Tuesday Tip: Quilting with Fireside Backing

There are many choices for backing quilts these days. From regular quilting cottons, to wide backings in both flannel and cotton. Many quilters are going with less traditional options these days and lots of us have moved on to cozy synthetics such as “Fireside” which comes out of our Vancouver, BC warehouse. Fireside is a 150cm (60”) wide 100% polyester fabric with a soft, velvety hand; kind of a velour, making it the perfect width for large lap or single size quilts and can be pieced for larger quilts. It’s less slippery than Minkee, so it’s a little easier to work with with less drama dealing with nap. If you’re thinking about trying one of the 46 different colours of Fireside, here are some tips to consider as you sandwich your next quilt top:

1. Batting or no batting?
Because Fireside is already so cozy, you may decide you don’t have to put batting in your quilt. This makes your project more like a throw. If you think you would still like a layer of batting that’s just fine and most of our samples have batting between the layers as we like warmer quilts in our Canadian climate.
2. Stay sharp!
As with other synthetic fabrics such as Minkee or fleece, you may find that your needle dulls faster than it does when sewing with other fibres. If you start with a fresh needle, you can avoid the pitfalls of dull needles such as breakage, skipped stitches, or the needle trying to push the fabric into the machine.
3. Stitches Sink Right In
Because of the velvety pile of Fireside, it may be hard to see the stitches on the back of your quilt as the stitches can get hidden in the pile. With Fireside, you can use a slightly heavier thread, such as a 30wt, to create more impact with your quilting. We have never had an issue with the “pile” pulling through to the front of a quilt with Fireside on the back. Other polyester backings with higher pile can pull through sometimes and be seen on the front.
4. Baste Well
Fireside is a knit fabric and, like most knit fabrics, it can be a bit stretchy. To keep it from stretching as you sew, it is important to do a good job basting your layers before you start quilting. If you are using quilters’ curved safety pins, you should have one pin every 4” (10cm) both vertically and horizontally.  Basting spray is also a great tool when working with Fireside. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your spray. Many of our quilting friends find Fireside less stretchy than Minkee as they install it on the back of their quilts.
5.  Not Wide Enough? 
If you are piecing the quilt back, make sure that the nap on the panels is running in the same direction.  Also, it is recommended that the nap run down the length of the quilt, i.e. it should feel smooth as you run your hand down from the top of the quilt. A 1/2″ seam allowance works well to join lengths of Fireside. A finger press works good (or gentle press on correct iron setting) to hold the seam allowance open as you prepare your quilt sandwich. That seam almost disappears when working with Fireside and becomes practically invisible. Fireside, if used as backing, should be mounted on a longarm with the stretch going from side to side, so that that into account when piecing.
Next time you’re in the store, check out our selection of Fireside. If you don’t see the colour you want, please ask and our staff will be glad to special order a colour for you pending availability from the warehouse. Everything we have in stock is displayed on our website. You may find it’s just soft and cozy enough to convince you to try using it on the back of a quilt.

Tuseday Tip….Wool Pressing Mats Work Wonderfully

Wool pressing mats have come onto the market over the last while and although they are a bit of an investment, they really are a wonderful surface to press your patchwork on. This wool mat is heat resistant and won’t easily melt or burn with a cotton setting from your iron. After receiving one for Christmas a few weeks ago, I now understand the difference these mats can make when pressing fabrics. There are a few different sizes available and are produced by a few manufacturers to select from.

The wool pressing mat helps you press any pieced or embroidered block with ease. The density of this high-quality 100% felted wool mat absorbs seams and stitches, effectively pressing both sides at once. Block knitted projects as well by pinning them directly to the mat.
An added bonus? The texture of the wool stops fabrics from shifting so there is no distortion when pressing.

Here’s a quick video showing this mat in action!

Tips and Tricks
The pressing mat can be used with a dry iron on any surface. If using steam, place the mat on a protected surface since moisture does go through the mat and can harm the surface below.
Never place the mat on a rotary cutting mat when pressing. The heat could warp the cutting mat.
If mat feels damp after use, hang to air-dry before storing.
Wash the mat occasionally by rinsing it in cold water and hanging the mat until dry – especially if using a spray starch.
Safe surfaces include Formica, Corian, stone and metal (an ironing board). Wood and painted surfaces should be avoided.
A wool mat is a handy tool for quick pressing when kept next to your sewing machine. Enjoy!

Tuesday Tip: Add a Quarter Ruler

The “Add a Quarter” ruler performs up to its name. This ruler is available in multiple sizes with the ruler measuring 1.5 x 12 inches being our store’s most popular seller. This ruler is a must have for completing Judy Niemeyer projects and/or paper-piecing. This is one of the few sewing notions that receives a five star rating from everyone who uses it!

The Add-A-Quarter combines the speed of rotary cutting quilt pieces with the accuracy of using templates. Once your templates are made, the Add-A-Quarter will automatically add the customary 1/4″ seam allowance to any straight angle and provide a straight edge for your rotary cutter.

Here’s video from Carolyn McCormick, the designer of this tool, showing a demonstration:

By the way, we have a “Luminosity” class coming up in April, 2019 that has a few spots left if you want to register and learn how to create this beautiful quilt using the add-a-quarter ruler.

Tuesday Tip….Squaring Up Fabric Panels

Let’s start off by wishing you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
We hope that everyone had a lovely holiday season and is ready to get back to sewing!

Right now in the shop and in our online store, we have several digital panels featuring wildlife and nature scenes. We also receive other panels regularly in the store that can be used in baby quilts, Christmas projects or with themes like coffee, bees, etc.

Fun Fact:  Most printed panels are approximately .60 metres or 23 1/2 inches before they repeat on the bolt. So for less than the price of a full metre of fabric you can have a beautiful piece of fabric to sew into your next project!

Although we all seem to love a beautifully printed panel, they can be intimidating to work with as you create your quilt top featuring a large panel or several motifs contained within a panel.

So how do you square up that panel after you get home from the quilt shop? They seem so crooked when they are printed! Well here’s a video by Stephanie from Hoffman Fabrics (creators of the “Call of the Wild” panels we have in the store right now.

Watch this video and see how easy it can be to square up your next panel.

Happy stitching!

PS -Hoffman Fabrics has free quilt patterns on their website for their fabrics including these beautiful panels! Here’s the link: http://hoffmancaliforniafabrics.net/php/catalog/fabricshop.php?a=pat

 

Tuesday Tip….What is Thermore?

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Thermore® was originally designed for clothing and miniatures. It is exceptionally versatile and can be used successfully wherever low loft and stability is needed or preferred.

Thermore® is made with 100% polyester and is surface treated with a unique process by the makers at Hobbs. This polyester batting is guaranteed not to beard or migrate. This batting is excellent for hand or machine quilting and works well with light and dark fabrics. You can confidently machine, hand wash or dry clean your project. It may be quilted up to 9” apart and will not shrink.

Here at Hamels’ Fabrics, we especially like using Thermore for placemats and table runners because stemware (wine glasses, etc.) or that favourite vase from Granny will not rock or tip over easily if placed on a quilted project that has Thermore inside as batting.

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Also, we all know that some recipients of our quilted items like to launder their items through a regular wash cycle and throw the quilted item into the dryer! Relax, because if you have Thermore inside as batting, there will be not be any shrinking or bunching–that’s the beauty of it. We have Thermore at the store in either packages or straight off the bolt (45″ wide).

Try this batting the next time you have a table runner that you want to complete with a thin, low loft stable batting.

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