January 2010

I goofed. If you're looking for the January 2011 newsletter, this isn't it. Click here please.

The Ami Simms Newsletter
January 2010
Copyright by Ami Simms

Welcome to the New Year and the New Decade. I wish you all good health, good fortune, joy, and peace for this year and the rest of the new decade! May you grow and learn, and be inspired at every turn.

This is totally brilliant! It will make you smile. It will make you think. It will get your creative juices flowing… (You can suggest resolutions, too!) Try it! Just click the Gimme More button in the middle, repeatedly.

I have two really strong memories about scissors. When I was very young I remember that my mother kept her sewing scraps in the… (read more)

When I hand-quilted my first quilt, I assumed that a needle was a needle, was a needle. I went to the junk drawer in the kitchen, found a needle at the bottom, and threaded it up. I had no idea that needles came in sizes for different tasks. I later learned that the rusty, bent needle I had commandeered wasn't a quilting needle at all. It was an embroidery needle! It was far too large to make a decent sized quilting stitch. That's why we quilters use "betweens!"

Scissors, like needles, are made differently for different tasks. Generally, the smaller the blade, the shorter the distance you should cut with them.

Allow me to go through my collection. (If you haven't already clicked over to read the rest of the newsletter online, you'll be missing the pictures.) Go now:

This is, obviously, a little embarrassing. Until I took them all out of the drawer and out of my various organizers, even I didn't realize I have so many!

Admittedly I do save stuff long beyond their usefulness. I haven't "pinked" in probably a decade, and yet there are TWO pair of pinking shears in the pile!

The question to ask is this: which ones do I reach for?! That becomes a little easier. Let's go in "size order." Just realize I'm giving you my opinions. We all have our favorite tools. You're getting a peek at mine. There's lot's of tools that do the job "right."

1. When I make my Rag Fur Jackets the only scissors I'll use to cut out the pattern and CUT THE FRINGS are these Fiskars. They're not the ones most stores carry, so you have to look for the "Home & Office" part of the label on the packaging. They are perfect for the job. The blades are 3" long, and they'll cut through concrete. OK, I’m exaggerating, but they will go through 8 layers of high thread count batik fabric like it was butter. One squeeze per slice. Done! You can fringe an entire jacket in about 45 minutes without your hand breaking off.

Left or right handed, they're ergonomic, and really sturdy. Aim the tip of the scissors at a point about 1/8" of an inch from the raw edge and squeeze once.

2. This is another 7" scissors with a 3" blade, but more delicate than the Fiskars. I can slice through multiple layers with these Clover 7" Patchwork Scissors too, I tend to use the entire blade for longer cuts. These are the scissors I use to rough cut large appliqué pieces, disengaging them from the rest of the piece of fabric before I cut around the marked line to create my 1/4" seam allowance. I use them to chop off borders and strips when I don't want to get up from the machine to rotary cut. When I iron freshly washed fabric, these are the perfect length to whack off several inches of hanging threads with one chop. They have their own sheath so they travel well to workshops, too. Best of all, they have a serrated blade! That means they really grab the fabric. No slipping or sliding.

3. These Clover 5-1/2" serrated Patchwork Scissors are my go-to scissors for projects that require smaller, precise cuts. I use these to cut around appliqué shapes (hand and machine) and to trim seam allowances even or to grade them (make dark narrower than the light by just a smidge to prevent the shadow of the dark seam allowance from shadowing through a light colored patch from the top of the quilt).

They have serrated blades so they really grab. I have excellent control with them and can guide them easily any where I want them to go, even tight curves. Perfect for small, close work. Since I'm making smaller cuts, I can still use the entire blade without it being unwieldy because, well, the blades are smaller!

4. These 3-1.2" Rainbow scissors with a titanium oxide finish are a blast to use because they are so beautiful. I love the colors. They are very sharp and should be used for small, delicate cuts, like clipping machine quilting threads, trimming very small appliqué pieces, and clipping inside curves because you can see the cut all the way to the point.

Inside curves are the only ones I clip. I don't clip "outies," I just skinny up the seam allowance a little so that it turns under without crimp marks. When I do clip, I clip often, about every quarter inch so that I can easily turn under the raw edges. I clip about 1/32" from the marked line (about the same distance as it is from one side of a fat pencil line to the other). The only way I can see that close is with a very pointy pair of scissors.

5. I got my first pair of Gingher scissors about the time I started thinking of myself as a quilter, not just someone who made quilts. These 3-1.2" serrated embroidery scissors by Gingher do the same tasks as the Rainbow scissors, but the serrated blades grab the fabric for more control. These Ginghers are handcrafted in the United States and each pair are adjusted by hand. Wow!

6. These little 4"blunt tip Ginghers are an often overlooked scissor, but when I'm sewing by hand they never leave my side, even when I fly. (No problems with security.) I only have room for ONE pair of scissors in my purse and these are them. They're not the best for clipping seam allowances on curves because of the blunt tip, but they work in a pinch. And, I ONLY use blunt tips when I clip out my appliqué from behind. (Clipping out the background fabric in layered block applique reduces the bulk in case I'm going to hand quilt INSIDE an appliquéd shape, and it allows the batting to expand fully under the appliqué shape as it does on the rest of the quilt. I think it looks better that way.) If I use pointy tips I'm sure to accidentally poke the points through something important as I slide my scissors between the layered fabric. And, if I drop them during turbulence my feet (and other body parts) are safer.

7. Finally, here are the scissors I used to lose 16 times a day, until I started wearing them around my neck! These 4-3/4" thread snippers are so handy! I needed a small clipper that I could grab without having to worry about which side was up for clipping threads when I machine piece. Either I set them on the table to the right of my machine, throw them at my Magnetic Pin & Scissor Grabber, or around my neck they go! Problem solved.

These have great heavy-duty blades, and they're PURPLE! Yes!

There are beautiful quilts on the "Buy A Quilt " section of the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative web site. These are quilts you can buy right now. Prices are marked, just put them in your shopping cart to help fight Alzheimer's. All price ranges. More will be added throughout the next few days.

Do you prefer the thrill of an auction? There are 26 quilts awaiting your bids. All profits fund Alzheimer's research.

There have been a couple of great videos making the circuit. Here are my picks of the month:

Whoever thought surgical gloves could inspire an entire dance routine ! Don't miss this one. (Thanks to Julie H. in NM.)

Watch these incredible girls, ages 9-14 jump rope. Amazing. They're called the Firecrackers for good reason. (Thanks to Sue H.)

You can also see more jump rope videos on their web page, with commercials.

Do you have a camera? If you have even a marginal interest in photography,check this out ! Fascinating! Everything from how to take very cool pictures on the cheap (without expensive gear) to how to POSE for pictures, especially if you hate having your picture taken. Lots to click and read, but definitely worth your time.

Delores Wagg shares her Zig Zag Zoom quilt. Click here.

Shelly Chandhok finished another Dog-Yeared quilt. Click here.

Sue Randall finished a Twisted Sisters quilt. Click here.

Martha Wolfersberger finished a Dots & Boxes quilt. Click here.

Ila Migut finished her String Quilt Click here.

If you're a cat lover and your cats like to play dress-up, this web site is for you! Enjoy!

I'm booking now for workshops that will take place in 2011 and beyond. Share expenses with a group near you that is already bringing me to your area, or start the ball rolling. See my teaching schedule for places I'll be visiting in 2010 and 2011. There might be way for your guild to "add-on." See my schedule.

Later this month I'll be visiting the Quilters Guild of Arlington, TX; Trinity Valley Quilt Guild in Ft. Worth; the Quilters Guld of Parker County in Weatherford, TX; and the Town & Country Quilters Guild in Stephenville, TX. If you're in the neighborhood, y'all stop in and say hey!

Details here.

If you write a guild newsletter (real paper or online) and would like to “reprint” a particular part of the newsletter you must ask first. Here’s how:

Here's wishing you a wonderful 2010,

Ami Simms