Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September in the Air

jill....Wow, Tuesdays seem to roll around quickly.  While I was cleaning (very much needed) my studio, I reflected upon my creative space and how lucky I am to be able to leave this space and come back to it - just as I left it. One of the trade offs of kids-out-of-the-house!  I really love my very large cutting table, (crafted by my husband), sewing table with ample space to the left to hold those heavy pieces of fabric and a "big board" to support my pressing and fusing.  All of these make for efficiency. And oh yes, my television that I use as a radio to keep me company if my dogs aren't under foot.  It would be nice to have more natual light but there are always variables that we can't control...

So I thought it would be nice to have some interactive converstations about tips and efficiencies.  Here's a starter....I totally gave up on matching thread (except when it shows) and using black thread on black fabric.  It's just too hard to see and unsew.  Imagine that.  Sometimes I even go rougue and leave a differnt thread in the bobbin.  Mostly, I match for just a little contrast in the value: light, medium and medium dark in either a brown tone or grey.  I press open most of the time, use a 2.5 stitch length, a scant quarter inch seam and a presser foot with a "fence" to help keep me on track.

The other tool  I use daily is my movable design wall.  It's two large sheets of celotex, light weight but rigid, covered in batting.

Marny....I like my design wall and my big board too.  Pressing on that nice large surface is terrific.  It helps to keep every thing flat, and is great for pressing fabric before cutting.  I change needles before every new project (and sometimes more often if it is a large quilt.)  I clean the lint from the bobbin and underneath the case after every project as well.  I am far from a neatnik, but these two steps give me trouble free sewing.  Auraifil thread makes my machine purr.  Mettler is wonderful too, and comes in lots of colors!

Wearing pedometers makes us aware that sometimes effieciency is not good for you.  You need to get up and move after every seam or so.  You can chain to some extent, but don't get "chained" down.   Every person should aim for at least 10,000 steps a day if they are able.  Staying active is what will allow us to keep on quilting (and keeping up with our families.)
So here is the thing, everybody let us know what your favorite tip or tool is.  We'll draw a random name next Tuesday to receive one of our hot off the presses new patterns.  The pattern will be sent after October 6th.  We have six new patterns, so expect lots of interactive drawings coming up.  Keep commenting and keep checking.

See you next Tuesday.


  1. I don't have space for a design wall so I am limited to my "design floor". That makes it interesting with two cats.

    As for my tip, I like to prewash my fabric before I start a new project. That makes the fabric smell good and gives me time to think about the new project while I am doing the pressing.

    One more tip while I'm on the subject: I clean out the bobbin area after every two bobbins. I only use prewound bobbins too. Life is too short to wind your own bobbins.

  2. I recently evicted my son's pile of toys from half of the basement space - the half with daylight flourescent lighting! This gave me room to set up my newly acquired quilting frame to its full 10' size. That of course set the ball rolling, so I made a huge pressing surface out of an old door (scavanged) and put it on hinges on the wall. When it's down it rests on darling son's air hockey table, and up - the reverse has styrofoam covered in fabric - sort of a design wall if you will. Now I'm just waiting for my new 11" Janome Horizon to come home with me (this week!!) and I'll be in a happy place. In the meantime, my workhorse Janome sits on my diningroom table ready to work at a moment's notice. I usually set a timer for 1 hour. At that time I have to stop and go stretch and do SOME housework before starting another hour. Some days I love my timer, some days not so much.

  3. Tip - Move your table with sewing machine to the middle of your room and put your chair by the wall. Much better lighting and you don't cast shadows on your work.

    Tool - Seam ripper. They get dull so buy a new one every year or so. This is the one thing I am good at - unsewing.

  4. I'd just love to get my design room and substitute space back - oh and plus some peace and quiet to escape and sew - but that doesn't look like it going to happen any time soon unfortunately - so how am I meant to keep sane!!!!!?

  5. I can't get along without my big board or my design wall but my iron is the most important tool, besides my sewing machine, I have. I want lots of steam.

  6. Ooh, I'd love one of your patterns! One tip I rely on to keep the order of blocks straight: I use a role of artist's tape (like masking tape but not as gooey-sticky). I write the numbers of the blocks in sequence around the roll, rip off pieces and stick them on the blocks, repeating until all are numbered. I avoid ironing over the tape if I remember, but with the artist's tape, I haven't had any problem of left-over goo. Once a row is sewn together, I can take off all but one of the markers.

  7. In complete contrast to my desk at work (very chaotic), I like to keep my pieces very organized for sewing. I have a good sized table that I use to lay out and count the piles that are to be sewn together. It's easy for me to forget what's going on, so I try to orient everything the same way. I make a note if it's complicated and I'm going to be interrupted for a couple weeks (which happens more than I like). All this keeps me from making mistakes ... unlike our friend imatopper, I absolutely hate to rip seams out.

  8. Right now, I have to sew on my dining room table. I don't have an ironing board downstairs, but I really prefer an iron-pressed seam over a finger-pressed seam so I put a large ironing pad on a chair next to my sewing chair, and will just lean over and press the seams as I go. No getting up, no going upstairs. :) Also, when I need to press the entire block, or a small piece of fabric, I can just put the ironing pad on the table and go to town. :)


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