Welcome to the last Main Crush Monday party of October. It’s hard to believe that November is only a couple days away – where has this year gone? Some days I wish there was a way to slow things down a bit, but since there isn’t let’s get on with this party!
My Dad always used to say that using the right tools makes any job easier. I grew up hearing that often and I have to say, Dad was right.
So today I thought I would share with you some of the tools that make my job as a longarm quilter easier and more efficient. These are my favorites.
Fine mist spray water bottle. Say what? When loading the backing fabric, I will drape the fabric over the frame and spray it with distilled water before rolling it. The water helps any wrinkles to practically fall out of the fabric, and rolling and smoothing the fabric finishes the job. Voila! No pressing needed! Some of the backings I receive from customers have been folded for a while and are wrinkled pretty badly. I don’t have the time or the space to press these large pieces of fabric, so water misting is a great alternative. If you try it you don’t need to soak the fabric with a lot of water. Just give it a spray with a really fine mist. This was a tip from the guys who set up Freddie, and I’m always impressed with how well it works.
HQ Zinger. This gizmo clips to your shirt and holds a small pair of scissors for trimming threads. The scissors are attached to a retractable string, so when I’m not using them, they stay put and don’t get in my way. This way I always have a pair of scissors when I need them. I’m sure there are other brands available, but I only have experience with the Handi Quilter brand.
Magnetic Pin Pal. When I quilt, I tie and bury a lot of threads. Having a self-threading needle at my fingertips is extremely helpful. Before I found the PinPal I was sticking the needle through my t-shirt to keep it close by. That works, but I’ve lost a needle or two because I forgot they were in my shirt. Uh-oh! The PinPal has a magnet and fastens to my t-shirt like a magnetic name badge does. Then the needles just stick to the magnet and I have a needle available whenever I need it. It also sticks to the belly bar of my frame, and to the side of my machine. So if I don’t want to wear the PinPal it can still close by when I’m quilting. It’s strong enough to hold a small pair of scissors but since I use the Zinger I don’t really need it to.
Masking/Painter’s tape. Sometimes when I’m quilting I’ll come across an area that needs attention (i.e. a broken thread or a seam that wasn’t sewn very well), but can’t be taken care of until after the quilt is removed from the frame. I will place a small piece of tape over the area as my way of marking it. The tape stays in place, doesn’t mess with the quilt top, and is easy to find when I unload the quilt and need to find the problem area.
Templates/Rulers. Almost every quilt I work on involves some kind of ruler work. It may be as simple as stitch in the ditch, or more complicated designs. I love my collection of templates and wouldn’t be able to quilt without them. My most favorite ones are the HQ Versa Tool (great for ditch stitching) and a 9″ straight line ruler from Green Fairy Quilts. I also have a few oval ones that I’ve been using a lot lately. HandiQuilter currently has a ruler of the month program and they are offering 6 (one each month for six months) special rulers. There is a larger ditch stitching one that I can’t wait to get my hands on. You can read more about the program by visiting the Handi Quilter website or visiting a participating dealer. (Not an affiliate link)
Padded Floor Mat. I always wear shoes when I’m working at my machine. Standing for hours at a time kills my feet. I recently added a padded floor mat and it makes a world of difference. Hubby picked up mine from our local Tractor Supply store. It measured 4 ft x 3 ft. He cut it in half on the long side, making two mats 4 ft x 1-1/2 ft. It fits my workspace nicely, and the half inch of padding feels really good on my feet. I still wear my shoes, so now I have double the protection!
So there’s my list of a few of the tools that make my job as a long arm quilter easier. And here’s a bonus tool – my playlist. Putting on some good music makes the time fly by, because I’m so busy wiggling and singing and stitching. It’s a good time, people!
What are the tools that you can’t sew/quilt without? I’d love for you to share them in the comments.
Now it’s time for you to share what has you excited to be in your sewing space this week. What projects are you working on? You can link any blog post, Instagram or Flickr pic – here’s how: