Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tool Talk

What are your favorite tools for quilt making?  What are the tools you reach for over and over?

I have a favorite few that I use all the time and would be lost without them.  First there is my computer and computer software -- not just the Electric Quilt software, but lots of general software as well.

Next would be my cameras and the software that they use.  The collage below was something I recently learned to do.  I've been spending Fridays working on some aspect of photography and sneaking in a few minutes here and there to "play" with either the cameras or software, too.

While my phone takes an okay photo, it just doesn't have the flexibility I want in a camera.  I find that the compact camera that I carry in my purse has many more settings and is more adaptable for those quick shots while out and about.  The DSLR I'm still learning to use, but I'm getting some good results with it.  And then there is PhotoShop Elements 10, the software that I cannot live without! Almost all of my photos go through some sort of editing before they go on my blog.

For the actual making of quilts, here are a few of the tools I reach for all the time.

I am not a big fan of specialty rulers.  If I need directions to use it, it's too complicated!  I have a drawer full of them that I bought before I realized I used the basic 12 and 24 inch Omnigrids almost exclusively.  Of course there are a few others I use from time to time.  I'm not going to picture them here for you.

The Bias Square rulers from That Patchwork Place, however, I use almost as much as the Omnigrid rulers.  They are my go to rulers when making half square triangles and if you read me regularly, you know that I LOVE hs triangles and use them in almost every quilt I make.

Of course if you use the rulers, you have to have the cutter to go with them.  These 3 are my favorites.  They are comfortable to use unlike the original Olfa cutters.  If you haven't upgraded yet, do yourself a favor and try a newer version of rotary cutter.  There are others that are probably just as good, these are just my favorites so I see no need to buy different brands to try them.

And, then there are the mats.  In addition to the large one that is always on my cutting table, I have several other sizes and versions.  This one rotates to accommodate cutting different angles.

This was a gift and I absolutely love it!  Thank you, Becky!

This is a portable tool that serves 3 purposes.  The outside is a pressing surface.

Inside there is a sandpaper side for use with applique and a small Olfa cutting board.  I made this several years ago and it's great for taking on the road or even just to the family room to work on my lap.  There are marks on the sandpaper from one of my favorite making tools - a white gel pen that I use to mark lines on dark fabrics that I plan to hand piece.

Masking tape is a multiuse tool.  I've used it for marking stitching lines on a quilt while handstitching.  I also use it on the ruler when I'm marking a line which works better for me.  I have a lot of different widths tape so I can mark different sizes of straight lines to quilt.

If you sew, you usually end up ripping, too, at some point.  Several years ago I bought these two brass pieces.  One is a seam ripper and the other a stilleto.  If you are still using the same seam ripper you got when you were in Junior High, do yourself a favor and get a new one!  They do get dull.  This brass one has a removeable "blade" so you can replace just the blade part, though I've never done that.  I do have a few other cheapo seam rippers, this one "lives" next to the sewing machine.

And, of course, the sewing machine is the biggest tool and most likely the most expensive.  I love my Bernina 1230 and use it most of the time.  It is about 18 years old and still runs great.  A little preventative maintenance now and then goes a LONG way to keeping a machine humming.  I was shocked when I went to a sewing machine/vacuum store when we lived in AL and asked for sewing machine oil.  The employee or maybe it was the owner told me that no one used it any more so he no longer carried it.  WHAT!  I know that some of the newer computerized machines may not need oil, but most of us have other machines that need a bit now and then.  I use it almost every time I change bobbins as I clean the lint out and take the bobbin completely out to put a drop of oil on the metal part where it sits and does it's job of rocking back and forth.  Makes sense to me -- it's a moving part.  I leave the insides of the machine to the expert, but the bobbin maintenance is my job.

So, now that I've shown you a few of my favorite tools (yes, I know I did not mention anything about scissors - they need a post of their own!) please tell me what your favorite, go to tools are for quilt making or other sewing tasks.


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