Category Archives: Ask Jo

Ask Jo: The Iron Edition

Hello, and welcome to another edition of “Ask Jo”.  I get many comments and questions from all sorts of places, the comment section here, Youtube, email, and from our Facebook group.  Sometimes I think others of you might want to know the answers as well so I answer them here on the blog.

Today’s question comes from Sue.  It ended up being a REALLY long answer so I am only answering one question today.  Here’s what she asked:

My question, is I am looking for a good, heavy-duty, and HOT Iron…Wondered if you can give a testimony on the kind you use, such as, do you like it? does it get hot enough? and given a choice, would you buy another one just like it, if something happened to it? Do you use Steam ??  Thank you, and will look forward to your answer…

This one has me laughing.  I’m not laughing at the question…I’m laughing at the answer I am going to give.

My current favorite iron is someone else’s reject.  Here’s proof.  See my iron?  See that sticker on top.  It says, “WORKS”.  My iron came from the thrift store.  I buy thrift store irons ALL OF THE TIME.  Two dollars usually buys an iron.

Typically I have a couple here and when one dies, I grab another. I prefer irons that do not have auto shut off but I didn’t have any on reserve so I did buy this one when I saw it.  My iron died, and I pulled this one out.  It turns out, I really like this one…even with auto shut off.  (I didn’t realize I should have dusted my iron off before taking a picture…ugh.  Keeping it real.)

I actually keep two irons.  One upstairs…one downstairs.  As I told you, I don’t usually buy new irons but with Covid, I’ve not been to the thrift stores and no longer have a stockpile of thrifted irons.  My downstairs iron died last April so I bought an iron off Amazon.  HERE is a link to the one I bought.  I looked and looked online to try to find the iron I loved best but couldn’t find one and this is what I settled with.

It’s a Shark brand.

It’s an okay iron.  Not the favorite I’ve ever had but okay.

Here is the story of my favorite iron EVER….This is a blog post I wrote back in October of 2011…

When we went to see Bonnie Hunter in Storm Lake our daughter Kelli and I set up an ironing station.  People used her iron and my iron.  Time and time again people would ask Kelli where she got her iron.  Everyone commented on how hot it was and how lightweight it was.  After all those comments, I decided to give it a try…..I loved it.


Kelli kept telling people that it was a cheap iron and she wasn’t positive where she had bought the iron at.  The line to use Kelli’s iron was always long….the line to my iron..NOT.

My iron was not a real expensive iron…maybe $40.  It has auto shut off.  It has a retractable cord…or did have a retractable cord.  It doesn’t work anymore.  The iron is only a year or so old….but I have never liked it.  It doesn’t heat up very hot.  If I have a truly wrinkled piece of fabric the wrinkles never come completely out.

Kelli has been coming home for sewing days.  Because she hates my iron so much, she has started bringing her iron.  The last time she was home she came with this….


an iron for ME!!  I love it!  We tried it out and boy am impressed with it.   The wrinkles are gone with just one past of the iron.  With my old iron I would almost push the iron down into the fabric and even then they wouldn’t come out.  Even though it’s bad manners, I asked Kelli how much the iron cost…she said right around $10.  It just amazes me.  The iron is super lightweight.  It heats up super hot and does an amazing job.

I didn’t believe that it was so cheap so after Kelli left I went on Amazon to check to see if she was joking or if it was the real price.  It would be just like Kelli to spend more and not tell me.  Here’s the iron she bought for me…Continental Electric CE23111 Steam Iron.  She was telling the truth…it’s $11.53.

I am hoping to give my new iron a little workout today.  I know for sure that from now on…no more turn themselves off irons.  No retractable cord irons.  No expensive irons…it’s cheap Continental brand from me from now on.”

So as I was writing this “Ask Jo”, I thought to go back and look up this old blog post.  I was THRILLED to see that I had included the model number of the iron.  I ended up going on eBay and happily they had a few with that model number.  I bought TWO!!  I’m going to take my current irons and put them on reserve.  I’m going to be ironing with the Continental irons again.  YAHOO!!

I don’t hate my current irons, I just really love the other ones.  Kelli did too.  In fact, Kelli called me the day her iron died as she was super sad.

This cheap iron was the best iron I ever had.  She heated so hot and was awesome.  It was super lightweight too.  It died after four years or so and I couldn’t find another one.  That’s when I went to buying thrift store irons.

So the things I look for in an iron:
-I prefer light weigh
-I prefer inexpensive
-I prefer no auto shut off
-I prefer a point at the end

I NEVER use steam.  I’ve never put steam in an iron.  I think they last longer with no steam.  Also if you’ve followed along with me on the blog, I iron very little.  If I can finger press, I do.  My personal belief is once I put heat into the fabric, the fabric has less give.  Remember I am the QUEEN of fudging and not sewing perfectly.  If I don’t iron everything so thoroughly, I can flip a seam.  I can tug the fabric a little to make the seam match.  I can relax the pressure on the fabric to make the ends meet.

Once the top is finished, I iron the heck out of it with starch…but until a block is finished, not much ironing happens in my world.

I know I am the rare breed with this and most people iron a lot more than do.  I also am really lazy…ironing takes time.  I’m content with the quilts I make with my lack of ironing.

I always think back to my grandma sewing with sad irons and quilting by hand.  I am positive she didn’t jump up and iron every little piece.  She made amazing quilts.  So I’m sticking with my Grandma and doing very little ironing.

I want to encourage you to make two quilt blocks.  Iron the heck out of one.  Use steam.  Make the next one and don’t iron as much.  Iron if you NEED to but ignore it when you can get by with it.  Only do a FULL complete iron once the block is finished.  Check the results.  See what you like better.  Take into account everything…time, accuracy…everything.  See what you like and whatever method that is, go with it!  For me, it’s not much ironing with no steam and using starch on the finished top.

I want sewing to be fun and enjoyable for you.  I want you to find YOUR method…not my method…not the method of some teacher you went to a class with.  Find yours!!  If you love steam.  STEAM!!  To make sewing truly enjoyable, I think it’s important to find what you love.

You can probably see why I initially laughed when Sue asked the question.  My answer is probably as unconventional of an answer as you’ll even hear.

I’d love for everyone else to let us know your iron opinion in the comment section.


Ask Jo: Many Topics to Share

Hello, and welcome to another edition of “Ask Jo”.  I get many comments and questions from all sorts of places, the comment section here, Youtube, email, and from our Facebook group.  Sometimes I think others of you might want to know the answers as well so I answer them here on the blog. In today’s feature, I have a little bit of everything to share.

First off I want to share an email from Bobbie C.
She wrote:

After reading your post about “Cut and Run,” I thought you might like to know about a site I visit often.  It’s:

I’m not sure where I first learned of it but it’s great. It doesn’t charge any fees. I’m even subscribed to their newsletter but of course, that’s not required.”

I know many of you are series readers and will appreciate the service of this site offers of listing books in a series in order.  AWESOME.  I went and check it out.  I loved it!!

Next up, I did a video and blog post on how I cut so many squares at once.  I had shown this quilt Square Dance.  We made this back in 2014 and it was published in Quiltmaker magazine.
I had several people ask about the quilt.  You can read the full blog post about it HERE.  The question everyone wanted to know is, what issue was the quilt in.  The answer:  March/April of 2014.

If you want to read or see the video on how we cut so many squares for a big project like this, read THIS BLOG POST or watch my video…

Sandy wrote asking:  “How do you handle pockets and labels on yokes?”  I will be doing a video on this along with a blog post in the near future.  I am still cutting out a quilt from shirts so it was the perfect time to ask.  If you subscribe to my Youtube channel HERE and hit the little bell to get notifications when new videos come out, you will see it before I even tell about it on the blog.

Gail is one of MANY who have asked: Continue reading

Ask Jo: How I cut square so quickly

Hello, and welcome to another edition of “Ask Jo”.  I get many comments and questions from all sorts of places, the comment section here, Youtube, email, and from our Facebook group.  Sometimes I think others of you might want to know the answers as well so I answer them here on the blog.

In today’s feature I am answering only one question.   I figured it might be enough for one blog post.  The question comes from Nancy.

Nancy asked:
“Would you be kind enough to share how you cut your fabric squares? It is amazing how many squares you have  cut for your Halloween quilt already.”

Here is one of the blocks from my Halloween quilt.

The block is a little deceiving.  Looking at it you might think that I pieced everyone of those pieces individually together.  The truth is, I didn’t.  The center of the block was all done via strip piecing.

If you’re a seasoned quilter, you’ve done strip piecing.  If you’re newer to quilting, you might not recognize something that is strip pieced.  The center of this block was entirely strip pieced.

What does that mean??  Let me explain… Continue reading

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…
Continue reading