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!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Borders for The Fabric You Ran Out Of: A Cautionary Tale

Sue Mackinen's been hexing. And she doesn't seem to be able to stop. We tried to take a picture with her and her quilt top, but she refused to stop giggling. So this was the best we could do on that.
But the sad part is she ran out of that great burgundy background. She thought she'd bought enough. Maybe the project grew as she got going. The colors are so great they gleam.  But there isn't enough and there isn't going to be more.
So she brought it in and we started looking with her.
We used a ruby beholder when we were picking out fabric. If you look through the beholder, you can see how light and dark the colors are in comparison. It really helps.

We tried prints. We tried to match it. Neither worked. 
Then we found a burgundy about 5 shades lighter. It didn't quite match. But it did blend.

So we brought out the secret weapon fabric, LIME GREEN.
A single hexie row of lime will separate the colors that really don't match and come close enough that people will think you tried and failed. It's actually a complementary color to the burgundies, so it's got a extra visual punch to it.

Sue's thrilled. We can't wait to see her quilt. But there are some lessons to be learned here.

  • You never know when a project is going to grow, get out of hand, or when something will be messed up. Buy extra fabric. A lot. It may not be there when you get back.
  • If you cannot match a  fabric, border it with a contrasting or blending fabric.
  • If the fabrics don't blend as well as you like, separate them with something completely different. 
  • Don't giggle so much when you get your picture taken. or you can traditionally hold your quilt up so no one can see you. And after all, we love you. But we really want to see your quilt.
  • If you want someone to help pick out the fabric to match what you don't have any more, we're right here. Come in and we'll do our best.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ellen Anne Eddy is Teaching at Threadbenders!

Three Point Landing, Ellen Anne Eddy
Ellen Anne Eddy will be teaching her beginning free motion class, Stitch Vocabulary, on Thursday June 19, from 4-7. Come join her and open up a new world of free motion stitching  for yourself.
  • Machine Doodling 
  • Faux zigzag
  • Zigzag garnet stitch, 
  • Straight garnet stitch,
  • Zigzag stitch  for 
  • Outline
  • Shading
  • Smoothing
  • StipplingSignature
  • Machine care

In three hours you can  learn all the moves Ellen does. 

All you need to bring is a sewing machine that stitches straight and zigzag and a darning foot.
$25 Class fee
$7 kit fee
You'll find Ellen's work at
or at Facebook under Ellen Anne Eddy Thread Magic Studio.
See you there!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Precious Piece: Saving Scraps without Drowning in Them

From The Thrifty Quilter
Quilters save things. It's part of what we do. We have collections of string, seeds from 3 years ago, children's shoes, recipes all tucked away against the day when we need them. It's unique to each of us. My mother had a catch of olives. At one point I think she had 4 varieties and 15 cans or bottles. Just in case.

And we save fabric. Why? Because it's precious. 
Not every piece. but the ones that are really are. Either they're a memory of a favorite dress or a child's costume or something else glowingly special. Or because as a print it is special. We all know the feeling. There's fabric that will work for a project and then there's fabric that is utterly fabulous just for who and what it is.

So we save it for a while. Then we make something of it. And we love it. And we tuck the scraps away somewhere so we can use them somewhere else. In a quilt or in a pot holder, or in an evening bag. Just somewhere. 

This is all lovely until you're drowning in scraps and the horder photo van has just pulled up to your house.
As with all moments of truth, we have several questions to ask. We need to play the game,

Keep It or Toss it. 

It actually doesn't make a difference as to where you set your rules. Just set one.  You'll find any system that lets you throw something out starts relieving the pressure.

Do you have to throw it out?
Heavens no. Make someone happy. What you want to toss is a treasure for someone.
Sell it

  • Ugly fabric exchanges
  • Sell bags of scraps at either a guild booth or online

Give it
  • A friend who uses those sizes, colors,  fabrics
  • A kid's club
  • The school as art supplies
  • The woman's shelter
  • Your church
  • The birds ( they like very small scraps for nests. I was shocked to find out they like poly fleece in shreds.)
I would argue if it's irredeemably filthy or smells really bad you already know the answer.

I would also argue that if it's precious as a memory, you get to keep it as long as you want. But I would ask myself, would a photo do that as well?

Less really is more here. If you can't find anything because there's just too much, there needs to be less. Keep the things that give you joy and let the rest just fall to the side.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Orange Juice and Sunshine: New Fabrics

If lime is the new neutral, orange is the new pink. At least that's the thinking about fresh colors.

No matter how you feel about fashion and hot colors, they sneak into your work. Mostly because they look so cool together with the other colors of the day.

Orange comes and goes as a fashion color. It was in the 70s, anathama in the 80s, very bland in the early 90s and back big time after 2000. Say what you will about orange, no one is neutral about it. A lot of people are nervous about using orange.

But it always has a kick. It's visual orange juice.
We just got in the coolest line of orange pieces.

Of course any time we have one color, it needs to have some other colors  to dance with. The greens and the yellow are perfect.

Simple squares and strips become a woven-look wonder. And they feel like the orange juice and sunshine waiting for you on a perfect summer day.

Do you have a color you never use? See what happens when you stretch a little and work start with a color outside your palette. You'll never know until you try.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Party Hats: Stars in your Crown

Wanda came in with the cutest birthday crown this week. Her grandson was turning one and her daughter requested it. It was button cute. She'd even found a plane fabric for the front. You know that birthday crown is going to be part of every kid's birthday until it's an active embarrassment. It wouldn't surprise me if it got used at family events (birthday breakfast) well after that. 

 She sensibly used a button and loop closure that means it can be worn later when the birthday boy is larger. Wanda didn't make just a birthday crown. She made a birthday tradition. It may last until the kid can vote. Surely until he can ride a bike.

It made me think about the kind of family tradition that gets built up by the things sewers are willing to make for someone's special day. If you've done it for one kid, you must do it for them all. And because it's fabric, it has a chance of lasting through one party day into another years later. A trip through the wash can handle all but the very worst spill messes. Although, I do recommend printed fabric the color of cake and Pepsi.
felt party hats
So I went looking for some of the fabulous home made party hats and banners that are out there. 
Soft Baby Crown by Charlebebe
I rapidly landed in the cute zone. But cute is mostly what kids like. Here were some of the great birthday hats out there.
What Birthday is this? from the Mustard Seed Family

A herd of Dinosaurs found on Flickr

Monster Hats on Gabba Friends

Some of these are paper, but the translation to fabric is simply a matter of stabilizer. Use a stiff enough stabilizer and your fabric acts like paper.

Want to know how? Come in and talk to Wanda. She'll walk you through it.

The unstated glory of all of this is what every sewer's kid knows. They know either Grand mom or Mommy can make it. And because she loves me, she will. It leads to some late nights in craft land. And to family traditions that last forever.