Saturday, 19 January 2019

Winter Blues

January brings some cold temperatures to the north! This time of year can be tough on the soul as we all feel a bit cooped up when the mercury dips into minus 30 territory. Things to look forward to, of course, are quilts! January couldn't be a better time to get working on your cuddly quilts.

This blue throw was made by my customer Kareen for her daughter who is crazy about stars. Kareen usually needs a tight turn around time when I quilt for her and I'm happy to accommodate her. I am busy with work, baby, papa and the house but when the stars align, it all works out. When it all falls to pot .... well ... that's a story for another day! Things fell soon after I unloaded this sweet throw from the long arm .... 

Kareen used her old blue jeans to make this top. It has a great look. You need to be careful when working with jeans as not all denim is alike. Most of my old blue jeans have a some stretch to them (the best ones!) so they don't make for straight cuts. Some of the denim frays quite badly and some patches just don't work. The colour is off, the grains don't run together ... Kareen did a great job. She told me she really had to cherry pick through her stash for the best pieces.  By using a black one inch cotton divide, she was able to lighten up the quilt. She was set on picking a cuddle backing. At first, I warned against this as it would make the quilt too heavy but as it was only a small throw, it worked. Think of the poor person who has to wash the quilt one day ... this throw is a gift for her daughter who loves stars. We used the panto Becker's Shooting Stars for it and So-Fine thread in light grey. 

Another tip to remember when sewing with denim is to use a needle designed for jeans. I can't tell you how many needles I snapped while sewing in my early days of quilting. They really make a difference and for the few dollars it costs to buy a package of needles, well worth the investment.

These packs are at our local Walmart - $2.47. For less than three dollars you can save yourself hours or misery. Jeans needles are designed to puncture through the tougher, often thicker fabric. They are generally longer, sharper, more durable and have a bigger eye as you may want to use a heavier weight thread. Denim needles may dull more quickly than regular all-purpose needles as well. Be sure to change them out often if working on a new project.

Here's a shot of a denim/flannel rag time quilt I made in 2001. It has held up really well. This quilt currently lives at the bottom of my papa's bed.

Some more tips when sewing with denim:

* Choose the right design .. is your denim heavy and structured or lighter in texture and feel?

* Pay attention to grain lines - cut grain lines in alignment to counter twisting

* Press seams open to combat bulk. Some seams may need to be clipped shorter to combat the bulk.

* Heat and steam can be your friends. Pressing denim is important.

* Slow down! Sew at a slower pace when sewing denim. Moving too quickly may result in needle breakage and frustrations all around

* Denim is made of cotton fibres. It comes in a variety of weights.

* Denim frays. That's why I especially loved using it in my rag time quilts.

With that, I hope you have a great week and enjoy what is left of January. I am diving into a box of red fabric this week to make up something special for Valentine's Day.

Until next time ... may your blue jeans fit your bum, waist and thighs and don't force you to cut them up into a quilt!


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