Questions (& Answers?!) ~ Open Thread

on February 26 | in Sewing + Quilting Tips | by | with 88 Comments

Sharon recently contacted us and suggested we create a space for questions and answers on the blog. We were thinking the exact same thing! We don’t have all of the answers by any means, but we know you all in this wonderful community of sewists are full to the brim with expertise. We’ll periodically post a Question & Answer Open Thread. Anyone and everyone is welcome to jump into the comments with your own sewing questions and answers. Here we go…

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88 Responses to Questions (& Answers?!) ~ Open Thread

  1. Tram says:

    Question: First time blogger!!!
    I am trying to make a windshield for my husband’s UTV by using clear flexible vinyl. My problem is, I don’t know how to attach it to the UTV. I don’t want it attached permanently. I want to be able to take the windshield off. I have thought about sewing straps and using snaps, but someone told me that I cannot sew flexible vinyl. It will tear easily once the vinyl is punctured. I thought about super duty velcro, but I am afraid the adhesive on the velcro may not be strong enough. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks so much. Oh by the way, I am a beginner, when it comes to sewing. I have a $100 sewing machine. I don’t know if that will do the job.

  2. katie says:

    ayumills- I made my first bag that needed something at the bottom a few weeks ago. I am new at all of this… anyways I used a flexable cutting board I had bought at ikea for like 99 cents. I just used scissors and cut it the size I needed. It is working great!

  3. lori says:

    A big thank you to Carol, Sam, Dawn and Andreaelizabeth for your recommendations on working with color…and to everyone whose work became part of Quilting Month…and to Sew,Mama,Sew for a GREAT 29 days! I feel invigorated and ready to try so many new things.

    One more quick question: anyone quilt with cotton lawn – or would you say it’s too delicate? I know there’s a lovely example in the Purl Patchwork book, but I thought you all might have some comments.

    Oh, and one more…has anyone ever sent a quilt out to an Amish handquilting group? I’ve always thought it would be interesting to do. Anyone?

    Thanks again to everyone!

    Lori in Los Angeles

  4. Junktique says:

    “What do you use to make the bottom of your handmade bag so hard and flat that when the bag is filled with a lot of stuff, the bottom stays nicely flat? A lot of my Japanese craft book says I need a plastic board to insert at the bottom, but I haven’t seen anything close to it at local craft stores. I would appriciate so much if anyone could give me suggestion on this. What to use and Where to get ?”

    The plastic canvas works OK but my favorite stiffener for the bottom of bags is a piece of mat board. You can purchase from the picture framing department of your hobby store and cut it to size with old scissors or an exacto knife. Use wonder under and fuse your lining fabric directly to the board and slip it into the bottom of your purse! You can laminate it to make it waterproof, too.

  5. Andrea Elizabeth Johnson says:

    Zainab…..ahhhh, you expressed it so well! I’m a pretty new quilter, just been at it just a couple years. It’s hard – when i’m working on a project, I run into a stage where I start to really dislike it (usually when I’m about halfway done) – that’s when I’m most tempted to set it aside and start something else. But, when I do actually finish something, I almost always really like it – even though I may have hated it for awhile in the process! I have only finished one bed-size quilt, because I find I like smaller projects – I can do more of them and try more things!!! I love lap-size and baby quilts. ………..Last winter, during a stressful time, I started making quilted hot pads – they sewed up in a jiffy, they were cute, I tried a lot of new patterns. Right now I’m working on three projects – that’s not counting the three finished tops that still need battings and backs. But that’s not too bad – I know a quilting teacher who has over 80 unfinished quilt tops!! She’s a fabulous quilter! …..Sew Mama Sew Quilting Month tempts me to start all kinds of new things when I see all the wonderful ideas other people have for their quilts!

  6. Zainab says:

    Ok, I have a really stupid question: How do you organize your work? I have so many ideas what I want to make but basically don’t know where to start and usually end up doing nothing worthy at all. Do you work on one project and don’t start anything else until this one is finished or do you have many things started and grab one depending on the time or situation you are in, how do you keep it all in order? Thanks!

  7. britt says:

    just a suggestion, but having this in a forum format would make reading/finding the answer to the question and posting a bit easier

  8. Wendy says:

    Bess, you will get the same puckering effect whether your fabrics are prewashed or not. Even if you pre-wash, you are going to be pressing your fabrics while piecing, and they will wrinkle up again after washing. I’ve often mixed washed and un-washed fabrics without a problem. I try to pre-wash, but don’t worry about it if I don’t have the opportunity. I think it might depend on how much quilting you do as well. I personally would not mix unless I planned on quilting maybe 3-4″ or closer because I think any further apart may result in some shifting and lopsided-ness.

  9. Jane says:

    Cassie–
    Looked at your photo… the reason for points not lining up could be caused by various things. 1. Make sure you are using an accurate 1/4″ seam in all of your piecing. Use this test: sew 3 – 1-1/2 inch strips of fabric together using 1/4″ seam. The resulting piece should measure 3- 1/2″ across. If it doesn’t, make adjustments in your sewing. 2. Use pins to hold the pieces in place. 3. Sew with the ‘point side up’ so you can see the point seam going thru the needle of the machine. 4. ‘Square up’ your blocks at each step of the process. This makes all the blocks the same size and makes for accurate piecing. 5. press your seams either to one side or open each step of the way. 6. If you don’t have a 1/4″ foot for your machine… get one, they really make accuracy MUCH easier!

  10. tammie says:

    yay! I had been hoping for something like this! Thanks. I’ll be asking lots of questions as I start my first quilt!

  11. Bess says:

    Re: Prewashing vs. Not Prewashing

    Will you still get the cool puckery effect in your quilt if some of your fabrics are prewashed and some are not? Or would it just be all weird and lopsided?

  12. ayumills says:

    SusanChristine-

    Thanks so much for your suggestion!
    I guess I should go to Home Depot or Michaels to look for plastic canvas!

  13. Wendy says:

    Re: mixing fabrics in a quilt, I think it depends on what how you want to use the quilt. If you prewash (I recently read that you should prewash 3 times!!), you shouldn’t have any major shrinkage issues. My concerns would come in when it comes to quilting and how it would wear. If you are machine quilting, and using a knit (minky, fleece, etc) and cotton, make sure you use a universal needle that will work with all the fabrics uses so that you are not cutting the fibers or jamming your machine. When it comes to wearing, keep in mind that if the quilt is being used and washed often some fabrics may deteriorate faster than others (ie. silks and satins will not hold up as well as cotton) and you’ll end up with a holey quilt.

  14. Wendy says:

    To Jacquie re: resizing a pinwheel block – Assuming you are talking about a traditional pinwheel block that is made up of 8 half square triangles, this is what I would do. To figure out what size your triangles should be take the size of the finished pinwheel block, divide by 2 and add 7/8″. So you’ll cut squares that are 2 7/8″ (for a 4″ pinwheel), then cut those in half diagonally to get the right size triangles. Same goes for a 6″ finished pinwheel. Cut half-square triangles from 3 7/8″ squares. I hope that’s clear enough.
    When all else fails, I use graph paper, draw the finishes my block, sketch seam allowances all around each piece, and measure it!

  15. Cassie Ogle says:

    I asked a question above and it doesn’t appear that anyone answered it yet. Here is a link to a photo on my flickr page that may help to explain what I’m asking.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/coco8199/2231379995/

    The point on the left is lined up correctly and the point on the bottom has a space between it and the middle square. Is there a trick to keeping this from happening?

  16. Amanda says:

    In your opinion, what do you think are some of the best sewing machines for beginners that are priced from $100-$300? Your insight would be much appreciated! :D

  17. ayumills
    I’ve never made a bag that needed it, but I’ve read in several places that you can use plastic canvas as a stablizer for the bottom of your bags.

  18. Georgia says:

    Libby–Use a small rolled hem to finish your garments. Iron the seam up about 1/4″ and roll one more time and sew on the fold (furthest from the edge).

    Using a serger is indeed much easier, but a rolled hem looks just as nice. I love my serger, but I make a lot of clothing for the little tots and I don’t have a ton of time. It cuts down on sewing time and they are really great on knits (I struggle with knits on my sewing machine).

    p.s. for gretchen–mine’s a Juki and I got it new for $400. It is not the bottom of the line, either.

    Also, for the smocking/shirring conversation: the term “smocking” is sometimes used over-generally and people use it to refer to items that are actually shirred. Shirring is a technique where elastic is wound onto the bobbin and used as the bottom thread. This gathers the fabric and is also stretchy. Smocking is tightly gathered fabric (can be done by hand, but is easier with a pleater) with embroidery on top. I just inherited a pleater and I’m trying to formulate some funky things I could do with it (traditional styles are not my thing…!).

  19. Laura says:

    Jacquie, there are a lot of blocks called ‘pinwheels’, so I’m not sure if this is the same one you’re thinking of, but here’s a link to a 6″ finished block: http://www.sewaquilt.com/pinwheel.html . This uses the method of using larger squares to piece two triangle-square blocks at the same time. If you wanted to make a 4″ finished block using this method, you would start with 3″ squares at the beginning.

  20. Gretchen says:

    Kristin-

    Thanks so much for your comment about sergers. I will check out our local dealer for trade-ins/reconditioned machines – I hadn’t thought of that!

  21. Sharon Gollman says:

    I don’t know where else to post this, but at Christmas time, I made some boxer shorts as a joke for my son who is in college. I used the orange Dog Park fabric and sewed the vintage button on the fly. They were a huge hit and I have requests to sew more. I think this would be fun to sew using different holiday designs as well.
    Sharon

  22. Deirdre Peters says:

    Thanks EmmyLizzy! That link from Posie gets Cozy is just what I needed. I have a doll size Irish chain quilt I started years (4 or 5 years) ago and never finished the binding because I just didnt’ know how to go about it. That link was perfect!

  23. Georgia says:

    Brittany: We have lots of babies around here! I always make something, so I have a list of things I like to make:
    burp rags
    taggy balls
    taggy blanket
    flannel blanket (two layers, one little applique on the front)
    clothes (much more time-consuming)
    bibs
    wash cloths
    Headache pillow for new mom! (tutorial from Sew, Mama, Sew)

    There is a cool tutorial for the taggy balls somewhere…I think maybe it is in the gift list Sew, Mama, Sew compiled in November–?

  24. Andrea Elizabeth Johnson says:

    Beth Ferrier, an amazing quilter and quilting teacher, teaches in her quilting classes that you don’t need to prewash fabric if you have well water!! She maintains that fabrics will not bleed in well water. This was good news for me, since we do have well water, but I still usually prewash fabrics just because I have a “thing” about the chemicals used in manufacturing the fabrics. (http://applewd.com/ is Beth Ferrier’s website.) I use Ivory liquid baby detergent and a cold water setting when I prewash fabrics, to retain a little of the sizing.

    Machine free-motion quilting: It really helps to take a couple classes. I have taken a couple and I’m getting better, but it takes practice as well as just facing down your anxiety! A blogger said she learned alot about free-motion quilting from this DVD: PajamaQuilterPajamaQuilter Reloaded DVD. Price: $28.00 plus $3.00 shipping and handling … http://www.pajamaquilter.com/ – 10k. I’m curious about checking it out!

    Choice of colors for design: Freddy Moran says “Just start playing with fabric.” Take a look at the book that she and Gwen Marston co-authored, Collaborative Quilting (one of the top ten books in the poll done by Sew Mama Sew.) Anything goes, make what YOU like.

    andreaelizabeth

  25. Dawn says:

    Awesome!!!! I’m loving this thread!

    To respond to Lori’s question about color and design, I have been helped a lot by two books by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr: The Modern Quilt Workshop and Quiltmaker’s Color Workshop. In each of these books the authors really go into depth explaining color theory and how color variations create totally different quilts. Even better they have included patterns so you can make some of the quilts yourself!

  26. maria thestrup schmidt says:

    Just recived some fabric that I bought in you shop. It is absolutely fabulous and perfect and so is your service and the little “extra touches” like the button, the neatly and personal wrapping of the fabric etc. Will tell everyone here in Denmartk about your store:)!
    Just wanted to say thanks!

    Maria (denmark)

  27. Brianna says:

    Thank you Stephanie! I suppose I will have to be a grown up about it and just put in linings : ) Thank you for the tips!

  28. Glaucia says:

    WOW! What a great idea! So much info in just one place!
    My questions were already been answered, not only here, but also during this month.Thank you all!

  29. Sam VanDerPuy says:

    In Response to Lori in LA:
    My first suggestion on mixing color is to just not think about it so much, just throw some things to gether and see what happens! If that solution is to vague for you, here’s a more scientific approach. Get yourself a color wheel! You can find them on the internet just by searching “color wheel”. Pick a color you want to start with, then see what it’s opposite is. (the color directly opposite on the wheel). For instance, blue and orange are opposites, as are red and green, but those are just the basics. See if you can find a wheel with “aqua” in in and see what its opposite is. My guess would be an orangy-red. Opposites on the color wheel make each color pop when combined. You can also experiment with same families (like red-yellow and everything in between) for a more monochromatic look. The color wheel is just a great visual guide for any number of possibilities. Color is SO fun, I encourage you to branch out and try new combos.
    For a much more detailed and amazing tutorial on color, check out Joelle Hoverson’s “Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts”. She even has a color wheel quilt project in there. Good luck!

  30. Libby says:

    This is so great!! My question…. What is a good way to finish seams on things like p.j.’s, aprons, skirts,etc. I don’t have a serger, and I’d really like to get a nice finished look. Any help would be appreciated! also, do many of you use sergers? Would it be worth the investment in one if I’m only sewing simple items? Thanks, Libby

  31. Sharon Gollman says:

    “What do you use to make the bottom of your handmade bag so hard and flat that when the bag is filled with a lot of stuff, the bottom stays nicely flat? A lot of my Japanese craft book says I need a plastic board to insert at the bottom, but I haven’t seen anything close to it at local craft stores. I would appriciate so much if anyone could give me suggestion on this. What to use and Where to get ?”

    I use these plastic grids that come in sheets. I cut them to size. I do not know what they are called, but they are in the crafts stores in the cross stitch supplies.

    Sharon

  32. Katrin says:

    Great idea, this Answer and Question-Thing.
    Already a lot of questions in here, can’t wait for all the answers.

    Keep up the good ideas, sew mama sew!

  33. Suzanne says:

    This is so great, I read someone suggesting a forum, I don’t know– forums can become so catty (for lack of a better word), I wonder if there is a way to set up a once a month thing with people who want to be mentors and gather and assign each mentor 5 or 10 questions based on their expertise and then post the answers.

  34. ayumills says:

    Thanks so much, Beth!!

  35. Rachel says:

    Brittany–
    I’ve been to a few baby showers recently and I have made receiving blankets (cotton flannel, narrow hem the four sides and you’re done!), bibs (from Amy Karol’s Bend the Rules Sewing), scalloped blanket (again, BTRS, and I used two layers of cotton flannel, super quick and easy, but make sure you clip those curves!!!) and burp cloths. The great thing is that you can personalize them for the parents–my cousin moved to Alaska from rural Missouri and so I made his new little one a quilt with bears (Alaska) and a bib and burp cloth set with tractors (yay Missouri!). With all the great fabric out there, you can make really nice coordinated set of things (2 blankies and 2 bibs or 4 burp cloths and 4 bibs or whatever!). Oh! What about a set of bibs and burp cloths that go with the seasons/holidays?

  36. Beth says:

    What do you use to make the bottom of your handmade bag so hard and flat that when the bag is filled with a lot of stuff, the bottom stays nicely flat? A lot of my Japanese craft book says I need a plastic board to insert at the bottom, but I haven’t seen anything close to it at local craft stores. I would appriciate so much if anyone could give me suggestion on this. What to use and Where to get ?

    Ayumills– I use Peltex or Timtex. I can usually find Peltex locally and I order Timtex… There’s more about it in Amy Butler’s Interfacing Guide from our Bag Month.

  37. Beth says:

    My husband wants a duffel bag for carting around stuff when he travels. I was thinking of making one myself. Does anyone know of any good patterns or tutorials?

    Ian– I’ve seen one of these square cargo bags from The Green Pepper made up and it was pretty neat.

  38. Stephanie says:

    Regarding Brianna’s question about how to eliminate a cotton/linen garment from riding up (when slips don’t work), I have resigned myself to taking the extra time to sew in a lining into some dresses. It’s a little extra work, but well worth not having to worry about things bunching up. I haven’t found a better solution to the problem either (maybe someone else will chime in). There are a lot of different kinds of lining fabrics, some of which are labeled cling-free and work pretty well. Some are not slippery and create more bunching and clinging. When I do sew in a lining, I usually attach the lining to the exterior with a reinforced 1/2-inch handsewn connection thread at the side seams to keep the lining in place as I move around (if you look at nicely tailored garments, they often have this).

  39. Brittany says:

    I am new to sewing, and I’m super excited to have found your blog. It has helped me a lot already. I have a 3 month old baby girl and tons of friends having babies. I have started sewing some basic burp clothes, but does anyone have any cool baby shower gift ideas?

  40. Alli says:

    Suzanne:
    I always pre-wash my fabrics for a quilt. I know not everyone does, but I like to know that if anything is going to bleed or shrink, I’ll know about it before I put the work into cutting, piecing, and quilting it. If I didn’t prewash, and put the whole thing together only to have something bleed or pucker in the final wash I think I’d lose my head!

  41. Carrie says:

    I always wondered about sewing on rick rack—thanks Kristin!

  42. ayumills says:

    This is such a great opportunity!

    My question is..

    what do you use to make the bottom of your handmade bag so hard and flat that when the bag is filled with a lot of stuff, the bottom stays nicely flat? A lot of my Japanese craft book says I need a plastic board to insert at the bottom, but I haven’t seen anything close to it at local craft stores. I would appriciate so much if anyone could give me suggestion on this. What to use and Where to get ?

    Thanks;)

  43. Cassie Ogle says:

    I’m very new to quilting and it has been years since I’ve used a sewing machine (using the machine seems like all new stuff to me). I’ve just learned how to machine piece and I’m wondering if there is a trick to lining up your points in the correct place? I always seem to luck up and have a few in the right place but then have a few that don’t “point” to where they are supposed to.

  44. Rachel says:

    How do you make the ends of rickrack look nice when they’re sewn together? I’m thinking in terms of edging a napkin or tablecloth, where you go all the way around the perimeter and the ends have to meet up again.

    Also, I adore chicken scratch, but I am having an impossible time finding patterns besides double cross stitches (X and + on top of one another) and the circles that go around _ and | stitches. Any suggestions?

    Thanks!!

  45. Doris says:

    I am new to this site but I am really enjoying all of it!!

  46. Carol says:

    Sharon – yes, you can mix fabrics. I would prewash and dry for potential shrinkage first. Normally, if I am only using cottons, I don’t prewash, but I don’t mind a slightly puckery quilt if it ends up that way. Some people like to prewash to get the sizing out or to make sure the batik is colorfast.

    Batting – can be determined by preference or by quilting method. My local longarm quilter uses 80% cotton 20% poly – she also goves me leftovers for small projects, so hit your local quilt shop if you have one. Many prefer all cotton and the thinnest weight. Thicker lofts may not work for hand quilting. The amount of potential shrinkage is given on the label (“less than X% shrinkage”) as is the minimum quilting density (“quilt up to 8″ apart”). Some people like wool for warmth.

    Lori- Color theory – try a class at a local quilt shop or pick the shop owner’s brain. If that isn’t an option, peruse quilt books or even decorator magazines for color schemes. If you see a quilt you like online, ask that quilter what inspired their choices.

  47. Kristin says:

    I do have a question thats been consuming me lately and would love any advice on the subject. I’m hoping to buy a serger in the near future. Does anyone have any recommendations for a good one that won’t break the bank? I’m thinking $300 or under. Am I being totally unrealistic thinking I might find a good one at this price point? Thanks for any help!

    I have a Hobbylock that I love. It might have been closer to $500 though. A lot of dealers will have reconditioned/ trade-ins for great prices. I think that sergers are something they see frequently too. A lot of people don’t get as much use out of it as they thought they would, so they resell them.

  48. Kristin says:

    Here’s a very elementary question…what is the preferred method of sewing on rick rack or other types of trim. Do you just sew straight down the middle?

    That’s what I do.

  49. Kristin says:

    I’m new to sewing and have been having some difficulties with bias tape…my finished product never seems to be as polished and neat as I would like for it to look. Any tips or suggestions?

    Finger pressing the tape into the right shape before you sew really helps a lot. If, for example, you are trying to get bias tape around the edges of a bib, you should first try to put some curve into the tape by working it with your fingers. You’ll be surprised how much you can get it to keep the shape.

    Also, did you notice that on double-fold bias tape one side is a little wider than the other? When you put your fabric in between the fold, you want to make sure you have the narrower side up when you sew. You’ll be much less likely to miss the back with your stitches.

  50. Sally Hess says:

    Regarding batting: polyester has a higher loft (puffiness) and can generally be quilted further apart or tied. Cotton batting is flatter, can be more stiff, and can be quilted up to 10″ apart (Warm and Natural), and shrinks a bit, giving an “old-fashioned” look to the quilt. Wool batting is really warm, a bit more expensive, and the quilting lines usually have to be 4″ apart or less. Polyester and the corn-based “eco” battings will melt if you attempt to iron them. I machine quilt everything. If you hand quilt, you will definitely need a low-loft batting such as 100% cotton.

    I prefer blends that are mostly cotton and wool. I’ve also used a nice blend that is 80% cotton and 20% polyester. It has a lovely drape to it, is easy to work with, and easy to quilt. You can find all sorts of blends of cotton/silk, cotton/wool, wool/alpaca, etc. Often fabric stores will sell batting at 50% off, giving us all a nice opportunity to try something new. (That’s how I ended up with the tragic melting eco-batting. oops.)

    When you choose a material, think about the materials of the rest of your quilt. YES, you CAN MIX fabrics, you just need to be aware of their propensity to shrink, and how you feel about shrinkage. While I always pre-wash the fabrics for a lined bag (to ensure one side doesn’t shrink more than the other), I never pre-wash quilt fabrics, letting each one shrink whatever amount it wants. When the fabrics shrink up around my quilting stitches, any uneven stitches are disguised and imperfections in my piecing seem to vanish.

    And if you look on the package, there is usually tiny print that gives the details of machine washability, how far apart you can quilt, if the batting will work well for hand quilting, and anything else they think you should know.

    YAY for quilting month!

  51. Kristin says:

    I was wondering if you can mix fabrics–I think someone already did that last week, but I shall ask again. If you use different fabrics, and wash to preshrink, can you combine, say, linen and cotton? Or can you use a different fabric entirely for the back?

    Absolutely! People used to mix wools, cotton, linen, and even silk much more frequently than they do now. I think you hit it though–just shrink, shrink, shrink before you cut and sew.

    Also, would people comment on the different types of batting. How do you choose?

    Amy from Happy Things is going to address this in a post this week! Also, Gina touched on it in her post last week. Personally, I like the Warm and Natural.

  52. Gretchen says:

    I do have a question thats been consuming me lately and would love any advice on the subject. I’m hoping to buy a serger in the near future. Does anyone have any recommendations for a good one that won’t break the bank? I’m thinking $300 or under. Am I being totally unrealistic thinking I might find a good one at this price point? Thanks for any help!

  53. Jacquie says:

    For Amy on binding. Heather Bailey has a great binding tutorial on her blog http://heatherbailey.typepad.com/. She doesn’t skip any steps and has great illustrations.

  54. Jacquie says:

    If I have a pattern for a pinwheel block that finishes 12 inches. Is there a way to convert it to a 4 or 6 inch finished block? I think I read a mathematical way to do this…but can’t locate it. Anyone know how to do this? Thanks for doing this…I’ve already learned just reading other folks questions!

  55. Tara says:

    If the smocking that Melanie was talking about is what I think it is, it’s a panel of very tightly pleated fabric (usually white or neutral but not always) with decorative stitching over the pleats. Little kids in the South wear these all the time. I don’t think it’s the same as shirring. Anyway, I’d love a smocking tutorial, how to pleat (don’t you need a pleating machine?) and how to do the decorative stitching on top.

  56. Jane Hurst says:

    Why don’t you add a user forum to your website? There are lots of free ones that are quite good. Personally I would love to use it.

  57. Suzanne says:

    What is your opinion on pre-washing fabric for quilts? I have heard arguments for both sides, and just want everyone’s take on it! Thanks!

  58. Kristin says:

    This is great. I would love some advice on sewing on binding with a machine. I can only do it by hand or it looks terrible.

  59. sara says:

    Thank you min for posting the link to portobellopixie’s website. It’s great!

  60. Sam says:

    RobinE and Katie, thanks so much for your thoughts! The backing answer definitely makes sense. I’m interested to hear an answer on the mixed fabric question as well. Yay for knowledge!

  61. EmmyLizzy says:

    For those with binding/bias questions, check out this post from Posy Gets Cosy…
    http://rosylittlethings.typepad.com/posie_gets_cozy/2008/02/binding-tute.html

  62. Brianna says:

    Hi!

    I’ve been sewing a ton of dresses lately, and I’m running into the same issue with each. They’re all simple cotton/linen, and I’m wearing them with tights or stretch pants with boots. My issue is that even with a slip, the dresses are bunching up along my tights. A longer slip would work, but would then show. I’m sure there’s a simple fix for this, it’s such a simple problem, but is so annoying when walking around and they’re hiking up dangerously!

    The only thing I could think of is a slippery type of ribbon or something along the bottom edge…I’d rather not line them if possible. Any suggestions are so welcome!!!

  63. Ellen says:

    To Sam’s foot question: here’s a link to clothilde’s website which might help…. http://www.clotilde.com/pages/which_foot.html

  64. shelli says:

    “quilt as desired.” These are most of the instructions for a quilt pattern when you get to the end.

    um.

    HELP!

    I’d LURVE an “idiots guide” tutorial to machine free-motion quilting, please!

  65. Heather says:

    I have one!! Hubby says when Uncle Sam pays us back that I could maybe get a new sewing Machine (I have a SInger Merrit for the 80′s)… YAY for me – BUT now what?? Is there a good place to compare models and maybe detemine what I need and what I want that won’t break down? I quilt a bit, I make simple clothing, simple blankets, and odds and ends (slings for me to carry the baby in, reuseable mama pads, ect.)

    HELP!

  66. Sandy says:

    Michele – is your binding question about making binding or sewing it on to the quilt?

    Amy – depending on how I’m going to use the binding: straight edges (like a quilt) I just sew the binding strips together end to end across the cut, so a straight line perpendicular to the length of the binding; curve edges (like around the edges of an apron) you have to line things up differently and it gets a bit more complicated – try following these instructions http://quilting.about.com/od/bindingaquilt/ss/binding_strips_3.htm

  67. Angela says:

    Approximately how many fat quarters do you need to make a queen size quilt? I realize it probably varies by pattern, but say you plan to just do a 4″ patchwork design?

  68. lori says:

    Great idea, thank you! Here’s my question: Any good tips or exercises for developing a more whimsical, fun, modern use of color? So many of you have completely MASTERED this. I seem to stay in a family of fabrics or find myself “matching” too much or grouping colors by either light/dark or by a common color. Anyone care to share any color ‘theory’ or make any suggestions? Thank you!!
    Lori in Los Angeles

  69. Susan F. says:

    To Melanie: The best place to begin is with a Grace L. Knott book on smocking, great illustrations and very good directions. There is a webpage that sells her books. Another place to look is http://www.creativekeepsake.com/guide.html, they have some beginner help on this page.

  70. Katiegirl says:

    Perfect idea!!

  71. Julia D says:

    Hi Sam, IN response to your second question…I found this on a parts dealer sight:

    Another way to tell if your machine is a high shank, is to lower the presser foot with any foot attached. Measure from the center of the thumb screw, straight down to the needle plate. The distance would be 1-inch for high shank,

    MAybe this helps!

  72. Brandy says:

    Great idea! I don’t have any questions right now, but I bet I will! Plus I may get them answered before I think of them. ^-^

  73. min says:

    To Melanie Williams…is smocking the same as “shirring?” Go to portabellopixie.typepad.com and click on her tutorial link for “Shir Madness.” It’s a start…. a great tutorial.

  74. Darby says:

    Here’s a very elementary question…what is the preferred method of sewing on rick rack or other types of trim. Do you just sew straight down the middle?

  75. Jane says:

    In response to the question from Ellen:
    Yes, it is important to square up blocks. If I have 12- 1/2 inch unfinished block, I take my 12-1/2 inch square ruler and place it over the block, Usually, there are small bits of fabric that extend from the edge and I cut those off with a rotary cutter. Do this with all the blocks .If the block is way larger (over an 1/8″) you’ll have to determine if cutting it down to the proper size will compromise the block or cut off points as a previous poster has said. Smaller blocks are difficult to ‘fix’ but if ALL the blocks are the same size, you’ll be ok but may have to make adjustments to your final quilt measurements (borders, sashing, etc) If all the blocks are the same size i.e. they are all bigger or smaller than the pattern dictates, then you most likely have a problem with your 1/4″ seam (or whatever seam size you’re using) and you’ll need to become more consistent with that so your blocks turn out the correct size. Bottom line: square blocks the same size = true to size quilt and infinitely easier quilting!

  76. Sharon Gollman says:

    I was wondering if you can mix fabrics–I think someone already did that last week, but I shall ask again. If you use different fabrics, and wash to preshrink, can you combine, say, linen and cotton? Or can you use a different fabric entirely for the back?

    Also, would people comment on the different types of batting. How do you choose?

    One last question–I saw some quilt backings that were pieced. I really do not care for the designs available on the backings. Any hints on putting together a pieced quilt back?

    This has been a wonderful month–I think I am going to have withdrawal! I am excited to begin quilting!
    Thanks so much to everyone!
    Sharon

  77. What a wonderful idea! Thanks for starting this!

  78. Katie says:

    When I purchased a walking foot (I have a Kenmore sewing machine) I just had to know the model of my sewing machine. Is it the same with Singer? You could always call their help-line and probably order one when you speak to the associate.
    I like the idea of Sew Mama Sew doing a Q&A!

  79. Amy says:

    How do you sew together the two ends of binding? (I have seen several binding tutorial – some of which completely gloss over this portion of the process. – Skipping right to the whip stitching.)

  80. Michele says:

    I’m new to sewing and have been having some difficulties with bias tape…my finished product never seems to be as polished and neat as I would like for it to look. Any tips or suggestions? Thanks for this little Q & A section! I already see questions that I would love to know the answers to as well!

  81. RobinE says:

    What a neat idea this is!

    Sam, in answer to 1.)”why I need an extra 1/4yd. of fabric for the backing, when both front and back are single pieces of fabric?”– because even though front and back are single pieces of fabric, they are going to be quilted. Any time you quilt through 3 layers, you tend to get some “shrinkage.” Having a larger back than front means that if the back happens to shrink up some (which is often the case), then you can easily cut away the excess (as opposed to having to trim the front where there is no excess). It may not matter so much in this instance since you can probably trim all layers without issue (unless you’re using a panel design on the front), but it’s good practice for most quilting, so I suspect that’s why the author suggests it.

    Hope this helps! :)

  82. Kate says:

    Thanks SO much! I don’t have any questions now, but I’m sure I will probably have some later on! :D

  83. Anina says:

    The problem with squaring up blocks is that you’ll lose sharp corners on triangles, etc. and squares will end up not being square, because you’re cutting away the seam allowance. Bottom line – it’s best to try and sew as accurately as possible when making the block.

  84. Ian says:

    I have a question! My husband wants a duffel bag for carting around stuff when he travels. I was thinking of making one myself. Does anyone know of any good patterns or tutorials?

  85. renee says:

    I’d really like to learn how to do the “robbing peter to pay paul” quilt pattern. I’ve seen finished quilts with variations of it but i stink at sharp curves and circular shapes with regular sewing so am a bit scared of trying it with quilting but would love some tips on how to do it.

  86. Sam says:

    Ooooh, fun! I have two burning quilting-related questions:

    1) I’m just starting the follow-the-lines baby quilt from Last Minute Patchwork Projects, and am curiuos as to why I need an extra 1/4yd. of fabric for the backing, when both front and back are single pieces of fabric?

    2) I want to get a walking foot for my machine (I have a Singer 3962, I believe, a few years old), and my local quilt shop told me I needed to determine whether my machine has…I think she said a low shank or a high shank? Any ideas on how I figure this out?

    Thank you!

  87. Melanie Williams says:

    I would love to see a good smocking tutorial!

  88. Ellen says:

    My burning question is : How do you square up quilt blocks, and if you have to make them a little smaller so they are all the same size, how does that affect the overall design?

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