Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sewing Room Essentials - a few of my favorite things

HI! I have gotten several questions by email about what things I love to use with my sewing and quilting, so I decided to go ahead and do a blog post about what I have found that works well for my purposes. Now...I am not a "Professional" quilter...I have not been to art school (I took art in school, if that counts for anything) I am mostly self taught, especially since moving to the desert. These are the things that I like and the advice that I have for new quilters. I am not much of a "Seamstress" so I won't give any advice on that front. I make Bags (zillions of bags), quilts, pillows and hats. For the most part they are ALL quilted, so I am going to call myself a quilter.

Tools...You need a good cutting mat, rotary cutter, scissors, big plastic ruler and measuring tape. Spider man helps out too...I guess that is Ethan's addition to the photo shoot. I should have taken a picture of my rubbish bin. Quilting is messy. I slice off lots of unusable bits of fabric and thread and my house is carpeted. So the thread gets all stuck in the carpet...unless I toss it immediately in the bin. SO I do try to keep tidy. You should too ;o)

You need GOOD scissors. I finally bought a pair of Ginghers and I just love them. The kids know to keep their grubby little paws off! They are completely off limits for anything except cutting fabric. I have about 4 other pairs of Fikers around the house that are used for all the other cutting needs that I have during the day. You need a good rotary cutter. I didn't know that they made bad ones until I taught a class and one of the ladies was using this tool that was masquerading as a rotary cutter, but I think it was really just a...well I don't know what it was, it was crap. And there are few things more dangerous than a dull blade. Keep your blades sharp. All my rotary cutter accidents (there have been quite a few) have taken place with dull blades.

You will need a good ruler. I love the Omnigrid rulers. They are clearly marked and come in a wonderful variety of sizes. My most used size is the 24" x 6". If you were only going to buy one ruler that is the one to buy. I have a 12" x 1" that I really like too, but I couldn't find it for the picture. I have a hunch that Emma has it in her room. She thinks it is cute too.

You will need a good Cutting Mat. I like the OFLA cutting mats. The first one I bought back about 11 years ago was 24" x 18". That was a good size for the amount of sewing I was doing then, but when we moved down here I upgraded and got a bigger one that is 36" x 24" I love it. I love how big it is. I can pile all my stuff on it and tote it out to the dining room table and when it is dinner time I pile everything back up and we can use the table again.

You are going to need an iron. Fabric is the only thing I iron. I hate ironing clothes, but I love pressing my fabric. I also have that closet covered with a big piece of cotton batting and I use it to but various quilt blocks up on to remind me of some of my other little projects. It is sorta an inspiration board...but not really. Also I have a big fat roll of glorious Quilters Dream Cotton batting. I buy it by the roll because I use it all the time. I love it. Buy good batting ladies. don't put crap between you quilt just because no one will see it. Polyester is basically plastic, and who in their right mind wants to sleep/sweat under a plastic quilt? Gross.

OK....this is going to be a long one. You might want to go to my Flickr picture for this one since it will be all labeled up. You will want a good sewing machine. I had an elcheapo Singer (I bought it at the PX) first and completely destroyed it with the first needle change. Don't ask me how...it was very horrible. The I bought my first Bernina. I love a bernina...they really make sewing pleasant. I financed it, but I bought my second outright with the money I made from the things I made with the first one. See it is and investment that just gives back to you! Well not really...I do have one hell of a fabric addiction. But I won't open that box or worms yet.
I have lots of sewing machine feet. I like to change them out frequently. On one bag I may use 6 different machine feet. I don't know how wild you are going to get, so the basics are a regular foot, 1/4" foot, walking foot and a darning foot (that is what I use to do my quilting with. I have a BSR, but I swear it hates me, so I avoid it. I don't feel it is worth the $$$$$, just my opinion, mind you. There may be something wrong with mine, but as I have the only one in the Northern Territory, no one can help me out with it.) boo hoo.
You need too straight pins...and a pretty pin cushion. I recommend you make your own. Very liberating. Nice thread snips or embroidery scissors by your machine so you can clip threads.
Thread. I like cotton thread. I use mostly King Tut long staple cotton thread. It costs lots, but I love the subtle glow it gives my finished products. I buy the big spools so I had to buy that stand the yellow thread is on to make it feed into the machine properly. Very good purchase. You will need a seam ripper, and I love canned air. It is very fun to blow all the lint out of the bobbin case area of the machine. I oil my machine regularly too. Make sure you use the right oil, not WD40 or I heard some poor soul oiled her machine with olive oil...yeah...don't do that. It will seize things up. Oh, good light. I like to sew by an window. I think this room gets so much light here in the outback I could probably sew in the middle of the night (the moon is crazy bright here with no ozone and little light pollution).

Lastly...books. I LOVE books. I have quite a quilting library in my little sewing room. I have had to buy lots since the library here is not well stocked. Now if you live near a good library you a soooo lucky. I love the inspiration I get from books. I am NOT a pattern follower or copy cat. I like to get kinda an idea for a quilt....then take it from there. One reason I LOVE Gwen Marston so much is that she just kinda gives her approach to how she made a block and you can do whatever you want with it from there. I love that. I have been influenced by her quite a bit lately. I can't recommend her books highly enough. Very nice introduction to everything. Check one out from the library and get ready for the inspiration to flow. I really like Gees Bend quilts too...lots of great movement and spirit in those pieces.
OK...I have been at this long enough. The kids are going crazy and I need to go see what the heck is going on
I wish you all so much luck and joy in your quilting journey...have fun with it. Find your own style and let your spirit have a little free reign. Feel free to ask questions...I will try to answer them in the comment section. I am going to try harder at that.


The Army of Four said...

You forgot the ever-so-important coffee cup. :) Though I did see one in a couple of your pix.....
Hahahahaha! Great post!

the Campfollower said...

Oh The coffee cup is there! I always have one (or 4) in the morning and then I have to switch to water.

Helen said...

Your inspiration wall looks great! Big fan of Gwen Marston here too.....

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