Threadbenders Quilt Shop

Threadbenders Quilt Shop
Threadbenders Quilt Shop

Sunday, July 6, 2014

It's What's Inside that Counts: Rethinking Stuffing.

Quilters love stuffed things. Toys. Pin cushions. Gadgets. It's an endless list.

 But stuffing has changed over time. Like many things in the sewing world, the options just get better. The dinosaurs among us remember stuffing things with chopped up nylons. If it sounds  wrong and  nasty, you've got the idea. Then we had Cotton stuffing. Kapok.

We went through a phase with polyester stuffing. That still works with dolls and toys. But there are functional items that need more weight and substance than poly stuffing can give you. And cotton stuffing is miserable to pin through.

So something old has become new again. They make a ground up nut shell stuffing that's pincushion perfect. It sharpens your pins and needles. And it has enough weight to use for an item that needs to stay put. And unlike gramma, we don't need to personally grind up the shells. Just open and pour.

It's great in a pin cushion. But we liked it even better in this gadget. This is a phone holder. The nutshell stuffing keeps it vertical and  solidly in place.
It starts with a cool stabilizer pattern. You iron the stabilizer on to you fabric. Sew it. Pour in the nutshells.

And then..... You glue it. How cool is that! Instead of trying to  keep the shells in as you sew it together, we've used Fabric Fusion Glue from Aileens. The clamps hold it together while it dries.
We tried this with bull clamps as well. Either way, it's a no sew closing that couldn't be easier. And a must have gadget for all of us.

Whenever you have a project you're not sure how to do, make sure you come talk to us about it. We try to bring in all the new things to make it easier, simpler and sew much more fun.

Friday, July 4, 2014

True to the Red, White and Blue!

Quilt Top By: Jo West
Quilting by Sunshine Quilt Company
For the Fourth of July, we're going to show some marvelous patriotic quilts. We have been celebrating this country with needle and thread since Betsy Ross made the first flag.

Auntie Chris' Quilt Fabric

Flying pinwheels are very like flags themselves. The use of stripes here really makes the pinwheels dimensional.

Squares and Triangles

There's nothing as simple or as showy as white lattice. And it frames every red and blue print.

McCall's Quilting

Love the bright white stars against the primitive looking background.

What a dramatic use of stripes!


Even Sunbonnet Sue waves the red, white and blue.

Celebrate our great country yourself with a quilt that reminds you that you are true to the red, white and blue.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Patterns: How Much Adventure Do You Need?

New Watermelon Runner Pattern
There's a lot of free wheeling quilting out there. You sew this to that and cross your fingers if it doesn't lie flat. It's fun. But if you're looking at the fabric you just spent a lot of money on and thinking you're just going to cut and sew and see what happens, it doesn't always have a happy ending. It's time to ask yourself a question.
How much sewing adventure and angst do you need?

Patterns are the safeguard for that. That's why we carry them at the store. 

  • It's nice to have someone make the mistakes and fix them for you.
  • It's nice to have a starting spot.
  • It's nice not to have to guess what to do next.
  • It's nice to have the pieces all fit together.
  • It's nice to learn new techniques that make sewing time easier and more fun.
All of that works a lot better when we use a pattern.

Sue's quilt from Laundry Day Quilts

Although there's a lot of patterns available on line, there's no universal testing for them. Anyone can put it up. Anyone can write them. When there's an error in one, you don't know it until you're in the middle of it.

Which is why we usually make up a pattern when we get it into the store. We know how it works, and we can help you with it.
Do you have to use a pattern? The only two things you really have to do is pay taxes and die.  But how much adventure do you really need?
Come check out some of the great patterns we have at the store.  It's like having a sewing guide in a folding envelope. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Framed! Repurposing Frames and Quilts

 Gina Covell Maddox:"How Starfish Become Stars.""
Do you have old picture frames or windows in the attic? In the basement? Who doesn't? They're kind of sad. They've sort of lost their purpose.

Which is why it's so cool to repurpose them.
Framing a quilt has always been an alternative method for showing quilts. 
Shown on Traditional Home
There are several home dec reasons for framing quilting.
  • A frame gives it a sharp edge that looks great in home decoration.
  • A frame makes it easier to hang a quilt.
  • A frame keeps the quilt flat.

But there are also archival reasons to frame a quilt.

Found on Country Sampler
  • You can frame pieces of an otherwise ruined quilt in ways that keep it safe.
  • You can use UV glass to protect the quilt.
  • You can protect the quilt from soil and dust.
  • You can frame an quilted piece of embroidery in a way that makes it look quite finished.

It's also a great way just to show off.

From The Creative Iron
We have these new laser cut fabric "posters" from Creative Iron.They're an beautifully cut saying in iron on fabric. Now how pretty is that?

But do you have to quilt it to show it off? Don't be silly! 

Karen took this great soft print, ironed her saying on and framed it with a great left over picture frame. Instant Art! 
And just as cute as a button.

See what's hanging around your attic. There may be a picture frame that's the perfect frame for your next project.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Show Us!: Some Thoughts about Quilt Shows

Squares made for a MMQG challenge contest
It's time for the county fair. We've already seen a number of folks coming in to finish a project so it can be put in the competition. 

We've also heard a fair amount of angst about that. Is my quilt good enough? Do I really need a hanger? What if they don't like it? What if they don't let it into the show?

I'm going to step outside the curtain for a moment and talk about this from my own experiences. I've personally judged a couple of quilt shows. And I've been in countless quilt shows. There are some very important things that happen when you show your quilt.

  • Quilt shows count most because they value quilts and quilters. When you walk through a quilt show, you see quilt after quilt after quilt hung as art and treated with complete respect. Not only that but you can walk your husband and kids through that show and point that out to them. It's a place where the community recognizes what quilting is. A quilt show honors your work as art, as craft, and as human expression. And about time too.

  • Quilt shows give people a place to show off. Quilting is largely private. We do go to meetings. But for most of us, there are quilts that no one gets to see. That's demoralizing. Part of celebrating your work is showing it off.

  • Quilt shows expand our interest and view point about quilts. What you see someone else do may spark a new idea or thought for other work of your own. And isn't that a good thing!

  • Quilt show bring us together. We get to see some of the amazing people in our world that are either doing something we do or that are doing something we may never do. It's a lovely way to expand our world and our community. And because quilting is private, you might never meet them any other way.
I have judged quilt shows. And the only truth about that is that it's one person's opinion. Or a committee of three. As a judge you are told what you need to consider for your decision. 

But there are a lot of human factors here. You might not  let this woman pick out your lipstick. So what she has to say about your quilt is more about her than you.
Now about that list of concerns
  • Yes, you really do need to put on a hanging sleeve. It's just how they hang quilts. If you're worried, come in and we'll show you how. 

  • Yes, you do need to label your quilt.
    It's like a non-verbal child on a bus. You at least need to pin a note on his coat. You should label all your quilts. If the critics don't want to know, your kids will. And their kids. It's important anyway.

  • What if they don't like your quilt?
    That's sort of like not liking what's for dinner. There's always peanut butter in the pantry. If they don't like your quilt, that's their loss. You might want to know why. But if it doesn't matter to you, it doesn't matter. The only real judge of your work is you yourself. And the only standards that matter are your own. It is possible to do something they've never seen before and don't know how to respond to. It may not get an award but it will open their eyes.

  • What if they don't want to show your quilt?
    Who are they? Years ago I ran into a woman on the stair case at a quilt show weeping her eyes out. She told me they wouldn't take her quilt because it was a cathedral window and against the rules. I asked her who made the stupid rules. Since it was the quilt guild's board, she got on the board the next year. She changed the rules so that they could and would show cathedral quilts. And went on to being a fabulous national quilt teacher.
Show your work for your joy, in recognition of your path as an artist and a crafts person. There is a winner for the contest. But everyone who shows their quilt wins in self respect, in expression and in exposure. Take your husband and your kids through the show. And watch them watch the people who love and respect your work. It's an eye opener for them too.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Free Motion is Freed Motion. Really!

We had a Stitch Vocabulary Class last week at Threadbenders. You don't know how wild these ladies are until you turn them loose with a blank piece of fabric and set of dropped feed dogs. 
A stitch vocabulary is sort of a sampler of free motion stitches in an 8 inch square. We did doodling, garnet stitch zigzag and straight, free motion zigzag at three angles, stippling and then we signed our names. Are you still breathing? That's a lot to learn. 

Much of quilting is the stitch in the ditch or echo the shape straight line quilting. It tends to conform to the piecing of a quilt. It's usually done with a walking foot with the feed dogs up. 

Free motion is done with a darning foot, and the feed dogs down. And you can move any way or where you would like. It's the ultimate stitch freedom.

Computerized quilting is a whole other thing. There are brilliant machines either for home or commercial, that will repeat a shape for you over and over and over just as perfectly as you could ask.

 Mostly free motion stitching is about filling space with rhythmic patterns of stitching.

So, what if your stitching is perfect and your piecing isn't? People don't do perfect overly well. But we do do marvelous things that aren't perfect. They're just perfectly wonderful. Free motion stitching is under that heading.

What our students did in class is amazing.  For most of them it was the first time the dropped they're dogs. Here are some of my favorite free motion quotes:

  • You drop your feed dogs and just wiggle around.
  • I dropped my feed dogs and I can't find them.
  • I'm not perfect, but parts of me are excellent.
  • I'm not going to stitch in that ditch.
Free motion stitching is akin to doodling, zen doodling, and scribbling. It's as if someone holds your pen for you and you move your paper. If you can doodle with a pencil, you're half way there.

It makes people nervous because there really are no rules. It makes people free to do just anything in fabric for the same reason. Free motion is freed motion, across the surface of your quilt. And wasn't that fun?

Is there a quilting skill you're nervous about trying? Taking a class is the easy way to get practice, help and confidence, all at the same place and time.

 If we don't offer a class in something you want to know, let us know. That's how new classes get started.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Quilt Storage: The Pillow Case Solution

Wanda, our store MacGyver, came up with this great idea. She made an awesome quilt for our quilt challenge. And then she made a great pillow case to store it in out of her left over fabric.

One of the neat things about being a quilter is that at some point you probably have more quilts than you have beds. You might even have more quilts than you have walls. 

This is a good thing. But a quilt not being used needs to be in a place where it won't be damaged by time or the elements. 

The humble pillow case has been the time honored storage for quilts for years for some very good reasons. 

There are basic things that you need to defend your quilt from. Water, Light and Dirt. Other bad things can happen but these are the most common disasters.

Dirt happens. Even in a clean closet you get dust and pet fur. The best defense against dirt is to wrap your quilt in fabric. It keeps the particles from settling on your quilt.

Water is always bad news for quilt storage. And it's not obvious when you put a quilt away that water damage is possible. That very safe cupboard up high might have a leak from the roof. So check for ways water can get to your quilt: a leak, an open window, freak accidents. Do I need to say that you never store a quilt in a basement?  

Plastic can keep out water. But it also can seal in water so it makes a chancy storage for quilts. Any moisture in your quilt is mildew really soon in plastic. The best storage for quilts is more fabric. And you want all cotton, because it breathes better.

Light is really deadly for fabrics. That beautiful  wall storage where you can see all your quilts is really damaging if they have direct sun or lighting on them. Fabric doesn't really fade. What you see when you see sun fading is fabric that has burned. Commercial fabrics fade more than hand dyes, but no fabric is immune. For heaven's sake, don't store a quilt in a sunlit area. But fabric storage can shield your quilt. 

Are you seeing a theme here? Pillow cases make really good storage and really can protect a quilt from many hazards. 

So, do you have extra pillow cases?
You can scour the thrift stores for pillow cases. But most linens now-a-days have polyester in them, which keeps them from breathing properly.  If you were smart enough to buy a little extra fabric, you can have a pillow case for your quilt that looks as great as your quilt does. And isn't that smart!

Here's  a very slick tube pillow case tutorial.  Not only are they useful. They're fun!