Friday, March 31, 2017

Rainy days are great for quilting

Some days I feel a bit guilty for spending so much time inside sewing and quilting, usually when the weather is really nice. However, I am never of this mindset when it rains. Today is a very chilly, rainy day and both my dogs and I are perfectly happy to be warm and dry inside away from the weather. I think that rainy weather is perfect for guiltless quilting time.

What are you working on today? I am quilting two custom jobs, one in each long arm. No pictures today, until they are done.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


It's late March 2017 and the weather this week has been pretty cold. Today was a gift. I had no where I needed to be so my digs and I were able to sleep in a bit and cuddle later than usual. After a beautiful, long morning walk with them in their sweaters, I set out to run errands. The weather was incredible, sunny, warm and very spring like.

My first stop was my LQS. I picked up a 16 FQ to be used as the fabrics for these four sided placemats. I also procured a new sent of snips to use while long arming. I had noticed that one of my two pairs had become dull and didn't clip threads as easily as they used to when I first got them.

Then I ran across the street to the local Tuesday Morning store just to stop in and see what they had in the way of coffee and luggage that might be able to serve as a new rolling bag for my lighter weight Bernina 230 sewing machine. I had measure the machine so when I spotted this rolling bag for crafts. I measured it and it seemed like it might work. The store had tons of FQ bundles that I also picked up to use in my Dresden quilt series, chevron and zig zag and dots. I had the clerk out all the FQs into the rolling back and went along my merry way. Next stop, grocery store for just a few basics.

I went home, unpacked my find and unhappily discovered the rolling bag wasn't big enough for the machine. I unwrapped and inventoried my FQ purchases and sorted them by color and pattern to be put away. Tossed the country pork ribs into my trusty crockpot with some herbs and spices and a bottle of BBQ sauce. Dinner was cooking itself. After another long and slow dog walk with no coats or sweaters, I too, off to return the rolling bag to a different Tuesday morning store. I was given a credit and decided to just go and take a look to see what this different store might have of interest. More FQ bundles called my name. Under the shelving I happened across a Robert Kauffman 25 fat quarter bundle.. It was Texture Spectrum, a rainbow assortment of colors and it was under 40 dollars. I snapped it up with gusto and two pairs of socks and go the heck out of there. I was pshyched!

For those f you that don't know what a fat quarter (FQ) is, its a piece of fabric 18" X 22" or so in size. Shops cut half yard pieces and then slice them across the width to make a more useful piece of fabric. A quarter yard would measure 9" X 44". Typically quilt shop quality Fat Quarters cost anywhere between 2.50 - 5.00 each. This discounted bundle made them a bargain @1.60 each! The list price for a 25 piece bundle is usually $85. I know into exactly how I am going to use them.

It really did turn out to be a FAT "quarter" day. So much for not buying any new fabric in 2017!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

ACCUQUILT Go! Is Great for Speed Piecing and Stash Busting

I was first introduced to the ACCUQUILT GO! Die cutter a little over four years ago at my local quilt shop. One of my quilting friends had the machine, a few dies and the cutting mats for them. I tried using it to cut out tumbler shapes from Halloween fabrics. It was the easiest and most efficient way to cut out a charm quilt.

Charm quilts are usually made from a single shape and from many different fabrics. The tumbler is a very old quilting shape and has been around for a very long time. I had never used that shape to make a quilt. Two of my friends and I decided to share all of our various Halloween fabric collections and cut tumbler shapes to make quilts. I spent an entire Sunday afternoon die cutting tumbler shapes from hundreds of spooky and fun novelty fabrics. Each of us got 1 or more tumbler of each fabric.

There are two very important advantages to the ACCUQUILT Go! The first is accuracy. Even though I consider myself an expert quilter, and I have been using rulers, rotary cutters and mats since they first hit the market in the late 1980s, I find it next to impossible to get the consistency and accuracy of shapes cut with ACCUQUILT when I manually cut them with a rotary tool set.

The second advantage is speed. I find that I can only accurately and quickly use my rotary tools to cut 4 layers of fabric, but with the ACCUQUILT, I can cut 6 layers of shapes several times in the same amount of time. There is no twisting and turning of the fabric you are cutting when there are angular shapes. I do use my rotary tools to trim up the fabric into pieces to run thru the die machine, but after loading it and with a few simple and fast turns of the crank handle, I have my perfect shapes every time.

I have noticed that because the pieces are accurate and consistent, my piecing goes faster and the seams always match up with little to no effort on my part. This is due to the notches cut into the corner of the tumbler shape which assist the sewer in properly lining up the edges when sewing the seams. While not all of the myriad of die shapes have these, many of them do and it is a real time saver and plus for the sewing perfectionist.

In an attempt to declutter and downsize my fabric stash, as well as create some quilt tops for charity, I spent last Friday afternoon, slicing and dicing and die cutting three different sets of shapes from most of my novelty fabrics. I had an over abundance of fish fabrics that were leftover from a quilt I made years ago for my beloved dad. I also had tons of fat quarters in juvenile prints and really bright fabrics. And there was that stash of camouflage fabrics I had purchased during the paintball years. Finally, I was surprised to find a large stack of cowboy, western and horse imprinted fabrics that I had acquired when I was into country western line dancing almost 20 years ago. I am sure I had purchased them to make a themed quilt for a certain two stepping cowboy I knew, but he passed away years ago and it was time to do something with them.

One Saturday, armed with my machine, sewing supplies and a large ziploc bag full of tumbler and half tumbler blocks I headed off to a local church to spend the day sewing with a very lovely group of quilters. I managed in one afternoon to piece together 10 rows of 16 tumblers each from the fish fabrics to almost complete a top. On Sunday, I finished piecing the rows together and made a few more to right size the quilt for a queen sized bed. I still needed to add borders, but I saved some of the large chunks of pretty aquatic fabrics to use for backing, borders and binding. I think that's pretty fast piecing.

I originally ended up with three large bags of blocks to piece together from all those fabrics. Some are half hexagons, which will form whole hexagon blocks and are easier to piece than a full hexagon. The other shapes are equilateral triangles which will be made in to baby and kids quilts for charity. I have gone through two and a half of them.

I also use them to cut out applique shapes in freezer paper both for myself for applique quilts as well as for teaching some applique classes. I find perfect circles to be a problem for many and Accuquilt circles solve this problem for me time and time again!

If you are thinking about buying one of these die cutters, I say go for it. Mine has enabled me to use up a good chunk of my fabric stash, make quilts faster and more accurately and that is always a good thing. I see a lot of quilters asking online if the die cutters are worth the investment. I would stRt out with the cutter, a die and may or two and go from there. I would go out and invest in every die and mat they make, because you probably won't use them all. If you belong to a group, sewing circle, guild or quilting bee, it might be worthwhile to see if anyone I that group already has the cutter and just invest in the die and mats. You may be able to strike a deal with your friend to use their cutting machine in exchange for use of your die and mats if they differ,from ones they already have. Sharing is good in this case.

In closing, I would like to state that in no way shape or form am I being compensated by Accuquilt to endorse or blog about their products. I just feel as if I can help to shed some light on how wonderful their die cut products are for anyone that might be on the fence about purchasing them.

#accuquilt #diecuttersrock #tumblerquilts #dianefamaquiltdesigns #lovemyjob #love2longarm #love2quilt #usingupmystash