Monthly Archives: May 2015

Needle Knowledge

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I know it’s a busy weekend for all of us, so I’ll keep this short. When I teach classes I am frequently asked questions about the needles I suggest. I usually will list the needle requirement for my classes as a microtex or sharp needle in a size 80/12 or 90/14, depending on what we will be sewing together. I used to buy all types of needles when they went on sale, but now have settled in to generally just using a sharp. (I have so many “quilting” needles that I could probably build things with them. I never buy universals anymore, and am making an effort to use up the ones I have. Maybe I’ll sell the rest at our upcoming guild garage sale! There’s a thought. (BTW did you know that your old sewing machine needles can be used as nails for hanging pictures when you’re in a pinch?) Here’s a quick video with some needle facts that may help you with questions you have about all those needles in the shops. And after you watch it, how about if you change the needle in your machine? Click here.

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Things mom taught me

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Many of us inherited our love of quilting and all things fabric from our moms. Our moms are often the best cheerleaders for our quilting efforts. My mom was my first sewing teacher. I was allowed to use the “real” machine when I was a little girl and never had to use “junk” fabric because I was just learning. If there wasn’t money to purchase good fabric for my projects, I learned to wait and save, rather than to buy fabric that wasn’t of good quality. In the days when the standard for well made clothes was clothing made by a dressmaker or tailor, I learned that you wanted your project to look “handmade, not homemade.” I think maybe the perfectionist streak I have came from my mom and great-grandma. Neither worried about the scars to my psyche that would result from picking out stitches and resewing to get it right. I did learn though, that some times the best thing is to walk away from the project for a while before returning to fix the mistake. My mom’s mom, my Nana, was a fine needleworker with wonderful skills who didn’t really enjoy sewing. She sewed out of necessity–not enjoyment, but also taught me that sometimes you just have to get it done whether you want to or not. Nana taught me the love of the kitchen and the garden. That’s where her heart was. How about you? Did you get your love of fabrics and thread from a special woman in your life? Or perhaps you’ve been passing the love of the needle to another friend, daughter, niece …?

Somewhat related to all of this is the joke Bob Purcell of Superior Threads shared in his e-mail this morning. He also is sharing things his mother taught him, but not related to sewing. He gets complete credit for the list that follows. I think we all learned some of these same things from our own moms.

Bob’s Superior Joke
Things My Mother Taught Me

My mother taught me RELIGION.
“You’d better pray that will come out of the carpet.”
My mother taught me TIME TRAVEL.
“If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week!”
My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
“Make sure you wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident.”
My mother taught me IRONY.
“Keep crying and I’ll give you something to cry about.”
My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.
“Look at that dirt behind your ears!”
My mother taught me about WEATHER.
“This room of yours looks like a tornado went through it.”
My mother taught me about ENVY.
“There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t have wonderful parents like you do.”
My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
“Just wait until your father gets home.”
My mother taught me about RECEIVING.
“You are going to get it when you get home!”
My mother taught me HUMOR.
“When you fall and break your leg, don’t come running to me.”
My mother taught me WISDOM.
“When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.”
My mother taught me about JUSTICE.
“One day you’ll have kids and I hope they turn out just like you.”

I hope you all have a great Mothers’ Day!

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what are you up to?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Have you been busy at the sewing machine lately? Or have you been out in the garden? Or maybe neither or both?

I’ve been doing a bit of both. In January I set a couple of quilting goals for myself. Of course there is the usual one to finish more of my UFO’s. In addition I set a couple related to getting out of my quilting comfort zone to try some new things. One is to use more orange in my quilts. Whenever I see quilts with orange in them, whether in shops, or quilt shows, or magazines, I always admire them. But I find that I seldom make orange quilts, except around Halloween. So far this year I’ve made 2 that took me a little more into the oranges. Another one of my goals is to get away from always using white or cream backgrounds–done that too. I tried a turquoise background on a quilt I made as a sample for a local shop, and I really like how the quilt turned out. I tried a new type of fabric as a background on my most recent quilt–it is “beigy” but its called mochi. Many ladies use it as a fabric for embroidery backgrounds. I think we used to call it kettle cloth in the old days. I combined it with fabrics (some including orange) that would not have been my kind of purchase in the past. Again I’m liking how it has turned out. That quilt needed some applique in the borders to jazz it up a bit. Those who know my quilting style know that applique is a four letter word to me. (Eight letters make it twice as bad!) To make it a bit more my style I used wool for the shapes (no edge treatments needed) and stitched them to the quilt with the machine! (no hand stitching necessary). The only handwork I had to do on this quilt was attaching buttons to the centers of the flowers. I suppose I could have done that with the machine, but I wanted to use perle cotton and about half of the buttons were shank style. Pleased with the overall effect of this most recent quilt.

Would you like to try something new to get out of your quilting comfort zone? What would that be? Please share with all of us by leaving a comment!

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