Jun 2, 2007

Quilting Tips from Around the World

*I use an electric personal shaver as an electric seam ripper. Just gently pull the two pieces of fabric apart so that you can see the threads, and touch the shaver to the threads. It really comes apart quickly and easily and what a time saver! - Cassie in Louisiana

*If you need to rip out a seam, give it a quick shot of spray starch and press it first. It's easier to rip out and helps stabilize the fabric so it doesn't distort or fray as much. - Sandra in New York

*When I use a pattern that says to sew and flip corners, and trim the excess, I stitch a second line 1/2" away from the first (closer to the outside corner), then cut between the lines of stitching. This gives me a variety of HSTs (half-square triangles) in various colour combinations and sizes that can be used as filler or to make a miniature quilt. I also use Gladware lunch containers (3 sections to it) to store these HSTs and other cut off triangles, extra squares, pieces cut slightly too small, etc. They make storage easier because they stack and you can keep different sizes separate. - Gerda in Alberta, Canada

*Getting small block pieces from the cutting table to the machine can cause arrangements to be out of order sometimes. I had my husband cut a piece of paneling about 16" square. I used a thin piece of batting and put this on top of the piece of paneling. Then I covered the batting with 100% cotton about 2" bigger than the paneling. I then wrapped about 1" of fabric all the way around to the back side and hot glued it down on the back. Makes a mini design board portable. Used it when I was teaching some quilt classes so the ladies could pass it around and see how the blocks were laid out.

*If you have trouble threading your sewing machine needle or any needle for that matter try this: for the sewing machine, place a small piece of white paper behind the needle with the left hand and thread with the right. For sewing needles, use any white or very light colored background. This was my Grandmother's trick and it works. - Pauline in Arizona

*It's so frustrating to find your blocks are short in size. I find it worthwhile to make each part a bit larger, then square them to size after pressing. When the directions call for sewing two 2" strips together, I'll make my strips 2-¼"...sew the seam, press, then slice & square up. I do the same with half square triangle blocks. Make a bit bigger, then trim. - Pat in Ohio

*I was at a quilt away retreat this past weekend. I looked for my wooden spool for the bigger cone type thread so I could use it on my machine. Well I could not find it so I had just emptied a small spool and so I used the button hole cutter and removed the top part of the spool and put it on the machine spool holder then slipped my larger thread over it. It worked great!!! - Pat in Ohio

*If you are sewing mini pieces together - in the instances where instead of sewing triangles, you sew a square or rectangle and trim. Do the small pieces tend to loose their shape or warp with the bias when you press them? Try trimming off only one layer of your square or rectangle next time. Leaving one layer to back your small piece stabilizes it and holds the bias. Well worth the little extra thickness. - Vella in Canada

*I label my quilt blocks the same way the cells in spreadsheets are labeled in the computer (ie. Excel). The columns going across are letters and the rows going down are numbers. The top left hand block is A1, then the ones below it are A2,A3, and so on. The second block from the left, next to A1 is B1 and the third from the left is C1. If I ever am confused, I can pull up a blank spreadsheet on the computer and see which is which. - Lisa in California

*As I take my rows of quilt squares off the design wall, I pin a sticky note on each row, with the row number and an arrow for the direction to press the row. I put the note so it shows at the top, so I know when I finish a row as I sew them. - Margaret in Indiana

*When making quick triangle corners (such as in making a snowball block) I use glue-stick SPARINGLY to hold the corner blocks in place. I then sew and trim as usual. - Cindy in California

*Use your walking foot when sewing flannel to reduce stretching. - Renee in North Carolina

*I use light gray thread for just about all my quilting and blends in with all fabric, to make things easy I pre-wind about 20 bobbins at a time so when I run out all I have to do is pop in another. This saves lots of time. - Kimberly in New York

*I had trouble with my sewing machine always moving on my kitchen table. I bought some rubberized kitchen liners, cut a piece for under my machine and pedal. Works like a charm.... Barbara in Dorval, Quebec, Canada

*I use 2 rubber wedge shaped doorstoppers behind my sewing machine to tilt it forward,so much easier to sew and see where you are sewing. - Earnestine in Auckland, New Zealand
Sit directly in front of your line of sewing when sewing by machine. It will help to make your seams straight as an arrow. If you sit even a bit to one side or another, your line of stitching will go just that little bit with you. ~Rae Cooper, Arizona

*I purchased a telescoping magnet at the hardware (available also with car parts) store for about $3-4. I keep it in a drawer by the sewing machine and use it to pick up pins, scissors, etc. that fall when I'm sewing. Otherwise I either have to get up in the middle of my sewing, or I wait to get it when I get up later, and usually forget! - Deborah in California

A fabric eraser is ideal for removing those annoying bits of thread left after you have been "un-sewing" - just run the eraser over the seam and the thread comes right out. - Anne in Ontario, Canada

*Do your fabric pieces slip while you are sewing them together? If you press those pieces with an iron (just press by holding the iron on the pieces, then lifting off), the heat will set them together for you. They won't slip as easily and you won't need pins or as many pins which can distort your seam line! - Rae in Arizona

And my all time personal favorite:
*When sewing, slip an old tricot/nylon nightgown on over your clothes. Threads won't stick to your clothing and they will just slide right off. You may look funny, but it works. In case the doorbell rings, don't forget to take the nightgown off! - Linda in Utah
Best excuse for not getting dressed that I've heard of yet!
"Sorry, about the nightie, I quilt a lot and I have to wear this so the threads don't stick!"
Disclaimer: If you have, indeed, not gotten dressed and worn it all day. Omit the last step. Otherwise, the postman might see more of you than he had originally planned!


Nellie's Needles said...

There are so many tips that make sewing easier and are only passed on by "word of mouth/computer". Thanks.
My addition is "when a needle or pin no longer passes easily through the fabric, lubricate it by running it through your hair".

Joyce said...

Thanks for all the sewing hints. I used to run diaper pins through my hair when my kids were babies. That was in the days before disposables. It worked like a charm. I guess my oily hair helped. Lol.