Category Archives: Quick Curve Ruler

Pine Needle Retreat 2017: Group Two

Aren’t these lovely? They are the first group of Mini Mod Tile blocks coming from the second group of quilters attending the Pine Needle Quilt Shop’s retreat in western Washington last month. (You can read all about the first group’s output in my preceding post.) The blocks you see above were made by Sandra and Dena (top row) and Linda and Barbara B. (second row).

Here are the second group of blocks:

These were made by Lorri and Barbara S. (first row) and Liz and Roxanne (second row).

The venue for the retreat was St Andrews House on Hood Canal near Union, Washington. In my previous post I showed you the view of the Olympic Mountains from the long porch at St Andrews House. Here are some photos of the house itself starting with the porch, which runs along the back of the house:


The view from the parking lot:


The herb garden:


A pleasant shaded seating area:


Such a lovely retreat and conference center!

Now for more blocks. These blue and white blocks were made by Joyce . . .

. . . and these were made by Sue and Lisa:


So far all the blocks you’ve seen measure 11″ unfinished and were made with the QCR Mini, the small version of the original Quick Curve Ruler by Sew Kind of Wonderful.  Kay was one of those making my “supersized” version of Mini Mod Tiles in which the blocks measure 18″ unfinished:

What about those three blocks on top? Kay was also working on a second project, making Ribbon Star blocks from the Missouri Star Quilt C0. It’s pretty clear Kay likes color!

Another quilter making colorful supersized blocks was Kristine:

Missy was making the mini version using a palette quite similar to Kristine’s:

Three of my students were using the original Quick Curve Ruler to make different designs by Sew Kind of Wonderful. Janna started with the free pattern Spring Fling from SKW but departed from the design to do her own thing. Here’s her first block:


Katie fell in love with the pattern Dancing Churndash designed by SKW for Cut Loose Press. Here are her first two blocks:

Delia chose SKW’s Chic Diamonds design:

With the second group of students I was much better at getting pictures of them with their projects toward the end of our time together. Here is Rosalie with her five beautiful blocks:

Barbara B. completed a runner . . .


. . . and had enough fabric left to make a mini Fun Poinsettia block:


Here’s Missy with her four blocks sewn together:

Do you see how there’s a fifth block in the center that is made up of partial blocks from the four? This is an example of a secondary block design being the same as the primary.

In addition to their blocks (shown behind them), Dena and Kristine made self-binding baby blankets in soft flannels:


Dena showed several quilters how she mitered the corners on her baby quilt. Joyce practiced the technique, making a square with mitered corners in addition to her lovely runner:

Another vision in blue and white is Roxanne’s quilt top:

Linda decided to change the 3 x 3 setting to 4 x 5 to make a bigger quilt. Here is half of her Mini Mod Tiles quilt sewn together:


Mini Mod Tiles looks wonderful in both traditional and modern fabrics. Here is Sandra with her four-block runner in soothing muted colors. . .

. . . and Lorri with her five-block runner using bright Tula Pink prints:

Lisa’s runner makes me think of pink lemonade:

Or maybe raspberry sorbet?

Liz completed her purple pansy runner and made a second one with a charming pinecone print:

Sue departed from the original design by incorporating sashing strips inside some of her blocks:

Remember Janna’s bright batik block? Here is her quilt top complete with narrow and wide borders:

Here is Katie with her four Dancing Churndash blocks:

Can you believe Katie is working on her very first quilt? Amazing! She has a bright future as a quiltmaker.

Katie’s sister Barbara S. was originally planning to make a runner but she liked her blocks so well she kept making them and wound up with a quilt top!

In this photo Kay has laid out her supersized blocks and is auditioning the scrappy connector strips between blocks:

Kay also made a few more fabulous Ribbon Star blocks:

During her time at the retreat Delia finished quilting a quilt begun in an improv class with Jean Wells:

The back is as interesting as the front:

It was all quilted on Delia’s domestic machine. She was on deadline: her quilt needed to be in the mail the following week to Sisters, Oregon where it will hang in the world’s largest outdoor quilt show on Saturday, July 7.

That’s the perfect segue to let you know I am in Sisters right now with my quilt group, the Quisters. We’ve taken classes this week put on by A Quilter’s Affair and we will all be at the quilt show tomorrow where a record 1,497 quilts will be hung for one day. Of course I will be keeping an eye out for Delia’s quilt.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing the beautiful blocks, runners, quilt tops, and other projects created by my students at the two Pine Needle retreats!

 

 

 

 

Posted in baby quilt, free motion quilting, mitered corners, QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, Quilter's Affair, Quisters (Quilt Sisters), Sisters OR Outdoor Quilt Show, table runner, update, wall hanging | 3 Comments

Pine Needle Retreat 2017: Group One

Don’t these quilters look happy? This photo was taken the first evening of the Pine Needle Quilt Shop‘s retreat last month in Union, Washington just after completing a pillowcase exchange. The retreat had a western theme, which is why you see cowboy hats, boots, and bandana prints on both people and pillowcases.

The retreat was held at St Andrews House, a retreat and conference center run by the Episcopal Church of Western Washington. I had the pleasure of teaching for the Pine Needle at St Andrews House last year and returned this year for two back-to-back retreats.

What a lovely spot for a sewing/quilting getaway! The house sits above Hood Canal and offers commanding views of the Olympic Mountains. This is what you see from the long porch that runs along one side of the main building:

I stayed with Geri, owner of the Pine Needle and organizer of the retreat, in Bayne Cottage, a little house below the retreat center also owned by the church. Every morning before walking up a short (but very steep) hill to the retreat center, I had coffee on the deck that sits right over the water when the tide is in. This was my view:

The design I chose for this year’s retreat was Mini Mod Tiles by Sew Kind of Wonderful:


This is the quilt that appears on the SKW website. It was made with the QCR Mini, the smaller of the two specialty curve rulers designed by Sew Kind of Wonderful. The block finishes at 10½” and the entire quilt finishes at 35″. Did you know the pattern is a free download? You can find it here.

I decided to “supersize” the block so that the quilt could also be made with the original Quick Curve Ruler. That way I could offer my retreat students two options. Here are my two test blocks, one finishing at 10½” and the other finishing at 18″:

In no time at all, my students were sewing curves the Sew Kind of Wonderful way: no pinning! The fabrics are cut slightly oversize and trimmed so that when the block components are sewn together, they fit the way they’re supposed to.

Here are the first three blocks:

The blocks in the top row were made by Diane and Lynn. We were all dazzled by Diane’s choice of Kaffe Fassett prints combined with a bold text print for the background. Doesn’t Lynn’s block look like real tile? She chose the perfect batik for her focus fabric to get that effect. Lynn’s sister Karen made the block in the second row. She reversed the usual placement, using a lovely floral print for the background and a dark blue solid where a print would normally go.

As the first day progressed, the number of blocks on the wall quickly increased:

The new blocks were made by Denise (Asian fabrics in second row), Colleen (aboriginal fabrics in third row), Puff (autumn colors on the far right side of photo), Marti (marbled print with rust background in lower left), Tamara (rich purple batiks in bottom row), and me (blue and green holiday print in third row). As you can see with Puff’s two blocks on the right, one block was made with a contrasting center square and one without. Puff decided she liked the top version better.

I told the students, “Once you have your curves sewn and trimmed, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly the quilt goes together.” When I came to the classroom on the morning of the second day, I was flabbergasted to see a finished quilt top. Kay had finished hers the evening before!


As always, it’s so fun to see the different fabrics that students choose. Candyce’s blue and white fabrics are Shibori prints:


Susie’s focus fabrics are from the Marks line by Valori and Jean Wells. She found the perfect background fabric from another line to go with them:


Best friends Martha and Sandy wanted to make a different Sew Kind of Wonderful pattern, Metro Rings. That was fine with me, as I’ve made Metro Rings myself and could offer them some special tips. This block represents a joint effort, as they are using the same fabrics. See how the big block is made of four smaller ones? Two of them were made by Martha and the other two by Sandy. The four blocks haven’t been sewn together but you can see that their points of the triangles in the center are going to come together perfectly:


Here is Linda’s supersized version of Mini Mod Tiles, made in one of my favorite color combinations, green and purple:


I had suggested that students making the supersized version save their fabric scraps, as they’re large enough to be used in something else. Linda proved my point. She sewed four curvy scraps together and then trimmed them to make an hourglass block. Five hourglass blocks (see the center block?) then became part of a larger nine-patch star block:

Linda’s background fabric, from the Alison Glass Sun Print 2016 line, goes so well with her wild floral print.

Jan had a charm pack of 5″ squares in grey and white prints, pairing them with white and yellow to great effect:

Kitty used that same fresh color combination in her runner:

She added a border of her yellow accent fabric. See how the edges of the runner have been cut to match the curve? That was an option I suggested to accentuate the curve within the block. Kitty will bind her runner in the focus print which will give her runner nice definition.

Here is Kitty’s sister Puff with her lovely runner:

She’s going to make a set of napkins from the print to go along with the table runner.

We had three sets of sisters at this retreat! Marti came all the way from New York to join her sister Vicki. Here are their bold and beautiful supersized blocks:

I also cut curves on the runner I made at the retreat:


When I bind this in the dark green, the curved ends will really stand out.

My plan was to snap pictures on the last day of all the quilters with their projects but alas, that didn’t happen. Still, I think you have an idea of the many wonderful ways in which Mini Mod Tiles can be interpreted. Sometime this fall the Pine Needle will have a reunion for retreat participants. Many of these projects will be completed by then and I promise to get some good pictures.

In my next post you’ll see more versions of Mini Mod Tiles, including some supersized ones, made by the second group of retreat participants. Do come back to see!

 

 

 

Posted in QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, table runner, table topper, update | 2 Comments

Bound for Retreat

You can take the title of that post two ways.

The first meaning: I am bound for a quilt retreat. Yes, tomorrow morning I head north to Hood Canal in Washington State to teach at a retreat center outside the tiny town of Union. I’ll be gone a week.

The second meaning: Terrazzo Tiles, my retreat quilt, is bound and (almost) ready to go with me. The (almost)? It’s still lacking a label, which may have to wait till I get home. I finished binding the quilt last night at midnight and took this photo at the Pine Needle  this afternoon:

Terrazzo Tiles, 63″ Square (2017)

 

I’m calling it my retreat quilt because that’s the design I’m teaching there. The pattern is Mini Mod Tiles by Sew Kind of Wonderful. The original MMT quilt finishes at 35″ square; you can see my unquilted version here. The quilt you see above finishes at 63″ square after quilting because I “supersized” the block. My retreat students get to pick from two sizes, one made with the original Quick Curve Ruler and the other made with the QCR Mini.

The beautiful quilting you see was done by Karlee Sandell of sewinspired2day.com, and I couldn’t be happier with it. It may look like a digitized quilting motif but Karlee did every bit of it with a ruler. Isn’t that amazing? Every stitch was hand-guided on her longarm machine.

I took several pictures in natural light earlier this week but found the light too bright to put the quilting in strong relief. Still, these close-ups do show some detail:

I encourage you to visit Karlee’s blog to see her post on this quilt. In addition to more photos, she describes how she settled on the quilting design. Karlee has quilted several quilts for me and I trust her to take my general guidelines and come up with a great design.

Look for a post after I return from retreat but while there I’ll be posting on my Instagram account, dawn_at_first_light_designs. You can find me here.

Now if you’ll excuse me: I need to go pack!

 

 

 

Posted in QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, update | 4 Comments

Mini Mod Tiles Mania

Presenting . . . Mini Mod Tiles from Sew Kind of Wonderful:

Mini Mod Tiles, 35″ Square

The curves were cut with a specialty ruler called the QCR Mini — the smaller version of the Quick Curve Ruler from Sew Kind of Wonderful — and sewn with a pins-free technique. SKW has great patterns for sale on its website — and several free patterns, including Mod Mini Tiles. You can find all the free patterns here. The link to Mini Mod Tiles is here.

Using the original Quick Curve Ruler I made a “supersized” version of Mini Mod Tiles that I showed you in my last post. The quilt, named Terrazzo Tiles, is at the longarmer being quilted as I write this. Look for a reveal post in just a few days!

I’m teaching both sizes of this design at a quilt retreat coming up in a few days. A couple of my students are interested in making a wall hanging or table runner so I decided to play around with possible border treatments. Since a finished block of the original Mini Mod Tiles is 10½” wide, a border is clearly called for.

A plain border would certainly work but I thought it would be fun to incorporate the sashing design. This is a mock-up made by cutting up a photo of  Terrazzo Tiles:

Mini Mod Tiles Border Test 1

I used a gluestick to add cornerstones in each corner.

Then I wondered how it would look without the periwinkle squares along the outer edges so I covered them up:

Mini Mod Tiles Border Test 2

Hmmm. That’s a little stark for my taste but the effect might be completely different if a lighter fabric were used where the black is used here.

Next I wondered how the edges would look if they were trimmed to match the curves in the focus fabric:

Mini Mod Tiles Border Test 3

I am loving this! I think I’m on to something here. . .

Since I covered up the periwinkle squares in the second test, I restored them (sort of) with colored pencils to get a fourth test version:

Mini Mod Tiles Border Test 4

Which do you like better, 3 or 4? Whether those border squares stay or go, the curved edges are definitely staying. A three-block runner like my mocked up version would finish at 13½” x 38″. A four-block version would finish at 13½” x 50 and a five-block at 13½” x 62″.

I’m eager to try this out with some holiday fabric that’s been in my stash for a few years. My Mini Mod Tiles mania continues!

 

 

 

Posted in QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, table runner, update, wall hanging | 6 Comments

Terrazzo Tiles

Ah, how satisfying it is to see about 300 pieces of neatly cut fabric transformed into a quilt top in just a few days. Here we are at the outset . . .


. . . and here we are with a finished quilt top:


This is my “supersized” version of Sew Kind of Wonderful‘s free quilt pattern Mini Mod Tiles. The original MMT block finishes at 10½” square whereas my supersized block finishes at 17½” square. Once my curves were sewn and trimmed, I was surprised at how quickly this quilt top went together.

After the blocks were joined I took the top outside to photograph it:

The cornflower blue in the focus fabric is so much more vivid in natural light, isn’t it?

Looking at the quilt from above (I was standing on a chair), I decided I wanted to add a border to make those blocks float. I was back a few minutes later for another shot:

Yes, that’s much better. And there’s Coco, the feline photobomber, doing her thing:


Coco hung out in my sewing room while this quilt top was under construction . . .


. . . so it’s only fitting that she be around at the end.

I am going to call this quilt Terrazzo Tiles for its resemblance to Italian floor tile. Terrazzo is a composite material made by exposing marble chips on the surface of concrete and then polishing until smooth. I like to think that my focus fabric, from the Eclectic Garden line designed by Jason Yenter for In the Beginning Fabrics, gives that same impression. Besides, doesn’t everything sound better in Italian?

 

 

 

 

Posted in cats, QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, update | 6 Comments

“Mini” Mod Tiles?

Here’s my second test block made from Mini Mod Tiles, one of several free patterns from Sew Kind of Wonderful:


Except for the fabrics, it looks identical to my first test block (shown below), doesn’t it?


Ah, but there’s a difference. Here are the two blocks side by side:


That second block isn’t a mini at all. I supersized it!

The original mini block finishes at 10½” square and is made with the QCR Mini ruler. My supersized version finishes at 17½” square and is made with the original Quick Curve Ruler.

Since I’m teaching this design at a retreat on Hood Canal in Washington State next month, I decided to give my students the option of choosing which ruler they want to use and which size block they want to make.

Vive le difference!

 

 

 

Posted in QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, update | 2 Comments

Back in the Saddle Again

Three weeks without a post! That’s the longest gap in the five years since I started this blog. What could possibly account for such a lapse? Two back-to-back trips followed by a fun-filled week of family visiting from out of town.

The first trip was to Paducah, Kentucky with my quilt group, the Quisters. Yes, Paducah — home of the National Quilt Museum and site of the American Quilter’s Society’s Quilt Week the last week of April. What a thrill! More on that in a future post.

Home for one day, then off to Central Oregon for a family reunion that my twin sister Diane and I were responsible for planning. It was a great success, with 83 family members coming from as far away as Texas, Virginia, and Florida. Most of the relatives are in Oregon, remaining in the state where our common ancestor settled after emigrating from Switzerland in the 1880s. This reunion has rekindled my interest in family geneaology, which I hope to pursue in between quilting projects. I could use a few more hours each day to accomplish that.

While my relatives were here last week, I squeezed in a bit of sewing time to make a sample block of the quilt design I have chosen for the Pine Needle Quilt Shop’s retreat on Hood Canal in June. I’m teaching two sessions back-to-back at a beautiful retreat center in Washington State.

As my regular readers know, I am a huge fan of the Quick Curve Ruler and the designs created by those talented sisters (Jenny, Helen, and Sherilyn) at Sew Kind of Wonderful. For the retreat I chose one of their free patterns that call for the QCR Mini Ruler. The pattern is called Mini Mod Tiles and looks like this:

Isn’t that fabulous? This wonderfully scrappy quilt was made and quilted by Jenny Pedigo of Sew Kind of Wonderful, finishing at about 34″ square. (Photo used with permission.)

My sample block, finishing at 10½” square, is made from one focus fabric, a Dena Fishbein print from the Painted Garden line for Free Spirit:


That fabric was in my stash just waiting to be picked for this project. I chose a vibrant yellow tone-on-tone print for the connector pieces and couldn’t resist the temptation to add a square of color in the center of the block. My background fabric is a white-on-white dot.

It’s good to be back in the saddle with blogging and sewing.

 

 

 

Posted in family, QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, Quisters (Quilt Sisters), update | 8 Comments

Cause for Celebration


Did you know that March is National Craft Month? Not only that, March 18 is National Quilting Day.

But wait — there’s more!

March 18 is also Worldwide Quilting Day — a day to celebrate the art and craft of quilting with like-minded friends around the globe:

I follow quite a few quilters in other countries through Instagram (are you on Instagram too? You can find me here) so I am delighted to know quilters around the world are celebrating the same day we are.

National Quilting Day is always celebrated on the third Saturday of March, coinciding this year with two quilt shows in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area.

The 23rd annual “Airing of the Quilts” is this Friday and Saturday, March 17-18, at the Milwaukie Center, 5440 SE Kellogg Creek Drive in Milwaukie, Oregon. It’s a non-juried community quilt show exhibiting old and new quilts, traditional and non-traditional. Show hours are 9:00 am to 4:00 pm both days. For more information, visit www.MilwaukieCenterQuiltShow.org.

“Every Quilt Tells a Story” is the theme of the Metropolitan Patchwork Society’s one-day show Saturday, March 18, at the Beaverton Public Library, 12375 SW Fifth St., Beaverton, Oregon. Hours of the show are 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. This show is also non-juried and features quilts made primarily by MPS members.

I’m a member and have submitted two quilts I completed last year: Stella by Starlight . . .


. . . and Ring Toss:

If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll visit one or both of these quilt shows.

Quiltmakers are always being exhorted to support their local quilt shops. In the spirit of National Quilting Day and Worldwide Quilting Day, consider this a call to support your local quilt guilds as well.

See you at the show!

 

 

 

Posted in kaleido-spinner, kaleidoscope quilts, Metropolitan Patchwork Society, QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, update | 1 Comment

Farewell 2016, Hello 2017

Here’s to 2017! Specifically, here’s to lots of sewing and quilting in 2017. I’m already looking forward to several projects — and not just new ones. There’s a stack of UFOs beckoning that I am actually enthusiastic about tackling. But not today.

On this fresh new day of the year, I’m looking back on what I created in 2016. Rather than going in chronological order, I’m grouping my finishes by categories.

This was the year of the Junior Billie Bag, the quintessential quilter’s tote designed by Billie Mahorney. I made a bag for myself . . .

dawns-jr-billie-bag-2016

. . . and one for my friend Deborah . . .

Debeorah's JBB other sideDeborah's JBB one side
. . . and one for my friend Miriam:

mirs-jbb-1-800mirs-jbb-3-800
Next category: baby quilts. This is the first of two incorporating a charming giraffe-themed fabric panel:

Abe's quilt
Abraham’s Quilt, 40″ x 49″ (2016)

Here’s the second one, using the same fabrics in a slightly different setting:

Malachi's quilt 1.2016
Malachi’s Quilt, 41″ Square (2016)

I didn’t use a pattern for these quilts, preferring to play with simple shapes (squares and rectangles) so that the giraffes on the fabric panels would be the focal point.

My third baby quilt of the year was this one using the pattern Just Can’t Cut It from All Washed Up Quilts:

stefans-quilt
Stefan’s Quilt, 46″ Square (2016)

All three were quilted by longarmer Sherry Wadley.

All by itself in the mini quilt category is Ring Toss, based on the pattern Mini Rings by Sew Kind of Wonderful:

Coco's quilt
Ring Toss, 32″ Square (2016)

Mini Rings was quilted by Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day. Oh, and that’s our new rescue kitty Princess Cordelia (Coco for short).

Lap quilts is the next category. Once again I used a Sew Kind of Wonderful design, adapting the pattern Chic Diamonds into this quilt I named Dragonfly Kisses:

dragonfly-kisses-dh-aug-2016

It was quilted by Sherry Wadley.

The next quilt, Where It’s @, was started in July in a class with Karla Alexander of Saginaw Street Quilts. It’s based on her pattern Rewind. I really stepped outside my comfort zone with this quilt, and I absolutely love the result:

where-its-recropped
Where It’s @, 57″ x 72″ (2016)

The last quilt in this category is Stella by Starlight, a “kaleido-spinner” using the Spinners block by Heather Peterson of Anka’s Treasures:

stella-bound-front
Stella by Starlight, 51½” x 71″ (2016)

I call it a “kaleido-spinner” because the six equilateral triangles in each block were cut from identical repeats of the focus fabric, creating a kaleidoscope effect of sorts. The four small hexagon blocks are true kaleidoscope blocks.

Both Where It’s @ and Stella by Starlight were quilted by Karlee Sandell.

The next category is runners, both bed and table. I made one of each, using the same focus fabric in each (Wander by Joel Dewberry) and the same block design (Spinners by Anka’s Treasures) with completely different outcomes. Here is WanderLust I, the king size bed runner made with five blocks:

WanderLust complete
WanderLust I, 20″ x 88″ (2016)

I liked the focus fabric so much I made the bed runner reversible:

WanderLust back and front

It was quilted by Coleen Barnhardt of the Quilted Thistle.

Here is the same focus fabric made into WanderLust II, a “kaleido-spinner” runner converted into a wall hanging:

wanderlust-2
WanderLust II, 20″ x 53″ (2016)

This was quilted by Debbie Scroggy of All Quilted LLC.

The final category is a bit of a hodgepodge. I made a quilted cover for my stepmother’s new iPad Pro . . .

ipad-pro-cover-with-straps-from-back-to-front

. . . and a cardholder for her bridge hands:

2016-09-28-14-43-32
For my friend and fellow Quister (Quilt Sister) Vickie I made an iron caddy that doubles as a pressing mat . . .

iron-caddy-3
iron-caddy-2
. . . plus a matching 4″ x 4″ fabric box that she can use as a threadcatcher:

4x4-fabric-box
For myself I made some accessories to match my Junior Billie Bag: a rotary cutter coat made from my tutorial . . .

rotary cutter cut

. . . and a scissors case . . .

scissors-case-3
. . . and a sewing caddy that sits upright in a Lucite stand:

caddy-open
A 4″ x 4″ fabric box (yes, it’s a threadcatcher) completes the ensemble:

ensemble-2

dawns-jr-billie-bag-2016

As you have surmised, I’m crazy in love with that fabric line (Paradise by Alisse Coulter for Camelot Cottons). I expect you’ll see more of it in 2017, as I bought a lot when it was released a couple years ago.

I’m sending a shout out to the talented longarm quilters who transformed my 2016 quilt tops into beautiful quilts — Coleen Barnhardt, Karlee Sandell, Debbie Scroggy, and Sherry Wadley — and to you, my loyal blog readers, for your continuing interest and support of First Light Designs.

A toast to you all on this first day of 2017!

 

 

 

Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, baby quilt, bed runners, Billie Bag, cats, faux-kaleido quilts, hexagons, iPad cover, iron caddy, Junior Billie Bag, kaleido-spinner, kaleidoscope quilts, QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, Quilter's Affair, Quisters (Quilt Sisters), rotary cutter case, sewing tool caddy, tote bags, update, wall hanging, wonky Greek key | 7 Comments

Rx for Rulers

If you’ve been quilting a while, you probably have a good-sized number of acrylic rulers on hand, the ones you use every day for cutting fabric and trimming blocks plus the specialty rulers you use on occasion. And let’s not forget the ones you bought (but maybe haven’t used yet) because they promised a faster, easier, more accurate way of cutting fabric or making a block.

With a few exceptions, these rulers tend to slip and slide on fabrics. How many of you have experienced a shift in position just as you were running your rotary cutter along a ruler’s edge? My hand is in the air.

Enter a product that may already be in your first aid kit or medicine cabinet. It’s a flexible clear 1″-wide surgical tape called Nexcare made by 3M. My friend and fellow quilter Kathy Anderson told me about it and now I’m passing the word on to all my friends who quilt.

Here’s what the package looks like. If you look carefully, you can see I have applied it to my go-to 4″ x 14″ Omnigrid ruler.

Rx for rulers 1

For years I used a product called Invisigrip on the back of my rulers. Made by Omnigrid, it’s a roll of clear film that comes attached to a paper backing. You cut it into strips, peel the paper backing away, and apply the film to the back of rulers. Invisigrip works very well at keeping rulers from sliding on fabric but it does have a couple of disadvantages.

First, the film can loosen from the back of the ruler over time and need replacing. Second, after a package has been open a while, it becomes stale. That is, it becomes impossible to separate the film from the paper backing, rendering the rest of the roll unusable. I tried sealing the roll in a Ziploc bag between applications but it still got stale.

I found myself buying a new package almost every time I got a new ruler. Over the years I have spent a fair amount of money on this product. NexCare tape is much less expensive — I think I paid around $4.50 for this double-roll package containing 20 yards — and it is very easy to apply.

All you have to do is unroll the length of tape you need, cut it with scissors, and apply it to the back of the ruler. But, being a bit of a neatnik when it comes to my sewing tools, I like to use my rotary cutter to cut straight lines so the tape lines up with the lines on my rulers. In the photos below I’m putting it on the back of a specialty ruler that I use a lot, the Quick Curve Ruler.

I place the ruler wrong side up on my cutting mat. (I put the ruler on a piece of fabric here just so you can see the markings better.) Below the ruler I unroll a length of tape the same length as the ruler, following the marking lines on the cutting mat, and press the tape onto the mat:

Rx for rulers 2

Next I trim the ends of the tape with my rotary cutter, allowing a ¼” margin between the end of the tape and the edges of the ruler. I use a stiletto (a bamboo skewer, actually) to lift up the edges of the tape where it was trimmed . . .

Rx for rulers 3

. . . and then peel the strip of tape off the mat.

Using the markings on the ruler itself as a guide, I lay the strip of tape on the ruler, positioning it a quarter of an inch from the edges, and press it in place with my fingertips. Here you can see that I added strips to the top of the ruler, leaving the area around the hanging hole clear, and added an extra stabilizing strip under the curve cut-out.

Rx for rulers 4

You can put strips around all four sides of the ruler if you wish. You can put them anywhere, for that matter. Because the cutting channel on the Quick Curve Ruler comes within a half-inch of the sides, I opted not to put strips there, adding the stabilizing strip in the center instead.

When I’m ready to use the ruler, I can see clearly through the tape:

Rx for rulers 5
Pretty nifty, don’t you think?

 

 

 

Posted in Quick Curve Ruler, tutorial, update | 20 Comments