Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tool time with Kari and her Clearly Perfect Angles ( 2 winners today)

Have you ever met someone for the 1st time and thought after the conversation, "We could be friends!"? That was my thought after my phone call from Madame Samm when she asked me to share a tutorial on my Clearly Perfect Angles template. We visited about many things and hopefully, someday we will get to visit over a cup of coffee! Thank you for asking me to participate.

I am a rather practical person who likes to use my time efficiently. I used to get so frustrated when I'd have to spend my time drawing lines for making half square triangles or sewing through and then ripping away paper or dealing with peeling, sticky tape on my machine. One day I looked down at my sewing table at a ruler that stayed in place with static cling... a lightbulb went on and the Clearly Perfect Angles template was born.

Because it stays in place with static, it can conform to any machine and smooth sewing surface. By the time you get throught this tutorial you will wonder why you didn't have one of these before.

Let's take a closer look at the anatomy of the "CPA".

A: Where the needle will be when placed on your machine.
B: 1/4" seam guides on each side of center. The gray bands coordinate for one of the techniques.
C: Angled green bands used when needed in conjunction with the two main techniques.
D: 5/8" seam guides...wait 'till I show you what you can do with those!

The following tutorial shows a flat shot of the CPA that is not actually on a machine so that you can see everything better.

Basic Center Alignment: This is used when the directions tell you to sew from point to point on the diagonal.

Place the top point of your fabric squares at the needle.The bottom point should be on the very center line. The trick with this is to watch the bottom point instead of your needle. So, begin sewing, simply letting the bottom point follow up the line and thru.

You can see how you now have the squares sewn together from point to point...Remember, you didn't draw a line! You would trim the seam allowance to 1/4" and when pressed you have a perfect half-square triangle.

Joining Binding: This is one of the best tips, and a great reason to just leave the CPA in place all the time.

Overlap your binding strips at a right angle so "inverted" points are formed (see arrows). Using the same Basic Alignment, stitch diagonally from one inverted point to the other.

Trim the seam allowance to 1/4" and when it is pressed, the seam is hardly noticeable. didn't have to draw a line....or guess!

Gray-Band Alignment:Use when the directions instruct you to stitch 1/4" on each side of the center points.

To make alignment easier, I color-coded the CPA for the different techniques. For this one we are going to use the gray bands. Place the top point on the outside edge of the vertical gray band. The bottom point also needs to be on the outside of the gray band. The top, left side of the fabric will be on the outside edge of the angled gray band. Stitch the first seam by following the bottom point up the outside edge of the gray band. I've stitched the first seam in this photo. Just rotate the block, realign, and stitches the second seam.

Cut apart between the seams. This method produces two half-square triangles. (No wasted fabric!)
Green Angled-Band Alignment: These bands are only used when the fabric squares are larger than the area of the CPA and there is not a line for the bottom point to follow.
This may happen if:
1. - the fabric squares are 5 1/2" or larger
2. - you have customized the CPA to fit your sewing set-up and havelost some of the depth due to trimming.

You can see the bottom point has no guide. When needing to sew from point to point,
align each of the top edges of the fabric at the bottom of the angled green bands.

Slowly begin stitching, keeping the same angles on each side. This photo demonstrates how both sides are now at the bottom of the 3rd band. Eventually, you will be able to go back to watching the bottom point come up the line.

The green angled bands can be used with the no-waste method of making half-square triangles too. Begin by lining the top left side of the fabric with the outside edge of the gray band (just as we did above). Watch your angles again until the bottom point can follow the vertical gray band.

I just want to point out that the fabric sides will be at different colors during this process (Example: left side is at the bottom of the 3rd green band and the right side is at the top of the 2nd green band, but the point will remain on the outside edge of the gray vertical band).

5/8" Seam Guides and Caboodles: I originally included the 5/8" seam guides for garment sewing (I am a Home Ec teacher after all...) and also for use in aligning the CPA to your machine. BUT, low and behold, I've discovered a new use for it in the quilting realm. In fact, just earlier this week I submitted the manuscript and projects for my next book with Martingale.
It uses the 5/8" line with fabric squares that have been sewn point to point and the corner triangle usually is waste. Basically, you will get a second project from those scraps. The book is
titled, "The Whole Quilt and Caboodle". So let's see how to make a Caboodle piece........

As you can see in the picture, I have already sewn from point to point. BUT do not trim the seam allowance at this time. Simply move the fabric to the left and line up the points on the 5/8" line. Stitch a second time.

Cut apart between the two seams (they will be slightly larger than 1/4" because the seams are 5/8" apart). On the left is the piece your pattern called for. On the right is the Caboodle piece, ready to be made into a second project.

I know it was a lot of words to describe how to use the CPA, but Ipromise you, once you start using it, it will make all the sense in the world.

The blog would get much longer if I demonstrated how to align the CPA to your machine, but that too, really is simple. I'd like to invite you to visit my site,, to view the different videos featuring the Clearly Perfect Angles. The QR code below will also take you to an overview video of the product.

Fast, accurate and frustration free! You truly will wonder what you ever did without the Clearly Perfect Angles!

There's 2  free CPA in someone's future... just make sure to leave a comment to be eligible!

Thank you Madame Samm... the coffee pot is always on if you want to stop on by!


Congrats Ladies...

Marsha and Laqueria have won... both have been contacted
thanks to Kari and all those who participated. 
Have a delightful weekend...see you next week 
where we will be launching our new blog design
and a month of Heart and Hand...

Special note from Kari...
Thank you for all of the nice comments. It was very wonderful to be included. Many of you expressed an interest in purchasing a Clearly Perfect Angles. I would like to offer a reduced price of $8.00 (now thru the end of the month) to any of you who left a message. Please feel free to email for details. Thanks once again! Kari

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tool Time with Staci and her Shape Cut Ruler Tutorial ( psst 2 guests today )

Hello there!  I'm Staci, The Confused Quilter
 Thank you, Madame Samm for having me here today!  Isn't Tool Time a wonderful theme?  I've discovered several new tools that are now on my wish list, and I'll bet you have, too! 
Today I'd like to show you a tool I have come to LOVE so much I have more than one. It's The Shape Cut Ruler.  When I first saw one of these rulers I thought, "How dumb!" Then my hubby bought me one, and Wow, I totally changed my mind!! These rulers are wonderful for cutting strips and squares.  Such a time saver, and very accurate results.

Shape Cut Rulers come in several sizes and configurations.  My favorite is the Shape Cut Pro.  It has a 20 X 23 grid, with slots every 2-1/2 inches.  This ruler is perfect for cutting 2.5 inch strips (jelly roll size) strips, charm sized squares, and layer cake sized squares.  
Image from June Tailor, Inc. 
The Shape Cut Ruler is very simple to use. See the bold line at the bottom of the ruler on Line Zero?  Line up a straight edge of your fabric with that bold line.  It can be an edge that was cut straight, or it can be the fold in the center of the yardage.  I find you can easily and accurately cut up to 4 layers of fabric. 
As you know, fabric can be slick, and this plastic ruler has a slick surface.  If you aren't careful, the ruler can slide across your fabric. Here's how I keep things still and stable: a pair of 5 pound hand weights.  
The weights keep this ruler (and any ruler) from scooting around.  Do a few bicep curls  and quilting can become part of your work out!  ;-)

Here you can see the fabric lined up with the bold line. 
Place the blade of your rotary cutter in the first slot and take a slice. The first cut gives you a perfectly squared up edge.  Next, find the correct slot for the size strip you need, and slice!  Keep slicing until you have enough strips, repositioning the ruler as needed when you have cut all the fabric beneath it. 
When the ruler  is removed you can see the 5 inch wide strips I have cut.  There is very little waste with this method, just the little bits of scrap of the right and left sides.

Next, I removed the fabric scraps, then rotated and re-aligned the ruler on the long edge of my 5 inch strip.  Then I put my cutter in the appropriate slots, and made charming cuts!

In just a couple minutes I have 48 perfect charm sized squares!

This Shape Cut ruler also lives at my house.  The gridded area is 12 X12 and the slots are 1/2 inch apart.  This ruler is now available in a 12 X 18 inch size, and it's on my wish list! I often use both rulers together.  For instance, I might use the Shape Cut Pro to cut 5 inch width of fabric strips and then switch to my smaller Shape Cut ruler to cut those strips at 3 inches wide to make 3 X 5 inch rectangles.  
Image from June Tailor, Inc. 

Here I've made the 1 inch sashing strips. Quick and easy, very little waste, and not a wonky strip in sight!

Here's a tip: Use little post-it notes to mark which slots you will be using.  In this photo I have flagged the correct slots to make 3.5 inch wide cuts.   Also note 45 and 60 degree angles are marked on the grid.  If you line your fabric up on the angled lines you can cut triangles, diamonds and hexagons. 

Another tip:  I store my rulers on the wall behind the door in the sewing room.  
Keeps the rulers from getting bent, and keeps them out of the way until needed.
(center ruler is my 20-1/2 inch square Creative Grids ruler)
If you'd like to see the Shape Cut Ruler in action click here for a link to a 3 minute video.  I am simply not co-ordinated enough to use the rotary cutter and take photos at the same time and keep all my fingers intact, and oh, how tragic it would be if I bled on fabric!!

The only downside to these rulers is the price, they are on the expensive side, but watch Joann's and Hobby Lobby for sales and 50% off coupons., Nancy's Notions, and Wal-mart often have them on sale as well. Remember, like any ruler, this is an investment.  Buy it once, take good care of it and use it forever!  I think my rulers are worth every penny.  I am always a happy quilter when I can cut with these rulers.

Thank you, Madame Samm, for letting me visit Sew We Quilt, and thank you for all you do for the entire online quilting community!

Happy Stitching, everyone!


Tool time with Elaine....and her fav SHARP tool.... ( psst 2 guests today)

A special "WHOOP WHOOP" to Madame Samm - with her unbelieveably busy schedule - she still finds time to reach out and "touch" all of us who love, love, love quilting!!  Whoop, whoop, whoop!!

Now for the serious business of favorite tools!  I've added several since this new "series" began!  Anyone in the book business?!  lol  Could be a Quilt Tools for Dummies in the making?!  (You know - those yellow and black books?)  No, none of us are "dummies" - just - WOW I have that tool in MY posession and never thought about using it THAT way! 

My favorite tool is actually from the medical "arena"!!  As in SURGERY!!  EEEEEKK!!  It's cheap if you get it at the American Science Outlet (Geneva, IL - next town to where I live in the warm-weather months!!).  I'm sure they're available at medical supply outlets - and some quilt shops carry them!

Now, if you are always PERFECT and never make a mistake - this is NOT the tool for you!  I do believe that most of us are NOT perfect ALL the time and that's why this is such a wonderful tool for your tool box!!

TAH DAH!!  It's a disposable scalpel!!  YES that's right - a  DISPOSABLE SCALPEL!!

It's used for the OOPS moments!  Not to be confused with WHOOPS moments (times of excitement and joy and "you go girl"!!).  As in - removing stitches, big-time UGH moments!  Expletives deleted moments!  Ugly moments!  Not our happiest moments!

Yes - you need to be careful - keep it away from inquisitive little people, etc!  But you just touch the unwanted stitches (those little devils!!) - and "poof" gone!  Just kind of pull apart the seam - touch - pull a little - touch, ...  touch and done!!  Remember to put the blade cover back on!! 

Hope you'll be able to locate a scalpel!  It should last a long time - especially if you are perfect and never need to rip out seams OR if you aren't perfect and just think - nah - it's just fine!!   It'll quilt out!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tool time with Cherry...ohhhh wait till you see the WISDOM in this!

Hello! I’m Cherry of Cherry Blossoms Quilting Studio
and want to thank Madame Samm for inviting me to share my favorite tool…

I looked around my studio trying to decide “which” of my favorites to talk about,
since I have several I absolutely love, and finally settled on The Appliqué Pressing Sheet.
One of my favorite techniques is raw-edge-appliqué, and this sheet is a must have
– you can preassemble your designs with no guessing about placement
– no mistakes in fabric choice, whether for the appliqués or the background fabrics.

Let me show you how I use it, with my little owl

I start with the appliqué templates that have been reversed for a raw-edge finish,
and trace them on to the paper side of, in this case, Pellon Wonder Under,
using a fine-tip Sharpie marker

Fuse the traced templates to the wrong side of your fabric, fusible side down

Then cut on the traced line

You don’t have to have one of these,
but I love the firm ironing surface which allows me to pin everything in place

Lay your design on the mat and pin it down

Place The Appliqué Pressing Sheet over it – yeah, pin this one down too

Preassemble the eyes, starting with the “white of the eye”
Pin, and then “tack” down with a hot dry iron

Add the “eyes” and press

The Appliqué Pressing Sheet gets very hot, so be careful.
Allow everything to cool down, then peel off the eyes.
I like to clean the Sheet afterwards with this fancy “tulle”

Finish the eyes, peel, and set aside

Build the rest of the owl, laying the templates from bottom to top

Peel the owl off The Appliqué Pressing Sheet and remember to clean your sheet
Voila! a cute little owl ready to audition backgrounds…

How about a winter scene?
Maybe some fresh white...

...or, snowflakes?

I think I like the clean, fresh look of the white fabric. I like to spray Sizing (bugs like starch!) to my background piece as a stabilizer for when I blanket stitch around the appliqué pieces.
Spray it to death!!! Yes, it can almost stand by itself it's so stiff, lol!

Center your background fabric over the design 

Fuse the owl in place - don't forget to add the little leaves
Now it's ready for some pretty little blanket stitching.

This was so much fun!
I hope you’ll give The Appliqué Pressing Sheet a try,
and if you like the little owl, come by my blog and get a copy of my pattern.

Happy appliquéing,

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