Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tutorial: AccuQuilt Equilateral Triangle pincushion

AccuQuilt pincushion

When I first talked about the dies AccuQuilt sent me, I mentioned that dies like the Equilateral Triangles and Hexagons were designed to work together. If you sew six of the triangles together, they’re the same size as the corresponding hexagon—and that’s really all there is to this pincushion! But I’ll walk you through the details.

For most of the pincushions I’ve made so far, I used two different fabrics (longtime readers may recognize scraps from my Hilltop Drive quilt for Stitch), but you could also make it scrappy with a different fabric for each triangle. In my next post I’ll show you how I matched the stripes up using just one fabric for the pink pincushion.

Each of these dies has three sizes of the shapes; this tute uses the biggest ones, but the process would be the same to make a smaller pincushion with the smaller shapes.

What you need

 

How to make it

Seam allowances are ¼". Sew all pieces with right sides together unless otherwise specified.

  1. Using the dies, cut out 6 large triangles and 1 large hexagon. I cut 3 triangles from each of my fabrics. Arrange the triangles to form a hexagon, alternating fabrics. Try to align the fabric’s grain with the dies’ blades so at least one edge of each piece will be on the straight of grain.
    AccuQuilt pincushion
  2. To avoid Y-seams, sew the triangles together to make 2 half-hexagons, 3 triangles each. (Use a short stitch length if you’re filling with small particles like walnut shells.) Chain-piecing makes this super easy: sew the first 2 triangles from the left half-hexagon, then the first 2 triangles of the right half-hexagon, then add the third triangle to the left section, then the third to the right. Press the seam allowances in opposite directions for each half-hexagon.
    AccuQuilt pincushion
    AccuQuilt pincushion
  3. Put the half-hexagons right sides together, matching up the outer edges and the seams. Pin if desired (I just rely on my machine’s dual feed for small projects like this), and sew the half-hexagons together on the longest edge. Press the seam allowance to one side. You should have a pieced hexagon equal in size to the die-cut hexagon, and thanks to the blunt corners of the triangles, no dog ears to chop off. I forgot to take a picture of this for the blue and green pincushion, so here it is in pink:
    AccuQuilt pincushion
  4. Put the pieced and die-cut hexagons right sides together. To help turn the open edge in after filling the cushion, start sewing perpendicular to the edge, sewing in ¼" and then pivoting 90 degrees to sew the actual seam. This photo shows the stitching at the start of my seam on the left, and the presser foot is positioned to sew out to the edge the same way after sewing all the way around the hexagons:
    AccuQuilt pincushion
    Leave a gap as shown for filling, and sew the hexagons together using the triangle seams as guides for where to pivot at corners—when your needle meets the stitching, leave it down in the fabric (shown below), lift the presser foot, pivot to sew the next side, put the foot back down, and keep going until you get back the triangle you started on (finish the end as shown above).
    AccuQuilt pincushion
  5. Clip the corners (and pretend my seams are perfect).
    AccuQuilt pincushion
  6. Turn the cushion right side out through the gap, using a chopstick or other blunt tool to gently push out the corners, then give it a quick press. Looks much tidier this way, no?
    AccuQuilt pincushion
  7. Spoon walnut shells into the cushion through the opening. You may want to set the cushion in a small box or bowl to catch any shells that go astray. Walnut shells are supposed to act like emery to sharpen pins, and I also like that they give the pincushions a little more heft than polyfill. A 7-pound bag of ground shells cost me about $10 at the pet store and is way, way, way more than I needed for all four of these cushions; I’m going to share the remains with anybody at my quilt guild who wants to make pincushions for our quilt show shop. Anyway, stuff the pincushion as full as you’re comfortable with, but make sure there’s a little give so you can cinch through the center without bursting seams and showering your sewing space in nut shells. Then ladder-stitch the opening closed.
    AccuQuilt pincushion
  8. If your button isn’t particularly dazzling, cut a flower or two from felt or fabric and center it right side up on the top of the pincushion. Using strong thread, sew the button centered on top, sewing all the way through the pincushion to cinch it in the middle. The stitches on the back may want to pull the weave of the fabric open if your cushion is heavily filled; if you prefer, sew through another small button on the back to support the stitches.
    AccuQuilt pincushion

All done! You can probably whip up a cushion faster than it took to read the instructions.

AccuQuilt pincushion

These pincushions would be great foundations for embellishing further—you could insert rickrack in the side seam or put more elaborate fabric flowers on top, or even just use a fancier button than I had in my stash. Leave a comment if you have other ideas!

If you’ve got a charity event coming up, feel free to make bunches of ’em to sell—the combination of scrap-friendliness and quick die cutting means they can be cranked out efficiently.

As mentioned above, stay tuned for details on how I marked up my die to fussy-cut striped fabric…and to learn how you could win your own Go Baby cutter and dies from AccuQuilt!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Initial thoughts on the AccuQuilt GO! Baby die cutter

AccuQuilt generously sent me a Go Baby die cutter to play with, and I’ve been doing just that in the spare moments during the move. I’ll have some fun projects and more specific ideas shortly, but for now I thought I’d make note of some of my first thoughts on the cutter.

AccuQuilt Go Baby die cutter

Not a rotary replacement: I don’t say this as a bad thing at all! Instead, it does what rotary cutters can’t do. All the publicity materials for Go cutters say that die cutting is up to 90% faster than rotary cutting, but with all due respect to the company that sent me free stuff, I can’t say I really give two ticks. Even after using die cutters for a while, for me, cutting strips and squares is still a job best assigned to the rotary cutter. It’s not about fabric wastage, which I know is a big concern for some die-cutting resistors (AccuQuilt is great about giving specific instructions for how to fold fabric to minimize waste)—it just feels simpler to slap the yardage down on the cutting mat and slice through it. What I do find delightfully appealing about die cutting, though, is the ease with which you can cut shapes that are impractical or impossible with rotary cutters: hexagons, certain triangles, circles, and a whole plethora of appliqué shapes (especially nice when you need mountains of the same shape). So just as the dawn of rotary cutters didn’t mean scissors were suddenly banished from our sewing rooms, die cutting can be thought of as another cutting method to have in your arsenal—choose whichever tools are best suited to the task at hand.

AccuQuilt Go Baby die cutter

Portability: The cutter folds up into a compact little package that’s easy to carry around and, more to the point, store. Even the full-size AccuQuilt Go dwarfs this thing, and you can still cut any Go die up to 6" wide (the opening’s actually about 7" wide since the 6" measurement is only nominal). The footprint when closed is probably a quarter of my other comparable die cutter. I thought maybe the fold-down sides/platform would be flimsy, but they feel solid and turn smoothly. And they latch closed with a hidden magnet, which feels super sleek and also means there aren’t any plastic latches to break from wear. It also comes out of the box completely assembled, handle and all.

AccuQuilt Go Baby die cutter

Die catalog: Since AccuQuilt is dedicated to quilting, you’re using dies made specifically for quilting: corners are blunted and curved edges notched for easy alignment, so you get all the benefits of using a template without the drudgery of actually having to make a template. Many of the dies are also designed to work together. In upcoming posts I’ll show you some ways to use their Equilateral Triangle and Hexagon dies together—you can use the triangles between hexagons to eliminate inset seams, but there’s lots more you can do too, like making a six-pointed star:

snowflake potholder in progress

The white snowflake in the middle is from the Sparkle-Snowflake die. When I’m done embellishing and constructing, this’ll be a potholder, and I’ll post a full tutorial here.

I’ll also have a tute for this easy pincushion:

pincushion

I’m on the committee for the quilt guild boutique at our upcoming quilt show, so I’ve had small, fast, easy projects on the brain, and die cutting is a huge help—it’s not just for quilts!

Another of my favorite quilting tools, EQ7, works well with die-cut appliqué shapes, especially using the WreathMaker function:

daisy medallions

22 Free Patterns - Download NowI was originally thinking of these medallions as quilt blocks, or I might cut the shapes from felt and make a pillow or wallhanging. Again, I’ll give you all the details! Stick around…or if you’re dying to get started, click the button to the right to sign up for AccuQuilt’s e-mail list and get 22 free patterns, and take a look at the other ideas on accuquilt.com.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Free pattern: CD/FQ Box

CD/FQ Box

Timeless Treasures sent me some cool fabric to design a project with (thanks!), and since I’m always short on boxes to chuck fabric and other supplies in, I took the dimensions from some other boxes I use to store fat quarters and came up with this DIY version. The boxes I’d bought were made for CDs but work beautifully for fat quarters, so I’ve called my version a CD/FQ Box—use to corral your clutter of choice.

CD/FQ Box

The handle strap wraps around the bottom of the box to support it, and the instructions describe two ways of finishing the handles: the loose version shown above, and the tighter one I used on the other end:

CD/FQ Box

Download the PDF pattern here, and stop by Timeless Treasures’ blog SEW Timeless for more projects. And while sewing the box up, as always, beware of feline intervention…

CD/FQ Box