Saturday, March 5, 2011

"Stack The Deck Revisited" by Karla Alexander Book Review and Giveaway

Karla Alexander, Saginaw Street Quilt Company,  published another book with Martingale Publishing / That Patchwork Place in 2010.  The title is, Stack The Deck Revisited and I have the good fortune to review the book and also offer it as a giveaway on my blog :) 

I had the pleasure of meeting Karla at Checker Distributor's 62nd Anniversary Open House last year.  If you are a IHAN blog follower you may remember my post.  Karla has several beautiful quilt patterns as well as being a designer for Creative Grids Rulers.

Before I get into her latest book, Stack The Deck Revisited, I just want to take a minute to show you some of her work that I also love:

I know these have absolutely nothing to do with Stack The Deck Revisited, but I figured if you are anything like me you might want to see some of the author's work and other creations along the way.) 

For some reason the photos of Karla's book don't look as bright on the Internet as it does in my hands so I took my own photo of it for you to see.

Karla has updated her patterns from Stack the Deck, her first book.  I like Karla's style of writing and the photos that accompany the patterns clearly explain the process she is following to complete the quilts successfully.  Karla also goes into a discussion about fabric choices, finishing your quilt and variations on block designs. 

This one is "Going Green" and I thought it was a great example of a variation because the initial blocks were shuffled and combined to make an interesting pattern and then it was changed by adding the black inner squares.  So much more interesting and balanced ....don't you think?
I have really enjoyed reading Stack The Deck Revisited and I'm going to hate to see it leave however, I know it will be equally enjoyed by one lucky IHAN blog reader!  To have an opportunity to win Stack The Deck Revisited, please leave a comment on this post telling me if you have ever made on of Karla's patterns or used one of her Creative Grids Rulers.  If not, just let me know what intrigues you about the book and your name will go into the drawing.  A winner will be selected on Wednesday March 9th.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Karen Kay Buckley DVD - Scissors - Perfect Circles and Bernina Fun :)

Last Thursday on our way to PA I made sure to pack my little DVD player for the car and my new Karen Kay Buckley DVD, Hand and Machine Applique the Karen Kay Buckley Way.  I also packed some hand stitching because I knew we would be in the car for 8 hours and I'd be able to enjoy some stitching too. 

I must say I was very impressed with Karen's DVD.   It is not easy to be "natural" with a video camera on you and Karen did a wonderful job of conveying lots of great information and demonstrations with a natural presence.  If you are interested in Applique, machine or needle turn, and you want to have private lessons....this is the way to go. 

I had also packed a charm pack and Karen's Perfect Circles and Bigger Perfect Circles templates.  While going down the road I managed to cover all but two of the templates with fabric from my charm pack.

When I got home I mixed 1/2 water with 1/2 StaFlo starch and covered the edge of each of my circles

just putting a little on the edge to get it damp before the next step.....
I ironed them  (with my Digital Velocity V50 by personal favorite iron...Mr. McSteamy has the Digital Velocity  V100 on "his" ironing board!").
Look how nice they all look.....just like Karen said, Perfect Circles
I snipped the thread and removed the templates (they are heat resistant so you can iron with the template inside).
See how nicely the circle held it's shape?
Then I trimmed the excess fabric off so I can get ready to applique them to a quilt top.  The funny thing is none of this was planned.  We were packed and ready to leave when I ran back downstairs and saw my Perfect Circles....I grabbed them and a charm pack and ran back to the van.  I love to hand stitch so I wanted something to do in the car other than quilting.  I was so excited by the pretty circles that I began planning a quilt for about fun, spur of the moment that is a Vacation!

Chapter 2

A visit to the Ann Arbor Sewing Center yesterday was an absolute ball. 
Debbi, the sewing machine sales woman was so much fun.  I never once felt like I was being "sold" a machine.  She spent quite a bit of time getting to know about me and what type of features I was looking for without up-selling me features I am not interested in or need.  My kind of person for sure. 
Hey Alex, check this out!  They keep Aurifil in their demo models.....I smiled and told Debi....we just have to get a pix of this .... he's gonna love it.  (It does not get me any closer to winning that suitcase of thread in the challenge....but....I'm still dreaming :)

I am the proud new owner of a Bernina 430 with the Stitch Regulator...oh yeah baby!  I also got the felting foot....I can do needle felting too.  What a wonderful day! 

THANK YOU Debi for the help and your time!!!  If you go into the Ann Arbor Sewing Center....stop by and say Hi to Debi....she is a neat person.  Consider yourself warned about their fabric selection....don't blame me if you come home broke....they carry Kaffe Fasset, Art Gallery Fabrics, M and S Aboriginal Fabrics, 4 walls of Batiks....and so many more....very impressive selections.

But wait...that's not all....Diane and I went into an Estate Sale Shop....the owner does Estate Sales and they also have a small shop in Ann Arbor.  While looking around I found this quilt top....made of vintage feed sacks.....doesn't it look nice?

Yep, a proud new owner of a vintage feed sack twin size quilt top too!  I feel like a thief because it was marked 20.00.  I said the the fella at the counter...."I think this is worth more than 20.00."  He said, "I'm selling it for 20.00"  naturally I replied, "SOLD." 

Now you know where I've been and what I've been up to....why I have not had time to post....So....what have you been up to?


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Slice Fabrique Product Review

Edited 3/3/11*

The Slice Fabrique arrived here at IHAN headquarters yesterday and those who have pre-ordered them, they are on the way!! 

I'm going to do a review and I'm warning you it is a long post with more photos than probably should be here...but if I do it by video camera...I have to wait for Mr. McSteamy to edit and may be go to the bathroom now, turn off the oven, get a drink and then you might be ready :)

Please don't make any conclusions until you read the entire post.  I will link it to the side bar on this blog under Product Reviews in case you want to read it another time.

Since I'm as good of an "anybody" as anyone else, I decided to give it a whirl.  This is the box....

and this is what is inside.  It comes with everything you see here: Slice Fabrique Cordless Fabric Cutter, 6 x 6 tempered glass cutting mat, power cord, reposition able adhesive, foam brush, 3 replacement blades, blade adjustment wrench, applique basics design card, user manual and 3 6 x 6 fusible web sheets.

You might notice there is a "Quick Start Guide" (upper right).  I figured that must be the way to go because who wants to drag out the process....giddy up go baby.
First thing, paint some adhesive on the glass cutting mat -CHECK (let it dry 2 min)
Run over and iron the Slice Fusible onto a piece of fabric - CHECK
Set the button to Applique  - CHECK
Press the Cut Button on the Side - CHECK
Cut out the letter I - CHECK
Press the button and select the letter H and press cut CHECK
Then repeat for the letter N - CHECK  (wonder what I'm spelling don't ya?  I didn't think so...easy one to guess.)
Here is a close up of the right side of the fabric.  You can barely see where the N is until I did a close up photo.
Here is the back side.

Neat isn't it?  Then you peal off the paper backing and press with a hot iron (no steam).
These are like stickers, you have to pull off the paper backing.  I had no trouble removing the paper backing,  but if you have a manual dexterity problem this may be very difficult.
I wanted to conserve space on my fabric and cut out more than one letter but I could not figure out how to place the cutter so I could maximize the fabric.  I only have the 3 pieces of Slice Fusible Web that was included with the cutter.  I read the Users Manual and there is no mention of  how to place the fabric on the cutting pad so you can get more than one cut out of the fabric.  Which makes me wonder, why the measuring lines on the glass cutting pad?  What difference does it make if you can't line it up to get another design cut. 

Now I'm thinking to myself, perhaps there are tips and additional information on the Making Memories Website.  On their website there is a Quick Start Guide posted  so I looked to see if it was the same one that just came in my brand new, just released, Slice Fabrique.  The information they have there is not the same as I have enclosed in my box.  This must be for the other Slice Cutters.  There was  no additional information to help me trouble shoot.  There is a phone number and yes I obviously can phone them....but for now, my job is to be the "average person" and do what everyone else the box and start using your Slice Fabrique....isn't that what most people do?

At this point I have used  2 of the Slice Fusible Web sheets that came with my Slice Fabrique Starter Set, so I figured I would do a test of some other fusible that I had handy. 

and lastly, Steam-A-Seam 2.   Keep in mind there are many paper backed fusible I did not have could also try Heat and Bond.  I did not have any handy.  

I decided to refer to the Slice Fabrique Fabric Cutter Users Manual because I had read in the Quick Start Guide under" Step 8 - Additional Tips: #2 For thicker materials, be sure to adjust your blade housing 3/4" of a a turn to the left (counter-clockwise).  This lowers the blade to allow Slice Fabrique to cut through thicker materials." 
Being somewhat normal, I could not figure out what they were talking about in the Quick Start Guide.  No where did they mention anything about the "blade housing" much less how one would turn anything.  I made an educated decision and referred to the Users Manual.  I do not understand why they would have a "Quick Start" booklet when have to refer to the Users Manual to really understand what you are doing.  My opinion....waste of paper. 
This is when the whole operation stops.  Now I have to understand what they are saying in the Users Manual. 
Page 12 Basic Operations
Step 5 Turning On Slice Fabrique - CHECK
Step 6: Homing the Blade (for initial use) No CHECK 
"6.1 Press Menu button.  The menu screen appears with the Settings option highlighted. "  Not mine, mine started with the "Applique" highlighted....see photo below....if you are thinking the darkened in Applique means highlighting....then it would reason that if you pushed the Menu button the homing the blade would doesn't.  I turned off the machine and restarted the sequence to be sure I had not messed something up (operator error)...the same thing happened.  (no operator least not that I can figure.)

Ok, onward...the Blade is now "homed" - CHECK

I selected a little car design.  As you can see it cut the paper but not the fabric. I remembered Step 8.2
Then I went back to Step 8.2 (copied from above) Step 8 - Additional Tips: #2 For thicker materials, be sure to adjust your blade housing 3/4" of a a turn to the left (counter-clockwise).   No photos of this in the Users Manual....and no photos of how to change the blade either.  I'm a visual person....what can I say

The fabric was scored but not cut through.
So, I used my trusty Dovo scissors (they have the sharpest and finest point).  No worries....I got the little car free.  But I thought the Slice Fabrique was going to cut it all the way through.....hmmmmm.  I remember reading about adjusting the blade....time to refer back to the manual.... 

Then I went back to Step 8.2 (copied from above) Step 8 - Additional Tips: #2 For thicker materials, be sure to adjust your blade housing 3/4" of a a turn to the left (counter-clockwise).

So I figured out how to turn the blade to raise it so it will make contact with the fabric...that took me a few minutes to figure this out.  I did exactly as they suggested and moved on to the fabric with Steam-A-Seam 2.

Same cut the paper but not he fabric.  By now you can imagine my frustration.  Either I'm doing something wrong or the Slice Fabrique won't work with other fusible.  I keep moving on.....
This time the screen says "Shadow"....I don't want the shadow....I want the 4 inch Car I had cut the first time.  I could not change the setting so I did what I figured most folks would do....turned it off and back on.  Still the Shadow.  Next I pushed the menu button and the arrow buttons to see if perhaps I'm just "slow".....

I start to see these screens....go mention of this in the Users Manual....ok...none of my business I guess....keep moving.....
The Users Manual (Step 7 Setting the Cutting Speed) does say to adjust the speed of cutting to low or medium  or high.  The low and medium speed is for using embossing tips.  Oddly enough....mine only has two settings....low and high.

Ok, time to use my last remaining piece of Slice Fusible Web....I should have stocked up...LOL  At this point I was thinking it was the other fusible webs that just would not work....I was wrong. 


The cutter would not cut through the Slice Fusible Web on the fabric either.  So...I've adjusted the blade just as the instructions indicated....did it three times to be sure I was doing it correctly.  Ok...forget it....I'm installing a new blade and if it doesn't work....then I know it is the cutter and not me.....
Not only with the Slice Fusible Web....but also with the Steam-A-Seam Lite and Steam-A-Seam 2. 

(After I wrote this entire review...I went to You Tube....and of course I might have noticed that I was supposed to have the fabric facing up....well my, my, my....guess I caused a great deal of my own frustration!  So you may ask....why didn't I just erase the above and skip to the chase?  Because I report what I find and what I've done.  Mistakes is how we learn sometimes and it may help the Making Memories folks see what us "regular untrained folks" do...not to mention what other people might do too!  :)

and the Wonder Under....HURRAY!!! 

Gotta love when you get it right :)

I think this is an excellent video and you should definitely watch it first, even before referring to the Owners Manual.

Even after my initial frustrations and some things not being clear....I still think the Slice Fabrique is a great way to cut appliques and alphabet (from 1 inch to 4 inches in 1/2 inch increments).  Talk about easy hexagons for Grandmas Flower can even cut the paper templates and then the fabric...gotta love that!  English paper piecing just got a whole lot easier!!!  Embellishing children's clothing with their names....that will be very fun!! 
Cutting blades and design cards are interchangeable, that is great if you already have one or find a sale on them.  Some designs are more intricate and are meant for paper and not fabric so keep that in mind when you are looking at the design cards.
The Slice Fabrique is really light weight, the cutter alone weighs 1 lb 13 oz here on my postal scale.  The design cards are small like a camera card which I find convenient.  It would be a good idea to store them carefully so you don't loose them.
Just a reminder for those with manual dexterity might want to try a friends first to see if you have any problems.
I have no reservations about recommending the Slice Fabrique....definitely a good investment if you like applique.
 Edit:  Since I mentioned Grandmothers Flower Garden the question came you have to use fusible because most of us don't fuse our Grandmothers Flower Garden....darn good question Jenn!!!
No, it will not cut just the fabric....however....I did spray some 505 Temp Adhesive on a piece of fabric and then put a piece of copy paper on the back...cut perfectly.  Thanks Jenn!!  Anyone else have any questions or recommendations...e-mail me at   Thanks !


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