Thursday, May 18, 2017

Appliqué Techniques for Modern Quilters

Our May program was presented by Patricia Steadman, Martha Griffin, Sara Bradshaw and Audrey Workman and covered a variety of ways modern quilters can use appliqué in their work.

Chattanooga riverfront quilt by Audrey Workman

Needle-turn Appliqué

Patricia is an expert in this method and has learned tips and tricks that make the process easy and accurate. Patricia works from patterns but she makes some of the templates herself. She brought several examples of her appliqué work, both modern and traditional. 

Patricia's needle-turn appliqué quilt hung in Paducah in 2016.

One way to use appliqué in a modern quilt is to oversize it, and Patricia has done to the quilt pictured below. She made this floral appliqué top using a design featured in the book Alison Glass Appliqué: The Essential Guide to Modern Appliqué; it will be quilted by Denise Ohlman and donated to a Habitat for Humanity homeowner later this year.

A future Habitat for Humanity quilt

You can also use needle-turn appliqué to add modern flair to a 3-D object. Patricia sewed floral shapes to the background before constructing this tote bag. Carolyn Friedlander was spotted carrying a similar one at QuiltCon in Savannah.

Patricia’s favorite tips:

  • Freezer paper is great for appliqué patterns but it shrinks! Prep it by pre-ironing it before adhering it to fabric.
  • Instead of pinning or thread basting, use fabric glue to anchor loose pieces to the background. Keep glue away from the places you’ll stitch.
  • Use glue on points where fabric meets fabric; heat set with your iron.
  • Cut with serrated scissors. Fabric frays less, and you can feel the scissors bite into the fabric.

Whole-cloth and Reverse Appliqué

Martha showed us how she uses the traditional Hawaiian folding method to make a modern appliqué paper pattern. Friedlander also uses this method.

Martha made this whole-cloth appliqué quilt using Friedlander’s Circle Lattice pattern.* It was fast and easy! 

Martha's whole-cloth appliqué quilt

To make Bulls-Eye*, another Friedlander pattern, Martha used both needle-turn and reverse appliqué. 

Martha’s Tips: 

  • For a large whole-cloth quilt, tape your fabric to a sliding glass door and trace your pattern onto it.
  • Don’t cut the whole thing out at once. Instead, cut about 2” at a time. Everything will remain more stable that way.

Running-stitch Reverse Appliqué on Cotton Knit

Sara is making a modern t-shirt quilt—but it’s not what you’re thinking! She’s using oh-so-soft fleece knit for the backing and cotton knit for the exposed pieces. Sara’s method is similar to one she learned from Alison Glass at QuiltCon a few years ago, but Sara has made it softer. She works with old t-shirts instead of quilting cotton. Think Alabama Chanin and you’ll get a better idea. Sara enjoyed stitching this one last winter with the fleecy side on her lap.

Sara's reverse appliqué on cotton knit

You work this method with three layers—similar to a typical quilt—but the fabrics are different. Use knit on the top, quilting cotton in the middle, and knit on the back. Or use fleece on the back. Or put t-shirts in the middle. Your choices will dictate softness, weight, and ease of stitching.

Sara has made several squares using old clothing and plans to connect them into a larger project after she’s made more.

Sara’s tips:

  • Use a sashiko needle for your running stitch. You’ll appreciate the larger eye.
  • Keep your knots exposed on the top of your quilt. They look pretty.
  • Rock your running stitch around the shape you cut out.
  • Use a larger piece of knit for the back, then pull it over to the front to create your binding.

Glued Appliqué 

Audrey made a hexie quilt and glued her shapes to the background. No stitching happened before the quilting began! She used a mashup of techniques by Nicole Daksiewicz of Modern Handcraft and Cristy Fincher of Purple Daisies LLC.

Audrey's modern hexies

Audrey’s tips:

  • Use pre-cut Hexagon Stabilizer or Sharon Schamber’s Secret Foundation instead of paper when you make your hexies (read about it here).  
  • Baste hexies to paper using Elmer’s washable glue stick.
  • Glue hexies to foundation using Liquid Stitch glue.
  • Use a hera marker to score your foundation fabric before you lay out your hexies.

Scrappy Appliqué 

Audrey also showed us how she does “scrappy appliqué”. Modern Quilting instructor Shannon Brinkley gets credit for both name and method, and as members of the MQG you can watch her explain it on their website in Fresh Quilting, Season 1 Episode 12.

The one thing Audrey does differently from Brinkley is this: Audrey sews around the small appliqué pieces before adhering the larger shapes to her background. Brinkley adheres first then free-motion stitches around the edges. Both methods work well!

Brinkley has skyline patterns of a lot of major cities throughout the world. Unfortunately there’s no Chattanooga yet. But Audrey had already drawn the Chattanooga riverfront, sketching from her own photos and altering the landscape a bit, and used that to play with Brinkley’s scrappy appliqué method.

Audrey also fell madly in love with a cloudy sky that Angela Walters quilted on a Busy City quilt for a client. Audrey had already tackled the Tennessee River with walking-foot organic wavy lines, and then the landscape with FMQ. She couldn’t find a cloudy sky tutorial so she stared and drew and stared and drew until she worked up her nerve, then she went for broke. Audrey gives Walters full kudos for the swirly cloudy sky idea.

*Our appliqué team recommends these books and resources:

Show and Tell

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Appliqué on Modern Quilts

Some modern quilters enjoy appliqué as handwork in keeping with the slow-stitching-for-relaxation frame of mind.

Others would like the freedom of shape that appliqué brings but don’t really like projects that may take a long time.

Join us Saturday, May 13 at 10 a.m. as we explore methods of appliqué, both fast and slow, that you can incorporate into your own modern quilt designs.

If you admire the work of quilters such as Carolyn Friedlander, Alison Glass, Shannon Brinkley, and Nicole Daksiewicz, don’t miss this meeting.

We’ll demonstrate methods and talk products, and hopefully inspire you to start your own appliqué project!

Below are a few examples of the types of appliqué you'll see:

Monday, May 1, 2017

April Program Recap

Words on Modern Quilts

Our April program team of Ann, Carolyn, Gerry, Jackie, Janet, and Vanessa showed us a variety of ways to incorporate words into our modern quilts, demonstrating some and providing examples of others.

Choose fabric with words. Perhaps the easiest way is to use text fabrics when you are piecing. A variety of text prints are readily available in both dark and light colors. Including fabrics like these can add a modern aspect to your work. 

Examples of text print fabrics
Use a cutting machine. Janet also showed us how she uses a basic Silhouette machine connected to her computer to cut out letters and numbers from fabric adhered to a sticky surface. She peels the cut letters away and sticks them onto a background, then sews them down.

Quilt the words into your work with free-motion stitching. Janet shared a large modern flower quilt that she made to remember her first QuiltCon experience. She machine stitched words and phrases that brought back memories, as well as the names of all her guild friends that attended the conference with her.

Janet points to words she included in the machine quilting
to commemorate the first QuiltCon.
Write your name by hand, then embroider your signature. Janet taught us a method that she learned at QuiltCon 2017 to embroider our names—or any other words—onto a single layer of fabric that can be incorporated into our quilts. Embroidery is often done before the work is sewn in, but it can also be used to add a signature after the quilt is complete. 

Janet shows members how to embroider words on quilts.
Paint words onto fabric. Jackie demonstrated how to use stencils to get letter shapes onto fabric. Jackie may use Shiva sticks or fabric paint with stencils or even stamps to write anything she wants on her quilts. 

Jackie demonstrates fabric painting.
Make a bold statement. Words on quilts can help you convey important messages, like this example Carolyn brought to the program.
Carolyn's motivational quilt top
Relief quilting. Another method to include words or letters is by matchstick quilting the negative space around the shape of the letter. The team had samples of this as well as some techniques for appliquéing letters onto fabric.


Create your own font. Vanessa explained how she uses improv techniques to piece letters into her work. She sketches what she wants to make onto graph paper then starts cutting the fabric and makes it work.

Use improv piecing to create your own font.

Thanks to all of you for sharing so many ideas!

Habitat Blocks

Jean and Audrey collected blocks that members made for upcoming Habitat quilts. Please keep making both kinds of blocks (bricks and paper-pieced stars) and bring them to our May meeting. We will piece tops with them during our July sew-in.

Upcoming Guild Meetings

Our May program will cover appliqué methods for modern quilting. In June, we will talk design and plan ways to cut up a quilt top and restructure it into a modern quilt based on what we learned from Mary Kerr. In July, we're planning a sew-in and will piece tops for Habitat quilts.

Show and Tell

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Words on Modern Quilts

Words can add personality, context and meaning to your quilts.

Learn how to incorporate text into your work at our next meeting, Saturday, April 8 at 10 a.m.

Several methods will be on display in an open-house style setting, including: piecing, appliqué, quilting, embroidery and text print fabrics.

You'll also have a chance to participate in a make-and-take project involving embroidered signatures; if you want to try this, please bring a small embroidery hoop from home.

See you there!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Details for Mary Kerr Lecture and Workshop

In one week, Mary Kerr will be here to teach us how to use vintage blocks and textiles in modern quilts!

"Twisted" Lecture

Join us for a lecture and trunk show Friday, April 7 at 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30)

Mary will showcase a collection of modern quilts created with vintage textiles, and copies of her book Twisted will be available for purchase. The event will be held in the Youth Center at Christ United Methodist Church, located at 8645 E. Brainerd Road in Chattanooga.

Please be advised that E. Brainerd Road is under construction; attendees will need to enter the church complex from Morris Hill Road. The Youth Center is located on the western side of the complex and has its own entrance. Follow the signs!

Lecture admission is free for current ChattMQG members, $15 for nonmembers who pay in advance, and $20 for nonmembers who pay at the door. 

Nonmembers, secure your spot and pay today using the PayPal button below.

"Twist and Shout" Workshop

Two spots remain for Mary’s four-hour workshop Saturday, April 8. It starts at 2 p.m. in the Adult Education Building at Christ United Methodist Church; participants should arrive between 1:30 and 1:45 to set up their work area.

In this fast-paced environment, Mary will teach participants how to showcase vintage quilt fragments in new, contemporary quilts. Students are invited to bring their own vintage blocks or they may purchase a kit in the class for $30. Mary will also show quilts from her book Recycled Hexies for inspiration.

The workshop costs $50 for current ChattMQG members and $70 for nonmembers.

Once again, enter the church complex from Morris Hill Road. The Adult Education Building is on the northern side of the complex and has its own entrance. Follow the signs!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

March Meeting Recap

Blocks assembled using foundation paper piecing methods

Foundation Paper Piecing

Speed Dating Style

We had the fun of speed-dating several kinds of paper piecing techniques. Designs ranged from simple to complex and used printer paper, vellum or freezer paper. Did you find a method you loved?

Toni showed us how to make a simple paper-pieced string block and this one is great for beginners. She used a red strip down the diagonal of her printer paper squares, added other colors to each side, and ended up with a unified design. 

Toni presses a string block
Audrey's striped stars
Toni presses her seams after each addition. After the paper has been covered with fabric strips, she turns it over and trims even with the paper. No fuss at all and the blocks end up square with no distortion that sometimes results from strip piecing.

Audrey used a pattern for a striped star. Like Toni, she used printer paper for her foundation. Her pattern was numbered (1-8) and she showed how to add fabric in order of number. 

Audrey recommends using your old machine needles for paper piecing (paper dulls needles just as it does scissors). 

Also, sew along the lines of the pattern with no thread in the needle to perforate the paper before you sew with fabric, especially along the outer edges. 

Delores demonstrates chain piecing
Sandi recommends the Add-A-Quarter ruler
Delores prefers to use vellum as she pieces because she can see right through it. She prints her pattern onto the vellum using her home computer and then lays out several patterns on a fabric strip in a form of chain piecing.

Sandi works with freezer paper instead of printer paper or vellum. She cuts the freezer paper to 8.5” x 11” then uses a warm iron to adhere only the top half inch to a piece of printer paper—it glides right through her printer that way. Sandi prints her pattern onto the freezer paper (dull side up).

When she constructs her blocks, she folds the paper on the seam line and sews beside the paper. No tearing of paper is involved, and a pattern can be used three or four times before it loses its stickiness.

Sandi recommends the Add-a-Quarter Ruler as a super-helpful paper piecing tool.

Denise showed us how to construct complex paper piecing patterns. Some designs cannot be sewn as single blocks, so they are broken down into sub units, paper pieced, then joined into a whole. 

Denise recommends the book Quilt Block Bonanza by Nancy Mahoney. She demonstrated how to make a complex geometric block. 

Check out the slideshow for more pictures!

Mary Keasler and her quilt "Not Easy Being Green"

Sound the trumpets...

We have a QuiltCon award winner!

Congratulations to Mary Keasler for winning the Best Machine Quilting—Frameless award at QuiltCon! Her textural masterpiece Not Easy Being Green hung in the winner's circle with the best of the best and will be featured in an upcoming MQG publication.

Our latest Habitat for Humanity quilt

Habitat Quilts

Jean has become a manager extraordinaire of all things Habitat. Her latest design uses 3.5" squares—preferably of bright, modern prints and solids—set in a solid color to show them off.

Members sewed individual blocks for the quilt pictured here; Theresa then assembled the top and quilted it on her domestic machine!

When you are working on your own quilts at home, think about cutting a 3.5" strip of one of your fabric, then cut that into 3.5" squares and bring them to our next meeting. We appreciate all of your contributions, and so do the Habitat for Humanity homeowners.


Show and Tell

Star Blocks for Habitat Quilt: Call for Volunteers

A collection of four star units.
Each unit is made from four star blocks.
Sixteen blocks are pictured above.

We learned several techniques for paper piecing at our March meeting. Now it's time to make scrappy stars for a new Habitat quilt.

Audrey modified the Stripey Star pattern by Wombat Quilts to meet our needs. Click the link below to find the modified pattern and directions to make one star.

In order to make a unit like the one pictured above, you need to construct four blocks of a single color, then sew them together to make one 12.5" unfinished star unit. The tutorial below should make this clear.

Thank you for your help!

Friday, March 24, 2017

ChattMQG to Host Lecture and Workshop with Mary Kerr

Join Mary Kerr in Chattanooga April 7 & 8.
We are pleased to announce Mary Kerr is coming to Chattanooga for a special two-day event! Mary is an author, award-winning quilter, and antique quilt enthusiast who lives just outside Washington, D.C. Mary’s recent work encourages the use of vintage blocks and textiles in modern quilts. 

“As quilters we often limit ourselves to playing in a specific sandbox. We are traditional quilters, art quilters, contemporary quilters, or modern quilters,” writes Mary in her 2016 book Twisted. “Rarely do we take the opportunity to blur these lines. ... It amazes me to consider what can happen when we refuse to follow the rules and allow ourselves to combine our passions.”

Dig through your stash and learn to work those old fabrics and long-forgotten UFOs into your current endeavors following Mary’s unique approach.

Mary's 2016 book Twisted

"Twisted" Lecture

Join us Friday, April 7 at 7 p.m. for “Twisted”, a lecture and trunk show where Mary will showcase a collection of modern quilts created with vintage textiles. The event will be held in the Youth Center at Christ United Methodist Church, located at 8645 E. Brainerd Road in Chattanooga.

Admission is free for current ChattMQG members, $15 for nonmembers who pay in advance, and $20 for nonmembers who pay at the door. 

Nonmembers, secure your spot and pay today! Use the PayPal button below.

"Twist and Shout" Workshop

Then on Saturday, April 8 at 2 p.m. Mary will lead a four-hour workshop entitled “Twist and Shout” in the Adult Education Building at Christ United Methodist Church. In this fast-paced environment, Mary will teach participants how to showcase vintage quilt fragments in new, contemporary quilts. Students are invited to bring their own vintage blocks or they may purchase a kit in the class. Mary will also show quilts from her book Recycled Hexies for inspiration.

The workshop is limited to 20 participants and costs $50 for current ChattMQG members and $70 for nonmembers.

A material/supply list will be provided to participants via email. For more information about the workshop, please contact Mary Keasler at

Monday, March 6, 2017

March Meeting: Paper Piecing

Join us Saturday, March 11 at 10 a.m. for our monthly guild meeting.

We’re going to talk paper piecing in a fun and fast-paced environment that resembles speed dating, but without the sweaty palms and heavy cologne.

Small groups will rotate around the room to observe demonstrations of five different techniques that run the gamut from easy to advanced, and there will be lots of gorgeous samples to inspire you.

Perhaps you’ll walk away with a newfound love!

Monday, February 13, 2017

February Meeting Recap

Veronica moderates a panel discussion by (left to right) Joan, Theresa, Carolyn and Jackie

Viewpoints and Q-points Panel Discussion

What is your most favorite tool in your quilting arsenal? The rotary cutter might be the most popular but our panelists had some interesting additions.

Joan is enamored with her battery operated seam ripper razor. She throws caution to the wind and mows down her accidents with reckless abandon. "Aren't you afraid you might cut your fabric?" someone asked. "I can cut fabric just as well with my regular seam ripper!" Joan replied.

Theresa uses an oak tailor's clapper to get her seams to lie as flat as possible. "Press your seam with the iron then lay the clapper down on the hot seam. The wood absorbs the heat. It only adds a few seconds to your time but your seams lay flat. Also, you know how hard it is to fix the seam allowance when you have pressed in the wrong direction? The clapper makes it easy and you won't have lines."

Carolyn stressed the importance of having a good reference book, especially for new quilters. Better Homes and Gardens Complete Guide to Quilting is one of her favorites and is used by several others on the panel.

Jackie's favorite ruler is her 12-1/2" square, useful for a variety of tasks, and she says a quarter-inch machine foot is well worth the investment.

Moderator Veronica spoke about her hatchet ruler that has two corners chopped off. You can find more information about that ruler, as well as more on the panel discussion, on Veronica's personal blog.

Superior Thread was highly recommended, as was using a thinner thread (higher weight number) in the bobbin. Do that and you won't need to refill your bobbin as often.

The discussion on batting spread into the audience, and personal preference differs from one quilter to the next.

Each panelist had learned more about her craft from other quilters and they all had fond memories of those times.

"In the past, women would stitch together around a frame and talk about their lives and their problems. Nobody needed therapy back then!" shared Joan.


ChattMQG Dues: $35 for 2017
Therapy: $100 per session
You decide.


Upcoming Mary Kerr Workshop

Join us on the weekend of April 7-8 for a lecture and trunk show (Friday) and workshop (Saturday afternoon) by Mary Kerr, specialist in Modern Traditionalism. Turn your vintage blocksand maybe even your own abandoned onesinto a modern treasure with Mary's help. 

But hurry! We only have three workshop spaces left.

Sign up online and invite your friends to do the same!

Habitat for Humanity Quilts

We need your help! Here's what you can do:
  • Pick up a block kit (or several of them) from Jean at any meeting. Take it home, sew your blocks, bring them back next month.
  • Get a top's worth of completed blocks from Jean and sew them together. We'll give you directions on how to do that.
  • Volunteer to layer, baste and quilt a top. We will provide batting and backing.
  • Make the binding and stitch it onto the quilt. This part is like tying the ribbon on a gift!
  • Let your contribution be modern fabric or cozy batting. Jean can give you guidelines.
  • Become a permanent member of the Habitat team! Sometimes we need help in a hurry.
  • Design a quilt for Habitat and be in charge of getting it made.
  • Attend a Habitat Home dedication ceremony and present our quilt to the family!

Sherri Owens (left) wraps up in her quilt every night

Please contact Jean if you want to help. Our work with Habitat is extremely appreciated, not only by the staff, but by the families. We hear heart-warming affirmations from the people who receive our quilts. One recipient told Jean,

"Every night when I come home from work, 
I wrap up in that quilt!"

Satisfying words indeed. 

Show and Tell

Posted by Audrey on 13 Feb, 2017

Saturday, February 4, 2017

"Viewpoints and Q-points" panel shares views about making quilts

panel discussion graphic
Got a favorite quilting tool, resource or technique?
Come and listen to ChattMQG panel members
as they share their quilting viewpoints and experiences.
Have you ever wondered what a fellow quilter’s favorite thread is, the latest tool or gadget s/he’s excited about, or what tips they have for getting perfect bindings? If so, you won’t want to miss “Viewpoints and Q-points,” a panel discussion set for the February Chattanooga Modern Quilt Guild meeting.

As with many quilters, you've likely studied and learned your craft from myriad resources and have developed “your own” ways of doing things. But perhaps there is something that you’ve been contemplating... or struggling with. Could one of your fellow guild members have a brilliant solution or tip that you hadn’t thought of? Come and find out at the February 11 guild meeting.

In “Viewpoints and Q-points,” panel participants and ChattMQG members Jackie Cory, Theresa Kitchell, Carolyn Rippee, Joan Thornbury and our panel moderator, Veronica Hofman-Ortega, will share their experiences and views on a broad range of quilting topics—from choosing fabrics and design inspiration to favorite tools and the use of technology in the quiltmaking process. With a robust list of questions planned for the panel members—several taken directly from the 2016 brainstorming session—we hope to have a lively and informative discussion… and possibly provide an answer to a quilting quandary you’ve been pondering.

Monday, January 23, 2017

January Meeting Recap

Welcome to a new year of programs, workshops and fun with the ChattMQG!

2017 President Kelly Spell

President Kelly Spell opened our meeting by introducing our Steering Committee and sharing announcements.

Committee members working with Kelly will be Jean Larson (treasurer), Denise Ohlman (secretary), Mary Keasler (workshops), Veronica Hofman-Ortega (programs, directory), Sandi Suggs (general advisor), and Audrey Workman (past president).

If you have not paid your 2017 dues, you will not be in the 2017 directory. We decided to prorate dues for new members who join as the year progresses.

January - March dues are $35.00
April - June dues are $25.00
July - October dues are $20.00
November - December dues are $35 (applied to the upcoming year)

The MQG will have online regional meetings on January 16; ours is region 3 and Kelly plans to virtually attend.

Our next Habitat for Humanity dedication day is February 6. Five people took home kits to sew, and during the meeting we cut fabric to make two more quilts for Habitat homeowners.

Programs for 2017  

In our guild, teams of members plan and lead programs. We do this for several reasons: building community, learning through teaching, and encouraging member participation. Everyone is asked to sign up for at least one program, indicating their experience level in the topic so we end up with a variety of viewpoints. 

This year's topics include foundation paper piecing, words on quilts, applique, fussy cutting/selective cutting, curves and computer software, all with the modern quilt slant.

In addition to these, we'll have a panel discussion, a sew-in, and another brainstorming session. You can keep up with what's ahead by viewing our blog sidebar.

Next month we will have a panel discussion with four of our members: Joan Thornbury, Jackie Cory, Carolyn Rippee, and Theresa Kitchell. Veronica Hofman-Ortega will moderate the discussion.

Workshops for 2017

In addition to our programs and a sew-in or two, we have two big events on our calendar: Mary Kerr in April and Sherri Lynn Wood in August! We will have separate blog posts about each event to keep all the information in one place making it easier to find.

Here's our post about Mary Kerr, who will be here April 7-8.

We will share the particulars about Sherri Lynn Wood's workshop at a later date. For now, you can mark your calendars for the weekend of August 25-27.

QuiltCon and our Charity Quilt Challenge Quilt

Three of our members had quilts accepted for the 2017 QuiltCon show: Kelly Spell, Jean Larson, and Mary Keasler. Mary's quilt will be featured in a book soon to be published by the MQG! 

The charity quilt we made together for the challenge is being quilted by local long-arm artist Rhonda Fulgum. We'll only have a couple of days to bind it before needing to send it on its way but after a brief sojourn at QuiltCon our quilt will be back and we can all admire Rhonda's work.

Accurate Cutting and How to Avoid a Trip to the ER

Member Karen Downer shares cutting safety tips
Karen Downer sliced off the end of her finger, not once but twice. The second time her fingernail slowed the cutter down a bit. The first time she took the sliced off piece with her to the ER to be sewn back on but the nurse threw it away. As it heals, the remaining tissue puffs up and looks almost like the original finger! So the second time, she left the severed piece at home.

While at the ER Karen admired the super-thin monofilament thread the nurse used to stitch her wound. Karen asked the nurse if she'd like to learn quilting. The nurse declined. "Do you have any idea how many of you people I sew up?" 

Karen has learned to be careful.

Her best advice? Be mindful of what you are doing. We tend to think of other things as we get into the zone, working on autopilot, and that's when accidents happen.

"The rotary cutter is a powerful tool. It only took a boxcutter to bring down a plane on 9/11. Pay attention when you are working!" 

Safety Tips from Karen 

  • Stay focused
  • Cut away from your body
  • Keep your eyes on the blade, not the fabric or the mat
  • Don't wear gloves. They make it easier for your hand to slip.
  • Use a blade guard on your ruler or a cutter with a blade guard
  • Wear a metal thimble on the index finger of your non-cutting hand
  • Close the blade after you cut

(Catherine pointed out that wearing shoes is important in case you drop the cutter on your foot.)

The Martelli Rotary Cutter
If you have any issues like arthritis, carpel tunnel syndrome or tendonitis, you might want to try the ergonomic rotary cutter from Martelli. It has a blade guard and models are offered for right- or left-handed people. Karen brought one for us to try.

O'lipfa markets lip-edged rulers designed to fit over the mat edge so you can cut parallel lines. They also sell safety shields that you can attach to your rulers to protect your fingers.

Accuracy in Cutting

Next we learned about how to cut accurately. Karen began by talking about cutting vs. tearing fabric and ways to see if your fabric is ready to cut, i.e. on grain. The warp threads run parallel to the selvage (think direction of yardage as the fabric is rolled off the bolt) and the weft threads run in the opposite direction, the one we think of as "width of fabric" or WOF.

"Cotton was alive. It has personality and an opinion."

Here are some things to think about as you ready your fabric for cutting...
  • Fold your fabric and shake it from the fold. Get the warp and weft happy. You can press the fold if you wish. The fold is your point of reference.
  • Trim off one edge parallel to the fold. If you are right-handed, this will be on the right.
  • Rotate your fabric so that the straight edge is on the left. Turn your mat, walk around the table, or flip the fabric to get it in the right place. 
  • Pay attention to the relationship between cutter and fabric, not fabric or cutter and mat. Don't use the mat lines. Measure with your ruler.
  • Walk your hand up the ruler as you cut. Leave the blade in the fabric as you do this. Cut your first strip. Then cut two or three more strips. 
  • After that, you need to recut the edge perpendicular to the fold to make a new true line.


Accuracy in Sewing

  • Master the 1/4" seam. It is the standard we use. 
  • An accurate 1/4" seam is a scant 1/4" seam. Fabric wrapping around the thickness of the sewing thread takes up part of it. 
  • The lines on a 3x5 index card are a scant 1/4" apart. Check one for reference.
  • Sew with 50wt thread top and bobbin, or use 60wt in the bobbin.
  • Karen likes Microtex Sharps 80/12 needles, not universal needles.
  • Match your thread weight to your needle.

Thank you Karen for an excellent, entertaining program!



Remove a few threads in the SA and twirl your seams!

Show and Tell