Martha got these tips and tricks together for us this month and she shared these at the meeting.
Quilting Tips and tricks for November
From Judy in Beamsville, Ontario I found a bag of little scraps is just too messy. So after collecting the small pieces from a quilt, I put them into a small zippered freezer bag and label on the front what quilt they are from. It saves a lot of sorting.
From Myrtle in Long Beach, California I have a good tip for appliqué, always use the color thread that matches the appliqué piece not the background color. Also when using the needle turn method of stitching eliminate pins use a small dab of stik glue in the center of flower or appliqué piece.
From Margaret in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia When you have used only part of a pack of batting, measure the remaining piece, mark the measurements on the outside of the bag and when you need a small piece, you have only to check the outside of the bags to see if you have one large enough.
From Kay in Lansing, Michigan When washing large pieces of fabric (backing) fold the fabric into 4ths or 3rds and baste along the right and left edges and down the middle. This makes it much easier to "untangle" after washing and drying. It also helps to reduce wrinkling.
From Connie in Lexington, Michigan I finally figured out that if I pay attention to the grain line during any pressing stage of my quilt projects, everything comes out square. Just remember to press with the straight grain of the fabric (the selvage edge runs on the straight grain). Cross grain and bias both stretch, the straight grain won't.
From Susan in Winnipeg, Manitoba If you have trouble threading the eye of the needle, try turning the needle and thread through the other side of the eye. One side of the eye is always bigger than the other.
From Bonnie in Bryce Canyon, Utah There is a nice, but costly, tilted table top available for our sewing machines. This clear acrylic item tilts your machine so that it is easier for you to see what you are stitching... thus causing less eye strain and shoulder/back/arm strain. Somewhere I read that you could do the same thing another way. I went to the closest hardware (or K-Mart, etc.) and purchased a set of rubber door stoppers. I brought them home, and inserted them under the back of my machine, and VOILA! My machine was tilted just right - and besides that, the rubber stoppers help keep the machine from moving around on the table.
From Barb in New York When I have little pieces of fabric on my work table or cutting board, I use a piece of needle punch or any batting, to remove the pieces. It works great. Just swipe it over the surface and the batting picks it up.
From Eleanor in Stirling, Ontario I have what you could call "mature" eyes. When I quilt on my lap or do hand appliqué I first put a cushion or pillow on my lap and it raises it up far enough for me to see more clearly.
From Barbara in Manhattan, Kansas I believe I have a tip that might be useful to quilters. When machine quilting, wear rubber finger tips (the kind you buy at the office supply store) on your thumb and first two fingers on both hands. It gives you complete control of your work and freedom of movement when using free-motion quilting. I don't machine quilt any other way. It's great. You don't have to hassle wearing gloves or moving a hoop.
From Shirley in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia For those who use Silk Thread when they do appliqué but get frustrated because the thread keeps slipping out of the needle, try this. After you thread the needle, pull the thread through so one end is only about 4" from the eye of the needle and tie a double knot immediately behind the eye of the needle. (I use the old boy scout reef knot as it doesn’t slip). You will find that it will not hinder your
appliquéing as the knot is still smaller than the end of the needle.
From Elaine Theriault Sliding Templates: I found that a piece of scotch tape made into a circle with the sticky side out was perfect to put on the back of a template to avoid it sliding on the fabric when cutting out. How to avoid fabric from moving when marking squares on the diagonal: Use an emery board as your straight edge and a VERY sharp pencil.
From Kay in Stevensville, MD Over the years I have made several "Block of the Month" quilts. I decided to keep ll the blocks safe in a new/unused pizza box. This way I didn't have to go looking for all the blocks at the end of the year when it was time to put them all together.
From Kathy in West Chaster, PA I make my double fold bias binding at the time I finish sewing the quilt top together while I still have my sewing machine and fabric out. I wrap the binding around an empty toilet paper tube (so it doesn't crease). This insures that I don't accidentally use my binding fabric for something else.
From Paula in Cape Porpoise, Maine When using plastic coated freezer paper for appliqué, change to an unpadded ironing surface for better adhesion of the freezer paper to the fabric. I like to use a pine board scrap or scrap of 1/4" thick plywood covered by a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil and a piece of muslin. These are simply taped over to the back side of the board. The foil radiates the iron's heat back up and the muslin and foil both keep resins and wood preservatives from coming back up through the wood to your fabric and iron.
Remember to make the size of your board a convenient size to slip into your sewing bag!
From Ardell in Billings, Montana To make an inexpensive light table, use an old flat picture frame with the glass taped into the corners and along the sides. Hot glue wide wooden dowels (4 -6" depending on height of light) to the corners of the picture frame. Place rubber stoppers on dowels to keep from slipping. Purchase an underthe counter kitchen light, slide under the picture frame, and viola, you have a light table.
From Allison in Calgary, Alberta I use non-fusible light weight interfacing as the foundation for paper piecing. I do a lot of clothing and the interfacing washes nicely. Very light, no bulk and I don't have to tear away the paper....more time for sewing!
From Kathy in Bay City, Texas Sew your binding on before you trim your edges. Then trim your edges with the binding attached. I have trimmed, then sewn and missed the backing sometimes. This assures you will not miss the backing since it is larger than the quilt top.
From Cindy in New Brunswick I recommend "newsprint" for paper piecing. It is softer than say tracing paper, you can run it through the printer, light enough in color to trace pattern through ,and tears away readily from seams. Hint when using do not race your machine. Easily obtained at business depot, art supply stores. Another great thing is it is a recycled project.
From Doris in Australia If you've been eating at your sewing machine and you've got a spot of grease on your material, don't panic. Use a piece of chalk to get rid of the stain. Just rub it over the area, leave for a few minutes, and then brush off. The spot will disappear like magic.
From Jenny in the Philippines When hand-quilting, I often find it hard to pull the needle through; to eliminate this difficulty, I pull on my forefinger a bit cut off from the pinky finger of an old rubber glove (the kind used for household chores). This is more comfortable than using "rubber fingers" like those used in offices, as they are sometimes too tight.
From Beryl Are you having trouble threading your needle? Don't lick the thread - instead lick the eye of the needle!
From Emma in Lethbridge, Alberta After sewing for few hours, and if you need to rush to do some errands, most likely you have threads and bits all over you. I use the hair dryer and blow all over me, to get rid of any unwanted "signs" of sewing; you can use the cold or warm setting. It works so fast.
From Theresa and Moira from Down Under (that's Australia!) To view a quilt pattern from a distance before sewing, place pieces on a flannel backed table cloth, no pins required, and hang it up somewhere. Gives you an idea what the quilt will look like finished.
From Jackie in Portland, Connecticut I have found that I cannot wear a thimble but what works very well for me is to cut a finger off a pair of heavy-duty men's work gloves - the pinky if the other fingers are too big.
From Rodney Ann in Minster, Ohio I took an empty plastic container from the specialty coffees or flavored coffee creamers and washed it out thoroughly. Then peeled off the label. It is now clear. Then taking a sharp knife poked a hole in the center of the lid and pushed my pointed scissors to cut a small circle the size of a quarter in the lid. This makes just the right size hole to push in small scraps of fabric or pieces of thread, bent pins or broken needles. The hole is small enough that it doesn't spill easily and the container is small enough to take
with you in your quilting bag. I had scraps and thread all over my couch and end table before I made these!
From Cathy in Killbuck Twp, Ohio Discarded x-rays from your local Doctor's office/Clinic or Dentist make terrific templates. Best of all, you can usually get the discards for free. Very economical and the x-ray film is usually sturdy enough to re-use time & again.
From Linda in Vicksburg, MS The best thing I've found to keep my quilting thread from tangling and knotting while I quilt is: Take a new fabric softener sheet (made to be used in clothes dryers), sandwich the thread between the sheet and between your thumb and forefinger, then pull the thread between your fingers. This is kind of hard to describe but it really works! I do it to each piece of my appliqué thread also when I'm appliquéing. The thread glides through the fabric and doesn't tangle or knot.
From Brenda in Charleston, WV When cutting fabric into quilt pieces, spray starch it and iron it first. Then it holds its shape better and there is less distortion when sewing--especially if it is a soft fabric. Quiltak Basting Gun Here is a tip to help end the frustration of breaking tacks. The night before you plan on using the gun, take as many tacks as you feel you will need to baste the quilt (make sure you have enough), place them in a dish of hot tap water over night. When ready to start basting add fresh warm water, drying off strips before placing in gun. This replaces the moisture in the plastic and prevents breakage by almost 100%.
From Rosemarie For the sturdiest binding for any quilt:
Measure the perimeter of the quilt and add 10 inches for mitering corners. Divide this number by 40 inches. This will be the number of 3 inch wide strips you need to cut on the crosswise grain of 100% cotton fabric. Sew these strips together to create one long strip. Press in half, lengthwise, wrong sides together. Stitch to the outer edge of the quilt which has been trimmed and the edges zigzagged, being sure to miter the corners for a sharp look.
Use a 3/8ths inch seam allowance. Finally, wrap the binding to the back of the quilt and hand sew the binding to the back of the quilt. e.g.: Perimeter of quilt: 120" + 10 " divided by 40 + 3 strips plus 10 inches or 4 full strips cut on the crosswise.
From Sharon in Eugene, OR This is a hint for doing appliqués. Cut your shapes to be appliquéd and also cut the same shape out of a light weight fusible interfacing. Stitch completely around your shape with the bumpy side of the interfacing to the right side of the fabric piece. Cut a small slit in the back of the interfacing and turn; using a fingernail or rounded piece of plastic to push out the seam allowance. This gives you appliqué an
appearance of life. You can then place the pieces in the "just right" portions of the background piece. The fusible interfacing can then be "tacked" in place with a hot iron. To finish appliqué by hand or machine.
From Teressia in Blairsville, GA When making repeat cuts of same size place 4 post-it pages on width line of the ruler. This enables you to slide the ruler up to cut without having to search for the line. (I've always done this, especially for those hard to find 3/8", 5/8" and 7/8" marks! Hand Quilting Hint If you should prick yourself with a needle or pin and get blood on your fabric, use your own saliva to remove the blood. Your saliva will remove only your blood.
From Nikki in Orland, FL There is a "nap-line" grain to thread. Always thread the thread onto the needle before you cut your thread. This will keep it from knotting as you are sewing. This works whether you are sewing on a button, mending a seam, doing hand-piecing or hand quilting.