Tip Tuesday: 7 Ways to Enhance your Quilting Experience

We love our craft. We love quilting, and while we have an idea of the best and easiest way to do things, sometimes we get a tip from a fellow crafter and think, “How did I not think of that?!” Some of the tips below are things you’ve been doing your whole quilting career, while others you’ve never thought of. Even if it’s something that makes you think duh!, remember someone else might not be thinking the same, so keep comments positive, please.

Tip #1: Organizing Needles
I keep all my sewing machine needles organized in pocket pages. The pages fit nicely in an expandable folder or three-ring binder. I note the type and size of needle in each pocket along with any general information I’ve collected about needles.
NeedleOrganization_250–Elaine Davis Fairmount, IL

Tip #2: Get Comfortable
A small pillow on your lap may help out your hand piecing or hand appliqué at a more comfortable level.

Tip #3: Keep Your Scissors Straight
Identify your good scissors with a red ribbon or yarn. Inform your family that this indicates that these scissors are off limits. Put a green ribbon on the scissors that are OK for general use.

Tip #4: Make a Larger Ironing Surface
Try placing a mattress pad atop your cutting table. This makes a great pressing surface for a large piece of fabric or just a seam.

Tip #5: Quicker Removal
Make removing your quilt from a Q-snap® frame easier by placing 6 – 8″-long strips of fabric on the quilt before you snap on the half-pipe. When it’s time to reposition the quilt, pull up on the strips to pop the half pipes off and release the quilt.

Tip #6: Make a Quilt Repair Kit
For every quilt you make, consider also creating a repair kit. Just place pieces of the quilt fabric, binding, and a square of batting in a plastic bag and give it to the person receiving the quilt.

Tip #7: Organize Patterns with Recycled Envelopes
Instead of discarding large used mailing envelopes, punch holes along one edge to fit a three-ring binder. Use the envelopes to store patterns and templates. Attach a photocopy or sketch of the block or project to the outside of the envelope so you can quickly identify the contents.

What other tips can you think of that have been the most helpful in your quilting career? Let me know in the comments below with your first name and location and I might just post it here for next week’s Tip Tuesday!

Can’t wait until next week for more tips? Get more tips at Fons & Porter’s website.

Happy Quilting!

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41 thoughts on “Tip Tuesday: 7 Ways to Enhance your Quilting Experience

  1. i love when I purchase any home goods that are sold in the heavy gauge plastic with a zipper at opening. These are great for finished projects or future projects waiting to be sewn……

  2. I keep a small artist paintbrush in my bobbin case on my sewing table, whenever I put in a new bobbin, I’m reminded to clean out the dust. I find the artist’s brush works better than the little brush that came with the machine.

  3. a friend told me to get a flannel backed plastic table cloth to layout my quilt blocks to get them arranged how I wanted them, then I could roll it up & take it to my sewing room without them getting mixed up. The blocks cling to the flannel, just like the old Sunday School flannel boards.

  4. Always double-check on line for any corrections to a pattern (from a book or published pattern) before going ahead and doing any cutting, etc. We all know mistakes happen and it’s easier to find out ahead of time!

  5. I keep my small scraps in 2 gallon freezer bags. I have a bag for every color, plus one for prints, and 1 for batiks. I used to put all my scraps in boxes, both large and small. Now it’s so much easier to find the right color when I need it, and all the bags actually fit into 1 large dresser drawer.

  6. a gal from one of the quilting sites gave this tip. Use numbered beads (or alphabet) on safety pins to number your rows so they stay on in the process of sewing rows together.

  7. I use page protectors for 3-ring binders to house the quilting grids/patterns that I have for my Sweet Sixteen. I make these grids by “sewing” without the needle and then using pounce powder to mark grids that I use for diamonds, etc. when marking a pattern. I put these in a three ring binder with each page housing a pattern that is clearly marked on the outside of the page.

  8. My sewing area happens to be a ping-pong table.
    I attached 2 magnetic bars on the edges: one to the
    Right of my machine for scissors, screwdriver, needles,
    bobbins and one on the other side by my cutting surfaces.
    It makes access to everything easy to find and neat.

  9. To keep my disc shaped screw driver, used in changing various pressure feet on my sewing machine, I attached a self-adhesive plastic hook on the right side of my sewing machine so that it is always handy. These come in packages of 9-12 at the Dollar Store so I have some left to share with friends.

    Love your show.

  10. I struggle with a large quilt while I free motion quilt. To help I set up my ironing board to my left, at a right angle to my sewing table to hold some of the weight. Then I place larger cutting mats and acrylic rulers on the ironing board to create a smooth surface so the quilt does not drag. Last I use a mat or ruler to bridge the gap between the ironing board and my sewing machine table. Painters tape can be used to hold these in place. Now I’m ready to rock and quilt!

    1. Quilting Large Quilts with the ironing board next to you place the Tablecloth that has the flannel back and smooth topside on top of the ironing board creating a smooth surface to move the quilt on.

  11. I have been sewing for 30+ years and recently discovered what the hole in the disk part of the bobbin (in older sewing machines that don’t have self winding bobbins) is for. Thread the thread through the hole and hold it while you wind the bobbin – just a few spins, cut the excess, and continue winding. Talk about a “duh” moment!

  12. I had an extra free standing toilet paper holder, the roller type. I use it to wind my binding on, stand it next to my machine and it feeds off as I sew. Especially helpful with queen and king size quilts. Feeds off roller nicely.

  13. My husband made me a larger surface that sits nicely over my regular ironing board. He drilled holes across the surface of the board for ventilation. I covered the board with wool, then batting and a final layer of cotton fabric. As needed I change the last two layers. Try to find sale fabric for the top layers. Sometimes you can get $2 yard fabric which is great for this type of project.

  14. I keep a spray bottle with a mixture of 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar beside my ironing board. This mixture will removed any creases in cotton including the WOF fold.

  15. My hint: Use the adhesive reinforcing stickers for notebook paper holes to mark your bobbins. For example, write Black, Brown, Navy for those colors that are hard to tell apart. Also, bobbins that are filled with Machine Quilting thread to keep them separated from regular sewing thread.

  16. I wrap my fabric on comic book boards. They are acid free store upwright on the shelves and it looks like a fabric store. So easy to find fabric and match coordinates. Love them.

  17. I use empty toilet paper rolls . They work great for keeping my strips wrinkle free and easy access. Just cut strips salvage to salvage and wrap around roll one at a time. Just roll off as needed one at a time. Also great for when you adding the binding to your quilt. Rolls off neat and easy.

  18. When you put a needle in a pin cushion, make sure to leave the thread attached. If the needle gets pushed all the way in, you will still be able to grab it by pulling the thread.

  19. I use two scrap bags for excess threads and other scraps. One on each side of my machine. This keeps the floor clean and my sewing room tidier. When they need it, I just empty all scraps into the trash.

    1. I rotary cut any scraps of fabric that are too small to use and put them and excess thread scraps in a big basket. When I have enough, I serge muslin into a pillow form–stuffing with the scraps instead buying batting or forms.

  20. I love little tins such as Altoids mints. I use these for bobbins and have a separate special one for my cotton quilting thread- it’s a Minnie Mouse tin I found somewhere in a dollar aisle!

  21. When I am doing freehand quilting on my regular Bernina sewing machine I put on a pair of size medium Nitrile Exam Gloves, (Latex Free), they grip the quilt good and make it easy to move the quilt in any direction needed.

  22. I picked up an old breadbox at a yard sale a few summers ago and it is a handy place to store my sewing/quilting tools. The one I found has the usual large space for bread plus a shallow tray at the top with a hinged lid. The top holds extra needles, bobbins, cutting tools, and other small items. The larger space easily holds free motion hoops, pounces, gloves, and big or oddly shaped stuff. Best of all, I can close it to keep dust out and hide the jumble!