Sunday, May 10, 2020

Hands2Help 2020 - Guest Blogger Bonnie with Great Tips!

Hi, all!

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there!  I hope you've been well-celebrated today despite the quarantine, or that you've had fun celebrating your own mom.  I have to say that my daughter outdid herself this year with my gift...

I think her sense of humor comes from me!  I also think she's trying to find something for me to do besides jigsaw puzzles... But I will definitely enjoy spending time with this!

Today we have another fun guest blogger joining us - Bonnie, who blogs over at Institches with Bonnie!  Her blog is full of beautiful eye candy as she is a prolific quilter with loads of experience and tips to share - and that's just what she's doing today. She's got loads to share with us, so let's get started!


Hi, I'm Bonnie!  I’ve loved reading all the guest bloggers’ posts to date.  Lots of fun info, ideas, and patterns. Thanks to all of you who are making quilts and masks to share where they are needed.  And a big thanks to Sarah for running Hands2Help again.  

I’ve been quilting forever.  Ok, not really forever but would you believe since 1982?  I made a couple of quilted jackets. Then I took a class from Eleanor Burns at my local quilt store in Upland, California. Yep, the Quilt-in-a-Day Eleanor. We used her self-published "Make a Quilt in a Day: Log Cabin Pattern" book published in 1978.

Do you know how hard it was to find enough different purple fabrics to make a "big girl bed" quilt?  Can you say, cutesy calicos abounded?  And, we ripped all of our fabric to make the strips? And just picture a 9 month pregnant lady crawling around on the floor trying to tie that quilt. (What a mental image ... please try to erase it right now!) Sadly, we can find neither the quilt or even a digital photo of it.  I suspect it was given away before our last move.

That was the beginning of my quilting.  I still love to spend time piecing and quilting.  Most of the quilts I make now are given away.  I don't need more, although quilts I particularly like will live at my house a long while before finding a new home. 

The oldest quilt I could find a digital picture of was made for my son when he went off to college. Fall 2001.  
Today, I've got 3 tips/ideas to help with your quilting. The first one was a real game changer for me.

Tip 1: Does your steam iron sputter and spit? Mine was so bad that I quit using steam until my QBFF told me about a way to clean the iron.  It's best to do this in a sink with an electrical outlet near it. Plug in your iron.  Mix 50% vinegar with 50% water.  I mix the two in the little cup that came with the iron and pour it to the fill line.  I wait until it gets hot then press the "clean" button on the iron while I hold it over the sink. Take care you don't splash any of that on you as the water gets really hot!  Keep pressing the clean button.  My iron spewed liquid through the vents and a lot of steam.  When I checked the sink there were lots of bits of black gunk.  OMG! What a difference getting the iron really clean made.  My iron is working great - not spitting at all. It's been about 3 months and I've used it a lot over the that time so I'm guessing it is time to do it again. 

Made for 2nd granddaughter 2014.
Tip 2: I keep a record on all of my fabric that is 1/2 yard or more.  No this isn't a spreadsheet.  It's just a small slip of paper where I record the length of the fabric, where I bought it (or was given it), how much I paid and when I bought it.  The paper is then safety pinned to one edge of the fabric.

The main reason I like this so much is I don't have to unfold fabric to find out how much I have.  I know where to buy more if needed (and it's used before it is no longer available!) As I use some of the fabric, I'll note how much is left.  Just a side note - I store any fabric that is 1/2 yard or more by color on my shelves.  (I fold it around my 8.5" x 24' ruler so it looks neat.) Less than 1/2 yard usually goes into box tops (think boxes that hold reams of paper.) I store my fat quarters and smaller yardage  by color. 

Great way to use a big print.  Made 2014
Tip 3: I keep a spreadsheet of leftover batting pieces.  I tag each piece with the size of the piece and type of batting it is.  Without plowing through all the batting pieces I store in two big plastic bins under my long arm, I can easily see whether I have the right size piece for a top.  When I use one I remove the listing from the spreadsheet. This sheet does need updating on a regular basis.  Generally, I add sizes when I start cutting up a new bat.  Periodically, I compare the spreadsheet info with the pieces in the bins.  Generally I keep pieces that are big enough for a table runner and bigger.  Sad to admit, but I haven't updated my spreadsheet since July, 2018. Need to get that done!

Batting Pieces

Nature’s Touch 80/20 

Nature’s Touch 60/40

Nature’s Touch 80/20

Nature’s Touch 80/20
Under cutting table 

Very small piece -- I like my online buddies! 
And my bonus tip is I save all the plastic spools and cones from the thread I use.  It’s just a fun way to see how much thread I use each year.  It varies a lot from year to  year.  The least amount was 7 in 2016; the most was 30 in 2014.  I usually post a pic to my blog and report my thread usage in early January each year.  I thought this year was going to be a slow year for threads but I’ve already used 8 spools. 

Quilt for the last grandchild made by my daughter and I. 2016
Have fun trying these tips. Happy Quilting All! Bonnie 


Thanks so much, Bonnie, for a lot of great tips!  Now I need to go see if my iron has a "clean" button....  It always amazes me how much we can learn from each other, even about the simple things!

Next week is another check-in week.  I've been hearing from many of you, though, that "coronavirus life" is getting in the way.  Please don't get discouraged!  This year is definitely different, isn't it?  But all of our charities will take quilts all year long, so don't give up.  Just keep plugging away and let's bless lots of people this year!

See you next week!




  1. Piecing quilts has been my sanity! I feel like I'm accomplishing so many quilts since we're staying home all the time! Happy stitching!

  2. I think I have quilted a lot more in the last couple months - thanks for the tip on the batting - that is one thing I never really organize

  3. These are all great tips, Thank you Bonnie! I cleaned my iron over a year ago using a similar method, I'm sure it needs it again! I've been making tops like crazy now I need to start basting and quilting, of course I'll have to wait for my machine to come back from getting it's annual service!

  4. I also have been quilting a bit more due to coronavirous life. Thanks for the tips. Now to check my iron for a 'clean' button or setting. It sure could use it!

  5. I have finished 16 quilted items since being home all the time. In the same time last year, I had only completed 5 things! Thanks for hosting Bonnie on the blog, Sarah. Great post!

  6. I got 3 of my quilts out in the mail this week. 4th one is done but I need to get it packed up and mailed.


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