“Dog Days of Summer”. I never really understood that saying until this summer. All I want to do is lay around! And that my friends, is just not me! It has been so hot and muggy here in the Hill Country that it’s tough to find my get up and go. However, with September dawning, we are ever hopeful for cooler weather. We have had to shut down the whole house building project because of the excessive heat. It’s tough to pour concrete when it’s in the 90’s and up. We are anxious to get going again. Fingers crossed for a beautiful fall and great progress on the new house. 🏠
It’s been busy here at the shop, in spite of the hot weather. There is always something to be done or fix. We have been working on the website as well, trying to improve it and add more items for you. If you haven’t visited it in a while, check it out. https://littlecottagequiltshop.com
Now that some of the fabric manufacturers are printing digitally, it makes it easier to get a favorite collection reprinted. We are happy to finally have back in the shop the spectacular “Dream Big” by Hoffman. (we’ve been waiting for months to get them) These beautiful, large, single flower panels are now being printed in 29 different colors. Unfortunately, I only had room for 3 more. They are stunning, 42” X 42” bigger than life.
Orchid, Scarlet & Neon. I still have a few of the Ivory left.
Riley Blake has a new panel concept, pillows. Large panels, 36” X 42”, each has 4 different scenes on a common theme. Lots of possibilities for these beautifully done works of art.
Two different panels from the “Fish & Fowl” collection & Santa from “Christmas Memories”.
In addition to the Christmas Memories pillow panel, we have a full panel, 36” X 42” of Santa and his Reindeer titled “Time To Go”. Such a happy tender scene.
We are more than running out of room for panels! I have to STOP!! It’s crazy, we have over 130 different panels to choose from. I’m beginning to feel like the shop is becoming the panel depot 😬 But I have to show you one more darling fairy panel. The other picture is the companion yardage fabric. This sweet” Fairy Fantasy” is so delicate and soft. Angelic faced fairies’ flit around the flowers spreading magic dust. Too darling to pass up.
Creative Stitcher’s Club meeting in September is Friday the 13th. 👍🏻 Continuing to learn new fun stitches. Please bring your sampler or favorite fabric, floss, needles, scissors, needle threader, thimble, hoop, a pencil, and if needed a desk type light and magnifying glasses. Mary has been to a fabulous class that she is excited to share. Don’t miss it. ☺️
Remember, anything you purchase during the meeting that pertains to your project is 20% off, including books.
Warriors Heart Quilt project.
Beautiful quilts from loving, giving hearts. I’ve also been receiving nice pillowcases from those who can’t make a quilt, but still want to contribute. I have even received pillowcases from a very dear quilter who is losing her eyesight, but still wants to sew and contribute. It touches my heart to see the love and generosity. (If you choose to make pillow cases, please remember these are for adults). We thank y’all so much for participating in this worthy project. It is an ongoing, continuous project. If you are looking for a project with meaning, feel free to contribute. We have kits available for your convenience at wholesale prices or you can use up your stash if you choose. If you need the instruction sheet, let me know and I will email you a copy. You can check out Warriors Heart on their website. www.WarriorsHeart.com
We are also a drop off point if you are participating in the Million Pillowcase Challenge.
Keep on Sewing, see you soon,
Important Steps Before the Longarm
I wrote this article for the newsletter a year ago. There are lots of new people coming into the quilting world and may not know this and I thought it was important to introduce these steps in the quilting process.
I have been doing long arm quilting, intensely now for 8 months, and have tackled a wide variety of problems in the more than 70 quilts I have done so far. I thought it would be good to add to this article what I have learned from my experience since the beginning of the year. I don’t profess to be a master yet, but I have learned so much from a completely different perspective.
For anybody who wants to have their precious quilt top quilted on a long arm machine, please read carefully so that your final product is the way you had envisioned. Remember, the person doing the quilting can only be as good as the piecing and preparation of the quilt top.
1. Pre-wash your fabric. Recently, one of our shipments of new fabrics had a little note recommending Prewashing tucked into every bolt.
“Prewashing all new fabrics (yard goods or precuts) before using them in a quilt ensures that there will be no uneven shrinkage and no transfer of colors when the quilt is laundered.” a direct quote from RJR Fabrics
I know that this is a divisive subject. There are 2 very different schools of thot on this subject. I have written about it before. Prewashing solves a lot of problems before you start. Fabric doesn’t come “clean” from the fabric shop. (even if it looks clean) It’s been in many warehouses and processes before it reaches you. Dust, dirt & sizing are all allergens that have adverse effects to people. Some fabrics bleed the over dye in the wash. Each fabric shrinks at a different rate. The decision is completely yours to make, but please make an informed choice. If you like the “crisp” feeling of the sizing in the new fabrics, just starch and press before you begin cutting.
1A. When you are using a 108” wide backing, please ask whomever is cutting for you to “tear” both ends of the yardage. It is the only way to get a true straight “cut”. Fabric always tears along the grain of the fabric. I have seen cut ends that are as much as ½ a yard off from one selvage to the other. (not to mention jagged) You want to get the full yardage that you are paying for. If you are piecing the back together, make use the edges are even and straight. In order to get the backing and top straight with the quilt frame, it is very helpful to have all the edges straight and even. The more you can help out your quilter, the better your finished product will be.
2. It starts at the very beginning of construction. Accurate cutting and seams allowances are critical for a great outcome.
2A. Accurate piecing is as important as precise cutting. I am surprised at how many open seams I have come across. Ladies, the selvage edge is not a good cut edge. The holes on the edge of the selvage are further into the fabric than a ¼” seam. Please check all your seams and make sure the pieces edges are even and that the seam is complete. A gap in the seam opens when the long arm quilts over it. Unless I see it and fix it before it goes on the frame, it is too late at the quilting point and your quilt starts out its life with a hole.
- Pressing is your friend. Press as you go. You want your seams and joints to lay as smooth as flat as possible. Starch or starch substitute is essential to keep your seams and joints flat. (I like Best Press cut with water half & half) And when a really stubborn joint won’t lay flat, or a clapper isn’t quite enough, I get the hammer. Literally! Steam the joint, quickly place it on a sturdy, firm surface and pound it a few times from the back side with a big hammer. Then turn it over and steam the right side again and presto, flat and smooth. (I also press all my seams open to help reduce bulk)
- Don’t stretch borders when you are piecing! Allow the machine to “feed” the fabric through as you guide it. Pulling on the fabric as you sew will cause “wavy” borders that can pucker when quilted. Avoid cutting borders and corner block on the bias. Fabrics are more easily stretched out when they are cut on the bias.
4A. I want to add here a bit more about bias blocks. If you are doing a quilt top “on point”, it is critical that you maintain the size the block was intended to be. When a quilt top is put on the long arm frame, it is pulled firm to avoid wrinkles or tucks forming as the machine quilts the sandwich together. If you start out already stretched out, the end result is a lot of extra fabric where it was not intended to be. When you are doing a block that has bias cuts, starch it heavily! The stiffness will wash out, but it will really help you keep that fabric from stretching as you piece. You do not want a stretched out, wavy quilt top that doesn’t quilt up very well.
5.Do a final press of the entire quilt top before you take it to be quilted. It will make the job easier for the quilter to do a good job and have a better final outcome.
5A. Remove all loose threads. Trim any fraying that may have occurred during construction. Especially fray threads that managed to get thru the seam to the front of the top. This is especially important of you have a lot of white or light fabrics in your design. Threads show thru lighter fabrics once the batting and backing are quilted together with the top. It’s not a pretty sight, but it’s too late then to do anything about it.
- VERY IMPORTANT: when you are having your quilt top quilted on a long arm quilting machine, you will need to make sure your backing and batting are at least 5 inches bigger than the quilt top on ALL SIDES. (a total of 10” longer & 10” wider) This allows for the backing and batting to be wound onto the machine’s wrapping rails. The quilt top is then accessible to the machine to quilt the quilt top at all the edges.
I know by the time you finally reach the end of your piecing, you are ready to get that quilt top out of your sight. I’ve been there many times. But, preparing your quilt top for quilting is as an important a step, as any other step in the careful process of building a beautiful, treasured piece of art work. Please don’t skimp time on this very important step to the final product.
Happy Piecing 😁