People who know me well are used to hearing this from me on a frequent basis. And as it turns out I usually do have a tool for almost anything I want to do. My favorite thing to do is to visit the vendors at any quilt shows I go to in order to see what these clever people have come up with to make my quilting easier and more productive. Another thing that anyone who knows me well will tell you is that I detest paper piecing and will do almost anything to avoid it. I absolutely love the Mariner’s Compass pattern, and have always longed to make one, but alas, it is paper pieced. But wait…in the August edition of American Quilter, I saw an ad for a Mariner’s Compass tool that avoids paper piecing. Of course, I immediately went to the website of the inventor and watched her tutorial to find out if it was for real. Then I purchased the tool, the companion booklet, and another tool that looks very handy for cutting angles. Here is a photo of the package I promptly received.
The tool was developed by Robin Ruth Design, found at robinruthdesign.com. I have been chomping at the bit to try it out, but have been sewing my fingers to the bone trying to get ready for our local quilt show at the Hall where I quilt with a great bunch of ladies on a bi-monthly basis. We also just finished our summer quilting class for the local young people. But I will address those things in another post. There is a lot of blogging that hasn’t been getting done. I will let you know once I have a chance to try out the tool how it all come out.
Speaking of tools, I also found a handy tool to make it easy to change out the needle on my longarm machine, which has been a dreaded task for the last three years since I got my longarm. For those of you unfamiliar with longarms, the needles don’t have a flat spot on the shaft like regular machine needles do, and of course it is critical to get it inserted properly, which is very difficult when you really are using the Braille method. So I avoid changing my needle very often, which has caused problems when it gets dull or slightly bent from deflection caused by the speed of the machine. Here is a photo of the tool.
As you can see, you just insert the needle into the hole going in the direction that you want it inserted into the machine. The needle stops at the bottom of the shaft, then you can just push it up into the hole in the machine, and it pushes the shaft all the way up so that it is fully inserted. Then tightened the set screw on the machine. There is also a slot in the opposite end of the tool that can be used to make adjustments to the needle so that it is in straight if you aren’t happy with the position once it’s inserted. What used to take me at least 20 or 30 frustrating minutes took me about 2 minutes yesterday the first time I used it. Since it is recommended by many expert longarmers that you change out the needle after every one or two projects, this is going to be a tremendous time saver. I also discovered it works for regular machine needles. It is manufactured by Creative Notions and I found it at Nancy’s Notions.
Since we are on the subject of tools, I am going to share a few more of my favorite “I have a tool for that” tools. The first one, or two, are the Tucker Trimmer and Tucker Trimmer II by Deb Tucker at studio180design.net.
These tools make squaring up half-square triangles and quarter-square triangles especially a breeze. Just slap your tool on top of the component you want to square up with the tool’s diagonal line lined up on the diagonal on the component, making sure you have room to trim to size all the way around, trim, turn component 180 degrees and line up the bottom left corner of the size you want to trim to along the corner of the component and trim. The Tucker Trimmer shown on the half-square triangle is even inch and half inch increments and the Tucker Trimmer II is in quarter and three-quarter inch increments. These two tools allow me to trim up piles of components without really having to think about it. They are also great for cutting out squares of fabric from corners of yardage or fat quarters.
These next two are also from Deb Tucker. This first one is the V-Block Trimmer (also known as a triangle in a square), which is the first of Deb’s tools that I purchased. Many people feel they need to paper piece these components, but not using Deb’s method.
The tool and the instruction book are very easy to use, with all the measurements you will need written right on the tool. Everything is cut from strips and is slightly oversized so that there is room to trim down with the markings on the tool. I made this queen sized quilt with dozens of these components in nothing flat using this tool.
The last tool I’m going to talk about is the Corner Beam tool.
Just like all the other Deb Tucker specialty rulers, the booklet and ruler are easy to use, with everything made from basic strips and squares. I’ve found these components are great to use in the corners of borders to make a nice transition around the corner.
I want to make it clear that I have no interest, financial or otherwise, in any of these tools or companies. Just wanted to share some of the things that make life easier for me and hope you find them helpful as well.