Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tools of the Trade

So, here I was saying I was going to post more often and a week goes by. Well, I'd love to say I've been busy, busy, busy so I have tons to share today. I'd love to say it. I just, well, can't. I haven't finished a darned thing since last week. I haven't even really worked on much. Of course, it could be because I've been working (YEAH!!!) and trying to figure out a furniture move because of a birthday gift that will be arriving next week (we won't mention the quilt that supposed to go with this one -- um, it's still in the same state as it was here. Don't ask).


Honestly? The only creative cutting I've done in the past week was with this guy. One of the local Lutheran (I think?) churches has an annual lobster boil as a fund raiser. It's become a tradition to pick up lobsters and have a family meal with my in-laws and grandparents-in law. She was yummy by the way.



So, since I have a lack of anything new to post -- how about a post I've been meaning to do for, oh, let's say the past 7 months or so. While working on some projects, I realized just how many of my favorite quilting/sewing notions did not start out having anything to do with quilting.


These for instance. Yes, they are nothing more than strips of cardboard (in this case from a saltines box I think) that have been cut down to a specific width. I think these are 1/2" and 3/4" in the photo. So why have them around? They are my secret to pressing an accurate seam allowance when necessary. For most piecing this isn't a problem, but for making bags, etc. they always have instructions for pressing an edge. Fold the fabric over my strip, press, and move on. No muss, no fuss. And yes, I know there is actually a sewing notion you can use for this -- but let me just say those little metal seam gauges? with the little plastic slide thing? Yeah, I've toasted more than one with my iron. Not to mention toasting my fingers. Ick. These are long enough that my fingers stay OUT of the way and gives a longer surface area to iron. Plus, if I ruin one (or lose it) -- replacements are just a breakfast cereal box away. I have a whole set of these on hand for seam allowance of every size. I would love to take credit for this idea -- but, well, it was in a pattern for a bag I made awhile ago. A shame I can't claim it -- but, there you go.


And this, one of my favorite tools of all time, the humble chopstick. More importantly the humble, wooden, take out chopstick. I have several sets of very nice chopsticks here at the house. They are NOT the sort that you throw away at the end of the meal. We like using them and pretending that we are civilized. So, what to do with the throwaways that come home? Well -- they make GREAT turning and stuffing tools. Why spend lots of money when I've got a drawer full of these suckers? And honestly? If it's a good quality take away chopstick -- it lasts forever.


Another favorite, though this one IS actually intended for fabric, my Downey Wrinkle Release spray. I LOVE this stuff. Yes, it is meant for ironing and clothing. I don't really iron clothing. Not if I can help it that is. But, for fabrics that have been folded and stored for a bit -- those stubborn wrinkles that WILL NOT come out? A spray or two of this, a quick pass of the iron -- voila! They are gone, baby, gone! And, since I'm of the "I'm not washing it until I absolutely have to" school of thought when it comes to my fabrics -- that crease line from the fold on the bolt? It gets rid of those too :0).



My final favorite non-quilting, quilting notion? No, this isn't a mistake -- bottled water. You see -- I love me some steam when I'm pressing my seams. Oh, who am I kidding -- seams, fabric, anything really. I almost always use steam (exceptions here for use of fusibles that say NO STEAM). However, my favorite Rowenta iron does NOT like my tap water. While modern irons are designed to use water that has SOME particulates -- the stuff that comes out of my tap has a few too many for mine. Tap water around here = spitting, lime/calcium build up, etc. Add in the radon warnings we keep getting about our local water supply in the mail -- um, yeah, not so much a fan of my tap water. I mean, I do drink the stuff from the tap -- but, well, my iron gets treated a bit better than I do :0).

So there you have it -- my favorite non-quilting (or at least non-quilting in their first life) quilting notions. What are some of your favorites?

13 comments:

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

Oh, to be a Lutheran in your neighborhood... lobsters! yum. Thanks for the tips.

Kari said...

The cardboard... I love it! I hate ironing folded under seams, so I'm going to have to make myself a set. Thanks for sharing!

Judy H. said...

Thank you for the cardboard strips tip!

My favorite not-originally-for-quilting tool is those clips for holding down bindings--those were barrettes when I first met them...

Libby said...

I have rotted out more than my fair share of water tanks in irons with the minerals that are abundant in our tap water. Guess I'm a slow learner . . . but once I switched to bottled water I've not experienced one, single problem.
Even when I don't want steam, I like to keep the water tank full just for the added heft *s*

Elaine Adair said...

Those strips of cardboard at different widths? YES, I've done that for a while -- what a time saver! I'd forgotten about them for a while.

Nan said...

I love the cardboard strips idea - how awesome is that? And, why didn't I think of it?!? I also use chopsticks for all sorts of things - very handy to have around. I have never heard of the Downy stuff - I wonder if it's sold around here? I'll be looking for it for sure!
I love Mary Ellen's Best Press - it's a light starch - no residue on fabric, ironing board or iron. It even smells good!

Felicia said...

I love your cardboard solution :)

Kristin L said...

Those cardboard strips are a great idea!! And yeah, I wouldn't be caught dead without a chopstick.

Magpie Sue said...

I hadn't heard about the cardboard strips either, but what a great idea!

So you're working for money now? Bet that's coming in handy ;- )

Em said...

Great idea with the cardboard!!! I never knew Lutherans sold lobsters! I haven't been brave enough to try one yet... are they really worth it?

Niki said...

I have a new blog to list your quilt blog, if you are interested, I'd love to have you join us! http://justusquilters.blogspot.com/
hugs!
niki

gwen said...

I love the idea with the cardboard and the chopsticks. Something to try at any rate! I use a fine mechanic screw driver instead of a stiletto to put tiny bits of fabric under the feed dog of my sewing machine. Works fine.
Lobsters.... yummy, with a mayonnaise, "un vrai délice"! Take care.

Tanya said...

Thanks for the hints! I must say I won't need to go out and buy any chopsticks for the turning hint. I have a drawerfull of old chopsticks. Sometimes they end up as planter decorations but how many of those does one need?