Wednesday, May 10, 2017

We All Have Hangups....

Yep!  If you are a quilter you have hangups....or you need them!

I'm talking about hanging quilts on the walls. 


When I first started quilting over 4 decades ago very few people made quilts for walls.  In the early years of my quilting adventure quilts were for beds, couches, picnics, table tops and babies.  Rarely did you make a quilt just for the wall.

Now most of the quilts in my home are on the wall or on a ladder leaning against the wall. So this can present a tricky situation if you want to change them out and display different sized quilts in the same area on the wall plus you need to figure out a way to get the quilt safely on the wall with as little damage to both the quilt and the wall. 

For years I used a shelf/rod combo.  Worked well for the most part, but if the quilt was bigger I was out of luck, and if the quilt was smaller it looked kind of funny. Plus they are not inexpensive.

Many of you have probably tried some of the options that have been out there for a while.  You may remember the little blocks that were mounted to the wall that grabbed the top of your quilt.  

They were OK for small quilts but a large quilt could be damaged by uneven weight distribution. Honestly I'm not sure they even make them anymore.

There are also a wide range of compression type hangers but the ones I had were tricky to load and so I found I rarely changed out the quilt. Those too seemed to have fallen by the wayside.

I am fortunate to have two quilt ladders that are nice to hang lots of quilts on, the only downside is you don't get to see much of the quilt and of course Winnie is fond of going to the top and then

crying to get help getting down. In reality I think it is just a ploy for attention because if I ignore him he gets down just fine.  

Several years ago we did a major custom entertainment wall in our family room.  

One of my requirements was that within the cabinet(s) there be room to display some of my award winning quilts.  I designed the wall unit and our amazing contractor built exactly what I wanted.  

The quilts are inside a cabinet with a built in ladder and there is a glass door to help keep the dust down.  I love this and can change them out easily.   

Honestly not everyone has the space or the resources to have a custom quilt display cabinet built as part of your entertainment wall, so while this is wonderful, it's probably not going to be something everyone can do. 

Some of you may live in a home that has a stair case with a railing.  Mine is constantly changing and I love having this space for displaying my quilts.

However I realize that not every home has these types of spaces so the quest continues for the perfect hanger for everyone and every home.

Changing things up

The décor in my home has changed over the years and if you are like me you want to change out your quilts with ease.  One problem I ran into is the fact that they are often different widths and utilizing the same hanger can be problematic. There were often holes in the wall where the bar or holder had been hung or the rod or hanger was too large or too small.

In my back hallway I wanted the quilt to hug the wall due to the traffic, so I purchased a 2.5” x 5/16” piece of trim molding from the lumber yard, drilled a couple of holes in the ends and put a nail in the wall and just hung the board over the nails.  This worked but I’m pretty much stuck with the size of the board and then there are those pesky holes.  Additionally, this only works if the quilt is not real heavy.

After the wood trim boards I started using curtain rods.  They were adjustable, could be hung on the brackets or close to the wall with a screw or nail and were relatively inexpensive.  I have several of these around my home. There are issues with these as well. The curtain rod finials can mar the wall paint on the flush mounted ones (hung by just resting the rod on a couple of larger nails behind the quilt so it does not show) when I change them out or take quilts up and down for trunk shows. The ones I have mounted using the brackets that came with the rod can also be an issue because the quilt hangs a couple of inches away from the wall as you can see in the photo above.

Several years ago I discovered a new product that I thought was just brilliant.  Magnetic Invisible Quilt Hangers by the Magnificent Quilt Company. The system allows for easy hanging of most any size quilt utilizing a separately purchased metal bar along with the kit containing magnets, mounting plates and Command™ strips. I was excited and purchased several sets. A trip to the hardware store, the purchase of two steel bars and within no time my large, heavy, embroidered quilt was on the wall all for around $70.  Not inexpensive.

That embroidered large quilt hung on this system flat and tucked nicely against the wall for a couple of years but then the magnets started slipping off the metal hanging pieces and the quilt appeared to be too heavy for the hangers to hold in spite of following the recommended spacing and number of hangers for the size of my quilt. The Command strips held well but the magnets seemingly lost their power. 

This system did have several advantages; it’s easy to install, it provides flexibility, you can’t see the hanger and it does not mark or damage the wall.  The only downside is the one I described but that is easily remedied with stronger magnets, however this adds to the cost. As purchased it is perfect for “normal” quilts that don’t weigh as much as a small child.  A quick search on the internet and I purchased some rare earth magnet disks and trust me the metal rod and hanging plates are stuck together just fine now.  But again the new magnets added to the cost to hang this large and heavy quilt. The search continued...

The PERFECT Solution...


As the window décor in my home changed over the years I ended up with quite a few of the wider continental style curtain rods and one day at the hardware store I spied a type of Command™ holder made for hanging pictures and thought hey that just might work with all those rods I have in the basement. 

The metal rods have sort of a flange feature on both edges that sets down nicely on the post of the metal or plastic Command picture hanging plate as it is mounted on the wall much like the wire on the back of a picture. The beauty of this solution is I don’t have to purchase flat bar stock, the curtain rods are adjustable and the command strips mean there is no marking of the wall when I take them down and change the size.  The command picture hangers only  have to be purchased one time as you can buy refills of the hanging strips.
The price can’t be beat either since I already owned the rods and the Command™ strips were less than $10.  For larger quilts I have even put several of the hangers in the middle of the quilt and just let the sleeve get tucked in the rod as I hung them on the picture hangers. Overall a great solution.  I do use clear packing tape to tape the rods together to the correct length before hanging them and if I change the quilt to a different size I just adjust the rod to length and re-tape.  

Recently I purchased a larger rod for a bigger quilt and it ran me less than $15 at a local home goods store.  I also love that the quilt hangs tight to the wall and is very secure.  The metal curtain rods are much lighter than the ones I purchased for the magnetic system above which helps for larger quilts.  

So next time you have a hangup you might want to consider this inexpensive and very flexible option - it might just be the one that works best for you too.


Linda T.

This original design scrap quilt hangs in my bathroom.


Kanaby Builders, Bad Axe, MI

Friday, April 14, 2017

I've Got Your Back....(ing)

Hey there quilt a quick and useful tutorial to share.

Quilt Backing 101

Every quilt needs one and sometimes the perfect fabric is not available in a wide width.  You know what comes next...wrestling with multiple yards of 44" wide fabric as you cut and sew it into the correct size and shape for your quilt. Often the ends don't match up and if you take your quilts to a professional for machine quilting that is often not their favorite thing to see.

I have a super easy method that yields great results that I would like to share with you.



Note:  This is a fabric that is printed with two different prints on the same width of the fabric. Same color just a different print on each "half" - I share that with you so you will know that there are not 4 lengths to the back I am preparing but rather two.

First up is the long length of fabric - unfold it and lay it on the floor or wherever you have space. It's not necessary to press the center fold out at this point. The right side (pretty side) should be facing up.

 Next up is to pick up one end of it and fold back on top of the fabric matching up cut ends.  It will still be 44" wide but half as long. Right sides will be together.

You probably can't tell but the fold is now at the bottom of the photo and the cut ends are at the top.  Selvages are on the left and right in this photo.

Next you take the cut end and match the two pieces as closely as you can.  The folded edge should be at the opposite end (at your feet). 

Take care to line up the selvage edges.

Set your stitch length to 1.5 and sew for about 1 to 2 inches.  Switch back to 2.0 or even 2.5 to make it go quicker.

Remember that you will be trimming away the selvage edge so be sure to sew far enough away from it to allow for cutting that edge away.  You don't want to leave that in your quilt.

Keep sewing until you get to about 2 inches from the folded edge - change your stitch length back to 1.5 and sew off the edge.

Now what you have is a perfectly aligned backing that is even at both ends.

Just a couple more steps...

 Take the backing to your cutting table and with a ruler trim away the folded edge.  You can see why you change your stitch length on both ends.  I would go back and stay stitch across this cut end after I've pressed the seam to one side - yes to one side.  If you press the seam open it leaves a weak area in the quilt and if you have a few popped stitches your batting will peek through. 

Ta Dah!  Quilt backing with just one seam where both edges are perfectly aligned and you didn't have to pin anything or wrestle multiple yards of fabric hoping it would turn out even and straight.  Trim off the selvage edges next to the seam and press to one side.  If you want to make your longarm quilter really happy go back and stay stitch the seam just and inch or so on either side of the seam along both edges so it does not pull apart as they load your quilt. 

Hope this makes it easier to prepare a large backing for your next quilt. 


Linda T.

PS: There is one disclaimer, this will not work if your fabric is directional because half will be going the right way and half the wrong way.