Monday, July 16, 2018

My Favorite Tools: Creative Spaces Blog Hop Week 2

Welcome Back!

This week we are looking at favorite tools.  I can't wait to see what all 16 of us choose.  Do you think we will all pick the same thing?  I suppose we will all say our rotary cutter is our favorite tool. But in spite of how much I love my cutter, I have a few other tools that I use all the time and are my go-to tool for certain tasks.

I sort tools into categories and I'll tell you my favorite tool in each category.


Sewing:  I sew on a Bernina 790, Bernina 440, and Bernina 240 I use for travel.  Um I really like Berninas.  My sit down long arm is a Martelli Bella.  I also have a Singer Featherweight 221.  I had more machines at one time but in the "Great Purge of 15" (the year I retired from college teaching) I got rid of a number of machines I had been collecting and using.

My favorite of them all, I gotta say it is the Bernina 440.  This machine is a workhorse, totally reliable, uses any thread I put on it, and can do anything!  Wow, I love this machine.

You would think my new 790 would be my dream machine because of all the bells and whistles, and I confess, I was seduced by the bobbin and the embroidery unit. It is a little temperamental at times, however, and when I sit down to sew I want to SEW, not smooth over the ego of an uppity machine with sensitive feelings!  It is getting better as we get to know each other more.  But in a moment of pique I always turn to my 440.  It is my retreat machine because it can be easily transported in my car in its Tutto Trolly.

I digress, however.  Because my favorite sewing tool is a simple pair of bent nose tweezers.

These beauties are my third hand.  They hold onto the ends of fabric as it goes through the machine and are indispensable for sewing curves.  I teach a class on sewing curves without pins and issue everyone a pair of these at the start of the class. I used to love my stiletto but these tweezers have taken over that #1 spot in my heart.  If you want a pair you can get them HERE.

Pressing:  Without a doubt my single favorite pressing tool is my Easy Binding Winder!

I used to HATE doing binding.  Hate, hate,  hate.   There are not many things I am that strongly negative about, except maybe the neighbor's dog that craps in my yard.  This gadget changed all that, (except the dog) and I am so proud to say it was invented and marketed by my good friend Peggy and her husband Rex.  It clamps to my ironing board and winds up my binding while I press it.

The best part - to me at least - is that is feeds off the winder while I sew on the binding.  No more tangling around my chair or feet getting coated with cat hair while I sew.  Nice.

Watch how it works.  

I like this tool so much that I bought one to give away to this week's lucky winner.  

Leave a comment on this blog post to be entered to win an Easy Binding Winder.  
(sorry, USA residents only)

Cutting:  It is a real toss up between my Martelli Rotary Cutting Mat or my Go! Big cutter.

This mat is a dream.  Not only does it sit on a smooth turntable, but the markings make it super easy to trim blocks and units as I sew and press.  When cutting out diamonds from jelly roll strips using my Stripper template (Marti Michell) - something I do a lot - this is my best friend.  It is a big surface and can hold the strip while I cut and spin the mat.  

Side benefit:  Buster loves to ride on it when I give it a spin!  hahahaha

What can I say?  My GO! Big in my new BFF.  I do lots of curved blocks like apple cores, drunkards path, and my all time favorite Winding Ways.  I cut all the pieces for this quilt in one evening.

Measuring.  This may surprise you.  I have tons of rulers, and like many of you, can't resist a new ruler, gizmo, or gadget.  But as a designer, I really need a measuring tool that can calculate all kinds of math needed to write a pattern.  My favorite tool is the Quilter's Fabric Calc - Quilt Design and Estimating Calculator. 
I bought one when they first came out and my son bought me one for Christmas one year.  I was thrilled to have 2.  One stays in my office next to my computer - where I do all my design work. 

The other stays downstairs in my studio where I often need it to calculate how much fabric I need to cut a certain number of strips.  I used to teach a class in how to use it, but I am thinking maybe I will do an online tutorial.  If you design, you need this!

Here is what you can do with it.

  • Solves diagonals, converts metric to decimal, decimal to fractions and way more
  • Find total yardage, including backing, binding, borders and drop for any quilting project
  • Calculate the total yardage for squares, ½ square triangles, ¼ square triangles, 45° and 60° diamond
  • Reverse the calculations: find the number of squares and diamonds that can be cut from fabric
  • Store fabric yardage solutions for six individual types of fabric and view total yardage for material

Yup, its my total, all time, favorite measuring tool.  

However, there is also a great app I use on my iPad and iPhone which is also a great tool for calculating yardage, especially backing and binding.  It is called the Quilter's Little Helper and is created by Robert Kaufman Fabrics.

It also calculates bias binding, something the Quilt Calc doesn't do.  The other calculation it does that I really like is shows me how much backing I need if I position it vertically or horizontally.  I love a gadget that I can actually use, and makes my life easier.

It does even more calculations than the Quilter's Fabric Calc, using the calculators created by Quilters Paradise.  

You can use these online if you don't have an iPhone or iPad. Bookmark this link to see them for yourself.

So thanks for wandering through my studio with me looking at some tools and some quilts made using those tools.  Hope you had fun.

Want to win a FREE Easy Binding Winder???  Leave a comment.  Winner will be announced next Tuesday.

Be sure to visit all the other Hoppers in this second week of the Creative Spaces Blog Hop.

Here’s the list of participants and the days of the week they’ll be posting. Click the links to go to each of their blogs below and follow them, or bookmark their sites so you can check out what each has to say every week!








Monday, July 9, 2018

Welcome to Week 1 of our Creative Space Blog Hop

We have 16 creatives sharing their spaces, tips, and perhaps a few giveaways!
July 9 through August 19!
Week 1: Studio Clean Up – before and after pics
Week 2: Favorite Tools
Week 3: Organizing Tips
Week 4: Dealing with Scraps and/or Fabric
Week 5: Dealing with Embellishments/Buttons/Thread
Week 6: Dealing with Tools/Rulers
There are awesome giveaways on all the blogs, so check them all out.  

Week one:  Studio Before and After

Be sure to leave a comment on this blog post to be entered to win a free pattern pack for my 2018 Block of the month!

OK, I am not proud of this but this is the "BEFORE" picture so you will see what I had to work with.  Yup, complete mess.  This photo is taken from the stairs descending down to my studio.

My studio is in a big "L" shape with sewing machine area by the stairs, storage in the middle, and more work surfaces and storage down the big "L" part of the studio.

My sewing machine table has been worse, so this is actually pretty good. . . for me!

My cutting table really is bad, so bad in fact, I can't get to it because of all the suitcases and sewing machine bags all around it.

My sit down long arm is buried.  Only its light strains to get out from under the stuff!

This is my pattern and class storage area above, and vending storage area below.  I had already started on this area a few days ago, so it is not as bad as some of the others.  I just got back from vending 2 weeks ago and had to get stuff put away.

 Yes, that is a potty seat you see in the blue basket.  My studio became the dumping area during our recent home renovation.  Some things just have not yet made it back upstairs.  Ok, the kid is potty trained already and no longer needs this, but still. . . it doesn't need to be in my studio.

These are the quilt storage racks I use to store all of my quilts, as well as the quilts I use in my programs and trunk shows.  And yes, the lion push toy, like the potty seat, is one of those, "now what do I do with this?" sort of things.

My son and hubs built this for me.  It really helps to store a lot of stuff that was formerly homeless.  I use this space for my Go! Big cutter and fabric selection from the storage racks across from it.  But this work space does not always see the light of day!

This is the other side of my quilt storage racks.  It holds UFO's, fabric, projects waiting in the que, and my design walls. 

After several hours of work. . . .

OK, now that I have spent a few more hours in the studio there is hope.  Here are the parts that are looking better.

Sewing machine -- Bernina 790 -- cleaned off and ready to sew.  

You know my grandson has been in my studio because there are matchbox race cars sitting on my stuff.  He sneaks down here and plays while he is supposed to be taking a nap.  And of course, Nana does not know this because Nana is napping!!

#43 where I found it after the kids were here over the weekend.  Bryce thinks there should be a racecar on every surface.

Storage area boxes organized and most of the stuff cleaned up and put away.  Ok, a few more things to get put away, but this is progress!  And all the suitcases and sewing machine bags are all neatly stored, so you can actually see the floor and get to my cutting table.

Yes, my cutting table is now cleaned off and ready to get to work.   And yes, there is a matchbox car on the cutting mat.  The rotary cutter was safely put away before the kids came over, thankfully.

The south window work space is nearly cleaned up, except for Buster, who is my constant companion in the studio.  This is one of his favorite spots to sit.  Stay tuned for more about my absolute favorite Martelli turntable during favorite tools week.

Of course he wanted to be close to #43.  Why, so he can knock it off, of course!

Here is my work space without Buster and you can see my convenient ruler storage racks hold all my square rulers.

And a little bit of blue willow china is part of my collection of children's dishes inherited from my mom.  Did you spot Big Boy sitting on my GO! cubes?  He is a reminder of my 16th birthday, when an old beau took me to Big Boy's for dinner.  Big Boy's was a big deal back then!  As you can see,  he's been with me for a while.

Big Boy, that is, NOT the old beau.

Big board is cleaned off and ready for use.  The cover is an old piece of upholstery fabric which used to be drapes on the windows in our old farm house back in Avon, OH.  Been saving a pair of these for years and finally decided it was a perfect ironing board cover.  
Normally I put striped ticking on my ironing board so I have reference lines for pressing.  But I was out, so the old curtain was re-purposed.

Machine area looking good.  Do you notice that Slimline Lamp over my machine?  We are giving one of those away with this blog hop.  Trust me, you want one!!  It is the best sewing light I ever used.

Slimline LED lamp some lucky blog hopper will win!

Thread storage is finally neat and tidy.  Next time I will show you what I keep in those cool drawers next to my machine.

Buster gives it all his stamp of approval.

Hope you had fun seeing my before and after studio pics.  OK, there is a lot more to clean up, but I will be sharing lots of fun stuff with you over the 6 weeks of this blog hop.

Leave a comment and be entered to win a complete set of patterns for my 2018 Block of the Month!

Thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to visit the other 16 designers who are hanging out with us on this blog hop.  There are some great prizes to be won.

Don’t forget to visit all the participants in our hop to take a 

peek into their studios!







Monday, July 2, 2018

July Block of the Month is Posted

We are halfway through the year already and another new block is being offered for free for the month of July.  Two Roses is a sweet little posy in shades of red and yellow.  Think how sweet it would be in various shades of pink or peach or even lilac!  It was tough to settle on just two colors, and the rich Toscana (by Northcott Fabrics) textures are so delicious!

The bonus block this month (Blue Jars) is also free if you subscribe to my newsletter.  

There is a super secret link just for subscribers in the newsletter each month.  It is not too late to sign up to get the bonus block.  The newsletter goes out on the 1st and 15th of each month.  

In addition to the free blocks, there are half price patterns and special offers every month.  And even a little bit about me from time to time. or more likely the cats, who are my partners in crime in the studio.  Click on the link in the left side bar to sign up.  Or click on the 2018 BOM tab at the top of the blog to get all the info you need on the 2018 FREE block of the month.

Also new this month is my Deco Roses pattern and Laser Cut Kits.  Yup, they are finally here and I could not be more excited.

Photo of actual applique from the kit.

The pattern includes the complete instructions for making these 12" blocks into a table topper or a table runner.  The kit contains the complete printed pattern, pre-fused laser cut applique for four complete blocks, a layout guide, and an see-through overlay sheet for working on dark background fabrics.  You can even purchase the overlay sheet separately.  

It was so fast putting these block together I could hardly believe how I used to struggle to trace and cut out all of these little pieces in the past.  Now you just place the applique, press in place, and edge stitch.  

I have more of these four-block projects in the works, based on some the most popular Deco Garden blocks from the past few years.  Here is a peek at the next block to come out later this month.

Let me know what you think of these new laser cut projects.  Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a free pattern!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Applique Placement Tutorial

In this postFusi I am offering a few suggestions for doing fusible web machine applique on a dark background fabric. My favorite method is to use an applique pressing sheet. This is a Teflon sheet which can hold up to high heat, and does not allow the fusible web to stick to it. I use this method when making applique motifs which have parts that overlap.

Method 1: The pressing sheet is placed on top of the full sized applique placement guide, on a pressing board or surface. The two are then pinned to the pressing board so they do not shift. The applique pieces are positioned on the pressing sheet (over the placement guide) in the correct order called for in the pattern. This usually means that the background pieces are placed first and then the motif is build from back to front. Once all the pieces are properly positioned the pieces are FUSED TO THE PRESSING MAT.
When the pieces have cooled, the mat is removed from the applique (don't pull the applique from the mat, pull the mat from the applique) and the completed motif should stay together, as all overlapping parts are fused together. Then the whole motif is carefully placed on the background fabric, centered as necessary, and fused in place. The guide and mat can be used over and over this way to do multiple motifs.
Method 2: If you have a light background fabric you can pin the placement guide to the BACK of the actual background fabric and position the applique pieces by looking through the fabric to the placement guide. If you have a tightly woven or printed fabric, it may not be easy to see the placement guide through the fabric. You can use a black marker to redraw the lines in the placement guide so they are more visible.
Method 3: You could use a light box under the placement guide and fabric to make the placement lines easier to see. However, chances are you cannot iron on your light box, so you will have to lift and move it to a pressing surface AFTER placing all the applique on the background but BEFORE you fuse it in place. Yup, it could shift or pieces could fly away in the transfer process. YIKES! To prevent this use Steam A Seam 2 Lite fusible web. It has a sticky surface that will stick to your background fabric. It won't shift or fly away when you move the blocks to the ironing board. Then you can permanently fuse it without losing all your pieces.
Method 4: If you have a pattern where the parts do not overlap, such as the Deco Garden quilt blocks, and you are using a dark background fabric, the best solution is an Overlay. In this case you cannot see through the fabric to use the placement guide, even with a light box. You can't use an applique pressing sheet because the pieces do not overlap. To make an overlay, use a piece of tracing paper, or even wax paper or parchment paper. Tape pieces together to make an overlay as large as needed for the pattern.
Tape the overlay sheet to the placement guide at the top only, allowing the tape to act like a hinge, allowing the overlay to lift and lower. Be sure you have at least 1/2" of space on all sides of the placement guide and overlay sheet beyond the edge of the block. Using a Sharpee or other permanent marker, trace the placement guide onto the overlay sheet. Be sure to include the block outline on the overlay. Draw a light horizontal and vertical line down the center of the overlay sheet marking the middle of the block.
Place the dark background fabric BETWEEN the placement guide and the overlay sheet, on a pressing surface. Center the background block fabric precisely beneath the overlay sheet, using the center lines you drew on the overlay to line up with the center of the block fabric. Pin fabric and placement guide to the ironing surface. Remove the paper from the applique piece and locate its position on the overlay. Using a pair of long bent nose tweezers, place the applique pieces beneath the overlay, using the overlay to line them up. Lift and lower the overlay to get all the pieces in position. The tweezers are a must to adjust the pieces beneath the overlay. When in place, fuse the applique with the iron. If you use tracing paper or parchment paper, you can press right through the paper. If you use wax paper or deli paper, lift the overlay before fusing.
I hope these 4 methods of positioning applique will help you create a successful project. If you have any additional tips, please leave a comment below.
Next week I will be on the road speaking at a Guild in Rose Hill, KS and then on to the Common Threads quilt show in Wichita, where I will be vending.  Hope to see you there!