Tuesday, November 3, 2009


We all have our standard supplies for making blocks. I favor machine piecing, and not paper piecing if I can do it “easily” with the rotary cutter, just so I don’t have to remove the paper afterwards. There are a few things I have found to be helpful when making smallish, traditional blocks.

Marti Michell (MM) templates – these come in various sets, A, B, C, E and N will do most 4 patch, 9 patch and many eight pointed stars. The 5-patch set will not do 6” blocks, neither will the 7-patch. Too bad.

When cutting using these templates I like to use my Brooklyn revolver. Omnigrid’s rotating cutting mat also works, but it is not as smooth to turn. Or any smallish cutting mat that you can pick up and turn around. Or walk around a table.

When using small acrylic templates, I have found Omnigrid’s Invisi-grip helps to keep the templates from slipping. Before I discovered Invisi-grip I used double sided tape. This only works so long, and can be hard to remove. Double sided tape (DST) should be used on the top of MM templates because the writing is on the bottom. DST will remove the letters after a while. I still use the DST when using paper templates and a rotary cutter

Electric Quilt – I use EQ extensively for making templates that are not available from MM or easily cut with a rotary ruler and for printing paper piecing patterns. Tracing the pattern from the book or pattern is another option.

Thread – I like Aurifil the best, but also like Superior’s Masterpiece. There are others out there I have not tried (Prescencia comes highly recommended). Whatever you use, it should be thin and strong. Fat thread makes folded fabric fatter, making the block smaller.

Thin pins – I prefer Clover extra fine patchwork pins with the glass head. They have an extra sharp tip and the thin shaft keeps the fabric from bunching up. Be careful to remove before your sewing machine hits one, they bend wonderfully (and can be hard to remove from your fabric).
Rotary cutting rulers – a standard 6”-8” wide by 24” long for cutting strips
A 6 ½” square for squaring up your finished block, should have a diagonal line in at least one direction and subcutting strips into smaller pieces
A 3 ½” square for use in making half square triangles (HST) (could use a larger one, but I find this size the easiest for these small blocks)
Ideally all of your rulers should be by the same manufacturer. In reality, this seldom happens.

A sharp sewing machine needle, not universal – I use Jeans 80/12, or Top Stitch or Quilting (quilting needles are for piecing, not the actual quilting)

Iron – a small one is nice, but any is fine

Additional for paper piecing
Paper – I like Carol Doak’s brand, but there are others that work as well. I like it to tear easily, so you don’t break or tear out your piecing thread. Thin regular paper works. Carol’s doesn’t smear, a plus.

Add an eighth or Add a quarter ruler, or another ruler that does the equivalent thing (omnigrid makes a 1” x 6” ruler, as does Quilter’s rule)

Additional for hand piecing or odd templates
Pencil – mechanical .7
6” drafting ruler (the 1” x 6” with red marking, thin, not for rotary cutting)
Freezer paper – if using freezer paper method
1/16” paper punch – if using template method
Gridded template material (optional) – if using template method

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