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!đź’•

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 Feed 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 since 2014 (for 6 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

How to Make Fold-Over Labels for Your Quilts or Other Sewing Projects

How to Make Fold-Over Labels for Your Quilts or Other Sewing Projects

Earlier I blogged about how to make a flat label to sew onto your quilts or other sewn items.  But today I wanted to make some folded labels to insert into the binding of my quilts for sale (see below).

QuiltLabel1I found a great tutorial by “Easy Sewing for Beginners” (HERE)  and I decided to use my Inkjet “TransferMagic” heat transfer paper.  (It has an Oops proof guarantee after all!).  Following the instructions, I created a document on MSWord, reversed the images/words, and printed it onto the heat transfer paper—being careful to put the paper into the printer the right way.

QuiltLabel2 I cut the labels out carefully and placed each face down onto two different surfaces—a wide twill tape and a 5/8” Offray ribbon–and pressed with a hot iron using the package instructions.

QuiltLabel3After they cooled, I peeled back the backing paper very slowly and carefully and it worked…

QuiltLabel4HOWEVER,  I didn’t like the shininess and the patchy look.

The tutorial mentioned using wax paper and a hot iron to “melt” the transfer into the ribbon to solve that problem. I tried it, being sure to cover the wax paper with parchment so it wouldn’t hurt my iron)…

and UGH, …this is what happened…see below.

QuiltLabel5Instead of melting it into the ribbon, it lifted up parts of the words and images.  It didn’t matter if I pulled back the wax paper before or after it cooled–it still happened.

I thought—maybe she meant “freezer paper” instead of wax paper.  …Nope—that didn’t work either.  The same thing happened.  Finally I tried parchment paper alone…same unfortunate result.

Her tutorial used a “glossy” transfer paper & mine wasn’t glossy.  I think that might be the reason…my heat transfer paper might not have been the same as hers.  But I’m not going out shopping today to spend time searching or spend more $$ to find out if another brand might work at this point.  

Without ironing the labels, they actually DO work, 

…but the shininess bothered me.  They just didn’t look as nice as I wanted.   And I wondered what might happen if they were exposed to heat later–for example, what if someone accidentally ironed them later? …and I wonder if any other heat source (like a hot dryer) might damage them?


So ON TO PLAN B!!!

Just as I did in my tutorial for making flat quilt labels, I prepared some tightly woven cotton fabric by ironing a sheet of freezer paper to the back and cutting it to 8-1/2 x 11 inches with my rotary cutter & ruler (see the tutorial here for more information).

I created a document on MSWord (just like before), but used the “insert line” feature to give me some nice dashed guidelines as cutting guides.  This time I did not need to reverse the images/words…

QuiltLabel6After printing them directly onto the prepared cotton fabric through my inkjet printer, I cut them out, giving myself about a 1/4 inch beyond the dashed guidelines on each side of the labels.

QuiltLabel7After peeling off the freezer paper backing, it was a snap to fold in the sides of each label along the dashed lines and iron them down.

QuiltLabel8I used matching thread and a straight stitch to top stitch along the side of each label.  Doing one after another (chain piecing) makes it go fast…

QuiltLabel9After a good press, and folding them in half…THEY’RE DONE!  AND LOOKING GREAT!

QuiltLabel11Now I really like these.  They’re not stiff, there’s no blotchy shine or patchiness, and they’re  heat set and should wear for a long time.

QuiltLabel1aI’ll keep them in a jar ready for me to sew into my future quilts…like this one.

QuiltLabel1b

UPDATE:  I was curious how well these labels would wear after washing, so I attached 2 of them to a small improvised scrap quilt/binding & ran it (with my wash) through 2 machine washing & drying cycles and this is the result (see below)…


The label on the left is brand new…the 2 labels on the right were run through the regular washer/dryer cycle with regular detergent twice.  Not bad! 


And here (afew weeks later) are the three labels side-by-side after the third (on the right) was machine washed & dryed 5 times.  Not bad at all!

I hope this tutorial was helpful, and that it’s given you a few good ideas.  Give it a try and make some labels for your quilts.  
Whether you sell your quilts, give them to those you love, or keep them for yourself, it’s always important to label your work.

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

MPQ Tuesday Tips: Tame the Rocky Ruler

MPQ Tuesday Tips: Tame the Rocky Ruler

Usually I don’t have a problem with my rulers “rocking” while I’m cutting fabric.  But, it’s different when I’m trimming half square triangles—or blocks with seams.

RockyR1

I’ve added thin plastic discs to most of my rulers, but I didn’t have a chance to add them to my new Olfa 4-1/2” frosted square ruler.  While trimming (squaring up) my tiny 2 inch half-square triangles, I noticed  that because of the “hump” in the middle made by the seam (from corner to corner), my ruler would teeter-totter and make my cutting accuracy challenging.

What do to?  I don’t have any more of the plastic disks.  So…I found a post-in note pad in my sewing drawer…PERFECT!

DSC06020

I tore off 3 or 4 pages and cut a strip along the top (the part with the sticky underneath)—and cut it into thirds…

RockyR3

And “stuck” each to the bottom of my ruler on the three corners farthest from the 0″ mark.

RockyR4

It “leveled out the playing field” and now my ruler doesn’t rock!  If you give it a try, you might need a few pages more or less–it’s easy to add or subtract pages if you need to.

RockyR5

So now I’m on a roll…without rocking!    And I can easily take them off when I’m done.

I’m sure painter’s tape would work as well, but the post-it’s were in my sewing room, and there’s no sticky residue after I take them off.

Hope you enjoyed this “TUESDAY TIPS”…

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Making a Flat Label for Quilts and Quilted Items DIY

Making a Flat Label for Quilts and Quilted Items DIY

I needed a flat sew-in label with my shop name and logo for smaller items, like placemats, mug rugs, key fobs, etc.  So I think I figured out a way to do it myself using my PC, Microsoft Word, and an inkjet printer.

I opened up a new Word document and, since I knew I wanted very small labels, I went to page layout and created four columns (see “more columns”).

FlLabels1

Then it was just a matter of “inserting” a jpeg picture of my logo that I had on file (resizing it to fit)  and adding the wording in the style, size, and font I liked best.  Once I had one done, all I had to do was “cut & paste” it down the page until all the columns were filled up for one page.

FlLabels4

Next, get out the freezer paper, and the tightest weave white muslin you have on hand.

FlLabels2

Iron some freezer paper onto the muslin and cut it down with your rotary cutter and ruler so it’s exactly the size of a piece of paper (8-1/2 x 11”).

FlLabels

Iron it again—just to be sure all the corners and edges are secure.  I like to run my lint remover over it, just to be sure I didn’t pick up any stray threads.

FlLabels5

For my printer, I needed to put the prepared fabric upside-down so it would feed correctly.  And print on best quality setting.

FlLabels6

To be sure it’s secure on the item, I fused it to a sheet of Steam-A-Seam 2 (double fusible web).

FlLabels7

Hint:  After it’s cool, it’s easier to pull the backing sheet off now, rather than later.  But be sure to save the backing sheet!

FlLabels8

Then it’s just a matter of cutting the labels to the size you want.  I like to do them a column at a time, and only cut what I need.  I can put the sheet of labels that’s left back onto the saved backing sheet to store for the next time I need them.

FlLabels9

First I iron them onto the item (it helps secure them for stitching).

FlLabels01

And then I stitch them in place, using a matching thread.

FlLabels02

And here are the finished key fobs!

I’m not sure how much these labels will stand up to washing—but since many of my smaller items don’t need to be washed much (if at all), I’m not worried.  I may do a test in the future just for fun.

Until next time…HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts