on my bed and wait patiently for it to cool off enough for me to use it.

If you haven’t used Denyse Schmidt’s patterns before, I’d definitely recommend them. She writes clear and concise pattern instructions, plus gives you leeway in the making that allows you to trim to perfection. Check out her array of patterns here

xo,

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Poppies

Last weekend, my housemate Pete and I set out for the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. To say it was breath-taking would be an understatement and it was precisely the thing I needed. Life is LA is stressful, y’all.

But this…this is magical.  



Worth every minute of the drive. If you’re in SoCal, head out to one of the lovely areas that are filling up with poppies and wildflowers (thanks to all that rain!).

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Curves Ahead: Freeform curves

It’s about time to kick off this sewing curves series and we’re going to start with (what I think is) the easiest of curves: freeform.  You’re in complete control of how curvy your pieces are, how wide they are and how simple (or complicated!) the whole piece is.

Let’s start with what you’re going to need:

  • rotary cutter
  • cutting mat
  • 3-5 different fabrics that coordinate (fat quarters or scraps)
  • sewing machine/coordinating or neutral thread
  • pins, optional
  • snips
  • iron/ironing board/fabric spray

Start by giving your fabrics a bit of a press with a touch of spray starch/Best Press for some added stability. It isn’t vital and lots of people do without it, but I use it so that my fabrics don’t stretch or fray as much as they might otherwise.

Now lay two of your fabrics on the cutting mat, overlapping by at least two inches.


With a nice, fresh, sharp blade in your rotary cutter, cut a smooth curve from side to side, through both fabrics.


Remove the extra bits from both fabrics and move to match up the curves. Now mark a little line at a couple of places along the curve, including the top and bottom of the curve. These will serve as your guides to make sure it comes together right.


Flip one fabric onto the other, right sides together. This is where some people pin. You have to pin very close together and work the fabric so it will ease into each other as the curves form.  I think it’s obnoxious and unnecessary, but I’ve been known to do things differently than others anyway.

  
If you want to try it my way, you can still get a pretty darn accurate match by using your hands to guide the fabric. Hold the top fabric up so that they only touch as they go under the foot. You will use both hands to feed it through. Keep an eye on your markings and put a little tension on on whichever layer is convex at the time.

Press seam allowance away from curve.Ta-dah!  Your first curved piece.  Now let’s try it again with a couple wonky curves in it.  You’ll do the exact same thing but with an additional wave in it. You can press the seam allowances all in one direction and with a little steam for a beautiful finish.  

Keep going with your gentle curves, varying the width and depth as you go.

The more you practice with little bits, the better you’ll get, so don’t be afraid to put those scraps and what-was-I-thinking fabric choices to use.  Add in a little wonky quilting and you’re good to go!

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Dear Jane: My Favorite EPP Tools and Tips

I’m still plugging along, albeit very slowly, on my Dear Jane and already I’m a whole month behind. I’m trying not to panic, but I may have set up a little morning stitching time if I ever plan to keep up. Sheesh.

Work life has been busy lately with Road to California and this past week’s trip to Sewposium in Orlando. If I were thinking more clearly, I would have brought a couple of the Dear Jane blocks on the plane with me. Five-plus hours each direction is plenty of time to get some sewing done, but instead I read the entirety of A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Then I got bronchitis and still didn’t sew anything.

But I digress. Let’s talk English Paper Piecing (EPP).

This sewing/quilt-making technique has been around for  at least a couple hundred years, which seems both crazy and wonderful. I love the long history of textile arts, somehow connecting a thread between generations and continents, preserving a craft, an art for the future as well.  Luckily for us, these days, we have the high quality tools and this lovely thing called the Internet to make it a bit easier than the ladies had it back in the 1800s.

If you’re just getting started with EPP, or struggling a bit with it, let me tell you what I use and do to make it a fun and not-so-laborious venture.

•   Kai 4″ Scissors  

Small and sharp, these 4 1/2″ serrated scissors come with a cover that keeps them safe and easy to stash in the zipper pouch. Perfect for trimming pieces and clipping threads.

•   Clover Wonder Mini Clips  

I use a Wonder Clip on on the opposite end of the seam I’m stitching to keep the washi tape in place.

•   Washi Tape

Since I sew my pieces flat and washi tape keeps the seam aligned and even without trying to use pins.

•   Bottom Line thread  

Honestly, this is my favorite EPP thread by far. There are a few lightweight threads designed specifically for the task, but the Superior Threads version is super strong and never snaps. You can get it on pre-wound bobbins or spools.

•   John James needles

I like this brand, but as proven by the needle testing we did for Sew,Mama,Sew, it really is personal preference. I like a slightly longer needle without a sharp butt (I’m prone to stabbing it into my finger).

As I mentioned, I prefer to sew my pieces together when they are flat. I can get a tighter stitch that is not seen from the front. I used to simply try to clip it together, but they would slide apart. I started using blue tape because it doesn’t stick to the fabric. I switched to washi tape for the cuteness factor only.

Here’s a pictorial rundown of how I sew my pieces:

First, I pin the pattern piece to whichever fabric it needs to be made with. I’ve coded these as BG=background and G= grey.

I cut the fabric pieces as I go, trimming there to a heavy 1/4″ seam allowance. They are rarely even and often not-quite-straight, but in the end it doesn’t matter at all.

Using an obvious-color thread, I stitch right through the Dear Jane paper template. For my hexagons, apple cores, etc. I do not stitch through the paper, but because this project will live for a long time in a box and there are a lot of triangles and squares, I want to make there that papers don’t shift as I sew and then store them.

I get each square going by sewing just two pieces at a time. As I get pairs together, I’ll start putting the pairs together. No matter the order of assembly, all the seams start this way.

From the right side, I tape the pieces together, making sure the edges are even and correctly aligned.  Then I clip the end that I’ll sew last o that it all stays in place as I make my way across the seam. One of the issues I have when I don’t do this is that the pieces shift ever so slightly and the end won’t match.

I start by knotting the thread and securing it away from the corner/edge. Then I stab the needle through the very corner of each piece.

Working my way across the edge, I take tiny stitches, then tug them tight. It might look a little crazy-making, but once you get a rhythm going they piece together pretty quickly.  In the end, the stitches look fine from the back and are invisible from the right side.

  

I toss these back into my little zip pouch and keep putting them together, two pieces at a time until the block is finished. Now that life is a little more on-track, I’m hoping to get a few of these done this week. I’ve already got the templates for Rows B and C waiting for me, so I have to try to catch up a bit!

Are you doing the Dear Jane, too? How are your blocks coming along? Check out everyone else’s blocks on Instagram with a quick search of @dearjanegoesepp.

Just keep stitching!

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A Few Road to California Favorites

If you’re a quilter, you’ve probably heard of Road to California, held in Ontario, California every January. I’ve wanted to go for years, but never had the opportunity until last week when, for five days, I hung out there in the Shannon Fabrics booth telling people that Cuddle fabrics are beautiful, soft and not nearly as difficult to sew as you’ve been warned.  I also got to talk up garments and blankets made from Embrace, the company’s double gauze fabric.

I always love the opportunity to get out there and chat with other quilters; this was no exception. Annette and I talked with hundreds of people over the time there, handing out patterns and charm squares, answering questions, and being the faces for Shannon Fabrics at Road2CA.

On Wednesday night, before the show officially started, I was back in the classroom and boy, was I thrilled. It’s been months since I’ve taught a class and I have truly missed it. We made up the Be Brave kit and out of 18 students, all but two were able to finish during class. I was so proud of everyone for working with a new-t0-them fabric in a less-than-ideal classroom (the tables were way too narrow so many of us took to the floor for the spray basting). We all had a great time and honestly, teaching feeds my soul. I didn’t even care that it ended at 10pm; I would have kept going if they would have allowed it!

collage of photos from class at Road to California

 

The show happened to coincide with one of the biggest storms So Cal has seen in years, Sunday was a slow, slow day with torrential rains and a chill that invaded much of the convention center. I took advantage of it by checking out quilts and buying a few things for myself (what else is a sewist/quilter gonna do?!).  Here are a few that stood out to me

Wickedly Green” Made and quilted by Deborah Poole of Shelley, ID.
“This quilt was an experiment in linear precision, hence the “Wickedly.” I wanted the majority of the background fills to be lines. It’s kind of fun, the blue thread highlights different areas from different angles of observation, exactly what I was hoping for, and the reason I didn’t us e a lighter weight thread. This quilt has 293 hours of hand-guided quilting that took nearly 8 months to complete.”

Insanity” Made and quilted by Kristin Vierra of Lincoln, NE.
“This quilt is based on a photo of an antique quilt made in the 1800s.  One hundred and thirty 2-inch Lemoyne Stars seem to float across the top, accented by traditional feather and grape leaf quilt designs. All of the stars are appliquéd to the quilt top.”

Summer Lake Sandhills” [detail] Made and quilted by Joanne Baeth of Bonanza, OR.
“Large groups of Sandhill Cranes arrive in early spring in SE Oregon and NE California. Summer Lake is a large refuse with extensive wetlands and a ridge that rises to 7000′ in elevation. The feathers for each of the 34 Sandhills were inked, cut out, and fused one feather at a time. Silk organza fabric was used to create a receding shoreline at the bottom of the quilt.  Bushes and grasses were thread painted.”

Detail from the handwork  of the Tentmakers of Cairo group who had a large display at the event.

As always, I was awed and inspired by the work of others. If you get the chance to visit a local quilt show, do it; it’s always amazing to see the beauty that others create with fabric and thread.