Monday, January 14, 2019

Quilt Backing - a Longarmer's Perspecitve

I wear a lot of hats in my little quilt business, with those as quilt maker, designer, and longarmer most important - without them, there would be no QuiltFabrication.
QuiltFabrication 2019 header
As I was loading a quilt back onto the frame for one of my Paradise quilts, the thought hit me that Susan, the longarmer, would not be very happy with Susan, the customer because of her pieced backing.

Now, because this is my quilt, I'll put up with my faux pas. But when giving quilts to a longarmer for quilting, make her life easier when she loads that backing onto her frame.

So, what did I do that annoys a longarmer? Well, I created a vertical seam in the backing.

vertical seam on a quilt back

And why is this annoying? Because, on a large quilt, it causes the backing to sag on the sides of the seam due to a tighter seam allowance buildup on the roller. 

sagging quilt backing due to a vertical seam

Instead of one piece of fabric rolling around on that roller, there are two to three pieces at the seam, depending on how the seam is pressed. Notice in the photo, my vertical seam is pressed open, which helps minimize some of the buildup, and lessen the sag.

pressed open vertical seam to minimize sag

And what will longarmers love? Horizontal seams, which run along the length of the roller, totally eliminating any sag.

horizontal quilt backing seams

So, whenever possible, make your seams horizontal - your longarmer will love you!

Happy Quilting!

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Friday, January 11, 2019

How to Use a Seam Ripper

Seam ripping. It's certainly not one of our favorite sewing activities. But it is a necessity, 'cause stitching mistakes happen. So let's make friends with that handy-dandy seam ripper tool to make those stitch mistakes not so painful to remove.

How to Use a Seam Ripper

First, it's important to find a seam ripper that's comfortable in your hand, as they came in several sizes and lengths. I find the short ones too small to handle, but that's my preference.

different sized seam rippers

There's also different point sizes, widths, and sharpness, and even the ball for blunting can vary - try different ones till you find a favorite. My go-to ripper is the large Clover one, as its size makes an easy tool for my hands to use.

The #1 goal of seam ripping, aside from removing stitches, is not to rip a hole in the fabric! One could just slip the seam ripper point under each stitch to cut it, but that's a tedious process. Instead, use the tool as it was designed to do - rip the seam!

And just how do we do that without creating a hole in the fabric? Well, it's all in the orientation of the seam ripper in relation to how the seam is held.

The first holding position has both fabrics held together at the seam, with the point end exposed on the seam allowance side, so as not to make a hole. The seam ripper is then guided between the fingers. 

seam ripping with fabrics held together

This places the red ball against the fabrics to prevent  damage (the black fabric is lifted up to show that), and the sharp point on the seam allowance side, lessening the chance of a hole.

seam ripper blunting ball against keeper fabric

Guided by the fingers, the seam ripper is pushed through the seam. Here's a video to see the seam ripping process iaction, with the fabrics and seam held together. 

Sometimes those stitches cut easily and the seam ripper can zip along the seam really fast! And sometimes, those stitches are a bit stubborn, requiring ripping an inch or two at a time. This is one of those seams. Patience is what's required, with the goal being an un-stitched seam with no fabric holes.

The second holding technique lays the fabrics apart, with the seam allowance and one fabric between the finger and the thumb. For this open technique, the red ball is placed on the seam allowance side, leaving the sharp point free and clear of any fabric on the top.

seam ripping with seam open

Here's a video to show the seam ripping technique in action, with the fabrics laid open.

It's totally a matter of preference and/or convenience as to how the seam is held and which way the seam ripping is attacked. Either way, the goal is to remove the stitches and not make a hole.

If this is outside your comfort zone, notice the two ways to open up a seam at the beginning of the video:  by slipping the point end under the stitch, either on the outside of the seam, or the inside, then cutting it in the curve of the tool. Picking stitch by stitch will get the job done, but is time consuming and better saved for starting a seam for ripping or for just removing a few stitches. 

Now I know mistakes happen and a hole occurs. So what to do? 
I recommend placing a tiny bit of fusible product and matching fabric over the spot, just enough to cover the boo-boo. But if it's too big to repair, then the only choice is to use another piece of fabric. So rip with care and keep that sharp point away from the 'keeper' fabric as much as possible!

Happy Quilting Everyone - may your seam ripping produce lots of thread fuzz balls!

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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Midweek Makers #157

Welcome to another edition of Midweek Makers, the place to share what you're working on! For me, it's another Quarter Cut quilt, this time in black and white.

A black and white Quarter Cut quilt in progress

Took me an hour just to sew two rows together, cause either I would rotate the row, or put the sashing on the wrong side - guess I'm out of sewing practice after two weeks of vacation. But thank goodness I know how to use a seam ripper - do you? I've touched on it before, but I'm thinking a tutorial is in order for Friday - who's in??

Now, since I'm still in the donation quilt mode, there were two link-ups last week doing the same. Marie of QuiltBee is making adorable house blocks to send to Paradise, CA.

                                                       house quilt block: QuiltBee

If you're interested in making/sending a house block, her post includes links to the instructions for making the house blocks, and the address of the quilt shop collecting them - be sure to check it out.

Another quilter who's clearing out her stash making donation quilts is Micki at Two Dogs Studio. This is one of several she's made.


Last but not least, is Jen of DeJong Dream House. Some of you may know Jen's brain injury story, and that she requires a lot of help. For her, making and giving quilts is how she returns the favor. Though this quilt is a gift for her sister's first baby, I have to show it off because it's Jen's version of my Welcome to My Birdhouse pattern!


She mirrored it to make a baby quilt - how cool is that?? And I just love the colors she chose - great job Jen!

Now on to sharing for this week - come link up!
  • Please link directly to your specific post, not your main blog page.
  • Visit and leave a comment to two links: the one before and the one after your own. Everyone loves visitors, comments, and encouragement!
  • Bring a friend! Invite your fellow bloggers to the party by spreading the word! 
  • Please link to in your post or on your sidebar with the Midweek Makers badge

Thanks for stopping by, and have fun at the party!

PS -- Happy Birthday Linda Sue!

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Monday, January 7, 2019

Paradise 6 and 7

So, what do you do when you still have fabric left over from a quilt? Well, you make more quilts! Introducing two smaller versions of my Quarter Cut quiltParadise 6,

Paradise quilt #6 by QuiltFabrication

and Paradise 7, 

Paradise quilt #7 by QuiltFabrication

both made with the fabric remaining from Quarter Cut 3
aka Paradise quilt #5.

Quarter Cut 3 quilt by QuiltFabrication

This also means that all of the homespun fabric is out of the stash!!!

These two smaller quilts are around 44" x 53", perfect for a child or someone in a wheelchair. When the guild called out for quilts, they asked for a usable size, and these cover all bases for those in need.

Now, you may be asking, why didn't I just make another large lap quilt? It certainly looks like there was enough fabric. When it came right down to it, I really didn't want to cut up the big chunks of fabric that are in Paradise 7, plus they didn't sing well with the fabrics in Paradise 6.  Let's just say that Paradise 7 is totally, 100%, a utility quilt - and that's ok, cause when you're cold, you're cold, no matter how good the quilt looks.

And on both, I once again quilted the Paperchase pantograph, because it's just a very pleasant design, and not dense, allowing the quilt to puff. I don't know about you, but I like soft, slightly puffy quilts!

Paradise 6 quilt paperchase quilting closeup
Paradise 6 quilting

Paradise 7 quilt paperchase quilting closeup
Paradise 7 quilting

During this week, I hope to turn my attention to one more quilt for Paradise, either the Summer quilt in the Quilt Giving book, or one more Quarter Cut quilt. Either way, I'd like to do one more donation quilt. Please send good vibes my way to help me accomplish my goal!

Happy Quilting!

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