Tag Archives: Connecting Threads

Ruby BOM Month 2
9.1.2021

Hello again friends!

I hope you all enjoyed making our first four blocks in Month 1. I really loved reading everyone’s comments and photos on Facebook this past month. If you haven’t joined our Ruby Facebook group, I would highly recommend it. It’s a great place to share ideas and stay motivated!

For Month 2 we will be making our first set of the Irish Pinwheel Chain blocks (which I probably should have called Irish Chain Pinwheel blocks, but I digress). There are 25 of these blocks in the quilt, so I’ve broken them down into chunks of 5 and have spread them out over the course of the BOM, just so we all don’t get bored making so many at once! Maybe I’m just speaking for myself, haha!

I’ll walk you through the instructions for making one block:

This block begins by making some half-square triangles. Once you’ve paired up your A and B squares and have marked a line like you see below, you are ready to stitch on both sides of the marked line. Obviously the squares shown below aren’t lined up correctly, because I wanted you all to see the square underneath. You’ll want yours matched up perfectly.

Once you’ve sewn everything and have cut on the marked lines, you can press open and square up your blocks to 2-1/2″ square.

Then you’ll sew those half-square triangles together to make a pinwheel. If you want your pinwheels oriented the same throughout the quilt, you’ll want to pay close attention to the diagram, making sure that all of your A and B triangles are in their proper position. 

And I must confess, while sewing up my first block for this month’s tutorial, I plumb forgot to pay attention to the direction of my pinwheels. And when I was done and I compared my finished block with my own diagram, OF COURSE they were going the WRONG WAY. If I had been sewing this for myself, and not this blog, I honestly would have left it, and just made sure all the other ones matched. No one would have been the wiser, right? But since you all have my directions and diagrams, and would have seen my mistake, I figured I’d better follow my own instructions and fix it! Thankfully I’d only made the one block and not all five. Otherwise I might have cried…or screamed loud enough for the neighbors to hear.

Once you have your pinwheels sewn up, all you have to do is add the Ivory strips and the Red corner squares. So easy!

I like to sew my blocks into rows first, and then sew the rows together, like you see below.

After the first set of strips and squares, your block should now measure 8-1/2” square. I always measure and trim as I go so that everything turns out the correct size in the end.

Once the last strips and squares are sewn, the finished block should now measure 12-1/2” square.

Things are all laid out and ready to sew the last step.

And here is the finished block!

Some of you have asked for thread suggestions. For this block I used the Scarlet thread, because that’s what I already had in my machine. I really should have used the Cream or Ivory thread, since there is so much of the Ivory background in this block. So do as I say, not as I do! If you really want to get fancy, you could use a red thread for the pinwheels, and then switch to the Ivory thread for sewing the strips.

I hope you have fun making these Irish Pinwheel Chain blocks, because you’ll be making a LOT more of them as we go along! But I’m guessing you all knew that.  🙂

Have a great month, and Happy Quilting!

Kristin


Welcome to the Ruby Block of the Month!
7.29.2021

Hello friends! I’m excited to join you on this journey over the next twelve months while we sew up this not-so-little gem of a quilt called Ruby. I’ve always LOVED red and white quilts so I jumped at the chance to design one for Connecting Threads.  I’m pretty happy with the results, and hope that you will be too, especially once it’s all finished.

Threads

In preparation for this BOM, I snagged a few extra supplies from Connecting Threads. I love their thread and use it all the time anyway, so lucky for me there is a thread set that goes PERFECTLY with this quilt. It’s the Hometown Americana Redwork Traditions Thread set. Of course, you don’t have to use this thread to make the quilt, but since all the colors are perfect for whatever blocks we’ll be making, I just decided I wanted it from the start.

Backing Fabric

I also got backing fabric, because, depending on the popularity of any given CT fabric collection, there is a chance that the backing fabric I want might not be available by the time I’m ready for quilting. And since we will spend 12 months making the top, I really wanted to make sure I could get what I wanted. So while you don’t have to buy backing fabric now, I would strongly suggest you do, especially if you want something that coordinates.

The pattern states that you’ll need 9.75 yards of standard 44″ wide fabric for the backing. You can also choose to get 3 yards of the 108″ backing fabric as I decided to do. If you go that route, you’ll want to get 3 yards. I picked Flower Bunch (#110582), which coordinates perfectly with this quilt. In fact, it’s so pretty it could be a whole cloth quilt on it’s own. I love it!

Cutting

Before we begin cutting and sewing, I’d like to offer a few tips. I know many designers who write patterns in a way that has you cutting pieces slightly larger, and then trimming things down after sewing parts together, so that everything is just right when you are done. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, I chose to write my patterns so that everything is mathematically correct and let customers make their own adaptations as they see fit.

That being said, whenever I’m personally making a quilt, I generally cut all my pieces just a scant bigger (like about 1/16” at most), and I also sew everything just a scant under the ¼” seam allowance. This always gives me great results, and allows for me to square things up as needed.

Here is a photo of about how much bigger I cut my pieces, just to give you an idea. If you look closely at the ruler, you can see this piece is just a bit bigger than the 5-1/4″ measurement that is stated in the pattern.

Of course, feel free to cut and sew as you see fit, I’m just letting you know what I do that helps me to get the results I’m after. And don’t worry about having enough fabric if you want to cut things a bit bigger with this kit. I’ve allowed for AMPLE fabric with this BOM, so you should be all good!

This Month’s Blocks

 Okay, let’s get started with this month’s blocks! Here are the first four we will be making:

BLOCK 14

If any of you have made previous quilts of mine, you probably know that I LOVE the no-waste method for making flying geese. I think mostly because it bothers me to cut those triangles off with the traditional method and throw them away. I know there are those super talented quilters who can magically come up with something amazing out of those tiny triangles, but I’m not one of them. I used to always save them, thinking that someday I would create a masterpiece, but I would inevitably  throw them away sometime later, always feeling a bit guilty. Dumb, I know, but using the no-waste method I don’t have any guilt haha!

Below are some photographs of steps 1 and 2 for block 14, just so you can see what this looks like in ‘real life’.

When I’m all done pressing my flying geese, they always need a good trim, and I use the Bloc-Loc flying geese tool to square up my units. This is another tool that is entirely optional. They aren’t cheap but I really like how all my flying geese end up absolutely perfect when I use this to trim them.

After making the first set of flying geese, you’ll attach them to the A square, along with the B squares,  to make the center portion of the block.

Next we will make some more flying geese in steps 4 and 5, followed by 8 half-square triangles in step 6. These flying geese are the same as above, and half-square triangles are pretty straight forward.

The Half-Square triangles are marked, pinned, and ready for sewing. You will stitch 1/4″ away from each side of the marked line.
Here they are, sewn on both sides of the line and trimmed so they can be pressed toward the dark side.

Somehow, while sewing and trimming, I didn’t snap a pic of the completed half-square triangles, but you can see them below all trimmed up and ready to go. In step 7, we will sew these units together like so:

Now it’s time to sew all the components together. Pay attention to the pressing arrows so that all the units will nest together. If all goes according to plan, the block should measure 12-1/2” square.

BLOCK 16

This block is traditionally called the Ohio Star block, and it’s one of my favorites, probably because it’s pretty easy!

We will begin by making some quarter-square triangle blocks. You’ll start by making two sets of half-square triangles: Two will be with the A and C fabrics, and two will be with the D and C fabrics. Usually at this point I would trim these up, but when making quarter-square triangle blocks, I always wait until the very end to square everything up, because with these blocks, it doesn’t really matter until the end. Plus it gives me some extra wiggle room in case I need it later.

Next, we will pair a C/A square (from step 1) with C/D square (step 2), and place them so the C triangles are on opposites sides, like so:

Notice how the Scadoodle, Scarlet fabric is on the left side for the top block, and on the right side for the bottom one.

Draw a line across the square, and then stitch on either side of the marked line.

After you cut ON the marked line, you’ll end up with two quarter-square triangle units. You’ll repeat this so that you’ll have a total of 4 of these squares. Trim them up to be 4-1/2” square.

Now it’s time to assemble the block. This block is pretty simple, but you’ll just want to make sure that all of your Corsage II Ivory triangles (A) are framing the center B square. I always lay out all my pieces before sewing so that I make sure everything is oriented correctly.

BLOCK 21

This block is also pretty straightforward. Again, you’ll want to pay attention to the pressing arrows so that when the block is all sewn together you’ll have those seams in the right direction.

You’ll start by making a modified 9-patch like so:

I’ve sewed the rows for the 9-patch and am now ready to sew them together.

Next you’ll move on to making some more of those no-waste flying geese. This is the same drill as before with the previous block. And once those are finished you’ll add some of the background F and G pieces to the ends of them like you see here:

Now all you have to do is attach those completed flying geese units to sides, and top and bottom of the center unit, and you are good to go!

BLOCK 22

Before we begin the instructions for these blocks, I have to apologize for a silly mistake in the cutting instructions. You’ll notice that the last fabric is labeled “Background (White)”, which is obviously not correct, since there is no White fabric in this pattern. This is a generic term I use when writing patterns, which gets changed to the actual fabric name for the final edit. The dumb thing is, I MARKED THIS IN RED PEN to change it, and then somehow didn’t. Ugh. Anyway, please know that “Background White” is really Solid, Ivory.

UGH! Seriously!

Now on to sewing! We’ll start by making a simple 9-patch and then make, you guessed it, even more no-waste flying geese. (Gee, this sounds kinda similar to the last block…)

Then we’ll make a few easy 4-patch units – Four of them to be exact.

After I sew each F square to a B square, then I sew the pairs together to make the 4-patch units.

The only thing to worry about when assembling this block is the orientation of the corner 4-patch units. As you can see from the picture, the Ivory F squares should be in the outer corners. At least, that’s how I’ve done it. That being said, since this is YOUR quilt, you can switch up the orientation if you so desire, and put those red squares in the corners instead.  It’s entirely up to you, just make sure that whatever you do, it’s on purpose. That advice probably applies to more than just quilt blocks, haha!

The rows are sewn together and ready to finish the block.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these first few blocks. Next month we’ll get started on some of those Irish Chain pinwheels. Stay tuned!

-Kristin


Barn Stars Block of the Month Part 1
6.16.2021

We’ve made it! After all the prep and much anticipation, the first box of Barn Stars, this 9 month Block of the Month, is officially here and moving along. 

For me, Barn Stars is a great way to flex beyond my usual design aesthetics and work with some more classic color tones. While my creative eye is generally pulled toward big bold palettes, it is exciting to have such a distinctively unique design to work with. 

The Barn Stars Block of the Month pattern is exclusive to the select group who subscribed in Spring of this year. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to sew along with such an incredible and diverse group of sewists! Our subscribers total several hundred and include all levels of quilters. Personally, I’ve been sewing and quilting for most of my life, so I’m always excited when something new comes across my cutting table. 

Because of the exclusivity of this pattern, please consider this post as more of a broad, casual discussion, rather than a comprehensive sew-along tutorial. I’m a member of the subscribing group just as everyone else, so it is an opportunity to share the excitement.

For those sewing along with this Block of the Month, or any of our others, don’t forget to share and tag us on social media, including Facebook and Instagram! We love to see what everyone is making. #CTBOM, #BarnStarsBOM #ConnectingThreads, and #TogetherWeQuilt are great hashtags to use and follow to join in on the fun!

Top left: Barn Stars Part 1 fabric list sheet with width of fabric cuts lined up below it. Bottom Left: the bobbin housing with presser plate removed as a reminder to prep the machine before we begin. Right: all pieces cut and piled by color atop a cutting mat, with a rotary cutter and cutting ruler with white handle and leftover fabrics stacked near them.

To begin these stunning blue and green blocks, I first ironed each of my pieces. I’m generally a fan of prewashing, but refrain when working with precuts or anything less than a full yard. Fortunately, the Connecting Threads Luxe fabrics use such a beautiful tight weave and high quality fibers, so I know I can trust my bias edges not to distort and for shrinkage to be minimal. These fabrics are so crisp and luxurious! I’m always so excited when I get to work with a new collection. 

At the start of any project, this is also my time to go over my machine and make sure everything is set and ready for the hours of work ahead of it. I dutifully clean out my bobbin casing, pre-wind a few bobbins, change my needle, and affix my foot. I sew with a Janome M7 Continental, so I prefer to piece with my AcufFeed HP2 foot. It is a gentle walking foot with an incredibly accurate quarter inch guide. If I were using my Babylock Molly, I would just use my standard presser foot. 

Initially, I had planned to use a neutral shade of Essential Thread, but I had a spool of Caramel handy and thought it would work well with all the yellow undertones of these particular blocks. When it comes to piecing, I’m generally not overly precious about the thread colors I use. 

Once I had everything ironed smooth, I set to work cutting. Personally, I prefer to cut WOF (width of fabric) strips all at once, then circle back and begin subcutting. My “cutting station” is an old kitchen table I purchased during my first year of undergrad that I set up on bed risers so I don’t destroy my back. One of my favorite things about quilting, and sewing in general, is that there are no requirements that suggest specific tools or resources are needed. Every individual is able to design a workspace that works best for each need. It is really quite uniquely magical. 

Once I finished subcutting, I went to work on the flying geese units. It has been a while since I made flying geese one at a time, so it was a nice change of pace. 

Top Left: Marking diagonal stitch guides on tan fabric with a transparent pink ruler and marking pencil. Bottom Left: A half assembled flying geese block with unsewn fabric set atop, waiting to be stitched. Right: Flying geese block being sewn, with the pencil marking as a guide.

Because this pattern is so point specific, I spent extra time marking lines, pressing between steps, and ensuring each piece lined up as precisely as I was able. Once I finished each of the units, I used my Bloc Loc ruler to trim off any wonky bits and make sure my seam allowance was properly aligned so as not to lose the point in future assembly. 

Top Left: Stitched flying geese units in a pile, one side newly trimmed and waiting waiting to be pressed open. Bottom Left: Open flying geese units, pressure pressed by the hera marker end of a Point 2 Point turner. Upper Right: A mini iron pressing flying geese units atop a wool pressing mat. Lower Right: Pressed flying geese units being trimmed with the aid of a Bloc Loc ruler and a rotary cutter.

Connecting the flying geese units to the green corner and center pieces went smoothly. Through thoughtful pressing, I was able to perfectly nest my seams and make sure each of the components lined up as they should. Pressing between each step ensured crisp assembly. These little blocks were so darn cute, but also a bit of a tease when I realized they were just the centers of a much larger assembly process!

Left: Using a transparent pink ruler and Sewline fabric pencil, diagonal lines are drawn as sewing guides on tan fabric. Upper Right: Mid-sewing of the half square triangle blocks, using the marked pencil line as guide. Lower Right: Chain pieced square fabrics, stitched with parallel lines each 1/4 inch away from the marked pencil line.

To ensure precise sewing for my half square triangle blocks, I used my Sewline pencil and the 2.5”x8” ruler I keep at my sewing table as a guide. I marked my guide line from corner to corner, and stitched a quarter inch away from each. Back at my cutting table, I sliced the assembled squares in half, pressed the seam allowance toward the dark blue fabric, and cleaned them up with my 4.5”x4.5” Bloc Loc ruler

Top Left: Using a transparent ruler as a guide atop a grid-lined cutting mat, the parallel stitched squares are cut in half with the rotary cutter. Bottom Left: Newly cut half square triangles sit in a pile next to a rotary cutter. Right: Pressed open half square triangles are trimmed using a 4.5″ square Bloc Loc ruler and rotary cutter atop a cutting mat.

Then, the fun step! I’ve never used Tri-Recs rulers before and I was excited to figure out the nuances of these angular units. While Cora’s Quilts was kind enough to include a link to a tutorial within the pattern instructions, I opted for my usual style of just winging it. 

Left: Two template-cut triangle fabrics are sewn together. Top Right: Sewn triangle fabrics are pressed open using the hera marker side of a Point 2 Point Turner. Bottom Right: Sewn triangle units are pressed more firmly with a mini iron and crisped with a tailors clapper.

It took a few tries to get the placement correct and I ripped out a few seams from less than successful initial attempts, but once I figured out the nuances, it was smooth sailing. I was sure to press between assembling the left and right sides to help guide proper seam alignment and reduce wobble when overlapping fabrics at the tip.

To keep pressed seams extra crisp, I was sure to also utilize my handy tailor’s clapper. The clapper itself was made by my father several years ago and is my not-so-secret weapon for creating the smoothest seams.

Left: Marking stitch lines using a transparent ruler and fabric pencil for elongated flying geese units. Upper Right: Stitching across the marked lines of each elongated flying geese unit. Bottom Right: Blue fabric pencil lines drawn diagonally across green fabric to serve as sewing guides.

To save a bit of time from going back and forth between my sewing desk and my pressing/cutting table, I worked on both the template units and elongated flying geese units simultaneously. Through chain piecing, I continued right after the final template unit and swooped right into the first side of the elongated flying geese

Left: Pressed half-complete elongated flying geese and template triangle units. Upper Right: half-sewn elongated flying geese unit with marked stitch line clearly shown in blue. Bottom Right: Pressing half assembled flying geese units with a mini iron atop a wool pressing mat. Previously ironed units are stacked and pressed under a wooden tailor’s clapper and pressed template triangle units are stacked nearby.

To keep the elongated flying geese nice and tidy, I marked from each corner to 2.5” (the width of each piece) from the opposite edge. This gave me nice angular lines to follow along with my stitches. I pressed up and away from the point, to keep the bulk managed as best I could. 

Left: Mid-stitching of the 2nd half of the template triangle units. Upper Right: Pressing the completed template triangle units, while pressed units sit in a pile below a tailor’s clapper. Bottom Right: Pressed elongated flying geese units sit in a pile below pressed template triangle units stacked under a tailor’s clapper.

Once these were finished, I sewed the HST units to each side of the template triangle units, pressed away from the center, and attached them atop each elongated flying geese unit.

Upper Left: half square triangle units are sewn to template triangle units. Bottom Left: assembled half square tirangle/template triangle units are pressed and sitting in a pile. Right: a template triangle unit next to a half square triangle unit, waiting to be sewn.

When attaching these two pieces together, I made sure to pay close attention to the points where the two green triangles would meet. Should anything be sewn askew- this is one of the points where it would really be noticeable! 

Left: HST/Triangle/HST blocks being lined up above an elongated flying geese unit. Upper Right: Assembled HST/Triangle/Elongated flying geese block being ironed. Bottom Right: Assembled and pressed HST/Triangle/Elongated flying geese block.

Once these units were combined, I attached half to each side of the smaller star blocks that I’d previously assembled, and the other half were sandwiched between the large tan corner squares. Each of these I pressed carefully with close attention on each of the points to make sure they didn’t become buried in bulk. 

Left: sewing assembly of flying geese units onto a green square of fabric. Upper Right: sewing assembly of flying geese unit onto light green fabric, the top fabric is upturned to show placement. Bottom Right: chain piecing of flying geese units onto light green fabric squares.

Once pressed, I was on the home stretch! I took a bit extra time assembling these and made sure to nest my pressed seams and pinned them in place.

Upper Right: pinning assembly of previously stitched units. Lower right: up-close view of pinned nested seams Right: full view of block assembly with pins holding the fabrics in place.

Moving from the nested seams, I continued pinning along the length of the block to ensure nothing would shift during assembly and my corners would stay lined up where they needed to be. 

Right: stitch assembly of previously pinned block components. Upper Right: Pressing the fully assembled block with a mini iron and tailor’s clapper. Bottom right: the final stitch of the final block

After two long seams on each block, they were finished!! One final press and careful seam guiding later, they were ready for pictures. 

It was a nice day outside, so I took the blocks to my fenced garden for some quick photos before jumping back into the house to start on my next projects!

Left: chain piecing assembly of the final assembly steps Right: pressing the completed block with a mini iron and tailor’s clapper.

Even with the block measurements listed before I began, it was still a delight to see how enormous these first few blocks became! I always love that moment, after sitting so focused on each little step, to finally step back and see what each carefully placed cut and seam came together. 

Upper Left: a single completed block of blues, green, and cream, creating an intricate starburst pattern, pinned to a garden fence. Bottom Left: a small corgi peers between the boards of a garden fence, next to the finished quilt block. Upper Right: two finished quilt blocks are pinned side-by-side to a garden fence. Bottom Right: Final pressing of the completed quilt block with a mini iron.

The best thing about the Block-of-the-Month subscription is that all sewists are free to go at their own paces. Because of a slight shipping hiccup, I personally got my box several weeks after most subscribers got theirs. While this did set met back a bit, it wasn’t as though I were missing a hard-set deadline. The wonderful sense of accomplishment gained by stepping back and admiring a finished piece, knowing “I made this” is the joy in itself.

The pattern does include fabric and instructions for blocks 14 and 15, which will be added to slowly along the course of this project. I’ve decided to hold off until next month before adding these two blocks to my task list!

With the first block behind me a shipping hiccups resolved, I’m ready and ecstatic to tackle the next ones.

Now I have a crib size quilt top to cut and piece for a friend, a few pairs of Fernway Culottes to cut and assemble, and then onward to block number two!


Essential Notions
4.19.2021

What is a notion? Essentially, a sewing notion is any tool used when completing a project that would not otherwise be classified as a sewing machine, fabric, nor thread. The world of notions is vast and can quickly become overwhelming. I’ve narrowed this down and compiled a list of multi-use essentials that are key for any successful sewing or quilting venture.

Regardless of the pattern selected, most projects rely on the same basic sets of foundation tools. These can be broken down into two flexible categories: preparation and process.

Preparation can be described as any tasks that need to be completed prior to the actual task of sewing. This predominantly encompasses cutting, but also marking and preparing the fabric for smooth stitching.

Process includes anything that takes place simultaneously with actual sewing or quilting. Ensuring fabric remains in the proper place and fixing any errors as you go are vital to the success of any creation.

Preparation

Olfa Deluxe Rotary Cutter (Item #80979)

I’ll start this list off with my absolute favorite cutting tool. This is one of the few times I would recommend getting an upgraded version of something straight out of the gate- and it is so worth it. There are a huge variety of rotary cutting tools available, but this one outshines the rest by far. When not in use, the cutting tool automatically secures the blade and nestles it within the top of the tool. This safely retracts the sharp edge and keeps it from swiping against fabric or fingertips. The amount of accidents and miss-cuts I’ve avoided by this simple feature is astounding. When in use, a very lightly pressured squeeze pops the blade out and keeps it in place- ready to cut. Because the squeeze release is worked into the handle design, it takes no more pressure than just simply holding the handle. Even after hours of standing at my cutting table, the handle’s curved design helps prevent hand and wrist fatigue. It is also a delightfully bright yellow, so unless I carelessly place a pile of fabric on top of it, it is always easy to find.

Sew Great 45mm Rotary Refill Blade (5 Pack) (Item #82503)

While we would love for a rotary blade to last forever, they’ll eventually need to be replaced. The Sew Great refill blades are fabulously economical and vital to keep on hand when you finally realize you’ve been pushing harder than necessary to slice through that pile of half-square-triangles.

Omnigrid Rotary Cutting Mat 12” x 18” (Item #81692)

With precision measurement grids across the entire surface, in addition to multi-degree diagonal guide lines, this mat serves as a dual purpose of protecting table surfaces while also guiding rulers and cutting tools with expert precision. The 12”x18” size is absolutely ideal for fat quarters or smaller pre-cuts, but can also accommodate full yardage with a careful quarter fold. This size offers the most versatility of use without requiring a large amount of table space.

OmniAngle Ruler 4×18” (Item #82582)

Carefully selected to coordinate with the 12”x18” cutting mat, this 4”x18” ruler makes use of the full length of the cutting space. With no need to fold, a fat quarter is truly this duo’s best friend. Once my blocks are assembled, I take them straight back to my mat and use this ruler to square everything up. The ruler acts as a guide for the rotary cutter, ensuring smooth, straight lines every time. With it’s clear design and guided grid lines, finding and staying on grain is a breeze while the 4” depth helps work as a thick pivot point to ensure enough overlap to verify all measurements are in-line and nestled right where they should be. Built-in angular guide lines creates a simple multi-purpose tool and eliminates the need for specified angle rulers. 

Point 2 Point Turner (Item #82171)

When something can be considered “multi-use,” it immediately holds a higher value within my notions box. This Point 2 Point Tuner is, without question, one of those things. A hera maker and blunt point combined, there are few projects that don’t have me reaching for this tool. When working with fabrics I don’t want to mark with a fabric pen/pencil, the flat rounded tip of this tool is sharp enough to contour creased dents that stay firm in fabric until I no longer need them. It is always my go-to for half square triangles or four-at-a-time flying geese when I need a quick seam-allowance guide as it can dent through multiple layers at once. The opposite end is absolutely perfect for poking out corners of zipper pouches or keeping your fingers out of the way when holding down binding. When ready for finger pressing, the smooth rounded end glides evenly across fabric and saves your fingertips from having to battle out the chain-piecing on their own.

Sewline Mechanical Pencil – Blue (Item #82790)

The perfect companion to a set of stitch and flip strips or squares or anything else that needs an extra precise spot of placement. I also use these extensively with bag and pouch making to pre-mark pocket or hardware placements. While the refillable lead comes in a variety of colors to accommodate numerous fabric hues, I find myself reaching for the blue option more often than the others. The pencil markings wipe easily with a damp cloth or the built-in eraser. Generally, I find the damp cloth method a bit easier while also avoiding accidentally stretching my fabrics by rubbing at them. When it comes time to quilt, the pencil pairs beautifully with rulers or stencils to pre-mark stitch lines (though, I always test on a scrap of fabric first to ensure a full wipe off before starting!).

Process

Premium Wool Small Pressing Mat 9”x12” (Item #82597)

Few things are as magical as a wool pressing mat. At 9”x12”, this mat accommodates a variety of quilt blocks without needing too much movement or adjustment to get the full piece pressed. I keep this next to my sewing machine constantly – with an iron at the ready for pressing as I go. While a small iron is great for convenience, it isn’t entirely necessary as a standard house iron will do the job just fine. The magic is in the wool. It accommodates either dry or steam ironing depending on fabric type and preference. Buddy it up with a tailor’s clapper or a spare piece of wood for ultimate crispness.

Clover Wonder clips – 100pcs (Item #82705)

While there is a bit of a division in the sewing world between clips and pins, my personal preference plops me right in the middle of this dispute. I absolutely prefer both and switch between the two for various projects. Where pins fall short, wonder clips pick up the slack and level the playing field. With these Wonder Clips, Clover has designed the ultimate tool. The clips stay put even with fine, slippery fabrics. The handy seam guide on the back allows me to double check my points before sewing. I can quickly clip my blocks and line up the ¼” seam guide on the clear bottom of the clip. Once secured, I flip open my pieces and make sure everything is precisely where I want it to be, or make any necessary adjustments without having to unpick stitches. Wonder clips are also my absolute favorite for thick seams and binding.

Magic Pins – Extra Long (Item #21611)

These heat-resistant beauties are a dream. Extra-long and thin enough to not damage fabrics, these pins are an obvious must-have for any notions box. After years of use, these pin tips have remained sharp, straight, and delightfully reliable. In tight spots where clips can become cumbersome, these pins will pick up the slack and keep everything ready and where it should be until pressed or stitched into place.

Clover Seam Ripper (Item #82862)

While I would love to pretend mistakes never cross my sewing table, this little seam ripper is there when I need it. The sharp edge slices smoothly through misplaced stitches as the red safety edge prevents accidental slips through the fabric. The light handle and ribbed grip makes it easy to hold for quick, precise unpicking that gets me back to my sewing table quick and efficiently.

Safety Scissors with Blunt End (Item #82281)

Thread snips are vital for absolutely any project and I’m always sure to keep a set close at hand for trimming tails and tidying piecing. While these are no replacement for the rotary cutter when cutting fabric, they make quick work of small snips needed while at my machine. The blunt ends prevent accidental fabric damage and make separating chain-piecing a breeze. They’re also the cutest oil-slick color so they clearly stand out amongst the pile of threads I inevitably set them on.

Curved Brass Basting Pins – Size 1 (Item #82184)

While everyone has their own personal basting preferences, these curved basting pins are my absolute favorite. At just over an inch long, they’re the perfect size for keeping that quilt sandwich in place. A single package is plenty for an entire Queen sized quilt, with a few left over for tidying up a few spots that may have been missed. They are perfectly sharp and poke through the multiple layers with ease, gliding back up to the top of the quilt with help from the curved shape. The nickel-plated steel stays sharp for years of repeat use.

Tulip Sewing Needles – Asst. Sizes (Item #82832)

Once quilting is finished and edges are trimmed, I like to machine sew my binding to the front, then curl it on over to the back (securing with wonder clips) and hand sew that final step for a nice, clean finish. Whether using a blind stitch or opting for big stitch binding, this needle assortment is ideal for accommodating a wide variety of threads. When I’m feeling overly ambitious and opt for hand-quilting, the largest size needle is perfect for the thicker, size 8 perle cotton.  These needles are flexible and long, which makes a simple running stitch a breeze by catching 4-6 stitches in a single pass without dropping the backing. 

One of the most delightful things about sewing is no two artists operate in precisely the same way. The only true necessary components to modern making are fabric, thread, and a sewing machine. Everything from there is built up with personal preferences and trying new things through the process of creation. 

Before I discovered the Point 2 Point turner, I used a library card for creases and a capped pen for my blunt edge. Prior to discovering curved basting pins, I either used straight pins (with a lot of accidental palm-stabbing) or simply kept layers on the floor as I crouched over them, hand sewing every single quilt-line. None of these substitutions worked nearly as well as their proper notion counterparts, but they were the tools I had at my disposal as a very early beginner, just barely testing the waters.

If I were to start again today, these are the supplies I would deem absolutely essential and would have given me the opportunity to sew with confidence rather than struggling where I otherwise didn’t need to.

Looking over this list and glancing at your own collection of essential notions, are there any that you haven’t tried before, or any that you’d add? Leave us a comment below and continue the conversation!


Kwik Klip
4.11.2017

Featured Tool: Kwik Klip by Paula Jean Creations, Item #82219

What is this tool typically used for?

This tool is for anyone about to use safety pins to baste their backing, batting, and quilt top together.

Upon first glance, what were your initial thoughts?

At first glance it looks like a giant seam ripper.

How did you use it?

I took my safety pins and and inserted them down into the three quilting layers, coming up through the top. Then, I took the Kwik Klip and gently pushed the sharp end of the pin up and into the pin chamber.

What do you like best about the Kwik Klip?

I love that it was much easier to use than I thought it would be! It’s comfortable to hold, and goes pretty fast. Plus, it only took a minute to learn how to use it.

What did you like the least?

Nothing.

Why do you NEED one?

It’s fast, safe, and easy to use! Plus, it puts less stress on your hands and fingers–this would be great for anyone who has to work with a lot of safety pins on a regular basis. I recommend this tool for sure. There are also pin covers that go with this tool called Quilter’s Delight Safety Pin Grip Covers, #82218.

 


Black Gold Needles
3.28.2017

Featured Tool: Black Gold Needles – Appliqué Sharps by Clover

What is this tool typically used for?

General hand sewing.

How do you use them?

I use the Black Gold Needles for binding and when I am doing hand sewing. They’re great!

What do you like best about the Black Gold Needles?

I really like these needles for hand sewing and especially for binding. They are thin and glide through the fabric nicely. They also don’t bend as easily as some of the other needles I have used. Package 21201 has two needles of each size: 9, 10, and 12. It’s a great way to try them out and see what size works best–it’s usually dependent on the fabric you are sewing on and personal preference. The special black plating on the surface allows the needle to pierce effortlessly through fabric, enabling sewing with little resistance.

What did you like the least?

They are a little harder to see if you drop one.

Why do you NEED them?

Because we all need lots of needles.

Who would appreciate the Black Gold Needles – Appliqué/Sharps most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, Intermediate and Expert quilters
  • Embroiderers, Paper-Piecers
  • Someone acquiring “the basics”

Chaco Liners
3.7.2017

Featured Tool: Chaco Liners by Clover

What is this tool typically used for?

This tool helps trace lines perfectly to mark fabric prior to sewing or quilting.

What were your initial thoughts?

Well, I’ve known and used these for years now, but at first glance I thought they were just short and fat markers.

How did you use it?

First, I aligned my ruler onto my finished quilt top. I then ran the Chaco Liner down the side of the ruler to mark a straight line in preparation for quilting. You can also mark organic lines too (without a ruler).

How did using it go?

Wonderful! I love using these markers because they are chalk-based and it easily rubs off.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

Instantly.

What did you like best?

I love that it comes in three colors: yellow, blue, and white. No matter what color of fabric I’m working with, I can find a liner that shows up well. The chalk comes out easily and plus they are easy to hold.

What did you like the least?

There’s nothing negative to note about these liners!

Could you see another potential use for Chaco Liners?

You could use it for apparel marking and general sewing.

Why do you NEED it?

If you want a simple, easy-marking tool in a variety of colors, these Chaco Liner Pens are awesome. They are our go-to marking tool by our staff sewists.

Who would appreciate Chaco Liners most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, Intermediate and Expert quilters
  • Anyone looking to acquire the basics

Hang It Dang It
2.21.2017

Featured Tool: Hang It Dang It by Innovative Solutions, Item #82328, 82131

Connecting Threads Reviewer: Ann

What is this tool typically used for?

Hanging quilts of various sizes on walls. The larger one can hang quilts between 35″ and 68″ and the smaller 21″ to 40″.

How did you use it?

I hung a 41″ square quilt in our bedroom with the larger Hang It Dang It.

How did using it go?

The Hang It Dang It does require a sleeve – which my quilt already had. The instructions were simple for centering the quilt on the rod. I did have a little trouble hanging the quilt at first. There is a grooved area nailed to the wall for the rod to clamp into. The rod fit well but the fabric of the sleeve bunched up so the quilt did not hang evenly. I found that making a small slit in the sleeve allowed the rod to fit in the clamp directly without any fabric involved.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

It took a bit to figure out the issue mentioned above – but overall it was quick and easy to install.

What did you like best?

One nail in the wall works for either size of hanger- and the flexibility to display wall hangings of different sizes as well.

What did you like the least?

Having to fuss a bit with getting the quilt to hang straight without bunching up the sleeve. It is so easy to fix with a little slit in the sleeve or making a two-part sleeve that it is a non-issue.

Could you see another potential use for Hang It Dang It?

It will hold up to 40 lbs so perhaps there are other applications, such as tapestries or banners.

Why do you NEED it?

The Hang It Dang It is a quick, flexible, and easy way to hang quilts up to 68″ wide. It is especially useful for quilters who like to change their wall hangings with the seasons, as new projects are completed, and with changes in decor. Having the two sizes increases the possibilities.

Who would appreciate a Hang It Dang It most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, Intermediate and Expert quilters
  • Anyone eager to display a finished project!

Embroidery Hoop
2.7.2017

Featured Tool: Embroidery Hoop by Clover, Item #82034, 82035 

What is this tool typically used for?

Keeping your fabric taut while you embroider. There is both a small (4-3/4″) and large (7″) size.

Upon first glance, what were your initial thoughts?

It has a very sturdy appearance; it’s made of thick plastic with a bulky, metal screw.

How did you use it?

I loosened the metal screw to separate the two hoops, which left me with an inner and an outer hoop. Then, I placed my fabric evenly over the inner hoop. The outer hoop was placed around the inner hoop and I pulled my fabric to tighten it. I adjusted the screw to keep the hoops and fabric tight and in place. Once it was set up, I was able to embroider a design onto the fabric.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

It took no time at all to learn to use. It is used exactly like any other embroidery hoop except it is sturdier and more solid.

What did you like best?

I liked how easy it was to tighten the screw, it is a very large metal screw. And I liked how it kept my fabric very secure and in place.

What did you like the least?

I was hesitant to use a plastic hoop, because I thought the fabric would slip – but it did not! I liked everything about this embroidery hoop.

Why do you NEED a Clover Embroidery Hoop?

You need it because it takes out all the problematic tension issues I’ve experienced with inferior hoops. It also made transporting my embroidery work easy because I could throw it in my bag and not worry about the hoop falling apart. It kept my work in place and very secure.

Who would appreciate a Clover Embroidery Hoop most?

These are perfect for:

  • Embroiderers
  • Someone acquiring the basics

Hold It Precision Stiletto
1.10.2017

Featured Tool: Hold It Precision Stiletto by Clover, Item #82173 

What is this tool typically used for?

No more hot fingers! This is the perfect tool for pressing and sewing! Use the curved end to hold fabrics while you sew, and the rubber grip end when you are pressing. It’s also a great tool to use with a hot glue gun.

What was your first impression of the Hold It Precision Stiletto?

I liked the curved aspect to the stiletto end and the rubber end for ironing. I also use the curved end to poke out corners when I turn a project.

How did you use it?

I use it mainly as a stiletto. I love it! Because the end is curved with a point it is a lot easier to use than other stilettos.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

Figured it out on my first try.

What did you like best?

The curved end makes getting the right grip on your fabric a breeze.

What did you like the least?

My silicone end has started to crack a bit.

Why do you NEED it?

You need this tool to help hold down seams while going through the presser foot. It is very helpful in helping you keep your fabric straight while sewing. The silicone tip saves fingers from getting burned, but also works as a stiletto while sewing.

Could you see another potential use for the Hold It Precision Stiletto?

I also use it to push out corners when turning an object

Who would appreciate the Hold It Precision Stiletto most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, intermediate, and expert quilters
  • Paper-piecers
  • Someone acquiring the basics