One of my favorite “unsung hero tools” are the reverse tweezers. What are they you ask??? Well, regular tweezers you squeeze to close them. Reverse tweezers you squeeze to open them so they are closed when resting. So when does this come in handy? Just about anytime you need an extra hand or finger. Today …
The theme for this months blocks is “Places”. What better place than our blue pearl floating along in the universe? I immediately thought of a family of aliens coming to visit Earth. The kids were whining “Are we there yet?” to which Mom excitedly responds “Only 2.5 million miles to go…almost there!” Ha! Pattern includes …
I’m excited to be participating in Quilt Block Mania. The theme this month is “Neighborhood”. When I first saw this I thought of a street sign. I know, I’m just a little odd… It could be the sign for your street or perhaps a dream vacation spot or maybe a memory of a fun time …
This past fall I had the absolute pleasure of having Ami Simms as guest teacher at our retreat. She is my #1 all time favorite teacher…ever! Anyhoo, today she shared this awesome ornament technique that I can’t wait to try. After watching the original video from Kevin MacLeod I think Ami has improved upon his instructions. These would also make great little gifties for the older set (put a photo of your youngins on the back) or a teacher with a gift card on the back. Hmm…now where did I put my Christmas fabrics…Read More
It’s two weeks until Christmas…how’s your list coming? Getting everyone crossed off? If you have a person or two left I have a great idea. Make them a pillowcase! These are not only good for kids but for adults too. You can choose fabrics (I prefer flannel!) in motifs/colors that mean something to them. One year I gave my adult niece and her hubby a pair with VW bug fabric (they REALLY like VW’s) – you would have thought I gave them a winning lottery ticket. Pillowcases are also good when you don’t know the recipient very well or maybe it’s an older person who has everything they need. We all sleep, even vampires. Here are two cases I finished today for a little boy who likes the outdoors and a little girl who likes arts & crafts.
There are many different patterns out there for making pillowcases. My favorite is a FREE pattern on my Craftsy site. Purple Moose-Craftsy If you look in the photo below from the Craftsy page you can see the VWs! The pattern includes instructions for standard, king and travel size pillows. Travel pillows make great first pillows for little ones…they also fit in vampire coffins…or so I’m told…
During the holidays a lot of folks like to say thank you to those people who make their life easier. The mail carrier, trash collector, FedEx & UPS driver, the bag boy/girl at the market…any one of the “little” people who give you a helping hand (sorry, showing my past life royalty!) Personally I like to do this more than once per year with homemade food items and I don’t call them thank you gifts. I need to call them what they really are – bribes, greasing the skids, payola, hush money, perks. I really DO appreciate all these folks do for me and I truly want to thank them for their service but letting them know that with homemade goodies has a HUGE benefit for me. When I have a package delivered in the mail, my mail carrier Dave will go up my driveway and leave it (along with my other mail) on my covered porch. I see my neighbors packages at their mailboxes dripping in the rain, baked in the hot sun or covered with 6″ snow. I’m guessing they don’t give Dave any treats during the year. Same goes for all the other people I come in contact with on a regular basis. A small thank you treat can really make someone’s day and make them remember you with a smile on their face.
YumOola one of my favorite food sites put together some great items today that could easily be on my food give-away list. Hmmm…now to decide which to try out…
This past weekend I helped a friend out at her booth in an upscale artist show. There were potters, jewelry makers, painters…all manner of finished items for sale. It’s a juried show so the quality was top notch. It was a nice change of pace from the quilt shows I usually attend. Our next door neighbor had the most beautiful silk scarves I have ever seen. She makes them from tree leaves and flowers from her yard. The natural pigments in the foliage transfers to the fabrics during her process. There are no added dyes or inks. They were entrancing to stare at all weekend. I did end up buying a piece of cotton that’s pictured above. Not sure what I’m going to do with it yet. The artists name is Amelia Poole and her business is Ecouture Textile Studio. Here’s the really exciting part….Amelia will be one of the teachers at our Quilt Camp retreat in October 2017! I know that’s a long time to wait but that was the soonest that both of us are free…two busy ladies! She will be teaching us how to do this ourselves. I can’t wait. Think I can make this piece of fabric into something by then? hmmm…
Amelia also had some Indigo pieces…one of those came home with me too…Read More
Do you use different needles for different sewing tasks? Do you date your needles as “1997” and you’re still using it? Do you know what size needle to use and why? These questions are near and dear to my heart. I’m always amazed at the obscene amount of money quilters will spend on machines, fabric, patterns, thread, etc…yet they won’t fork over less than a dollar for a new needle. Let’s see if we can’t change some bad habits…suffer through, there will be a give away at the end!
Different needles for different tasks:
I know there are more than a few of you out there that will put a needle in the machine and just leave it in there until it dies. You will use that needle for every different kind of sewing you do. Let me ask you…do you use one knife in the kitchen for all your different cutting tasks? Of course not, I’m sure you have several knives. Think about it…would you cut a tomato with that big cleaver or carve the turkey with a paring knife? Oh sure, both jobs would get done but wouldn’t it be easier if you had the correct knife? The same holds true for machine needles. Each different type of needle is designed to do a specific task very well. The different anatomical parts of the needle are made to perform their task with ease. Most of them are pretty self explanatory: Embroidery needles for machine embroidery, quilting for quilting, topstitch for stitching on top (embellishment). The ones that confuse people the most are the microtex/sharp needles and the universals. Microtex have a very pointy point and they pierce the fabric very well. I recommend these for piecing, especially with batiks because of their higher thread count. Universals are not meant to do any ONE task well but to do an okie dokie job at most tasks. They are less expensive than the other needles so people usually grab those. The other types of needles are not really that much more. The most popular needle I sell (beside universals) are only $.88 per needle while universals are $.57 each. Are you really going to carve your turkey with a paring knife to save $.31?
Change your needles!
Needles can get nicks and burrs which are unseen but WILL affect their performance. Don’t wait until they break to change them. If your machine manual does not have a recommendation for how often to change your needle you can assume the time honored “every 8 sewing hours” or “every major project”. If you are having problems but can’t figure out why, change your needle.
What size needle to use?
Needles come in different sizes for a reason. You need to pair the needle size with the thread size you’re using and the type of sewing you’re doing. Yes, thread comes in different sizes, you should know what you’re using. I wish there was a magical chart that would tell you what needle to use when. Sadly, there is not. Think of it as matching a drill bit size (the needle) to the screw (the thread) you’re making a hole for. If it’s too big the screw will slosh around in the hole. Too small and the screw will be too tight and bunch up the wood (your quilt).
I’ve taken the needle out of the package…I don’t know what kind/size it is…
It used to be that once the needle was out of the package, good luck figuring out what kind or size it is. Oh sure, it’s stamped but good luck reading it. Schmetz heard our cries and they have now marked all their needles with two colored stripes. The top stripe denotes which type of needle it is and the bottom stripe denotes what size. They even made this handy chart to help you remember.
What about that give away you mentioned?
OK, you’ve suffered enough. If you want to learn more then you need to have your guild contact me to book my presentation “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Needles…but were too afraid to ask…”. Contrary to the dry sounding name, it’s a fun presentation and you may just learn something new. This presentation ALWAYS generates the most questions from the audience!
For everyone else…all orders until 12-31-15 will get a free Schmetz Color Coding Chart printed on card stock, perfect to hang out next to your machine. The first 10 orders will also receive a needle pocket guide. You could also print out the photo above but it won’t be as nice as the one I send you!Read More
My grocery store has been having a promotion that has brought back memories. You earn stamps every time you shop then you paste them into the book and earn free knives. Each time I put the stamps in I remember doing it as a kid with green stamps. Anybody else remember those? It was always my job to paste the stamps in the book. Until one day I decided they would make really cool looking tattoos. I carefully licked and pasted them all over my body. Mom was not happy…
Everybody eat up, I need to do more grocery shopping…only a few more stamps. Mama needs a new set of steak knives!Read More
Yesterday we told you about our favorite tool holders. Today is all about the perfect tools to fill those holders. We all know the sayings “you get what you pay for” and “use the best tool for the job”. Both of those sayings hold true for quilters. There are soooo many tools and gadgets out there and they’re not all worth the money. At Purple Moose we only sell tools and gadgets that we have played with (sometimes extensively!) and we are comfortable recommending to our customers. We strongly encourage everyone to buy the best tools they can afford. After all, if the tools are making your quilting job easier then you will have more fun. And fun is the ultimate goal in life…right? Here are some of our favorites…
OK, so maybe not the most glamorous tool in your arsenal but these are pretty cool. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what you can use them for around the house or as part of your beauty regimen but I find a pair of good tweezers an essential tool for sewing. I always keep a pair next to my machine to help pull up the bottom thread, help pick out stitches (not that any of us has much practice there…) and to poke and prod stubborn intersections and for turning fabric. These little beauties are about 3.75″ in length overall. They have an angled point and are very lightweight. The colored grip area is a soft plastic and is a little wider for better grip. They come in several colors but we have no control over what colors they send us. You can request a particular color. If we have it we will be happy to send that color to you, otherwise we’ll substitute another color. They sell for $3.85 and you can find them here http://Purple Moose – tweezers
Seam Ripper & Stiletto
Yes, you can find cheaper versions of these tools but these are so worth the extra money. My seam ripper is about 16 years old. It is not nice and shiny anymore but it is still very sharp and works like a champ. Not that I ever use it… Both the seam ripper and stiletto have very fine, sharp points. This makes the ripper easy to get under the individual threads. When I use a cheap version I feel like I’m cramming a 2X4 under the stitches! They are made of brass which gives them a nice weight. They are about 3.75″ long when closed, 5″ when opened. The cover attaches to become the handle when using them. If you have never used a stiletto before, please start right away. It has a sharp point which can act as extra fingers next to the sewing machine needle, they poke and prod when needed and are indispensable once you start using one. If you have ever sewn your finger (or come close) then you know the value of a stiletto! The seam ripper is $17.99 and can be found here Purple Moose – Seam Ripper and the stiletto is $14.39 and can be found here Purple Moose – Stiletto
Measures about 6.5″ when closed and extends to approximately 25″. It is very strong (we’ve picked up cans of veggies!) and will pull pins from near and far. If pins and needles skitter under the furniture simply wave the wand under there and it will find them. Dumped them all onto the floor? No problem. Handle has a colored rubber covering and it includes a pen clip. Wand comes in red, blue or black. You can request a color and we will do our best to oblige. We cannot order specific colors, we get what they give us.
If you have a man in the house, order two. He will steal it and take it to the garage to pick up greasy nuts and bolts…spoken from experience…
The wand is $5.89 and you can find them here Purple Moose – Magnetic Wand
We have many more notions and tools so have a look around the website. These are just a few of our favorites. Enjoy!Read More
Do you have a quilter on your gift list that you just can’t think of the perfect gift for? Are you a quilter and no one seems to get YOU the perfect gift? We have the answers to both questions! These tool organizers can be gifted empty, full or somewhere in between.
The Bobbin Workstation is perfect to keep all your “stuff” organized and all in one place. It will hold your bobbins securely in place and has 5 round spots for pencils, seam ripper, small scissors, etc. There is also a long slot for larger items, needle packs, etc. and a spot for a small tape measure. It can be used with or without the Clover magnetic pin caddy. The workstation is $4.95 and you can find it here Purple Moose – workstation the pin caddy comes in three colors and can be found here http://Purple Moose – Pin Caddy
The sewing case is perfect for the on-the-go quilter. It measures approximately 6.5″ X 9″ when closed. It has nine elastic bands to hold your items and has a zipper to secure everything during transport. It is gray on the inside and royal blue on the outside. Case comes empty. It sells for $5.49 and can be found here http://Purple Moose – Sewing Case
The big sister to the sewing case is the tool caddy. This is perfect for the quilter who takes lots of classes or goes on retreats. It measures approximately 15.5″ X 11″.
It has velcro straps on the sides to allow it to stand next to your work area and have all your tools handy. There is a handle on the top for easy carting around.
One side has one large area with eight slots for large items (rotary cutters, small rulers, seam rippers, etc). There is a cover with velcro to secure everything during transport.
The other side has three rows of storage areas. The top two are secured by covers with velcro. The bottom row has elastic/mesh pockets for bulky items.
Case is black and comes empty. It goes for $23.95 and can be found here http://Purple Moose – Tool Caddy
Tomorrows post…what to fill them with!
Purple Moose Designs has been in business for 16 years and my moose and tree logo has pretty much gone untouched during those 16 years. Yet, somehow, the moose never got a name! The van has a name (Mabel the Moose Mobile), I’m the Head Moose, my daughter is Moosette, hubby is my Moose Geek, etc…yet nothing for my star moose. We called an emergency family meeting last week to rectify the situation. Several “M” names were thrown around but we just kept coming back to Larry. I have no real reason why. Larry has been a go-to name for our family for those odd times you need a spare name (at restaurants, anywhere they ask for a name…) Apparently we all have names that are hard for people to understand and they never get them right anyway, we might as well have fun with it. I guess it’s more accurate to say that we have now attached a physical persona to the name that has been a part of our family for many years instead of attaching a name to my moose. We Sontras are a weird bunch…
Anyhoo, a big hearty welcome to Larry – my business friend and companion!Read More
We are starting our January in-shape resolution a little early…and we’re starting with the blog! Cheryl Sleboda of Muppin.com issued a challenge to anyone who wished to join in on her quest to blog every day during the month of December. I took the challenge as this is something I need to work on. I have the first couple ones sorta ready. Who knows what the rest of the month will be. I can guarantee that they will not all be long or overly chatty. Most will be short and fun. I’m sure there will be a give-away in there somewhere too… Hopefully I can develop a good habit and keep it up after December. But not everyday, just more often…we don’t want to get too carried away…
Thank you Cheryl for the kick in the behind. Cheryl has been a good mentor so far and already has her first post up. You can see it here Cheryl Sleboda. Looks like she will be having some major fun in January! OK, here we go…deep breath…on to day two…wish me luck…Read More