One of the best things about my "job" is that I get to meet a lot of amazing, talented, creative, innovative and just plain brilliant quilters. They come to guild, retreats and classes with energy and knowledge, tips and tools, and they are so willing to share!
Don't they know I have never met a good idea that I wasn't shamelessly willing to steal?
In the years that I've been going to Quilt-n-Friends in Sterling Heights, Michigan, I have gotten to meet and spend time with Jan, Marlene and Sue. Marlene is Mom to Jan and Sue. Jan and Marlene came the first two years, they dragged Sue along to minimize the trauma in the following years. Sue is a very talented long-arm machine quilter, Marlene is an amazing all-around quilter and well, Jan is just all-around amazing. And no, she's not my favorite because she always understands my patterns and cutting instructions... though it probably hasn't hurt.
Through another Sue -- Tuesday Sue -- I learned of a terrific little "tool" that Jan came up with. I don't know if she devised this while making the Farmer's Wife quilt that Tuesday Sue was teaching, but it was through that class that Sue heard about it. I think Sue only told me about it when she had to ask me where she could find poster board. After hearing her explanation of what she wanted to make, I recommended foam core. Por quoi? It's stiffer and that will make a big difference.
It goes without saying that my next thought was... hmmm, do I have any foam core? I'll check because I think I need to make a few of these for myself because when I'm piecing blocks for a quilt, I like being able to have the block laid out so that I can keep the parts aligned properly -- it helps reduce the need to un-sew. I also like being able to match up the various parts and pieces for four, five or six blocks at a time, so that I can sew lots, press lots, sew lots and so on.
Jan's idea was to make boards covered with batting that would let her lay out several blocks at one time, then carry a stack of boards to her machine without slipping.
I started with the following: Foam core.
I bought my foam core at Office Max but it is easily found at art stores, office supply stores, JoAnns, Michaels, Hobby Lobby and so on. I bought black because Office Depot was out of white and I knew I would get tired of the flourescent yellow, my only other option at the time. The sheets I bought measured 20" x 30" and are about 1/4" thick.
Using a rotary cutter and ruler, I cut each sheet into two squares measuring 15" x 15". I chose that size because it will allow a 12" block or as many as four small blocks per board.
I had some Warm 'n White so that's what I used. Since its needle-punched, it is quite flat, and it isn't too fuzzy so it works perfectly. I cut my squares to measure 17" x 17" so that I could trim the edges after the batting was attached to the foam core.
Using lots of newspaper and covering on a table outside, I sprayed each board with adhesive and stuck the batting to the foam core. If you use an adhesive spray, it dries pretty quickly so lay it down and smooth out the bumps as quickly as possible. I also made sure that I had an even coating of adhesive along the outside edges.
When the boards were completely dry, I laid them batting-side down on my rotary cutting mat.
Total money invested -- less than $20.00.
Result -- six Block boards.
I think I'll be using these this weekend.