SPRING QUILTING & GARDENING

It seemed like a forever long winter here in central Indiana this past winter. Normally I like winter. I get to work from home more, I bake bread, and I generally hunker down and just enjoy the slower pace. Not the winter of 2020-21. I am sick of the whole virus thing, sick of politics, and sick of being stuck inside since there was only a few days with enough snow to do anything outside. Bring on the spring quilting & gardening !!!!

SPRING QUILTING & GARDENING
Driving into town one morning.

Finally, Spring!

Hallelujah – my daffodils are up and happily blooming. Spring truly is on the way!

Spring daffodils
Daffodils

SPRING QUILTING & GARDENING
More daffodils

And so is the hellebores (Lenten Rose) plant !

SPRING QUILTING & GARDENING
Hellebore plant

Since the kids are grown and gone I don’t have a vegetable garden. However, I have several flower beds full of both bulbs and perennials that will keep me busy until late autumn. There are always weeds to pull, mulching to do, and Winter Creeper to eradicate. And no doubt somewhere out there is at least one poison ivy vine waiting for me to get into it.

The trees are starting to bud out, the neighbor’s magnolia tree is glorious, and I am actually hearing frogs. The woodpeckers have returned, and we have two juvenile owls in the old maple tree. I saw a batch of bunnies in the field across the road.

Apparently other quilters enjoy spring flowers too. If fact, most quilters I know also garden.

We do not use chemicals in the yard so we tend to see all kinds of interesting bugs and birds in our yard and among the flowers. It is also completely fenced to try to keep the wildlife out.

Stray Rooster

It is time I mention the stray rooster that has shown up here. I have asked around hoping to find the guy’s home but no one claims this handsome dude. He is hard to miss as he struts down the road in front of our home over the past months. Personally, I did not make any effort to feed or approach it.

Stray rooster
Handsome rooster

Then we had about 2 weeks of (for here) cold weather and I felt sorry for the guy. This was also the only time we had several inches of snow, and he could not scratch around for bugs. Since I was putting birdfeed out in the backyard, I put a bit out by the road for him.

Last week he showed up under the biggest bird feeder. He cleaned up the mess the other birds left with the seed and was happy to get a bit more of his own corn on the ground. So now he is apparently a regular – much to my husband’s disgust.

Handsome rooster
Stray rooster

If someone doesn’t feed him fast enough he stands on the back porch and crows until someone comes out. He eats the corn or seed is his little pile and then scratches around for bugs. I have mixed feelings about this situation that I apparently created.

Spring quilting…

This month I have made two road trips to the Daviess County, IN Amish settlement to buy fabric. No, I do not need fabric. But after the last two years of using my stash and scraps to make quilts I am ready for something new.

I have also been looking at chicken fabric and rooster quilt block patterns – go ahead and chuckle. I don’t see myself actually making a rooster quilt but…

So what is on my agenda for quilting ??

I have a stack of 4 patch blocks sewn together. All that is needed is for me to figure out which fabric would make a good alternate block and get that together.

I have a plastic container of 3″ tumblers that would make a really pretty scrap top.

This is an easy way to use up a lot of scraps.

SPRING QUILTING & GARDENING

There is finally enough muscle car fabric to make a double quilt for my nephew who is graduating high school this spring. He loves muscle cars and saved his money to buy an old Ford Mustang to restore. I have everything but the border cut out and ready to sew. Bright orange solid is the alternating block with white, orange, and navy blue being the borders.

muscle car fabrics

And there are also…….forget the list, I need to work on these items first.

And so…

Better weather is here, my calendar is way fuller than I want it to be, and quilting time will be less until fall. But I still make time to do something quilt related most days. It can be as simple as looking at quilt magazines, talking to another quilter, or cutting and piecing.

I will spend some time collecting ideas for quilts to make later in the year as the weather turns cold. At some point before summer hits, I will clean and organize my sewing room – this is usually an annual event for me.

Happy quilting my dear readers. Bring on the spring quilting & gardening !!!!

Make today amazing
Source: Bing clip art
PLEASE NOTE: 
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

A BUSY QUILTING MONDAY

Today is beautiful outside. Brilliant blue sky. Cloudless. Took the day off and hibernating at home, and having a busy quilting Monday. So fun!

A busy quilting day.
Source: Bing clip art

Sometimes a person just needs a “mental health day” as my sister would say to do something fun and personal.

clip art - no news
Source: Google clip art

Today I did not listen to the news, or check social media. I put on fun music that I enjoy and opened the windows. The phone is off (I know – scandal right!).

I went through a pile of about 40 quilt magazines that were given to me, and pulled out two patterns. The magazines are now ready to go to the recycling bin in town when one of us heads that way.

Sewed together five rows on the mystery quilt. I love the colors but am ready to move on to another project. This one has taken way longer than I normally spend on a quilt.

Mystery quilt rows

Located a pattern I would like to make a wall hanging from next that involves stars.

Washed a stack of fabric that I traded another quilter for. She had some different spring type colors than I do.

My point is this:

If you have a chance to take a few hours or a day to just do quilt related activities, please do so. All of us need time to recharge and do something that fulfills us.

I used to think it was very selfish, but time has taught me that I am a better person, a better employee, a better spouse, a better parent if I simply take a short time for myself to recharge and relax.

Enjoy a busy quilting Monday (or any other day of the week).

Other quilters say:

How Many Hours A Day Do You Spend Quilting? – The Quilting Forum – Missouri Star’s Quilt Community (missouriquiltco.com)

PLEASE NOTE: 
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

QUILTING and 7 MONTHS OF COVID

Quilting and 7 months of COVID: I read an article this week about how hard COVID has been on people around the world. The “isolation”, the “aloneness”, and the “frustration”. Actually I just shook my head over the article. I get that I am an introvert, but I have looked at these last several months as an opportunity. Back in March I wrote this post about the crisis .

My advice is the same now as in March: “I want to encourage you to take care of yourself including eating properly, getting enough rest, some form of exercise, and of course quilting. If you are not sick, the most important thing is to stay well. If you are already sick, rest and allow yourself to get well.

QUILTING and 7 MONTHS OF COVID
I completed the hand quilting for this customer on 3/24/2020. The size is 70″ x 86″. I put in 172 yds. of quilting.

Yes, there has been a lot of inconveniences and frustrations. Like being a month into isolation and discovering that I had no more (as in not a single piece) Wonder Under and I was in the middle of a machine appliqued quilt block. Guess what, Walmart and JoAnne’s did not have any either. Put that project away for later…

Quarantine quilt top: Scrap Bonanza #1.
Scrap Bonanza #1 – my first “quarantine” top complete. See the post: https://indianaquilter40.com/scrap-bonanza-1/

Up to that point, I had heard the grumblings from other quilters about the lack of supplies in local stores, and for certain products even Amazon was not any help. But I had been in my own little quilting bubble while working remote from home.

It’s an opportunity for quilting

No commute, no overnights in hotels, no constant interruptions. When my work day ended, I turned off the computer and the phone and retreated into my quilt bubble.

I saw then, and still see now, COVID to be a real opportunity to get quilting projects and ideas completed that had been running around in my head and/or sewing room unchaperoned for long enough. I was determined to work out of my own stash, and scrap bins.

Another COVID quarantine quilt top completed.
Another “quarantine” quilt top. Working from my stash and scraps. See here: https://indianaquilter40.com/happy-hibernation-quilt-or-using-those-crumbs-strips-part-2/

I am still very much enjoying the alone time when not at work. Travel is very limited right now for my job. I didn’t even whine much about personal travel plans that had to be canceled – the girl cousin trip to Baltimore, the family reunion over July 4th, the annual trip to Paducah, KY for the AQS show.

So here we are quilting and seven months into COVID…..

I have cleaned the sewing room – twice. The various piles of unwanted but good items have been sold, traded, and given away. That makes room for more fabric. I love having fewer magazines. And fewer scraps. And fewer, well just quilting stuff that is not being used. I hope all that stuff likes the new homes.

When this all started back in March, I tried to follow the news closer. I spent a lot of time reading real medical journals. That lasted about two weeks. After that I dug out fun old movies and music CDs and binged on fun stuff that was in no way related to the current situation. But if nothing else, I rediscovered a world forgotten in the hurry scurry of a time consuming, stressful career.

QUILTING and 7 MONTHS OF COVID
Simply Squares is another quarantine quilt. See here https://indianaquilter40.com/simple-squares-quilt/

Life slowed down and joy returned. I got to:

Work in the garden.

Walk 1 – 2 miles a day outside.

Enjoy the frogs singing their little hearts out that spring had returned.

Sort fabrics and play with colors like I normally do not do.

Read other quilt blogs and watch YouTube quilting videos.

Talk to neighbors I rarely see because we are all working crazy schedules.

Enjoy the laughter of children who were playing outside.

Clean the house, and finish small projects.

Ate quiet meals with my husband, who continued to work his normal 12 hour shifts two days on and two days off.

And I quilted. Some quilts were UFOs that needed completed. Some were brand new quilts. I even got some hand quilting done for other folks.

Hand quilting during COVID.
Hand quilted for PB of Brazil, IN. Size is 60″ x 72″. Has 80 yards of hand quilting.

Be Happy and Quilt

In no way am I criticizing anyone for not getting as much done as me. There is no race. I just have way to many quilting ideas that I want to try. And growing up with a hoarder parent, I cannot do clutter.

Clutter makes me sick to my stomach. It distracts me from what needs done. Clutter cannot live at my home.

I just want to encourage you to not get caught up in things you cannot change (COVID, the rising prices, or the lack of fabric in some stores, etc.) and concentrate on what you can change in your life.

It is super easy to let outside things discourage us. Pretty soon we are laying on the couch eating 5 pound boxes of chocolate thinking that our world is ending.

Instead find something to do. Not for the sake of doing something. But for the sake of having a finished item to make you feel good.

So you aren’t happy with the size of the quilt, or the colors. You now hate that pattern. There are plenty of people out there who would love to have the item if you do not want it. Make your corner of the world a better place.

Another scrap quilt during COVID.
Still working from my own stash and scraps. See story here: https://indianaquilter40.com/scrap-rectangle-party-quilt/

My discovery about quilting and 7 months of COVID

  1. I love my home and my family more each day.
  2. It is ok to slow down and enjoy the world around me.
  3. God is so good, and I need to thank him more for His goodness.
  4. I have no end of quilting ideas.
  5. Saving money is fun.
  6. I need to pay more attention to my own health.
  7. While I hate to cook (always have), I am a good cook.
  8. Giving household items of all sorts to Goodwill is a guilt-free way to clean out unneeded/unwanted clutter.
  9. I hate poison ivy and am completely sure that I can identify it now before I start weeding flower beds.
  10. My neighbors are actually pretty nice people.
  11. I love spending time right here at home, alone or not. This is my happy place.
A finished UFO quilt project during COVID.
https://indianaquilter40.com/log-cabin-in-the-fall-woods-another-log-cabin-quilt/

PLEASE NOTE:  ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

ONE OF THOSE DAYS

Today was one of those days……you know the kind where nothing goes as planned. Have you ever been tempted just to crawl back in bed and hope to start the day over?? Yes, it has been one of those….

ONE OF THOSE DAYS
Source: Pintrest


Sadly, all the distractions and problems of today interfered with the quilting activity I had planned. But I wanted to get in a few minutes today of some quilt related activity.

I set the timer for five minutes. I pulled out a few scraps from the bins that I wanted to cut for the next scrap quilt.

Two cardboard boxes marked "small scraps".
These hold fabric a quarter yard or less – it keeps me from loosing them on the shelves with the bigger pieces of fabric.

Next, I set the timer for 10 minutes and ironed those scraps.  I hate to iron (am I allowed to admit this?) even though I do so much of it. I tend to get stalled right here trying to pretend I really do not have to iron those wrinkled up scraps (they are so much easier to cut and sew when ironed first). The timer went off just as I was ironing the last scrap.

These lovely pieces of fabric will have to wait until tomorrow for me to cut up – I don’t trust myself to cut the fabric accurately tonight. I am tired and headed to bed.

Selection of small pieces of ironed fabrics.
All ironed and ready to cut into blocks and strips.

I know all of us have these kinds of days occasionally and I just think it is important that we just do the best we can. Try to end the day on a good note. It makes for a good night of rest and a fresh start for tomorrow.

Folded fabric with saying "When the going gets round --- don't forget to pet the fabric".

Other quilters have bad days too

https://maryquilts.blogspot.com/2007/01/bad-day-quilting.html

https://www.stitchedincolor.com/blog//2011/03/good-very-bad-day.html

PLEASE NOTE: 
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

TO CLIP THOSE LOOSE THREADS OR NOT?

Not to dishonor Shakespeare’s “to be or not to be”, but as quilters our question is more likely to be “to clip those loose threads or not?” We all know they can make a mess if just allowed to hang on the back of the quilt top.

This is my take on loose threads, and you don’t have to agree, but I am rarely bothered enough by those threads to take time to clip them off.

You either gasp in horror at this point or break out laughing.

TO CLIP THOSE LOOSE THREADS OR NOT?

I am aware they can make a huge mess, and if I am not careful as I sew, a good portion of them end up in the seam and show up on the front of the quilt.  Sheesh….now they really do need clipped, right?

FirsT:

I rarely use white or any other light color for a quilt background – because I know this about myself. The first quilt I ever made with a white background I learned the hard way about not clipping those threads because I had it completely basted and in the frame for hand quilting and gasp…. I could see the darker threads.  Many hours later, I had un-basted the quilt sandwich and clipped all those threads.  Then to put it all back together……Ugh….

Second:

If it is a scrap quilt, I use that as a chance to use up all those colored, partial spools and bobbins of leftover thread that probably don’t match much of the fabric in the current quilt top. See another post: https://indianaquilter40.com/thread-fabric-should-they-match/

By now you are either so horrified you stop reading, or you are rolling on the floor laughing because you do the same thing.

Bonnie Hunter quote: Decide for yourself what matters to you and what doesn't.
Source: Quiltville

Third:

I decided long ago that I was more concerned about accurate cutting and piecing than about always matching the thread to the fabric, or clipping all those nasty loose hanging threads that appear on the back of my quilt top.

I am careful to take the time to pull them back out of the way when sewing the seams and since I usually use darker background fabrics it is rarely noticed if I choose to ignore the clipping step.

Quilters, whether you are a beginner or very advanced in your quilt making exactly what part of the quilting process is priority is up to you.  No one is going to die if we do a shortcut on our quilts.  Yes, they should be well made, but some things are not worth the time.

I refuse to stress about loose hanging threads on the back of a top that once it is quilted will never show up anyway.  So now you know my awful secret…

Summary:

To clip those loose threads or not? I encourage you to make your quilts, your sewing process, and your priorities while quilting your very own. Only you can decide what causes you stress while sewing or quilting, and if ignoring some small irritant is right for you.

Photo of cupboard full of quilts with the words - live. laugh. love...quilt!
Source: Quiltville

Have a wonderful day of quilting.

Another thought about clipping threads:

https://forum.missouriquiltco.com/forum/we-don-t-know-much-but-we-know-quilters/quilting-questions/57736-clipping-threads-on-back-of-a-quilt-top

PLEASE NOTE: 
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

MY FAVORITE “QUILTING” GADGET

clip art - sewing supplies and tools
Source: Google clip art

People ask me what my favorite “quilting” gadget is frequently.  I know they are hoping I will name some tool they saw advertised in a quilt magazine or website.  My answer is generally met with disappointment, after all it is a very common household item.

Drum roll for favorite quilting gadget
Source: Google clip art



And my favorite “quilting” gadget is……….(drum roll please)……….my stove timer (when home) or the alarm on my phone (when traveling) !!!!!!  Before you roll your eyes and give a disgusted snort…

A timer is my favorite quilting gadget
Source: Google clip art
Let me explain my reasoning:
  1. I work full time, and I spend hours many weeks traveling. I carry along parts and pieces of quilts that I can work on while in an airport or hotel.  In order to prepare for this, I need to have items sorted, cut, and organized. This includes thread, needles, and small scissors.  Setting the timer/alarm allows me uninterrupted time to concentrate and prep the supplies I need. 

2. Setting the timer allows me to concentrate solely on the task at hand.  It is amazing how much sorting, cutting, or even sewing on the machine I can get done in 10 or 15 minutes. 

3. If I am lucky enough to be home working, instead of traveling, before I start working for the day I sort, iron, cut, or sew for 15 minutes to start my day already feeling like I have accomplished something. It gives me a good mind set for the rest of the day.  

4. Setting the timer for a short amount of time allows me to hand quilt without distractions too. 

5. I try to utilize all those little spans of time between other things on my schedule to do something quilt related, but I get so engrossed in what I am doing that I forget to leave on time, or make a scheduled phone call, or get to an appointment, etc.  However, if I let the timer pay attention then I can relax and just enjoy the process of quilting.  

I would encourage you to try it

Stack the pieces you want to sew together in order by the sewing machine. Remember the machine needs to be in good repair and threaded correctly at all times so you don’t waste time on that when the timer is counting down. Set your timer for 15 minutes and sew. 

When the timer goes off, get up (this also breaks the concentration you had) turn off the timer, and go to work or the next thing on your “to do” list for that day. It might take a little practice, but if you get in the habit of setting a timer for those little bits of time within your day, you can get so much more accomplished on your quilting.

MY FAVORITE "QUILTING" GADGET
Source: Google clip art

https://indianaquilter40.com/basic-quilters-tool-box/

https://indianaquilter40.com/spending-the-day-cutting-quilt-pieces/

https://community.themodernquiltguild.com/resources/quilt-life-balance-how-find-more-time-quilt

PLEASE NOTE: 
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

MAKING QUILTS FROM THE IDEAS IN YOUR HEAD

Have you ever had an idea for a quilt that was so totally different than what you see normally in the quilt world? The idea just rattles around in your head and you can’t get away from it? But you think it is embarrassing to even consider something so different from “normal” quilts. Stop thinking that. Quilting should be fun, and making quilts from the ideas in your head can be so satisfying.

I am going to share three very different quilts from my quilt scrapbooks because I want you to make the quilts that make you happy. We are all unique creations, and it should not be surprising that we have ideas for unique quilts.

Before we start, put away the angering, sad, and depressing thoughts about the current events in our country. We are taking a break and just going to have fun for a few minutes.

Making quilts from the ideas in your head – Queen’s Crown #1 Mini Quilt

Making quilts from the ideas in your head - Queen's Crown #1

See here about this fun, hand quilted mini quilt that is embellished with beads.

Making quilts from the ideas in your head – Welsh Beauty Whole Cloth Quilt

When I mentioned making this whole cloth quilt to a few ladies in the local quilt guild, they gave me either blank looks or were verbally negative. The kindest comment asked me why I would “want to quilt silk fabric, and use itchy wool batting? And something about extremely sore fingers. I continued on with my plan for this beautiful quilt.

MAKING QUILTS FROM THE IDEAS IN YOUR HEAD - WELSH BEAUTY WHOLE CLOTH QUILT

Welsh Beauty is posted on my old blog here, see for details.

Making quilts from the ideas in your head – Maxine Strikes Again (reversible quilt)

My mom-in-law really, really likes Maxine (you know, the really sarcastic old woman comic strip). When I found both the Christmas and regular fabric versions, I had the wild idea to make a reversible quilt.

MAKING QUILTS FROM THE IDEAS IN YOUR HEAD

This is probably pretty tame compared to my “normal” outside the box quilt ideas, but it was fun. Coordinating fabrics from my stash. A little math to make them the right size.

Reverse side of the Maxine Strikes Again quilt.
Here is more info about this quilt.

The Christmas side I made 2″ bigger all the way around than the regular print side. This was so I could do self-binding.

advice to you

Go ahead and make quilts from the ideas in your head. If you have an idea for a quilt, follow your heart and mind, and just make it. So what if the quilt is not how you imagined it. If it truly is not what you want when it is done, gift it to someone else in your family or community.

But it may turn out better than you ever thought. Just think what a satisfying finished quilt you would have missed if you had not made it. Follow your ideas.

Enjoy your quilting journey.

Clip Art - make today amazing

PLEASE NOTE: 
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

BASIC QUILTER’S TOOL BOX

BASIC QUILTER'S TOOL BOX
Source: Google clip art

Are you new to quilting? What are must haves for a basic quilter’s tool box to get started piecing? If you have been reading my blog for anytime at all, you know I am all about keeping my life fairly simple. Several readers ask recently what I absolutely have to have in my basic quilter’s tool box to piece a quilt top.

There are so many gadgets in stores, quilting websites, and advertisements that claim to be “must haves” for the beginner quilter. It makes it hard to decide, and it is easy to get distracted. For those on a tight budget there is no money to waste on something not really needed.

Forty years ago, I started quilting with my sewing box from Home Ec class. All these years later, I am using many of the same tools because they still do the job. However, as I have gotten older and have a bit more money to sink into better tools, I have… if it is something I will actually use.

I am more about my tools being functional than pretty or the “newest and greatest”. There is nothing wrong with those things, but there is also nothing wrong with using simple things to get a project done. It is not a contest, decide what works for you.

As stated numerous times in various posts – get the best supplies you can afford now. You will be happier than just buying whatever is cheapest to save a few dollars. If you continue to quilt then upgrade as time, interest, and budget allow for better tools and gadgets.

Forget the fabric and thread for right now – this list is the “prequel” to that.

Clip art - glass jars containing straight pins, thread spools, scissors for quilting.
Source: google clip art

A super basic list for (in my mind at least) the basic quilter’s tool box:

Flat surface to put the sewing machine on for use

This can be a separate table, an old desk, or any other flat surface. You just need a flat space that will hold your machine safely and allow you enough room to use it.

In my life time of sewing, I have used the end area of a long table, an old sewing cabinet, a small kitchen table, and a plastic picnic table. Now an sturdy old wooden desk with drawers is home to my sewing machine and tools. Post on old blog about my desk (and other useful stuff) is here .

Something to use as an ironing board, and an iron.

I own an ironing board, but the reality is I rarely use it. Why? Because I like more room when ironing. See here . If you prefer to have an ironing board, then get one. They are readily available and not expensive.

However, in the past I have used a table top covered with several layers of towels. I have also (when much younger) spread an old wool blanket on the floor. Think outside the box here, if you do not have space or a budget for an ironing board, what can you use that is already on hand?

For me personally, I don’t spend a lot of money on irons. I am hard on them plus they get dropped routinely (no one ever said I was graceful). I do use a spray bottle for water instead of filling the iron. This one has lasted longer than the normal (for me) six to twelve months. What you need is what will be comfortable and usable for you.

An iron is a basic sewing tool.

A reliable sewing machine that is easy to use and maintain.

Find one that fits your budget with features you will use. Some people get a machine with all the bells and whistles, others go with what can be purchased at Wal-Mart or JoAnn’s.

I openly admit I own and use a Pfaff sewing machine. I use my sewing machine constantly. The machine needs to be a work horse. It needs to be easy to clean and maintain. Another requirement is simple to use. Before you say, those machines are way out of my budget, look at the less fancy ones. Mine has useful stitches, but mostly it is just a hard working machine. No computer to crash, it is functional without lots of extras I will not use.

I just looked at the shop in Indianapolis where I bought this one in 2011 and the new price for the current model of this one is $649 + tax. Ok, not cheap but not unreasonable either.

BASIC QUILTER'S TOOL BOX - my sewing machine.

Rotary cutting mat in a size that works for the area you must use it in.

These mats come in all sizes from a few inches to large enough to cover a table top. The original mat I bought was 12″ x 18″. When I had more space and money to upgrade, I got one 24″ x 36″. I still have the smaller mat and it is great for those times I am traveling and take fabric with me to cut. Get a mat that fits for your needs.

BASIC QUILTER'S TOOL BOX - cutting mat.

A rotary cutter and ruler that is a “general” all purpose.

Rotary cutters come in different sizes and with various types of handles. If you spend hours cutting what you want is one that fits your hand and is comfortable. I prefer the straight one above and a 45 mm blade. Be safe with your tool, they are sharp and a nasty cut (with possible stitches) will slow down your quilting project.

Rotary rulers come in different sizes and shapes for different projects. I encourage you to get a general size and shape for the first one. My favorite is still the 18″ x 3″ pictured above. When you shop, think in terms of one that will work for strips and squares, is easy to handle, has a safe area for your fingers to hold the ruler down, and is comfortable.

Rotary cutters for quilting.

The yellow handled one is my original and it still sees a lot of use. The gray one is a commemorative model for 25 years of Olfa cutters. The handle is a bit thicker and feels different. I use both, but am looking at the ergonomic ones that are available now. My wrists and elbows are not as young as they once were.

Fabric scissors that you like and will use.

Even with the rotary cutter, you will need at least one pair of scissors. They will be used for cutting threads, small amounts of fabric (like for applique), and just general fabric cutting. Mark them as only for fabric, or store with your sewing supplies. Cutting paper, wire, and cardboard will make them too dull to cut fabric or thread easily.

Sewing scissors come in various sizes with different kinds of handles. Again, try them out if possible and get the pair that feels good in your hands. Make sure you get right handed or left handed scissors depending on your need.

Sewing Scissors in a Basic Quilter's Tool Box

Quilting pins and a container to safely hold them.

Quilting pins are a must for pinning blocks together at intersections. They are helpful for bindings, and pinning rows or blocks together. They are just a great tool with numerous uses. Sometimes I think mine act like extra fingers.

Along with a pin cushion or some form of container to hold the pins is necessary. Unless you find the game of “pick up pins” to be fun. I store my pins in a regular canning jar. When I am using them they get put in a magnetic cup that I bought for $2 at the Dollar Store in the automotive section.

BASIC QUILTER'S TOOL BOX - Quilting pins are a useful tool.

Seam ripper.

This basic quilting tool comes in various sizes and shapes. Find something that fits your hand. When sewing it is easy to make mistakes or not sew a straight seam. A seam ripper is tons easier to use to fix this then a pair of scissors.

Two different seam rippers - another necessary quilting tool.

A BASIC QUILTER’S TOOL BOX Needs a container to keep all the small items in.

This can be a clear plastic box with a lid, a cardboard shoe box, a fancy sewing box, or something else. The important thing is to have a container to keep all the small tools in.

I use my ugly orange Tupperware sewing box that originally held all my sewing tools for Home Ec class in school. It still does the job, and with a tight fitting lid can travel or be moved around without loosing items.

BASIC QUILTER'S TOOL BOX - sewing box for tools.

A good reference book or website that will walk you through the steps to making your first quilt top.

I still have these books for reference and ideas. Do some research and talk to other quilters to see what they use for instructions. There are some really good books. If you prefer videos, see what you can find on YouTube.

The important thing is to find an instructor or instructions that help you. I remember seeing an Eleanor Burns video and being so excited because she was fun and made the quilts look easy.

Finally for your basic Quilter’s Tool Box…

There is a learning curve to using the tools and getting comfortable with them. The most important thing is for you to like the tools and practice with them. This is especially true with the machine and the rotary cutter.

But it is something you can learn. Quilting is not rocket science. It is very do-able. Just remember to have fun with it. Find another quilter who can mentor you when you get stuck. The most important tool is you being willing to learn, and enjoying the process.

Happy Stitching.

Clip art of girl sewing.

PLEASE NOTE: 
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

SPENDING THE DAY CUTTING QUILT PIECES

Spending the day cutting quilt pieces ?? Is the scrap bin or space on your shelves too crowded for more fabric? Are you really wanting to get started on a new quilt but just not getting to the cutting part? The solution maybe to block off some time to spend part or all of the day cutting quilt pieces.

Rotary mat with ruler and rotary cutter for cutting quilt pieces.
Source: Google clip art

This week, I was able to sort out scraps and iron for one entire afternoon. I turned my phone off, listened to music I like, and just enjoyed the process of pulling various scraps out of the bins, ironing them, and laying them flat on an extra plastic table.

woman ironing fabric to cut out quilt pieces
Source: Google clip art

A prior post on my ironing area https://indianaquilter40.com/my-fabric-ironing-area-aka-a-folding-table-for-ironing/

The next day, I got up early to get my work done. Then I was able to make a block of several hours to cut up those ironed scraps. Again I turned off the phone, put in music I like, and enjoyed the process of cutting.

a word about messy sewing rooms

I have been working from home for several weeks thanks to the COVID-19. It’s a really nice change to not be traveling each day. The downside is that I have more and more quilting ideas – which leads to an even messier quilting area.

The perception and reality of a quilting room.
Source: Google images

Did I say messy – what an understatement!! I am one of those creative types who does not clean up the mess until I am done with said project. I feel like there has been just one continuous project the last several weeks. What that means is that in several weeks, the mess has grown because I continue to go happily from one project to the next.

I didn’t realize how bad it was until another quilter was here over the weekend. Her first question was, “what happened in here??” I really looked at the mess then. I am going to simply say there is no excuse (I can certainly relate to this kids book).

I can relate to this photo of a messy room - my quilt room looks just as bad today.
Source: Goggle clip art

I’m too embarrassed to post photos, but this is the cleanest looking area. It is one shelving area that goes to the ceiling. I have dug thru here several times looking for the “perfect” fabric. I do not have a pretty sewing area – it is functional. See my post about the sewing room on previous blog: https://indianaquilter40.blogspot.com/2019/07/waste-not-want-not-or-tips-for.html

Quilt fabric semi- folded and stacked on shelves.
I know what is here sort of, but I need to go through and straighten, and move some to the donation closet for baby and veterans quilts.

Just remember that I have quilted for 40 years…I did not gain all this overnight. Nor did I buy all of it. Some was traded for other items (quilting and non-quilting items). My hubby, kids, and mom-in-law buy me yards of fabric for b-days and holidays.

A MARATHON OF SPENDING THE DAY CUTTING QUILT PIECES

Do you ever have days you just feel like cutting fabric?? I tend to do marathon ironing and cutting back to back. I work with some standard sizes of strips and blocks so I can cut up a pile of fabric fairly quick with a little preparation.

Step 1

Sort out the fabric you want to work with – whether scraps or yardage.

Iron and then lay out on a nice flat surface that will not be disturbed.

Step 2

I personally cut fabric from the largest to the smallest blocks/strips I want from that fabric. In my case, I keep a bin of 2.5″ strips, 3″ blocks, and 5″ blocks on hand all the time. I will cut up the piece until there is nothing left but a scrap that does not fit with what I normally use.

Fabric on cutting board with ruler and cutter.
This scrap is lined up and ready to be cut into 2.5″ strips.

I saw a quilt on Pintrest made of rectangles, so while I am cutting scraps I got out another bin and started putting 4″ x 7″ rectangles in that.

SPENDING THE DAY CUTTING QUILT PIECES
Just a little to trim off this 4+” wide strip for the rectangles.

A word of warning: Rotary blades are sharp and will make a serious cut in your finger or hand. Always, always pay attention to where your fingers are before using the cutter. Keep blade covered when not actually using it.

Step 3

A cutting area for yourself needs to work for you. Below is my cutting table. It is a sturdy 6 foot long plastic table on risers so the table is at a comfortable height. Under the table is the “crumb” bin, then a bin of colored yarn (for tying quilts) with a bag of big plastic clamps (for holding down quilts to table as I tie them). The stacked bins on the right are toys for the grand-daughter when she is here.

Cutting area for quilt pieces.
On top of the table (left) is the three bins of cut strips and blocks I am cutting today. The box in the back is lined with a purple double knit that will be filled with all the too small fabric pieces and left over strips of batting to become a “nesting” bag.

Here is another photo of the area. This is what works for me. When making a work area for yourself, arrange so it works for you.

SPENDING THE DAY CUTTING QUILT PIECES
There are 3 plastic bins: 3″ squares, 2.5″ strips, and 4″ x 7″ rectangles.

That left-over piece goes into the “nesting” bag (that will later be sewn shut and given to the humane shelter) or the “crumb” box (for making string/crumb quilts). Think about the size of scrap you will realistically use for the “crumb” box. The rest goes in the “nesting” bag.

Step 4

As you completely cut each size of strip or block, put it in the correct bin. Here they will stay nice and flat to be used when you are ready.

Bin of 4" x 7" scrap rectangles for quilting.
4″ x 7″ rectangles
Bin of 2.5" quilting strips.
2.5″ colored strips. I have another bin of 2.5″ white and muslin strips.
SPENDING THE DAY CUTTING QUILT PIECES
3″ squares

Conclusion

Set up a comfortable area for yourself to do quilt related activities in. A table the right height. A chair that is comfortable for you. Shelves or some sort of storage area for fabric and books. A way to organize your actual tools that works for your area and budget. Get busy on doing your own spending the day cutting quilt pieces.

I love to see how others organize their sewing areas, however, I am more about function than beauty. I have a budget for quilting and will cut corners by buying the furniture (shelves, desk, chair, plastic bins and jars, etc) at a used store or a dollar store. That leaves more money for fabric, batting, and the annual trip to Paducah quilt show.

Other links about cutting quilt pieces

https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/cut-patchwork-shapes-for-quilts-2821913

https://www.howcast.com/videos/507509-how-to-cut-pieces-strips-patches-quilting

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUvyxHWbeWo

PLEASE NOTE: 
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

MY HINTERBERG QUILT FRAME

MY HINTERBERG QUILT FRAME: People ask me frequently about my quilt frame. I love this frame and am very proud of it. I purchased this frame in the spring of 1990. It is rock maple. The website for Hinterberg is: https://www.hinterberg.com/default.aspx

The bars are 92-93″ long and it can be dismantled to transport or to move around at home. It also has a tilt feature but I like to use it flat. I love having my hands free. It is also nice not to have the quilt on my lap (like with a hoop). I have had 6 people quilting on it at one time.

My Hinterberg Quilting Frame
The frame is empty because I just removed the quilt from it.

I admit this frame looks used, but it works just as well now as it did when it was new. And the frame is used. Before I take out a quilt, the quilt to go into it for quilting is ready and waiting. The frame is never sitting empty.

The ratchet system that keeps the bars (and quilt) tight.
There are 4 ratchets to keep the bars (and quilt) tight

This frame is so easy to adjust, tighten, or even tilt.

Nuts and bolts to adjust frame.
Nuts & Bolts to adjust frame

The frame I used before this was simply 4 (1″ x 4″) boards with c-clamps that was held up at the corners on chairs. The quilt was tacked into the frame. It was big and bulky but did the job of holding the quilt tight.

My husband took time to put a double layer of duck cloth on this frame (when new) with tacks. I pin the quilt to the fabric.

Fabric that quilt is pinned to while in frame.

So here is my Hinterberg quilt frame with a quilt in it. The quilt is tight and without wrinkles or puckers. A joy to quilt this way.

Quilt in my Hinterberg Quilt Frame

My kids were teenagers before it really hit them that a quilt frame is probably not standard living room furniture. They all can hand quilt and have quilted at this frame.

In my opinion, one of the nicest things about a quilt frame is the room to have a quilting bee. I try to do one once a year with other quilters just for the fellowship and joy of being with other quilters.

Suggestion

While I definitely prefer to have an actual quilt frame, it is not for everyone. Some people prefer a different type of frame, or a hoop. Some prefer just to wad it up in their hands and quilt. Find what works for you, and just enjoy the process of hand quilting.

Clip art of woman at quilt frame
Source: Google clip art

Some other quilts I have hand quilted on this frame:

https://indianaquilter40.com/grandma-came-for-christmas-hand-quilted/

https://indianaquilter40.com/queen-annes-star-whole-cloth-quilt-hand-quilted/

https://indianaquilter40.com/maine-row-quilt/