Sunday, October 21, 2012

PIQF 2012 - part 2

There were 3 items that I was specifically looking for while I was at PIQF: 2 Sizzix die cuts (which I was not able to find) and a specialty ruler, "Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star", developed by Deb Tucker.

I'm not a big fan of specialty rulers.  While they obviously solved a problem that someone had at some point, I really think that most of them remain unused once purchased.  I think that most of the problems solved by them can also be resolved by careful cutting, sewing, pressing and use of the standard rulers that we all have.

That being said, I do have a few specialty rulers.  The "Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star" is now one of them. :-)  I first ran across this ruler whilst cruising You Tube.  Inventor Deb Tucker has two videos (part one and part two) that explain and demonstrate how to use her ruler.   The ruler can make the star in 5 different sizes, from a 3" block up to a 12" block.

Lemoyne Stars can be a challenge to sew correctly because not only are the star points diamonds, (which can be tricky to simply seam together) but 8 of them should come together in a perfectly FLAT center.  Also, the corner background pieces and side triangles usually feature that dreaded "Y" seam.  There are a lot of opportunities for errors but this ruler eliminates most of them (it can't compensate for bad pressing!).

I've never really had a lot of problems making Lemoyne Stars but I've also been very, very careful at each step along the way.  This ruler makes those steps a whole lot simpler.  One way is to start out with strip sets to create the diamonds, rather than cutting those shapes individually.  Another is to make each sub-unit slightly larger than necessary so that you can TRIM them to the correct size before you move onto the next step.  I know, from other blocks, that if you can make any block slightly larger then trim to size, you will generally get a more accurate block in the end.  The key to this ruler is being able to trim down the diamond units accurately, using the markings on the ruler.

I was intrigued by watching the videos and decided that, if possible, I would look for and buy it at PIQF.  As I was rounding the end of an aisle of vendors, I came across a gaggle of women, listening to a demo.  I stopped to see what was being promoted .. and much to my surprise, it looked like Deb Tucker herself!  When I saw that the demo was for the Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler, I knew it really WAS Deb Tucker!

my autographed Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler!  woo hoo!
I will admit here, before everyone, that when the demo was over, I gushed just like a little fan girl about looking specifically for her ruler and here it was .. with her as well!  After I bought the ruler, I asked Deb to autograph it for me .. and she was very gracious about doing so. :-)  :-)

Back home, I gave the ruler a test drive.  It really, really does make creating the Lemoyne Star easier!  Deb has thought of an alternative sewing sequence that absolutely, positively eliminates the "Y" seams when sewing the background fabric to the star points.  The way this is possible is because Deb has *split* all the background pieces in half, creating a plain seam to sew instead of the "Y" seam.

Additionally, the ruler also allows you to fussy-cut fabric for individual diamonds, should you have fabric that needs to be used that way.

Here is the basic, vanilla-version Lemoyne Star. 

You'll note that the center is absolutely *flat* and that all the diamonds meet at exactly the center. 

If you use a solid or a fabric that reads as solid for the background, you'll have an easy time making this block. 

Because the block is constructed slightly oversized, the final trimming creates a block that is exactly the size it needs to be.

I tell ya, I was *really* impressed with myself at how the block turned out.

Then I got a wild idea to use a stripe for the background fabric.  You can get some interesting effects with stripes.

For this test block, I used an unevenly striped fabric.  The background strips were cut cross-wise.  You can see that it forms a miter at the corner seamlines.

With *this particular striped fabric*, even though the stripes do not match, for whatever reason, I don't find this exceedingly visually jarring.  I could live this this result.

However, if you had a different sort of stripe fabric, you might need to actually MATCH the stripes, which would be a terrifically difficult thing to achieve.

For grins and giggles, I decided to see what the result would be if I cut one background strip cross-wise (as above) and the other background strip lengthwise.  I had vague (*very vague*) ideas of being able to match up the stripes .. and wouldn't that look awesome???

As you can see, I was absolutely unable to do so.    Due to the way the strip sets are sewn and then cut to create the diamond subunits, it is virtually impossible to match any background fabric stripe or pattern.   Oh, maybe with more fabric to waste, I might have been able to find matching pieces, but it just wasn't worth my time.

*This* test block just jangles my eyeballs.  I could never live with this block at all.

Conclusion: best to stick with solid, tone on tone, mottled or overall prints for the background.  At the very least, no stripes!!!  Also, be aware if your background fabric has a DIRECTIONAL design.

There was one other tool that I purchased, that I used when making these blocks .. the Brooklyn Revolver.  This is a cutting mat on a Lazy Susan turntable.  It was invented by Pat Yarmin, who happens to *live* in Brooklyn, New York.  When she created it, it was her young son who came up with the name.    You see, not only do they live in Brooklyn, but that is where the Brooklyn Revolver is made and ... the item turns (revolves)!  It comes in two sizes: a 14" and a 9".

I had seen this spinning cutting mat in notion catalogues over the years.  Pat said there have been several imitations but they aren't as steady as hers.  On the competitors' versions, when you bear down with the rotary cutter out near the edge of the cutting mat, the whole thing tips over.  But with *her* version, it's rock-steady all the way to the outer edge.  This is due to the support structure they have on the underside.

I had a wonderful conversation with Pat and when I bought my own, I had her autograph it, too!  :-)

The main advantage that the Brooklyn Revolver gives you is that you don't need to MOVE the fabric when you are making multiple cuts.  Instead of moving the fabric (and introducing the potential for misalignment and a resultant error in cutting), you spin the revolver and the fabric spins with it.  You never, ever touch the fabric except to cut it.  This really eliminates cutting errors.

Using the Brooklyn Revolver in conjunction with the Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler, produced very accurate blocks.

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