Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Pause for Q & A

Dear Melody...
After seeing what you do with your quilts, I am wholly inspired and yearning to learn how. Nothing else has ever hit me like this.  I know I could learn the machine sewing thing in time, but those fabrics and patterns and designs just speak to me. I can do this, I should be doing this, I have to be doing this......thank you for such a beautiful blog and for producing such remarkable pieces of art that have probably changed the very direction of what I do with my existence. Any suggestions on how to get started? Naturally, a basic and slow I can't quit this current gig of mine...not for at least 14 more years....
Jessica P.

Dear Jessica,
Go to Joann's and buy some of these cottons. Get a ruler, rotary cutter and mat and a beginner quilting book, of which there are many, and do one of the simple starter quilts. See if you like the process. Go to Flickr and look at Fresh Modern Quilts or Simply Solid Quilts and see how simple and easy these quilts are. One doesn't have to quit one's job to make a quilt. Just find a spot in your place where you can set up a sewing machine and a table to cut on, and go for it. My first quilt, back in 1981 was a queen size bed quilt, a Log Cabin.
Don't do that.
Make a small project first. Really.

Do you use rayon or cotton thread on top? Why do you use polyester only in the bobbin?
Thanks, Sandy

Dear Sandy,
I use both 30wt cotton and 30 wt rayon on top (not at the same time) depending on the fabric I am quilting. I like a thicker thread, so the stitching is visible.
I bought a gross of prewound polyester bobbins about nine years ago and just recently used them up. After I adjusted the bobbin tension on my machine for the much finer thread I never had to adjust my bobbin tension for quilting, as the lighter weight thread is just the right thing for quilting and also makes a nice seam.
Of course everyone tells you not to dink around with bobbin tension but in those days I was also using pearl cotton threads in my bobbin for reverse embroidery, yada yada yada, and did a lot of dinking around with the tension.

Recently I found a source online for more bobbins and will have those for another decade I suppose. I have both 144 white and 144 black. Never use the black much. It's not that I favor polyester, it is just so expedient to have gobs of bobbins ready whenever I run out.

Dear Melody,
I was always told that the polyester thread could damage the cotton fabric over time. What's your take on that? Holly

Dear Holly,
A lot of quilters are worried about the eternal life of their quilts, but what they really need to be worried about is what family idiot may end up with the quilts and not give a darn about conserving them.
As a fuser we were always confronted with that question and I like what my ol' pard' Laura Wasilowski would reply, "If you want your quilts to last forever, use only polyester fabric, thread and batting".
Seriously, if the quilt is properly cared for there should be no issue of the thread damaging the cotton fabric, but of course we have no control after the quilt passes from our hands to whomever receives it.
Yesterday after ordering all that cotton from Joann's I thought I might do a color inventory after the fact, and pulled out all my solids from various shelves. The piles are not complete, as there are still more solids on the shelves but I got the picture that I have ENOUGH. Some of these are hand dyed and some are commercial, with some being muslin and others print cloth, or Kona, or that stuff from Connecting Threads, which frays like mad, but on the other hand has a nice sheen.
I didn't pull out the neutrals, but I have a ton. Years ago I thought I needed to dye some for sale, since not everyone wants screaming colors. But those who passed by our booth couldn't see the neutrals for all the brights and so I still have them. Maybe I will put together a sampler or two and offer them up on the blog. Goodness knows I haven't touched them since the Artfabrik days....2002. Vintage!

I am so happy to announce the my replacement sewing table top arrived at 5:45pm yesterday, along with the replacement axle for the damaged truck. Which do you think will first get the attention of Dave this morning? I can't put this table together alone, so I will  have to be clever and look like I don't need him but ask to borrow his tools. That always works.


  1. Can you please give me details of your sewing table? I've been looking for one on and off for a couple of years but haven't found anything I liked. I just need a sewing table, not a cabinet piece of furniture. Thanks.

  2. along with the replacement axle for the damaged truck.

    Oh NOOOOOOOOOOZ, that sounds like repairing the truck instead of scraping it for parts.

    Love your new sewing table and I just realized we have the same sewing machine.

    Looking forward to seeing those side panels and the finished project. Have a great weekend.

  3. You are a very clever lady!

  4. Enjoyed this post tremendously, melody. Looking forward to the unveiling of the neutrals...and will have to borrow laura's reply on the poly when I get asked "that" question in next class! Thanks much!

  5. Smiling as always after I read your blog first thing in the am! I liked the comment about where to also buy the broken axle replacement!

  6. So glad Tony came through for you. When you weren't getting that top, I knew something was wrong since he's usually on the ball. There is a plastic folding table you can get at big box stores that is about 2'X4'. It works perfectly as an "extension" table for that table. Once you've found your perfect height you (that would be Dave) could hack saw off the legs putting the end capes back on and have a great handy table that can be stored when not needed. Hope you lot it.

  7. "A lot of quilters are worried about the eternal life of their quilts, but what they really need to be worried about is what family idiot may end up with the quilts and not give a darn about conserving them."

    I don't do arty quilts like you do, just family quilts. And, the more frayed and stained they become, the more I know they are loved. :)

    Even so, you are your art is inspiring.

  8. Thanks for posting the Q&A! Good questions - great answers!

    Thanks also for confirming that it's perfectly acceptable to use fabrics from some of the big box stores. Ya just gotta know what you're getting yourself into.

    All the best - Chris

  9. I'd really love to know more about the sewing table too.

  10. Hi Melody, will these bobbins fit in any machine? I have a Bernina and would love to have pre wound bobbins......

  11. Me too....(more info about the sewing table please!)

    Thank you!

  12. I saw that table on Ebay! I love it.
    Just will not fit my space. :(

    Great answers to your fans. I like that you put a bit of humor into your explanations. We all need that.

    I am going to use that tool trick too!

  13. I like how you get Dave to fix things by asking for the tools. I just have to walk into his man cave and start looking for something and I get help.. he grumbles alot, but he does a great job! Aren't they cute when they help?!

  14. Anonymous11:57 PM

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  15. I love your blog, Melanie. Thanks for today's post. Great information. I also covet your sewing table. I am shopping for a new sewing machine. Any suggestions?

  16. Thought id stop by and say hello. Richard from the Amish community of Lebanon,pa.


So nice of you to drop by. I love your comments, and if you would really like a reply, please email me at fibermania at g mail dot com