Art and Needlework by Rebekah

Art and Needlework by Rebekah: October 2009

Oct 30, 2009

10/30/09: "Fireproof" Quilting

This month I quilted 5 pairs of potholders as a present for Annemarie's birthday, because believe me we needed some! The potholders were a great vehicle for me to learn more about quilting and to finally be able to use my specialty presser feet that I recently bought from Ebay. See the shop where I purchased them. I bought two presser feet, a low-shank walking foot (aka even feed presser foot) and a darning foot (an open toe, plastic version).

What's a walking foot and what is it used for? If you have ever done quilting before or sewn a seam that had more than two layers of fabric, you would have noticed that the bottom layer (the one that is touching the feed dogs) goes considerably faster than the top layer. I noticed this very well when I was quilting last December. I was quilting a diamond pattern and I was having puckers and pleats form whenever I stitched across. This pleating is caused by uneven fabric feeding. This is where the walking foot comes in. The walking foot has little teeth on the bottom so when you attach it to your machine you have, in a nutshell, two sets of feed dogs, one on either side of you fabric. I noticed great performance when I was quilting these potholders. I did one pair in a diamond pattern (specifically to try out this presser foot) and I didn't have any pleating whatsoever.

And what is a darning foot? A darning foot is used for free-motion quilting, or as I like to say, quilting with a pencil. When you use this foot you lower the feed dogs (or, as I have to do, cover the feed dogs with a "darning plate"), and move the fabric with your hands to make stitch lines in any direction you want. Forward, backwards, right, left, circles, anywhere you want that needle to go. I like to imagine the needle as a stationary pencil and the fabric as the paper.

The walking foot I purchased

And the Open Toe Free Motion Quilting Foot (aka Embroidery Foot)

I didn't follow a pattern to make these potholders so I'll write directions here for a potholder with simple quilting lines:

  • Two 8" squares of 'fashion' fabric *
  • One 8" square of Insul-Bright Mylar/Poly Batting (this is a very special type of batting, it is actually used in fireman's gloves. I bought it from It can really stand up to hot pans and pots and even those occasions when you touch the hot oven coil. I've done that often! Don't have it? You can just use another layer of cotton batting cut to 8 1/2" square)
  • One 8 1/2" square of cotton quilt batting (I used Warm and Natural)
  • 45" of double fold bias tape (I made my own using leftover fashion fabric, but by all means you can buy ready-made from the store)

1. Layer the fabric and batting in this order: fashion fabric wrong side up, Insul-Bright batting, cotton batting, and then finally, the fashion fabric right side up.
2. Pin all four corners, making sure that the edges are even. Baste 1/2" away from the edges on all sides.
3. Take tailor chalk and make a straight line 2" away from one side. Make another line 4" away from first line. Rotate potholder 90 degrees and make two more lines, first being 2" away from one side, then the second 4" away from first line. You now have guide lines for quilting.
4. Attach the walking foot to the sewing machine. Stitch across lines drawn.
5. After quilting, attach double fold bias tape. Remove basting. Make a small tube of fabric and sew to one corner of potholder to be used as a hanger.

This is how I made the fabric loop to hang the potholder:
I cut out a strip of fabric 1 1/2" in width. I folded it half lengthwise and pressed it with the iron. I made a 1/4" seam along the long side of the strip and I sewed one end close. I cut away the seam allowances at the two corners on one end of the tube. To turn to tube right side out, I used a fabric tube turner that is similar to the one seen here. I then cut it down to size and sewed it to the potholder's corner.

* Or in other words, the outer, public fabric. I like to use the term "fashion fabric" because I've heard Nancy Zieman, from Sewing with Nancy, use this term often.

You can really see from this diamond design potholder how well the walking foot works. It is flat and smooth on both sides.

This is the fabric loop made with leftover fabric.

This green plaid potholder and the blue one below were quilted with the darning foot.

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10/30/09: Blank Slate

After searching through my large lot of notebooks, sketch pads, and yellow pads for that one quick crochet pattern I wrote up for myself, I knew then and there that a blog devoted to my crafts would be coming soon. I have many projects going at one time, be it sewing, quilting, cross-stitch, knitting, crocheting, machine knitting, tunisian crochet, rosary making, watercolor cards, etc., so you can plainly see my dilemma in keeping track of all those notes!

My younger sister is really the mastermind behind this practical, yet pretty, blog. The buttons situated below the header are linked to specific posts with specific tags, in order for me to quickly and easily get to my, let's say quilt block measurements, without searching through the entire mass of random postings. You have to love that.

Here is some background info to see what I have done so far:

In 2004 I taught myself how to knit and crochet and I began to make things to sell in my family's farm stand craft room. In 2005 I taught myself how to use my mother’s knitting machine and I began to knit hats for the family and for sell. In 2006 I learned how to use the sewing machine better (with help from a sewing course I did for school), and started mending, doing odd jobs around the house, and selling baby items. In 2007 I got better at knitting and crocheting and began making lots of things for my family and the craft room. In 2008 my sewing skills were much improved and so I made a dress, skirts, blouses, etc. for me and the family. In the Fall of 2008 I bought a serger and now am able to make much better looking seams! During the Winter of 2008 I learned a bit of quilting. This past year I knitted a vest for my youngest sister, crocheted a place mat for my Papa, sewed a pleated skirt, made a blouse for myself, drafted a sewing pattern for a dress, quilted a large set of potholders, figured out how to replace broken zippers (that one was bugging me forever!), and now I am working on a quilt for my older sister's bed.

So what's next in line?

I hope to work on some Christmas presents, make satin PJ’s for my younger sister, pants for myself, a knitted bolero, and slipcovers. There is always something to make; the list never seems to get shorter!