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Thread: What to do with light, slightly see-through cotton fabric & suggested must-haves

  1. #1
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    What to do with light, slightly see-through cotton fabric & suggested must-haves

    Hello everyone,

    I'm a soon to be quilter - that is, I'm gathering the right tools, fabric and basic pattern to get started. Since I'm living in India, it's been a bit more complicated than expected. I'm going back to North America and I plan to order everything I'll need and bring it back with me.

    I have two questions for you:

    1) I bought light cotton fabric, figuring (aka hoping) that I could somehow line it. It's a bit too transparent and I don't think it'll turn out nicely once it's assembled with the rest of the project. Can I line it with something? I thought there might be a brand or type of very light fusible material just for that. Do you have suggestions?

    2) Here's my list, off the top of my head:
    • cutting mat
    • cutter
    • 6x24 non-slip ruler
    • cotton and polyester thread (the debate doesn't seem settled yet, so I was going to try both. Opting for Gutterman)
    • Stiffener or starch
    • a small roll of heat n' bond fusible or some kind of fusible to have fun with
    • shout colour catcher
    • quarter inch foot
    • batting (trying two brands, and buying king sizes so I can cut them up and use them in many small projects)


    I have a sewing machine, good pair of scissors, basic pins and iron already. I was going to use my standard needles and small metal pins... There are plenty of interesting fabrics in India!

    I look forward to your suggestion, as this is my only trip this year and I would rather be over-prepared than have to wait until next summer...

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Did you wash the light cotton fabric? With many fabrics, that will tighten up the weave enough so that you do not have to line it. Especially for a beginning quilter, I would recommend against using this fabric if you need to line it. You could probably use it with a fusible interfacing for a wallhanging; the problem with fusibles is that they will not necessarily stand up to washing, as is needed for bed quilts.

    As for your list, I think you should get more rulers. Just to square up fabric for straight cuts, you benefit a lot from two rulers. Plus there are lots of very good specialty rulers that can make triangles and other shapes much easier to cut and piece. (I am thinking especially of the EZ triangle rulers.) If at all possible, keep all straight rulers the same brand so they have the same line marking widths, etc. (This is not as important for specialty rulers.) I would also recommend getting a June Tailor Shape Cut mat for cutting strips efficiently. Many wonderful, easy quilt patterns use strips.

    For thread, I would recommend getting a cone of Aurifil 50wt 2-ply. This is one of the best threads for both piecing and quilting on a domestic machine, it is fine so that the bobbin holds more of it (requiring fewer bobbin changes as you sew), and it creates very little lint. Alternatively, buy a variety of spools of Aurifil (orange spool is 50wt 2-ply) so you have a variety of colors.

    I'm not sure what kind of starch you would want to bring back. Why not save some weight and volume by making up your own starch in India? It can be made from corn starch (the regular white powder used in cooking), potato starch, rice starch, etc. There are recipes online.

    With the savings in weight and volume made by eliminating starch, I would load up on a variety of fusibles (especially Steam-a-Seam lite and Misty Fuse).

    Also, if you cannot find them in India, buy a roll of Reynolds freezer paper and a couple of rolls of parchment paper (very inexpensive at Walmart). Both have lots of uses in quilting and can be hard to find in other countries.

    Do you use washing machines there? If so, and if you can transport a liquid, I would recommend getting Synthrapol instead of the color catchers. You might also want to get Retayne.

    What battings are you considering? And are you planning to make wall hangings or bed quilts or both?

    Edit: I would also add, especially if you decide to go the cone thread route, that the new thread stand from Superior Threads comes in really handy when you have thread problems. I love mine.

    Also, regarding thread, I would not rule out polyester -- especially for quilting. I love Glide for quilting (available online).
    Last edited by Prism99; 07-29-2013 at 12:18 PM.

  3. #3
    Super Member Weezy Rider's Avatar
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    If it is see through, you can do shadow applique. Put the applique right side on the wrong side of the fabric.

  4. #4
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    Hi, and welcome to the Board!
    You may want to consider using an internet site like Fabric.com, Connecting Threads, or Keepsake Quilting for some of your needs. I don't know what the cost to ship to India is but SURELY some company out there will do it for not a whole lot. Some of the companies even have international shipping specials, so look for those when you shop.
    Another consideration for the light-weight material you have is to use it as a very light batting, for like a summer quilt...that way, you can still use it but don't have to get involved with backing it or lining it.
    At any rate, happy quilting and good luck! Welcome to our world!!!
    If you feel like you're special...it's 'cause you are!
    Momto5

  5. #5
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    I agree with Prism, you need more than the one ruler you listed. It is important to square up your blocks as you make them. Get as many different sizes of square rulers you can find, all made by the same company.

    Don't forget to buy a lot of blade refills for your rotary cutter.

    Seam ripper. Unfortunately, we all need this tool.

    You said you have scissors. Large or small? You really need both sizes.

    Quilting safety pins for pinning the quilt sandwich.

    I also think you should get a variety of fusibles.

    Have fun on your shopping trip and good luck!!

  6. #6
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    Hi Prism!

    I haven't washed the fabric yet as I didn't have time to sew the seams. I'll give that a try first!

    As for the other rulers, I saw both sets of triangles (no brand name) and a single EZ triangle. Best to go with the set, or its easy enough to work with just one template?

    I'm thinking of making bed quilts and maybe a table runner - no wall hangings. What battings do you suggest? I hadn't picked a specific brand, but I was thinking of polyester. I saw a brand called Dream something and Mountain Mist online.

    I should be able to bring back some liquids, and I'll definitely make my own starch and use my suitcase space wisely.

    Finally, for the cone thread, I have a little Singer 4166. I guess my first question is - will I be able to assemble a quilt on this, or will I have to invest in something bigger? At worst, I'll plan smaller projects until I buy something else. Second - do you mean I could consider buying a free standing cone thread?

    Thanks for all the info!
    M.

  7. #7
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    Hi Momto5 -

    This may be a silly question, but how would light summer batting be different than thick batting in this case?

    If I iron my seams on the dark side of the fabric or open, plus the batting, I might be ok?

    Who knows, maybe a good round in the washing machine will help

    Thanks for the website suggestions!

  8. #8
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    And a few of you mentioned I need more fusible... I was under the impression it's used for applique, but are there other common uses?

  9. #9
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    more seam rippers!
    Something to mark with - there are some nice pencils available. I am anti-ink (I don't care if it's supposed to wash out - I don't trust any of them)
    A long tape measure or carpenter's tape measure (they are metal) - nice for measuring longer lengths.

    Some hand-sewing needles. I like the John James brand. A thimble. If you hand sew the binding down. A needle threader.
    Last edited by bearisgray; 07-30-2013 at 10:52 AM.

  10. #10
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    You've gotten some good advice, I don't have a lot to add, but I would get another machine, and not a new Singer, an old one yes, Brother and Janome have a good reputation, even for the low end machines. As for seam rippers, I haven't used one in years, ever since I found these little snips(http://www.123snip.com/Nippers.htm), I love #6204, they have excellent service and great prices.

  11. #11
    Super Member justflyingin's Avatar
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    I think I'm in a similar boat to you--but one thing I would check is try to find out what is available there. Are you an American and will be coming back to the states frequently?

    I've seen some really neat things sold that are "made in India". This must mean that they sell thread, and probably interfacing there. Specific fabric that you like? That you MUST import, probably. This is what I have discovered about Poland...

    This is what I've gotten from the USA and brought over.
    1. rotary cutting mat and rotary cutter (at least the first one), extra blades (!!! #1 importance)
    2. heat n bond (but I didn't get this til about a year ago--you can leave out if no room but it's not heavy
    3. someone gave me a roll of freezer paper. Haven't used it yet. It was very heavy.
    4. I first brought over thread--and then I found out guess what....THEY SELL THREAD HERE! Duh! Of course. No, it may not be what some of you use, but you know, it is so freeing to be able to get something "locally" and so much cheaper than shipping. Then, when I got into embroidery, I've found out actually that the name brand embroidery thread (Madeira) seems to be cheaper here than in the US.)
    5. Interfacing and stuff like fusible fleece if you want it for projects I have found a store that sells it here, though...(not the fusible fleece, but interfacing)
    6. Sewing supplies-I'm going to assume that you already have some or that the ladies there use scissors, seam rippers, rulers, etc. You may need to make sure you have an inch ruler/tape measure if that is what you are more comfortable with. When it comes to quilting, it is handy to have them--and I found that my little 6" clear plastic (Fiskars brand--found in a set with a tiny mat) has been a handy tool!
    7. I agree about the quarter inch foot but if you can find a sewing machine dealer in your city, they may have it. Also make sure your machine has a free motion quilting/darning foot.
    8. Rulers...I agree with some of the others here, but I doubt you need as many specialty rulers as some indicate. I have the 6" wide one (I think mine is actually 5.5" wide) but I use a 3" wide ruler a lot--it's a lot easier to handle. I also like a 6" square and I use my 2.5" square one a lot and today I found myself using a 10.5" square for trimming up blocks. They are nice, but not necessary. You NEED only one or two until you get into more specialized patterns. But need/convenience are two different things.

    I with that I had discovered many years ago what they have here--so, I wish for you that you could find a store that sells all the "things that go with fabric" so you can see what is already there. But my list is what I've found most helpful...

    AND for me, it's mostly FABRIC!! That's really what I bring over except for things found at a really great deal--example, I found some 5000 yard/m cones of embroidery thread on Ebay for a good deal. I brought it over.
    Last edited by justflyingin; 07-30-2013 at 12:34 PM.

  12. #12
    Super Member sewmom's Avatar
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    If your fabric is too thin to use in a quilt you can use it as foundation in string blocks.
    A time to tear, And a time to sew;
    A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;

  13. #13
    Super Member patski's Avatar
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    I would wash the light fabric, you can use it for foundation piecing if its' too light weight for piecing. Also check out Craftsy, free classes offered I think its' the block of the month,
    Patski
    always learning

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    An essential item would be a seam ripper! You may be doing a lot of that during the learning curve! Consider Hobbs fusible batting. Would save a lot of frustration getting the quilt sandwich flat and ready for quilting. All the advice given so far is right on! Good luck and will look forward to seeing the result(s).

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    Washable glue like Elmers school glue or sim. Tutorials here on how to use it. Iron on tape to fuse batting (I use king size batting and cut for smaller projects. I always end up with odd pieces that I can fuse to make a larger piece.) MULTIPLE SEAM RIPPERS (mine always roll away somewhere and get lost). I would suggest taking time to read thru the tutorials and tips sections for different techniques (such as glue basting, using freezer paper, etc ). That might give you ideas on things others find useful. A square up ruler (If you are good with geometry, you can cut just about any shape you want using the angles marked on the large ruler and your cutting mat. I have a 9 inch square up ruler and a 6x24 and hardly ever use anything else). Painters tape to pick out threads and mark straight lines for quilting. Something to grip fabric when quilting...either gloves or shelf liner.

  16. #16
    Super Member ArtsyOne's Avatar
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    I have a friend living in Chennai who is also learning how to quilt. She has purchased an old Singer machine and is happy with it. All you really need is a machine that will sew a straight line unless you are planning on doing machine applique in which case you will want it to do a satin stitch.

    As for your light cotton fabric - I have some almost see-through white fabric that has been lightly embroidered with flowers. I think the fabric originally came from India, so yours may be similar. What I've been doing with it is using it as the backing for baby quilts. Since my batting is white, the sheerness of the fabric doesn't show. I then quilt around the flowers in ever-expanding circles. If you enlarge this photo you may be able to see the sheerness - it's been working just fine for me.
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    A fabric stash is always missing that one fabric needed to finish the quilt on which you're working.

  17. #17
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    ARGH!!! I just pressed the wrong key and destroyed my post!!! Here goes again.....

    For straight edge rulers, you want to try to stay with the same brand. Having at least two straight edge rulers helps with straightening fabric edges for cutting. I would suggest Olfa brand frosted nonstick rulers for this (what I would get if I were starting out today!). For this and all other supplies, do you have someone who could order them over the internet for you so they are in the U.S. when you arrive? Many of these things are not stocked in local stores. (Local stores will stock stuff, but not necessarily the brand you want.) Olfa rulers are priced pretty well at http://www.overstock.com . As for sizes, I would suggest 16x24 and 6x12 to start with.

    For cutting half-square triangles, I recommend this ruler: http://www.amazon.com/Quilting-Angle...dp/B005KC3L4U/ . Although it also comes in a larger size, this is the most useful. It is better to get this one ruler than a set of triangle rulers. The beauty of this ruler is that it cuts off the "dog ear" on one side of the triangle, making it easier to sew the triangles together accurately. With half-square triangles you can sew two triangles together to make a square and there are a ***lot*** of patterns that use HSTs.

    For bed quilts, I recommend starting out with Hobbs 80/20 batting. (Connecting Threads sometimes has 30% off sales on it.) This is the only batting that many quilters ever use, as it is great for either hand or machine quilting. Not sure what to recommend for table runners, although I think Mountain Mist Lite polyester might be a good choice for that (JoAnn fabric stores usually carry this batting and it is inexpensive).

    How to you plan to baste your quilts together? Many quilters now prefer using basting spray (505 is the best, but you cannot take these sprays on an airplane) or Elmer's white washable school glue (some people purchase this in the gallon size). Considering limitations, you might want to purchase safety pins just in case you need to pin your quilt together. Go to a quilting shop for these (or buy online from a quilter's source). You want a very small size (I bought 0 size, I think) and the brass safety pins (will not rust, unlike nickel plated).

    I looked up your sewing machine online. It would be okay for piecing, but is too small and not sufficiently heavy-duty for quilting. You need as much space under the arm of the machine as you can get in order to stuff your quilt through while quilting. In India you should be able to find vintage-style machines (look like vintage black Singers) that are sufficiently heavy-duty and that have more space under the arm.

    You can use a freestanding cone with any sewing machine if you can feed the thread properly to the machine. I like the newer Superior Thread stand (about $30, I think) as it can be used in a variety of situations that I have at home. Since you are starting out, you can probably make do with a jar to hold the cone and maybe a large safety pin taped to the machine. It would probably be easier for you at this point to just buy spools of thread rather than a cone, as you will probably not use up a cone for a very long time!
    Last edited by Prism99; 07-31-2013 at 10:33 AM.

  18. #18
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    I would recommend cotton batting as opposed to polyester. Cotton breathes; polyester doesn't. Consider getting both white and black batting, if you know you are going to be working with darker fabrics. Also, you don't need to fuse batting pieces together if your machine has a zigzag stitch. Lay your batting pieces so that they overlap (wrong side on top of right side) by about 1", then trim about 1/2" from the edge. Remove the small trimmed pieces and the edges should butt together perfectly. Then zigzag together.

    There are several sizes of cutting mats. I have a small (6x9") for trimming blocks, but use my 12x18" the most.

    In one of the threads, someone posted a recipe for making washable glue, so you might want to check that out before purchasing and transporting it.

    I second the suggestion to get the June Tailor Shape Cut. It is great for cutting strips and then cutting the strips into smaller units. It comes in two sizes 12" and 18". Get the bigger one, because you can make more cuts before you need to move it. I would recommend that you get at least a 12-1/2" square ruler, but I use my 6-1/2" square a lot. With the larger square, you can square up anything up to that size. I recommend the Olfa brand rulers, as opposed to the Omnigrid, because I don't like the yellow lines. You might want to get the Tri Recs rulers, which is great for the 54-40 or Fight blocks, and a 60 degree ruler, especially if you are going to be doing any type of hexagon quilt like a One Block Wonder. And I recommend the Eleanor Burns Quilt In a Day rulers for flying geese and half square triangles.

    Superior Masterpiece threads are good for piecing and quilting. I like the Prescencia threads, too, which come in 50/3 and 60/3 weights. Though you may want to buy a variety of colors for quilting, I have found that white, beige, light gray and dark gray will work for most piecing. Buying thread in cones is more economical than buying by the spools. And you don't need to buy a thread stand. Just tape a large safety pin or diaper pin on the back of your machine right by the spool pin, set your cone of thread in a bowl or jar (so it doesn't "travel on your table"), then thread through the small hole at the end of the pin before threading your machine in the usual way. Also, stock up on Sharp, not Universal, machine needles. I like Schmetz, but I've been told that Organ needles are also good. 80/12 is a good size for most threads. Extra rotary cutter blades are a must. Also, instead of buying the new, expensive clips (If you were even thinking about it), check out the small and medium binder clips that you buy at the office supply store. They make them now in colors, but you can always find basic black.

    You might try locating some quilting shops in Australia and New Zealand. I would think they would be closer and the shipping would be less than ordering from the US.

    If you are in a rural area that is prone to power outages, consider getting a treadle machine. That way, you can still quilt, even without electricity. I have a 1939 Singer treadle that has seen me through several outages, including the aftermath of a hurricane about 5 years ago. Since that time, several of my quilting friends have gotten a treadle, a battery-operated fan and a battery-operated lamp.

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