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.

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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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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.

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Five little letters…

Scant.

You’d think such a small word wouldn’t have such huge implications.  It ought to be insignificant.  How much difference could it make – really?  Yes, I’m referring to that thing we quilters call a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.  It’s elusive.  It’s cursed… much-sought-after… and occasionally incomprehensible.

Does it really matter?  I wish I could give you a definitive answer but there are times when no, it doesn’t.

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Streams…

I’m thinking “stream of consciousness” but in this case, Airstream might fit too.

Do you ever have times when you’re working on several different things that you can’t possibly image would overlap?  Then you realize that they’re overlapping so much, they’ve managed to get tied into a neat little bow.

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Not these bows exactly but they’ll do.

I’ve been writing about adjusting to new living quarters, chatting with Moda fabric designers, new fabric and some terrific notions and tools. When I saw their just-shipped collection Bandana in the warehouse and pieces of their debuting-soon collection starting to arrive in the sample room, I took it as a sign that I really needed to chat with Me and My Sister – Barb and Mary – as Barb is also adjusting to new living quarters right now.

One of the things I have most looked forward to here is getting to know the ladies – they’re almost all female – who are the “Moda Designers”.  I know some of them pretty well and I know a few just a little bit… we’ve met and maybe spoken a few times.  As a group, they’re smart, funny, talented and their personalities are as varied as their fabric collections.  That makes perfect sense, right?  They’re also “real people” and sometimes life gets a little crazy.

I sometimes think it’s always crazy for Barb… but it’s especially true right now.  As she says “she’s up to her eyeballs in ‘real life’ right now”.

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This is what you call a temporary office and sewing supply solution.

If you don’t know the history, here’s a quick recap. There was a sewer back-up at Barb’s house last July that caused lots of water damage, ruining the wood floors. In mid-November, just as repairs were really getting underway, they smelled smoke.  A fire was discovered in the attic and the fire department was called. The fire was extinguished and despite a “new” hole in the ceiling, everything looked good. Except the fire hadn’t been completely extinguished, so a couple of hours later, they had to go through the entire process again, only this time there was significantly more damage to the house.  (And for the whole story...)

After more than two months, everything is finally ready and the work to clear out the damage and begin getting the house livable again has commenced. Rather than move to a hotel, Barb and her husband, Michael, decided to live on the property in an RV. It was easier to supervise the construction, and easier for Bella and Frasier.

It’s not really an Airstream. Or an RV… Barb says she likes calling it that even though Michael keeps telling her that it’s a “travel trailer”.

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Yes, Barb is very happy to be living in Tempe and not New England.  This is her outdoor-sewing area.  And that’s Frasier in front, Bella right behind.

So this is what I asked Barb…

What’s going on with the house? The demolition has finally begun and the walls and ceilings are being stripped to the bare bones. That will be next as most of the wood and almost all of the electrical wires will need to be replaced.

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New fabric is coming and that means Spring Market, and you’re working on some “special projects”… where are you sewing? Are you sewing? I have a makeshift sewing area outside on the patio for cutting and pressing, but I’m sewing inside the RV. Travel trailer.

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As much as we sew for work, we probably spend as much time on the computer… how are you adjusting there?  This is my new office!  It’s tucked under a bunk bed and while it’s a little cramped, everything fits because I created an ingenious system of sliding “drawers”.  I just slide them over, get what I need and then slide them back.

Hey Barb!  I spy a bin full of Bandana pre-cuts! 

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There’s more in the garage.  I’m pretty well-organized, this is what I’m cutting this afternoon.

Other than your trusty Sidewinder and sewing machine – I know you’re a die-hard Pfaff-girl – what tools do you have with you? I have all of my basic sewing tools – rotary cutter, blades, rulers, etc. – in plastic bins.  I also have my favorite bag with my binding supplies.

Barb has had this beautiful embroidered zippered bag for years.  Clover Needle Threader?  Check.  Lovely sharp scissors.  Check.  Thread Heaven?  Check.  Barb doesn’t stitch without it.

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The best thing about being one of these sisters is having some Me & My Sister fabric in the house.  It’s colorful and happy… Barb describes the RV as being “so very BROWN”.

So there you go… life, designer, new fabric, notions.

Next time I’ll pester Mary.

Yes, an office picture tomorrow.

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Binding: A Tutorial with Paper Box Quilt Co.

Bindin A Tutorial

 Hi there friends!  I’m Jessie from Paper Box Quilt Co. (Inside The Paper Box) and I’m stopping in to bring you a tutorial on how to bind your quilts.  I have been asked, mostly on Instagram (InsideThePaperBox), how I get my binding so “nice” or how I get my corners so “perfect”, so I thought I would share what works for me!

When I started quilting I searched for tutorials online about all the different steps of quilting and used a collaboration of many methods to figure out what worked for me.  That was about 5-6 years ago, and recently, I was thinking “why post a tutorial on binding?  Everyone knows how to bind!”  FALSE.  It was like I forgot I was once looking, myself, for tutorials on the basics of quilting.  So, I hope, if you are just learning, re-learning, or looking for a new method, that this binding tutorial is helpful.  Let’s get started, shall we?  (Please excuse the picture overload about to take place.  I find tutorials with pictures to be the most helpful)

To begin, you’ll need to determine your length of binding to cut.  Measure the length and width of your project (Ex. Crib Quilt = 45″x60″).  Add your lengths together and multiply by 2 (45″+60″=105″) (105″x 2=210″).  Then you’ll want to add 10″-20″ to allow for mitered corners and all your joining (210″+20″=230″).  So 230″ of binding total.  Now, how many strips to cut?  Measure the useable width of fabric (WOF) of your binding fabric.  Maybe you’re using a yard piece of fabric which would be about 42″  or maybe you’re using a fat quarter for a smaller project which would be about 22″.  For our example we will use 42″, so take your total length of binding and divide it by your useable WOF (230″/42″=5.476).  Round up to the next number and you’ll need to cut 6 strips.  (I wanted to include calculations, but for anyone with smartphone access, there are apps that you can use for figuring all kinds of quilty calculations, including binding length, width, cutting instructions).

Okay, so we know we need to cut 6 strips, but how wide?  I cut mine 2″-2.5″ depending on the project.  It’s really a personal preference on how big you want your binding to be.  I’d say 2.75″ is a good width, so 6 strips, 2.75″ wide for this example.

Sewing our binding together.  I like to put mine together with an angled seam to cut back on bulk.  Lay out your strips on your ironing board as seen below in image 1, lining up your corners in a right angle, right sides together (RST).  Pull back the top right corner of the top strip to where the fabrics come together in the right angle (image 2) and press.  This will create a nice angled crease that you will use as a guide to sew your strips together (image 3).  Do this to all your strips and end with one flat strip and all the rest creased (image 4).

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 Starting with your un-creased strip, line them up, RST, in a right angle as you did above for pressing and sew along your crease.  Continue until you have all strips sewn together in this manner.

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 Trim all your “corners” off your strips 1/4″ from your seam (below).

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 Press the seams open.  This cuts back on bulk later when you sew your binding to your project.  Then press your binding in half (bottom right).  If you have cut your strips 2.75″ this will leave your folded/pressed binding measuring 1.375″ wide.

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Pin the binding to your project, lining the raw edge against the outside of your quilt.  Leave a generous “tail” (I leave like 10″ or so) on both the beginning and ending of your binding (left) and make sure you leave a nice big space between both.  I leave 10″-15″ when possible, to leave enough space for joining your binding later.  For your corners, fold your binding strip backwards, off the quilt as shown below, top right, so that you create an angle fold and so that your strip is completely straight off your quilt.  Then fold the binding back over the top of your quilt, creating a straight corner and lining up your edges again (bottom right).  (This is kind of hard to explain, I hope the directions are clear and the images are helpful).  You can see the pinned corner in the image on the left, it leaves a little folded “tag”.

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 Starting at your first pin, sew your binding to your quilt using a 1/4″ seam allowance and securing the end with a backstitch.

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 When you approach your corner, slow your stitch and stop 1/4″ from the edge of the quilt.  Turn your work and backstitch off the quilt (below, left).   Pull your work off the machine.  (I don’t actually clip my thread at this point, just keep them attached)  Flip that little corner tag over the edge that you just stitched (below, right) and you’ll start your stitching again, 1/4″ from the edge on your next side.  You can see in my image below, there’s a bit of a crease, I like to use that as a guide for lining up my needle.  Secure your stitches with a backstitch and sew along your new side repeating the above steps for all 4 corners.  Sew to your last pin making sure to leave that nice big gap for joining your ends.

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Place your work on your ironing board with the ends accessible.  Line up both ends along the edge of your work, folding them back near the center of your gap.  Next is a little “trick” I use to avoid pinching or overlapping my binding, I leave about 1/8′ space between my ends where I want to sew them together (below).  I find that leaving that little space makes my binding tighter and more accurate after stretching/shifting occurs when sewing it down.  (This is just something I found that works for me, just from a little experience with sliding/shifting binding).  Press to crease.

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 Fold your “gap” in half, lining up the edges of where your binding starts and stops and PIN IT (top left).  This will just help a little with your “struggle” when you sew your ends together.  Find the creases you created above and MATCH them up, RST and pin, making sure NOT TO TWIST YOUR BINDING (bottom left).  Then, SEW along your crease! (right & below).

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 Trim the excess binding 1/4″ from your seam (left).  I like to open my seam, refold the binding in half and press it, but pressing is optional if you feel comfortable opening your seam and just refolding your binding without pressing.  Just something I do for better accuracy.  Line up the raw edge of your binding to your work and sew your gap closed, securing your stitches at both ends with backstitches. (right)

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 For small projects, particularly, I like to fold the binding over as you see below and press it down.  It seems to help when I move on to the next step, pinning/clipping, and leaves a nice, straight, unstretched binding edge.  You can probably do this to a large quilt too, but I’ve only ever done it on smaller projects like mini quilts or pillows.

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 Next up, wrapping your binding.  Wrap your binding from the front of your work, to the back and CLIP!  If you haven’t tried Clover Wonder Clips for binding, you MUST.  They are game changers my friends!  Trust me.  Clip all the way along your edge, until you come to the corner.  Creating a mitered corner on the back is very similar to the front, when we sewed it down.  Fold your binding off the edge of the quilt, creating an angled fold (left). Fold the corner in, matching that angled fold to the center of your corner (middle). CLIP!  Clip right over that mitered fold (right).  Folding the corners is my favorite part! 🙂

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 Clip as frequently or infrequently as you feel comfortable.  Clip your entire quilt or clip 10 at a time.  I personally like to do a few at a time, 5-10, and re-clip as I need to.

Now your binding is ON and you can hand stitch or machine stitch as you prefer.  Speaking of which, I will be working on a couple tutorials for both of those.  Finishing your binding with hand stitching and machine stitching, so stay tuned.

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I really hope this tutorial is helpful for those of you looking for binding tips.  If you have ANY questions, please let me know.  Leave a comment, visit my blog or Instagram or contact me via email.  Now hurry up and get those WIP’s bound!!

XOXO Jessie

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