Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tool Time with Kerry from verykerryberry and her seam pressers..( love these)

A big thankyou to the wonderful Madame Samm for inviting me to share a post with you on tools.  I don't know how she fits everything into her life but she does and does it so well!  

I am Kerry from verykerryberry.   Vintage inspires me and I love to sew and design paper piecing patterns.  I do like a gadget, especially a low cost little tool that makes my sewing life easier.  I have been working on a basket quilt block- a traditional pattern that you can find in the Farmer's Wife Sampler book or many other quilt block books and these are some of the tools that helped me along the way.   I'll start with a pen.  I have jars full of mark making pens and pencils and thanks to Florence, Pilot Frixion pens are something I use a lot.
They easily draw on to fabric and the ink disappears instantly under the heat of an iron.
You can rewrite in the same place and make it disappear as many times as you like.  In reality, the 'ink' is still there, if you put the fabric in the freezer, the line magically returns, so I tend to use these pens for places that will finally be covered rather than for designs on a quilt, but useful and cheap nevertheless.  
Clover produce some helpful, simple plastic tools that are very helpful in mark making.  The Hera marking tool will produce a beautiful sharp crease that you can use for folds or marking the fabric.  The folds wash out so no mark is left.  
For the bias strip of the basket handle, the Hera was ideal for creating the 1/4" fold lines.  I find it an invaluable tool, the sharper curved end is useful for turning out curved edges too.
I make a lot of small projects and I do not know how I have managed without a finger press.  I only bought this Clover version a few weeks ago and now I wonder what I was waiting for. There are many times when an iron is a too big and I don't want to burn my finger tips, or I just need to flatten a tiny seam quickly and this is where the finger press comes in.  I used it along the fold lines created by the Hera to turn the edges of the binding in.
On the Clover finger press, there is a dimple for your first finger to slide into and push along the seam.  For a bias strip, it was ideal as an iron can easily distort the grain.
And now for the unsung heroes; needles and pins.  I am a big fan of Japanese sewing and crafting and there is a Japanese festival, Hari-kuyo, which celebrates the needle and reflects on the job they do.  Old needles are placed in a block of tofu along with secrets and things to painful to say.  It is such a beautiful idea and it also makes you consider that pins and needles do wear out, they break, their sharpness fades, you might move your best pins to a lesser purpose where their bluntness will not bother you.   My pincushions hold a hole range of pins.  My favourite Clover patchwork pins are especially sharp, strong and thin at  0.5mm wide, and 36mm long. 
The heads are iron proof glass.  The points pierce easily without disturbing the fabric threads.  
They can hold tiny seams of fabric without shifting.    I keep these pins well away from paper piecing where the paper blunts them just as it does with scissors.
And finally the humble needle.  I recently tried Clover Black Gold eye needles.  There is no going back now, they are the business! 
They glide through layers, no strain, no effort.  Much easier on your hands and fingers.
Tiny stitches can disappear into the fabric, there is some flexibility built into the needle which is great for needle turn work and hand sewing binding to a quilt. I bought an applique/sharps mixed pack.    They are a total pleasure to sew with, mine have their own felt page in my needle book!
I should mention here that I have no connection with Clover, I have just found many of their products to be the best.  All the tools I have mentioned are low cost and easily available online- I have bought all of these from ebay and Amazon.  We all spend so much on fabric but, don't forget the other essentials, they are often overlooked and are worth a little investment for the help they give us, you won't regret it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Special feature using all the blocks from our Nov, Block of the month....

Editors note...
When Christine shared with me her goal of creating a quilt out of the blocks of the month, I was excited to see her final finish...And wow....
It is beautiful .....and appropriate for our January blues...guaranteed to have you feeling anything but BLUE>.....

Congrats on such a great goal Christine...
Mdm samm

Something Special Created from  SEW WE QUILT tutorials....

Over at my blog here is the link, Quilt Monster in my closet there is a special quilt that has been made.  You have to sew go check it out.   Christine L put the tutorials to work!  The Block Party, held in November, was a motivator to a special quilt she has finished.   Quite a few of our November Guest Blogger’s Blocks are featured.

Since it is January and we are featuring BLUE quilts in the Banner.  I couldn't resist sharing her quilt with you all.    She wanted me to tell all of the instructors that she really appreciated your tutorials. 

See you there!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tool Time with Mary and her NINE DEGREE ruler. yes....LOVING THIS RULER!

Lets talk Tools
At Madame Samm's invitation, this is
Mary on Lake Pulaski checking back in with you on your Nine Degree Ruler!
Remember I was a guest here at Sew We Quilt on December 2nd
to show you this:

Well did you buy a Nine Degree Ruler or have one already?  Now I'm back to show you another way you can use your Nine Degree Ruler. 

Let's make a round tablecloth (or it could be a baby playmat or a tree skirt).
This time, I went to my scrap bin and "made" fabric all out of the scraps.  My friend Victoria of Bumble Beans taught me how to do this at a retreat a few years ago. 
I simply take my scraps and sew them together, trim to 1/4 inch seam, press open and continue until I get a large enough piece to cut out what I need:

I used everything; no worry about what went together.  Here I am checking to make sure the piece is large enough to cut wedges with the the 25 inch Nine Degree Ruler.

Since lots of the edges are on the bias, I use spray starch when I press all the seams open.

Here I start cutting getting as many wedges as I can out of each pieced fabric section.


 I needed 20 of the pieced wedges and 20 solid color wedges.  I chose white Kona for my solid.

Carefully stack your print wedges to not distort the cut edges.

Sew a solid wedge to each print wedge and carefully press each seam open.

 I continued until I had 10 pieces sewn together and then checked to be sure the edges forms a 90 degree angle and adjusted my seams if necessary.
I sewed another section of 10 and measure again.  Then I sewed the two sections together and made sure it formed a straight line.  I did the same with the other two sections.

Here is the whole circle sewn together.

Next I filled in the center hole and again used my scraps. 

 And here is my finished tablecloth out of scraps:

Edit:  I backed the circle with a solid from my stash.
Instead of quilt this tablecloth that I wanted to stay soft and drape, I stitched in the ditch on both sides of each pieced wedge. I then added a turquoise and white striped bias binding.
The end result is a 50 inch circle.

Stop over at my blog Mary on Lake Pulaski and see what else I'm up to.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tool Time with Marlene on her topic of It's A Sticky Situation!

Hi y'all...I'm Marlene from Stitchinbythelake and I'm here to tell you about my favorite tool in the sewing room.  I had a hard time deciding between two favorites but finally landed on this:  glue/adhesive!  It's about the handiest thing since sliced bread.  I love all kinds...in fact I love it so much I have a basket full of several different kinds with the bigger ones spilling out onto the shelf beside the basket.

I don’t have a favorite favorite….I just use it all and use different glues/adhesives for different things.  One of my current favorites is this one:

They didn’t pay me to say that.  But they can if they want to.  

I use this one for “pinning” my binding before I do the machine stitching.  Here’s how that works.
First I put dots of adhesive along the outside edge of the quilt.  So that you could see it I put way more glue on this than I normally would.

The pink is my ironing board cover - I make my own so I figure why have white or gray when you can have pink...right?  I put dots of glue on the quilt top, lay the binding on it and press long enough to let the heat dry the glue.  I glue one side, take it to the sewing machine and stitch it down, then go back to the ironing board to glue the next side.  And when I'm sewing it looks like this:

Look Ma…no pins!  Glue the next side and go again.
Once all the stitching is done I press the binding to the other side and glue it down so that I don’t have to have clips or pins in my way when I do the hand stitching.  It’s very important that you just dot the glue along the top to hold it in place.  If you get too much glue close to where you’re stitching it’s very hard to stitch through.  I’ve put extra glue here so you can see it.

Don’t put that much – but if you accidentally do, just wet a washcloth and wipe it away.  You can stitch it while it’s damp.  And please remember this method is only for those pieces that you plan to launder right after finishing.  Bugs like glue too so you don’t want to use this on something that you’re not going to wash.  Sharon Schamber has an excellent video demonstrating this on YouTube and I recommend watching it here.  It's a great tutorial.  She only uses Elmer’s School Glue on her binding – I’ve used it and it’s wonderful.  With this method the binding ends up laying smooth and even so you can just stitch away.  This binding is all glued and ready for my needle.

Here’s another great use for glue.  Because I have arthritis in my hands, when I sandwich quilts I need to use a method that minimizes using them, which lets out hand basting.  So I either use fusible batting or spray adhesive.  Sometimes fusible batting doesn’t hold well at the corners so I get out my trusty glue, put a few dots there and press it to dry.  You can use the kind in the picture above, Elmer's or even a glue stick.

My second favorite use for glue is really spray adhesive used to baste a quilt.  I learned this technique from a video by Patsy Thompson on YouTube.  If you haven't explored YouTube for help on any and every quilting technique you're missing a great resource!  Her video about spray basting is here.  Patsy covers her design wall with newspaper….I use a sheet instead.  I first pin the backing fabric, right side down, to the design wall.  Then I spray it with this wonderful stuff:
They don’t pay me either.  Darn! 

Now I'm apologizing before you even see this picture because I'm a terrible photographer...just ask Madame Samm.  But my sheet was white and the back of my quilt backing was a very pale blue and it hardly shows at all.  :(  I pinned my quilt backing onto the design wall on top of the sheet, then sprayed it with the adhesive above.  Starting at the top just smooth your batting on the backing.  Gravity helps pull the wrinkles out as you smooth.  

Then spray the batting and smooth on your quilt top.
Mine ended up like this:

When I take it down I trim it a bit and let it sit for a while until I’m sure the adhesive is dry before I quilt it.  It can stay like that for a really long time without getting unsticky.  A really long time.  I know that because sometimes you get sidetracked and don’t get back to that particular quilt for a while…or maybe that’s just me.  Again you only need to do this with quilts you’ll be washing.  (I do know this is sideways but that’s the way I basted it because it fit best like that)

If you don't have glue in your sewing room you're missing out on a great tool....try it, you'll like it!

Oh, for those of you who are wondering about the tool that lost out being chosen as my very favorite....

I love these pin cushion/thread catchers!  I have three of them and wish I had a fourth.  One is on my sewing machine, not for catching threads, but for holding my leaders/enders.  I have a trash can right underneath for the threads.  One is on my ironing table, not for catching threads but for holding my scissors, small ruler, and seam ripper, and one is on my chair in the sunroom where I do my hand stitching.  
It's not for catching threads either...it's for holding chocolate.  :)  Now you know why I need a fourth one - I need one to catch my threads!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tool time with Corrie and her what is STICKY challenge lol ( 2 guests today)

Hello Everyone!
I'm Corrie from Quilt Taffy.
And no,
it's not taffy or Barney.
It's one of my favorite sewing tools --
the amazing Sewing Edge.

Impressive, I know.
In real life, it is purple, trust me.

It's a thin strip of vinyl that is sticky on one side
and is reusable.
Sewing Edge is from Qtools by Marci Baker.

And I use them

You place them anywhere you want
on your sewing machine to guide the fabric.

For example, you can place it at 1/4" for block piecing or
at 5/8" for garments
and it helps you
keep an accurate seam allowance.

It's great for beginning quilters because often
they don't have a 1/4" foot,
but they're ready to sew
right now.

I also use these a lot with 4-H kids & my own children.

You can use them on rulers.

If you need to cut strips or squares,
you can quickly see which line you want instead
of peering at the tiny numbers each time.

What else do they do?
They'll help you lose 10 pounds.
Just put over the opening of the box or
chocolate chip bag
& don't eat.
How easy is that?
I also find them
in child rearing.

Hey, I think that's the trick -- this
is the better way to lose 10 pounds.

To Madame Samm,
Thank you for letting me participate in January Tool Time!
It's fun seeing what gadgets people use & recommend.
The right tools can make all the difference.

We invite you to visit our blog
--we have tutorials & a giveaway every Thursday.
And come visit us at
quilttaffy.com for fabric, precuts, notions & more

The sewing edge is available on our site.