Thread Giveaway and a Mystery

Happy weekend everybody!

Things have been hopping here at the shop and we now have some part time help to allow me to get more creative quilting and sewing stuff done in the studio and work done at the computer.  At the computer, it's mind-numbingly tedious except for when I can pop into social media land and write a blog post or something and can connect with people online. I did start free motion quilting a shop sample the other day, which made me very happy!

One of the things I had my main employee do lately is to fold fabric and make some order from some of my personal stash in the studio. We decided to pare down a bunch of stuff and since we are a retail shop, for the most part, if I don't sell it, I don't use it. Typically, that means I sell what I use because I find it's what works best.

But sometimes there's another reason why I don't use a perfectly good product. Maybe another nearby shop carries it, maybe there's competition from the maker of the product itself, or maybe I just don't have room for a product similar to what I already have.

All this to say, I have some ginormous cones of the thread that I will likely never use. Some I never actually used at all, but were given by other quilters or ordered on a whim a few years ago.

These are all polyester threads in a variety of sizes, great for quilting your quilts. The colors are a bit of a mishmash too. But they are free for the taking to one lucky reader.

Just fill out the simple form below and I will draw a random winner next Friday, March 2nd. I'll even ship it free.

 Also, we are participating in a special mystery quilt project with some other great shops across the US and Canada. If you're interested in the Brown Bag Mystery Quilt, and don't have a participating shop near you, you can purchase one of our bags and we'll mail you the clues! Check out our Brown Bag Mystery Quilt kits at Amy's Quilting Adventures.

Quilting with Rulers: Orange Peel and Continuous Curves

One of the neat things about being a Craftsy Instructor is it's a great source of questions regarding quilting with rulers on sewing machines or sit-down long arm machines. Good questions, even those that someone might think is a stupid question (and I don't think there's such a thing), let me know when there's an area that needs a deeper look and better explanation than I can do in seven 20 minute somewhat one-sided lessons.

I've had a few questions over the years as to what size ruler to use for orange peel or continuous curve designs in squares of piecing, usually with someone asking for a ruler recommendation for a particular sized block.

It's quite a difficult question to answer with words, or at least explain the 'why' of the answer. But today, I just felt like giving this question a fuller explanation and since it's longer than really can fit in the Q&A portion of the Craftsy platform, I figured I'd tackle it here. (Of course leaving a link in the class platform.) So here goes....

Q: What size ruler do I need for an orange peel design on a field of 4 inch blocks?

A: It depends.....

See? That's why it's hard for me to answer in words! If I were a ruler making company, I'd probably tell you exactly what size, or sizes for each block size, and a handy link to buy said rulers. That's why my second Craftsy class (instructor affiliate link) is all about making the most out of rulers you may already have.

I do have a shop that I sell rulers from, but I'm first and foremost a quilter, and the frugality that's been a huge part of my life as a stay at home mom and now, as a small business owner makes me leery of adding stuff if I don't need it. But IF I think I'll use it, I do love having the right tool for the job! (Anyone needing proof of that can look at my car and then look at my wonderful Janome 15000 and see where my priorities are....ahem.)

I managed to work up the following graphics to illustrate my point. For a series of 4 inch blocks, it might seem like the answer is a circle or arc that reaches across the corners of that block, or whatever sized block.

The problem happens when you realize that the desired circle would have the same diameter at the diagonal of that square. In the case of the 4 inch square, having brought out my long neglected Pythagorean theorem, is that would be a circle measuring 5.66 inches. Which you aren't going to find a ruler in that size, not even an arc (arc rulers have the same sized curve as the circle they are named after).

The more likely measurement is to use an arc or circle (I prefer arcs when you go to larger sizes, BTW.) for twice the size of the block. This gives you the orange peel in a diagonal orientation which is the traditional orientation of the orange peel block.
  So for this 4 inch block, an 8 inch arc is used. Which is an easy sized ruler to source. My favorite on my high shank machines is the QPC #8. Westalee makes an 8 inch arc as well, for those with low shank machines.

But what if you don't necessarily want that diagonal orientation? Maybe you are going for more of a "continuous curves" design? The diagram below* shows some different options. In my second class with Craftsy, I show how you can play around with the rulers you may already have to test sizes and blocks on your quilts to see if they will work for the design you have in mind.
*Partial patterns shown for clarity's sake.
In the red, that is a curve close to what is drawn up in red in the first illustration, but it's not quite. It represents what a 5 inch arc might look like, but it won't quite make a perfect circular shape and you aren't likely to find a 5 inch arc. There's the Westalee Circles on Quilts template which gives a large range of circles with their rotating template, but I personally would find it tedious to do this design if I had to set the pin every time.

In blue you'll see how a larger arc or circular ruler might look going from corner to corner. You lose that rounded shape to that of a more squared off shape, but the effect is still pretty fabulous.

In the green are 4 inch circles. You can see that they dip in too far to work corner to corner, but would work in a diagonal overlap for 2 inch squares or for completing the entire orange peel within the 4 inch shape.

Whew! There's my exhaustive (exhausting?) explanation of what seems like a simple question. I hope this helped.