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Another Seam Ripping Method
From: Dorothy Goodman

Dear Linda,
     I just read your suggestion for seam ripping' 101, and I would like to tell you how we do it. My mom and I sew together, and inevitably we do a lot of seam ripping. We use our rotary cutter to get the job done. We first stabilize one piece of the fabric to be ripped under the sewing machine foot. Then we pull up the other piece, exposing the seam, and gently touch the stitches with the blade of the rotary cutter, keeping pressure to open the seam. This way, there is less chance of cutting the fabric with the scissors, and the seam is gone lickity split. I hope this is clear.
    I would love for you to post it - but please give the credit to my mom, Dorothy Goodman. It was her idea. Thanks!

Tips on Nativity

From: Robin T.

     Many hours and 3 camels later (no contrast, too dark, just right), I have completed the top of the Nativity. I feel triumphant but now I would like a bit of guidance on how to most effectively quilt this beauty. Did you use clear thread? I can see adding some rays to the night sky and stitching around the figures. I need to get it in the mail so don't have unlimited hours to quilt it. Thank you--Robin T

Hi, Robin
     Ah, every once in a while someone writes this same email and I am sure it is disappointing when I tell them: I have not made nor quilted this pattern. I worked with a friend of mine who made two of them for testing purposes. Her sister then did the machine quilting.
     I do recommend machine quilting for anything paper pieced. Not only is it faster, but saner going through all those layers. (As you surely already know.) I think clear thread would probably be best [better advice below!] Please ask someone you know who does machine quilting whether it would be best to do a small all-over pattern or to do outlining, because I'm not sure...I've looked at some of the ones sent to me in the past but I have reduced them and cannot tell if they are one or the other.
     [In case you are worried!] I design and then sew 99% of these patterns. And then I add them to a very tall pile of unfinished tops. Now you know the awful truth! :) --Linda

Robin wrote back and has allowed me to include:
     I thought I would update you on the quilting of the nativity, in case you are asked again. It actually applies to all of your great projects:
     1. Select a multi-colored backing since you will be using many different thread colors for the quilting. I chose a printed cotton that is not remotely Christmas oriented, but has many of the colors in the nativity. 
     2. Stitch in the ditch closely around the inside edge of all major pieces. A small meander works beautifully in the foreground area. Use same color thread for top and bottom in case your tension is not perfect or reacts to the different thickness throughout the quilt top.
     3. To add sparkle, use metallic thread (solid, non-metallic bobbin) for the radiant lines from the main star.
     Hope you are having a good holiday season.--Robin T

PS. I consulted a couple of people who warned that invisible thread often catches the light and looks like what it is, plastic. I decided not to use in on the nativity, not after all the piecing work!

Thank you, Robin!
I copied your suggestions to another person who asked me nearly the same question just this week, and she was very interested in your machine quilting advice. Thank you for helping me out!

A Paper-Piecing Method Alternative 

From: Mary C

Dear Linda,
     I have a tip that may help other “spatially challenged” users of your patterns. I have made the Family Tree (twice), one of the borders, and now I am working on the Bowl of Shells. 
     As you know, the latter has many small polygons and small sharp triangles. Butterfly imagery and rough cutting the shape out of the fabric doesn’t work for me. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t see how to sew angled pieces together so they cover the pattern area. Pinning doesn’t help. The following method works for me.
     I make a second copy of the pattern. Working one section at a time, cut out the individual pieces and lightly glue them to the wrong side of the corresponding fabric using a water soluble fabric glue stick. On a cutting mat, cut out each piece with a rotary cutter using an add-a-quarter ruler. Alternatively, draw the ¼ inch seam allowance with a disappearing ink fabric pen and cut out the pieces with scissors. Both methods work equally well and help ensure the sewn edge is on the straight of grain wherever possible. Because of all the small pieces, be careful to keep each section together – I put them in envelopes. Before sewing each piece to the paper pattern, I remove the glued on piece. This doesn’t add any time to the project. In fact, when I get ready to sew, all the pieces are already cut from the correct fabric, with the proper angles, and are easy for me to piece together. The sewing is more efficient and goes more quickly because I don’t have to rummage through the various fabrics used in the project.
     I love the challenge of your patterns and the results as spectacular. But I had a love-hate relationship with them until I used this method. Thank you for your designs and a great web site. 

Another Paper-Piecing Method Alternative 

From: Peg Money

    I thought I'd tell you how I use your patterns that help me the most. I cut them apart and then glue stick them to another sheet of paper making sure that I have 3/8" seam allowances. Then copy them to paper piecing paper before cutting the pieces out. When I start to sew them together, I trim the seam allowances to 1/4". It really works for me. 

Edited from email...

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