Friday, February 10, 2012

Design Wall Today

It's been a couple of months since I had anything but stray threads on my design wall!

There is a project I have been working on for a couple of weeks now.  I like to have a piecing project to work on while I am quilting.  I learned a long time ago to pace myself.  When I get tired of quilting, then I can sit and sew a few blocks together.
Pattern inspiration came from a quilt by Theresa Elsinger in Quiltmaker magazine.
This is a commissioned queen sized quilt.
Stay tuned . . . when I get all these blocks done, I will trace a pattern on each of the light colored centers before completing the top, and I will show you the light box/table my hubby made for me.  
This is a typical view when I walk into the studio in the morning.
I simply can't work in a cluttered area and like to keep all my projects neat and tidy. 
One photo led to another and I have decided to share a few more.
This is the table arrangement where I sew.
I used to make a lot of clothing, and you can see my serger behind the chair.
Of course, the machines are covered when not in use.
I have been using Qtools vinyl stops on my machine for several years. I am not associated with them in any way, just a satisfied customer.   They are awesome!
I keep 2 of them stuck on my Bernina's expanded base: the right one lined up in a 1/4 inch position and the left one is lined up with the needle position. You can chain stitch a lot of pieces together very quickly and accurately using these great little helpers. With these vinyl stops, you can make these half-square triangles without marking the diagonal line in pencil.  I hate taking that extra time to mark the squares.
Here's how it works.
I line up the top corner of the fabric with the 1/4 inch edge of my presser foot and the bottom corner with my right purple vinyl strip at the bottom.   

Continue to sew keeping your eye on the bottom corner of the fabric, keeping it lined up with the vinyl strip.
I will sew all of HSTs for the entire quilt this way, chain stitching until they are all done. 
Then, after cutting them all apart, I will turn them and run them through again, sewing the other side. You have to ignore the fact that the vinyl strip is not lined up with the markings on my extended base.  The base markings are not 100% accurate, so I never pay attention to them.
With no pencil marking at all you can get very accurate blocks. 

This is my next secret tool: a block of wood with a drilled hole and my little 97¢ seam ripper.
I love these seam rippers, I buy them 5-6 at a time and keep them in different places around the room. I don't want to walk over to get one if I need one at the quilting machine or near the ironing board. I like the fact that they fit in the palm of my hand when I use them.  I stand it up in the wooden block and then it makes a hands-free way to slice the threads between all my chain piecing. 
It only takes a minute to separate 100 or so pieces!  You just need to make sure your seam ripper is new and sharp so it slices the threads cleanly and doesn't pull at the stitching.
Even more redneck than a block of wood is my handle on the cutting ruler that I use on my 12 inch cutting mat that I use at my sewing machine! 
Yup, it's a piece of duct tape.
I quickly tired of having to slide my ruler off the edge of the mat to grab it each time I lifted it up to position it.  This one little thing has been a huge time saver when you need to cut through hundreds of little pieces or trim the dog ears after pressing.
I guess this design wall post has turned into a share-my-favorite-little-tools post!

I like to use a divider box made for kitchen drawer silverware at the side of my machine.  It keeps everything handy, organized, readily accessible and easy to see.
Oh! Now I need to show you the thread holder my hubby made for me.
You can see in sitting towards the back of the tray.

I love simple no-frills helpers in my studio. I hate something elaborately designed that is hard to dust.  I showed him what I wanted it to do and gave him some basic dimensions.  He spent an hour in the shop, welded a few scraps together, added a little black paint and this is just perfect for me!
 I didn't want any eyes to have to thread, so it's made with open loops.
It will work with cones . . . 
 . . . or spools.
If I applique designs, I might change spools 7-8 times depending on the colors needed.  This is simple and easy to change and actually feeds better than my thread holder on my Bernina.
I bought 2 of these magnetic bowls at an auto parts store for under $5.
I keep one here with things I don't want to misplace or have slip off the sewing table.  I can pick up this bowl and I have everything I need to hand stitch a mitered corner on a binding. 
The other bowl is for pinning the quilts on the frame. 
Thank goodness it's magnetic, because sometimes I forget to move it before I start to roll!
Another huge time saver because when you unpin a quilt, you don't have to take each pin and stick it in a pin cushion, you can just drop it in the general direction of the bowl and reach for the next pin.  It's amazing how much time you can save through the economy of minutes through out your day. It all adds up!

I guess that's enough for today, like talking, I never know when to stop!

I am linking up with Sarah over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict today for her Whoop, Whoop Friday!
Head on over to see what others are working on this week.

13 comments:

Diane E W said...

Your commission quilt is going to be beautiful, I can't wait to see how you mark it. All of your little gadgets are great, might have to make me one of those wood blocks. I use painters tape to mark the 1/4" and needle position on my machine. I have been laughed at and questioned quite a few times but it works for me. I stack up several layers so there is a lip to slide the fabric against. Love the thread holder had one but misplaced it during our move, need to find that. Need some of those bowls too, pretty cool thing to have. I think if I lived closer I would be a stalker.

Doniene said...

Love the quilt on the design wall!!! What a tour - everything you need to know about a sewing studio all in one post!!! Impressed!!

Sue Daurio said...

The quilt on the design wall is going to be beautiful, I can only imagine the quilting on that one, can't wait to see it. Love the shot of the pins dish upside on the long arm table, made me chuckle. Great tips by the way.

krisgray said...

Awesome tips! I love the Qtips too, but never thought about using them for triangles. And the seam ripper in the block of wood - LOL - I have a quilty friend who bought one of those new gizmos to cut thread when chain piecing and I, inwardly, shook my head. The things people will buy! Thanks for all the tips!

Jennie said...

This is one amazing post - going to have to bookmark it for ideas in the future. You have a husband like mine - capable of rigging something up that works better than any gadget on the market.
And your use of duct tape is stunning!

JanetK said...

Nothing beats a good gadget in my book!

Hey, I also wanted to let you know I gave you a "Versatile Blogger Award" on my blog today! entropyundone.blogspot.com

Sarah Craig said...

Beautiful blocks on the design wall! And such a wealth of information you've shared - great tips!! Whoop whoop!!

LynCC said...

Soooo pretty! That's going to be one gorgeous quilt -

Hey, wow!! That revolving globe is too stinkin' cool! ;D I had to make Scott come look at it. heee

Nancy said...

Thanks for the tips, especially the divided box by the machine.

You would go crazy in my sewing room because it is pure chaos most of the time. I am definitely not a "tidy" quilter.

Love the commission quilt.

AnnieO said...

The commissioned quilt is lovely and soft--what a beauty it will be. Thanks for sharing all your great tools and hints. The vinyl stops surely drew my eye as I always mark the squares with a small ruler and pencil, so that looks like a great and easy solution. I usually like to piece in batches of 8-12 squares at a time and then cut apart and press so I'm not sitting too long at the machine. And the duct tape handle is cool!

Vicki @ DottyJane said...

I don't know which of your tips to try first! Thanks for sharing them:)

Mary said...

Wow, wonderful tips! Love the strips for triangles, and also the magnetic bowls! Got to get some! Or maybe the seam ripper holder! Thanks for sharing!

Alycia said...

Oh My Goodness!!! That will be a great quilt.. but you are SO organized... I inspire to be there someday.... Love your little tips!!

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