Quilting Tips Archive

 
"Finger" Pressing
I discovered this free gadget at the grocery store. It's the portion of plastic that gets punched out from the handle when plastic milk jugs are...
 
Use empty 35mm film canisters to dispense thread for hand sewing. Wind 4 to 5 bobbins with the threads you need, and place them in the canister....
 
Used sewing machine needles make great “nails” to hang picture frames on the wall. The needles are strong and make only a small...
 
To simplify threading needles, cut the thread at an angle so it easily slips through the...
 
To get the perspective of distance on a quilt plan, view it through a door peephole insert from the hardware store. This inexpensive gadget can help...
 
To help keep metallic threads from separating and breaking when hand quilting, draw a length of thread over...
 
If you are tired of turning the wing nuts on your quilt hoop or if they no longer work, substitute heavy rubber bands from fresh broccoli for the...
 
In addition to the usual information, transfer or print a photo of yourself onto the quilt label as documentation. Think of how much fun it will be...
 
Avoid using fabric softener in the washer or dryer when you prewash fabrics that you later intend to fuse. Fusible web will not adhere properly to...
 
Small trays are handy for keeping sewing items together and for transporting them around the sewing room. I keep one next to my sewing machine for...
 
If you have accidentally fused an appliqué in the wrong place, use a fabric softener dryer sheet as a pressing cloth to loosen the web so you can...
 
If you use a wooden hoop to quilt, consider sealing the wood with a good polyurethane finish to protect fabrics from the acid in the...
 
Address Labels
I found a good use for extra address labels. I fold them down over the tops of my favorite catalog and magazine pages I want to go back to. This...
 
To align the quilt top, batting, and backing for basting, fold each in half and mark the center fold with pins. As you layer your quilt, match the...
 
Cut the background fabric block for appliqué 1" larger than the desired finished block size. This will allow for "shrinkage" while you work. When you...
 
Appliquéd Bias Strips
For beautifully curved and flat bias strips, steam press in approximate curves before applying. I use metal bias bars to prepare my strips, but this...
 
I discovered that a piece of non-stick aluminum foil makes a great appliqué pressing sheet. Iron appliqué pieces together on the non-stick side of...
 
A great way to store small pieces cut for appliqué is on layers of flannel-backed vinyl. Cut a vinyl tablecloth in pieces the right size for a pizza...
 
Pin appliqué elements to the background fabric from the back instead of the front. The thread will be less likely to catch on the pins as you...
 
Attaching Buttons
I recently completed a quilt with dozens of buttons—each block had about six. Rather than placing one button at a time, I placed them wrong side up...
 
Audition potential quilting designs by drawing them on clear plastic. Lay the plastic on the quilt top to get a feel for how a quilting design will...
 
When changing thread on your sewing machine, cut the thread at the spool, and pull the thread out toward the needle. This will avoid fuzzing up the...
 
When I cannot find my awl, I used a toothpick to help guide my fabric as I...
 
To create a fun, all-over machine quilting design, choose a very large scale print for your quilt back. Motifs like flowers, fish, or animals work...
 
Bag Bottom Material
Recycle flexible plastic cutting boards for the bottoms of handmade bags. Cover the plastic with a layer of batting for padding and a fabric sleeve,...
 
Bag Handles
After making many quilted bags, I have discovered how to make the perfect handle. I wrap a strip of fabric around non-roll elastic and topstitch it...
 
If you baste a quilt on a hardwood floor, use masking tape to secure the edges of the baking before laying out the batting and...
 
When safety pin basting, use a crochet hook or a grapefruit spoon to help catch the points of the pins as they emerge from under the quilt. These...
 
When you have batting left from projects, measure the pieces and pin a note to each one indicating its size. Store the pieces in a bag from that type...
 
For a flat, durable batting substitute, use a flannel sheet. Many an antique quilt was made this...
 
Put the scraps or leftover fabrics and photo of the quilt into a plastic sleeve protector or large zip-top bag. If the quilt needs repair, you will...
 
Before bidding farewell to that old dishwasher, rescue the utensil basket. Use it for storing scissors, rotary cutters, and pencils on your cutting...
 
Plastic boxes for fresh berries make handy containers for sorting small fabric squares or other...
 
After cutting and pressing binding, roll it onto an empty cardboard tube. The binding will unroll without tangling as you attach it to the...
 
After I cut and press my binding I lay it flat, fold it into 8"-12" increments in a back and forth motion. Then I slip a large rubber band on each...
 
If you don’t like using pins when hand stitching your binding, try using plastic coated paper clips. They are easy to slip on, and the thread will...
 
When I make my binding for a quilt, I wrap it around a tube that I have saved from kitchen plastic wrap (it is heavier than a toilet tissue or paper...
 
If you are binding a quilt that is heavy or too warm to keep on my lap, drop my ironing board down and put it over my lap. You can then put the quilt...
 
Make your binding strip as usual. Rather than pressing the long strip in half to form the double binding, fold it and wind it jellyroll style.(not...
 
I like to wind my binding on a toilet paper roll. I then tie a piece of ribbon through the cardboard tube and hang it around my neck. As I am sewing...
 
Simplify the cutting for continuous binding by doing most of the cutting before joining the seam that completes the tube. Measure the desired widths,...
 
To keep blocks in order when joining them for a quilt top, use colored stickers to label the blocks in each row a different color. For example, use...
 
Try using a skirt hanger to store your completed blocks. The clips can be moved to accommodate any size block. This keeps the blocks organized with...
 
When working on a large quilt top, lay out the blocks on a queen-size or larger flat sheet. Once your layout is complete, pin the blocks to the...
 
You can use a jumbo zipper plastic storage bag (21/2 gallon size) to store your finished blocks. Hang the bags in a closet on pants or skirt hangers....
 
Block Storage
As I'm working on a quilt, I store my completed blocks in an unused pizza...
 
Have you ever bought an ironing board cover and it doesn't quite fit your ironing board? I fixed that problem. Cut a 3" strip of fabric long enough...
 
A pillbox is perfect to hold bobbins and other small items you take to workshops. The larger size holds even more....
 
If you hate to stop and refill bobbins when you’re working on a project, pre-wind your bobbins and put them in a prescription bottle. Then, when you...
 
Bobbin Keeper
To keep a bobbin with its matching spool of thread, insert a cotton swab through the bobbin and into the top of the spool. Even if they tip over,...
 
To keep bobbins in order and easy to find, use clear plastic coin containers. The size for quarters is just right for bobbins. You can separate...
 
Bobbin Storage
Use a cigar box to store bobbins. Some larger cigar boxes have inserts in them that make a perfect tray for...
 
For an inexpensive bobbin holder, use the tray that holds the Lifesavers Gummies candy....
 
Old-fashioned, cushioned bobby pins make great clips to hold your binding while hand stitching it to the back of your...
 
Take graph paper or small graph paper pad with you to quilt shows, guild meetings, and workshops so you can easily sketch block...
 
Take a pair of white gloves along to quilt shows. With permission, you may be allowed to touch the...
 
Use a baby’s soft toothbrush to brush away chalk markings on your...
 
Brushes
I keep a set of small make-up brushes in my sewing machine tool kit. They are great for reaching into tiny grooves and behind the bobbin area to...
 
Ask your local florist to save the bud nets that protect flowers when they are shipped. The nets are great for keeping thread tidy. Florists usually...
 
You can purchase a white flannel bed sheet at your local thrift store and hang it on the wall in my sewing room. This makes it easy to lay out all...
 
Put together an emergency kit of hand piecing that you always have in the car. If you get stuck somewhere, you can work on this special project. You...
 
To remove cat hair from a quilt, try putting it in the dryer with a fabric softener sheet and run the dryer at a no-heat setting. Works like a charm....
 
I am not a firm believer in laundering all of my fabric before quilting with it. I am a fairly new quilter and if I give a quilt to someone I have...
 
Use a small square of batting when sewing or quilting to catch your thread snips. When it is full, clean it off or just throw it away. You may find...
 
Cats and Quilters
When I cut the selvages off my fabric, I tie the ends together to make a long streamer and tuck one end into my waistband. When I get up to stretch,...
 
When chain piecing, take 5 or 6 extra stitches between pieces and then cut units apart in the middle of these stitches. The tiny tails act as a kind...
 
When making a quilt with many small pieces to be chain stitched, use an 11" x 15" piece of masonite with very fine sandpaper glued to it to organize...
 
Transfer a quilt design by first tracing the design onto tracing or other light weight paper. On the reverse side of the paper, retrace the design...
 
If you sew on a Bernina® with a presser foot lifter (free hand system), train yourself to control the foot petal with your left foot so your right...
 
When changing the needle in my sewing machine, I insert a piece of paper or cloth over the throat plate before I loosen the needle. This keeps the...
 
Wrap a strip of ordinary, white adhesive tape around the end of the finger that you use under the quilt when hand quilting to help protect your...
 
An empty, 98 oz.-size, powdered laundry detergent box makes a perfect magazine storage caddy. Cut away one narrow end of the box. Leave the handle on...
 
When making a child’s quilt, make an extra block or two to appliqué onto pillowcases to match the...
 
Old coloring books are good source of appliqué ideas for children's quilts. Use a photocopier to reduce or enlarge the designs. Simplify the designs...
 
Keep an inexpensive pair of bright-handled children's scissors next to your sewing machine for snipping threads. If the family borrows them, you...
 
When shopping for a quilting stencil, take along a photocopy of a corner of your quilt. This way, you can try out different stencils in the store to...
 
Choosing Fabrics for Quilts
When my family or friends ask me to make a quilt, I ask them to select paint swatches that match their décor. I use these to help me choose...
 
Use a dry, nylon kitchen scrubby to clean you cutting mat. It will clean away all the lint and threads and help heal the mat as...
 
When you clean and oil your sewing machine, work over a larger cookie sheets lined with a white towel or paper towel. If you drop any small screws or...
 
After using a seam ripper to break every third or fourth thread, apply a strip of tape to the loose threads. Run your finger or thumb over the tape...
 
To remove fusible web residue from the bottom or your iron, place a paper towel or other paper on your ironing board. Then, iron over a fabric...
 
To quickly and inexpensively clean an iron's surface, pour a line of table salt approximately &fac12;" x 6" on a terry towel. Iron back and forth...
 
Use a small piece of tape wrapped around your finger, sticky side out, to remove stray threads left after ripping out a...
 
Use a little rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball to clean your scissors blades and rotary cutting...
 
Before using x-ray film for templates, soak the film in straight bleach to clear the film and lighten the darkened...
 
If you are having difficulty seeing clear monofilament thread when threading your needle, run the end of the thread across a permanent marker. This...
 
Use nail clippers to carefully remove the plastic tacks if you've basted your quilt with a basting gun....
 
Fold long lengths of fabric over a coat hanger to store them. This will prevent sharp creases that result from folding and stacking fabrics for...
 
Cloth Napkins
Use fabrics from your stash to make cloth napkins. Cut a square of fabric and serge or hem the edges. This is a great way to use extra fabric, and,...
 
When hand stitching the binding to your quilt back, try spring-type clothespins to hold the edges in place. Place them about 3"-4"...
 
Coasters
When I send a quilt out to be quilted, I always get extra fabric and batting back from the quilter. i use these scraps to make...
 
Coffee Cup Bows
At a recent retreat, we had several quilters present, all drinking coffee and tea. To mark our cups, I suggested we each tie a small piece of fabric...
 
Use permanent fine-tip pens to trace designs for embroidery. Use red for red embroidery, blue for blue, green for green, and so on. Your stitches...
 
You can make a combination thread holder and cutter by winding your thread onto a bobbin and putting it into a small, empty dental floss holder. Pull...
 
I use travel soap containers for my straight pins and one for safety pins they fit in my small carry bag for my quilting. They stay closed tight till...
 
When making continuous bias binding, slip the fabric tube over the end of an ironing board. You can cut the bias with one hand as you turn the tube...
 
Try using your collection of plastic and metal cookie cutters for quilting! They make great appliqué shapes and quilting designs....
 
Cookie cutters make wonderful quilting templates, especially for children's or holiday...
 
When trying to pick colors to go with a primary design, check the salvage edge. Some materials have a Picture of different solid colors . These...
 
When you need many pieces for a fusible appliqué project, copy them with your printer/scanner/copier. Cut pieces of fusible web 81/2" x 11" and print...
 

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