Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Stripology Squared Ruler Rocks!

I am a scrap quilter.  That has already been well established.  As such, I'm generally not easily persuaded to buy specialty rulers for cutting this, that and the other, unless I can clearly see a benefit to doing so.  Part of it is not wanting to add more clutter to my sewing room when I don't use said specialty ruler as has happened in the past, nor do I want to waste money on something I don't use when said money could be used to buy fabric :-).  So it takes A LOT to get me to purchase a new type of ruler other than my tried and true Omnigrids that I have in various sizes.  I have considered getting a die cutter, briefly, at various points in my quilting career, to make cutting my scraps down to usable sizes faster and easier.  I have never been able to justify the cost or the space required, so thus far I have continued cutting down my scraps the old fashioned way (i.e. with whichever Omnigrid ruler worked best. Enter the Stripology Squared Ruler.  This ruler is the successor to the original Stripology Ruler.  I was able to resist the original ruler based on my quilting friends' reviews that it wasn't long enough for cutting longer pieces of fabric.  That problem has been solved with the Stripology Squared Ruler.  I was still on the fence about it until Gudren Erla, the designer of the ruler, sent one to Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville for her birthday.  Bonnie is a scrap quilter extraordinaire and when she used her ruler to cut down her scraps into strips for the quilt she was working on, I was sold.

My ruler arrived last week and while there were instructions included noting all of the different things you could do with the ruler, my focus was on cutting down my scraps and cutting my strips for my Perkiomen Daydreams quilt in progress so I just dove in without reading them lol.  I had quite a pile of my own scraps and gifted scraps to be dealt with so I started with those.  I'm trying to turn over a new leaf and deal with scraps as they come rather than storing them in boxes of  "Scraps to be Cut Down", of which there are currently 3 or 4 crammed full.  Oy.  No need to add to THAT backlog, so off I go with my new ruler.  While I couldn't use the ruler for all of the scraps to be cut down, boy did it make short work of the pieces to be cut into strips.  So far, so good. 

Scraps before pressing:

Pressed and ready to be cut into useful shapes, or kept as is (i.e. I keep a box of just triangles that work great for the corners of string blocks or for paper piecing triangle shapes as well as boxes of "crumbs" for paper piecing or crumb blocks).

Trimmed scraps.  The ruler is designed with markings for easy cutting of 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 inch strips, but you can cut pretty much any width strip you need as the ruler has cutting openings every half inch.  You just have to make sure that you count correctly :-).

Next I put the ruler to work cutting more of the bazillion strips that I need for Perkiomen Daydreams.  I want as much variety as possible and I want this quilt to be a scrapbook of fabrics I carried in the shop, so that involves lots and lots of strip cutting of lots and lots of different fabrics.  I stack the fabrics three at a time with pieces that are approximately the same width and I put the widest at the bottom and the narrowest on the top.  Clean up one edge, cut as many strips as you can from the stack and wa la, beautifully cut strips in a fraction of the time.

The biggest bonus so far having purchased this ruler is using it to subcut all of the strip sets I need for Perkiomen Daydreams.  Due to the long length of the ruler, I can easily cut two sets at a time.  This has saved me SO much time!  I will definitely pull out my Stripology Squared Ruler anytime I need to do a major amount of subcutting of strips or strip sets.

So in conclusion, this ruler is a bit spendy compared to other rulers out there, but the quality is great, it's made by Creative Grids so it has grippers automatically built in to avoid slippage, and it's a huge time saver.  The time saving aspect alone makes the cost of the ruler worth as it will pay for itself many times over since as quilters we all know that there are more quilts to make than time in the day LOL.  The larger shape makes it a challenge for shipping, but if I can figure out a way to efficiently ship the rulers, I will definitely stock them in the shop.

And here is the progress on Perkiomen Daydreams since my last post.  The blocks for rows 4 and 5 are completed, but I want to make at least one more row and then shuffle the blocks around to mix up the fabrics a bit more.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Quilting Fun at Retreat!

The weekend before last I attended a quilt retreat at Thumper Pond Resort in Ottertail, MN.  This is my third year attending this retreat, but the first year that I lived only about 60 miles away.  Since the weather forecast was good, I opted to take mostly county roads rather than state highways, hoping for some great scenery as well as the opportunity to see some of the area near our new home.  I was not disappointed.  The drive was beautiful in both directions with lots of lakes, woods, winding roads and rolling hills.  I also discovered that there are Amish living about 30 miles from us.  My husband's heritage is Amish, so we find it very cool to be living so close to them.  We will definitely be going back to that area as it looked like there was at least one family that made furniture and we want to see what other goods we might find.  When I traveled through Amish country in Wisconsin last spring I came home with 3 quarts of honey, some pure maple syrup made by a Gingerich (my husband's surname) as well as several yummy jams.  Scott's father was raised Amish until he was 10 and I wish he were still alive to go with us when we go back to the area.  On my way home, I came across a buggy on the road while in a no passing zone and on a hill.  The horse pulling the buggy was beautiful, but I obviously couldn't get a picture of the horse as I was passing them!  It was just a treat to see them out and about.  On my way TO the retreat, I passed a group of Amish children and their mother playing outside in the snow and having a lot of fun.  While I wouldn't care to give up my conveniences of electricity, computers, etc., it was refreshing to see children outside playing on a nice day rather then glued to various electronic devices.  Of course there are adults who are just as bad and just as addicted to their cell phones, computers, etc.

So back to the retreat.  My first goal was to get some quilts quilted since I was in free motion quilting mode.  I believe I took 5 basted quilts and I got two of them completely quilted and a third one is in process.  The first one I quilted was Tumbling Nine Patch by Sweet Jane's Designs.  This quilt is for a shop sample and I will be putting together some kits.  I really, really like quilting swirls and allover swirls were a good pattern for this quilt, so off I went with my swirls.  Below is the quilted quilt and a closeup of the quilting.

Next up was quilting my Reef table runner.  This should have been a quick and easy job, but it was anything but.  The Sulky rayon thread I was trying to use on the top keep shredding and breaking.  I tried a different size needle.  Same result.  I went and bought Microtex Sharp needles from the vendor and tried one of those.  Same result.  I re-threaded and tried yet another different needle.  Same result.  After consulting my quilting friends, the only thing we could conclude was that the batik fabrics were shredding the thread due to the tightness of their weave.  I have a practice quilt sandwich with me that is made from muslin so I tried the thread on that and it seemed to work fine, so it could very likely be the batiks.  Fortunately, I had a cotton thread with me in virtually an identical color, so I was able to keep going with the quilting without ripping out the first quilting done in the rayon thread.  The two threads look so similar that you really have to inspect to figure out which end of the runner was originally started with the rayon.  The rayon has more sheen than the cotton, but you even have to look for that, so problem handled and the quilting got done.  This little quilt is also a shop sample and it is a free pattern included with the Reef Charm Pack by Timeless Treasures.

Once those two quilts were quilted, I decided to give my shoulders and arms a break and worked on making and attaching some bindings.  The little quilt below had the binding completely attached by machine so I could send it back to Grand Forks with one of my quilting friends for donation to our Guild's Outreach program for foster children.

I got a couple more bindings attached and ready for the hand sewing and then I went back to quilting.  Next up was Oh Christmas Tree and more swirls :-).  What can I say, I've got those down and they look nice as an allover pattern.

I got about half of the quilt quilted and then I reached machine quilting burnout for the weekend and switched to piecing for the rest of the time.  I only brought one piecing project to the retreat because it is in the early stages and has 10,000 pieces, so I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get anywhere close to finishing and needing another project to work on lol.  I've continued working on the project since I've been home from the retreat and I am now working on blocks for row number 4 of 20.  There are 20 blocks in each row.  Now that I've got 3 rows laid out, the design is starting to emerge.  The pattern is Perkiomen Daydreams by Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville and it's in her first book titled Scraps and Shirttails.