Not long ago I received another (yes, I had one!) That Purple Thang** in my Modern Handmade subscription box. I can always add extra tools to my Go Bag, but this was a tool that I never used – or didn’t remember using. I put it in my notions tub, right next to my sewing machine. Since I received it, I have found several uses for it, most specifically threading elastic through channels on face masks.
The video patternI used last for face masks has a channel on the sides. The designer easily threads elastic through this channel, but I couldn’t keep it from bunching up. The Purple Thang has a large eye and is generally skinny, so I was able to use it. I threaded the elastic through the eye and then inserted The Purple Thang into the channel. It worked really well.
I also used it to poke corners carefully out in a gift bag I made.
So, I have found that, despite the stupid name, this is a useful tool.
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I have been looking for fabric for the design wall and have pretty much decided on felt, at least as a temporary solution. I found a site that, I thought, sold it for $4.75/yard. It turned out to be $4.75/ quarter yard! It’s partially wool, so I guess that makes sense, but it was disappointing as I had to go back to the drawing board.
There are a number of sites that sell different varieties of felt, including Joann, which sells 72″ wide, but only in a 10 yard bolt! I need 3 yards, but may get the 10 yard bolt if I can’t find it for less. I found one site that I thought would work, then the shipping was outrageous! I can’t win, it seems.
While I took a break from the frustrations of not being able to go to Britex and get real help, I decided to test the stickiness of different types of felt. I bought some wool felt when I visited Pioneer Quilts with Amanda, or another time I went there. I also have some small pieces of acrylic felt. I pinned them to my design wall (even the fabulous Quiet Please on my small design wall won’t hold the weight of felt) and then stuck some plaid pieces to it on Wednesday. They are still up there and not even peeling, so I think felt will work as an option.
I sold my design. I bought the design wall at least 5 years ago, probably more. I don’t remember exactly when, though it was at a Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association show. It was an impulse buy and I had high hopes for the additional design space. Unfortunately, it didn’t really work for me, as it turned out. I know you are thinking “how can she say that?” when I have used it for many, many projects.
I was able to use it and make quilts. It just wasn’t ideal. I felt that the fabric part was too flimsy for me. The flannel wasn’t sticky enough for me either.
It is off to a new home and my workroom seems a little empty now.
Since I sold it I have the money to buy the supplies to build a new design wall. I have sweet talked DH into helping me. I need him to cover the Home Despot part of the project. I did some research at Britex a few years ago and think I know what I will get to cover the masonite or Insulfoam. I am using Quiltin’ Jenny’s guide as my basis as she has practical tips. My goal is to have a firm back so I can press patches and blocks on to the design wall. We will paint this room sometime, so I need to be able to remove the wall without too much trouble.
UPDATE: 2/12/2020: Reader Bethany found the color wheel tool link. I tested and you can make the same images I did at that location.
I found Canva, because the company has suddenly come to the attention of the company for which I work and they are worried.
Canva is described as “…a graphics design platform that allows users to create social media graphics, presentations, posters and other visual content. It is available on web and mobile, and integrates millions of images, fonts, templates and illustrations.”
Ostensibly I went to check it out for work, but really I wanted to see what it could do for this blog and my quiltmaking. You can sign up for free and use a seemingly full featured product. I spent time making color palettes. The system works by dragging circles around a larger circle. The system is really easy to use and I could have spent all day on it.
The colors in Canva were super bright. It could be that I was choosing the brighter end of the spectrum. I do like the Triadic Color Palette. That palette could be a quilt in my future.
I tried to stay within the same realm. My method was to use that turquoise blue in all of my palettes. They all sort of go together.
The tetradic palette is interesting because of the green the system chose. It is different than the green in the Triadic Palette.
The Complementary palette looks like the modern Christmas palettes that are very common. It kind of looks like the colors in my Stepping Stones #2 quilt as well.
I have posted these backwards, because I wanted you to look at the more complex palettes first. I do like the monchromatic palette, however. It is subtle and makes me think about the blue quilt for which I am still hunting and gathering.
I would love to play around with this tool more. The sad part is that I can’t find it again. I did find a color palette generator that will generate a palette for you from a photo. This is similar to the Palette Builder at PlayCrafts. The other parts of the Canva site seem to require a login and I don’t think I had to login to play around with this palette tool. Oh well. I’ll update you, if I find it again.
The other day I got an email from Culcita saying they were raising the prices of Sew Tites.
Like a sucker I bought more.
OK, I am not really a sucker. I like this product. I got my first three free at QuiltCon last year and I found them to be incredibly useful for bags and sewing with vinyl. These fill in the gap where WonderClips won’t work. I bought a 15 pack thinking I would disperse them around my various bags so I would have them handy when I needed them.
Sew Tites are magnetic and fall somewhere between a pin and a clip. One half goes on the top of your piece and one half goes on the bottom. There is nothing pointy or sharp which is why they work for vinyl. I think they would also work for something thick like Soft & Stable. I can’t remember if I have tried that or not.
The other night I was, once again, fighting to line up my half hexie EPP project. The tips need to be in just the right place. I remembered I had received the Sew Tites. I went up and got a few and tried them out.
I was putting half hexies together to make stars. I use a ladder stitch (or an approximation thereof). The trick is to keep the two legs next to each other in the correct position long enough to sew them together. This is really tricky since I only have two hands. I have been using WonderClips. They work okay but not great, especially for the inside angle.
The Sew Tites aren’t perfect either. They are a little hard to maneuver to get the pieces to stay where you want them. Still, once you get the Sew Tites in place, they stay put. Thus, your pieces stay put. The Sew Tite are kind of large, so I am only able to hand sew half of my seam before I remove the magnet. Half is enough to ensure that I can keep the two half hexie legs together the rest of the time needed to sew the seam.
The magnetic Sew Tite can also straddle areas of piecing where there may be no fabric or paper to which to cling. Unlike a WonderClip, which needs something on which to clip, the Sew Tite sticks to itself. In the second EPP picture you can see that there is a space on the inside angle where there is no fabric or paper. The ends of the Sew Tite are on paper and fabric while the middle sticks to itself. There is no problem and they still hold the pieces together.
There is a benefit as well. The farther down I can place the Sew Tite and still have it hold, the more of the seam I am able to sew without moving or removing the Sew Tite.
I have also been struggling with getting the centers of the stars to line up. Sew Tites work for this problem as well. Again, once the pieces are lined up, the Sew Tites hold them in place.
I have been wanting to tell more people about them in the Crafty Gemini Facebook Group, but there is a prohibition against talking about other products. Oh well, I assume people will hear about them eventually.
Check out the Culcita/Sew Tites website for videos and more information.
I took the Undercover Maker Mat on the CQFA Retreat. I got to try it out. That was why I made it.
I thought the front pockets worked pretty well. I can see where a pincushion might be handy, but I don’t plan to transfer my pins from pincushion to pincushion every time I use the mat.
I think the pockets would be more in use depending on the different projects I might be working on. I might use the larger selvage pocket on the left for a 6.5 inch ruler as needed. For what I did at the retreat having my snips and seam ripper handy was fine.
I had a couple of issues. First, you can see that the snips sleeve is in the pocket. Without the snips sleeve, my snips kept getting caught on the inside of the pocket. I added the snip sleeve because I didn’t want to cut the mat. Perhaps I should have used oilcloth for the inside of the pockets?
I didn’t notice it at the retreat, but I did notice it at the Jen Carlton Bailly class. I couldn’t get the legs of my Sew Steady table level when using the mat. I may want to make another mat that is larger so the Sew Steady doesn’t have to try and deal with different heights (mat/table).
None of this is fatal or a problem with the pattern.
No, my birthday is not in February, but I didn’t have a chance to show off my gifts until now. I am not trying to make anyone jealous.
It was a pretty big quilty birthday, which is not always the case. I got a new cutting mat. I have smaller cutting mats that go with me when I travel or participate in Sew Day. The mat I use in my workroom, however, is the one I got when I started making quilts more than 30 years ago! It was time for an upgrade and I am using and loving the new one. It does make a difference.
I received some new Tula dots. I’ll have to figure out something fabulous to make with them.
I also got a number of new project totes, which is great! I really like putting my projects in totes and keeping everything together. This little tote (right) fits charm squares. Not sure how I will use it, but will figure something out.
I haven’t tried everything out, but am slowly working my way through all the new stuff. I am so fortunate to have such great friends. It was so nice get things related to my passion.
Now that I seem to be okay with starting new projects, quilts are being thrown in my path in such a way that I can’t seem to say no.
The official name of this quilt is Halo Top. I plan to call this quilt Ring Toss, once I get around to making it. I am not a fan of the word Halo in very many contexts and this is one I don’t like. Ring Toss sounds like a circus and fun.
The other thing is that the pattern is referred to as “Jenny from One Block.” I really don’t know what that means and haven’t had any luck with Google yet.
I went out and searched the web for photos of the blocks to get some ideas. I came up with one from A Crafty Fox that was helpful. It is easy to see the block structure from this photo.
Fat Quarter Shop had a photo, which was interesting as well. It showed a grey quilt in the same pattern under the brightly colored scrap quilt. It made me think that a monochromatic border might be interesting. I’d have to work hard at showing contrast.
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.
The other day I wrote about the pincushions I use when I am working.
I didn’t exactly lie, but I was mistaken. I actually have 5 (yes, FIVE) pincushions and I use them all, though the two I discussed the other day get the most use.
My workroom isn’t that large and it is full of books and fabric and desks, so there isn’t really much floor space. I could walk around carrying a pincushion, but I don’t. Apparently.
In addition to the two that move between my sewing machine and cutting table, I have one on the bookshelf above my ironing board, one next to my design wall and one that travels with me.
These three extras are where they are because they were given to me as gifts. I used to have a hand me down tomato pincushion, but people kept giving me cushions so now I am up to 5. I am not sure what I’ll do if I get any others. The sad part is that pincushions are so great. There are so many fun shapes and great patterns for them.
Anyway, the teapot pincushion is one that I keep on the bookshelf above my ironing board. It is a fun shape and those pins are my least favorite. Oh, the butterfly heads are fun, but somehow I just don’t like those pins. They don’t get much use as I only use them when ironing and I usually have to be desperate.
The design wall pincushion is another wool felt pincushion. It is a great color and very swirly and fun. I put in near the design wall, usually so I can pin quilt tops to it when they get too heavy for the flannel. I used it, and the pins quite a bit for the Stepping Stones n.2. The pins come in very handy when I am desperately trying to keep a top on the wall. It is annoying that the design wall fabric won’t hold a whole top.
The travel pincushion is essential. I have doubles of everything all packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice and the pincushion is no exception.
I completely used up all the pins in my travel pincushion between Sew Day on Saturday and the Rosalie Dace class. It was crazy to see this pincushion empty. A lot of my pins are taken up with the City Sampler blocks, but the others were just engaged with different projects. I was able to reclaim some so the pincushion does not look so desolate.
As you can see from the variety of pins, I have a lot of different kinds of pins. My favorites are Dritz Pearlized Pins. Of course, I love the colors, but there is something about them that works for me. They are not the thinnest or the longest, but they do work well for me.
I mentioned on Twitter (see sidebar if you want to follow me) that my Oliso had started to have problems. I could deal with them for awhile, but the poor thing just became exhausted and confused and I had to reach out for tech support. Tech support for an iron sounds weird, but I think that is what it is.
Oliso’s tech support is great. You get the same person each time (perhaps they have only one person and not a lot of problems?), which is important to me. I really dislike having to go through my problem each time I reply to a support ticket entry. Ryan, the tech person, told me how to reboot my iron (crazy, right?) to get it’s brain back in order and when that was not a long term solution, he worked with me to get the iron fixed.
Oliso irons have a warranty, but mine was old, so it wasn’t free. I think I have had the Oliso for 3 years. I know I bought it on MassDrop. Ryan, my new friend, didn’t care where I bought it, which was nice. I got a deal on the repair, but I think what happened is that they just sent me a new one. It is exactly the same as my old one and works great.
As you know I can’t sew without an iron. I have a Sunbeam as a backup and for DH to iron whatever he needs to iron. I used it as a test to determine if I needed a replacement Oliso or if I should go back to buying cheap irons. My iron strategy used to be to buy a cheap iron at Target whenever I had iron issues. Sometimes, my stepdad can fix the cheapies, but not always. The Sunbeam was fine, but having to sit it upright every time was a hassle. Yes, #firstworldproblem, I know. I like the stability of the Oliso always being in horizontal position. The iron sits on the ironing board next to the bathroom door, so there are a lot of opportunities for it to get knocked off. It has happened.
Still, the Oliso is pricey even at the reduced rate I got for the repair.
The horizontal position is, I realized, also good for my hands and wrists. That little bit of extra weight can make a difference if my hands are hurting me, whereas sliding the iron over to the units or fabrics is not completely weight free, there is little wrist flexing involved and every little bit helps.
I decided to pay the money and get the Oliso repaired. It is back in action. The Sunbeam is put away for stand-in duty in three years and everyone is happy.
I am not affiliated with Oliso. Just a happy customer.
I first mentioned tracking my fabric usage formally on a V&S post a few months ago. Peg recently asked about it, so I thought I would write more about it.
First, if you are a beginner, stop reading and go sew. You are too young a quiltmaker to be worrying about fabric usage.
Second, if you are prone to anxiety, stop reading. Fabric usage is not something you need to add to your list of anxieties. Go sew and enjoy your quiltmaking.
Everyone else may continue reading with the understanding that this tracking system is not to judge, but to understand how much fabric my projects actually take and my fabric usage over the course of a year.
I have been tracking my fabric usage since 2015. I did it all last year as well. Having more of a handle on how to use the spreadsheet helped me to understand what fabrics I was using and how much. I made much better choices about fabric purchases and continue to do so. I am not perfect, but getting better and fabric is so yummy that sometimes it is hard to resist. 😉
I use a spreadsheet that I originally got from Pam of Hip to Be a Square podcast. I have modified to suit my needs. Pam has a blank copy of her fabric usage spreadsheet available on a post from a few years back. It is a good way to start tracking your usage as long as there is no guilt involved. Cheryl, a BAMer, wrote a great post about her spreadsheet for the BAM blog. She talks about her theories around it, why she does it and how she does it.
While there is no shortage of fabric at my house, this spreadsheet is not intended to keep me from buying fabric. That would be a effort in futility and acknowledging that fact feels like a victory. I started so I would know how much fabric I am using per year as well as how much I am adding to my collection. I have a good idea of how many different fabrics I purchase in a year based on the Fabric of the Year quilts, but quantities were always a mystery.
There is no adjustment for how much fabric I have purchased and that changes the numbers a lot. The numbers above are gross, not net. I have to say that knowing how much fabric I used in 2015 spurred me on to sew more in 2016. Using a 100 yards is not out of the realm of possibility and if I made goals like that, that would be my goal. Less than halfway through the year, I am already well on my way.
I find the statistics interesting, but I don’t think you should track your fabric usage unless there is no guilt involved.