Thursday, October 13, 2016

Polar Notions Fabric Storage for Throwback Thursday

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter

One thing that Mom and I have both started doing over the past five years is purchasing slightly larger cuts of fabric so that we have more options for patterns that need more yardage. And by slightly larger we're usually talking one yard cuts, as compared to a fat quarter.

A couple of years ago at the AQS Paducah Show we discovered Polar Notions in the expo hall and have been hooked on them ever since. We typically purchase several boxes of them each year at the Paducah Show and make it a point get our fabric organized as soon as we get it home.

The Polar Notions are sturdy plastic storage sheets with notches cut in to help secure the fabric. You're basically creating mini bolts; each large sheet can hold up to ten yards of fabric! You just fold the fabric in half length-wise, tuck the ends into the notches, and evenly wind the fabric onto the new bolt.


We like them because it makes your pieces the same size and shape and thus easy to store in a bookshelf or cupboard. Mom likes to to use a cupboard with doors just to help keep the sunlight off the fabric to prevent fading.


They also make smaller sheets for storing fat quarters, but we typically get the large ones as that's the fabric size that we seem to struggle with storing the most. Sometimes we'll use the sheet to fold the fabric and then slip it off and stand it upright in the cupboard. Both sizes can also be used to store ribbons and trim, too. Biggest problem we have now is running out of shelf space!

Polar Notions have no idea who we are, we just love their storage sheets!! 

This content was originally published on Prairie Sewn Studios on December 3, 2013, and is being reproduced here for Throwback Thursday. #TBT

How do you store your yardage? 







Monday, October 10, 2016

Folding Block Station and Pin Cushion - The Splendid Sampler


Written by Linda Chaney, mother



The Splendid Sampler Folding Block


At the beginning of The Splendid Sampler project, two projects were suggested for use throughout the coming year:  the Folding Block Station and the Cathedral Window Pincushion.

The Splendid Sampler Folding Block

I sewed both projects and have found the Folding Block Station invaluable for the original layout of the cut pieces of the block, for transporting back and forth from the sewing machine to the ironing mat, and for keeping the pieces in the correct format for sewing throughout the creation of the block. I'm sure this design could easily be modified to any size you might want!

The Splendid Sampler Folding Block


The design for the pincushion was different and created a functional place for pins. It also coordinated with my folding block station!

The Splendid Sampler Pincushion


Check out The Splendid Sampler Bonus Projects section to find the instructions for making these projects!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fat Quarters - Storing the Stash for Throwback Thursday

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter

Storing Fat Quarters


As any quilter or seamstress could tell you, building your fabric stash is one of the best parts of quilting and sewing! Some might call it hoarding, but I prefer to think of it as "collecting." Of course, building the stash also means it's important to find a way to store the stash. Here's one idea for fat quarters.

Anyone who knows me (and Mom!) shouldn't be surprised that many of our stash storage containers originate from one of the best home decor and storage stores on the planet:


This was one of our random finds when wandering through the housewares section of the store. I'm really not sure what it's really supposed to be used for, but it's the perfect size for holding four small stacks of fat quarters, or even half-yard cuts. And yes, those are sparkly pink flamingos wearing Santa hats. Don't judge. 


It has a nifty little handle in the center, so I could see loading it up with fabric for a class and taking it along with me. It was only about $4 (I think), so I'm going to grab a few more next time I'm at Ikea. Who am I kidding, I'll take this as an EXCUSE to take another trip to Ikea!


Ikea, I'm not sure what a "Samla" is, exactly, but I like it!




This content was originally published on Prairie Sewn Studios on November 19, 2013, and is being reproduced here for Throwback Thursday. #TBT

What are some of your creative storage solutions?




Monday, October 3, 2016

Heart Wallhanging - The Splendid Sampler

Written by Linda Chaney, mother

Heart Block


It's amazing how much you learn by venturing to other quilter's blogs. I found this free heart block pattern from Diary of a Quilter by Amy Smart when I explored the designer introductions on The Splendid Sampler.

I enjoyed the simplicity of this heart block and decided to make a small wall-hanging using three blocks and three different fabrics rotated in the block to create the hearts. It's a great way to learn how fabrics interact with each other to give different visual effects. It still needs to be quilted, but that's work for another day.

Heart Block


Check out all of The Splendid Sampler designers to find new-to-you designers and blocks!


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sewing Machine Needles - Quilter's Tool Chest for Throwback Thursday

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter



Sewing Machine Needles


This post is part of our Quilter's Tool Chest where we share our favorite quilting notions, tools and gadgets.

Last week we talked about the value of a reliable sewing machine that can do (at least) both zig-zag and straight stitches. In addition to the machine itself, it's also important to use good quality sewing machine needles.

Although small, sewing machine needles are one of the mightiest parts of the sewing machine. Using a good quality needle that's the right type for the project your working on can make the difference between a joyful sewing experience and wanting to gouge your eyes out with the needle in question.



For quilting with cotton quilting fabrics you'll want to use a Universal needle. If you're sewing a specialty fabric, you'll want to use the needles that corresponds with that fabric type. Examples include Denim (shown above), Stretch, Jersey, Quilting and Suede. It's also important to use a reliable needle that works with your individual sewing machine. You can often find needles made specifically for your machine type (as the Bernina ones above), but Schmetz is another solid brand.

Needles are one of the cheapest and yet most important sewing notions out there. They generally have a lifespan of 6-8 hours of sewing time, but that could change depending on your fabric and stitching type. Whenever my machine is acting cranky, the very first thing I do is change the needle and completely rethread my machine. Many times that clears up whatever the problem is and I can keep on stitching.



All product links are Amazon affiliate links which help support Prairie Sewn Studios. No additional compensation was provided for this post, just sharing some products we love to use to sew, craft and quilt! 

This content was originally published on Prairie Sewn Studios on March 16, 2015, and is being reproduced here for Throwback Thursday. #TBT

Monday, September 26, 2016

Scrappy Pouches - The Splendid Sampler

Written by Linda Chaney, mother

I'm always looking for smaller zippered bags to store my take-along projects and was excited when a bonus project appeared for making zippered pouches on The Splendid Sampler.

Zippered Pouch


As usual, I couldn't just follow the pattern. Instead I used clear vinyl for the backing so that I could easily see what was in the pouch. I also found I could use regular zippers to give the same finished edge.

Zippered Bee Pouch


In honor of my daughter, who loves hexies, I decided to make a couple of hexagon shaped pouches. The same basic technique was used to create the pouches, and they also have a clear vinyl back.

Hexagon Pouches

These pouches are quick to make and fun to use. Check out other projects at The Splendid Sampler!

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Splendid Sampler - Butterflies

Written by Linda Chaney, mother

The Splendid Sampler Butterflies

I continue to master paper piecing and found this site quite useful to make the butterfly blocks. The three different butterfly blocks intrigued me, so it was off to the scrap pile to find fabrics for these three blocks. 

The Splendid Sampler Butterflies


The most difficult part for me was to align the fabric so that it would cover the area properly after stitching. I found that pinning the fabric in place and folding it back before stitching was very useful and eliminated quite a bit of UNSEWING (a skill I've also mastered!). 

The Splendid Sampler Butterflies


Now, how do I sew the three blocks together and quilt it?? Any suggestions?

The Splendid Sampler Butterflies



Check out The Splendid Sampler for other blocks and creative projects!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Sewing Machine - Quilter's Tool Chest for Throwback Thursday

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter


This post is part of our Quilter's Tool Chest where we share our favorite quilting notions, tools and gadgets.

Today we're talking about one of the basic items that every new quilter or sewer needs in a tool chest: a reliable sewing machine. Let me start by saying that a sewing machine is definitely not a required tool to sew or quilt. Much of the work done in our book is with hand sewing based on an English paper-piecing technique. That being said, I still use my sewing machine and love its fast, even, and reliable stitches.

Both Mom and I use Bernina sewing machines. Mom started out with a Bernina 930 and then gave that machine to me for Christmas when I was a junior in college (Dad conveniently gave her a new Bernina that year as well). The Bernina 930 is the perfect workhorse machine. It has all of the basics that I need to sew and quilt (including free motion quilting), but none of the extras that I probably wouldn't make use of. Mom actually missed her 930 so much that she went onto Ebay to buy herself a replacement for the one she gave to me!

Bernina 930 Sewing Machine


For a new quilter or sewer a machine needs to be reliable (meaning it doesn't constantly jam or need repair) and can sew two basic stitch types: straight line and zig-zag. The top dial selects the stitch type on my machine.

Bernina 930 Sewing Machine


Straight line stitching is definitely what I use the most and my machine also allows me to change the stitch length to adjust for the fabric, thread and desired result. Zig-zag stitching is not only a great supportive stitch (like on the edge of a knit fabric to keep from it unraveling), but also useful for attaching applique pieces and serving as a basic decorative stitch. My machine allows me to adjust the width of the zig-zag (in addition to the stitch length) so that I can choose exactly the right stitch for the project I'm working on.

Although the 930 isn't computerized, it does have a great selection of decorative stitches that I can use. I don't use these a ton (it's something I should probably work on using more), but they are great for adding that little something extra to whatever you're working on. They also can be a fun way to make your machine quilting look fancy and complicated even when it's easy.

Bernina 930 Sewing Machine

There are lots of great sewing machines out there. I've sewn on some of the computerized and fancier machines and they're lots of fun, but not what I need with where I am in my everyday sewing. Right now the ability straight stitch and zig-zag stitch on a machine that I trust is the most important thing to me. Perhaps some day I'll start collecting other machines to do different things, as so many advanced quilters and sewers do.

All product links are Amazon affiliate links which help support Prairie Sewn Studios. No additional compensation was provided for this post, just sharing some products we love to use to sew, craft and quilt! 

This content was originally published on Prairie Sewn Studios on March 9, 2015, and is being reproduced here for Throwback Thursday. #TBT

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Splendid Sampler - Bonus Blocks

Written by Linda Chaney, Mother


Sewing just two blocks a week for The Splendid Sampler may seem a bit daunting, but I have found that patience is rewarded by continuing to work on the variety of blocks over a period of time. Some blocks whip up very quickly; others require more work. In addition to these blocks, bonus blocks are also posted occasionally that celebrate a special event or an addition to the designer's original block for the sampler . I have stitched a few of these because I liked them, I could embellish them,  or I had an opportunity to hone my skills on a new technique.

 

Bonus Blocks Group #1

National Quilt Day
Inside-Out
Derby Day
Earth Day





Bonus Blocks Group #2

Children's Day - Matthew's Block
Stitching Fashion Pattern with Aurifil Spool 
Button Lover's Bee
Summer Flip Floppin'

A few highlights from these bonus blocks


I couldn't resist adding some tatted button flowers to my derby hat. Needle tatting is another skill I continue to improve and these button flowers were modified from another tatted pattern.

Derby Hat


Matthew's Block for Children's Day was one of my favorites to stitch. Yes, there were quite a few small fabric pieces and seams, but I loved the way this block looked in the end.

Matthew's Block


Another favorite was Button Lover's Bee that was originally designed for a scrappy pouch. I modified the bee pattern by reducing its size to fit nicely onto a 6" x 6" finished block. Will I add some buttons? Not sure.

Bee Block


Be sure to check out the Bonus Projects for The Splendid Sampler! You might just find something you like.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Iron with Steam - Quilter's Tool Chest for Throwback Thursday

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter



Iron with Steam


This post is part of our Quilter's Tool Chest where we share our favorite quilting notions, tools and gadgets. Our first ten posts will focus our top recommended notions, tools and gadgets for new quilters. These are the perfect items to help a new quilter start building her quilty tool chest. If you're already a crafter these could be great tools to add to your arsenal to crossover and try a new craft.

Today we're talking about the importance of having an iron with steam. In an earlier post I shared how I use my Rowenta travel iron to set up a portable pressing station and iron small items with ease (and without burning my fingers!)


There are lots of different kinds of irons out there including cordless ones. You might need different irons for different purposes or different stages of your creating. I tend to use irons for three different purposes.

1. Prepping fabric for cutting and sewing. Ironing helps get all of the little wrinkles out so that you're cutting and sewing your fabric at its true size and shape.

2. Fusing fabric together with fusibles. This is where having an iron WITH steam is super important since many fusibles require steam to adhere. Mom and I tend to do a lot of work with quarter inch fusible tape for our containers from Contain It!.


3. Getting fabric into the shape we want by folding and steaming. The most common example of this is when we make binding for our quilts. Mom and I make our binding by cutting our strips at 2-1/2", folding and pressing it wrong sides together so that we end up with a 1-1/4" piece to attach to our quilts.

Here are a few links to irons (with steam!) on Amazon. What are some other ways that you use an iron to help you sewing and crafting?



All product links are Amazon affiliate links which help support Prairie Sewn Studios. No additional compensation was provided for this post, just sharing some products we love to use to sew, craft and quilt! 

This content was originally published on Prairie Sewn Studios on March 2, 2015, and is being reproduced here for Throwback Thursday. #TBT

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Splendid Sampler - Blocks 40-47

Written by Linda Chaney, mother

The Splendid Sampler


I must admit that my techniques are definitely improving, especially in any applique process and embroidery work. I continue to try different machine applique stitches, but my favorite to date is the traditional buttonhole stitch. Altering the stitch length and width truly changes the feel and look of the stitch on the appliqued piece.

The Splendid Sampler Blocks 40-47

Blocks arranged from left to right, top to bottom:

40 - Flights of Friendship
41 - Sew South
42 - Pencils
43 - Pincushion Love
44 - Stitch in the Garden
45 - Sewing Nut
46 - Twirl Time
47 - Circle of Love


I was not pleased with my embroidery work so I read several designer blogs to see if I could determine why. After reading about several ways of doing embroidery work, I chose to do a practice design, (a free design from elefantz.com), using my favorite Sulky material and modifying my stitches. What a difference it made! I never thought a backstitch would be so difficult to master, but the consistent small length of stitches improved the overall appearance of the finished block.

I've started to enjoy doing embroidery work in the evening and am learning new stitches to add to some of my blocks. Asking myself why I don't like something led to a discovery of a new skill that I now enjoy! I even made the Bonus Block-Embroidered Vase of Flowers.

Embroidered Vase of Flowers


Check out The Splendid Sampler to learn more about these blocks and their designers!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Scissors - Quilter's Tool Chest for Throwback Thursday

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter

Throwback Thursday-Scissors


Welcome to Throwback Thursday! Every Thursday we'll feature a post from the blog archives that we think is still useful today! This post is part of our Quilter's Tool Chest where we share our favorite quilting notions, tools and gadgets.

This week we're talking about a tried and true sewing notion: scissors. We kicked off this Quilter's Tool Chest series with a modern notion that revolutionized the quilting world (the rotary cutter), but it's important to remember that people were still making beautiful quilts BEFORE the advent of the rotary cutter.

There are three pairs of scissors that I keep out on my desk and use pretty much every day: fabric scissors, snippy scissors, and embroidery scissors.

I actually have a couple of pairs of fabric scissors, Fiskars and Ginghers. Both of them work great, so long as everyone in the household follows rule number one: no touching the fabric scissors!


This was Mom's rule growing up and one that I've carried over into my own house as it helps keep the fabric scissors reserved just for fabric. Not paper, not packages, not string cheese. We keep scissors designated for "non-fabric" usage to take care of all of those other needs.

Next up are what I call "snippy" scissors, or more technically the "Easy Action Micro-Tip Scissors (No. 5)" from Fiskars. This is the perfect pair of scissors for trimming threads, clipping curves and cutting corner. They're small, yet sharp, and the pointy ends allow you to get exactly into where you need to be. I also really like that they're spring loaded, so easy to work with and easy on my hand.


Last but not least we have embroidery scissors. Mine are part of my chatelaine from TJ Lane and live in my English Paper-Piecing kit when they're not around my neck. These scissors serve their purpose perfectly, making clean cuts on the thread so that it's easy to thread my needle for hand sewing. Since the blade is under four inches they're also allowed to be carried on the plane (in the U.S.), meaning I take take my English Paper-Piecing kit wherever I go. I've never tried to wear them through the metal detector, but haven't had any problems with them in my carry-on bag. 


I've also added a small Grandmother's Flower Garden from Quilted in Clay to the center of my chatelaine. 

Here are links to a few of our favorite scissors on Amazon. How many different kinds of scissors do you have? Do you use them all regularly? 

  





All product links are Amazon affiliate links which help support Prairie Sewn Studios. No additional compensation was provided for this post, just sharing some products we love to use to sew, craft and quilt! 

This content was originally published on Prairie Sewn Studios on February 23, 2015, and is being reproduced here for Throwback Thursday. #TBT

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Splendid Sampler - Blocks 32-39

Written by Linda Chaney, mother 

The Splendid Sampler

This series of blocks had a bit of everything - traditional piecing, applique, English paper piecing, embroidery work, and paper piecing.

The Splendid Sampler Blocks 32-39

Blocks arranged from left to right, top to bottom:

32 - The Constant Needle
33 - Selvage Saver (Photo 6741)
34 - Lemonade
35 - The Wishful Garden
36 - Inchy Hexagon Club (Photos 6765, 6767)
37 - Dashing by Chocolate
38 - Vintage Flower Basket
39 - Balls in the Air

One of the most fun blocks was the Selvage Saver. Funny how all those colors come together!

The Selvage Saver The Splendid Sampler

Interesting story about the Inchy Hexagon Club. I had originally made this block taking advantage of some thinlit dies to cut both the templates and fabric. Little did I realize the tight tolerance for this block to fit the 6-1/2" square. The finished piece was just big enough NOT to fit onto the background! Bummer! So it was back to the drawing board, cutting out those tiny paper hexagons furnished with the pattern, and completing the block again. Don't worry, that larger (barely) block will be used in something!

Inchy Hexagon Club The Splendid Sampler

Check out The Splendid Sampler to learn more about these blocks and their designers!



Thursday, August 18, 2016

Good Quality Thread - Quilter's Tool Chest for Throwback Thursday

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter

Welcome to Throwback Thursday! Every Thursday we'll feature a post from the blog archives that we think is still useful today! This post is part of our Quilter's Tool Chest where we share our favorite quilting notions, tools and gadgets.

Thread


This week we're focusing on the importance of using good quality thread for all of your sewing and quilting projects. Thread is important. It is literally the material that "holds it all together" when you're sewing or quilting. If you choose thread that is either poorly made OR just wrong for the project you're working on then you're likely going to run into problems with thread breakage, fraying or even failure to adequately hold your seams together!


We'll have another post later about the different kinds of threads that are out there (and there are LOTS), but today we're focusing on threads that we recommend for regular piecing or sewing of quilter's cotton fabrics. The good quality threads will provide a more even stitch with less lint if you're machine stitching. They're also going to provide a stronger and more even stitch that holds things together better and provides neater appearance.


 The threads that Mom and I use the most are the 100% mercerized cotton threads from Mettler and Aurifil 50 weight cotton thread (Mom actually attended a presentation with Alex Veronelli of Aurifil Thread in 2014). We use these threads for both machine piecing and hand piecing, as well as some machine and hand quilting (sometimes other threads, especially decorative, silk or metallic threads) can better help you achieve your desired look for quilting).


Here are a few links to threads we like that are easily available on Amazon. What threads do you prefer for your piecing and sewing?


All product links are Amazon affiliate links which help support Prairie Sewn Studios. No additional compensation was provided for this post, just sharing some products we love to use to sew, craft and quilt! 

This content was originally published on Prairie Sewn Studios on February 15, 2015, and is being reproduced here for Throwback Thursday. #TBT