New Product Available!

Hi Everyone!

I’ve been testing stamping surfaces for months since my sister arrived at my home with a mat she uses for stamping cards.  I figured if it is good for cards, how about template stamps?

Her mat was too “soft”, others were too “hard”.  So just like Goldilocks I found one JUST RIGHT for stamping!  It is the ®Imagine Crafts “Craft Mat”.  I’ve been using mine for months and love it.

Craft Mat

Craft Mat

The mat is large (18″ x 15″) so it will accommodate a fat quarter of fabric easily.

It is the width of a fat quarter (18")

It is the width of a fat quarter (18″)

The mat will protect your stamping surface and if you “over” stamp or drop your ink pad, the ink will clean up nicely with a wet paper towel or baby wipe.  How many times have I done that? :)

Over stamping?

Over stamping?

Use a wet paper towel or baby wipe for clean ups.

Use a wet paper towel or baby wipe for clean ups.

Clean as new!

Clean as new!

The mat is made of heavy vinyl and flexible.  It is also two sided, so you can use either side.

You can use either side.

You can use either side.

I store my craft mat with my ink supplies.  It folds easily and will pop back to its shape when taken out of the bag.

Folded up with ink supplies for storage.

Folded up with ink supplies for storage.

The original packaging is long and not easy to send out mail order.

Original package.

Original package.

So, if you order from my website, your craft mat will folded in a 9″ x 12″ bag with the original packaging flattened out to save on shipping.

Packaged for shipping.

Packaged for shipping.

You can order your craft mat on my website under the “Stamping Supplies” button.

Of course, the BEST thing about the craft mat is that it is BLUE, my favorite color!

Until Next Time…  Happy Stitching (and Stamping)

Sewing on the Binding

Last time I showed how to MAKE bias binding and why I love it so much for the edge of a quilt.  Today I’ll show you how I apply the binding to the edge of the quilt.

Many quilting teachers will sew the binding on and then trim the excess batting and backing.  I like to cut it all off before applying the binding.  It makes it easier to put under the presser foot of the machine and gives you a clean edge to line up the bias with a 1/4″ seam.

First, I put on a walking foot on my machine and move the needle to the far right.  (On my walking foot this gives me a nice 1/4″ seam if I line up the raw edges of my quilt and binding with the right edge of the walking foot.)

Leave a tail (at least 2″) and line up the binding on the right edge of the quilt right sides together.

Sew in 1/4" from the top of the quilt and from the edge of the quilt.

Sew in 1/4″ from the top of the quilt and from the edge of the quilt.

Sew the bias right sides together 1/4″ from the top and 1/4″ from the side.  Sew all the way down the side and stop 1/4″ from the end.

Sew along the edge and end 1/4" before the bottom.

Sew along the edge and end 1/4″ before the bottom.

Cut off the excess binding leaving a 2″ tail.

Flip up the tail and sew the next strip onto the next side by positioning it 1/4″ from the top.

Start sewing where I placed the pin.

Start sewing where I placed the pin.

Your binding should be free on both sides.  (not caught in the stitching)

binding 14

Binding should match at the corners.

After sewing the binding onto all 4 corners we are ready to miter the corners.  Switch your machine foot to an open toe or regular foot.  Move your needle back to the center.

For marking my corners I use a pencil and clear ruler with small markings.

You will need a pencil and clear ruler with 1/8" markings.

You will need a pencil and clear ruler with 1/8″ markings.

Make a dot at the corner beginning of one of the bias strips.  Then make another dot 1/4″ from the edge, holding the ruler completely perpendicular.

Hold the ruler perpendicular to the edge and make another dot 1/4" from the edge.

Hold the ruler perpendicular to the edge and make another dot 1/4″ from the edge.

Now place your ruler at a 45° angle making sure you have the same number of marks on the top and bottom.  (To make sure your angle isn’t skewed.)

Line up the ruler with the same number of marks on the top and bottom of the dots.

Line up the ruler with the same number of marks on the top and bottom of the dots.

Now trace the 45° with a pencil.  This will be your stitching line.

After marking, pull up the bottom bias to match.

After marking, pull up the bottom bias to match.

Holding the adjacent bias so that the tops match, sew ON the line, making sure you are only sewing bias, do not catch the quilt into the seam.

Sew from dot to dot, back tacking at the dots.

Sew from dot to dot, back tacking at the dots.

Do the same for the other 3 corners.  Trim the excess binding about 1/8″.

Trim the binding to 1/8".

Trim the binding to 1/8″.

Flip the binding to the wrong side and using a chop stick or other dull point, poke out the corner.

Poke out the corners to the back side of the quilt.

Poke out the corners to the back side of the quilt.

To finish the corners, turn under 1/4″ and pin.

Pin under the edge 1/4".

Pin under the edge 1/4″.

 

It will look like this on the top.

Front view of the pinned corner.

Front view of the pinned corner.

Now turn your quilt to the back and sew the binding down with a whip stitch or invisible stitch by hand with matching quilting thread.

I must admit I LOVE sewing on the bindings.  It gives me a chance to relax as watch the final step finish my lovely quilt!

Until next time…

Happy Stitching!

 

Making Bias Binding

Binding a quilt can be a daunting process or a simple one.  I ALWAYS use BIAS binding when finishing my quilt.  WHY?  Because it will always lay flatter.  It does take more fabric to make bias binding, but it will be worth it when your quilt is done.

Here is my method for making bias binding.

First I make a square of fabric and then fold it up into a triangle.  The larger the square, more bias can be made.  For small quilts, my rule of thumb is use a 27″ square.  (3/4 yard)  The fold is on the bottom in this illustration.

Lay your folded square on a rotary cutting board.

Lay your folded square on a rotary cutting board.

Next cut straight up from the bottom to the top point, laying your rotary ruler on the fold on the bottom.

Now you have 2 pieces.

Now you have 2 pieces.

I GENTLY  put the left hand piece over the right, lining up the cut edges, so I can cut 2 strips at a time.

I cut my binding 1 1/8" like my friend, Jo Morton.

I cut my binding 1 1/8″ like my friend, Jo Morton.

Jo Morton cuts her binding 1 1/8″ for “single fold”.  I’ve been making my binding like this since she told me about it several years ago and LOVE IT!  It is smooth and durable.  Continue cutting down your triangle until you have several strips cut.  (The strips will get smaller lengthwise as you cut down the triangle.)

Here is an optional step, but it does help to make sewing your strips easier:  (Point trimmers are sold in your local quilt shop.)

Using a "point trimmer" I cut off the excess.

Using a “point trimmer” I cut off the excess.

I do have 2 bias strips I’m cutting at time.  (So there are 4 thicknesses.)

When you are done, it will look like this…

Makes it easier to sew to the next piece.

Makes it easier to sew to the next piece.

Lay another strip on top right sides together as shown below.

Lay your strips right sides together.

Lay your strips right sides together.

Using a 1/4″ seam, sew the strips together.  (I generally chain piece this part by taking the free end of the top strip, flipping it and taking the next strip and placing it on top and sewing.)

Sew with a 1/4" seam.

Sew with a 1/4″ seam.

I open the seams on the strip and press them flat.

Press open the seams.

Press open the seams.

Now you are ready to apply the bias to your finished quilt top.  That is the next blog subject coming soon…

Until then,

Happy Stitching!

Just a Peek!

I’m hand quilting my new quilt for next year’s “Stitch Along”.  I thought you would like a peek!

First peek at "Piney Rose".

First peek at “Piney Rose”.

I’m hoping to finish the hand quilting by the end of November.  We will see!  Keep watching!

Happy Stitching!

Mystery Quilt Revealed!

For those of you working on the mystery quilt, your last clue went out yesterday.

Here is my quilt, named “Fancy Tennessee Waltz”.

"Fancy Tennessee Waltz"

“Fancy Tennessee Waltz”

The next question is, will the stamps or pattern be available for purchase?  I’m sorry to say it was an exclusive design and stamp set for the people that participated.  They paid a premium for the mystery and I’m honoring my commitment.

For those of you that missed out on the mystery, I will be doing a year long “Stitch Along” next year with a medallion quilt that is destined to be an heirloom.  All made with stamps!  More details will be coming…

A big thank you for all my loyal mystery participants.  I can’t wait to see your finished quilts!

Happy Stitching!

Tips for Blocking a Quilt

Do you want your quilt to hang straight when you finish?  Do you have an upcoming quilt show and your quilt is just a tad wonky?  Well, this blog is for YOU!

I use these steps EVERYTIME I make a quilt.

FIRST… I ALWAYS place the lengthwise grain of my backing fabric going from the TOP OF THE QUILT TO THE BOTTOM.  Remember the lessons I taught on how important the grain line is to the piecing?  Well, it is equally important to the BACK of the quilt.  (It might be a little late for the quilt already finished, but try the rest of the blocking tips below to see if you can work out any wonkiness.)

The lengthwise grain has NO STRETCH!

The lengthwise grain has NO STRETCH!

If you have ever made curtains, you KNOW that the lengthwise grain needs to running  from the top to the bottom or your curtains won’t look straight.  The same principle applies to the backing.

Next, I do WASH my quilts when I finish quilting.  I use the gentle cycle and quilt soap.  (Exactly like I wash my fabrics before piecing.)  I place the quilt in the dryer just for 5 minutes to fluff out the wrinkles.

Now I lay the quilt on a carpeted floor under a ceiling fan.

The quilt be wet and pliable.

The quilt will be damp and pliable.

This is the best time to pull out the corners and pin if necessary.  Use a square to make sure the quilt is drying square.  If the quilt is really out of shape, you can spritz the quilt with spray starch to add a little sizing to it while it is still wet.

Square up all the corners and pin if necessary.

Square up all the corners and pin if necessary.

After the quilt dries, it will be perfectly square and ready to hang.

"Poke Berry Baskets"

“Poke Berry Baskets”

May ALL your quilts hang straight!  :)

Happy Stitching!

New Stamp!

You asked for it and here it is!  The 3/4″ Hexagon Connector is NOW AVAILABLE.

3/4" Hexagon Connector

3/4″ Hexagon Connector

This stamp is used with the 3/4″ Hexagon.  Just finish your hexagon flowers any size (here I did 2 rounds, but you can expand your flowers to 3 or 4 rounds) and then connect with this stamp.

3/4" Hexagon Stamp

3/4″ Hexagon Connector Stamp

Stamp your diamonds and then cut any triangles you need on the stamped line.  Both shapes are included on one stamp.  (Instructions are included.)

The 3/4″ Hexagon is NOT included.  You will need to purchase the stamps separately.

You will need both stamps for this option.

You will need both stamps for this option.

Remember…  There is free domestic shipping on any order over $100.00.

Happy Stamping!

 

Autmn in the Smokies

Every year I anticipate the coming of fall in the Smoky mountains.  Nature is glorious!  The Cherokee Indians used to say, “Shaconage”, which means, “Blue, Like Smoke”.  Some friends were visiting this week and we were able to drive up the parkway to see some of fall foliage.  It isn’t peak, yet, but you can see it won’t be long.

It certainly looks "Blue, Like Smoke".

It certainly looks “Blue, Like Smoke”.

Some of the trees had turned a brilliant red.

Hiding among the green.

Hiding among the green.

Of course, at home, my own garden is just finishing up it’s beautiful color.

The very last of the watermelon crepe myrtle.

The very last of the watermelon crepe myrtle.

And I love walking the little paths around the house and discovering…

Red Sedum

Red Sedum

Along the pathway, here is my view…

The "sedum" trail.

The “sedum” trail.

Along the other side of the house, I have a beautiful purple sedum.

Purple Sedum just coming into bloom.

Purple Sedum just coming into bloom.

I got out my fall decorations of course, so I need to wish you all a “Happy Fall.”

Sit awhile and enjoy the view.

Sit awhile and enjoy the view.

Winter is coming, and Thanksgiving around the corner so we need to give thanks for all the blessings we have enjoyed all year.

Come on in...

Come on in…

Enjoy the beauty around you this week.

Happy Stitching!

Prepping for my next project!

Hi Everyone!  Even though it has been an Indian summer, I see fall colors right around the corner!  I’ve already taken out my fall quilts and am ready to sit and sew.  Last week’s trip to Canada with my knitting friends was wonderful, but now that I’m home my fingers are itching to get working on a new project.

The first thing I do is WASH my fabrics.  I do wash all my fabrics to remove the excess sizing, making them easier to hand piece and hand quilt.

Use the GENTLE cycle.

Use the GENTLE cycle.

I don’t use any harsh detergents.  If I have quilt washing soap, I use it.  I’ve also used Eucalan, a washing soap for wool and my hand knit garments.  I do use warm water and rinse with cold on my delicate cycle of my washing machine.

Next I put the fabrics into the dryer just for a few minutes to let out some of the wrinkles.  (Caution, DON’T LEAVE THEM IN AND WALK AWAY!  Your fabrics will be a wrinkled mess.  Ask me how I know that!)

Take them out and hang dry.

Remember these drying racks?

Remember these drying racks?

If you have access to an outdoor line, even better.  I TRY to not let the fabrics dry completely, so I can press them while they are still damp.  (You can see I hang several fat quarters right on top of each other, no need for a separate bar for each fabric.)

Now to press…

Love my Rowenta steam generator iron!

Love my Rowenta steam generator iron!

I press all my fabrics and fold them up to put into a basket until I’m ready to start stamping.

Okay, my fabric is ready, what shall I stamp today?  :)

 

 

Pressing the Mystery Blocks

Those of you working on the mystery quilt have been asking about pressing the blocks you just put together.  As a rule, I usually wait until I have the entire block completed before pressing.  That way, most of the edges of the block are on the lengthwise grain or crosswise grain.  The grain lines will hopefully keep the block from stretching.

Here is the back of my mystery block after pressing.

Back side of one of the mystery blocks.

Back side of one of the mystery blocks.

Can you see I just pressed the seams where they logically wanted to go?  Kind of around in a circle.  Don’t be obsessive.  If one seam wants to go in another direction, let it!  :)  AND NO SQUARING IT UP, PLEASE!  I know my block doesn’t seem square, but I’ll press it better after it is contained in the quilt with borders.

After I’ve pressed on the back side, I flip the block over to the front and give it a final press making sure I don’t have any creases.

Next question of course is “Do you use steam?”  I have a steam generator iron  I love and use steam for the final press.  BUT… YOU NEED TO BE CAREFUL!  I press, not iron the block.  (The difference between pressing and ironing:  Pressing is just placing the iron down on the surface and gently rolling it over the block.  Ironing is placing the iron down and forcing the block forward as you move the iron.)

Here is the front side of the completed blocks after pressing:

Front side of the mystery blocks.

Front side of the mystery blocks.

Now, only one more clue in November to put the blocks together and quilt them.  The big ta da!  My quilt is quilted and hanging in my living room right now.  It is one of my very favorites.  I hope your quilt will be one of your favorites, too!

Happy Stitching!

PS  I’ll be traveling to Canada next week so I won’t be able to send out orders as quickly as I normally do.  Please be patient and I’ll mail them out as soon as possible.