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We Have a “Notion” (or Two): Our First Group Post

Recently we reached an important milestone at See How We Sew, and—as you can see—we treated ourselves to a little celebration. It was a big moment for us, and since you are the reason for our success, we wanted to bring you something special as a way of saying thanks. Since we couldn’t share the cake, we decided to debut an idea we’ve been thinking about for awhile. Welcome to our very first group post!

For our first collective posting we decided to address the question: What is your favorite tool or notion for piecing? We’ve provided links whenever we mention a product by name so that you can research our favorites for yourself. If you decide our must-have is a must-have for you too, we hope that you’ll look to your local quilt shop as your primary source.

Ready? In first-name alphabetical order, here were our responses.

Christie:   I am a big fan of Clover Fork Pins. They’re “two-prong” pins that work beautifully to keep intersecting seams from slipping when you’re sewing rows together. In most cases, I press the seam allowances for my first row in one direction, then the next row in the opposite direction, alternating every other row.

The pins are easy to use. Pin two rows with right sides together. At each intersection, nestle–but don’t overlap–the opposing seams. Insert the pin with one prong on each side of the seam. The two prongs keep the intersecting seams from slipping like nothing else I’ve ever tried.  I won’t sew rows together without them!

Clover Fork Pins: Great to use when sewing rows together.

Darra: Lately I’ve become a big fan of my 4-in-1 Essential Sewing Tool, designed by Alex Anderson. It “lives” right next to my sewing machine. Embarrassed to say, I probably use the seam ripper most, but I’ve also become hooked on the stiletto for keeping seams flipped in the right direction and for guiding the tail-ends of pieces/units under the feed-dogs. The cap on one end of the tool is blunted for “finger-pressing” and the other cap is pointed, which is great for poking out pillow corners, stuffing doll parts, and myriad other sewing tasks. (The “4-in-1” link above takes you to a video that shows you how to use it.)

Another must-have for me is my Grabbit Magnetic Pincushion. Even if I don’t have a major spill, I “sweep” the floor around my work station when I wrap up a sewing session; I don’t want to lose any of my precious Clover extra-fine, 1 3/8″, glass-head pins, or have my faithful sewing-room buddy, Scooter, try one as a snack. Oh…and spray starch; I use it to press all my finished blocks.

That super sewing room cat, Scooter, asks "What's this stuff doing in my snoozing spot?"

Jennifer:  For me, it’s fantastic small, sharp scissors and a great seam ripper. I guess by my choice I’m demonstrating a propensity for snipping stitches. Hey, we all make mistakes, especially when we’re powering to the end. For me, at least, that’s where I meet trouble and I gotta fix things. Do I have a brand? No, but I have a tendency to buy tiny scissors, and I like them all. I’ve got a terrific Clover seam ripper, but I’m thinking of trying that thingy that slices stitches—anyone know the name of that thingy? Then, to vanquish the miniscule thread scraps, I like to use my beading tweezers because the tips snag those last bits of thread wonderfully. And then tape or one of those 3M lint removers to pick up the stray strands from my thread-picking session.

Going all Etsy with a scissors fashion shoot!

Laura: When I’m piecing, I use a “scant” 1/4″ seam allowance, and it’s important to me that I achieve it accurately and consistently every time.  If you’re frustrated by the inability to sew an accurate 1/4″ seam allowance every time you sit down to piece, you might like to try the Perfect Piecing Seam Guide by Perkins Dry Goods. It’s easy to use, and the packaging explains how the tool works. I like the fact that it allows me to set up my machine for the perfect, scant 1/4″ seam.

To use the guide, simply place it under the presser foot of your sewing machine and lower the needle into the hole (shown in the middle of the horizontal line in the photo above). Then lower the presser foot to hold the guide firmly. This is important: Straighten the guide so that it is parallel with the edge of the throat plate.

Now you’re ready to place masking tape or several layers of sticky notes up against the right hand side of the guide to mark a perfect scant 1/4″! Remove the guide and use the edge of the tape (or sticky notes) to guide the fabric as you sew.

So there you have it: some of our very favorite tools and notions for piecing. We have no doubt that you’ve got your favorites as well, and we’d love to hear about them. To sweeten the pot, we’ve planned a very special giveaway!

Post a comment telling us about your favorite tool(s) or notion(s) for piecing, and you’ll become eligible to win a goodie-filled gift package that includes a selection of the favorites we’ve revealed in our post, plus a few additional “surprises.” Since we want to give you the optimum opportunity to comment, we’re extending our usual one-week deadline until noon (PDT), Friday, August 5. That’s a little more than 10 days to share your “faves.” Laura will announce the lucky winner in her Tuesday, August 9 post.

Do let us know if you like the idea of an occasional group post, and if you have any thoughts on what you’d like to see us address. We’ll toss those comments into the pot for the drawing as well.

One last thing before we sign off. We have a very special guest poster scheduled for Tuesday, August 2. We’re so excited–and you won’t want to miss it!

‘Til next time, keep creating!

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