My New Favorite Tools

Christmas was good to me this year. I received two gifts that have quickly become my favorite tools. The first is a pair of tweezers that a dear friend sent to me. They have a fine tip and are wonderful for pulling threads taut to be able to clip closely to the fabric and also for frogging. They are a permanent fixture in my sewing apron pocket now. You can find the Famore Micro Fine Tweezers at IHaveANotion.com

The second gift was from my sister who sent these scissors by Joyce Chen. Not only do they work right or left handed, but the grip is large and open and very comfortable. And the scissors cut everything like butter–they are so smooth and sharp. When I looked them up, the descriptions are that they are kitchen scissors–but believe me, they cut fabric like no other. They are attached to my sewing apron and nest in the pocket.

Famore Micro Fine Tweezers and Joyce Chen scissors
Famore Micro Fine Tweezers and Joyce Chen scissors
 
 

Quilting the Pumpkin Table Runner

A couple of weeks ago, I saw this blog post by Megan over at Canoe Ridge Creations. I was really intrigued by the quilting on her mini-quilt, so I just had to try it. And I had the perfect table runner for practice. This is the table runner that I made using Judy Danz’ Have a Pumpkin Good Day machine embroidery set. These applique shapes are cut with the AccuQuilt GO!™ Pumpkins die # 55323. 

Quilting was done by stitching a free-style squiggly line that was the width of my hopping foot. I just went up and down. Then I went back across filling in a squiggly line between each of the original lines. I didn’t try to match the squiggles in anyway, each was independent. The table runner looks great, was fairly easy to do, and not using a ruler with my longarm was far easier for me. I can definitely see that this would work well with free-motion quilting on a regular sewing machine as well as a longarm machine and that it may work better on smaller areas rather than going across an entire large quilt. Wouldn’t it be fun quilting for a mug rug?

Quilting wavy lines

 

This is the full runner on my kitchen table. I opened the leaves so it would lay flat.

 

This is a view at an angle so you can see the effect of the quilting and how it makes the pumpkins stand out–almost like trapunto. Quilting around the vines was a dilemma for me, and I did it a couple of different ways. The leaves were stitched in the ditch, but after awhile, I started stitching straight over the redwork stems instead of trying to stitch beside them as an outline. I really couldn’t tell that it changed the overall look and the stitches hardly showed. The thread used on this is Aurifil 50 wt in a color to match the background.

And you can see that the Irish chain squares are done with a freehand continuous curve as they’re definitely not perfectly even. The squiggly line piano keys in the border were also done free-hand. This whole thing really went fast and gave me the exact effect I wanted.

 

 

 

  
 

Big Little Book of Fabric Die Cutting – Blog Book Tour

Today is my day – and I am very excited to share my favorite chapter in the Big Little Book of Fabric Die Cutting with you. Ebony came up with the most clever system I have ever seen for writing pattern instructions for quilters. And this system will work not only with die cutting systems but also for rotary cutting. I am so excited about it that I actually created a video to explain how this works.

And before long, I want to create a video that shows you how cool the EDeN system is for writing cutting instructions in EQ7.

The whole Big Little Book of Fabric Die Cutting is jam packed with information about die cutting, so be sure to get your copy of it. Here’s the video I created.

And there’s lots more places to visit this week and next to find out about this great new book on die cutting:
October 16th – Ebony Love, LoveBug Studios
October 17th – Jennifer Rodriguez, All Things Belle
October 18th – Marjorie Busby, Marjorie’s Quilting Bee
October 19th – Michelle Marr, Michelle’s Romantic Tangle
October 20th – Tammy Tutterow, Sizzix Blog
October 21st – Patsy Thompson, Patsy Thompson Designs
October 22nd – Tracy Rampling, The Peony Teacup
October 23rd – Mary Fons, Hey Quilty!
October 24th – Barb Gaddy, Bejeweled Quilts
October 25th – Katrina Chapman Kahn, Sunshower Quilts
October 26th – SewCal Gal, Insights from SewCalGal
October 27th – Vanessa Wilson, The Crafty Gemini
October 28th – Kelly Jackson, I Have a Notion
October 29th – Connie Campbell, Freemotion By the River
October 30th – Gene Black, An Alabama Quilter
October 31st – Ebony Love, LoveBug Studios
November 1st – Book Launch on Amazon! (but you can pre-order anytime)
GIVEAWAY ALERT!
Leave a comment here before October 31 and you will be eligible to win a free copy of The Big Little Book of Fabric Die Cutting Tips. 
 
 

Connector Block Tutorial for Halloween / Turtle Quilt

It’s raining cats and dogs here today – and more rain is on the way. It’s the sort of day that would be nice to curl up  and just knit or read a book all day. But I promised a tutorial for this quilt so here are the instructions for the connector block. This is an image of the connector block with fabric.

 This is the block showing the piecing:

These are the cutting instructions using the EDeN™ System.

Fabric Unit # # Needed per Block EDeN™ Number # Needed for Quilt
Light A 2 REC-1½ x 8 26
Light B 2 REC-1½x5 26
Light D 1 SQ-2 13
Dark B 2 REC-1½x5 26
Dark C 2 REC-1½x2 26

EDeN Numbers give the shape and size for cutting. All numbers given are finished sizes. Cut sizes should be 1/2” larger than the number given, i.e., 1½x8 should be cut as 2 x 8½. The abbreviations used here are: REC = rectangle; SQ = square

You can find more information about the EDeN system on the website.

This is the way that I would cut this block. I am going to tell you as a narrative without illlustrations, so I hope it is understandable. If not, please ask questions.

Light Fabric:

For the A unit, I would cut an 8 ½ ” strip across the width of fabric. This is an 8 ½ x 40” strip. Then I would fanfold that strip across the 2” strip die. This would yield 18-20 A units. I would repeat this step to make the remaining A units. Note that you do not need to fanfold the entire strip this time as you only need 6-8 more units.

But this leaves a strip that is now 8½ x approximately 24 inches. I would cut this to 5 ½  x 24” and fanfold it across the 2” strip die to cut 11 B units. Then I would cut a 5 ½” strip across the width of fabric and fanfold that across the 2” strip die. This will make 18-20 B units and with the ones that you cut previously, you will now have all the B units.

The D unit is the last unit of the light fabric and it can be cut entirely on the 2 ½” strip die. Cut 2 strips that are width of fabric on the 2 ½” strip cutter and then fanfold those 2 ½” strips across the strip die to make squares.

Dark Fabric:

Cut the B units as described above leaving the 5 ½ x 24” leftover from the second strip to be cut down and used for the C units.

The C units are cut 1 ½ x width of fabric (1 ½ x 40”) and then fanfold across the 2” strip die. 
 

The best laid plans. . .

All that red and black fabric that I thought I had in my stash. . .well, it must have been too tempting for other projects because there was not enough left when I pulled it out to look at it. So, it was back to the drawing board for me. Since I have so many batiks and couldn’t decide on a single color, I decided to try a scrappy look. I played around with it in EQ and came up with this.

I knew babysitting was on the agenda today, so I quickly cut 4-1/2″ x 18″ strips from some fat quarters and half yards so that I could cut the triangles on the Accuquilt GO during baby’s nap this morning. One great advantage of the cutter is that it is so quiet – no motor, no noise at all. I layered several of the strips with the white background strips so the triangles would cut already layered and ready to stitch.

While I was rocking baby to sleep, Ezri (5-1/2 years old) was inside with me. She usually spends a lot of time quietly playing with Legos. After the baby was asleep, I walked into the kitchen and found Ezri cutting all my fabric strips into triangles–even the ones that hadn’t been layered. She had done a remarkable job of it – there were only two strips that had partial triangles – everything else was done perfectly. So, I spent awhile this afternoon layering the single triangles with background triangles. She was not at all interested in cutting white triangles – she only wanted to cut the colored fabric.

There are two t-shirt quilts sitting on my machine that must be pieced – so these triangles are ready to be the leaders and enders for those projects. It will be fun to get a third project out of the first two.

  
 

More Beautiful QOV Quilts

I got a wonderful email over the weekend from Sue in Arizona. She’s been busy teaching AccuQuilt classes and working on Quilts of Valor. She used the Split Star pattern and created a beautiful quilt. I love the colors she used in this quilt. It really sparkles and will be a comfort to a very deserving service man or woman.

 This block pattern makes a 12 inch finished block.

I’ve been doing lots of things besides quilting for the last month, but this inspires me to quilt again. After our trip to Cincinnati in late July and before my trip to visit Mother the first weekend in August, my embroidery machine jammed while stitching. I had stepped out to get something from downstairs – and when I came back everything had come to a halt and the computer screen was blank. After that it didn’t work at all. While I don’t use my embroidery machine every day, something about not having it around has left me unexcited about quilting.

So, a big thank you to Sue for getting me back on track. The machine should be back where it belongs this week. Fortunately it was under warranty and Mike at McKinney Sew & Vac in Greensboro is working on it. 
 

EQ7 Tips for Use with the Accuquilt Die Cutting System

EQ7 is one of the  most important tools in my studio. I have written  about some of the ways to use it with the Accuquilt cutting system. One really neat feature is that you can print the rotary cutting instructions for a block and use that along with the Accuquilt cutting equivalents chart to determine which dies to use. I also wrote about adding text in the EQ7 software to be able to write notes to yourself or to write instructions if you are teachnig a class. I almost always use text from Layer 2 to write instructions to myself. Another great feature of EQ7 software is that you can use it to determine the number of patches that you need. I have created links below to the blog posts that discuss each of these features.

Finding the Right Die

Texting in EQ7 Software

How Many Patches Do I Need?

 Hope these tips help. In the fall of 2010, I ran a series of EQ7 blocks on my blog. In addition, you might want to read Ebony’s Blocks to Die For magazine, as it tells you which die sizes you will need for many blocks which can be drawn in EQ7.

Link to Blocks to Die For

  
 

Information Overload — OR NOT–Tools that Help

It seems the quilting world has boomed with information and keeping it all sorted out is quite a challenge. Things that are hardest for me are wading through email and my blog reader. Thus far, I have used many different tools for doing this including sorting by search and sorting by mailbox and blog readers, but am still overwhelmed by all the information. However, there are three tools that have become very helpful to me and I’d like to share them with you: Google documents, Evernote, and Pinterest.

Gmail and Google documents work together quite well now. What I have found is that at the top of the gmail window in the icon bar, there’s a “More” button. In the dropdown box there’s a command “Create a document” and that allows me to create a Google document from the email. I have been using this to save important information including travel itineraries, software receipts, and serial numbers. I can create my own set of directories and labels and can rename the email/document so that the name tells me immediately the content of the document. Once it’s in Google documents, the original email can be deleted. And the information is accessible from any computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Evernote is the nicest tool for storing ideas, but even greater is it’s ability to keep track of tips and tutorials and all sorts of reference information. I have been using it for a couple of years now and recently upgraded to the Premium membership. It works on the concept of tags and allows the creation of new tags as part of the clipping process. It is not social media per se, but a personal notebook system. There are multiple screen views , but the one I use has tags as an index on the left column, a list of clips in the next column, and a preview of the selected clip on the right. Thus, one can visually search by tag or just by going through clips and looking for a photo. The clipper tool allows one to clip a URL, a selection, a complete page, or the article on the page. One of the nice things about this is the ability clip only the relevant information without extraneous and unnecessary information such as ads. The information one stores in Evernote can be accessed from any computer, tablet,  or smart phone. The only hard part was that I use multiple browsers and have multiple computers, so had to setup the clipper on each.

And now we have Pinterest. I have only had it for a week or two, but am finding that it’s a great place to store ideas. Back in the days when most information was in magazines, I used to clip photos and ideas from magazines and newspapers and taped them into an idea journal. This is a wonderful way to create an idea journal via browser–and the bonus is that your friends share their journals with you. 
 

My favorite colors of Aurifil thread for quilting

As one of my friends so aptly said, “I’m a thread snob.” Yes, I’ll admit, there’s just no thread like Aurifil. It costs a little more, but in my opinion, is well worth it. I have tried lots of other threads, both cotton and synthetic, and the only other thread that even comes close is 100 wt Silk for quilting–and that’s not a thread I use lightly–no pun intended. Aurifil has a sheen that I haven’t seen in other cotton threads. And it runs like a dream on my longarm with absolutely perfect tension. It isn’t too thick or too thin, it’s just right. In quilting, I use 50 wt Aurifil and buy it on the spools of 1440 yards/1300 meters. While I could get larger cones, it’s nice to have one spool on the machine and one on the bobbin winder.

It’s so hard to decide what color to use on a quilt. There are several things that matter to me. One is a preference for using the same color top and bobbin, however, with Aurifil, sometimes the colors are different and it works just fine. In determining what thread to use on a given quilt, I will pull several lengths of thread off the spool and puddle them on the quilt before making a decision.

I’m going to list my favorite colors and tell you how I use them. I don’t often use dramatic colors for quilting, but subtle colors that enhance the quilting.

Favorite Aurifil colors

Color 2021 is almost white and works on anything that needs white. I like that it’s just almost white because it seems to create a little bit of shadow on a solid white fabric and enhances the quilting.

Color 2715 is a light blue and works beautifully on a lot of blue quilts. There’s enough blue that it isn’t too stark on a dark blue and it’s light enough to look nice on light/white fabrics.

Color 2805 is a light seafoam blue-green which I just purchased but haven’t used yet. Already I know it’s going to be one of my basics. It’s the same intensity as the light blue (2715) and light green (2902), but will be perfect on quilts that are blue-green.

Color 1320 is a medium blue that works well on quilts that have little white in them but lots of different shades of blue. It is definitely a color that completes my blue collection.

Color 2902 is a light sage green and works as beautifully on green quilts as 2715 works on blue quilts. it’s just the right shade of green to blend with almost any dark green, but light enough to look nice on light/white fabrics.

Pinks and purples don’t get as much play on my quilting frame. But the very pale pinkish-lavender–color 2510, and the darker purple–2520, work well for almost any pink and/or purple quilts.

Color 2310 is a very light beige and works great on fabrics that have darks and lights, but not necessarily stark white in them. It is probably the color that I use most.

Color 2314 is a darker beige and is used like 2310 where the “light” fabrics are more of a beige.

Color 2370 is a dark khaki and works great on dark colored quilts. It is one that I use a lot on quilts for men. The khaki color blends with almost any other dark color including dark blues and browns.

Color 2155 is a coppery color and I absolutely love it on green and red Christmas quilts. It blends beautifully with the green and the red.

Color 1135 is a very bright golden yellow. It is great for bright colored quilts and especially baby quilts. It adds a real sparkle to any bright colored quilt.

Color 3920 is a variegated yellow and it works just as beautifully as 1135 on brightly colored quilts.

Color 3817 is basically a primary color variegated and I love it for quilting and machine embroidery. It works great for quilting on brightly colored quilts and for machine embroidery when using the applique stitch on batiks.

Hopefully, I got them all. They seem a bit neutral, and I’m definitely a bright colors girl, but these colors are wonderful for quilting. 
 

AccuQuilt Fall Theme Blog Hop

I have fallen down on the job with blogging – but better late than never. Here’s a blog hop that you need to follow – and since it’s Wednesday – you’ll have a little more reading for the next three days. There are some absolutely wonderful and refreshing new projects. And there are some giveaways. This blog hop is not sponsored by Accuquilt, but by the generous bloggers. Enjoy reading and I hope you win. Here’s the list:

Monday, September 26

Tuesday, September 27

Wednesday, September 28

Thursday, September 29

Friday, September 30