Friday, January 22, 2010

DJ Tips and Tools

This post is way overdue and for that I apologise to the people that have already joined me on my DJ journey

Now depending on how long you have been quilting for and what tools you already own, I wont lie to you, a DJ quilt can be expensive to do, firstly you need the backing material around 15 mtrs as well as a stash of material to do your blocks. Then as there are so many different techniques used in the blocks you need some tools to help you with this techniques.

I will show all the tools that I use for my DJ quilt, but I have been working on this quilt for 3 years already, so I have been able to establish quite a stash of gadets (and I like my gadgets) I will try and say if you really need to acquire each item


You will need at least one Ruler in order to cut out your blocks, I found having a small ruler (the one pictured above is 4 1/2") very handy, especially when having to cut out 1" squares. I didn't acquire the DJ ruler set until this year and have only tried to use the small 5" ruler once, however I think I will find it useful when cutting my appliqué blocks back to size and checking the size of my blocks once I start sewing the all together. The triangle ruler will be used when making the triangle blocks and also to cut out the solid triangles that are used alternatively in the boarder. Also I apply this product to the back of all my rulers to help them stick to the fabric

Cutting Mat

Like the ruler you will need a cutting mat to cut your material out on, of which I own and use many. However I was given this nifty mat/sandpaper board for my birthday a few years ago and find it a godsend for when tracing out appliqué or hand pieced blocks. The sandpaper side holds the material in place while you are tracing out the shapes and the suede piece is perfect for laying your block out on. I find that I can close the book up with a block laid out, put it away and know that next time I come to work on it, it will not of moved.

Rotary Cutter

Once again you will need one, I found a small bladed one (the one shown here is 1") helpful for when cutting small pieces, once again this size is not totally necessary


You will need two pairs of Scissors, one sharp pair of good quality sewing scissors to cut out you hand pieced and appliqué blocks and the second paper scissors to cut out your template plastic (when need), freezer paper for appliqué and foundation papers.


You will need a good pencil to trace out your appliqué and hand pieced blocks, I started using a .5mm 2B retractable pencil and have since found this pencil which you are able to get all different coloured leads for to help the pencil stand out on dark material (I own black and white leads)

Pins/Glue for Appliqué

When I first started to do needle turn appliqué I was shown to use appliqué pins to hold my block together, now I don't know if I am just all fingers and thumbs but I use to dread this process as I would end up sticking myself with the pins numerous times. I have since discovered this fabric glue that goes one blue and dries clear. I recommend this product.


For appliqué I was recommended to you use size 12 sharps, the better quality the better, this is as they leave a fine hole in your work and therefore hide the stitches better. For hand piecing I use betweens and for in the machine I use a 70/10 instead of a 80/20 needle. This is also as it leaves a finer hole in the block, and as the blocks are so small you don't want your stitches to show.


For appliqué I use silk thread, and for machine and hand piecing I use Aurifil 50 weight, however I have since been told that you can also use the Aurifil 50 weight for the appliqué as well, I have not used it and am happy using the silk thread so will stick with that. However when using silk thread don't cut off too long a piece as it can split and be a real pain.

Other consumables

The other three items that you will need are template plastic, foundation paper and freezer paper, one thing I did get to try out and ended up deciding it was waste of time was a EQ brand printable appliqué paper that was sticky. You ended up wasting so much of each page to print out the templates for one block and I had planned on using it to save tracing and cutting out plastic templates for my hand pieced blocks as it is like freezer paper it was not sturdy enough to cut the pieces out correctly. (Can't find the product on the EQ site to link for you so maybe they no longer produce it)


There are many tips when it comes to doing your DJ quilt but the main ones that spring to mind at this moment are

  1. Use a smaller machine stitch length then normal, I normally use 2.5 but change my stitch length down to 2 for machine piecing of DJ blocks and 1.5 for foundation piecing
  2. When tracing out the appliqué blocks I always draw the item being appliquéd onto the background so as I know where I am stitching to, this helps a circle come out as a circle and not a oval
  3. Always cut your background for appliqué blocks to 6", instead of the 5" then once the appliqué is finished you cut your block back to 5". This is as the appliqué process can cause the background material to shrink some what (this is what I plan on using the 5" DJ ruler for)
  4. If you think you have stuffed up a block, but it in your pile and then when you come to put them all together you can go and check the finished blocks and redo any blocks that you are really really unhappy.
  5. I was once told that some craft makers on purpose but a humility fault in there project as "only God is perfect and to err is human" there are some blocks that I have made a small mistake in that I have decided to leave as my humility block, things like material showing wrong side up or pieces upside down.
  6. Most importantly have fun with it :)

1 comment:

Car said...

Great Tips there Kirsty :)

Thanks for those, might have to do some shopping later today LOL