Like many quilt-enthusiasts, apparently, I got the Accuquilt Go! die cutting system for Christmas.
And like many thrifty people, I had almost immediate buyer’s remorse. Maybe not full-on remorse, but self-doubting, for sure. Even on sale, it’s a lot to spend on one thing, particularly as I already have a nice stash of rulers and rotary cutters and mats that have been doing the cutting job just fine these many years.
One of my biggest qualms was voiced by a woman just behind me in check-out, who said, “But the thing is — you can only make the one thing with each of the dies.”
Rather than be demoralized by that thought, I decided to prove it wrong. I don’t have very many dies yet, and I do plan to be quite selective in my purchases going forward, but I picked up the orange peel because a) it was on sale and b) because I’ve had some experience with wonky looking attempts at cutting this shape in the past. (Pictured below — a quilt in design stage featuring my hand-drawn and cut orange peel shapes. They were fine, really, but I did learn from that project that I’d want a better method before I took on an entire quilt of orange peels.)
Unfortunately, the orange peel die does initially look like it will be a one-trick pony. However, with some thought, I came up with 38 ways to put it to use. Some of my 38 are variations in technique that are not particularly dramatic in terms of end result (they will all end up looking like an appliqued oval with pointy ends), but some are quite outside-the-box, if I do say so myself.
Today’s post will only feature 2 of my productions. The rest will be done and blogged whenever I get around to it. But trust me, there are 38.
First — may I present Acu-mouse?
We have two delightful cats, Max and Sally. Their charm is diminished by occasional bad behavior — things like, say, climbing the Christmas tree and knocking off only the most choice, breakable crystal ornaments. Or making a practice of sitting on the answering machine and tapping at the blinky lights to make messages play — at 3 am. Or, the most recent misdemeanor — treating my quilt room design wall like their own personal climbing challenge, scattering works in progress on the floor and shredding the felt I used to construct the wall.
As cats are not generally known to learn from firm instruction, my best option for happy co-habitation with Max and Sal seems to be distracting them from wrong-doing by giving them fun and drama elsewhere. To that end, they got some good kitty toys for Christmas, and one or two of them they even liked. Acu-mouse is still being avoided when they think I might be watching, but there is some interest in him, and the addition of a squeaker or bell might be something to try in the future. His elastic tail also has potential, since we can attach him to the cat perch, where he’ll enjoy some spring back action. The whiskers are dental floss knotted securely. The eyes are from any fabric or craft supplier. I stuffed him with scraps off the sewing room floor. 3 pieces of felt run through the die cutter (one at a time) less than 15 minutes to stitch together with my machine’s blanket stitch. And there you go — cat toy.
Cats shouldn’t have all the fun though — so I came up with this denim doggy ball. Actually, what happened was some of my old and tired-out mom-jeans finally decayed beyond a point of reasonable repair on the same day my Accuquilt die cutter showed up, and since I was trying out the cutting powers on a variety of materials in order to get a feel for the machine, those jeans soon became a tidy stack of denim orange peels. I stitched 6 together using a zig zag stitch, turned right side out, stuffed with fiber-fill and squeaker from a previously destroyed dog-toy, and voila — a denim ball suitable for a smallish dog. This took a little longer to stitch, and I did hand sew the final seam after filling.
With a change in fabrics, this could be a very cute baby toy/ rattle. If you’re hesitant to give babies squeaker inserts, from old dog toys, you could go with a jingle bell inside a pill bottle, or some dried beans inside a tic-tac container, well taped (just in case your stitching ever came loose — don’t want choking hazards).
Or picture the same idea done as a generously sized pin-cushion. I fill my pin cushions with ground walnut shells marketed as lizard litter, but even fiber-fill is ok. To cover up that awkward area that needs to be hand-stitched after filling, I think I’d go with a big button like the one above, (which happens to be one I covered with a hoarded scrap of Kate Spain’s Fandango line) and you have a very cute sewing room accessory.
So there you go — even though this could count as 4 ideas (cat toy, dog toy, baby toy, pin cushion), I only count it as 2, as I haven’t actually done the baby sensory ball or pin cushion concepts myself. But you see my point? The orange peel die need not languish in a corner waiting to star in the traditional orange peel quilt design — add some creativity and you have a useful new player in the sewing room.