Monday, April 14, 2014

4th Saturday Whoo-HOO!

For some time now, Bright Hopes Quilting has been closed on the 4th Saturday of each month (and the odd 5th Saturday) but starting in the month of April, we have added the 4th Saturday of each month as OPEN FOR BUSINESS!!!!

As on the other Saturdays, our hours are 9:30 am  to 2:00 pm.

To really KICK THINGS OFF, the 4th Saturday this month we are hosting a day of Quilting for the Brave: a new drive to make 168 quilts by September (ish) and donate them to returning soldiers right here in Louisiana. Anyone reading this post is invited to participate in any manner they possibly can.

Our First Stay and Quilt day is Saturday, April 26. We will be working in two shifts (morning and afternoon) to accommodate people who cannot take all 5 hours to sew. You may bring your fabrics and sewing machine and do the piecing; you can bring a friend and share the fun of running to the ironing board; you can bring with you Red, White and Blue 'strings' and foundation and make a bunch of 12.5" string blocks..... however you would like to participate. You know, you can even donate 100% cotton fabric for guilds to make up the quilts.

So, what is this all about?...... members of the Louisiana National Guard are deployed in Afghanistan and will be returning this fall and our goal is to wrap every one of them in a quilt as they step back onto Louisiana soil. The 'rules' for the quilts are few.

1. The colors used should be Red White and Blue and Yellow if you wish as it signifies  Welcome Home and the fabric must be 100% cotton.
2. Each finished quilt should measure at least 60" x 72" inches. or larger.
3. If the fabrics you choose have a floral theme, please keep it subtle.
4. Please attach a label identifying who pieced and quilted it.
5. If possible, include a pillowcase to keep the quilt protected until it is given.

You can make any quilt design you would like. There are plenty of free patterns online and we have ideas at the shop and bundles of fabric and easy patterns if you would like to buy some. Nothing needs to be elaborate or difficult. These are 'labors' of love and should reflect a giving back to those who have given to our country.

If you have any questions, you can leave a comment of give us a call. Drop in and see how the stack begins to grow in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Free-Motion Quilting

From the title of this post, you probably gather that this is focusing on something lots of us already do and many want to learn.

With the advent and availability of the modified "long-arms", we are able to move from machine quilting on our standard machine over to the rails and tables more easily. Having a brand-name high-end machine is terrific if 1. you can afford it and 2. have the space required to set one up and 3. the time to actually use it.

The Handi-Quilters, Tin Lizzies and others have solved this dilemma for many and every month we hear more people getting them and this can be an exciting time in quilting.

However, one thing that never seems to change is that of tension control and how to achieve it. I have been using my machine now for 7 years and occasionally get it bang on and other times just struggle so in an attempt last week to verify what I thought I knew, I came across this video about tension in both the bobbin and the top-thread.

I don't know where Jamie Wallen has been these past 7 years but they say, "When you are ready, the teacher will appear." This certainly came true for me over the weekend. While buzzing around YouTube learning about my machine, I saw this video on the sidebar and thought, "What does he have to say about the topic?"

Now, while I do dust out the bobbin area on my machine between every new bobbin and brush out the bobbin case as well with each new bobbin, it never occurred to me that lint might catch under the tension arm on the case! And when you watch how he tests the tension by hanging the bobbin case from the thread? This part was what I had learned last week (after 7 years, mind you). How gratifying it is to know that despite what the manual said, the tension I achieved (finally) resembled what this man says more than the manufacturer.

If you have a long-arm, modified or one of the really big guys, and have struggled with tension issues, I urge you watch this video (twice). I learned a few more things about tension and control and where to locate the 'hook' in the batting. VERY GOOD INFORMATION!!!!

Now, those who do like to play with the free-motion quilting and are willing but intimidated by feathering or curls would learn a lot from his other videos as well. Here he explains how he sets up and stitches feathers.

Karen Hansen has another splendid video explaining What To Quilt On Your Quilt that is worth the hour invested in the watching. I really like that she says, "DO what you CAN". I think those are words to live by.....

With all of this good information comes the added obvious final word: Practice.

Practice should be fun not stressful, and with more practice it becomes more fun. Before you know it, you will be doodling feathers and curls on scraps of paper, the backs of envelopes and the shower door.

Our own Mary Green teaches basic Machine Quilting on Saturdays every other month or so and is teeming with experience, ideas and lessons to get you started on the road to machine quilting. If you would like to learn more and when her next class will be offered, drop us a line or give us a call.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Operation: Quilts for the Brave

Our Armed Forces have given so much and over the  past decade we have seen sacrifices from all branches. Here locally in St. Tammany Parish, our National Guard unit has recently been deployed in Afghanistan and is scheduled to return this fall.

Carol Miller and quilters from across the border in Mississippi surprised the 131 members of Bravo 155th in Poplarville a few years ago and we are going to do it again with the Covington, LA National Guard.

As they step back onto Louisiana soil, our goal is to wrap every one of the 168 soldiers with full-sized quilts of Red, White and Blue.

We are already underway and ask anyone reading this blog post to donate either a block (or more) or an entire quilt. The restrictions for this project are relatively few.

1. Every finished quilt must measure at least 60" x 72" and larger is fine.
2. You may use any pattern you like and the colors, RED, WHITE and BLUE. Yellow may be used as it is the color of Welcome and if you use florals at all, please keep it at a minimum.
3. Please use low-loft batting.
4. Include a label listing the piecer and quilter so the recipient knows who made their quilt.
5. LAST but NOT LEAST, please try to keep it a surprise...

As time goes by, we will post the progress both here and in our newsletter.

Drop by the shop to see examples of quilts and get ideas for making one (or more).  "Many hands make light work" and we have great ideas for making these men and women feel welcomed back home.

 Here are two!!!!

Friday, February 28, 2014

March - April Calendar of Classes

Hi again! This time around I am going to do things a little differently. WHY?
So happy you asked!

It seems that more and more people are using iPads and iPhones and thus are unable to see the PDF file I usually post for our calendar and class descriptions. So, in an effort to make all things possible for all people, I am going to put up pngs (photographs) of each page instead.

As always, you can download or print only the pages you need (like the last page: the Calendar itself), or just bookmark this whole page for handy reference in the future.

We have some great classes there and if you act fast, you can grab a seat at the Saturday class on making the super-cool fusible Lone Star. Give us a call at 985-845-9554 to save your spot.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Louisiana Quilt Trail!

By now most Louisiana residents have heard about the Louisiana Quilt Trail across the North Shore but here is fun news!!! Bright Hopes Quilting has sponsored a new block and three are being dedicated in Slidell tomorrow!

Three new quilt blocks are being added to the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail. Featuring the work of quilt artists based in Abita Springs, Mandeville and Ponchatoula, the quilts will be unveiled Monday at 3 p.m. at the Interstate 10 Welcome Center at the Louisiana-Mississippi state line, 41300 Crawford Landing Road, near Slidell.

The quilts are titled, "Gator Country," sponsored by Sew This, 70117 Highway 59, Abita Springs; "Pelican State," sponsored by Bright Hopes Quilting, Suite C-1, 5150 Highway 22, Mandeville; and, "Blooming Louisiana," sponsored by Smith’s Nursery, 19335 Highway 22, Ponchatoula.

Pearl will be there at the dedication and I will post photos when she returns!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Thank You!!!! to all our Wonderful Customers!!!

We had a perfectly fabulous time and we owe it all to you!!!!

Thank you for coming to our Visit Your Local Quilt Shop Day demos and a Super Sale.

We hope you stocked up on our favorite thread, Aurifil, as it is going up in price this week and picked up the free patterns we featured during our demonstrations. 

Linda Kay showed the various ways Camille Roskelley came up with using 16 HSTs to create 25 different blocks and here is where you can download the illustrated designs for your future use.

Here is just one:

If you were unable to make it this special day for quilt shops, you have another day coming up in March: WORLDWIDE Visit Your Local Quilt Shop!!!! No Kidding!!! We'll be gearing up to make this another fun-filled day so check back here or watch our weekly newsletter as we grow closer to the day!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

All About the Tools and Visit Your Local Quilt Shop Day

I am, really. All about the tools!

When I started back in quilt making, I was very much the frugal quilter for any number of reason. Mainly, I suppose, because I didn't know how long this interest would last,  or how passionate I was soon to become.

Way back then, I 'made do'. You know how that is….. "Why should I buy THAT ruler when I already have this one?" "Oh, I have rotary cutter, ALREADY." "Well, I have a drawer full of fabric my neighbor gave me back in 1990…. I'm set."

That was me circa 1999. SO, what made the change in my thinking? Experience is the best teacher in my case.

About 4 years after I had finished a huge quilt (back before I learned about this thing called a walking foot!) I was making the bed and as I pulled the quilt back into position, I heard the dread sound of threads popping. Yep, the threads broke in several places. Upon closer inspection, I found holes where the fabric had frayed, as well. Lesson learned: If you are going to invest YOUR TIME in a quilt, INVEST IN GOOD MATERIALS! So, I boned up on thread and switched permanently over to Aurifil for piecing and proper quilting thread (it's thicker and stronger) for quilting. Additionally, I threw away cheap fabric and really took a closer look at what was left for old and brittle fabric. Those went out as well.

So, here I am with an army of rulers, each one serving their own purpose and YES, I use every darn one of them. Not just once, either. But my favorite ruler so far is the Bloc-Loc for HSTs.

For many years, I would cut the requisite 3 7/8" squares to make a 3.5" block, sew the two lines, cut them apart and press. But when I went to measure the little blocks, they rarely were nice and square so then I would have to monkey around to get them to fit nicely to another block. grrrr what a pain.

I started rounding up whatever the 7/8" measurement was to the larger inch…. 3 7/8" would become 4" and after I had sewn the lines and cut and pressed, I would square up the block to a nice, clean 3.5" square. Perfect.

One day, I came across the Bloc-Loc ruler and gave it a test drive and fell in love. Watch below and you will see why.

Here you see the 6.5" Bloc-Loc ruler. Now they come in three sizes but I recommend the 6.5" because with this one ruler, you will trim MOST of the HSTs you will ever make. I have the 2.5" and the 4.5" Bloc-Locs as well and YES I do use them, especially if I have a whole herd of just 2.5" blocks to square up. Remember, the whole point of rulers is to make your job efficient! If I had a variety of sizes to square up, I would use the 6.5".

You can see it is sitting on top of a Fiskars rotating mat which I love and highly recommend as well. Any rotating mat is going to make this so much easier. It is not necessary, but I just don't use the Bloc-Loc without the rotating mat.

You also see the 4 HSTs that I made by placing a solid 5" square with a colored fabric…. and drawing two sew line 1/4" away for the centerline and sew. THen I cut them apart and give them a GOOD pressing. I usually press to the dark side.

Now, take a close look below and you will see the groove on the underside of the Bloc-Loc ruler. This is what is going to 'lock' along the seam you just pressed. You want to lay the ruler so the groove that runs from one corner to the other hits and locks in place along the seam.

ANd here you see how a scant amount of fabric peeks from under the ruler in the upper right corner. All of the fabric along the right and upper edge will now be trimmed with the rotary cutter.


Then I rotate the cutting mat WITHOUT touching the ruler and….

…slide the ruler so the 4.5" mark lines up with the lower left corner of  my HST block. Now I can trim away the scant fabric once again along the upper and right edges of the ruler.

Here, you can see how little I had to trim away on all 4 sides to be left with a PERFECT 4.5" HST!!!

Now, I lift the ruler away so you can see that corner to corner, I have a perfect HST. There is NO way this little block isn't going to line up perfectly with another!

I hope you enjoyed this quick demo and come by Bright Hopes Quilting to test drive one for yourself. I think you will agree that with the right tools at hand, our joy in quilt-making grows exponentially.

Saturday, Jan 25, 2014 is Visit Your Local Quilt Shop Day, a national event where we celebrate our craft by sharing demos and lectures and door prizes and fun.
Bright Hopes Quilting will be open with extended hours from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm and we have some excellent and very specially reduced items that, quite frankly, if you miss them, you'll regret it. They are ONE DAY ONLY as well and because they are this special, I am encouraging you to drop by and see for yourself.