Favorite Finds ~ Sewing & Quilting

You know we all like to sew, right?  And if we’re quilters, then it probably follows that we all have plenty of stuff.

Let’s start with the big stuff… amazing quilter and all-around really neat lady Natalia Bonner of Piece ‘n Quilt listed her sewing machine and long-arm quilting machines in her “favorite finds”- a Bernina Aurora 450, Anniversary Edition and a Gammill Premier with a 10′ table.  The extended base for her long-arm machine was also listed.  You have to love a girl who loves her machines.

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Celine Perkins of Perkins Dry Goods – the creator of gorgeous quilt patterns the the best seam-measuring-tool ever – also loves her sewing machines – a Janome 6600 and a 1600P.

Janome MC 6600PJanome 1600P-QC

 

Side note – Do you have more than one sewing machine?  Are they back-ups?  Or are they machines you don’t really use much but are too good – or too sentimental – to part with?  (I have “multiple” and both.  They’re back-up and they also have sentimental value.  If you doubt the value of back-ups, I have two in the shop right now… one is in for regular service and then one suddenly developed a “tension issue”.)

Related to sewing machines, our buddy Thelma Childers of Cupcakes ‘n Daisies has the sewing machine table of my our dreams…

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The Horn of America Multi-lift Table.  I love the size of the work-space.

After that, it was all about the tools.  Rulers.  Cutting implements.  Thread.  Rulers.  And various other notion-y sorts of things.

Let’s start with scissors… Amy Friend cited her prized Gingher Buttonhole Scissors.

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Do you know what distinguishes these from “regular” scissors?  That little knob-thing.  It can be adjusted to limit the size of the cut to a precise length… like the length of a single button-hole.  Pretty cool, don’t you think?  (FYI – I had to look that up because I didn’t have a clue.)

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Sherri K. Falls of This & That mentioned her 5″ Gingher scissors.  These are the “regular” knife-edge scissors.  I forgot to ask Sherri if she preferred these or what Gingher calls their “craft scissors”.

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These have slightly shorter, nubbier blades for cutting.  My favorite by-the-machine scissors are more like these craft scissors.

Roseanne Kermes also cited a pair of scissors – the Olfa Precision Applique Scissors.  A picture of those… next!

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The yellow scissors – those are Roseanne’s favorite.  I like them too – those are mine in the picture.  The Elan 5″ embroidery scissors were mentioned by several people – lightweight and very sharp.  One thing is clear – 5″ scissors can be found on a lot of sewing tables.

The polka dot scissor case!  Emma Creations has done a small version for embroidery scissors for several years and they finally – finally! – came out with a slightly bigger version for larger scissors.

Barbara Groves of Me & My Sister mentioned the Clover Wonder Clips.  I don’t know what color Barb prefers but I love the multi-color box/package.  The red, neon green and pink are very nice but really… I want all the colors.  (On a side note, the really funny part of this is that Wonder Clips had been around for years but Barb only discovered them recently.  But when she did find them, she was all-in!  I was a bit late to the party too.  I’m glad she mentioned them because they’re one of my most favorite “finds” too.)

Seam Fix!  Kate Spain mentioned this seam ripper as one of her favorite tools… even though it’s gathering dust because she never ever uses it.

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That Clover white seam ripper is the favorite of yours truly – and several others.  I buy them by the box.  Yes, I use them frequently… I have quilts that I know I’ve made twice because I’ve sewn – un-sewn – re-sewn so many times.

Thread Heaven and Thread Magic.  Barb – of Me & My Sister – mentioned the Thread Heaven as being crucial, necessary, required.  A couple of the ladies in the office mentioned the Thread Magic as their preferred “thread conditioner” because they like the slots in the case.

Pat Sloan listed the Sewline Cuticle Oil Pen… I thought Sewline only did glue pens!  When did they start this?

The Fun Tape Measure?  I think it’s the colors.  None of the ladies who mentioned these do much garment sewing so… I’m thinking it’s about the colors and the “fun tape” part.

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Brenda Riddle mentioned the Thimble Pads.  They’re my favorite too!  (I could never get used to a thimble so these had to do.)  Do you suppose these pads are the secret to doing gorgeous applique and embroidery like Brenda does?

Peels!  I need a couple packages of these peel-things from Smartneedle.  I was skeptical, I wasn’t sure they were going to work but the peel stays nicely snug around the spool, even larger spools and cones.  As someone who always has a couple of spools unraveling in a drawer despite being certain they’re secured… I think I’m going to need a package or four of these Peels.  The cool two-sided – two-ended? – seam ripper is also from Smartneedle.  Given that Tammy recommended both of these… we’ll have to start calling her SmartTammy.

Speaking of thread…

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Celine, Thelma, and Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life all mentioned Aurifil – the 50 wt. Mako cotton thread.  Sherri also mentioned Aurifloss, as did Brenda – she has a gorgeous new Aurifloss assortment color-matched to her coming-soon Windermere collection.

Of course, they’re all winding their bobbins on the Side Winder by Me & My Sister.

Corey Yoder of Coriander Quilts loves using Size 8 Perle Cotton for hand-quilting.

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Doug Leko of Antler Quilt Designs cited his two new 60 wt. thread collections for Presencia and Janice Vaine – embroiderer and hand-stitcher extraordinaire – loves Superior Silk Applique thread – and thimbles by T.J. Laine.  She also loves porcupine quills for a stiletto or laying tool – if you haven’t tried them, they’re very nice because they’re long, thin and surprisingly lightweight.

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Thelma mentioned the Folded Corner Clipper by Prairie Sky – given how perfect her piecing is, I think I’m going to need to try this.  Several people – but not Celine! – mentioned Celine’s Perfect Piecing Seam Guide as helping them achieve and maintain a perfect scant 1/4″ seam allowance.  Pat Sloan loves the narrow Omnigrid ruler – it comes in a set of 3 rulers called a Marking Trio.  They’re a 1/2″ width and either 4 1/2″, 6″ or 12″ long.  For marking and quick measuring, this little ruler is terrific.

The Olfa Frosted ruler says right there on the ruler that it’s 1″ x 12″.  But look closely.  1 1/4″ x 12 1/2″.  Whatever – Betsy Chutchian loves this ruler and so do I – it’s a new favorite – found because of Betsy.  I’m a little surprised I didn’t have it as the Olfa Frosted rulers are my favorites.  (Thank you, Betsy.)

Sherri mentioned the Itty Bitty rulers by Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings.  (I agree – they’re awesome.)

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The Ruler Pal by Jodi Nelson of Pleasant Home is another one of Sherri’s favorite finds – as is Jodi’s legendary Polka Dot Magnetic Pinbowl.

Pins!  Celine loves the Glass Head pins by Collins.

The Little House pins from Japan were listed by Thelma and I don’t remember who else as a favorite. (I had a list… but I’ve misplaced it right now.)  They’re super-fine, very strong and very, very sharp.

Little House Sewing Pins

 

While the pins come in a lovely little tin, I prefer substituting something a little more… fun.

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Candy tins.  I don’t care about the candy, I just want the little tin.  World Market always has something entertaining, as does the aisle by the checkout at that big-box sewing store we don’t like to mention… the one with the coupons.  These tins are very secure, making them a nice addition to a little sewing bag or pouch.

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The Beatle Bag by Abbey Lane Quilts.

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The Abbey Bag by Abbey Lane Quilts.  Do you see a theme here?  Abbey Lane does really awesome bags!  Janice and Marcea of Abbey Lane created these and while they both mentioned them as being favorites, so did several others.  Janice loves the Abbey Bag and the Beatle Bag is Marcea’s favorite.  The Beatle Bag came up a couple of times as being an awesome traveling bag for sewing and other stuff – especially since you can get refills for the clear plastic inserts.

So what did we forget?  What favorite sewing tool or find do you have that we should know about?

After all… if you think it’s cool, we probably would too.

We might even need it.

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Taking Appliqué on the Road

I’ve written about hitting the road to visit barn quilts and quilt museums (and thanks, readers, for all the great additions to those posts). Now it’s time to think about what to do while you’re getting to those places. I find time in the car or on a plane the perfect opportunity to do a little hand sewing, knitting, embroidery, etc. And I’m not the only one. A lot of Moda’s designers are hitting the road this summer and taking their handwork with them. In future posts they’ll share tips for embroidery and hexagons on the road. Today, Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill, Laurie Simpson of Minick and Simpson, and Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree and Co. let us in on tips and tricks for enjoying appliqué while en route to their vacation destinations (or maybe just while taking the kids to the neighborhood park).

dp_bunny-hill Here’s what Anne Sutton has to say:

Applique is the perfect project to carry along to occupy those endless traveling hours, waiting time at the Doctor’s office or those hours while you watch your kids swim. You do have to spend some “prep” time before you leave, but it’s so worth it! I can’t sit still for a long period of time without going crazy and applique is my answer.

Applique Case (1 of 1)

  1. A good case to hold supplies is essential.   A friend made mine from a P3 Designs pattern. I love it so much that I now sell the pattern on my web site. With a fold over Velcro flap to hold everything secure, the case is the perfect travel size. Open it up and you’ll be amazed at what it can hold! It has lots of pockets designed to hold applique tools! This is my “go to” case at home and on the road. You are going to want one of these cases!Applique Case Pattern (1 of 1)
  2. Pin or glue baste your pieces to your background before you leave. My pins are the tiny applique pins that don’t catch the thread when sewing. You can glue baste using a glue made for applique (Roxanne’s or Appli-Glue). Just place a few tiny dots, or a very thin strip, on the seam allowance to hold your applique in place. As you can see from the photo mine has been glue-basted and is ready to stitch. I don’t have to worry about losing little pieces in the airport or on the plane. I’m ready to stitch! My favorite pincushion for traveling
  3. Pin a piece of wool to your pincushion to hold all those applique needles. This is such a simple thing but it works like a charm. I’ll thread several needles with different colors of thread and have them ready to go. I’ll pop my pincushion, travel case, applique and glue (keep the glue in a zip lock bag) and I am ready to travel. Don’t forget the thread.
  4. Here’s my final tip…bring along some little packages of Haribo Gummi Bears to keep your energy level up.Gummies (1 of 1)

Here’s Laurie Simpson’s take on appliqué-on-the-road (and this woman is not afraid to sew-on-the-go: when the power went out in her home recently, she checked into a hotel with her sewing machine so she could finish a quilt! You can read about it here):

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(Laurie’s on the right, her sister Polly on the left)

I always try to have handwork ready to go—anywhere I need to be. It usually isn’t a problem since I always have projects going on that involve hand piecing, appliqué, or English Paper Piecing. Right now I am making the Austin Bluebird Sampler quiltIMG_2839

I’m actually re-making it—this one is all in blues. This is a large appliqué block in progress and here are all the tools I need. You can see it isn’t very many. Threads, a thread book with pins and needles, a needle threader, small scissors, basting glue, thimble, and Thimble-It sticky dots. I find these sticky dots helpful for my index finger. FullSizeRender-2

These tools are small and easily transported. I have used several different carriers in my lifetime. Bags, boxes, and custom-hacked lunch boxes. My current favorite is see-through project bags. I found these from a vendor at a quilt show and love them. Not only are they handy, but you can see at a glance which bag has what. The smallest bag holds my threads, the next smallest has the project with the needle case, scissors and such. The next largest bag holds some other tools that may or may not come in handy, bigger scissors, an extra set of eyeglasses, glue sticks, and even a tiny battery operated light that clips onto my eyeglasses. You never know when the power will go out. These 3 bags all fit in the largest bag. FullSizeRender-4

Another positive for the see-through bags is if you are taking these things through security at an airport I find that if they can see what you have (sewing stuff) it is much more likely to go through without a hassle. THIS IS NO GUARANTEE. Always take a pair of scissors through security that you wouldn’t mind leaving behind. Make sure to pack your good scissors in your checked luggage. Happy travels are much more likely if you have busy hands.

And finally, Joanna Figueroa shares her appliqué travel tales:dp_fig-tree-250x235

So, for me its kind of hit-and-miss these days whether or not I have an actual appliqué project in the works, but I always have some kind of circle or basket handle or other block portion ready for handwork, if necessary. I find that a little bit of appliqué here and there really adds a lot of visual happiness to a larger project!il_570xN.433747417_d2w7

This summer I am committed to finishing my summer version of my LOLLIPOPS quilt that I started several years ago when I was teaching the pattern as a class in Southern California. There is something about the combination of light butterscotch, orange, and peach with aqua and cream that just gets me every time. These fabrics are a scrappy combo of my Tapestry collection with many other MODA lines mixed in including Flats, Boho, Patisserie, MODA Solids and Avalon. I think it makes me think of sea glass, which I love.dresdens

Anyway… I have had these Dresden Blocks ready for quite a while and this summer I am taking the center circles with me whenever I get in the car so that I can finish it all up while its still summer and I can enjoy the quilt outside!starchappliquesupplies

One of the many reasons that I love the starch method of appliqué is because I can do all the prep-work ahead of time and take pieces that are pretty much completely ready for stitching with me. To make them all I need is my fabric, my freezer paper template, a small paintbrush and my little bowl of spray starch.finishedcircles

 

 

I prep the circle seam allowances by painting the spray starch onto them and pressing the seam allowances back onto the paper with my iron. Once done, I just remove the paper template and use it for the next circle. What I have ready to take with me are perfectly pressed circles that are ready for my summer Dresdens!blockpieces

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Check in with me later this summer to see if I have finished the project! Hope you are having fun on your road trip… or wherever you are doing some lovely handwork!

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The last word…

Not from me.  As if?!?

There are just a few more things to write about Spring Quilt Market and then we’ll close that book.

A few of you asked about trends at Market and I wish I had a better answer for you.  I didn’t see anything that jumped out to me as an emerging trend – like punch needle, hexagons or English Paper Piecing have in years past – and I think there are a couple of reasons why that might be.  First, I missed four or five Markets in succession and I’m just getting back to seeing what’s at Quilt Market.  And I’m a little slow to notice trends.

Sewn-into-the-Fabric

String-pieced appliqued deer – stag? – by Rana Heredia of Sewn Into the Fabric.  Whether it’s called “string piecing” or “improv” making of your own fabric, I did see a few things with this kind of technique involved.  This stood out – it’s so much better in person.

The second factor is location.  With the cost of travel, shipping and attending Quilt Market, many exhibitors only go to those Quilt Markets that are withing driving distance so something that seems to be very prevalent might only be a reflection of a regional preference.  Location also factors into how many international exhibitors are attending; meaning, if the Aussies are there in force, you will see all sorts of wonderful embroidery and stitchery, and plenty of very scrappy quilts with lots of pieces.

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These confections are by Natalie Bird of The Bird House in Australia – also so very much better in person.

One of my other favorite quilts had embroidery on it.  I’m not sure what it was about this one that I loved – the mix of Reproduction shirting prints with the random setting or the color palette.

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This is by Kori Turner-Goodhart of Olive Grace Studios Patterns.

The last factor is more subjective – is it a trend or am I just seeing the things that I like?  A friend and co-worker noticed that there was a lot of pink at Market.  I must have missed that, perhaps because I was noticing the aqua and the somewhat muted, retro-40s colors.  I saw quite a few quilts with big-stitch quilting but I’ve noticed those in past years too.

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These two quilts are by Madeleine Roberg of Domestic Strata.  Everything she showed at Market was amazing – I went by this booth a couple of times.  (I wasn’t alone on that – lots of people fell in love with Madeleine’s quilts.)

Since wool and wool projects always get my attention, I can’t say with any kind of accuracy that there was more or less wool in Minneapolis than in past Markets.  There was a lot of it and it was all beautiful.

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Autumn Time by Norma Whaley of Timeless Traditions – Norma also does gorgeous quilts in a traditional-reproduction-primitive style.  That means she combines different colors and styles of fabrics to make things that are original and just plain awesome.

Minis!  There were mini-quilts in many booths.  But there were just as many in Pittsburgh last Spring, and with the Reproduction designers and quilters, small quilts and “minis” have been around for at least ten years.

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With all the amazing minis in just the Moda Designer Studio, this was my favorite – Idyllic Mini from Sweetness by Corey Yoder for Coriander Quilts.  It uses Corey’s debut collection, Prairie.  (The Bella Solids are 9900-97 White and 9900-178 Etchings Stone.)

The same goes for bags – there were a lot of great bags.  The one really good trend is that with all the great bag patterns in the marketplace, it’s getting easier to find a wider variety of bag hardware and accessories.

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This bag was in front of a very cool quilt made by Mon Ami by Basic Grey, fortunately, it was also my favorite bag at Market – the Maxwell bag by Abbey Lane.  (Though we’re going to have to make one for ourselves in other fabric.)

There was a lot of “modern” fabric and a lot of Reproduction and traditional fabric.  There were bright colors and muted colors, lots of neutrals and textures, and a variety of weights and fabric types/weights.  But is any of that new or a trend?  I don’t think so, unless the trend is that “there is something for everyone” and new products are finding a place in the market.  (But what do I know, right?)

You also asked about notions – rulers, gadgets, tools, etc.  The coolest “new” ruler is one that came out a month or so ago, the Itty Bitty Eights Rulers by Lisa Bongean for Creative Grid.  If you like piecing “small”, these rulers are terrific as they’re small and come with clear, easy to read 1/8″ markings.

Scissors.  It seems like there were 157 different styles or types of new scissors being shown.  The most interesting to me were the angled “table-top” scissors by Fiskars.  The blade and handle are angled so that you can slide the scissor blades along the table for easier  cutting while still holding your hand at a natural angle.  This is the Razoredge 9″ Tabletop Scissor – there are three different sizes, and then three sizes of the Easy Action model which has the same off-set angle.

Fiskars 9-inch Tabletop Scissors

They look weird, don’t they?

After the needle-companies collaborated to make the eyes of needles smaller, and therefore harder for me to see, I am always on the look-out for a good needle-threader.  So when I heard that the folks that make the Hiroshima-Tulip needles had a new threader designed to use with their super-tiny-eyed needles, I went looking for it.

Tulip-Suitto-Needle-Threader

This is the Suitto Needle Threader by Tulip.  Is it any different than the cute needle-threader by Clover?  For most needles, there isn’t much difference.  But for the very fine Tulip needles, this one works far better as it was designed for use with the Tulip needles.

Clover has finally come out with a new little iron – the Wedge Iron – to replace the much-loved, much-missed craft iron they discontinued several years ago.  It’s not that there aren’t other small travel-sized irons, it’s that the Clover iron had a sharp point that made it particularly good for prepping applique work for the non-needle-turn applique folks.  (Aka “the Barbarians” to some needle-turn – and back-basting – applique afficionados.)

 

Clover Wedge Iron

The other Clover tool that several people were talking about and looking for were some new bodkins.  It’s that thing you can use to thread a drawstring or elastic through a casing.  Think of it as a really long, thin safety pin – that’s what most of us use if we don’t have a real, actual bodkin.

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There’s the Flex ‘n Glide for threading – it has an elongated eye for threading something thin.  The Clip ‘n Glide is for threading elastic that won’t fit through the eye of the regular bodkin, it grips the end securely.  And the Elastic Lock Set firmly holds elastic preventing it from slipping into casing.  While I don’t use these tools a lot, they’re the kind that are always great to have when you do go looking for them.

My favorite new notion is this one… it’s a rotary cutter that can be adjusted.  For what?  I haven’t quite figured that out.  But the picture of the Fiskars Adjust Handle Rotary Cutter with the instructions makes me laugh so as soon as it comes into the warehouse, you can count on me to try it out.  Giggles and grins, right?

Fiskars Adjustable Rotary Cutter

I’ll put Band-Aids on my grocery list now so I’m ready.

For those of us who liked and used The Angler, Quilt in a Day has come out with a similar type template for sewing connector corners, half-triangle squares and straight lines.  It’s called the Sew Straight.

(The Angler is no longer available.)

Quilt In A Day Angler

 

 

 

As for what’s happening here in Dallas, “life” is returning to “normal”.  (Quotes because I’ve not been around long enough to know what the real “normal” is yet.)

There was a lot of rain in North Texas over the Memorial Day weekend and that was probably perfect as it gave everyone an excuse to stay home, nap, relax, nap and so on.  And sew on!  (I did some of that this weekend, pictures coming soon.)

I’m finishing writing the new patterns while others are working on the layouts and diagrams.  They’ll be sent off for proofing and those “should” be ready by June 1st.  (It’s a “quote-y” kind of day, isn’t it?)  Everyone else is working on finishing up Market-related projects and going forward with the new collections.  Quilts have already been shipped off to different places for shows, photography and I’m not sure what else, and the deadline for the next catalog is less than a month away.  So once the new patterns are finished, I have to finalize a couple of quilt-ideas for the next batch of Frivols and a couple of collections.  There are a couple of magazine and book compilation projects to finish and an ride-along with one of the sales reps to schedule.  And that’s just me!

And then there’s that whole other thing that I’m not supposed to talk about it… it’s in less than five months.

But you didn’t hear that from me, right?

 

(P.S. Be sure to come back on Friday or over the weekend – rumor has it there might be some kind of Market-related giveaway.  But you didn’t hear that from me either.)

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Pointy objects…

Seam rippers.  Stilettos.  Not the kind you wear.

You probably use one more than you’d like, and most of us don’t use the other as much as we could.  One is necessary to have, the other is beneficial.  Both help with piecing beautiful blocks and quilts.

Cutting-Table---My-Seam-Rippers

While I like to pretend that I rarely need a seam ripper, it would be bad sewing karma to push that too hard.  The reality is that I have several quilts that I essentially made twice because I did so much un-sewing and re-sewing.  My personal record is having to remove the same border three times because I kept getting pieces switched around.  It’s still not right but it wasn’t anything a little Photoshop couldn’t fix on the pattern cover.

These are the seam rippers I found in the drawers of my sewing room.  The white Clover seam ripper is my favorite.  I buy them by the box and I always have an extra box on hand.  I like it because the handle fits my hand well, it has a long-ish shaft, a thin point and the blade in the curve is sharp, and it stays that way for longer than most.  I like the Seam-Fix and Mini Seam-Fix seam rippers, mostly because the plastic bumpy end really does do a terrific job at removing threads from the un-stitched seam.  Genius.  The tarnished silver seam ripper was a gift several years ago and while I like it, it’ll never take the place of my Clover.

I won’t belabor how to use a seam ripper – I think it’s safe to say that we all know how.  But just in case I’m the only one with any real experience…

Cutting-Table-Picking-Stitches

Picking every third or fourth stitch with the tip of the seam ripper is the best.  When this is done, pick the thread on the other side and it should pull right off/out.  Done.

Some people like to hold the strips apart with their fingers and pick the stitches that are in the base of the “v”.  It’s not a good idea because the thread can pull on the fabric fibers somewhat as they’re exposed if you pull the strips too much.  Now… I have seen folks be able to knick those threads with a small rotary cutter and work their way through a long strip quickly.  Color me majorly impressed.  And a bit envious.  If you can do that, I’m in awe.  I can’t… not without cutting the fabric and a couple of fingers in the process.

Most of the time, I “un-sew” seams by inserting the inner curve of the seam ripper – the “u” between the point and the smaller point with the little red ball – into the seam and using the blade to cut the length of the seam.  The key here is to do it on a flat seam like this one – not one that has been pressed to one side or open.  If necessary, press it back to this.

Cutting-Table-Using-the-Blade

I hope you’ll forgive me but I couldn’t figure out how to take a picture and use my hands to hold the fabric and the seam ripper all at the same time.

A couple of warnings here – be careful with looser weave fabrics, seams stitched with very small stitches and back-stitches, and slow down when you get to seams.  If you’re a little wary of this, try it on a couple of strips of scrap fabric.  This is the sort of technique that will help you when you’ve really, really goofed and sewn lots of strips and strip sets together incorrectly.  Been there, done that.

Stilettos are so much better because they’re about helping you sew, not un-doing a mistake.

Cutting-Table---My-Stilettos-

What?!  So I like to try new things… variety is good.

This is what the search in my sewing room turned up.  Yes, Clover has a stiletto, actually they have two.  The one shown here is a tapered awl but Clover also makes an awl stiletto.  It’s the same thing – a pointy tool that I can use to guide pieces under the presser foot of my machine.  They also make a curved awl that is pretty nifty.  My favorite stiletto is one by Collins and it’s bamboo – it’s not shown because I think I’ve already packed it for my trip.  The other things in the picture include a metal knitting needle – I like them because they’re thin and long, a fancy brass one I bought because it was shiny and pretty, and two fancy “laying tools” I bought several years ago on eBay.  I use the one on the left the most but truth be told, if I’m going to mangle the tip of something under the needle of my sewing machine, I’d rather it be a $3.00 bamboo stiletto.

And just so you know, the goal is not to mangle anything.

Cutting-Table-Stiletto-1

Stilettos are for holding the fabric where you want it to be as it’s going under the needle.  Most of us are a little reluctant to put our fingers too close to that moving needle, but being able to hold onto the end of the fabric as it goes under the presser foot can make a big difference in your piecing.  Have you ever had a seam “fish-tail” at the end of the seam, it sort of curves off in one direction?  That makes it hard to match seams and points, affects the size of the pieced unit, and so on.  Using a stiletto can help with that, especially when the pieces are small.

Cutting-Table-Stiletto-2

Call me crazy but sometimes I get a better, tighter seam junction when I don’t pin.  And if I do pin, I’m supposed to have removed it by now, right?  So how do I keep that seam from being pushed back by the presser foot?  That’s right, with a stiletto.

Using one takes a little practice, mostly because it will feel odd holding it in your hand while you’re stitching.  You’ll want to keep putting it down, which means stopping to pick it up when you get to seam junctions and the ends of seams.  But I think the results will help make it easier to get used to.

And that’s it for today.

I hope you have a Happy Wednesday!

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Make. Piece. Sew.

That was the phrase used in a Moda Fabrics ad several years ago and I always liked it.  It also fits the occasion – tomorrow is National Quilting Day!

I’m almost hoping for snow – I did say almost! – so that I won’t feel guilty if I stay in tomorrow and sew all day – just me and Bernie.

We have 764 half-triangles to make and after giving it a lot of thought – okay, about 1 minute’s worth – I decided that I was going to use triangle paper.  It was either that or trim them all to size… so I needed triangle paper.  Since I didn’t have any on hand, that meant a trip to the warehouse.  I know… it’s such a long, long walk over to the other building.

The truth is that it takes me forever – F O R E V E R – when I go over there.  It isn’t that it’s all that far, it’s that I can’t bring myself to walk quickly… that would mean rushing by a sight like this…

Moda-Warehouse

Moda Dotties – I knew you’d ask.

Then I get here… United Notions.  All these lovely notions, united in one place.

United-Notions

And I get lost.

Not in thought… not in discovery… lost.  (Reference:  needles, haystsacks.)  The lovely people who work here have been amazingly patient with me, and they’re bonafide brilliant!  I’ve yet to ask a single person where to find something without them knowing exactly where it is.  Even from 50 feet away, they can direct me to where I will find it – no, one more aisle over… on the left side… three shelves in… second shelf from the bottom.

No Carrie, your OTHER left.

Fortunately, I found the aisle with the triangle paper I was looking for – Primitive Gatherings – fairly easily.  (I am starting to learn my way around.)

Why this one?  While I like almost all of the papers I’ve tried, there is one feature that makes this one was perfect for this project.  I’m using Layer Cake squares for my fabric so I can make 18 – 2″ finished half-triangle squares from each square.  Thinking in terms of squares, I can fit a total of 9 squares in the layer cake, a 3 x 3 grid.  The Primitive Gathering paper is printed in a 3 x 5 grid.

Primitive-Gatherings-2-Triangle-Paper

So I just stacked the paper and cut it on the line to make my 3 x 3 grid – with a 2 x 3 grid left for something else.  I don’t have to draw any lines or grids and this paper fits my layer cake squares perfectly – how perfect is that?  But while I was nosing around looking for the correct paper, I found these…

Primitive-Gatherings-Charm-Triangle-Paper

Primitive Gatherings also makes triangle papers that are specifically sized for using with charm squares.  For someone whose made as many quilts with charm squares as I have, I want to know why I didn’t think of this.  (Don’t answer that… Lisa is… well, Lisa Bongean.)

Then I got really side-tracked… I think it was the bright, pretty colors.

Smartneedle-Tulip-Bobbin-Clamps-2

These are called Tulips.  They’re by a company called Smartneedle and they’re bobbin clamps.  I think I’m going to need these – doesn’t the orange clamp look good on my bobbin?  (And it doesn’t hurt that these clamps are a little bigger than the ones I use now.)  They come with a little chain if you want to keep them together for traveling, or doing some handwork.

The same company names these Bobbinis.  Bobbinis… you had me with that name.

Smartneedle-Bobbini

They kind of look like mini pacifiers, don’t they?  What I like – and what is making me think I’m going to need some of these – is that the bobbini is very secure.  The bobbin isn’t loose at all, and it’s very secure in the spool of thread.  Trust me, I was knocking them around to see if they’d come out or the bobbin would come off.

These were in the same aisle – also from Smartneedle.  The scissor and sewing machine USBs are very cute, as is the ladybug sewing caddy.  There is a suction cup on the underside that lets you stick it to the side of a machine, or whatever.  The little porcupine bobbin caddy also comes in green.  As with the bobbini, I was surprised that everything fits together securely and the tops or bobbins aren’t going to keep falling off.

Smartneedle-Collage

While trying to find my way out of the aisles – they look straight but with all the distractions, it might as well be a maze! – I was distracted by Maya Road.

Maya-Road-Pins-&-Buttons

The pins are purely decorative – they’re sharp but they’re a little thick to use for sewing.  But they’ll sure look really pretty in my pincushions.  I don’t know what I’d do with the buttons yet but they’d be cute on a pillow, a bag or even to embellish one of my pincushions.  Maybe I’ll make a pincushion to go with the buttons…  And the spools?  They’re just cute.

It isn’t like I really need to know what I would do with something before I bought it right?

From fabric to notions, thread to scissors… we like some of this stuff because it’s pretty.  And because seeing it makes us happy.

Or maybe that’s just me – I’m a little frivolous that way.  And I think that’s a good thing.

Have a terrific weekend!

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