Saturday, 2 May 2015

Magic Mirrors (and tooth kaleidoscopes)


I haven't had much time to sew lately, so when I finally had a few hours of stitching time last weekend, I felt very clear that I wanted to actually do something that involved a needle and thread, rather than to just spend the time trialling fabrics. When the trialling involves painstakingly fussy-cutting each fabric (you can find my tutorial on fussy-cutting here), cutting a paper for it and then wrapping it with said fabric enough times to get a good impression of whether that particular fabric will 'work', it's a time-consuming business. Especially when you wrap several pieces and you take it to your most trusted consultant and he says, looking slightly like a deer in the headlights: I just don't know; I can't imagine it properly until you've cut more of them!


I'm not sure why I haven't thought to use the set of mirrors I invested in over a year ago earlier until now, but possibly because I wasn't entirely clear how they worked and thought it may involve having a perfect right angle on which to place them. This is lunacy. They are so easy and effective to use and no right angles are necessary, so I thought it may be a good idea to share the magic with you here, just in case you'd find them useful too, and didn't know about such a thing.

Magic mirrors are made for especially for quilters. They consist of two mirrors, with a strip of tape forming a hinge. Because they are special magic mirrors for quilters they are quite expensive, but there's nothing to stop you from taping two square mirrors for regular people together and ending up with the same product accompanied by the warm glow of thrift. However, finding two frameless square mirrors can be tricky and so the purchase can be justified by these being slightly safer for being made from acrylic - in a workroom which can quickly become a chaotic mess of unfolded heaps of fabric (which the mirrors may take to hiding beneath) and heavy scissors and rotary cutters being tossed about over the cutting table, this seems like a good feature. 


With the magic mirrors, you just need to cut the smallest sampling of pieces and then place them on your fabrics (see above), and your selection will grow into a fully-formed round and you will see this:


Or this...


What would normally require the cutting of many pieces, much careful blurring of eyes, indecisive nose-wrinkling and intense imaginings to try and picture the whole effect, is reduced to an entirely painless process. I was able to take comparison photos of several different completed colour schemes all laid out with no imagination required for proper analysis. The green one won. The fabrics are all from Bari J's Petal and Plume range for Art Gallery Fabrics, by the way - sent to me in one of Hantex's care packages (in reality, they're marketing packages, but they always seem to arrive on a day when a surprise parcel of fabric is just what I need, so I've come to see them as 'care packages'). Annie stocks a few of the prints here.


Sewing was undertaken in the evening sun, I already knew what the completed cogwheel would look like (which is good, as it's still yet to be fully stitched) and all was well with the world. But stop the clock! There's more.

For anyone* who, the moment they're faced with triple mirrors, feels delighted by the opportunity to be the Beverley Sisters for a brief moment, there's a treat in store. Yes, these magic mirrors for quilters aren't just for quilting. They're also good for making tooth kaleidoscopes.


I did consider not telling you about this. But in the end, I felt it was too good not to share. Enjoy.

Florence x

*I originally thought this was everyone, but my husband, who said: 'you're so weird', when I told him about this, clearly didn't do this, so maybe it's just a girl thing, or maybe it's something that just runs through my family, because my grandmother, mother, sister and I and my daughter all do this with no tuition or encouragement.

11 comments:

  1. Oh, very clever! Makes me want to start sewing EPP circles (well, segments of circles) so I can try this.
    With the mirrors - you might be able to buy a few cheap mirror tiles at a hardware store. I know they were everywhere in the 70s (we bought a 70s house and oh boy, they were everywhere) and they are no doubt still about for bathrooms (I shall keep my naughty ceiling comments to myself, ahem).

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    1. I think it would probably be fine for planning square blocks too, as you could do a quarter of it and then preview the rest.

      That's a good idea! Mirrored ceilings though. Aaaarrrgggh! I think that may be taking the Beverley Sisters a step too far!

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  2. Two thoughts:
    A good place to buy plain mirror squares is a tile company or DIY place that sells tiles. Or a window/glasscutter's shop. Or a framer's shop.
    Two: plain masking tape (applied like bias tape but without the stitching, heh) makes the edge of any unframed glass fairly safe to handle routinely. A narrow strip of duct tape is thicker and may last longer (and I would guess would be perfect for the hinge) but I've used masking tape as a protective (to my fingers) edge for sheets of glass in the darkroom and it's lasted for years of daily use.
    Oh, and I have never heard of the tooth thing. I'm with your husband on this one ;)

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    1. That's a good idea on both counts!

      And re: the tooth thing - it was more the pretending to be the Beverley Sisters when faced with multiple mirrors that I was thinking may be a universal thing - I thought the tooth kaleidoscope may have been my own discovery, but one that others may enjoy too!

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  3. I bought one of those mirrors recently and while I didn't do the tooth kaleidoscope, I did do something similar.(and I went and tried the tooth kaleidoscope after reading about it here) Before I bought the magic mirror I asked my husband if he could make me one and he suggested the same thing that Quinn suggested but he also made the comment that the acrylic one would be safer and lighter to use.

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    1. So pleased you immediately thought of other uses for the mirror too. I do think the acrylic is a bonus for me - in the midst of planning things I don't tend to be as neat or safety conscious as I should be!

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  4. oh Florence you make me laugh!!! (and that really does look like a fantastic tool).

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  5. Oh good :) And yes, it is - I can't believe I haven't used it until now.

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  6. It's magical! Nice teeth ;)

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  7. What a great post about these mirrors. I just made my first stack and wack blocks and I had a terrible time deciding where to make the triangles. I wish I had these mirrors. Instead I tried my best with an app but it wasn't quite the same. Thanks for sharing the information.

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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

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