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Using the Arlo Templates

I thought it’d be fun to put together a little post on using the Arlo templates. They are a completely optional add-on to the project–all shapes needed are included on paper in the pattern–but I find the acrylic option to make things much easier.

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

First off, there are two different sets to choose from–1/4″ and 3/8″. Either option will work to make the project; it basically comes down to a matter of personal preference and how you plan to sew it together as to which option to pick.

Arlo Quilt . Carolyn Friedlander

Since there is some flexibility as to how to sew the the project together–be it by machine, by hand or by using English Paper Piecing (EPP)–you might have a preference on your seam allowance as well. For that reason, I created the 2 template options as well as wrote the pattern requirements on the pattern for both options.

Which to choose? If you’re normally a machine piecer and you’re comfortable with a 1/4″ seam allowance, I’d go with the 1/4″ option. In fact, that’s what I like to use when I’m doing this project. But, if you’re a hand piecer with a 3/8″ preference, or you like to set up your EPP this way, or if you just prefer a slightly larger seam allowance, then you’d be more happy with the 3/8″ option.

Both template set options have all of the pieces you need, are super sturdy and have the relevant reference lines and drilled holes to help you put together your project.

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

Once you have your set picked out, here are some tips for how I like to use them.

You can use the templates to trace out all of your shapes before cutting them out, or you can use them to mark and cut as you go. Feel free to try both ways and see which way you like best. If I’m cutting around the template, I’ll either move my mat toward an edge of my cutting table so I can cut from a few sides without repositioning, or I find using a rotating cutting mat to be handy too.

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

Cut around all sides. Larger rotary cutters can work, but I like using a 28mm cutter with this project because it cuts to just what you need cut.

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

After cutting all of the sides, you can mark your points at the holes. (Take note that I’m doing this on the Wrong Side of the fabric.)

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

I like having a seam allowance marked, so after marking where the holes are, I’ll slide the straight edge of the template down and connect all of the dots. This is totally optional and depends on your personal preference.

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

Now you have nicely cut and marked pieces ready to go.

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

The issue of marking tools is an important one. Actually, I think the issue of marking tools is always important. For Arlo, it’s important to consider two things: You’re marking the wrong side of the fabric, and depending on how you sew it, you might be ironing the pieces (and still be needing the markings).

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

I tried many different marking tools when I was working on my project, and here are some of what I found to work.

marking tools

First, I have a big disclaimer; Because I was using all dark fabrics, it didn’t matter to me if any of the markings were removable. On dark fabric, and with marking the wrong side, you’d never see the markings.

The next thing is that I knew I’d be ironing the pieces while still wanting the markings. For this reason I didn’t want to use any marking tool that can be removed by heat or time. With those conditions, here are some options that I found to work. (From top to bottom in the above picture.)

Muji Gel Ink 0.5mm pens are one of my favorites. There are many color options, and they glide across the fabric nicely. (Note: These are not removable.)

These white felt pens were also my favorite. The ink showed up really nicely on dark fabrics, and the markings were clear and easy to trace on the fabric. They say that they are water soluble, but I haven’t tested that.

I did all of my marking for Arlo with these first two pens, but here are some others that I’ve found to work as well.

Uni-Ball Signo DX 0.38mm – Another ink pen option with a lot of colors to choose from. These are finer than the Muji ones. (Note: These are not removable.)

Clover 0.7mm mechanical quilting pencil – I am having a hard time finding a link for this exact one, but other brands make something similar. It’s basically a mechanical pencil, see next rec.

Bic 0.7mm #2 pencil (variety pack link, see note below) – I love these, and they work. You might be able to erase the marks, but do a test to double check first.

Sewline white lead – You can definitely get the mechanical pencil and lead set, but somehow I found myself with just the lead refills and no appropriate holder. Because the refills are 0.9mm they’ll fit perfectly in any 0.9 mechanical pencil. I put mine in one of the Bic holders (variety pack noted above has the 0.9mm size), and it works great. I put a white piece of tape around it so I know I have white lead inside.

Sewline white click pencil – Same effect as some of the others, but with a thicker lead.

There are so many marking tools out there! These are just some that I’ve tried and found to be conducive to using the templates. Any marking tool comes with caveats, so always beware and always test what you’re using on your fabric first.

What are some of your favorite marking tools? In addition to scanning the notions wall at your local quilt shop, I find talking to other quilters helps too!

There we have it, how-to use the templates for my Arlo pattern!

Arlo Quilt . Carolyn Friedlander

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Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss.

I have some fun news–I’m very happy to announce a collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss!

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

To start, I never imagined how exciting thread conditioner could be. For the last several years, I’ve used Thread Heaven–a silicone based thread conditioner, which–for the record–is very nice. If you’re using Thread Heaven and you’re happy with it, that’s totally great.

But as many of you might know, the owners of Thread Heaven have retired, and they decided not to sell their special recipe. A pot of Thread Heaven is one of those supplies that I feel like takes decades to run out of, and so I wasn’t initially concerned about running out. But as an increasing number of students began to express panic over the situation and then ask me about alternatives, it seemed reasonable to keep my eyes open for other options.

It was somewhat serendipitous when Jenn of Sew Fine Thread Gloss reached out to me about her Thread Conditioner. In general I’m very hesitant to take samples of products that I haven’t tried before. There’s nothing worse than having to judge a product when there’s even a speck of obligation, and that was definitely not going to be the case here.

Harriot Hand Sewing . Carolyn Friedlander

With Jenn’s product, I was really curious to try it. She sent me a few of her scents, and at first, I wasn’t sure why I’d want my project to have a smell to it (which by the way, they don’t)…but, I’ve since changed my mind on that, which I’ll get back to in a minute.

To be very honest, the first time using it felt a little weird. After using a silicone-based conditioner for so long, the beeswax felt clunky and full of drag. It even made a different sound going through the fabric. (I know, I’m a total nerd and do too much handwork that I’m breaking down the sound of it.) Determined to give it a fair shake, I kept going and it quickly started to change my mind. I was doing this super-lame thing of alternating Thread Heaven and Sew Fine each time I changed thread, and before too long I realized that I was preferring the Sew Fine.

There’s a heartiness to it that seems to result in fewer knots than with the Thread Heaven. While I was starting to prefer that, I was also learning to adjust my preferences a bit. When using Thread Heaven, I would usually thread my needle first and then use a Quilter’s Knot before applying the conditioner. With Sew Fine, I switch it up. I wax my thread first, then thread my needle before making a knot by way of a Garment Knot instead. Of course, this is what I find to work well for me, but feel free to try different things to get the mix that works best for you!

Harriot Hand Sewing . Carolyn Friedlander

As for the scents, I quickly started to love them. Jenn formulates everything to a respectable strength that is gentle, fun and not overpowering. I’m pretty sensitive to smell, and so I appreciate her formulation.

Harriot Hand Sewing . Carolyn Friedlander

In addition to the smell being quite pleasant, I discovered that there was something motivating about changing the scent as you move along with your project. I’ve done a lot of handwork projects over the last 10 months, and it has totally amazed me how refreshing it can be to swap out the scent on a project as you go. Like when I was working on Hunt, appliquéing through the various colors kept it visually engaging, but the scent changes that I made along the way added a whole new sensory to the experience. Even now, I have a real debate with myself everytime I pull out some handwork, because I need to decide what scent mood I want to be in while working on the project.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

All of this is very nerdy, but if you’re like me, it’s these little details that make sewing such a captivating experience.

In addition to all of that, Sew Fine Thread Gloss is made with locally sourced beeswax that has NOT been chemically processed. It is handmade in small batches just outside Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The light amber color is attributed to this wax being very natural and only one step away from the hive, with absolutely no bleaching or other additives. The beeswax is filtered just once to separate it from the honey and from any leftover hive particles–which I just love.

Plus, the woman behind Sew Fine, Jenn McMillan cares deeply about her product and has been a total delight to work with.

On the collaboration! Together, Jenn and I came up with 3 new scents–each of which is a little different, but all of which are clean smelling and enjoyable to use.

First up is Sencha.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

To say that I’m a green tea fan is kind of an understatement. (I’m drinking green tea as I write this!) My strong love for it made scents related to it top of my mind.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

The Sencha blend has a green tea focus, but it also has hints (to me) of gardenia or even orange blossoms. (This is probably why I’m so drawn to it!) The result is super fresh and very verdant.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

I should add that it’s quite hard to describe a scent. After having friends and family smell many samples over the last few months, I know that we each seem to connect with smell in our own ways. It’s very interesting.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

The labels were also really fun. Jenn had the idea of throwing some of my fabric designs on there, which I just love. Plus, it was fun to think about which prints might go well with which scents.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

Next up is Citrus & Sage. It’s pretty dreamy and very bright smelling.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

I’d say that the citrus-ness comes forward first, but then there’s a very mild herbaceous-ness that grounds it a bit. This one might be the one that seems to have piqued the interests most of my friends and family who have been sniffing all of my samples.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

The third scent in our collaboration is Tea Flower, which I know…another tea-related scent, but I couldn’t help myself. It’s so good and quite different from Sencha.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

This guy is a crisp and complex blend featuring a fresh aroma of green tea with long-lasting sweet and citrusy middle notes. In comparing Tea Flower and Sencha, Tea Flower (to me) has more of a sweet, floral quality, whereas Sencha is more verdant and almost grassy.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

I’d say that all of the scents have a nice cleanness feel to them. Jenn does such a good job formulating the scents so they do not overpower. I find the level of scent to be just right.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

While all 3 of these new, collaborative scents are in the shop (individually and as a set), I also thought it would be nice to offer up Jenn’s Natural gloss. I have grown to love using scented thread conditioner, but I also completely understand that that may not be the case for everyone or for every project. Natural has no additional fragrances added, and the familiar scent of beeswax and honey is delicate and modest.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

SO, you can nab some of this in my shop too!

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

Yay, yay!

It was so much fun working with Jenn on this project. It’s honestly my favorite conditioner to use, and I find that it makes such a big difference. My hope is that you will enjoy using it too.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

Oh, and while putting together this post, I realized how much I like nerding out over thread. (Ok, maybe not new news…) And so I’ve created a follow-up post with some thread tips and tricks for you. Enjoy!

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

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WainwrightAL #3: Basting Progress.

WainwrightAL #3: Basting Progress.

While away from home, I’ve been basting away on my Wainwright–yay for portability!

Wainwright QAL . Carolyn Friedlander

The cool thing about it being basted is that it’s ready to go anywhere.

Last week I mentioned my palette for this QAL project, but here’s a better look. I’m using mostly greys and darker fabrics. I have added in some Kona solids, but I also have fabric from my botanics, euclid and gleaned collections as well as a print from Erin Dollar’s Arroyo collection. As I go, I might decide to add and/or subtract. That’s the beauty of it–you can see how things are looking and make adjustments as needed.

Wainwright QAL . Carolyn Friedlander

A note about cutting and arranging your pieces and templates. As noted in the pattern and in Week 1, the fabric ratio to keep in mind is that 1 square of appliqué fabric can yield 2 blocks. This means you’ll want to set aside 2 background blocks for each set of appliqué shapes that you cut. Personally, I find it helpful to grab 2 background fabrics when I grab 1 appliqué fabric to take to the ironing board to fold and press at the same time. This way I know I’m keeping my ratio in check. Of course, if I decide a background isn’t working, I may prep an extra or two later, but in general, I think this is a good way to start.

Wainwright QAL . Carolyn Friedlander

If you take a look at the cutting template, there are 3 (solid) cutting lines, and (dashed) lines to show how to align the template to your block. Make sure to align along folds and raw edges as noted. Once you cut the appliqué (your top shape) along the cutting lines, you will have 3 sections (that nest) to place onto your backgrounds. Take note that the small circular corner pieces don’t need to be used. They’re tiny.

Wainwright QAL . Carolyn Friedlander

The great thing about this stage is that you can really see how things will shape up. I like to cut things up and lay them out as I go so I can see how my fabric choices and shape mixing is working out. We have an 1/8″ seam allowance, so just keep in mind that there will be a little more space around your shapes as you stitch them down. For example, the black appliqué in the above photo (bottom, left) is actually 2 shapes with a cut line separating them–although it looks like one right now. The shapes match up before being stitched, but a gap between them will appear after each side is appliquéd. You can see this a bit better in my first version (below). The first few rows have already been appliquéd, and so you can see that gap appearing between the neighboring shapes.

Wainwright QAL . Carolyn Friedlander

Work in the way that feels good to you! For me, I like cutting and laying things out so I have a good idea, but if you prefer to cut and arrange in smaller sections, by all means do it! This is the beauty of appliqué, you can see how something is coming along before even sewing it together. You can see that I haven’t pinned anything down yet. Since I’m auditioning different shapes and fabric combinations, I keep things loose. Once I decide I like a combination, I pin them down with the appliqué pins, and then do my basting.

Wainwright QAL . Carolyn Friedlander

If you want to join in and need a copy of the pattern, you can find it here.

Otherwise, you are all posting some beautiful starts!

Tips:

+ Sometimes using a longer needle works well for basting. Because of basting not needing to be a super-short stitch, the longer needle can help you stitch along more quickly and easily.

+ Machine baste or hand baste? Both work, but I’m personally more of a fan of hand basting for a few reasons. One, it’s portable. Two, once you get comfortable doing it, I find it to be faster and much easier than navigating tricky shapes on the machine. Three, it’s more gentle on the fabric. If you are machine basting, make sure to use a fresh (sharp) needle. Four, hand basting is way easier to remove than machine basting.

+ Using a fun basting thread is just that–fun! I pretty much always use my Aurifil 1104 for basting–except for when my fabrics match 1104–which happens! I do love that color.

+ Basting stitches are temporary, so you do not need to knot them. Leave thread tails loose and on the top side of your work. This way you know exactly where they are when you’re doing your appliqué stitches later.

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