It’s all in the Details.

Sometimes, the little things make a difference in a project. Details can add interest or make your item look more “finished”. They can show that you put a little extra thought into your crafting, and that’s always a good thing.

For this blog post, I’m taking examples from a Basin Banner club project. The small wool banners give you an opportunity to explore the details, without becoming overwhelming.

Let’s start at the beginning. The pattern designer suggests using a fusible web for the project. I have never been fond of fusing my wool projects, but many designers suggest that method. Fusing will make the wool lay flat, giving the banner a smoother finish. I like to simply pin my pieces in place, then stitch them to the background. This method gives a bit of depth to the piece and the thickness of the wool still shows. details blog 1

Neither method is right or wrong, it’s a matter of personal preference. There is one note of caution, however. If the pattern calls for using a fusible, the pattern pieces are (usually) drawn in reverse (so that you can easily trace them onto the fusible product). Since you’re using wool, you can simply trace and cut the pieces as they are, then turn them over before stitching so your banner faces the same way as it is pictured. The wool is reversible, so right side and wrong side don’t come into play.details blog 2

Cutting small pieces can be challenging. I learned a trick for small circles from a pattern long ago. Cut a square of fabric just a bit bigger than the circle you need. Then trim the square into a circle – so much easier than tracing and trying to precisely cut that tiny circle. I use this technique for other small shapes, like ovals or simple leaves. One other cutting tip – get a pair of Perfect Scissors! I recently got the medium size (A12671) and they are fabulous! They hold the wool in place as they slice right through it and they are sharp all the way to the tip. The handles are comfortable too!

 

When it comes to the stitching, you have options for your projects. I like to use six strand floss, as I can decide on how many strands to use for the pieces I am sewing. Smaller pieces only need a single strand, while two strands is my standard, and three or more strands can be used for larger pieces or when I want the stitching to show more. You also have the option of solid color floss, variegated or overdyed. Each type has its own appeal.

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Use a color that matches for stitches that “hide. You can also use a lighter or darker color floss when you want to accent your stitching or to add a bit more interest to your work. Wouldn’t it be fun to stitch a variety of shapes in floss colors that are different from the fabric colors?

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With multiple strands, you can custom blend colors to add interest or better match your fabrics. Use one strand of a dark shade and one strand of a light shade to make your own “variegated” floss. You can also combine single strands of two or three different colors to make something unique.

Blanket (or buttonhole) stitch is often used for wool applique. This stitch gives a smooth edge to the piece you are attaching to your background. When sewing very small pieces, I prefer to use a whip (or primitive) stitch – to hold the piece in place – as it’s harder for me to do a tidy small blanket stitch.

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Here’s a portion of the finished project, showing some of the wool pieces stitched to the background. I used a light floss on the light heart, a dark floss on the dark heart and I blended a strand of each for the medium heart. I used the blanket stitch for most of the applique, but did a whip stitch on the small pot rim.

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Take a minute to think about the details next time you start a project. Some of the little choices can make a big impact. Play, have fun, enjoy!

This post is compliments of Cathy Mark.  Thank you so much, Cathy!

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We Wish You a Happy New Year!

We hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday weekend!  We look forward to the next one, when we start a new year.

Things are winding up at the shop and we’re just starting our Year End Sale.  We’re making lots of changes here at the store, after 41 years.  One of them is our sale at the end of the year.

Until this year we’ve started our sale at the beginning of the new year, on New Year’s Day.  This year we’re all taking the day off, so we’ve started the sale early.  Right now is the best time to shop, because it just started yesterday and your selection is great!

Save up to 50% on fabric, yarn, books, patterns and lots more. Shop in our store during regular hours or any time online. The sale will run for a few weeks.

Below are some photos I took this morning before the doors opened:

20151227_111644      Lots of yarn and yarn books- I love that doggie with the neckpiece!

20151227_111751There are patterns for almost anything you’d like to make…

20151227_111543And fabric to make it with!

20151227_111832There are models available if you don’t have time to make something.. I have my eye on that beautiful chenille baby blanket.

Don’t take too long!  Come into the store or check things out online.

Another change here is that I’m not doing a paper newsletter in 2016. Doing just one is allowing me to be a little more creative with the one you’ll read online. I’ve made some changes to the format. Our newsletter won’t include “New & Noteworthy” any more. Since I only wrote one 4 times a year, much of what I put in the newsletter wasn’t really new anymore. So my daughter(s) Cathy & (her assistant,) Cathy Mark, decided to let you know each week about what came in during the week, or special things we want to highlight. I think they’ve done a great job with it. My “other daughter” Cathy has taken charge and I eagerly anticipate her email every week, around mid-week. You can sign up for them here.

My same “other daughter” Cathy has kept you more up to date on our Facebook page, too. Her creativity is showing, and it’s fun to see each day. Be sure to “like” us there, and comment regularly. We appreciate our “regulars” and hope you’ll join them.

The newsletter I’m working on now will be ready in just a few weeks and you’ll get notice of it if you’re signed up to receive our weekly emails.

Meanwhile, come on into the store, or check out our sale online.  Get 50% off our newest sale fabrics and choose from even more 50% off fabrics here, plus get 50% off sale items from nearly every department.

And, a little early, “Happy New Year.”

Cagney and Lacy will undoubtedly sleep right through it!

I Glue it and Sew it!

I remember years ago hearing Aleene of Aleene’s Glue fame say, “if you can’t glue it, don’t do it!”  A dear sewing friend (well known in the sewing industry,) retorted with “if you don’t sew it, they’re going to know it.”

Well, with time gone by, we sew-ers both glue and sew!

For example, here I needed to fold my fabric under ¼” for a project I was working on. The easiest way I’ve discovered to do that is to draw a line at ½” in, press the fabric to that line, then lay glue inside it, and press it dry. I use my Frixion Pen (A20672) to make the line. It disappears with the heat of the iron. The glue I use is “Glue Baste It.” (44929) I like the fine tip because not too much glue comes out.combined rotated

I needed to add a zipper to my project, so again I used Glue Baste It. I pinned the zipper to my ironing board to keep it from moving around. Then I laid a line of glue, laid my folded fabric on the zipper, lined it up straight, and pressed it dry.  ( Then I sew to permanently attach the zipper.)Zipper 1 rotated20151022_145113Of course I add the other side using “Glue Baste It,” too.second side

BTW, this is the finished project. It’s one of three sizes of Hunter Design Studio’s Chunky Wee Zippy Pouches. (A30186)  The pattern doesn’t use glue, but these are techniques I use all the time and they can be applied to most patterns.Finished pouchIf you didn’t know about this, I hope it’ll be of help to you in some of your next projects.  Posted by me, Erica

(To find an item or event on our web page after clicking on the highlighted 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.)

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History and Quilting

My love of history and quilting come together in Reproduction fabrics and the books & patterns that explore the use of those fabrics in quilts.

The period covered by the term “Reproduction” is generally the late 19th century (1860’s to near 1900). This covers some of the Civil War years, which is why we often call reproduction fabrics “Civil War” fabrics.

repro blog 1Certain prints and colors were popular in that time, although occasionally, a color we see in an antique print is very different from the way the fabric looked when new. Some dyes were “fugitive”, meaning they faded and changed when exposed to years of light.

One of our newest books has a wonderfully informative section on what fabrics you might have found during the 19th century. “Remembering the Past“, by Julie Hendricksen (A30660), shows the colors most often found in antique quilts as well as the types of prints that existed then.

repro blog 2Some of the names we recognize have a different meaning than we might think. Turkey Red for instance isn’t a specific shade of red, but a name given to a particular dying process from the Mediterranean. Poison Green was made from arsenic! These and other details offered by the author add interest to the study of antique fabrics.

repro blog 3She also shows antique quilts along with her versions of them, pointing out what is special or unique about the originals.

We also carry “Civil War Sampler” by Barbara Brackman (A20744, on the same web page) which features the author’s versions of antique quilts while offering period photos and sometimes quotes to add historical background.

repro blog 4Civil War Remembered”, by Mary Etherington and Connie Tesene (A28637), includes 19 projects using Reproduction fabrics and mentions a bit of the history behind the quilt designs. “Stories in Stitches”, by Jenifer Dick, Carol Bohl and Linda Hammontree with Janice Britz (A20782), describes the efforts of a Missouri group to save historical regional quilts. Their efforts are documented while many of the quilts are pictured.

I appreciate being able to combine two interests! I’m looking forward to creating my own history with projects made using reproduction fabrics, perhaps making my own versions of antique originals. I hope you enjoy a history lesson now & then too.

Thanks to Cathy Mark for this post!

(To find an item or event on our web page after clicking on the highlighted 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.

If you signed up for our blog posts long ago, or you don’t get “WordPress” emails, please sign up again on this one.  It doesn’t split sentences or put photos in the wrong place.
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And The Winner Is…

In our last post we asked a few questions of our fellow cat lovers.  comboIf you’re ready to start cutting your fabric,  what do you do?

 If you need to scan something on the printer and the cat’s asleep on top of the protective box, what do you do?

Then finally, how have you changed something to make your cat’s life easier, even though it might make yours a little less easy?

We had such wonderful comments and stories.  These cats have trained their owners in so many ways!  If you haven’t read the comments, please go back to read them!  Of those who commented, we did a random drawing, and the winner is… Pam from Maine.  She selected  the first pair shown as her Purrfect Pair of Socks!  The cats who trained Pam are Peanut-Buttercup (aka PB or Buttercup) and Tokei-mi.  Cute names for lucky cats!

all socksThanks to all who participated! 

A Purrfect Pair! Of Cat Socks, That Is!

This post is especially for our cat lovers, those of us who serve as full-time domestic helpers to our felines.  (We’ll try to think up something for the rest of our animal lovers in a future post.)

For you, I have two quick questions:

1.)  If you’re ready to start cutting your fabric and you run into this, 2015-01-18 19.03.49what do you do?

A.   Move the cat.

B.   Find something else to do.

2.)  If you need to scan something on the printer 20150208_083139(which you’ve covered with a box to protect it from the cat,) and the cat’s asleep on top of that box, what do you do?

A.  Wake up the cat and move her off the box.

B.  Work on something else.

If you answered “B” to both questions, you’re a true ailurophile, like me, whether you know it or not.

Webster’s Dictionary defines it as a “cat fancier, a lover of cats.” Some of us “fancy” a little more than others. (See a few photos of our house.)

So we’re going to have a contest! Actually it’ll be a random drawing, but only for people who share their homes with these furry creatures, and you need to comment below.  (US readers, only, sorry.)

How have you changed your house or behavior to accommodate your cat?

Tell us below about how you’ve changed something to make your cat’s life easier, even though it might make yours a little less easy.  Even upload a photo if you like!

To be eligible, your response must be posted below, not in a return email please.

Two lucky people who respond will receive cat socks!  Well not really socks for your cat’s little paws, but socks for you!

You’ll get to choose from among these three styles by Laurel Burch:81978b 15784b 23099bYou have until October 22nd to comment. (Erica’s staff people are not eligible to win.  It isn’t a requirement to work at Erica’s, but a large number live with cats!  We’d love to have you comment, you just can’t win.  Sorry.)

I’ll announce the winners in this space, in two weeks, in my October 25th post,

OK.  May the best cat servant win!

And if you live in the Michiana area, please adopt a cat (or another cat) from our Humane Society.  No adoption fee, and you can take one (or more) home the same day.  They’re spayed or neutered and have their shots!  Saturday October 17th from 12:00 noon to 5:30pm.  If you can find space in your heart, be there.  They have over 300 cats needing furever homes!

Post by Erica…

Oh, and I forgot to tell you.  Our latest newsletter is availableClick here.

Here’s a Quick Tip About Washing Cotton Fabric!

I’m going to make a new purse, and I prewash my fabrics for clothing or purses. I happened to think that some of you out there may not know about this method of preparation.  I don’t remember who told me about it, but it changed my quilting life!

The tip is about avoiding bird’s nests in the drier. I wish I had a picture of that bird’s nest.  Well, I really don’t, but I’ve been there.

Before putting cotton yardage in the washer, cut off all four corners. Just an inch or so will work.1 with arrows

This is what the raw edge of one of my fabrics looked like when I took it out of the drier!  No bird’s nests at all!  What a relief not to have to try to undo the threads and clip them from those twisted fabrics! . (I try to take fabric out before it’s completely dry, and then spray with it with Best Press to press it.)edgePlease comment below if you do this already or have another way of solving the problem.

(To find an item or event on our web page after clicking on the highlighted 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.