Snow day…

As you read this, I may or may not be in the office.


While it was sunny and beautiful outside Thursday morning, there was a thin layer of ice under that snow so the roads are still a mess and probably won’t be clear until late Friday morning.  The good news is that this kind of day let’s me catch up on a few things – like my mail.

This book arrived last week and I finally had a chance to linger over every single beautiful page.


If you like scrap quilts, you’ll love this book.  It’s simple – the book is that good.

I can also get to some of your questions from the Tip Jar.

After I shared the tip about using fusible thread for bindings, a friend asked me if I was really going to do that for all my bindings.  No.  I think it’s a cool trick, and I know there will be times – like right before Market – when I will need a binding to look “finished” so it can be hung.  The fusible thread is perfect for that – as is glue-basting, another trick I like and use.  So I’ll still use my beloved binding clips, but I’m happy to know about this method.  It’s a great tool for my “toolbox”.

To answer two questions – no, the fusible thread doesn’t leave a hard edge on the binding.  The folded edge that you’ll be stitching down isn’t adhered to anything.  Only the underside of the fabric directly over the seam allowance is fused.  In that respect, I prefer the fusible thread method to glue-basting as that can sometimes leave the edge hard, especially if you I’ve had a heavy-hand with the glue.

And the method will work with bindings made with strips cut at 2 1/2″.  There will be a little more of the binding that isn’t fused but the thread is only there to hold the binding in place for stitching.

Cleaning your rulers – yes, you should be doing that.  Think about anything you handle all the time… like maybe your cellphone.  How often do you wipe off the fingerprints, grime and oil?  While you don’t see it on your ruler, it’s still there.  There will also be build-up on the underside from your hands, as well as any sizing or starch, soap residue for the pre-washers, and whatever is used to finish fabrics at the mill.  So every three or four months, I use glass cleaner to clean both sides of all the rulers I use regularly.  I also remove and replace any tape, sticky dots or whatever on the underside.  (Just so you know, I don’t do windows.)


I think you’ll be surprised that you will start seeing a difference – seeing being an operative word.  It’s like changing the needle on your sewing machine, it doesn’t take long before you notice the difference.

You are changing your sewing machine needles regularly, right?

Do I use the lines on my cutting mat to align my fabric?  Nope.  I know a lot of people who do with great success but I got better results using just the ruler, maybe because that’s how I learned… back in the olden-days before rotary mats had lines.  Old dog, old tricks.  (And the lines aren’t showing on my mat because I’m using the “wrong side” until it’s used-enough to need replacement.)

While on the subject of cutting mats, yes, you should soak your mat every so often to keep it moisturized – flexible.  Full disclosure – I’m not good about doing this.  Meaning, I think I’ve done tried it twice in twenty years.  I didn’t have a bathtub big enough and I didn’t have much success trying to use a kids’ wading pool.  As soon as I started filling the pool, Rosie climbed in because surely it was being done for her enjoyment.  The best information I’ve found on caring for your rotary cutting mat can be found here.

Tearing fabric?  Absolutely!  In fact, we’re working on the pattern for a quilt kit coming later this year that will require the border strips to be torn.  It’s simple – a good quality quilting fabric will tear well without much loss on the edges.  The higher the thread count, the better it tears.  I know it bothers some quilters to do it but I’ve never had any problems.  So I let her rip!

Snow day / sew day?  Maybe just a tiny bit.  I worked on some log cabin blocks last night – they’re for a Log Cabin book I’m contributing to that comes out next year – and I have plans to sew this weekend.  After I finish that quilt top, I’ll get back to these…


No. 1.  I only need a few more of the triangles for my pink and yellow strip project so these will probably be first.

No. 2.  I haven’t made any progress with my Repro Stars but I did get enough pieces cut for another 20 blocks.  I’m now officially behind – big surprise – so I’ll try to get caught up this week.

No. 3 and No. 4… I started a new project using Gardenvale and Bella Solids in Fog and Maize.  If you’re wondering why the Gardenvale squares are hanging, I decided to try something Lisa Bongean showed on her blog.  Instead of spraying the fabric with sizing/starch and pressing it dry, the fabric is sprayed and then left to dry.  Then it’s pressed flat with steam.  Genius.

I had the clippy-things from years ago and while they’re working well, I’m going to try using a couple of Command hooks to hang a clothesline over the bathtub so I can do more than one Layer Cake at a time.  I’ll let you know how that works.  I’m also going to need more starch.

Are the roads clear yet?

(Have a good, safe weekend wherever you are!)

Tip Jar…

Do you ever feel like you’ll never know everything you should know?


It’s not the same as stuff you need to know, or even something you’d like to know just because I’m curious. As in, I should know a dozen different ways from my apartment to work. But I need to know how the defroster works on my car.

TIP: Don’t turn on the AC button at the same time.

And I’d like to know why the guy in the huge pick-up truck insists on texting while doing 80 mph when it’s snowing and the roads are a mess.

TIP: He’s a twit. Stay out of his way.

The same can be said for everything having to do with making quilts. I should know it all but I need to know how to thread a needle – hand and machine – and I need to know how to keep my fingers out of the way of my rotary cutter. I’d like to know more about English Paper Piecing.

TIP: Take a class. Meet Katy Jones.

When it comes to what I know about sewing and making quilts, I learned most of it by experience, trial and error – especially that last part, observation and little bits of information I’ve picked up along the way. I’ve read lots and lots of books and taken classes, and I ask a lot of questions of people who know more than I do. I’ve learned that what works for others doesn’t always work for me, and vice versa. And I’ve learned that for all the stuff I know, I can always know more… because I really don’t know that much.

Really. (I can provide references.)


I also learn by trying to find answers to questions I’m asked. If I don’t know, I want to find out.  So we’re going to make a trade here – I’m going to share some of the things I’ve learned over the years, especially some of the quirky little tips, and you’re going to help me learn about those things I don’t already know but should.

I’ve already started making a list but what have I forgotten? Yes, ¼” seam allowance and that whole “scant” thing is there, as is pre-washing, shrinking, etc. Rotary rulers and cutters – you are cleaning them, right? That seam trick, variously called collapsing, popping and spinning, depending on whom you’re chatting with – and clipping seams.  It’s on there.  Starching and sizing?  Done.  Binding – width, seams and corners.  Squaring up a quilt?  Crosswise vs. lengthwise – why it’s important to know the difference.  Seam allowance, pressing and a whole slew of other “old wives’ tales” that really need to be cast aside post-haste.

What do you want to add to my list?

Since I said would trade, I’ll go first. I heard about this from Lissa, who heard about it from Amy Ellis.

TIP: Use fusible thread to adhere a binding before it gets hand- or machine-stitched down.


First, attach your binding to the quilt as you normally would.

Wind the fusible thread onto the bobbin of your machine using the bobbin winder – do not run it through your machine as the texture of the thread and the tension of the machine can create some problems. I ran across several articles that all suggest not winding the bobbin more than halfway. Since the reasoning made sense and I wasn’t going to need much thread, that’s what I did.

With the fusible thread in the bobbin only, use a zig-zag stitch to sew through all three layers of fabric in the seam allowance of your binding.  Zig-zagging around the mitered corner was easily done, I stitched right up to the fold-seam then turned the corner and continued stitching.


I know… it’s hard to see but that’s the white fusible thread on the white background of the backing.

Fold the binding to the back and press it in place.  Voila!


The binding is adhered to the backing but the edge is still loose.  If you were machine stitching the binding, this could easily be applied either front-to-back or back-to-front.  No pins.  No clips.

Pretty cool.  But now I have a different problem… what am I going to do with all my boxes of binding clips?

Ask anyone who knows me… I have a lot of them.

TIP: Use binding clips for English Paper Piecing. (Tip coming soon.)