Monday, December 28, 2015

My Two New Favorite Things- Starch and Elmer's Washable Glue- Part 1, Starch

Recently there was a question posted on one of the pages that I follow on Facebook regarding what type of starch or stabilizer is used by fellow quilters.  Overwhelmingly did people say Best Press.  I must say, that I disagree.

I started using a Best Press many years ago but only used it intermittently.  About a year ago I was at a local quilt shop and the owner told me that she starched and used heavy starch.  After that my life was changed!

Being a frugal person, I DO NOT like to throw anything away, including a partially used bottle of Best Press.  So I was using the Best Press, just to use it up until the following happened.  This is what finally convinced me that Best Press is not the best...

If you don't already know, and why would you, I do not like to pin.  More on this in the next part but that is one reason why I love Elmer's Washable Glue!

Here are 2 pictures,

The one on the left, the light fabric was pressed with Best Press.  In the right picture I used starch.  You will notice that with the Best Press the fabric stretched, not with the starch.  I did not need to pin!

Now I realized that Best Press really doesn't do much or at least I found that it made my fabric stink more than it stabilized the fabric.

My Starch Progression...
The first stop on my starch progression was to use spray starch sparingly.

The next step was to spray starch each piece of fabric 3 times.  to cut down on flaking This was a hint given by a speaker at one of my quilt meetings.  She explained that the reason the starch flakes is because the it has not soaked into the fabric. One sprays, turns over the fabric, then presses; repeat 2 more times.  This makes the fabric beautifully stiff.  However, there was some flaking but not nearly as much.

After using spray starch for a bit I was not liking the over spray on my floor.  I quilt in a carpeted room so easy mopping isn't an option and the thought of bring out the carpet cleaner as frequently as needed was not inviting.  So I bought a bottle of liquid starch and put it in an old Best Press bottle, 2:1 water to starch ratio.  Again I used the 3 times each side technique.  The fabric was nice and stiff but there was still too much over spray.

Final solution is to soak the fabric in starch and water, ring out the starch then press, 1;1 water to starch.  Works wonderfully!!!

I know that people are concerned about silverfish.  Since I have been using starch, about 1 year, I have not seen any silverfish.  From what the speaker said, silverfish are attracted to glutton so make sure whatever starch you use does not contain glutton.  When I thought about this I realized that silverfish are in flour but not sugar and I've certainly never seen any by my corn syrup!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Farmer's Wife Quilt-a-long Week 12

Week 11 brings us #86- Priscilla and #9- Autumn

First was Priscilla, #86

This block as good and bad. I have been wanting to use this polka dot fabric for quilt so time.  I love this fabric and wasn't really thrilled with the color combinations I used with it's last block, Sara.

The bad was I struggled wiith paper piecing. I don't know want happened but on of the black "spires"  got too wide. After taking the picture I went back and took out the puckers.   Very frustrating.

Second block this week is #9- Autumn

This block seems appropriate with for the week Christmas with the center looking like a nicely wrapped package.  It was also very comfortable to do as it was NOT paper pieced.  I need to figure out what I'm doing wrong paper piecing.

These are the last blocks for a couple weeks.  Next week I will post a couple of my other recent finishes.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Farmer's Wife Quilt-a-long Week 11

Week 11 brings us #55- Malvina and #22- Cat


I love this in 2 color, I may just have to try that some more.  In addition, I love the dot fabric.  Sadly found it in my stash and have no idea where I got it.


This block made me so happy!  I have been trying to use the green focal fabric for a ver long time.  Like I said in an earlier blog, patience.  The only problem is that there is a bump in the center square, I will rip it out and fix it.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Farmer's Wife Quilt-a-long Week 10

Week 10 brings us #10-Ava and #26- Daffodil.

#10- Ava

Ava was done by just measuring, cutting and piecing, nothing real eventful (thank goodness). The only stumbling block was rotating one of the stripe blocks 90 degrees so a bit of ripping was involved.  The block worked out almost exactly 6 1/2".  I belive I am better at having a consistent 1/4" seam allowance.

#26- Daffodil 

Daffodil proved to be a bit more frustrating.  I have done quite a bit of paper piecing throughout my quilting life so it isn't intimidating for me.  But...when I do a bonehead mistake I am reminded to concentrate better.  What I did was put a green fabric in palce of a white, even though I had the paper marked correctly.  As Homer, Simpson that is, would say, "Doh,"

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Farmers Wife Quilt-a-long Week 9

Week 9 brings us #79 Patience, #80 Patricia, and #39 Grandma

#79 Patience

Patience was a nice and easy block.  I really like the simplicity of it.

#80 Patricia

Another relatively easy block. The swirl fabric is one of my favorites.  The daughter has a bandana made out of this fabric so it makes me think of her.

#39 Grandma

"Baby B" helped me pick out the the fabric for this block, in particular the green.  I am so very glad he convinced me to use this green as the one I had picked would have been to bright.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Farmer's Wife Quilt-a-long Week 8

#46 Jewel and #90 Sara

#46 Jewel

I love this block, the three dimensional effect is outstanding.  At first I wasn't too thrilled with my fabric choices but they are growing on me.  

Tip:  After this block I learned to be sure to use a solid in in the block, it gives the eye a rest.  However, the first rule of quilting is it's o.k. to break any rules.

#90 Sara

See, I already went against my above tip. 😉

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Farmer's Wife Quilt-a-long Week 7

This week's blocks were #2 Aimee and #76 Nancy

#2 Aimee

I foundation paper pieced (FPP) this one.  If a block has a shape that is not a triange or rectange, I will FPP it.  

On Gnome Angel's website,, she referred to a tutorial on another blog where you use freezer paper to FPP.  With this technique you create the sewing lines on the freezer with your sewing machine.  Another difference with this technique is that you fold back the freezer paper and sew next to the fold so no need to rip off the paper.  Please refer to this blog for specifics.

Well, I didn't care for the technique.  After completing my first portion of the block, there was a pucker. Since it was a process that I was not familiar with I also used a lot more fabric.  The ripping off of the papers never bothered me as it does others.

I am very pleased with the block.  Love the stripes

#76 Nancy

I am SO happy with this block.  I have been wanting to use the black and white fabric for weeks.  Last week I tried to use it in #57- Margret but it was, as the kids say, an epic failure.  Just needed to wait for  the right block.

This week's Tip

There have been 3 techniques I've used to assemle the blocks, rotary cutting, foundation paper piecing and applique.  Many people are goi ng a different route and are using the Marti Mitchell Templates.  

One of the nice perks of the MM templates is that the corners are clipped at just the right spot and angle for easy piecing.  I have just the tool for this without having to purchase the templates, Judy Martins Ultimate Point Trimmer. 

It took me a bit to get used to how to set up the pieces to trim but now I don't know how I would live without this little tool!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Farmer's Wife Quilt-a-long Week 6

This was a tough week for me. The blocks this week were #1 Addie, #62 Milly, and #57 Margret.

I did Addie twice.  Here they are:

Being that Addie has such a large piece in the middle I wanted to use a fabric with a big print.  Starting with the top one, the center fabric was what started the whole color scheme.  I didn't want to use this same fabric in the outer point becuse I thought it would blend too much with the black.  Once I finished it I thought the inside fabric looked pieced rather than one piece of fabric.

So I did the bottom one.

With further review, I like them both.  Good thing I dont need to decide which one tp use for a while.

Now here's Milly.

I liked her right away.  I really wanted to use the grey fabric in this one.  Glad it worked out.

Finally, Margret...




Finally, #4

This block kept nagging at me.  The first one was way too busy.  Then changing the light to grey just didn't give it the impact I wanted.  The third one was still too busy.  Now I realized the problem was the dark fabric.  Changed the dark to a black batik and it was a hit!  I sure hope next week's blocks don't involve half square triangles!

My tip for this week.

I put 1/4" tape on a ruler outlining the size of the finished pice.  Then cut once you have it where you want it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Farmer's Wife Quilt-a-long Week 5

#41-Granny and #44- Jenny

So the first block is #41- Granny

I love the use of large pieces of fabric in this block.  I also thought it would be a great use of directional fabrics.  Since the fabrics in this quilt is leftover from Sarah's quilt and her quilt had no directional fabric restrictions, I have quite a few of these fabrics.

After seeing a completed QAL block that the larger pieces were not pieced, I really liked that idea.  With further review of a couple of "non-pieced" blocks I noticed that they were appliqued.  This was quite exciting for me as I have been wanting to try some new appluque tricks I had learned.

Here are most of the items I used to make this block.

First I cut my triangle.  For this I just cut out the triange, adding 1/4" seam allowance, from the diagram off the cd.  Then I prepared my applique piece.

NEW TRICK #1- Using 3 layers of freezer paper as the applique shape.  Pressing 3 layers on top of each othe makes a nice, stiff pattern piece.  I then had the plastic side of the freezer paper pattern piece to press to my fabric.  It worked wonders!

TRICK #2-  Next I used a paint brush to apply starch to both sides of the applique piece.  Then pressed it over with the iron.

Finished piece:

Next I used Elmer to place the piece:

The pressed it in place.

This is what it looked like once sewnin place:

Next I removed the paper, pried apart the pieced I had used Elmer on, then cut the green in the corner and pressed the seams open.  I wanted to press the seams open so that it didn't look appliqued.

Finished one quarter.

Here is the finished block.  I am very pleased.

Now for #45-Jenny

This one was far less exciting but no less loved. I did stumbled a bit before reading the tutorial. I put the center triangles together and then tried to add the outside but then I had Y seams to deal with. The tutorial I go to the outside parallelogram and triangle first, making it a triangle. Then you put the four triangles together. Note to self read the tutorial first, much easier.

Here are all of the blocks so far.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Farmer's Wife Quilt-a-long Week 4

All day on Monday I was trolling for the first block being released this week.  After all the waiting I was very excited to work on the released block only to have to wait until Thursday to get started.  At my quilt meeting on Tuesday morning I volunteered to do an "emergency" Prayers and Squares backing.  Then on Wednesday with Sarah's giving her faith statement along with the rest of the hectic day, quilting was just not in the cards.

This weeks blocks are #78 Old Maid, #94 Susannah, and #49 Katherine

Here is the first block I attempted, Old Maid:
This is my first attempt.  After completing when I measured, it was 6 3/4" square rather than 6 1/2".  So what does one do but trim.  When trimming was completed the sides only had about 1/8" seem allowance without cutting into the points.  This was not acceptable so I started another.

Reviewing the color I decided to change the green and leave the solid I used in the first attempt for a multicolor block, more versatile.  This time I trimmed as I went so it only ended up 1/8" too big on each side.  I know why, when cutting the quarter square triangles, the suggested size they large so allows for trimming.  Even though I trimmed the center of the block the edges were long.  I trimmed a bit and called it acceptable.

#94 Susannah

#49 Katherine

Here are all of the blocks so far.  The bottom block's green is questionable.  As the quilt progresses, if it still sticks out like a sore thumb I will redo with other fabrics

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Farmers Wife Quilt-a-long Weeks 1-3

So I started a bit behind on the quilt-a-long (QAL) due to needing to finish up a quilt for church.  For many of the blocks I have done so far, Elmer's washable glue has been a godsend, even Bonnie that I paper pieced.  The fabrics are left over from doing my daughter's quilt.

Week 1 bocks were #16- Bonnie, #12- Becky, and #8 Aunt

Being that this was my first block I'm learning to try to fussy cut better. 


Week 2- #14- Betty and #20- Caroline

Week 3- #13- Belle and #24 Coral

This Belle block was the only block I paper pieced so far.  It involved Y seams which were a fun challange.  Again, extolling the virtues of Elmer, the Y seems were no issue.  Loved not having the pins to deal with.

This as all of them so far:

Again, Elmer and heavy starch have sure been my friends.  I have never in 28 years of quilting had such consistantly accurate points.  

So far I am very pleased with the results.