Wednesday, September 24, 2008

To Market, To Market..... again.

Right around this time last spring I started to post daily updates on what it takes to get ready for International Quilt Market so that you could track the progress and see what is involved. Many of you have asked if I planned to do the same thing this fall. I could, I should, I probably will.

One problem. I'm still waiting for fabric.

Unless you want to see scans of some pencil sketches on graph paper, it is going to be a little while before I can show you anything new. I can't really blame this delay on Timeless. Their team works really hard. I was the one dragging my feet, vacationing and getting a daughter married. Now it is time to "pay the piper" so to speak and "clear the decks" so that when fabric does arrive, I can get right to work.

In my world, those decks are littered with paperwork. No really, the floor arround me is actually littered with papers! I'm in the middle of writing, or more precicely, re-writing instructions for my most popular free handouts. After one year the rights for the pieces I design for Timeless revert back to me and I am free to publish them as a regular pattern. The re-writing is necesary because the originals are fabric/size/color specific to a particular fabric line. For a pattern to have value, I like to provide size options, layout guides, cutting diagrams and more detailed step-by-step instructions with illustrations. That takes time. A lot of time. I'm also working on the art for my lines for next spring. There are 3 different ideas still swimming around in my head, all of them half baked!

I don't want you to think that I haven't been having ANY sewing fun. I've already completed 3 table runners using new Timeless prints and a Baby Bargello in their new soft shades of batik prints. With help from Polly (who did all the hand applique for me) we used the same batiks to make this applique quilt from the new "Applique Jubilee" book. The original looks ENTIRELY different in shades of reds, tan and brown. It is going to look beautiful in the batik display.

The table runners have been shipped to New York for photography, the batik items have gone off to the quilter. Now it's back to the paperwork until my sample fabric arrives..............

Sunday, September 14, 2008

An Unfair Bias

If you stumbled upon this blog because of a search looking for political bias, boy are you in the wrong place.

I want to discuss a different bias. Actually I want to discuss the bias against bias edges. Fabric bias edges.

Several posts ago (pre-wedding festivities) I posted a photo of a small braided sample that I made for Timeless Treasures using their new batiks that will be introduced at Quilt Market.

I just completed the larger version with scrambled colors and a nice wide border. The smaller piece was shipped off to New York for photography. Almost everyone that has seen the projects has commented about the fact that the edges of the quilt are bias and that is going to scare people. Some of the people that made those comments don’t even sew! They just “know” that bias edges are “hard” to work with.

I think it is time to stamp out the bias against bias edges.

Those of you that are reading this most likely own, and are obviously capable of, operating a computer. If you can handle that, I feel pretty confident that you can manage a piece (or multiple pieces) of fabric cut on a 45 degree angle.

People believe that bias edges are “scary” or “hard” or “too difficult” because someone told you that they were. Or perhaps nobody has ever taken the time to explain or give you suggestions on how to deal with them so you may have had a bad experience.

Here are a few of my favorite tips:

1. Spray sizing is your friend. It doesn’t matter if you pre-wash or not, adding some spray sizing (I prefer to use Mary Ellen’s Best Press or sizing to starch) to your fabrics will help to keep them stable. I generously size my fabrics before I cut out the pieces.

2. Bias edges stretch. That is a fact. Act accordingly. Do your best to sew and press with minimal distortion. NEVER sew with one hand behind your machine. You’ve probably seen people do this, one hand in front guiding the fabric and the other around the back pulling the fabric through. Pulling = Stretching. Your machine knows how to sew, allow it to do its job. If you are having problems with seams that pucker, change your needle, buy a good quality thread and try again. If they still pucker, take your machine for service. A good cleaning and some minor adjustments may be all that are needed.

3. The same advice applies to pressing, press without pulling. A large, flat, not too soft pressing surface will help you to have crisp seams and more accurate piecing.

4. If you are not adding a border to your bias edge project, heed the advice of your High School Home Economics teacher and “stay-stitch”. Mark the cutting line along the edge of your quilt and run a line of basting stitches just inside that line before trimming the edge. The stitching will keep the edge from stretching while the piece is being quilted.

5. If you are adding a border to your quilt it is especially important to follow good border principles when dealing with a bias edge. Measure and cut your border lengths to the exact size needed (Do NOT be tempted to use an extra long length, sew and then whack of the extra! Those bias edges will have your border waving in the breeze!)
Fold both the border and quilt in half and then in quarters and mark the segments so that you can align the marks to space the border evenly (mark eighths if it is a large quilt). Pin the border in place. Sew the border to the quilt, having the bias edge of the quilt on the bottom and the border strip on top. I know you like to watch all of those seams go under your presser foot so that they don’t flip in funny directions, but having the border strip on top is actually a help. Your machine is designed to ease things to fit by taking up more fabric with the feed dogs than the presser foot (that is why they invented the Even Feed Foot and if you have one, by all means use it.) In this case your machine will ease the bias edges to the border without stretching them.
By the way, take the pins out as you go, don’t stitch over them, your machine will thank you for it and your seam will have less wiggles or tiny puckers.

I totally agree with planning your project with as few bias edges as possible, but I don’t agree with limiting the patterns or projects that you select because you don’t think you can handle a little bit of stretch. For heavens sake, we are talking about fabric not nuclear waste!

You can do it, I have faith in you!

Any other questions?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Communication Issues

Most marriage councilors will tell you that one rule for a great marriage is to have excellent communication. On the 16th of this month my husband and I will be married for 31 years. We may be the exception to that rule.

I mentioned to my husband that I received a message from Debby. At this moment I can’t remember why I mentioned it or why I felt the need to tell him about it or why I started the whole conversation in the first place. It went something like this:

Me: I got an email from Deb.

Husband: Deb in New Jersey (a fellow shop owner)

Me: No, Debby

Husband: The one in Texas? (another fellow shop owner)

Me: No, let me finish.

Husband: Go ahead and finish, but how am I suppose to know which Deb you mean? Debbie from the restaurant last night? (someone that I went to high school with who happened to be having dinner at the same time)

Me: NO, stop guessing! Debby, MY Debby, the one that works with me.

Husband: Oh, why didn’t you say so? Did the kids call?

Me: Yes, Lauren & Jon called.

Husband: John? Bernie’s John?

Me: No, your son-in-law Jon.

Husband: The landscaper?

Me: NO, Jon, your son-in-law, Lauren’s husband. Remember the big party last week? You wore a tux.

Husband: Woa. Son-in-law? That’s gonna take some getting use to…… (and he left the room).
It's a good thing we took a vow.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


We had a wonderful weekend!

I will try to be brief so that we can get back to the topic of quilting, but I know that many of you are anxiously awaiting details.
The official wedding events began on Thursday evening with the traditional rehearsal.

Jon and Lauren included lots of personal touches. To decorate the ceremony site they used old black & white family photos. They also had Lindsay (Lauren's little sister) sing durring the ceremony and she knocked their socks off!

Rehearsal was followed by the traditional dinner for both families at the kids favorite French bistro. That's Lauren's brother & sister, Brandon and Lindsay on the left and Jon's brothers Chris and Alex on the right. The six of them are one happy family already! Parents were there too and we all had a fun filled and delicious evening.

Friday was filled with hair, make-up and last minute details which included finding a new indoor location to take photos because the weather was not cooperating and it had started to rain. The crisis was overted and the bride was finally dressed and ready to go!

Luckily the kids are friends with a wonderful couple that work at the museum that is housed in an old train station. The Moony's not only helped them out, but allowed them access to wonderful settings that "comon folk" would never have the opportunity to use. The photographer took over 400 shots before the ceremony!

I was a bit too busy trying not to cry to take any ceremony photos.

After the ceremony they danced and partied with family and friends until the reception ended and the old folks went home. Then the bridal party and friends continued the festivities well into the wee hours of the morning at their favorite local hangout.

The late hour didn't prevent any of them from getting up to attend the brunch on Saturday for the out-of-town guests that was held at Chez' Nora, a great little restaurant in Covington, just blocks from their new home.
The skies had cleared and it was a beautiful day for exploring their little town.

After brunch many of the guests enjoyed the Octoberfest activities, food and craft vendors along the main street before stopping by the bride and grooms Open House to see their new home and have yet another bite to eat.

To top off the weekend Lauren and Jon joined 50+ of their family and friends to walk across the river to attend the baseball game at The Great American Ballpark. The weather was perfect, the company couldn't have been better and even the scoreboard congratulated the new and very happy Mr. & Mrs. Olson!

The newlyweds are off on their honeymoon in Montreal, the guests have returned to the far flung corners of the world, so I guess it is back to the real world and playing catch-up with that to do list.

Fortunately great memories last a lifetime!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wedding countdown

I am happy to report that the hours that I’ve spent watching “Ace of Cakes” on the food channel were not a total waste of time. I must have picked up some tips somehow because I managed to make my daughter’s wedding cake over the weekend and it went pretty well!

Don’t be concerned about the freshness; this isn’t the cake that everyone will be eating. The trend among young couples these days is to have a “dummy” cake that looks wonderful for the cake cutting photos but serve their guests from different cakes that are kept in the kitchen. It actually makes sense to me, because the trend is also to have these smooth surface contemporary cakes that are covered in fondant. If you have ever tasted fondant – yuck!

Years ago I worked as a craft coordinator for a chain of craft stores, part of that job included being certified as a Wilton Cake Decorating Instructor. I’ve done a few traditional wedding cakes for family, but this was my first attempt at a serious fondant project. I should have taken a video of the process, it was pretty funny! Imagine having this huge 22 inch circle of fondant that is centered over the cake and then as it drapes over the sides you have to mold it to fit. It has folds and ruffles and is entirely too large, but it works. Don’t ask me how, it just does. It takes a lot of smoothing and I recommend repeating over and over “I can do this, it is possible to make this happen, other people have done this, it must be possible”.

As far as the decorations are concerned, there are fresh flowers ordered for the top of the cake and the bride and groom requested that it be as contemporary as possible. I was oh so tempted to embellish it with a quilt block, but it is THEIR wedding. Lauren’s new last name will be Olson and her initials will be LJO and Jon’s are JLO, so the “O”s are a bit of a private joke. The good news is that I sent them a photo from my camera phone and they are happy with it – whew!