Friday, May 20, 2011

Framed Block Quilt Part 2 Quilt Making Tools

I think some of the greatest tools for quilt making these days are the cutting mat, quilting ruler and rotary cutter.  How did anyone manage before they became available? 
If you are a new to sewing,  interested in quilting and need some help, this is where you start.  Purchase a cutting mat (at least 24" x 36) and a 45mm or 60mm rotary cutter.  You will also need a quilting ruler to make nice straight cuts. I also purchased a free motion quilting foot (more on free motion quilting in a future blog) and a 1/4" piecing foot with blade.  The 1/4" piecing foot is wonderful.  It has a blade on the side that guides your material and keeps your seems at 1/4".  I love it and would be lost without it.  Of course you need a sewing machine! 

I had such a driving need to make this quilt, but at the time I wasn't really sure that I would end up with a completed quilt that looked anything like the original quilt that I coveted.
A hundred steps loomed ahead, steps that required some kind of order, steps that were just kind of floating around in my head. So, I took the first step of gathering the required tools.
Of course my current sewing machine had been purchased in the 80's and had only been out of the closet for a few minutes in the last few years.  I took a good look at it and decided that an upgrade was in order.

I spent hours and hours pouring over sewing machines and reviews before picking my new machine.  I have to add  I had a very small budget at the time and I didn't know if I would be interested in sewing with the new machine, once my obsession with the Heather Bailey quilt had been quenched.  I wish I had known that the first quilt would only be the beginning of a love of fabrics, quilts and quilting. 

So with my budget in mind  I ordered the new sewing machine on the amazon.com website, a Brother CS6000i.  At the time it was only $179.  I read all the reviews, they were pretty good, I ignored the bad reviews (my mistake) but it seems every item has some bad reviews.  Let me just say that the machine ended up in the trash 6 months later.  I purchased it and used it for that first framed block quilt. As you can see from the photo I posted (part 1) the quit looks pretty good.  My problems came later with extended use and rag quilting projects.  It jamed constantly especially on thicker fabrics.  I became very frustrated,  after all I just wanted to sew a straight line!  How hard could it be?  Into the trash it went.
I replaced it with a new Janome Magnolia 7330.   If I were doing a sewing machine review at this point I would say that I love my new Janome sewing machine.  Yes at $349 it was twice the price of the Brother, not bad considering you could easily spend thousands on a good sewing machine.  The great thing about the Janome is that I don't have to fight with it to get it to sew.  It sews thick fabrics just as easily as thin fabrics. It rarely jams, The stitches are nice and even. What more could I ask for?  It has lots of stitches that I never bother using, but who knows what projects will come my way in the future? 

Next I purchased that wonderful Heather Bailey Fabric. I'm not very good at deciding which fabrics go with what but I just returned to that original quilt that I had seen on Etsy and ordered the same fabric designs.  Since I don't seem to have a talent for picking out quilt fabrics I have found that just choosing several fabrics from a designers line works pretty well. I also do searches on Etsy for "Fabric Bundles"  people who have more color sense than I offer fabric bundles for sale on several Etsy sites.  Here is a link to one of them  http://www.etsy.com/shop/fabricworm .  Seeing 5 or 6 fabrics that are already bundled together really helps me decide what fabrics I want to use for a new quilt. 

When I ordered the Heather Bailey fabrics I had no idea how much I would actually need and accidently ordered enough for several quilts.  But oh how pretty it all was, I couldn't wait to get started!

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