Tuesday, 28 August 2012

TTT - Cutting Accurately

I feel like I should have some epic theme music to start this off but I'm useless with song titles so please insert some epic music from your own head.

Today I want to talk a bit about cutting accurately. If you want your quilts, and any other sewing projects for that matter, to finish to the correct size, you need to cut and sew accurately. I'm not cutting anything right now - I'll post more actual cutting photos when I'm back to the Hunter's Star.

My cutting mat:

This is a self healing mat I've had forever. It's taken a lot of abuse and will take a lot more. I recommend a self-healing one at least this size - 18x24 - if you have a large space for cutting where the mat can stay out all the time, I'd get a larger mat. This one works for almost everything I do. I need to be careful when cutting WOF to make sure I don't cut the table on either end - that's the instance where I'd like a slightly larger mat.

My rotary cutter:

This is my trusty Olfa rotary cutter - size 28mm. I like this one better than the larger sized ones because I think this one gives me better control. (I can also get the blades fairly cheap and I'm thrifty). Make sure you change your blade fairly often. I judge by when I'm not getting a clean cut anymore - then it's time to change the blade. I have to admit that I use the blades as long as I possibly can though.

My rulers:



These are just the regular Omnigrid rulers. I don't have the "no slip" ones and haven't tried them. If I were going to buy new rulers I'd investigate them to see how well they worked.
The biggest thing to remember about rulers, in my opinion, is use the one you need for the job - for small pieces, use a small ruler; for big pieces, use a big ruler.

To cut WOF I use the 6x24 and I always use the Gypsy Gripper with this ruler.

I rarely use the 12.5x12.5, mostly because I don't square my blocks as I go (and I think I'll start that soon). This ruler is useful to square up larger squares.

The 6.5x6.5 ruler I bought to use when making my Dear Jane quilt. Those blocks are small and the pieces small and I find this ruler very helpful. I also have a special Dear Jane template ruler for the 5" blocks and the triangle pieces.

The 4x14 ruler I don't use often either; usually only when I have strips that fit within that size. I don't use the gripper with this ruler - I find it's small enough that I can hold it steady.

Gypsy Gripper:

I picked up this handy little tool quite a few years ago. It sticks to your rulers by suction and helps you keep hold of larger rulers. It's always attached to the 6x24 ruler. What I like about it is that is helps me hold the ruler still while cutting and apply even pressure. And my hand isn't too close to the blade so I don't worry about cutting myself. Sometimes it loses suction and I have to re-attach it, which takes about 3 seconds so really there is nothing to complain about. You can buy these in smaller sizes for smaller rulers - I don't think I'd bother with that.

How to Cut:
If possible, you should have your cutting table at an adjustable height so that you don't get aches and pains in your back, legs, or arms. I like to lean heavily on my mat/fabric/ruler to prevent slipping so I like my table a little lower than I've seen recommended. Right now I'm using the dining room table and it's a great height for me. I have seen people add pieces of plastic tubing to their table legs to increase the height and it's more stable than you'd think.

You MUST keep your rotary cutter perpendicular to your ruler in order to get accurate cuts:

Keeping your ruler at this 90 degree angle will help you be more accurate.

Don't do this:

Your pieces will be too small and your quilt too small.

Or this:

Your pieces will be too big.

I lean on the ruler/fabric/mat to prevent shifting, then run the ruler along the edge, with enough pressure to cut through my layers (but not through the mat and table). You'll develop a feel the more you cut. I also cut at a fairly quick pace - too slow and things shift, but too fast and you can be inaccurate. Practice will help you find your best pace that gives you accuracy.

When I actually cut more pieces for the Hunter's Star, I'll show more actual cutting photos.
Next week I'll talk about 1/4" seam allowances.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

New Work Bag

It's been a slow week for sewing around here. I finally got started on a new marking bag for school. I'm using the Birdie Sling pattern from Amy Butler and the fabric is Vintage Modern.

inside of bag

outside of bag - my favourite fabric


top band
I'm making it totally reversible, so the band and handle fabrics go with their opposite patterns. I've extended the handle quite a bit so the bag hangs lower and I'm not putting in the inner pockets so it's reversible.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

TTT - delayed

I couldn't get my post ready for this week. We've had an unexpected event in the family that took up my time. I'll get a tutorial on cutting up ASAP.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Fold-Up Purse Bags Finished

Well, almost - mine isn't finished yet - more on that later.

high heeled shoes

I used this tutorial for the idea. Her instructions are clear and easy to follow. I made some changes though to suit me.
1. All seams are encased here - no raw or serged or zig-zagged edges. They are all french seams.
2. I used corded elastic (like elastic string) as my elastic. There were pros and cons; pros it looks good and I was going for aesthetics here; cons it is thick and sort of hard to sew through.
3. I put a small bit of interfacing behind the button when I sewed it on for a little added strength.

Some process pictures:

gap where I inserted corded elastic; back-stitched each side

french seams pressed open before turning around and stitching again

press, press everything

cording inserted

clipped corners during french seam construction

How I pressed out the points at the bottom of the bag; this thing has a real name - maybe a point presser - it's used in dressmaking. I found this in the sewing room and it looks like my Grandpa or Dad made it for my Grandma. My mom doesn't sew so I've now claimed it for myself.

more pressed seams

handle insertion seam 1

handle insertion seam 2 - I turned the handles towards the top of the bag and backstitched over them

Now, the reason my own bag isn't complete is that I have another project I need to work on tomorrow. I'm going to try to draft my own pattern for a bra - if it works I'll just tell you it did. If it doesn't work, then I need to go see my bra teacher for help and since I'll be back to work soon, this project takes precedent over everything else.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

TTT Tuesday - Pinning for Points

Today I want to talk about how to pin to maintain your points. First, you need to cut and sew accurately with a scant 1/4" seam - I maybe should have done that first, oh well, next week.

How to Pin To Match Seams

Ideally, when two or more seams meet and you have to sew them together, you want your seams to nest - they snug into each other. You achieve this by pressing the same way - in this case, I've pressed towards the white on both pieces. When you snug up your seams make sure they are snug 1/4" into the seam allowance - that is where the thread will go. This picture has the pieces snug - so you can see what snug looks like - but out of alignment on top. Make sure your pieces line up everywhere before sewing.

Here's where the pin goes. Notice that I've made sure everything aligns 1/4" below my edge (where my thumb nail is) - that's where the seam will go.

Pinning to Keep Your Points

Here is the middle intersection of the stars for the Hunter's Star block. This is 1/2 the star:

The arrow tip is where the centre of the star is - where all 8 points will meet. All my piecing has been accurate up to this point and I want to keep it this way.

1. Insert your pin right into the point where all the seams meet - at the tip of the arrow. Only worry about this half of the star for now.

2. Flip over this half of the star, to the right side, to make sure the pin is still exactly in the centre of the star. If it isn't in the correct place, take out the pin and try again.

3. Now, put the pin through the right side of the other half of the star. And push it through to the wrong side.

4. Your pin MUST be at right angles to your fabric and straight. Pinch the fabric from both sides and use your finger/thumb to hold the pin straight. Imagine my pin is the yellow arrow below. Sometimes you have to wiggle a little to get your pin perfectly perpendicular.

5. Pin on either side of your point (with the perpendicular pin still in). Insert the new pins without distorting the aligning your did with the middle pin. My middle/point pin is yellow, the side pins are blue.

6. Now, take your your point pin.

7. When you sew, you want to go directly into the spot where the points are aligning - where your point pin originally was. My needle is going exactly into the centre point. If your fabric is really thick, like mine, go SLOW so that your fabric stays aligned and you don't bend your pins (like I did). I had to take the pins out as I went through the centre of the star cause it was too thick to sew otherwise. I would take a stitch or two, take out a pin, another stitch or two, take out the other pin, carry on.

8. Press carefully. In this case I set my seams first, then split them open with my fingernail, ran my fingernail along the split stitches, then presses from the wrong and right sides. With this may layers of fabric I pressed these seams open - they will lay much flatter.

9. Practice, practice, practice.

And look how beautiful these points are.


Please leave a comment if you have questions. Next week I'll do cutting accuracy.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Design Floor Monday

Here's my Hunter's Star half completed. I'm re-posting it cause I want to link up to Design Wall Monday.

Go over to Patchwork Times to see what everyone is up to.