November 16, 2007
I suppose that there is no real difference between a quilt for a regular bed size or a doll quilt…..except the size of course!
I have started creating “American Girl Doll” sized quilts (at my Long Meadow Farms Quilts shop) in all my usual quilt patterns that I usually use on regular bed size quilts, only miniaturizing the patterns to make them fit the bed size. If I were to use the normal size pieces on a doll quilt, there would probably be only ONE block and that would be pretty ridiculous (not to mention boring!!!).
I started off with the “Country Squares” pattern, since those pieces are pretty small anyways, and came up with a bunch of beauties.
Then I went on to try some of the regular “Blocks” pattern in various color schemes and those turned out really good for me also.
Then apparently, I was off and running, with all these wonderful ideas running around in my head for colors and patterns, and trying to adjust the sizing to fit a standard American Girl Doll size doll bed. What great fun to put all my ideas into action and see the results right away instead of waiting a couple of weeks for the whole quilt to be done…I could really get used to this!!!
I’ve had friends ask me why I’d bother to go to all that trouble for just a doll quilt, and I tell them that it is just as important to me to create a doll quilt correctly and beautifully as it is to make, say a Queen or King size quilt. These little doll quilts will probably get a lot more wear and tear than a Twin or Full bed quilt, simply because children are involved! I feel priveledged to be able to create and put together these little gems well enough to stand up to being used over and over again, just like I make big quilts to be used, not just stored in a chest or a closet because customers are afraid to hurt them by using them.
I like being able to make and sell doll quilts that are made right here in Vermont USA (not imported from somewhere else) and want kids to be able to use them for their dolls as long as they have the dolls! When customers ask how I can possibly sell such a beautiful doll quilt for only $25.00, I explain to them that I love to sew and it is well worth the effort to make things affordable for people so that they can use and enjoy my creations! That’s why I go to all the trouble of actually piecing all of my doll quilts instead of just using one whole cloth like a lot of other doll quilts are made. Those “whole cloth” doll quilts are nice, but to me they are just not a “quilt” if it is not pieced.
I even go so far as to make all of my Doll Quilts completely reversible, using a lovely matching fabric on the back so that if a child would like, they can turn it over for a while for a whole different look. And of course, the pillow that comes included with the quit is also reversible, so all in all you get four looks for that same $25.00 price tag.
Of course friends think I am insane to be putting in all those hours for something so mundane as a Doll Quilt, but I just keep telling them that I love what I do, so that makes it AOK in my book! I am thoroughly enjoying myself by filling up my Doll Quilt page on my website, and I’ve been adding new ones every day!!! Of course, now I’ve run into the problem of just how to display all these great Doll Quilts in my Long Meadow Farms Quilts shop here in Newport Vermont…I’ve got a couple of ideas but for now, they are just stacked up in a basket, which simply won’t do, so I’ll have to be a bit more creative!
As I make more and more other patterns of quilts, I now have the idea of being able to reduce the size of any new ones to see if they too will work in a doll quilt….hmmmm….I wonder what I can come up with next?
October 15, 2007
I get lots of customers into my quilt shop (Long Meadow Farms Quilts in Newport, Vermont) who just love quilts, but don’t have a clue as to how to purchase one. So I’ve become pretty adept at explaining the ins and outs of sizing up a quilt for a particular bed.
Not all beds are created equal…it’s true that all twin bed mattresses are 39 inches wide, and all double bed mattresses are 54 inches wide, and all queen bed mattresses are 60 inches wide, and a standard king bed mattress is 76 to 78 inches wide and a california king bed mattress is 72 inches wide, so at face value it seems like choosing a bed quilt should be pretty straight forward, right???
In the old days, all mattresses were approximately 9 inches high, and so were the box springs, so that all together you have about an 18 inch drop on each side of the bed to cover with your quilt or with your quilt and a dust ruffle of some sort over the box spring. Nowadays, mattresses and box springs are anywhere from 11 inches to 17 inches high each, or any sort of combination thereof depending on what type or brand of bed that you have. What does that mean to a purchaser of a Quilt?
It means, that if a particular quilt that you are interested in says it is a “Queen” size, say, just as a for-instance, then does that mean that it is at least 60 inches by 80 inches so that it will sit squarely on top of your mattress with no overlap at all, or does that mean that it is 80 inches by 90 inches so that you’ll have a mere 10 inch overlap on each side and the bottom end, and you have to get pillow shams to cover your pillows or leave them exposed, or just what does that “Queen Size” tag mean?
My advice to any and all customers that are seriously looking into the purchase of a handmade quilt, whether it be hand quilted, machine quilted, or even the bargain basement imported type, is to measure, measure, measure your own bed first.
Start from where you want the quilt to come down to on the side of your bed and measure up the side, across the flat top of the bed and back down the other side until you reach about where you would like your quilt to come. If you want it to look like a blanket and use shams for your pillows, then measure from the head of the bed across the flat part of it down to the foot of the bed and down to where you would like your quilt to come. If you want it to look like a bedspread, then include the coverage it would have to make going over your pillows too! Then, take those written down measurements to the store and start looking for a quilt for your bed. That way, you can estimate in your imagination just where any particular quilt will come down to, just from the measurements listed on the tag of the quilt.
Just remember that you might just end up purchasing a “Full” size quilt to cover your twin bed like a bedspread or you might end up getting a “Queen” size quilt to cover your California King like a blanket.
If you wanted a Queen quilt to cover, say, 90 inches by 94 inches, and you find one that says it is 100 inches by 100 inches, then you will know that it will be 5 inches longer on each of the two sides and 6 inches longer at the bottom of it on your bed, so you can visualize this to see if that is within an acceptable range for the look that you are going for. You will also know that if the tag on said quilt says that it is 80 inches by 90 inches, you can tell right off the bat that it is definitely NOT going to work, as it is too small. And, if for some reason there is NO tag on the quilt, run, not walk away from it unless someone is right there with a tape measure to help you out, because calling something a “Queen” size does not necessarily make it so. And be particular wary of anything that says it is “Twin/Full” or “Full/Queen” or “Queen/King” because you should know that something has to be either “twin” “full” or “queen” or “king” and can’t possibly be both due to the differences in the sizes of the mattresses!!!
Once you’re armed with your measurement, you can go merrily on your way to purchasing a new handmade quilt with confidence that you will know what you are getting when you purchase it, rather than getting a mind boggling surprise later on when you get home and open up your newly purchased jewel for your bed!
January 5, 2007
Just what is an Ecology Bag you ask?
It is a user friendly cloth bag about the size and shape of a paper grocery sack, with a flat bottom and two handles, that can lug your groceries, your toys, your beach attire, your stuff anywhere with much more pizazz than a plastic grocery sack or a paper bag, with the one-uppityness of being able to be reused and reused and reused, and if it gets dirty, just pop it in with your next laundry load, and then continue to reuse it over and over and over again…just about forever!
I made my first set of Ecology bags back in 1985 (which I STILL have here in 2007!!!) with the specific purpose of carting groceries for my family (all 7 of us) from the store without the hassle of breaking bags and a big mess when we got home. I originally made 10 of them for us and we began using them every week for shopping. At that time, the grocery store in town was called “Pathmark” and they decided that they would give 3 cents credit for every reused bag that the customer brought in…every time. Well for us, that meant 30 cents a week, and the cost of the fabric and my time making them was paid for in no time at all.
All the other customers in the store and the (checkout people too) marveled at the sight of these bags, because the “usual” re-usable bags that came through were plain canvas and were bulky and just plain ugly. Every time I went into the store with them, people would tell me that I should make some and sell them. Sooooo, after listening to this for a few months, I decided to give it a try.
I began scouring the department stores for mark-down fabric that was good and sturdy and nice to look at. I knew that I needed to keep the cost of the Ecology Bags down to a minimum so as not to defeat the purpose in the first place. Usually that meant that I ended up with what was leftover on a bolt, so there was not much of each, but for $1.00 per yard, who could argue? I got lots of different patterns and colors of these remnant fabrics and went to work. Alas, I usually could only make two or three of each fabric, and then that print was gone forever! But there was always some other print or color to replace it, so they just kept ever-changing! Sometimes I would luck out and end up with a few more yards of a fabric and there would be 6 or 10 of them all of the same kind, but even they did not last long for sale, they were bought and gone in no time! And I kept telling customers to check back often, because they were always changing to new fabrics, and there might once again be something that they just had to have!
I knew that these “for sale” bags needed to be made as I had made mine, which is not your run-of-the-mill bag with a flimsy seam stitched across the bottom just waiting to wear through…
The long piece of the side-bottom-side had to be attached to the squatter piece of the front-bottom-back to hold the two together then the sides had to be stitched to each other to form the bag per se. But this I knew would lead to problems down the road of stuff wearing through the seams on the sides, so I decided it needed to be top stitched through the side seams to hold them in place, so all four side seams are stitched through once more from the top. Then the whole top side had to be rolled down a couple of turns and stitched again in order to make a sturdy top piece that wasn’t about to come undone or fray in the washer.
Then came the handles. I know how frustrating the dumb handles on paper bags can be when they let go, so I decided to really reinforce the handles on my Ecology Bags so that would never happen (to my knowledge it has not yet!). The handles themselves are folded in on themselves and then folded in half and topstitched so they will hold their shape, and then each handle is stitched in a box shape (rectangle) and then in an “X” shape to boot! Thus, each and every Ecology Bag gets the A-1 treatment when they are made.
And those people who urged me to make them were right…people did buy them, and I used to sell a lot of them at every craft fair that I attended.
But then the dark ages (divorce) hit and everything ceased and desisted for a number of years….but now, with my shop opening in May of 2006 (Long Meadow Farms Quilts) the “re-birth” so to speak of the Ecology Bag has come about. For the entire last week’s worth of work, I have labored on creating a bunch of new Ecology Bags so that I can once again offer this quality bag to the public!
The bag above filled with groceries (the black one with bright tropical flowers) and the one filled with beach stuff (the white with pink stripes, ivy, watermelons and crows) are two of my original ten personal bags that are still doing fine!!!
By the way, the name “Ecology Bag” is my minute and miniscule way of making a contribution to the ecology of our planet by urging people to save a tree by reusing a cloth bag whenever they can and to save poluting our landfills with those horrible oil-produced plastic bags by reusing a cloth bag whenever they can. It is a small but heartfelt statement by me to Mother Earth.
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If you came here from the link on my website Ecology Bags page, click HERE to return to there!
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December 18, 2006
I have realised that a “Quilt” is in the eye of the beholder.
There are what I create, which are patchwork (lots of pieces sewn together into a quilt top) quilts, which not only have the patchwork involved, but then have all three layers (the top, the batting and the backing) quilted together with some sort of pattern, either decorative (like the silhouette of a cat or something) or functional (like “stitch in the ditch” between light/dark to emphasize the piecework) with a binding around the edge finishing off the entire product, which is what I personally consider to be called a “QUILT”. These can and should be used on the bed as a quilt, and when they get dirty, simply pop them into the washer, then the dryer, then back on the bed!!!
These same type of quilts that are “hand stitched” are beautiful, but are iffy on the washing and drying. Most tend to come apart after a short while, unless they are hand quilted extensively all over, but then the original price may be so prohibitive that one would hesitate to wash it at all in the first place for fear of losing one’s investment on the first try.
But there is also the kind that are piece work (lots of pieces sewn together to make a top) comforters which have the entire outside edge sewn together while still inside out (the top, the batting and the backing) and then are turned right-side out through a small opening left in the bottom edge, then that small opening is sewn up and then the entire thing is tied together with embroidery floss all over it, rather than quilting it. Even though this is a comforter (since there is no actual quilting involved) some people think this is a quilt. They are great on the bed but once they have been into the washer and on to the dryer and then attempted to be put back onto the bed, tend to end up bunched up and quite lumpy once the batting has settled between all the little “ties” that are all over it, and hopefully, none of these “ties” have worked their way loose or untied themselves.
Then there is an entirely singular piece of cloth that is then quilted with decorative stitches through all three layers (the single top piece, the batting and the backing) and even though there is absolutely no piecing involved at all, this is also called a quilt. I am not sure if this one would hold up to washing and drying without losing a lot of its beauty in having the stitching being the only decorative thing on it, but I am sure that at least some of them survive grandly!
The actual quilting process can make a big difference in a quilt’s final outcome also, because if you are looking for a particularly flat but stiff type of bedding, then the generic “quilts” from the department store are just right. Usually they are made in China, and are long-arm machine quilted using a stippling pattern which absolutely covers the entire thing with little squiggles of stitching, obscuring any piecework that was done and making the single layer of cotton batting that is generally used on these items, quite stiff and cardboard-like…but if you are planning on using this type of quilt for a picnic blanket, then this is just the ticket! Washing and drying of these tends to shrink and shrivel them up a bit, but then again, a picnic blanket sets on the ground underneath everything anyways.
Some quilts have thousands of pieces in them making elaborate designs and pictures, and again using only a single layer of cotton batting in order for them to be hand quilted or machine quilted using even more intricate patterns, and these usually cost upwards of a thousand dollars apiece and can only be displayed as art rather than used for anything else (heaven forbid it shoud get put onto a bed and actually get wrinkled!) When they are not on display in a climate controlled environment, they are stored layered in acid free paper in a closet or chest somewheres….hmmm.
Then there are also those that are one giant pre printed design that are sewn together inside out, turned and then stitched around the pre printed design, and viola! they are also called a quilt(?) which I personally disagree with. To me this is a manufactured “kit” blanket type comforter, but then again, as I said, a Quilt is a Quilt in the eye of the beholder!
So I guess it all boils down to exactly what you are looking for.
Which is probably why there are sooooo many different kinds of quilts in this world after all!
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December 10, 2006
Even though the weather has not been really cooperating much, at the Long Meadow Farms Quilts shop it is really beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
Everywhere, each and every day there is something new for the season.
Lots and lots of fun stuff can be made to celebrate the holiday seasons, and I really enjoy creating items that I hope others will enjoy too!
There are many unique to Vermont items that would be appreciated by any recipient for the holidays from Maple syrup and candies to salsas and hot sauces, along with the VT Quilted Patchwork Potholders and Country Aprons to round out the scene!
But I think most of all the best part of Christmas is the wonderful lights that brighten the night and bring a feeling of peace to those watching them.
When looking about the town and country for just the right object to use or to give as a gift, the scenery filled with beautiful lights makes the hustle and bustle just a little bit easier to bear.
I hope that everyone has a wonderful, safe and sane holiday season!
September 4, 2006
It came to my attention recently that my idea of good quilt fabrics and someone else’s idea of good quilt fabrics are not necessarily the same.
I recently agreed to make a quilt for a customer and let her pick out the fabrics at a fabric store and bring them back to me to cut and create the quilt. I gave her the amounts to get for each color she wanted and she left the shop in search of the perfect fabrics to match her newly remodeled room.
She came back a few hours later with a bag full of fabric and explained to me which was which for “light one” and “light two” and “light three” and the like for the twin size ‘Log Cabin’ pattern quilt that I was going to construct. I told her I would see her in about a week and both of us were happy as a clam. They were absolutely beautifully colored fabrics, though not particularly what I would have chosen for my taste, but I am not the one that was going to be under the quilt in the end anyways, so that was fine.
When I choose fabric for a quilt, I choose it for the color, texture, feel (softness) and price. Evidently “designer” fabrics are the exception to that rule.
In this quilt, every one of the fabrics was from a “Designer” signature, and every one of them was very heavily screen printed with myriads of layers of dye and ink. I knew I was in trouble when my rotary cutter got hung up on the first cut. The gold ink in all of them was so thick that I really had to bear down on the fabric in order to get a clean cut….but that was just the beginning.
Once I got to the piecing, it was realized that “Designer” fabrics are NOT the same width as regular calicos, and I ran short and had to go in search of the establishment where this customer had purchased her fabric. (note: even though I own and run a “Quilt Shop” of Long Meadow Farms Quilts, I sell only finished product [hence the "Quilt Shop"] rather than selling notions and threads and fabrics [thus a "Quilting Shop" FOR quilters, not selling quilts] just so you will not be confused by this). When I found out how much this customer had been taken to the cleaners on price for this “Designer” stuff, I thought that maybe all would be ok in the long run anyways. Not so.
When I was on to the quilting stage, every time my machine tried to pass through the heaviest section which contained the most gold ink, namely the center of the block which was the same as the back of the quilt, the thread would be torn to bits and break. It took me 10 times as long to finish the darned thing because of constantly rethreading my machine everytime I passed through the center of the block (all 70 of them!!!)
When all was said and done, it was a beautiful quilt, but I would not want to be under that rubberized gold ink on the backing of it…but then again, maybe this is one that will be hung on a wall, or placed on a sofa back with no intention of using it ever anyways.
The important lesson I learned from this is that I will NEVER intentionally go out and look for “Designer” fabric for a quilt on my own. I will stick with good old calico for that beautiful color and soft feel, and maybe someday when I strike it rich or something, I just might try some of that fancy-schmancy “Designer” fabric in a Wall Hanging…probably a very SMALL one so I won’t have to deal with too much of it again!
April 7, 2006
Good morning to all! Please excuse any messes, I hope to learn procedures quickly so no one has to deal with messes for long (I hope!)
This is going to be a blog about the ins and outs of quilting and sewing and artistically creating something from an idea into a reality. I hope you enjoy reading!
One project’s scraps are not necessarily trash but rather they can be another project’s treasures! That is precisely how the “VT Mini-Quilt Bookmark” came into being years ago.
When a quilter is trying to finish a quilt top, piecing all of the hundreds (sometimes thousands) of pieces back into a finished masterpiece, there are shards that just don’t fit…which inevitably end up in the “scrap” box. After finishing my hundreth or so quilt, that “scrap” box was looking mighty full indeed! What could I possibly make with all those little snippets of fabric?
The answer came at a carnival (the Norwich Fair), of all places, at which I was showing my homemade quilts and sewn items at a booth there. A lot of children accompanied their parents through the craft booth section, and some of them had sticks with glitter and shards of gilded ribbon and paper stuck on the end of them that their gullible parents had purchased for them at another “craft” booth. Needless to say, to me, this was not a craft, but rather a throw-away item, soon to be either broken or cause harm to some other unsuspecting sibling, and thus be taken away and trashed anyway. This to me was an ultimate waste of money on the part of the parent, but it kept the kids under somewhat of control for a short time I guess although I wonder if any of those “craft” producers had liability insurance, had someone poked someone else’s eye out?
I decided right then and there to come up with a small inexpensive item aimed at kids that could be useful but yet fun sometimes too. I tried to make a bookmark, and after several attempts, decided to make it basically out of scraps so that it actually looked like a little quilt, and yet it had to have something to make it fun along with functional….then my cats gave me the idea of making a rope fringe on the end of each one (they all loved to charge around the house with a scrap of rope and shred it to pieces like it was a mouse or feather or something). You see, I was working part time for the Cobble Mountain Hammock Chair Company, weaving their chair seats from cotton rope at home, and turning in the completed chair seats for them to complete the assembly at their
East Corinth VT old mill turned into hammock shop. There would be 3 or 4 inch pieces of this cotton rope left over at the end of the shuttle, and they were being trashed, so I thought maybe I could unwind them and somehow sew them into the tops of the bookmarks…then if I went one step further and pulled all the twisting apart, they would be the ultimate “fringe” at the end of the bookmark with which to tickle the cheek of one’s nearest sibling or friend, and voila! There was the birth of the VT Mini Quilt Bookmark!
The next year at the fair, they sold like hotcakes, and are still going strong, even though I do not attend the fair anymore. I have them set up on my counter in a box with a bookworm next to it, and children are intrigued with the idea along with their parents who I am sure, are also hoping that it will lead their child to actually read and use it in their books to mark their place. And they are still made the same way, one at a time using scraps along with some well thought out basic sewing parts to make them cost effective and make them look good over and over again. The “scrap” box is still pretty full, even though five different scraps goes into each bookmark, as it seems like the scraps have been multiplying on their own in that darned box! But that is ok, because there are plenty more bookmarks to be made!