My Favorite Half-Square Triangle Tools
Monday, November 30, 2015
Happy Monday! I have a fun post for you today! In my book, Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle, I provide a list of some of my favorite tools and notions for making half-square triangles (in the back). I wanted to share those with you here as well, plus a few of my favorite general sewing tools. Since I was making so many half-square triangles, I tried out lots of different methods and tools. These are the things I grabbed for over and over. These would make great gifts for any quilter (or yourself, hehe!).
Triangle Square Up Ruler
I want to dive right in with my all-time favorite half-square triangle tool. The 6 1/2 Triangle Square Up Ruler by Quilt in a Day. This ruler has you trim down your half-square triangles before cutting them apart or pressing open. It cuts your cutting per half-square triangle in half. Instead of having to do four cuts, you're only doing two. You do have to be careful not to distort the block when pressing, but if you are making a lot, it's worth the risk. I don't know how I would have been able to trim all the blocks in the book without this ruler. It also comes in 4 1/2 inch and 9 1/2 inch sizes.
Continuing on with another ruler, the Bloc-Loc rulers are awesome! If you press your half-square triangle seams to the side, this ruler locks right into the seam and makes trimming a breeze. There is no slipping and sliding around when you make your cuts! It comes in many sizes, and they make rulers for other types of blocks too. I prefer the 6 1/2 inch size myself!
Rotating Cutting Mats
Rotating cutting mats are another great tool to speed up your half-square triangle trimming. I have two, an 8" Fiskars mat and a 12" Olfa mat. They really come in handy and I love traveling with them. Since they have a second layer they are a bit thicker than a traditional mat which is nice when you aren't sure what kinds of tables you'll be working on at a retreat or event.
For drawing those pesky half-square triangle lines my favorite marking pen is the black Frixion pens. They are nice and smooth so I find them easier to use than pencils, but they are still nice and thin. I recently picked up the clicker version (vs. the ones with the cap), and I really like them. I was constantly loosing the lids, and it's just one less thing to do when I'm ready to use it. You can get refills for these pens, which makes them a little more economical!
The Cutting Gizmo
My second favorite half-square triangle tool is The Cutting Gizmo by The Gypsy Quilter. This is useful for all types of quilting. It is a quick and easy way to cut apart chains from chain piecing. I love to chain piece, and do it as much as possible, so I get tons of use out of this tool. I have another one by Fiskars that's orange, but it is really short. This tool is the perfect height, and really saves a lot of time when cutting apart long chains. It uses a regular razor blade, which can be easily replaced when it gets dull. The base is nice and sturdy with a rubber grip, it has never tipped over or slid when I'm using it.
When making half-square triangles using the four-at-a-time method or when working with really large pieces of fabric, I love setting them with Flatter by Soak. It's a starch alternative spray, than does the job without leaving crunchy residue. I went through a few bottles working through the book quilts. It comes in lots of great scents, but my favorite is the scentless. Michael's desk is right next to my ironing board, so he appreciates the scentless when we are working at the same time! I also use this spray when using the triangle square up ruler, helps prevent potential distortion! This is an awesome all-around quilting tool.
Now for a few general notions/tools that I love! First up is a stack of tiny bowls. I always keep a number of these little Biscuit bowls from Anthropologie (which seem to be no more, boo!) in my sewing room at all times. I use them to hold pins, catch threads, hold wonder clips, machine feet, or wound bobbins. They come in so handy, and any type of small bowl will do!
Aurifil 50wt cotton thread is my favorite for piecing, especially for half-square triangles. It's a finer weight than most threads, so it takes up less "room" in your seam. I can get my piecing to lay extra flat this way. I make sure I always have plenty of neutral colors on hand, my most used colors are 2024 and 2600.
I use pins when I baste my quilts, and have been using the Kwip Klip by Paula Jean Creations to make it easier for years. It is a handy little tool that helps to open and close the safety pins. It really helps save your fingers from getting torn up or sore. This little tool has more than paid for itself, it's awesome!
General Sewing Tools
These tools are all in heavy rotation in my sewing room. My favorite pins are Dritz glass head pins. They come in short and long, but I use the short the most. They're thin and sharp, perfect for piecing. I never bind without Clover Wonder Clips, and have found so many different uses for these clips. They come in handy for making bags, home decor projects and garments too. Easily my most used tools are for cutting. The Quick Change Olfa Rotary Cutter is my absolute favorite. It's the easiest for me to hold and is just an all-around great cutter. I've been using it heavily for years and it has almost no wear. Ditto my purple Dritz seam ripper. It's easy and comfortable to grip and gets the job done. Did you know you can sharpen seam rippers?
Next up is a Clover Hera Marker. I use this when I'm binding. When I am working on a corner, instead of pressing the binding strip at 90 degrees with an iron, I use the marker to crease my fold. This works great in tandem with the Frixion marking pen because I don't have to wait for it to cool. I use it to mark lines sometimes too, which is the intended purpose! Finally, my favorite snips, are these little Olfa scissors. I am meticulous about trimming threads, and these are perfect for that. I have two pairs, just in case! Haha! They come to a nice sharp point so they are nice for clipping into seam allowances as well.
Omnigrid Square Rulers
Finally, Omnigrid Square Rulers. These get used a lot, especially the 6 1/2 inch ruler. They are so handy for trimming down blocks or just cutting in general. I seem to have collected a set of the green non-slip ones, but the regular yellow ones work just as well. I have a few 6 1/2 yellow ones. I recently added the 8 1/2 inch and find I use it quite a bit. And you can't go wrong with the 12 1/2 inch for trimming down quilt blocks.
Don't forget, signed copies of my book are available in my shop!