Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tools, tools and more tools!

All the cutting work I did in April brought out the Gadget Fanatic in me. I've gotten to use a lot of the special tools I have during these sessions. 

Starting with finishing up the top for the Heart & Home BOM  I'd like to highlight the borders....

...and all the special tools that helped make that happen!  For all the work I've been doing with wool specifically and for applique in general, I give rave reviews to Clover's micro-serrated scissors for making close cutting and smooth cut curves a breeze....

...and when I need circles of all sizes, I grab my packs of Karen Kaye Buckley's Perfect Circles.

For my Dreamcatcher project, to cut the large trapezoids I used the Fons & Porter Diagonal Sets Ruler....

...and for all the quarter square triangles I needed to cut for the sashing blocks, I used the Companion Angle ruler to cut them quickly from jelly roll strips.

While I'm shouting out the Companion Angle, I might as well also give a shoutout to the Easy Angle ruler and Bonnie Hunter for championing both of them. 

Although I now have these two, originally I used (and am also still very fond of) my All-In-One Ruler which has both angles on it but is not as easy to flip up and down when you have to cut a huge amount of triangles.  I do use it a lot for general strip and square cutting and as a travel ruler.  It has also been great for cutting the braid units for a scrap quilt I'm still collecting bits for:

Speaking of the Easy Angles, here's one that was "new to me" until this week:  Sharon Hultgren's Easy Angle II

Although I've long heard about the Easy Angle, I had never heard about this larger one!  I happened on it because I was recently re-reading my journal about the work I did on my UGRR/Pioneer sampler quilts.  I used the Tri-Mate ruler, a companion to the popular Tri-Recs rulers and the side triangle Tri-Rec ruler to make the long narrow triangles pieced unit in this block:

That was another "new to me" ruler when I saw it in a quilt store many years ago.  In my journal notes, I said that after I used it, I broke down and bought the book "Calming the Storm: Designs for the Tri-Recs Tools" book by Darlene Zimmerman and Joy Hoffman which was advertised as being a book of patterns using the Tri-Recs rulers.  Back then I didn't read the book too closely because I was disappointed that none of the designs in it used the Tri-Mate ruler.  However, I pulled down the book this week to take a good look at it again.  This time around I looked closely at the designs and noticed that one of them called for the EAII.  As I always do when that happens, I went to the web to investigate.  I found out that this ruler is still around as part of the "Wrights EZ Tools" line and in updated packaging available from various sources.  I was lucky enough to find a used one (in "like new" condition) on Ebay in the original packaging and a little cheaper than the going price so snapped it up.  I've had occasion to need to cut larger EA triangles so was glad to be able to add this to my ruler arsenal.

Also very helpful for the Dreamcatcher cutting was the June Tailor Shape Cut:

Personally, I love this one and you can tell by how beat up it is that it's one of my favorites!  I know that Sandy at Quilting For the Rest of Us has had issues with the accuracy of this so no longer uses it.  I have had issues with variance in block sizes since I often use different rulers in the same project to cut different block pieces.  Doing that is said to be a possible cause of block size variations.  I can't be sure if the issue is the Shape Cut, the other rulers or my own seam allowances.  I've found that I've had variations in finished blocks when sewing with a 1/4' inch foot on just two pieces of fabric versus sewing a fabric unit over seams.  In the end, the speed that the Shape Cut allows me to cut multiple strips wins out over the need to fudge stuff together later.  I can't live without it!

Admittedly having no machine for a while meant I did more surfing than sewing which means I see things that pique my interest and they wind up resulting in even more new purchases.  For starters, I also recently bought one of Deb Tucker's Technique Sheets

I'm a big fan of her rulers having used the Tucker Trimmer and Rapid Fire Lemoyne rulers (and look forward to buying the set of technique sheets for those in the future).  I also own her Hunter Star and Square2 (Squared) rulers.  The technique sheet I bought was the one for the Shaded Four Patch block because I saw a quilt I liked (in the upper left of the picture above) in an old issue of Quilt magazine.  It used this block made in the traditional way (with squares and triangles) and is the same block I used when I made Eleanor Burns' Fabric Gal quilt.  Her "Quilt In A Day" method uses strip piecing and is exactly the same as Deb's but Eleanor's pattern only gave strip measurements for the one block size used in her quilt.  Deb's sheet gives me the strip measurements for many sizes of blocks.  I've seen this basic unit in many quilts I'd like to make so appreciate having that shortcut available to me when I'll need it. 

Last but not least is Susan Cleveland's Prairie Pointer Tool.  I had seen this awhile ago but at the time had no plans to make PPs. 

I have done them before, making them using the "continuous strip" PP technique (and you can see a video of that method here).

Now I have a project where I want to make really small PPs that won't be connected so I will need to make them individually and was prompted to find an easy way to do them.  I did see the Quick Points rulers  but didn't like the fact that you needed different rulers to make different sizes.  This is often a deal breaker for me when it comes to any tool.  So remembering Ms. Cleveland's tool I decided to give it a whirl.  I look forward to trying it on my project** and doing some of the decorative variations she demonstrates in the future!

That's the gadget round up for now.  Time to get back to sewing!

**Updated August, 2015:  That project can be seen here.

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