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I love all things sewing!  It's all about the creative journey.  All my blog posts are letters to my sewing alter-ego - Lola!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tools, Tools, Tools

Dear Lola,
I just love how easy quilting has become over the last 10 years.  Even though I have only been quilting for about 5 ½ years - I know it’s become easier from just listening to all the long-time quilters who visit us at Wish Upon A Quilt; reading quilting books found on my public library shelf, and tuning into to QNNtv to watch old episodes of Fons and Porter.

Quilting tasks that used to be somewhat daunting are now easy, easy.  Modern ingenuity has helped quilters create their own personal quilting style.  By the way, I am not saying that the tried and true – hand piecing, hand quilting, hand applique, tracing templates and binding by hand don’t have a place in the bigger quilting universe.

That being said, in my own little solar system – it’s all about the tools.  Since I didn’t take up quilting until I was nearly 50 years old – I’m all about finishing projects, learning and the sisterhood of it all.  If I had to do it all by hand, I honestly think I would have given up before I started.  With virtually no sewing skills to draw from – I needed tools to give me confidence.  You could liken it to Peter Pan sprinkling me with Pixie Dust.   So I am immensely grateful that the modern world of quilting convenience exists.

As with any hobbyist, I have a list of the top ten tools I absolutely cannot imagine my quilting life without!  I’m happy to sing their praises here with the caveat that I fully expect to keep adding to my list as new and improved tools are introduced to the marketplace. 

  1. Creative Grids Rulers – This Company and it’s products are the absolute bomb at giving quilters the rulers we need and don’t need  – but will want eventually!  Their non-skid technology keeps me straight and lets me focus on the fun of quilting.  I no longer stress about straight cuts or how to get the cuts I want.  All I can say is “Hallelujah” for Creative Grids.
  2. Martelli Rotary Cutters – Bye, bye cutting fatigue!  With this amazing rotary cutter I am able to go the distance.  I think I have cut my way around the globe at least a hundred times by now and thankfully my Martelli cutter gets the job done without all the aches and pains I used to experience.  Yes, it’s a little pricey – but certainly worth every penny.
  3. Aurifil Thread – Less lint, bigger spools, yummy colors, and awesome results.  That should be enough for any quilter – but Aurifil also comes with Alex Veronelli – Aurifil Guru and wickedly funny Aurifil Front Man.  Follow him on Pinterest and the artistic inspiration will take your quilting to lots of new places!
  4. Best Press Spray Starch – I keep this miracle spray starch around by the gallon.  It smells yummy (I adore Linen Fresh ), eliminates wrinkles, never flakes and makes it almost fun to press!  Remember I said – ALMOST fun!!
  5. Frixion Pens and Highlighters – Oh yeah!  Love these for marking HST (half square triangles), marking quilting lines, and any other sewing related marking.  The marks disappear with a little heat from the iron.  I use these pens as a hooping aid for machine embroidery too.  I love them for my Day Planner too!  I can write on the page and use friction to erase any changes in my appointments!  I carry Frixion pens with me at all times!  Just don’t write a check with them!
  6. Clover Wonder Clips – No more pin pricks from pinning my binding.  These clips hold my binding folded over in the just the right place.  They slide down as I am working and my bindings have never looked better.  The little marks keep me lined up correctly!  Stepping on one in the dark will not result in a trip to the emergency room either!
  7. Sewline Glue Stick – I use this glue stick for lots of things, but my favorite use is when I join my binding strips.  I have never been able to mentally retain the process of joining the strips.  I lay one strip over the other, dab a little glue in the right hand corner (it will be trimmed off), draw a line with my Frixion pen and stitch on the line.  I then trim ¼” from the stitching line and voila – I have a perfectly joined strip – every time. 
  8.  Supreme Slider – Apply this baby to the bed of your machine and Free Motion Quilting is easy.  It’s like a magic carpet for quilters.  My project moves effortlessly and I avoid that tension I used to get in my neck and shoulders whenever I attempted to free motion quilt.  Be sure to line up the opening for your needle carefully – don’t ask me how I know this is important.
  9. Grabaroo Quilting Gloves – another item that has made Free Motion Quilting something to enjoy.  These purple gloves are just what the quilting doctor ordered.  They help me keep a grip on the quilt without being clumsy.  They have little grippers on the end of each finger that allows me to shift my quilt in the right direction every time.  The purple color makes them hard to misplace and each glove fits either hand – another plus. 
  10. Karen Kay Buckley Perfect Scissors – they are indeed just about perfect.  There are 2 sizes, I love the 4½ inch and keep them nearby to snip off threads during piecing and applique.  They have a comfort handle and a micro-serrated edge.  I’ve attached a little lanyard to mine so they don’t travel to destinations unknown.

You will undoubtedly notice that I did not put a seam ripper on this list.  That’s because I absolutely hate my seam ripper!  Using it means I have probably made a mistake!  I am only happy to use it when I am doing a “Swirling Seam” on a pinwheel block or a four-patch block.  Since this is my least favorite tool, I can’t for the life of me explain why I own so many of them!

Hugs and stitches,