Category Archives: Quilting Tools

Cool Tool Monday

Boy, July flew by didn’t it? I cannot believe it’s already time for Cool Tool Monday once again.

Recently I’ve been doing a bit of cutting prep for a few quilt projects. While I don’t mind cutting pieces, I do like to use tools that make it less tedious. A sharp rotary blade is a big help, but a good ruler can make the work of cutting so much more efficient.

I recently acquired a couple of new rulers, and I use each of them often. However, the one I’m highlighting today sat hidden for awhile before I started using it. Long enough, actually, that I had forgotten I had it.

When I was at the Minnesota Quilt Show earlier this year, I pondered over a 2.5″ x 8″ ruler at one of the booths. I was so close to buying it, but at the last moment decided against it. A few days later when I was home and regretting that I hadn’t purchased it, I realized I already had one! I had forgotten all about it. I can’t recall what jogged my memory or when I bought it, but I’m sure I snagged it when I ordered something else from Missouri Star, since it’s their version of the ruler. There are a few out there.

Anyway, for one quilt I needed to cut strips 2″ x 3.5″. I don’t have a die cutter or a strip ruler. This little ruler really made the job so much easier. The color of this particular ruler makes it easy to see on most fabrics. It has fewer markings than most rulers. What I really like about the ruler is that it is 2.5″ wide. That half-inch mark makes all the difference for me.

Cool Tool Monday - piecefulthoughts.com

Sometimes I get lost in thought while I’m doing repetitive cutting. (I’ve been known to do this while cutting food for cooking too, with some bloody results, but that’s another story.) When I do lose my focus, I have made cutting mistakes when I get the wrong measurement because I’m either grooving to music or thinking about something else. This ruler makes it a bit easier for me to keep groovin’ when cutting .5″ measurements.

You can see in the photo above that I have the ruler set at 3.5″ The lines are clear and easy to see. Once I make this cut, then I just flip the ruler so the inch mark is now on the right, as you’ll see in the next picture.

Cool Tool Monday - piecefulthoughts.com

This makes the tedious work of cutting strips go a bit faster, and if I get lost in thought, I can easily refocus and still get the correct cut.

I also like that the ruler is only 8″ long, so it’s easier to use with those smaller pieces of fabric when cutting. There are no big bulky rulers to have to work around and there is better control with the smaller ruler.

This little ruler doesn’t stray too far from my cutting table these days. It’s my cool tool for today!

Linking up today with Beth and Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts!

Wendy

Cool Tool Monday

Cool Tool Monday is a week late, but I promised you, so here it is! Today I want to share a couple cool little tools I found while I was at the Minnesota Quilt Show.

I recently decided to try English Paper Piecing. I have a sampler pack from my local quilt store. It’s a great way to decide if I like EPP without committing to a whole project. So I’ve been doing some reading, watching videos, etc. as I learn.

At the Minnesota Quilt Show, one of the vendors was Traditional Primitives. Missie’s quilts were beautiful, a blend of EPP and traditional piecing. Two little tools in her booth caught my eye.

Cool Tool Monday - EPP tools - piecefulthoughts.com
Finger Stiletto, upper right; starch brush, upper left.

The first is the little finger stiletto. You’ll find other finger stilettos if you search for them, but I like this one. It’s adjustable to my finger, and it’s shorter and easier to control. Take a look at this video by Missie; she’ll show you how to use this cool tool.

I’m pretty sure I’ll find this stiletto useful for other quilt projects as well. For example, I can place it on my finger and use it like a regular stiletto to feed my fabric under the foot of the sewing machine as I sew.

I think it will also be handy when I want to open my seams up to press them; sometimes I can’t get those two little seams apart with my fingers. I think the stiletto will help as well as protect my finger from getting burned while I press.

The other cool tool is the starch brush. I haven’t used it yet, but I do like the starch method idea for EPP as well as needle turn appliqué. Watch Missie’s video showing how she uses the brush and her starch method.

She doesn’t show you how to load the brush on the video. After separating the brush so that you have the wand to load with starch, you simply point the nozzle of the spray starch into the wand and gently spray in the starch. It will foam a bit but it will settle down to liquid. Put the brush end back on and you are ready to use the brush.

So that’s the two Cool Tools for this Monday. What other tools would you like me to review? I’d love to hear!

I’m linking up today to Main Crush Monday with Beth at Cooking Up Quilts.

(By the way, I’m not affiliated with Missie or Traditional Primitives.)

Wendy

Lighting – It’s Cool Tool Monday!

Cool Tool Monday – lighting! Today I want to share a little about lighting in my quilt cave. More on that in just a bit.

One of the highlights of last week was meeting Vicky of Vicky’s Crafts and Quilting. We’ve gotten to know one another online through our blogs, and found out we only live an hour apart. We enjoyed a day of shopping and chatting. It was a delightful day. Thanks to Vicky, I have something to share with you for Cool Tool Monday.

I don’t get to IKEA much, so it was fun to stroll through on a quiet Tuesday afternoon. Vicky pointed out this neat little lamp and, for ten bucks, I decided to give it a try. It’s my Cool Tool Monday item.

There is a reason I call my quilt room the quilt cave. The lighting isn’t too bad during a bright sunny day, but on rainy days like we’ve been having, it can be difficult to see. I hadn’t planned on buying any lighting, but this looked like something that would really be helpful.

This little lamp is easy to assemble. The base is nice and hefty, with a nice grip so it doesn’t slide around. The neck on the lamp is a nice length, so it doesn’t get in the way of my sewing projects. The cord is a great length as well, a little over 6 feet.

The beam of the light is nice and bright. It really works well for close-up work, such as ripping out stitches. I can also get it right down by my sewing foot if I need to, for extra light. The neck is long enough that I can get it close to my sewing foot, but it doesn’t get in the way. It also has a handy little on/off switch on the cord.

Here’s a picture of my sewing with the light off.

Cool Tool Monday - lighting

And here’s one with. I purposely took them at night to show the brightness of the lamp.

Cool Tool Monday - lighting

It’s my Cool Tool of the week.

I’m linking up today with Beth from Cooking Up Quilts. Have a great week, everyone!

Wendy

Pieceful Monday

It’s Pieceful Monday once again, so let me show you what I’ve been up to. I’ve been having fun with some purple batiks, making a mini quilt, and getting down and dusty with my machine.

Continue reading Pieceful Monday

Bits and Pieces Friday

At our quilt group last night, we shared our favorite tips for quilting. Here are a few that were new to me:

Pool Noodles – Pick up cheap pool noodles at the dollar store, cut them to size, and roll your blocks or smaller quilts tops on them. You can easily secure the quilts to the noodle with pins. Rolling the blocks/quilts avoids creases, and the noodles are light and easy to transport if you are heading to a sewing day.

Sandpaper – Okay, this wasn’t new to me, but thought I’d share it anyway. Sandpaper is a great base to use under fabric when you need to draw a diagonal line from corner to corner. It holds the fabric steady so there is less distortion to the bias as you draw the line.

Rubber Doorstops – Place three of these under the back of your machine and it will tilt the machine just enough so you can see the machine bed better.

Zipper Pouches – Make a few zipper pouches and fill each one with basic quilting items, like scissors, thimble, etc. Dedicate the pouches to projects you are working on, adding in the notions needed for that project. Then when you are ready to stitch, you can just grab the pouch and all your sewing items are already in there, ready to go.

Reusable Tins – Use the tins from mints, etc. to create little on-the-go sewing kits. Attach a magnet in the tin to hold needles, etc., clip it shut, and off you go.

I thought these were some clever tips using common household items. Do you have a clever, handy tip? Share it with us in the comments!

This weekend I hope to finish the blocks for the commission quilt, as well as finish these bits and pieces into little mini mini quilts or pin cushions.

I’m whooping it up today for handy quilting tips and little projects along the way with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Happy Friday, all!

Wendy

Cool Tool Update

A few of you asked a little more about the BlocLoc flying geese ruler after Monday’s post. I played around with it a bit more, and I have a little update to share with you today.

The question asked was whether you could use the FG ruler with multiple sizes. The BlocLoc website indicates that the FG rulers are size specific. Some of the other rulers, such as the squares and the rectangles, can be used on multiple sizes. However, read on and I’ll show you another use for the FG ruler below.

Before I do that, however, I’ll show you how to downsize the block using the FG ruler. It’s pretty simple. I made a couple of larger blocks using the same method as Monday’s post.

Placing the ruler on the larger blocks, you can see there will be quite a bit of waste after cutting.

Once cut, I sewed them together and they worked beautifully, so you could use the ruler for this if necessary.

Block before cutting on top; after cutting on bottom.

But here’s the thing — you can also use the FG ruler for Square in a Square blocks. I think it makes squaring these blocks easier because the ruler sets firmly in each edge.

Set the ruler’s groove in one triangle of the block.

Trim the side, lift the ruler and turn the block a quarter turn, put the ruler in place, trim, and repeat, going around each side. It’s pretty slick. Because of how the ruler sits in the groove, you never lose the 1/4″ seam allowance by the point of the triangle. You can the FG ruler on blocks up to the size of the ruler.

More information on these rulers can be found at the BlocLoc website. I’m not an affiliate, i’m just enjoying these rulers.

Happy stitching!

Wendy

Cool Tool Monday

While I’ve been working on the commission quilt, I’ve also been having some fun trying out some tools in my quilt room. One of those tools is a BlocLoc ruler for flying geese.

I’ll be honest, this ruler was a bit of an impulse buy. I’ll also be honest and tell you that I really don’t like making flying geese blocks. So I figured the ruler might make it more enjoyable, and I was right.

Of course, the first thing is to cut the pieces for the block. I’m using some scrap pieces from my stash, an Amy Butler print, a coordinating print, and a soft grey.

I have the Amy Butler print wrong side up for the cutting because the print blended in to my mat and ruler, making it difficult to see the cutting lines. It made it easier to cut with the fabric wrong side up.

Once all the pieces were cut, I was ready to make the blocks using the traditional method.

First was to draw the diagonal lines on the squares.

Then sew the squares onto the rectangles, first one side, then the other.

One side stitched.

Now, here comes the part that makes this tool so fun. BlocLoc rulers have grooves on them that fit against the seams of the block. With this ruler, the grooves fit right into the larger triangle or goose part of the block. It snugs right up against the seam line and stays put while you trim.

Then you just trim off the excess fabric. There was very little waste fabric.

Stitching the blocks together was a breeze.

Like my little kitty scissors? Haha. It was a freebie in an order, and they kinda stuck around.

So that’s my cool tool for today. By the way, I’m not an affiliate for BlocLoc. I just like the rulers.

Wendy

January Block Report

Well, here we are, February 1st. These months go by quickly, don’t they?

I’m keeping track of the blocks I make during each month this year. I have a specific page in my planner to note them. I thought I was keeping pretty good track until I reviewed the blocks this morning. I need to add to my total in my planner!

Here’s the review of what I accomplished during January.

182 Days of Winter Solstice Challenge – I am keeping up with this so far, having made 6 blocks this month.

Twirl Me Pillow – This pattern consisted of 16 paper-pieced blocks. I have completed this project. I will add a center button, once I decide on one.

Sundrops Quilt – I completed this quilt top this month, and it is now in the hands of Connie, who will do the quilting for me. This quilt had 39 blocks.

The 70273 Project – So far I have sewn 27 blocks for this project. These go together so quickly!

Little Wool Sampler Quilt – I finished the last of the nine blocks for this project. This was a Quilt Along, so I’m waiting for the final instructions on completing this quilt.

Commission Quilt – I began working on this quilt, which I am making at the request of a friend. I have completed 3 blocks. My goal is to complete 2 blocks per day, at least. I’ll keep you in the dark on this one until it has been given to the new owner.

The Commission Quilt pieces

If I tally up the block count, I have made 92 blocks this month.

I need to do this each month. I often finish a month, or even a week, and don’t feel like I’ve made much progress at all. Reviewing my month is really helpful for me.

Do you follow the progress of your work?

Happy stitching, friends!

Wendy

 

A Few of My Favorite Things

I am really excited about today. I have friends coming to visit, and we are going to stitch, chat, and laugh. These two ladies, mother and daughter, are like bright rays of sunshine when I’m around them. They are two of the sweetest people I know. Friends. One of my favorite things (I know, I know — friends are not things, but you know what I mean)!

All the pieces are cut for the commission quilt. My plan is to spend the day working on it tomorrow. With all those little pieces, I expect some chain piecing will occur. So the timeliness of my next favorite thing couldn’t have been better.

Earlier this year, I decided to sign up for the Sew Sampler Box from the Fat Quarter Shop. As a kid, I thought grab bags were fun because I never knew what I would get. The Sew Sampler Box isn’t a grab bag, but it does come each month and I can’t wait to see what going to get. It’s possible that gift giving and receiving is a love language of mine – haha!

Anyway, back to chain piecing. One of the most tedious parts of chain piecing is cutting the string of blocks apart. The ladies at Sunflower Quilts have come up with this handy little tool. Imagine my surprise when I opened my Sew Sampler Box and found one waiting for me. Yippee!

Tucked in that little notch is a sharp blade. You take your string of chain piecing and just drop the threads between the pieces over the blade in this little wedge. It has a non-slip base so it stays put. I am really looking forward to using this tomorrow!

I am a somewhat organized creative, which means I have organized piles here and there. While I usually have a mental to do list, I have never used journals and/or planners with much success.  However, this year I want to use a planner to help me stay on task with my quilting projects, plan out my blogs, etc. So I purchased The Quilter’s Planner. While it’s still too early to say that this has revolutionized my life, I am enjoying using it. So this is another of my favorite things.

I ordered both the large planner and the mini. The mini tucks easily into a purse, so will be handy to take along to a store, etc. Both are so much more than just your usual planner, with pages for sketching out a quilt design, resources such as quilt sizes, etc., as well as quilt patterns. There is quite a bit packed into this planner.

(By the way, I’m just letting you know about these two items. I’m not an affiliate. Just an ordinary quilter who finds fun stuff to use.)

So there you have some of my favorite things. I’ll leave you with just one more. I hope you have time today and through the weekend to relax and enjoy your favorite things as you sip your coffee or tea.

When I want to treat myself, this is how I have my coffee. It is best enjoyed with a friend.

Hope your weekend is stitched together with love, joy and laughter!

Wendy