Let’s Color!

As a child, almost nothing made me happier than a new box of crayons and a coloring book or blank paper. The ladies at Crabapple Hill Designs must have felt the same way because many of their recent patterns include coloring. And yes, they use crayons!  I also enjoy handwork, so these patterns are a “win-win” project for me. Never mind how charming Crabapple Hill patterns are in general. Here are some tips for enjoying coloring once again, while creating and embroidered project.

Use Crayola Crayons. They may cost a bit more, but they’re worth it because they have more pigment, (the stuff that gives the crayon its color,) and give smoother results. This especially matters when you’re coloring fabric rather than paper. You want a crayon that puts the color down smoothly, providing better coverage.

Trace your pattern onto your background fabric first. You can use a light box and which ever type of fabric pencil, pen or marker you like.crayon blog 1

Be sure your fabric is smooth and sitting on a hard surface, like a table top.

Begin by coloring white all the areas that will have color. Using the white “preps” the fabric, filling in the fibers, making the surface more even and smoother.crayon blog 2crayon blog 3Then add whatever color you need to the appropriate areas. The amount of pressure you use helps determine how strong the color appears, but you can also work in layers until the color is as dark as you want it.crayon blog 6Heat set your colors by ironing. Place a piece of clean paper or a plain paper towel on top of your colored fabric, and gently press. The heat bonds the color to the fabric and melts the wax. The paper towel absorbs the excess wax, leaving the color behind, fused into the fabric. The crayon can add a stiff feel to the fabric once you’ve colored it, so melting the wax away will also make the fabric softer.

crayon blog 5After white and one layer of color, then ironing:crayon blog 6After one more layer of color, and one more ironing:crayon blog 7Now you can add the stitching to your project and finish it! The crayon color adds a wonderful richness to your project, adding another dimension to your piece.

Coloring is still fun! Who knew as adults we’d once again enjoy coloring with crayons? Enjoy!

Credit for some of the above information goes to the Crabapple Hill Designs.

Thanks to Cathy Mark for this post.


Happy 2015 and More Staff Favorites

melodyedrakeMelodye is one of the smiling faces you see behind our counter and helping people throughout the store. She’s also one of the most enthusiastic students I’ve ever had in my classes. Melodye just loves the TrueGrips!  She uses them on all her rulers, even ones that already have non-slip features.60954bkarengoodnoughKaren is another of our smiley faces. She had a hard time deciding which tool she’d call her favorite. However, after careful consideration, she had to say that the 2 1/2″ x 6 1/2″  Erica’s Ruler.’ is “the one that makes me smile. It is so handy in so many ways (I think I own at least 4 of them) & I have them in various places in the house.”

45153bBut she couldn’t stop there.
“I would have to say the ‘Purple Thang‘ is right up at the top of my list, also.”

89838bThat Purple Thang has been a favorite of many people over the years. In fact, it’s been around since before I became “the purple lady,” and I can’t even remember when that was any more!

Note: comments in purple are my editorializing.  (Erica)

We wish you a happy and healthy 2015, and thank you for reading our blog posts!

The Joy of English Paper Piecing

Because I enjoy hand work, I enjoy English Paper Piecing.
This traditional technique for piecing quilts uses paper templates to create precise shapes. Your fabrics are cut into shapes that are approximately the same size as the papers (maybe I like this because you don’t have to be perfect – the papers make it all turn out right). You may also choose to trim the fabrics closer to the paper shape to reduce bulk when quilting. Then, using a sharp needle and thread, you fold the edges of the fabric over the paper and secure it to the paper using a running stitch.paper piece 1paper piece 2

Once your paper pieces are all covered, you begin stitching them together. You don’t have to choose a thread that is an exact match, because you don’t really see these stitches very much. Choose something that blends with your fabric.

Hold two covered pieces right sides together, with edges matching. Using as small a stitch as you can manage, sew the two pieces together. With a little planning (and experience,)  you can stitch in the direction that will lead to the next piece you want to join, saving you from stopping and starting as often.paper piece 3

As you stitch, try not to catch the papers in your sewing; go through just the fabric edges. When you have all of your pieces sewn together, remove the papers – undo the running stitches and pull the thread out, then pull the papers out.

paper piece 4We’ve put together small kits so you can try out this relaxing piecing method. Each of these kits includes a mini lesson in how to do English Paper Piecing as well as plenty of extra papers and a mini charm fabric pack for you to use. We’ve even included a needle, thread and project ideas!
You’ll have perfectly joined shapes, without having to work so hard to accomplish this – no need for exact cutting, prefect seam allowances or precise sewing – the papers provide stability and control. Your shapes line up beautifully, points match and the pieces go together easily. You can create a quilt top of pieces or applique your pieces onto a background.paper piece 5

Papers come in a variety of shapes and are reusable. They come in large or small packages, so you can get enough pieces to complete your project. Books and patterns offer designs and arrangements for the pieces, or you can play with shapes and come up with your own design. Work with scraps or purchase particular prints that can be combined in creative ways for your project.
This technique is great for working in front of the television or while traveling – cut fabric pieces ahead of time and everything you need can be carried in a small bag! It’s nice to be able to work on a project while you wait for the kids, have time before an appointment, or take a lunch break.

Happy Stitching!    Cathy Markcathymark

And Here Are Some More of Our Favorite Things…

Cathy and Shirley are important “behind the scenes” ladies, although you’ll see them in the main areas of the store, too. cathymark

Cathy does email newsletters, decorates windows, makes vendor appointments, books shows, goes to Quilt Market, and a whole lot more. She loves knitting (and does Knitters Notes for our quarterly newsletter,) and is our wool expert.takumi

  Cathy’s favorite knitting needles are the Takumi bamboo needles, especially the circular ones. “I love the feel of the wood and it grips nicely and warms with touch. I use circulars because I have tendonitis in my wrist & elbow and the circulars are better for that. They also allow me to work larger projects with less arm strain.”

For quilting, “ I love my little Erica’s Ruler.’  I prefer small projects, 45153band collect charm packs and min-charm packs, so the 2-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ is perfect for everything I do!  shirleyfinley

Shirley calls in orders, helps Dick in the office, takes care of our internet clubs, works some of our quilt shows, helps in the cutting department, and all kinds of odds and ends! Shirley’s a quilter, like many of us.

Shirley’s favorite tool is the Gypsy Gripper.   “It helps me 30158bcut accurately. I’m short, and it allows me to put even pressure across the fabric. Without it, my ruler slips while I’m cutting.”

More Staff Favorites

Lynn and Diane are our Sewing Consultants, and their favorite tools are in our Sewing Department!lynnkinney

Lynn mentioned two favorite tools. One is the Squeeze Snip a Stitch Scissor. “The little hook slides under machine embroidery jump stitches with ease and you can clip close to the fabric. It’s also great for removing stitches in serging and sewing.”20821bHer second favorite is the Extra-Long Tweezers. (53430)  “They’re great for maneuvering those threads around a serger. The tips are long & narrow and squeeze together easily saving me many moments of frustration.”20141122_195841dianejamesDiane really loves the Steady Betty Pressing Surface(40896)  “When pressing triangles or other bias edges in your quilts, the Steady Betty keeps the fabric from stretching. It grabs hold during pressing.  This results in are a more true size piece, easier to square up.20141123_090005“It’s also a great surface to use when you’re hooping fabric for embroidery.  It holds the bottom of the hoop so you aren’t chasing it across your table. It’s also nice to use for pressing your finished embroidery design instead of a towel.”

(To find an item or event on our web page after clicking on the underlined words, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F. Enter the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.)

You can see what’s new at Erica’s almost every day!  Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “What’s New” in purple, and click to find out. 

More of Our Staff’s Essential Tools

Darleen takes us back to basics. The first thing she thought of darleendaviswhen I asked for her favorite tool is the 6” Sewing Gauge “I couldn’t imagine my sewing box with out it. It was one of the first notions I was given when I started to sew as a young girl and when it broke some 30 years later, I had to replace it right away. It is always with me, whether I am at the sewing machine, hand sewing or at the ironing board.”20141102_183617debbieramsey

Unfortunately Debbie had to leave Erica’s for personal reasons and we miss her, but before she left she told me about her favorite tools. “The first is the Clover White Marking Pen.  I love this marker for tracing my applique cut outs on darker fabric.  This fine line marker vanishes with the touch of an iron and is an invaluable tool in my supply box.20141102_130828The other is the Pocket Color Wheel.  This is so helpful when trying to make a quilt that is outside of my normal realm of choices.  I also use it around the house for decorating decisions.”66665b

Stay tuned for more staff picks next week.

Staff Picks ~ A Few of our Favorite Things

This is the beginning of the series I promised, with our staff’s favorite tools.  So, without further ado, and in no particular order…kimkimbrell

We’ll start with Kim K. We call her that because when she started, we already had a Kim and a Kimmy! Kim K. works in our cutting department and makes many of the fabric packs we have available to you for various patterns.

She uses a rotary tool in her job, but her favorite tool is the 4″ Perfect Scissors. She’d used them here at Erica’s and thought they were fabulous!!! She now has her own, and says she loves them because they’re so light and easy to hold and use.  You can see a video by Karen Kay Buckley, the designer of the Perfect Scissors line, on our website by clicking herePicture0004

Since the video was made, Karen has added two more to her line and you can find them on this scissors page, part way down.  (A12671) There is a 6” version, and a small curved version.  (A19042)kimmyclear

Speaking of our “Kims,” Kimmy in our Sewing Machine Repair Department, also chose the 4” Perfect Scissors as her favorite.

She tells us, “I got them almost four years ago, and I still think they live up to their name! They’re great for detailed cutting, like appliqué. In fact, I like them so much I picked 20141025_190857up the 7 1/2″ Perfect Scissors this spring, and I love how they grip the fabric. Cutting has always been my least favorite part of sewing, and these scissors have greatly improved the experience.” These are both shown in the video.

Kimmy also recommends the Tatting Shuttle (A20828) and  The Complete Book of Tatting (A21072): “my own copy is quite “tattered” these days because I’ve used it so much!” A20828bA21072

Read Kimmy’s tips on repair in a previous blog post.

See more Staff Picks in my next post.

(To find an item or event on our web page after clicking on the underlined words, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F. Enter the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.)

You can see what’s new at Erica’s almost every day!  Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “What’s New” in purple, and click to find out.