Make Your Own Acrylic Quilting Rulers on a Laser Cutter

Posted by Daisy Aschehoug on

For over a year, I’ve been searching on-and-off for a source of custom acrylic templates for cutting quilting fabric. After a few failed attempts at placing an order with two manufacturers in Norway, I found The Sewing Fools on a Facebook group and placed my first order with them. I had the templates shipped to a friend in the US and picked them up while on a business trip to California.

 

It’s not sustainable or convenient for my business to order overseas, and it’s unlikely I’ll ever move enough product to justify massive orders with big manufacturers for a discount. So I've been on the hunt for other options.

(image from visitløkka.com)

This week, I stopped at Fellesverkstedet to take a look around. Fellesferkstedet is a makerspace in the Grünnerløkka neighborhood of Oslo. The guy at the front desk was great - he immediately offered to take my husband and me through the facilities to check out their machinery.

I confess that I tuned out for much of the wood shop equipment tour. Table saws, routers, CNC machines, planers - their resources looked amazing, but I have no context for those things. I think my husband was drooling though... 

I perked up tremendously at the silk screen machinery. And my eyes sparkled at the sight of a printing press just past the silk screen room.

But the real gem of the tour for me was the laser cutter.

 

Fellesverkstedet does not require a membership. You make an appointment to come in. They train you to use the machines, and then they leave you to do your work. The next day, I came back and Jens trained me on the laser cutter and the connecting PC. He explained the details of how to format my files in Illustrator and how to set up the machine, as well as the safety shut off and location of the extinguisher should something catch on fire. This is less likely with plastic than wood, but it’s good to be prepared. 

 

For me, the process looked something like this:

  1. Find a source for acrylic. In my case, it was a local hardware store called Jula. I spent about $33 USD (299 NOK) on a sheet of plexiglass 1000mm x 500mm x 4mm. I would have preferred 3mm, but the options available at my location were 2 or 4mm. If I continue making templates, I'll find another source that carries exactly what I want at a better price point.
  2. Create a RGB file in Illustrator. (CMYK will not communicate correctly with the laser cutter). The working space of the Fellesverkstedet laser cutter is 640mm by 460mm. You can either create an art board that size, or in my case, I created 2 art boards that were 500mm x 400m, and one that was 500mm x 200mm. 
  3. Set all the cut lines on the shapes so the stroke was .001 pts and red (R=255, G=0, B=0). 
  4. Set all the vector etch lines to .001 pts and black (R=0, G=0, B=0).
  5. Set the fill on relevant shapes to black. (raster etch lines). Most of my raster etching was in my logo, but I also changed my font to an outline rather than load a new font onto the computer attached to the laser cutter. Those were raster printed.
  6. Place the material onto the laser cutter, using the ruler guides to align the top and left sides of the material. When etching (not just cutting), remove the plastic film on the top of the plexiglass to keep the etching precise. If the etching needs to be on the bottom of the ruler, mirror the etching layers in Illustrator so everything is backward.
  7. Turn on the exhaust system that processes the fumes during cutting.
  8. Autofocus the laser cutter so the cutting device knows where it is in relation to the material being cut. There’s a small mechanism that snaps to the cutter head for this purpose. It lowers onto the material, depresses the mechanism, then retracts up, registering the distance between the material and the cutter.
  9. Send a small test shape to print. Open the print settings and set the speed based on your material. The slower the laser moves, the deeper it cuts into the material. Running the laser too slow will be unnecessary. Time spent running the machine equals money, so it’s best to be efficient with the laser cutting speed. Default speed on that machine has been set to 1.5. For 4 mm thick plexiglass, a speed of 1 was almost perfect, so we dropped it 20% to .8 and the pieces were almost falling out when I pulled out the sheet at the end. (They were held slightly by the plastic film left on the back). Similarly, slowing down the speed of the black areas in the Illustrator file will etch shapes deeper into the surface.
  10. Send the rest of your shapes to print. The print settings remain for each subsequent print of your file, but if you open a new file, remember to change the settings from the default position.

There are a few steps I’ve glossed over for brevity, but hopefully this demonstrates a good overview of what’s involved. Several people on Instagram messaged to say their public libraries have laser cutters. This resource is becoming more and more common which is exciting!

It’s not rocket-science, but it’s best to allow enough time and materials to make some mistakes while learning. I spent four hours at Fellesverkstedet, but most people will probably work a bit faster than me. I tend to double check things excessively, but even still, I got confused and thought my print settings would be the same even when opening new files. I had a whole print job that failed. I managed to salvage a bit, and then made another mistake which meant that sheet just needed to be tossed. 

 

But I had two sheets that were perfect, and I was able to have templates to bring with me to my trunk show at Tåsen Quiltelag on Wednesday night. Being able to print small batches as needed is a huge help for my business, so I’m grateful for the grant money and the fantastic people that keep the doors open at Fellesverkstedet!

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Paintbrush Studios and Aurifil Wholecloth Quilt Challenge

Posted by Daisy Aschehoug on

This pillow is a bit of a work in progress.


I had wondered about using a water soluble marking pen (not the kind that irons away). On Instagram, I mentioned in my Stories that I wondered if it would really work as advertised. I’m grateful that quilters replied with lots of advice to:

(1) not iron it under any circumstances and

(2) use a spray bottle to mist the fabric till the lines disappeared. (I’m not going to tell you exactly what my original plan was but it was going to require far more than a spray bottle. 🛁 🤦‍♀️🤣.)

This got two mists, but I think it needs a third to eliminate some of the more heavily marked spots where several lines crossed.



I also want to add a few more concentric circles. This one circle looks somewhat accidental, and I think it needs a bit more to say “HEY! We’re all about some circles here!” Cause we are. Circles and stripes. Circles and stripes. They’re quite the pair! 😉



So with that introduction, I’m excited to present my wholecloth quilt/pillow project using #painterspalettesolidsfrom @pbsfabrics and 28wt variegated @aurifilthread! There will be a few more #aurifilartisan challenges this year, and I’m excited to continue trying new things!

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Living on Nesodden

Posted by Daisy Aschehoug on

Some people talk about how a city feels "alive." There's an energy at all hours of the day, and the lights and noise and activity never really subside. I've enjoyed my time living in various cities, but that constant hum seems unsustainable. 

Living on Nesodden, I've noticed that there's a distinct cycle of things. During the mornings, there's a steady stream of commuters moving towards the tip of the peninsula to ride the ferry to and from work. A scattered few move around the peninsula during the day, and in the late afternoon, everything reverses as people come home.

On the weekends, people move outdoors. The skiers take to the trails. The bikers and runners move along beside the cars driving here and there. The sleepy town center seems to wake up as everyone crowds the grocery to stock up before the stores close for Sunday. 

Our family had to adjust to the closed stores on Sunday when we moved to Norway. We're prone to forgetting things, and would often find ourselves needing a bit of milk or bread when Sunday morning came around. There are a handful of places where you can go on Sundays for these staples, but we also just sometimes went without or made a substitute for something we were used to - like yogurt instead of eggs for breakfast.

When things are open all hours of the day, all days of the week, there's convenience, but there's also something that's lost. I can't quite put my finger on why, but I love the cycles here. I love the balance of stillness and activity. Of quiet and commotion. Of having what we need and also being patient. We plan better now. We relax better now. And despite being immigrants, we don't really feel like outsiders. We feel at home and part of this living community.

Not all blog posts will be about quilting, but there's a good chance they'll all have a picture of a quilt in them... enjoy.

modern quilt, norway, curve piecing, drunkards path

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New in Norway

Posted by Daisy Aschehoug on

I've been in Norway for over a year now, so to say I'm "new in Norway" is a little misleading.  And yet, as we plan to live out our lives here, each day continues to be full of adventure and possibilities. Each day still feels quite new.

I'm Daisy Aschehoug.  My family and I moved to Norway in July of 2017. The details of our story can emerge slowly on this blog, but the main reasons for the move related to work and family and escaping the hot, humid climate of the southern United States. 

As my final bit of this first introduction, I want to explain what I love most about my new home. Whether you call it "hygge" or "koselig" or "cozy/secure/safe/happy/comfortable," there is a pursuit of something good here that resonates with me. My mission is to integrate my love for quilting with this place.

To that end, I give lectures about quilting. I teach quilting. I design quilts and write patterns for quilt magazines. I curl up with quilts on the couch and tuck quilts around my children at night while they are sleeping. We eat off of quilted placemats and use hand sewn napkins.  We live quilted lives, and I'm happy to start sharing some of that with you here.  Thank you for joining me!

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