I want to tell you about a nifty product I just purchased and tried: the Clearly Perfect Angles sewing machine cling.
Boo to Drawing Diagonal Lines!
The pattern I’ve been working on “Fall, Leaves, Fall” requires A LOT of diagonal seams. In the instructions, it advises that you draw diagonal lines on the wrong side of lots of squares to accomplish this. I've done patterns this way in the past, and when I saw that again in these instructions my heart sunk a little. This is just such a tedious thing to do. Quite frankly, I didn’t have the patience to look it in the face again.
I made a quilt called "Daybreak" (also by Cozy Quilt Designs) a couple of years ago. I spent a good amount of time drawing diagonal lines during the prep-work part of my project. Don't get me wrong, it was worth it in the end but man I wish I couldn't skipped that part.
More sewing, less drawing!
I love creative drawing like sketching, but not this kind. Ugh.
See Toby's little puppy butt in the lower right corner of the picture? He was so itty-bitty then!
A Reason to Read the Fine Print!
But wait, what's this fine print on the back of the pattern? Lo and behold, a possible solution to my frustration! The bottom of the pattern suggests the Clearly Perfect Angles tool as an alternative to drawing all of those lines! I decided to dig a little deeper online and see what this is all about.
They also recommended The Angler 2 but I haven't tried that one out. I chose to try Clearly Perfect Angles instead for a couple of reasons: 1) Clearly Perfect Angles has bright green and black markings which means it should easier to read compared to The Angler 2 which only has black markings, and 2) Clearly Perfect Angles was available on Amazon with Prime shipping at the time I ordered. I am an Amazon Prime junkie, haha.
The Clearly Perfect Angles Cling
The Clearly Perfect Angles (I will now abbreviate it CPA) is made by a company called New Leaf Stitches. It's a cling that claims to affix itself without tape to any smooth sewing surface and allow you to sew a 45 degree angle accurately without drawing.
This all sounded just lovely so I decided to purchase it. You can buy it directly from New Leaf or hop on over to Amazon as I mentioned above. Two days later that lovely Amazon package was at my door. Yay for (near) instant gratification!
Installation of the CPA
The CPA comes with an instruction sheet and the cling which must be removed from a piece of backing paper. It gives directions on how to align the cling on your clean sewing surface using the needle and throat plate of your machine as guides. A seam ripper is used to cut off part of the cling around the feed dog opening.
Initially, I only cut where the instructions indicated. I quickly found that I wanted the cling removed from the entire throat plate because otherwise I would be frequently removing and repositioning it to clean the bobbin case and below the feed dogs. So I went back in with the seam ripper to cut off more. I was careful to trim as evenly as possible so as not to leave jagged edges which can get caught on fabric during use. If you are leaving just a small opening, it's important not to leave any in the feed dog opening or it can end up getting caught.
The downside to having removed a larger area, is that now if I need to remove and reposition the cling, the guidelines will not fall on top of the throat plate so I will need to be more careful.
You can see in the picture I also tucked the bottom edge (closest to me) beneath the Plexiglass portion of my sewing table. That edge had almost immediately starting to roll up during use from the friction of the fabric moving over it. If I hadn’t been able to tuck this part in, I would have taped it down.
I am starting to find the top edge of the cling (the edge furthest from me) is starting to roll a bit as well. That portion isn’t large enough to tuck in so I will end up taping that down soon.
The CPA doesn’t need to be removed to replace or clean the bobbin area on my machine. The company suggests leaving it in place to extend the life of the cling. I recommend installing as the instructions say and then if you need to cut off more, do so after. After all, you can remove more but you can’t reattach what you have cut off already!
How It Solves the Problem of 45 Degree Angles
So how does this solve the problem of sewing 45 degree angles without drawing line after line?
The CPA has various lines which are used to position your fabric correctly to sew different 45 degree angles. For my purposes in this pattern, that meant I would line up two diagonally opposite corners of my fabric. I placed two pieces of fabric, right sides together, and sewed the diagonal lines. The trick is to watch the point of fabric closest to you and keep it in line with the marking on the cling, rather than watching your needle.
If your pattern instructs you to sew two lines, each 1/4" from the center (to create two half square triangles for example) you would line the points up with the line to the left or right of center and proceed the same way. There is a handy reference chart printed directly on the cling to show you this so you don't have to think too hard during sewing time! Note: This key is only found on the newer version of the CPA. The original version does not have the key.
I have to say, this worked great! No drawing needed! Once I did a few cautious test pieces, I was able to chain piece a whole mess of these fairly quickly. I don’t plan to go back to drawing diagonal lines again any time soon, if ever. I've already also used this to join long border pieces together (something I used to have to draw lines for or "eyeball").
Room for Improvement?
I have one disappointment. When I sew diagonals where a chunk of fabric will later be cut off and discarded, I like to go back and sew another parallel line ½" from the first. That allows me to cut between the two lines, leaving a ¼" seam allowance for both pieces. Then I have two things: 1) the original piece needed for the pattern itself and 2) a half square triangle. The half-square triangles can be used for a pieced border, a pillow, pot holders, table runner or if you have enough of them, even another quilt! I love to do this to avoid waste!
I am mentioning this because there is no line on the CPA that is ½" from the center. That means there is no easy way to run the pieces back through the get this exact measurement. What I ended up doing, was lining up the initial stitched line with the 5/8” line (dotted line to the left of center on the cling), and then sewing down the center. The seam allowance left on both pieces was larger than I would have liked and it wasted a touch more fabric since I was sewing 5/8" away instead of ½" away. It did work and was better than throwing all of those little triangles un-sewn into the scrap bin of good intentions. Because we all have one of those, haha.
Yes to the Clearly Perfect Angles Cling!
Do I recommend this tool? Yes.
Did it do what it claims to do? Yes.
"Clearly Perfect Angles" by New Leaf Stitches
Name of Tool: Clearly Perfect Angles
Designer: New Leaf Stitches
What it is: A cling that affixes to any smooth sewing surface with markers for lining up fabric pieces.
Purpose of the Tool: Allow user to sew accurate 45 degree angle lines without drawing on fabric.
My Overall Review
Pros: Easy to install and use, affordable and does what it says it does.
Cons: Edges may roll up during use, no line 1/2" from center for making secondary half square triangles.
I highly recommend this tool.
If I were to critique it I would say I wish that the “cling” was a bit stronger as I already have some roll-up issues as I mentioned. That being said, I plan to keep it in place on my machine because I find myself using it quite frequently. It’s great for long seams too like borders, because it ensures your fabric is being fed through the machine straight. I can sew a bit faster because I feel more confident in my seam allowance.
It doesn’t seem fair to critique it on the lack of a 1/2" line because that’s not something it claims to have. It would just be nice. I may take a marker and draw one in myself or I may continue to use the 5/8" line for this purpose.
There is a demonstration by Kari Carr of New Leaf Stitches here which is great to check out. She touches on what mentioned regarding the second line of stitching to avoid waste when making half square triangles (she instructs to use the 5/8" line as well).
For the price, I think this tool is well worth it in time savings alone, not to mention accuracy.
If you have any experience with the Clearly Perfect Angles by New Leaf, please share in the comments below!