Friday, March 23, 2012

Tools in the Tool Box!

I love quilting tools & gadgets --- some play with me every day, some just come out when the right job calls for them.

My explanation to the DH about WHY I have so many different tools is this --- Why do screwdrivers come in so many different sizes? Or golf clubs? So you’ll have the right tool for the job when that job comes along.

Last night ---it was THIS BLOCK that required a bit of revamp on the triangle method I was using to get the results that I wanted.

One of Randy’s blocks for this installment of the 6” Sow-Along blocks is a traditional Cut Glass Dish --- only in 6” size it means that each of those triangle units finishes at 1”!

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Oh, don’t look too closely at my points, they don’t all match, and I picked out and re-sewed all I was going to ----it’s staying! I had tried my regular Easy Angle ruler, but the pairs of triangles were so small that they didn’t sew very well even with a stilletto for me.

How small is too small? I think this confirms it! So my choices were to either “Draw a grid of 1 7/8” squares – draw diagonal lines through the grid, and cut apart after sewing 1/4” on each side of the diagonal lines” Which WORKS GREAT – but my fabric was already in 1.5” strips ---Soooooo ----


I pulled out my nifty Quilt in a Day triangle square up ruler --- I used this when doing the gazillion 1” finished half square triangles for my oak leaf and reel quilt that I unstitched and rearranged at the Gwen Marston retreat I went to in the Fall of 2009. You can read more about that HERE. Oh and HERE TOO. Such fun! Such a gazillion triangles…OY!

What I did for both the “Cut Glass Dish” block above, AND the triangles for the Oak Leaf & Reel quilt was to sew 1.5” strips into tube sets….stitching on both sides of the strip pairs, and then placing the 1.5” line ((Which is the UNFINISHED size of the unit I am making)) on the stitching line of the tube set, using this ruler to cut my half-square triangle units.

After cutting, very carefully open them up and press. And as always, clip dog ears! :c)

This DOES mean that the triangle units have bias on the outside edges of the unit, but there is not much stretch to a 1” finished square. A bit of spray starch before cutting can minimize any stretching, and I get very accurate very small units this way.

I don't recommend steam when pressing things with bias edges ---it can encourage wonkiness to happen!

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You just have to know that with a bias edge on anything, you are going to have to press carefully, handle cautiously, and even that bit of stretch and ease can work in your favor if you know how to handle it right! The only thing I would have done differently on these was to maybe press the seams OPEN. There is a lot of bulk in this 6” finished block because I didn’t.

But it’s DONE!

Now on to the other two blocks for this week, and to catch up on the bonus blocks that came last week too!


  1. Thanks so much for the tip! I put this one away since I don't have much patience right now & the block scared me when I looked at it! I might just have to get it out and get busy.

  2. great tip about the tube...but too late for me. I presevered with the angle rulers and am thrilled with the results...well and a little bit of spray starch has it all behaving nicely.

  3. I love that ruler. I use it to square up my HST's all the time. Never made hst's by sewing on both sides of the strip. I saw a friend doing it at a retreat but didn't ask her about it. Thanks for the tip. Love my Best press starch too!

  4. This is one of my favorite rulers! I know you don't like to sliver trim, but I don't mind it, and this ruler helps me to be precise. I've never used the tube method, but I'll try it someday! (I use triangle paper when I have to make dozens of itty bitty half square triangles.)

  5. Congratulations! You have cleverly made HST's the Wonder Cut Ruler way!!

  6. I tell my husband the thing about the screwdrivers too! He finally got it :-)

  7. Oooh, you missed a perfect opportunity to try out Inklingo!! Easy, precise and no bias to deal with! Great looking block, BTW!!

  8. I remember the oak leaf and reel quilt - did you ever finish it ?

  9. ahhhhhhhhhhh, just seen this post while working on this same block,,,just got all my lines drawn, and doing it that way,,,,,,,this block is kicking my butt, btw,,,,,,,,,,,,,thanks for the new way for me to do these,,,,,,Flo

  10. I'm just getting ready to work on these blocks tonight. Thanks for the heads-up on your method.

  11. You know Bonnie a picture is worth a thousand words. I couldn't quite follow your description of that process but the picture did it. So easy.

  12. I have the same periwinkle plaid. . . must be we shop at the same thrift store? :P

  13. I was kind of waiting to see how you did this block before I started mine but I forged ahead on my own and used the Easy Angle (which by the way I am getting pretty good at! And I love it!) So the block turned out not too badly BUT - because I have foolishly become obsessed with these blocks I am doing them in TWO colour ways! So I will try this method with the second block ( because I own all kinds of these rulers!) Thanks so much!

  14. How cool is that!!! Thanks for sharing!

  15. That is the one nice thing about teaching.... I'm not home enough to mess up the room.


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