Tuesday, March 29, 2016

House for Rent

Our worm (and bug) rich back yard attracts a variety of birds who delight in nesting in our yard, or chowing down on their way to somewhere else. Last spring we bought a regulation birdhouse  and mounted it according to the instructions. The "For Rent" sign went up too late for bluebirds, so an entertaining couple, Mr. and Mrs. Swallow, signed the lease. They were very happy in our bird rental, and it was a hoot watching the babies grow up.

Well, this year, a couple of weeks ago, a delightful couple, Mr. & Mrs. Bluebird, were hanging around the place, obviously shopping for a new apartment. The handsome Mr. Bluebird stuck his head in a few times, but never went inside. The Mrs. seemed to really like it from the outside, so she began to gather nesting material. But before she could start building her nest, the Mr. gave her his famous "not-on-your-life" look. She dropped the nesting stuff, and they flew off. Curious.

This last week, both the Bluebirds and the Swallows hung around it, checking it out again, but as yet, we've had no takers. DH cleaned it out last fall, so we really didn't know why no one seems to want it. Doing some research, we discovered that in addition to removing the abandoned furnishings, we should have hosed it out. Guess what the DH discovered during the hose-down. A WASP's NEST! Yikes! No wonder the house has been rejected!  Now it is REALLY clean. Hopefully we're not too late.

News from the Studio

The Green Thing

Another quilt by Kay, the free spirit designer. She's making quilts for all of the grandkids. She says she has another dozen or so to go. Again, I used the Bolero panto.

 What Knots

This is Theresa's finished What Knots quilt, designed by Sue Jones. I love the rich colors. I used an allover leaf meander on this one.

Petals of Wisdom

Isn't this a darling quilt? Tricia machine appliqued the petals, and I love her color choices! The quilting pattern is a feathered hook.

Tips and Techniques

Quilt Top Preparation:

A well-constructed quilt top will make it easy for your longarmer to do her or his best work for you, and possibly save you money on your bill. One of the most important things you can do is to make sure every seam is secure. Partially open seams, seams that don't catch all of the fabric layers, and seams that un-sew themselves take time to fix at best, and at worse can cause damage to your quilt or to the longarm machine.

If a longarmer is working a pantograph from the back side of her machine, she cannot see the top at all. Even from the front of the machine, she may not notice an open seam before the machine runs into it. The result could be a torn quilt top, a broken needle, or major repairs to the machine.

It is really easy to avoid this problem forever:
  1. First secure each seam start and stop as you go. Here are some options to pick from:
    a. Start and stop each seam with an extra-small stitch length that extends a few stitches inside the seam line.
    b. Start and stop each seam with a quick back-stitch.
    c. Use a smaller stitch length all the time. The smaller the stitch, the less likely for the seam to come apart on it's own. This approach is especially useful when chain-piecing.
  2. Check seams as you piece. Inspect the seam as you are setting it with the iron, and pressing the seam to one side, or open.
  3. Clip ravels rather than just pull on the threads. I've seen seam allowances ravel past the sewn seam. 
That's it. Make these precautions just a natural part of your piecing - and un-secured seams will be a thing of the past.

Have a wonderful week! Now let's go get new nose pads on my glasses and you go quilt something!


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