Posts Tagged ‘tips’

We Make Mistakes So You Don’t Have To!

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

This cautionary tale comes from our dear Margaret. When she finishes her quilt top, we’ll ask her to send us an updated picture:

There are a few lessons in life that you “get” to learn the hard way in order to never make the same mistake again:

Forgetting to back up your hard drive

Forgetting to put postage on your tax forms

Forgetting your passport at home on a trip to Ireland

I can add one more to the list….

Recently I started the Pathfinder Quilt that was printed in the Winter 2012/2013 International Quilt Festival magazine. This quilt is to be a baby quilt for my first ever nephew and rightfully I was excited to start. I had carefully gathered my chosen fabric and with rotary cutter in hand I delved into the cutting process.

The pattern has two template pieces included in the magazine. I dutifully followed the direction and enlarged them both to 110%. I then cut out eighty (eighty!!) pieces of each template. Whew! One of the pattern pieces is an arc about an inch wide. I sewed the 80 arcs together in groups of four to make 20 circles. WHEW! I then had to sew each of those circles onto precut circles, forming an outline. I had never sewn curves before but figured that if I followed all the directions as I had so far that easing the seams would be a piece of cake! I pinned about six circles ready for sewing and started my machine.

The first circle looked…funny. I thought that maybe I just needed more practice easing my seams. The 2nd and 3rd did not get better. I kept going, though, determined that I would master this. I started to doubt my abilities though. Maybe I was actually a bad seamstress! Maybe I wasn’t as good as I thought I was! My confidence was eroding away with every seam and pleated circle. It was horrible.

After the six I just KNEW something had to be wrong. One quick Google search later provided the answer:

there was a misprint in the magazine and the arc template was printed incorrectly.

The right circle is smaller than the wrong circle….

Insert frustrated scream of rage here.

I was able to download the correct arc template but damage had already been done. I had lost 2 yards of material and about 7 hours of my time. The pain of the loss was horrible.

The good news is that the correct arc template DOES work and two days later (after the appropriate grieving time) I was able to start cutting and sewing again.

The other good news is that I have learned a VALUABLE lesson and one that hopefully you won’t have to learn the hard way.

When doing a pattern for the first time, especially if it is a new pattern from a magazine or a website, I recommend doing the following steps:
1) VET YOUR PATTERN: Before you start cutting or even buying your fabric do a quick internet search on the pattern to see if there are any notes about a misprint or errors. If it’s from a magazine, check the magazine’s website. If it’s a website, check to see if there are any pattern updates. Spending 20 minutes searching can save you hours in loss time.

2) MAKE A SAMPLE BLOCK: You can do this with scrap material so you don’t waste perfectly good fabric or you can do it with fabric you intend to use. Either way, go through the steps to make ONE block. This will let you know right away if there’s any problems with the instructions and it will also let you know if there’s anything “tricky” that you might not have been prepared for.


The completed squares are now ready to put together. What fun fabrics Margaret chose!

3) NEVER DOUBT YOUR ABILITIES: One of the worst things I did was allow myself to sew six circles before I thought something was wrong with the pattern. I kept thinking that I was the problem, that my lack of skill was what was wrong. If I had stopped after the second circle I would have saved a lot of my time.

The best of luck to all you and I hope you never have to learn this lesson the hard way!

Margaret Bridge

Threads for Your Machine Quilting

Monday, June 10th, 2013

blendables_spoolThe question came up again this week about the difference between 30wt and 12wt thread, and which is better for machine quilting. Our initial search was based on a well dispersed but yet unproved rumor that thread weight is a measure of “miles of thread per mile.” [Note: An easily distracted person should not Google “miles of thread per pound” as every noun in the phrase has multiple meaning that call up dozens of hits – very entertaining, but not very enlightening].


We went looking for information again, and found lots of it. Mary Mashuta’s book Foolproof Machine Quilting has a good section on threads and needles for machine quilting, as do several other books on our shelf. From there we went to the thread manufacturers. Some of what we found was facts and some was opinions, of course. had lots of information on these two weights, including suggestions to use the heavier thread in the bobbin, to use the heavier thread in the top, and to use the lighter thread instead. There’s also a link about parallel weights in cotton, rayon and blends

Superior Threads (King Tut) offered a thoughtful essay  on the differences and how you can make an informed choice.
At the risk of spoiling the suspense, we think the last point of the Superior Threads essay is the best suggestion:

“Ignore the weight number on the label. Choose thread based on the type of fiber, look, feel, and thickness and not by the printed weight size. Trust your eyes and fingers more than the label. You’ll get better results and be much happier with your selection. Choose fine threads to blend and medium and heavier threads to show.



Top thread broken, bobbin thread through needle. How?

We’d love to hear from you about your experience with these threads and others. You can comment here, or post your thoughts on the “New Pieces – Get it Done” Group*. We’re all in this together — and there is no philosophy that says that we can’t share each others experience and learn from each others’ mistakes.


*The “Get it Done” Group is an unstructured place to ask advice and show off your product AND your process. Come play with us!

New Pieces for New Pieces Blog

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Good things come in pieces!

The blog is back after a few months away!

A lot is happening at New Pieces * and in the local quilting world. We’d like to use the blog as another way to reinforce the New Pieces Quilt community. I will be looking for items to post about gadgets and techniques, to alternate with  stories about the quilts and quilters in our midst, and other stuff of interest to you all. You are invited to send  your ideas for blog entries to New Pieces, or to write something yourself and send it to me. Pictures are welcome too!

*Many of you will notice that this amazing 360 degree picture of the store is filled with quilts by staff emeritae. We are rebuilding our teaching program as you read this. Please ask about the changes underway, and feel free to suggest great teachers and classes to us!

Quilt Patis – A New Take on an Old Skill

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012


Confession: I didn’t expect to like these as much as I do.

Quilt Patis are little templates for English piecing — but made of flexible plastic instead of paper, so they can be used over and over again. The best part may be that they’re portable — you can stick a little kit (some  Patis, fabric scraps, two pins and a needle and thread) in your bag and play with them when you’re waiting out one of life’s little delays.

New Pieces currently has diamond and hexagon-shaped Patis, in two sizes each. The pincushion above was made by Mary Risard Burnett, from the smaller diamond Patis, and there are a few of the larger ones under it. Using the cutting board for scale, you can see how small they are. You can’t see that they’re easy to use. Look for them the next time you come in!


What’s the Difference? (Synthrapol vs. Retayne)

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

We decided to solve this question once and for all. After a diligent Google search, the answer is:

Retayne FIXES dye to fabric and should be used in cases where you are concerned that a fabric dye may bleed. Use Retayne as directed,  as a pre-wash or before putting suspect fabrics into a quilt.

Synthrapol is a special detergent that suspends dye particles so that they do not reattach to fabric. Dyers use Synthrapol as a pre-wash to REMOVE  sizing, oils, fingerprints and other impurities that would interfere with an even dying of fabric — and then they wash the dyed fabric with Synthrapol to remove any remaining unattached dye particles.

Here is one situation that requires further research; I’ll update when I can confirm or deny it:

It’s my understanding that you don’t use Retayne on a completed quilted, because of the possibility that dye might migrate and THEN affix to (the wrong) fabric. The proper procedure in that case would seem to be to wash the quilt with Synthrapol (to remove the extra dye), and THEN use Retayne to affix the dye that remains.

Both products are available at New Pieces, and we have directions on how to use either one. If you’re interested in the chemical reactions that each one employs, please contact Heather (who is interested is such things) at


Good Foundations for Your Piecing

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Let’s imagine you’re looking for the perfect Winter project.

It should have a real wow factor, but also be doable in small pieces. Maybe you’ll be working by the light of a single lantern in your sewing room…or maybe your Bernina will bask in Ott-Light bliss…. Whatever the circumstances, pre-printed muslin foundations are a really clever idea, and once your quilt is finished no one will know you used them — unless you tell them.


New Pieces has three new bolts of Benartex muslin foundation cloth right now. There is also a lovely quilt on display that was made using the fabric foundation method. (If it looks familiar it appeared in the last blog entry, too).

Sew With Sho – Banish UFOs

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
One of the things we want to do this year at New Pieces is to find ways to help you (our friends and customers) get from where you are in your quilt journey to wherever you want to be. We are offering a range of new classes and groups towards this end.
One option is this monthly class, Sew with Sho. Sew with Sho is an opportunity to work on something new, or something old, with the support of a group, and under Sharona’s guidance.
Join Sho on the 3rd Tuesday of every month in 2012, from 11:00 to 1:00 pm or 6:00 to 8:00 pm with the goal of doing something challenging for you — whether that’s starting a new project or finishing an old one; learning to take your sewing a little more seriously or yourself a little less…
Bring your machine and fabric from your stash, or let us help you move in a direction that’s new for you. Batiks? Large Prints? Asian Indigos? Come play with fabric and set your own goals. Help protect the planet from being overrun by UFOs!
For each block, quilt or UFO you complete you will be entered into a monthly drawing!
Come and sew! Come and enjoy the company of other quilters! Come finish a project!


Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

New Pieces is fortunate to have a friend like Pat Dicker.  We’re even more fortunate that Pat is willing to share with us her mastery of  the techniques that showcase her own wonderful work. On Saturday December 3 (this weekend), Pat is teaching “Binding Basics” at the Store, from 10-1:00pm. In this three hour class Pat covers making a standard binding from start to perfectly joined ends.

There is no more pleasant way to finally subdue those mitered corners. If there is time we will also covered faced bindings and how to finish an edge beautifully with machine satin stitch. This class is open and appropriate for all levels.

No matter how busy your December is, Pat’s class is one that will give you time back, in the long run — Did we mention it will be fun?

Call soon, space is limited and Saturday looms.

The Mystery Quilter is Among Us!

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Portrait of the Mystery Quilter?

Join us at New Pieces on Tuesday October 18th, from 12:30 -1:30 pm

to hear from the latest Mystery Quilter! Bring your lunch and a friend for this free talk.

We’d tell you more if we could, but it’s a secret!

Hope to see you there!

Important Rules from Singer – circa 1949

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

The following rules for sewing were recently found on the Internet, and posted in the New Pieces bathroom, by Sharona Fishrup:

I apologize for the poor quality of the photo,  taken with a “smart” phone. While it’s true that an organized workspace helps one be creative and work more efficiently — few of us could ever sew if all these requirement were prerequisite.  And no, New Pieces does not carry bags of French chalk for your fingertips.

Imagine how life has changed over the last 62 years — and what future quilters will say about us in another 62 years!