Older Quilting Hints


Everyone has a favorite hint or little secret that makes quilting easier. Here's a place to share yours.

Please use our form to add your special advice to the immediately list.

Date: 12/31/99
From: calicokelley@yahoo.com

I have found that my stash is growing way faster than my storage options. I discovered that if I roll the fabric I can stand it up in baskets and it takes up much less space! I turn under the ends and pin it on both ends and it keeps all the raw edges hidden. Hope you enjoy all your extra space!

Date: 12/29/99
From: cherijayhp@aol.com

Storage boxes: because I have SOOO many projects started, I am always "getting organized." The free cardboard trays that hold canned six-packs can be used one into the other to create a box with lid. Very strong. Identify the contents with a computer label on the end panel. They stack well also. Happy Quilting, Cheryl J in NC

Date: 12/21/99
From: LPM

I registered for a class to make a largely applique quilt with a wonderfully scrappy look. the blocks are separated by hundreds of 1 inch squares. Two of us have asked the 6 others to join a beginning swap. We will each contribute the equivalent of 2 fqs to the larger pieces, and 4 strip sets of 4 fabrics each to the sashing. Before the first class we will share. This way we will all have a huge variety that none of us could have alone. If it works well, we may do it a second time.

Date: 12/5/99
From: smanering@yahoo.com

Recently me son pushed his knee thru the wall in his bedroom, leaving a large gaping hole in the drywall. I covered it with a wallhanging I had made...is was quick, and also kept some drafts out, as well as drywall dust. I think this would work well for other things, such as crayon marks, etc. I sent the son to college!

Date: 12/3/99
From: richard.doornbos@philips.com

One of our Dutch guild members made a 'travel-quilt'
with all kinds of pictures on them, things you
can see when you're driving (or riding a train)for
quite some time (cows, a farmhouse, a big tree, a mailbox
and so on)Everytime her kids see one of the objects on
the quilt in real, they can cover the picture with a special
patch they can attach to the quilt. Once a row is
completed, they get a little treat or a story or anything you
do to keep your kids from getting bored. Should keep them
busy for some time!
Hilde in cold and stormy Holland

Date: 11/30/99
From: Kris in Southern Mass.

I use an empty tissue box by my machine and throw all my loose ends, scraps, etc. in the tissue box. It works as a little trash can. (It is really great for paper piecing.)

Date: 11/26/99
From: Teresa

Just the other day I accidently melted some
interfacing onto my iron. I grabbed some foil
out of the kitchen drawer, crumpled it into a
ball and gently wiped the iron to remove the
melted interfacing. Worked fast and removed all
the melted goo!

A great cutting table can be made with two purchased
saw horses from your local Home Depot or Lowe's and
a large plain wood door (a relative sold me a huge
5' by 10' solid door for $10). We put a stretcher
piece of wood between the sawhorse feet and attached
wheels to the stretcher, but I probably won't be
moving it around a lot.

Now that I have my new cutting table, I use my
old cardboard folding cutting surface to lay out
on a bed and do the layering of my quilts with
safety pins, tack gun, or basting. The bed is
a large surface and much better than working on
the floor!

Date: 11/19/99
From: robinmj@watervalley.net

my hands are often stiff, so i have a hard time
pulling the stitch-filled needle through. using
those rubber discs to grip the needle helped, but
took a lot of time.
then i tried cutting off a fingertip from a thin
latex glove (like doctors use) and putting on the
index finger of my quilting hand.
much faster! and you get five little "quilter's
condoms" from each glove!
DH bought a box of those gloves at Sam's for
the servers to use at a big family reunion ... it
was cheap.

Date: 11/12/99
From: mevanick@home.com

I am a foundation piecer from the word "go." I have been wanting tablets of 12" square onion- skin paper to draw my foundation blocks on. Onion-skin is my favorite foundation paper.
The closest size tablet I can find in any paper is 14"x 17" sheets. I still haven't found what I really want, but yesterday I found a ROLL OF TRACING PAPER, 12 inches wide and 20 yards long in the art supplies section of my local paint store. Not quite as good as onion skin paper, but it does the job! It cost about $4.50 Alice in Western WA

Date: 11/12/99
From: RenieandBo@aol.com

want to keep that presser foot from sliding around? Feet hurt? Put velcro on the bottom of the foot and velcro knee high.put foot at a comfortable hight for sewing with your knee, leg.

Date: 10/29/99
From: gsquilts@worldnet.att.net

Tired of the strain on your neck when using the sewing machine? I placed 3 small plastic furniture leg guards one the bottem back of my machine. Now it is at the perfect angle and my back and neck thank me!!

Date: 10/28/99
From: sewingsolution@hotmail.com

I hate cutting threads as I finish sewing so of course I chain piece. However, sometimes you just have to have the piece that's under the foot. My solution. I keep a lot of precut light and dark squares beside my machine. If I need something to sew on, I just place a light piece against a dark piece right sides together and sew half of a half square triangle. The other day, I made 10 complete sets of half square triangles for my next scrap donation quilt by the time I had joined all the rows of my quilt top.

Date: 10/24/99
From: mevanick@home.com

Here's a hint that is so simple that maybe everyone but me had already thought of it. My cutting board was not being very satisfactory, as I had been using it for years and it was kind of rough, and my cutter didn't cut well on it, even with a new blade. I had looked at new ones more than once without buying. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I could just turn it over, and use the underside instead of the top! It works great--is nice and smooth. There's no lines on the underside, but what the heck--I've got lots of rulers. Alice in Western WA

Date: 10/24/99
From: cybermom2@prodigy.com

Has anyone tried "The Angler"? It is a square of plastic that you tape on your sewing machine. It has diagonal lines and also vertical lines. I used this when sewing small triangles to the corners of a larger square using small squares. I was marking the little squares diagonally. With this I did not need to mark; just simply kept the corner of the square on the line and it gave me a perfect seam right down the middle. Another tip I discovered completely by accident. To make my sewing machine cord reach the plug, I moved my machine to the lower right side of my table. This gives me room on the left for my large cutting board and plenty of room between to machine piece my blocks. It would also give you more room to handle a large quilt when machine quilting.

Date: 10/23/99
From: Lim Siew Tin

I am a new quilter. A few months ago, i had a y2k swap with many quilter friends via the internet. The small pieces of remaining cloth. I collect ed and made into a pattern called "Chinese Coin". Now I have already finished half of a king size quilt.

Date: 10/21/99
From: Lynette in Manitoba

You might already know about this trick, but when you make a half-square triangle by sewing from corner to corner, you can stitch again a half inch from your first sewing line. when you cut, you will then have a smaller half square triangle left over to use in another scrappy project. Save them for SOMEDAY. Cheers!

Date: 10/16/99
From: melwc@hotmail.com(AKA Melinda in Indy)

I didn't go through the archives,so I hope I'm not repeating/plagarizing anyone else.
Batting comes out of the package wrinkled,right?Which makes you crazy.So...I use my water-spritzing bottle and lightly spray the wrinkles in the cotton batting;then put it in the dryer on fluff/no heat about 10min or so.Works great!
Haven't tried this with poly batting,however;altho I've put poly batts in the dryer with a dryer-softener sheet,on fluff,for a few minutes,and that works pretty good.
Bless the person who invented ziplock bags!Great for corraling templates and pattern pieces already cut,especially if you can't get to the piecing right away.Or to separate block pieces,for a mystery quilt project or whatever.

Date: 10/14/99
From: Paula in Maine

I have a few good tips for the newbies....when you iron freezer paper to fabric, use a dry hot iron and press on an UNpadded surface. Make a pressing board for FP using an old board wrapped with heavy duty aluminum foil and then a layer of muslin. Tape around to the back of the board. Makes a great travel board too.

I read about the disaster someone had with the red pen. Whenever you mark..never use anything that is either water soluble or can migrate because of heat. Ballpoint ink is melted by heat! I like to use Prismacolor drawing pencils in the lightest shade of gray for dark fabs.

Need to keep the area around you neat while you sew? Take a can with a plastic snap on lid, slit the middle of the lid with an X. When you need to get rid of threads, just push them through the X and you have a mini waste container.

Date: 10/9/99
From: Wanda Miller (millbird@home.com)

I posted an ad to sell my idea for a thimble alternative...however,after some thought and God speaking to me on this, I've decided that this should not be a money making opportunity. He will reward me elsewhere. Here's my trick, and it works wonderfully. I've taken the rubber craft gloves (the ones you can get from Home Depot/Lowes for painting, etc - like gloves doctors use) and vinyl pieces cut out to fit my fingertips. I'm doing a lot of applique right now and needed something to protect the top of my thumb and my middle and third fingers from pricks. At first I tried the gloves with the vinyl pieces simply slipped down into the gloves. But I also found that the pieces can be glued on with liquid glue and adhere to the rubber exceptionally well. Plus, the needle doesn't prick holes in the gloves as easily. You can buy sheets of thin vinyl at any craft store. I used the vinyl from old calendar books from past years (the kind like checkbook covers). They work the best. I love my new little invention. Try it! If you don't have time to do it yourself, or cannot find the materials, let me know...I'll be happy to make some up for you and send them to you. They really work great!

Date: 10/3/99
From: Diane in Hawaii

I am a hand quilter... I finally figured out how to get smaller stitches!! I just loosen the tension on my hoop a bit!! I now can quilt between 7 and 9 stitches per inch! And
Roxanne's thimbles really are the best thimbles on the market!!

Date: 9/30/99
From: Lynette in Manitoba

All that wierd coloured thread left over from other projects can be used up in paper foundation piecing. I load the bobbin with whatever is left, and the needle with bits left on spools. It goes a long way when paper piecing, and since the thread is never seen, it doesn't matter what colour it is. Happy piecing!

Date: 9/30/99
From: Judy in Missouri

While attending a quilt show in Branson, I found some really great quilt pattern templates mades out of Plexi-glass. The only problem was they were outrageously expensive. I kept thinking about them after we got home, and decided I could make my own. I went to the local glass company and bought scraps of plexiglass. They seemed glad to be rid of them and I only paid a pittance for them. Now when i need quilt patterns, I cut a paper pattern piece, my husband traces it on the plexiglass and cuts it out for me. Since the plexiglass tends to slide on the fabric, I put the little felt dots on the back - works great, again for a pittance.

Date: 9/30/99
From: Judy in Missouri

I'm sure a lot of you are like me - you'll buy quilting magazines for only one or two patterns in the magazine. I use a three ring binder and plastic "sleeves" in which I keep the patterns from magazines that I want to keep. Cut out the picture, instructions and pattern pieces, put them in the "sleeve" and throw or give the rest of the magazine away. That way you don't have 40 bizillion magazines in your sewing room that you have to thumb through to find that nifty quilt pattern you want to try.

Date: 9/26/99
From: rquilt@erols.com

ACCURATE 1/4". Most common error in quilt piecing is associated with an improper seam allowance. Make sure yours is precise by using one of ARDCO's "QuiltSmith Quarters", which are 6" or 8" long, and a precise 1/4". Like their templates, they all have a patented grit on the back, to prevent slipping. Check them out at the new website, www.ardcotemplates.com.

Date: 9/19/99
From: Calico Kelley

Bobbie Pins work great to hold the binding in place as you hand stitch it to the back!

Date: 9/16/99
From: mcintire@ncn.net

Before starting each time I start to sew, I fill all my empty bobbins. That way when I run out I'm not spending alot of time refilling the bobbin.

Date: 9/16/99
From: Heidi H. , Scottsdale, AZ

For those of you looking for Celtic Interlaace art to use in your quilts, I found a great resource page. It's called Knots on the Web, by Peter Suber. Check it out!

Date: 9/15/99
From: rquilt

Marking devices for quilting. About three years ago, Dixie Haywood did a thorough review of quilt marking techniques and accompanied the review with a series of tests. It pushes aside a lot of the hokum passed around today , especially by those selling markers. I suggest you all look up her article. R.

Date: 9/4/99
From: Joanie

I have a few new sewing machine feet that came with my machine and was afraid to try on good material so before I washed my material for a quilt I sewed the edges of the material with them for practise with them and after I washed the material the ends weren't all frayed.

Date: 9/4/99
From: Lynette in Manitoba

Maybe you already know this. You can buy a door peephole at a hardware store for about $3. If you look through it at your quilt, it is as though you were 30 feet away. The whole design leaps out! It's especially good for colourwash quilts, as you see right away if the flow is smooth, but it is useful for any design.

Date: 9/3/99
From: Karen - kbushouse@kbs.msu.edu

I recently finished my first quilt and had so much trouble with marking the design on the fabric. So much pressure broke the lead every few inches. It seemed like nothing worked the way it was supposed to and I was getting very frustrated. All of the pencils were aggravating me until I found a trick quite by accident. I had mismarked one of my lines and used a damp washcloth to erase the incorrect line. Being the impatient quilter, I started re-marking the fabric before it was completely dry. To my amazement, the color flowed off the pencil in one even and clean line. Now before I mark each 4-6 inch line, I put the dampened washcloth onto the next area I plan to mark. I finished the quilt in a lot less time with no breaking leads and pencils.

Date: 9/2/99
From: miller@mbnet.mb.ca

Many pizza outlets will sell you new pizza boxes. they come in several sizes, are cheap (I paid 39 cents for the largest 18" size), and one box will hold finished blocks for a whole quilt. The blocks lie perfectly flat, and so your pressing doesn't get un-done. Also, when cutting pieces for blocks, I store all the pieces for one block in a small zip-lock bag and keep it in the pizza box too. If you cut everything during a good TV movie, the drudgery is over and you are organized to start piecing.

Date: 8/31/99
From: Llyn in PA

Although this is not a quilting hint it is a new use for your square up tools and large sized rotary cutters. Recently I was wallpapering here I was having a hard time getting a nice straight cut for my paper drops. So I tried using my large square up tools and a rotary cutter that I reserve for cutting batting. I was able to get a nice straight cut and by using the rotary cutter it eliminated any scissor steps across the top of the cut. I just wanted to share this tip with any quilters that may also be into hanging wallpaper. hope this can be of some use to others.

Date: 8/30/99
From: Dottie

Another tip for washing large pieces of fabric so it doesn't spiral and twist beyond what I can iron out: First I unfold that center fold in the fabric, then grasping the selvage I "accordion pleat" the entire piece in about 2 ft segments. Then I pin along the selvage with 5 or 6 diaper pins. When it comes out of the washer I grasp it by the row of pins and "snap" it out straight, and into the dryer it goes. When dried I snap it again, and it is ready to store! This works with 8 and 10 yard pieces. You will be amazed!

Date: 8/30/99

For easier miniature foundation piecing try using "DO SEW" it comes by the yard is 36" wide. You can see thru it and can leave it on after sewing. If you can't find it locally I can get it for you. Email I'll send a sample. It's great! Patty

Date: 8/28/99
From: rosalie627@aol.com

If you have trouble seeing the quarter inch mark on your machine, put a stack of little(about l inch)post it notes on the line and you sew right up the line. Your fabric lays right next to the stack and keeps going straight. Am doing this with my 7yo granddaughter and it helps her and me a lot.

Date: 8/27/99
From: June Kerss

During a recent quilt class it was suggested that we should start using cotton thread for our piecing. There is a new school of thought that some of the threads we have been using are too strong and can cut into the fabric eventually. I have recently experienced this with a Log Cabin quilt and rather than try to redo the block (an almost impossible task to take the quilt apart and do this), I found a wandering vine-like design in my 1630 and embroidered over the place. Since the fabric had a wandering vine design in it this worked well. Used an embroidery thread. It worked well and doesn't show on the front side of the quilt. Of course, on mine it does show on the back because it is a solid light green, but this doesn't bother me.

Maybe this is because so many of the antique quilts have survived reasonably well, and some exceptionally well. They were all sewn with cotton thread!

Date: 8/27/99
From: smanering@yahoo.com

To save your back from long hours at the sewing machine, place your machine in the center pullout drawer of an old desk. I did this once, and now I really can tell the difference. I also place a folded piece of batting in back of the machine, and close the drawer until it is snug, and then the machine won't vibrate. I used an old teacher's desk that I rescued from the garbage when a school was being remodeled..free!

Date: 8/26/99
From: jbnt9999@aol.com

Was making flying geese using the rectangle and square methoed but before trimming the half square triangle off I hooked a safty pin on the screw holding the pressure foot. It gave me a guide on the left side of the foot to use on the previous stitching line. (sew your half square triangle again)This line is now 1/2 from your previous stitching line... you can cut down the middle and have a half square triangle to use for the border. Machine elna. (The bernina foot 40 will work using the left side of the pressure foot.

Date: 8/25/99
From: Bertie in Illinois

Need a perfect and sturdy circle template? Save one of those "try AOL free for one month, etc" cd type disks that come in the mail every so often. Easy to store with your other quilting templates in its own cardboard case.

Date: 8/23/99
From: johelena@gis.net

1) So you've finished the quilt for the wedding present (or anniversary or birthday or whatever) and now you want to wrap it. A cake box meant to hold a LARGE sheet cake is just right, even for a King-size quilt. Our supermarket bakery was happy to sell one for $1.50.
2) I use sew-in interfacing material (Pellon, etc.) to make quilting templates. It's easy to cut. Just pin it on, quilt around it, move it to the next place. No marking to do or un-do!

Date: 8/23/99
From: Kellie in MS

There are so many products on the quilting market for making quicker and easier half-square triangles. If your like me and are into quilting because it's calming and soothing and therapeutic, you may be interested in this little hint.
I just cut out all the triangles that I need , pair them with the "other half" of what will make my square, and keep the in a pile next to my favorite TV watching spot. Whenever I have planted myself in front of the TV, I just hand sew them. You can put together quite a few during a one hour show...especially if i pre-mark my quarter inch seam. This way they turn out nice and square, and I have been soothed and productive and never feel quilty about watching television!

Date: 8/19/99
From: Joan in Ottawa

Recently, with a large freezer-paper applique project to complete, I discovered the use of Scotch Brand (3M) "Restickable Adhesive" Glue Stick to temporarily (and neatly) hold seam allowances over the edges of the pieces. It holds well but also peels off easily. Tricky shaped pieces? Clip around curves and fold over and the glue will make the job a breeze. After appliqueing the shape, slit the background and pull out the paper. It will come away with no trouble and with no residue on fabric if used lightly. It's made for paper and fabric and it has a bright turquoise label on it.

Date: 8/19/99
From: Teresa

To keep your fabric from twisting and raveling, prewash
it on the delicate cycle. When drying it, place a large
clean, dry towel in the dryer with your fabric. I rarely
have to iron my quilt fabrics.

Date: 8/16/99

When doing Miniture foundation piecing, try using the "Do Sew". You can see thru it, I stamp my design directly onto it, it DOES NOT NEED TO BE REMOVED!! That's a big plus no more paper mess and it is very thin, doesn't add any bulk to your project. I teach classes for Hancock Fabrics and we use it, and my students like it too. If you cannot find it and want to try it...email me. I've a small quilt shop in CA and stock it. Thanks for having this place to share :-)!!! Patty

Date: 8/15/99
From: Tara in Peterborough

I tend to use plain pencils as well as quilt pencils to mark my quilts and I found out last night that, if you mark gently and find later that you want to change your design, you can rub the pencil marks off with a cotton knit t-shirt fabric or even wool. I didn't think it would work but it did, much better than washing or erasing or all the other things I have tried. Good luck!!

Date: 8/15/99
From: mlp@cyber-quest.com

HELP! I'm looking for cotton fabric which has tractors on it. I have the fabric with John Deeres, but I'm specifically looking for something with Allis Chalmers. Has anyone out there seen such? Where? If you can lead me in the right direction, please contact mlp@cyber-quest.com. Thanks.

Date: 8/14/99
From: Gina

I am a relatively new hand quilter so this may not be that new to anyone. For hand quilting and (cross stitch) I use a paint stir stick, cover it with some batting then fabric and use it for a pincushion. That way I can thread several needles at one time and have them ready for quilting without interruption.

Date: 8/11/99
From: Phyllis

I went shopping in a large home inprovement store (HQ, Lowes, Home Depot, etc) and stumbled on a great bargin! If you use the quilt basting tack gun and need a grid to put underneath your quilt...Go to the lighting section of the store and purchase a "plain white grid" for drop ceiling light fixtures! It's much bigger (2ft X 4ft)and costs about the same or even less than the one you can buy at Wal-Mart. I paid about $8 and it works great.

Date: 8/10/99
From: opo@1004159@aol.com

I have been reading here for several weeks now.I have picked up some good hints. This one I have nerer seen here so thought I would share. When I prewash large peices of fabric, I always unfold them and then sew the short edges together before placing in the washer. This prevents the long twisted mess you get other wise. It really works, even though you don't think it will. I'm sire plenty of yoou know about this already, but for those of you who don't, give it a try , you will be amazed.Happy Quilting to all.

Date: 8/10/99
From: opo@1004159@aol.com

I have been reading here for several weeks now.I have picked up some good hints. This one I have nerer seen here so thought I would share. When I prewash large peices of fabric, I always unfold them and then sew the short edges together before placing in the washer. This prevents the long twisted mess you get other wise. It really works, even though you don't think it will. I'm sire plenty of yoou know about this already, but for those of you who don't, give it a try , you will be amazed.Happy Quilting to all.

Date: 8/10/99
From: opo@1004159@aol.com

I have been reading here for several weeks now.I have picked up some good hints. This one I have nerer seen here so thought I would share. When I prewash large peices of fabric, I always unfold them and then sew the short edges together before placing in the washer. This prevents the long twisted mess you get other wise. It really works, even though you don't think it will. I'm sire plenty of yoou know about this already, but for those of you who don't, give it a try , you will be amazed.Happy Quilting to all.

Date: 8/7/99
From: <Tim>

Make a quilt for your son. He'll treasure it forever

Date: 8/5/99
From: Carol Tracy

If you happen to get blood on your quilt, simply make a "spit ball" with a small piece of batting and put it on the spot. The same enzyme that is in blood is also in saliva and will take the blood out of the fabric. Even works on a silk blouse! Hairspray will nearly always take out ball point pen.

Date: 8/5/99
From: Carol Tracy

If you happen to get blood on your quilt, simply make a "spit ball" with a small piece of batting and put it on the spot. The same enzyme that is in blood is also in saliva and will take the blood out of the fabric. Even works on a silk blouse! Hairspray will nearly always take out ball point pen.

Date: 8/4/99
From: CD

When using your acrylic rulers and rotary cutter, do not let your index finger hang over the edge of your ruler. You will cut about 1/4 inch of your finger off. I did this yesterday and wow did it hurt. What a way to celebrate my 30th birthday!

Date: 7/28/99
From: Christine

This is my first time hand quilting. How do you knot the end of the thread without showing the knot on the outside of the back? Thanks.

Date: 7/20/99
From: Cynthia Bryant

I was about 10 items short on my "I Spy" quilt. I got the idea to scan some cards from a game I play with my grandchildren called "Memory". I had to enlarge them a little, and I used textile transfer paper to print them out, and then I ironed them onto my muslin. These cards are perfect for the "I Spy" quilt and they turned out great! Cynthia Bryant from Texas

Date: 7/15/99
From: QuiltnSara@aol.com

My girlfriend and I have arthritis in our hands, and found that Vet Wrap, also sold as Coflex tape will cushion the iron or rotary cutter to make them easier to use. Put a strip of 4" or larger of quilt batting arround the object to be padded, to make it the correct size, wrap it several times arround the object. Then put a strip of the Vet Wrap over this, wrapping it tightly. The Vet Wrap is sticky and will hold to itself. It can be purchased at a feed store or most vet offices.

Date: 7/15/99
From: Kathryn McNeese

If you have some arthritis or stiffness in your fingers making it hard to pull your needle through the quilt, use a rubber finger (the type used for office work) on your ring finger. You will grow accustomed to it being there and it enables you to grip the needle without having to pick up a gripper each time.

Date: 7/15/99
From: Shirlie

I find when ever I got some of the fusible
web stuff onto my iron, what I do to clean
it, is spray some spray starch onto an old
towel and then iron the towel while the iron
is hot. I find it cleans the stuff off the
iron pretty good.

Date: 7/15/99
From: dsiewe@tc3net.com

On vacation, I took my mom to a quilt shop. She was shocked to see "Orvus" for washing quilts. Seems they use it on horses and it comes in gallon containers for a lot less than the little bottles in the quilt store. She orders supplies for a veterinary clinic and swears it's the same soap.

Date: 7/14/99
From: wsotte@prodigy.net

I found a wonderful way to keep your needles handy and at the same time keep them safely out of the hands of small children. Store them in child proof plastic prescription bottles from your old prescriptions. That way you can keep your needles close by and not be afraid that the children will get them. Label each container with the size of needle and whether it is a sharp or between. Also good for carrying needle and thread in your purse or tote bag and thread wont come undone inside bag.

Date: 7/12/99
From: sap@aljan.com.au

I've just finished two projects and learnt two
important lessons in the process. Firstly, I
learned to NEVER mark pieces in red ballpoint pen
for handpiecing, thinking the red will never be
seen. I've used a blue water erasible pen for the
quilting (which worked well) and after spraying
these with water, the red pen has bled ever so
slightly through to the front of the quilt,
leaving a pink mark. And the second lesson, I
grabbed a reel of thread (which I later
discovered was polyester) and sewed a colourwash
heart together. When I've pressed some of the
pieces, and using the iron directly on some of the
stitching, the thread has dissolved or melted and
the pieces can be pulled apart very easily. This
also happened to me after hemming a pair of
trousers with polyester thread - you'd think I
would have learnt the first time! Hope this helps
prevent someone else from making the same mistakes
I did. Sandy in Oz.

Date: 7/11/99
From: Michelle

I like to do applique but don't have a lot of time or patience to do "needle turn" applique. I found that I can recycle my dryer sheets and make it easier and faster. I draw my design out on them and stitch on that line, clip the dryer sheet, turn the project piece right side out and wallah I have an applique piece ready to be sewn on my background!! When I am in a real hurry to make a gift like dish towels I can use the blind hem stitch on my machine or the buttonhole and I am done and ready to wrap!!

Date: 7/11/99
From: Michelle in Virginia

I found and easy way to keep my needles (hand or machine) organized and would love to share. Mini M M's come in cute little plastic tubes and in a variety of colors. Pick a tube and write your needle type and/or size on the outside in permanent marker and you're set! They are small enough to transport with you and the bright colors help keep them from being lost!

Date: 7/10/99
From: Mary in Bellevue, WA

Though a newcomer to quilting, I am IN LOVE - and always looking for ways to make it easier. I keep a small cutting board (9" X 12") on the end of the ironing board (which is in the lowered position, of course!) and my smallest rotary cutter. It is just enough space for trimming shapes, cutting off excesses, etc. and saves fishing around for the needed supplies. It moves out of the way easily when I need to press.

Date: 7/5/99
From: cathiann@webtv.net

I have ben making an Amish Crystal quilt for my DD and was really having a time marking pieces on the dark fabics, nothing seemed to work but finally I have the answer! The Pentel Milky gel roller works great. It is permanent but who cares when marking the wrong side of the fabric? Hope this helps someone to not get as frustrated as I was marking those quilt pieces on dark fabric

Date: 7/4/99
From: KathiM59@aol.com

Watercolor quilt lovers: If you haven't tried it, consider the gridded fusible web. It has a 2" square, all over grid. You just arrange your fabrics, Iron on medium heat and sew entire rows together at once instead of individual squares. I sewed a 48" x 48" wall hanging in less than 2 hours. It would have taken several days to do it the old way. It is available on-line @ Whims and the Big Horn Quilt Shop. About 3.50 per yard and worth it's weight in gold. I have no affiliation to these stores, just a happy customer.

Date: 7/3/99
From: traumaqt@aol.com

To mark long straight lines on a quilt, I purchased an empty chalk snap-line, the kind used
in construction. I filled it with powdered fabric chalk,(the refills from a chalk wheel marker).
After taping the quilt top to the kitchen floor, I borrowed my daughter and placed the snap-line on
the desired location on the quilt. One quick snap and I had a perfectly straight line. As chalk
tends to rub off, I usually snapped the same line twice. Washes out with no problems.

Date: 6/30/99
From: Nancy in MA

Some ideas for cute, easy gift ideas using machine
applique. White men's handkerchiefs can be
appliqued and used either as hankies or napkins.
You could also purchase inexpensive napkins if you
wanted a color other than white. When doing this
project I use a fusible web on the fabric that will
become the applique to it doesn't slide around as
I sew it. I use a satin stitch on the machine and
a thread that matches the background fabric, and I
have found that using a tear-away stabilizer on the
back really does make a big difference. I like to
use cookie cutters for templates. They are cheap,
sturdy, easy to find and very durable. You can
often get a set of one shape in several sizes for
just a couple of dollars. I used 2 different sizes
of star cookie cutters as templates for a baby
quilt for my niece. I cut stars out of a variety
of qold/tan/orange fabrics, then fused each one
onto a 6 1/2" sqare of fabric, being careful NOT
to center the star in the square. I used a mottled
dark blue fabric to look like a night sky, and used
a blue thread so satin stitching would blend in.
After all squares were completed, my husband and I
laid them out on the bed to decide how to arrange
them. Putting each star on its own square served
2 purposes: it meant that if I made a big mess
stitching on a star, I hadn't ruined the whole quilt
top, and it also meant we could play with the
positioning of individual blocks. In addition to
the star blocks I made a larger 12 1/2" square with
a crescent moon. For the backing, I used a cute
cloudy-sky print. This quilt was extremely cute
when it was finished, and I knew that the baby
wouldn't receive another one similar to it.
Best of all, each block took only a few minutes to
complete. I have a very cute bunny-shaped cookie
cutter in waiting for the next baby quilt!

Date: 6/24/99
From: Jamie Schaupp

When I was in our local quilt shop the other day, the owner was working on a paper pieced Mariners Compas Quilt. She had one of those small irons and instead of having a large ironing board out, she had an old bolt from fabric, I asked her how hse made and she told me to take a scrap of cotton batting and wrap it around the board and secure with glass head pins on the back side, she then wrapped the entire bolt in an old piece of falnnel and uses that with the small iron for her paer piecing, I asked her if she had a empty bolt I could purchase, she was more than willing to give the bolt and a scrap of flannel, and cotton batting that they were unable to sell. When I got home and tries it, it worked great. Hoep this can help someone out there.

Date: 6/20/99
From: jillb@pastamontana.com

While reading over hints for foundation piecing, I noticed no one mentioned using the "Add-a-Quarter" or the "Add-an-Eighth" (for minitures)ruler/tool that is found in most quilt shops.
It is the BEST thing that ever happened to paper piecing! I have converted almost exclusively to foundation piecing because of it.

Date: 6/19/99
From: eileensews@aol.com

When hand sewing/quilting, thread your needle through about 3-4 inches, loop your thread around the top of the needle and pass it through the eye again, then gently pull both threads (together at same time) to tighten. This keeps your thread from coming out of the eye while stitching (works better with wax) - A tip from my grandmother...

Date: 6/17/99
From: tmankacz@wilmington.net

When using blue quilt marking pen and somehow it
does not all wash out. I found out the (Wink Rust
Remover) worked great. Besure to rise well with cold water. Take your time and read lables on products you use. Thank You.

Date: 6/14/99
From: cindy

use foundation piecing to make quick gifts. Trace design onto muslin with washable pencil. Iron fusible fleece to unmarked side, then use like any other foundation. The fleece is sandwiched between the design and the muslin. Finish with made to match or purchased bias tape. This idea can also work for larger projects, such as placemats or pot holders.

Date: 6/12/99
From: Carolyn Hess (carolyn2@webtv.net)

I like to make up my own quilt stencils because the already made ones never fit. I refur to books for ideas. I purchase end-or-roll paper from the neighborhood newspaper office. It comes in different widths and costs from $2.50 to $7.00 a roll and there is LOTS left on the tubes. I then either trace or draw the design to fit the area (borders, open blocks or all around area). I straight pin or safety pin the paper in one block or one border at a time and quilt with the paper on and tear it off when done. If I have many open areas like in a snowball block, double wedding ring or double irish chain, I cut a square the size of the area, trace the design, cut a block or paper for each area, take the thread out of the machine and sew the design through about 4 sheets at a time. This saves me time from tracing each piece. Try it and if you have any questions, e-mail me.

Date: 6/12/99
From: Carolyn Hess Sacramento, CA

I had trouble moving fabric when machine quilting. While in a garden store, I found gloves with rubber-like dots on the fingers and palms. I found I couldn't pull out the safety pins without removing the gloves, so I cut the tips of the thumbs and first finger on both gloves down about 1/2 inch. Now I only take them off when I shut down for the night or to eat!!!

Date: 6/12/99
From: jeanqrt

Make your quilt label before you start quilting,
baste it onto the back of the quilt. As you quilt
it will be quilted to the back and become
more permanent and more difficult to remove.

Date: 6/11/99
From: oscarida@kanza.net

i've spent many hours cutting 1 1/2" strips for use in log cabin projects, and have found this to be the most efficient method of keeping them untangled, organized and sorted. I cut off the funnel top of a 2-litre soda bottle, rinse and dry, of course. I roll up the strips to resemble a flat roll of masking tape. these rolls then fit nicely in its new see through case. They fit nicely on their shelf, and I'm happy to keep those bottles out of the landfill. Another tip I use for marking lines on fabric when sitting at the sewing machine...i use an emery nail file. It gives a nice straight edge as well as gripping the fabric.

Date: 6/10/99
From: mmnally

For paper piecing, the Quilt Basting Spray is wonderful to hold fabric in place for either hand or machine stitching. You need very little and it washes out.

Date: 6/7/99
From: Trekky Quilter

When transfering photos to fabric I use Avery T-shirt transfer sheets. They are less expensive and easier to use than other brands of photo transfer paper. I also buy 100% cotton sheets (200-250 thread count) to transfer photos.

Date: 6/4/99
From: QuiltnSara@aol.com

Raising the height of table. I just posted this on the other BB, thought evernone knew more that I did about "stuff", but our guild uses 46 oz. juice cans to put cutting tables on to raise the height. This way the rotary cutting can be done without killing the back. This also works for pinning a quilt. When doing this for home I need to get help, as table is heavy, and it needs to be on a floor that does not have plush carpet.

Date: 6/3/99
From: Sharon

Re: Thelma's "t.j.'s quick quilter". I learned to quilt using a spoon to keep from sticking my finger - and it's free!

Date: 6/2/99
From: Lin

A reminder for all quilters! Never ... I repeat NEVER use a C-thru ruler to rotary cut fabric. They are made for drafting and the ruler is not thick enough to safely direct your rotary blade. I recently "trimmed" about 1/4 in. off of my index finger using this ruler. These rulers are wonderful for what they are made for ... drafting patterns.

Date: 5/26/99
From: mbooth at lib.uwo.ca

If you are looking for that little extra bit of space next to your sewing machine, look around at garage sales or office supply or second hand furniture places for portable typing tables - the kind with drop leaves, wheels and a brake bar. With so many businesses getting rid of typewriters, you can pick one up for a buck (loonie for Canucks) or two. It's the right height, and slips under atable for storage. A medium size cutting mat fits it and one those small countertop ironing boards does, too.

Date: 5/25/99
From: DHarr89272@aol.com

Due to some recent major surgeries and lack of space to keep my ironing board up I had to come up with something so I could press as I sew. Perhaps this will help you. I took a metal TV dinner folding table and covered it with a double layer of Pellon Thermolam Plus purchased at Wal-Mart and covered this with inexpensive muslin and used duck (silver tape) to anchor the muslin to the bottom of the tray. I now keep this next to my machine and simply turn in my swivel chair to press and back to sew. By the way I also use a computer desk for a sewing table and office chair on wheels to sit. Works great. Price is right. Time savings is great.

Date: 5/22/99
From: cknapp1@earthlink.net

My hint is for an ironing gadget. I bought the ironing board extender where the iron actually sits to the right of the ironing board. This frees up enough space to iron yardages on the square part instead of leaving triangles of Unpressed fabric. I love it!

Judy in Ark

Date: 5/22/99
From: Shirley, Croghan,NY

When prewashing your materials. Sew together the two raw edges of the material with a 1/4" seam. Then wash and dry. This way the material does twist up in the machines. You have only wasted a 1/4" of material and saved alot of time in preparing your material.

Date: 5/22/99
From: Elaine

Noticed my special hint looks a little
messy, but didn't realize how it may
print in blocks ! Re cap, talking of a
standing ironing board on legs, the
adjustable type, working perfectly for
extra table space to cut out fabric
patterns, tracing and piecing them also!
Plus, it can be adjusted to the height
of the person using it !! Great way to
use a item we all, already have taking up
space anyway, right ?

Date: 5/21/99
From: Elaine, N.C. Mountains

This might not be new to many, but I came up with it today ! I always have trouble finding the room
to trace and cut patterns, no big table space
available in my household. Today, I had my ironing
board up as usual and thought why not, just enough room to lay fabric,trace, cut it and piece it.Just what I needed and always up anyway !!
Worked perfectly, so I had to share with all of you !

Date: 5/18/99
From: Sheree in Illinois

I have found that by poking a hole (fairly small) in the top of an empty plastic prescription bottle, placing spool of thread in bottle, feed thread through hole, and screw cap down you can keep your thread clean and also from "running away" from you.

Date: 5/16/99
From: toga@intertek.net

If you have trouble with marking your quilts, try using the sliver of soap that you usually throw away. If you leave it sit out to harden for a while it will work better. The soap shows up on most colors and washes out easily.

Date: 5/8/99
From: Diane Mettler a.k.a. DEEQUILTY@aol.com

I love to paper piece the hexagons for a quilt.
They come out perfectly each time and I can take
them anywhere to work on at a minutes notice.
When attaching your fabric to the paper template
do not sew to the paper, instead on the backside
of the template: fold the fabric over and around
the template, then sew the mitered corners together
with a single stitch (do this twice) and then move
on to the next corner. I ususally leave a tail
when I come to the last corner and then pick up
the next hexagon to do. When you have done a bunch
you will have them all attached together. Cut them
apart as you begin to piece the edges togehter to
form the design. You will be amazed at how beautiful
they look.
Happy piecieng.

Date: 5/6/99
From: Rquilt

Tube Spinners.

ARDCO has an insert, called a "Tube Spinner", which fits on top of your sewing machine spindle and holds the tubes of thread which are 1200 yards long and cheap. Fits all machines which have a spindle on top. Good cotton , mercerized thread also available.

Date: 5/2/99
From: Sally Parrish

I use (unused) pizza boxes to store completed blocks. (Most pizza store will give you one or two if you ask.) Just write the name of your pattern or quilt on the edge.

Date: 5/2/99
From: Martha, Missoula,MT

My tip is for helping someone with disabilities quilt. This may also work for younger children. After cutting the pieces out, I tape them together with masking tape with the edge of the tape marking the 1/4 seame allowance. This allows a quilter to handpiece the block without having to remember which piece goes where and gives them a straight line to stitch along.

Date: 4/29/99
From: scrappykat >^..^<

for those times we want to read the BB between
quilting and such - and you like to eat while doing this..........I find I use a clean sheet of
plastic wrap or saran wrap to cover my keyboard at all times and this helps me with my messes if I have one. I usually change the sheet regularly and keeps this tidy*

Date: 4/27/99
From: Lori Boisen, Minnesota

When I make personalized labels on my quilts, I include a "patch" kit. I cut 4" squares of all the fabrics used in the quilt, and place them under the label on the back of the quilt. A few stragegically placed quilting stitches will hold them in place so they won't shift and bunch. I also add washing / drying instructions to the bottom of my label.

Date: 4/20/99
From: rchslh@ipa.com

I make a fairly heavy solution of liquid starch and use it in a spray bottle to spray my T-shirt fabric before I machine applique. Usually I'm in too much of a hurry to let it dry, I just iron it dry with a piece of muslin over it to prevent scorching. It really keeps the edges from curling and washes out.

Date: 4/20/99
From: lorogers@northcom.net

use your template to draw on the dull side of the freezer paper. cut it out and iron to wrong side of fabric. Leave seam allowance space, when ironing on the rest of the papers. These steps eliminate the step of using the template to draw on the fabric.

Date: 4/15/99
From: luvapup@ipa.net

I learned a new way (for me) to hang odd shaped quilts. If the wall hanging is on point, sew in another piece of the lining to make a pocket about half way down. Either have it hemmed before sewing it on or double the fabric. Then put a piece of foam core inside the sleeve to fit. A rod pocket can be applied above this at nearly any point and it will hang straight. The same would work for a round, octoganal, etc., size. If this isn't clear e-mail me so this won't go on too long. Loraine from the Ozarks

Date: 4/15/99
From: aramirez@sescva.esc.edu

For machine quilting, use self-stick (contact) paper to outline your quilt design (dollar stores have very inexpensive supplies); saves marking the quilt top and peels off easily. And, the sky is the limit with your design!

Date: 4/1/99
From: rmayhew29@hotmail.com

You can stabilize knitted T shirts by fusing them to unbleached muslin. This works very well and is relatively inexpensive.

Date: 3/31/99
From: ccarter@kcnet.com

I recently purchased a plastic storage chest made by the Iris Company from Office Max. The little chest has 6 drawers which are about 2 1/2" deep - just perfect for storing all sorts of quilting tools and gadgets. It also has wheels which makes it mobile. It's very well made and costs about $29.00 (however sometimes there is a $10.00 rebate special going on). Office Max also carries a 3 drawer chest (drawers are about 6 or 7 inches tall).

Date: 3/31/99
From: ccarter@kcnet.com

A local quilt shop who does machine quilting on their long arm also will baste a quilt for hand quilting. Several in my area have had their quilts basted in this manner and said that it really was well secured. The price is reasonable and saves you from bending over for hours on end.

Date: 3/30/99
From: Judy in Ark

Hint for your t-shirt quilt. Use a cheap fusible interfacing under your tshirt fronts BEFORE you cut them to size. This prevents the edges from curling, besides stablizing. Use a woven fabric for sashing to stablize the quilt. And flannel makes a nice cozy backing.

Date: 3/28/99
From: Yasmin in Australia

Boxes-Boxes! to keep safe and in order the pieces
I've just cut. Went on a hunt for boxes and...
the kids had mountains of them, those computer
software boxes are just great. Have a good look,
discard all bits and often there's a lovely flat
box, now I'am going to cover them in some chintz.

Date: 3/26/99
From: josiebest@aol.com

My sister and I are now quilting and are rather new to this. We have been trying to cut some of the expense in getting started, such as purchasing rotary cutters and mats etc. We both purchased a square up and thought there must be a less expensive way because we needed other measuring tools. So went to our local hardware and had them cut us from plexi-glass all the measuring sizes you could image, 8 different sizes for each of us for only $15 for all.. We used permanent markers to mark each. They all are measured exact and work just great.

Date: 3/23/99
From: Kim

Most machines, even the more basic ones have some extra "utility" and "decorative" stitches. Just ask the salesperson to demonstrate what you want and they should be able to assist. I have a Pfaff (not a top of the line) that has 2 or 3 stitches that work well as a blanket stitch. I've used it on a Sunbonnet Sue and it looked great! Good luck.

Date: 3/22/99
From: Lani

My husband bought me a pair of "Atlas" brand gloves at the hardware store.....and they are wonderful for machine quilting! They are cotton knit gloves whose fingertips and palms have been dipped into a rubber-like solution, so they have a super grip. Really helps keep hand fatique down. And they only cost $3.89!

Date: 3/21/99
From: Mary Jo in Charleston,SC

The best tip I know of is to buy as 6- 10 bobbins for your machine, and before you begn to do anything.... Clean and oil your machine, then wind all of the bobbins with the thread color and type you will be using. There will be no starting and stopping to reload a bobbin,or reset your sewing machine.

Date: 3/20/99
From: donna in Cyprus

I was having a terrible time marking my top for quilting...nothing was visible..not pencil .silver,gold or white..what I did try was a Crayola coloured pencil..it was very visible and it washed out beautifully..The colour faded if it was exposed to sunlight as well. I would not hesitate to try a Crayola coloured pencil again but I would always test for washability.

Date: 3/15/99
From: Darelle in Victoria, Australia

A comedian on tv joked how his mother referred to the "good scissors", so he thought there must be "evil scissors". I bought some pink scissors, wrote "evil" on them and told the kids to use the evil scissors - they loved it - and they left my good scissors alone.

Date: 3/6/99
From: lisalou5@hotmail.com

I've made 2 anniversary quilts. This first was a
block type quilt with 48 framed pictures.The second
was a colllage type quilts with over 100 pictures.
I liked the effect of the collage type better. I
had all my pictures put on fabric at my local super
K-mart where they do t-shirt imprinting. I think
the results are better than do it yourself at home
methods. I dont have a hot enough iron to get a good
transfer , and the type sold with computers has a
shiny, waxy, covering that I dont like.

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