Friday, 22 March 2013

New sewing tools & some links


Having prematurely wished you a good weekend yesterday, I've found myself back here sooner than I'd expected. I wanted to share a few new tools I used when making the patchwork for Nell's bed that I'd talked about in my last post. Even though none of these products are stocked by any of my sponsors, telling you about new supplies that I like always makes me feel as though I'm a door-to-door salesman setting out his wares, because if something is worth writing about then I tend to only have positive things to say about it, which can sound like I'm actually attempting to sell you something! (Perhaps a better comparison may be to a Jehovah Witness - a deviant one who only worships Sewing - where I appear compelled to convert people to see the wonder of something that I've fallen in love with myself and can be found evangelising about it in their feed readers. Oh dear.)

Indeed, I did once buy some bright yellow dusting cloths from a man who appeared on my doorstep selling his wares who was apparently attempting to reform himself after a spell in prison. It was raining, he was smiley and I felt bad for him. When I washed the dusters a few weeks later I found that they had got their vivid yellow colour from being dyed, but not set, with turmeric and the entire load of coloured washing was stained with a vile yellow tint that meant all of it had to go in the bin. That has very little to do with the sewing supplies mentioned below, as no turmeric seems to have been involved in their production, but the memory of it popped into my head with the mention of door-to-door salesmen... and really, these sewing products will make your housework so much easier, love!


The first is the June Tailor Shape Cut Plus - I bought this on a whim last November thinking it may be useful. It is one the best spontaneous purchases I've ever made. It's a cutting grid with a difference: as you can see it has grooves for your rotary cutter to travel down (note the tear drop slots at the bottom, which make it easy to cut and ensure your rotary cutter starts in the right place and doesn't cut the grid itself). I bought a grid that has cutting lines 1/2" apart, but I believe there are others available. Anyway, when you're bulk cutting strips, rather than repositioning a standard grid to make each new cut, you can simply place the Shape Cut Plus at the fabric edge and whizz along making your cuts without ever having to reposition the fabric or grid. I cut this pieced block into 1.5" strips in under 20 seconds. It almost certainly means cutting is quicker and more accurate (you can see some longer stacked strips I was cutting in the photo at the top of this post).  You can see a video of the Shape Cut in action here.


Onwards to see what else I have in my duffle bag! The new sewing machine that my husband put beneath the tree as a Christmas gift came with a stitch-in-the-ditch foot, which I've been excited to try out. I have doubts over the logic of stitching-in-the-ditch (which is basically stitching in the dip where two seams meet), as to me it seems as though over time the new stitch may act like a saw over the original piecing stitch and weaken the seams, however, for an invisible quilting finish it seems like a good thing. Anyway, my priority with Nell's bed was that it sound be very strong (with aspirations to indestructibility), so I decided that every single patch should be quilted just a fraction in from the seam line. I was able to use my stitch-in-the-ditch foot by allowing the guide to travel in the ditch, but shifting my needle position over a little so that the stitches formed just to the edge of the ditch.


You can see the foot above and the guide, which runs in the ditch. It works wonderfully and made the quilting a relatively quick job.


To my mind, if something is this densely quilted (and I put a layer of soft iron-on interfacing behind the patchwork too) it's almost like creating a new solid fabric, rather than a fragile, pieced patchwork...I'd say almost dog-worthy.


I then reinforced the Oakshott around the sides with some straight-line quilting. And next week I will finally show you the finished bed...maybe even with Nell inside it! (this is just the cushion to go inside, it actually has a large donut around it as she seems to prefer this to the flat mattress style beds as she looks for a slightly raised chin rest (normally my husband's feet or shoes) wherever she lies.


While on the subject of new tools, I was given these beautiful extra fine Clover pins in my stocking at Christmas. I love Clover products - they always seem to be so well designed and such good quality. They come in a sweet box and have lovely translucent pin heads. I'd been told Clover pins were superior because they were finer...but actually I didn't notice any difference at all, even when pinning fine Tana lawn...they just look pretty to use. 


Finally, I leave you with a few links: I'd like to introduce my lovely new sponsor, Minerva Crafts; to point you in the direction of Ali's Compound Word Project, where the game has now started (I was delighted to be one of her many photographers tasked with coming up with an image for the project - you can see the diptych my photo features in here); to share the page (above) on which I was featured in Sewing World magazine this month; and to alert you to the amazing competition Colette Patterns are running to celebrate the launch of their new shift dress pattern, Laurel. And finally, some eye candy for the weekend - don't you love this quilt made by Rita's (or Red Pepper Quilts) mother-in-law. I keep returning to look at it, so it feels worth sharing just in case you've missed it yourself. 

Florence x

14 comments:

  1. That cutting mat is the best invention I have ever seen!! I need one!

    In defense of the smiley salesman, the yellow duster cloths from Asda do the exact same thing!

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    1. It's amazing, isn't it!

      Oh, well that's good to hear - I don't feel so badly toward him now!

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  2. I love your new tools, the ruler looks perfect and stitch in the ditch foot - never knew they had been invented!

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    1. I love it when I find someone has already invented a solution to a problem I wasn't even aware I wanted solved until I found the solution! :)

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  3. That ruler looks incredible! I didn't realise something like this existed. Wish I'd known before buying a Tru-cut rotary blade and cutter - it works well (I don't veer off in a wobbly line) but the design of the markings on the ruler make it hard to get an accurate measurement and the ruler slips about on the fabric a bit. Do you know of any places in the UK that sell the ruler you're using? I'd love to try one!

    So looking forward to seeing your finished dog bed - its going to be a work of art! I hope your lovely pup appreciates it!

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    1. Oh no, how frustrating - I've often looked at those and wondered what they're like. The Shape Cut tends to stay in place because it seems to create a certain amount of static because of the type of floppy plastic that it's made from. You can find them in the UK here:http://www.quiltdirect.co.uk/acatalog/June_Tailor_Rulers.html

      x

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    2. Thanks so much for the link! I found a couple of places online after asking here but the place you suggest is a much more reasonable price. It is frustrating that the Tru-cut system doesn't work as well as it should (for me at least!), so I'm really looking forward to trying this new ruler! I'm working on a scrappy trip-along (even later to the party than you were!) and had ground to a halt with it as I was disheartened by how uneven some of my strips were, so hopefully a more accurate cutting device will give me my strip-cutting mojo back!

      Can't wait to see Nell in her new bed - she's a gorgeous pup :)

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  4. Hi, I have just watched the video and agree the ruler looks like it would be very useful. I was also wondering if you bought it in the UK?
    Your dog bed is lovely I'm looking forward to seeing Nell in it.

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    1. Yes, as above, you can buy it at Quilt Direct:http://www.quiltdirect.co.uk/acatalog/June_Tailor_Rulers.html

      Thank you - I have now seen Nell in it - she makes everything look about 10 times nicer than it actually is...so I'm happy with it!

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  5. Love the look of that ruler! And the bed is really cute too :) I got some of the clover pins after reading about them here a while ago and they are so much better than the ones I was using, maybe it depends what you were using before? :) My old ones were really short and thick in comparison, plus, like you say, the clover ones are so pretty! I have a cupcake pin cushion and they look like sprinkles on it :D

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    1. I'm so pleased you like them - yes, maybe what I was using wasn't so bad, it certainly wasn't as pretty though - I love the idea of having them on top of a cake pincushion!

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  6. I'm so looking forward to a picture of Nell snuggling down in her bed (assuming she chillaxes at some point?!). Love the idea of the shape cut ruler - I've often thought such a thing would be useful when cutting lots of strips, but never thought to look and see if such a thing existed! x

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    1. She's actually been much more restful since she's had a bigger bed to stretch out on...I say it's the soothing qualities of the Tana lawn...my husband insists it's simply a comfort thing. He's so deluded. x

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  7. That ruler looks amazing...despite having a cutting mat and a grid ruler I still manage to cut crooked rectangles! Thanks for the links

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x