Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Some thoughts on tools for quilting and a tip

I am a big believer in using any tool that will help me do a better job in my quilting, but I am not obsessed with perfection. There is too much perfection expected in my work life and this is probably a big part of the reason that I am drawn to the prim style in quilting--the beauty is in the imperfection. It allows me to relax and enjoy the process instead of focusing on making sure everything is perfect. Don't get me wrong--I fully appreciate the beautiful masterpieces created by quilters that clearly take pride in their preciseness--but I am not one of them, and I'm perfectly happy in that.

All of that said, I'm a lover of quilting tools. I have an Accuquilt Studio cutter, and this is my favorite toy (besides my sewing machine and longarm). I have long had issues with cutting due to carpal tunnel syndrome, and the cutter makes my life so much easier when cutting out many pieces. I love quilts with LOTS of pieces in them; I had been avoiding them because of how much pain I would be in after an afternoon of cutting. 

I love how beautifully it cuts and how the pieces line up together with no dog ears! But...I experienced my first let-down with my cutter's results this week.

When I decided on the quilt I wanted to make for my retiring coworker, I based the block size on dies I already owned. Knowing that there were going to be many flying geese units, I determined that I needed a quarter-square triangle unit in two sizes, 2" and 4" finished. I had the corresponding half-square triangle dies needed for the "wings". I ordered the two dies and when they came in, I cut away.

Fast forward to this past weekend. After sewing all of the larger flying geese units (finished 2" x 4"), I noticed when I lined them up with the inner small star of the block, the flying geese unit was larger than the other unit - by 1/8". That doesn't sound like much to some, and sure, I could fudge, but I shouldn't have to! 

I measured the 4" finished die and sure enough--the hypotenuse measures 4-5/8" instead of 4-1/2" where the dog ears have been eliminated. I'm keeping the die, but I'm going to call Accuquilt and talk to them about this issue.

In the meantime, I have a quilt to finish. Trimming 1/8" off of each of these units means whacking off 1/16" from each side of the unit. I know about the Bloc-Loc tool but I don't have one, so I looked in my ruler stash to see what would be helpful. Lo and behold, there was my Dear Jane square ruler that I haven't used since I started my DJ quilt back in 2003 (I've made 2 blocks!). The ruler is actually 5" square, but it's not a traditional ruler; it's used for lining up those tiny blocks and trimming down. Here's what I did with it:

UPDATE: I called Accuquilt yesterday. I explained the situation to the lovely person that answered the phone (I'm sorry I don't remember her name). We discussed the matter for about 10 minutes; I shared with her my experience and the measurements of the die. The customer service rep said she would turn in the issue and let me know what shakes out. It will be interesting to see if I get a response. She mentioned that they were packaging the particular die in question with their Go value die as a 2" x 4" flying geese die package. For reference, the die I'm having an issue with is 55316 for the Go. The reason why I bought this particular die instead of the one for the Studio is that the die for the Studio only has one triangle shape--the Go die had 3 triangles. I love cutting in quantity. 

I tested the die again last night by cutting 4 QSTs and joining them together in an hourglass block. The block measured 4-9/16"--1/16" larger than it should be! I even took a bigger bite in the seam allowance--it's 5/16".

I hope I hear from Accuquilt. I'll let you know if I do.


Happy quilting,