Monday, February 07, 2011

The Tools of My Trade

Rather than post another boring post about my quilt that is in the works, and giving me fits of many varieties, I thought I'd show some of the things that make my quilting possible. There are plenty of gals out there that collect expensive shoes and handbags, but I have a more utilitarian collection. I have an unusually large collection of these (ie., see below!!) for someone that has only been longarm quilting a year and a half! Yes, templates. They're not the thinner variety that we rotary cut around when piecing. These are full 0.25" longarm templates. The cost of this box of pure acryllic goodness is well over $500, probably pushing closer to $100, but who is counting.
Let's start with one of my all-time favorites. It's just a plain old straight template, about 10" long. What is so nice about this one is that it's hefty and has that awesome handle. I bought this one from Bayside Quilting I think last fall right after getting my machine. I cringe everytime I nearly knock it off of my ironing board I love it so much! For straight lines and even ditch quilting, it is my ruler of choice. This is one good place to look for longarm supplies.
hahum... (throat clear)...that's not to say that I don't have at least 4 other possible rulers for the job of straight stitching too! Three of these were acquired at my Handi Quilter retreat in October, and the other (yellow one) I bought last spring. I have actually used the 2 HQ ones for ditch quilting some, but I have become so comfortable with my other ruler above, that using them sometimes takes more thought than it should. The yellow ruler (also called Janet-Lee's favorite) is by the Gadget Girls and I have used it quite a lot. It is good for doing parallel lines, which you know I did a nauseating number of on this quilt recently. But why, does it need to be something other than clear?? Guess they just had to be different. But seriously, I like many of the Gadget Girl's offerings.
In my very early days (before I new diddly about what templates I should buy), I bought this next one, also from Bayside Quilting. I tried stitching it a couple times but found it hard because the template is very long, nearly 14-15 inches. It rocked on the base. I do, however, use it often to mark sashings for doing swirly & waving quilting, like here. I know, you can mark quilts with much less expensive items - I think that this template was $25, but hey!
This little one is so cute! It's for teeny-tiny circles, as in flower centers. It didn't cost very much, and I don't use it often, but little circles are hard to make perfectly without it. Interested??...look here.
Now how boring would life be without a dozen or more ("more" would be the correct answer) circle templates??? The average gal could likely get along without so many, but I am not average :-)) Last fall, I started with a set of 5 circles ranging from 4" to 10". I learned later that they really stitch at 4.5", 5.5", etc. My first circles were the ones that look like the donuts. I like these because they are light weight, and because one template actually sews two different sizes of circle. These were from Bayside. When I went to Handi Quilter, they gave me yet another set of circles, ranging from 2" to 12", which actually stitch at that number. Glee!! No circles reproduced! The 10" and 12" circles are again, large to work with, and I don't use them comfortably. Before I started on the Italian floor quilt, I got a set of very small circles - 0.5" diameter to about 3" for that quilt. These came from This company has an absolute ton of templates, but these in particular are not very smooth on the edges, and make my fingers very sore to use!
Over the last year, I bought (and was given) a number of template sets. There's the clamshells, which I used for the first time last week. Considering that this template is rather long, it stitched without any difficulties. I have 6" swags, hearts and teardrops. I use the teardrops when I am doing really formal feathered sections. Sometimes I stitch the hearts and them fill them in with a design. Again, the largest of both of these sets is larger than I tend to use.
With all of these templates, you must be wondering what I would not recommend. Am I right?? The ones below are mostly unused. I have a set of 4 or 5 squares (only one shown) that are definitely in that "What was I thinking?" box. If I weren't lazy about some things, I'd have sold these already. I also have the feather plume maker. Never used. An applique outline guide. Used only a couple times. We'll see if I use this on this quilt, or if I decide to go buy this. The template junkie in me just needs it! Just like that same junkie thought she needed that rope tool. I was going to use it on my Italian floor quilt, but then I tested it on a sample and discovered how much of a pain in the a#$ it was to use.
Just before Christmas, I bought two of the curves below (Ronda Beyer's) for doing curved cross-hatching and the cathedral windows on my Italian floor quilt. I have to say, I love both of these despite the larger of them being on the verge of too large for me to handle easily. My mom gave me the other arc and the LindaMae's Rays template for Christmas. You know my motto - can never have too many! I have drafted rays on another quilt the old fashioned way (using a protractor), but this is nice. I still used it just to mark my quilt, rather than to actually stitch the rays, but still, easier than the archaeic method.
So there you have it. That's the low and dirty on my template collection. When you start to have the urge to go shoe shopping, consider the other possibilities...Templates anyone?? Or maybe now it is time for something classier to store the templates??? this? nah! Buying the storage devices is no where as much fun as buying the stuff to store :-)
So what are YOUR favorite items?


Linda said...

Thanks so much for the informative post! Great for a LA newbie like myself. I look forward to all your posts!

quilter501 said...

This is from Carrolyn, your HQ roomie. This is a really great post and validated lots that I have recently discovered on my own. Wish I would have read it sooner. :) One suggestion: DeLoa's appliguide is awesome for going around applique. I too prefer smaller rulers and love hers. You can find it on her website.

Thearica said...

Your tools look like mine! Ha!

I think I may join you and make a post showing my gadgets... I have never figured up the cost but I bet I would be running pretty close to you.

One tool I see not on your list is the AccuGlide by Donita Reeves. I use it 9 out of 10 times that I do custom work. LOVE that little ruler!!