Ask Jo

I have a whole wild conglomeration of questions and comments today.  There are a bunch of them too so, let’s jump in.

We had some people asking about a bird quilt block that the Cresco Ladies made.  Sandra wrote to me and said while she was scrolling the internet she found this bird block.
She wrote:
Week #21 on the USA Block Tour is North Carolina by A Stitch in Time. You can get your free complimentary block at…/quilting-around-block…”  Follow the link if you are interested.

The block is slightly different from the one Sandra used in her bird quilt…but still cute.

Sandra suggested enlarging the block to get the larger size.  That’s what she did with this original block.

Gail M wrote:
Can you let me know what organization you are working through to get quilts to Oregon fire victims? We are a small group in Portland who has about 8 comforters and quilts, queen size for this purpose but haven’t been able to find anyone taking them.”

Cheryl in Dallas recently sent quilts to Oregon as she had a friend there.  He said that he had enough quilts.  That doesn’t mean there are enough everywhere.  Maybe one of you reading this might know of a contact or if there is still a need.  Please leave a comment in the comment section if you know of a place that is still taking quilts for Oregon Fire Victims or any other place that has experienced wildfires so these ladies can get their quilts distributed.

Laurel wrote to say, “Mystery Quilt is “Guilty as Charged!” by Debbie Caffrey”. This is a quilt that Lori finished and donated to Sharehouse.  A blog reader sent the top to her.  Many of you liked the quilt and were curious about a pattern for it.

I did a google search and looked up images and wow…there are so many different quilts.  That was fun.  I have no idea how to get the pattern…but at least now there is a name to the quilt.

Anne asked:
Does anyone know who might be able to create a cross-stitch design – I have 2 sayings that I would love to work up into cross stitch pieces.”

PCStitch: Premier Cross Stitch Software
There is a computer program called PC Stitch.  It isn’t super expensive.  You can go to their website and download it for free.  You can try it out and do whatever you want except use the ‘SAVE’ feature.  Maybe the printing option works so you could design it and print it.  I thought it might be worth it to you to check it out.  You can find the site HERE.

…or maybe someone reading the blog has the program and might be willing to do it for you.  If you have a program and could help Anne, leave a comment for Anne in the comment section.

Nance in Reno wrote:
Jo, amazing that you have already completed the Halloween quilt top! Wow!!
You mentioned you have enough fabric to make about 10 more Halloween quilts . . . As a person who sent you a few pieces of Halloween fabric, I would suggest you consider putting some of the Halloween scraps together as a postage auction item, maybe with a copy of the published magazine (autographed, of course). I am sure that it would be a big fundraiser because who wouldn’t want the opportunity to get such a large variety of Halloween fabrics that would otherwise be impossible to collect?

WOW.  I love the idea of putting together some kits of 2 1/2″ strips and selling them with an autographed copy of the magazine.  It would be a great way to raise money for the postage fund.  Plus as Nance says, it is hard to collect such a wide variety of fabric to get the same look, so I do think Kelli and I will do this.  There were several of you who said you thought it was a great idea so plan on this.  We’ll do this as soon as we can get our hands on the magazine.  Watch that to come!

Sew Happy wrote:
Please explain using sheets for backings. Are they 100% cotton? I have always been told not to use them. About your breakfast. How are you comfortable eating something that was made on Thursday? I was taught at the most 3 days. Just wondering for the sake of others.”

In THIS BLOG POST I wrote about using a sheet as the backing for a quilt, and I wrote about eating lasagna for leftovers.

I’ll tackle the sheet question first.  “Please explain using sheets for backings. Are they 100% cotton? I have always been told not to use them.”

This is…
a myth.  I suspect it was told to you either by someone who owns a quilt shop, quilting police, a hand quilter, or someone who had a bad experience with the wrong type of sheet.

A quilt shop owner is going to say this as they don’t get sales from the fabric if you are buying a sheet.  Remember, a sheet was once fabric before a manufacturer hemmed it and called it a sheet.

Quilting police often say this.  I don’t know why but these are often the same people who would never make a quilt from recycled clothing or use a piece of fabric from Joann’s.  When someone says something like this, you always need to look and see what their perspective might be.

I am not the quilting police at all.  I am not afraid to use any fabric that is 100% cotton that feels good.  Admittedly, there are fabrics at Joann’s or Walmart that I don’t like the feel of.  I just stay away from them.  FEEL should be your judge.  If the fabric feels good, use it.

I will readily admit that some sheets aren’t good for the backing.  Again, it has to pass a “feel test”.  You don’t want a cheap sheet.  It won’t hold up the best.  It won’t have the fabric store fabric feel.  You might not want things that have polyester in them (but I’ll admit, to have used them occasionally if I love the print).  You don’t want anything with a super high thread count.  If it’s too high, your machine quilter can have trouble with thread breakage when they machine quilt your quilt.  So, the general rule of thumb, feel the sheet.  If it feels like quilt shop quality fabric, use it.

Hand quilters often stay away from sheets as the weave is really tight on some sheets and it’s hard to get a needle through when hand quilting.

For me…I will use a sheet any day at any time on any quilt.  I do stick to 100% if I can.  A sheet is $2 at my thrift store.  I’m not going to pass up a quilt backing for $2!!

If I at all can, when I am making a quilt from 100% cotton recycled fabric,  I prefer a used sheet for the backing.  You will never have a nicer quilt that feels more loved than a quilt made with completely recycled fabric.  Seriously, they are the best.  They have the instantly loved feel!!

As far as leftovers go…

From the Foodnetwork:
Cooked lasagna keeps in the refrigerator for up to five days if stored in a tightly sealed container to keep out excess moisture and other contaminants. The best way to determine whether or not lasagna has turned is to look for dried-out noodles or a sour smell emanating from the tomato sauce and cheese.

Many other readers commented on this and the general guide most suggested is 5-7 days.  I think it’s a matter of preference.

Chris B asked:
I love your blog! This post touched me because you are right on the money about keeping those who are gone alive for all of us. I have to ask, did you really make 4 Perkiomen Dream quilts?. I know you made two but FOUR?…

Here is Buck’s.  That is my granddaughter Lucy laying on it.  She was a baby then and is now three.

Here is mine in the pile of finished quilts.  It’s the very bottom quilt.

Here is Kelli’s.  It is still just a top.  I’m trying to convince her to get the backing made.  She was a little more excited about it once I made her get it to take this picture so stay tuned!

I message Kayla and asked her to a picture of Jasper on her quilt.  She tried and Jasper didn’t…

So, yep…that was FOUR of the Perkimon Daydreams quilts.

If you aren’t familiar with the quilt…Here it is all full and laid out.

PerkiomenDaydreams-1The quilt is a mosaic of 1″ squares.  It’s the best quilt to use up all those scraps you have hiding away.  This is a Bonnie Hunter quilt.  You can find it in her Scraps and Shirttails Book One.  It will forever be one of my favorite quilts…obviously, if we powered through and made FOUR that’s a testament to how much we like the quilt.

Many people commented and said they had never seen my pie tin before…the one with the six sides.  This is a vintage pan.  I actually have three of them.  I have found all of them at thrift stores.  I found two one day and found one a couple of years later at the same thrift store.

I really love them and it makes cutting equal-sized pieces a breeze.  I did a little online search (real quick one) and it doesn’t appear that they are regularly made.  I did see one on Etsy and eBay had a glass one.

Being I know one of you might be interested in one, I’ll keep my eyes open and buy one if I find one again.

I think that wraps up the “Ask Jo” for this time.   Feel free to drop me a note anytime if you have a question or leave a comment in the comment section.  I read them all!

27 thoughts on “Ask Jo”

  1. The only warning i ever got about using sheets as backings was to watch thread counts. If the thread count is too high, the fabric may not shrink at the same rate as the 100 percent cotton. I assume that means the sheet hadn’t been washed, though. I also heard the things you mentioned with the higher thread count sheets, like being hard to hand sew, etc.

    This software turns pictures into graphs. I’m not sure that’s what Anne is looking for, but it might be useful to someone. It is a free will donation software:

  2. I love using sheets. I feel them first and if they feel right, they get used. I do not hand quilt. I use quite a few solid sheets but I do have some printed sheets that are just gorgeous and worked out great. I have to pay about $4-8 for a sheet but that’s cheap compared to the $28 with a coupon I used for a king last year at Joann’s. I made a quilt last year with an ivory sateen sheet and it turned out so beautiful, the fabric glowed and was wonderful to touch. I’m so glad you tell quilters about sheets being great to use as backings.

  3. For readers who don’t know the burn test, cut a small piece from your fabric or sheets. Have a cup of water close and please use tongs. Light the piece on fire. If it is cotton is will burn and disappear. If it has polyester it will shrink Into plastic.

  4. Katharine Kircher

    Hello Jo,
    I’m a new reader of your blogs as of several weeks ago. I so enjoy catching up on your news and comments while enjoying my morning coffee. You are so inspiring and amazing with the amount of quilts you have produced. I have quilted over the years, giving many to family and friends. They are simple patterns, but I’m content with my accomplishments, always learning as I go along. I finish them with machine quilting, keeping them on the smaller size as I can only handle so much in my machine. You are inspiring me to keep at it at 75 years old. I have a pretty good stash of material and hope to put a dent in it before I wear out. The rest someday will head up the road to our ReUzit Shop, a place that has provided me with many, many pieces.
    You’re a strong Woman with a great attitude after all your life’s trials. I will continue to read and enjoy!

  5. From Food Network: Storing Leftovers:
    Raw sausage (pork, beef, or turkey): 1 to 2 days (refrigerator) or 1 to 2 months (freezer)
    Cooked chicken or turkey dishes: 3 to 4 days (refrigerator) or 4 to 6 months (freezer)
    Fried chicken: 3 to 4 days (refrigerator) or 4 months (freezer)
    Cooked ground chicken or turkey: 3 to 4 days (refrigerator) or 2 to 3 months (freezer)
    Cooked chicken nuggets: 1 to 2 days (refrigerator) or 1 to 2 months (freezer)
    Meats with gravy or sauces: 1 to 2 days refrigerator or 6 months (freezer)
    Rotisserie chicken: 3 to 4 days (refrigerator) or 2 to 3 months (freezer)
    Opened package of hot dogs: 1 week (refrigerator) or 1 to 2 months (freezer)
    Opened package of deli meat: 3 to 4 days (refrigerator) or 1 to 2 months (freezer)
    ******Cooked meat dishes: 3 to 4 days (refrigerator) or 2 to 6 months (freezer)******
    Only hot dogs should stay around for 7 days.
    And you said a lot about using or not using sheets for backings. You know all that but not everyone does. As you said, Just like like fabric not all sheets are made the same. It is about how it will live with the top after it is quilted.

  6. Sheets do work. The LWR group I belonged to used them and I much preferred the new ones that we bought at Walmart. Even though we tied the quilts and didn’t “quilt” them, some sheets were extremely hard to put a needle through. I am going to start watching for one of those pie tins, actually will give that job to my sister who shops so much more than I do. We both volunteer at a thrift store so will definitely watch for them there. If leftovers are questionable, I smell them and look for mold and don’t count the days.

  7. I had two pie tins exactly like those and used them for 60 years. Still would have them but I had to downsize and give away lots of kitchen items when we moved to an assisted living home in 2013. They were the best.

  8. I routinely ignore all “rules” on food. It gets the smell-test from me. I buy organic milk and it stays good well beyond the sell-by date….sometimes a month!

    When I was growing up, Mom removed meat from the freezer in the evening for tomorrow’s dinner. It spent the night on the counter defrosting. All 6 of us kids became adults and were rarely ill so no health hazards there.

  9. I am SEW excited by the thought of the Halloween fabric at auction!!! I have always wanted to make a quilt for that holiday, but don’t have a huge variety of prints collected. Winning a kit would be a thrill!!

  10. I also love the idea of auctioning a mixed bag of Halloween fabric, what fun. I have used sheet on the back of my quilts, some were new and some I bought used. I always washed them before putting them on the back, just in case of shrinkage. They have held up well. Those pie tins are a treasure, never seen the likes. Thank you Janet Rice for the link to turn pictures into a graph, I would like to make a quilt out of a family barn picture. This will be a real help.

  11. How kind of you to keep an eye out for the pie tins. But I’m not surprised that you would as you are one of the kindest people I know! Blessings!

  12. My grandmother used sheets in her handmade Cathedral Windows quilts. It was the only quilt she would make and was all done by hand. When I asked for one she told me to get a sheet for the background color.

    Food….smell test…don’t count days.

    Pie tins….I keep an eye out and let the group know if I find one. We have some big wonderful antique stores that are great to wonder in during the winter!

    Happy Sewing Group!

  13. Susan the Farm Quilter

    Your pie tins are amazing!! I have never seen anything like that before!! Now, of course, I want some!!! I’ve saved some shirts my dad wore (suits and ties, every day) that I am going to use to make quilts with for my kids and grands. Rarely are they 100% cotton, some feel so silky and wonderful…but fabric doesn’t have to be 100% cotton to go in a quilt – I just want it to be washable! Crazy quilts aren’t made with just cotton fabric! Different kinds of fabric do require a little different handling, but if I can wash it, I’m all good with that. I’m going to have memory bears made with some of his wool suits that can’t be donated (he loved them to thread-bare in some places) and I may use some of the wool to go into the wall hangings I want to make using his ties.

  14. Bear Creek Quilting Company in Oregon was distributing quilts to the victims of the fires in Oregon.

    Id suggest reaching out to them before sending them on. If they aren’t taking them, I’m sure they would know who may be. They were quite central to the cause last year.

  15. My mother had two of the 6 sided pie tins. She didn’t like them as the pieces were so large and the servings were too small. We were a family of 7. Don’t know what ever happened to them, probably a yard sale. As far as the food safety, you can look 3 places and get 3 answers. My general rule is 3 days and out. Food poisoning isn’t fun.

  16. dear nance in reno
    the moment you chose to send a piece (or more) of fabric by mail to jo, the fabric became hers. it was a gift that many of us chose to give. jo was blessed by the outpouring of scraps. yeah jo.
    the fact that jo now has a plethora of scraps leftover is a natural outcome of her being loved by many.
    ….remember, all she asked for was a single, small scrap.
    it is gracious of jo, who is now being “judged” by her gifts, to appease some of the sending group by offering a “give back”. again, yeah jo.

    personally, i am sorry that she felt the need to cave to peer pressure. i do not want my gift back, and i am glad that she will have fabric for more of her charity quilting projects she blesses the community with. she gives so much, and asked so little. lets just celebrate the outpouring of love that was given to her one scrap at a time.

    1. Hi Kit…Thanks for writing. Nance was the one who happily suggested to use the Halloween leftovers as a charity quilt fundraiser. So far, I have not heard from anyone who objected to the idea. Thanks for your support of the idea. I have THREE big boxes of Halloween fabric here along with THREE jelly rolls!! Oh my. I could never use all of that. This idea sounds fun!

      1. How about more than one kit offered at auction with the Halloween fabric and one of your other patterns? Let’s get the creative juices and donation money flowing!!!!

  17. I have to agree on the outpouring of fabric. Once given, they are YOURS. Use, gift, or sell. Keep for time and all eternity in your stash ;)
    Those 1″ squares are amazing.
    I use 100% cotton sheets from the Salvation Army, front or back. I cut up clothing, but rarely purchase clothing if not 100% cotton, since I also cut old stuff up for cleaning rags and compost.

  18. Jo,

    Do you know of any person or group who could use dress / skirt lining fabrics. I have a lot of dark navy / black and also a lot of hunter green Posh lining.

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