Sunday, October 24, 2010

Handy Hollow Core Doors

More than 30 years ago, when we bought our first house, we did a little remodeling that included turning a closet into a built-in sewing area with shelves. To create the space, we removed a pair of sliding hollow core doors that we have since kept through several moves. At occasional garage sales they worked as tables, mounted on sawhorses, displaying our treasures. Most recently, they've been used as handy basting tables with two of them pushed together to measure a generous 72" X 79".

This past week I used the doors as a basting table to sandwich several small quilts. Here is a pieced quilt back for the quilt belonging to our newest grandson who's due in the next couple weeks.

Pieced backing taped to hollow core doors mounted on sawhorses.
I wanted to use Hobbs Heirloom batting for the baby's quilt and found I didn't have a piece that measured 46" X 46". I did have two smaller pieces. To join them, I first overlapped the pieces by about 3". Then, I used my rotary cutter to slice a wavy line through the overlapped layers. I removed the small, trimmed waves. Butting together the larger, remaining wavy-edged pieces, I used a walking foot and the widest zig-zag on my sewing machine to splice them together.
Pieced Hobbs 80/20 Heirloom batting.

Though I've pieced battings together before, previously I spliced straight edges. I'd like to believe the wavy joining will hold up better. Also, I've previously joined two pieces with hand stitches. Again, I think the machine-joined pieces will hold up better.

After pin-basting the quilt, I began free-motion quilting. For me, that always starts with hand lotion. I know many quilters wear gloves - the garden variety, or some expensive brand designed for machine quilting - but Neutrogena hand cream works best.
Free-motion quilt by wearing hand lotion, not gloves!
I have Diane Gaudynski, machine quilter extraordinaire, to thank for that great suggestion. Of course the added benefit is that my hands stay smooth!

But let me return to those hollow core doors... Since purchasing a used Pfaff Grand Quilter in July, I've tried to figure out how to set up my quilting area with the maximum amount of table space, to support a quilt during quilting. I considered buying one of several recommended sewing machine tables, but in the end I managed to work out this set-up. It involves two sawhorses, an adjustable height table (beneath the Pfaff Grand Quilter), and an old, aqua and chrome kitchen table (beneath the left-hand hollow core door). Oh, and a piece of lumber beneath the left table legs. Yes, I've cobbled together something that gives me the large level surface I'm looking for. But here's my issue...

New quilting set-up.

Those hollow core doors are unfinished and have a rough texture. I noticed that my quilt didn't slide, except for when it came into contact with the Pfaff's plastic table extension. If you were me, what might you do to smooth the surface of the doors? Keep in mind, I'd like the opposite sides of the doors to remain as they are so I can flip them over for basting and not be concerned that I'm damaging the surface by poking safety pins into it.

But what about the free-motion quilting side? What would you suggest that would give me the "glide-ability" I'm looking for?


  1. What about some sort of clear contact paper to smooth them out and more glider friendly?!

  2. I love the hand lotion idea! Your quilting set up us great..I'd get some glossy spray paint and coat one side of your doors for a slick surface. Another idea would be to tape on a piece of clear vinyl or a vinyl table cloth. Let us know what you decide to do!

  3. A piece of good oilcloth taped or stapled on would provide a wonderfully slippery surface.

  4. Linda, I would tack a piece of clear plastic, the kind they sell for tablecloths, to the side of the door you want to be slippery. You'll be interested to know that Di B and I discussed your problem today as we worked on the bowtie quilt, and that was what we came up with - two heads....!

  5. Thank you for joining my giveaway-I have seen a lot of your quilts and they are so nice!



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