Sunday, January 19, 2014

All About the Tools and Visit Your Local Quilt Shop Day

I am, really. All about the tools!

When I started back in quilt making, I was very much the frugal quilter for any number of reason. Mainly, I suppose, because I didn't know how long this interest would last,  or how passionate I was soon to become.

Way back then, I 'made do'. You know how that is….. "Why should I buy THAT ruler when I already have this one?" "Oh, I have rotary cutter, ALREADY." "Well, I have a drawer full of fabric my neighbor gave me back in 1990…. I'm set."

That was me circa 1999. SO, what made the change in my thinking? Experience is the best teacher in my case.

About 4 years after I had finished a huge quilt (back before I learned about this thing called a walking foot!) I was making the bed and as I pulled the quilt back into position, I heard the dread sound of threads popping. Yep, the threads broke in several places. Upon closer inspection, I found holes where the fabric had frayed, as well. Lesson learned: If you are going to invest YOUR TIME in a quilt, INVEST IN GOOD MATERIALS! So, I boned up on thread and switched permanently over to Aurifil for piecing and proper quilting thread (it's thicker and stronger) for quilting. Additionally, I threw away cheap fabric and really took a closer look at what was left for old and brittle fabric. Those went out as well.

So, here I am with an army of rulers, each one serving their own purpose and YES, I use every darn one of them. Not just once, either. But my favorite ruler so far is the Bloc-Loc for HSTs.

For many years, I would cut the requisite 3 7/8" squares to make a 3.5" block, sew the two lines, cut them apart and press. But when I went to measure the little blocks, they rarely were nice and square so then I would have to monkey around to get them to fit nicely to another block. grrrr what a pain.

I started rounding up whatever the 7/8" measurement was to the larger inch…. 3 7/8" would become 4" and after I had sewn the lines and cut and pressed, I would square up the block to a nice, clean 3.5" square. Perfect.

One day, I came across the Bloc-Loc ruler and gave it a test drive and fell in love. Watch below and you will see why.

Here you see the 6.5" Bloc-Loc ruler. Now they come in three sizes but I recommend the 6.5" because with this one ruler, you will trim MOST of the HSTs you will ever make. I have the 2.5" and the 4.5" Bloc-Locs as well and YES I do use them, especially if I have a whole herd of just 2.5" blocks to square up. Remember, the whole point of rulers is to make your job efficient! If I had a variety of sizes to square up, I would use the 6.5".

You can see it is sitting on top of a Fiskars rotating mat which I love and highly recommend as well. Any rotating mat is going to make this so much easier. It is not necessary, but I just don't use the Bloc-Loc without the rotating mat.

You also see the 4 HSTs that I made by placing a solid 5" square with a colored fabric…. and drawing two sew line 1/4" away for the centerline and sew. THen I cut them apart and give them a GOOD pressing. I usually press to the dark side.

Now, take a close look below and you will see the groove on the underside of the Bloc-Loc ruler. This is what is going to 'lock' along the seam you just pressed. You want to lay the ruler so the groove that runs from one corner to the other hits and locks in place along the seam.

ANd here you see how a scant amount of fabric peeks from under the ruler in the upper right corner. All of the fabric along the right and upper edge will now be trimmed with the rotary cutter.


Then I rotate the cutting mat WITHOUT touching the ruler and….

…slide the ruler so the 4.5" mark lines up with the lower left corner of  my HST block. Now I can trim away the scant fabric once again along the upper and right edges of the ruler.

Here, you can see how little I had to trim away on all 4 sides to be left with a PERFECT 4.5" HST!!!

Now, I lift the ruler away so you can see that corner to corner, I have a perfect HST. There is NO way this little block isn't going to line up perfectly with another!

I hope you enjoyed this quick demo and come by Bright Hopes Quilting to test drive one for yourself. I think you will agree that with the right tools at hand, our joy in quilt-making grows exponentially.

Saturday, Jan 25, 2014 is Visit Your Local Quilt Shop Day, a national event where we celebrate our craft by sharing demos and lectures and door prizes and fun.
Bright Hopes Quilting will be open with extended hours from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm and we have some excellent and very specially reduced items that, quite frankly, if you miss them, you'll regret it. They are ONE DAY ONLY as well and because they are this special, I am encouraging you to drop by and see for yourself.


Diane Bascle said...

Thanks ever so much for that great tutorial! As always you constantly look for any opportunity to make us stretch our skill levels to new heights. I see 3 classes I want to squeeze into my datebook. Road trip!!

Chris said...

Hi Diane!!! So sorry it took this png for me to catch you comment. Thank you for your kind words! Hope to see you on your next road trip.....