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Squaring UP: using Quilters Select Ruler

Now that all the blocks have been sewn, cut and pressed open, it was time to start squaring up and trimming the blocks. I used the 5 inch Quilter Select Ruler, the same one I used in the blog post about Using the Tools, when the squares were originally subcut from the fabric strips.

3 reasons to use Quilters Select Ruler for squaring up

Reason 1- picking it up

The 5″ square Quilters Select ruler is just the right size; since the blocks are to be squared at 4 1/2” and it is easily picked up and moved about with just one hand. As I get older I find that my hands do not want to work any harder than they have to.

Picking up with one hand
Using the ruler with one hand

Reason 2- non-slip

The Quilters Select non-slip coating makes accurate cut easier. One of the things that often takes the joy out of creating is when my ruler slips. It makes me feel frustrated and inadequate, especially, when I have ruined a piece of fabric or a block because the ruler slipped. I have found that the coating on these rulers really helps them stay in place, especially when squaring up a block.

The 5" Square Quilters Select tint
The non-slip coating is yellow and lends a frosted look to the ruler

Reason 3- squaring up made simple

One of the most helpful aspects of the Quilters Select Rulers is the angle guidelines (30°, 45°, and 60°) and most of the rulers have 2 sets of the angle guidelines. You can see (in the photo below), the first set of angle lines, where the blue meets the white and the second set at the bottom of the block in the white.

showing the 2 sets of angle lines on 5 inch Quilters Select ruler
The 2 sets of Angle Lines on the Quilters Select ruler

Once, all the blocks were pressed, next came squaring up the half-square triangle blocks. To square up, I lined the 45°line up on the diagonal seam line, very close to the top edge of the square, and trimmed the first two sides, (the right side and the top). I then took ruler off; turned the block and trimmed the other two sides, by again lining up the 45° line on the diagonal seam and the 4 1/2 inch dashed lines on the 2 previously trimmed sides. There were 8 colors, plus the white and a bit of black, and each combination had 32 squares for a total of 256 half triangle blocks!

Stack of trimmed and squared half-square triangle blocks
Pressed, trimmed and stacked half-square triangle blocks

A note about “The Trick”

I discovered while squaring up these blocks, that the ability to turn the ruler and the fabric together (the trick)only happens on the Quilters Select Mat. If using any other brand of mat that is not as smooth as the Quilters Select mat, (like the Olfa and Fiskars mats that seem to have a slightly rougher texture), “The Trick” doesn’t work.  But I like the non-slip aspect of the ruler, more than the ability to turn the block or squaring up!!!

Designing the Quilt Top

After squaring up all the half-square triangle blocks, I took them to the design wall… Originally what little plan I had when I began this project, has almost come together. I chose the colors after going to QuiltCon 2019. I blogged here and here about the what I saw at Quiltcon. However, I was not happy with any of the experimental designs I played with on the design wall.

I played

Four Block Ideas
4 possible ideas

and played a bit more

Three Alternative Block Ideas
3 More possible ideas

But I finally landed on a design. I discovered, on Facebook, a subtle hourglass quilt created by a friend, (Betty Elliott), and thought “That’s IT!” An hourglass quilt. Isn’t it beautiful?

Inspirational Hour Glass Quilt
The inspiration quilt B Elliotts Hourglass Quilt

Next up the question of the borders. Do you plan everything before you start a project, or do you just start with a thought and grow from there? I think you can guess how I start… most of my projects… How do you start yours?

Beth

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The 3 Benefits of Pressing with a Wool Mat

Taking a slight detour to talk about another amazing tool for the sewing room. Aside from accurate cuts and seam allowances, another place accuracy counts is when pressing. I have been using a Wool Pressing Mat recently and I LOVE it. I can’t believe we thought the ironing board, with a foam pad or a pressing board with cotton batting, was good enough!

Seams pressed on a Wool Pressing Mat
Pressed on Wool

Pressing Matters

The Wool Pressing Mat is a game changer when pressing seams for quilting, and well just about any other seam you need to press; whether quilting, crafting or creating garments. It makes those seams behave beautifully.

Since this quilt is primarily half square triangles, there was plenty of room for error when pressing them open. So this was the perfect time to document how well the pressing mat does when pressing a bias seam.

Nice and Flat Seams
A pile of nice flatly pressed seams

When you use a wool pressing mat several things come in to play. The most difficult seam to press is a bias seam, like the one in a half square triangle block. How many times have you pressed a half square triangle block open, (or any block), on an ironing board, only to discover that you have pressed inaccurately? Maybe not you, but that the block moved and so did the bias of the square. Then when trying to correct the seam, it will not press out or it has stretched the block, or… well is just not right! I know it is difficult to tell when you are pressing a seam or ironing a seam… add steam and it could be worse!

Before you ask, I almost always use steam. I like it.

So to test the wool pressing mat I pressed every single seam of this top using a wool pressing mat. The half square triangle blocks pressed beautifully. Flat and crisp without any distortion.

Bias pressed without distortion
Flat pressed bias seam on a Wool Pressing Mat

Three ways a Wool Pressing Mat makes for a great pressing surface

1. A Wool Mat has a grip-naturally

When you press on a wool mat, the wool holds the fabric in place, while you gently press. The fabric or block does not slide or slip while pressing. In this case, the white half was on the mat while I opened the color side to press flat.

2. A Wool Mat has moisture-naturally

Wool naturally has a bit of moisture in it, so you get a slight benefit even without pressing with steam. However, if you like steam, it absorbs the steam so the heat and moisture from steam work from the top and the bottom. The pressing mat may become warm and or damp, and if pressing on a cutting mat or on other sensitive surfaces, may cause damage.

3. A Wool Mat gives-naturally

The reason you get such a crisply pressed seam is that the wool gives a bit, unlike pressing on a padded ironing board or pressing board, (cotton batting compress firmer than wool). And if you are a turned applique fan, you won’t believe how nicely your applique flattens without creating puckers and tucks!!

** Tip-

If you have a preference to which side to press the seam to, place the block (half square triangle block in this case), on the pressing surface with the light fabric on the bottom, (or the side you want to press the seam ‘away’ from). Set the seam, (before opening the block, press the line of stitching), next gently lift open the block and using light pressure nudge along the entire seam to open with the iron. You always have better control of the seam when you press from the top.

Pressing a bias seam on a Wool Pressing Mat
Lay the side you want to press the seam allowance away from on the Wool Pressing Mat

I also pressed all the joining seams on the wool mat and it lays perfectly flat! Do I like a pressing mat? Absolutely! And so will YOU! It solves several pressing issues, such as stretching and distortion, adds padding for pressing turned edge applique or embroidery, and enhances the power of the iron with or without steam. The wool pressing mat is 100% natural, felted wool. Environmentally friendly and even more, helps you to create with even better results. Several sizes of Wool Pressing Mats are in stock. Look for your favorite sizes 4 1/2″ Square, 8 1/2″ Square, 13 1/2″ Square and the 14×19″ Rectangle Pressing Mats at I Have A Notion™.

Have you tried a Wool Pressing Mat? Did you like it? Did you have the same experience as I? Please share your opinion in the comments. I would love to hear your thoughts.

This post is a continuation from “Using the Tools” and where this quilt top started.

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Using the Tools

I started this post on using Quilters Select Rulers because I had an opportunity to show them off in February. Once I figure out what to say, I think about supporting pictures and that leads to more things to say, and then more pictures, which makes for more post parts. So I will break it up into smaller chunks.

My Style

I really like simple and straight forward, and I hope you do too. I want to share the (my) creative process with you as well as the products “I” use so you can feel comfortable with the products available at I Have A Notion™ (new and old) for creating. Most of what I make is off the cuff (no pattern)! It most often starts with an idea… a spark… an opportunity to explore! And this could be a whole other blog post… or many!

Half Square Triangles Quilt
Using Quilters Select Tools to make a quilt!

Quilters Select

I started down the road to this quilt (it is still a top, so not yet technically a quilt), while getting ready for a “One Stop Shop Hop” in February. The idea was to let shoppers try using Quilters Select products, (mats, rulers and rotary cutter) so they could judge for themselves the features and benefits.

Due to space limitations at the Shop Hop, I took some 5” precut WOF (width of fabric) strips and let interested parties sub-cut the strips into 5” squares. Mostly this demo was about the ruler benefits, but the cutter and the mat are also pretty awesome.

Quilters Select Products,Ruler for Sub-Cutting WOF, Rotary Cutter and Cutting Mat
Sub-cutting from the white 5″ strip

Non-Slip

When using the Quilters Select ruler, the non-slip coating on the back of the ruler grips the fabric. The ruler really does not slip.

The Non-Slip aspect of the Quilters Select Ruler
The non-slip coating on the back of the ruler makes it easy to make precision cuts

Cutting LInes

The cutting lines of the rulers (are thin and do not interfere with the ability to line up). In the picture below, I have my old favorite ruler lined up next to the Quilters Select 5” square. What did I like about the old ruler? I liked the narrow solid lines and the even thinner dashed lines. However, the Quilters Select rulers have even thinner lines and allow for more accurate cuts, no dilemma about which side of a line to use. See photo below.

Comparison of ruler lines
Previous Favorite ruler on the left – Quilters Select on the right

The Angles

Angles of the rulers are in two places, even the 5” square has two sets of angle lines! So you don’t have to flip and flop a ruler to use an angle. The line I needed was never where I needed it, causing me to turn the ruler several times until I figured it out. **Note that even the 5” square has two sets of angle lines! So you don’t have to flip and flop a ruler to use an angle. The 5″ square is the smallest of the Quilters Select Rulers. See Photo above.

Frosting

The frosted tinting (yellow allows you to see the edge of the fabric better, regardless of the print or color of the fabric). My old ruler (on the left in the picture above), was also frosted, clear. I liked it for the same reasons. And again see above photo. The shade of the tinting varies from a pale yellow to one a bit darker.

Stacked

Stacked measuring numbers. If you look at the ruler in the photo, there are 2 sets of numbers on each full inch line. They grow from the right to the left, and in reverse on the lower numbers (white arrows). Making it so these rulers can be used from either side. It also makes it easier if you are left-handed, skips the math!!! You can also see the stacked number system on the Cutting Mat (red arrows).

The Quilters Select Stacked numbers

Making the Quilt

I brought the quilt squares home and paired a 5″ colored square to a white one, drew the 2 stitching lines and set about making 256 half square triangles. Stitched and cut the squares in half, and then pressed open.

Stitching the squares to make half square triangle blocks
Stitching the squares to make half square triangle blocks

Summary

In short, I love these rulers. The cutter will take a little getting used to, I have been using an Olfa since 1984 (still have my first one). The weight is the biggest difference, and cutting angle is a little different too, but not as radical as some of the other “improved” rotary cutters. I also like the mat. I did discover that the Quilters Select “Trick” only works on the Quilters Select mat and did not work on the rougher surface of the Olfa mat. You can find the Quilters Select Products here

Next up we will talk about pressing the half square triangles, trimming, and putting the top together. Beth