Wednesday, November 24, 2010

LHQ - Instructions vs. Directions

LEFT-HANDED QUILTING - Instructions vs. Directions

Again - this post originated as information written for my sister-in-law who was a beginning quilter at the time - and has been updated for this blog.  I hope that it may be of help to other lefties out there in blogland.


I want to make a distinction between INSTRUCTIONS and DIRECTIONS.


The instructions tell you how to make a quilt -

how much fabric you need,
the size of the blocks you will make,
the number of blocks you will make,
the size of the quilt you will have when you are done,
and the basic steps you need to complete your project.

The instructions will be the same for both left and right-handed quilters.

What can really mess you up are the directions.  I think that it is the directions that confuse us lefties the most.


The directions, by definition, are directional - referring to any point an object can face -

NORTH/SOUTH - EAST/WEST - TOP/BOTTOM - UP/DOWN - FRONT/BACK - LEFT/RIGHT - and DIAGONAL.   And don't forget that CIRCLES can be drawn either clockwise or counter-clockwise.

As lefties, we need to be especially aware of any reference that is directional.

Rule #1 - Don't Forget that YOU ARE LEFT-HANDED!

NORTH/SOUTH - TOP/BOTTOM - UP/DOWN - FRONT/BACK - are usually not a problem.  If you look in a mirror, your reflection is not reversed from your head to your toes - you are still standing upright - and you still face front.

However -

EAST/WEST - LEFT/RIGHT can be tricky.  Most diagrams and photos feature right-handed quilters - doing their thing - right-handed.

My advice is to take a pencil and circle obvious right-handed references as you read the instructions for the first time.  Then you can go back through the instructions a second time and decide if you are comfortable doing the step right-handed or not.  If you want to do it right-handed, erase the circle.  If you want to do it left-handed, the circle will remind you that you have to compensate when you get to that step.

Some newer quilting books have diagrams and photos for both right-handed and left-handed quilters.  I know they think that they are helping me - but the reality is - they just confuse me!!  It's like trying to read a bilingual book and having to search through it for the stuff written in English.  It would be easier to read, I think, if they just wrote two separate books - but they don't.  So with these books - I do a variation of the circle thing.  The first time I read them - I take a pencil and cross out the obvious right-handed references.

Just like the numbers on the rulers that go both ways - I just cross off the ones I don't want.

DIAGONAL is an often forgotten direction.  One of my favorite quilts is the result of a mistake I made when I forgot to compensate for diagonal cuts.

I tried to duplicate a pattern in the book Strips that Sizzle  by Margaret J. Miller (That Patchwork Place, 1992) - and I broke Rule #1 - I forgot that I was left-handed.  I didn't realize, until after I had cut them ALL, that my diagonal cuts were "backwards".  Instead of going from bottom right to top left, they were all going from bottom left to top right.    

Here is an example of what I was trying to duplicate -

This what I cut -

so this is what I got -
Just one small problem - the colors were on the wrong side!!

(I'll tell you the whole story of my "Blue/Yellow Monster" one of these days.  That sucker was up on my design wall for over two years!!)

Anyway - in an effort to help - so you can just read through my instructions without having to think about whether or not the directions are backwards - I will try to write them in "LEFTISH".  If there is an area where you may need to pay special attention - I will tell you.

I want you to be able to spend your time quilting - not decoding the instructions / directions.

This is supposed to be FUN!!

Talk to you later - gotta go - gotta write the Rotary Cutting stuff -


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Please Stand By -

Please Stand By - We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties.

Isn't that what the TVs used to show on the screen when they were having problems?  I think so.

Anyway - I've been having problems - 

Right after I posted my "tome" on "Supplies" with all those photos - my printer/copier/scanner/fax decided not to work anymore.

So - we had to get a new one - install it - and learn how it worked.

Then when I was about to take photos for my next post - my camera battery ran out and had to be re-charged.  (It's not like I haven't been using it!)

Then I had to learn how the new scanner worked - so I could scan some drawings I had made and wanted to post.

Then I got a Jury Summons - more fun - so I had to deal with that.

Now - I'm a little off my schedule.  I really wanted to post my "Rotary Cutting - Basics" (chapter?) before Thanksgiving - but I don't even have it written up yet - much less taken all the photos I need to explain what I'm doing.  So I think I will post "Instructions vs. Directions" tomorrow (it's almost done) and then work on "Rotary Cutting - Basics" and post that after the holidays.

Right now - it's time for my nap - so -

Talk to you later - gotta go -

Saturday, November 20, 2010

LHQ - Went surfing today

LEFT-HANDED QUILTING - Went surfing today

I went "surfing" today - and found some stuff you might like -

#1 - Joann's® is having a sale - 50% off Rotary Cutting Tools - go check it out!!  I think it ends on the 24th - but I'm not sure.  I found my blue Dritz® rotary cutter on sale for $7.49 and my yellow/green Fiskars® rotary cutting mat on sale for $22.49.  Sure beats full price!!  (I never buy stuff from Joann's at full price.  They always have a sale eventually.)

#2 - A place advertising left-handed scissors.     Left Hand NZ.
They say that their scissors are genuinely left-handed.  I think they might be right!!  Check out the Blue/Orange Harlequin scissors - Code - IMP68-H.  It's about the fifth one down.  It looks like to me that the blue/left blade is on top and the orange/right blade is on bottom.  They might be real left-handed scissors!!  Does anyone out there have a pair of these?  Are they really left-handed?  Let me know!!

#3 - A place advertising left-handed rulers.   Anything Left-Handed - UK
They say that their rulers are "scaled from right to left for drawing lines in the natural direction for a left-hander."  Then it shows a photo of a ruler reading 5-4-3-2-1 with the pencil line going from right to left!!??  If that is for a left-hander - I guess I'm a right-hander 'cuz I usually draw my lines from left to right!!  I put a ruler down - it reads 1-2-3-4-5 and if I want to draw a 3" line I start at "0" and go to "3" and stop.  If I wanted to draw from right to left I would just start at "3" and go to "0".  Why do I need a ruler scaled from 5-4-3-2-1?  Would this ruler actually help any of you?  Do you draw your lines from right to left?  No wonder we are all so damn confused!!

#4 - Then I found a place selling left-handed stuff.  Lefthandersday
Scroll down until you get to the "Left-hander's mug".

It says "It's a left-handed wouldn't understand!"  I LOVE IT!!

And after all the fun I have flipping my rulers - I want a mug that says 

"I'm a Flipping Lefty!"

What do you think?  Should I make one?  Do you think it would sell?

#5 - Then I did a couple of Yahoo searches just for fun.

A - left handed quilter - 336,000 hits
And thanks to Quilting Bloggers - I'm on Page #3 - #27.  Thanks, guys!!

B - left handed quilters club - 133,000 hits
And thanks to Quilting Bloggers - I'm on Page #1 - #4.  Thanks, guys!!

C - left handed quilters association - 185,000 hits
Most of the "Left Handed Association" references were for the "National Association of Left Handed Golfers." (NALG)

Most of the "Quilters Association" references were for the "International Machine Quilters Association."

I think we need to start our very own "International Left-Handed Quilters Association".  (ILHQA)  I know at least two people who would join.  Me and my favorite sister-in-law.  How about you?  Would join?

Talk to you later - gotta go -

Thursday, November 18, 2010

LHQ - Supplies


If you have ever bought a Wonder Mop® - and taken it home and mopped and twisted and mopped and twisted and mopped and twisted until the mop fell apart because you had unscrewed it - you might be Left-Handed!  ( My apologies to Jeff Foxworthy - but I just couldn't resist!)

As Left-Handed Quilters (LHQ), we are all painfully aware of the fact that some supplies marked "for right or left handed use" are not really for "left-handed use".  They are a right-handed person's version of what they think can be used left-handed - just like the gravy ladle, manual can opener, coffee mug with the logo facing away from you, etc.  You know what I mean.  You can use them left-handed - but they are not really left-handed.

With that in mind - I thought I would share a list of some of the stuff I use.  And any "links" provided are there so you can see the "catalog" info on the item - if I could find it.  The link is not necessarily the best source for the item.  It is just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about - you really should shop around for the best price in your area.

Also - be aware of the fact that a lot of this information was originally intended for my sister-in-law - a beginning quilter.  I do not - in any way - want to insult anybody's intelligence.  If you are an experienced quilter - just ignore the stuff you already know.  You might want to read it anyway, though,  just in case I say something interesting.  You never know, I might.

Anyway - here we go -  it's probably going to be pretty looooooong - just warning you!!

Fabric - Batting - Needles - Thread - Seam Rippers are neither left nor right-handed so they are not included in this list.  We can talk about them later though, if you want.

Sewing Machine

Sorry, they are ALL right-handed.  Actually, I think that is to our advantage.  All of the dials are on the right side - and we are already used to telephones, adding machines (I'm a retired CPA), and every household appliance known to man being right-handed - so that is no big thing.  Our advantage comes into play with all the stuff that happens on the LEFT - the needle, the screws, fabric and pins.  I think we have an easier time with the little screws on the left and threading the needle.  We also have an easier time maneuvering the fabric.

I have three sewing machines and one serger.  I refer to them as my Pinto, Toyota, Lexus, and Sergio.  The sewing machines all have the same basic features, but each is a step-up from the other.  They are all free-arm sewing machines with variable stitch length and width, reverse stitching, various stitches, buttonhole, variable thread tension, and various presser feet available.

My Pinto is a Montgomery Ward® - Signature 2000.  I have had this one for years and am just too lazy to get it off the shelf to take its picture.  When the day came that I needed a machine that had adjustable pressure and a "drop-feed" feature - I got my Toyota - a White® - Model 1777.  I have this one set up on the dining room table to do free motion quilting.  I'm going to do a Free Motion Quilt Along so it's all ready to go.  The "L" and "W" in black marker on the dials were put there by the staff at the sewing machine store - it was a demo model - and I just left it 'cuz I could never tell which dial was for stitch "length" or "width" either. ( I'll tell you about the dinosaurs later.)

When the day came that I needed/wanted a new "electronic" machine - I got
my Lexus - a Husqvarna® - Viking Lily 555.  She's my baby.  I don't know what I'm going to do when she breaks so I try to take real good care of her.  I have her set up in front of my window to do piecing and applique.  She usually has her cover on since she sits in front of the window, but I took it off to take her picture.

Sergio is a Brother Serger 1034D.  I only turned him on once (pun intended) - and don't know him very well just yet.  One of these days...

Iron and Ironing Board

My iron has the cord coming from the middle of the back - that makes it "left-handed" in my book..

It is also an older iron without the automatic shut-off feature and I love it!  When I need to press something, it is always ON!  I had a newer one and didn't like it when I had been sewing for a while and tried to press something just to find that it had turned itself OFF!   I'm a grown-up and am perfectly capable of remembering to shut off my iron when I'm done - I don't need it to do it for me.  (Same goes for the damn coffee pot - I go to get another cup of coffee and it has turned itself OFF!  But I guess that's what the microwave is for, huh?)

I set up my ironing board at sit-down height and with the pointy end on the left.  That way I can put my iron on the pointy end and use the square end to press fabric.  I just "scoot" from my sewing machine to the ironing board when I need to press something.


I like the yellow flat pins with the little "flower" heads.  They are long enough to handle easily and they lie flat when you pin.  You can iron over them without leaving marks on the fabric and they don't melt.

I know pins are non-directional - but the way you use them may not be.

The direction in which you pin depends on which hand you want to use to REMOVE them as you sew.  Remember that the pieces are fed into the sewing machine with the raw edge to the right, and pin the pieces so the head of the pin will be next to the hand you want to use to remove it.
If you prefer to use your left hand, then pin with the pointy end of the pin closest to the raw edge of the fabric - like the top pin in the picture.

If you are comfortable removing them with your right hand, pin with the head of the pin closest to the raw edge of the fabric on the right - like the bottom pin in the picture.

Either way, you will be removing the pins as you go along.  It is not a good idea to sew over pins.  If the needle hits the pin, it may break the needle, bend the pin, and even knock your machine out of alignment.  And the broken piece can wind up anywhere - on the floor, inside the sewing machine, or in your eye - not a good idea!  That being said, I do occasionally sew over pins - I slow down when I reach the pin and the needle seems to glide right over them.  I have, however, broken a few needles and replacing them in the middle of a seam is real pain!  (I have also jammed a needle through my thumb while trying to change a presser foot.  You can ask my sister-in-law about that one!)  So - be careful!!

Wooden Presser Stick and Stiletto

The thing on the left is a wooden presser stick for Foundation Paper Piecing - or "finger pressing" seams.  They do make left-handed versions - make sure you get the correct one.  ( I almost said "get the right one" - geesh!)

A stiletto is just a long, pointy stick used to hold down the fabric as it goes under the presser foot.  Sometimes your finger or fingernail just won't do.  You will find these for sale in catalogs for $5-$6, but I use the "cuticle sticks" found in the nail care department of Wal-Mart to do the same thing - and - they come in packages of 4 for only a couple of bucks.  You could also use a chopstick or bamboo skewer.  I just love finding stuff and using it for a totally different purpose!


The rotary cutter and mat have replaced the traditional scissors.  You will, however, need a pair of small scissors to cut threads as you sew.  I use Fiskars® - 5" micro-tip.  I have three - one at my Lexus - one at my Toyota - and one on my ironing board.  The extra-fine tip is great for detailed work.

The left-handed scissors that I have seen have the handles reversed but not the blades.  They are easier to hold in your left hand, but the cutting edge is on the wrong side and blocks your line of sight when cutting.  My orange-handled Fiskars® - 8" - scissors are like this.  So are my Fiskars® "Softouch" scissors, which are cool since they stay open and need pressure to close - great for arthritic hands.  I've had them so long that the slide lock has broken and I have to put a rubber band around them to keep them closed!!  I have also found that it is easier to cut around something if I hold the "something" in my right hand and cut around it "clockwise".  That way, the part I cut off isn't the part I wanted to keep!!

Do not buy "applique" scissors - they are right-handed.

Rotary Cutter

I use a blue Dritz® 45mm rotary cutter.  I prefer the Dritz® rotary cutter to the Olfa® brand.  The Olfa® (yellow) has too much exposed blade to suit me.  I think it is extremely dangerous and has to be opened and closed - and locked when not in use.  And some models need to be disassembled and then reassembled for left-handed use.

The Dritz® (blue) comes in different sizes - 45mm and 60 mm - and is pressure-sensitive.  The blade is automatically locked until you actually press down to cut.  It has settings for light and heavy-duty use.  It is always ready for use - and can be safety locked.The 45mm blade is the perfect size for me and is truly for left-hand use without having to disassemble and reassemble the cutter.  As an extra bonus - it uses generic replacement blades - and generic blades are usually cheaper - yay!!

Again, be careful!!  The blades are extremely sharp and they should only be used with a rotary cutting mat.  And if you drop it - don't try to catch it - just let it hit the floor - the pressure of the "hit" may engage the blade and we sure as hell don't want that to happen!!

Rotary Cutting Mat

Rotary cutting mats protect your cutting surface and prolong the life of your rotary cutter blade.

I recommend a mat at least 18" x 24" in size - the larger the better, whatever you can afford.  I use an old gray Fiskars® with one plain side and a 23" x 34" orange grid on the other side.  It is so old that the orange lines have been cut away in some sections.  I use it when I'm cutting something that doesn't need grid lines on the mat - 'cuz it doesn't have them!

I also have a brand new Fiskars® mat that is pale yellow on one side and pale green on the other.  Both sides have a dark green 24" x 35" grid.  The mat itself is 25" x 36" and is just a tad bigger than my cutting table - so it hangs over the edge a little.  It's really not a problem, though - I just push it back until it is flush with the front edge of the table.

What is a problem for me is the numbers on the grid.  They confuse me. I think that the numbers are set up for right-handed quilters.  They seem to run backwards to me.


Since I cut from the RIGHT edge of the fabric, I put the square with number "1/1" in the BOTTOM RIGHT corner.

I place the mat so that the numbers 1 to 35 run from RIGHT to LEFT along the bottom and the numbers 1 to 23 run from BOTTOM to TOP along the right side.  

You may think that this makes you count backwards - but it really doesn't.  I'll explain what I mean when I get to Rotary Cutting.

Rulers - MY FAVORITE!!!

I have a LOT of rulers!

I have four that I actually use.  None are truly left-handed.  I have to compensate differently depending on which ruler I use - what a pain!!  (Why can't someone just make a left-handed ruler?  I'll design it for you - I just want credit - and the bucks!!)

EDIT UPDATE - I DID design a Left-Handed Ruler - to cut HST and QST easily - LEFT-Handed - follow the link or check out the tab at the top of my blog. I call it the LEFT-EZE Rule™ - because we do! - LOL - ;))

(Sorry for the glare in the pictures - the overhead lights don't play well with the plastic rulers.)

I use a Quilter's Ruler - Mini-Square - 6-1/2" x 6-1/2" square ruler to square up blocks.

It still has the markings on it from my Halloweeny tablerunner/placemat.  I forgot to flip it over before I cut my charm squares.  If I had - I might not have screwed up the second set.  (I use alcohol wipes to remove the marker lines.)

My favorite ruler is the O'Lipfa® Lip Edge Ruler.  Mine is 5" x 23".  It's long enough to cut fabric as it comes folded off the bolt.  It also has a lipped edge that works like a T-square and hooks on the top edge of the cutting mat so that it doesn't slip while cutting.  I especially like it because the numbers go 1-2-3-4-5 from left to right.  Just the way I like it!!

My least favorite is the Omnigrid® - 6" x 24".  It has 1-2-3-4-5 going from left to right - and - from right to left.  That's too many markings for me.  I use it to fold my fabric.  (That's a post for another day.)

 But I can make it work for me if I put stickers on the numbers I don't want to see.

My Fiskars® - 6" x 12" - is used a lot.  Even though the numbers are backwards for me - I have found a way to compensate.

You can't really see in this picture - but the numbers go 5-4-3-2-1 from left to right across the bottom of this ruler - and from 11 to 1 up the left side - and 1 to 11 up the right side.

If I turn it around - to read the other side (without flipping it over) - the numbers go 5-4-3-2-1 from left to right across the bottom of this ruler - and from 11 to 1 up the left side - and 1 to 11 up the right side - exactly the same way.  Definitely right-handed.

I want it to read -1-2-3-4-5 from left to right across the bottom of this ruler - and from 1 to 11 up the left side - and 11 to 1 up the right side.

OK - so now if I flip it over - sure enough - I can get the numbers to go the right direction - I just have to read them "BACKWARDS".  Don't you just love it when all you have to do is "reverse it"?  Yeah, me too!!

So I put stickers on the one end - 

and the other end.  I don't bother with the sides - I learned early on to read upside-down and backwards - I think we all did.

NOW it's a left-handed ruler!!  And I want the credit - and I want the bucks!!


OK - so that's all I can think of right now.  It's your turn.  Has any of this information helped you?  Have you found something really neat that you use and that you want to share?  What have you found?  Where did you find it?  What do you use?  How do you use it????  Tell me - tell me!!

Next up - Rotary Cutting - so -

Talk to you later - gotta go - gotta write some more stuff -


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Off and Running -

So - yesterday when I signed off - I said I had another idea and would be right back.  Sorry it took me longer than I thought it would - but it was totally worth it!!

When I left - I went over to Quilting Bloggers and submitted my blog for inclusion in her directory.  This morning I got an email from Michele Foster saying that my submission had, indeed, been accepted and has been added to the directory.  THANK YOU, MICHELE!!

Now, if you go to her site and search for "A Left-Handed Quilter", my blog will show up.  Yay!!  The only problem is that you have to enter the name exactly as I entered it - without the quotes - but with the "A" and the ""hyphen" between "left" and "handed".  If you enter "lefthanded quilter", it won't come up.  It's a Catch-22 - you can find my blog if you know the name - exactly.  And if you already know the name - you have already found it!!??

But the up side is - IT WORKED!!



Welcome to my blog Quilting, Sewing GRANNY - I just checked out your site and that fabric stash video is hilarious.  You made my day - in more ways than one.  I will, for sure, be adding your blog to the ones I read.  I don't know how to "Follow" another blog yet - so when I figure it out - I'll be there.  And I have pictures of my own stash that I want to share someday.

In the meantime - I need to get some tips, tricks, and tutorials written up - so I can post them.  I have to find all the instructions - emails - and such that I wrote for my sister-in-law to help her with her quilting projects.  And I have a bunch of stuff in my head that has to get down on "paper".  That takes time.  And I need to know what you guys want to know.  How can I help?  You need to leave me a comment telling me what gives you the most trouble - maybe someone out there can help.  I don't pretend to know everything - and can only tell you how I do it.  I'm hereby making up a new word - "TIHIDI" - "This Is How I Do It" - if you say it out loud, it sounds kinda like "Tahiti" - cool!!

So here's the plan - the next couple of Left-Handed Quilting (LHQ) posts are going to be about -

1.  Supplies
2.  Rotary Cutting
3.  Instructions vs. Directions

That should get us started.  And then we can go from there.

Talk to you later - gotta go - gotta write stuff -

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Housekeeping Chores -

LHQ - Today I did a little housekeeping.  No - no - not "house" housekeeping - I mean "blog housekeeping".  I went back to my old blog (Quilt Bum - no relation to Marianne Fons) and imported my posts to this new blog.  I also did a little re-editing while I was at it.  At the beginning of the posts I wrote a little note saying that they had been imported - and edited.

You will see - if you read them - that they are not "Left-handed" at all.  They are just me rambling on about what I was doing at the time.  From Saturday's post - Third Time's a Charm - New Mission - all the posts are "real-time" - and have not been posted before.

I've decided to do a little experiment.  When I googled "Left-Handed Quilter" - I got a variety of stuff - but not my blog.  I want left-handed quilters to be able to find my blog!!

I have it set so that Google should pick up on the first 25 characters in my blog when it does its web searches - so I thought "A Left-Handed Quilter" would show up.  But I didn't see it.  My experiment is this - I put "LHQ" as the first three characters of this post.  Those three letters seem to be an odd enough combination to be somewhat unique - so I'm going to publish this post and then google "LHQ" - to see what I get.  Be right back.

OK, I'm back. "LHQ" came up with 2,840,000 hits.  It seems that it is an acronym for "Local Headquarters" and "Life History Questionnaire".  Who knew?  So the experiment failed.  But I have another idea.  Be right back.

Monday, November 15, 2010

About This Blog - And Me

I am a A Left-Handed Quilter.  A couple of months ago I decided to start a blog so that I could share my love of quilting and maybe some pictures of my projects and an occasional rant.  I posted for a while and changed the blog name a couple of times.  Now I'm here.  Welcome to my new and improved blog!!

I am not a professional quilter.  I quilt for fun.  I am no expert and I am not perfect, but I have won my share of blue ribbons at the local county fair and at a Quilt Show in a near-by town.  I have never entered a quilt in a juried show or any type of international competition.  Maybe someday.

I made my first quilt out of two sheets and some batting in 1973.  I tied it with yarn and bound it with pre-packaged quilt binding.  Quilting books and magazines were scarce back then - but I had them all.  My first "real" patchwork quilt was for my first nephew in 1976.  So I have been quilting for a while now.  I love to quilt.

I don't take classes.  My left-handedness always gets in the way. I have taken only three classes in my life - not counting Home-Ec classes in seventh grade.

#1 - Hawaiian Applique - 1977
We lived in Hawaii for about five years.  My husband called me one day with information on a local Hawaiian quilting class.  I figured that if I lived in Hawaii I should learn to either quilt or hula - and I sure as hell wasn't going to learn to hula - so quilting it was.

I tried to prepare for the class by cutting out the pattern and turning under the edges and basting them all down - like my books showed.  When I got to class, the Hawaiian ladies laughed at the "haole" - very politely, of course - but they still laughed at me.  Hawaiian applique is all "needle-turned" applique.  They showed me how to do it their way - but my left-handedness still got in the way.  I have at least ten Hawaiian applique pillows and wallhangings in my UFO pile.  They are all cut and basted - but not sewn.

#2 - Hawaiian Applique - again - 1985
This time I attended a class in Burbank - it was offered  in conjunction with some quilt show - I don't remember exactly when - a long time ago.  Anyway, we split off into teams of two and it was my job to press the fabric before we were to fold and cut it.  The damn iron and ironing board were set up backwards!  And the sewing - again - my left-handedness got in my way.  One of those - all you have to do is reverse it classes.  Yeah, right!  That one is in my UFO pile, too.

#3 - Floral Applique - 1995 - (What is it with me and hand applique classes?)
This time I took a series of classes from a little German lady who had made the most gorgeous quilt I had ever seen!!  It was at a local quilt show and I literally stopped in my tracks!!  Her color shading and workmanship were incredible!!  Anyway, when I heard that she was teaching classes, I signed up immediately.

The first block had a leaf - long and skinny - curved to the left.  She showed us how to start at the bottom of the leaf and sew up the right side on the outside curve of the leaf.  We were to stop at the point on the top so she could show us how to turn it before we sewed down the left side and inside curve.  Great!!  I started my leaf at the bottom - went up the left side and hit the inside curve first.  I showed her my problem and she said, "Oh, you are left-handed!  I cannot help you."  Terrific!  I had been there before.  I told her "Never mind, I'll figure it out myself.  Show me how you do your colors."  I learned everything she could teach me about how she chose her colors - how she shaded her roses - everything except how to sew the block.  Those blocks are at the very top of my UFO pile.  (I did manage to figure out the applique sewing stuff on my own and that is going to be one gorgeous quilt when I get it done!!  Stay tuned.  I'll show you when I get there.)

So, anyway, I don't take classes.  I buy books.  I have a lot of books.  I love books.  I read every single one of them from cover to cover.  What I don't like are the pictures in the books.  They are usually "right-handed".  And they usually say stupid things like - "If you are left-handed - just reverse it."  We all know it isn't that simple.  But it is a right-handed world - so we try to adapt.  I do my best to figure it out - and then I do what works for me.

My sister-in-law is new to quilting.  She and I share the same birthday - I am exactly five years older than she/her.  I  married her brother three weeks after she married her husband - over thirty years ago.  She is also left-handed.  She is taking some quilting classes and we email back and forth all the time.  I try to help when she gets stuck on something.  When I told her my blog name problem and mentioned a couple of new names, she said -

"I'm partial to "A Left-Handed Quilter" because it is definitely something that makes you (us) unique.  I hope you can include the left handed idea in your blog name somehow.  There are plenty of left handed quilters out there (supposedly one in ten) and we always need help with quilting challenges.  In my class this summer, there were three lefties in our group of ten.  We all just had to quietly sit there trying to translate how to execute the cutting and sewing of each block in our "backwards" brains.  There was really no sense asking questions of our "right-handed" teacher; because unless you are left handed,, you just don't get the questions,  It's like speaking a foreign language!  It would have been great for me to have been able to tell the other southpaws to just go to your blog!  You could post some of those great instructions you wrote for me and reduce the global confusion once and for all!"

I hadn't really thought about doing a "Left-handed" blog - I was just looking for a new name.  But I understood exactly what she was talking about - and I think she's right - we all need a "Left-handed" blog - so - that's what I'm going to do.

I'm a very visual person.  I like someone to show me how they do it - and then I can figure out what will work for me.  So I can try to do the same for you - do some tutorials and try to explain how I do things and then show you how I do it.  Now that I have figured out how to add pictures to my blog - I can take photos to show you what I'm talking about.  (See, my two previous attempts at blogging actually taught me some stuff - yay!!)

I also want to be perfectly clear - there is always more than one way to do things.  I'm not saying that my way is the easiest - or the best - or anything.  But maybe, just maybe - it will help you.  I certainly hope so.

Then maybe I can get other bloggers to share their tips and tricks and I can make a list of their blogs for reference.  Maybe we can all help each other.  Wouldn't that be great?  The possibilities are endless.

And because doing things left-handed really is like speaking a foreign language - I am creating a new language.  I am going to write my instructions in what I like to call - "LEFTISH" - and (I've always wanted to say this) - "If you are right-handed - just reverse it."  

Talk to you later - gotta go - gotta sew -

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Third Time's a Charm - New Mission

I am A Left-Handed Quilter - and this blog is for other Left-Handed Quilters.

I want to try to reduce the global confusion once and for all by offering hints - tutorials - resources - or whatever else I/we can think of - to help with quilting challenges.  I'll talk about all of that later.  For now, I want to tell you -

This is my third attempt at blogging.

My first blog name was a bit harsh - so after talking to a dear friend of mine - I changed it.

My second blog name - when I created the blog - was "available".  I thought that that meant it was not being used by anyone.  I obviously thought wrong.  After posting for months - I googled the name just for fun.  It came up -

Quilt Bum - a blog by Marianne Fons - Quilters Club of America.

OH, CRAP!!  There was no way I could continue to use that name - even it it had been "available" and was technically mine.  Marianne Fons is a very highly respected quilter, teacher, and author.  I certainly didn't want anyone to think that my blog was hers.  So - I moved.  (I know, I know - nobody probably read my blog anyway - but even so.)

This is my new blog.  Blog #3.  A Left-Handed Quilter.  Third time's a charm - right?   And I have a new mission.  In addition to "Show & Tell" of whatever I happen to be working on at the moment - I thought I might try to do my part to help other "lefties" out there.

I still have some setting up to do - so it's not quite ready yet.  But stay tuned - it should be kinda cool when I get done.  At least I hope so!

Talk to you later -

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday update -

(11/16/10 - Imported from old blog - Quilt Bum - no relation to Marianne Fons - and re-edited.)

OK, so it's Sunday - what did I do this week?  I sound kinda like Craig Ferguson, huh?  For those of you who don't know - at the end of his show he does a bit - "So, what did we learn on the show tonight, Craig?"   So, what did we do in the sewing room this week, Kitty?

Well, let's see -

I added the Halloweeny tablerunner/placemat thing to my "to be quilted" pile.

I made some headway on the Black/White/Red quilts.  There are five of them so I named them, too - "Red Cosmo" - "Black Cosmo" - "Red Stripe" - "Black Stripe" - "Multi" - so I could talk about them separately.  Each quilt has a matching pillowcase and some extra blocks with the "theme" print.

I hung the matching pillowcases in the closet so I could match the tops and backs as I get them done.

I finished the blocks for Red Cosmo and did the layout on the hallway wall. I was surprised - I didn't rearrange the blocks that much - they seemed to look all right without too much fussing.  Just like I like it.  I'll show you a picture in a minute.

I made the half blocks - pressed them - and sewed the whole blocks for Black Stripe.  It's ready to put up on the wall - as soon as I get Red Cosmo down.  I want to do all five in sort of an assembly line - so I can finish them all at the same time - because I certainly don't want to start from scratch five times.  To me, that makes about as much sense as making five cookies - separately.  Nah, I don't think so.

I bagged up Black Cosmo - Red Stripe - and Multi.  They were getting in my way.  This way I can pull out one bag at a time.  The plan is to sew the top of #1 together - while I play with the layout of #2 - and sew the blocks of #3.  As each top is made, I'll add it to the pillowcase in the closet.  And then work on the backs - binding - sleeves - etc.  And yes, I put sleeves on bed quilts - just in case the owner ever wants to hang it - he/she can without a lot of hassle.  I made a quilt for my sister-in-law one time - for her family room couch - no sleeve.  She wanted to hang it on the wall - and had a hell of a time figuring out how to do it without ruining the quilt.  Lesson learned.

I figured out my sewing sequence for Red Cosmo.  Most patterns say to sew the blocks together in rows and then sew the rows together.  Makes sense - but I don't do it that way.  This quilt is 4 blocks across by 5 blocks down.  That means five rows and twelve match points.  I have to match three points - four times.  The rows get too big and heavy for me that way.  I'm going to do it differently.  My way - I  match one point eight times and then four points once.  The same twelve match points - but with less hassle.  For me, at least.  If anyone is interested in how I do it - let me know in the comments section - I'll do a tutorial.

Oh, yeah - almost forgot - the picture of Red Cosmo on the wall. It is supposed to be 4 blocks across and 5 down - but I can't reach that high - so I laid it out - 5 across and 4 down - same difference if you look at it sideways.  So I took the picture that way.

I don't know how to rotate the photo here - so the brown you see on the left is really the floor and the door at the end of the hall leads to the garage.  Now I have to take it down - so I can put up Black Stripe.  We'll see how that one goes.

Talk to you later.  Gotta go - gotta sew...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November already...

(11/16/10 - Imported from old blog - Quilt Bum - no relation to Marianne Fons - and re-edited.)

Damn - it's November already!  I got my Halloweeny tablerunner/placemat thingy all sewn and fused/basted before Halloween - but then I added it to my pile of stuff to be quilted.  I'm going to use it as another practice piece for my free motion quilting exercises.  (I never have to wonder where my UFO's come from - I am constantly adding to the pile.)  But just to prove that I really did sew it - here are a couple of pictures -

Shrunk just a tad - huh?  Even though I screwed up the cutting, I did manage to get a 3-1/2" square out of each patch.  They will all finish to 3" - so it will come out to 12" x 21" without borders.  The next picture is after the whole thing was sewn and fused/basted.  The lighting wasn't the best - so it looks a little faded - but trust me - it looks pretty good!  You can even see the little windmills - cute, huh? 

I'm really loving this pattern.  I like how it goes together - and it's not too fussy fussy - I just have to watch how I cut it so I don't screw it up any more than necessary.  And "no waste"!! - geez!! - the only waste I had was the itty bitty trims caused by my own stupid cutting goof - not from the pattern itself.  (Thanks, Anita!!)  I want to try her "Arrowhead Block" one of these days - after I finish the Black/White/Red quilts for the kids - and some of my other UFO's - and some free motion quilting practice pieces - and a few other things - the list goes on...

Anyway - I also made some headway on the B/W/R - 600 piece project.

I got the accent strips sewn to the smaller segments - sorted into sets of 5 - and then separated into alternating color groupings.  The larger segments are in the pile on the left - all 200 of them.

Then the makings of the half blocks were sorted into 5 separate piles - for 5 different quilts - similar but not the same.

And the first nine blocks of the first quilt - up on the wall - 3x3.  It needs to be 4x5 - so it obviously won't all fit on this wall.  I need to put it up in the hallway - and flip the alternate blocks on their side.  (I forgot to do that before I took this photo.)  The fun comes when I try to rearrange the blocks so that the same fabrics aren't next to each other.  Whenever I do that - it never fails - if I move one - I usually wind up moving a dozen.  I can never move just one - or two. 

 So this may take a while.  Twenty blocks down - only eighty more to go.

Talk to you later.  Gotta go - gotta sew...


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