Tips and Tools Part Deux

Bon jour and that is the extent of my French.  I hope you enjoyed Part one of Tips and Tools.  Let me throw out some more:

Tools DVDPattern Books and movies:  I will usually purchase the books from teachers when I take class at Road to California.  One reason is they get the money directly and two, they will autograph it for you.  I will take some of the books to have them spiral bound.  This makes it easy to make copies if you are doing paper piecing.  Now my DVD collection on the shelf is a cross between movies and quilting.  The Quilt Show, hosted by Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson are in box sets which is good and bad.  The good is you learn great techniques and get to new perspective.  The bad is you aren’t quilting because the show is so intriguing.  I have made quilts while West Side Story, Casablanca, Dirty Dancing, Hairspray and many others are playing on a small DVD player.  Again for two reasons – one is I have seen them so many times I don’t have to watch.  Two, it makes me stop if my favorite scene is on.  You need to take breaks for your back, eyes and mind.

Tools Iron Iron:  I love this Oliso iron as it lifts itself up off the fabric.  This helps eliminate the repetitive motion of lifting up the iron.  You can get less expensive irons but make sure it doesn’t leak.  The Oliso one also shuts itself off when not moved.  It takes regular water so you don’t end up buying distilled water.  You do have to empty out the reservoir after you are finished.  There are other portable irons that you can take to class but some places are adamant about too much power being used.  Some classes are even policed by the staff of the venue to check on the extra items.  Now some teachers say don’t iron until you have completed the top.  But when you need top press the seam to one side or press open, you want to use the steam iron as opposed to a dry  iron.  The steam causes the fibers of the thread to expand making the seam more strong.

Tools rulersRulers:  So many to have and you will need a lot of them.  There are many manufactures so it really depends on what appeals to you.  Do you want one that has a green background, clear acrylic, yellow lines, black lines, specialty (diamonds, triangles, etc).  Some teachers have had their own made for their patterns.  Kimberly Einmo created a ruler so it would be easier to cut diamonds for her patterns.  The 2 1/2″ line is marked in a different color.

You’ll want at least a 24″, 18″ and a 12″ length ruler.  This will accommodate almost every cutting mat that is out there. 12″ and 18″ are good for fat quarters but the longer rulers are better for the 42-44″ fabric. Do not leave these rulers in direct sunlight.  Along with the mats, they will warp – that’s when you put on Rocky Horror picture Show and do the Time Warp Dance”  But seriously, the mats can be reshaped but not perfectly.

Tools art bin lampCarry All:  Mine is an old art bin box that I have had for years.  It’s lightweight and has numerous levels.  My wood handled seam ripper and stiletto are on the top level along with hand sanitizer.  I also carry a highlighter, glue stick, buttons, extra thread, needles, extra bobbins, rotary cutter, breath mints, pens, pencils, and band-aids. To the right is an Ott light.  Some venues had almost adequate lighting.  The Ott light is a must for some classes.  The bulb is LED and gives natural illumination.  This way, you don’t have to carry your fabric outside to check the colors.  Next to the light is a small bottle of Mary Ellen’s Best Press.  You will want to use this when sewing half square triangles.  I know that mine have stretched just enough to make it impossible for the points to be perky. Best Press has a variety of aromas – Lavender, Peach, Fresh Breeze and Unscented.

So to conclude with just some other advice:

Never be afraid to try a new method .. Read all the directions before cutting (it will save you $$ and time) .. There are no stupid questions.. Be bold… Check out a teachers website… Contact them if you had a great time in the class…Send them a photo of the finished top (you might end up in their next book)..Just have fun.  Plus you do need a cat to test the fabric.Tools cat This is Jake.  He reminds me to stop and appreciate him.

Thanks for reading. Any feedback is appreciated.

Tips and Tools – Part 1

I just wish I had some of these items when I first started quilting.  First, never limit yourself to just one tool.  Variety is great.

Example SCISSORS – I have a pair of Kai scissors and in the wooden holder (upper right) is a little pair of embroidery scissors.  Make sure family members or roommates do not use these on paper, plastic or even cardboard.  Gingher and Kai are my favorite brands.  If there is a large quilt show, you can find these at many of the vendors’ booths.

ROTARY CUTTERS – the pink handle and the yellow handle are both from Olfa.  The yellow handle allows you to cut with either your left or right hand.  You can bring down the safety and have only half or the whole blade showing.  The pink one safety switch gives you the whole blade.  Before you place the rotary back on the cutting board (green mat) close the guard on the blade.  Always!  You could accidently go to grab something and brush up against the blade.  Or if you have cat, they could cut their paws. The blade is extremely sharp!  Blood is never good on a quilt or a cat.Tools board ripper scissors

SEAM RIPPERS – The purple handle one is from Lumenaires.com.  I saw their ad in a quilt magazine and had to have one (actually ended up buying three – one for a friend and kept two for myself).  First, I love the color and second, the handle is very comfortable in my hands.  Seam rippers are not that expensive but they are like socks in the dryer – they end up missing.  I find that having at least two in your tool kit.

CUTTING BOARD – these wonderful mats come in a variety of sizes.  You will find one big enough to cover your cutting table or small enough to take to class.  The one in the picture has an ironing pad on the other side.  The material for the mat keeps your blade sharp and doesn’t ruin your tables.

SEAM PRESSERS – I have two shown.  One is a wooden roller (top left) which I found at Road to California show about eight years ago. Just wish I could remember the name of the craftsman.  The second one is a piece of curved  wood and I bought it from Alex Anderson.  Again, both are good for quilt classes as they don’t require a plug = just some elbow grease.

SEAM OPENER – that’s the white thing that is positioned at an angle.  You lay your piece and the fabric bends over it.  It is covered with fabric and you just iron the seams open.  Normally, the seams are ironed to the dark side so they will nestle together.  This is new on the market and worth buying.

PIN HOLDER – The most frustrating thing is when you knock over your pin holder.  There are many on the market that have a magnet inside.  Again, buy a couple so you have one at the sewing machine and one on the cutting table.  I got an industrial metal bowl for the pins I use for the zippers on the long arm.  They look like corsage pins.

Lastly, Tools Timerget an egg timer and set it for 20 minutes.  When it goes off, move away from the machine/sewing room and stretch.  Rest your eyes, shoulders and mind.  I find my shoulders rising up when I sewing on the Bernina.

More to come later.  The 20 minute timer is also good for computer work so it’s break time for me.