The Easy Friday List, June 22

This is my weekly list (posted every Friday) of items that have made my life easier in some measurable way these last seven days. Maybe they can make your life easier too.

AC: Summer. Georgia. Air conditioning. Let’s all take a moment and pray for the continued existence of Georgia Power. Amen.

Quilt Basting Spray: I’ve just finished quilting the koi wall hanging. He’s gorgeous.

I’ve never used basting spray on such a large project before and I am very impressed. I had to clean my needle with alcohol about halfway through quilting and some of the sticky stuff did come off on my table, but other than that, everything went as it usually went. I don’t think I’d use it for hand quilting (hand fatigue!), but for FMQ, it’s amazing.

Full Disclosure: I over-sprayed a bit around the wall hanging as I was spraying. FYI: basting spray comes off of tablet PCs with some paper towels and elbow grease.

I most definitely owe the great and talented Mrs. L (one of my quilting inspirations) for giving me the can of basting spray some time back. I can’t believe I waited this long to use it.

Juki TL-2000 Qi sewing machine: This thing handles multiple layers of thick fabric and batting like it’s nothing. My old machine would skip and skew stitches while complaining loudly when I made purses. (My old mantra: Please don’t explode… please don’t explode… please don’t explode…) I don’t have to worry about exploding machines now. My Juki doesn’t even notice when I sew through several layers of batting and upholstery fabric. Sweet.

Also, I’ve just finished quilting my largest FMQ project to date (the koi). I am extremely impressed with how everything came out. I had to fiddle for a while on thread tension and I’m still getting the hang of getting my stitches all the same length (and not so teeny tiny), but I am so hooked on the whole process I’m giddy. And I can only blame part of the giddiness on the early morning and the obscene amount of black tea and coffee I’ve consumed this morning.

The quilted koi at fig+fence.

I quilted waves around the koi.

This is also my first quilting project that is entirely machine made. (Well, there is a strip of hand stitches along the koi’s back and the beads will be hand applied, but other than that, the rest is machine.) I don’t think that everything would have gone as smoothly without the Juki.

Fabric Fantastic

My first batch of fabric came in from Spoonflower. I am so excited about it I can’t stand myself.  Here’s a pic of the four I currently have for sale:

The Zagged Zig fabric at Spoonflower.

My pretty, pretty fabric (fat quarters) after washing.

I have mixed feelings about washing it. Spoonflower has very precise instructions on washing the Kona cotton premium quilting weight: don’t wash with phosphates. (I washed them with All Free & Clear, which says it is phosphorus free on the bottle.)  Washing most definitely improved the feel. When I louped the fabric (yes, I looked at it with a loupe – what?), I noticed that you could see the weave of the fabric. It’s barely noticeable with the naked eye, but it’s there.  So there is some color loss when you wash the fabric. Oh, it’s still bright and the color doesn’t change or lighten, but there is a loss from parts of the weave that results in a “fabric” texture in the print.

I’ve decided to use that texture as a design feature in future prints. And really, I’ve bought fabric at Joann’s that faded horribly – not just a textural thing, but a whole color change. This is why I always wash fabric I buy from Joann’s before I even put it in my stash. Looks like I’ll be pre-washing my Spoonflower fabric, too.

I changed the scale of the green and blue wavy stripe fabric after getting the fat quarter sample. It’s now the same scale as the grey and blue wavy stripe.

I love the colors. Seriously. Is there anything that shouts SUMMER more than grass green and bright robin’s egg blue? I can’t think of anything.

I love the fabric feel. I can’t stress enough the importance of how a fabric feels. This was my biggest concern with ordering fabric online. Seriously. Long before I began to worry about how my design would translate to fabric. Long before I worried about color palettes or trend or color fastness or scale or pattern repeats or OMG will anyone actually buy my fabric? I worried about how the fabric would feel.

In fabric stores, I touch everything. I don’t care how pretty the print is or how cheap the store has marked it, if it doesn’t feel good, I’m not buying it. So getting the fabric home and touching it was a huge milestone in this process.

I ordered the fabric swatches from Spoonflower before I submitted my designs; before printing, the swatches felt great. I knew that the feel of the fabric would change once they printed something on it. It did, and not for the better. But the fabric went back to its former wonderful feel after washing.

[That sound you just heard? That wasn't the wind; it was my sigh of relief... it was so great that you heard it from way over there where you are, wherever there is.]

All in all, I love everything about Spoonflower’s fabric and the design process. I can’t wait to get more beautiful fabric I’ve designed.

Now, the real question is: what do I make with my gorgeous summer fabric?

Well, OK. I can too think of something that shouts SUMMER as loud as grass green and robin’s egg blue: tomatoes. Yum. Tomatoes.