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We caught up with Frieda Anderson, a quilter and fabric dyer in Elgin, IL.  She was so kind to take us on a little tour of her studio!

So Frieda, tell us where your studio is located (room in your house, basement, separate studio space, etc)?

My studio is situated in the whole lower level of our home. For those of you in Florida that is the basement. I use the whole space. It is divided into two sections. The front section is carpeted, not my preferred floor, with drywall and recessed lighting. I had an electrician come and rewire the whole room so that my iron and sewing machines are on different breakers. My computer, sewing machines, big board ironing station and work table are in this section of my work space.

The back section is concrete floors and concrete walls and it is where I do all the hand dyeing for my business. It is not very glamours, but very functional.

What is your favorite part of your studio?

The favorite part of my space is the L section that I created with my big board ironing station and my large work cutting table. I have an elevated chair so I can sit and iron and cut and work on all my quilts easily here.

What would you like to do to your studio if you had a chance?

WELL, if I could have my dream studio it would be twice as large with twice as much table surface and shelving units. And of course more natural lighting with a 12″ tile floor to help measure and square up my work. Someone should invent an Olfa floor tile, so we could place our work on the floor and easily square up large pieces.   I would also like it to be able to walk outside from the work area.  I would like to have a cozy sitting area to sit and work on hand projects or invite friends in to sit and visit with me. I don’t ask for much :). But I am very lucky to have such a large space to work in. I feel blessed.

Thanks for showing us around, Frieda!   To see Frieda’s work, check out her website at http://www.friestyle.com.

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The January/February 2018 issue has a fully packed article on tweezers.  Every type, shape, and function is covered.  Who knew there were so many variety of tweezers? This is another one of those tools in your sewing box that you will be glad you added.

Micro Mark 5-piece tweezer set

The word tweezer comes from the French word étui “small case” and later became “etwee” which describes a small case that people would use to carry small objects. Eventually the word tweezer was brought into English and accepted as the tool we know today.  The article in the magazine by Linda Turner Griepentrog helpfully tells us that both “tweezer” and “tweezers” are acceptable when referring to the single tool.  It’s also a verb and a noun.

That said that article is full of pictures of the tremendous amount of tweezers on the market and the long list of uses in sewing.  Just recently, I found tweezers useful to pick out the tiny bits of thread that was left over from a ripped out seam, when my other tricks to get those threads out didn’t work.

Mighty Bright tweezers with light and magnifyer

Tweezers have also gone high tech. Some now come with lights and magnifying glass attachments to see your work more closely.  Pretty amazing when you think about how far the humble tweezer has come from ancient Egyptian times.

Much like our sewing scissors, keep your tweezers for other purposes separate from your sewing ones.  Not only will that help prevent damage to the ones you need for sewing, but you won’t have to go hunting around the house for them. Also, the ones used in the first aid kit may not be appropriate for what you want to do in the sewing room, so it’s best to purchase the tweezers that you will think work best for the uses you need.

Be sure to pick up the latest issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited for the full article on tweezers and much, much more.   What do you use tweezers for in the sewing room?  Tell us over on our Facebook page! 

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In the January/February 2018 issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited, Margaret Solomon Gunn shares her experiences with teaching quilting to her daughter, Sophie.  The article is full of tips for getting kids to be comfortable learning the many aspects of quilting.  We sat down with Margaret to learn a bit more about her experiences with Sophie.

Sophie has some pretty bold color choices in her quilts.  Do you help her with the colors, or do you just let her pick the fabrics, even if they don’t match?

I sometimes make a subtle comment like “wow! that is colorful”, but in the end, it only hurts the child if they think the parent/mentor does not like or approve of their choices. She typically picks one or 2 primary fabrics (and they have sometimes been bold). Once she has a feature fabric, I assist her “shopping” in my studio for potential companion fabrics. Despite some initial choices of what I thought to be very bold fabrics, I think her quilts have come out fairly well balanced on color. Some of her fabrics such as the solids have been fantastic choices, but they are prone to showing each and every wobble of the machine quilting. Because Sophie enjoys putting her creations in shows, I have had to select ways of quilting this type of quilt to make it look best.

What’s next for Sophie and her quilts?

She and a friend were here 2 weeks ago piecing a small wall hanging. Her friend took a basic sewing class last year and received a sewing machine last Christmas. Her mother told me she wanted to learn to make a mini-quilt. The two girls had the same quilt cut out and ready to go when the afternoon started. This year, I am having Sophie do her own pressing (Remember, each year I have introduced a couple of new skills into the sewing/quilting process). We need to quilt the top sometime between my winter trips, and I think I will keep her quilting from the frontside of the longarm, working on incorporating multiple designs into her quilting (her quilt has beach hut blocks). Different ages bring more or less interest in sewing. The best advice I have is to sew with them when the interest sparks and not nag when it does not. Even today, she has many more basic sewing skills than the average person twice her age!

Thanks Margaret and Sophie! Be sure to read part 1 of our interview with Margaret Solomon Gunn, and to read more about how to get your kids involved in quilting, check out the January/February 2018 issue!

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The view from Jenny’s machine area.

We love to sneak a peek into other people’s sewing spaces, don’t we? Today, we’re getting a look at the studio of Jenny K. Lyon, a quilter and quilting educator from Granite Bay, California.  She was kind enough to let us take a look around, and to chat with us about her studio space!

So, Jenny, where is your studio located (such as a room in your house, basement, separate studio space, etc)?

My studio is located in what used to be my oldest son’s bedroom-the moment he left for college I took over his room. It is 11’ x 18’ and has a small walk-in closet in which I store my 1-3 yard fabric cuts as well as batting, trims, ribbons, buttons and my sewing machine inventory.

The view from the door. You can see Jenny’s design wall on the left.

I recently completed a whole house remodel and reconfigured the room to be my studio, with a bank of cabinets, an 8’ x 8’ design wall, overhead lighting and open shelving for my teaching supplies and retail product. My teaching supplies are in pull-out bins, organized by class so it’s easy to get ready to teach.

Before the renovation my studio was dark, crowded and disorganized, which really affected my creativity. I invested a lot of time and thought into organizing the cabinets and now everything is visible and labeled-I love that! I designed the cabinets to have 4” between the door and the shelves so that I could hang items on the doors.  My BERNINA 765 sits in a table that has a flip-out back, giving me plenty of room for larger projects. I added Patsy Thompson’s Quilt Suspension system, a super simple way to manage the bulk of a large quilt. The table came with a roll-out bank of shallow drawers which I adore. It organizes my feet and accessories, scissors, specialty threads, needles, and most of my tools, making it easy to grab-and-go.

My overhead lighting is even and bright. I added a magnifying lamp to my machine which I use for micro quilting, accurate ¼” seams and for ripping out tiny stitches-it’s a must for me. I have a fantastic view of my yard from my machine, a sight I never tire of.

Jenny stores fat quarter cuts of fabric in these bins.

My fabric is organized according to type and length of cut. My fat quarters are in plastic clamshells which fit into IKEA shelving that also houses longer fabric cuts. My 1-3 yard cuts are wrapped around 2 pieces of acid-free cardboard from the comic book store and secured with a pin. The boards are organized by color or type and placed in acid-free comic book boxes. It’s easy to peruse my fabric, play with it and return it to its place.

What is your favorite part of your studio?

The best thing I added to my studio was a rolling cutting/design table that I designed. The top is 36” x 24”, with two 18” flip-outs at either end, extending the length to 72”. I have open shelving on both sides and all my oft used tools are at the ready. I frequently roll it around the studio as the need arises.

I love my huge design wall too, so it’s a toss-up which is my favorite! Now that I have a proper design wall I wonder how I ever survived without one.

We know you recently renovated, but what would you like to do to your studio if you had another chance?

Jenny’s machine area.

In a perfect world I would have a wet area and would experiment more with dyes and paints. Although I love my 765, it would be cool to also have a BERNINA Q20 sit-down longarm for those larger projects. And dedicated space for videos and photography…maybe even a small kitchen area with a little frig and microwave? Then I would never have to leave!

If you would like to check out Jenny’s work, you can do so at http://www.quiltskipper.com. Look for more studio spaces to be featured in the future.

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In the January/February 2018 issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited, Katherine Jones shares her secrets for her beautiful “Bias Binding Techniques” for appliqued quilts.  When you need bias tape or binding in a hurry, you can easily purchase prepackaged bias tapes, or you can make it yourself from your own fabrics for a more custom look.  However, folding the edges to press them to make even bias tape can be very difficult, especially with the stretchy bias cut edges.  Coming to our rescue is another long time sewing tool box friend: the bias tape maker.

Bias tape makers have been around for many years, so they are not new, but what is new are the variety of sizes you can get now.  Your starting width of fabric should be twice as wide as you want your finished bias tape to be.  If you need a 1/2 inch finished folded bias tape, your fabric should start off as a 1 inch wide strip of fabric (cut on the bias, or diagonal).  You insert the strip into the bias tape maker and the fold is created for you by the metal curl inside the tool.  Your cut edges are now matched evenly inside the fold and you can iron it for an even tape.

Typically you set your bias tape maker and your iron at your ironing board and as you pull the tape through the maker you can pass it directly under your iron.  A word of caution is that if you have a very long strip of bias tape to make, ironing in the same spot constantly could start to scorch your ironing board. (We speak from experience!) . The trick is that you will pull the strip, iron a little, and repeat.  It’s best to put a pin in the strip at one end and create your strip across your ironing board to prevent the scorch and also create a long strip quickly.

To see how Katherine Jones uses bias tape to make applique quilts, check out the January/February 2018 Issue!

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In the January/February 2018 issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited, Margaret Solomon Gunn shares her experiences with teaching quilting to her daughter, Sophie.  The article is full of tips for getting kids to be comfortable learning the many aspects of quilting.  We sat down with Margaret to learn a bit more about her experiences with Sophie.

Sophie looks right at home using the longarm to quilt her quilt.  How long did it take her to get the hang of it the first time?

For her first quilt (age 7), I actually believed she was doing the best design possible for a first-timer. Hindsight is brilliantly clear though – LOL. I merely went on the premise that a pantograph would be the simplest way for her to quilt, and that her short size would be her primary limitation. After quilting with her a few more times, I realized the error of my ways. One, following a red laser dot is boring. Two, this type of quilting requires making sweeping curves, which can be challenging for any new quilter, more so for a smaller quilter that does not have proper visibility of this pattern. In a nutshell, she practiced about 2 passes of this butterfly panto before I said “Let’s go”. We’ve done things differently the other times she’s longarmed, quilting on a step-stool from the front side of the machine.

How did Sophie do with the math involved in learning to quilt?

She’s very sharp with her math skills, but math has yet to enter the equation of quilting.  Designs have been selected that allow her to choose and piece the fabrics (I do the cutting). As she matures, math will definitely enter the realm of what she’ll be expected to do, but I have always tried hard just to keep it fun. She can learn math at school; I was teaching her to sew!

You provide some practical tips for incorporating kids into quilting.  What’s your number one tip for when they start to seem interested in quilting or sewing?

Try to read their cues. If the child loves the fabrics, engage them in the selection and fabric placement part of the project more (making the sewing aspect simpler). If the child proves to be very accurate, feel free to challenge their piecing with more than just squares. You never know until you get into a project with a kid what they will find intriguing, or difficult. Sewing long, straight lines can be boring, and many have a harder time when the quilt gets larger managing it on their machines. As a result, piecing with smaller pieces may make for a happier adventure. If the child is unhappy with a part of the process, they will be less likely to want to do it repeatedly. Find that aspect that truly engages them.

Thanks Margaret and Sophie! Check back for part 2 of our interview with Margaret Solomon Gunn, and to read more about how to get your kids involved in quilting, check out the January/February 2018 issue!

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It’s still winter, and it’s snowing for a good part of the country, so let’s tackle a machine quilting motif that can be a bit deceptive.  While stacked “snowball” circles may look easy, planning them out for the area you want to cover can take time to master.

Start off with the area you want to fill.  For these examples, we are just creating a space to work within, but you can use the quilt fabric or blocks to determine the area to fill with this motif.   Think about how large you want your “snowball” circles to be, and how many across will fill the area.

Now it’s time to start with the first circle.  You may have to travel down the side of your sewing area to begin.  We are making sure to touch the sides of the sewing area.

Our next circle we will try to make the same size as the first, with the sides touching the first circle and the side of the sewing area.  Sewing at a slower rate will help you make the circle as round as possible and to touch the sides of the previous circles cleanly.  Notice we are traveling around the circle to be able to get to an area to start the next one.

Keep filling in the area with stacked “snowball” circles until you have filled in the entire area you plan to quilt.  Don’t get too worried if you do not trace your previous stitches perfectly or make a wobble here and there.  This takes time to really get the hang of it, and practice is only going to help you figure out where your next circle goes and how big they should be.

If you have a spot that your full circle is not going to fit in, instead of making strange shaped circles, you can make them go “out of frame” by doing partial snowballs.

Here is the finished design.  Be sure to follow along with our other Machine Motif of the Month designs and try them out!  We would love to see what you use them on so please share them with our Facebook Page!

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Sue Reno is an award winning fiber artist who gives us an insight into her cyanotype printed quilts in her article “Working with Wet Cyanotype” in the January/February 2018 issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited.
We got a chance to sit down with Sue and ask her a little about where she started and where she is headed.

Tell us a little about when you first learned to sew.  When did you make your first quilt?

I started sewing doll clothes when I was able to hold and thread a needle, about five or six years old. I learned to use a sewing machine when I was eleven, made myself a blouse, and went on to make most of my own clothes.  At thirteen I started on a postage stamp quilt, cutting 2” squares by hand from scraps. I machine pieced and hand quilted it. I worked on it sporadically for years, and was distracted by many, more interesting projects, but I did eventually finish it.

When did you first learn about cyanotype for fabric and what made you want to try it?

In the early days of the art quilt movement, I saw an exhibit that included a quilt by Wenda F. von Weise. She had taken photos of a farm near her in Ohio, and the older couple who farmed it, printed them as cyanotypes on fabric, and constructed a quilt from them. It was a very radical use of imagery and technique for the time, and beautifully and evocatively done. It opened my eyes to a world of possibilities previously unknown. I wasn’t able to pursue it then, but the images and the idea always stuck with me. In 2002, thanks to the internet, I was able to source some pre-treated cyanotype fabric. I made my first print, turned it into my first art quilt, and never looked back. I love the technique because it’s simple enough for anyone to try successfully, but it’s infinitely variable. I learn something new each time I do a printmaking session. This past year I had the pleasure of developing and refining the wet cyanotype process, which produces such wild and colorful results.

What is a technique that you have never tried that you would like to?

I’m currently fascinated with encaustic artists. I like the soft mellow look and texture that wax brings to surfaces. I would love to learn how to work with it while including fibers and textiles. I need to find some time to experiment!

What advice would you give to a beginner in art quilting?

Be bold! Try the techniques that appeal to you, explore different subjects and materials, and don’t be overly concerned about the outcome. As you proceed, you will naturally start to focus on those aspects that best reflect your unique vision. And once you’ve found your groove, dive in and explore it fully, working variations on a theme.

I have a lot of fun with my art and my career, but I take it very seriously. I’m personally not a big fan of the “quick and easy” mindset. Don’t be afraid of working on things that are hard and messy, complicated and time-consuming, as they are often the most rewarding.

What is your next project shaping up to be? 

I have a huge pile of wet cyanotype prints I made last year that I am sorting for inclusion in two meteorological themed quilts I have planned. I have several quilts in my ongoing series about the Susquehanna River in progress. And I am trying very hard to finish the quilting on a monster-sized quilt from my Flora and Fauna series featuring cyanotypes of rabbit skulls that has been an UFO for an embarrassingly long time.

Thanks for chatting with us, Sue!  To see more of her work, visit www.suereno.com.  To read about how to get started with wet cyanotypes in your work, check out the January/February 2018 issue today!

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At some point in every quilter’s life, a fabric that’s been carefully squirreled away for a perfect project gets discontinued by the manufacturer.  Fabric tastes move on, or the production time to make that line is needed to make something else.  Let’s face it, fabrics get discontinued.

Susan Stewart’s Moonlight Sonata in progress

This recently happened with machine quilter favorite Radiance silk/cotton satin by Kaufman Fabrics. It’s mentioned in Susan Stewart’s Moonlight Sonata article in the November/December 2017 issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited.  She mentions dipping into her Radiance collection for the quilt in the article.

But what if you now need just a little bit more of that fabric to make your quilt, and it’s no longer made?   Here are a couple of tips.

Start calling shops and scour your online sources.  It’s time to start calling the shops that are perhaps a bit further away than you normally drive and try every search term online to find an online store that still has some.  Even stores that you may not think may have it just may have some in their clearance bin. It doesn’t hurt to try picking up the phone and making a few calls. Ebay and Etsy are two online sources to also search for the exact fabric you need.

Post a picture of the fabric on Facebook to ask your friends. Back in the day we didn’t have Facebook to ask all of our far flung friends to check their fabric collections for a particular print. We had to take a small piece to our guild or bee and ask around.  Now, it’s easier than ever to snap a picture with your phone and put it up with exactly how much you still need. If you can, take a picture of the selvage marks so folks can look for the exact fabric.

Check out one of the many Facebook groups to ask if anyone has it.  One more online trick you can try is to join one of the many groups about quilting on Facebook to ask is anyone has any spare of the fabric you need.  Search for “find fabric” in the search bar and click on Groups and a few will pop up.  Be prepared to purchase it or at least cover postage for the fabric if someone has some.

We hope this helps you tackle your search for additional fabric to finish your project.

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Continuing the series of landscape quilts in the January/February 2018 issue, Kit Robinson features a selection of “Stitching Hills and Fields”.  With the colder weather hitting much of the USA, some of these quilts warm you right up!

Flower Power, © Carol Larson

Carol Larson’s Flower Power sure makes us think spring is here.

Tuscan Country, © Lenore Crawford

Lenore Crawford’s Tuscan Country makes us feel like we are there in the warmth of Italy.

Want to see more?  Be sure to check out our Web Extra on the landscape quilts in this issue. Be sure to see the rest of the quilts (and warm up a bit) in the January/February 2018 issue.

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