red flannel pantry

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Archive for the tag “sewing tool”

HSTs and Bloc-Loc rulers

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Last week I read a post by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts about Bloc-Loc rulers, which she was using to square up flying geese blocks. When she mentioned that Bloc-Loc also makes half-square triangle (HST) rulers, I checked out reviews and the Bloc-Loc website. Despite my best efforts, I struggle to accurately trim HST blocks–I find it hard to maintain adequate pressure on the ruler while I cut. Too often the ruler shifts, and I am left with a wonky block. So based on Rita’s and others’ positive responses, I ordered a set of three HST rulers: 2 1/2″, 4 1/2″ and 6 1/2″. They arrived in just a couple of days.

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There’s a groove milled into the underside of the ruler that, when placed atop a pieced HST unit, fits snugly against the center seam. No more slipping–genius. Paired with a revolving cutting mat, these rulers make trimming HST blocks a piece of cake. Thanks to Rita for sharing this tip!

new doodle journal

IMG_1674I found this little (5″ x 8″) journal at Target yesterday and couldn’t resist. I love the bright-colored floating half-square triangle (HST) blocks.

The best part? It’s filled with graph paper, so it’s perfect for sketching needlepoint and quilt designs. Time to begin filling it up . . .

help for midcentury eyes

Over the past 10 years, I have struggled more and more with my vision. I have worn glasses or contact lenses since I was 16, but presbyopia has settled in. My eyes have lost their zoom lens. My indoor interests–reading, sewing, cooking–all require close work, which makes this loss of autofocus frustrating.

reading glassesI have tried a number of aids with varying degrees of success. A couple of years after I got my bifocals, I had my old frames remade into reading glasses with just my bifocal prescription in the lens. These glasses are helpful when I am doing extended close work.

architect's lampProper illumination is key. I have had this old architect lamp attached to my sewing table for years. I love how I can adjust its height and direct the lamp wherever I need it, it swivels at the base, and the circular fluorescent ring and the center incandescent bulb provide nice strong light that keeps colors true. When the center bulb dies, I’ll replace it with an LED bulb. When I looked for it online, the lamp that looked most similar is the Ledu swing-arm clamp lamp.

ott lightThis Ott floor lamp in the family room is great when I want to do close work while hanging out in front of the TV. It swivels and provides a bright concentrated source of light. I found it on sale many years ago at Home Depot. It takes only special Ott bulbs, so when the bulb dies, don’t throw it away–take it with you to help you find the correct replacement.

led light on sewing machineI bought this little guy a few years ago at a local fabric store, but it is also available on Amazon. It mounts on the sewing machine and plugs in–no batteries. It offers a bright LED light that I can point right where I need it–at the needle and presser foot. The lightbulb on the sewing machine has never provided enough light for me.

LED light/magnifierMy newest light was my Christmas gift from my family (again, it can be found on Amazon). It combines both the magnification I need and strong LED light–it is awesome! The flexible gooseneck is adjustable and there are three settings of increasing light. I have found this light handy when I am transferring needlepoint designs or doing embroidery at my sewing table.

magnifier barThis magnifier bar is a low-tech solution that I picked up at Barnes & Noble, and it is surprisingly helpful. I use it most when reading the newspaper or cookbooks (although here it is with my current sewing project).

birdfeederTruly, however, what I have found most valuable is having my sewing table positioned so that when I look up, I look out a window and my eyes are forced to adjust to distance vision. I have a yellow finch feeder outside the window, and it is lovely to look out and see finches and juncos flitting around. I get a healthy dose of nature and my aging eyes are made to stretch their muscles from close to far.

IMG_1335Such charming fellows can be distracting, however!

pincushion organizer

I made two of these weighted pincushion organizers last year: one for myself and another for my friend Sarah. My sister-in-law, Terrye, recently bought a new sewing machine, so I thought this organizer would be a good little gift for her.

I used this tutorial from Sew Mama Sew by Elizabeth Hartman, and I had no problem following along. You will want to use lightweight interfacing. I made the mistake of using heavier stuff when I assembled the first one, and it made the top rim of the bag too thick and top-heavy.

The organizer sits nicely on the edge of my sewing table or on the arm of the sofa, which is handy when I am working in front of the TV. The organizer panel has the perfect-sized slots to hold snips and a seam ripper, an unfortunate necessity for me. The detachable bag is helping to curb my bad habit of flinging stray threads to the floor, where they tangle up my vacuum cleaner.

I thought this fabric by Timeless Treasures with its twist on sewing expressions was fun and appropriate.

I have found “Keep calm” to be a good mantra while seam ripping.

cool quilting tool

When you want to get a general sense of color and composition and you are tired of closing one eye and squinting like a pirate, looking through a door peephole is the way to go. You can find a door peephole (aka fire door viewer) on Amazon or at a hardware store for under $10.

It provides an extended fisheye view of your project and allows you to visually stand back and get a general lay of the land. I am currently working on a collage-y quilt, and looking through the peephole as I rearrange pieces helps me quickly make design decisions.

 Beyond quilting, I could see a peephole being helpful to artists who work in all sorts of visual media.

Although it does eliminate squinting, you do still need to close one eye–I guess the pirate look is unavoidable!

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