Favourite quilting things

“Raindrops on roses, And whiskers on kittens, Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, Brown paper packages tied up with strings, These are a few of my favorite things …”

My favourite quilting things can’t compete with the magical images in that well-known song from The Sound of Music.  “Brown pizza boxes, tied up with strings, etc.” … No, it doesn’t quite work, does it?

Nevertheless, these are a few of my favourite quilting things – simple, inexpensive, and very helpful.  Thanks to fellow quilters who shared these ideas online and in person at presentations, workshops, and wherever quilters gather.  Tell me about some of your favourite quilting things for a future post.

Sticky Shelf Liner

A strip of sticky shelf liner placed underneath your quilting ruler will keep the ruler from sliding when you are cutting fabric with a rotary cutter. Continue reading “Favourite quilting things”

Hints, tips and ideas galore!

October’s meeting was truly packed with good stuff. Right off the bat, as we signed in at the door, we each filled out a small form for December’s Secret Santa Mug Rug exchange, just names, favourite and least favourite colours were divulged. At the November meeting, those who have not yet drawn a recipient’s name will get the chance to do so, and instructions for the mug rugs will be disclosed… hope you’re all dreaming up designs already… my imagination’s running rampant!

Results of our first Block of the Month project were displayed for all to see. It’s always interesting to see the variety of fabrics picked by different quilters, and how the blocks come together. A name was picked out of the pumpkin and the “winner” gets to put the quilt together. BOM winner draw Oct17

As for the next one, well, Marilyn kept us guessing until later in the meeting to find out about it… read on to find out what it is! Let’s just say it’s a tad more complex than the envelope block!

Community Quilts had another wonderful month, giving away no less than six quilts. Many thanks to these ladies, who are making a difference one quilt at a time.

The Quilts of Valour team has a special request: they are asking for suggestions for their next project. Possibly something in bright colours? If you have any ideas, please contact Anne, Suzanne or Norine.

Linda passed along an invitation from Lions Gate Quilters’ Guild, who have space for our members to attend their COPS days (Creative Ongoing Process Session). These are social quilting days held from 9:30am to 4:00pm at Highlands United Church on Edgemont Boulevard in North Van. The next COPS days are on November 18th and December 9th. It costs $15, and please bring a plate of sweets or savouries to share. Contact the LGQG COPS Day co-ordinator to book your spot. Book sooner rather than later, because there is a cut-off time and the events will be cancelled if there is not enough interest.

If you’re like me, you like to see things demonstrated by a live person, not just a YouTube video. So how wonderful it was that this month we were treated to not one, but several “speakers” who shared some nifty tricks and ideas with us.

Glenna’s demo of how to make a Burrito pillowcase was a godsend! You’ll find an instruction sheet here.

Marilyn not only revealed our next Block of the Month, she also demonstrated the whole thing. This one’s called Migrating Geese.

Kory shared a great idea for those whose sewing machines have embroidery options for lettering.

The idea is to sew the “label” right into the binding, and the perfect example is one of the community quilts she had on hand. You can follow the online tutorial to which she refers.

A true labour of love is how I think of Linda’s Fidget Books, which are wonderful for patients with dementia, Alzheimers or other memory issues, or for kids. Using different textures, pockets, embellishments that can be opened, closed or simply moved, one creates a tactile experience that comforts. Some embellishments should be avoided, such as choking hazards (tiny objects and anything that can be broken off and swallowed), however, it’s a wonderful gift for a loved one… think: little secret pockets with rewards inside, fabric images, zippers, bangles, chenille, satin, velvet…

Cutting down on cutting is a good way to describe the Stripology “ruler” demonstrated by Les. As a bonus tip, she demonstrated a new-style rotary cutter with a horizontal handle and is easier on the wrist. Essentially, the ruler has slits in which to cut fabric in measured widths fairly quickly.

There are many ways to finish off one’s binding, and Sonia had another great method to share. This one uses the binding itself to measure where to cut.

Many thanks to Glenna, Marilyn, Kory, Les, Linda and Sonia for an inspiring gathering. Let’s do it again!

Tips for injury-free quilting from a Physiotherapist

Our September speaker certainly came at the right moment: with our sweltering summer finally giving way to Fall, we’re all keen to get back to our sewing rooms! For hours, no doubt, which could mean injuries if we don’t pay attention to how we’re sitting, standing, ironing and so on.

Deanna McMullen, registered Clinical Physiotherapist and co-owner of Aveeva Physiotherapy and Wellness Studio in North Vancouver, demonstrated how to sit at your machine, keeping arms and legs at a 90 degree angle, and one’s back well supported. Which makes the right chair at the right height very important to avoid common injuries, such as carpal tunnel issues, shoulder tendinitis, neck pain, tennis elbow, sciatic nerve pain and headaches (I bet we all relate!). Using an item to raise your non-pedal foot (telephone directory, anyone?) is also recommended, and be sure the pedal is close to you so that you’re not extending that leg, which can put pressure on the sciatic nerve. It’s all about that 90 degrees!

If you weren’t there, you missed an impromptu demonstration of the “ironing board dance”… move along with the iron instead of leaning over and possibly pulling something in your back!

Deanna also had us practising stretches that might alleviate some of these aches and pains, or avoid them altogether by taking breaks every 30 minutes or so and doing a few before things start hurting. Her complete presentation can be read here, and look out for an email with the link to an illustrated instruction guide to the stretches. If necessary, consult your doctor or physiotherapist about problems you may be experiencing.


Paul Krampitz – Working with Wedges

Paul Krampitz’s Working with Wedges Workshop was well attended, with members enthusiastic about learning something new and sharing the process with quilting friends.

Paul Krampitz WorkshopArmed with our wedge templates, we learned how to cut our fabric into angled pieces and sew them together to create interesting effects.  We started with the basics, creating our own block.  Later, Paul showed us some variations such as angle cutting striped fabric and using pieced strips in our blocks.

Continue reading “Paul Krampitz – Working with Wedges”

Carola Russell – Choosing the Right Needles, Thread & Feet for Quiltmaking

Carola RussellCarola Russell, owner of Carola’s Quilt Shop on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, gave a presentation  at our May meeting.  It was all about machine needles, quilting threads, and presser feet, and how choosing them wisely can lead to more successful projects and more enjoyable quilting. Continue reading “Carola Russell – Choosing the Right Needles, Thread & Feet for Quiltmaking”

Julie Plotniko – Popcorn Can Quilts

popcorn cans
popcorn cans

Julie Plotniko, Vancouver Island quilting instructor, gave her presentation called “Popcorn Can Quilts” at our March meeting.

As someone who makes their popcorn on the stove top in an old pressure cooker with a tin pie plate for a lid, I was unfamiliar with popcorn cans.  Julie, however, had amassed a collection of popcorn cans over the years as a result of providing snacks to many young people who billeted at her house.

The popcorn cans were often decorative, and she found another use for the empty cans – storing scraps of fabric.  Julie stores her scraps by colour, and they are often used for community quilts and quick-and-easy projects.

Julie’s presentation was full of ideas, tips and techniques for turning scraps into interesting quilts.

These are some of Julie’s quilts made with patterns suitable for scrappy projects – Chinese coins, four-patches, half-square triangles, log cabins, and other designs.

The New York Beauty Block and Tips for Quilters

Two of our members entertained us with presentations at our November meeting.

Ivory Spring free pattern

The New York Beauty Block   Marilyn talked about the variations and possibilities of the beautiful New York Beauty block and brought samples to show us.

The blocks are constructed with paper foundation piecing.  Marilyn suggested using freezer paper and a smaller stitch length for easier removal of the paper afterwards.

Patterns can be found online at sites such as Pinterest, Craftsy, and Etsy.  Some patterns are free, such as the quilt to the right.   Marilyn recommended a book by Karen Stone, who is well known for her intricate New York Beauty quilt designs.

New York Beauty
beginnings of a New York Beauty block

Tips for Quilters   Lorna talked to us about great quilting tips she has collected over the years from “Sew Many Tips” in Fons & Porter magazines, including how to store fabric strips, how to keep your foot pedal from slipping, how to keep track of your machine needles, and many others.  Here’s one of them from the handout she gave us.

“Centre Attraction – to align a quilt top and backing for a quilt sandwich, first fold the top into quarters, marking the centre and sides at the folds (with safety pins).  Do the same with the backing.  You can also sew a small shank button temporarily in the centre on the right side of the quilt top (I use a safety pin) so that you can easily feel the centre through the layers, which helps to match the centres.  Align the sides at the marks.”

a tableful of quilting tips

Many thanks to Marilyn and Lorna for all their preparation and for sharing their quilting knowledge and enthusiasm with us.

Lorna and Marilyn
Lorna and Marilyn

Dianne Stevenson – Caring for Quilts

IMG_0470_edited-1Dianne Stevenson came to our April meeting with her presentation “C.P.R. – Conservation, Preservation, and Restoration: Breathing New Life into Old Textiles.”  We learned how to care for old quilts and how to prevent damage to newer quilts.

Dianne referred to herself as “the curator of an extensive textile collection,” describing textiles as “threads bound together.”  She is a collector of antique quilts and quilt tops – and wouldn’t you love to see her collection of miniature irons?  When she began to acquire quilts, she had to learn how to look after them.

She told us that quilts can be damaged by things such as light, humidity, and the chemicals present in some older fabrics.  Colours can fade, fabric can break down, and quilts can become spotted and stained.  Old quilts may be soiled by contaminants from kerosene lanterns and woodstoves.

As a quilt restorer, Dianne has to decide if a damaged quilt can be repaired.  She talked about “wet cleaning” which should be done only by professionals, and using fusibles and tulle to repair areas.  Damaged fabric edges should be turned under, and new, carefully matched fabric used to replace the empty space.  The “chin edges” of quilts are particularly vulnerable to wear and tear, as are bindings.  A new binding should be placed over the old damaged one.  To protect the integrity of the quilt, old fabric should not be removed.

Dianne told us how to vacuum our quilts (no bristles against the fabric) and gave us detailed and valuable instructions about how to wash them.  Were you a fan of the “I Love Lucy” show way back when?  Apparently, Dianne sometimes reenacts the grape-stomping episode in her bathtub when washing a quilt!

We were given ideas for storing our quilts.

  • Linen closets are good.
  • Fold quilts in thirds and then again in thirds.
  • Rolling quilts is even better, and Dianne provided detailed instructions for how to do this in the most effective way.
  • Pillowcases work well for storing quilts; never store them in plastic bags.
  • Keep quilts from touching any unsealed wood on dowels, quilt stands, and blanket boxes.

Dianne’s lively talk illustrated how quilts can lead us to the stories of their makers and reveal something of the times in which they lived.  Lots of intriguing subjects popped up, such as tobacco silks, Mennonite cutter quilts, and the Mississippi Textile Museum, a National Historic Site in Ontario.

Dianne told us that, sometimes, when faced with a damaged quilt, it’s best to leave it alone, and enjoy it as it is.

Visit Dianne Stevenson’s website here.

Click on any image to open a gallery of photos.


Posture & Quilting

Surgical Technology International Journal, reported online in The Atlantic

It can be so easy to get caught up in the pleasures of hand quilting, applique, and machine quilting.  Or perhaps deadlines and the desire to finish drive you on.

Time flies by, and then you wonder why your neck hurts.

Linda S. sent along a link about taking care of your hard-working neck when you quilt.  It is working harder than you may realize.

Click here for some information about the importance of posture for quilters.

Thanks, Linda.