Tag: Quilting Tools (Page 1 of 2)

Unlikely Quilting Tools

You might call it cheap entertainment, but I like to find useful quilting supplies in unlikely places. I also find it fun to use things for quilting that aren’t meant for that purpose.

It makes a necessary a trip to town a little more exciting.

First, you might wonder why I’d combine an ordinary trip to town with looking for quilting supplies. I guess I’m one of those people who could sport a “I’d rather be quilting” bumper sticker. The reason is because I tend to put some off things (like buying groceries) until I just really HAVE to (we have no food).

Therefore, my (let’s call it creative) mind has come up with a few ways to make these tasks more bearable.

The first one (if I’m at Walmart), is to see if there are any new Pioneer Woman products – that’s a given. (See Watercolor on a Whim about my trip to Pawhuska!)

Next, is that I am always, always, always on the lookout for items that have any useful way to be a part of quilting, sewing, painting, or crafting.

I have three to share with you today!

Image of Quilting Tools
Big scissors, hair spritzer, and popsicle sticks. And, yes, Bubbles in the background.

Hairitage Continuous Spray Bottle

You can find this item in the hair care products at your local Walmart.

It’s a continuous spritzer, very similar to one I’ve purchased at a quilt shop. This one has a light mist, but it does spray a bit longer with each pull of the trigger. These spritzers work especially well if you use a dry iron but want to mist your fabric for a good press. These also are a great tool for watercolor painting as they don’t leave heavy droplets. The best part is that it was about half the price as the one marketed for quilting. Now I can leave one at my iron AND have one at my painting desk – perfecto!

Whether they were expensive or not, I have always had trouble with steam irons that leak or spit. I have found it’s much nicer to use a dry iron and I control the moisture with a spritzer. No chances for rust spots!

Really Big Scissors

Next up is the very long scissors, found at Harbor Freight. I have no idea what they are meant for, but I use them to cut batting. They work beautifully! If I remember correctly, they were about $8.

Craft Sticks

Lastly, I have a little package of craft sticks (popsicle sticks) that I purchased for less than $2 at Hobby Lobby. I suspect they could also be found at a dollar store or discount store for even less. I chose the wider (about 3/4 inch) ones. There are 40 in the pack so I have plans for the rest of mine!

Use this little guy for projects that need to be turned right side out a pressed. This will help push the fabric outward to make the seam nice and flat. It helps to insure you don’t crease extra fabric while pressing.

Just position the craft stick on the inside on either side of the seam and gently push the seam outward while pressing with a small iron. The rounded edge won’t compromise the seam. This is especially helpful for curved seams.

Which brings to me the next thing I want to share with you, my friends…

Image of Bubbles Cuddle
Meet Bubbles Cuddle!

This pattern is coming very soon to my Etsy shop! He’s so much fun to make! He’s shown here sporting BOTH beautiful sides of “Bubbles Geometric Medium” fabric printed on Spoonflower’s Organic Cotton Sateen, so he matches the original quilt. Of course, you can make him with BOTH beautiful sides of whatever you want YOUR Bubbles to be!

Digital Quilting

For all of the handwork involved, quilting today also involves a lot of technology.

First, we can design our own patterns with software. Secondly, we check our phone apps for backing or binding requirements. Thirdly, you might use your phone camera to take pictures of fabric to match. (Learn how to audition BOTH beautiful sides of fabric using your phone*). Another option is to digitize your own embroidered labels or quilt blocks. We shop online and instantly download quilt patterns. As a result, all this technology can speed up our quilting experience.

Digital quilting technology gives you more options than ever before.

Pinterest, Etsy, designing software, and phone apps are just a few ways quilting technology helps us. With a click of a button you can add a border to that new quilt on EQ8. Add new stitches to your own embroidery design. Download your new favorite pattern online.

My current favorite phone apps are the Robert Kaufman Quilting Calculators, Missouri Star, Etsy, and even Monogram Lite. You can get apps for tablets and Ipads, too!

Digital quilting patterns give you immediate access. Just download and print on your own printer. It’s easy and instantly rewarding!

First, see a whole board of digital patterns from a variety of designers HERE.

In response to numerous requests for instant downloads, I’ve added digital versions of some titles. Many #usebothsides patterns include large paper templates. Therefore, I limit the downloadable versions to ones that fit a regular sheet of paper OR that won’t require monumental enlargements. See more about this at the VariLovable Star Digital Pattern post.

NEW digital quilting patterns added in my Etsy shop: Creative Bee Studios are shown as follows. Click on the photo to link directly to the product.

Image of Grace Quilt Pattern
Grace https://www.etsy.com/listing/788780357/
Image of Use Both Beautiful Sides Quilt
VariLovable Starhttps://www.etsy.com/listing/778654147/
Image of Noelle Quilt
Noelle Quilt Patternhttps://www.etsy.com/listing/896174897/
Image of Mini Digital Quilting Pattern
Lil’ Susiehttps://www.etsy.com/listing/882268640/
Image of Digital Quilting Pattern
Tropical Sunset

Check back for new digital download quilt patterns!

Lastly, technology helps us find quilt gift ideas. The digital side of quilting also gives use the tools to create our own works of art. So think about how you use technology in your everyday quilting. Do you create your own designs? Do you get inspiration from Pinterest or shop websites?

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Quilt Retreat Checklists

It’s time to dust off those quilt retreat checklists! YAY!

Over the years I’ve compiled lists of items to take on retreats and some are more unusual than others! Compare your retreat checklists to mine and make sure you don’t leave home without a thing!

Image of Tool Holder for retreat checklist

Also, check out these previous blog posts in case you are wondering about some of these items: Quilt Retreat Take-Alongs 2019 AND Quilt Retreat Checklist 2018 AND Quilt Retreat Take-Alongs 2017

First, let’s hit the basics:

To begin, you want your sewing machine! Basic supplies also include your instruction manual, needles, thread, scissors, seam ripper, extra light bulb, and make-up applicator style Q-tips.

Next, double check that you have your foot pedal and electrical cord with your machine!

Now add some fun and creative stuff to make your work space just right!

You might consider extra lighting, electrical strips, and extension cords. Remember to bring charging cords for phones, tablets, fitness trackers, etc.

Don’t forget your design wall or make-do with a fleece blanket or flannel-backed table cloth. You’ll need painter’s tape or push pins to hang the fleece or tablecloth. Throw in your 1/4 inch seam guide and 3M removable tape, rotary mat and blades. Bring your portable iron and ironing surface. Add in cutting and specialty rulers, fabric spray, and various scissors (depending on your projects).

Toss your guild directory in your bag so you can get to know the new members at retreat!

Finally, remember to pack your personal items. These should include comfortable clothing, pajamas, walking shoes, pain reliever, and maybe a back massager. I personally also throw in DVDs, a book and book light, a personal heater, and my yoga workout, so I don’t leave retreat in pain!

Need an easy quilt project? SHOP Creative Bee Studios and use BOTH beautiful sides of your fabric!

Totally Cool Quilting Tools

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

I learned about some totally cool quilting tools at quilt retreat – thanks to friends who like to share!

For the first year EVER, I had my retreat projects planned, cut, packed, and ready-to-go to retreat one whole month before we left. What I didn’t plan for were some unexpected opportunities to pop up! I had not brought two totally cool quilting tools that became highly necessary. The new opportunities took priority over all that great planning of mine! But, who cares!

I didn’t even get my projects out of their neat, organized cases!

Me, under duress

First, you can see the outcome of these opportunities in the following link:

One Block Quilts

Next, in spite of all my planning, I wasn’t prepared!

While shopping for fabric one day, Justin (Hancock’s of Paducah), who understood the concept of using both beautiful sides of fabric, suggested we collaborate on some quilts!

Image of Hancock's of Paducah sign

While I was super excited about this opportunity, I hadn’t brought the right rulers to do the tasks at hand. Back at the cabin and with only a few days to vet my ideas, this led me to ask (frantically), “Does anybody have a squaring ruler?”

The Tucker Trimmer ruler became my new best friend!

These new projects included lots of half-square triangles, quarter-square triangles, and flying geese. I quickly fell in love with this ruler! Thank you, friend, Nancy, for introducing me to this trusted sewing tool! Click HERE or on the picture below to see more of Deb Tucker’s tools.

Image of Ruler on Block
Notice I #usebothsides of the fabric in this block?

Here’s another view of the ruler.

Image of quilting tool

The second tool I find indispensable I borrowed from friend.

Retreat roomie, Peggy introduced me to the LEDGLE Rechargeable LED Book Light.

Image of Quilting Tool
LED Light

What makes it so great for me are the re-positionable arms which let you guide the light to any angle. It rests around your neck so it is hands-free and perfect for hand-stitching in a dimly lit room. It also works great for reading in bed or even walking back from the neighbors or feeding the dogs in the dark! You set the light to shine where you want it and it stays until you move it. And best of all, I’ve used mine every day for more than a week and I still haven’t charged it once! Click HERE for link to book light.

To conclude, these two totally cool quilting tools saved my retreat and collaborate on two new quilt patterns with Hancock’s of Paducah!

Two Purple Tools for Quilting

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Two simple quilting tools make a big difference in my stitching experience.

While both of these quilting tools are “Barney” purple, their uses are anything but child’s play!

The Cutting Gizmo has it’s place in my studio AND my retreat bag.

First, let’s look at The Cutting Gizmo. If you chain piece, this guy is a must-have! The Cutting Gizmo (click here) is by no means new longevity is in it’s favor. This tool by Gypsy Quilter is the best stationary snipper I have found.

Specifically, The Cutting Gizmo is a weighted cutter with a rubber, non-slip bottom. It is especially wonderful to use when you are making lots of chain-pieced segments for a pieced quilt. Just grab the two fabric pieces and draw them down either side of the gizmo to cut the connecting thread.

This gizmo saves and repetitive movements.

Seriously, think about the time it takes to grab your scissors, re-positioning your hands, snip a thread and put down your scissors.

Instead, you just pop up from your machine, snip, snip, snip and press, press, press! I keep this tool on the end of my ironing board, always.

That Purple Thang is a useful quilting tool, too.

Secondly, that long thin stick is one of the first quilting tools I ever purchased. So, at about twenty years old, it must be a good “thang”. It’s actually called, That Purple Thang from the Little Foot Quilt Shoppe.

That Purple Thang is more than just a pointy tool.

One end is softly pointed with a slight curve. It’s perfect to send nearer your moving needle than you want to send your fingers. You can control your fabric with the thin tip. The softly squared end is useful, too. One use is for turning a getting neat edges when turning a project right side out. I’ve had other tools made for this purpose, but this is the one I always go back to. I’m not sure why, but unlike other similar tools I’ve owned, I don’t misplace this one! I think it’s the cute name…

Both tools are shown on the Phoebee 2.0 quilt made from both beautiful sides of Hoffman California Fabrics.

This line of fabric, called Electric Garden, is bold and soft at the same time. Learn more about using both beautiful sides of fabric HERE.

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Quilt Retreat Take-Alongs

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Start your packing for quilt retreat!

It’s quilt retreat and time to take your sewing on the road!

First, for quilters to go through all the trouble of taking down one work station to pack to all up, travel, and set it up somewhere else means it MUST be a lot of fun! Whether you go for the social time, productivity, shopping or a combination, making the launch from home sewing to retreat sewing can be easy!

Keep it all in one spot.

I have a friend who keep duplicates of all sewing supplies. Of course, that is the ultimate way to pack and travel. But if space and budget don’t allow for duplicates, try using a central command center.

Image of Tool Holder

Find a organizer that works at home and away.

The one I use, pictured above holds just about all the little tools and gadgets I need for retreat. I can even store my mini iron in the center section.

I tend to take a lot of items on quilt retreat because I want to pack (no pun intended) everything I can into those lovely few days. Overall, I like to enjoy all the aspects of a good retreat which include laughter, fabric shopping, relaxation time, yummy food, reading, movies, music, and walks, I’m still a high production type of quilter.

No sense spending time looking for supplies.

Whether in my studio or on the road I need to see what I’ve got and know where to find it.

Below is a very unofficial list of some of the things I take on retreat. I hope it helps you get ready for your next adventure of quilting on the road.

  • Sewing machine (with cord, pedal, extra light bulb, bobbins, and attachments)
  • Table
  • Extra lighting
  • Projects, preferably pre-cut
  • Felt-backed table cloth for make-shift design wall
  • Other supplies such as seam ripper, rotary cutter, blades, rulers, and cutting mat.
  • Iron and pressing mat or board and pressing spray.
  • Extension cords and electrical strips.
  • Personal items, including clothes, usually get packed last for me! You might consider walking shoes, rice bag for sore shoulders, and pain relief.
  • Charger cords
  • Snacks

The rest of the story.

NOW for the REST of the story! Below I reveal everything that is actually in my spinning work station.

Image of Quilt Retreat Supplies

Without a doubt, I don’t use all of these items daily. But when at quilt retreat, it’s best to not be without! Starting at the top left, you see fusible web, pressing spray, mini iron, chain-piecing cutter, a very cute rice bag (made by my friend, Donna). Next you see various rotary blades, The Purple Thang, a gripper tool, bandages, rotary cutter, and two sizes of Karen K. Buckley scissors.

It is wise to clean out your organizer now and then!

Following that is a pre-cuts guide for fabric purchase emergencies, thumb tacks, pins, cord wrap, thread, Q-tips, battery, thread and button, needles, a plethora of markers and pencils, snipping scissors, and Fabric Fuse. Surprisingly, the next row starts with the back of something which apparently held batteries, a calculator, a guild directory, business cards, note pads, and another gripper tool. Lastly, there are clips for hanging design wall, True Grips (truly a favorite), and last, but not least, Martelli cutters (I am an ambidextrous cutter, so I use both left and right-handed ones).

Read more about retreats here at: One Sweet Retreat and Friendship, Laughter & Quilts, Oh My!  and Seven Projects from Quilt Retreat

Home or away, enjoy YOUR quilting journey!

Take One: Cool Tools for Quilters

Do you love quilting tools, gadgets, and gizmos? Once a month I’ll be featuring a new (to me) cool tool.

Here’s a new ruler I ran across a few months ago on my travels. I finally pulled it out and decided to learn how to use it.

It is called the “Quick Curve Ruler” by Sew Kind of Wonderful (click HERE)

I practiced with some scrap fabric, marked my ruler as indicated in the pattern directions, and off I went! It was fun to watch the curved piecing literally “come together”.

There are numerous quilt patterns available which use this ruler. Here’s the one I used. Stunning quilt, isn’t it? I love it when my brain can’t quite find one simple design, but jumps around to the various secondary patterns in a quilt.

Here’s my first try at a mix a fabrics. As you can see, I have a few bumbles for my first block, but it was fun to make! I do suggest using a fine marker to mark your ruler for better accuracy.

I think this quilt is now on my bucket list! What’s on your bucket list? Do you have a favorite specialty ruler?

See my Cross-over Quilting Tools (click HERE) post to learn about using the Brother Scan N Cut for quilting.

Shop Creative Bee Studios #usebothsides quilt patterns and kits HERE!

Vintage Machine Quilt Pattern

Aria ahr-ee-uh: expressive music often heard in opera.  (She’s a singer!)Image of Sewing Machine Quilt

Aria is a fun little quilt pattern that you can make using both sides of one focus fabric.

Wondering how to choose fabrics for the Aria Quilt Pattern? Think about your florals fabrics. Or, how about feathers? She is a featherweight, after all. You could also use sewing notions motifs. Maybe you want a machine covered in sunflowers! Or consider larger prints like Tula PinkKaffe Fassett Collective. The possibilities are endless for making this the cutest little machine you own! So shop your stash. Pull out your fabrics and look at both sides.

The Aria quilt pattern sewing machine and binding are made from the front of the focus fabric. The pennants, little scissors, and thimble are made using the reverse side of the same focus fabric!

Someday (dreaming now), I’d like to own a beautiful turquoise featherweight, preferably purchased in person from Roxanne’s A Wish and A Dream shop in California!

In conclusion, I was drawn to this lovely, sweet floral fabric for this machine. It has sweet roses and leaves. Of course, the reverse side passed my audition test, which is all about value.Image of Quilt Hanging Outsides

Choosing backgrounds for this little wall hanging is the most fun. You can really mix it up here!

Wanna jazz things up? Check out this Tula Pink version! LOVE.Image of Pink Sewing Machine Quilt

Find the Aria quilt pattern and #usebothsides of your fabric! Etsy shop: HERE.

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Favorite Binding Tool

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

My favorite binding tool isn’t made for binding.

In fact, my favorite binding tool is more of a seamstress tool, really. I’m not even sure what it is called. It’s a ruler and a gauge. There are several reasons I keep this tool right next to my machine at all times.

Movable Marker

Firstly, most of these types of tools have a marker that slides across the measurements. It’s snug enough that when you set it at, say 1/4 inch, it stays. The extended points above and below the ruler aid in measuring seam allowances.

Since it is important for finer quilt bindings to have the back and front of the binding to be equal size, this marker helps “gauge” the size you need your seam allowance to be.

Additionally, the market can assist you to know when to stop stitching at the corner. Just match the marker to your seam allowance!

Thin, straight edge.

Secondly, these rulers/gauges are very thin. In addition the top has a nice straight edge. Together, this makes for a great corner folding tool for your binding application. Furthermore, thicker rulers add bulk to the folded binding. This can cause looseness in the binding corner fold.

Image of favorite binding tool

Happy Endings

I recall my early years of quilting when I’d refer to my Happy Endings book each time I came to that part of the quilt-making process. Making a quilt took me so long that I’d forget how to do binding by the time I came around to it again! Even though I understood the technique, there would be so much time in between bindings, that I couldn’t remember how to do it. 

Image of Quilt Binding

The test of time.

While trying to get the end my stitching to the exact size of my seam allowance, I’d use this familiar tool which I’d inherited from my mother-in-law and mostly used by her in garment construction.  One brand calls it a “Rule ‘n Gauge”. In addition to providing a precise measurement, I use the straight edge of this little tool to give me a perfectly square fold for my binding corners. While any straight edge will do, this favorite binding tool is readily available and has that has passed the test of time. 

The tradition stands.

In conclusion, after making more than 50 quilt patterns (that use both beautiful sides of fabric), I no long have to look up how to attach quilt binding! I use the Rule ‘n Gauge each and every time!

Before you turn that binding, try adding prairie points! It’s a fast, easy way to hang your quilt! Learn more HERE!


Enjoy your quilting journey!

Quilt Retreat Checklist

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Get your retreat packing on!

Image of Quilters
Read HERE about this Jonas Bluffs Retreat!

Here’s a quick quilt retreat packing list to make your prep easier and your quilt retreat fun!

Firstly, one must remember the basics.

You need friends, fabric, food, and laughter on the top of your packing list.

Here’s a quilt retreat checklist from a cabin called Lady of the Lake.

Secondly, it’s important to anticipate your particular retreat needs. The accommodations, schedules, and cabin mates can make a big difference in your experience and your packing list! Therefore, I’ve decided to share the list as one example of how we do quilt retreat at Kentucky Dam Village, Lady of the Lake style!

Lady of the Lake Cabin Style Retreat Packing

Mostly, we would have eight lovely ladies in one cabin. We each set up our work station, stitch a lot, eat a lot, share a lot, and laugh a lot. We schedule our meals and each person provides in some way, either meals or supplies.

As the years went on, we learned we didn’t need to prepare to great detail as we did in the earlier years. For example, planning only one large meal a day and allowing the later days in the event to be determined made our packing and planning much easier. Not only did we not have nearly large amount of food to pack, we had less to get rid of at the end of the retreat.

Additionally, less meal planning allowed us to change our plans as the week went on.

Quilt retreat packing list.

Hope you get some use from this list and a little insight to dynamics of the Lady of the Lake gals.

  • Sewing machine with electrical cord, foot pedal, manual, extra light bulb, bobbins, Q-tips for cleaning lint.
  • Seam ripper, scissors, Seam ripper, scissors, rotary cutter and blades, rulers, cutting mat, iron, pressing surface, tables, electrical cords, extension cords, extra lighting, fabric spray, pins, hand-work supplies, guild directory, ¼” guide and 3M removable double-stick for guide on machine.
  • Personal Items: pajamas, preferred drinks, snacks and food for meals not planned, rice bag for sore muscles, massager for neck and shoulders, comfortable clothing, walking shoes, jeans for shopping trips, jacket/sweatshirt, overnight bag/products, Advil, pain relief lotion.
  • Additional: paper, pencil, electrical strips, charger cords, tape, table cloths (for design boards), cleaning wipes, pest strips.
  • Snacks, drinks, paper products, coffee and filters.

Supply List Printer Format

SHOP more than 50 quilt patterns that use BOTH beautiful sides of fabric!

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