Tuesday Tips: Accuquilt Die Cutting

Tuesday Tips: Accuquilt Die Cutting

So I’ve been debating whether or not to buy one of the new fabric die cutters available out there…I wondered… Was it really worth the price? Would it really save me time?

After watching a b’zillion videos on the Accuquilt website, and an in-person demo at one of my fabulous local quilt stores, Mill House Quilts, I was “hooked”. It wasn’t the time saved or even the “rotary cutting wrist relief” that sold me on them… It was the consistent accuracy of the pieces the Accuquilt dies cut.

There are several sizes of Accuquilt Die Cutters (ranging in price) for me to chose from.  I felt a little like Goldi-locks–this one’s too big, this one’s too small, this one is just right!  I felt for me the Go!Baby was a bit too small. I wanted to use the larger strip cutting dies, and the Baby only accepts the small dies.  On the other end of the spectrum the Go!Big Electric was too much for my small sewing space.  It would be a great choice for people with hand issues that can’t handle the manual crank.  And the Studio (the top of the line and most expensive) was way over my needs, space, and budget.  So I settled on the Go!. It can handle the larger dies, but is light-weight and easy to fold up and put on the floor under my cutting table when not in use.  Very easy to bring up and use anytime.  Of course I waited until it was on sale, and it came with a “Value Die” (55018) a 6×12″ cutting mat, die pick, and pattern booklet.   I also bought the 1-1/2 inch strip cutter–thinking ahead to log cabins in my future (yes!).

I absolutely love it!

There’s one tip I learned along the way that I’d like to share with you about preparing the fabric.  I found it helpful.  I create a simple cardboard template for the die to help.  Here’s a sample of the one I made for my 2″ finished half square triangle die…

I’m in the process of making a baby quilt for a friend (soon-to-be grandma again) that has 4″ finished Signature Blocks.  To create the two corners of the block, I need 2″ finished half square triangles, and I happen to have this die (yay! It’s part of the “value die”).   To make the cardboard template, I measure and add about a quarter inch or so on each side all around that particular die and cut it out (with paper scissors).  Then whenever I use that die, I can use this template to help me visually prepare the fabric so it’s not too large or small and I can make the most of the fabric strip or scrap from my stash.

I can place it on my ruler when I’m cutting a strip to judge the correct width…

and then place the carboard template at the end of a strip and roll the fabric around it…

…until I’ve got 6 layers of fabric (the most my Go! will cut at one time)…then I cut off the excess fabric on the strip (if any)…

And give it a quick press with my iron…

**IMPORTANT**:  Don’t forget to slip the cardboard template OUT of the fabric before you take it to the die cutter! –you do NOT want to run the cardboard template through the die cutter with the cardboard inside!!

Place the fabric over the template, being sure it hangs over all the edges of the marked die, cover with the plastic cutting mat, and run it through your die cutter…

Here’s a quick video of the cutting process…(forgive my amateur video taking!)… it’s difficult trying to do this with only one hand!  LOL

It actually didn’t take long at all! From beginning to end I cut 24 perfect half square triangles in about 2 minutes.

The best part (and the real reason I was hooked on a die cutter) is the accuracy. Each triangle is perfectly cut.  And even better, all the “dog ears” are cut off…making piecing a breeze.

Between then and now (my birthday was in there and the family knows what I want–LOL), I’ve accumulated a few more dies.  I plan to make templates for all of them except the very large strip cutters.

That’s all for today… I hope this was helpful.  I’ll share the quilt I’m making with you next time.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all my friends in the U.S.

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

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How to Make Fold-Over Labels for Your Quilts or Other Sewing Projects

How to Make Fold-Over Labels for Your Quilts or Other Sewing Projects

Earlier I blogged about how to make a flat label to sew onto your quilts or other sewn items.  But today I wanted to make some folded labels to insert into the binding of my quilts for sale (see below).

QuiltLabel1I found a great tutorial by “Easy Sewing for Beginners” (HERE)  and I decided to use my Inkjet “TransferMagic” heat transfer paper.  (It has an Oops proof guarantee after all!).  Following the instructions, I created a document on MSWord, reversed the images/words, and printed it onto the heat transfer paper—being careful to put the paper into the printer the right way.

QuiltLabel2 I cut the labels out carefully and placed each face down onto two different surfaces—a wide twill tape and a 5/8” Offray ribbon–and pressed with a hot iron using the package instructions.

QuiltLabel3After they cooled, I peeled back the backing paper very slowly and carefully and it worked…

QuiltLabel4HOWEVER,  I didn’t like the shininess and the patchy look.

The tutorial mentioned using wax paper and a hot iron to “melt” the transfer into the ribbon to solve that problem. I tried it, being sure to cover the wax paper with parchment so it wouldn’t hurt my iron)…

and UGH, …this is what happened…see below.

QuiltLabel5Instead of melting it into the ribbon, it lifted up parts of the words and images.  It didn’t matter if I pulled back the wax paper before or after it cooled–it still happened.

I thought—maybe she meant “freezer paper” instead of wax paper.  …Nope—that didn’t work either.  The same thing happened.  Finally I tried parchment paper alone…same unfortunate result.

Her tutorial used a “glossy” transfer paper & mine wasn’t glossy.  I think that might be the reason…my heat transfer paper might not have been the same as hers.  But I’m not going out shopping today to spend time searching or spend more $$ to find out if another brand might work at this point.  

Without ironing the labels, they actually DO work, 

…but the shininess bothered me.  They just didn’t look as nice as I wanted.   And I wondered what might happen if they were exposed to heat later–for example, what if someone accidentally ironed them later? …and I wonder if any other heat source (like a hot dryer) might damage them?


So ON TO PLAN B!!!

Just as I did in my tutorial for making flat quilt labels, I prepared some tightly woven cotton fabric by ironing a sheet of freezer paper to the back and cutting it to 8-1/2 x 11 inches with my rotary cutter & ruler (see the tutorial here for more information).

I created a document on MSWord (just like before), but used the “insert line” feature to give me some nice dashed guidelines as cutting guides.  This time I did not need to reverse the images/words…

QuiltLabel6After printing them directly onto the prepared cotton fabric through my inkjet printer, I cut them out, giving myself about a 1/4 inch beyond the dashed guidelines on each side of the labels.

QuiltLabel7After peeling off the freezer paper backing, it was a snap to fold in the sides of each label along the dashed lines and iron them down.

QuiltLabel8I used matching thread and a straight stitch to top stitch along the side of each label.  Doing one after another (chain piecing) makes it go fast…

QuiltLabel9After a good press, and folding them in half…THEY’RE DONE!  AND LOOKING GREAT!

QuiltLabel11Now I really like these.  They’re not stiff, there’s no blotchy shine or patchiness, and they’re  heat set and should wear for a long time.

QuiltLabel1aI’ll keep them in a jar ready for me to sew into my future quilts…like this one.

QuiltLabel1b

UPDATE:  I was curious how well these labels would wear after washing, so I attached 2 of them to a small improvised scrap quilt/binding & ran it (with my wash) through 2 machine washing & drying cycles and this is the result (see below)…


The label on the left is brand new…the 2 labels on the right were run through the regular washer/dryer cycle with regular detergent twice.  Not bad! 


And here (afew weeks later) are the three labels side-by-side after the third (on the right) was machine washed & dryed 5 times.  Not bad at all!

I hope this tutorial was helpful, and that it’s given you a few good ideas.  Give it a try and make some labels for your quilts.  
Whether you sell your quilts, give them to those you love, or keep them for yourself, it’s always important to label your work.

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

MPQ Tuesday Tips: Tame the Rocky Ruler

MPQ Tuesday Tips: Tame the Rocky Ruler

Usually I don’t have a problem with my rulers “rocking” while I’m cutting fabric.  But, it’s different when I’m trimming half square triangles—or blocks with seams.

RockyR1

I’ve added thin plastic discs to most of my rulers, but I didn’t have a chance to add them to my new Olfa 4-1/2” frosted square ruler.  While trimming (squaring up) my tiny 2 inch half-square triangles, I noticed  that because of the “hump” in the middle made by the seam (from corner to corner), my ruler would teeter-totter and make my cutting accuracy challenging.

What do to?  I don’t have any more of the plastic disks.  So…I found a post-in note pad in my sewing drawer…PERFECT!

DSC06020

I tore off 3 or 4 pages and cut a strip along the top (the part with the sticky underneath)—and cut it into thirds…

RockyR3

And “stuck” each to the bottom of my ruler on the three corners farthest from the 0″ mark.

RockyR4

It “leveled out the playing field” and now my ruler doesn’t rock!  If you give it a try, you might need a few pages more or less–it’s easy to add or subtract pages if you need to.

RockyR5

So now I’m on a roll…without rocking!    And I can easily take them off when I’m done.

I’m sure painter’s tape would work as well, but the post-it’s were in my sewing room, and there’s no sticky residue after I take them off.

Hope you enjoyed this “TUESDAY TIPS”…

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

Making a Flat Label for Quilts and Quilted Items DIY

Making a Flat Label for Quilts and Quilted Items DIY

I needed a flat sew-in label with my shop name and logo for smaller items, like placemats, mug rugs, key fobs, etc.  So I think I figured out a way to do it myself using my PC, Microsoft Word, and an inkjet printer.

I opened up a new Word document and, since I knew I wanted very small labels, I went to page layout and created four columns (see “more columns”).

FlLabels1

Then it was just a matter of “inserting” a jpeg picture of my logo that I had on file (resizing it to fit)  and adding the wording in the style, size, and font I liked best.  Once I had one done, all I had to do was “cut & paste” it down the page until all the columns were filled up for one page.

FlLabels4

Next, get out the freezer paper, and the tightest weave white muslin you have on hand.

FlLabels2

Iron some freezer paper onto the muslin and cut it down with your rotary cutter and ruler so it’s exactly the size of a piece of paper (8-1/2 x 11”).

FlLabels

Iron it again—just to be sure all the corners and edges are secure.  I like to run my lint remover over it, just to be sure I didn’t pick up any stray threads.

FlLabels5

For my printer, I needed to put the prepared fabric upside-down so it would feed correctly.  And print on best quality setting.

FlLabels6

To be sure it’s secure on the item, I fused it to a sheet of Steam-A-Seam 2 (double fusible web).

FlLabels7

Hint:  After it’s cool, it’s easier to pull the backing sheet off now, rather than later.  But be sure to save the backing sheet!

FlLabels8

Then it’s just a matter of cutting the labels to the size you want.  I like to do them a column at a time, and only cut what I need.  I can put the sheet of labels that’s left back onto the saved backing sheet to store for the next time I need them.

FlLabels9

First I iron them onto the item (it helps secure them for stitching).

FlLabels01

And then I stitch them in place, using a matching thread.

FlLabels02

And here are the finished key fobs!

I’m not sure how much these labels will stand up to washing—but since many of my smaller items don’t need to be washed much (if at all), I’m not worried.  I may do a test in the future just for fun.

Until next time…HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

4 Easy (Cheap) Ways to Organize Fabric (part 3)

4 Easy (Cheap) Ways to Organize Fabric (part 3)

The last two posts dealt with organizing fabric over 1/3 yard.  Now we’ll talk about organizing all those smaller pieces of fabric.

If you’re anything like me, you can’t resist buying another fat quarter, or quarter-yard, or keeping all those little leftovers just in case you might need them.  That adds up to a lot of little pieces of fabric.  For those anywhere from 1/8 yard to 1/3 yard, I use this technique that’s been working well for me.

TIP #4 Smaller Pieces of Fabric (under 1/3 yd).

I love salads—yummy and good for you—so I found the perfect re-use for the plastic tubs the salad greens come in.

To organize your smaller pieces of fabric, all you need is:

  • A clean left-over salad tub (the smaller size works best for this), and
  • A piece of thin cardboard cut to about 3×5” (or an index card)—or whatever the height & width of your container.

Lay your fabric out selvedge to selvedge, and (whichever way works best, depending on it’s size), fold it over and iron it to about the 5” mark.

Place the cardboard on one edge, and begin folding it over the card until it looks like this (below)…then press.

Slip the cardboard out (so you can re-use it)

And place the folded fabric into your clean plastic salad bin.  Organize by color (or however you’d like)…

I’ve got some by color, batiks by color in another area, and some are by stripes or plaids, or seasonal prints.

It makes it easy to find the bits and pieces you might need for your next project…and the tubs fit nicely on my particle board white shelving…

Here’s what the organized part of my quilting studio looks like (below)–I won’t show you the rest right now…HA!

There’s more work to be done.  When your “studio” is only about 8 x 10 ft., you have to stay as organized as you can or you can’t move! You should see the mess when I’m starting a new project!

Oh, I also use the larger salad bins to keep strips that cut from leftovers and a bin with 5” squares.  The bins are also great for keeping small future projects together or keep leftover patches.

While catching up (and watching new episodes) of Downton Abby, I did a little knitting, and shipped these new items off to Mikayla’s Grace:

Shipped January 2015

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

4 Easy (Cheap) Ways to Organize Fabric (part 2)

4 Easy (Cheap) Ways to Organize Fabric (part 2)

So in the last post I dealt with organizing fabric that’s one yard and over.  Now we’ll deal with the pieces that measure under a yard…

I purchased this garment folder from REI to help me organize/pack clothes for a trip.  Basically, it has a thin board that you use to fold your clothes around.  You slip out the thin board and stack the clothes in a neat little pile into your luggage.  Great idea…and then the “light went on”…this will work for fabric just as well!

#3 One-third to One Yard Fabric

So…I decided to use this idea to flat fold my fabric (about 1/3 to 1 yard) for stacking on the shelf.   Start by pressing the fabric  with selvedges together, then fold one more time.

Then grab a folder–they’re about 9-1/2 x 12″.  If you don’t have a folder, cut a piece of thin cardboard about that size.

Center it on the piece of folded fabric, and then fold each raw edge over it…

And press!  Finally, slide the folder out…(to re-use again)…

and fold it in half once more time and press

This is the perfect size to stack on a shelf.  If you have most of the folds facing the front, you can easily see what’s there and grab a stack when you’re looking for that special batik, or color.

Next time I’ll post about an easy (and cheap) way to store or organize your fabric under 1/3 yard…

Until then, HAPPY QUILTING!

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts

4 Easy (Cheap) Ways to Organize Fabric

4 Easy (Cheap) Ways to Organize Fabric

For some reason, at the beginning of each new year I get the urge to clean up and organize things.  How about you?  Is it the cold Wisconsin winter with no distractions of gardening? Or is it just the realization after Christmas is over that I’ve got too much clutter?  If you’re the same way, and have stacks of hoarded collected fabrics in various sizes, I’ll share with you the tips I discovered that work for me to organize fabric in my teeny tiny quilt studio (sewing room)…

TIP #1:  Two yards or more

Anything two yards or more gets rolled onto a used fabric board.

These cardboard fabric boards are free (free is my favorite)—just ask at your local fabric store when you see them stacked up by the cutting table.  Most stores are happy to give you a few (you’re being environmentally responsible—and “recycling” too)…they’’ll just throw them out anyway.

Iron your fabric (folding selvedge to selvedge) and simply roll it onto the board.  You can find your fabrics easily—and it looks so pretty…and it’s feel good, like you have my own little quilt fabric shop!

TIP #2: One to Two Yards

These are large enough you want to see them too–but you don’t want them taking as much space as the larger boards.

So lay your fabric selvedge to selvedge, then fold it over one more time and press.

Cut one of the fabric boards in half (I use a kitchen serrated knife), and wrap the fabric on the half-board.

And put these on a shelves that aren’t as tall–takes up half the space.

And doesn’t that look great on the shelf?  A good reminder of what you’ve got on hand.

Okay—we’ve taken care of the fabric that’s one yard and over…what about the smaller pieces (and I’ve got a lot)…

TWO TIPS DOWN, two tips to go…  I’ll share the next two tips in my future posts.  “Stay tuned” 🙂

Until then, HAPPY QUILTING

Jane

Mulberry Patch Quilts