A few years ago we found a number of cute and practical bibs at a garage sale. They are a larger size compared to many bibs, perfect for covering children's clothing, and are just the right size to be made out of a dishcloth, napkin, or old tablecloth (or any fabric of your choice, of course!). We have made our own pattern from this idea, which may be downloaded and printed here.
One of the blessings of biblical home life for a family, is the command that we have in Scripture to practice hospitality. Most of the time that includes a meal around the family table. Our family enjoys having others into our home, and many dear friends have also invited us to their homes where we have learned other ways to make the meal table special. One of these is to fold the napkins in a special way for company. Here are a few of our favorites:
We often use the Buffet Napkin, Diagonal Stripe, or Empire Folds if we are using our mix and match Staffordshire plates with historical scenes. These folds are pretty, but keep the plate clear so that you can seen the history on your plate before it is covered with food!
The Pyramid and Fan are a lovely addition when you are using matching dinnerware.
We found this pattern at the following link: Free Lamb Pattern This is an adorable vintage pattern for a stuffed lamb. It is easy to use and does not take long to make. We felted a white wool skirt from a thrift store in the washing machine (one cycle of hot water) and put the washed fabric in a hot dryer to aid the shrinking process. This made a more thick and "woolly" fabric for the little stuffed lamb.
Try using cookie cutters as templates for quilting designs. We found this idea at the following link: Quilting Design Gallery We are looking forward to trying different shapes for other unique and personalized designs.
Here is a link to some handy references for quilting. This page deals specifically with figuring out the size of block you need to cut in order to have the perfect triangles for your quilt. Karen Combs Cutting Chart for Setting Triangles
This year we celebrated Daddy and Mama's 25th wedding anniversary. In honor of this occasion we have posted a few details of a lovely pattern we used to make them a 25th anniversary sampler. Click here to see specifics and pictures.
Please visit a new page that we have created for a short history of redwork and its use in quilting. We have included pictures from one of our recent projects. Lord willing, we will be adding additional information and pictures to this section in the future!
In reference to our last post about Denim Quilts, we have put together a page for Chain Piecing Directions which includes diagrams. Please click here. This is perfect for block quilts, such as the denim quilts, or small units of other quilt blocks.
Here are some links to others' pages which might be helpful as well.
Denim Quilts have definitely been a frequent gift item in our area recently. They are comfortable, easy, and economical. Any time a pair of jeans or a denim skirt has been worn out in the knees, or has been ripped, etc. the rest of the garment can be cut into squares and set aside until enough has been collected to make a quilt.
We recently helped some friends make a denim quilt for a young woman who is battling cancer. This quilt was intended to be an encouragement to her physically and spiritually, so each family signed their name(s) and added a Scripture verse. This quilt was put together very quickly: each family turned in their square and then the quilt was pieced together, tacked, and bound in one afternoon. Due to the lack of time, fabric paint was used to write on many of the blocks. This worked fairly well, but is not as neat or delicate-looking as embroidery. Each square can be decorated or left plain according to each person's taste and creativity and can be decorated with appliques, lace, embroidery, etc.
The squares can be cut in any size you wish - the easiest being 4, 5, or 6 inches.
If several colors/shades are used, arrange your squares so that the colors are contrasting (light, dark, light, dark, etc.). They can be randomly placed, or you can make a distinct pattern such as a diagonal chain, trip around the world, stripes, or checkers. This particular quilt was hastily made, so it is not a perfect example of how this would be done :)
Chain-piecing denim quilts is quick and easy. We intend to post more information on this in the near future.
Denim quilts are appropriate for many occasions including baby gifts, graduations, weddings, or those who are going through illnesses.
We have been making quite a few jacket-blouses with princess seams lately. After sewing several and making quite a few adjustments to our pattern it was still frustrating to try to sew the seams and match them correctly in the front. So we ended up looking for ways to make this easier.
We've tried many methods to allow the curved seams to easily stitch together and have found the most successful method to be really simple: Stay stitch both curved seams and clip to the stitching. Pin the two seams together, making sure that you evenly match the curves, and stitch.
Click here for a picture of some of our jacket blouses (regretfully, this picture is old and of poor quality).
A simple and quick way of marking pleats is to make a one-fourth-inch snip along the waistline of the fabric at the place where each pleat should fold. This snip also makes it easier to fold the fabric.
If you have pinking shears, you can snip the broken lines on the pattern piece with the pinking shears and then you can snip the straight line with the straight shears. This will show you which cut line folds on the top.
Another way of marking pleats is with dressmakers' tracing paper. Use one color for the broken line and a different color for the straight line. Pin the pleats in place, and then baste-stitch to hold. A second row of baste-stitching is helpful on a skirt pleated all the way around.
Attaching sleeves to the bodice armholes (particularly in small garments such as girls' clothing and doll clothes) can sometimes be quite a difficult task. An easier way to attach the sleeves can be done as follows:
When sewing your bodice pieces, assemble them as directed in your pattern instructions except do not sew up the sides. Also, do not sew up the underarm seam of the sleeve. Usually this would simply mean sewing up the shoulder seams.
Mama learned this tip from a Stretch & Sew class many years ago, and it has been so useful in simplyfing the process of gathering!
~ Put your pressure foot down at the spot where you want to begin the gathers. (The edge of the fabric should be on the right with the bulk of the material falling towards you.)
~ Pull the top thread (from the spool and threaded through the needle) the length of the material that you want to gather plus several extra inches.
~ With a tight zig-zag setting stitch a few bars to secure the end making sure that you hold the long top thread so that it stays free.
~ Now use a medium to wide zig-zag stitch in length and width and begin stitching the zig-zag over the long thread. Make sure that you stitch parallel to the edge at the distance where you desire to place the gathers. Also make sure that the thread is always through the center of the zig-zag stitches.
~ Stitch over the whole length of the thread to the point where you want the gathers to end and then backstitch to secure.
~ Pull the thread to gather up the fabric.
Note: Experiment with what width and length works best for the zig-zag so that the gathers are nice and even. For very delicate or tiny items such as baby clothes, you could make a less-wide zig-zag as long as the thread is not punctured and remains within the zig-zag.
How to Make Continuous Bias Binding for your Quilt
We just recently finished a queen-sized quilt and made our own continuous bias binding. Here are some directions (from McCall's Quilting) that we found on the Internet for making continuous bias binding. Bias binding generally lasts better for quilts that will be used on beds regularly. Straight grain binding may be a little faster to make and attach, but bias binding is worth the effort since it usually lasts longer. We also like to use this Continuous Bias Binding Calculator.
This week, in honor of Rachel's birthday, I (Ruth) am posting our Ice Cream Recipe that is sweetened with honey. :) This is our family's favorite recipe for homemade ice cream, and it is requested at every birthday.
If your quilt has lots of seams or is particularly thick you may occasionally have trouble pushing your needle through all of the layers. If a thimble is not enough, try a pair of tweezers. :) We have a pair of tweezers that we keep handy and they work extremely well. Ours are a small, sturdy pair that are shaped like scissors and have a good grip on the ends. They make pulling the needle through very fast and easy.
Recently, a friend of our family came over and gave us some advice on a quilt that we are making. She reminded us of a tip that her grandmother taught her to make her hand-quilting go faster. Her grandmother told her to do it this way: After loading the stitches on your needle, pull the needle and thread through, but only a short way - don't pull the thread all the way through. Then load several more stitches and repeat this a couple of times before you pull your thread all of the way through. This way you only pull the long thread all of the way through after a number of stitches and it immensely cuts down on wasted time.
Here is a good website resource that we have found useful. Click here for "Quilt Blocks Galore!!" There are many wonderful free patterns on this website, and it will take a while to browse through all of them.
The following tips were passed on to us by someone who said that they have tried these with success:
You can usually unshrink wool if you do not wait too long. A shrunk garment can be soaked in hair conditioner and water to relax the fibers and can then be stretched back into shape. Put the garment that has shrunk into a sink filled with lukewarm water and about a 1/3 cup of hair conditioner. The cheap kind (sometimes labled as "creme rinse") usually works better than the expensive ones. [We have heard that Herbal Essences's Lavender conditioner works well.] It penetrates and relaxes the fibers. Let it soak and then roll in dry bath towels to remove the excess water. Gently pull the item into shape, then place to dry on a towel that is laid on a flat surface. Be sure to periodically check and continue to resize it as it dries. Do not hang to dry!
Another method would be to mix a solution of 1 gallon of lukewarm water and 2 tablespoons of baby shampoo. Soak the shrunken garment for about 10 minutes. Do not rinse! Just squeeze out any excess water and lay it out on a dry towel. Make sure that you carefully reshape and stretch it back to its original size. Dry out of direct sunlight and heat.
Backstitching is particularly useful for lettering. We use it to embroider baby blankets, quilt blocks, wall-hangings, towels, pillowcases, clothing, and numerous other household items. You can greatly change the way your embroidery looks by varying the number of strands you use. 4-6 strands is very thick and will make a very bold appearance. 2-3 stands are the most comman and are easiest to work with. 1 strand will make a very delicate and dainty line which is perfect for tiny lettering an outlining very small designs. You can also vary the size of your stitching to change it's appearance. We prefer small stitches because, when done neatly, they make it possible to follow the design exactly.
We like to print off our designs using fancy scripts on our computer and then we trace them on to the fabric. Using fonts on the computer creats consistent lettering, a solid base line, and can provide a wide variety of wonderful styles.
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