Last week I showed you how I use a laser level for quilting. There are some other tools I use that I may have “borrowed” (permanently) from the garage. Here’s a rundown of more tools for quilting that don’t come from the quilt shop.
We saw the laser level and the carpenter’s tape measure last week.
Another thing I use for many quilty things is painter’s tape.
Any kind will do. I use it to mark things. For example: before I load a quilt top on my frame, I lay it out on the floor and measure it. I measure the length and width in at least 3 places.
This gives me information about the square-ness of the quilt. I can make adjustments while quilting to help the quilt be more square if needed.
I also observe the piecing and the borders. If there are blocks that do not lie flat, I put a piece of painter’s tape on them. As I work my way through the quilt, I can deal with that fullness as those blocks come up. The tape reminds me that a block needs special attention.
If there is waviness in the borders, I mark where the excess fabric is with the tape. I can encourage the borders to lay flat in those areas, without distorting the rest of the border.
When working in Clear-view mode do you sometimes forget where your quilting area ends? Use painter’s tape to mark it. No more flat circles!
For you stationary machine quilters or hand quilters: use painter’s tape to secure your backing fabric flat and smooth during the basting process.
Hammer and Block
Let’s talk about thicknesses on the quilt. Like the places where 6 or 8 seam allowances come together in one spot. It’s hard for your foot to get over those spots. The Glide Foot will work most times, but there can be times when even the Glide foot is challenged by that thickness.
I use a hammer and a wooden block to compress the thick spot.
Notice that I have the head of my hammer wrapped with a scrap of quilted fabric secured with a rubber band.
This protects the fabric of your quilt top.
To manage a super thick area, hold the wood block under the quilt sandwich and wack the offending thickness with the padded hammer. It works really well and is so satisfying!
You can also use the wood block as a tailor’s clapper when pressing your seam allowances. A tailor’s clapper is used to get flat, crisp seams and creases while sewing. It does wonders to make your blocks super flat. To use it, press your seam allowances and as soon as you remove the iron, place the clapper on top of the seam. Leave it there til the fabric cools (about 10 seconds). The clapper traps the heat and steam and forces it into the fabric. The weight of the clapper holds the seam flat against the ironing board. Once cool, it’s like the seam is permanently pressed.
The clapper needs to be raw wood, not painted or finished in any way. It should also be smooth. Hardwoods work best. You can purchase a fancy one or you can make your own.
Chalk Holder and primary grade pencil sharpener
These didn’t come from the garage, but from the school supplies (don’t tell my grandkids!).
Any time I need to mark a quilt for quilting, my go-to marking tool is white chalk. There can be times white chalk won’t show, but most of the time it works well. White chalk will not stain your quilt fabrics and is easily removed by simply brushing it off. It is without a doubt the safest marking tool we have.
I like to use a chalk holder; I break far less chalk that way. You can find them online. I also like to sharpen the end of the chalk to a finer point. To do that you need a pencil sharpener that has the big hole used for the fat primary grade pencils and crayons. (Note: you never get a super fine point on chalk sticks. But what you get from the sharpener is usually good enough.)
Do you have any unusual tools in your quilting studio? Please share in the comments!
Quilt Every Day!
by Mary Beth Krapil