Thursday, January 10, 2008

ELEPHANTS, BATTING, AND TUCKS, OH MY

And a busy day it was, but very productive. I notice you all must be a stumped as me as to what to do with those left-over batting scraps. Not a word or suggestion from anyone as to what to do with them. I'll share some of my favorites and the one use I don't like.

First, the use of batting scraps I don't like ... seaming all the scraps together to use as a full piece of battting in another quilt. I don't like the way the batting stretches with the seaming; I don't like the bump or lump it leaves along the seam line in the quilt sandwich. Having said all of that, I will in an emergency splice batting together in a quilt of my own, but never in a customer quilt. Tomorrow I'll go through the directions for my method of splicing batting so there are no lumps or distortion of the batting to interfere with the overall finished look of the quilt.

So, what do I do with my batting scraps. My customers always get their batting scraps back whether they brought in their own or purchased batting from me. That helps eliminate my batting scrap stash.

I keep bags of like batting together ... all the 80/20 in one bag, 100% cotton in another, etc. Periodically, I will go through the bags and sort by size. What will work for place mats, pillows, baby quilts ... what can be spliced together for a quilt project. After this initial sorting, I will have small pieces that are ready for cutting into smaller pieces for ...

  • the local schools to use as erasers for their dry erase white boards (I always carry one with me when I teach classes and workshops for guilds, conferences, and quilt shops.)
  • mop rags for wiping down my longarm table ... oil drips and dust
  • the longarm "diaper" ... place a batting scrap under the machine to catch the overflow drips while the machine is not in use
  • and ... I always have my box of 5 1/2" squares going for the on-going coaster projects
I'll let you in on a little secret. You can use the same technique I used yesterday to make a pot holder. I would be cutting my squares in the 8"-9" range. I would also use Insul-Bright for the batting to help reflect the heat and protect my hands more than regular batting. I also like to use this batting for table mats and place mats to help protect the family heirloom oak tabletop. Another stash busting tip ... use your orphan blocks for the backing and inside lining of these pot holder projects. You would still need to to the woven 4-Patch for the front side so you can get inside easily to turn the pot holder.

And now onto the elephants. Kristie and I have been working the last few days on a project - trying to figure why her purchased digitized files are not going through. Well, after many attempts and much sleuthing on both our parts, we figured out that her server is thinking I'm trying to pass on a virus or I'm trying to send her spam. So, the emails with the files were being blocked. by her server. Just one more thing to check if you're having any trouble with the digital downloads from Mountaintop Quilting.

In the process of all this problem solving we talked about an upcoming quilt project she has for a customer. The client wants elephants quilted on the quilt. Kristie sent me some pictures of the blocks and I came up with two possible designs for her to use on the quilt.













The first one is fairly simple with a pretty quick stitch out as she works across the rows. The second one is more complicated but larger. It measures at almost 20" in pattern height and a little more than 24" in pattern width. You can cover a lot of "miles" pretty quickly when a pattern is designed to that height.





























I wonder which one Kristie will choose. Which would you choose? You can help Kristie make her decision by voting in the poll on the sidebar.

The last subject for the day ... the dreaded tucks in the back of the quilt. Rarely do I notice them before I am ready to take the quilt off the machine. I don't get them very often any more, (knock on wood) and I have a theory about that which you will want to watch for a future post about preparing backings that are square and straight.

One of the quilts I did for a friend for her granddaughter's Christmas present had a tuck in the back of it. Rachel got to unwrap her quilt for Christmas, but we told her she'd have to wait until I fixed it before she could take it home for her bed. Fixing Rachel's quilt was on the list of jobs today. Fortunately, the tuck was in a corner rather than the middle so I was able to basically work "from the center out" to the corner dropping the blocks back in, re-ditching the framing border, and then finishing up with the piano key border.

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts and comments about what causes those dreaded tucks to suddenly appear in the back of our quilts. We load the same every time; we use our clamps the same every time; we're usually consistent in the amount of tension between the bars every time; we check the distance between the take-up roller and the bed of the machine as we quilt. It is a mystery, and every time it happens to me, I am on a search working my way down the check list as to what could have made that happen.

Share your theories regarding the "dreaded tucks" with the rest of us in the comment area ... and don't forget to help Kristie choose her elephant pattern by casting your vote in the poll.
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