My guess is that most hobbyists, whether it be scrap booking, knitting, painting, sculpting, or woodworking, have tools and gadgets to make their craft easier, more efficient, and more fun. Quilters are certainly no exception. If you walk down the notion aisle of any quilt store, you will be amazed at how many different types of rulers, rotary cutters, and marking pens/pencils are available.
I took inventory of the rulers that I presently have in my sewing room and counted fifteen. I regularly use four of them for measuring when I cut fabric with the rotary cutter. Two of the rulers are used when machine quilting on my long arm.
One specialty ruler that I purchased several years upon the advice of a quilting friend sat virtually untouched until just recently when I finally had the opportunity -- and took the time -- to learn how to use it. It worked so well that I'm kicking myself that it took me so long to figure it out! It is called the Wing Clipper and is used to cut Flying Geese blocks to size.
There are two reasons that this ruler sat around for so long. First of all, I don't like to make Flying Geese blocks, especially those that go with stars because I was never satisfied with the results. The points in my blocks never matched and always looked horrible. Secondly, on some patterns you have to plan ahead to use this tool as you start with a block a bit larger than desired and then cut it down to the required size.
A few months ago I decided to make a kit that I had on my shelf that was called Patriotic Mini. It is a cute little quilt, 12" x 16", that has the neatest fabrics. Naturally, with a "patriotic" theme, it included star blocks. When I began to cut out the pieces I recognized the technique used with the Wing Clipper. Now was my chance to finally figure out how it worked.
Here is the technique-- cut one large block of background fabric and four small blocks of "Wing" fabric. A chart of measurements is included with the ruler so that you know what size to cut these pieces needed for the Flying Geese block. Two small blocks are placed in opposite corners of the large block. Then mark two lines from corner to corner using the Fons and Porter's quarter-inch seam marker and sew on each line.
Cut between the lines and press.
Then put a small square in the remaining corner of each half block and repeat process of marking, sewing, cutting, and pressing. Voila! Four Flying Geese blocks!
But wait -- the best is yet to come! Now use the Wing Clipper ruler to cut the block to the correct size.
Once the Flying Geese blocks are cut to size, it is a snap to stitch them to the center square to create the Star block. The Wing Clipper gives you a perfect 1/4" seam at each point. My stars have never looked so good!!
The Forest Acres Quilting Club is now using the Wing Clipper on our latest Quilt of Valor. The pattern did require additional figuring before we cut out the pieces because it did not use the Wing Clipper technique to construct the Flying Geese blocks. Luckily, no extra fabric was needed.
So now -- after several years of collecting dust -- the Wing Clipper ruler has been added to my list of Tools That I Could Not Do Without. I just wonder why it had to take me so long to figure that out! Do you have tools like that in your sewing room?