Monday, August 29, 2016

Now You See It – Now You Don’t!

One of the first things I teach in my two day Fluff & Stuff machine quilting class is ditch quilting.  If done correctly, quilting right in that seam should give your piecing (or applique, if done right off the edge) dimension without the actual stitches showing.  Monofilament thread seems to be the best way to accomplish this so that the piecing may be accentuated without any imperfections showing up quite so much.  The brand I use is Transfil, a nylon monofilament from Amann-Mettler Group.  Mettler is known widely and deservedly for their various weights of cotton threads, but I think the Transfil should be discussed as an essential part of a machine quilter’s tool box.

When we think about how a quilt is constructed, as we are piecing we are most likely pressing the seam allowances to the darker fabric so that they don’t shadow through.  Because of this, most “ditches” appear on the lighter fabric.  That is the reason that I use about six spools of clear Transfil for every one spool of the smoke color.  A quilt has to be pretty dark for me to grab the darker shade of Transfil.

The two pictures below explain that best:

In the picture above, I’ve placed the clear Transfil across an area of a quilt that has both light and dark fabrics.  You can see the clear against the dark green but it just disappears into the lighter green fabric.  This would be the correct choice when I am quilting in the ditch on a lighter fabric.

This second picture shows the dark (smoke) color of Transfil on the same two fabrics.  The reverse effect occurs – you see it against the light fabric but it disappears on the dark.  That would be perfect if the pressing dictates that the dark fabric is to be stitched in the ditch.  All of those triangles were pressed away from the points and the dark fabric was the ditch fabric in this particular place on the quilt, so I used the dark Transfil here.

Another way I use it is when I do cross hatching, also known as diagonal grid, on a quilt and will be stitching over different fabrics as I go.  The picture below shows a variation of the diagonal grid; this is a partial grid in each individual block of the quilt.  I chose the clear Transfil because it blended best with the autumn colors in this quilt....

Another question I get a lot:  Can I iron over Transfil?  Sure can!  When I teach, I carry around a stitched sample that has had a hot iron held down on it for 3 minutes!  If you are using a different brand of monofilament, I would test it first, but I know that I don’t need to worry about Transfil if I need to iron over it – it’s not going to melt! 

I have made a couple of YouTube videos about Transfil – one shows how I use it in machine quilting and the other shows you how to wind a bobbin with it.  Enjoy and be sure to ask any questions you have about this!

Oh, and before I slip away from my desk – I have 20 spools of clear Transfil to give away!  Do you want some?  Like us on Facebook or sign up for our Newsletter and you'll be entered!  We'll draw the winners next week!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hooray – Preseason Has Started!

Maybe I’m not the normal everyday quilter, but I am a HUGE sports fan, as in football, basketball and hockey.  Baseball, not so much.  In fact, not at all.  So the weeks (Months! Feels like years!) between the NBA Finals and the first football exhibition games are L-O-N-G and boring.  So when I started hearing about the guys heading back to training camp, both pro and college (although I don’t follow college sports nearly as much as the pros), I got excited.

Some quilters have told me, though, that they may not be great pro or college football fans, but they are totally into Friday night high school football where their sons and grandsons are playing and/or daughters and granddaughters are cheering them on.  It’s a whole family event!  Which brings me to the quilting connection:  Football games are held at night.  Even here in perpetually sunny California, by mid-October, it is really cold at night, at least in my high desert.   Could be 60’s, but more likely 50s, maybe 40s.  In any event, that calls for a quilt!

I have very definite football quilt standards:

1)      No white!  Even if it is one of your school colors, try to minimize the white in it if you can’t eliminate it entirely.  Yeah, it looks snazzy in a contrasty, school mascot-y, kind of way, but doesn’t look so great when the people in the stands above you spill their soft drink (or, even worse, beer) and snacks all over you.  It only took one batch of catsup covered fries bobbled by a 5 year old to get that concept through to me.  My high school colors were red, white and black; easy to eliminate the white.  UCLA: light blue and gold; the blue could be a little darker, right?  Remember the catsup!  And mustard is much much worse and doesn’t always come out.

2)      Also remember that it occasionally, if you are not in perpetually sunny Southern California, rains at a football game.  Quilt will get wet and sodden, so I prefer a batting that dries pretty fast, like a cotton/poly blend, rather than 100% cotton that will take longer to dry out.  (More on batting HERE.)  When this happens to me, it goes right into the washing machine and the dryer when I get home.  Reason?  Some fabrics will run forever, even if you’ve prewashed the fabric and washed the quilt a dozen times.  I’m a better safe than sorry person on this issue and Color Catchers are a must!

3)      Football quilts, at least in my house, should be big enough for two!  That way, especially if your team isn’t playing well and you aren’t jumping up and down cheering, you can wrap up and share some warmth!

My favorite football quilt is this one – all autumn colors, no white!  Batting is Hobbs 80/20 cotton/poly blend.  Size is 64”x80”, although Dan did say that he thought it could be another foot longer to give us some “wiggle” room – I wonder if he is referring to our middle aged spread?

On the cover of the latest issue of Modern Quilts Unlimited is another great football quilt – lots of brights!  It’s made with ombre fabrics in five rainbow colors plus black ombre from the Shades collection by Kinkame for Clothworks.  The quilt measures 62-1/2”x77-1/2”, rated beginner level and all the directions are in the magazine.  There is a kit available as well if the fabric isn’t easy to find in your area or if you think you’d like something else.  The piecing directions are specifically for the ombre, though, to get the shading just right.  Once I read them through, it made perfect sense why the strips were cut and joined the way they were (all very simple and still definitely beginner level). 

So do you have favorite football traditions?  Favorite quilts?  Dishes for tailgating parties?  It’s only going to be 93 degrees today, a respite from the 100+ we have been getting for much of the summer.  I am so ready for fall!!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Genius Hacks Every Quilter Should Know

Am I a genius?  Well, yes, yes I am.  :)  But CRAFTSY has an amazing, genius, FREE, 18 page guide available for download! 

Genius Hacks Every Quilter Should Know is a free PDF guide available exclusively from Craftsy, featuring 18 pages packed with tutorials, quilting tricks, and tips from the experts!   Download it instantly for free now (even print it out if you'd like!) and enjoy it forever in the comfort of your own home!

What You'll Get

  • Instant access to foolproof tips and insider quilting tricks for making each project easy and efficient
  • 3+ step-by-step, easy-to-follow tutorials

What You'll Learn

From mastering the Magic 8 Method for making 8 half-square triangles at once, to organizing your quilting studio - you'll discover genius quilting tricks that'll help you streamline each and every quilting project!


  • How free-motion quilt on a regular sewing machine
  • The secret to a perfect quilt binding
  • How to make 8 half-square triangles at once
  • And more!


Happy Hacking!! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

My Craftsy Experience -- 10,000 Students!!

One of my biggest teaching goals has been to reach as many students as possible who want to learn how to quilt their own quilt tops on their domestic machines.  After a few years of running myself ragged all over the country – my average teaching year is about 30 weeks away from home – I was making good headway, but… just can’t reach everybody!  There are so many places, and five states, where I haven’t traveled and don’t know that I’ll ever get there.  So when I was in initial talks with Craftsy two years ago, I thought that this was an ideal match.  Craftsy, with their marketing expertise and world wide reach, and me, who wants to teach everybody I possibly can.

So I flew to Denver  got my name on a star on the dressing room door and a team of excellent people, from Tiffany who did my makeup to my producer J.C. to Rob the camera guy to Dana the film editor.  It was an amazing experience with a very experienced crew and I was happy about how the class turned out. (Even got to see the rain!)

And VERY happy with the reception that it has had!  My class went live in September 2014 and we just passed 10,000 students!  I am amazed and humbled that so many people have decided that they want to learn my quilting methods and I hope they are downloading lots of classes from the wide variety of instructors and subjects available!

Take a look at some of the STUNNING photos from students that have taken my Craftsy Class...

I am absolutely delighted with this whole thing and to celebrate, I will GIVE AWAY MY CRAFTSY CLASS to three people!  If you've already taken my class, this would make a great gift for a quilt-loving friend!!  To win, like us on Facebook or sign up for our Newsletter!  

Happy quilting!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Congrats to Redlands Sewing Center!!

Over the past few years, I have been delighted to be a spokesperson for Amann-Mettler Group, maker and distributor of Mettler threads.  I’ve used their 100% cotton silk finish thread in all of the available weights since I first started quilting in 1990, so it was a great fit for us to work together.

One of the things that Mettler has done to promote this partnership is a drawing at each of the Quilt Markets and at VDTA for dealers carrying Mettler threads to participate in to win a two day Fluff & Stuff event where I come to their store and teach for two whole days, courtesy of Mettler!  So far, I’ve been to Ashby Sewing Machine Company in Atlanta GA in April 2015, Spool in Chattanooga TN in October 2015, and Wandering Stitches in Orlando FL in February 2016 .  Still to be held are B Sew Inn in Tulsa (not yet scheduled), Common Threads Quilt Guild in Vestal NY in October 2016, and our newest winner...  

Redlands Sewing Center in Redlands CA on December 9-10 of this year!! 

The events are awesome – with thread, gifts, and door prizes provided by Mettler and two days of beginning to intermediate machine quilting instruction.  Check out our last event HERE.  FUN and GOODIES!  

See you there?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...