SEW I SEE!

quilts, treadle sewing machines, crochet, watercolor, dogs, & other fun stuff

Quilty Questionnaire

I’m up in the wee small hours this morning… In search of the draft of a different blog post, I found this one.  I wrote this in mid-August, apparently.  Might as well publish it, I guess!  

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Something made me think about a feature of the good old days of blogging– namely, “memes”, writing prompts, or questionnaires.  Sometimes they were very generic, fit for anyone writing any blog on any subject, but others were designed for one particular hobby or area of interest.  

I haven’t come across one of those in a while, and I had a sudden hankering for one, so I decided to write some questions of my own. Maybe it’s a little silly to “interview” yourself, but that’s okay.  I don’t mind being a little silly, when the occasion calls for it.  😜  

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Quilt-Maker’s Questionnaire

When it comes to quilt-making, are you a morning lark, a night owl, or something in between?

Definitely not a night owl.  I’m too afraid I’d make (more) mistakes because I’m not fully alert!  I could probably get used to it, if I had no other choice, but at the moment, I rarely ever sew after nine o’clock, and most evenings, if I’m feeling crafty, I opt for something slower-paced, like crochet.  I tend to prefer sewing anywhere between mid-morning and six o’clock. 

How are you typically dressed when you’re at the sewing machine?  Anything special?  Do you “have” to change into something comfortable before you settle into a project, or do you grab sewing time when you find it, even if it means you’re dressed to the nines or still/already in PJs?

I’m usually dressed very casually and comfortably in a t-shirt and capri pants or jeans (depending on the time of year).  Nothing in particular, but comfort is king, and that goes for almost everything I ever wear, really.  I wouldn’t be happy sewing in dressy clothes, just as I’m not happy living in them.  PJs might be okay, but nothing too hot!  It gets warm enough as it is, sitting right next to a mini iron!

Sometimes I look at the tiny bits of loose thread that inevitably end up sticking to my shirt and lap and think about a seamstress’ smock or apron dress– something like the smocks we used to wear in early elementary school when we painted– but I haven’t done more than think about it, so far.  I doubt I’d like wearing an extra layer.

Do you “drive” your sewing machine’s pedal with shoes on, cozy socks only, or barefooted?

Barefoot in summer, socks in winter.  I could probably sew with shoes on, but it just doesn’t seem comfortable.  I think I wouldn’t have as much control over the machine with shoes on, for some reason (which is silly, since of course I drive a car with shoes on, and control is much more important where a car is concerned). 

I sometimes have to be careful where I put my shoes after removing them, though, because Frodo can be a bit of a shoe thief, when the mood strikes him. (One of his handful of bad habits still left over from puppyhood!)

What’s your snack or drink of choice while sewing?  (Or have you sworn a solemn oath to never allow food or drink near your sewing machine and precious fabric?)

I rarely eat much while sewing– too messy– unless it’s hard candy.  If might pause for a moment to enjoy a piece of chocolate, but no chips or crumbly baked goods or “real food”.  I do try to keep a drink nearby, in case I get thirsty.  Soft drinks are my unhealthy weakness.  If not that, then water.  Always well out of “knocking-over” range!

What’s on in the background while you piece or quilt?  Music, TV, movies, podcasts, talk radio, audio books?  Or do you prefer to listen to the peaceful hum of the machine and either think Deep Thoughts or go into some type of zen meditative trance?

It varies, but talk radio and podcasts are my most frequent listens while sewing, right now.  I also like music at times, but tend to get bored with that after a while and need something meatier to think about.  TV and movies can be good (if they’re not so distracting that I keep stopping to watch instead of sew!), but it can be a hassle to get everything arranged just so.  I have to move my laptop– not always convenient.  Audiobooks can be good, too, but sometimes they require too much of me.  Either I miss something in the book while I focus on what I’m doing with my hands, or I make a mistake because I’m too caught up in the story.  That’s why the more casual pace of people talking on radio or podcasts is usually the most comfortable fit for me. 

One of my favorite gadgets are my Bluetooth headphones.  I love the convenience of listening at whatever volume I like without imposing my tastes on someone else, and now nothing is ever drowned out by the hum of the sewing machine.  They don’t have to be an expensive brand to work well.  

It’s rare that I ever just listen to the machine.  I sew longer when I’m being entertained. 😉  

What’s the view from your sewing machine?

I’m fortunate to have a dedicated craft room.  (It started out as a guest room, but eventually I commandeered it for my own use.  Seems more practical to use your rooms so that they actually are used all year and not just once every 4 or 5 years when you have overnight guests!) 

I sit close to one of the walls, with my back to it, and I look out over most of the room from my sewing machine.  I see my two tables pushed together to make a large work surface (with stations for cutting and pressing).  Past that, there are windows that look onto our front yard, but in the mornings in the summer, the blinds are always closed against the bright, hot sun (in an attempt to keep the room cooler).  The blinds can be opened in the afternoon to afford the room some natural light. 

Which of these best describes your usual taste in color palettes/fabric choices for quilts?  (Or is it a combination of them?)
A Match Made in (Designer) Heaven (a.k.a. “Designer Knows Best”)
A Personal Collection Carefully Curated Over the Years
Scraptastic
Everything (Kitchen Sink Possibly Included)
Marvelous Minimalism
…Something else?

“Scraptastic” and “Collection Carefully Curated”, followed by “Everything”.  I’m really not a minimalist at all, and I’ve never made a quilt using just one line of fabric or just one designer.  I would be open to giving it a try, at some point, if I had a sampler pack or a pattern that I felt called for it, but I tend to go for a mix and match look.  I like the uniqueness that comes with choosing fabric from a variety of sources.  

As for “Scraptastic” versus “Everything”, I probably tend to find “Scraptastic” more aesthetically pleasing.  I usually like to exercise some restraint, selecting fabrics within a set of parameters– usually on the basis of color families or hues.  Every now and then, a truly “Everything” quilt is fun, though. 

What’s the smallest size scrap you save?  Or if you don’t save scraps for quilting purposes, do you do something with them other than throw them away?

At the moment, I’m saving truly tiny trimmings because I want to (eventually) try a technique I saw where you sew them together using water-soluble paper (I think). The result is a decorative item– not something you can use in a regular, washable quilt, as far as I know. (Here’s a similar video tutorial, though not the one I saw last time.)  I’ve saved way more than I need, but I still toss them in a jar rather than the waste basket.  Maybe it feels easier to do.  It doesn’t look like you’re throwing as much away. 😉

As for real, planning-to-sew-them-into-a-quilt scraps, I’ll save anything I think I can work into a crumb block.  That means strips over three-quarters of an inch, very small triangles, and any shape bigger than my thumbnail.  I may be overly optimistic about some of them, but if they seem too small when I’m actually stitching crumb blocks, they’ll just go into the “Truly Tiny Trimmings” jar or (gulp) the garbage.  (I hate to throw fabric away!)

What’s your favorite batting?  Thread?  Or do you just use whatever’s convenient or most affordable?

I haven’t tried many types of either, yet.  I’ve mostly used 100% cotton (with poly scrim) for batting, but I’d like to try some other options, eventually.  I prefer cotton to 100% poly, but I also have some 80/20 to try.  

For piecing, I’ll use whatever.  I’m mostly using cotton, lately.  For machine quilting, I’m using 100% polyester (Connecting Threads) most of the time.  I’ll try cotton again at some point, but the one time I tried it, it seemed more prone to breaking than the polyester.  I know some people say poly thread will cut cotton fabric over time, but I’ve seen other sources say that it’s not really a problem.  In any case, it’s no something I’m personally worried about, at this point.  

I’d like to try machine quilting with variegated thread– and even have some on hand.  It’s just not as convenient for me to use, because it’s on spools instead of cones (and I haven’t made or bought the right attachment to use spools with the quilting machine).  I’m also interested in trying heavier thread for more visible doodle quilting.  

How do you store your fabric?  

I purchase mostly smaller cuts of fabric– one yard or less.  I keep most of them in clear shoe-boxes, arranged by color… and in rainbow order.  I fold them so that they stand up in the box, easily viewed and accessed from the top of the box.

Most fabrics are mingled regardless of “theme” or designer/line, but I do keep certain things separate from the bulk of my stash.  For instance, all my Halloween fabrics are in their own box, as are batiks, panels, and any pre-cuts that I want to keep together to use in a single project.  

Crumbs go into their own shoe-boxes, and strings are sorted by color family into ziploc bags, which are corralled into a couple of plastic bins. 

Most of it stays on a steel shelving unit in the closet in my craft room, safe from light, out of the way, and yet easily accessible.  Larger pieces (flannel, sheets, and non-quilting fabrics) are folded and stacked in the less convenient shelves and storage cubes elsewhere in the room, because I don’t need to get to that fabric as often.  

The selvages I’m saving are out on display in the room, currently in various glass vessels, where I can enjoy looking at them until I get around to sewing up. 

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Well, that’s where the draft ended, rather abruptly.  I must’ve been in a chatty mood when I came up with that one… 

Welcome!

I’m Michael (a female Michael, to remove any doubt).  I live on the Alabama Gulf Coast with my husband, Donald, and our crazy American Eskimo Dogs. 

I love to fill my spare time with various crafts and other hobbies, and this blog is where I share photos, record my progress, and ramble endlessly.

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