Hi, there! I’m Elizabeth Hartman and this is my blog. "Oh, Fransson!" is a line from Lotta on Troublemaker Street by Astrid Lindgren.
I mostly make quilts and I describe myself as a modern quilter. I’ve written two books: The Practical Guide to Patchwork and Modern Patchwork. I also write patterns for quilting and sewing projects, many of which are available free on my blog and some of which are available for purchase in my online shop.
This page is my attempt to answer the questions that people ask me most often. If you have a question, please take a look at this section to see if it’s answered here.
If you’re looking for basic information about how to make a quilt, I will shamelessly refer you to The Practical Guide to Patchwork, which is the book I wrote to try to answer all of the questions I had when I was learning to quilt.
QUESTIONS ABOUT MACHINES AND QUILT MAKING
What kind of machine do you use?
I do most of my piecing and quilting on my Viking MegaQuilter, which is a high-speed straight stitch machine. This particular machine is no longer being made, but it’s identical to the Janome 1600P-QC and similar to a couple of Juki models.
Do you have a longarm machine, or do you send your quilts to a longarm quilter?
No. I quilt all of my quilts on my regular machine. It’s a mid-arm machine designed for quilting.
How do you choose a color of thread for quilting?
It depends on the project, but I usually like to match the lightest value in my composition, which is often white or ivory.
What kind of needles do you use?
I prefer Schmetz 90/14 Machine Quilting needles for machine quilting and 80/12 Microtex/Sharp needles for piecing but, in a pinch, I’ll use Universal needles in the same sizes.
How do you press your seams?
Unless the piecing requires that I do otherwise (for instance, curves or foundation piecing) I prefer to press my seams open. I think that it makes for a more polished-looking project and I find it easier to match seams precisely.
QUESTIONS ABOUT FABRIC AND QUILT CARE
Do you prewash your quilting fabric?
I used to prewash all of my quilting fabric, but I stopped because I found that it was taking a crazy amount of time and water. More importantly, I didn’t notice an appreciable difference between quilts I made with prewashed fabric and quilts I made with fabric straight off the bolt. Your results may vary, but I’ve had positive experiences with good quality contemporary quilting fabrics and consider my decision not to prewash a calculated risk that I’m willing to take.
Please note that this applies only to cotton and cotton/linen quilting fabric. I always prewash fabric for garments or quilt fabric like flannel that I know will shrink by an appreciable amount.
You often use white and bright colors together. Don’t the colors run when you wash your quilts?
I wash my quilts in cold water on gentle cycle and tumble dry them on low. I try to be very careful about moving wet quilts to the dryer as soon as the cycle is over. Leaving a wet quilt sitting in the washing machine is one of the easiest ways to cause color bleed.
If you’re concerned about colors in a quilt bleeding, consider buying Shout Color Catchers, which are available in the laundry aisle of most larger grocery stores. These look kind of like dryer sheets but they’re designed to go in the washing machine cycle and to soak up any loose dye in the wash water.
You often use cotton, cotton/linen, and linen together. If you don’t prewash, don’t your quilts shrink unevenly?
Not that I’ve noticed. Again, I wash using the gentlest machine cycle and cold water and dry on low.
QUESTIONS ABOUT BUYING AND USING FABRIC
I want to make a quilt using the same fabrics you used in one of your quilts. Will you send me a list of the fabrics you used?
I use lots of different fabrics in each of my quilts and I rarely use fabrics that are all from the same designer or collection. Making lists like this would be incredibly time-consuming, so I’ve made it my policy not to do so.
I do try to include the names of fabrics in my blog posts whenever I can. Please keep in mind that I usually write several posts about each quilt that I make and that any discussion of the fabrics used is likely to be in the earlier posts about the planning stages of the project.
How do you buy fabric?
It depends on the fabric. I like half yards because I rarely need that much of any one fabric for a project, leaving me with a nice chunk left over for my stash. If I find that I’m using scraps of the same print or solid fabric again and again, I’ll often go back and buy a larger cut before it’s no longer available.
When I’m shopping for fabric, I’m most interested in monochromatic prints and fabulous colors of solid fabric. Shopping like this, rather than by collection, has helped me to build a versatile stash that can be used for a number of projects, rather than centered around different designer collections.
But, like anyone else, I love a great print collection so, if I fall in love with one, I’ll often buy the whole thing in fat quarters. If I really adore a multicolored print, I’ll usually buy a yard so that I have enough to center a project around.
How do you store your fabric?
I store my fabric in clear plastic drawers arranged by color. I have two stacks of drawers that are side-by-side with print fabrics on the left and solid fabrics on the right. I have another stack of drawers for my vintage sheets, Japanese cotton/linen prints, fat quarter bundles of collections, and projects in progress.
QUESTIONS ABOUT PATTERNS
I'm unable to download a free pattern from your blog. What's happening?
Most often, the problem is that your computer isn't running the most current version of Adobe Reader, which you can download free from Adobe's site. If you've downloader Reader and are still having problems, you may need to check your computer's settings to make sure that something else isn't preventing it from opening pdf files.
I have a question about copyright and/or pattern use.
Please refer to my pattern use guidelines here.