Back to School Blog Hop – Basics of Ruching!

Welcome back friends to my little blog where I’m participating in my good friend Sam Hunter’s Back to School Blog Hop! I’ve been a participant for several years in a row with Sam’s wonderful blog hop and I am so so so happy to teach you something near and dear to my heart – Ruching!

Ruching (pronounced rooshing) is a very old fabric manipulation technique that’s been used on gowns and quilts and home decor since the early 1700’s. Ruching can refer to any kind of fabric gathering technique, but here we are going to be specifically gathering strips of fabric. In Quilting, ruching was used on Baltimore Album quilts in the 1860’s. In historical clothing, you can see lot’s of gowns from this same era featuring ruched strips of ribbon adorning them as trims.

Your materials list is very simple: needle and thread (I like Jeana Kimball Wool Needles #7), a strip of fabric about 22 inches long and 2 inches wide, a pencil, an iron and ironing surface, and a Smocking Template to make some marks (I like using my mini smocking template for this technique, but you can use the large one too). Optionally, you can get some Thread Conditioner, like my Mind Your Own Beeswax, to strengthen your thread.

To begin, iron your strip so that the raw edges are in the center. The wrong side of your fabric, should yours have one, should be encapsulated in the middle, and you should only see right sides up.

Next, you need to mark your fabric on the side with the raw edges with a pencil, just at the top and bottom of the strip in a alternating pattern. This is so you have something to sew towards as you make your gathers. The smocking template makes quick work of this, but you could alternately use a ruler.

With your needle threaded (and optionally waxed), start in the bottom corner of the strip, and take an extra stitch so your knot doesn’t pull or pop out. Then take running stitches at an angle toward the opposite side of the strip to the mark you made with your pencil.

Here’s the trick of this whole process. No matter if your needle ends up on the top or bottom side of the strip, you want to make sure that your next stitch loops the thread over the edge of the fold of the fabric. I flip the thread over and start stitching towards the next mark.

After about 3 or 4 “zig zags” on your strip, you can start gently pulling the gathers. You do not want to wait until the end of sewing the whole strip to do this, or your thread will break in the middle! (Ask me how I know!) After you pull them and gather the fabric, take an extra stay stitch at that spot to keep them in place.

Keep going until you have gathered the whole strip! Now here’s where you can see some variations. If you skip a space on your smocking template when making your marks, you will create much wider gathers. This can create softer flowers or shapes. Remember, the raw edges and the marks are technically the back of your strip. You will use the other side as the “right” side.

Also, if you want the colors in a particular strip, you can select a fabric that has a print, but the print itself will be lost in the technique and just leave behind the pretty colors.

Once you have your strip gathered, you can hand applique it down like you would any other fabric. I use the points of the ruching as the spots that get tacked down to the background. I like to spiral them into flowers, tucking in the raw ends to hide them. But they can be stems, or swags, or whatever you like!

Ruching can add some beautiful dimension to your next quilting or garment project! I hope you give it a try! If you like this technique, you will love my online class! Check it out here.

Be sure to check out all of the other blogs participating in this year’s Back to School Blog Hop! Go back and read the previous days and be sure to check them out further along in the month!

Day 1 – September 1 – Sam Hunter: Sewing Long Seams Without Stretching – huntersdesignstudio.com

Day 2 – September 2 – Susan Arnold – Joining Binding the Easy Way – quiltfabrication.com

Day 3 – September 3 – Angie Wilson – Fussy cutting tips and techniques – www.gnomeangel.com

Day 4 – September 4 – Andi Stanfield – No-Mark HST: Let your machine be your guide – truebluequilts.com/blog/

Day 5 – September 5 – Bobbie Gentili – Say YES to Y-seams – geekybobbin.com

Day 6 – September 6 – Mel Beach – 5 Reasons to Say Woo Hoo! to School Glue – pieceloveandhappiness.blogspot.com

Day 7 – September 7 – Laura Piland – 7 Ways to Use a Laser on Your Sewing Machine – www.sliceofpiquilts.com

Day 8 – September 8 – Suzy Webster – How to solve loops in free motion quilting – www.websterquilt.com

Day 9 – September 9 – Tara Miller – Accurate Stitch-and-Flip Corners – quiltdistrict.com

Day 10 – September 10 – Latifah Saafir – Accurate Seams Using Masking Tape! – latifahsaafirstudios.com

Day 11 – September 11 – Sarah Ruiz – The Magic of Glue Basting – saroy.net

Day 12 – September 12 – Jen Shaffer – Ways to stop your ruler from slipping while cutting – patternsbyjen.blogspot.com

Day 13 – September 13 – Cheryl Sleboda – Basics of ruching (a vintage fabric manipulation technique) – muppin.com

Day 14 – September 14 – Raylee Bielenberg – Choosing quilting designs for your quilt – www.sunflowerstitcheries.com

Day 15 – September 15 – Jen Strauser – Accurate and Attractive Machine binding – dizzyquilter.com

Day 16 – September 16 – Jane Davidson – Matching points for all types of intersections – quiltjane.com

Day 17 – September 17 – Teresa Coates – Starch and starch alternatives – teresacoates.com

Day 18 – September 18 – Jen Frost – Benefits of spray basting – faithandfabricdesign.com

Day 19 – September 19 – Sandra Starley – Getting started with Hand Quilting – utahquiltappraiser.blogspot.com

Day 20 – September 20 – Karen Platt – Drunkard’s Path Made Easy – karenplatt.co.uk/blog/

Day 21 – September 21 – Kris Driessen – All Kinds of Square (in a Square) – scrapdash.com

Day 22 – September 22 – Sarah Goer – Planned Improv Piecing – sarahgoerquilts.com

Day 23 – September 23 – Kathy Bruckman – Organizing kits for on-the-go sewing – kathyskwiltsandmore.blogspot.com

Day 24 – September 24 – Cheryl Daines Brown – The Secret to Flat Quilt Tops: Borders – quilterchic.com

Day 25 – September 25 – Cherry Guidry – Pre-assembling fusible applique – cherryblossomsquilting.com

Day 26 – September 26 – Laura Chaney – Getting started with English Paper Piecing – prairiesewnstudios.com

Day 27 – September 27 – Ebony Love – Cutting Bias Strips from a Rectangle – lovebugstudios.com

Day 28 – September 28 – Tammy Silvers – Working with heavier weight threads in your machine – tamarinis.typepad.com

Day 29 – September 29 – Kathy Nutley – Create a perfect facing or frame with 90 degree angles – quiltingsbykathy.com

Day 30 – September 3 – Joanne Harris – Using Leaders and Enders – quiltsbyjoanne.blogspot.com

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Spring Clean Your Studio Blog Hop 2019 – I’m a mess.

First of all, you should go to this list of everyone else in the hop and see their amazing studios!! If you are like me, you love to see how other people set up their spaces.

I think I told you that I’ve been travelling a lot. Like, A LOT. This was hard on my poor studio as I had to prep for two TV shows and multiple teaching gigs. At one point I was looking for something and just pulled stuff out of boxes and left it laying there. I would open the studio door and shove stuff inside. Here’s where it was before I started cleaning…

On top of this hideous mess, my poor thread rack had finally weighed the plastic tub it sits on down enough where I could not open the top drawer.

Plus, the top of my ironing board was so stained that I needed a new cover, and I had found the perfect fabric while in New Mexico with an awesome quilt guild!

So the great clean up began. I had to address the thread rack issue since it was an expensive piece of equipment. So I went to IKEA and picked up a drawer unit I had my eye on.

Next up was to tackle the rest of the room and recover the ironing board.

The Ironing board fabric is a skull fabric that matches my sewing chair from Arrow Cabinets.

The rest was just grunt work, picking up my messes and putting away all the tools, fabrics, and junk I pulled out from various places.

You can see the floor! You can see the sewing table! The ironing board is cleaned off! I just have to put away the fabric, but it’s folded and ready to be put away. Also, I just plain have TOO MUCH STUFF, so be sure to follow me on Facebook so you can be part of some giveaways!

I want to take a moment and shout out all the blog hoppers on this year’s Spring Clean Your Studio Blog Hop for making it the best one yet! Be sure to go visit each of these blogs and give them some love!

The 5th Annual Spring Clean Your Studio Blog Hoppers!

April 29 – Linda Bratten – http://lindabcreative.blogspot.com/
April 30 – Sandra Johnson – http://www.sandrajohnsondesigns.com
May 1 – Jennifer Schifano Thomas – http://www.Curlicuecreations.com
May 2 – Becca Fenstermaker – http://www.prettypiney.com
May 3 – Sue Griffiths – http://www.duckcreekmountainquilting.com
May 4 – Kate Starcher – http://katiemaequilts.com/blog
May 5 – Jo Westfoot – http://www.thecraftynomad.co.uk/blog
May 6 – Sam Hunter – http://www.huntersdesignstudio.com
May 7 – Simone Fisher – http://simonequilts.com/blogs/news
May 8 – Elisabeth DeMoo- http://www.brownbirddesignsquilts.com
May 9 – Sarah Myers –  http://www.quilted-diary.com/blog
May 10 – Amy Bradley – http://www.purplepineapplestudio.com
May 11 – Kathy Nutley – http://www.QuiltingsByKathy.com
May 12 – Carla Henton – http://createinthesticks.blogspot.com/
May 13 – Sherry Shish – http://www.poweredbyquilting.com
May 14 – Kate Colleran – http://www.seamslikeadream.com/blog
May 15 – Pamela Boatright – https://www.pamelaquilts.com/
May 16 – Cathy McKillip – http://wishuponaquilt.com/blog
May 17 – Cheryl Sleboda – http://blog.muppin.com

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Threads of Success – For quilt /sewing entrepreneurs at Fall Quilt Market

Years ago, when I started out in the quilt industry, I was HUNGRY for information on how to make it in this business. I was a successful executive at a specialty retail niche distributor. I taught retailers how to be better retailers. I thought I was positioned well to do well in the sewing industry.

Well, I was, but there was a very steep learning curve in this sewing world. Most people held on to the info they learned, but there was one place I got good information and kept coming back to: Quilt Market. Not only walking the show floor, but I was very pleasantly surprised to see a track of education in the form of seminars.

Now, mind you, many of these classes were geared towards quilt brick and mortar retailers. However, if I have a knack, it’s for seeing BETWEEN the lines and the info and learning how it can apply to me. But truly, I always wished that Quilts Inc., the folks that run Market, would do something for the other side of the entrepreneurs in the quilt industry. Namely, the folks like me.

I have been lucky to be in a position to be able to teach the seminars I always wished were available to me at Market. I pitch them every time and hope to make it on the schedule. But a couple of years ago, I was honest with Quilts Inc, and plainly told them how I wish there was more for the other side of the quilt industry, the people who are coming up as pattern designers, fabric designers, teachers, writers, tool makers, and other types of entrepreneurs outside of retail. Retail, both online and brick and mortar, have the seminars. What could they offer for the rest of us?

That’s what makes me soooo happy about Quilts Inc.’s Threads of Success. It’s a track of education, for those who are serious about their business in the quilt industry. And I’m happy to have had a very tiny small part in helping it off the ground. I’m even teaching at it.

If you are thinking about being in the quilt industry as a pattern designer, fabric designer, tool maker, teacher, writer, or any other kind of entrepreneur (even retail) then you need to checkout Threads of Success. It’s the EXACT education I wished I had when I was starting out. There’s an incredible opportunity to network with folks who are in the industry and learn from their expertise. There are four tracks of learning, but you can take whatever classes suit your business best. Plus, there are additional general interest classes on legal and finance topics that affect every business.

If you are a creative business, think about this kind of opportunity as an investment in your business. The kind of networking and individual classes offered are high value, and it’s worth it to spend 3 days with this kind of intense focus on your business. Take a look at the names in the classes list: Alex Anderson, Charlotte Angotti, Ricky Brooks, Ebony Love, Tula Pink… These are industry powerhouses…

So, please, entrepreneurs…. take a look at the classes, and if you sign up, be sure to tell them that I sent you!

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The 5th annual Spring Clean Your Studio Blog Hop!

This year, I’m so excited to announce the bloggers who are part of the Spring Clean Your Studio Blog Hop. It’s hard to believe that I started this little hop over five years ago, on a lark because I had to clean up my own studio. I have so much to show you this year and it’s gonna be great, but you have to wait, because these amazing bloggers are all before mine!

The 5th Annual Spring Clean Your Studio Blog Hoppers!

April 29 – Linda Bratten – http://lindabcreative.blogspot.com/
April 30 – Sandra Johnson – http://www.sandrajohnsondesigns.com
May 1 – Jennifer Schifano Thomas – http://www.Curlicuecreations.com
May 2 – Becca Fenstermaker – http://www.prettypiney.com
May 3 – Sue Griffiths – http://www.duckcreekmountainquilting.com
May 4 – Kate Starcher – http://katiemaequilts.com/blog
May 5 – Jo Westfoot – http://www.thecraftynomad.co.uk/blog
May 6 – Sam Hunter – http://www.huntersdesignstudio.com
May 7 – Simone Fisher – http://simonequilts.com/blogs/news
May 8 – Elisabeth DeMoo- http://www.brownbirddesignsquilts.com
May 9 – Sarah Myers –  http://www.quilted-diary.com/blog
May 10 – Amy Bradley – http://www.purplepineapplestudio.com
May 11 – Kathy Nutley – http://www.QuiltingsByKathy.com
May 12 – Carla Henton – http://createinthesticks.blogspot.com/
May 13 – Sherry Shish – http://www.poweredbyquilting.com
May 14 – Kate Colleran – http://www.seamslikeadream.com/blog
May 15 – Pamela Boatright – https://www.pamelaquilts.com/
May 16 – Cathy McKillip – http://wishuponaquilt.com/blog
May 17 – Cheryl Sleboda – http://blog.muppin.com

Be sure to check out the others participating in this Spring Clean Your Studio Blog Hop 2019 and follow this hashtag on Instagram! #springcleanyourstudio2019

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Basics for Labeling Your Quilt

Everyone should label their quilts! But what should you include? I’ll help you with the basics.

Labeling your quilts has been a long tradition, and it’s super helpful to determine details about the quilt and quilter. But what are the real basics of labeling your quilt? Let’s go over some of the details you need to know.

First of all, your label should be created from the same quality fabric as the rest of your quilt. You don’t want the label to be the first thing to disintegrate. You should also write the details on your label with an acid-free, archival permanent pen. You want this kind of pen because you do not want the ink to eat away at the fabric and for the color to last as long as the quilt does. Sakura Pigma Micron pens have been my pen of choice for many years.

Sewing your label onto your quilt is also important. Most labels are appliqued onto the back. If possible, stay away from fusing or ironing on your label. Not only could the fusible degrade over time, storing your quilt in a hot environment could possibly loosen the glue and detach your label from the quilt. Always additionally sew down your label to the quilt.

Now it’s down to what to write on your label. It can be easy to include a novelization of the quilt’s creation on the back, but there are a few “must haves” on the label. This information may vary for quilts you enter into shows or competitions. However, the true basics of your label should Include some data about the quilt, the maker, and other crucial info.

Details about the maker. You should include your name and also where the quilt was made. If the quilt was quilted by someone else for you, then you should also include that person’s name. The reason to include the place is so that if someone is trying to find more information about you after you are gone, or the quilt is lost, they have an idea of where to start looking for you.

Details about the quilt. If your quilt has a name, or is used from a pattern that is named, this is a good place to include it. If your quilt is a gift, you could include that it was made for that person and why, such as “Made for Margaux for her First Birthday”.

Include the date. You will also want to include the date the quilt was completed. When people look at your quilting work years from now, they will be able to arrange your work in chronological order.

Competition or quilts for sale often include the artist’s full address, phone number, and web address. This way if the quilt is lost, or someone inquires to purchase a similar work from the artist, there’s a way to contact the artist. Of course, after many years, the artist could have retired or moved, but it is a starting point. Some competition quilt labels are amended with shows that the quilt was exhibited in or awards it has won.

You can create your label using your embroidery machine and have a stitched label, but I love hand written labels. I like the “hand of the artist” in my work, and a handwritten label is a way to preserve the maker’s handwriting. And you can use an Heirloom Smocking Template to help make lines so your writing is straight.

Do you label all of your quilts? Share with us on my Facebook page!

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