My Faves

My Faves: Wool Pressing Mat

Top of my Christmas wish list was a wool pressing mat. I hesitated however because I just wasn’t sure if I needed one. The price for wool isn’t cheap and I wanted to make sure this mat delivered the goods.

Well, we got them in the shop and one was placed in a classroom so I tried it out. Here is my Sewing Machine block before pressing on the wool mat.

And here is my block after.

Notice how it smoothed out all those gathers around the embroidery? Look how nice and flat it is now! And that’s without using any starch. Pretty impressive.

Always in Stitches (the quilt store where I work) has wool pressing mats in two sizes—8” and 17” square. They are expensive and it’s tempting to get the less expensive one but I decided if I got one it should be large enough to press an entire block so I got the 17” instead.

Online, some have reported that wool pressing mats smell but mine doesn’t. I mean I can smell wool like a wool sweater but it’s not overpowering or even noticeable after a few minutes. I’d stay away from the real cheap ones though because maybe they smell because the wool isn’t that clean.

The mat is firm (I love a firm ironing surface, don’t you?) and holds my block in place so I can get a good pressing. In addition, it holds heat like crazy so I’m really pressing my block from both sides at once. So cool!

If you get a wool pressing mat of your own, here are a few tips for using it:

  • Keep it clean. I would not spray starch on a block while it’s on the wool mat, because the wool fibers will absorb the starch. So I spray on my ironing board, then move the block to the mat.

  • Rinse in cool water If you have dirtied your wool mat, rinse it in cool water and hang it to let it air dry.

  • Watch out below First, do not put the wool pressing mat on your cutting mat. If you use steam, the steam will travel through the wool fibers and wet whatever’s underneath, so it’ll soak your cutting mat. Even if you don’t use steam, the heat may travel through the fibers and warp the cutting mat (you also know not to leave your cutting mat in your car on a hot day, don’t you?) My mat is 1/2” thick and the density seems to keep most of the heat from traveling through but still, I don’t want any heat on my cutting mat so I’m not going to use it there.

    I planned to use the pressing mat on my ironing board because that seems the most convenient place, but it’s bigger than my ironing board and I don’t want it to warp so I’m using on a nearby table. I don’t use steam in my iron and instead simply squirt the block with my mister before ironing, but if I use steam I suppose I’ll put a towel under the mat to absorb the water and protect my table from getting soaked.

  • Block it out It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize you can pin your block to the mat to square it up if needed. Or any kind of fiber work, such as embroidery. How cool is that?

If you want to share the news about felted wool pressing mats, please pin the image below to Pinterest or share it on Instagram with my hashtag: #inquiringquilter.

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Tell me…have you invested in a wool pressing mat?

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After Quilt Market

Always in Stitches, the quilt store where I work, recently held an After Market event to introduce customers to our new offerings and it was fun!

First, refreshments were served and wish lists were passed out. Then one by one, we were introduced to the latest goodies from Fall Quilt Market. Every once in a while, the presentation was paused while another goodie from Market was given away to a delighted crowd.

So what were some of the trends? Cats seemed to be everywhere—in quilts and in fabric, including an awesome collection from Island Batik called Feline Fine.

Wovens (homespuns) are hot again, and they’ve gotten a fresh look with bright colors and gorgeous coordinates.

Deb Strain is back with a new Bee fabric collection.

Apparel fabrics and Cuddle (Minky) were once again pretty popular. You can’t believe how cute the Funky Friends patterns are in Luxe Cuddle fabric!

After the event, customers were given the chance to purchase products fresh from Market before they hit our sales floor.

Feathering My Nest

Back in the early days of my blog, I used to regularly feature handy tools, beautiful fabrics, and awesome patterns I called “My Faves.” It occurred to me that since I work at a quilt shop now, I should probably feature from time to time the things that catch my eye.

Recently at the shop, we featured this handy tool—the Your Nest Organizer.

The organizer was on sale at the shop for a short period of time, and after thinking about it for a while I finally bit and got it. The Your Nest Organizer has a troubh to hold your rotary cutter, holes in the front for small pointy things like a pencil, seam ripper, and small scissors, and grippy things for holding just about everything else such as a pack of machine needles, magnetic picker-upper, small rulers, and what have you.

I love its small footprint and its ability to corral the quilting tools I use the most right next to my machine. I also love the color I chose (purple <grin>). The tool comes in lots of colors, including lime, pink, aqua and of course purple. <grin>

I’m probably going to be tweaking what I keep in my Nest for a while until I find that perfect combination of tools. My only wish right now is that it had a few more holes in the front.

If you like it, please share my review online using the image below.

I could probably use a Your Nest Organizer in the kitchen as well to hold recipes, small knives, pen and notepad. Hmmm. I'll have to give that a try.

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Tell me…what tools would you keep in your Nest?

I really appreciate your comments. Please leave an email address so I can thank you personally!

I really appreciate your comments. Please leave an email address so I can thank you personally!

Windham Fabrics Giveaway!

As most of you know, I’m privileged to design and test quilt patterns for several fabric companies. About a week ago, my friends at Windham Fabrics sent me a wonderful box filled with some of their newest fabrics and asked me to help spread the word. One of the fabric collections is called “Kashmir,” designed by Rosemarie Lavin. Immediately upon looking at it I thought of Moroccan tiles. Isn’t the collection wonderful?

I’ve already got a design going for a small wall hanging that’s perfect for the fat quarter packet. Here is the center block, already pieced. Oh my heart! The collection is available now online and in quilt stores near you. I can’t wait to show you my finished wall hanging!

Windham also sent a fat quarter pack from the “Tall Ships” collection by Whistler Studios. It’s filled with images of tall ships, sailor’s knots, anchors and the like. Wouldn’t this be cute in a quilt for an office or a little boys room?

I was privileged to test a free pattern by Hilary Bobker called How’d They Do That? that features “Tall Ships” and it’s very cute. Ever wonder how they get those ships in a bottle? They piece them in! <grin> The Tall Ships collection is available now.

Another fat quarter pack included in the box was from the “Isadora” collection, also by Rosemarie Lavin. Love these blues and creams! The Isadora collection is available in quilt stores now.

Windham also sent along this half yard group of fabrics from the awesome “Twilight” collection by Whistler Studios. My husband Scott has been wanting a new bag for his tablet and I think this will do handsomely. I might even make a bag for myself! Twilight will be available in stores beginning May, 2017.

There were also several charm packs included in the box. Two of the charm packs were designed by Lotta Jansdotter and they are so modern and fun! One is called Hemma and the other is Lilla. Hemma is available now, and Lilla will be available in stores beginning March, 2017. Love those kitties!

I tested several patterns for Maribel, a collection designed by Anabel Wrigley. I love, love the colors in this collection. The patterns are available from the stores that carry Maribel.

The final charm pack is Riverbanks, designed by Jeanne Horton. I love the richness of this collection. Riverbanks will be available in stores beginning in April, 2017.

To celebrate my generous friends at Windham Fabrics, I’m having a giveaway! Leave a comment below telling me the name of your favorite Windham fabric collection from today’s post for a chance to win this curated collection of “Tall Ships” fat quarters! If you follow me through Bloglovin’, email, Facebook, or Instagram, leave additional comments for extra chances to win (one comment for each way you follow). On Wednesday, I’ll announce the winner!

The giveaway closes at midnight EST Tuesday, February 7th and is open to US residents only since the postage is on me. Make sure that you leave an email address so I can contact you if you win! If the winner cannot be identified, I will need to choose another winner. Also, due to the expected volume of entries, I may not be able to reply to all comments. I hope you understand!

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Tell me…what would you make using these fabric collections?

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   Be sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you win!

Be sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you win!