Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Pin For Every Purpose

Who get excite by straight pins?  Not me for sure.  But when I can't find them or they are all bent or sticky from fusible web I realize how much I need the little buggers. 
I'd rather collect pin cushions over straight pins at least they are cute.   All sewers need straight pins and I found you need a verity for different project.  I didn't know that. 

I wanted to educate myself on the  straight pins story.  So to the internet I go.  I had no idea there are so many different kinds of pins.  I also needed to find out what works well through paper, fabric and fusible wed, all at the same time  and I did.  At the end of this story from Threads Magazine. I will tell you what I found out works best for my fusible technique.

The articular is called:      

A Pin For Every Purpose
Any pin is just the sum of its parts
The seemingly endless variety of straight pins can be daunting, unless you break each pin down into its five main components: head, point, thickness, length, and metal content. Just figure out what your needs are in each of the five areas, then seek out a pin with those qualities.

I suggest that you buy a few basic styles for the kinds of sewing you do most, such as dressmaker, extra-fine, and quilting, and then think of the other pins as problem solvers. In other words, if you come across a situation where your stash of basic pins can't handle a particular project, such as applique, supplement with applique pins. And with every pin you purchase, it's a good idea to keep a portion of the packaging somewhere in your sewing room, and tape one sample pin onto the label as a reference. When you run out of your favorites, you'll have all the information you need to replenish your stock.
Pin heads
From left to right: Flat; pearlized plastic, plastic flower-head, ball-shaped plastic; glass (yellow and blue); and metal (brass and silver).
Plastic-headed pins
 WARNING: Some plastic pin heads can melt under a hot iron and adhere to the fabric.
HeadThe head is the most recognizable part of a straight pin. What it is made of dictates if it can be pressed, and the shape determines when you should use it in the construction process.

Flat Also called "no head," this pin may be pressed with a hot iron. It's also good for handwork, as thread doesn't get caught on it. A flat head can be difficult to see on busy or textured fabrics, however.
Plastic Ball-shaped plastic heads come in different sizes and colors, and may be pearlized. Wide, flower-shaped plastic heads are the easiest to spot, and because they are flat, they come in handy when you need to lay a ruler or tape measure over a pinned area. They are also a good choice for lace, eyelet, and loose weaves, as the large heads won't slip through the holes in the fabric.

Glass This small, ball-shaped head is fairly easy to see, and won't melt when touched with an iron.

Metal Metal balls aren't common, but they can be pressed with an iron without fear of melting.

Tip: Use only the best-toss the rest. If a pin becomes bent, dull, or rusted, don't hesitate to throw it out. A less-than-perfect 1¢ pin can wreak havoc on your $10-, $20-, or $40-a-yard fabric.

The points of pins should slide cleanly into fabric without causing snags or unsightly holes. Different fabrics require different types of points.
Sharp These all-purpose points are a fine choice for loosely woven, medium-weeight, and heavy-weight fabrics.

Extra-sharp More defined and tapered, this point passes cleanly through delicate fabrics.

Ball point Created especially-and only-for knits, this point is rounded so it slips between the loops of the fabric and doesn't pierce or pull the yarns.


Some sewing projects require long pins, other ventures may do better with short, stubby pins. Pin length used to be listed on packages as sizes (size 12 = 3/4 inch long, etc.), but most pin manufacturers now just list the actual lengths.
Applique/sequin This 1/2- to 3/4-inch length is the best choice for applying appliqués, trim, or sequins, as you can position many pins close together (below left). Long pins, in comparison, overlap awkwardly (below right).
Short lengthLong length

Dressmaker/all-purpose If in doubt, reach for this medium- length (1-1/16- to 1-1/2-inch) pin. It is appropriate for all sorts of garment sewing.
Quilting pin
Quilting Made especially for pinning through many layers of fabric and batting, this 1-1/2- to 2-inch pin is also garment-friendly, as its long length hardly ever slips out of place.

To avoid marring fabric with pin holes, choose the thinnest pin to accomplish the task at hand. Unfortunately, we discovered that the naming convention, as it relates to actual diameters, isn't consistent among manufacturers. So the best thing to do is roll a pin between your fingers to gauge its actual thickness.
 .4mm, .5mm, .6mm and .7mm or .8mm.
.4mm The thinnest traditional pin we found was a .4mm "Patchwork Pin (Fine)" by Clover. It passes beautifully through the finest of sheers.

.5mm Called "extra-fine," "super-fine," "silk," or "satin," these .5mm pins are recommended for fine, lightweight fabrics, including some sheers.

.6mm Most all-purpose pins are labeled "fine," and are best paired with medium-weight fabrics.

.7mm or .8mm Although harder to find, these diameters are great for thicker fabrics like heavy wools, denim, and quilted layers. But they do leave large holes in their wake. 
Insect pinsInsect pins: superfine and rust-resistant
Forget bugs, this very skinny (size 00 - .3mm) and flexible spring steel pin is a great choice for fine fabrics. Originally created for insect collectors and entomologists, the double-coating of black enamel-to, yuck, resist insect fluids-makes them easy to see, plus they're rust-resistant. Indigo Instruments

Metal content

A pin's content is important, especially if you are allergic to certain metals. There are six types: stainless steel, nickel-plated steel, nickel-plated brass, brass, and chrome-plated steel, which is the strongest option. If you aren't sure of the metal, test it with a magnet; stainless steel and brass pins won't cling.

Put through a salt-water test, only nickel-plated brass passed. To test the rust-resistance of various metal types, we spritzed each pin with salt water. The results were surprising, as nickel-plated and chrome-plated steel should only rust if the plating is damaged; stainless steel should offer the best resistance. Brass tarnishes, but any residue washes out.
Left to right: Stainless steel, nickel-plated steel, nickel-plated brass, brass, and chrome-plated steel.

The bottom line
: Never leave any pin in fabric for very long, especially if you live close to the ocean's salty environment.
Specialty pins
 Left to right: Skirt pin, button pin, curved pin, traditional pin.

Specialty pins
For certain projects, you need special pins. The ones shown here aren't always available at the local sewing shop, so you may need to order them.

T-pin This 1-3/4-inch-long thick pin can pierce and hold hefty upholstery and outdoor fabrics.

Fork Fine and 1-5/8 inches long, this two-prong pin curves up at the end, which allows you to pin hard-to-handle fabrics, like lining, without lifting it. Also use to align stripes and plaids.

Glow-in-the-dark If you drop this pin, simply turn off the light, and look for its glowing head.

Tidy Similar to the fork pin, but flat and square. It was created to secure doilies, arm covers, and slipcovers to furniture.

Pleating This fine, strong, sharp pin doesn't look all that special, but is 1 inch long, which allows you to perfectly pin out pleats.

Twist The thumbtack-like plastic head and short corkscrew shaft hold slipcovers and mattress pads in place.

Safety pins
Safety pins won't wriggle free or stab you as you sew. They are available in a range of metals and colors, as well as sizes: size 00 (3/4 inch long), size 0 (7/8 inch long), size 1 (1-1/16 inches long), size 2 (1-1/2 inches long), and size 3 (2 inches long). 
Safety pins
 Left to right: Skirt pin, button pin, curved pin, traditional pin.
Skirt Also known as a kilt pin, this decorative pin holds skirts and kilts closed.

Button The bump in this pin holds delicate, non washable buttons temporarily in place.

Curved The bend makes basting quilts easy, and ensures that the layers never shift.

Traditional These pins can be used for sewing, quilting, and crafts.

I use the Wide, flower-shaped plastic heads.  they come in handy when you need to lay a ruler or tape measure or Iron over a pinned area. I iron only from the back of the fabric so not to put the heat of the iron right on the pin. i don't want it to melt.

I have also found that to remove the sticky fusible that can build up on your pins use a wool pincushion while working, the lanolin in the wool takes the sticky right off! hope this helps you like it helped me.

Saturday, August 13, 2016 more ways than one.

This has nothing to do with quilting but everything to do with being a woman who quilts.
I have been finishing up some of my beach quilts and getting them ready for upcoming shows but today I had to stop and take care of the dreaded task of dyeing my hair. Yes, I dye and cut my own hair. I can’t seem to keep a regular appointment with a stylist since I'm on the road so much.  So today was dye day.

I like it when my husband is not home for this activity, but today, and now most every day, he is home.  I think he is tired of looking at me with the same ponytail I have been sporting to hide the telltale signs that, yes, I have gray hair. I have found that if I twist my hair just the right way I can cover up one graying spot and it looks OK for a few more days.

So I told him just stay downstairs until I am done. He said OK, because he doesn’t want to see me with dye in my hair anymore than I want to show him.  So the process begins by laying out the tools, covering up the counter and putting on my gloves.  Now the dye is in and I ask Joe to set the timer for 25 minutes. While my hair is curing I go into the studio and work a little more on my beach quilt.  I can feel that it’s going to be a hot day today and go to turn on the air conditioning and then hear Joe saying Really? Do you have to turn that on now?  YES, I scream back, as I feel something dripping down my face. Of course, the dye is melting on my head this hot day (but it's a dry heat - or so I've been told since we moved here in 1996).

The timer rings, he calls out Time's up!  and I go to take a shower, knowing I will come out looking hot and young again for my cute stud muffin.  Well, maybe.  I precede to get dressed and think about wearing something cute but first, let's try on my new undergarment I got from Spanx yesterday.  Yes, that will make me feel sexy. The new underwear goes on first and I feel that it may be a little tight but they go on and are a cute peachy pink color which makes me happy except for the top of the undies, which  keep rolling down under my mommy bump.  Which is really is a big fat roll.  I pull them up, they roll down, I pull them up and hold my breath and the minute I breathe, they roll back down. Well, this is not good.  Off they go and back to the good old reliable Fruit of the Looms.  Now for the new sports bra.  This can’t be as bad, and it’s in a cute color, too.  I give it a good stretch and pull it over my head, where it gets stuck on the wet towel that my hair is wrapped in.  Oh, no.  Spanx and water is never a good combo.  I stretch it a little more to get it down over the girls and it snaps back into my face.  I try and reach up to put it down again and it gets stuck in a tight roll at the base of the back of my neck.  I can’t reach it.  It’s too high.  I twist and turn to try and grab it and it's just STUCK.  Stuck on my wet, hot body!   I can’t get it on or off!   A panic flashes across my mind. What if there’s a fire?  I would be trapped like this.  I can see the headline, Famous Quilter Found Topless with what Looks Like a Wet Pink Rubber Band around her Neck.  I do not want that to be my legacy.

I can’t get this alleged bra down, so I have to do the unthinkable, and call to Joe for help.  I tried to cover my body with a small towel but it’s no help.  I saw my refection, that I was trying to avoid,  in the mirror.  Oh, God!  I was just standing there when he enters the room and says,”Now what have you gotten yourself into?  Help, I say, I'm trapped in my new bra!  He shakes his head and rolls the bra down over my back fat and then,  just for fun, he gives it a big snap into place and suggests that maybe I need to get a bigger one.  I tell him it's my size, it’s just a Spanx.  Yes, Spanx, he says, I remember cutting you out of that after your son's wedding.  Yes, I said.  He leaves without further comment.

So today I have a new bra on that I may not be able to get off without help but maybe I can work that to my advantage later tonight.  Hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Big Winners in Syracuse NY

I get asked about judging all the time and thought I would spend this blog time talking about how judges make decisions and how it all works.
Judging a quilt show is never easy. In fact, it downright crazy hard. There are so many top of the top quilts in the show it can get very overwhelming at first look.  
The quilts have been categorized and juried into the show before we even get there to start judging.  If you have 2 quilts in the same category one has to be move to another category.  Which throws the judges a curveball as we walk by and say, this should be in another category.  All this pre work has been done before we the judges arrive. 
AQS has a stickers system that is so amazing on how it all works.  Many years ago Bonnie Browning went to Japan for AQS and learned all about this respected system of judging. The Japanese think these thing out in detail.  This system takes all egos out of the game and makes the cream rise to the top.  
Now, hear is the hard truth, your idea of what is best and my idea of what is best may differ on any given day.  That is why all shows change judges all the time.  The judge’s they pick have quilting knowledge in a verity of techniques and styles.  3 judges all knowledgeable.   One maybe is a long arm quilter, one in traditional and home machine and one is more arties-farties with a traditional back ground.   It’s a good mixture of skills always.  But it still is a little subjective.  Because I can’t control the other judges nor can they control me.
How the stickers work.  Each judge is given a sheet of sticker in a certain color. We go around the first category and put our stickers on all the quilts that we like, that represent the category and we think personally are worthy, until all our stickers are gone.  The number of stickers very in each round and I don’t know how they, AQS, decide that part.  As we move around and around the quilts, over and over, looking at everything, we don’t talk to each other.

In next round, you put a sticker on a quilt that already has been sticker-ed in the first round.  Now we are down to all the quilts that have 2 rows of stickers on them.  It’s a process of limitation.  Finely the last round we can talk to each other.  And as a group we decide who will be # 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 place.  This part can get a little animated and passionate. We share our expertise and it always seems to work.  Then from the first place in all the category’s and we have picture of each of those quilts. We then choose the best of show and the best quilts in that category’s.  Not necessarily the best in that technique. It the best overall quilt the knock our socks off. We are looking a color, design and workmanship, all of these elements as a whole. 

If you are one of those people that has and over whelming drive to keep putting the same quilt in 4-5 shows in one year where one award is not enough for you, that OK, but don’t  think we don’t know that?  And what is to say there isn’t something more well executed in the next show?  So don’t get you panties in a wade or get hurt feeling.  Under your name in the quilt books it will always say "award winner" even if you just won 1 ribbon! Funny how that works.

Here is the top of the top quilts in this year’s AQS Syracuse show for 2016. And I will comment on why they won. Because the best part of judging is we get to touch the quilts, lift them up into the light and look at there backs.  And they are Spectacular!  We never know who made them.  Then when we see them hanging in the round at the Winners Circle, we know we picked the right quilts.

 Best of Show-  JANET STONE! Janet's quilt, Ewe Are My Sunshine, 
 The detail on this quilt is overwhelming. Beads, trim embroidery. 
 This is an original design. 
 Up against the black and white strip is a thin blue silk cord that lay in the ditch. Amazing!

Flora Joy of Johnson City, TN,  SLEEP, PRAY, SCREAM
Who isn't amazed by Flora's work! but when you can touch it you see so much more going on!

 The engineering of this quilt and her technique is mind blowing. On each layer in-between the quilt there are embroidered saying and beads and its just takes your breath away.

 HAPPY HALLOWEEN 2, Aki Sakai, Hachiouji, Tokyo, Japan
The detail in this quilt was truly made by a master of hand stitching.  She had even made the beads that dangle from its borders. It is made up of 11 little quilts all finished and bound and held together with tinny little orange yo yo's.

The more we looked the more we saw. So well executed and fun to look at!

    BAILANDO EN LA NOCHE (DANCING IN THE NIGHT), Shelly Stokes, Alexandria, MN

Very unique design!  The hand work on this quilt was spectacular! The subtle changes in the color blew us away and her hand embroidery was perfect.

HOPELESS, Janneke de Vries-Bodzinga, Kollumerzwaag, Friesland, Netherlands
 Beautifully executed quilt with spectacular color that knocked my socks off the minute I saw it. The quilting was fabulous.

 SILK ROAD SAMPLER, Melissa Sobotka, Richardson, TX 
I real have no words except Amazing!  This is not painted! Each color has been cut out and fused.  Great job at shading with fabric and bring this subject matter to the forefront. 

SHELLABRATION, Christine Wickert, Penfield, NY
This is all done by hand. I thought the composition was fresh and modern even thou it was a classic design. The rich color change is elegant and each row of clam shell have an alternating pattern  design. Beautiful.

 These are the top award winners but there was so many award winner in the show it was hard to break it down to these top 7.  Congratulation to all in the show.  And for those of you that have never entered your beautiful quilts in a show. I  say, Stop It.  If God has giving you a gift, share it with the rest of us.  That's why he gave it to you.