Tools & Toys Tuesday

Tools & Toys Tuesday: Use Drawing Apps to Trial Quilting Patterns

Here’s another little tip that isn’t just for our quilt-along, but this seems like a perfect time to share it: when I’m considering how I’ll quilt a new project, I like to trial quilting patterns by doodling over a photo in a drawing app – instant quilting test without sewing a stitch!

I’m currently using Aviary on my iPad with a stylus for drawing – I take a photo of my quilt top, then use a fine line in an unobtrusive color (usually a light gray, but it depends on the quilt) and just doodle away. It’s a great way to try out different ideas and experiment. Here’s three basic options for my orange peels, just to show you what I mean:

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I’m also playing with the idea of free motion quilting in the spaces between peels, which would be great FMQ practice. But I usually like a minimalist quilting approach best, so I’ll probably doodle a million ideas and then go with one of the straight line options above. I’m so predictable that way. :)

Tools & Toys Tuesday: Festival of Quilts Goodies!

Festival of Quilts Day One Goodies

Festival of Quilts Day Two Goodies

The Festival of Quilts came and went again this weekend – both the best of times and worst of times. It’s better than Christmas (like, by a lot) but then it’s over and I’m sad again. If only it could the Festival of Quilts every day!

But of course part of the fun is that it’s a massive whirlwind of pretty fabric and beautiful patchwork and chatting with strangers and giggling over cheeky purchases and scrutinizing thread types and puzzling over the awe-inspiring quilts on display. I’ll share a bit of what we saw later this week, but first I have to show off my goodies!

You’ll see that I may have bought quite a bit of fabric. There’s a voice in the back of my head that says I should feel guilty about this, but I just really don’t. I had an amount saved for spending and I went forth and spent the hell out of it. I really needed a responsibily-free fun-fest and it absolutely was. I still feel a bit high just thinking about it!

You’ll see some Liberty pieces there, a bunch of Lizzy House that I’m so pleased to have managed to get my grubby hands on before it’s too late, and a bunch of Cotton + Steel. A few of those will go into planned projects, but they are mostly just stash additions. ‘Cause they’re pretty. And I wanted them, dammit.

There’s a couple Christmas prints there, which will go into a second Christmas quilt to use up the scraps from the first. I scored three meters of a Catnap print (the pink triangles) which, along with the navys and pinks in this hoard, will go straight into a project I’m nearly about to start – which will be a series of tutorials (or hopefully a sew-along, if people are willing to join me!) coming very, very soon.

As for tools, I picked up a few spools of Aurifil thread that I want to try out and some quilter’s rubber thimbles, which were recommended in one of my Fat Quarterly Retreat classes. But my unexpected prize of the weekend? That funny little wooden roller, which has had people asking about it in my last few IG photos – that’s a seam roller, which I spied on someone’s desk at the FQR and looked so damn handy, I thought to myself, ‘Self, you needs one of those!’. And yet, I nearly passed it up, ’cause I’m stupid, but luckily went back for it. If you do any sort of foundation piecing or hand-piecing with seams that need pressing often, this tool is for you – it flattens the hell out of seams but doesn’t stretch them at all. Genius!

Did you go to the FoQ? What’s your favorite new toy??

Tools & Toys Tuesday: Christmas Fabrics

If I’m going to turn my leftover half-square triangles from my Giant Christmas Swoon into a new Christmas quilt later this year, I better start looking at Christmas fabrics to add to it. I didn’t use many (or any, actually) actual Christmas-themed fabric on the front of my Swoon, just reds and greens that gave the right Christmassy feel.

But I think it’d be fun to put some theme / novelty fabrics into a second quilt! They’d have to be just so though, I’m very particular about my Christmas decorations. Tacky is great, but only if it’s really, properly tacky. Half-tacky is no good, it’s usually just cringe-able – you’re aiming for a so-bad-it’s-good sort of thing, you know?

I also love retro Christmas – I think the cutest Christmas quilting fabrics from the last few years have definitely been the vintage-inspired prints. Here’s two adorable prints from one of my favorite UK fabric shops, Fabric Rehab, both from Dashwood Studio’s Christmas Wish collection:

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Here’s some happy little elves from The Village Haberdashery (Michael Miller’s Candy Claus collection):

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And fabric fair isle (from Studio E’s Winter Essentials II)?! This one absolutely has to be in my quilt!

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And lastly, from Emma’s Fabric Studio, these amazingly weird floating Santa heads! Dude, I gots to have these!

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What’s your favorite Christmas fabric?

Tools & Toys Tuesday: Embroidery Seat Frame

Tools & Toys Tuesday: Embroidery Seat Frame

Do you guys ever stitch with a seat frame? This is absolutely my favorite embroidery tool right now – I find it vital for crewelwork, which I’ve been doing a lot of lately, as you know. In case you’ve never used one, it is basically a hoop on a stand, and you slip that flat paddle-esque bit under your thigh and sit on it. This allows your hoop to sort of hover over your lap, leaving both hands free to manipulate thread.

Tools & Toys Tuesday: Embroidery Seat Frame

This isn’t the most photogenic scene, but this is generally where I stitch and how I sit. I can shift the frame from side to side and raise or lower it, as well as tilt the hoop itself to give me the angle I need. I don’t know why exactly I find my seat frame so invaluable for crewel stitching – I’ve never been one of those stitchers that can keep one hand above and one below the fabric. I’m much too awkward for that, but I suppose I do use both hands for crewel to position threads more than I would for other embroidery types.

My seat frame sat mostly unused for a long time, but I wouldn’t be able to live without it now that I’ve started using it more. I even bought two new hoop sizes for it when I was visiting the Royal School of Needlework shop at Hampton Court Palace recently!

Do you use any sort of special tools like this, stitchy peeps? Tell me about ’em!

Tools & Toys Tuesday: Washi Tape Seam Allowances

Adding a little washi 1/4" mark to my Featherweight - 'cause apparently I do everything in pink polka dots.

I posted this photo on Instagram the other day and a few people commented that it was a good idea, so I thought I’d share it here for Tools & Toys Tuesday: washi tape seam allowance markings for your sewing machine! As simple as it looks, just measure out 1/4″ seam allowance from your needle point and lay a piece of washi tape down at that point. In fact, because washi tape magically lifts perfectly and leaves no sticky residue in its wake, it’s also a great solution for the odd larger seam allowance or marking you might need to follow only once – just pull it off when you’re done!

Now, I do enjoy being thought of as a clever gal, but this really isn’t an original idea. I did think of it independently a few years ago when I realized (sigh, after a lot of sewing) that my then-new modern machine’s 1/4″ marking wasn’t quite right, but I’ve seen other sewing machine owners do the same thing. I used boring old electrical tape back then, but I switched to washi tape somewhere along the way ’cause, well, it’s just so much prettier!

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