Sometimes you come across a tool so cool you immediately try and fit it into your quilting lifestyle.  For me, that happened at Quilt Market in the fall, when I ran across Joan Hawley of Lazy Girl Designs demonstrating the Hot Hemmer and Hot Ruler, at the Clover booth.  

The Hot Hemmer is the curvy one on the bottom, and the Hot Ruler is on top.
The Hot Hemmer is the curvy one on the bottom, and the Hot Ruler is on top.

These two handy tools, one a straight ruler and one with a curved edge and inset square, are made by Clover and have some really interesting features, useful to garment sewists, bag makers, and quilters alike. They are constructed of a rigid material that has a grid with English units printed over the top. Unlike many pressing surfaces, however, the cloth-like coating does not shift with the movements of the iron because it is made of a durable nylon material, that can withstand high heat and steam.

Can you see the texture of the surface? This has a nice subtle nap.
Can you see the texture of the surface? This has a nice subtle nap.

For doing precision piecing (more on that in a minute), this is fantastic!

The original use of these handy little tools, though, was for pressing smooth, rounded corners and creating perfect crisp hems. Check out Joan’s demo video:

 

How do I use this for quilting?  Recently I made a quilt that had almost 1500 1 1/2″ HSTs, and I developed a way to construct them that was super precise (and didn’t require trimming!) using a gridded mat and glue basting. Over time, though, my gridded mat (which had a bit of padding beneath it) slowly became warped and the lines were not as exact, and I had to compensate for that in my process. With the rectangular Hot Hemmer, I would have had no issue with that at all! Here’s how you can use it for precise piecing:

As you can see, this block is a little off on the edges. I lined up the diagonal so that it was perfectly 45 degrees, even though the square itself is not exactly 2".

 

As you can see above, this block is a little off on the edges. I lined up the diagonal so that it was perfectly 45 degrees, even though the square itself is not exactly 2″. 

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I drew a thin bead of glue inside the seam allowance I will be sewing and lay the next HST precisely over t, using the grid instead of trying to eyeball it with  my slightly wonky square. Now it’s clear that the diagonal seam of the original piece will be perfectly aligned with the new HST.

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At the top left, you can see how this is a tiny bit off, right?  Using the grid adn glue basting though, I was able to construct precise sashing without trimming every piece:

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The rectangular Hot Hemmer is perfect for a little assembly line of these tiny pieces:

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It may seem tedious to prepare all these sashing pieces this way, but I much prefer it to trimming, and the results are pretty darn perfect! I think it would also make a good tool for prepping bias binding.  Check out this easy way to create a 45 degree angle from Joan’s blog:

rulerBias

 

What I would love to see for quilting, though, is a large square grid, say 13″.  Imagine the amazing possibilities! A girl can dream.  Make sure you visit Joan Hawley’s Press Perfect page for lots of clever Clover pressing tools. Are you a bag maker?  Quilter? Garment sewer? How would you use these tools?  

Mandy Leins is a Stash Books author, Craftsy Instructor, and longarm quilter. Visit her on her blog,Mandalei Quilts, or find her on Instagram as @mandaleiquilts

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