My mom picks out the best gifts for me for Christmas. She sews too (though she does mostly quilting now), and she always picks out something sewing related that I never knew about before but find very useful.
One of my Christmas gifts from my parents this year was the Artograph LightPad 940. The 940 is 12″x17″, making it the second largest model they sell. (My mom told me she would have preferred to get the 18″x24″ model but it was beyond her budget. I don’t think parents ever stop fretting about their children…:))
The Artograph is basically portable LED lightbox. She said she bought it for me to help with my patterns after seeing me struggling to hold up papers against a glass door on bright sunny days, trying to accurately trace pattern pieces and alterations without letting the papers slide.
My first task was using it to trace and transfer markings from a Marfy pattern. Marfy patterns are sometimes very difficult for me to trace, especially during these dark winter nights, because the pattern pieces are white and my cutting table and cutting mat are also white. The pieces are pre-cut and have physically precut notches instead of pre-printed markings like most other patterns, so the lack of contrast between the pattern piece and my cutting table makes it easy for me to miss them. When I put the pieces and some tracing paper onto the LightPad and turned on the light I could see everything. I didn’t miss a single notch or pattern marking. I needed to keep moving the piece around, but at least I was accurately transferring those subtle Marfy notches onto the tracing paper. And I could sit on my bed while doing it!
My second task was tracing the hip curve from a well-fitting knit top pattern to another pattern. Once again the outline of everything showed up very clearly and it made the job easier for me.
My last task for the LightPad was using it to assemble a printed-at-home PDF pattern. This is where it really shines. Instead of trimming margins off and/or holding it up to a window/glass door on a bright day to line everything up I just put the pieces side-by-side onto the LightPad, lined everything up, then taped in strategic areas. Where the pieces overlapped I just traced the line. To make it easier to maneuver things around I cut the pieces individually out as I taped instead of waiting until I had one huge sheet. You can see below how easy it is to line everything up. No need to trim margins.
My eyes love this after a staring at a computer screen at work all day! No dealing with glare from overhead lights or squinting trying to find and/or align the pattern markings. I’m definitely going to be using more Marfy and Lekala patterns now that I have this to help me with tracing and PDF pattern assembly. I also think it will be really helpful for making facing and fusible pattern pieces.
The other gift was The Quick Ripper. It is a battery powered seam ripper that looks like a tiny electric shaver. I used it a lot when I was doing the first round of muslins for Marfy S820. It doesn’t work as well at the start of a seam that has backstitching – you are better off ripping out that section with a traditional seam ripper – but once you are ripping out ordinary stitches it goes FAST. Very useful for muslins I don’t think I would trust it with delicate silks – at least not until I’ve used it for a while – but it worked great for the muslin.