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Review | Clover Wonder Clips

Reported by Cassandra Darwin

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon.com affiliate program.

I would describe myself as a lazy seamstress (less lazy for quilting, but still looking for shortcuts). So if there is something that can make sewing easier and have less projects end with the seam ripper and frustration…then I am all ears! Enter the Clover Wonder Clips.

These little wonders are a sewing notion offered by Clover as an alternative for pins when you need to hold fabric together.  The clips are small, but open wide for working with lots of layers and thicker fabrics.

Clover Wonder Clips

The clips are strong and stay in place really well – exactly like they are supposed to. So I pulled out some minky fabric that had been giving me trouble. It kept puckering when I pinned it.

Clover Wonder Clips

I clipped the sides and got ready to sew a straight seam. The bottom of the clips are flat to easily slide up to the presser foot.

Clover Wonder Clips

Here is where I will reiterate the fact that I am no expert when it comes to sewing. Because I have trouble keeping my two pieces perfectly aligned, I always kept my pins in the fabric until the very last second. But with the clips, because they are so wide, you have to remove them sooner than I usually like to do.

Clover Wonder Clips

I also had a few instances where the clips caught a bit on the edge of my sewing machine as they were feeding up towards the presser foot.

Clover Wonder Clips

So the clips were not the perfect solution for this experiment, but I could see the benefits for lots of other projects.  Sometimes you are working with delicate fabrics that you don’t want to add extra pin holes to if you don’t have to, like leather or delicate silks. And when you have a lot of thick layers (including batting for quilts) these clips would do a great job of holding everything together.  I have heard lots of quilters saying that they only use these clips when doing their quilt bindings now. As far as capacity, these little red clips easily held 8 layers of minky fabric.

Clover Wonder Clips

I have a quilt that I have been planning and these clips will be on my agenda as I get ready to do the binding. As far as my normal everyday sewing projects, I will probably stick with pins because they let me keep the fabric pinned right up to the presser foot.

PROS:

  • Strong clips with a wide opening for lots of layers and thick fabric (or batting)
  • No pin holes and less puckering
  • Would also be great for organizing small fabric pieces when quilting

CONS:

  • Clip shape requires it to be removed well before the presser foot
  • Clips may get caught on the edge of your sewing machine

Clover Wonder Clips can be found in craft and fabric stores, and are also currently available on Amazon.com in a package of 50 clips. If anyone has used these clips and has some tips I would love to hear them!

Vendor Spotlight: Silicone Release Paper by C&T Publishing

Reported by Heather Strenzwilk

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon.com affiliate program.

Silicone Release Paper from C & T Publishing was inspired by fusible applique artist Laura Wasilowski. The double-sided, coated paper comes in a package of ten- 8.5″ x 11″ inch sheets plus two- 17″ x 22″ inch sheets for larger projects. This versatile paper can be used for transfers, appliques and as a non-stick work surface for craft projects.

Because I am not a very accomplished sewer (I still refer to the instruction book to thread my sewing machine properly) I decided to make a very simple applique pouch. I began by ironing some Steam-A-Seam2 double-stick fusible webbing onto the back of the fabric and then removing the backing to expose the adhesive. I used a black Sharpie marker to trace the heart shape onto the silicone release paper. Then I put the design (Sharpie side down) onto the fusible web and I ironed the silicone release paper to transfer the Sharpie ink to the fabric.

I could tell when the transfer had occurred because the silicone release paper is nearly transparent. After removing the silicone release paper I was able to cut out my applique and adhere it to the pouch using my iron. This was a pretty easy process and it worked for me the first time. Although some of the Sharpie ink remained on the silicone release sheet, I think you could re-use it if you were careful.

After the success with my pouch, I decided to test some other craft media. I used my hot glue gun to create some embellishments. When the glue cooled, they easily popped off the silicone release paper. The paper could definitely be re-used, which was a plus. Later I wrote the word “Elmer” with some white school glue. Because school glue is very wet, the paper warped and curled badly as it dried but the letters popped right off the release paper.

The more liquid the acrylic paint, the more warping as the paint dries

Next, I decided to make some acrylic paint skins, which I had never heard of before researching this article. For one set, I used Anita’s acrylic paint which is very liquidy. The paper warped as it dried but the dried acrylic pieces (which are very flexible) came off the page easily. For the second batch, I used some old Lumiere paint which had definitely thickened with age, with a touch of blue Anita acrylic paint. This batch had more body and didn’t warp the paper as badly, but the paper is definitely “single use” for this type of project.

Notice the warping after the acrylic paint skin is peeled

Finally, I decided to make some encaustic art with Crayola Crayons. I sprinkled fine crayon shavings on a piece of cardboard sandwiched between two pieces of silicone release paper. After briefly ironing to melt the crayon, I pulled off the top paper. The wax didn’t stick to the release paper but it did sort of bead up and leave a waxy residue. I put the sheet, residue side down on some white matte cardstock to try to remove the residue but some of it remained. I could use the sheet again but I would be concerned about muddying the next batch of wax.

My impression of the product is that it is a thinner, disposable version of a non-stick craft mat, a product I use constantly in my craft room. The texture of the paper reminds me of a cross between parchment paper and the release paper used to iron Perler Beads. Silicone release paper would be good to take to a crop or for kids to use because there is no messy clean up. I was a little disappointed by how much the silicone release paper warped when it got wet, but it is more of a one-time use product. The larger 17″ x 22″ inch size sheets are great for larger projects or for enlarging patterns. Since the sheets are nearly transparent, it is easy to trace and there is no need to reverse your letters because you’ll flip the sheet to do the transfer onto the fabric.

Mini book featuring an encaustic tree

Pros:

  • Package has ten regular size plus two 17″ x 22″ sheets for large projects
  • Nothing sticks to it
  • Versatile- can be used with multiple media

Cons:

  • Silicone release paper warps if it gets very wet
  • Not as durable as a standard, reusable non-stick craft mat

Have you tried C&T Silicone Release Paper? What products do you use to create appliques? Please share your thoughts with our readers.

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY!: Sizzix Big Shot

Reported by Susie Ziegler

I was pleased to have the chance to test out the traditional die cutter, Big Shot by Sizzix, and some of the Westminster Fabric dies which are specially designed for fabric and quilting. There is nothing that compares to a die cutter when one needs to dependably cut a large amount of shapes that are exactly sized and shaped.

I received the Big Shot Machine, which will cut with dies up to 6 inches wide. The package includes two clear Standard Cutting Pads, and the Multipurpose Platform which is used to accommodate various specialty dies like Sizzix Texturz, Embosslits, Clearlits, and Textured Impressions, or any product offered by Sizzix. The Big Shot is sturdy and with the crank on the side (instead of a lever that swings across the top) the Big Shot stores easily. The handle makes it convenient to move around to various workstations.

I also received three Westminster Fibers Dies: 2 1/2 Inch Hexagons, Plain Leaves, and 5 Inch Half-Square Triangles. Dies are most useful for fabric when they are simple shapes with gentle angles and curves. Anyone who is going to be sewing with their die cut shapes will need to quickly make a large pile of cutouts. The best tool for this job is a die cutting machine.

The 2 1/2 Inch Hexagons die cuts four hexagons at a time. The first thing I thought to try with this die was English Paper Piecing which is a hand sewing technique that stabilizes fabric around a paper template. Generally, one has to purchase the paper templates from quilt shops or other sources. With my own die, I can cut piles and piles of them and maybe even achieve my very own handsewn Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt.

Holy Moley! I can’t wait! Okay, before I get ahead of myself, I’ll just try making one flower. I die cut a pile of 2 1/2 inch hexagons, and in the Big Shot, I was able to cut several layers of paper at a time. Next I used scissors to cut fabric pieces about 1/4 inch larger than the paper template and pinned the paper to the center of the fabric piece:

Now I baste the fabric around the paper. You really only need a few stitches to hold it together. I’ll need seven basted hexagons to achieve one flower. When they are all basted, I whip stitch the hexagons right sides together:

I forgot how much I love handstitching! In just a short time, I stitched a whole flower and a border around it. This is the underside before I finished the whole block. When a hexagon is totally surrounded, you can remove the basting and use the paper for another fabric hexagon. I started die cutting any scrap paper that entered my house, especially my daughter’s finished and graded school papers.

I’m telling you, I really got addicted to this and I started making calculations for a whole queen-sized bed quilt. My friends in my craft club recommended I try die cutting freezer paper hexagons and skip the basting altogether. Freezer paper worked great! I made about 45 hexagon flowers before I realized I was going to have to set this aside and try out the other Westminster Fiber dies. I know I never would have tried out this traditional technique if I didn’t have this terrific die from Sizzix.

Sizzix sells Bigz Hexagon dies in 4 different sizes, so if these are too large for you, there are several other options.

I got so excited about those hexagons, I forgot to show you how to actually use the Big Shot with Bigz dies. Bigz dies are 6 inches wide. You can use any other Sizzix product in the Big Shot, as long as it is not wider than 6 inches. When die cutting with the Big Shot and a Bigz die, sandwich the die and your fabric, paper, felt, or other material, face up between the two sheets of plexiglass.

I’m using 2 layers of felt here and the Plain Leaves die which cuts 8 simple leaves of various sizes. The largest leaf is about 3.5 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. The smallest is the same proportion at just 1.5 inches long. With the Big Shot, you can cut several layers of material at a time. If you pack in too much, you will not be able to pass it through the Big Shot.

With a die cutting machine you can get large piles of perfect shapes in a flash. I cut a nice selection of felt leaves. There is very little waste of my precious wool blend felt using this die.

Felt is awesome and the Big Shot cuts it just like butter. For my project, I’m going to also cut some leaves from fabric and iron-on fusible webbing. Lickety-split, I have a pretty pile of fabric leaves exactly the same size as the felt I just cut.

I ironed fusible web backed fabric leaves to felt with floral wire between to make this leafy fabric sprig. I can make a lot of these and make them into a wreath, or this would make a nice bow for a special wrapped package

Bigz dies can also cut aluminum cans!

I backed my tin with sticky foam to soften the edges and make it easier to craft with.

My daughter loves her new hairclip made with a plain leaf and some circles from another Sizzix Originals die I already own. Don’t fret! My Sizzix dies still work like a charm on felt and fabric even after cutting paper or aluminum.

People who already own a Big Shot and are ready to try quilting will want to try out the 5 Inch Half Square Triangle die. The 5 inch measurement is unfinished. Your sewn square will measure 4 1/8 inches in a finished quilt block, depending on the size of your seam allowance and how aggressively you iron your block open.

I cut strips of fabric about 6 inches wide. I’m going to stick with reds and whites in this project, so each time I made a cut, I layered a red strip right sides together with a white strip so the units would all be matched up and ready for the sewing machine.

I was able to cut about 6 to 8 layers of fabric at a time, but if I loaded too much, bits of fabric and fuzz stuck in the corners of the die. Occasionally, there were threads along the outside that didn’t cut, but this was not a problem as I was able to cut them quickly with my seam ripper.

I settled into a rhythm of 4 layers at a time. With the long strips of fabric, I could conserve by making my cut, then sliding the die to the next area and cutting again. I had very little waste.

So many triangles! My grandma would be pleased to see me using the fabric she bequeathed me from her sizable stash. Be careful handling these triangles because the diagonal edge is the stretchy bias and you don’t want to end up sewing a bunch of wonky squares. The other method of cutting half square triangles would be with a rotary cutter, mat, and ruler. I am not sure if this method is faster, but it certainly is more precise.

Crafters with a Big Shot who want to dabble in quilting can make a whole quilt with just this die and no investment in a rotary cutter, mat, and ruler. You don’t even need a good pair of fabric scissors if you use these quilting dies.

Just stitch up the diagonal of each set keeping an accurate 1/4 inch seam.

There are so many pleasing possibilities with Half Square Triangle units!

I settled on this setting which measures about 33 inches square and uses 64 Half Square Triangle units. You may keep a slightly different 1/4 inch seam allowance than I do so your finished top may have a slightly different measurement.

Pros:

  • Portable, durable, dependable, affordable.
  • Doesn’t require electricity, sticky mats that lose their stickiness, or computer programming.
  • Cuts a wide variety of materials interchangeably. Obviously, use discretion when choosing what to cut and don’t overload the dies. If a material doesn’t cut with scissors, it isn’t likely to cut with the Big Shot.
  • Useful selection of dies available for quilt making, felt craft, and fabric.
  • Westminster Fiber dies are well designed to make effective use of a fabric supply with little wasted fabric.
  • Nothing compares to a traditional die cutter like this when a large supply of shaped cutouts is desired.
  • New quilters can design a whole quilt using just one of the Westminster Fiber Bigz dies with no investment in many of the traditionally necessary tools for quilt making.

Cons:

  • Shapes are not customizable
  • Bigz dies are thick, so a collection of them will take up space in the craft closet.
  • Dies are labeled on the side. It would be helpful if they also had an image of the shape on the top of the die.
  • It is not necessarily quicker to cut all the pieces of a quilt with the Big Shot, but the accuracy and precision cannot be beat.

Get your own Sizzix Big Shot machine with an exclusive bundle at Scrapbook.com today!

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