The better half

Love of gadgets should be in my blood. My mother is the gadget queen. She's the woman who paid attention at the state fair to the guys selling the dust-grabbing brooms or the "miracle" slicers and dicers. She worked for a couple of years in a cooking shop and I swear none of her salary ever have left that place, but instead came home in the form of gadgets—we had tools Julia Child never dreamed of: graters, peelers, measuring devices, spreaders, and more, each featuring some little twist that made it better than anything you'd used before. Although she doesn't cook much anymore, my mom is still a lover of sewing gadgets.

Yet I've never felt the same fondness for tools of the trade that she does. I'm not particularly mechanical and think that sometimes I get so caught up in trying to make a gadget work perfectly that I don't actually get any sewing done. So I just use my tried and true methods, again and again.

Last fall I went with my neighbor Pam to the AQS show in Des Moines. Pam was in charge of the "Sewing Tools" demo for the quilt guild and so eagerly listened to the spiels at each booth. Where I would have just breezed through, checking out quilts and fabrics and publications, I hung in there with her. And along with Pam, I ended up buying the Clearly Perfect Angles (CPA) tool. (Just fyi: I have no affiliation with this company.)

In my previous post I mentioned learning nine ways to make half-square triangles. One of them involves drawing a line down the diagonal of one square, layering it atop another square, and then sewing two seams, each a quarter inch from the drawn line. You then cut the piece in half, along the line you've drawn and you've got two half-square triangles.

With the CPA, you apply an acrylic template to your machine bed and then just use the guidelines printed on it—no need to draw a line on the diagonal, just align your squares' point with the line on the template, stich, turn it over and do the same on the other side of diagonal, and voilå (see, not mechanical...I can't even get the correct accent over the "a"). I find that I use that nice line all the time, not just when I'm making half square triangles, and it helps me keep things nice and even. The photo at the top shows this most clearly.

I know it's completely possible to use electrical tape to make a seam line on your machine bed, but I love the multiple lines on this thing. My only complaint is that the acrylic doesn't adhere to the wooden portion of my sewing table. But for the most part, it's great.

And I just checked their web site and they're half-price right now. It might mean they're about to release something newer and cooler, who knows? But I sure do enjoy this tool. And since I've embarked on a quilt that uses gazillions of half-square triangles, it's been a real time-saver, making chain-piecing even quicker than it already is.