Due to the heavy rain over the weekend we have had flooding so there won’t be any classes this week. Sorry for the inconvenience but there is a lot to put back in place.
As we batten down the hatches here in south east Queensland and wait for a cyclone to hit us, I got to thinking about the elusive 1/4″ seam, as you do when disaster’s imminent. An integral factor in achieving success in quilting, why is it so difficult to attain?
Sure there are some people who can ‘eyeball’ this width and zoom through seams with their machines set on warp speed, ending up with perfectly spaced sewing. Now these people probably have minimalist houses, all the clothes in their wardrobes actually fit them and they wouldn’t even know about the junk drawer with the dried-up super glue and Australia Day cake toppers – the ones you bought because they were 50% off just after Australia Day that might come in handy next year even though you’ve never yet made a cake for Australia Day and aren’t likely to in the future.
For those of us in the real world the 1/4″ seam seems to be a easy concept but is difficult to achieve. When I was learning to quilt I wondered if it was actually the ‘nirvana’ of quilting – something that all quilters aspired to and that, after many, many attempts at mortal sewing, may one day be achieved as you climbed the plane of competence – but something not possible for the beginners of the sewing world.
And don’t even start with the theory of the ‘scant 1/4″ seam’ or I’ll have to slap you.
Now I admit I do still have some issues with the perfect seam. On occasion I have come to the end of a seam, focused on the next step and zoomed through the last couple of inches at an acute angle as unlike the perfect seam as is possible. Being an impatient person I have sometimes left these imperfections in my work and feel that they serve two purposes – one I get to cross another project off the list and go on to the thrill of starting a new one; and secondly they become a lesson for the beginners of the group as to what will happen if they don’t do what I tell them and be very careful and precise with their sewing – a classic case of ‘do what I say not what I do’ syndrome.
Over the years I have seen many tips, tricks and products designed to help you with the 1/4″ goal. I suggest you give them all a go until you find what works. Here’s what I use:
- There are lots of rulers out there. Make use of them. Just know that some of them try to mess with your mind because they aren’t as exact as you might think. If you can’t have them professionally calibrated by a team of engineers, then at least compare them to make sure you’re not starting off on the wrong foot.
- My machine has a setting that gives you a 1/4″ seam guide. You set it and the width from the edge of the foot to the needle is 1/4″. What a clever little vegemite my Brucey is! Have a look at the instruction book that came with your machine and you could have the same setting. If not maybe you have a special foot that is designed to do the same thing.
- If you don’t find the setting or the foot and the instruction book has disappeared as well then don’t despair. Place a ruler on the bed of your machine and carefully turn the wheel until the needle is on the 1/4″ line. Then use some masking tape or painter’s tape or better still this product called Sewing Edge to mark a guideline for where to place your fabric. I like the Sewing Edge product because it is made of vinyl so it is thick enough to actually form a barrier past which you can’t push your fabric.
- The scant 1/4″ theory is that, when you press your seam to the side, the ensuing fold will take up some of the seam allowance. So you’re on a hiding to nothing as we say here. Not really, the amount is negligible (I would even say “scant”) so just make your 1/4″ inside the line not outside and when you press the seam all should be well.
- Speaking of pressing many’s the time when a bit of clever pressing can help with a seam that’s a LITTLE out.
- The absolute sure way to attain perfect piecing is to MEASURE after EACH seam to make sure that your piece measures what it should. Then join the next piece and measure again before you continue. I make my beginners do this, not because I enjoy their tortured grimaces but because it actually works. Try it for one project. It will change your life and you might be able to retire your seam ripper – or at least put it in the junk drawer.
Tell me your secrets for perfecting the 1/4″ then have a look at this:
The Apatcheez were very clever this week. We even had three beginners – Apatchy is single-handedly trying to populate the world with quilters – what a thought, get your lighters out and sway from side to side….
Until next time
Over the past few months I have been trying to update myself with the world as it has become. This has meant coming to grips with the workings of Ipad and iphone as well as WordPress so that I can be clever and add links and videos for you all to enjoy.
Furthermore I have been hounded by my children over the past years to “stop being a dinosaur” and get into Facebook. Well finally I have succumbed and ……ta-da I now do have a Facebook page.
I would really appreciate it if you check it out and like it if you’re feeling that way inclined. The link is here.
While we’re on the subject of social media I currently have 97 followers on this blog. Being a competitive type I would love to go over the hundred. If you could refer the blog to someone else to follow I would really appreciate it.
So that’s what you can do for me – what can I do for you? How about show you the latest fabric arrival at Apatchy Quilting? This beautiful range is from Michael Miller and is called Petite Paris – being a lover of all things French AND having a penchant for the blue hue you can see why I like it can’t you?
I have added a couple of photos of my own to the collage above to tempt you.
There is a free pattern here at Michael Miller Fabrics although I don’t think it does the range justice. What do you think?
What would you make with this fabric? I would be interested to read your comments.
Until next time
Not just a Bowie song
it has really been a week of ‘absolute beginners’ here at Apatchy Quilting. I’ll tell you about that in a minute. Firstly, here’s some photos from this week’s classes:
Makes you wish you’d come doesn’t it?
As for the ‘absolute beginners’ reference, well firstly I am working on a new website. the current one has a few issues so look forward to a brand new site coming soon. Now I’m an absolute beginner at designing websites and although I have an expert to help me, they want INPUT! Stay tuned.
Another absolute beginner moment this week – the teenager-in-residence passed the test for his driver’s licence so watch out!
Finally we had several ‘absolute beginner’ quilters start their first project this week. Can you remember back to that first seam you sewed, that first time you used the rotary cutter and how nervous you were in case you ruined the fabric? Or ran over the ruler? And then later the anxious wait as you diligently pressed your first seam to find out whether or not it lined up with its counterpart. And what about the excitement of completing your very first block?
It was lovely to be able to share these moments with beginners this week. I’ve said before that quilting can represent many things. Maybe it is artistic, a form of self-expression, or perhaps purely practical or maybe therapy. Indeed one lady said that she woke up last Wednesday with such a feeling of wellbeing and realised that it was because she’d been to quilting class the night before. This week she went home with another project germinating and will no doubt come to class next week armed with a wonderful new venture. The thing is – it is often the collaborative nature of quilting that leads us to these wonderful imaginings.
For me – it just makes me feel happy – like Pharrell here. Clap along if you feel like that’s what you want to do.
So what is your quilting story? What does quilting mean to you?
Until next time
Today women in Japan are celebrating Hari-Kuyo: the Festival of Broken Needles. Those who rely on needles for their livelihood come together at shrines to acknowledge their tools and give thanks for the hard work they (the needles) have done during the year. Additionally the women pray that their skills will improve in the next year.
Traditionally seamstresses, embroiderers and the like take a day off from their work and bring their bent and broken needles and pins to their temple or shrine. As they pay their respects (which is similar to a memorial service), they stick the needles and pins into a block of tofu. The soft tofu is supposed to soothe the needles after their year of hard labour.
While here in Australia we don’t tend to attribute inanimate objects with a ‘spirit’ (apart from Bernie Bernina and Jerry Janome of course) we can appreciate that we should look after our equipment and I would certainly welcome some intervention that would improve my skills! I have been given some lovely scissors and other ‘crafty’ gifts over the years that I really appreciate and try to look after. This Christmas, while we were in Strasbourg (which has the white stork as its symbol), Luvvy gave me this delightful needle case which I treasure.
In fact I have already used it – and I have crossed one project off my UFO list! Hooray! I did find, and others agreed, that the mere action of writing down the UFO’s made them somehow more manageable. Anyway like you I have vowed to make this the year of finishing as many as I can. Number 1 off the list is this wall hanging I made with the ‘Perfectly Perched’ fabric range.
It was rather larger than I expected and was difficult to photograph. The image above was made with me perfectly perched on a chair above it. Obviously I wobbled a tad. In fact, this piece ended up being nothing like I had initially envisaged but that’s what often happens – our projects take on a life of their own – maybe there IS something to this idea that inanimate objects possess a spirit after all.
What about you? Do you have a much-loved or highly valued item in your sewing space?
The hexie craze has infected my ladies! Last time I looked there was the occasional person folding small pieces of fabric around six-sided cardboard cutouts but now every second project is a lesson in geometry.
Now if you say “hexagon quilt” I see a Grandmother’s Garden – a design that became synonymous for many people with the depression but which actually developed long before that – in the early 18th century in fact. What it became synonymous for me was with the shortie pyjamas that Nanna used to give my sister and I for Christmas and which I did not appreciate as much as I possibly should have. In fact these dreadful garments caused great angst, so ugly were they, that I was forever unable to appreciate reproduction fabrics – merely because they evoked the small floral patterns from which the offending articles were invariably made!
And now the hexie is back – and in a big way. Like many annoying crazes of the not-too-distant past I had hoped the hexie would be a short-lived folly like the Macarena, planking, the ice bucket challenge and the penchant for geriatric bands to tour again even though they haven’t released an album since I was in flares and had a perm). Alas no the madness has taken hold.
Now my classes are full of people with looks of concentration fabricating six-sided polygons. So it was that I unhappily wandered past each person’s chair at this week’s classes. I had noticed the precise folding and the meticulous hand sewing. I had noticed the manufacturers of these shapes seemed to be strangely ‘at one with the universe’ and perfectly content to watch the little pile in front of them slowly becoming taller as each new piece of the ultimate puzzle was completed.
As I looked closer I was overcome with what I can only describe was a revelation. I was surprised to find that I found here a particular colour scheme strangely pleasant, and there the arrangement quite striking. There was not a faded, drab shape to be seen.
Brilliant scarlets complemented deepest indigos and the saturated colours of Kaffe Fasset fabrics became even more alive if that is possible. Surely I could not have been wrong about these honeycombs! But yes it was true. I found myself drawn to these creations.
After the classes I started looking at various projects that could extend the challenges associated with the humble shape. I thought about establishing a ‘Hexie Club’ at Apatchy. Projects came to life in my imagination as I contemplated what could be achieved with this artistic adventure.
I fear I am now infected too. And like ‘The Plague‘ ” I have no idea what’s awaiting me or what will happen when this all ends”. Stay tuned.
In the Countdown to Classes series here’s number
What would we do without FABRIC? People who don’t quilt just can’t COTTON on to why we love it so much and why we want to cut it up into small pieces and then sew them back together again.
I don’t want to MUSLIN on your time but I think we could all use some more. OK I’ll stop now because I don’t have any more MATERIAL.
Seriously fabric is so wonderful – you can make beautiful colourful creations or, if you’re just a collector, you can just look at it in admiration and re-arrange it. Maybe I could re-arrange the fabric room and swap all the colours around – oh no I already did that last week.
Your task today is to check your fabric supplies and see if you need any supplies for that UFO list you did last week. Or maybe you just need to feed your fabric fetish.
Maybe fabric is your artist’s medium, maybe it’s the practical tool to help you warm your family. What is this fabric?
Quilter’s cotton is soft and lightweight. It is made to be cut, pressed and sewn easily. Quilting cotton comes in a range of weights because of different manufacturing processes. You know how sheets have different thread counts and the more expensive sheets have higher thread count? Well it’s the same with quilting fabric. The denser the weave the better the fabric because it will have more body and be more stable – and when it’s part of a 2,400 piece quilt that’s important.
At Apatchy we stock only top quality fabric rather than the el cheapo options available. Why? Because you put a lot of effort into your project. You put a lot of time into it. The success of the finished project will depend almost totally on the fabric. Ok well maybe on your sewing too. But really the quilt is all about the fabric so why begin with an inferior product? Often the cheaper fabrics have an inferior grade cotton or lower quality inks used in the dyeing process.
Sizing is also used in the manufacture of cotton – it is what makes some fabrics feel stiff. Cheaper fabrics often have a lot of sizing and then, when you wash them, they turn into dish rags or, as Mum says, “something you could shell peas through”. Think about that for a little while – that’s THIN!
Good-quality fabric feels different. It handles better, holds it’s creases and lines and generally makes a better quilt. Don’t be mean when it comes to this aspect of your quilting. Ok here endeth the lesson.
So you need good quality fabric but at a cheaper price – now – to make it easy for you – let’s make this week from Tuesday until next Monday the
This time we are going to make things work a little differently. Here’s how:
- Buy less than 1 metre get 10% discount
- Buy more than one metre get 20% discount
- Finish the bolt (regardless of the amount left) and get 25% discount
- For things that aren’t fabric (that would be books, ribbons, haberdashery and all things not fabric except classes) – get 20% discount
As always Geronimo members get an additional 10% off. That means you get up to 35% off! You do the maths. Not a Geronimo member? You should be – have a look at the link here to join. Not a Brisbane class-goer? No problem just order online and mention SUMMER in your order.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the Countdown series and are ready for classes. As you would probably have realised by now – they don’t start tomorrow, they start on Tuesday (and so does the sale). ‘So why are we down to Number 1 on the Countdown’ I hear you ask. It’s because I’m being kind to you and giving you a free day to get everything organised that you were supposed to do in the last ten days but maybe haven’t quite got there yet.
See you on Tuesday
If you’ve missed the ‘Countdown to classes’ series you can catch up here – just click on the numbers to take you to that tip: