If there was ever anyone who totally exudes the love of quilting, it’s Cristy Fincher. This woman is busy. From her blog to her Craftsy class to her online shop to her many teaching engagements (including QuiltCon), on top of all of the sewing she does, Cristy is a huge presence in the quilting industry. Quilting is in her blood, and she’s completely set on keeping it there.
And while the industry is generally a nice place to hang out anyway, Cristy is perhaps the kindest person in it. You know that sweet kindergarten teacher you know? That person is a JERK compared to Cristy Fincher. One look at her blog and you’ll see that she is always willing to share what she knows, and she really wants to inspire creative excellence in other people. So with her wealth of experience in quilting and her generous spirit, I just had to ask her:
What are your top five sewing tools?
- Elmer’s Washable School Glue with a Micro Fine tip is my top sewing tool. I use it to glue baste just about anything that I’m going to sew together. Glue basting is a game changer for piecing: it’s easy, fast, and with the Micro Fine tips it’s very tidy.
- Starch is important in most of my sewing. Faultless is my favorite brand after trying them all. And how can you beat $1.87 for a can at Target? I starch to stabilize the grains of the fabric before I start cutting. When my fabric is starched, it makes it much easier to cut, plus my cuts are much more accurate. I also like the scent of this starch. My daughter came into my studio one day while I was starching and took in a big whiff and said, “Mama, I love that smell.” Can’t argue with that.
- My iron and pressing board are essential. I use a hard pressing board made of OSB board, cotton batting, and cotton canvas. Having a pressing board that’s hard and has a cotton-based cover gives me nice creases and doesn’t allow the fabric to move around and distort as I press.
- My Olfa Splash rotary cutter (in purple, of course!) and my 5″ Havel’s scissors are my favorite cutting tools. I love how easy it is to change the blade on the Splash cutter. The Havel’s scissors are micro-serrated, which is fantastic. I use them a lot for cutting applique pieces and the serrated blades can cut through multiple layers without shifting. I love that!
- Schmetz machine embroidery needles are my go-to needle for pretty much all of my quilting. I use them for piecing and for free motion quilting on my home machine. They are ball-point, which allows the needle to go through the fabric without splicing the fibers. This is really important for free motion quilting, too. They’re also heat-tempered which allows them to stand up well to deflection, which gives me a nice stitch even when I sew through multiple layers or change speed as I quilt. The eye of the needle is polished, which prevents thread breakage and excess linting of my thread. Sometimes I have to “unsew,” and that’s when I reach for my Seam Fixx seam ripper. This little purple guy is my favorite. The blade is narrower than others I’ve used, which is perfect for shorter stitch lengths. It also has a rubber tipped end to “erase” the threads away after all of my “unsewing.”
I sew because. . .
I’ve always been a crafty gal. I love crafting and creating something new from raw materials. Sewing is my favorite medium for expressing my creativity and parts of who I am. I learn a lot about myself when I sew. Sometimes I get in tune with certain aspects of my process and at other times, sewing opens up the gates to a flow of creativity. For times like that, I keep a notebook nearby for jotting down notes about future quilt designs or how to make a technique better than before. More than anything, sewing is a part of the legacy that’s been passed down through generations in my family. Now it’s being passed on to me by my mom, [Master Quilter] Sharon Schamber. My children have watched me sew all of their lives, and now they want to learn how to make pillows and little quilts. I know that the legacy will continue with them.
What’s your favorite time of day to be creative, and why?
I find that my favorite time to be creative is just after dropping my kids off at school. I’m sure it’s mostly because it’s my first opportunity for a bit of uninterrupted time. Sometimes creativity hits at odd times, too, like when I’m making dinner. Last night, I was getting dinner ready and all of a sudden I had an idea for one of the quilts I’m working on and I was compelled to stop what I was doing and write down my idea. I strongly believe that the mind is for having ideas, not holding them. If an idea comes that I don’t want to forget, I have to write it down. I cannot depend on myself to remember later!
What’s the one technique that you think every quilter should learn?
I think every quilter should learn about proper fabric preparation. Fabric preparation is vital, whether you like precise piecing, improv piecing, paper piecing, or any other type of piecing technique. First, you need to decide if you are going to prewash their fabric. If you are, everything down to the binding should be prewashed. (I always use Synthrapol to pre- or post-wash all of my fabrics.) If you decide not to prewash, be sure none of your fabrics that will be pieced with unwashed fabrics are washed. Next, starch and press your fabrics before cutting. Starching can truly make a world of difference. After that, do your thing, whatever that may be. Enjoy your own processes and seek to keep learning!
Any exciting plans coming up for you in the near future?
2016 is shaping up to be a pretty exciting and busy year! In February, I’ll be teaching at QuiltCon. In March and April, I’ll be teaching at a couple of Original Sewing and Quilt Expo shows. In September, I’ll be teaching at The San Diego Quilt Show and at the Modern Stitching Affair. My Craftsy class, Pain Free Foundation Piecing, is going strong too. Teaching is my favorite thing. It’s so much fun and such an honor to pass along what I’ve learned throughout my life.
Cristy also sells many of the items in her sewing kit through her shop, Purple Daisies Quilting. Save 15% off your order with code INSPIRING. Thanks, Cristy!