What does your head have in common with a gallon of milk?

(I also shared this information in the Piece O’ Cake newsletter.)

They both weigh around 8 lbs. Your head may actually weigh more.

Now, stop and think about your sewing posture. When you sit at the sewing machine, is your head balanced over your body or is it thrown forward, facing down? What about when you applique? Are you hunched over your lap, or are you sitting upright?

Now, imagine that your head is a gallon of milk that your poor neck is trying to support. Just the idea makes the back of my neck hurt and my shoulders sore.

I started talking about this in class a few months ago and then I ran across this image and the related article, What Texting Does To Your Spine, from The Atlantic.

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The article is eye-opening, reporting on a study published in the journal, Surgical Technology International. In short, the farther you bend your head over, the more pressure is put on your neck. The same texting posture shown is often a quilter’s posture. Is it any wonder that your upper body feels so bad after you’ve been sewing?

So, hold your head high—or at least, hold it in a more balanced position over your body. Fix the height of your sewing machine chair and/or table. Find a good chair to applique in. Put your light in position so that you are not bending sideways toward it. Put your feet up if that helps you to maintain good posture as you applique.

I’m going to post this same information on my blog, so that you’ll be able to find it again if you ever need to. Did you know that there is a search option on my blog? Look in the menu bar for the area with the spyglass. Type in a search topic and you can find all sorts of things.

Boomerang bags!

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Linda is the proud recipient of the January Volunteer Award from the non-profit Surfrider Perth Foundation.

Linda’s niece, Magen, is currently the president of the Surfrider Perth branch. Magen is based out of the University of Western Australia, and has just completed her Masters in Marine Biology (focusing on shark learning behaviours & recreational fishing).

Linda’s Aunt Mildred donated fabric for the reusable grocery bag campaign (Boomerang Bags). While Magen was home, she and Linda and Magen’s mom, Judy, worked on bags.

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Judy, Magen’s mom

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Magen and Linda

They made 76 bags! Magen is working to get the Boomerang Bag program started with Surfrider Chapters in the states and to start an Australian/USA sister chapter. Click here for more info.

Yet another iron bites the dust…

I’m done with my Rowenta Pro Iron Steam Station (see this post). It works, but the reservoir has an unpredictable leak. When it leaks, it’s more like a flood and that does not mix well with the wood floor below.

Additionally, the Steam Station is slow to heat up (a minor annoyance). Once it is hot, it really puts out the heat. That’s good, except when it’s hot outside which is half the year where I live. When the iron is on, the studio gets uncomfortably warm. And did I mention that this this is big and awkward to store?

I went shopping for a smaller, cheap, reliable iron and got a Black and Decker, model ICR05X. At least it was cheap because it started spitting and leaking water out of the steam holes almost immediately. I am just about disgusted with irons and, if I didn’t have to have one, I would give up.

Luckily, in my last Consumer Reports magazine, there was a short review of irons. Some of the higher-rated irons were light, which they must have considered a plus.

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After careful consideration, I bought a Panasonic NI-W950A.

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The sole plate is pointed in front and back, which I somehow missed when I was shopping. How I missed that I do not know because the photo is huge on the box.

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I’ve been using it for about a week and so far, so good. The pointy back is fine—I neither hate it nor love it. The iron gets hot fast, it steams pretty well. It’s heavy, which I view as a plus. I like the way the base of the cord swivels out of the way. It is stable when ‘standing’—more so than most irons.

It has an auto shut off, which I like, and it heats up quickly when moved. Honestly, if there is a year of good ironing from this iron I will be happy. If it doesn’t last, I’m going to consider a classic iron from the Vermont Country Store.

I still wish I had the space (and was willing to spend what it costs) for a Laura Star ironing system. Sigh.

I got an email from Rebecca. After I replied I thought you all would enjoy both her email and my reply…

Hi, Becky!  I have both of your applique sampler books, have read them through several times, dog eared and highlighted, et cetera. I have also watched your videos.  You must be a wonderful teacher in person!  I’m working on my first needle turned applique block and all was going well until I got to the small leaves.  The block design is my own “Frankenstein” whig rose, combination of several different applique patterns from back issues of Quilter’s Newsletter, and I tried to include as many different shapes and sizes as I could so it would be a good learning piece.

I’m having trouble with the end where the leaf is round in a tight outer curve. I have been trying to finger press carefully along the chalk line, but I end up smearing the chalk and can’t seem to finger press a smooth enough curve exactly on the line—and my leaves are looking a little lumpy where they ought to look smooth. I have tried making my turning allowance narrower and turning only one stitch at a time.  Anyway, your other videos have been so helpful. I would love to see a tutorial on how to do a small, tight outer curve. Rebecca

I’m having trouble with the end where the leaf is round in a tight outer curve. I have been trying to finger press carefully along the chalk line, but I end up smearing the chalk and can’t seem to finger press a smooth enough curve exactly on the line—and my leaves are looking a little lumpy where they ought to look smooth. I have tried making my turning allowance narrower and turning only one stitch at a time.  Anyway, your other videos have been so helpful. I would love to see a tutorial on how to do a small, tight outer curve.

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My reply:

Hi Rebecca:

Your stitching is lovely! Truth be told, you might be too critical of your own work. That said, if it was a circle instead of a leaf, more round would be better.
I wish I could do another video on tight curves and will but it’s going to be a while. I’ve got several weeks of work to do on the next book and barely have time to look up!

However, maybe I can help you with words, if not a video.

First, slow down on those curves. What I mean is that this area is not going to turn under particularly quickly.

Where you see the little bumps at the edge, I suspect that the fabric is pleated, or folded over itself, on the underside. When I sew a curve like that, I can feel the pleat with my fabric-holding-fingers as well as see it with my eyes. It is at that point that you should park your needle and use the point of a damp toothpick to reach underneath and smooth open the pleat.

Some pleats take more fooling with than others. That’s why you need to slow down and just work with it until the edge is smooth.

If your curve flattens out, use the point of the toothpick or needle to move it back into round.

Your stitches look pretty small (close together) but this is an area where you want to be sure that there don’t appear to be gaps between your stitches.

I hope this helps, both Rebecca and others who might be having trouble with curves!

Becky

 

AP&Q One Million Pillowcase Sewathon…

American Patchwork & Quilting is going to host their first 24-hour sewathon for the One Million Pillowcase Challenge. This is a cause that has touched more than 560,000 people across the United States!

Click here to see if there is a quilt shop near you where you can go join the fun! If there is not an event near you, you can still help by sewing a pillowcase for a local charity and by posting about the sewathon on your own social media (#APQSewathon).

You can follow along on Facebook during the 24-hour event on September 19-20 to see stories, pictures of events, and to add to the count of the pillowcases donated.