Friday, November 03, 2006

favorite (non)tools for quilting

I've been noticing the last few days that I use an awful lot of stuff for my quilting that isn't actually made for quilting. I don't mean the stuff like fiberglass window screen that's actually an element on the quilt either. I mean the stuff I use to make the quilt. Things like the little mesh tubes from the flower shop that the spider mums come covered with. They're about 4" long and stretch REALLY big. I use them to store my cone threads in so I don't wind up with a rat's nest of loose threads in the drawer and bins. Did I mention I probably have 100 cones of thread? The thread fairy periodically drops off 5 gallon buckets of thread cones on my front porch. I have some truly weird colors too. Anyway, the little stretchy mesh things are perfect for storing it and they're FREE from the florist.

Another thing I use constantly is my carpenter's sheet rock ruler. No, not the metal kind but a thick plastic one with inset levels. The edge of it is exactly the right height to run the rotary cutter down and the center is deeper than the edge so my fingers are out of the way. Being 48" long is great too so I don't have to keep moving it and lining it up to cut borders and binding. It's also EXACTLY 2" wide so you'll see a lot of that width in my sashings and borders and such. It's SOOOOO handy.

Another must-have for me is a new discovery. It's Reynolds Wrap Release non-stick foil. And it truly IS non-stick. I played around with it when I got it and fused everything I could find and NOTHING stuck to it. Let it cool for a second and even straight fusible just peels off like it does on the teflon sheets. And you can throw this away and buy more! I can quit worrying about creases or cuts or ink marks on the expensive teflon now.

And my DH gave me a B&D laser level for Christmas. I'm on probably my third or fourth set of batteries I use it so much. I mark cutting lines, use it for blocking, hang the pieces straight on the wall to take pics, use it to get more accurate than 'eyeballing' from one element to another on a quilt top. All sorts of uses for it, including messing with the cats and dogs, but that's just lagniappe.

Last but not least, my favorite seam ripping tool is a pair of suture scissors from the medical supply place. They are the ones with the little hook on the bottom blade right at the end. Half the time, the hook itself breaks the thread before I ever snip it and it gets those tinytight stitches beautifully without catching the threads of the fabric.

Some other things that are handy to have are push pins for sticking stuff up on the wall for in-progress pics. Small bulldog clips for the same reason....they hang on the push pins too and are great for displaying the fabric art postcards. I get them in all different colors. Cafe curtain hooks are another option and I usually have a handful of those around. I've also used the bulldog clips and cafe curtain clips as the actual hanging mechanism on quilts. I'm fairly sure I used some painted ones on Jen's "Alice's Restaurant" piece.


Anonymous said...

Here I was composting my comment about the great suggestions in this post, and then I come to my own name. Yes, "Alice's Restaurant" proudly hangs from bright red ones!

Thanks for all of the tips and tool suggestions!

Anonymous said...

Fun Post! & I learned a new word!
Lagniappe...I had to look it up. Never heard of it before...have to file it along side Fried Apples & grits. 2 of my favorite things from the south!

Anonymous said...

I have a surgical tool I use too. It's some kind of a clamp. I use it to pull freezer paper out when I applique. I also could not live without my lint roller when I am cutting all those threads off the back of my (fuzzy) quilt tops. Thanks for the ideas!