The bookshelves are delayed again and I am getting annoyed. Well, I was already annoyed, but now I am more annoyed. Pandemic. Supply chain. First world problems. Blah blah blah. I know. I know.
Scandinavian Designs has some very basic bookcases, which might be a good solution if they are in stock. They do not have the added height shelf that the Billy bookcases have. Also, one thing I like about the Billy set is the accommodation at the bottom for the baseboard. There is a little cut out so you don’t have a gap against the wall. Also, apparently, they no longer have white in stock and I refuse to introduce anything even approaching life-sucking beige into this room. Finally, they are much more expensive. On the plus side, we have an entertainment unit from Scandinavian Designs and we are very happy with it.
Why hasn’t anyone tried to copy the Billy bookcases? I know I should be promoting intellectual property theft. I really want the chaos in my house to end.
I worked on this project in a desultory manner, but the project just got real. DH said he wanted to paint the room instead of me hiring someone and he took time off work next month to do it. I spent time last weekend clearing off more shelves and putting my workroom stuff in boxes.
The YM’s room is looking pretty full at the moment. Good thing he doesn’t need to sleep there as more stuff needs to be stored there. I am out of the boxes I have been using boxes that stack up nicely together and need to find others.
I might be having a fit of reorganization. At least you might be thinking that after seeing yesterday’s post and reading today’s. I am sort of.
I have a number of acrylic templates for various projects. Many are for pouches and bags that I will make over and over. They come in thin plastic bags. Ideally I would like a set of map drawers in which to store them. Until I can take over the entire house, that isn’t happening. I have been looking at various bag patterns for ideas on how to store them.
This is my first attempt. The I-Spy pouch from Sew Sweetness’ Minikins Season 1 fits my templates for a Minikins Season 2 project called the Day Trip Wallet. Not all of my templates will fit in the various sizes of the I-Spy pouch, but some will and that is a start.
The pattern comes with 3 sizes (this is the medium size). It is a very quick sew, so I can look through my other templates to see which will fit in the various sizes. I am thinking I can easily adjust the sizes to fit other templates. Finding the right-sized zipper will be the challenge if I change the size. I have a bunch of different sizes, so I should be able to manage.
I am still looking for a bag pattern with slots in different sizes that I can just slide the templates into and not worry about resizing. I have been looking at Yoko Saito’s bags, especially this rectangular bag from Natural Patchwork. It might be too small, but I like the shape. I’d have to make different blocks for the front.
My workroom is also my office and workout studio. Since I have been spending so much time in it, I am getting sick of the life-sucking beige walls. I do have a lot of stuff on the walls, but that beige and the various places that have uneven paintwork are icky. I am sick of them. I have decided to paint. And remove the beige carpet.
I don’t like beige.
That means I have to clear out the room. I started with my quilt books. I plan to replace the ugly wood-like pressboard bookcase with two white bookcases. I hope two bookcases will be enough to get all the books off the floor.
While I am putting the books in boxes, I am taking the opportunity to reorganize them. All the art quilt books together, all the quilt history books together, etc. It is fun to see books that have been hidden for a long time. I am also taking the to weed books that I won’t use anymore.
I am slowly filling up the YM’s room with boxes. He doesn’t know.
Some time ago, I lined one or two of my dresser drawers with fabric. Earlier this week, I heard a cracking sound as I rearranged one of my drawers. This led to the unloading, the sorting of clothes, the repair and eventual reloading of the drawer.
Fortunately, I am not rushing around early in the morning to get dressed and get to the office. Lately, my commute has been pretty easy, so the turmoil of my clothes being everywhere was minimal. It did look bad. I am also pretty sure the mess annoyed DH. There wasn’t anything I could do, however, until I had some time to sort everything out.
The dresser is old, but solid wood with dovetail joints, so worth repairing. DH was able to fix the drawer during one of his work breaks (we are both working from home) earlier in the week. It has been waiting for me to deal with.
Friday, I took a sick day off of work. I don’t have vacation, but my boss is pretty understanding about the need for rest and for the need to get paid. It is a bonus that it is a 3-day weekend. I have a lot on my to-do list including cleaning. This project was one task. The first order of business was to choose a fabric. I thought I had one selected, but I looked through some of my fabric and decided on a Anna Maria Horner print that Friend Julie gave me recently. I used this fabric, because it made me happy to look at and I couldn’t think of an immediate use for it. I still have a little of it to use in another project. I will definitely see it pretty often as I rummage around in my drawer.
I took the opportunity to cull some clothes I don’t wear or had forgotten about. Some will go to donation organizations and some went into the wash so I can actually wear them.
The execution didn’t succeed as well as my first effort, but since it won’t be scrutinized by judges, I don’t care. I am pretty happy with how it looks. Now I just need to get a boatload of sachets or potpourri or lavender to keep the mustiness out of the drawer and I’ll be all set.
I was very fortunate to receive a nice gift card. I have wanted a suitcase in which to put my machine. SIL #2 and I share a wagon, but it is often overflowing so I didn’t think a suitcase would go amiss. I saw one that Amy has and really liked it. It is called the 360 Crafter’s Bag**. She and I have been looking for one for me at Tuesday Morning, but never found one. This gift card was my way forward. I bought the aqua.
I tried it out today and my small on-the-go machine/ Janome DC-5100 fits nicely. I measured everything before I bought it, but when it arrived, I didn’t think the machine would fit. It does exactly, as you can see.
There are several pockets on the inside. I haven’t figured out what to do with them. You may also be able to see some of the clear plastic pockets housed on the inside of the main compartment. I don’t know if the stuff in those pockets will get smashed when the main compartment is closed and I am on the go.
The suitcase also has a separate front pocket area with more pockets. This area is on the front of the main compartment. If you look carefully, you can see a separate zipper on the sides of this shown compartment.
Again, there are more pockets and pouches and I still don’t know what to put inside. I am thinking of putting the items from my Quiltmaking Go Bag in the various pockets so I just have one thing to take to class or Sew Day and to store. I am reluctant to make such a big change, especially since I don’t always bring my sewing machine to Sew Day. My Go Bag is getting pretty ratty, though, so it might be time to make a bold move.
The sides have even more pockets. I kind of wish there were some taller pockets like for scissors, but I can see the benefits of only having short pockets – items don’t get lost in the depths.
Another bonus is that the Quiltessa bag’s suitcase slip handle (not sure what to call it) is a snug, but good fit on this suitcase.
The one thing I don’t like about it is the handle on top. It is attached to a pocket that can be unzipped. I am afraid it doesn’t have enough support and will rip away. I plan to hold it as much as possible by the retractable handle.
**I use affiliate links and may be paid for your purchase of an item you click on. There is no additional cost to you for clicking or purchasing items I recommend. I appreciate your clicks and purchases as it helps support this blog.
Lynette and I met about the BAM Bag-a-Long at Sew Day the other day. We went over the sketches she made for cutting and she also made a test pocket.
It turns out, from the test, that we need to make sure the participants buy the zipper sizes that are given in the pattern. The way Natalie finishes the zippers is a lot easier with zipper tape than it is with zipper teeth. This thought/method of making is contrary to the way most bag patterns are written.
It was interesting to see the large pocket finished, because you can see the flange (look for the WonderClips) in a big way. It is very clear that there is a different construction going on to finish the secondary pockets and keep them away from the edges.
Lynette said that it made the directions a little difficult to understand. Still, the thought of keeping the bulk away from the edges is a good one.
The bottom of the pocket also has a pleat so that larger non-flat items can be included.
I plan to make a sample of the small front pocket so I can test out making a WonderClip holder. I hope to get it done by the next meeting.
Purchase the pattern and sew with us-N.B.: we will not be providing step by instructions, but will be posting here with tips and tricks
This article was originally posted on the Redfin site on August 21, 2019 by Jennifer Karami. It was updated on October 13, 2019. I have permission to repost it here.
A sewing room is a space where you can concentrate and indulge in your passion – whether that be sewing, knitting, quilting, or another form of crafting. It’s the perfect place to keep your supplies organized, plan projects, and concentrate without interruption. For those who take clients professionally, the sewing room may be your show space for completed projects or a private spot for fittings and consultations. If you have small children, it’s also the best way to ensure that curious fingers aren’t hurt! Regardless, a dedicated area is a must if you’re serious about crafting. These sewing room organization tips will give you guidelines for what you need in your sew zone, what you don’t, and how to create the sewing room of your dreams.
What you need in a sewing room
You don’t need a ton of space to establish your sewing area. If your square footage is limited, like in a smaller home or apartment, your sewing room could simply be a corner with a table and some storage shelves. Your particular needs will depend on the specific type of work that you’ll be doing, but there are a few universal basics all crafters should know.
“We highly recommend a full-body mirror or three-way mirror in your sewing space. This is extremely helpful if you’re planning to tailor clothing for yourself or others. If you know you are going to be working on a lot of formal gowns and dresses, make sure you purchase a small step stool to have your clients stand on during fittings.”
Obviously, you’ll need a good sewing machine. You may also wish to have a serger or industrial-strength machinery for leatherwork. If your sewing projects include embroidery or beadwork, then you’ll need an embroidery machine and specialty equipment, while quilters may find a long-arm machine useful.
If you’re able, have a few extra electrical outlets installed in the space. You’ll be surprised how many things you’ll need to plug in! If that’s not an option, invest in some industrial-strength surge protection power strips, and make sure that they can accommodate a three-pronged plug.
Cutting and sewing projects can damage a regular table, so a sewing table is a worthwhile investment. The surface should be sturdy and able to handle the movement of the equipment without shaking. You can buy one or make a DIY sewing table relatively affordably.
“The worktable in my sewing area is at desk height, but I also have a large work table at a counter height that is perfect for fabric cutting. The height saves my back and makes pattern layout a breeze. Can’t invest in a counter height table? Just put some bed risers under any table to bring the top up to a comfortable level. “
Opt for a folding table with wheels – that way, you can expand all the leaves into your space when you need it, then fold them up and roll it away when not in use. This prevents you from having to use your dining room table, where you may either damage the wood or get your fabric dirty. Invest in a high-quality rolling office chair – preferably one without arms – for maximum mobility at your sewing table.
“Make sure to select a stable table that isn’t going to bounce around as you sew or work. If possible, have tables with adjustable legs so you can find the most comfortable height.”
The “standard” table height is between 24 and 28 inches for sewing (sitting) tables and 36 to 40 inches for cutting (standing) tables. However, these measurements are based on a person who is 5’3?, so you may need to adjust if you’re taller or shorter. Your ideal table height is based on a.) your height, b.) the height of your sewing machine, c.) the type of work you’re doing – i.e whether you’ll be sitting or standing. The most important thing is that you are comfortable.
“The table height should make cutting and pinning easy to do without stretching up to your tippy-toes or leaning down super far. You should make sure that you aren’t hunching over while sewing too. You don’t want your crafting to be a painful endeavor.”
Storage is essential to sewing room organization. Choose clear bins that allow you to view the items inside. Bins that are stackable and square, instead of round, help maximize the area in your storage space. If you don’t have a designated closet at all for your fabric, consider pre-shrinking it and storing it under your bed in opaque containers.
Shelves and cabinets
Make use of vertical space! Instead of simply stacking tubs one on top of one another, invest in some shelves. This will make it easy to grab what you need without having to pull down and restack containers each time. You can purchase plastic storage shelves from your local hardware store, or you can DIY your own shelves. You may go a step further and install some cheap kitchen cabinets along the walls of the room to hold your fabric and supplies.
“Look for lots of natural sunlight and storage. Closed cupboards with glass panels will let you show off your fabric collection, and wood panels will hide any clutter. Make sure everything in your space has a home, and inspiration will continue to strike as you sew!”
Pro tip: Install a garage bicycle holder into the ceiling to keep a dress form, cushion forms, or rolls of batting out of the way when not in use.
Buy some clear sign holders and write the contents on index cards – for example, the number of buttons, or the yards of each piece of fabric. This makes it easy to find what you need for a project and to see what supplies you need to restock.
“To display and store thread, buy a sheet of MDF Hole board and use pegboard hooks to rest your spools on. You can paint the board in any color to liven up your space and show off your creativity! This frees up floor space and makes it easy to see your supplies.”
– Aladdin H.
What to avoid in a sewing room
Avoid overcrowding your workspaces. Make sure that each piece of equipment has room behind it for the sewn fabric to fall without damage, and that you have enough space to navigate the room comfortably. If you’re creating a corner sewing nook, be sure to reinforce the surface with weight-bearing table legs or something similar.
“Think about the flow of your activity. Arrange your workspace so it’s easy to move from one station to the next. If you do this, your project will come together more quickly and with less frustration.”
If you’ve ever threaded a needle, you know how important lighting is! Be kind to your eyes and incorporate plenty of bright light into your workspace so you can see what you’re doing. Natural light is a great option. You may also want to install wall lights with long, moveable arms to position over different spaces for close detail work.
“Good light is essential for color matching and close design work. Try to pick a spot by a window that has lots of natural light. Incandescent lights can add a yellow or blue cast to your projects, which can taint the color of your projects. Full-spectrum light bulbs are a good substitute but can be expensive.”
– Penny L.
While natural light is a great way to brighten a space, direct sunlight can actually damage your fabrics. For this reason, it’s best to store fabric in a clean, dry, space like a closet – away from direct sunlight.
“Display your yarn in a way you can see it. It can be easy to have an overwhelming stash, but even easier to lose those special skeins when you can’t see them. You can display them in a bookshelf or glass case, or even see-through boxes if you’re tackling humidity or critter (moths!) problems. That way your yarn is stunning AND safe!”
– Chantal Miyagishima, Owner & Designer at Knitatude
Quick organization tips
Your sewing room should be a space where you can readily access everything you need, or see if you need to restock anything. Here are some tips to organize your space quickly:
Create an inventory spreadsheet of your supplies so that you can take a fast look to determine what you need on each shopping trip
Pre-shrink your fabric and store it away from light
Remove the cabinet doors and closet doors (if your fabric isn’t in the closet) for easier access – and to avoid bumping your head!
Use a laptop for pattens instead of a larger desktop computer
Create a “dream board” of the projects you want to start or as a collection of ideas and inspiration
Add a small speaker to listen to your favorite tunes or soothing white noise
Hang photos of your favorite past projects on the walls, or snapshots of your friends, family, or clients wearing your creations
Decorate & Design
“Designate a space in your home where you are free to make a creative mess. Even if it’s a small table in a corner or a closet, it’s crucial to be able to walk away from a project when you’re feeling uninspired – or to be able to dive right in when inspiration strikes. If every time you want to sew, you have to lug the machine up from the basement, and then tidy up completely at the end of each session, it will be much harder to keep a consistent creative practice.”
“When you finally get a space to call your sewing room, it’s tempting to use every last bit of it for storage and work. While those are important and necessary, try to carve out even a tiny spot for décor. It makes the room feel more fun and personal. I find I feel more inspired if I have a few things to look at that are finished, instead of being surrounded by a to-do list. Bonus points if it’s something you’ve made yourself!”
“Every workroom needs a good design wall. Standing back and viewing your quilt or fiber art from across the room is critical to successful pieces. For garment sewists, a dress form does the job. The larger the design wall the better, because you can look at multiple projects or large quilts without pieces falling off the edge. There are a multitude of websites out there showing how to make a design wall and a variety of design walls that don’t even require a trip to your favorite DIY store. Check out your options and get one so your projects will be easier to review.”
“Start thinking about your sewing space as a self-care studio. It’s not just about function, it’s about how you feel when you are there. Try keeping your tools off the wall and in storage containers or drawers. A thread rack can seem beguiling, but most other notions are not visually soothing for many folks. I have a practice of clearing the surfaces and walls at the end of a project so I can hold space for the next creative endeavor.
“Lighting is a necessity while sewing, so don’t skimp on this detail. You can rarely rely on an overhead light to provide you with the brightness that you need. Bring in an adjustable lamp or wear a comfy headlamp if you do a lot of sewing at night. Once you have your primary light sources squared away, invest in a string or two of warm LED twinkle lights. String them above your machine(s) like a garland, and your happiness level will increase by at least 64%, guaranteed.”
– Meg McElwee, Owner of Sew Liberated and The Mindful Wardrobe Project
Use the Tri-Space Method
“No matter how much (or little) space you have or what you make, I like to organize my sewing room using a tri-space method. Here’s how it works in a nutshell:
Space to work – flat surface for cutting fabric, sewing, laying out, etc. And don’t forget a comfy chair.
Space to dream – shelf for how-to books, wall space for inspiration, and window, too!
Space to stock – drawers, shelves, or bins to organizing your supplies.
“You don’t need a lot of space — it’s nice but not necessary. You just need a plan.”
All artists and crafters know the challenge of staying organized. Between pins, needles, thread, yarn, buttons, glue, and fabric, there are many moving parts that can lead to a big mess! By organizing your sewing room, you’ll free up space to tackle even the most ambitious projects. There are many ways to create a functional and beautiful sewing room, but first and foremost, your sewing room should make you happy. Let it be an inspiration and reflection of your creativity.
How did you create the sewing room of your dreams? Let us know your sewing room organization tips in the comments!
At Sew Day the other day people were asking to borrow various items from each other. I dont’ mind loaning thing, but am a huge proponent of quiltmaking Go bags. Even if you have a Go bag, there is always something not included. One of the advantages of Sew Day and group sewing is being able to continue with your project because you can borrow something. This whole scenario led me to think about quiltmaking Go bags.
A ‘Go’ bag is just like what they talk about in spy films except with quiltmaking supplies you take to class, retreat or Sew Day rather than clothes and new identity credentials. I have one that I have developed over the years. It is a great help to just pick up the bag and know I have a rotary cutter, mat, rulers, snips, and other basic supplies that I need for my projects. I like not having to hunt for them around my workroom to take to class. I like not having to cannibalize my workroom supplies to go on retreat. The downside is that I have duplicates of a lot of tools and they have to live somewhere.
The way my system works is that my Go bag has static supplies. As mentioned, I consider static supplies to be things I won’t use up like fabric or thread. Rulers, mats, rotary cutters, scissors, etc are all static supplies. I can just grab this bag when I am packing for a class or Sew Day and know that it is ready. For supplies like fabric and thread, patterns, etc, I toss all relevant items for a project into one of my Chubby Charmers. When I return, the Go bag is slotted back into its home and the Chubby Charmer gets unpacked.
I don’t like to have to hunt around for static supplies, which is why I have worked on gathering duplicates. Having duplicates is also helpful when someone comes over to sew.
My current, actual Go Bag bag, made of some kind of washable slick-ish fake leather/plastic, was a premium from some makeup I bought about 1,000 years ago. It has one main section and six pockets around the outside. The main pocket zips closed although I have no idea when it was last zipped closed. It can be set down on a damp surface with no harm to the contents. It looks ok, but it is showing its age. The handles are getting especially worn.
In the bag I have a Tupperware box that has a removable tray. This box holds all the small static supplies I might need such as rotary cutters, snips, writing implements, latex gloves, WonderClips, etc. All the small things that need to be corralled are contained here. This box is starting to be too small and I am considering replacing it. I made the Tool Tote last year with the intention of replacing the box, but never made the exchange. I am not sure why. The making drama I experienced sewing the Tool Tote, perhaps?
After the Sew Day discussion, I started to think again about replacing my Go bag and the Tupperware box. I think I really need to upgrade my bags and totes. The problem is that they are working fine, except for the Tupperware box tight squeeze, but are showing their age.
During this thought process, I remembered the Runs with Scissors tote I mentioned in a January Various & Sundry post last year. Mrs. K was kind enough to gift me the pattern. It might be the right tote to replace the Tupperware box. The problem is that I need a bag that will hold the tote. I need this imaginary tote to be large enough to fit everything currently in my Go bag and made of a material that will not allow damp to seep through. A special Chubby Charmer might work, but I am thinking that I might need to buy something.
The other bag I am thinking of is the Ultimate Carry All by Quiltessa Natalie. Natalie was kind enough to allow me to post one of her photos. I bought the pattern and have started to assemble the supplies, but haven’t dedicated much time to this project yet. In terms of going to class, I am thinking that the Runs with Scissors tote could hold more flat items like scissors and this Ultimate Carry All could hold more dimensional items, such as the small iron, extension cord, light, pincushions, etc. If I used both, I would still need a larger bag in which to place them.
This is still a work in progress, as you can see. Questions:
Do you have a quiltmaking (or other craft) Go bag?
Do you have duplicates of your static supplies or do you have a system for swapping them in and out.
Once again, it has been awhile since I showed my cutting chart. It is something I meant to do in January, but it never seemed to get done. The same thing happened last year, so it has still been a year, which is my actual goal. Once a year.
5″ squares – no particular project, but I thought it might be a good idea to start storing some up for a future project. The impetus was that DH got me a 5″ square keeper for my birthday. That’s as good a reason as any, right?
Blue Gradation quilt – 2.5 x 4.5 rectangle – this has been on the Dream Projects list since at least 2014. It might be time to put up or shutup.
Pink Gradation quilt – 2.5 x 4.5 rectangle –
– this has been on the Dream Projects list since at least 2014. It also might be time for me to put up or shutup about this project. I am not sure how many gradation type projects I can do in a row.
As you know, one of the major aspects to my quiltmaking is hunting and gathering. I prefer to make quilts, usually, that use a lot of fabrics. I think many different aquas will be more interesting than just one. This means that many projects, I need to cut a lot of patches from a wide variety of fabrics. It doesn’t work for me to decide to start such a project, open up a fabric bin and start cutting. I don’t want to always stand that long, I get bored and the whole situation results in me hating the project or just stopping about halfway through. Also, if I use that strategy, I get tend to have too many of one color and not enough of others. None of this is good for my stress level and definitely not they way I want my quiltmaking to be.
My system, which I have explained in similar terms before, is that once a project is in my queue, I decide if it requires a ton of cutting. If it does, I can figure out what kind of cutting I need to do (coordinated fabrics or scrappy fabrics as well as size). Either requirement can work with my system. Then I put the shape and color on my list, which I keep the list near my cutting table. When I have a new piece of washed and ironed fabric I have a good list of exactly what to cut.
Also, I don’t know of another way to really randomize this type of fabric selection. Cutting from fabrics I buy new or pull out to use seems like as good a way as any. Also, as an added bonus, I use fabrics that I like right now -> immediately.
Another problem I had was that I would take fabrics out of bins and find that NOTHING would be cut from them. Not one square. Shameful! This problem was alleviated by the Fabric of the Year project. You can read about the beginnings of that project for me in a post from 2008. Using this method for cutting started the solution to my Hunting and Gathering.
As I got use to cutting one shape, the Fabric of the Year shape, out of new fabrics, it became easier to cut more than one shape. I thought it was a good idea and it became easier to use this new system to make progress on projects I was not yet ready to start sewing. Pretty soon I was up to the number of pieces I am cutting now. And the stacks of those pieces were piling up.
I also found that the fabrics became less precious. I started not to save them for a better project. This meant that fabrics that I loved RIGHT NOW were in a project RIGHT NOW. I also found out, which I have talked about in terms of the FOTY projects, which fabrics were going to work for other projects. I could go and buy more before it was 3 years later and too late to buy more.
Now, there are many fewer fabrics that not been cut into. When I buy fat quarters, there is not much of them left after all this cutting.
One of the great things about cutting pieces from new fabrics is that it is a great warm-up. Sometimes when I need to get started, pressing fabric and cutting new pieces from new fabrics is a good way to get started. If I have 10 minutes, I can cut, feel like I made progress and got a little stress relief in.
On Instagram, @Lillyellasworld has a sew-a-long happening for the Undercover Maker’s Mat. The pattern is free. People have made the whole mat and they are showing some great versions of this pattern. I also saw one with a heart instead of a butterfly. Despite the foundation piecing, I am thinking of making one for retreats. I can’t see using it at home, but it would be really useful to keep everything organized while I am away.
As a result, I was thinking about sewing machine mats in general. Before I madethe Undercover Maker’s Mat, I wanted to see what else what out there. As I am wont to do, I did an image search. I found a lot. Still, after sifting through the duplicates, I found a few that were interesting.
I know you are wondering about the Crafty Gemini Sewing Machine Table Mat & Organizer. I made it (and am not showing it to you yet, because it will be a gift, so stay tuned) and am not super happy with it. I didn’t do a crappy job and it isn’t ugly, but it isn’t for me. It’s possible I won’t like the Undercover Maker’s Mat either in which case I will try one of the other free tutorials that are available.
One that was interesting was a tutorial from Michelle of Creatively Blonde. I like the way it looks tailored and hangs down in the front of the machine.
I like the pattern in issue 35 of Love Patchwork & Quilting – free pattern not available. I like the way the front hangs down. I don’t know that I would put all vinyl in the front, but I know why the vinyl is used.
I bought the Accuquilt on sale in order to cut about 10,000 strips for the Renewed Jelly Roll Race quilt. I felt like it was an indulgent purchase, but also somewhat pragmatic. It worked really well for that type of cutting (as long as I was able to straighten the fabric accurately). I don’t have a large cutting table so cutting long strips can be a nightmare of folding. The Accuquilt works really well for this purpose.
I determined, early on in my Accuquilt ownership, that I was not going buy every die. I also did not plan to buy the applique’ dies. I don’t do much applique’ and I saw no reason to clutter up my shrinking fabric closet with dies I would never use. Having a complete collection is not important to me.
I also decided I would buy basic dies – squares and strips. I want dies that give me as many options as possible, so I buy sizes of squares, mostly, that I can use in various quilts. 2.5 inch squares is the die I use the most for ‘on spec’ cutting. I also use the 2 inch die as I am still collecting blue, green and purple squares for the Blueberry Lemonade quilt I plan to make at some point.
I have branched out a little. I have an HRT die. Never used, but I have it. It is a great example of why I try to be careful about the dies I buy. I bought it thinking I could pair it with 2.5 inch square a la the Spiky Stars quilt. It isn’t the right size. That is an obvious drawback for dies. With rulers, you can cut whatever size you need. The dies are usually limited to one size. I have seen dies with multiple shapes or sizes, but that isn’t always the case.
I often use SIL’s Peaky & Spike die, so much so that I have thought of buying my own. Up until now using hers is fine. She and I coordinate die buying now that we live near each other. That expands both of our collections.
Triangles are a pain to cut, so I either use the Triangle Technique or some other quick cutting method. Triangles are great to cut with the Accuquilt, but I haven’t invested in the dies. I have a few, I think, but I find they often aren’t the right size for my project.
I probably would have bought the electric version if it had been available when I was shopping. If you are thinking of a die cutter, see if a local shop has one they rent. Some shops do and that can be a good way to try them out.
The bottomline is that there is no one way for me to cut. I use rulers, dies, templates and whatever else works for my project. Do what works for you.