Category: Products

Lighted Pin Picker Upper

Have you, or anyone in your family ever found a pin on the floor in a way you really don’t want them to find them (e.g. their foot finds them first)? 

If you are like me, you probably wait to the last minute to pick up pins that have fallen on the floor.  It isn’t that I want someone to get hurt.  For me, it just seems to be part of sewing.  Pins fall on the floor.  I tend to wait till there are enough of them, to justify me getting down on my hands and knees to pick them up. Ok, I’ll admit I need to work on my cleaning & organizational skills, but I do think I’m pretty good about finding useful tools.

To my delight, I was recently shopping at Cozy Quilt Shop, when I decided to purchase a “Lighted Pin Picker Upper“.  It wasn’t an expensive item and it looked like a great stocking stuffer, so I decided to buy one for myself and one for my husband. I’ve now had a chance to fall in love with this tool, and so has my husband, so I wanted to share insights with you.

The Lighted Pin Picker Upper works great to pick up lightweight metallic object like pins, snaps, grommets, eyelets, etc. in my sewing room. And, for my husband, various metallic parts that he may drop while working in his garage, on the car, boat, etc..

This handy tool, that is lightweight, portable, and easy to store, is also an extendable device that has a ma the end.  Plus, it has an LED light, in the center of that magnet, making it easy to see what you are trying to pick up on the floor, or in a dark space.

It can extend up to 28″ to pick something up. 

Marketing info on this product shows that it can pick up items weighing up to 8 pounds, but I’ll admit I’ve only used it to pick up pins. Still, I’ve been amazed how many pins that it can pick up at one time…..every pin I had dropped on the floor and I suspect it could pick up many more in one swoop!

I love this gadget.  And, I’m very happy that I also bought one for my hubby as I know “mine” would have ended up in his toolbox. 

Check out Cozy Quilt Shop’s online store to see this product, as well as all the other great items you can find in their store too!  I truly do think you’ll enjoy putting this Pin Picker Upper to good use in your sewing room, when you go to classes, workshops, or retreats, etc..  Definitely a handy tool and at a reasonable price.

Fiskars Titanium Rotary Cutters

Fiskars has a variety of rotary cutters, but today I want to share insights on their models that come with a Titanium blade.  These rotary blades are available in 45 mm and 60 mm sizes and are three times harder than steel for improve durability and lasting sharpness. 

I’ve  been using the Titanium Softgrip Comfort Loop Rotary Cutter for quite some time.  And, I’ve intentionally tried to abuse it by cutting a lot of quilting fabric, vinyl, paper, etc.  It still cuts beautifully, better than a very sharp hot knife thru butter!   It is a product that exceeds my expectations!

The Titanium Softgrip Comfort Loop Rotary Cutter is available in a 45mm or 60mm size.
Key Features of these cutters are:

  • Ideal for cutting multiple layers of fabric, paper, felt and vinyl
  • Rotary blade can be assembled to either side of the rotary cutter, providing optimal blade visibility for both right- and left-handed users
  • Precision-ground 45 mm  (or get the 60 mm size) rotary blade features a titanium coating that is three times harder than steel for improved durability and lasting sharpness
  • Softgrip® handle offers added comfort and reduced hand fatigue
  • Curved, loop-handle design provides a natural fit for your hand, improves control and lets you keep the cutter in hand while you rearrange materials
  • Sliding button extends blade during use, locks it into position and retracts it for safe storage
  • Blades snap in or out easily for quick replacement
  • Cutter also works with non-titanium blades
  • Lifetime warranty

Fiskars also has a Titanium Comfort Stick Rotary Cutter that features a 45 mm blade with a titanium coating. It also includes an ergonomically sculpted, Softgrip® handle to fit your hand more comfortably than other stick rotary cutters. A symmetrical design provides comfortable use and control for right- or left-handed users, and a sliding button extends a blade guard for safety when not in use.

Key Features of this cutter is:
  • Ideal for cutting multiple layers of fabric, paper, felt and vinyl
  • Precision-ground 45 mm rotary blade features a titanium coating that is three times harder than steel for improved durability and lasting sharpness
  • Ergonomically sculpted handle with Softgrip® provides added comfort
  • A symmetrical design makes freehand cutting easy for right- and left-handed users
  • Sliding button extends blade guard when not in use
  • Blades snap in or out easily for quick replacement
  • Cutter also works with non-titanium blades
  • Lifetime warranty

Fiskars sells Titanium Rotary Blade Replacements (45mm or 60mm) that respectively fits most 45mm or 60mm rotary cutters on the market today.  And, they are available at a pretty reasonable price too.

SewCalGal highly recommends using Titanium rotary blades and believes you’ll be very happy using any of the Fiskar Titanium Rotary cutters and blades.  I’ve seen a better ROI with the Titanium rotary blades and definitely enjoy the ease of cutting with the Fiskars Titanium Softgrip Comfort Loop Rotary Cutter.  Check them out at your local quilt store, or JoAnns, and I think you too will be pleasantly surprised.

There isn’t really any recommended maintenance for these cutters, but I do want to share my tip for rotary cutter maintenance:    Remember to periodically clean your rotary cutter to remove threads or lint build, up that may slow down the rotation of the blade.  You may also want to add a drop of sewing machine oil on the blade, near the screw, after you’ve cleaned it.  This simple step helps to keep your rotary cutter  blade turning smoothly and effortlessly.

Beam N Read Blog Hop: Giveaway closed

The IHAN Beam n Read Blog hop started this past Monday and you can visit two blogs each day, for fun & insights on the cool Beam n Read light, and a chance to win one of your own.  And, today, SewCalGal is able to share insights and host a giveaway too, thanks to Kelly of I Have A Notion and Beam n Read.    

Before I share my insights on the Beam n Read light, I want to emphasize that I was introduced to this light from Kelly of IHAN.  She  has always given me great recommendations to products that are perfect for me.  And, she’ll also let me know when she thinks a product isn’t a good fit for my interests.  Thus, I respect her opinion 100%. When I first learned of the Bean n Read from Kelly’s blog, I thought this was a great light. I was even more excited when Kelly invited me to particpate in this blog hop and share my perspective on this light.

As a quilting, sewing and embroidery enthusiat for many years, I’ve certainly used many well known brands of lights.  Thus, I can truly say that the Beam n Read light is the great product.  It has a bright LED light, yet soft on the eyes.  To clarify, it is much easier on the eyes than any other bright light sewing light I’ve ever used previously. 

The Beam n Read light is perfect for those doing handwork such as knitting, hand applique, cross stitch, etc..  I’ve also found that I prefer this light for when I’m doing reverse sewing (ripping out).   Unlike any other lights that I’ve used, it comes with filters that provide great versatility in different light settings (e.g. outside bright lights, etc), and also comes with a magnifier that is helpful.  And the retail price is quite reasonable.

I asked my friends to try the Beam n Read so that I could also share their perspective with you.

My friend Mario definitely agreed that the Beam n Read light with magnifier helped his eyes.

My friend Olivia loved the elegant lighting, and ability to read menus in restaurants.  She even said it was helpful to find her lipstick that fell out of her purse, while dancing.

Larry the Lion liked the Beam n Read for these ease of reading books while in the dark forest,  late at night.

And my friend Ely the Elephant really loved the Beam n Read for doing hand work, when good lighting is very important to create beautiful stitches.

I, found I enjoyed the Beam n Read for these easy feeling it left on my eyes. Truly it has become one of my favorite lights.  And I love the portability. Great, great light and a very reasonable price.  I has six LED lights and is designed to be a hands free light, as the device allows you to easily angle it to direct the light where you need it.  It uses 4 standard alkaline AA batteries (not included) that last 48 hours at Full Brightness.  There are also 2 clip-on filters:  Red for maintaining night vision, orange for a softer light.  Plus, it comes with a 4″x5″ acryllic Fresnel Magnifier for detail work that can be attached to the light in either vertical or horizontal position.

I hope you will check out this light at Kelly’s IHAN store.    I do think if you do much handwork you’d really fall in love with this light quickly.

Now, time to learn about how you can win a Bean n Read of your own. You can leave a comment on this post to be entered.  Quite simple.  As Kelly is the mastermind of this bloghop and giveaway she has also made arrangements to ensure that anyone, in any place of the world, can enter and win.  The ultimate winner will simply need to pay shipping costs.  And you can specify what shipment method you want (e.g. UPS, USPS, FedEx, etc). 

SewCalGal will randomly select the winner, from all the comments on this post, on Saturday., July 2nd.  This post will be updated to show the winner on the 3rd of July. 

Here is a list of all the blogs that are participating in this blog hop.  I hope you will take time to visit each of these blogs, as they will be sharing their insights on the Beam n Read Light, as well as hosting a giveaway for this light. Ten chances to win a Beam n Read light of your own, and each chance can have different terms & deadlines.

Visit the website for the Beam N Read light too, for more info on this cool product.

WINNER:  NinaLise Moen (Mrs. Moen)

      Kaleidoscope Kreator Introduces new Design Packs

      Were you able to see the new Kaleidoscope Collections design pack that was introduced at the AQS Paducah Quilt Show this past week?  They introduced an amazing new Blossoms mini-pack.

      This Mini-Pack works with Kaleidoscope Kreator software to create an endless number of designs with a “blossoms” design.

      I think this is going to be a very popular design pack for those that want to create their own Kaleidoscope design quilt, or greeting cards, or use for scrapbooking or many other opportunities. 

      Kaleidoscope Kreator came out with the Filigrees Design Pack, this past year.  It is a very easy to install add-on, to Kalaeidoscope Kreator 3.  And it is very easy to use.  I had a blast quickly creating designs using this template mini-pack.

      The software is very easy to use and comes with a variety of designs, but these new Design Pack add-ons are reasonably priced and fun to use. 

      The design possibilities are endless.

      And it is very easy to create a background that looks like fabric, making it very easy to print out your design on fabric that you can create a beautiful quilt block with.  And very easy to quickly create a quilt with a variety of unique kaleidoscope blocks.


      And, the Kaleidoscope Kreator 3 software and the add-on Design Packs are very reasonably priced too.  Definitely could make a fun gift for Mothers Day, that the whole family could enjoy.  SewCalGal highly recommends this software and their design packs too!
      I’m working on a quilt project using Kaleidscope Kreator and some of their new Design Packs.  I’ll share more insights shortly, but I thought you might be interested in checking out their new design packs.  I’m certainly excited about this new product release and eager to create with the new Blossoms mini-pack too!

      Fun, fun, fun!

      Beautiful handmade QuiltBoxes

      I’ve been in love with the beautiful handmade Quiltboxes crafted by Dave Grunewald, for quite some time.  He designs a variety of boxes all made in the USA, with beautiful inlaid quilt designs, using high quality woods. 

      To my delight, I won one of these amazing boxes in a giveaway that Dave sponsored on Thearica’s delightful blog’  Pigtales and Quilts

      I have always loved the Tumbling Blocks design and that is the block pattern in this spectacular Quiltbox which Dave made with Bird’s Eye Maple, Elm burl and mottled Imbuya wood.  The box is perfectly made with the lid having a smooth, but tight fight to the box, and every inlay perfectly pieced.  I just wish my quilting blocks had such sharp piecing and striking colors! 
      While I’m definitely keeping my beautiful  Quiltbox, I do believe any of Dave’s handmade Quiltboxes would make wonderful Easter gifts.
      They’d also make great gifts for Mother’s Day too!   Not to mention a perfect gift for anyone who also loves quilts and/or fine quality wood workmanship.
      On the other hand, you may also want to get one for your jewelry, or other items you want to store in a special box.  What ever you store in them, or how ever you choose to give them as gifts, Dave’s Quiltboxes will certainly be treasured for many generations. 
      And there are many beautiful designs, in a variety of sizes too.  Plus, Dave continually comes up with new quiltbox designs.  I love all of them!  I hope you’ll pop over to to check them out too, as I do think you’ll fall in love with them too.
      Thank you Thearica and Thank you Dave, very much.  I love my Quiltbox!   And I will treasure it always.

      Quilt Show & Workshop Photography Tips

      Many quilting enthusiasts like to take photographs at Quilt Shows and workshops.  All too often I’ve heard of a variety of problems, with some of the most common being “I forgot my camera” or “My battery died”.  Another one I hear about frequently is when someone accidently deletes pictures from their camera memory card!  As such, I started researching to see what tools were available to help when such an accident happens. is the leading photo recovery software company for camera memory cards, made by WinRecovery Software.  It can help to resolve issues with lost, deleted, reformatted and/or corrupted photos and videos on a variety of memory cards. 

      I ran this software thru several tests on a variety of cards, where I deleted photos and videos.  The majority of my 200+ files were fully recovered through simple steps that the software walks you thru.

      I then reformatted these cards and ran the software again, and it was still able to recover all the images and videos. 

      The software is very easy to install and use, with a couple of simple steps to recover your photos & videos.

      You simply connect your camera or your memory card to your computer and click to have the software walk you thru the easy steps.

      You select the drive letter for your camera or memory card, the file type, and the destination you want the recovered pictures to be placed.

       The software “quickly” scans to find the images.

      There is an option to preview the images that the software has found.

      And the final step to save your recovered photos is also very fast.

      My conclusion is this software is very easy to use and is an excellent value.  While I’d truly love to see this software bundled with every digital camera and camcorder sold, I’m glad to know it is available to purchase online at a very reasonable price.  While I hope you never have a problem with your memory card, I wanted to let you know this software is available and really is easy to use and quite effective. 

      So, when you go to your next quilt show or workshop, always remember to bring your camera, memory cards, and freshly charged batteries.  And keep in mind that is there to help you if you have any memory card problems!

      This software supports almost all memory card types including SmartMedia, Compact Flash CF, Secure Digital Card SD, Memory Stick, MicroDrive, xD Picture Card, Multimedia Card MMC and much more. Additional specs for this software are available online.

      WinRecovery Software
      1901 60th PL, L1169
      Bradenton, FL 34203


      US Toll-Free Fax: 1-866-691-8331

      Painting Barn Quilts


      I have been having fun painting Barn Quilts. While some would consider this difficult work, EQ7 definitely makes it fun.  To clarify, painting Barn Quilts would be fun with EQ6 or EQ5, but it really is so much easier with EQ7.  While I’m planning on sharing more insights with you in the near future, about EQ7, I suspect you are wondering how I can share insights about EQ7 given it doesn’t ship until June 7th?  Well, I’ve had the pleasure of being one of the volunteers to Beta Test EQ7.  Thus, I can truly say EQ7 is “Fantastical”. 

      While playing in EQ7, painting various block designs (5,000+ copyright free blocks in EQ7) I had fun with the vast amount of paint selection EQ7 offered (5,000+ new scanned fabrics, plus grayscale textures).  Needless to say, I was very impressed with how fast I could paint so many barn quilts and how easy EQ7 is to use.

      So, when I heard AccuQuilt was  having a “Barn Quilt Design Contest“, I knew that I had to enter one of my barn quilts.  But which one?

      I’m really excited about this contest, as AccuQuilt has some generous prizes:

      • 1st Place:  $1,000 AccuQuilt Shopping Spree and a trip for two to AccuQuilt headquarters for the unveiling of the winning design
      • 2nd Place: $500 AccuQuilt Gift Certificate
      • 3rd Place: $150 AccuQuilt Gift Certificate

      Deadline for entries is midnight, May 14th, 2010.  Thus, there is plenty of time for you to create and submit your design to AccuQuilt, for their Barn Quilt Design Contest.  You need not own an AccuQuilt product to enter, need not have to purchase anything from AccuQuilt, and you don’t need to submit a design that you created using EQ software, I just think that it is so much more fun and faster to use EQ software for this contest.  And, of course, while I wanted to share with you my Barn Quilts!

      Of course, I’m really hoping to win first place in this contest.  I would just love to meet the wonderful people at AccuQuilt and see Lincoln, Nebraska!  And I’d love to see my quilt block displayed on the AccuQuilt offices!  But, as I’m a firm believer half of the fun of winning any contest is dreaming about what it would be like to win.  And for me, I also had so much fun using EQ7 to create these blocks I feel like I’m already a winner.  

      I do hope you’ll take time to enter the AccuQuilt Barn Quilt Design Contest?   And I hope that you use EQ to create your unique Barn Quilt blocks too! 

      For more information on AccuQuilts’ Barn Quilt Design Contest:
      I also want to thank Penny, who recently shared photos and insights, on her blog,  of a beautiful barn they are building.  Penny was kind enough to let me use pictures of her barn, to show off my quilt blocks.  Maybe if AccuQuilt doesn’t select my blocks I can get Penny to paint them on her new barn.  {sorry Penny, but I really do think your barn will look better with a block painted on it}.

      Sew You Want To Be A Quilter

      Have you heard about the new board game designed for quilters?  “Sew You Want To Be A Quilter” is a delightful trivia board game  for quilters, where 2-8 players can have fun sharing their knowledge of quilting, learn new insights, and simply have fun sew-cializing and playing this game together.

      The game is comprised of a Game Board, eight colored “Spools of Thread” (which are the game playing pieces), a single die (to control game flow).

      Like many board games, players roll the dice and move around the board. Players can land on Perks and Quirks spots whereby they get card that provides further instructions and excitement. To clarify, Perks are the benefits and Quirks are the penalties that the player will experience in this fun game.

      Examples of the Quirks:
      – Cut your batting too small. Roll the die and answer another question. If wrong, you lose a turn.
      – You ran out of the fabric for the quilt you need to complete by tomorrow.  Roll the die and answer another question.  If wrong, go to the nearest intersection.
      – You burned yourself on the iron.  Go to Satin Stitch Hospital.

      Examples of the Perks:
      – Your spouse comes home with a vacation ticket to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Roll die and answer another question.  If correct roll again and move the number on the die without further penalty or credit for space.
      – Your quilt has been selected to appear in the National Quilt Magazine.  Move forward to the nearest intersection.
      – You win a door prize at a guild meeting.  Roll die and answer another question. If correct roll agian and move the number on the die without further penalty or credit for space.

      This game has been created by Northwest Quilting Productions, which has also released a “Your Town CD“. On this CD you will find patterns for all of the buildings on the game quilt, as well as a detailed manual containing tips, tricks, techniques and guidelines for creating your own town in Raw Edge Whole Cloth Applique. 

      This is a delightful board game for quilters.  Perfect for sew-cials of 2-8 players.  And, this would also make for a fun quilt guild meeting, whereby multiple tables are set up with “Sew You Want To Be A Quilter” for members to play and enjoy.  An inexpensive entertainment activity that can be played again and again!  It also makes for a great gift!

      For more information, or to order a copy check out:

      Just Playing Around

      Have a few minutes and want to be creative?  While I’m not an expert (at anything) I had fun playing with machine quilting on top of a ten minute table runner, decorated with floral applique.  I had previously decorated this runner using the GO! Round Flower die.  Even with time playing with machine quilting, this table runner was so fast and cute.  

      This was my first time to play with putting different colored threads in my bobbin.  While I liked how the top of the applique worked, I also liked how the bottom of the machine applique looked.  Unfortunately, my photos are not that great.  But I hope you get the idea of what I’m seeing.

      Here is the table runner before I started doing any machine quilting.

      While it is difficult to see in my photos, I do think the simply free hand machine quilting really makes a difference.  Plus, the AccuQuilt made this project so fast and easy, this table runner makes for a great project to help practice machine quilting and machine applique techniques!  I highly encourage it.

      I also realized a simple trick, when working with the AccuQuilt.  The dies, especially when new, are difficult to see where the cuts will be made and where you should place your different colors of fabric. While not that difficult, it is simply faster if you take a permanent marker to mark the lines on the die. 

      For example, here is a die that has not been pre-marked.  While photographs make viewing where fabric placement should be even more difficult, I’m using this as an example to show my point.  Can you easily see where you would place green fabric to cut a Christmas Tree, white for a snowflake, green for holly leaves, or red for berries?

      But after I marked this die with a light colored permanent marker I think it makes it much easier to see where you want to place your fabric. Or at least to me, it seems easier to know where to place fabric for where I might want to cut flower fabric vs a leaf or a stem.

      And, it took me less than a minute to mark this die with a permanent marker.  I also feel that cuts I made on my marked dies were much faster, as it was simply easier and faster for me to know where I needed to place my fabric.

      If you have an AccuQuilt, I hope this little marking tip helps.  And, as mentioned, this project makes a simple project for you to play with to learn some freehand machine quilting techniques.

      Can you Snagit?

      One of my favorite computer tools is a software package called Snagit.  I doubt that many quilting, sewing and embroidery enthusiasts have heard about it before.  But, I do believe many would find many uses for Snagit.

      Snagit Version 9 is a very easy to use software that allows you to easily capture images (or portion of an image), that you see on your computer. You can then do many things with this image.  For example, you may want to save it for a future reference (e.g. an idea for a future project), email it to a friend, edit it, or use the image to post to a blog or create a greeting card!  I’m sure the possibilities are endless.

      I can truly say a day does not go by that I do not use Snagit.  This software helps me Go Green, by being able to save information electronically vs printing everything. 

      Snagit version 9 is even easier to use, than previously easy to use versions (amazing that they could make it easier, but they did).  And, this screen capture software has five different capture modes with over 40 ways to copy text, videos, images and websites content from your screen.   You could:

      • capture an entire web page to a file, or,
      • select and capture any area you see on your screen, or
      • create a video by capturing steps you perform on your screen (perfect for creating training tutorials that involve software applications, such as EQ6, digitizing software, Photoshop, etc.), or  many other opportunities.

      Are you wondering what the photos that I’ve shared have to do with Snagit?  Nothing, except that they are photos from two sites that are having giveaways and I used Snag It to capture images from these sites.  As my blog is targeted towards quilting, sewing and embroidery enthusiasts I wanted to show you some examples of how I use Snagit, before I showed you insights on the software.

      Snagit Version 9 is really easy to use.  While on a web page (or in a software application), where I want to capture an image, I run in parallel Snagit and the above program pops up.  I press that red button, where Snagit provides easy to use hand tool to allow you to draw a box around anything you want to capture, and from there you can simply save to a JPG or edit first inside of Snagit.   Way cool.  I love this software!  I’m sure you’ll be able to snag it with Snagit Version 9!

      I hope you’ll check it out and try the 30-day trial. I think you’ll like it and want your own copy.

      But remember you still need to adhere to not copying from sites that advise do not copy without owners permission!  In the case of the two blogs, with giveaways, that I copied from, I did have permission.  They are:  Kelly of IHAN is having 30 days of giveaways.  Some of her giveaways are shown in pictures above.  But unfortunately, she doesn’t have a free copy of Snagit to giveaway.  Yes, SewCalGal has a giveaway for five beautiful quilt patterns from Cozy Quilt Designs. Sorry, I don’t have a free copy of Snagit to giveaway either. But I do recomment this software and feel it is absolutely perfect for quilting, sewing, and embroidery enthusiasts who blog, write tutorials, or simply want to Go Green and save things electronically vs print!

      Go Green! Go Snagit!

      Snagit is provided by TechSmith, which has great tutorials for this software (not that you may need them, as this software is really very user friendly). There is even a free 30-day trial of this software:

      For more insights on SnagiIt:
        Full Disclosure - Affiliates with QuiltShopGal