Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Basting my Quilt

If you follow my Facebook page, you may have seen my post about marking my latest finished quilt top for hand quilting. A question was asked on Facebook about the stencil I used, so I will answer it here as well -- the stencil I'm using is from The Stencil Company, and it's a stencil for the Baptist Fan pattern. one of my favorite all over quilting patterns for pieced quilts.

So now my quilt is fully marked, and I thought I would share how I baste my quilts. The way I baste my quilts has gone through a few changes over the years. When I first began making quilts, I basted all of my quilts on the floor (luckily that was a younger me). But after I bought and read Harriet Hargrave's Heirloom Machine Quilting, I used the method she illustrates in the book on how to baste on a table using large binder clips. The table she recommended was one of those long catering type tables, roughly 24" x 8 ft., which I immediately went out and bought. I basted on that table for quite a few years, until I purchased a fold-able cutting table, and came up with another idea:

I bought another identical table, and created a wonderful basting surface, and sometime-design surface by putting the two tables together, and clipping them together where they meet with one large binder clip on each side. The binder clips hold the two tables together very securely, and the two tables together create a 59 1/4" x 71 1/2" surface. The height is just right, and I can lean across and just reach the middle when I'm basting (a taller person would have an easier reach). One of the advantages of using these tables, in general, is that when the fold up, they take very little space, and they are on casters, so they are easy to move around.

I lay the backing right side down, centering the backing on the table. Then I use the large binder clips to clip the sides, stretching the backing as I go. I start in the middle of each side, and then work my way out from the middle of each side until I reach each of the corners.

The backing is stretched and clipped to the table on all sides with large binder clips

If my quilt is shorter than the table edges (smaller wall quilts), I use extra wide masking tape to tape the backing to the table.

After the backing is stretched and clipped, I lay the batting over the backing and gently smooth it flat. I'm using The Warm Company Warm Bond 80/20 bonded quilt batting that I won last summer from the Primitive and Folk Art Exhibit. I LOVE this batting! It has the thin loft that I like for my quilts, and it's soft and glue-free.

Last, comes the quilt top. I use my rulers to make sure every block is square and every border is straight. For hand quilting, I thread baste, and for machine quilting, I pin baste.

This was a fun quilt to make, and I enjoyed using prints from my first fabric line with Studio e Fabrics, Elementary, and mixing them in with a variety of prints from my stash. And I'm looking forward to spending more time with it as I hand quilt it. Time to start threading needles and get this quilt basted! 

Until next time,


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Nancy's Quilt Camp

A few weeks ago I was invited to attend Nancy's Quilt Camp in Prescott, Arizona. There was a last minute cancellation, and I just happened to be at my dentist's office where Denise, a talented quiltmaker, and frequent quilt camper, works, and she invited me to the camp, which was just a week away. I was tired and a bit burnt out after having been immersed in completing my book, Betsy's Scrapbag. I thought maybe a quilt camp away from it all was just what I needed to get back into the swing of things, and motivate me to return to sewing with enthusiasm. So I signed up!

I had to hurry up and plan something to work on. For me, when I go to quilt camp, I like to have projects to work on that are more production oriented. I don't want to have to make design decisions away from home. So, I planned a few simple blocks to piece, and madly started cutting away for 2 days before the camp weekend.

When I arrived at quilt camp on Thursday afternoon, I was warmly greeted by Denise and Nancy, the camp organizer. I can't say enough good things about Nancy. She definitely puts her heart and soul into making the camp a fun and welcoming experience for all. She planned lots of fun raffles, and she went out on Saturday afternoon and generously bought enough foam core board and batting to make everyone a portable design wall. What a fantastic idea! And the amazing thing about Nancy - she was doing all of this, and with a smile on her face, while going through chemotherapy after having breast cancer. What an inspiration!

Portable Design Wall

I met so many nice ladies, and as always at quilt camp, I picked up some great ideas. My tablemate, Natalie, had some wonderful lights added to her sewing machine, and I just had to order the lights when I returned home.  Here are my new lights added to my machine, and what a difference they make!

You're supposed to cut off any excess length, but I looped mine around (you can see that on the left), because I wanted to use ALL of the lights, haha! Here is the box they came in, if you want to buy these lights for your machine:

Inspired LED Sewing Machine Light Kit

Back to camp - It was just what I needed to kick start my quilting. I had a great time piecing my blocks, and I came home and haven't stopped having fun in my studio. My basket "bottoms" were completed at camp, and all I had to do when I came home was sew on the handles:

Thank you, Nancy and Denise, for a great time! 

Until next time,