Gemology Book/Seam Ripper ~ A Quilty Review

A few months back, I had watched a YouTube video by Just Get It Done Quilts, and she recommended this book. After watching the video (and thinking about my scraps) I purchased the book from Amazon.

Karen, in the video, explained there are many instructions on how to get color as well as build of the gems. When the book arrived, I was a bit put off by starting this project because of the dreaded “constructions”. I am usually an improv quilter, or one that goes by a simple pattern. Usually I refrain from purchasing patterns or books. But the seed had been planted. And now I will watch it grow regardless if it takes months or years.

While I was tidying up the sewing areas, I came across one of my magazine patterns for making a wallet, and thought, “oooh, I have everything to make a wallet”. But I had just made a wallet about two years ago and I am still using it. It has very little wear. No need to make a new one.

And just a little further back on my shelf (behind my pile of scrap batting), was a single stack of magazines and books I own, that have made my “to Make” list. I pulled the Gemology book from the stack and glanced at it inside the cover. Glancing at the pages, and pattern pieces. For some reason, when I looked at this on this particular day, the instructions seemed easier (what little I read.) Yeah, I did not read the instructions until after I built the first block).

I went and made copies of the shape of gem I wanted to make, and proceeded to the light through dark legend of fabric selection. Of all of this process I think the most challenging part is to get the fabric selection right. There are good instructions on color picking in the book. My next step was to see what I had on hand for fabric. After making the Alaska quilt below, I knew I would have several shades of turquoise. I started with that.

I took a small swatch of each color and assigned it Light, Light Medium, Medium, Medium Dark, and Dark. I also selected a neutral background.

This book is about foundation paper piecing. If you have never done foundation paper piecing or FPP, there is no time like the present to try. I recommend if it is your first time, select fabrics from your stash to play with until you get the hang of it. The good news about using solids or batiks, you will not make the mistake of placing wrong sides together because there are really no wrong sides. Additionally, there are no good instructions for FPP in the book, you will need to know FPP skill before you start. There are many great videos on FPP on YouTube. That is probably all you need to get where you need to be.

I will say, I used my seam ripper much during the construction of these blocks because I was using scraps. My main trouble was selecting the right size/angle of scrap. (There are no cutting instructions) What looked big enough under the paper, once stitched a folded, resulted in much seam ripping because it was just shy of being the right size, or being placed right before it was stitched. No worries, I got to use my new seam ripper my mother gifted me (scroll to bottom of post for that review).

After sewing your scraps together on your paper pieces, the image does not present any recognizable shape. You will not know you are successful until you have the block at least halfway finished. That is what I did not like about this. But sometimes we start building a quilt, we don’t know if we like it until halfway, eh?

One thing not mentioned at all in the book that I would have taken the time to present, was fabric prep. Usually before any project in fabric selection, I pre starch all fabric to be used. It makes pressing more crisp. In the book, the blocks they constructed and photographed looks sloppy and not crisp. No matter how much starch you use, there will be spots that may warp or not lay right during construction because of many bulk of layers in the FPP process. On my second block, when contructing the block seams to make the 4 quadrants of the gem, I removed the 1/4 inch edge of the paper and then stitched. Less bulk, and I noticed the biggest difference in the center of the block. This book also failed to mention a recommended stitch length. If you do purchase this book, make your stitches small, it makes the papers easier to remove.

I will give this book a 4 out of 5 stars. You can make amazing gems with this book. I would like to remind all my readers that I make no money with my blog, and that I do not have sponsors nor any money from endorsing product. In other words, this is my opinion, free from pressure of the book manufacturer or author. Money does not come from saying yay or nay. Have fun playing with color! Gems come in all different facets and colors. Make one a rainbow! Make it your own little unicorn gem.

Does it sparkle? This would be gorgeous in grunge or blenders. Ooooo if you had gradient fabric that would also be very successful!

Adding white and the background to this swatch ended up being my diamond. I must say, I like the diamond second best. LOL!

And here I have an opal started. I am using my Fossil Ferns fat quarter box that I purchased eons ago. I like the fact the sparkle of this one is different. The fabric in fossil fern is more ombre or gradient. So a true pink same throughout it is not. I have used pastel blue, pink, coral, and lavender.

And now for the seam ripper review. How many of you have went to a craft fair, or quilt show with vendors selling very nice $30 seam rippers? I have had mine since July and when cleaning up my sewing area decided to place my cheapo Dritz brand in the drawer and use the large one.

Pros of this item. It is pretty and it is large so you will be able to find it on a messy table. It has a nice stiletto at one end if you use one of those. The actual ripper is very heavy duty. The quality of this product is very durable. If your ripper dulls, you can get it sharpened.

Cons of this item. It is heavy. After using the cheapo one for years and breaking those and replacing, the new one is heavy. Because it is heavy, it makes it awkward to use. The fluidity of motion is impaired. The bulk of the seam ripper itself did not work well on this project. Notice the length of the two in the photo below. This probably contributed to the awkwardness. This does not feel balanced in my hand. Usually my small Dritz has no problem just getting under the thread and pulling the top thread from the bobbin thread. That is how I undo my seams. I never use the ripper part in the seam. I learned a long time ago, aggressive use of this tool can actually rip your fabric in the seam which will come undone after quilted and washed.

The heavy part of this ripper is not the middle, like I thought, but when you remove both ends, these are very heavy. Because of the weight of this in your hand (now the right size in the pic below), it still makes me fumble to use it.

If you have the opportunity to buy this product and help the small guy out, by all means it is your money. Use it and make it earn its keep. If I were purchasing this for $10 I think it would be too much. The price for me helps make my rating. I will rate this at a 2.5 out of 5 stars. The Dritz is not perfect, but has a perfect price point, and is balanced in my hand. I would give a rating of 4.5 stars. I would give the Dritz a 5 star rating, but it is ugly, which is totally cosmetic. If the handmade seam ripper was ugly, the rating would drop another half point and make it 2 stars out of 5.

I hope my endorsement of product can help you in your quilting journey. Thank you for reading my blog!

3 thoughts on “Gemology Book/Seam Ripper ~ A Quilty Review

  1. Our guild held a workshop with Andrea Tsang Jackson, I regretted not taking it but there was just too much going on in life. Thank you for your real review!
    I started using a soft touch thread pic instead of a seam ripper and it works like a charm with no thread distortion.

    Liked by 1 person

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