Hello! Since I'm new here, I thought it would be a good time to introduce myself. My name is Justin Stafford and I own a small quilting business, Keaton Quilts. I bet you're already scratching your head, thinking, "If his name is Justin, then why is it called Keaton Quilts and not Justin Quilts?" Well, there's a good reason.

I decided to name my business after our other employee - the CEO, my pup - Diane Keaton. Through our business, I teach classes, private lessons (I'm referred to by many as their quilting personal trainer - a title I've grown to love), and blog about my quilty adventures on Instagram. I also take on commissions and write patterns, all while preparing for my upcoming book that's due in March 2019! I'm super new to Sizzix, so this first post will be all about the basics and first impressions.

The machine I will be using is the Big Shot Plus Fabric Series Starter Kit along with the Sizzix Bigz Die - Half-Square Triangles, 4 1/2" Assembled Square.

Set up was super simple. The only assembly required was attaching the handle and they even include the tool to do it! It seriously couldn't have taken more than a minute. Apart from the machine, included is a set of cutting pads and a die that cuts 3 different sizes of circles.

Now it's time to put the previously mentioned Half-Square Triangles die through its paces. The first step is to make the Sizzix sandwich. Place the die - foam side up and slightly askew onto one of the cutting mats so that the shortest side of the die is facing the general direction of shortest edge of the mat.

Place your fabric on top of the die, making sure that it completely covers the grooves that the blades live in. I will be using 2 different fabrics, placed right sides together - so that once I cut them, they will already be paired up and ready to sew. Place the other cutting mat on top and the Sizzix sandwich (I'm getting hungry with all this talk of sandwiches) is complete.

It's time to feed the sandwich through the machine. Place it onto the bed at a slight angle and turn the handle until it's all the way through the other side.

And we're finished! I lifted the scrap piece off of the die and left are 4 paired up, dog eared half square triangles, ready to sew! It was so easy. No measuring twice before you cut! You get to skip right ahead to the finish line!

Now, using a quarter inch seam allowance, sew along the longest side of your triangle pairs. I clipped mine together since they are lawn and linen (slippery fabrics!) but if you're using quilting cottons - there's no need.

Finally, all that's left is to unfold your pairs and iron or roll (I love to use a seam roller - saves me from having to get up and walk over to the iron!) and viola - you're done!

You're left with 3 perfect half-square triangle units. Normally in making half-square triangles, you have to square up your units and trim off the dog ears. It may not sound like much - until you have to make an entire quilt. I made a lap-sized quilt a few days before my Sizzix machine arrived and had to trim 400 of them! The time saving really adds up.

If each one takes 15 seconds to square up and trim (15 seconds is modest), then that's an hour and 20 minutes saved by using the Sizzix machine! Not to mention skipping the sore wrist from the repetitive motion of the trimming. This is a definite game changer.

I think my Sizzix Big Shot Plus and I are going to be good friends! I hope you'll join me for more Sizzix adventures here on the Sizzix blog and if you want even more, visit me at Keaton Quilts.com or follow along with us on Instagram for even more quilty adventures.

xoxo - Justin