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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Top 5 Paper Piecing Tools

 I am crazy for paper piecing and can't get enough of it. This is a picture of my Raindrops quilt by Quiltworx where I prepared and stacked three layers of foundations.

Not in any order, here are the top 5 things I use for paper piecing:

1.  Washout Glue Pen
I use this constantly for paper piecing. Use it for gluing the first piece of fabric to the first section of the foundation paper. When the first section is pieced you are stitching two pieces of fabric onto the foundation paper. Gluing the first fabric to the paper makes it easier to handle.

The other times I use the glue pen is to glue fabric together such as the seam allowance along a curved line. It is so much easier to get a perfect 1/4" seam allowance and to prevent the fabric from pleating is to glue the pieces together first. This also works if you have  along, narrow piece of fabric. Glue the seam allowances together to keep the fabric from shifting.

Here are two brands of pens and their refills. I have used them all and don't really have a preference. I only wish it was possible to have the glue be retractable. It slows me down to remove / replace the cap and this glue will dry up fast!

2.  Add A Quarter Ruler
When you want to add an accurate 1/4" seam allowance you fold the fabric and paper over a fold template then use the Add-A-Quarter Ruler to trim the fabric. The ruler comes in various sizes but my two favorite sizes are the 6" and the 12". There is an 18" ruler but I find it cumbersome to use. To cut longer pieces of fabric I simply slide the ruler along the fold template and cut.

3. Ruler - 6" x 12"
I do virtually all my fabric cutting with a 6" or 6-1/2" x 12" ruler. I fold my fabric into four layers: selvage-to-selvage then selvage-to-fold. There are plenty of brands out there.

4.  45mm Rotary Cutter
I like the 45mm rotary cutter and use it almost exclusively, although I have a 60mm and a 28mm in case I need them. I find the 60mm blade difficult to use and expensive to replace the blade. However I know of many people who really love using the 60mm. There are plenty of good brands of rotary cutters and I have used many of them. I like the Olfa brand with the safety handle. When you squeeze the handle, the blade is exposed. Without this feature I often leave my blade exposed and that can be dangerous! Be sure to keep plenty of fresh blades on hand!

5.  50wt Cotton Thread and Microtex Needles
The 50 wt thread is a little thinner than regular, 40wt thread. The 50wt is preferred for paper piecing because it seems to "melt" into the fabric. If you run your finger over the stitching you can hardly feel it. This allows you to obtain a crisp edge when you fold and press the fabric after it is stitched. I generally use a tan or khaki color for most piecing.

The microtex needles have a very sharp point to keep the thread from breaking. You will want to change the needle often. How often? Some quilters change the needle after each project. I change it when I remember to!

Happy quilting!


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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Prismatic Star - Sewing the Accent Strips

I am working on my second Prismatic Star. These things are FAST. This one is done with blue and brown Civil War reproduction fabrics. While stitching the accent strips on my first PS I think I ripped out about 5 attempts before I finally got it right. Here is a quick way to piece all the accent strips on all the diamonds in two runs.

The first run uses the T-Template A1 pieces and the second run uses the A2 pieces. The pictures below were taken during the second run where I stitched the T-Template A2 pieces to the sides but use the same method to stitch the T-Template A1 pieces to the top and bottom of the diamond pieces.

Place all the accent strips  to the right of the needle. Place them vertically all in one stack, right sides up and Sew Side on the left.

 The picture below shows the top and bottom accent strips pieced and pressed after round one. With the light side of the diamond pointing down...

 Flip the accent strip over horizontally so the right side of the fabric is down and Sew Side is on the right.

Line up the raw edges and Smart Corners and stitch it down.. Spin the diamond so the the light side is pointing up and stitch an accent strip to the other side.

CAUTION: Be sure to check the first diamond from each round to make sure the accent strip is pieced correctly before proceeding to stitch the entire stack!

Happy Quilting!
Carol Thelen

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