Many of you have asked me what my favorite tools are and what machines I use. I have to admit, I’m not much of a gadget girl. I really don’t need much in that department, but I will share a few of my favorites. So, here they are -
My new favorite machine:
Why? Speed. It can sew 1600 stitches per minute. I can hardly bring myself to sew an a regular machine anymore, they seem so slow! I get so much more done with this machine. Must… Have…. Speed…
One of the problems with this machine is that it’s kind of noisy. I don’t notice it so much at home, but when I’m at a retreat, it interferes with the conversation. I notice that people only talk when I stop sewing. With my old machine, I always sewed with my pedal to the floor, but it wasn’t so loud. Now I sound like I am in the Indy 500.
I still keep my old machine to do my machine applique. It’s my trusty Bernina 1230. It’s probably 15 years old now, but it’s still a workhorse and does a beautiful machine blanket stitch. It’s very user friendly and I like that I don’t have a screen that I have to page through to select one of 4,999 stitches. I really only use about 5 of my stitches, but they are very nice stitches.
Here’s my other machine – My Gammill. It’s a 1992 model, with no bells and whistles, but it works fine for me. In fact, I used to do custom machine quilting, so I have spent more hours with this machine than with my husband. This machine may even be a better listener than my husband. We’ve been through a lot together, and she’s always been there for me. Except the one time when she broke down 2 1/2 weeks before my book deadline. PANIC!
This is my favorite quilting light. It’s called the Bendy light, or something like that. It’s a bit expensive at $50, but I like the fact that it’s so compact. I never have an Ott light in my way anymore. Plus, the light is surprisingly bright, despite how it looks in this picture. It would make a great Christmas gift . . . . You could accidentally show this post to your husband or kids and drop the hint . . .
This is my favorite iron. I love steam - I mean I LOVE steam. This iron gives the best steam. You can even get a facial while ironing – way to multi-task! I have two complaints though – Rowenta’s cheaper iron has a better sole plate and I wish there was a gauge to tell you how much water was in the iron. Did any of you see the JoAnn’s ad that came yesterday? They are having 50% off their irons! That is a fab deal, as they usually just have $20 off. Here’s your chance to get yourself one! (Hint: Again, show this post to DH and kids – Christmas is only 19 days away)
It might be time now to take a break and go eat some popcorn or something, because this is a long post! That will also give you a change to go find your JoAnns flier, in case you need to see the special with your own eyes.
This picture shows my favorite rulers, cutters, and a magnetic bobbin organizer. The large cutter has the Olfa quick change blade system. The medium cutter is great for cutting small pieces. The teeny tiny 18 mm is great for making applique prep go faster (see below). The ruler is Olfa frosted series. It’s great because it provides a little bit of grip, but not too much. I also love the markings for the 60-degree angles, etc. It’s less confusing than the other brands. The magnetic bobin organizer is called the Grabobbin, made by Blue Feather Products.
Sometimes I mark my rulers with removable cling strips, to help me quickly locate my measurements. It’s great for marking angles, as they tend to be more confusing.
I need some help with this tool. It was given to me by a shop owner and I can’t remember the name of the tool or the shop! If somebody knows, please comment and share. The purpose of the tool is to save you time when cutting apart your chained pieces. There is a tiny blade hidden within the white plastic housing and you use it to clip the threads between two pieces. You no longer have to pick up and position a scissor every time.
I do lots of folded corners (cheater corners) when quilting. This tool (The Angler) makes them go quicker by eliminating the need to d raw lines on every single piece. You tape it down to the bed of your machine.
This is the new version, called Clearly Perfect Angles. Rather than taping the tool down, this one clings to the bed of your machine. It works best if your machine has a large metal throat plate to “cling” to.
I use the items shown in the following two pictures every time I applique. First, the tiny rotary cutter to trim the center out on my fusible web. It’s much quicker than using a scissors and doesn’t dull the blades. (I like to trim the center out on larger shapes to keep them softer and feel more like hand applique. I also do the trimming when I layer shapes on top of one another, again to reduce bulk.)
Here’s the thread I use when I do my machine blanket stitching. It’s called Topstitching thread and is made by Coats (I think they just changed the name to heavy thread, but it’s topstitch weight thread). See how much heavier it is than the normal thread shown to the left? It only comes in select colors, so sometimes I have to use two strands or regular thread to achieve the same look. The other must when doing machine applique is to have an open toe foot. See how there is no bridge blocking your view? This will help you steer around corners and points.
These are the items I use when I hand-stitch, such as doing binding or hand-quilting (though I rarely hand quilt – remember, need speed). I always use hand-quilting thread when sewing on my binding and I always use straw needles. The needles are long and very bendable. I hate the short, straight needles that I was first taught to use. My hands are too large and I’m too uncoordinated or something. These needles almost conform to the shape of you hand and are easier to work with because they are larger (in my next post I’ll talk more about hand stitching binding).
Lastly, I’m not sure if this is a tool or not, but I love my big sewing table. It’s on wheels so I can move it around and the back of the table swings up to accommodate sewing large pieces. It was made for me by Zuegcraft Cabinetry of Willmar, MN.
It’s not a great picture, but you get the idea.
Whew! That was a long post…If you have gotten this far, I hope you find these tools helpful. If you have a favorite you would like to share, just leave me a comment. All comments will be entered into a drawing for this pattern: