What better way to get to know a quilter than by taking a peak into their sewing kit?! Today we get to know Mandy Leins a little better by checking out her tools and finding out what makes her tick! Mandy is a quilt maker and long-armer. She has a class on Craftsy, Creative Longarm Quilting and blogs at Mandalei.com.
What’s in your sewing kit?
I’ve been really into precision piecing lately, and have found using starch to be a crucial tool in my kit. I’ve tried them all, and right now, this one is the winner (the perfect starch for me would be scent-free, but it’s impossible to find). I use my Accuquilt Studio and rotary cutter about equally these days, and the Studio is really helpful when I’m cutting huge numbers of strips. School supplies are prominent figures in my kit, too, because they’re cheap, they’re washable (I tested the markers myself in a variety of ways), and they leave behind no residue. If you’re going to be washing your quilt with detergent, you may want to consider these markers (after running some tests yourself, of course). Love ’em. I also love the Bohin chalk pencil with the teeny tiny leads. It makes nice precise marks, and shows up really well on darker fabrics. These are only five of my seam rippers, and I probably have about five or six more, but I am absent-minded as I piece while I think my way through my new designs, and they have a tendency to get lost or put down someplace random (the same is true for scissors and rotary cutters, but I cut myself some slack and didn’t show all the multiples of those). I use the Pigma pens for when I need to permanently mark something, and I use the sticky notes whenever I need to remember something exactly. They end up all over my studio, but are crazy helpful. I would love to have lots of interesting little things to play with, but I am not the best at staying clutter free, so practical and necessary only work better for me.
Who taught you to sew?
I’m always of two minds about saying I am self-taught, because I feel that carries with it the requirement that I be totally honest with myself about where I can improve. And, like anyone, there is always room to do better work in our craft. I taught myself how to sew like any good academic: I read lots and lots of books about different techniques. I followed those up with classes when I could, especially for longarming. There are so many great opportunities to expand your skill set, either piecing or longarming! Some are online and some are at different quilt shows, but there’s always somewhere to go where you can find resources.
I sew because:
Making quilts says something about who we are as individuals, but when we release them from our hands, they go on to have their own stories and live their own lives. I love that my quilts may be permanent for a little while, but will eventually fade and die, hopefully by being loved to pieces over the years.
My favorite time of day to be creative:
The moment just after both the kids leave for school in the morning, and I get that burst of gotta-get-things-done. I am definitely a morning person!
I’m an extrovert, and this job that I love to do is sometimes hard because I’m at my house creating on my own for long stretches of time. I find that it’s best for me to get out and go walking around downtown when I need to recharge, and do something that is actively social. If I have a hard time coming up with new ideas for a project, I’ll turn to my reference library which I’ve been building up for a while now.
I am really envious of people who can keep their sewing rooms clean and orderly, like a photo shoot waiting to happen. It is something I am not able to do!