Supplies and Demand-- Part One

Supplies and Demands for Quilting

As I read this chapter of Super Quilter by Carla J Hassel, I’m struck by how much has changed in the past 20+ years since she sat down to write it. My amusement has faded to awe. I’m now wondering how my grandmothers managed with a cigar box as a sewing box, a set of hand-sewing needles, pins, scissors, thread, beeswax, chalk, a ruler, tape measure, pin cushion, thimble, seam ripper, and fabric. They made do or did without.

Now I admire my lovely computerized sewing machine, my collection of rulers and templates, stabilizers, Heat-n-Bond, glues, and myriad of gadgets available. Am I the one deprived because I’m not sitting around a frame with other women, learning from those who came before me? Maybe I am. They fearlessly attacked their ignorance and knew they had a lifetime to perfect their skills.

So I use a plastic tote and a photo box instead of a cigar box. It’s not a crime. I made my own pincushions from my early experiments with different blocks. I’ll use the clear acrylic rulers and rotary cutters to make my job a little easier. I still have to wash my new fabric to get the manufacturer’s chemicals removed and allow it to shrink or lose dye if it’s going to before I put any hard work into it.

I’ll say what Carla says, then give modern equivalents if I can.

1. Sewing box—there are a myriad of choices now to stow all your hand-sewing supplies from stacked plastic boxes to beautiful baskets. I’ve even seen the hardware store toolboxes like the Stanley Fat Max used. Some folks even collect vintage sewing boxes. I think the choice is personal.

2. Needles – This is where things get interesting. Since I intend to stick to hand-sewing so I get “up close and personal” with learning this craft, I’ll take her suggestions to use a package of “sharps” in sizes 7 and 8, and some “betweens” in sizes 7, 8 and 9. For my sewing machine, I’ll follow the manufacturer’s recommendations in the handbook. Ironically, I made myself a flannel needle case that resembles a book, where each flannel page holds a different type of needle. I’ll dig that out and keep it handy.

3. Pins—Oh, boy. I’ve been reading and now I understand why I got a few frowns at my pins in a magnetic holder. It seems that there’s an alternative pin that is thinner and more heat resistant, made to hold fabric without damaging the weave or fibers. How interesting. Of course, I already have the slightly larger pins with the “pearl” tops, but perhaps as I need to buy more, I’ll slowly replace them with the newer thinner type.

4. Scissors—Ask any child and they’ll know there’s a huge difference between scissors for paper and fabric scissors. The book recommends two different kinds of scissors. One set is the larger dressmaker’s scissors. The second set is more specialized, smaller and with a very sharp point.

This is also the time to recognize the joy of the rotary blade. (Cheering in the background.) Fortunately, sets with a rotary cutter and mat are readily available. The set I’ve chosen to use in the hyperlink also comes with a ruler for a great price. Okay, so it’s not the fantastic ergonomic set with the latest self-healing technology and all the latest gizmos. Those can be picked up as needed. A 45mm rotary cutter, mat, and a 6”x 24” ruler are enough to get started, even luxurious. However, I’m obliged to point out that the rotary cutter uses a round razor-sharp blade that can slice through flesh with more ease than any knife in the kitchen. Use the safety guards, cut away from yourself, and never let the little ones even come within a few feet. You know how quickly they get into things they shouldn’t!

Okay, that’s enough for tonight. I’m pooped. G’night!



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