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Spring Sewing Inspiration

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 10:42 AM

I have to say, I LOVE this weather lately! Spring has sprung and it has inspired me to use my big bold floral prints again and pull out all my bright, cheery fabrics. Today's post includes some of our most recent pins from Pinterest. I hope these inspire you as much as they did me!

Click on the caption below each photo to be taken to the original site.
 
Kalidescope Quilt from Lella Boutique

 


Belle Prarie Quilt from Fons & Porter

 

Ombre Gems from Quilty Love by Emily Denis

 

Craftsman Quilt from Diary of a Quilter

 

Basket Tote from Sew She Can 

 

Whimsy Garden from Color Girl Quilts

 

Plus Quilt from For the Love of George

 

Postcards from Sweeden by Jeli Quilts
 
Hope these projects have inspired you to pull out your favorite spring fabrics and get to sewing!
 
May your bobbin always be full,
Kaitlin

It's Quilt Retreat Week here at A Scarlet Thread and while I'm focused on the million little things on my task list like food and demos and name tags, the timing seemed perfect to share a few tips that will be helpful whenever you're preparing for an upcoming retreat.

 
Quilt retreats are a great way to make quilting friends, get a bit of a break from reality, and get a lot of sewing done! Just like a massage or a mani-pedi, a retreat plucks you from your day-to-day life and puts you in an environment where you only have to consider yourself.
 
Beyond the obvious sewing and project supplies you'll want to take, I thought it might be helpful to share a few of my favorite hints and tips that lead to a successful retreat experience.
 
·         Begin your preparations for retreat at least a few days in advance (a few weeks is even better!) so you aren't stressed at the last minute trying to get everything done. Remember that one of the best parts of retreat is visiting with your friends, and the better prepared you are and the fewer decisions you have to make when you get to retreat will leave you more time for chatting and visiting.
 
·         Take your favorite sewing machine that you know how to use well. You don't want to have to spend time reading the owner's manual. Clean and oil your machine, if needed, and make sure it is working properly. Change the needle and make sure you have extras. If it's been a while since your machine has been professionally serviced, several weeks before retreat is the perfect time to make an appointment with your technician for service. Also make sure you pack the power cord, foot pedal, and any special feet you may need. Nothing can ruin a retreat faster than discovering you didn't bring the power cord or foot pedal!
 
·         Bring a realistic selection of projects...simple is usually better. This is not the best time to start a project with thousands of pieces that require a difficult layout. Choose projects that you can start and stop easily. You don't need to bring all of your WIPs and UFOs, but I always bring one more project than I think I can finish just in case I get bored with what I'm working on and need a change of pace, or wonder of wonders, I actually finish the projects I've brought and need something else to work on!
 
·         Cut out as many of your projects as possible so you can get right to sewing. Who wants to spend precious retreat time cutting? In my case, I have to cut while it's quiet or I always make mistakes. Speaking of mistakes, be sure to bring extras of the fabrics in your projects just in case you discover you're missing a piece or that you've mis-cut something. I always separate each project into project bags or boxes, which are easy to pack and keep all the pieces together.
·         Comfy attire is a must, and layers are always recommended. Remember, there will only be one thermostat and lots of friends so you want to be able to add or remove layers to stay comfy. And don't forget comfy shoes...you can't sew if your feet hurt!
 
·         If you have back problems, like me, and you arrive ready for hours of sewing only to find that the chairs are the metal folding type, you might be tempted to cry. Most retreat venues encourage you to bring your own chair for comfort, but I find that to be more trouble than I'm willing to take. Instead, I sit on an inflatable disc that gives some cushioning, but also shifts my weight around often so I don't get stiff and sore after a day of sewing in exactly the same position. I have a Dyna Disc, which has a nubby side underneath so it doesn't slide around on the chair, and I often use it behind my back for extra support, too. At the very least, a simple cushion or pillow to sit on will help a lot.

 

 
·         Seldom do you find a room where the lighting is perfect for everyone, and the older I get the more essential good lighting is for me to be able to sew. A small battery-operated lamp is the ideal solution because you won't have to worry about how close you are to an outlet or whether you will trip a breaker by plugging in too many items. This LED Super Bright Touch Lamp available in our Sewing Center is perfect for retreats...it even features three levels of brightness!
 
 
·         Most retreat venues provide cutting and ironing stations...check before you go if you're unsure. I limit myself to a small rotary cutting mat that I put beside my machine so I don't have to get up to trim things. I prefer a rotating mat like the Olfa Spinning Rotary Mat pictured here, but a small 12" x 18" mat works just as well. It is best to leave your professional high-temperature iron at home because they are often the culprit when fuses are blown or the circuit breakers trip. A small travel iron such as the Steamfast Travel Steam Iron that we sell at AST won't use as much power and can still get the job done. Don't forget a portable pressing pad! (Always check with the retreat organizer to determine if personal irons are allowed.)
 
 
·         While you may enjoy listening to music in your sewing space, not everyone does. If you must have music while you sew, be considerate and bring along ear buds so others don't have to listen to your tunes. Better yet, turn off the music and spend the time talking and visiting and making new quilting friends!
 
·         Many people are highly allergic to scents and perfumes, and a mix of different scents in an enclosed space can be a real problem. It's best not to wear strongly scented perfumes, and if you use a product like Best Press make sure it, too, is unscented.
 
·         Open drinks can spell disaster at a retreat. While you may be aware of your open drink and not have an issue, when you are in close proximity to others it is safest to use only covered drink cups to help protect machines and projects.
 
·         Most importantly, arrive with your best attitude and be ready to have a blast. You'll meet the most amazing people at quilt retreats from all walks of life, and there is nothing like quilting to create a bond of friendship as you work on projects, learn new techniques and share your quilting knowledge. You'll go home refreshed, inspired and already planning your next retreat!
 
Just two more sleeps until we kick off Spring Quilt Retreat at AST and we still have room for you to join us! You'll miss three days of more fun than you can imagine if you're not coming, but we'll do it again in October so start making your plans now to join us!
 
Until next time...Life is short. Buy the Fabric!
~Melisa 

Using a Thread Director for Metallic Threads

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 11:28 AM

Sometimes you don't know how great a product is until you use it. I have to admit I am sometimes guilty of forming opinions before I give a product a chance... So, I decided to put the Thread Director to the test with metallic thread. If you have ever used metallic threads you know what a challenge they create. I've used them in my embroidery but they kink and break easily and are NOT a joy to use. 
 
 
 
The Thread Director can and will change all of that. It keeps the thread smooth and kink free. I put the metallic thread on the Baby Lock Aria machine and set it up for a satin stitch. I sewed as fast as the machine would go and no thread breaks whatsoever. 
 
 
I also put the Thread Director on the Baby Lock Molly machine and got the same great results. You can use the thread director with almost any sewing or embroidery machine!
 
 
 
Come into the sewing center at A Scarlet Thread and pick up a Thread Director today!
 
-Jill

Easter Egg Placemat Tutorial

Saturday, March 25, 2017 11:26 AM


Easter is one of the best holidays in my opinion. Fun, bright colors, candy, sweets, time with family, and most importantly the true reason we celebrate Easter, our savior is risen! One thing I can remember growing up, we always went to my best friend's house after church for an incredible Easter egg hunt. All the kids would run around looking for as many eggs as their basket would hold, but the best part was each kid had their own GIANT EGG! These placemats were inspired by those giant eggs and bring back some of my childhood memories every time I look at them.

The best part about these placemats is you can use your scraps! As quilters, we all have that embarrassing stash of scraps that you just can't bear to throw away but you also never use them... I'm just as guilty as you are. So I wrote this tutorial just for those all the scrappy strips hanging out in my sewing room. Hope you enjoy!


Supplies:

  • 6-12 Fat Quarters or 1/4 yard cuts (Don't be afraid to use your scraps!)
  • 1 1/3 yards backing & binding 
    • Or 4 FQ's for backing & 220" bias binding
  • Scrap batting - 4 pieces approx 16" x 20"
  • Matching thread for quilting
  • Marking tool (Frixion pens, chalk, etc.)
  • Rotary cutting supplies & fabric scissors
Instructions:
  1. Gather your fabrics. This is anegg-cellent time to use up any scrap strips of fabric at least 2" or wider. Leftover jellyroll strips are perfect for this!
  2. Cut strips ranging in width from 2" - 4." Strips should be approx 12" - 15" in length. Some shorter strips may work on the ends, but for bestresults longer strips are best.
  3. Arrange strips into 4 different groups. Each group will be one egg placemat. Be sure to have a good variety in each & use your shorter strips closest to the end of your groupings. Sew strips together and press. You can press all seams in onedirections or press your seams open.
  4. Download and print egg template here. Fold on the "fold #1" line and tape together then fold on the "fold #2" line and tape again. Lastly, fold one the "fold #3" line and tape across the two pages. Now you should have a giant egg template. 
  5. Trace your egg template on your strip sets using your choice of marking tool. My favorite marking tool is a Frixion pen, which disappears with heat. Cut along the traced lines.
  6. Press and starch each egg shape after cutting out. It is important to use starch in this step to keep your egg shapes from getting stretched or distorted while handling.
  7. Lay egg shape, batting, and backing to make a quiltsandwhich. Quilt as desired. Then cut out quilted egg shape as close to the edge as possible. 
  8. Make bias tape or purchase pre-made bias tape from a craft store. I used double fold pre-made bias tape and sewed my binding on following the steps in this tutorial. 
  9. That's it! You now have four gorgeous Easter Egg Placemats that all your guests will rave about! 

 

You Belong Here

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 11:22 AM



Way back in February of 2009 I wrote the very first blog post for A Thread of Red. This was the little stitching I made for that post. Shortly afterward I began decorating the second shop and continued writing the blog. Not long after that, we moved to our current location and, well, you know the scoop. I'm still here. There's a reason for that, you know - it's where I belong.

I know the mechanics of quilting, what a scant 1/4 inch is and why it's needed, how to bind both by machine and by hand, the value of color and balance, how to properly use a ruler and rotary cutter and more. But, here's the thing - I'm not the greatest quilter, yet I do love making quilts. My seams are never perfect, the back sides are usually a bit messy and need some serious thread snipping and my free motion quilting skills do leave a bit to be desired. Mostly because I rush. Time is rarely my friend. Still, I am not afraid to keep sewing and making quilts that will be wrapped around my family, my friends and, sometimes, strangers.

The reason for that is because I am surrounded by people who consistently teach me, encourage me and appreciate my efforts, coworkers and customers alike. And I watch them do the same things for you.
Yep, you. All of you. The seasoned, the novice, the timid, the expert. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't learn something. Because, truthfully, we cannot all know everything. If we did we wouldn't need each other. That's the key.

Whenever quilters gather there is lots of teaching, applauding, reassuring, praising, guiding, laughing, chatting and more all laced with a strengthening dose of friendship. It cannot happen without you. You belong here. That was the message of that first blog post and it is still the same today. Because, you know, we kind of love having you around.

See you at Shop Hop next week!

Mins (aka Karin Smith)

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