Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rag Quilting Tips Series #2 “Equipment/Tools”

Rag Quilting Tips Series

#2 “Equipment/Tools”

Writing about the tools used in rag quilting kind of makes me chuckle when I think of how I researched different ways to rag quilt awhile back. I mean come on: A Weedwacker? Really???

That is a man for you….my DH runs when I ask him to clip seams. Whatever!

So here are a list of tools I recommend for rag quilting and these will come in most handy for the new rag quilters yet to emerge from the cocoon.

To cut your fabric squares you should really invest in a cutting mat and a rotary cutter and a straight edge for time efficiency. My grandmother did it the old way with patterns cut from old cereal boxes which she then traced onto the fabric and then hand cut each piece. I did some of that too until I learned about the cutting mats and rotary cutters. With those tools you can cut several layers of fabric out at once. Wow! We love time savers!

A sewing machine- well that goes without saying really. I have 3 at the moment, each are a different age and each seem to have a special use as they are not all made equal. The only thing I really miss is having a machine that does a blanket stitch. Variety in stitches is a great thing when you go beyond the simple straight line stitching and start adding in appliqués, embroideries, and other types of embellishments. Find something that will fit your budget too. There are a lot of really nice high end machines out there that I would just LOVE to have, but it is not fitting for my budget so I make do with what I have.

Thread- I have used cotton and polyester threads. Here is the deal though: You should really start using 100% cotton from here on out if you will be making items for babies and small children. The CPSIA is the reason and I am not going into that topic for it would take me 3 weeks to write about that! LOL. You can search that one on your own if you are in left field. ---But about the threads. I used a invisible polyester thread and liked it at first, but found that it is not a good choice for rag quilting as the seams came unsewn after the washing and drying, so back to 100% cotton I went.

Also use NEW threads….sometimes older threads from estate sales are so old they become brittle when using. A newer thread will be a better choice.

Scissors or clipping tools- Here is my least favorite part about rag quilting: The clipping. It is messy. It is time consuming. It is stressful on my hands. And it is not really fun. Well that is my opinion! I have clipped over 200 projects! However, some rag quilters LOVE this part. They sit in front of the fireplace or TV and just clip away. I have used the Fiskars Micro-tip spring-loaded scissors for a long time now. There are some other brands out there too-just make sure they are spring-loaded. Another way to clip the seams is to clip before sewing the seams by using a special die-cut machine which can be a bit expensive for the novice.

I have this new toy to do all my clipping now. It was a Christmas present. I have an Accucut Mark IV cutting machine that holds a die with the raggy edges in it. Well it is a used one. Would love to have the Grandmark size, but got a good deal on the Mark IV and it gets the job done!

Here are some pictures of what is does to the fabric:

Can you see the clipped edges? You just position the fabric sandwich over the die and crank it under the pressurized roller and Voila! Another great time saver!!

The last few tools or equipment needed are a washing machine and a dryer to really bring out the ragginess of your project, and a sweater shaver for flannel fabrics. I think I mentioned the sweater shaver in my first submission so you can refer back to that on using it for the flannel fabrics.

Just a word of advice on washing and drying your project: During washing a lot of the lint from the seams will loosen and you will have to wipe out your washer tub after the cycle. This will also happen while drying so clean the filter off frequently. If you are doing many rag quilts- it is advised to go to the Laundromat for this process.

Well again if you have any comments, questions, or additional advise please add it here on the comment section.

My next submission will be:
"to prewash the fabric or not to"


MyTreasures / said...

Glad I happened on this I have fallen in love with rag quilting it is so much fun.

Jeri said...

Your hints are fantastic!! You lucky thing, getting an Accucut. I am green with envy ;)


Brightest Blessings said...

Thank you so much for getting me into rag quilting. I love it! Have even sold a couple of items. Keep the tips coming.

XUE said...

This past weekend, I started on my first rag quilt. Today, I found out that no one at the craft shops has heard of this spring-loaded scissors! Some even suggested that it is not available in Japan at all which I now sadly believe, is true. So I have an almost completed rag quilt & I dread this messy & painful & blistering step!

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