Friday, August 31, 2012

Pindows Tips part two

Welcome Back!  So far we've had tutuorial steps on completing a pindows block with four pinwheel patches and 1.5" sashing.  Our next step will be to show the layout and final sashing/borders.  But first, time for a break to talk about tools!

The design wall can be a great help, particularly when making a scrap quilt, as it gives you a good chance to step back and see if your lights and darks are playing well together.  As in this picture, it also gives you a chance to decide what kind of quilt you're making (obviously I went with pindows, with extra sashing, instead of what you see here!): 

There are some fairly posh design walls you can buy that feature extra thick flannel and a pop-up frame, but that's not something you need to be a great quilter.  Some of my favourite quilters (who are popular enough to have their own books in print!) still lay their quilts out on the floor, particularly the large ones.   Design walls can vary from the basic (like using the batting you bought for the middle of your quilt on a shower rod as a design wall) to the extravagant (like buying a $200 pop-up model that comes with it's own stand, case, and famous designer name).

For a design wall that hangs on the wall, I like to use Warm & Natural needled cotton batting.  It's thick, strong and has a neutral oatmeal/beige colour that doesn't seem to detract from anything I've put up yet.  Any strong fuzzy fabric will do - batting, heavy duty flannel, even the flannel back of a vinyl tablecloth.  (The only caveat I will offer to the tablecloth method is to make sure you buy a good one - cheap ones don't have a thick enough layer of flannel fuzz on the back to work well.)  If you have just a little wall space that you don't want to permanently turn over to quilt design, you can hang your design material with 3M (or similar brand) repositionable hooks and binder clips, like so:
temporary design wall with removable hooks
If you have bookshelves all over the place (sheepishly raising hand and looking at the floor) you can also put them to double duty as design surface.  The pic below shows a portable roll-up design surface made from a 1" core of pvc piping, cut to length, to which a flannel-packed tablecloth was affixed with duct tape.  I can unroll it and rest it on the top edge of some larger books jutting out from the top shelf, and when I don't need it I can roll it back up and tuck it on the back of the top of the bookshelf.

Portable roll-up design wall made from pvc and flannel-backed tablecloth
 Next, a few words about stilettoes, which are not just footwear famous for damaging parquetry floors.  I think a good strong steel stiletto should be in every sewist's workbox, but only because I have an inordinate fondness for poking holes into things!  In the case of basic quilting you will likely use stilettoes for two things - lining seams up as you stitch, and quilting over or around design elements.  Just like design walls there's a world of stiletto supplies out there from the basic to the extravagant: bamboo, steel, olivewood, even naturally shed porcupine quills all find there place in the sewing room.  For the basic needs, you probably already have what you need in your home - your two basic requirements are that it is small enough to do the job, but large enough that you can always see it and will not risk breaking your needle trying to stitch through the device.

A stout pin can do well to make sure your seam stays tucked under the foot:

Likewise, a clean toothpick - they're not just for checking to see if your cake is done:
And if you don't, for some reason, have toothpicks laying about the house, you may find that your creative endeavours have been so great it's simply not possible to also make your family dinner and you'll be able to pick up a few toothpicks on the way out of your local Italian restaurant. 

And that's part of how quilting gets it's reputation of being such an expensive hobby!


LethargicLass said...

you are hilarious! Thanks for the fun and informative post!

mara said...

A toothpick, awesome idea, I'm from the blog hop, but I think I will stick around your site for a while.

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