My name is Marsha Bergren and I am the designer of the “Twister” tools and books. Other people also call me the “Twister Lady”, usually when they come into my quilt shop, Country Schoolhouse, in Superior, WI.
You have to bear with me as this is only the 2nd time (1st time was about 5 yrs ago) I’ve ever even attempted to write a blog! I have to thank Moda’s social media people for taking my words and pictures and making it into a blog. As you can tell I am way behind in the social media world.
The Lil’ Twister was made for my customers. I wanted them to have an easier way to make those darling pinwheels that I love. The old way with going through all the steps took way too much time and was very frustrating as your template moved on the fabric and slid on the seams. I made it (after several prototypes) using 1/4” acrylic so you wouldn’t shave the sides off with your cutter. I have a printer who uses an ink that won’t come off easily and the bumpers are made in the USA which keep the tool from slipping and raises it above the seams and it is all made locally. We kept to 1 set of lines so no one would get confused lining up the marks with the seams.
I started with the “Lil Twister” and designed it to be used with pre-cut charms and the “Twister” which used layer cakes. This made it really fast and easy to arrange the blocks, put the pinwheel border around and then cut it and put it back together forming all those great pinwheels. The latest member to the family is the “Midi Twister” which uses 6 1/2” squares which is the size of a lot of borders. Just save the border scraps and you can use the “Midi” with those.
The books came about as people wanted patterns to use with them. The books go in order of difficulty – Let’s Twist is the introductory book and just has 1 pattern that uses both tools together; Let’s Twist….Again is the 2ndbook and uses both tools in making most of the patterns and introduces “disappearing pinwheels” which allow you to take make a picture of an object using pinwheels and background. The 3rdbook “ Let’s Twist…One More Time” is the book that has a lot more disappearing pinwheels and patterns where the fabrics are not pre-cut but selected by the quilter to go together in the quilt. I am trying to work on another book where I will use all 3 tools together, but have had it in my head for about 6 months and not all on paper yet…..we’ll see when that gets done!
I use an Olfa straight handle cutter to cut my pinwheels. I like it as I can cut all around a piece and not have to move. The pictures below show how I do it. You can use either a 45 or 60mm. I found it works best if I stand up and am over what I am cutting so the cutter is always cutting straight down and not at an angle.
Starting in a corner, putting the black lines of the Lil’ Twister
over the seam lines on the pieced table topper.
This is the first cut on the side.
2nd cut along the top.
3rd cut coming down along the side.
4th cut along the bottom.
I also typically alternate lights and to get a lot of pop from the pinwheels. I have used fabrics that are just a shade in difference throughout a piece and that gives the look of a color wash and is also quite lovely. It is a lot of fun to just experiment with various types, colors, and patterns of fabrics – let loose and just go for it! I also pick a fairly quiet pinwheel border that is usually a marble, grunge, or solid and one that is not next to a block that is the same color, etc.
Once a full row is cut, sew it together matching the fabrics which are next to each pinwheel
This is the row just before you sew it.
This is the row with the blocks sewn together.
After cutting the 2ndrow, sew the 1st and 2nd row together. The pinwheels are then made obvious. At this point most people understand the concept and then begin to pile and mark the rows and then sit down at the machine and sew all the rows at same time.
shows 2 rows sewn together.
Disappearing pinwheels are really fun to do. I’ve described how to do them in my 2nd and 3rd books. I use a graph and then take an object that I want to replicate and convert it into x’s on my graph. It is a bit of hit and miss for some of them. I do have a pile of ones that didn’t work! See the example below of the graph and then the picture of what it looks like made up.
If you have never tried this technique before, you need to be warned that it is addicting! There are many patterns out there that have been made using my twisters. I only know of a few of those designers myself, but a lot of people send me a picture of what they have done or seen done. I don’t have any idea how many patterns are out there as I have no time to spend on the internet searching for them. I did see a picture of a “Twister” quilt that won the Grand Prize at the MN State Fair. I am working on 2 samples for my shop right now….Quilt Moments “Twister Sparkler” quilt which I am using Bella Solids in reds, greens and black in it and “Stubby Toe Stocking” from Bean Counter using the charm pack called Blitzen.
Here is another pretty Twister quilt made by Moda Lissa.
You can see her take on the Twister ruler on her blog!
Try the “Twisters” and feel free to send me a picture of what you have done and someday when I learn to post them to Facebook I will put them up. You can like me on Facebook here!
I will be giving away one of my Twister tools to one lucky winner! To enter please leave a comment about your favorite tools. You will have until September 30th at midnight to comment. All winners will be randomly selected and announced on Moda….The Cutting Table Blog on October 2nd. Make sure to visit the blog every day for the opportunity to win each giveaway!!