Jennie Rayment’s 5 Quilting Essentials for Newbies
January is the time for new beginnings and new resolutions. It’s also the month of long, dark evenings! Spring is a long way away and summer is a dim event on the distant horizon, BUT why not lift your spirits, distract the mind, and give your fingers a workout? How?? Try patchwork and quilting! Start by sewing squares together by hand or machine.
There are many different designs that arise from sewing squares together in different colours. Make life easy by purchasing a multi-size acrylic square. Choose from the Simplicity Simply EZ Square 12.5″ or the Sew Easy 15.5″ Square Quilting Ruler. Either of these squares makes an ideal starting point, but if space is an issue then you should buy the EZ Quilting Easy Square Junior Acrylic Rotary Cutting Template.
2. Cutting Mat
Draw the selected square size on fabric and cut out. Scissors can be used but rotary cutters are much better tools for cutting accurately. Lay the fabric on a cutting mat (Sew Easy Cutting Mat 450mm x 300mm). Expose the blade and run the blade alongside the acrylic template, applying firm pressure.
Once you have mastered squares, try sewing strips together. There are many different patchworks made with strips, from Log Cabin to Seminole and a multitude of others. A good ruler to purchase is the Easy Rule II or the Patchwork Rule 24″ x 6.5″ by Sew Easy. Armed with an acrylic square and ruler, the world of patchwork is wide open.
Now, modern technology has helped the quilting world massively. Here are two gadgets that will save space and make life much easier!
Instead of struggling to cut around all sides of an awkward shape, relax. This rotating mat will solve all the problems. All you have to do is turn the board and align each side of the shape so that you can cut easily. Ideal for right and left-hand crafters. The strong and stable mat rotates easily and is readily transportable. The board comes in two parts — the mat and the revolving base.
No mechanical moving parts to go wrong — simply slot the cutting mat on the raised section of the baseboard. This is really useful and totally necessary for all. If you have battled with cutting round shapes like hexagons, triangles and circles, then this board is a must.
In addition, the mat is clearly printed with marked angles and an easy-to-read grid. The grid is marked in feet and inches which makes it very suitable for the majority of patchwork designs. Today’s quilting crafter will find many magazines and books referring to imperial measurements, so having the mat marked as such is a real boon.
Fiskars has even considered the best colour for a cutting mat: light grey. The majority of materials can be seen clearly when placed on this coloured surface.
All crafters will need some form of measuring tool but storage space or easy transportation may be a consideration. This 24″ folding ruler has all the properties of a regular rotary acrylic ruler, but it folds up into an easy to store and easy to transport rectangular shape.
Personally, I have snapped many long rulers into various parts so for me, this is a bonus. The ruler can be folded into a bag, stored on a shelf, or put into my sewing machine bag for class. The ruler can be partially unfolded so if you’re working in a small space, you won’t have 24″ of ruler catching other craft items on the work surface. If you’re in a class, you will impede less on your class mate’s personal space. It is light yet very robust! The hinges keeping the three sections together are very strong and flexible.
The amazing journey that you will take when you become a patchworker will transform your life. The items you create will become heirlooms and if you’re into recycling, why not begin your first project with some recycled fabric? Mind you, there is a wondrous range of Fat Quarters just waiting to be cut into pieces and created into marvellous unique and highly original creations.
If you have the tools of the trade, then the sky is the limit! — Jennie Rayment