Tag Archives: Connecting Threads

Ruby BOM – Month 5
12.2.2021

Welcome back, and Happy Holidays everyone! I hope during this season that you all get to take a little time for yourself, and hopefully some of that ‘me’ time involves quilting. As for me, I’m still working on getting up the last of my Christmas decorations. My tree is up, but still has yet to be adorned with ornaments. I also inherited SO MANY decorations from my mom’s passing earlier this year, and I think I need a bigger house to fit them all. For some insane reason, my husband disagrees. I mean, a couple hundred santas isn’t too much, is it? I know some of you might think I’m exaggerating. I am not. My mother LOVED Christmas on a whole other level, and even after dividing everything up with my siblings, there is still enough at my house to open my own Christmas store. And honestly, I LOVE IT! But I digress. You are all here to read about this month’s Ruby blocks, not my holiday shenanigans! Back to business…

This month we will be making another 4 unique blocks, although a couple of these may look familiar to you. If you look closely at the finished quilt, you’ll see that every “unique” block actually appears twice, with the two blocks sewn in different fabrics. I’ve written separate instructions for each one, just so you don’t get confused as to which fabric goes where. I made that mistake in an old BOM, and vowed never to do that again! Lesson learned.

Block 3

Block 3 is making an appearance for the first time this month.  The first order of business is to make some hourglass blocks. We’ll begin by making some big half-square triangles in steps 1 and 2. Normally I trim and square up all my blocks as I go, but with hourglass blocks, I wait until they are finished, which means I don’t worry about those little triangle tails for now.

Then we will take an HST from each step and pair them up. The diagram in the instructions and the photo both show the two pairs not lined up exactly, just so you can see how the C triangles should be opposite of one another, but the two HSTs should be matched up in all the corners.

After marking a line that is perpendicular to the seam of the HST, you’ll sew a ¼” away from each side of the line, and then cut on the line. This will give your 4 hourglass blocks, which you should now trim to be 4-1/2” square.

In the pattern I don’t have an arrow for pressing the hourglass blocks in step 3. Normally it doesn’t matter too much, but for these I decided to press them toward the B triangles. Here is a photo of the back side of the blocks, so you can see for yourself. I think it helps to minimize some of the bulk later on.

For the next units in the block, we’ll take two F triangles and sew them to each D square, just like it says in the directions. I usually trim off the tails as I go. Here are a few photos so you can see the steps of what I did:

The above photo shows the F triangles pinned and ready for sewing.
After sewing the first set of F triangles, I’ve trimmed off the tails hanging down at the bottom, and am now getting ready to pin the next set of F triangles to the units. I like to line them all up before I flip them into place for pinning and sewing.
This photo shows the F triangles flipped up from the previous photo and pinned in place so they can be sewn to the unit.

After sewing on the G triangles to each unit in step 5, I make sure all the units are measuring at 4-1/2” square, and trim accordingly.

The G triangles are lined up and ready to be pinned and sewn into place. Somehow I didn’t take a picture of them sewn and finished. Ack! I guess you’ll just have to see the finished product below.

Now all we have to do is assemble everything for the block. As I’ve mentioned many times in previous posts, I always lay out the components of my block before I begin sewing. I tend to make less mistakes this way.  For this block, you’ll want to pay attention to the placement of those dark red B triangles, making sure they frame the center plaid square. You’ll also want those large solid Cream triangles to be in the outer corners of the block.

I’ve sewn the block into three rows and can now sew those rows together to finish the block.
Finished!

Block 9

Block 9 is another new one we’ll be making, and thankfully it is pretty simple. Because it’s December and we all have lots to do. Maybe I’m just speaking for myself 😉

 Right off the bat I need to make a correction! The pressing arrow in step one is WRONG. Your lives will all be a bit easier if you press toward the red D triangle. I mean, it’s not the end of the world if you press toward the Solid Cream, but everything just lays down a little nicer in the end if you press the opposite way.

My messy pile of finished-but-not-trimmed D/F units.

Once you have those D/F units made you can move on to step 2 and sew them to some red and cream squares as instructed to make some nifty little blocks, which will become the corners units of the large block.

All the pieces are laid out here so that I make sure everything is oriented correctly for the unit.
Almost done!

After sewing the B and E strips together like you see below, it’s time to assemble the block.

Getting those B and E strips ready to sew…

Again, I’ve laid everything out, and will now sew the block into rows.

With the rows complete, I can now sew them together and finish the block.

Block 13

The next two blocks should look familiar to you. Block 13 is a repeat of block 22 from month 1. The instructions are all the same as before, just the fabrics have changed. I won’t bore you with another step-by step tutorial, since you can find that in the Month 1 blogpost. But I’ll show you some photos below of this block sewn up in the new fabrics.

Here is the 9-patch unit from step 1 – with the squares all lined up and ready to sew:

The flying geese units you’ll be making in steps 2 and 3 will look like this when done. For some reason I only took a photo of the block getting ready to trim. As I’ve mentioned before, I love Bloc-loc trimming rulers. They are an investment, and not necessary for making this quilt. I just find them oh-so-handy for getting my flying geese units absolutely perfect.

I lined up all my 4-patch units that we are making in step 4 so I could do some assembly line sewing. The Bonnie Red fabric is technically directional, but the pattern is so subtle that it doesn’t matter too much if your squares aren’t all facing the same direction. If it’s important to you, then line them up the same way. I don’t think anyone will notice though, if you decide to throw caution to the wind here.

And just like that, all the units are done and ready to be sewn into a fabulous block! Below you can see that I’ve already sewn the rows of the block together.

All done.

Block 19

Block 19 is our next repeat of the month, and it’s another one that goes pretty fast. We made this block in month 3, only then we called it Block 7. My blog post from month 3 will have all the nitty gritty details for making the block, but I’ll post some more photos just like I did above, so you can see the fabrics we are using this time.

Here is the 4-patch unit from step 1:

Step 2 has you sew all the D triangles and trimmed like you see below. I still have to press them open and trim the block.

The C/F flying geese units are sewn up using the Spades, Scarlet fabric, shown below.

And now the units are all done and ready to be joined together to make the block.

Not the prettiest picture here, but you get the idea.

Four more blocks are in the books, which means we are almost half-way done! Those finished blocks should really be stacking up now.

Next time we chat, it will be 2022, so I want to wish all of you a joyous and happy holiday season, and a wonderful new year!

Until next time- Kristin


Ruby BOM Month 3
10.12.2021

Happy Fall everyone! I’m so happy to join you all again, and provide a little tutorial for this month’s blocks (#6, #7, #15, and #17). Let’s dive right in!

Block #6

This block may look fancy, but it is really just a Sawtooth Star with some extra half square triangles around the border.

To make the Sawtooth Star center, we’ll begin in steps 1 and 2 by making some no-waste flying geese.

Step 1:

Step 2:

Place two B squares on the C square, with the marked lines matching up like you see above. After stitching a ¼” away from each side of the marked line, cut on the marked line and press the B – now triangles- downward.

Place an additional B square on each unit as you see here (down the center of C) and repeat the same process of stitching a ¼” away from each side of the marked line, then cutting on the line afterward. Press, trim, and you end up with 4 flying geese.

Step 3:

Now all you have to do is sew two of these to the center block, add the D squares to two more flying geese, then sew everything together. Check to make sure this measures 8-1/2” square, and trim if necessary.

Step 4:

Next we’ll make 12 half square triangles by pairing up those E and F squares, and again stitching ¼” away from each side of the marked lines, then cutting on the line for each unit. Press toward the Solid Ivory (F). I know it’s customary to press toward the dark side, but trust me, doing the opposite this time will enable you to nest your seams together later.

A note about no-waste half square triangles: I give my half-square triangle cutting measurements to be mathematically correct, but please feel free to cut the squares slightly bigger if you want so you can trim them as needed. There’s nothing wrong with cutting your E and F squares at 3” square, and then after you are finished and they are pressed, you can trim them to be 2-1/2” square. My point is, you do what works for you. You won’t run out of fabric. Based on feedback from previous BOMs I’ve done, I was quite generous with the yardage you’ll be getting for this quilt.

Step 5:

In step 5 you’ll sew an E/F square to each side of a G strip like so: Make sure the red E triangles are facing inward.

Now it’s time to put all the components together. Before I sew my block together, I like to lay everything out just to make sure I have everything going the right direction. I want to make sure I have all those half square triangles oriented correctly.

Follow the directions in step 6, and pay attention to the pressing arrows so that all your seams will fit together nicely.

Step 6:

Sew the center portion by taking two of those units you just made in step 5 and sewing them to each side of the Sawtooth star block, pressing the seams away from the center block.

Take the remaining units from step 5 and sew another E/F half-square triangle to each end, then sew those to the top and bottom to finish the block.

Now the block is finished!

Block #7

This is another Sawtooth star, but with a twist. I actually love this block, and while making it I kept thinking of all the fabrics in my stash I could use to make a scrappy quilt with just this block. But that will have to wait for another day!

Step 1:

This block starts with a simple 4-patch unit. Please note that the Germanium Red fabric is DIRECTIONAL. While it really doesn’t matter if you have your fabrics oriented the same or not, I chose to have both of my B squares with the pattern in the fabric going up and down.

Step 2:

Next, I sewed on those D squares by placing them in the corners and sewing on the marked lines. Whenever I am doing this technique, I always flip up my squares and check them before trimming off the excess. They should match up with the existing corners of the 4-patch block. If the corners come up short, then I know I need to rip things out and re-stitch. To avoid this, I usually sew just a scooch outside the marked line, next to the side that is closest to the corner. Does that make sense?

It’s hard to tell here, but if you look closely, you can see that I’ve sewn just outside the yellow marked lines.
Before trimming off the excess, I finger press the corners and make sure they line up.
Now this unit trimmed and pressed.

In steps 3 and 4 we’ll make some more of those fabulous no-waste flying geese, only bigger than the ones we made in block 6. I won’t bore you with more detailed instructions.

This block is assembled the same way as the center portion of block 6. The only tricky part is making sure that those 4-patch seams line up with the points on the flying geese units. I usually start pinning from there, and then work my way out. Have I mentioned that I’m a prolific pinner? I admire those that can just sew without pinning. I think I’m just to particular to leave things un-pinned. Or maybe I just don’t sew well enough yet??? Haha! Maybe in another 30 years of sewing I’ll master the no-pinning thing.

Again, I lay everything out first before I begin pinning and sewing, because nothing is worse than thinking you’ve finished a block only to realize that you messed up and have to rip and re-sew.

Next I’ll just sew the block into the three sections, and then sew everything together.

Block #15

This little 9-patch Churn Dash block is a cinch to make, and goes pretty fast. Begin by sewing up a 9-patch unit for the center, and make sure it measures 6-1/2” square when done. Also make sure that you’ve ironed all your seams toward the darker A fabrics while sewing, so that everything nests together.

The rows are sewn together with all the seams pressed toward the Corsage II Red fabric.

Next you’ll make 4 half-square triangles, and trim them to be 3-1/2” square. Again, you can cut these B and F squares a smidge bigger if you like, in order to end up with the proper size when done. Somehow I got busy sewing and forgot to take pictures of the finished half-square triangles, so all I have is what you see below. I have a bad habit of doing that. Sorry!

Now you just need to sew each D strip to an E strip like I’ve shown here. The directions have you pressing your seam towards the E strip, but in this case, it doesn’t matter either way, since there isn’t anything to line it up with.

The block is ready to be sewn together now. Below you can see that I’ve sewn the three rows together and am almost done. I love that this block doesn’t have any tricky piecing or points to match up. So fun and easy!

Block #17

This block is perhaps the most challenging one of the month, not because any of the individual techniques are hard, but because it can be tricky to get everything to match up in the end. But have no fear, you CAN do it, and I will walk you through it!

Before cutting out all my pieces with this block, I used a liberal amount of starch on my fabric. This is especially helpful to use on the D and G pieces BEFORE you cut them diagonally into triangles. It will help them to keep their shape and not get distorted while sewing, which happens easily when sewing on a bias.

Another tip with this block is to REALLY make sure you’re measurements are exact as we go along, and that you’re pressing everything according to the instructions.

Step 1:

We begin with the same old steps of making our no-waste flying geese. Again, I won’t bore you with the details.

Step2:

After you’re finished with these, sew an F strip to the top of each one. And YES, even though it is counter-intuitive, press DOWN toward the flying geese unit. Trust me, it’s going to work out in the end. Make sure this unit is 4-1/2” square when done.

Here is the back so you can see that the seam is pressed toward the flying geese unit.

In step 3 we’ll make some fancy pieced triangle units. This is where that spray starch comes in handy.

Step 3:

I began by sewing the first D triangle to the right side of the B square. Make sure both units line up at the top, which will leave you a little triangle tail hanging down at the bottom.

This is how you want your pieces to line up before you flip and and pin them.

The picture below shows the first set of triangles pinned and ready for sewing.

After sewing the first set of triangles to the right side, trim those tails off before sewing on the next D square to the bottom. Again, you want to make sure that the B and D pieces line up, this time along the left side, which will leave a triangle tail on the right.

These are pinned and ready to sew along the bottom edge.

Step 4:

Once you’ve pressed these open you will want to trim off the last tail.

If you find that your triangle units aren’t straight along the D triangles, it’s okay to even them up just a tiny, tiny bit. Don’t trim too much though, or you’ll end up with a block that is too small, which will make worse.

Now you will sew these units to the G triangles, and if all has gone well, you should end up with four 4-1/2” squares. I like to starch these again at this point, just to keep them from stretching or warping.

Ready for the sewing machine!
All squared up.

Step 5:

Here comes the fun/tricky part. First, you will take two of the units you made in step 3, and sew them to each side of the center A square, with the Ivory, Solid pieces on the outsides.

Step 6:

Take the blocks you made in step 4 and sew them to each side the remaining two units from step 3. If you’ve followed the pressing directions, the Potpourri Ivory B square and the Germanium Red E triangles should nest together perfectly. Pin that seam intersection first, and then work your way out to the ends of squares, easing things in as needed to make sure the tops and bottoms of the squares also match up.

Once you have the three units of the block sewn, you can pin and sew them together to finish the block.  You want to continue to pin the seams together first, to make sure they will nest together and line up, and then pin the rest before sewing. The key here is to make sure the flying geese units match up where they meet up in the corners around the center square. I usually pin there first and peek to make sure it all lines up.

If you look carefully at the picture below, you’ll notice that my units on the top row don’t line up perfectly on the bottom. The difference is less than 1/8″, but it looks worse in the photo. Since the difference was very minimal (if it wasn’t I WOULD rip out and start again to protect the integrity of the piecing), rather than rip out and start over (ugh!), here’s what I did: When sewing the top row together, I made sure that the seams lined up where they should with the center unit, and that the tops also where aligned. I still wanted make sure I’d have the 1/4″ seam allowance at the triangle point on top. Then I stitched it to the middle unit as usual. When the block is completed, nobody knows but me….and everyone who reads this lol! Since the difference was minimal, it doesn’t affect the integrity of the block. Even “professionals” don’t sew perfectly. And I’m happy to show my mistakes and the tips I use to compensate. Because we ALL make them!

Phew! You did it! I hope you’ve enjoyed the challenge and are happy with the results.

Have a Happy October, and I’ll catch you all next month!

-Kristin


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


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