Before she became a fabulous fabric designer, Lori Holt of Bee In My Bonnet was a quilting teacher. This not only gave her a chance to pass on her skills to a new generation of creative sewers and crafters, she also identified two things that consistently frustrate beginners: 1) fabric pieces turned the wrong way, and 2) not being able to keep an accurate seam allowance. Putting her inventive mind to work, Lori developed two simple tools to help solve these problems and make it easier to be precise, confident, and ultimately more creative... and they're not just for beginners! You'll love her Portable Design Boards and Sew Easy! Seam Guides. Our thanks to Fat Quarter Shop for bringing both cool tools to our attention so we can share the news with you.
Portable Design Boards
Every serious quilter has a design board on her wall. In fact, we have one friend who uses the whole wall. A design board is like a bulletin board covered in quilt batting or flannel that lets you "audition" various fabric colors and shapes to see how they work together.
While Lori was regularly using her big design board, she realized a portable version would also be extremely useful. She saw her beginning students regularly get their fabric pieces mixed up as they carried them from the ironing board to the sewing machine. Often, just one small piece would get rotated the wrong way, an error they wouldn't discover until they'd stitched their entire quilt block. Much sadness and ripping out of seams ensued!
Lori designed her Bee In My Bonnet Design Boards so you can iron your pieces onto the board and then carry the whole board straight to your machine. No chance for a mix-up.
Here's why you're going to want to get more than one of these: your fabric stays on the board even when you stack one on top of another. You can cut and press the fabric for half a dozen quilt squares (or appliqués), then come back later to stitch them together. Everything stays right where you left it.
Of course, these smaller boards are also great for designing. Grab a stack fabric, a cup of coffee, and decide on color and shape combinations while you lounge in your favorite chair.
Bee In My Bonnet Design Boards are available in 18" and 10" sizes, with several choices of edging. You can order them individually from Fat Quarter Shop or get a Master Set of three 10" and three 18" boards in the full variety of boarders.
Tbey are available right now from our friends at Fat Quarter Shop.
Seams So Easy! Seam Guides
Another frustration Lori has seen, with beginners and advanced students alike, is wobbly seams. In other words, seams that don't maintain a consistent allowance the entire length. In quilting, where the allowance is usually just a quarter of an inch, small errors quickly add up to squares that aren't really square.
You can eliminate this tendency by using a marking tool to draw a seam line on your fabric and following that as you sew. But if you're stitching together a lot of pieces, you could be spending more time drawing with a fabric pencil than sewing.
Of course, there are also specialty presser feet and markings on your machine's needle plate that can help with alignment and allowance, but sometimes, you want a larger grid to really keep things in line.
Lori developed the Seams So Easy! Seam Guide as a semi permanent panel. Its big, bold markings make it easy to maintain a perfect ¼" seam allowance. It also has markings for allowances ¾" and larger.
Lori had her Seams So Easy! Guide made from a durable, slippery plastic that can be calibrated and installed on your machine in minutes. Held in place by adhesive pads, it can be left on the sewing bed or if you need to access to a drop-in bobbin, you can easily remove it.
There are set-up markings at the center of the Guide that allow you to easily calibrate the panel to your machine.
The Guide also makes it easy to do more advanced techniques, like half square triangles, flying geese, and snowballs.
The Seams So Easy! Guide comes in red, green, aqua, and pink. Just pick the color that matches your machine (or your mood).