Tablescapes

Tablescapes. This word has risen out of the noise at me a few times in the last couple of weeks… and, being a Word Girl, I pay attention when words poke at me.

The first mention of it was a call from one of my distributors for the loan of quilt samples in one of a few categories for the upcoming Quilt Market in Houston (the last weekend of October). The second mention was last weekend, when I demoed at a local distributor’s big new stuff shindig… “Do you have any patterns for tablescapes?” Ummm… no.

So off to the modern day oracle for an image search to go with the word, and yikes!

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(Yes, I picked an ORANGE image, because, well, ORANGE.)

Confession…. I missed this class in school, and I have avoided it like the plague on Pinterest. While I love to have friends over for food and board games, I put my energy into making things like pots de crème instead, and if we manage to eat off real plates with cloth napkins I feel like I’ve appeased Martha just a wee bit and call it a win. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the beauty of a table set like this (I love me some beauty), I just don’t care about creating it – I’d rather make more desserts. And if I had the space to keep all this extra kitchen/table stuff around (I don’t) I would have filled it with fabric long ago.

So back to the pattern requests for tablescapes. Another return to the oracle reveals that, yep, there are lots of quilted table runner and placemat patterns out there.

As it happens, I designed some cheeky placemats for Quilt Talk not knowing that they were part of the tablescape clan, but frankly, the idea that gravy could be spilled on something I bound by hand gives me the willies.

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I just can’t imagine putting a pretty table runner down the center of a big, noisy, family dinner and have it escape unscathed. And the last thing I want to think about during a big, noisy, family dinner is keeping the tablecloth clean… I’d rather eat and laugh.

And so… I have questions. Why are table runner patterns popular? Do the runners get used? Close to food, or only decoratively? Is it because, as a smaller project, they are easier to make? Easier to quilt/wrangle on a domestic machine? More affordable in terms of materials? Great/fast/small as gifts?

And if I did design one, what matters about the design? Size? Customizable size? Scrap or pre-cut? Or….?

And… should I be designing them? While I design mostly for what turns me on, I’m no fool. If my readers want something, I’m interested in seeing if I can point my design head towards it, with the understanding that it’s MY design head, which means if I’m not turned on by the idea I won’t put my energy there. Trust me, you don’t want things that are made by people who aren’t turned on by making them! Passion matters!

Let me know your thoughts!

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Thread testing – need your input!

A few blog posts back, I wrote something to the effect of “I used to work in a quilt store, and have tried a lot of different threads, and I always return to Aurifil.”

Well, a new thread manufacturer contacted me and said “You haven’t tried ours!” And so they sent me a few spools to play with – some 50 wt cotton in a couple of colors and a variegated, and a polyester embroidery thread in ORANGE.

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Thus – my questions:

  • What do YOU want to know about these threads?
  • What matters to you when purchasing them?
  • What types of things do you want me to try and report back on?

Note that I’m not going to track down every thread known to man and do a double blind study here, I’m just going to run these threads through some paces and tell you what I found out. And then give them away to you, dear readers, when I’m done because, hey, you should get to play too! And I should probably just say up front, I might not let go of the ORANGE!

So leave me your thoughts for a thread test! Thank you!

 

Quilt Talking the Details

It occurs to me that, because I’ve had my nose on the bark of this book for almost two years, I might not have explained the view from the edge of the trees very well! So here are a few points about the book that I’d like to share so that, if you decide to take the plunge and own one of these happy things, you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into!

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1. What it is!

  • The book is designed around a paper-pieced font.
  • There are upper and lower case letters, numerals, punctuation, and all the special characters above the numbers on your keyboard.
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  • There are also some accents that allow the letters to speak languages other than English: umlaut, tilda, cedilla, circumflex, accute, and grave. I’m quite proud of these!
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  • Why paper-pieced? Paper piecing is the easiest way to get pinpoint accuracy in odd shapes or angles.
  • Along with the characters, there’s a great chapter on how to set them into custom text, much like setting old-school typography.
  • There are easy instructions for resizing the characters to fit any words you can dream up.

2. Projects

  • I designed 12 projects for you, from small things like placemats and the scrap buckets on the cover, up to wall, snuggle, and bed-sized quilts.
  • Most of the phrases are sassy, encouraging, inspiring, or nerdy: both Star Wars and Star Trek are covered!
  • Each project has additional notes on how to fit your own ideas into the word spaces.
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  • All of the projects are designed for easy straight seam construction (no set in pieces, no curves, no y-seams). Once you make the letters, they are essentially blocks that then get set in rows. There is nothing in here that a confident beginner can’t manage!
  • For additional inspiration, there’s a gallery section of wordy projects made by some dear friends, including Megan Dougherty, The Bitchy Stitcher, and Maddie Kertay and Flaun Kline of the BadAss Quilter’s Society.

3. Things that matter about the book design

  • I skipped writing a basics chapter on how to use your rotary cutter, etc., as I thought you’d rather have more projects!
  • There’s a brief chapter on how I do paper piecing, and it’s illustrated with step-by-step photos. You can see a few pages of this in Amazon’s “Look Inside” preview.
  • I go over how I do pre-cutting for paper-piecing – it makes the paper-piecing easier to manage, and it saves on fabric.
  • I also added a chapter on how to choose fabrics for letters to make them shine.
  • The majority of the patterns are on a jumbo pull-out in the back of the book. You tear this out and cut it up, which makes for easier and flatter copying.
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  • I made sure the upper and lower case pattern of each letter are back to back – if you find the “A” in your pile of letters, turn it over to find the “a”.
  • The numbers are also paired back to back.
  • There were a few too many characters for the pull-out, so the extras (and the ones I thought might be the least used) are at the end of the book.

4. Things that matter about the Paper-Piecing design

  • The seam allowance isn’t drawn around the blocks because most of the time you’ll be scaling them, which would give you inaccurate cutting lines. However, because I’ve sliced the seam allowance off plenty of paper-pieced blocks, I put the words “add 1/4” seam allowance” around the edges of all the blocks so that you (and I) have a reminder.
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  • Some of the sewing lines on the characters start at odd angles, so I extended the lines into the seam allowance to lead you in to starting your seam at the right place.
  • Some of the blocks are constructed in multiple sections, so I added alignment lines so you can get them joined up without too many seam ripper moments.
  • In each block pattern the letter is shaded but the background isn’t, so it’s easy to see what you’re working on. And I shaded with a light dot pattern rather than a gray fill to save you some printer ink.

5. Blog Tour

  • The blog tour kicks off at the beginning of October and it will include some of my favorite people in the quilt world.
  • There will be a dozen stops, so a dozen chances to win a copy of the book.
  • There will also be a little something extra for you to download at each stop :-)
  • The final stop will be with me, and I’ll have some extra goodies for you to win.

And if you can’t wait until October, you can order Quilt Talk here. I have books on hand to ship!

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Dr. Who Winners!

OOPS! I forgot to choose winners on Monday, and yesterday I had to go to the dentist, which absolutely knocks me off my game. So here we are on Wednesday!

Random.org chose 8 and 23, which are Stacy and Melissa. Ladies, I’ve sent you an email!

RelativelyDimensional - Cover - 72dpi HDS.016 - Whos the Bad Guy - Cover 2014 - 300dpiRGB

And if you missed winning these and would still like to have them, they are both available digitally and hard copy here.

Thank you for playing along!

 

Who’s Your Doctor? And a Giveaway!

Peter Capaldi has taken the stage, and according to my son (a geek’s geek), it’s all gonna be okay.

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Peter Capaldi as Dr. Who – image from the BBC site.

I’ll have to wait to find out because I’m not caught up yet. I know – heresy! But I only sew to stuff I’ve already watched so I get behind easily (and I’m currently watching a certain kilted Scotsman).

Being as FABRIC is the thing we use most, I thought it might be good to spend a moment looking at the good chap’s costume. I LOVE the red lining of the coat! It’s like an unexpected crazy back to a quilt. I can’t say I’m keen on the sweater vest as it reminds me a bit of my granddad. And I have a soft spot for a nice pair of Doc Martens….

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Image from drmartens.com

Ha – I went searching for an image of Docs and I might just have to buy these… the tops are needlepoint tapestry – perfect for a British born fiber geek like me!

In honor of the new Who, I’m giving away TWO pairs of patterns – you’ll get both the Tardis and the Dalek. US peeps, I’ll send you the hard copies, international folks, I’ll email you the PDF versions.

HDS.016 - Whos the Bad Guy - Cover 2014 - 300dpiRGB RelativelyDimensional - Cover - 72dpi

Leave me a comment, and tell me who’s your favorite Doctor, and how you’d dress him if you were in charge of the costume department! Winners drawn on Monday Sept 1 via random number.

(I still have a soft spot for my first doctor, Tom Baker, and knitted a scarf like his for my son’s dad when we were courting!)

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10 Quilty Little Secrets – A Challenge

Thirteen Spools did a fun blog post where she outed some of her guilty-quilty secrets.

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After a couple of my friends had a go (Hi Molli! Hi Cath!) I thought I’d join in… here’s my version:

1. I believe that most sins can be pressed, tugged, eased, or stretched out with a hot, steamy iron.

2. I would huff spray baste if I could, I love it that much. I know air-born adhesives are wretched things for both body and environment, and you have to keep buying it (I’ve had my pins for over 20 years), but I just don’t care. I don’t want to ever spend hours hunched over a quilt to pin it again. Glue rules.

3. What’s with deer heads in all the new fabrics? Is there a secret club that decides the cute-animal-motif-du-jour? First owls, then foxes, now deer. Bleh.

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4. I don’t bury my threads. I lock the stitch and cut. And I sometimes don’t trim the back threads off for months, especially if all I’m doing it shooting for a pattern cover.

5. I don’t hold my threads when I start a seam, or use leaders/enders. If it nests a little, who cares? It’s in the seam allowance. And it hasn’t screwed up my accuracy enough to bother me. (I always pull the bottom up to the top when quilting though.)

6. I cut off the mat on anything bigger than about 10”. I figure that if I’m off by a thread or two, then it will press, tug, ease or stretch out with a hot, steamy iron.

7. I will mix straight and bias binding if that’s what it takes to get the job done.

8. I throw away seam rippers the second they start snagging when I try to run them up a seam. I buy them in multiples so I always have a fresh one waiting.

9. I dislike PINK with the heat of a thousand suns. I’m so happy other people like it, because then I don’t have to. And I think it’s great when other people dislike ORANGE because that means there’s more for me.

10. I utterly fail at and hate stitch-in-the-ditch quilting. I can’t stay on the line, wandering back and forth on it unless I slow waaaaay down. And I hate slowing waaaaay down – gotta Sew at the Speed of Sam, baby! So I stitch a 1/4 off the ditch like an outline. And some people think I’m being crazy creative… nope, just lazy!

What’s your quiltiest secret? Leave ‘em in the comments!

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WASWI Resources – Snappy Comebacks!

To make hand-crafted things is to be the target of blunt questions and statements that disparage what it takes to make art, and leave you smarting a bit. I’m not always fast on the draw with my snappy comebacks, but over the years I’ve amassed a few good ones.

HDS Sew Worth It RESOURCES

Take note, and rehearse a few with your sewing pals to have them at the ready! I usually deliver the lines with a slightly patient and patronizing air (awww… they don’t get it… bless their hearts!) and always with a sense of humor :-)

And please add yours to the comments so that we are all armed the next time someone says “I could make that.”

“My grandma could make that.”

So could mine, but it wouldn’t have the same unique character to it.

“Art is easy.”

Tell that to Michelangelo!

“Everybody can sew.”

You mean like everybody can cook?

“It’s easy to sew… why should I pay for that?”

It’s easy to cook too, but you still eat at restaurants, yes?

“How long did that take?”

About 20 hours, and about 25 years to get good at making it in 20 hours.

“I could buy one at Walmart.”

You could buy a cheap imitation at Walmart, but the quality would be missing.

“I could buy one at Target.”

But so can everyone else. This is a one of a kind thing… you’ll have the only one.

“My sister/mother/auntie/bestie quilts too.”

How cool! Then you KNOW what kind of time and skill it takes to make a quilt.

“How do you make this?”

I’m happy to give you private lessons. I charge $$ an hour. Let me get you my card…

“No really, just tell me how you do this so I can go make one.”

No really, I’ve invested a lot in my mastery… you should invest in yours.

“My kid could make that.”

Chuckle… we parents always think our kids are prodigies, don’t we?

“Can I get a deal if I buy two?”

No, it doesn’t take any less of my resources to make the second one.

“Can I get a quilt as a donation? It will be great exposure for you.”

Did you know you can die of exposure?

“Can you sew this project for me? It will be great exposure for you.”

If only my landlord accepted exposure in lieu of rent!

“Can I have it for a really super low price because I’m doing it for Amazing Worthy Cause?”

How great that Amazing Worthy Cause has your support! If you like my product that much, I would be honored to have your support too!

“People who sew charge too much.”

It’s a specialized skill, just like carpentry or fixing cars, and you pay way more for those.

“Quilting isn’t a necessity, like plumbing is when you’re toilet isn’t working.”

But you hire a plumber at full price when you’re doing a snazzy remodel, which isn’t a necessity either.

“There’s no way I’d pay that.”

Then you’re not my customer. Have a great day!

 

Go here for more info about We Are $ew Worth It

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