Happy Friday! Today is about favorite finds. New finds. Old favorites. All of those things.
The “aha” moment for me was when Jo said that we clip seams when making garments, with sleeves and collars being the two most common places where clipping into the seam allowance isn’t so much an option as a necessity. In the many years that I made garments, I never had fraying along a collar or sleeve edge where I had clipped. So when Jo mentioned that, I started clipping and I haven’t looked back. (Maybe it should have been a “duh” moment.)
Speaking of Jo, she has two beautiful new books that I want to share.
First, Jo’s Floral Album. (You know how much I love appliqué.)
Jo made larger versions of these appliqué blocks many years ago and has long wanted to make them again in a smaller size. So she scaled them to 14″ blocks and created this 9-block sampler that finishes at 57″ x 57″. (The border fabric is a very old Moda print.)
Do you know about back-basting appliqué? That’s Jo’s preferred method of appliqué. Jo’s Floral Album includes step-by-step instructions on her technique, and there is a short video with Jo stitching and explaining the process.
Pretty cool, don’t you think?
If you’re on Instagram, a couple of accomplished stitchers are making this quilt – #josfloralalbum.
If appliqué isn’t your jam, then you might prefer Jo’s Little Favorites III. It’s primarily pieced quilts – lovely small quilts made with small pieces.
Filled with sixteen vintage-style, antique-inspired small quilt projects ranging from easy – Hourglasses and Nine-Patches – to a bit more challenging. As always, Jo’s quilts are about the scrappy mix of color and pattern. Whether using a controlled color palette or something a little more varied, the quilts are perfect for overflowing scrap bins. And every one of these quilts would be beautiful made in other styles of fabric – they’re not just for Reproductions.
Today is also about sharing some of my favorite “finds” of the last year. Many of the non-quilting blogs I read do regular round-ups of their favorites – everything from recipes to articles, products to books. I am going to keep to quilting tools I discovered this last year – or actually started using. A few of these aren’t new, they’re just new to me.
I’ve used Roxanne’s Glue Baste-It for years, through a few clogged tips that weren’t supposed to clog. The tips got better and I got better at un-clogging those that did. When this new 2-Way Applicator bottle came out, I gave it a try and it has worked beautifully. Part of my problem is that I will use it frequently, then not use the bottle for a couple of months so I was curious to see if these shorter tips would help. They have! The thin tip is for positioning appliqué or tiny pieces. It also works for glue-basting while sewing. The other tip is for a wider surface like sashing or wide bias – the tip is flat and the hole is still quite small.
The Clover Ball Point Awl was a surprise. (It’s the pointy-thing with the dark blue handle next to the glue.) I’d used regular awls for various garment sewing purposes over the years but had not found a quilting use for them. A friend and accomplished quilter suggested trying this tool for positioning pieces while sewing – like a stiletto, for turning edges, for any time when I needed to work a hole into fabric without damaging it, and for stuffing. Since I’ve been doing a bit of garment sewing and working with zippers a bit more – bags and pillows, I’ve found myself reaching for this tool. It’s done the trick perfectly.
The Violet Craft Seam Roller. I confess to having used a wallpaper tool for pressing seams in the past but for some reason, it wasn’t until I started seeing this tool that I remembered how good it could be. Since I couldn’t find my old tool, I got one of these. Whether I’m pressing to the side or open, I’ve been keeping this by my sewing machine when I have a couple of small pieces that need to be “pressed” before joining, and I don’t want to press it with heat just yet. I’ve been playing with making string blocks and using this seam roller helps me make sure I don’t have a fold before adding the next string.
This is a new find – Lecien Cosmo’s tsu mu gi thread. It’s a 100% extra-long staple Egyptian cotton 2-ply, 40 wt. mercerized thread that comes on a 5000 meter cone or 500m spool. Having used fine 50wt. threads for many years, I heard the 40wt. and thought it would be like sewing with string, but it’s been a lovely surprise. It’s perfectly suited for machine piecing and machine-quilting, and while the claim is that it’s lint-free… it’s cotton thread, there is some lint. But it’s minimal.
Dritz Ultra Fine Glass Head Pins. When I learned that United Notions wasn’t going to carry my favorite Little House pins any longer, I panicked. Then a friend recommended these and he was right, they’re terrific. They’re very fine, strong and sharp. There are other fine pins but some get a little too “bendy” for me – I like fine pins that still stay fairly rigid. Each package has 150 pins that measure 1-3/8″ long – the same length as the Little House pins. I also love the blue glass heads.
Have you ever seen something and thought “that’s clever and cute but I’m not sure I’d use that”? I was wrong. These Stash ‘n Store organizers-stands are the best next-to-my-sewing-machine thing I’ve ever had. Because my tools stand up, they’re easier to grab. At home, I have two small pairs of scissors, my ball-point awl, a very dusty, rarely-if-ever-used seam ripper ( :::snort::: ), a seam guide and a 1″ x 6″ ruler in mine. I have only one complaint about these Stash ‘n Stores… I want one in Red. (Please.)
My last “new” find is something old – 100% cotton hand-quilting thread. Last month, Lindsay Mayland of American Patchwork & Quilting and the Happy Hour Stitches blog wrote about why hand-quilting thread was her go-to for binding. She cited three reasons – it’s coated, it glides through the fabric and it’s strong. That made such perfect sense that I even though I was in the middle of binding a quilt, I switched threads. Color me convinced of two things – this is great thread to use for binding and Lindsay is a genius!
Because I only had an old spool of white thread, I had to get a few more spools. Since I use neutral threads for 99% of my bindings, these are my choices. Coats & Clark Dual Duty Plus Hand-Quilting Thread – it has a “polished glacé finish that resists abrasion, and prevents tangling and knotting”. It is a 25wt. thread and each spool has 325 yds. There are twenty-eight colors.
I also snagged some of the Gutermann Cotton Hand Quilting Thread – a 40 wt. 3-ply 100% cotton mercerized thread “that is both fine and strong. It has a glazed finish that helps prevent tangling and allows the thread to glide easily through the layers of fabric.”
So what is your favorite new find – the tool, notion or idea that you wish you’d always known about?
If you share… you just might find this in your mailbox.
The deadline is Midnight on Sunday, February 25. Just leave a comment sharing your favorite recent “new find”.