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27 Apr 2018

Springtime on the farm means babies!

This spring I'm launching two new placemat patterns, Baby Jersey and Little Piglet. Aren't they adorable? I'm sure your child or grandchild would love one of these to make mealtime fun. These placemats are easy to make using fusible appliqué and simple straight line quilting.

20 Apr 2018

4 Must-Have Irons for Quilting

4 Must-Have Irons for Quilting

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In a previous post, I showed you how to make your own quilters ironing board. In this post, I’m going to talk about irons for quilting and introduce you to the four irons that I've used over the years with good results. A quilter’s ironing needs are very specific. We might need several types of irons depending on our projects, but there are so many irons on the market it can be mind-boggling choosing the right ones.


Three guidelines when buying an iron for quilting:

  • Determine your needs. Do you quilt only occasionally or is your iron going to get a full workout? Do you do patchwork, applique or both?
  • Do your homework. Research different products.
  • Purchase the best iron you can realistically afford. There are many good irons at different price points, so shop around if you're on a strict budget like most of us.

1. Steamfast Mini Steam Iron

My Steamfast Mini Iron is my little workhorse. It sits beside me on my TV table ironing board when I'm doing all my piecing. It's the perfect size for paper foundation piecing and is great for pressing down seams and fused applique pieces. It heats up fast and stays hot.


2. Rowenta Focus II Iron

It's important to have a good basic iron for quilting. A top functioning iron is worth its weight in gold. My rule of thumb is to buy the best iron that you can afford. Top quality irons come at various price points. Also, you likely don't need all the bells and whistles for quilting so do your research. When I turned 60 last year, I treated myself to a brand new iron, a very sexy Rowenta Focus II. The German made Rowentas are considered the best steam irons on the market. It took me a while to decide on a new iron, but after some research, I settled on this one; I'm so glad I did. This iron is an absolute gem. I know the Oliso iron has been toted as the must-have iron for quilting, but the reviews for the Rowenta were better.


UPDATE (January 15/22)

I'm sad to say that my Rowenta lasted only 6 years. It began to leak from the bottom. I truly loved that iron but it had to be replaced.

The Rowenta was replaced with the awesome Panasonic NI-WL600 Cordless. I've been using it for a couple of months and, although wary, I'm completely sold on it.



KEY FEATURES of the Panasonic NI-WL600 Cordless Iron

  • CORDLESS, 1500W STEAM/DRY IRON End the hassle of twisted, tangled power cords for quicker, easier, more convenient ironing on a variety of fabrics.
  • IRON IN EVERY DIRECTION Sleek, contoured 360° Freestyle soleplate has a double-tipped design to ensure natural movement in any direction. Iron effortlessly forward, backward and even side-to-side for precision and speed.
  • ADJUSTABLE STEAM & DRY SETTINGS – Set to HIGH for heavier and everyday fabrics, LOW for more delicate fabrics and quick, easy touch-ups or choose DRY for easy ironing when no steam is needed.
  • HEAT, STEAM AND DRY SETTINGS Apply the perfect level of heat and steam, or no steam with the touch of button; a powerful vertical steam feature quickly removes wrinkles on curtains and hanging garments.
  • MAXIMUM PORTABILITY A matching lightweight, heat-resistant carrying case snaps easily onto the iron and power base after use for instant portability and storage
    From: Panasonic Website

3. Mini Iron

The Clover Mini Iron is a must have for doing fusible web applique, especially when pressing down small pieces or long appliqued stems. I like that the tip is small enough so I can see what I'm doing.


Mini Iron Stand

My only beef with this mini iron is that the stand you get with it is not great. I use an old plate to put the hot end on when I'm working but I'd highly recommend you get yourself a wooden stand like the one below. This stand would be easy to make if you have the tools but for $10.39 at Connecting Threads, it's not going to break the bank to buy one.



4. Petite Press Mini Iron

I bought the Petite Press Mini Iron not too long ago when I had a project with lots of applique work. It heats up well, has a digital temperature setting, attached rest, adjustable handle and the ironing tip is double the size of the Clover. Over time, I could see this mini iron taking the place of my Clover.



QUILTERS PRESSING ACCESSORIES


1. Tailor's Clapper


I don't have these pressing accessories, but I felt they were interesting enough to let you know about them. Click on the links to get more info on these products. Tailor's Clapper This wooden block is used to press down seams after they've been ironed.

2. Teflon Pressing Sheet

Teflon Pressing Sheet A heatproof Teflon sheet for applique that keeps sticky stuff off your iron.



DISCLAIMER: This article is my own personal review of these products. I do not receive compensation in any form from the companies referred to in this post.

14 Apr 2018

Sewing Machine Bookends: Cool quilting room décor


Last weekend hubby and I took a nice drive in the country to pick up these incredible vintage sewing machine bookends for my sewing room. Aren't these the coolest things you've ever seen? I first saw similar bookends on Pinterest, so I had my eye on these for a while after seeing them on a Facebook group. I was happy the artist, Greg at Prairiepickers.com, still had the bookends when I finally texted him last week to buy them. They cost $100. I thought that was a very good deal considering all the work that went into them.

Vintage sewing machine bookends | Monica Curry's quilting studio.

The sewing machine is circa 1920s. Even the wooden bases are from an old sewing machine table. Greg told me he normally upcycles the bases of vintage sewing machines into tables. He said he's usually left with the machine when the table is finished. So, he decided to make something out of a machine because he didn't want to throw it out.

Vintage sewing machine bookends - detail 1

The set even came with some vintage wooden spools of thread. I would love to find more of these spools.

Vintage sewing machine bookends - detail 2

9 Apr 2018

Improv Quilting: The modern scrap quilt

One of my favourite piecing techniques is Improv. I come from a fine arts and design background so I love to go off the beaten path. I enjoy the freedom Improv provides. I believe it's quilting for the soul. There are no real rules for Improv quilting. You are basically piecing scraps together in a free-form way. The results are stunning. The textures and all the combined colours can result in a true work of art.

My piece Summer Aspen below was submitted for a new wing at a local hospital. The theme for the submissions was trees. I chose the Aspen tree because I love how Aspen leaves rustle in the wind. Unfortunately, the piece wasn't chosen but I ended up with a very nice quilt for my home.


Improv quilt Summer Aspen by Monica Curry
SUMMER ASPEN by Monica Curry

The strips I used for the tree trunks in Summer Aspen were cut from fabric that was printed from a linocut I made. I wanted each strip to look like an actual Aspen tree.





I liked how this quilt turned out and it hung in my office for a couple of years. I now enjoy it as a sewing machine cover.



My art quilt Closing Time below was shown at the Manitoba Crafts Council Exhibition 2013. The quilt was named after Leonard Cohen's song Closing Time. While I was making the quilt this line from the song kept coming up in my head, "and the men they dance on the polka-dots" because of the polka dot fabric I was using.

CLOSING TIME by Monica Curry


CLOSING TIME (Detail) Photo by L. Norman


Improv Quilting Books

Several years ago I bought Rayna Gillman's book Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts: A Stress-Free Journey to Original Design. I wanted to try something new and push the envelope a little. I also had a ton of little scraps I couldn't bear to throw out. The result was my improv quilt called Summer Aspen (shown above). I really enjoyed making this quilt. Gillman's book is very comprehensive and well written. She provides very good step-by-step directions for her "free-form" quilting technique.




In 2017, Rayna published her new book Create Your Own Improv Quilt: Modern quilting with no rules and no rulers. I haven't bought it yet but from what I can tell her style has changed from her first book.



See more great examples of Improv quilts at my Pinterest board.