Monday, January 30, 2017

10 Sewing Notions You Need to Know About: 6-in-1 Stick 'n Stitch Guide

For the past few weeks I've been giving you a tour of time-saving, useful notions you may not have heard about previously. There's been an Iron Shine Cleaning PenHot RulerPatchwork PinsWedge Iron, Self-Threading Needles, Wonder Clips, and the Natural Fit Leather Thimble. What could I have possibly missed?

In quilting, an accurate 1/4" seam allowance has a huge impact on the final outcome. Having a seam allowance that's not quite 1/4" adds up to inches lost over the course of the many, many seams within a pieced top.
It's also important to make sure sewn units measure as expected. For example, two 2 1/2" unfinished squares sewn together with a 1/4" seam should measure 4 1/2". If your unit is still shy, fabric bulk and thread thickness taken up in the fold could be responsible, and you may need to use a scant (slightly less than) 1/4" seam allowance.
While I have a pretty good handle on my 1/4" seam at this point, my consistency becomes questionable with other measurements, and bulky or curved seams.
The time had come for me to turn my purchased raw materials into a tote for my first grade son's super hero-loving teacher. This occasion was a perfect opportunity to put my Clover 6-in-1 Stick n' Stitch Guide to use.

If you're like me, you wonder just what the six things (of the 6-in-1 title) happen to be. 
Here goes: 
1. Straight Stitching
2. Quilt Strips
3. Outer Curves
4. Inner Curves
5. Left Side Topstitching
6. Right Side Topstitching
First, put your needle through the hole in the positioning template for whichever size seam allowance you desire. Clean off your machine bed. Peel the protective plastic cover off the sticky base of the gauge (but save it for later). Stick the guide in position, as illustrated in the instructions, before lifting the needle and removing the template.
I used the the free Market Tote Trio Pattern to create the bag. 
After giving this pattern a whirl, I have a few recommendations: 
1. Use the Clover Hot Ruler instead of the Hot Hemmer. It probably wasn't mentioned in the tutorial because it was recently released, but it's an even better fit for this purpose.
2. Where the pattern says, "Pin a length of piping to the top curved edge of each pocket piece," only add piping to 2 of the 4.
Not satisfied to stop while some remnants of super hero fabric remained, I decided to make a Noodlehead Open Wide Zippered Pouch. I liked how the 2-piece guide allowed for a variety of placements.
My 1/8" straight stitch to seal up the hole for turning was so much neater using the guide.
The guide is designed to be reused and repositioned. If the base loses its stickiness, you can clean it off with soapy water, and it'll be as good as new. To see more about use of the guide, check out Clover's YouTube video tutorial.
As a former elementary school teacher, I'm a proponent of recognizing all the hard work teachers do. I hope I have a very happy recipient.
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Monday, January 23, 2017

10 Sewing Notions You Need to Know About: Natural Fit Leather Thimble

What notion for sewing have I left unveiled until this moment? Actually, it's been making some cameo appearances in my previous 10 Sewing Notions You Need to Know About posts. Did you spot the Natural Fit Leather Thimble? A thimble is a sewing basic, but having a nicely fitting one makes a huge difference. I gave up bothering with trying to use the ill-fitting rubber and plastic ones because they fit more like a miniaturized Dixie cup and didn't account for the curvature of my finger. It was easier to forgo using the thimble. That was, until I tried binding densely quilted projects, and jabbed the eye of the needle through the tender tip of my finger a few times. Ouch! There had to be a better way. I tried preimptevely putting tiny Band-Aids over my finger tip, but this single-use protection was decidely lacking. Then, I discovered the Clover Natural Fit Leather Thimble.
The Clover Natural Fit Thimble fits snugly instead of having an odd gap between my finger tip and the end of the thimble, like the other options I tried. The leather is flexible enough to fit my finger comfortably, but durable enough to protect it from pokes. It doesn't spin or wiggle because it's shaped like my finger and extends to the first knuckle. The surface at the tip of my finger is unobstructed by seams, so I don't have aim for a particular sweet spot.
The thimble comes in three sizes. I recommend buying one in person so you can stick your middle finger into the handy size guide to see it it fits. 
I keep my thimble at the ready with my other hand-stitching supplies.
 Do you remember when I was binding the donation quilt for a local charity?
 Or how about when I faced the Rio Grande quilt? Both tasks employed my thimble of choice.
I'm all finished now. Except, I need to add a sleeve. I'll admit, even with my Hot Ruler, which improves things significantly, it's not my favorite part of the process. Well, enough whining! I've got some quilting to do!
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Monday, January 16, 2017

10 Sewing Notions You Need to Know About: Wonder Clips

Previously, I showed you the Iron Shine Cleaning Pen, Hot Ruler, Patchwork Pins, Wedge Iron, and Self-Threading Needles. Just what else could a quilter possibly need?

Wonder Clips, or course! They're cute and colorful. If that's not enough, they're great little helpers at holding layers of fabric together while you're in the process of sewing them.
Wonder Clips come in packs of 1050, or 100.  There are a variety of color options (redmultipink and ectoplasmic...ahem, neon green), as well as Jumbo (12 pcs. or 24 pcs.) and Mini variations. If you don't purchase a 50 piece set that comes with a box, you can organize your clips with a wrist cushion or make the super adorable Wonder Cushion devised by Esther at Squeeze Quilts.
Most often I use Wonder Clips for hand binding, which I prefer compared to machine binding because it looks so clean and gives me an excuse to watch some mindless television.
I'm in the process of binding a quilt for the APS Homeless Project. I get together with some ladies at a local church for a little charity sewing and a lot of socializing when my husband has a Friday off and can watch the children.
My friend Cheryl prepped the adorable panel quilt, so it was all set for me to bind.
I did have a bunch of Wonder Clips when Clover released their neon green version, but I maybe, just maybe, needed them. Can you see why? I'm feeling the monochromatic bliss!
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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Green Gridlock

Ever so slowly, I've been chipping away at my my vast collection of UFOs. I completed a top consisting of blocks pieced by guild members for the purpose of supplying a quilt for a charity organization's fundraiser.
I added sashing with dark green cornerstones, before finishing the top off with a 3" border. I made the quilt as large as possible with the blocks that had already been pieced, which resulted in a 3 x 4 layout. As an added bonus, this size doesn't need the back to be pieced since it measured shy of 43". If you're hiring a long armer, they prefer more leeway (a back that is 8" larger in width and height that the quilt top), but on a domestic, it should be manageable.
In case you want to make your own, I've put the free pattern up on Craftsy.
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Monday, January 9, 2017

10 Sewing Notions You Need to Know About: Clover Self Threading Needles

Today, I'm very excited to share a notion I consider to be a free-motion essential (along with a free-motion foot, Machingers gloves and Supreme Slider). I prefer to tie off and bury my quilting threads, and Clover Self Threading Needles make this feasible. Alternatively, you can make several tiny stitches in one place, but I (and quilt show judges) don't like the knotty mess this can create on the back of my quilts. While I try to make my lines of free-motion stitching run from edge to edge, or as continuous as possible, sometimes I end up needing to tie off mid-quilt, so  Clover Self Threading Needles are a must.
I've started quilting the modified Snowflake Shimmer Quilt Along top I made using Act It Out from Sarah Jane's Let's Pretend collection for Michael Miller. You can find the Quilt Along on Yvonne of Quilting Jetgirl's blog, or purchase the full pdf pattern with four size options.
I'm using matching thread and starting on a star in the middle of the quilt. To tie off the thread endings, I pulled up the bobbin thread, made a square knot, and popped the two strands through the opening in the top of the  Clover Self Threading Needle
I poked the needle through the hole where the threads originated, tipped it horizontally, pushed it through the batting without going through the backing, and pulled it back through the top before snipping.
 Burying the thread tails in the batting layer makes for a clean finish, and isn't as tedious when it takes no time at all to thread your needle. The self-threading needles come in a 5 pack of assorted sizes, which is handy in case you use different thicknesses of thread.
Have you attempted free-motion? How do you secure your threads?
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Sunday, January 1, 2017

10 Sewing Notions You Need to Know About: Wedge Iron

As part of a 10 week series, I've been unveiling some notions that may be unknown to you, but are incredibly useful. Today, I present the Clover Wedge Iron.
Whether you're going to a sewing retreat, or working on a compact ironing surface near your sewing area, it's nice to have a mini iron. The Clover Wedge Iron fits the bill perfectly. It's straight forward and effective, with three temperature settings and a narrow tip. It packs away neatly for travel with a width shy of 2.5". A small spray bottle is included. As I'm more of a starcher than a steamer anyway, I'm tempted to fill the bottle with some Best Press
So how does it work? Mighty well, though, contrary to this picture, it doesn't run on it's own. I'm working on my pronghorn project again, which you might remember from my post about the Iron Shine Cleaning Pen. I finished with the appliqué and quilting, and have moved on to a faced binding. Faced binding looks like no binding at all from the front of a quilt, and is a very nice alternative to traditional binding. I use the Silly BooDilly tutorial because it has excellent step-by-step pictures and clear instructions. Here I am using my Hot Ruler again for the top and bottom strips, because I shudder to consider turning over and pressing a strip 1/4" without it.
Then I pressed the strip over so you can't see the binding from the front of the quilt.
Here's a peek of the front and how the faced binding edge looks. I secured my appliqué by machine using clear thread.
Now I'm ready for some hand stitching. Avert your eyes, if you don't want a spoiler on some of the upcoming 10 Sewing Notions You Need to Know About.
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