This marked my third year teaching at Road to California and it was the best by far. I had four classes, Thursday through Sunday, focusing on fabrics that many are intimidated by: minky, double gauze and knits. I’d spent hours and hours over the last few weeks prepping kits and samples for the classes and it was all worth it.
On Thursday, we made Ellie Elephants using the pattern from Funky Friends Factory and Luxe Cuddle Heather Fog from Shannon Fabrics, along with a couple of solid Cuddle minky fabrics. They turned out so well and everyone was so happy with their elephants! I saw a couple of students walking the show floor with them later and it was adorable. Look how pleased they were!
Last fall my daughter asked if I could get her some fabric so she could make a faux fur coat. I’ve made coats before and knew this was no small task and not exactly beginner-friendly. So I said, “Hey, let me make it for you.” She didn’t have much say because I was already holdingthe fabrichostage. 😉
I started by tracing the pattern onto the back of the fabric (Shannon Fabric’s Tibetan Sand Fox in Pewter/White). This was a pretty obnoxious task because it was SO MUCH FABRIC. Thankfully my work table is pretty big, so I managed. If I didn’t have this table, I would have just laid it out on the floor. The faux fur is so heavy, trying to do it on a smaller table would be super frustrating. I’m a big believer in not fighting with the fabric, if at all possible!
If you look closely you can see that I’m using big bolts as pattern weights. I prefer them over the washers that many people use. I find that they are just as heavy and so much easier to pick up.
Registration opens today for the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, Washington. This will be my third time teaching at Sew Expo and I’m excited to be revisiting some classes that have been popular in the past.
If you haven’t been to Sew Expo and you are interested in sewing apparel as well as quilting, you are in for a treat. It started as an apparel-sewing event and has a definite lean toward garment- and bag-making, which is exactly how I started, too.
I hope you’ll make the drive and come visit. I’ll be teaching classes and spending time at the Dutch Quilter booth, as well as wandering the show to find all the new goodies I’ve just got to have.
I was on Jenny’s team and we worked like mad women for an hour making a lovely pinwheel quilt that was designed by Jenny Doan just for the event. Sue Daley was there so we had to add some EPP hexagon flowers thrown in; hand-piecing with a strict time limit just makes it that much more fun–ha!
It’s been a whirlwind of a year and after three months of being on the road far more than I was off, I’m back home in Los Angeles. I’m busy cleaning my studio and the rest of my apartment, getting things back to a place that feels like I’ve, at least sorta, caught up with the time away.
People often want to know what is the best part of my job (the people) and the worst (not being home); I’ve realized that the hard part of not being home is so much more than not having my own pillow every night. It’s more about eating restaurant food every single day and not being able to work on projects and not being available for phone calls from family and friends. But I made it through and I’m home again.
Home. There’s something about how wonderful it is to have that I never realized until I was spending most of my time away from it. So now I’m basking in it and having cold cereal for breakfast and sweeping the floor and dusting shelves and doing laundry and loving every bit of it. Hawke is home, too, so we’ve had date nights and stay-home-and-watch-Netflix nights. It’s amazing how much the everyday monotony that folks complain about has really become the thing I ache for.
And my studio. There’s a list of 20 projects that I need to finish, not including any planned Christmas gifts, so I think I’m in trouble there. I’ve ticked a couple off the list (finishing my son’s quilt and making a sample for work), but there’s plenty more to keep me busy for the next five weeks that I’m in town. No rest for the wicked.
I’m here. It’s good. Next month, I’ll be teaching in Medford, OR and out at the Road to California show and I’ll be thrilled to be out teaching again. I already miss it a little. Yin and yang. Home and away. It’s all a balance and I’m learning how to do it better all the time.
In September, and again in November, I had the opportunity to teach for the Cuddle-centric shop yet–Cali Quilt Co. They’ve been selling online for a eight years, but in recent years they decided to open a physical location for local customers to browse and buy, in addition to their online store.
Their selection of Cuddle minky is amazing! They have all the solids and dozens and dozens of the Luxe Cuddles. They have really developed a following when it comes to the fabric, so they are on top of getting the newest and stocking the best-sellers. It’s a great place to go if you are looking for something very specific from Shannon Fabrics.
The shop doesn’t have a classroom space, so they rented out the Sit n Sew in nearby Carmichael and we got together with a few dozen women (and a handful of men!) for a trunk show on the first night and the second day was filled with Cuddle strip quilt making. It was a chill group, open to suggestions, new ideas and lots of hand-holding when needed.
You can find Cali Quilt Co the next time you are in the Sacramento area or visit them online; you’ll be amazed at the variety they stock.
In the northern suburbs of Texas is a small area known as Old Spring and on one corner, in an old red schoolhouse sits Cupcake Quilts. In mid-November I was lucky enough to spend two days teaching Cuddle quilt workshops there. I’d just been in Houston a week before for Quilt Market and Quilt Festival, but this was a totally different experience. The shop is set in a shopping area with a variety of old homes converted into shops: bath soaps, candles, antiques, leather furnishings, Dutch candies and home goods, Texas memorabilia, CBD oils and more. A friend had recommended that I check it out while I was there, neither of us knowing that I’d be teaching smack in the middle of it.
Cupcakes Quilts has two locations: Old Spring is their original location, the second being down the road in Humble. I didn’t get a chance to visit, but I’m sure it’s just as lovely. The Old Spring location is an old building,As you wander between rooms, you’ll find all sorts of fabrics, precuts, kits, patterns and a nice selection of Cuddle, as well.
I picked up a variety of quilting cottons, both from the
clearance and the main floor, with no particular project in mind. I’m just a
sucker for cowboys and nursery rhyme prints.
Thanks for joining me for today’s stop on the SewPINK* ByAnnie blog hop ((visit the official #SewPINK information page: https://www.byannie.com/2019-SewPINK ). Like so many others, breast cancer has reared its ugly head in my life as well. Annie asked if I’d participate and I immediately agreed; raising awareness is important.
When my best friend was diagnosed with cancer at 26, it has already ravaged her body. What the doctors thought had started as breast cancer had spread throughout her body and, try as they might, there was no stopping it. Judy left an indelible mark on me, not only because of her unfailing friendship, but also her needless death.
Early diagnosis would have given Judy a chance, but as a young adult (without health insurance) the idea that the swelling could be cancer never crossed her mind. She didn’t know it was anything deadly until it was too late. I’ve learned a lot, but maybe most importantly, I learned to keep an eye on body changes, including breasts.
People want to proclaim: “Save the tatas!” and really I want to shout back: “Save lives!” That’s what regular mammograms and self-checks can do. While I want to share my little pink pincushion and favorite tools with you, I also want to remind you to keep a finger, or three, on what your breasts are doing. That means you, too, men. It affects all of us.
For my #SewPINK project I chose to make a new version of my older Circling Geese Squished Square Pincushion. I released it in early 2015 and it’s been a favorite of mine ever since. It’s a paper piecing pattern and offers three variations. But more than the pattern, I want to tell you about my favorite sewing notion: the ByAnnie stiletto.
Seriously, I sew with this stiletto in hand for almost everything, including paper piecing, bag making and sewing with Cuddle minky. For this project, the skinny little point makes it easy to guide the fabric along (and I absolutely how the metal bit has grip rather than smooth metal). It has flat sides so it won’t roll off the table and a comfortable grip that makes it feel more like a pencil than a pointy stick in your hand.
The stiletto works great for pulling out all those silly little papers that get stuck in there. I’ve found that creasing the paper and folding after sewing will help them pop out, but there are always those stubborn few that need a little extra coaxing with sharp objects.
Speaking of coaxing and sharp objects, don’t make me do it when it comes to getting yourself checked. You can find a screening near you:
(*) The #SewPink Initiative was created by ByAnnie.com LLC to raise awareness for breast cancer during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. They have pledged to raise funds to donate to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through sales and to promote action through giveaways.To donate directly to the BCRF visit: https://give.bcrf.org/give/31404/#!/donation/checkout
As quilters, we are often looking for ways to make things easier, whether it’s getting perfect points or removing fold lines or keeping the bias from stretching. There are a variety of different ways of doing all of those, but today we are focusing on using sprays to accomplish it.
There are a wide variety and with the array of sewing I’ve had to do over the past few years, I’m amassed my own personal collection.
These are (most of) the starch and starch alternatives that I have, ranging from Flatter by Soak to Fabric Booster by ODIF, the sprays make for a varying level of stiffness. To give you an idea of what you might use and when, I took some squares of Robert Kaufman’s Kona Cotton and sprayed each on one side, flipped them over and pressed them. Here’s how they turned out:
Using the steam feature of my Oliso iron, I gave this a good burst of steam to get rid of all the wrinkles and then hung it from the board. You can see the bias drape is lovely, but there’s no added stability to the fabric. I like to use the steam feature when I press my fabric after washing it and when I do a final pressing on my quilt before sending it off to the long-arm quilter. If you have an iron that likes to spit or a dry iron, simply use a little spray bottle to apply a little water first. There are misters out there that work beautifully for just this process.
Flatter by Soak
A popular staple in many modern quilters’ cupboards, Flatter is a great finishing spray. It doesn’t stiffen or stabilize the fabric; it simply loosens up the wrinkles and gives a nice finish. The pineapple and fig are my favorite scents, but is available unscented, as well. In my studio, I use Flatter on fabric that I’ve pre-washed (yes, I’m generally a pre-washer for quilting cottons) and also when I’m ironing clothing before wearing. I don’t use it when I am sewing blocks as it doesn’t have the oomph that I want from a spray. YMMV.
Mary Ellen’s Best Press
Like a starch-lite, Best Press starts giving body to fabric and has been around for years. It’s a “starch and sizing alternative” but works like one: spray it on the fabric, let it soak in for a few seconds and press. It works well for removing tough creases, in my experience, and is available unscented and in a variety of scents. It’s available in all sorts of fabric and quilt stores with sizes ranging from a 6 ounces pump spray to a gallon jug. I use Best Press most often in my quilting. I spray and press prior to cutting out my fabrics to make it a bit more precise. I’ve found that this helps avoid any stretching and makes sewing bias seams much easier. Use the spray before cutting and when pressing each seam if you really want to keep it in check. I always like to wash it out, but you don’t have to.
Niagara Non-Aerosol Spray Starch
Starch has been used to stiffen fabrics since the mid-1400s, so there’s a long (and possibly sordid) history to it. In the last decade it’s fallen out of favor with some quilters because it is a grain-based product that can be sweet to bugs when it isn’t washed out. My solution: wash your finished project. I do that anyway, but storing quilts that have been made using starch without washing first can attract moths–any textile’s sworn enemy. Starch can add a lot of body to fabrics and I tend to use it on especially lightweight fabrics such as cotton lawn and double gauze. It will stiffen it considerably, making it easy to work with fabrics that can often be a tad difficult to control. I spray the front, let it soak in then spray the wrong side of the fabric. You can spray several times to get it stiffer and it simply washes out to give the fabric its soft hand back.
Purex Sta-Flo liquid starch 2 parts water to 1 part Sta-Flo
Available only in a gallon jug, this concentrate allows you to mix with water for the perfect body/stiffness that you prefer. I mix mine so that is is fairly stiff (2:1) but you can easily water it down to a 10:1 and still get the wrinkle relaxation that you want. I like to use this when I am working with fabrics that fray or are lightweight since it makes them easier to work with and a jug will last a looooong time (I bought mine almost four years ago). Available at the local grocery store, it’s a quick and easy way to add body and washes right out in the laundry.
ODIF Fabric Booster
When you need to work with fabric that feels more like cardstock, this is the right tool for you. Fabric Booster, as well as Terial Magic, are used similarly: you soak the fabric with the spray by putting it in a plastic bag, spritzing it and then squeezing, folding, rubbing until the fabric is saturated. Allow it to air dry for a while, then you can press it dry (read the directions on the bottle!). I use a pressing cloth with it and love how stiff it makes the fabric. It’s not a replacement for Best Press or Flatter, but it works great when you are looking to really add stiffness that will then wash out. I’ve heard of it being used for t-shirt quilts and I’ve made a bunch of fabric origami with it. Otherwise, I really just want to use it for those cheesecloth ghosts my mom used to make in the 70s. It washes out in the laundry, as well.
Whether you are trying to remove wrinkles, add body or stiffen your fabric, there are multiple products that are available to help. Depending on your preference, choose the one that works best for your need. It really isn’t one size fits all here, either (which explains why I had all of these in my studio!).
Don’t forget to check out the other blog stops in our Back to School Blog Hop: