Category Tips & Tricks

August 2017 Newsletter

Little Cottage Quilt Shop  August 2017 Newsletter

“Time flies when your having fun”, as the saying goes. Sometimes it flies when you are busy with the not so fun chores too. It seems like I sit at this desk most of my time and write. I write patterns and letters and this newsletter and orders and reply to emails and any number of other office chores. I really don’t mind so much about that, as I do not getting to sew !! Sewing has been such an integral part of my life, since I was a child, that it is hard to not being able to sew as much as I would like. Such is life in the fast lane I guess. I hope y’all are able to hide away in your cool sewing rooms and pass away these hot summer days creating with fabulous fabrics !! Think of me J, I live thru y’all vicariously.

No matter how well I plan the fabric orders, something always happens and everything comes in at once !! It must be the moon.  LOL !! We have received in the last week here at the Cottage, about 50 new bolts of fabric. Some of it is beautiful Christmas fabrics, a fun Route 66 collection, fabulous blenders and darling panels too. I’m trying to get everything photographed and onto the website. (Please be patient with me, I’m being pulled in about 15 different directions.) And as usual, photos don’t do the fantastic fabrics justice. You really have to see and touch them for yourself.

Barn Quilt B.O.M.

Our cute Barn B.O.M. is going great. Everybody seems to love it. We have added a bunch more people to the list. August is Block #4, “Feed & Seed”. At this point tho, we can not add anymore to the monthly list. We will make up full kits for the entire Barn Quilt for anyone who wants to do it now.

August Grab Bag

It’s August already !! A big “THANKS” goes to my dependable helper, Brenda!! The Fabric Grab Bags for August are ready to go. We have designed and written up the pattern for “School Daze”. August means back to school. So we thought this darling old fashioned panel would be interesting with a modern twist. It’s fun and easy to assemble for a great teacher gift or a comfort throw for a student. This 3 yard quilt is a very nice sized throw at 52” x 60”.

Row by Row

Row by Row is still in full swing until Sept 5. If you are new to R x R, go to this website for all the info and ideas

http://www.rowbyrowexperience.com

 

Little Cottage Quilt Shop Row by Row block & fabric plate 2017

As if I didn’t have enough going on, I will be out of the shop for 2 weeks starting the 15th of August. No, I’m not going on another vacation. (sniffle) I will be at home doing post-op care. The Cottage will remain open in Brenda’s capable hands. I will be back as soon as possible. I can be reached by phone or email if you need me for something.

We will resume scheduled classes in October. But we always are always available for classes upon request. Just call us or come in and set it up, for what ever it is you want to learn or accomplish.

Just a reminder about our Top Shopper award, we have a very happy winner each month of a $25 Gift card. Come on in and make sure your name gets attatched to your purchases.

See y’all soon,   Donette

August 2017 Calendar

We will do private classes for you or your group of up to 6 people. $25 per person Please call or email us to schedule your private class on the subject or project of your choice. Please give us 2 weeks notice

Wed Aug 2- 1 pm Open sewing workshop

Wed Aug 9- 1 pm Open sewing workshop

Fri Aug 11 –   9 am Coffee at the Cottage (2nd Friday of every month)

Fri Aug 11 – 10 am Hand Embroidery Club

Wed Aug 30 – 1 pm Open sewing workshop

Note: there will not be Open Sewing Workshop on Weds, Aug 16 & 23

Valuable Info

August 2017 Newsletter

“Squaring Up Blocks”

Maybe it’s my OCD personality. Maybe it’s from being married to an engineer for (almost) 45 years. Maybe it’s from gutting and rebuilding a dozen houses over those 45 years. Or maybe it’s from years of doing stained glass along side my sewing. (If my stained glass work wasn’t perfectly square, my husband would not frame them for me,) I’m very precise about “squaring up” quilt blocks, etc. I’m always amazed at how many quilters and sewist, don’t understand the importance of precise, consistent seams and squaring up your blocks as you go.

A beautiful quilt or any fiber creation, is a work of art and usually ends up a family heirloom. Some of them even end up in museums. But in order to have a work of art that is outstanding and admired by all viewers, it needs to be square and balanced. The better the basic components are, the better the end result. Now that doesn’t mean that it can’t have an asymmetrical pattern, or a scalloped bound edge. It means that the blocks that comprise the quilt piece need to be uniform and balanced, commonly referred to as “Squared Up”.

I will attempt to explain this process and hope that it is understandable as you read. It’s one of those things that is better shown than explained, but here goes:

As you assemble your blocks, as soon as you have reach a designated size, (4”, 6”, 12” etc) square up to that size. For example, the pictures I am using, are for a 16” block, so the center is going to be at the 8” mark. {I prefer to use a 16 ½” square up tool, because I can use it for any size block.}

Find the center of your block, it will be half the size of your block. (ie: 16” block, center at 8” – 6” block, center at 3” and so on) You can fold it in half and in half again the other way, or measure from the outside in. Find that measurement on your square up tool and set it at the center mark on your block.

Use the strong diagonal line of the square up tool to line up with the diagonal corners also. Watch for any star points that you might have. Make sure that the ¼” seam will still be available after you trim. You might have to adjust the square up tool to allow for that. It’s OK to “fudge” it a bit, but not too much or you will change the shape of the block and that will affect the final outcome.

         

Once you have placed the square up tool correctly on your block, hold it down firmly and trim off the excess on the right & top sides ONLY.

[If you have a turn table cutting mat, turn the table around 180 degrees to cut the other 2 sides, but you will still have to lift the square up tool to adjust for the second trim] If you don’t have a turn table, pick up the square up tool and the block. Turn your block 180 degrees. Lay the square up tool back down on the block. Only this time you are going to line up the 2 edges that you just cut with the measurement line on the ruler that matches your block size Trim off the remaining 2 side of the block.

        

Once you have made all your block the same uniform size, the assembly of the blocks into the finished quilt top will be much easier. The final appearance of the top will be smoother, better matched up and lay flatter.

Little Cottage Quilt Shop

14076 State Hwy 16       Medina, Texas 78055             830-589-2502

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April Newsletter

April showers bring May flowers…… You know the saying. But here in South Texas, we get beautiful wild flowers in April too. And it has been a good spring for it. I hope y’all are having a wonderful spring, enjoying the warmer weather and fabulous showers (well, mostly down pours !!).

It’s always a hive of activity here at the Cottage, no matter what. I seem to meet myself coming and going all the time.

We decided that it was time for a much needed vacation, (haven’t had one in 5 years). Carefully we looked at all the stats to decide which week would be the best for y’all. According to all our records, the week of Memorial Day is the slowest week of the year. So we picked that one. Please mark your calendars. We will be closed:

Monday May 30 thru June 4.

We will be back open Monday June 6.  We thank y’all for understanding and look forward to seeing y’all for Row by Row !!

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Row by Row 2016

“Home Sweet Home”

Start planning your route

Check out the national website

https://www.rowbyrowexperience.com

and the Texas FB page

https://www.facebook.com/TXRowbyRowExperience

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It can’t always be a bed of roses, sometimes reality gets in the way. With very fond memories but heavy hearts, we have had to say goodbye to 2 beloved local quilters. Our sweet and funny little Evalyn Poole who left us on March 31. She brightened the Cottage with her presence every Saturday.Version 2

Long time quilter, much loved and always smiling Judy Rodriguez, left this life behind on April 7. We always enjoyed her company at coffee on Fridays.Version 2

We will feel their loss for a long time.

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Strip Club !!

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The May Strip Club is ready to go and waiting for you. We picked a beautiful spring color combo to go with the “Drop Diamonds” pattern.

AND……..Ta Da……….we invented the “Jelly Flats”.

(Same thing as a jelly roll, in a different format, we couldn’t make out jelly rolls look neat so we got creative).

Don’t they look delicious !!!!

Next Strip Club Meeting is Sat. May 21 at 1 pm. Bring your finished top from March and show it off. Don’t forget to pick up this dazzling purple diamond set before the meeting and get your pattern FREE.

April Grab Bag

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It’s such pretty colors with hummingbirds and morning glories. An original pattern designed by Christer and I, “Signs of Spring”, makes up into a 42” X 54” throw. Add a couple more borders if you choose to increase the size.

We also still have a couple of March grab bags, “Top O’ the Mornin” to Ya” here at the Cottage if you missed out.

NEW HOURS

We have adjusted our hours slightly to help accommodate your needs and ours. Starting immediately, we are open;

10 am to 6 pm Monday thru Friday

10 am to 4 pm Saturday

New at the Cottage

Finished Quilts

We now have a lovely stack of finished quilts in various sizes FOR SALE. Some of them made by me and some selected from other quilters. All beautiful and ready to give as a gift to a loved one or yourself.

Custom Notions

A local woodworker has custom made a couple of handy little notions for us. You will want to add these to your sewing room!!

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Birch Ruler Stand $24.95

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Hand Sewing Caddy $14.99          various exotic woods

New Fabric Collections

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Back by popular demand

“Calling All Nurses” by Windham Fabrics

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Adding to our vast Halloween fabrics; “On The Web” by Red Rooster. I Love this one !!!

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Rare & hard to find RV fabric. This is it!! All we can get so far.

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Vibrant “Autumn Song” by Red Rooster. (with a touch of gold)

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Cute & fun “ Cats In The Garden” by Clothworks

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New 108” backings from Windham

(wouldn’t this make a great jacket or bag or shirt !!)

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New colors and textures of Cuddle by Shannon

I just can’t get enough of this luxurious, soft, fabric

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More Halloween !! from a new supplier for us. Riley Blake’s “Lost & Found Halloween”

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Our fabulous new thread cabinet filled with a rainbow of Mettler 40 wt Polysheen threads. It’s beautiful and perfect for machine embroidery or garment construction.

Calendar

Fri. May 13 9am to 10 am Coffee at the Cottage

Fri. May 13 10am to 12 noon Hand Embroidery Club

Mon. May 16 6:30 pm to 8:30 ish Medina Quilt Group

Sat. May 21 1 pm to 4 pm Strip Club

Mon. May 30 CLOSED for vacation thru Sat. June 4

Fri. June 10 9am to 10 am Coffee at the Cottage.

Fri. June 10 10 am to 12 noon Hand Embroidery Club

Mon. June 20 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm Medina Quilt Group

Tues. June 21 starts Row by Row 2016 “Home Sweet Home”

Don’t forget that every Wed 1 – 4 pm is Open Sewing Workshop

Valuable Info

If you have ever wanted to work with that fabulous soft faux fur, but were afraid to, April’s Valuable Info article is very interesting and well worth the read.  It is taken from the Shannon website.

(Sorry, none of the pictures transferred over)

Editor: Liz Johnson   April 1, 2016  Shannon fabrics blog “My Cuddle Corner”

If you’ve ever touched quality plush fabric, you’ve probably made this sound: “Ohhhhhh, ahhhhhh.” You’re also likely to have immediately stroked your cheek with this wonderfully soft fabric. Luxury plush goes by several names. Many people refer to it generically as Minky, but that is actually a brand name, much like Kleenex® is a brand name for facial tissue. For this article, we’re referring to it as “Cuddle,” which is the name given to the category by industry leader, Shannon Fabrics. The fabric gives a fabulous softness to a wide variety of projects, from toys to pillows to blankets and more (we loved using it for a soft fitted crib sheet). It’s not a difficult fabric to sew with, but to create the very best results, it helps to have a few tips and tricks under your belt prior to jumping in. And doesn’t jumping into a huge pile of Cuddle sound like a wonderful thing? “Ohhhhhh, ahhhhhhh!”

What is it and why is it so soft?  As soft to the touch as cashmere and mink, Cuddle is actually 100% polyester. The high quality and density of the nap is what distinguishes it from its standard fleece cousins. You can launder it over and over without compromising the softness, the brightness of its colors or the warmth. It traditionally comes 58″ – 60″+ in width with the stretch along the width of the fabric. There is little to no stretch along the vertical (the grain line).

Types of plush fabric

The variety available is stunning. We could spend the whole article just showing you pretty pictures. Instead, the least overwhelming way to think about Cuddle is to organize it into four main categories: Solids, Prints, Embossed, and Double-Sided. Within each of the categories are dozens and dozens of options.

Solids and Prints

Solids range from vivid brights to baby pastels. Prints come in classic dots and chevrons as well as designer prints. Shannon Fabrics has many beautiful collections.

Embossed

Embossed Cuddle is a favorite. You get softness plus a subtle design that pops up from the nap, such as the classic dimple as well as hearts, stars, paisley, and more. We used it on our Playful Stuffed Crocodile to simulate his scales.

Double-sided

The selection within double-sided prints is not quite as varied with mostly solids and just a few prints. This is a great option to create a fast blanket with just a single bound layer, as we did with our Teen Pretty Pack Sleepover Blanket.

Washing and cutting

As mentioned above, Cuddle holds up beautifully through multiple launderings. Cold water washing is best, and do not use fabric softener.

Pre-washing Cuddle isn’t necessary because it doesn’t shrink. The one caveat is red. Polyester fabrics seldom fade or run, but red is always the exception to any rule.

Some people have expressed concerns about drying the embossed fabrics, saying it can cause the embossing to lose its texture. We haven’t experienced this problem, but we do choose to tumble dry on a cool setting or even to simply hang dry.

A rotary cutter with a standard or pinking blade is the best choice for cutting. The pinking blade adds a nice finish to your seam allowance. If you are working with a Cuddle that has a very long fiber, you may want to follow the recommendation for cutting faux fur, which is to cut from the back with scissors through just the backing. We have a full tutorial on Sewing with Faux Fur for more detail.

You will get lots o’ lint when you work with Cuddle. It’s simply the result of working with the deep nap that gives the fabric its ultra softness. You can’t eliminate it, but you can minimize it. Have a lint roller on hand and keep a small vacuum nearby for post-project clean up. You’ll also want to pay attention to your machine. Lint can quickly build up around the needle and presser foot as well as in the bobbin case. Take the time to clean as needed along the way as well as after you complete your project.

You can also take your larger cut pieces outside prior to sewing in order to give them a good shake. If you are sensitive to lint, make sure you don’t have a fan running that can blow the lint around and consider using a dust mask.

And my personal tip about lint: never wear all black when constructing a Cuddle project; you’ll come away looking like you’re turning into a stuffed animal!

Cuddle has a definite nap. You need to pay attention to the direction of the nap when cutting out your pieces so the nap is going in the same direction on any adjacent pieces. If your nap is going in opposite directions both the texture and the color will be different and ruin the look of your project. The image above is the same fabric with the nap brushed in two different directions.

When cutting pattern pieces, some people prefer working with pattern weights over pins because pinning through thick Cuddle layers can distort a pattern. We haven’t had a problem working with pins, but it is something to keep in mind. Another option would be to flip the pattern and trace it onto the back of the Cuddle, similar to how you cut a pattern on faux fur.

Machine set-up and stitching 

The number one tool to have is a Walking or Even Feed foot. Cuddle can be slippery, and the best way to combat it is with this type of specialty presser foot. It has upper feed dogs built in that work in harmony with the lower feed dogs on your machine. Your layers are fed in unison from both the top and the bottom.

We like to work with quilting gloves as an additional aid against the fabric slipping or sliding.

Start a new project with a new needle. A 90/14 stretch needle is the top choice as it has a slight ballpoint tip. We’ve also used a 90/14 universal needle with good results.

Set-up the machine for a longer stitch length: 3.0 to 4.0mm. Test your stitching first on scraps to make sure the length and tension settings on your machine are generating the best results.

Thread the machine with all-purpose thread in the top and bobbin. Decorative or specialty threads will get lost in the nap of the fabric.

We prefer to simply pin layers together, spacing them fairly close together – about every 1″ for stability. Don’t be afraid to use lots of pins.

If you don’t have access to a Walking foot or you simply find yourself getting frustrated with uncooperative layers, other options to hold things together include: hand-basting, using a fusible seam tape, such as Dritz Washaway Wonder Tape, or trying a basting spray. With a spray, make sure you protect the right side of the Cuddle prior to spraying.

Use a ½” seam allowance at a minimum. Cuddle has a tendency to curl, and the wider seam allowance helps stabilize it. It will also help decrease stretching.

Cuddle doesn’t fray so seam finishing isn’t necessary, however, when mixing Cuddle with another fabric (see below), if the resulting seam allowance is too bulky, grade the seam by trimming away some of the Cuddle.

Topstitching a finished seam will also help reduce bulk and help the Cuddle lay flat. If you choose this option, always topstitch in the same direction as the nap.

Combining plush fleece with another fabric type

It’s common to combine Cuddle with another fabric. We often use a quilting cotton as a binding for our blankets. And, we’ve seen some gorgeous quilts lately that have chosen Cuddle as the quilt’s backing. It adds a lovely softness, and if you chose a Cuddle with a short nap, the quilting design does show up, adding texture, beauty, and softness to the quilt back.

The main thing to keep in mind is that these other fabrics will likely behave differently in the wash than Cuddle. Pre-wash all fabrics you’ll be using in combination with the Cuddle to avoid uneven shrinkage when laundering the finished project.

When stitching, work with the Cuddle on the bottom against the feed dogs for the smoothest movement through the machine.

Another trick we’ve used on several blanket projects is to insert a layer of double-sided flannel between the layers of Cuddle. Because the back of the Cuddle is smooth and rather slick, when two layers are wrong sides together, as they would be for a blanket, they’ll want to shift against each other. You can certainly add lines of quilting to hold the layers together, but sometimes that isn’t the look you want, and with larger blankets  – unless you add lots of lines of quilting, the two layers can sometimes still droop or slide between the quilting. We’ve found the “grippyness” of the flannel helps keep the layers stable.

Pressing

Cuddle is 100% polyester so it can melt if directly exposed to high heat. In most cases, the rule is to simply not iron it at all. If you feel you must press a seam, do it from the wrong side and use a pressing cloth.

The embossed Cuddle is especially sensitive to heat as it is heat that created the embossed designs in the first place, so excessive heat can take that texture away.

Placing the Cuddle face down against a plush towel rather than directly on your flat ironing board also helps preserve the nap.

Our thanks to Fabric Depot and Shannon Fabrics for providing some of the background tips for this article.