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19 Jun 2018

Basic Color Theory for Quilters

Basic Color Theory for Quilters



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The fabrics you choose for your quilt can really make or break your project. I prefer not to stumble blinding when picking my colors but choosing from all the beautiful fabrics out there can be overwhelming. There are many wonderful pre-cuts that make most of the color decisions for you, but it's still good to know at least the basics of color theory.

To get started learning color theory, purchase the color wheel by Dritz that is specifically for quilters. The color wheel will help you choose colors a little more easily.


COLOR WHEEL COMBINATIONS
Below are the basic five color combinations you can get from the color wheel. I use one of these as a starting point when planning quilt colors. With practice, choosing fabrics will become easier starting with just these five combinations.

Download FREE PDF of these five combinations HERE

MONOCHROMATIC
Different shades and tints of the same color.
MONOCHROMATIC




















COMPLEMENTARY
Colors that are across from each other on the color wheel.
COMPLEMENTARY



















ANALOGOUS 
Colors that are beside each other on the color wheel.
ANALOGOUS

SPLIT COMPLEMENTARY 
The base color (e.g. red) and the colors that are adjacent to that color's complement (e.g. green).
SPLIT COMPLEMENTARY

TRIAD 
Three colors that are evenly spaced on the color wheel.
TRIAD

12 May 2018

How to Download + Print PDF Quilt Patterns

How to Download + Print PDF Quilt Patterns

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When I first started selling my quilt patterns I decided to offer them in downloadable PDF format only. It's much more cost-effective for both my customers and me. Printing costs for patterns are expensive and those costs are normally absorbed by the customer along with mailing costs. Another advantage of buying PDF files is that you don't have to wait days for your pattern; instant gratification!

I thought it would be helpful for my readers and customers to have a list of five hassle-free steps for downloading and printing them. I will be including these steps with all my patterns from now on.


What is a downloadable PDF file?


A PDF (Portable Document Format) "is a file format that provides an electronic image of text or text and graphics that looks like a printed document and can be viewed, printed, and electronically transmitted." -- Google Dictionary

1. Get Adobe Acrobat Reader

 
Before you can download your PDF pattern you will first need the Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer. Click to download the Acrobat Reader for free HERE.

2. Create a pattern folder

 
Create a pattern folder on your hard drive to keep your purchased PDFs. You can call the folder Patterns or Bought Patterns or whatever makes sense to you. If you buy a lot of quilt patterns online, you could also create subfolders for particular designers or quilt types.

3. After you buy your pattern, where do you find it to download it?


 After you purchase your pattern most sellers allow you to download your file immediately from their site and/or will email it to you. If your file is emailed and you can’t see it, check your email “Junk” folder in case the file was read as spam. It's important to download the emailed PDF files promptly because some might have only a limited time frame (e.g. 72 hours) for you to do so. If you register with a seller, such as Etsy, they will provide you with a personal order history page where you can retrieve your patterns at any time.

Important: Whichever website you purchase your PDF pattern from, read their instructions for downloading or contact the site's tech support.

4. Rename and download your PDF


Some PDF pattern files you buy only make sense to the seller, e.g. AQS-pattern-144-1.pdf. So, before downloading your PDF to your computer, rename your quilt pattern file something that makes sense to you, e.g. pattern name quilt type_designer.pdf

5. Print your pattern correctly

 
Before printing your PDF file set the "Page Scaling" option in the print setup box to “Actual Size” or “None.” (Fig 1) This will ensure your quilt pattern templates are printed to the correct size for your project.

Figure 1

6. Measure the 1 inch square if there is one.


After printing your pattern, measure the 1-inch square (test block) that is provided on the template page of your pattern instructions. If the test block measures too large or too small, double check the printer setup box and reprint the pattern. If there is no test block, measure the templates as best you can to be sure they're the correct size. (Fig. 2)

Printing PDF quilt patterns - one inch test block
Figure 2


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.






18 Mar 2018

How to Accurately Cut Fabric for Foundation Paper Piecing

How to Accurately Cut Fabric for Foundation Paper Piecing


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I love foundation paper piecing (FPP), but one of the most frustrating problems I had when I was a newbie was coming up short. I would be happily piecing my block, go to flip the next section to press it, and crap! It would be too short or too thin or both. Even worse, I'd be pressing a finished block and find a "hole" at a seam where a piece came up short...ugh! I eventually discovered a method that has worked great for me.

I first saw this technique in Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts by RaNae Merrill. I modified it slightly by using freezer paper. It's a simple and foolproof method for cutting your FPP fabric pieces. This method is especially great for when you have multiples of the same block.

INSTRUCTIONS


YOU WILL NEED
  • Foundation piecing template that has been mirrored.
  • 8½" x 11" sheet of freezer paper
  • Scissors
  • Rotary cutter
  • Quilting ruler
  • Fabrics for your block
  • Coloured pencils or markers to match your fabrics.


1. Print your template on the dull side of your freezer paper.


2. Colour each section of the template with the fabric colour you want to use for that section. If a section is a white or cream colour, you can make a symbol to represent that colour or leave it blank.


3. Cut out each freezer paper section into separate pieces and lay them on the corresponding fabric with the right side of the fabric facing up. Leave a generous space all the way around each section. Press lightly with a hot iron to get the freezer paper to stick. If you need multiples of the same section, you can place the freezer paper sections on 4 to 5 layers of fabric.


4. With your quilt ruler, cut ¾ inch allowance around each section.


5. All your cut sections should look like this when you're done. They're now ready to be pieced with no surprises. It's important to NOT remove the freezer paper from the top of the stack. Pick up your fabric pieces from the bottom so you will know which piece it is.

2 Feb 2018

DIY Quilter's Ironing Board

DIY Quilter's Ironing Board

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HOW TO MAKE A QUILTERS IRONING BOARD

I've used a regular ironing board for quilting my whole life. So, when I started seeing these wide ironing boards for quilting, I knew I had to have one. I wish I'd made one of these years ago because it truly makes a difference when ironing quilt tops. If you have an ironing board, you can make one of these quilting boards yourself in a day.

SUPPLIES
  • Standard metal ironing board
  • 20" x 55" - 3/8" or 1/2" plywood (No saw? Most hardware stores will cut this for you.)
  • [8] screws
  • [8] washers
  • [1] 26" x 60" cotton duck fabric.
  • [1] 24" x 60" insulated batting. (I used Insul-Brite® by Warm Company)
  • [2] 24" x 60" 100% cotton quilt batting TOOLS
TOOLS
  • Measuring Tape
  • Pencil
  • Screwdriver
  • Handsaw
  • Sandpaper
  • Staple gun and staples shorter than the thickness of your board
INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Measure and mark 1½ inches from the corners of the board. (Fig.1).


Figure 1

2.  Cut this amount off the corner a hand saw. (Fig. 2)


Figure 2

3.  Staple the fabric and batting layers evenly around the edge of the board in this order.
 (Fig. 3)

Layer 1:  Quilt Batting
Layer 2:  Insul-Brite® batting shiny side up
Layer 3:  Dotton Duck 
Layer 4:  Removable cotton ironing board cover.


Figure 3


Figure 3 (Detail)

4.  Place ironing board upside down onto the board top being sure it is lined up correctly.
Mark where each screw will go. (Fig. 4)


Figure 4

5. Screw the screws with the washers through the holes in the mesh. (Fig 5)


Figure 5

6. Tada!! Your new ironing board is now ready to be enjoyed.