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PRODUCT REVIEWS: Two Clever Gizmos

By Addy Harkavy
Pinetree Quiltworks

I'm exposed to a great many new products, and I usually start out skeptical. Following are reviews of two new inventions which, despite my initial doubts, have won a place in my sewing room, and in the Pinetree Quiltworks catalogue!


TEXAS TURNTABLE

Retail $24.95

"The Texas Turntable," which its manufacturer subtitles "The Quilter's Friend" didn't strike me as a gadget I couldn't live without, but I decided to test it anyway.

Description: As its package claims, it's a 9" round turntable -- a lazy Susan -- topped by a self-healing ungridded cutting mat.

Product Reviews.Stability: After pushing down on it at various off-center spots and after making tiny cuts with a rotary ruler and cutter, I had to conclude that the thing is remarkably stable, a must when using any instrument as potentially dangerous as a rotary cutter.

The test: A real test of its usefulness quickly presented itself. In a moment of reckless abandon, I told a friend I'd make her two tiny pineapple log cabin blocks on muslin foundations she would provide. This seemed like a good test because each time four strips are sewn on, one must fold the back and trim the new pieces to 1/8" beyond the next sewing lines. I did the first couple on 6" x 8" rotary mat with a 28mm cutter and 4" square ruler, turning the mat for each successive cut. Then I did the next round on the Texas Turntable. I liked it so much that I did the one after that, and the one after that, and the one after ...

Could I live without it? Definitely! On the other hand, it came in really handy on those tiny pineapple log cabins, and I know I'll find other uses for it, such as trimming up small blocks and pieces.

In short, The Texas Turntable seems really useful for miniatures or for any piece that requires much turning and cutting between sewing steps.

The Texas Turntable is available from Keepsake Quilting and PineTree Quiltworks.

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A Wonderful Alternative to the Double Needle Threader

To say that it looked like a child's toy is a vast understatement, but after trying it, I had to agree that it might be the answer to many a quilting prayer.

My first thought was, "If Rube Golberg were to design a needle threader, he'd begin here." And when I heard that the Amish quilters use it, I had to try it for myself.

Advantages:

  1. You don't even have to be able to see the eye of the needle
  2. You don't need sufficient coordination to thread a needle threader

Disadvantages:

This wonderful gizmo does not thread Piecemaker and JJames size 12s at all (pin is too large) and though it threads other 12's after a few tries, I think its use for size 12 needles is marginal at best. I wouldn't use it on any between (quilting) needle smaller than a size 10.

Description:

The gizmo is a red box that stands vertically and slides into a white stand. There's a little spindle to hold the spool of thread. A white tower comes from the red box, kind of like the cooling tower in a nuclear plant, and a white "pedal" (the kind rats in experiments have to push) extends from the narrow side of the box. OK, it looks pretty peculiar.

How to use it:

You put the needle into the "tower" eye end down, lay the thread across a little gulf, and push the white lever gently. Sometimes it takes a few pushes to turn the needle so that a little wire (propelled by the white lever, I assume) catches the thread and pushes it through the needle's eye. Anyway, a loop of thread comes out, you grab it and pull. When the end of the thread's out, you lift the needle, cut the other end, and there's a threaded needle.

My reaction:

I couldn't stop giggling when I first tried it, had to have one, and felt like a kid in showing the gadget to anyone (nonquilters included) who'd indulge me.

Compared to Clover Double Needle Threader:

Now, I dearly love my old double needle theader with the wires, but it still presupposes that I can a.) see the needle eye to get the wire through and b.) have the coordination to do this and then to thread the wire.

Who makes it; price:

Distributed by Collins (their #82), made in Germany, retail price $3.00.

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ADDY HARKAVY lives in Maine where she co-owns Pinetree Quiltworks and manages the film career of her Irish Wolfhound. Addy can be reached at addy@TheExperimentalQuilter.com

 

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