Quilt Studio Makeover: Design Wall

Quilt Studio Makeover: Design Wall

It’s so nice to be able to place your fabric pieces on the wall when you’re piecing or designing your quilt. I had a small design wall in my tiny quilt studio at our old house. But after gaining a little square footage at our new location (and more wall space), I decided that a larger design wall was in order.

It’s easy to do-it-yourself! Here’s how I did it.

Insulation board— I headed off to my local home improvement store to pick up some insulation board. Since I have a small car, we can’t fit the standard six feet sheets into it, But I was able to find some the perfect size … 2 x 2 foot.

Measuring the space available on my largest wall, I found making my design wall 6 feet x 6 feet would use the 2×2 boards most efficiently, and still be enough space for most of the quilts I do. So I bought 9. If you’ve got the space in your car, it’s a little cheaper to buy the 6 foot boards. But this was ideal for me.

Next I taped the boards together using heavy duty strapping tape. I did both the fronts and the backs of each seam. Duct tape will work, but it’ll show more easily through the flannel covering. The hardest part was finding an area on our floor large enough to lay them all out. A carpeted surface isn’t ideal, it’s best to do this step on a hard surface.

I found it easiest to tape my insulation board pieces in columns & then tape the columns together by rows. Hmmm…kind of like putting together a quilt.

Here it is (above) all taped together on both the front and the back sides.

FLANNEL– You’ll need a soft material (like cotton flannel) that fabric pieces will cling to to cover your insulation board. White or a soft light neutral are the best choices of color. I headed off to my local big box fabric store thinking I could find some inexpensive white wide flannel by the yard. Nope! Any other color or pattern BUT not white! Ugh!

So instead I found these white flannel sheets at a nearby Kohl’s…on sale!…perfect! This one was full size & I only used the flat sheet so the fitted sheet can be cut up and used in another project(s), like my charity baby quilts.

Sorry, I forgot to take a photo–but I laid the flannel sheet on the floor, placed the best looking (& smoothest) side of the taped insulation board on top of it, and worked folded the flannel over, trimming it as needed, and taping it to the back with duct tape. I worked the wrinkles out (taught but not too tight) as I went. You could also use a staple gun, but be sure your staples are short enough that they don’t go all the way through the board.

All that’s left to do is to mount it on your wall. How? There are a few options. You could try heavy duty sticky-back Velcro. Or picture hangers. But I chose to use drywall screws with washers. The insulation board is light weight, so I only needed about ten. They’re not pretty, but I hardly notice them. And it’s very sturdy.

You’ll notice in the photo above that I used a couple of boxes to hold it up so I could stand back and judge the placement on the wall before I committed to it and screwed it to the wall.

Here’s a closeup of the washer & screw. The washer needs a hole large enough for the screw to fit through, but small enough to keep the screw head from going through. I imagine you could camouflage it with a dab of white paint.

I can’t tell you how helpful having a larger design wall is. I love it. Most fabric pieces stay put without assistance, but I have the option to stick pins in the fabric to insure they don’t fall off before I get the chance to sew them all together. And it only took an afternoon to do make it.

So get going and give it a try. I’m sure you’ll love yours too.

You can make yours as small or as large as you like. You’re only limited by the size of your wall and your flannel covering.

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

PS: I’ve been asked about the project on the design wall in the photos. It’s a pattern by The Pattern Basket called “Star Drops” and it’s alot of fun to make. It’s made of layer cake (10″ squares) and mine is a Moda fabric by Robin Pickens called “Dandi-Annie”. Love it!💕

Quilt Studio Makeover: Layout

Quilt Studio Makeover: Layout

Is it a sewing room? A quilt studio? What do you call your spot? Whatever you call it, it’s a space set aside to create something beautiful; a special spot to get those creative juices flowing and enjoy some time doing what you love.

We’ve just moved into a new home, so of course I immediately claimed one of the extra bedrooms for my sewing/quilting/creative space. What I love about this room (besides the fact that it’s larger than what I had before), is the view and wonderful lighting.

Where to begin?

So where to start? It was like a fresh canvas… Where will I put everything, and (hardest of all) where should I begin? I guess the layout comes first.

I’ve got an app on my iPad called “Floorplans” by Green Tea LLC Software. In this app, I can draw the floor-plan of my room and add furniture and move around on the screen to see how it looks. It’s a great way to rearrange everything without physically having to move it.

Here are some of the many layouts I tried. Note: there’s a large window at the top, and a closet and door at the bottom of the pictures. The app has alot of built in furniture to choose from, but not a sewing cabinet, cutting table or ironing board, so I improvised with their computer table and tables just changing their size to match my furniture.

Layout #1. Not bad, I can see out the window while I sew, but the light’s not coming in on my left side and I also want the left side of my sewing table away from the wall so I can fit larger projects under my needle.

Layout #2. No…this one’s not quite right either. I don’t want the ironing board jutting out over and blocking the window.

Layout #3. So this is it (above). I finally decided on this layout (although I switched the bookcases around). And after moving everything around to match the layout drawing, I’m pretty happy with it.

I like the proximity of everything to my ironing board… I can walk all the way around the cutting table, and easily have access to the design wall and storage closet.

I like to glance out the window every once in awhile as I’m sewing away…and the extra daylight on my sewing is very helpful.

Note about the view–It’s hard to believe we’ve had 3 snowstorms since October! Looking out the window now, you don’t see any snow…only bare trees and green grass (and some leaves that missed the last raking!). The temps are now up to 50 degrees, but they’ll dip back down with more snow in just a few days. It’s “anything-can-happen” weather in Wisconsin!

Most of the bookshelves from my old quilt studio fit inside the closet here, so when we moved in my sister and I took the doors off the closet for easier access. (BTW, I’m indebted to my wonderful sister, who drove over & spent a few weeks helping us purge, pack, clean, & get ready for the move. I don’t know what I would have done without her!…thanks again Judi!!)

In the next post, I’ll tell you about the design wall with a little DIY hints.

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Tuesdays Tips -Quilting: HST Tip Tool

Tuesdays Tips -Quilting: HST Tip Tool

Hi! Thought you might enjoy a quick tip when you need to join half square triangles (HST) the traditional way–by sewing two triangles together.

I’m working on a Christmas quilt, and the pattern calls for cutting squares in half (corner to corner) and sewing them together.

I usually make my HST by cutting squares a bit larger, stacking them right sides together, drawing a line from corner to corner, sewing 1/4″ on either side of the line, cutting between the lines, pressing and squaring them up to size. You know the drill.

Or (if I have the right size die) I’ll use my Accuquilt to cut perfect triangles with the dog ears pre-trimmed. But for this pattern, I didn’t have the right size die.

So…I happened to remember a sweet little tool I got at the Quilt Expo quite awhile back (and amazingly was able to find it)! It’s a Porter & Fons Triangle Trimmer. It made the job so much easier.

Just line it up with the corner and trim!

Why? Because it makes the triangles easier to line up, and easier to feed through the machine (easier to get the trimmed edge under to needle than that tiny point).

And because once they’re opened up and pressed, there are no dog ears to trim.

I was lucky…these HST finished up right on target, so there was no need to spend time squaring.

So if you’re into a project that calls for sewing HST the old fashioned way…take a look in your tool stash. You just might have forgot about this great little tool.

Hope this tip was helpful. Until next time,

HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Tuesday Tips Quilting: Straight Lines

Tuesday Tips Quilting: Straight Lines

Have you ever intended to quilt some beautiful straight lines on your quilted project with your domestic sewing machine and walking foot, thinking you can easily eyeball it from block to block, only to finish a few rows and find you wavered a bit? …that the lines aren’t quite as straight as you’d like?

I know I have. It’s not as easy to sew nice straight lines as you’d think, without a little guidance.

Sure, you can mark one straight line on your quilt and then use the edge of your walking foot to keep every consecutive line straight. But even so you might not keep the lines perfectly straight as you travel along. And maybe you don’t want your lines so close together.

Another option is marking the lines on your quilt using a long ruler & some kind of removable marker (like chalk, disappearing ink, water soluble ink, or pencil). But that’s time consuming and adds another step of getting rid of the marks after you’re done.

So, what’s the solution? My tip is to use good old blue painter’s tape (usually blue, sometimes green).

I just roll out a long piece and tape it onto the quilt, using the blocks (or a ruler) to make sure it’s straight and where I want the stitching.

Line your needle up to one side of the tape or the other and sew away!

Just be sure you sew close to, but not on top of, the tape! Remember, it’s not a race..you can sew slowly.

The strip is reusable…I was able to use the same strip of tape about 10 times or more, so I only needed a couple of long strips to “mark” the entire baby quilt.

And voila! Done in no time, with no marks to wash out.

Love it!❤️

That’s it for Tuesday Tips! Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

My Favorite Iron for Quilting

My Favorite Iron for Quilting

One New Year resolution for 2019 is to organize leftover scraps, so I decided to spend a little time this morning ironing the mess. It just makes it so much easier to find what I need. That made me think about how much I love my iron…and about sharing that with you.

You may remember the earlier blog about the problems I had with the Rowenta Pro Steam Iron. I desperately needed a new iron. There are so many irons out there, I had no idea where to start.

Then I remembered the iron I used while I was at the quilting retreat at The Jones Mansion …a gravity fed iron. It was by far the BEST iron I’d ever used.

The model I decided to purchase was the Hot Steam Gravity Fed Iron, and I ordered it through Wawak.com sewing supplies (right around $100, including the iron, hot plate, hose, & water tank).

It was easy to hang the water tank from a plant hanger I attached to the wall above my window. And it uses tap water with a demineralizer (resin) that only needs replacing a couple times a year. It heats up fast, creates nice flat seams, and the on-demand steam by pressing the thumb switch is wonderful.

The only downside is that it’s not very portable. Because of the water tank, it is easiest to keep it in one spot.

Here’s the water tank…

And my lovely iron…I’ve had it for almost 5 years now and still love it! ❤️

Paired with my homemade large ironing board surface and my new Wooly ironing mat, I’m a very happy camper (or I should say happy quilter)!

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING,

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Mellow Yellow Organizer

Mellow Yellow Organizer

So I’m enjoying a few days on a quilting retreat at the lovely Jones Mansion Retreat Center. I always enjoy a few days away to relax, refresh, regenerate with a few quilting friends (new and old). I always get a lot of projects done (or at least started) and I always get inspired by my friends and their projects. So much creativity and talent!

This week I was in a room I’ve never had before — the Ivy Room. Isn’t it beautiful?

I’ve been able to enter small art quilts in the first two challenges of Project Quilting Season 9, and made woven fabric into a cell phone bag for the third challenge. But between all that was going on this week, plus packing and organizing for the retreat, I didn’t seem to have time for this challenge.

Then, today, the wonderful owner of the mansion gave us her own pattern and her tutoring skills (she’s an expert quilter and seamstress) to make an organizing mat to go under our sewing machines. I ran down to the local fabric store and found the perfect fabric … one with yellow measuring tape, and the other with spools of thread–many of them yellow.

Isn’t it the cutest?

After sewing it together, I added some YELLOW rick-rack and pink binding with a serpentine stitch.

Here it is…ta-da!

It’ll keep all my needed gadgets right by me and help keep things organized… Hmmmm…it has lots of YELLOW, and finding all my sewing gadgets and goodies at the ready makes me MELLOW! So … I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but I entered it in the “Mellow Yellow” challenge for Project Quilting Season 9 this week!❤️. I hope you’ll click on the link and vote for your favorite quilted entries. Voting begins Sunday (Feb 25) through Friday (Mar 2, 2018).

The mat will be great to bring along to retreats and classes, and it can do double-duty as a dust cover when I’m away from my machine… (which is never for long)!

Super cool. Thanks so much Lori!

For more info on other fabulous quilting (and sewing) retreats at the Jones Mansion In Historic Mineral Point, Wisconsin, see my earlier blog here Or visit their website here. You can even rent out the space for your very own retreat with friends.

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

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Tuesday Tips: Accuquilt Die Cutting

Tuesday Tips: Accuquilt Die Cutting

So I’ve been debating whether or not to buy one of the new fabric die cutters available out there…I wondered… Was it really worth the price? Would it really save me time?

After watching a b’zillion videos on the Accuquilt website, and an in-person demo at one of my fabulous local quilt stores, Mill House Quilts, I was “hooked”. It wasn’t the time saved or even the “rotary cutting wrist relief” that sold me on them… It was the consistent accuracy of the pieces the Accuquilt dies cut.

There are several sizes of Accuquilt Die Cutters (ranging in price) for me to chose from.  I felt a little like Goldi-locks–this one’s too big, this one’s too small, this one is just right!  I felt for me the Go!Baby was a bit too small. I wanted to use the larger strip cutting dies, and the Baby only accepts the small dies.  On the other end of the spectrum the Go!Big Electric was too much for my small sewing space.  It would be a great choice for people with hand issues that can’t handle the manual crank.  And the Studio (the top of the line and most expensive) was way over my needs, space, and budget.  So I settled on the Go!. It can handle the larger dies, but is light-weight and easy to fold up and put on the floor under my cutting table when not in use.  Very easy to bring up and use anytime.  Of course I waited until it was on sale, and it came with a “Value Die” (55018) a 6×12″ cutting mat, die pick, and pattern booklet.   I also bought the 1-1/2 inch strip cutter–thinking ahead to log cabins in my future (yes!).

I absolutely love it!

There’s one tip I learned along the way that I’d like to share with you about preparing the fabric.  I found it helpful.  I create a simple cardboard template for the die to help.  Here’s a sample of the one I made for my 2″ finished half square triangle die…

I’m in the process of making a baby quilt for a friend (soon-to-be grandma again) that has 4″ finished Signature Blocks.  To create the two corners of the block, I need 2″ finished half square triangles, and I happen to have this die (yay! It’s part of the “value die”).   To make the cardboard template, I measure and add about a quarter inch or so on each side all around that particular die and cut it out (with paper scissors).  Then whenever I use that die, I can use this template to help me visually prepare the fabric so it’s not too large or small and I can make the most of the fabric strip or scrap from my stash.

I can place it on my ruler when I’m cutting a strip to judge the correct width…

and then place the carboard template at the end of a strip and roll the fabric around it…

…until I’ve got 6 layers of fabric (the most my Go! will cut at one time)…then I cut off the excess fabric on the strip (if any)…

And give it a quick press with my iron…

**IMPORTANT**:  Don’t forget to slip the cardboard template OUT of the fabric before you take it to the die cutter! –you do NOT want to run the cardboard template through the die cutter with the cardboard inside!!

Place the fabric over the template, being sure it hangs over all the edges of the marked die, cover with the plastic cutting mat, and run it through your die cutter…

Here’s a quick video of the cutting process…(forgive my amateur video taking!)… it’s difficult trying to do this with only one hand!  LOL

It actually didn’t take long at all! From beginning to end I cut 24 perfect half square triangles in about 2 minutes.

The best part (and the real reason I was hooked on a die cutter) is the accuracy. Each triangle is perfectly cut.  And even better, all the “dog ears” are cut off…making piecing a breeze.

Between then and now (my birthday was in there and the family knows what I want–LOL), I’ve accumulated a few more dies.  I plan to make templates for all of them except the very large strip cutters.

That’s all for today… I hope this was helpful.  I’ll share the quilt I’m making with you next time.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all my friends in the U.S.

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts