Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Slow and Steady

There are times in sewing where going fast does not pay off.  A few years ago, our Row by Row was Slow and Steady. Ruth designed the row thinking that skillful quilters go slowly and carefully through the process.
The popularity of our new Simply Sixteen long arm quilting machine has made this an important point.  It does apply to all sewing machines. The machine can go really fast; so can a Maserati, but you don’t want to drive it around at 120 mph.  I was quilting using the Pro-Stitcher , and it was taking a long time, so I pushed the speed up. I was so pleased with myself that this was going to just whip through the quilting. But as my block progressed, it was missing all the key places I had lined up. By speeding up, I was not allowing the fabric and batting to return to their place after the needle pushed them out.  Curves and points also begin to pull in at faster speeds.  If you see the top thread pulling the bobbin thread up and in around curves, slow down. On a regular machine, going too fast can distort the fabric when the presser foot and feet dogs push the fabric along for the same reason- it needs a chance to bounce back.

 There are also mechanical reasons for not racing your engine. This is a finely tuned machine we want to last us for years, so we need to treat it gently. I get aggravated at my husband for how many times he gets his oil changed, takes the car in for service etc, but his car is going to last. My little car…probably not since I have only changed the oil once and don’t get that little hesitation checked out.  There is an alarm that goes off when you go faster than the stitch regulator is set for.  At that point, you will lose your even stitches, but you really don’t want to run your machine close to that. 

I used to think it was a compliment when my quilting teacher said,"wow, you sew really fast." Now I know she was trying to tell me to slow down. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

They Want What Color in the Nursery?

Many of us grew up dreaming of baby nurseries in pink or blue

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com

So, when our children share their nursery plans and mention colors like brown or gray
for a baby blanket we are perplexed. But we are here to show you that those colors
make for a lovely baby space.

Still soft and sweet

Still some pink and blue for Grandma, but blended with browns and grays for Mom.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Quick Tip with Big Results

I learn little quilting tips all the time, working with such experienced quilters. This time it was one co-worker teasing another about whether she slapped her sashing on, or measured the length of the quilt, then cut the sashing to measure.  Just the day before I was discussing why a friend’s sashing had stretched and rippled at her long arm quilter’s. We had discussed placement (putting the longer side on first, then shorter). From the teasing, I picked up that you measure your side, cut the fabric to size, and pin it in place. In fact, pinning figures in to lots of solutions when quilting.
  • ·         How do you make points match? Pin.
  • ·         How do you keep your blocks the same size? Pin. (trimming to the block size helps, too)
  • ·         How do you keep your sashing from rippling? Pin.

Many quilt designs end up with fabric cut on the bias, so it is stretchy. Triangles are especially bad about this.
I admit guilt. As a relatively experienced sewist, I tend not to pin when sewing, but for accurate quilting I cannot wait to see how this tip improves my quilts.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Color Theory

Embrace basic color theory 
By Capi Saxton 
Some people just have a natural ability to put colors together, but for those of us that struggle 
to know the difference between coral and pink, using the color wheel may help.   
First it’s important to know some basics of color theory, such as the four primary schemes
Monochromatic, Complementary, Analogous and Triad.  
Monochromatic colors are color schemes derived from a single base hue and extended using 
shades, tones and tints. Projects in these tones often have a soothing effect – such as an 
all-blue project that evokes the feeling of water growing deeper in color.  
Complementary colors are pairs of colors that create the strongest contrast. Think about red 
and green for Christmas, or orange and blue for some sport teams. These colors stimulate the 
eye, making projects pop.  
Analogous colors are groups of three colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. 
They are best used with warm or cool colors, creating a scheme that is less vibrant than 
complementary ones.  Think about red, orange and tangerine, which allow for a variety of 
tones but stay in the same color family.  
Triadic colors use three colors equally spaced around the color wheel. Triadic color schemes 
tend to be quite vibrant, even when using pale or unsaturated versions of hues. The colors of 
Halloween - orange, purple and green – are a popular triadic scheme because they bounce off 
each other, creating wide visual interest. 
Knowing these things can help you consider what feeling you want your project to encourage. 
When making projects for children or ones where you want to spark creativity, use triadic or 
complementary colors. Use monochromatic or analogous colors when you want to encourage 
calm or soothing environments.   
Fabric designers create entire lines that use these principles.  Whenever possible it is easiest 
to let them do the work and select from the collection they create.  But as always, our great 
staff is available to help you find just the right combination to make your project the best it 
can be.   
We have a color wheel in our shop and all of our staff has been trained to effectively use it 
when creating projects.  Please take a moment to allow us to help you find the right color for 
your project.  
Happy Stitching! 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Ugly Duckling Turns into a Swan

This weekend, Ruth taught a class on Kaleidoscope quilts. She went to the sale room looking for a print with large repeats in a distinct pattern.
This lovely, but somehow ugly, print jumped out at Ruth. To test how it performs in a Kaleidoscope, She did the mirror test, by using the Magic Mirrors by Marti Michelle.

You won't believe the images. By sliding the mirrors around on the fabric at different angles, or the angle from her pattern, she can tell if the pattern will work with the Kaleidoscope technique.

And now for the results:
The more distinct the fabric, the more different blocks you can make. Next time you are fabric shopping, keep your eye open for fabrics that may not be the prettiest, but which would bloom in a Kaleidoscope quilt.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Thread – what’s the big deal?

Thread – what’s the big deal? 
Just about daily a customer walks into our shop looking for “just a spool of thread.”   
If you haven’t bought thread in several years,you may be overwhelmed by the options, the way it is wound 
on a spool and most of all the price.  I have spools of thread in my collection that are marked 25 cents, but 
today we can expect to pay upwards of $2 for a small spool. Yikes! 

So what’s the big deal?  

Think of it this way: Thread is the one thing that holds your entire project together. If the project is not a 
something you want to have around in later years, then inexpensive thread may be OK. But if you spend 
several hours creating a boutique-quality garment or a family heirloom quilt, you may want that project to 
hold together for longer than just a washing or two.  
Thread, like any fiber, has a shelf life. You can expect thread to stay “fresh” for 2-3 years at the most in a 
temperate environmentSo the 25 cent thread in my collection should not be used to sew by hand, in 
amachine or for that matter anything.   
Even “back in the day,” sewing machine manuals discussed the importance of using quality thread to keep 
your machine in top running order.  The same is true today.  Our service tech can discern what type of 
thread a sewist has been running through their machine when it comes in for repair.  The cheaper threads 
build up a fuzzy residue in sewing machines quicker than better-quality threads.  So cheaper thread equals 
more machine cleaning equals more cost.  The small investment in good thread really does pay off in the 
long run. 
Always In Stitches offers several types of spooled thread: cotton, polyester, rayon, wool, monofilament and 
more. We all have our favorites, but in general, match the thread fiber to the project fiber.  Our staff can 
help you understand why thread is a big deal. Next time you drop in, ask sales specialist what thread is 
best for your project.  Happy Stitching! 
Capi Saxton, shop manager

Monday, May 8, 2017

How to Make a Quilt Sandwich

Hold the Mayo! Quilts come together like a sandwich. There's a top, a back and the filling, and here are some tips and tricks to handling each piece.

If you are going to have your quilt finished on a long arm machine, you will need at least 6 inches of backing fabric and batting on all sides of your top. Measure your quilt top in several places (top, middle, bottom) to get the exact size.

When you have your quilt top done, the next thing you need is the back. The back needs to be square, and cut straight of grain to allow your quilt top to lay flat after quilting.  If you piece your back, remember the more pieces, the harder it will be to keep it straight of grain, and absolutely do not use any selvages. Trim them off (they shrink differently than the rest of the fabric). One nice way to buy backing is 108" wide backing.
Image from Threads Magazine

Now that you have your top and back ready to go, you need batting, which is used as a layer of insulation between the fabrics. Batting comes in many, many kinds, weights and brands; it usually is made from cotton, polyester or wool. Some batting works better for hand quilting, some makes your quilt puffy, and some makes quilts lay nice and flat. The kind you use is your choice. Everyone has a different opinion.

If someone else will do your quilting, ask what batting they prefer. As a long arm quilter, I prefer Warm and Natural cotton batting because it is really nice, lays flat and doesn't stretch as it goes through the long arm.

-Cindy Ogle