Monday, July 6, 2015

Portable Ironing Board--A Quilters' Companion

Portable Studio/Sewing Room Ironing Table
Tutorial Written and Illustrated by Jillian Grant

Supplies Needed:

Sturdy Wooden Folding TV Tray—These can be found at Walmart for less than $9
100% Cotton Fabric about 20” x 24” (to allow for trimming)
3-4 pieces of cotton or 80/20 cotton/poly blend batting. 
  • piece needs to be at least large enough to cover the top of the TV tray and wrap to the back of tray. 
  • The other pieces can be one continuous piece to layer or multiple pieces cut to the size of the top of tray.
1 piece of Insul Bright cut to the size of the top of the tray.  Insult Bright is sold many places and runs about $7.50-8.00 for a 45” x 1 large piece.
1 heavy duty staple gun and plenty of staples
Solid surface to work on


1. Pull support legs out on TV Tray as if to use it. 

2. Place piece of batting over top of tray.  Note it is okay to use 
batting scraps and they may overlap slightly.

3. Turn TV Tray upside down and place on sturdy surface.  Starting in the corner you can now start stapling down the layer of batting as close to the edge as possible.  On corners ease the extra batting into the corner so that it’s not too lumpy.  Place you staples about 3”-4” apart.  Pull the batting a little taut as you staple side 2-4 but do not stretch batting.  You just want to insure the batting is not going to be sliding around underneath everything else.

4. Once the batting is in place trim close to staples to remove excess batting.

5. Next lay down a piece of Insul Bright, shiny side up, and trim to fit your TV Tray from edge to edge.

6. Layer down the next 2-3 layers of batting and make sure they are just about 1/8” smaller than the tray all the way around.

7.  Cut fabric to be approximately 4” larger than top of TV Tray.  Lay across top of tray with overhang even around all four edges of tray.

8.     Carefully turn the TV Tray back over and place on a sturdy surface.  Suggestion:  Place one hand on top of the layers to hold in place while turning upside down.

9.  Start with corners pulling fabric up to cover rounded edges.  Staple in place.    Do all four corners first. 

10. Next pull up one side of the fabric and fold extra under then staple in place to back/bottom of the tray.  Make sure you place staples about 1” apart. 

11. Turn tray to opposite side and pull fabric snug and tight and staple down that side.  Turn and complete the two sides that are not done.  If you have any batting showing trim away.

Your Finished Portable Ironing Board

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Rev It Up

Have you ever finished a quilt top and, though proud, thought something is missing here?  You pieced it carefully; pressed every seam perfectly; and measured and cut to perfection!  Even your fabric choices were well thought out but you didn't get the 'va va voom' you were going for.  What happened you ask yourself?!  The answer might be the intensity of the fabrics you chose.

Intensity?  What's that?  Simple put it's the saturation of color of the fabric.  A high intensity fabric will be filled with bright colors, with an obvious depth of saturation--rich and deep.  A medium intensity is what most quilters select because it's what most fabric producers sell.  It's safe and doesn't need much risk to go with medium intensity choices.  Low intensity, usually tone on tones or muted colors against low saturation colors--such as a light grey design on a cream colored background--are also safe, easy to use fabric choices.

So how do you put the 'va va voom' into a quilt?  How about taking risks and using some high intensity choices in place of some of your medium intensity fabrics.  Add some low intensity fabrics as well for a high contrast of your design.  That "pop" of color here and there will bring a design to a higher wow factor and add interest to your work.  This very interest may grab attention to the beauty of your work and make someone want to gaze longer at your work of art.

This is not a safe way to quilt.  It takes bravery and a desire to move beyond where you have been before.  Many of the modern and contemporary designs use this very technique to distinguish the work from tradition quilts.  It is the depth and dimension that adds interest and makes the quilt more Warm colors will advance an image while cool colors tend to make them recede.  Deep, high intensity colors make images appear close while low intensity colors tend to make things look farther away.

Take a chance and advance your quilt making skills.  Try a little change in intensity to give your next quilt top a big "POW" that makes you smile when you look at it and makes others feel compelled to keep looking.  You might be surprised at what you discover in your own design aesthetic.

Happy quilting!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

What is Modern Quilting?

As I move more into the modern age of quilting I've been searching for definitions for our newly formed group within the quilt guild I belong to. Below is probably one of the better explanations I found.

According to the Modern Quilt Guild, "Modern quilts are primarily functional and inspired by modern design. Modern quilters work in different styles and define modern quilting in many ways, but several characteristics often appear which help identify a modern quilt. These include: the use of bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid color, improvisational piecing, minimalism, expansive negative space, and alternate grid work. 'Modern traditionalism' or the updating of classic quilt designs is also often seen in modern quilting."1

Common quilt designs found in modern quilting blocks include star blocks, string blocks, log cabin variations, circles, triangles, rectangles, hexagons, paper pieced blocks, and improvisational blocks.2

1Sherri McConnell, Modern Quilting Blocks,

2 Ibid

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Latest Trends in Quilting

I recently spent some time pouring through about a dozen magazines from around the world written all about my favorite subject...quilting.  Judging by what I am seeing then and over the last few months there are definite movements toward a much more clean and easy look to quilts of today.  In a nutshell the world is moving forward into a more modern look for quilts.

At Quilt Guild last night I was asked what is the difference between modern quilts and contemporary quilts.  This is a question that could be pondered and argued for a long time without a total meeting of the minds.  I've made up my own definition that I believe will make things a little more clear.

Contemporary quilts are typically those with components of traditional pattern designs but using more updated fabric patterns and colors.  This is much like what we see in fashion when trends from years gone by are revived but with a fresh look.

Modern quilts, on the other hand, are often linear designs (lots of lines) with a great deal of negative space.  The focus in the negative space is often the quilting.  Modern quilts use a lot of grey or white in their components.

For me personally, my preferred designs are either contemporary or modern but I find myself lately looking for traditional designs and then ways to update them.  In the end, it just matters that it's all about quilting.

Here is a recent quilt of mine called Picasso Lives.

The premise was to use scraps to make a block that could be incorporated into a design.  The overall look is very contemporary to me.

Happy discovery of your own quilt niche.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Quilter's Prayer Revisitied

Originally posted 8/20/2013

Quilter's Prayer

Lord forgive me when I sew
There is so much that I don't know
Gadgets, rulers, and special tools
Sometimes make us feel like fools
When I acheive that special look
Then I will write a nice big book
But for now I continue to grow
My ever changing talents as I sew.

Original poem by Jillian Grant

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Fun Time in the City

Two days of sewing.  I learned, I laughed and I loved what I was working on.  It doesn't get much better than that.  Thanks to all my Quilt Guild Sisters in Sewing.

It's time to mark my calendar for new sewing days of fun.  It's great to be back in Springfield where I belong.

Friday, January 30, 2015

She's Back

I truly can't believe I stayed away so long.  Writing this blog is so much fun.  Unfortunately, I've let my other job get in the way of the things that have more meaning.

Since my last post several quilts have been completed.  One actually won an Honorable Mention at the Ozark's Piecemakers Quilt Show in October 2014.  My first show, my first ribbon.  I've already got plans for the 2016 quilt show and much more.

One exciting thing I've discovered is the value of belonging to a Quilt Guild.  In August of 2014 I joined the Ozark Piecemakers Quilt Guild in Springfield, home town.  I can't explain how much fun it has been.  The members are hands down some of the nicest people around.  Nothing de-stresses me more than to go to Open Sew days and visit with friends, work on projects and just laugh and sew.  It's a great way to relieve the stresses from daily life.

As I get back into the swing of writing my blog I will bring more ideas and thinks learned over the last year to quilters who follow me.  Thank you for being patient for my return.

I'm off to another Open Sew day at the guild...two in a row.  What a way to spend my days off.