Doubtless you have heard that “quilter’s cotton” is the best fabric for making masks, that such cotton has a thicker and tighter weave and does a really good job of blocking the transmission of the COVID19 virus. What exactly is “quilter’s cotton”? Are all “quilter’s cottons” equal? How can you be sure you are getting a fabric that will best block the virus?
All quilting cotton is printed on base fabric that is referred to as “60x60” or “68x68”. Those numbers refer to the number of threads running horizontally and vertically (the warp and the weft) in a square inch of fabric. The manufacturer specifies which base goods it wants to use. The manufacturer also specifies the thickness of the thread to be used. The thickness of the thread combined with the number of threads per inch is what determines the “hand”, or feel, of the fabric. A fabric perceived as ‘cheap’ can have the same number of threads per inch as one that is considered to be of superior quality because of the thickness of the threads used.
Why do we use fabrics that have 60 or 68 threads to the square inch? It is the perfect weight for a quilter to needle. If you’ve ever tried quilting by hand, you know it is easier with some fabrics than others, and one reason is the thread count. It is more difficult to push a needle through densely packed threads.
What about batik fabric? Batik is normally printed on 120x120. The higher thread count withstands the rigorous printing process of repeated dyeing, waxing, and washing. Digital prints are also sometimes printed on fabric with higher thread counts; the higher count is a finer weave, allowing for greater detail in the printing. Hand quilters should take this fact into consideration when purchasing their fabrics. The higher thread count also makes it superior to regular quilting cotton for masks. I make sure at least one of my fabrics is batik when I make a mask.
What about using a bed sheet? Percale must, by definition, have at least 200 threads to the inch. If you are a hand quilter, you don’t want to use a sheet as a backing! Some companies advertise that their sheets have 1000 threads to the inch. This usually means that they have used a thread that is 4-ply; it really only has 250 threads to the inch. Can you use sheets to make masks? Yes, but you may not be able to breathe through it. Test it before you sew.
Let’s go back to thread weight, which affects the feel of the fabric. If you compare several fabrics that are all 68x68, why do some feel cheap? There is another set of numbers involved here that refer to thread weight. A 68x68/20x20 is a fabric made with a very thin thread. A 68x68/30x30 is the same thread count with a thicker thread, so there is less space between the threads. When you hold them up to the light, you can see the difference. If you can see light through the fabric, there is less to impede the virus.
It is so much fun when you, dear readers, share books, movies, and the like that bring you joy. This week Edna shares that if you are missing museums like she is, take a look at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s “Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk” exhibit on YouTube. I’m sure other museums are doing online exhibits as well. I recommend a book by Eric Thompson called “Here For It”. Eric is a humorist as well as a very thought-provoking human being, and I laughed out loud sometimes, felt sad sometimes, and found much to ponder in his writing. The first chapter has a lot of slang in it; don’t be put off, just keep reading!
Edna also suggested a sort of challenge: who among us has the oldest WIP (Work in Progress) revived during the pandemic? This is a project that you started sometime in the hazy past and let moulder in the closet or drawer for months or years, and in the weeks since, say, March 15 you got it out and resumed working on it, maybe even finished it. Send us a picture and the date you started it, to the best of your knowledge, and any story behind it. We’ll let you know who has the oldest one!
American Patchwork & Quilting’s 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge is accepting registrations for their Fall Pillowcase Dash September 1-30, 2020. Because of COVID, only individuals may sign up; there will be no teams or groups this year. Everyone who participates get a fun pair of socks (as long as you complete at least one week’s challenge during the month). Other prizes include 10 bolts of fabric and cash awards. Click HERE to register.
We really and truly appreciate your patronage and your patience through this pandemic. Your support has been awesome. You are truly the best customers ever!
Go ‘n’ Piece,
IN-STORE SHOPPING AT CAPITAL QUILTS
We continue to offer shopping by appointment here in the shop, and remain closed to casual walk-in traffic. Please click here to make an appointment. Need more than 25 minutes? Book 2 consecutive time slots! Please be sure to carefully read all the rules we have around in-store shopping, and know that the staff is wiping down surfaces frequently with disinfectant. Although we try to keep our schedule to one shopper (and up to two guests) at a time, we occasionally need to double-book, usually with a customer interested in sewing machines. If you or your guest(s) are immune compromised and need the store to yourself, please let us know with as much advance notice as possible.
Pro shopping tip: if you know you need needles, elastic, thread, or other items that do not require an in-person appointment, go ahead and order them online!. Specify curbside pickup, and you can pick those things up when you come for your appointment, and then you can spend all your time enjoying the fabric!
If you are unable to come to your appointment, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can fill that time slot.
Like so many schools, we are electing to not hold classes in the shop but to have virtual learning instead. We will make this as easy as we can for you, sending you a link to the Zoom class. All you have to do is add the Zoom app to your computer, IPad, or other device so that you can open the link and participate in the class.
Class size will be limited, at least at first, while our teachers become familiar with using Zoom. As before COVID, you can sign up online, by phone, or in the shop if you are here on a shopping appointment. Class descriptions are found below and on our website. Each class will have a supply list; look for this on our website: click on “Class Calendar in the blue bar at the top of the home page. Find the class on the calendar and click on that, then scroll down to the bottom left of the page to find “Supply List” and click on that.
BINDING BASICS: Learn the essentials for a beautiful binding, perfectly finishing any quilt. The class explains binding design options, calculating fabric requirements, cutting straight-grain or bias binding, and preparing mitered binding strips. You’ll learn how to turn perfect corners and flawlessly join the binding ends. You’ll also get instructions for an easy machine-sewn binding method with a faux flange.
Meets on Thursday, August 27, 6:30-8:30pm. Betsy Kulamer, instructor. $20. Limited to 6 participants. Skill level: confidant beginner (you can sew a ¼” seam well).
HIDDEN WELLS: Use 2½” strips to make four blocks out of one block, then move them around in different combinations to get the look you love. This is a technique class to learn how to make a new block and manipulate it to make something else. Use a strip set or cut your own strips; you need 4 for the class to learn how to make the block. You will not make a finished quilt as part of this class, but you will learn how to make a block that you can then use to make a quilt.
Meets on Sunday, August 30, 2-3:30. Julie Taylor, instructor. $20. Limited to 10 participants. Skill level: intermediate.
THE CAPITAL QUILTS COMPLETE COURSE OF QUILTING: This course is designed to teach you everything you need to know to make a quilt, from how to use your sewing machine to fabric selection to sewing on the label. Learn a new technique each week, including cutting, pressing, set-ins, paper-piecing, and more. You will make a sampler quilt incorporating all the major quilting techniques, and then learn how to sandwich, quilt, and bind your masterpiece. It is the perfect opportunity to start at the beginning and learn one step at a time. This class will have 10 meetings on Zoom and 1 meeting with the instructor in the shop, one-on-one, to go over using your machine and selecting fabrics for your project. Please plan to wear a mask in the shop. You must have your own sewing machine. There will be homework!
Meets on 10 Wednesdays beginning on September 9, 6:30-8:30. The last class is on November 11. Betsy Kulamer, instructor. $270. Limited to 8 participants. Skill level: beginner.
CAPITAL QUILTS CARES
We are collecting scrub caps for nurses and respiratory therapists at a local hospital. Wearing PPE all day can be depressing, and medical workers love to perk up their day with happy or silly scrub caps. The requesting doctor received one from her mother that she loves! She made a few more for herself, and knowing what a lift it gives her, is hoping to share the love. There is no restriction on the pattern to use, but she likes Milly's Tie Scrub Hat Pattern from Brimming with Love. It's a woman's hat with enough room to tuck long hair up into. Twelve Bees has a great video and pattern for making a men's scrub hat. (Not necessarily men, but for people with short hair.) 2 hats from just a tad over a 1/3 of a yard. (12.5 inches)
We also have free pillowcase kits available that you can sew at home. They are a wonderful beginner project to do with children. The kiddos will learn some sewing skills and stay busy, too! We can mail them to you or you can pick them up curbside. Return the finished pillowcases to the shop (when you can; there is no rush), and we will donate them to Ryan’s Case for Smiles when the appropriate time comes.
Small Kennel Quilts are always accepted for donation. These small quilts are sent to shelters and rescues all over the country, and are a great beginner project, or a way to practice your free motion quilting skills. We are expecting requests from California (fires) and the Gulf Coast any day now.
NAVIGATING THE ONLINE STORE
For those of you who are computer-challenged, click here for a quick tutorial on getting to and through our online shop using a laptop or desktop computer. (Smart phones and tablet screens may vary.)
We have had a few people call to say that they are having trouble getting PayPal to work or to make a selection or are having other issues when they use the Capital Quilts online store. If this happens to you, try refreshing your browser. That often solves the problem. Don’t forget to click on “I am not a robot”, and select the method of delivery (shipping/curbside), too. If you continue to have a problem, please contact the shop at 301-527-0598.
We have all made a mask or two (or 50, or 200, or…), and would like to share our favorite patterns, and some tips and tricks we’ve discovered along the way. Click here for all the details! (By the way, some of our customers are now offering completed masks for sale on our website, if you aren't interested in sewing one yourself.)
Bill Nye the Science Guy has posted a video in which he demonstrates how to test the efficacy of your mask. Put your mask on and light a candle. Try to blow the candle out. If the flame wavers or goes out, your mask is not working. Dispose of it or add a filter and test again.
We recently started listing all mask-making supplies in a single category to make them easier to find online. Click here to see all the currently available items. (Updated each and every time we get in a new product!)
Mask Kits for personal use:
Kits are currently available! They contain all the materials (pre-cut fabric, twist ties for nose wires, cotton twill tape for fabric ties, and pattern with tips and tricks) required to make either 5 or 10 at a time. These kits are not intended to be used to make masks for donating to medical facilities, but are perfect for the “shoppers’ masks” now required to be worn in public in our area. Click here to order.
Not interested in making your own masks? No worries! We have several local quilters and crafters selling their masks through our website. Multiple styles and prints are available, including NEW communicator masks for those who need others to see their lips (or their smile).
SEWING MACHINE MAINTENANCE
We are able to accept all brands of sewing machines for cleaning and tune-ups. To take advantage of this service, go to our website and sign up for machine repair. Bring your machine to the shop. We will take it in and wipe it down with a disinfectant (safe for sewing machines). We will let you know it is ready for pick-up and wipe it down again before we give it to you. Our technicians are working as quickly as they can, but both have essential day jobs. Machine servicing wait time is currently estimated at 2-3 weeks after drop-off.
If your machine is broken, be sure to write that in the notes section. We are not always able to get parts for machines other than Janome, but we will contact you before proceeding. If you want the technician to call you with an estimate before making the repair, please put that in the notes section as well.
NEW AND NOTEWORTHY
The raven has long been associated with death and dark omens, but in reality, ravens are intelligent, playful, and adaptable. Celebrate Halloween and this wonderful bird with Raven Moon from Kaufman. The focus panel features ravens investigating dilapidated Victorian birdhouses against an orange sky. Fluttering bats, spooky tree silhouettes against a dark sky, and cobwebs gleaming in the moonlight round out this collection. $12.99-$13.50 per yard; birdhouse panel, $9.99 each.
We've restocked our 30s Reproductions with a selection of Aunt Grace's Apron prints from Marcus. (Scottie dogs are also available on red!) $12.50 per yard.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a longtime holiday favorite. Celebrate with these fabrics from Kaufman, including a Grinchmas Tree panel, complete with ornaments to make for the countdown. We can almost hear the Whos singing "Dahoo Dores". Panel, $13.99 each, coordinates, $12.50 per yard.
AccuQuilt is continuing to offer $100 off the Go! Big and Ready.Set.Go! cutting machines during the month of August. This is a mail-in rebate available only through retailers (not on the AccuQuilt website); get your rebate form with your purchase at Capital Quilts.
Special Financing Promotion: from August 18-September 8, 2020, Handi Quilter is offering $0 down and 0% financing with Free Shipping. This is a great time to buy a longarm quilting machine or a Pro-Stitcher!
Tune in to the Handi Quilter Facebook page every Tuesday at 2pm EDT for their Shop@Home Event, which features tips, tricks, and tutorials on Handi Quilter products with limited-time special pricing and a give-away to a random live attendee. They announce a special on a different machine or accessory each week. If you can’t watch the Tuesday event, go to the HQ website and enjoy the “And I Quilt” series of videos. You can still get the special pricing on the week’s product through Sunday.
This week, the Pro-Stitcher Designer is being offered with a $100 discount. Pro-Stitcher Designer is software that lets you design, edit, customize, export, and import any quilting motif you can imagine.
Meet the MyStyle 100. This is a basic mechanical sewing machine with 15 stitches, 1 buttonhole, an auto-declutch bobbin winder, top-loading bobbin, and a maximum stitch width of 5mm. The feet snap on and off. The free arm allows easy access to sleeves and other tight places. You can drop the feed dogs for free-motion quilting. This is the perfect machine for a new sewer.
If you would like to buy a different model that we do not have in stock, we can order it in for you. Please call the shop to discuss.