Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Quilting favorites

Accepting the kindly invitation of Geta Grama, I decided to shake off the laziness and start to blog again: So, here are my answers to her questions:

List a few of your favorite quilting notions.

First of all, my Rotary cutter trio: mat, ruler and cutter. My favorite brand is Omnigrid.
Quilting pins – those loooong, thin with flat heads are the best!
And a seam ripper!

Any advice for a successful color scheme of a quilt ?

Personally, I love earth colors: greens, brilliant flower colors over a sand or beige background; anything resembling nature’s colors can’t fail. But I think it’s a personal taste, whatever color YOU love will work for you.

Some thoughts about thread and needles, batting, fabrics ?

Fabrics: I learned to prewash fabrics the wrong way… Although I’ve read opposite opinions about pre wash fabric or not, I had some bad, embarrassing experiences due to have not prewashed some intense color fabric. I made a very special tote bag as a present for a lovely lady, my daughter’s piano teacher.

A simple design with squares, combining a pretty music-notes white fabric, with yellow and red over black background, and quilted with gold metallic thread… At the first wash, the red fabric fade and stained the rest… Oh! I felt ashamed!
Then, my advice is: always prewash, at least intense color fabrics.

Batting: There are not a wide sort of different quality battings in my country, so I almost always use medium weight polyester batting. For some projects like placemats, I use felt or a very thin, felt-width batting I've found.

Thread: I use good quality cotton or cotton blend thread for piecing. For quilting, what I found here is Americana Quilting thread and Gutterman.

Tips for easy piecing

1. Cut your pieces the most accuracy possible.
2. Sew in order, and sew-press-sew-press. At least, finger press every seam.
3. When piecing strips with several seams to join, pin EACH SEAM to ensure they will match perfectly.

Hand quilting tips

I use a thimble in my left hand to guide the needle from the bottom up. It took a time to get accustomed, and sometimes I still “guide” the needle with another finger, but the pain of my sore fingers made me accept the thimble’s help.

Other tips related to quilting

Respect the rule: Always start from the center to the sides of the quilt. Otherwise, your quilt design might end “twisted” or with undesirable bubbles.

Do you have free tutorials on your blog?

Not yet. I’m just starting to deal with all that blogging mess… but it’s in my to-do list. Perhaps a tutorial of some projects I’ve made with recycled materials.

The sewing machine - share a few things you love at your sewing machine; what makes it special? What features do you think are the most important to a sewing machine used for quilting?

Nowadays, I’m the proud owner of two machines: My old Regina: I never liked it too much, is rough and noisy but strong. I can’t remember all the things I’ve made with it since 30 years ago, even large Spanish flamenco dance costumes…
Last year, my hubby gave me a Singer Brilliance: electronic, with 100 built-in stitches, including quilting stitch… a lovely, soft lady… I use it more for piecing due to the soft running and accuracy.

The features I would look for in a machine for quilting are: Soft running and accuracy for piecing, and strength for quilting. With a well focused light, to see clearly what I’m sewing.

What about modern quilting tools? Quilt software, die cutting systems, other tools? Why do you like them ?

What I know about:

Electric Quilt software: I’d love to have it, but it’s still out of my budget.
Accu-quilt Go: not for the small volume of quilting I do. I prefer to draw and cut my own pieces. Again, too expensive in my country.

Tips for organizing the sewing tools, the fabrics, the sewing studio?

Sewing tools: I have them at hand, in decorated fabric-covered tins or boxes that I made...
Fabric: carefully folded in appropriate size to keep them in translucent stackable plastic boxes, sorted by color.
Scraps: sorted by size and color, in plastic containers.
Strips: sorted by size, no matter color – and holded with a clothespin to hang them from a shelf.

Could you recommend a book to someone who just started quilting ? A quilting bible ?

The Quilting Bible – Creative Publishing International.

Rodale’s Successful quilting library collection.

List one or two of your favorite quilting techniques and a tutorial/pattern/book where you learned about them ?

Cathedral windows: I learned it in an old magazine my aunt gave to me about 20 years ago… but there are too many tutorials in the web, like this from Angie Padilla.

Trapunto: I learned trapunto basics in a workshop. But I love and am about to try Shadow trapunto by Geta Grama…

Do you have a favorite quilt designer ?

The first quilt designer I met in the web was Angie Padilla. I admire her versatility. Although she works mainly appliqué, she makes wonders in almost any technique, and her webpage is one of the most complete I’ve seen.

Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr: Their management of color is really stunning, I do love their creations.

Geta Grama: This is not because you’re the host of this event. I’ve admired your work since the first time I saw it. I think you’re a truly artist and quilting is the way to show your artist side. Love the way you manage the color and shapes.

And last, but not least, I’d like to introduce you to Priscilla Bianchi, author of Caliente Quilts. For those of you who have never heard about her, she’s one of the first (if not the very first) quilter in Guatemala. As many of the quilters living in a non-quilting-tradition country, she’s a self-taught. Also a painter and color artist, she applied her skills to patchwork, making real masterpieces when working with our typical textiles combined with quilting cottons. Give her work a try browsing some pages of her book… and who knows? Perhaps some of you get in love with it...

Do you have a favorite quilt blogger?

Not a favorite. There are too many good quilting bloggers, although I enjoy too much what Archie, the wonder dog writes. But… who of you have seen a blogger dog?

Would you like to share one of your favorite quilts, made by you ?

I share two, for different reasons: This:

Is maybe the one I’ve made with more love and care.

And this:

is the last one I’ve made. It took 5 years since I bought this book to encourage me to face this technique, and now I can say: I love it! and have planned at least 5 or 6 more Bargello projects…

Do you have a favorite online quilt shops ? What makes it special ?

Annie’s. They sell everything, and have the most complete quilting library and patterns.

What would be the perfect gift for your best quilting friend ?

A gift certificate of a good SPA… who says we only enjoy quilting stuff?

Well, that's really what I would like to receive as a gift from my quilting friends, don't you?

Don't Do Like Me! (We all feel sometimes uninspired, or may have ideas which are not the best, and they may result in a lot of work for projects which we finally hate; or we may imagine shortcuts that finally give us only headaches instead of making our work easier.
If this happened to you, please share your failure lessons to encourage the rest of us that we're not alone and quilting is worth the hard lessons along the way).

Again… Always prewash your fabric! Or at least, test a small piece before use it. No matter if it’s 100% cotton, it might bleed.

If there is something else you would like to share with us, please do it. And please tell us a little about you, we would love to know you better.

There are not too many quilters in my country. A few years ago, it was an almost unknown craft in here, except for some retired foreigners that came to live in Antigua Guatemala. But soon this handwork has been known and loved for many people, although some of them just make one or two projects, because is an expensive craft for most people’s budgets.

I decided to splurge, and have invested in fabric and equipment more than I should… but it’s my retirement hobby and my family is glad to see me busy, doing beauties.

But the best thing for me at the present, is to teach others what I know. My small student group are mainly some of my elementary school classmates and other friends, who enjoy classes very much. I feel so proud when they tell me I’m a good teacher, and that they are learning and enjoying a lot.

Other things I'm really enjoying around this hobby are: meet people who share my passion around the world and make friends with them. Learning new things every day and share, as we are doing here. And develop new skills: I perfected my English, who hardly speak a few years ago, and now I learn to keep a blog ...


  1. Thank you for joining us for Quilter's Favorites, Irene. Quilting is more fun when we have friends to share with.

  2. Your English is great! This has been so much fun meeting quilter's around the world--thanks for posting!

  3. Great tips, and I love your quilts!

  4. Lovely to see you back, Irene, and I've enjoyed reading your interview. I love your quilts, especially the bargello and I really like the bright colours and designs of your country. I hope you will be making new blog posts soon :)

    1. Thank you, Janine! I'd like to do it but... if I blog, I don't sew... :-)

  5. How lovely to get to know you better.

  6. Thank you for sharing on Quilter's Favorites. I have learned a lot just by reading your post and hope you will continue blogging and sharing. I also enjoyed clicking on the many interesting links. I am a new follower.

    I always pre-wash, too ... not only so that my fabrics will not run or shrink unevenly, but also because the chemicals used in the finishing process on many fabrics causes a rash on my hands from handling them.

    I just made my first bargello quilt top recently as a mystery pattern and am also hoping to find the time soon to finish the quilt and make another.

    Your bargello table quilt looks lovely. Looking forward to seeing more of your quilting ... :) Pat

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