Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Welcome my Guest Blogger - Toby Lischko

I am so pleased to introduce my Guest Blogger today - Toby Lischko. 

Toby has been quilting since 1985 and teaching quilting workshops since 1995.
She  considers herself a traditional quilter who loves working with traditional quilt blocks, but she likes to add her own special flair and Toby does that so beautifully.

She has won many national awards for her quilts including a blue ribbon for her Celestial Crowns quilt at the AQS show in Paducah, Kentucky and the MQX show in 2005. She has her own line of patterns and templates under the name of Gateway Quilts & Stuff, Inc and a book called St. Louis Stars, published by Kansas City Star. She does commissioned work for many fabric companies and has been published in many of the major quilt magazines since 1998. In her classes she lets her students know that quilting should be fun, not difficult and she loves hearing  her students say, “I didn’t think I could do that!”

Welcome Toby!

My name is Toby Lischko and I am the designer owner of Gateway Quilts & Stuff, Inc. I have won national awards for my quilts and also teach and give lectures nationally for quilt guilds, shows and quilt shops. I want to thank Nan for asking me to be a guest blogger at Purrfect Spots Blog. 

When I started quilting in 1985 I was taught that I had to sew a "scant" quarter inch seam allowance. I was told that it was a thread's width from a quarter inch. Every pattern I read used the word "scant" so I purchased a quilting foot (1/4" foot) and worked hard to get my seam allowance just right. Sometimes the edge of the fabric went under or past the edge of the foot. I never could get a consistent seam allowance, plus I was working so hard at trying to figure out where the edge of my fabric was, I was not enjoying the process. Being the perfectionist that I am (only when I'm sewing, LOL) I thought that there had to be a better way.

As I travel and teach quilting the first thing I ask my students is "What is your definition of a ‘scant’ quarter inch seam allowance"? There were many answers. Some said a thread's width, some said two thread's width, and some said a "smidge"! I tell them "THOSE
ARE NOT MATHEMATICAL TERMS!!!!" Then I go on to tell them about an "accurate" quarter inch seam allowance.

I came to this realization when I started taking workshops from some of the national teachers. My method is a compilation of Sharyn Craig’s and Sally Collin’s methods. You first have to go out and purchase a very expensive tool called Dr. Scholl’s Molefoam Foot Pads™! You have to make sure you get the foam pads and not the skin as they are thicker.


You will also need a seam gauge that has holes at ¼”. There are a couple companies that make these such as Clover and Collins. Be sure to check that the gauge does not say “scant” quarter inch.

The next thing to do is, if you can, move your sewing machine needle to the furthest right position that it will go. Take the seam gauge and place the needle in the ¼” hole. Cut up small strips of the foam pad and place one touching the edge of the gauge.

Now you are ready to sew. As long as the edge of your fabric is touching that foam pad you will always be at ¼”. No more guessing where the edge of the fabric is, because you should be able to see it touching the foam. Another plus to having the needle in the furthest right position, is that it keeps those pesky corners of triangles from going down inside of the foot plate of the machine.

Now some of you are probably saying to yourself I am happy with what I am doing. I know that not everyone is the perfectionist that I am when it comes to quilting. If you are happy with how your blocks come out, then by all means, continue what you are doing. There are NO quilt police to tell you that you are doing it wrong. This works if you are the only one sewing on the quilt. But, if you ever do a project where a number of people are making blocks and you notice that they are all different sizes, you need to show everyone how to get that EXACT quarter inch seam allowance so that they will all get the same size blocks. Your friends will all think you are a genius! Of course you will tell them "Toby Lischko showed me how to do that"!

I hope some of you will come visit my blog at gatewayquiltsnstuff.blogspot.com to check out some of my other tips and tools. I always feel that quilting should be fun and my motto is: Always love what you do and do what you love. I certainly do! Thank you again Nan for including me as a guest blogger.

Wow, Toby, what a neat tip to share with us. I am sure we will all be rushing out to buy Dr. Scholl's Molefoam Foot Pads. Nobody will believe that we need it for quilting. Thank you so much for sharing and for being a Guest Blogger.

I will be introducing April's Guest Bloggers in my newsletter so sign up. There will also be specials offered with every newsletter, so add your name to the list.
Until next time...


Monday, March 17, 2014

Back to Square One

Back to Square One…

I don't know about you, but sometimes my life gets so fast and crazy, I just want to stop and make the world go away. Now being a quilter, I can do that. Just send me to my sewing room aka the C.A.T. House  - stands for Creative Arts & Textiles now, but it was where the cats lived until they got their own place! 

Once inside, I enter a new world which brings me a great deal of comfort. Looking at all my fabric stash is like spending time in a library looking at all my favorite books.It is like spending time with good friends. Quilters will definitely know what I am talking about. 

But I need to take it a step further. I just want to sit and stitch and get lost in the pattern. However I don't want a complicated pattern. I want something simple and basic. Therefore I go back to Square One. Yes, a simple square can bring such delight. Whether it is one inch, 1 1/2 inches, two, five or ten inches, it is just "purrfect" to use to regroup. 

I love working with the small squares of 1 and 1/2 inches. Just there in a little pile, it is so much fun to see them go together. When I see squares like this, they scream at me to pick them up and start stitching. There is something so comforting about feeling the fabric between your fingers and watching the needle slip in and out of the seam. I love to hand piece, but machine piecing is just as good. Sitting there with your sewing machine is like renewing a wonderful old friendship. 
Tired of the real world, I now create a new one where I have complete control and my imagination is my only limit. Everything is in order, no chaos. I can make all the pieces fit. It is nice to go back to Square One. Sitting and stitching I am slowly renewed and ready to tackle life again. Reluctantly I put the squares away – but I will be back.

I have showed you some of my small squares.  I am going to sew some together now and then, showing you my progress every month. I am not going to follow a pattern, I am just going to start stitching and let the fabric take over. It may be a Kennel Quilt or a King Size Quilt - depends on my schedule, my time and all the craziness that goes with it. It will be interesting to see the progress.

I hope you will do the same. Keep it simple - back to Square One. Go through your scraps and start sewing some squares together and show me your progress. I will post them on my blog. It will be interesting to see all the combinations and what we end up with next December. So join me in the Square One Share!

Have you signed up for my newsletter? Please join me here !
Until next time...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Welcome my Guest Blogger - Debbie Maddy!

Today I have the pleasure on introducing you to Debbie Maddy. I know many of you are familiar with her and may even have taken some of her classes. She is the designer owner of Calico Carriage Quilt Designs and she is famous for making lovely quilts with half square triangles and there are no diamonds or Y seams. She is going to give us a great tip today, so please join me in welcoming - Debbie Maddy!

My name is Debbie Maddy and I am the designer owner of Calico Carriage Quilt Designs pattern company. I also travel internationally teaching and giving lectures for quilt guilds and quilt shops. I am so happy to be here today as a guest blogger for Nan at Purrfect Spots Blog. 

Since so many of my patterns are made using half square triangles, I am going to share my pressing hints for making perfect half square triangles.

I have seen half square triangles where when pressing the quilters have pulled on the top layer to “help” the iron and ended up with a distorted units. Another problem is being in a hurry and pressing quickly from the center not paying attention to the corners and ending up with little pleats. Once I have sewn the squares together on the diagonal and cut them apart I stack them with the darker fabric on the top. I pick up the first one and press it as sewn to set the seam.

I then lift the top layer being very careful not to pull or stretch the fabric. I am just holding the top layer out of the way of the iron. I take the tip of the iron and carefully press one corner of the seam. I leave the iron there long enough to press the small area flat. I then take the tip of the iron and press the other corner of the seam flat. I then let the weight of the iron press the entire seam to one side.

All of the time I am doing this I am not pulling, stretching or helping move the top fabric in any way. The iron is doing the work. If you follow these steps you will end up with a nice flat, smooth half square triangle unit. 

Thank you Debbie for these tips. As a bonus, Debbie has been kind enough to send a video illustrating her ironing method.

Thank you Debbie for joining us today and sharing such good tips. I know many of us love half square triangles and this will help when we put them together. 

There is another Guest Blogger this month, so stay tuned.  I hope you have enjoyed meeting these wonderful quilters with their helpful hints. I will be introducing next month's Guest Bloggers in my newsletter so sign up. There will also be specials offered with every newsletter, so add your name to the list.
Until next time...


Monday, March 3, 2014

Welcome my Guest Blogger - Terri Sontra

I am delighted to introduce my first Guest Blogger for March - Terri Sontra.

Terri is the Head Moose at Purple Moose Designs - an online shop specializing in hard-to-find notions and patterns. Special orders are also welcome. If there's something you've been hankerin to have - she can find it. And the best part, you are welcome to visit  www.PurpleMooseDesigns.com 24 hours a day.  Don't worry if you're wearing your jammies, because she won't tell.

Terri has some very helpful hints to share so - 

    Welcome Terri!                                            
Have you heard about the new Schmetz needles?

We've all done it...you sit down to your machine and have no idea what kind of needle is in there. Could it be a topstitch that I used with that funky thread? Or did I do quilting last? Maybe it's a sharp - did I piece last time? Who knows. And what size could it possibly be? All needles are stamped but even with a magnifying glass it's still so hard to see.

Lord knows I have lain awake countless nights agonizing over this (also why does peanut butter stick to the roof of a dog's mouth and why do llamas hate me...but that's another therapy session).

Well, Schmetz has finally done something about this terrible problem. All of their needles will now come with two color stripes - one to denote the type of needle and one to denote the size. YEAH! There will be peace and serenity in studios around the globe.

The new needles were supposed to be available at the start of 2014. I recently ordered some new supply but they still came with the old "stripe-less" needles. As the suppliers dwindle and replenish their stock we should start seeing them around real soon.

What's that? You don't use all those different kinds of needles? Well, you should! Each type of needle is designed to do a specific task and do it well. Except for universal needles. They aren't designed to do anything really well, just ok. Once you start using your needles smartly you will need a place to keep them all. You could pay for a needle storage pad - I even sell one on my website. Being the Frugal Yankee that I am, I had to come up with something cheaper...err...customized. The Frugal Yankee Needle Storage - a DIY project.

You can use a new or old tomato, makes no difference. At the top on the green leaves write the different types of needles you use most often. Under each type write the size numbers of the needles. Use a flower head or decorative pin to denote which needle is in the machine.

I know lots more about needles. Probably more than you care to listen to. On the off chance you would like to learn more, ask your guild to have me pop over for a visit. I have a presentation entitled "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Needles But Were Too Afraid To Ask". We cover both hand and machine needles. It's filled with fun and entertainment, no boring stuff. That would be pointless.

Thanks so much for having me Nan, it's been a blast. Since I know many of your readers are animal lovers - here's a little quickie video of my puppy Zelda and my hubby Moose Geek getting around the yard. Sorry for the graininess - it was shot through the window 'cause I wasn't going out there...


Thank you for sharing these wonderful tips with us. I am sure we will all be getting our tomatoes ready for our needles. What a clever idea! Thank you also for sharing your picture of Zelda with us as you know I am an animal lover and I expect many of our readers are too.

 I will be having more Guest Bloggers this month, so stay tuned. You are going to meet more wonderful quilters.. I will be introducing them in my newsletters, so be sure and sign up. There will also be specials offered with every newsletter, so add your name to the list.
Until next time...