What I’ve Learned from Teaching

ironcleaning1One of the things I most enjoy about teaching is what I learn from my students. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years from teaching intrepid quilt makers from around the world. 

  • Irons are hot, filthy things. Use a dryer sheet to clean your iron. Here’s how.
  • Do NOT use a dryer sheet when standing beneath a smoke detector as they can trigger a smoke alarm. The fire department will come to your classroom and you are never asked back to that venue again.
  • Use size 4 embroidery needles with a size 8 embroidery thread.
  • The best place to hide your fabric stash from your husband is at a friend’s house.
  • Always bring Band-Aids to class.
  • When an iron starts an ironing board on fire, throw it out the door onto an asphalt driveway. Or wait for the fire department to arrive and never be asked back to that venue again. 

A big thank you to all my students for these helpful tips!

Give-Away: What’s that Needle For?

needlesandbookWhile writing my new book, Joyful Stitching, I came across this big pile of hand needles in a long forgotten drawer where I like to put long forgotten things. Without their original containers, I had no idea what kind they were. And I was clueless as to their sizes. Sadly, my needles had lost their identity.

needleguidecover

So I came up with this handy dandy chart. It’s produced by C&T Publishing and helps you identify the size and type of hand needle you have in your stash. It shows you the right needle for the job.

And I’m giving one away today.

There are full-size photos of hand needles in the the guide. Needles like sharps, quilting, embroidery, beading, applique, darners, milliners, plus others are shown.

Did you know that there are Twin-Pointed Stab Stitch needles? They are shown in the guide too.

You’ll find a few tips on needle care and how to match the needle size to the thread size when stitching. And the fold out guide also has images of specialty needles like bullion, packing, doll making, upholstery, and sail making. Any sail makers out there?

needleonchart

 

Here’s how the needle guide works. Just lay a needle on the chart and it identifies it for you. It tells you what kind of needle it is and what size it is.

It’s a miracle!

Leave a comment on my blog today and you may be the lucky winner of a Sewing Needle Pocket Guide. I’ll announce the winner next Thursday.

Read more about the Sewing Needle Pocket Guide for Hand Stitching here on the C&T Blog.

How to Make a Nice Abutment

fusingabutHere’s a tip brought to you by the Chicago School of Fusing. When adding another piece of fusible web to fabric, don’t overlap the fusible web papers like what I’ve done above. This is a no no!

fusingabut1Instead, do this: abut the 2 edges of the fusible web paper. This way when you fuse, you don’t get glue on the paper underneath. If you overlap the papers, you get glue on the paper. Your iron picks up the glue on the paper when you use it later and then transfers the glue to your beautiful quilt top. The paper that comes with the fusible web  (release paper) is so useful. You can fuse fabric to release paper over and over again and it always releases the fabric.

lauraandironSo save the release paper that comes with fusible web. By placing the release paper on your quilt top, you protect the iron from fabric shapes that are place upside down on the quilt. Remember: protect your quilts from filthy irons and don’t tempt them with glue on the paper.

Stitching Pinked Edges #2

vase2This flower looks rather forlorn, doesn’t it? But you’ll note that the tips of the flowers are rather jaunty. That’s because they are cut with a pinking blade used on a standard 45mm rotary cutter handle. (If you want to see how similar flower petals are made with this blade, check this out.)

vase3To give our flower a little flair, long embroidery stitches travel from the peaks and valleys of the pinked edge to the center of the flower. This is done with the Sunflowers colorway in a size 8 pearl cotton thread. That same thread couches down the long strands of thread holding them in place.

vaseontable3c French knots added to the pinked flower tips dress up our bloomers even more and our forlorn flower is now fabulous!

More tips on adding hand embroidery to pinked fabric edges coming up soon!

Stitching Pinked Edges #1

vaseontable3aReady for a fabric cutting challenge? With a little forethought, you can cut fused fabrics with decorative rotary cutter blades and create perfect fabric shapes for hand embroidery. Here’s a good example of planning ahead: the 1/4″ green stripes in this wallpaper fabric are cut with a pinking blade.

Each cut of the blade is off set with the previous cut making a “rick rack” edge on the fabric strip. Stitching across the strip with a size 12 thread creates a pleasing diagonal stripe across the fabric.

vaseontable3eYou can see that I didn’t always align the blade on the fabric consistently when cutting the strips. So some of the stitching appears off on the wall paper. My excuse: This is hand work. Made by human hands not a machine.

Stay tuned for more stitching of pinked edges tomorrow!

How to Stitch Decorative Edges

decblades1A favorite tool for those making fused art quilts is the decorative rotary cutter blade. Decorative blades come in a variety of shapes (pinking, wave, scallop) that add a delightfully embellished edge to fused fabrics. Decorative edges add movement and interest to quilt designs.

But how do you add hand embroidery to that decorative edge?

vaseonthetable4

Vase on the Table #3 by Laura Wasilowski

This quilt shows a variety of ways to add hand stitchery to the pinked edge. You can  see fabric cut with a pinking blade in the wallpaper stripes, flowers, vase, and top edge of the table cloth. Each fabric shape is stitched in a different way. Over the next few days I’ll show you how to hand embroider the pinked edge. Please stay tuned!