Accurate piecing depends on several elements in the process:
1. Accurate and Consistent Cutting
Our favorite rulers and rotary cutters are Creative Grids and Martelli, respectively, and we keep looking for the perfect mat!
I was recently introduced to Creative Grids Rulers by a friend of mine. My first reaction when using one was the quintessential, "Where have you been all my quilting life??!!"
They're made of clear acrylic and are marked only in black and white. They have 1/4" "gripper" edges on all sides and circles in the interior areas that seriously keep the rulers from moving when cutting. More accurate cuts and less possibility of cutting fingers!
For small blocks, such as we'll be doing in the Block of the Week project, I love the Itty Bitty Eights 3" x 7" ruler. The eighth-inch markings are really helpful and aid in amping up cutting accuracy.
When I first saw this, I wondered if it would really be as good as it is billed. It is.
It's ergonomic and my hand just doesn't tire even when I have lots to cut. Which is often. It fits in my hand naturally and it's held similarly to holding a computer mouse. There's no bent wrist, and the motion is fluid. It has a blade guard and easy-to-change blades. I like it!
They come in both right- and left-hand models.
Cutting MatsWe have tried a number of mats, hoping that there would be one that would last us a long time. Still looking! But then again, we use ours multiple times everyday.
These are two that have been better than the others:
ElanThese are made in three layers and are thicker than any I've ever used. And they're reversible. One cutting side has markings and the other doesn't, with a cushion layer sandwiched in between which makes cutting amazing and protects your rotary blade. These are also self-healing.
SullivanThese are high-quality self-healing mats. They are double-sided, and have clear, simple grid markings on both front and back, which doubles the life of the mat. One side is red, the other is gold, which makes it possible to use the side that works best with your fabric colors. And on a purely esthetic note, we like the red way better than the museum green of many of the other mats!
2. Accurate Pinning
They are amazing. A friend of ours, after using these for the first time, said that regular quilter's pins feel like spikes! They are so smooth and fine that pinning anything is a breeze.
In using them for piecing, because they are so thin and fine, they minimize the distortion of the fabric and the seams, thereby increasing accuracy. There are no huge bumps to navigate at the pin entry and exit locations. They also have heat-resistant glass heads, so they can be ironed. We love them!
3. Accurate Sewing
They are made with a special taper that ends in a slightly rounded point, and are designed for easier fabric penetration and the elimination of skipped stitches. After I started using them, I had this feeling of, "Oh, there was no stress in doing that bit of difficult piecing." It just went much smoother. The size is 11/75.
If you'd like to compare needles, you can check out a cool Schmetz Needle Guide here.
4. Accurate Clipping & Trimming
Block TrimmingAll the same information as in number 1!
5. And a Bonus! - Protective Storage
They are heavy-weight clear vinyl with a sturdy zipper. They come in three sizes: 17" x 17", 10" x 13", and 5" x 8".
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