The count down is on. T Minus two days and counting. “Counting to what,” you might ask, and I would reply, “My first half marathon.” Not only am I a quilting enthusiast but I am also a runner. One year ago my running adventure began. It’s not by any means a famous one, but it’s mine. So how do I balance quilting with running and visa versa . . . well it isn’t easy. My husband would say that I take multitasking to the extreme. He believes that if it were possible I would somehow find a way to do both at the same time. Pushing my long arm quilter, in front of me, while running, is absolutely impossible. Setting priorities is how I do it.
February 2011 my daughter KT and I made a pact to begin exercising at least three times a week. We didn’t join a gym or attend organized classes. Nope, we simply met in my basement, turned on the TV and DVD player and inserted an exercise disk. Getting together early in the morning wasn’t always easy, nor desirable but we did. Becoming physically fit and loosing a few pounds here and there were our goals. The more time we dedicated to our endeavor the more we saw results.
Somewhere along the journey we got wind of a program that would take people from their couch to a 5K. My husband Gary and I were very curious. We visited our local running store All Season Runner to find out if it was true. Indeed there actually was such a program. Not knowing exactly what might lie ahead we enthusiastically registered. Without KT’s permission, we enrolled her as well. After all, why wouldn’t she want to join her parents? From that moment on our lives have never been the same.
Since completing my 5K training I have participated in two 5K’s, a 10K, a 5 miler and a 3 mile fun run. Each of those events brought its own challenges and rewards. What ever the case may be neither of them created an insurmountable hurdle.
Riding on the enthusiasm sparked by the shorter races and craving a new goal we continued our training with All Season Runner by challenging ourselves to reach for and overcome a higher goal. Our new hurdle was to train for and run in our first half marathon. The training plan began in February of this year and continued for 15 weeks.
Before 2011 the prospect of running 13.1 miles would have never been on my radar screen. Running any longer than ten seconds would have brought me to my knees. Just like all other runners we put one foot in front of the other, gradually increasing our endurance and stamina.
This afternoon we drove to Madison, WI to pickup our 2012 Madison Half Marathon race packets. In less than forty-eight hours the race will be all over. Until then I will wait in anticipation for my greatest challenge to date. Stay tuned . . .
There are many fun, creative and inviting ways to display quilts. Some are approved by quilt preservationists and some are not. Only you can decide which path is right for you. Before we explore the various options lets cover some of the basic quilt handling do’s and don’ts.
The following conditions or items are harmful to quilts:
Ultraviolet Light from the sun or fluorescent lights will breakdown fabric dyes and accelerate fiber oxidation.
Heat and Humidity can also damage your quilt. The ideal environment for your quilt is a temperature between 65-75 degrees with a humidity level of 45-55%. Storing quilts in the uncontrolled environments of attics and basements is not recommended.
Moth Crystals are often used to repel unwanted creatures. Their use is not recommended with quilts because of their inherent health hazards.
Cedar Chests should only be used if the quilt is first wrapped in a cotton cloth. Direct contact with cedar must be avoided because cedar is highly acidic and can cause brown spots on fabric.
Natural Pest Remedy Try using crumbled dried leaves of the Artemisia plant in a cloth sack. Store that cloth sack, without allowing direct contact, in the same container as your quilt.
Paper, Newspaper, Cardboard Non acid-free paper, newspaper and cardboard all contain harmful decaying agents. Allow only acid-free paper to come in contact with your quilts.
Wood must be sealed with polyurethane to protect fibers from the chemicals it emits. If you are unable to coat the wood with polyurethane then place a barrier of washed cotton fabric between the wood and the quilt.
Plastic containers, dry-cleaner bags, heavy-duty plastic bags, garment bags and Styrofoam are never acceptable for storage. All of these items emit harmful vapors.
Store Quilts folded and padded with acid-free tissue in acid-free containers. Clean cotton sheets or washed, unbleached muslin can also be used to wrap your quilt before placing in the container.
Metal is also not recommended. Protect your fabrics from metal by either lining the metal with washed cotton, muslin or acid-free paper.
Dust, Dirt, Body Oil, Perfume, Food and Smoke will all shorten the life expectancy of your quilts. Avoid contact with these hazards. Remove dust through careful vacuuming. Wear cotton gloves to protect fibers from your body oil, perfumes and other lotions. Prohibit smoking. The smoke from cigarettes can leave not only a film but also an odor on your quilts.
Folding and Stacking quilts can be detrimental as well. If left in the same position for an extended period the creases created from the folds can cause uneven wear. When stacking folded quilts, limit the quantity. Weight caused from piles of stacked quilts can create hard to remove creases. Every three to six months unfold your quilts and then re-fold them from a different direction.
Tacks, Nails, Staples and Clip On Metal Hooks should not be used to hang your quilts. All of these items can put stress on the fibers. The stress can cause micro tears in the fabric. Use a hanging or rod sleeve to suspend your quilt on the wall. Even when using a hanging sleeve periodically remove the quilt and allow the fibers to rest. Use that opportunity to remove dust through careful vacuuming.
While my list might not be complete, it certainly gives you a lot to ponder. As I said above, only you can decide how your quilts will be handled. Now, let me share a few options for creatively displaying your quilts. Please follow the above guidelines for adapting these display techniques.
Quilt Blocks Almost everyone has left over quilt blocks. Rather than leave them stacked away somewhere why not mount them on mat board and insert them into a frame with non-glare glass. Arrange them on your wall for a unique collage of quilt art work.
Hang them on an Old Piece of Fencing Stand the fence on end and drape the quilts over the spindles. Be very careful to protect your fabric from the wood and its old finish. You could drape clean cotton fabric or muslin over the rungs and then lay your quilts on top of that.
Stack Folded or Rolled Quilts on Shelves or Cabinets This is a wonderful way to add a variety of color to your decor. Rotate your quilts to change the display even more. Be aware of the suggestions about stacking quilts and contact with wood.
Attach a Hanging Sleeve to the back of your quilt or wall hanging. Insert a rod into the pocket and you’re ready to go. If it’s small like a wall hanging you could attach a ribbon or string to either end of the rod. Find the center point of the ribbon or string and hang it from a single nail on the wall. Once the ribbon or string is hung over the nail a button could be used to hide the nail. Simply slide the button over the nail through one of the buttons holes.
Chair Pads Find tattered old quilts at auctions, garage sales or flea markets. Salvage the usable portions and transform them into covers for kitchen chair pads.
Headboard for a Bed Suspend a curtain rod on the wall above your bed. Drape one of your quilts over the rod as a headboard.
Bolster Fold and roll a small quilt into an oblong shape. Fasten an old belt around the middle to secure it from unrolling. Use the rolled quilt as a bolster on a bed or other piece of furniture.
Table Cover Drape a quilt over a small side table for a decorative cover. Make sure the table has been finished with a layer of polyurethane.
There are so many ways that you can use your quilts to adorn your home or craft area. Only your imagination can limit the possibilities. Why not dig out some of those quilts and enjoy them. If you don’t your relatives will.
I think I just heard your sigh of relief as you ironed that last seam. You’ve come a long way. All of the hurdles have been crossed and you’ve declared your project ready for quilting. Now it’s time to relax and prepare to package that awesome creation for delivery.
Who Will You Choose?
So have you chosen the lucky person that will perform this service for you? Hopefully you will choose my studio for that function. No matter who it is I’m confident you will be pleased with the outcome. There’s a few more tasks that need tending before you seal that box so let’s make sure we cross off the final details from our checklist.
Don’t Just Stuff It
Your quilt has come a long way since that first day you were inspired. You’ve poured your time and efforts into this endeavor so don’t just stuff it into a box.
Both your quilt top and the backing have been carefully pressed so take care when folding them.
The top and backing should be folded separately.
If you desire, a bit of acid-free tissue could be crumpled and stuffed into the folds to help avoid excessive creasing.
Next I would carefully wrap each piece inside another piece of fabric or perhaps even a pillow case.
As an added bit of protection I would suggest that you secure your quilt and backing inside a large plastic bag.
Before sealing the bag make sure you insert a piece of paper with your name, address and phone number. This will insure that, in case your items were to be separated from the box, the shipper will know how to contact you.
What Should I Ship It In?
Use a sturdy corrugated box.
Choose one that is slightly larger than your folded bundle.
If you want your finished quilt returned in the same box let your quilter know. Perhaps you could pre-address it for her using one of the inside flaps.
You might also want to lay a piece of cardboard over your quilt bundle or double box it to protect it in case a sharp knife is used to open the box.
In addition you might want to include a self-addressed postcard in the box for your quilter to return to you acknowledging its safe arrival at her home.
Choose your courier carefully. You want your quilt treated with care. Having something happen because of careless handling would be devastating.
Make certain that your address and the address of your quilter are accurately recorded on the shipping container.
Do not tell the shipper or label the box in any way that will identify specifically what is inside. Quilts are prized possessions. You wouldn’t want to provide temptation for theft.
Purchasing insurance would be advisable as well.
Be very specific with your instructions to your quilter. I will always remember the time I agreed to make an article of clothing for a friend. To limit the amount of time I would spend sewing her project I asked her if she would please cut out the pattern before she dropped it off.
When she arrived I was surprised to find that her definition and my definition of “cutting out a pattern” were as far a part as the sun is from the earth. My intention was for her to locate the applicable pattern pieces, pin them on the fabric, in the appropriate way, then finally cut them out. She thought I wanted her to locate the appropriate pattern pieces and cut off the extra surrounding tissue. If I had been more specific and not assumed that we were speaking the same language we both would have had a better outcome.
One more example would be the prom dress I altered for my friend. Since I did not get exact instructions from her mother, as to how much she was willing to spend on the alterations and the fabric needed to complete them, I was left holding a check too small to cover my expenses.
The moral of my story is, be very, very specific when it comes to your expectations and ask lots and lots of questions.
If you deliver your quilt to the quilter make sure she writes everything down. Then make sure both of you sign the sales form. Realize also that ABSOLUTELY nobody is perfect. That includes you too!
Oh, and one more thing, don’t leave your quilt with your quilter without getting a receipt. Your receipt should include an itemized listing of your agreed upon instructions.
Time to Send it on It’s Way
I think it’s OK to close the box now. Use a generous supply of sturdy tape to secure your container. Don’t worry about your precious cargo, your quilter will take very good care of your creation and when it once again is in your home you will be so pleased.
You’ve spent a lot of time and effort creating a quilt of which I am sure you are very proud. Now that you are finished, have you pondered what you will choose for the back of your quilt? What type of fabric are you going to use? How large will it be? Will you use one piece of fabric or will it be pieced? These are all questions that you should consider. Let’s get started.
When it comes to fabric choice, there are many schools of thought. Some say take the least expensive route because nobody will ever see it. To others a muslin or bed sheet would be more than adequate. For me the back of my project is just as important as the front. I want to be proud of the entire creation hence I would strongly disagree with both of those philosophies.
Here’s my reasoning:
Nobody will ever see it – A quilt used on a bed is often folded back. What do you see when it is folded back? The underside of the quilt of course. Doesn’t that make the back side just as important. Would you make a wedding dress using the finest materials for the front, then finish it with less appealing fabrics for the back? Quilts are often admired not only from the front but also from the back. A fabric coordinated with the quilt top will make your quilt even more appealing and will add value.
A bed sheet will do just fine – Bed sheets are not at all appropriate and here’s why. Simply put, the thread count of sheeting is much too high. When machine quilting the densely woven fabric of a bed sheet, the piercing action of the needle through the fibers can cause threads to break. Although a broken thread here or there may not seem an issue, multiple broken threads certainly are. Over time those broken threads threaten the overall integrity of the structure.
There’s nothing more disappointing than a quilt back that is too small. Make sure your backing fabric is at least 6-8″ larger than your quilt top. For example: If your quilt top measures 60×60 then your quilt back, before quilting, should be a minimum of 66×66.
How Many Pieces
In an ideal situation, all quilt backs would be a single cut of fabric. That being said, quite frequently quilt backing is constructed from two or more segments. In fact, some are even pieced from multiple fabrics. No matter which method you choose the following is a list of helpful guidelines.
Remove the Selvage: The selvage edge of fabric is very densely woven and has no give. Leaving the selvage in place would not only make your fabric more difficult to load on a long arm quilt machine it would also create uneven movement in your quilt. My recommendation: cut them off before seaming quilt backing fabric together.
Seam Width: If your backing will be fashioned from multiple pieces, of various sized fabrics, perhaps in the case of a scrappy pattern, 1/4″ seams are acceptable. On the other hand, if your backing is created using large sections of material please use 1/2″ seams.
Horizontal or Vertical Seams: In researching this topic I came across, what seems like, just as many opinions as there are quilt designs. In analyzing their suggestions I realized that most of them were not providing instructions for long arm quilting. Since long arm quilting is the focus of my business and this site, I am going to tell you what’s best for a successful outcome with my machine. Horizontal seams are my preferred choice. Horizontal seams load much smoother than those sewn vertically.
Press Seams Open or to the Side: This too is a question with varying opinions. Some would recommend that seams be pressed to one side or the other. Some would say that pressing seams open is best. Still others would say that it doesn’t make a difference. Believers in pressing seams to the left or right claim those seams are stronger with less stress directed toward the stitching. Those advocating the open seam press, point out that seams lay much flatter, thereby promoting a much smoother machine quilting experience. Here again, because I am a long arm quilter I lean towards the open seam camp. Anything that can be done to remove obstacles to the machine quilting process gets my vote.
Press from the Wrong or Right Side: When pressing open your seams do so from the wrong side. This eliminates those stubborn seams that have a mind of their own. You know the ones that chose to follow a different path. Tackling them head on eliminates surprises.
Will the Exact Center of My Quilt Backing Match Up Exactly with the Center of My Quilt Top?
Nope. When a quilt is machine quilted using a conventional sewing machine the quilt is generally quilted from the center out. With a long arm quilter the quilt is either quilted from top to bottom or side to side. Using this method it is nearly impossible to make the center front and center back meet. Assume that this is not going to happen and you will be much happier with the outcome.
Should I Baste My Quilt Top, Batting and Backing Together Before I Deliver it to My Quilter?
Gasp Never, never, never! As was mentioned with the quilt top instructions, your quilt sandwich will be loaded on three separate rollers. If you baste them together your quilter must remove the basting before she can proceed. Aside from creating extra work and causing her frustration, you may find yourself with a much larger quilting expense.
How Do I Let You Know Which Edge of My Backing I Would Like You to Use as the Top?
The best method, I believe, is to write the phrase “top of backing” on a piece of paper, then safety-pin that paper to the top of your backing.
One Final Note
As with your quilt top, if your quilt back was constructed from numerous pieces of fabric, it may be advisable to stay stitch 1/8″ from the outside edge, all the way around your quilt back. This simple step can help maintain the integrity of your seams.
Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you have found these tips to be informative. Drop me a line and let me know what you think.