Threadbenders Quilt Shop

Threadbenders Quilt Shop
Threadbenders Quilt Shop

Friday, November 29, 2013

Heirlooming:Making an Heirloom Quilt in the 25 Minutes We've Got

Every quilter I know dreams of their Heirloom quilt. The quilt their great, great granddaughter, who they never will get to meet pulls out of very safe storage and says" This was my grandmother's best quilt. " And every one goes teary eyed. 

Do get a grip. People  use quilts occasionally. Sometimes they even use them up.
But we do quilt to make a statement, to place our stamp of beauty on a corner of the world, to play with color and texture and light. Sometimes to keep someone warm and safe.

We want our heirlooms. But secretly, we would like them done in 25 minutes or less. It's a busy world. Quilting a top for 6 years is a bit past most people's patience.
How do we get there? like most anatomically impossible things, we cheat!

There's no cheating like a long arm. All that speed. All that power. All that room under the arm!

Peg has this great Sweet Sixteen Demo Machine on sale at an unbelievable price. The Sweet can eat through miles of quilting without taking up your whole basement space or leaving you eating peanut butter for 3 months.

She also has great accessories on sale! All the long arm teaching videos are  sale, ready to fly out the store. It's step by step instruction you need that you can watch right at home.
Have you ever wondered how long armers get those perfect scallops? It's not by eye. These great templates make it not only possible but simple. They're on sale too.
Of  course you could bring your top in and Peg will quilt it for you in a flash. Instant Heirloom! Or at least Quilt Happily Done and out of the UFO pile
So come in and let us help you.  We know how to cheat and we share!

The wonderful song in this post is Cathy Miller's, You Can Quilt that Out. You'll find more of her amazing quilting songs on her site at the Singing Quilter.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Henry's T'Day: Best Dog Toy Every

Just wanted to to give you a heads up for Thanksgiving. I'm planning on eating the whole turkey. When they're not looking. 
Actually every dog I know is planning this including my sister. I don't know if she knows we don't have two turkeys in the freezer.
I do know I won't get away with it, but a dog has to dream.
So my mom, Peg, made me the nicest doggy distractor. She made me a Buddah Bone.
Now everyone loves a bone. Rawhide, shank, even milk bones are much  appreciated. But you really can't throw a bone. Unless your mom has excellent aim,  you can find yourself concussed lying by your bone that hit you in the head rather than landing politely in your mouth.
A Buddah bone, named for Buddah because it's meatless, is a great chew and toss toy.

Peg cut up three of her old  tee shirts, that smelled like her, and braided them. The world's best, smells like mom, chew toy.
Then she tied the braid into a knot.
I know I'm not going to get the whole turkey. But I don't mind. My mom thought of me after all.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Corner Gold: Thinking Way Outside the Box

There's a secret treasure in the back of Threadbenders. Henry would tell you it's his food bowl. Well, treasure is always in the eye of the beholder. Here's mine. There's a book rack loaded with ideas, projects, information and wacky thinking that can change everything.When an author offers you new vantage points and possibilities, It's thinking way outside the box. It's the best way to stretch what you know, how you think and what you do.

We were flipping through Cheryl Phillips beautiful book, Quilts without Corners, and found this amazing idea.
She'd taken her gorgeous round quilts and turned them into a tree skirt. Who'd have thought?
And how pretty!
She only did that to one of them but any of her designs could be used that way.They were simple, easy to cut and sew piecing that makes an absolutely heirloom tree skirt. Great thinking outside the box!
Then there are classic reference books. Most books last 2-3 years before the companies stop printing them. Mimi Dietrich's Happy Endings has been in print for over 20 years. Why?
Because it's the smartest book on edges and finishes anyone every wrote. If you're a quilter with questions about binding and edging, you need this book.

There are so many other treasures in the book shelf at Threadbenders. And, unlike his food bowl, Henry's happy to share them with you.

Friday, November 22, 2013

You Can't Afford Cheap Thread

This is a time economically where we're looking to cut corners. Is there a place having a sale? Going out of business? Something from a yard sale?

While lots of times that does the trick, there are times when you just can't afford to buy something cheap. Why? Not because it's inexpensive. Because it really is cheap. And it's cheap for a reason.

Sewing threads and fabrics are a case in point. The biggest expense, especially when you're a working person is your time. You don't have time to work with poor quality materials. And no material matters as much as your thread.

Your thread not only holds your quilt together, hopefully for it's whole lifetime. It also has to work and play well with your machine. The mechanism that stitches thread through your fabric pulls that thread in and out of the needle 50 times before that bit of thread lands in your fabric. Are you getting a bad stitch? A lot of bird's nests on the bottom? A lot of thread breakage? Skipped stitches? That can be the result of using substandard thread.

So what is a good thread? You're looking for several qualities. You want a great color range. If it's not pretty, why bother?
But you also want strength. What makes thread strong?

  • Mercerization: Mercerization is a process that makes thread stronger and more color fast. It's worthy.

  • Cotton: You can use poly and poly core threads. But all quilters know that a cotton thread works better for piecing. Poly thread doesn't respond like cotton when it's washed. The difference in the fibers can cause puckering after. Not all cotton is the same either. Egyptian cotton spins down finer and makes a much stronger thread.

  • Thread weight: You want thread to be strong, but you don't want it to be thick. It makes the seams lumpy  and can show through the top. Good piecing thread should be 50 weight.

  • 3ply: Good sewing thread needs to be three ply to be strong enough to really hold things together. Do you really want to have to mend the seams after you wash your quilt the first time?

We chose to carry Presencia Threads at Threadbenders simply because it's the best piecing thread we could find. It's 50 weight three ply Egyptian cotton that will wash and wear well for the life of your quilt. And you were making a quilt that would last, weren't you?

About that old bag of thread you got from your mom's sewing room.....Thread gets old. It's not a bargain. If it breaks constantly it's really not helping you out. Start each quilt with a nice fresh spool of thread and spend your time happily piecing. Not wondering why your thread just broke.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Come to the Friday Morning Block Party

Want to build your quilting skills and party too?
Join us for the Friday Morning Block Party!
Every Friday Morning from 11AM to 1 PM we're going to have a block party.
We're going to work on a new block  out of the Quilter's Block-a-Day Calendar and share a pot luck. Come to learn. Come to sew. Come to eat!

Bring your favorite dish to share and your sewing machine. You can borrow one of ours if you need. Just let us know.
Henrys excited  because it's a party. And he's hoping to see you there.
We're hoping to do this every Friday starting in December. See you there!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Rolling with Jelly Rolls-Precuts make it easy

Lately there seems to be a bake section at Threadbenders. Don't worry. It won't upset your diet.
But it just might confuse you. Turn overs? Jelly rolls? Layer cakes? And none of it exactly edible.
But so fun! 

Sometimes it's truly wonderful to have a project all cut out and waiting for you. We plan. We hunt our fabric. We have stashes waiting for the right moment. 
But sometimes you just don't want to have to think about it. You just want to sew.
We've recently been posting on our facebook site some of the amazing projects we found at the Moda Bake Shop.The Moda Bake Shop has all kinds of great projects  using these pre cuts.
But to keep you from being confused, here's what they're talking about.

Fat Quarter Bundles
Contains one of each print in a collection - Each fat quarter is 18” x 22”

Charm Packs
Contains 42 squares - Each Charm square is 5” x 5”

Jelly Rolls
Contains 40 strips – Each strip is 2 ½ ” x 45”

Also known as Mini Charms and Petit Fours.
Contains 42 squares - Each Candy square is 2.5” x 2.5”

Contains 40 laser cut 6" hexagons 

Moda started this. But we all know a great thing when we see it. There are all kinds of precuts nowadays, ready to go and sew. What a way to roll!

Visit the Moda Shop Bakery or Threadbenders on Facebook for more great precut projects.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Jackie's Favorite Modern Quilt Books

Jackie's a relatively new quilter. That doesn't mean she isn't an invaluable resource at Threadbenders. She brings the passion of a new hobbyist and an unerring good eye to her own work and to her projects for the store.

She also loves the modern quilt movement.

Modern Quilting is perfect for people beginning to quilt. It's simple, graphically exciting quilting with a contemporary flair. 

She also knows the value of a great book. She knows it's the best way to feed your eye and your soul. And to send you off on new projects and new passions.

Here are some of her newest picks. 
Cozy Modern Quilts features great graphic quilts that are scrappy and snazzy.

Who could resist this darling baby quilt?

Ready to learn about hand quilting? Utility Quilting will show you hand quilting techniques that are quick, easy and classic.
Come in and ask Jackie about all our Modern Quilt books. She'll share her excitement with you.
Threadbenders also hosts the Michiana Modern Quilt Guild every 1st Thursday night at 6 PM. Come and share your passion for this exciting fresh quilting movement.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Border Prints: Don't Run from the Border

Most of the time when we look at fabrics, we can see that the fabric is designed with a repeat. If someone were holding a stamp, they would stamp that print in a row, or upside down, or in a grid with another stamp. Most quilting fabric tends towards smaller repeats. You'l see fabrics with as small as an inch repeat, or with as large as a 12" repeat, with everything in between.

It's easy to deal with a small repeat. But a larger repeat is a bit more confusing. And then there are the fabulous border prints. These prints have one selvage edge printed in a huge pattern. Sometimes the repeat is a whole yard wide.
They're gorgeous! But how do you work with them? You might  be tempted to pass them by, but you shouldn't. They're a fabulous fabric opportunity.

Here's several strategies for border prints

  • Fussy cut: Pick out exactly where you want those bits of fabric to show and cut them specially
  • Take the border off and use it as a border for your quilt.
  • Use different pieces  cut from the border as your spacers. They're printed to go with the collection. There's almost always a plainer edge to the print.
  • Be willing not be symmetrical. These prints add a random quality to your work. It can feel off balance, but it's very exciting.
  • Utilize the other great prints that go with your work. They'll blend in and help you mix it together.
This great quilt is so much more exciting for being brave about the border print. Don't run from the borders.  They're endless fun.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Memory Quilts:Remembering Our Loves in Fabric

Memory quilts aren't really new. The western expansion and discovery of India ink brought a whole chapter of memory quilts made for women who were going out west with their husbands, perhaps never to see their friends at home again.  Remember Me, by Linda Otto Lipsett is  a great record of those quilts and that time.
The India ink, unlike any other available product was waterproof and washable. Quilt after quilt went west with women, with kind sayings and best wishes penned in the corners.

Quilters have always remembered  their loved ones in fabric. And like everything else quilty, it just gets easier as the technology gets better. 

This is a memory quilt Wanda  has been working on. It's full of great fabrics and fabulous pictures of this family, and it really tells their story.
What has changed? The fabric, and the fabric! First off you can find the most amazing prints about anything. This is why most of us keep a stash. This quilt has this great car print in it that turns out to be their family car. And Wanda used pieces of the guy's tie. Hunt around and you'll find prints so personal that they fairly scream people's name. And when you find them, don't be a goose. Buy it when you see it. We all know about the fabric that sold out from under us.

But best of all is the printable fabric. These fabrics are treated to go right through the ink jet printer. Wanda used June Tabor fabric but there are a number of printable fabrics available. You'll want to find the one that works best for you and your quilt. 

After that, it's simply a matter of framing those great pictures with great fabrics and sewing them into a whole.
Gather  your fabric, print off your pictures and your memory quilt is already on it's way.
Wanda is one of the store's treasures. She brings years of experience and sewing wisdom to Threadbenders. You can always ask Wanda about your quilt. She'll know.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dreaming of Long Arms

Every quilter I know is intrigued by long arms. They offer speed, power, and control to your quilting on a level that's not possible with a home machine.

But they're long. Really long. They take up a whole room. I've know whole apartments that consisted of a bathroom and a long arm. Not all of us have that kind of dedicated quilting space.

Enter, the mid arm. The Sweet Sixteen.

The Sweet Sixteen takes up the space of a larger home machine but has all the power and speed of a long arm. It's angled differently, but it allows people to quilt really large quilts on a very fast machine in an ordinary amount of space.

Peg is offering her demo Sweet at an unbelievable price. If you were dreaming of speed, power and control, and don't we all, this is it.

And Christmas is coming. You could spare your husband the heartbreak of the kind of holiday that happens if he buys you a vacuum cleaner.  Come test drive it today!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Quilts of Valor and the Michigana Modern Quilt Guild

Threadbenders Quilt Shop and the Michigana Modern Quilt Guild have been working together on a Quilts of Valor Project.
The Quilts of Valor program is a grass roots movement to make quilts for our brave service people who are returning from service in need of support and care. It's a spontaneous reaction of the quilt community to the needs of our wounded heros.
The Michigana Modern Quilt Guild that meets at Threadbenders on the first Thursday of each month, at 6 PM has partnered with Threadbenders to make a special quilt of valor together.
We're using Thangles,  and these two great stripes in red and blue. Thangles are the quickest and easiest way to make no measure, perfect triangles. All together we're piecing the elements for a quilts of valor for our service people.

Here are some other great quilts of valor we've already given away.

Would you like to help?

Come join the Modern Quilt Guild, Thursday night at 6pm.

Or just come into Threadbenders and we'll let you sew on some thangles, just at the shop. You can have a quilt break with your lunch break. Doesn't that sound good?