1) After I place an order with your company, how long is it till you ship?
If the item is in stock, we ship same day we receive payment.
2) Can I do your patterns by hand?
Sure, but it takes longer. Just leave a ¼" allowance and fold under, appliqué, then embroider the details.
3) What kind of sewing machine do I need to do machine appliqué?
You need a machine that can do straight stitch and zig-zag. That's it! Anything else is frills (nice to have, but not required). We use zig-zag to satin stitch (close zig-zag) the appliqué (use an open toed foot) and straight stitch to do the machine quilting (use a darning foot with the feed dogs up!). If you would like to “try-before-you-buy”, then go to our free Back-to-Basics pattern page. Watch our six FREE videos to learn all the steps to making a Critter quilt. They are further down the webpage from the Back to Basics PDF pattern.
4) What brand of sewing machine do you recommend?
More important than what brand you buy, is to get the machine from a dealer that you like and trust. Most sewing machine dealers will bend over backwards for the customers that bought their machine from them. Look for free classes, warranties, extended service, and trade-up policies. Be sure to take a project into the store and play with the prospective new (or used) machine. If the shop won't let you touch the machine, go elsewhere to buy. We find a dial that regulates the stitch width to be extremely helpful. We make our sample quilts on a Bernina 1230 (about fourteen years old) and a 930 (older than dirt...I bought it used in 1994).
To save on cost, one avenue to explore is used sewing machines. You'd buy a used car, so what's the difference between that and a used sewing machine? A lot of people "have to keep up with the Jones", so they buy the latest and greatest machines every year and trade in their old one. You could buy that used one for a significant savings! Also, don't let the salesperson talk you into more machine than you need, but don't settle for less then you want, either. Think about how long you plan on keeping the machine and how often you plan on using it when you think about how much money to spend. And remember that more expensive machines tend to make better, more consistent stitches, which means less time with the thread ripper because your machine skipped a stitch.
5) How long does a quilt take?
Well, that depends on how big and how involved it is. To appliqué most single piece of fabric critters takes about 20 minutes. So to put an animal on a sweatshirt would only take 20 minutes (less time then it takes to get a pizza delivered) and would make a great gift for anyone! Placemats (a 13" x 18" mini-quilt) are an easy way to practice machine-appliqué techniques and fabric coordination. It only takes an hour and a half to make on with one animal and a log-cabin border. You can become comfortable with the technique before tackling a full sized bed quilt. They also make great housewarming gifts or wedding presents.
6) How big are the critters in the pattern?
Most of the animals in are patterns range in size from 5" to 8". But with a photocopier or a scanner, you can make them whatever size you want, anything from microscopic to football-field size! We do pick the sizes of the critters in our patterns for a reason, though. If the critters are really small, it becomes harder to turn the tighter corners for feet, beaks, etc. If the critters are too big, the amount of stitching doesn't look balanced with the amount of fabric, and the unquilted area (the appliqué) could cause the quilt to not hold together properly. If you see our quilts in our booth at a show, the critters are all full-size, i.e.: what you see in the quilt is exactly the same size that they are in the pattern.
7) Do I need a serger to do your patterns?
NO! Absolutely not! Just a sewing machine (see question 2). Sergers cut and sew at the same time, if you used it for appliqué, you would be left with a shredded pile of scraps! Also, sergers do not turn tight corners very well.
8) How do you choose your colors?
Generally, Debora selects fabrics which are either clear colors (right out of the paint box colors) or muddy colors (created five minutes after a child starts using the colors in a paint box). Then she considers the textures of the fabrics - large, small, and medium, and the value of the colors - light, medium and dark. Most people forget to buy the lightest colors. Light colored fabric will increase the contrast in your quilts and make them more exciting. When choosing the textures for the appliqués, you might want to use only small and medium. Leave the large prints for the empty blocks or the backing.
Be aware that there are fabrics sold in quilt shops which only belong on the back side of a quilt - namely fabrics which cannot be classified as a light, medium, or dark. If you cut out a moose (for example) from a graphic black and white print of leaves, which is beautiful, but not classifiable, you may only see the print, not the shape of the moose.
We all know that the critters want to be the stars of the quilts, not the prints. Also, smaller projects require fewer colors. Look for textures when buying fabrics (fur, scales, etc.).
9) Do you use Wonder-Under® or Steam-A-Seam® or Steam-A-Seam-2®?
Yes, that way the top fabric doesn't move when you are trying to sew it to the background fabric. It sure beats basting. WonderUnder is the least expensive. Steam-A-Seam Lite does the same thing as WonderUnder except it will never come apart...in normal wear and tear and through the wash. The parts of the designs which dangle off the quilts: chicken feathers, 3-D ears...are two fabrics fused with Steam-A-Seam 2 or two fabrics with Steam-A-Seam Lite fused together. Debora made patchwork pants with some chickens from the Fancy Fowl pattern (what would you do with leftover blocks?). These pants have been washed at least 30 times and the feathers are still glued together.
10) I used Wonder-Under® once and it gummed up my needle. -OR- I used Wonder-Under® once and it made the appliqué really stiff.
With Wonder-Under® you want to use the hottest iron setting that your fabric will take. This will give the best adhesion and keep the fabrics flexible. Possibly you weren't using WonderUnder, but HeatnBond.
11) Do you use stabilizer?
Yes, it will keep the fabric from tunneling. Tunneling is when you are sewing through fabric and the thread causes the fabric to create little mounds underneath the thread. To a certain degree, quilting will smooth it out again, but it won't do miracles. Stabilizer will help keep the fabric flat and is especially important with legs, beaks, and tails which are covered with stitching. If you are using an iron-on stabilizer, iron it on at the coolest setting that attaches it to the fabric; if the setting is too hot, you can make its removal difficult .
12) After appliquéing the shape using first fusible web, then stabilizer, then satin stitch, the critter looks wonderful, but as soon as I start quilting around it, the appliqué shape starts rising up like a volcano! I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Have you any suggestions?
Though I can't tell for sure because I am not standing over you as you work but, these would be things I would look at:
- The stabilizer should be under the background fabric and is torn away after the appliqué is finished.
- The appliqués are joined into groups and then bordered with more fabric
(makes a frame visually).
- The whole quilt is stretched on a board (Debora uses "Homosote" which is for sound insulation in houses - it is a 4' x 8' compress paper 1/2" thick gray sheet available in some lumber stores) or you could use broad loom carpet... anything you can stick pins into. “I stick “T-pins” (people used to use them for holding wigs to a form to style wigs in the 60's) through the quilt into the board or carpet. I stretch the backing, then the batting (I like Warm and Natural cotton batting because it stays flat) then the quilt top."
- T-pin all around the edge, one layer at a time, moving the pins to the next layer, as you add layers (backing first, then batting, then quilt top).
- Then put 1" safety pins all over, starting in the center and moving out, about every 4" (the width of your fist).
- Then take the T-pins away and pull up your quilt from the surface.
- Start quilting from the center of the quilt moving toward the edges, removing the safety pins before you come to them.
Try making a small quilt (doll size), then a small wallhanging, then you should have a flat quilt. You also may have been using a thick polyester batt (good for tied quilts not quilted quilts). The cotton batting adheres well to the cotton fabrics so it doesn't "travel" when you stitch by machine, and it is thick enough to add texture to your design.
13) Is there a black lab in the dog pattern?
You can make any of our critters in any color you want. So if you want the lab to be black, chocolate, mint green, polka-dot, whatever, it's your choice!
14) Do you always use cotton fabrics?
Yes, with the exception of the lamé (which is included in some of the patterns) and UltraSuede™. We don't use poly-cotton fabrics, they just don't have the same "hand" as 100% cotton. Check out the Sheep pattern made up in wool, crazy quilt style.
15) How do you get the bird (cat, snake, etc.) to face the other way?
That's an easy one! Pin the drawing to the wrong side of the fabric and cut it out. It will be looking in the opposite direction as one cut from the front side of the fabric.
16) This looks like a lot of work!
Anything worthwhile doing is worth the time it takes to do it. You get out of a project exactly what you put in! Remember, you are making heirlooms, quilts never go bad, and they never wear out (you just patch them!) Also, you don't have to use all of the animals in the patterns, i.e. the Cat Faces pattern has 15 faces in it, but you can make a real nice wallhanging using just four of them, especially if you color them so they look like your cats. You could even make a mini-wallhanging using just one of the faces, and it makes a great quick and easy gift.
17) Question from a lady looking at our booth at a quilt show: Did somebody really make these?
Paul: "Uh......no!" [Aliens brought 'em from outer space!] ;-)
Another lady recently told us that she couldn't buy the Turtles pattern because the turtles didn't have happy expressions. She was making a quilt for a kid.
18) Question from a different lady at a different quilt show who had just walked several booths away with one of our patterns in her hand: "Can I take home a pattern and try it out? If I like it, I'll pay you for it later."
19) Question from a another lady at a different quilt show: "Now what did I buy last time I saw you?"
Answer supplied by another customer in the booth: "Not enough!"
20) Question from another lady, looking at our supply of thread: Does thread last a long time?
a) "A long time if you don't use it" b) "Three hours if you do use it" c) "Yes."
21) $9.95 is an awful lot to pay for one animal!
We provide lots of critters in each pattern! All of the full-size patterns have between 8 and 52 animals in them. The $6.95 Critters-in-a-Hurry each have at least four critters inside. Not to mention all the other motifs in most of the patterns, flowers, trees, leaves, cactus, etc. We spend a lot of time researching our designs that we include in the patterns. The price we charge, saves you a lot of time and you get the benefit of our design sense and experimentation.
22) Know-it-all to her friend: "I know how they do this. First you sew all the blocks together, then you make the sandwich with the batting in the middle and then you quilt. When you are done, then you cut out the animals and put them where you want and satin stitch them down."
Paul to Know-it-all: "How do you avoid having a lumpy quilt if you quilt under the space where the animals go?" Know-it-all: "I never thought of that."
23) Quilty Lady: "You are crossing over your quilting stitches."
Jessica (designer the Critters in a Hurry patterns): "Yes, I am making loop-de-loops to show the flight path of the dragonfly." Quilty Lady: "Are you allowed to do that?" (Contrary to popular belief, there are NO quilt police!)
24) Question from a clueless woman at a show: "How did you get that quilt to look exactly like the pattern cover photo?"
Paul: "Err...it is the original..." (it was photographed to be on the cover of the pattern!)
25) Can regular people do this?
We consider ourselves to be regular people, none of us can leap tall buildings in a single bound and none of us are faster then a speeding bullet... When you see us at a show, we show quilts made by our fans on a photo playing machine. We met a man in Australia who plans to use the designs to make lace! We have heard of people using the patterns for wood cutouts, embroidery, hooked rugs, cake decorations and, of course, appliquéd vests and jackets and quilts. Debora loves to use left over appliquéd blocks for patchwork pants or place mats!
26) How do I become a Fan Club member?
Send in a photo of a quilt project made with our pattern and we'll add it to our pattern web page for all to see. We will credit you for making the project. We love seeing what people are making with our patterns and their creativity. We hope the consumer-made quilts come out different from ours.
27) Does the pattern for the vest include the front and the back?
Yes. [of course! It wouldn't be a vest without the back, would it?] Sorry, the vest pattern is now out of print but the question was funny.
28) Can I combine the patterns?
Yes, of course. Our patterns can all be combined however you see fit. You can combine the Just Horses pattern with the Farmyard Friends pattern and Pigs, and Fancy Fowl, Sheep, Cows, Llamas and Alpacas, Fancy Fowl 2, and Family Dogs and the many Cats patterns for a truly "down home" quilt. Or you can combine the Too Many Cats, Too Many Cats II, Cat Faces, Our Cats, Long Haired Cats, and the Critters-In-A-Hurry Cats and have WAY TOO MANY CATS!
29) Clueless woman at a show: "Are you from St. Louis? I don't buy from anyone who isn't from St. Louis."
Paul: "Okay..." [we wonder how she buys anything...they don't grow bananas in St. Louis, they don't make TV sets in St. Louis.... And where could you go on vacation where everything would be from St. Louis?]
30) Curious e-mail writer: "Do you know where I can get a two headed dragon?"
Debora: Make a copy of one of our dragon drawings and trace the head onto the wrong side of that piece of paper it was copied on. Cut out the head and tape it the the neck of the original dragon drawing. Presto, two headed dragon.
31) Question: 9801, (Too Many Cats II), what exactly is this?? Is it fabric?? I love the picture but if I order it what am I supposed to do with it?? Is it just appliqués?? I apologize for asking such a stupid question but I am interested enough to ask!!
Debora: No question is stupid. If you don't know the answer. how else are we to learn?
We make patterns. A pattern is paper and you cut it out of your fabric choice and use the instructions to make something similar to what we have pictured (quilted wall hangings). Or you can use the designs to make something totally different, like cake decorations, or wood cut outs, or lace, or a king sized bed quilt.
These designs are for machine appliqué, but you can do them by hand if you prefer. The instructions are very complete, so if you've never made a quilt you can actually do one, assuming you can read and understand. Don't laugh, but some people can't, they learn visually. We have a video for them, showing all the steps to making a critter quilt.
We do offer a free pattern called Back-to-Basics, for you to print out and teach yourself our basic methods.
Does this pique your interest? I hope so. In the process of learning new techniques in our patterns, you will also be learning creative thinking. Sign up for our newsletter on our home page. It is also geared toward teaching you to think creatively, with links to interesting web sites and thoughts on my mind as well as keeping you up to date on new patterns as they come out.
If you like these hints and stories, then e-mail us. ;-)