Bake, my husband, is a gem. He’s been a blue-collar worker most of his life and still does a lot of handyman tasks around our house. Because he knows the value of tools from his work, he knows the value of tools for my hobby.
When I bring home a new quiltmaking tool, he seldom asks how much I paid for it. He wants to know what it does and how it is different from what I have.
(He did admit much later that when I told him I wanted to spend $3000 on an embroidery machine in the mid-90s, he thought I was just a little bit nuts. We both agree now that it was one of the best purchases we’ve ever made.)
I have lots of great tools for my sewing and quilting. I have rulers, rotary cutters, templates and markers; you name it, I probably have it.
I like experimenting and seeing what the new tools can do so this week, I’m in seventh heaven. I have new things to try from three different companies.
I have four new pairs of Kai 7000 Series scissors, two rotary cutters and two folding cutting mats from Olfa and the 8” GO! Qube from AccuQuilt. And I “have” to test them. But I wanted to test them in a real life situation. I wanted to cut and sew for a real quilt.
As I said in my blog last week, my next PIGS (Projects in Grocery Sacks) finish just has to include some stash busting. My Fabric Inventory is out of control. Totally. Out. Of. Control!
I’ve wanted to make a quilt using the Split Nine-Patch block and this seems like a good chance. I’ll do something with it for the front of the quilt and then use orphan blocks from the PIGS for the back. (Do you see how I did that? I’m actually starting something new and I’m still planning to call it a PIGS finish. Sneaky, aren’t I?)
So last night, I designed this quilt thinking it would be scrappy.
But this morning, when I was talking about it with my friends/coworkers, Gigi and Tricia, they suggested planned/structured for the first part of the design (the central blue diamond and the first three bands radiating out from the blue diamond) and then making the rest of it scrappy. I can picture it in my head and I’m really excited about it.
The AccuQuilt 8” GO! Qube has dies for 2” and 4” squares, 2” and 4” half-square triangles, 4” quarter-square triangles, a 2¾” square on point, a parallelogram, a 2” x 4” rectangle, a cutting mat, an instructional DVD and a pattern booklet. AccuQuilt included everything you need to make dozens and dozens of 8” blocks. You can learn more about the AccuQuilt 8” GO! Qube here.
But that’s not all! The 8” GO! Qube is so versatile, I used the dies to cut patches for a 12” block. Just a bit of simple quilt math and I realized that I could make 12” blocks using the 4” square and 4” half-square triangle dies from the 8” GO! Qube.
I love die cutting patches for quilts. It is so fast and so accurate. I cut 6-8 layers of fabric at once and they are all perfectly cut. So I save a huge amount of time cutting and then even more as I’m sewing because all the patches fit together correctly.
As I was cutting my ivory/cream/beige fabrics, I had several that still had the selvages. I was cutting in my office in order to participate in a telephone conference call and cut patches. Multitasking is a good thing!
I found the Olfa 17” x 24” folding mat to be perfect to use on my desk. There is also a smaller Olfa 12” x 17” folding mat. I think they would be perfect to take to classes. Either one would be easy to fit in a tote with your other class supplies. And if you have the kind of sewing space where you have to put things away after you sew, the Olfa folding mat would make sense for you.
I like that because of the wavy fold, the mat lays perfectly flat when it’s unfolded.
And of course, the Olfa rotary cutters never disappoint. I got a pretty aqua one but the nice color isn’t what is important. The sharpness of the blade, how easily it rolls and how comfortable it is to use are the crucial things about a rotary cutter and Olfa’s rotary cutters are good – really good.
I never talk about rotary cutters without telling you to remember to change your blade periodically. It’s obviously time when there is a nick in the blade but over time, a blade will get dull. So even if there isn’t a nick, be aware that if you have to press harder than usual, it’s time to change the blade.
The final tool I wanted to test was this set of Kai 7000 Series scissors. You can check them out at Kaiscissors.com.
According to the packaging, the blades are made of high-carbon Molybdenum Vanadium stainless steel for long life and high cutting efficiency and the handles are made with Elastomer soft plastic and ergonomically styled. I laughed when I read that. I don’t even know what Molybdenum Vanadium stainless steel is. I decided I better see how they cut and not worry about the makeup of the stainless steel.
I tried the 8” scissors (model 7205) and tested whether they cut nicely clear to the point. They did that, they cut through multiple layers of fabric easily and they were nicely balanced, comfortable to hold and use. I tested the 6 2/3” scissors (model 7170) to see if they would cut just the pinked edge off of a fabric swatch. Sometimes when I’m trying to trim just a bit off a lightweight fabric, the scissors don’t cooperate but these sure did. I like the Kai scissors so far. I did the same test with the 6” scissors (model 7150). I liked them. They are a really nice medium-sized scissor.
Then I moved on to the smallest of the Kai scissors, the 4” model 7100. I loved these scissors. They have a really short blade so I had lots of control and the handles were sized nicely. They are super sharp.
So what’s my final analysis? I liked all of my new tools. In fact, I liked them a lot.
And at the end of my testing, I had reduced this mess of blue and a mess just like it of cream/ivory fabric to all the patches for the split nine-patch quilt. I am ready to sew!
Now until next time, happy quilting!