Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Place to Quilt

I remember the first time I walked into a quilt shop. I was in awe! Everything is to enticingly displayed around the whole store. Quilts are hung on the walls for inspiration. Bolts of fabric are within easy reach. Patterns and books entice you around every corner. The staff is friendly and helpful, just as excited as you are to put together the makings of a quilt. Gadgets are promising you an easier time, and new ideas continually bombard you. I had been in many fabric stores throughout my life, but was never as tempted to buy things as I was in the quilt shop. After walking around I lamented to the staff that I just needed more time and money!

Making time to quilt in our busy lives is something every quilter wishes they could solve. There are so many fun projects to make, and only so much time in the day. Not to mention the fact that our families would probably appreciate clean clothes and some food to eat. 

So how do we find the time to quilt? I must admit now that I work full time year round, I don’t have as much energy at night to start in on a quilt. As a teacher, with summers off, I was able to get a lot more done. But I still managed to find time during the school year to quilt. 

One thing that helps me tremendously is my basement sewing room. It is small, but it is all mine. The absolute best part about it is that I can start something and stop at any point without having to clean up. And I know that no one else in the house will disturb anything in that room. In fact my husband hates going in there because there are so many pins stuck in the carpet. Oh I pick them up every so often, but it can be a landmine.

In this room I have a small ironing board, just big enough to press fabric and seams. I have a larger board behind the door that I can haul out and set up in the bigger room next to mine if needed. I have all my thread hanging on the wall with matching bobbins. I have a rolling cart with supplies in easy reach, and desk organizers to sort needles, pins, small rules etc. 

My design board is not big, but it does provide me with space to play. Shelves hold books, patterns, misc supplies and fabric. I have a bin for projects that are bundled together, and a bin of loose fabric. Since I really don’t keep a lot of fabric on hand, this works well for me. I have two cutting mats on the counter right next to me to use as I sew, and an office storage rack to store my large rulers. I do have one very large cutting mat that I can either hang on the wall or store behind a cabinet just outside my door to use when needed.

Sometimes I cut fabric on that mat outside my door, or sometimes I take everything up to the kitchen table or counter. It all depends on my mood that day and how much I have to cut. I also have an elastic hat rack on the back of the door where I can hang my completed projects. I make table runners and wall hangings, so they fit there well and provide inspiration to quilt. 

Once I have started a project, then finding time is much easier. Even if I only have 15 minutes, I can quickly go downstairs and sew, stopping when I need to. It is really amazing how much you can get done in small chunks of time. Every so often I get a weekend afternoon to sew, but I try to take those only after I have started a quilt. Otherwise I seem to start dreaming and don’t get anything done. Some months I work in batches, where I will create a few quilt tops, and then quilt them all at once. However, I usually like to just keep working on the same one until it is done.

What if you don’t have space for a dedicated room? How about a closet? A quick search on Pinterest for “Craft Closet” shows so many neat ideas! And with a closet, you can shut the doors on your project at any point. This allows you to maximize your time not having to set up and tear down each time you want to sew. Searching for Sewing Closets brings up more great ideas - including a flip down board to give you some extra sewing space. Another picture shows an armoire/cabinet with a slide out TV shelf for a sewing machine. A lot of this takes a little creativity and some money, but not much (money that is!) In the end, having your own dedicated space can make the world of difference in helping you find time to sew.

If you have a small sewing space, what does it look like?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Pumpkin Quilts

Pumpkin carving in our house is serious business. Everyone sits on the kitchen floor, utensils and bowls in the middle of a pile of newspapers. With the backs of our pumpkins facing each other, the "contest" begins.

Cut off the tops, scoop out and save as many seeds as possible, and then carve out a face. Some of us plan, draw and then cut the eyes, nose and mouth. Some of us have an idea and then start carving. Some of us just free form it. No one can peak - the results are to be a surprise!

Mine is the little one this year - but it still had just as many pumpkin seeds as the larger ones! Once we have cleaned up the area, the seeds are washed, salted and roasted. The warm-from-the-oven seeds are delicious!

Pumpkin quilts have been another recurring theme of mine. Most of my patterns I think up myself, including this one. To add depth to the pumpkins, I cut apart the pumpkin pieces and left a little space between them. They are appliqued with a zigzag stitch.

This quilt has very little quilting lines, mostly because quilting is not my favorite thing to do. I have not mastered free motion quilting yet, instead preferring to use a walking foot.

To work around this fact, I have tried to branch out with the walking foot to try some non-straight lines.

This particular quilt, has some meandering lines, but they are spaced far enough apart that I could mimic a free motion design with a walking foot.

One of my future goals is to learn to free motion quilt in the true sense on the form. A darning foot is on my wishlist for Christmas this year, and I think that will help a lot. What tips do you have for free motion quilting? 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fall Leaves Applique Template

Fall in Wisconsin is a riot of color. Trees are ablaze with all shades of red, orange, yellow and brown. It is the mottle effect that provides the most unique leaves.

While fall signals the coming of winter, I love walking in the woods on a clear, sunny, crisp fall day. Leaves crunching under my feet.

For the past two years, I have actually ridden my bike a lot in the fall months. Probably because it isn't so hot outside. We have also been hiking these past few weekends.

As I biked and hiked this fall, I snapped a few pictures of the colorful trees. I couldn't help but pick up a few of the leaves scattered on the ground.

It's no wonder that fall leaves are one of my favorite subjects for quilts. It seems that every year, I am drawn to the vibrant colors and fabrics of fall.

While applique is my go to, awhile ago I made some patchwork leaves as well.


You can also see my collection of "leaves". The quilt on the right has more rounded leaves, while the one on the left has more pointy leaves. Both were appliqued with a tight zig zag stitch. I even quilted some "leaves" in the border of the first quilt.

To help you celebrate the season, I traced a couple of the leaves to use as an applique template. This link is a PDF of the template for you to download. Enjoy!Maple Leaf Applique Pattern