Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tools of the Trade

Here is a post about What I Have Learned About Quilting...so Far....


Or; Use the Right Tools For The Job.
This is a short note on what I've learned the past few years, that are the basics if you're just starting out.

Like any professional trade,you need the right tools to get the job done right. The best, most efficient, and accurate jobs all use the proper and correct tools.
For example:  you could mow your  entire lawn with the weedwacker (and you know who you are if you've done it) but it won't all be even, you'll have brown spots where you dropped it too low, and you'll have all sorts of uneven edges. But if you use the proper tool, a real lawnmower, then the entire lawn is even, and done right and you can use the wacker for it's intended purpose, which is edging and trimming.

Such is the same for sewing, and quilting.

Rulers.

Rulers are king. And not just any ruler. Not just rulers you buy at the dollar store. Or in kits at a department store.
Do yourself a favour and invest in the OLFA line of the clear acrylic heavy rulers. Get the square one. Get the small one. Get the 6x18 inch one. Just do it. Stop arguing. Stop thinking that a cardboard template will do the same job. Just suck it up, pay the exorbitant amount at the register and BUY IT ALREADY.
Let me tell you. After investing in these babies, the TIME you will save going over what you've already done to straighten and neaten will amaze you. Do it once right the first time....it's wonderful advice. And now I know how!
These rulers are invaluable tools and your accuracy will amaze you, and you'll only have to do everything once (maybe twice if you don't sew your seams straight). Less fabric waste, less time waste, and ultimately the project will come together neatly and near perfectly.

Rotary Cutters:

Not all are created equal. I have two myself; I have a 60mm Olfa and a 45 mm Fiskars. I like them both but for ease I do prefer my Olfa. They're both excellent but I've had the Olfa longer and just like it better I guess. The key though is to always use a SHARP blade. Once they get dull they won't cut as cleanly, skip threads and you end up pulling your fabric apart, not slicing. Makes a mess. Keep blades sharp. Here's a tip Canadian sewers; Ebay. The cutters are nearly 4 times the price they are if you buy them online. I'm not saying don't support your local stores. I do as much as possible; but I can't justify spending 59.99 for a product I can acquire for 19.99 online. Even with shipping and exchange, it's still  worth it. Same with the replacement blades.

Scissors:

Really and truly I use my tiny snippers more than I use my big scissors these days>my rotary cutter does most of the work. I do use my wonderful left handed shears though for cutting batting and when everything is laid out and I can't use the rotary cutter. Yes, I'm left handed. If you are too, I suggest investing in a solid pair of left handed scissors....you'll be AMAZED at how they FIT in your hand and how easy it is to cut with them!


Needles. 

Always always always start a  new project with a new needle on your machine. Make sure you have the right needle for the project! It *will* and does make a huge difference in your finished work.


Thread.

I use the Guterman line of threads; they're what we have available most here in my area. I have used Coats and Clark, they're pretty good too but more expensive and less on the spool. So my personal preference; Guterman. Colours I want, gets the job done, solid and durable.


These are the basics. I'm not even gonna start in regards to fabrics, machines, etc etc etc. There's simply too much to cover.

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Quick progress report:
I'm almost finished my recent commission; the Blue Rail 9 Patch Quilt is almost finished. I washed and dried it last night, and snipped all the dangly bits off, and will bind it later this afternoon. Ready for shipping by tomoro!
The gift quilt I'm starting in purples and greens and turquoises I've cut out, and are ready to be pieced.
I have a go see tomoro to take an order (or two!) and will bring my sketch book etc and samples to see
about taking two more orders for Christmas.

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By the by.... I can get THREE more done before Christmas if they need to be shipped anywhere!