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: 12/23/2
From: aussie

I have found that being stuck with a fabric selection isnt good, I had a pattern in mind but I also had 130 fabrics to choose from, the solution: I asked a 5 year old to pick out 3 colours she liked, turns out they were colours I wouldnt have picked but I went with them anyway, the top is stunning, so my hint is this if you get stuck for fabric ideas walk away and let a non quilter play with your stash, be brave and go with their colour choice.

Date: 12/1/2
From: Candace

I've found a great way to mark my quilting designs on my quilt tops. I use Crayola washable fine-tip markers. They work great and are completely washable. I experimented on a piece of fabric-left the marker on for weeks and even ironed over it. The marker still washed out! If you need to mark a quilting design onto dark fabric try Crayola washable Gel-FX markers. They are made for drawing on dark paper and work fantastic-even on black fabric. They only come in wide-tip, but they're still worth it, and my fabric experiments worked with them too! There wasn't a mark left after washing. Just make sure that you are using the washable marker. Crayola makes markers that aren't washable too-and those do not wash out.

Date: 11/4/2
From: MLP

Do you know how difficult it is to mark black fabric against black fabric? To make it easier to see your seam allowance, just slip a piece of white paper under the seam allowance. The contrast will make it easy to see.

Date: 10/9/2
From: Cynthia in Elkhart, IN

My eye doctor made me a pair of sewing glasses that work wonderful. I wear trifocals. He made the top half of the glasses with my regular distance prescription. The bottom half, or bifocal part, was made stronger than my regular prescription, so I can see to sew, quilt and read much easier, but I can also walk around with them on. Sometimes I realize I have been wearing the special glasses around the house after I finish sewing, and have to go retrieve my regular glasses. Try it, it works.

Date: 9/28/2
From: Victoria

For years when hand quilting, I used beeswax. One day someone told me to try the little blue box... It is actually called Thread Heaven, available at most fabric stores. Even with beeswax I still got knots in my thread. She told me if I tried it and didn't like it better than beeswax, she would buy the box from me. I did and unless you try it, you will not believe me when I say It is the best product I have ever used for hand quilting. I run my thread thru it and never get tangles or knots. Plus an added bonus, when quilting, it glides thru my fabric so easily and I quilt a lot faster. I also run my needle thru it. I don't know if it makes a difference, but what could it hurt?

Date: 9/19/2
From: joycen@grundyec.net

I use NU SKIN [the liquid bandage] on my underneath finger when I quilt. It lets me put more hours in, getting more quilting done.

Date: 9/19/2
From: Vonnieq

I like using the Clover white pen to mark on dark fabric for quilting. Does anyone have a suggestion of how to restore a pen that the top has not been put on? It seems the pen dries out very fast.

Date: 9/18/2
From: Debi in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I was having a hard time finding masking tape to tack down my quilt back so I could sandwich my king size quilt. I spied my husband's lint remover. You know, the kind made of large pieces of masking tape you pull off. I peeled sheets off and used them to tack my quilt back to the floor. I have never had such a smooth and easy job of pinning my quilt sandwich! Next time I go to the states, I am stocking up on those. They are also great for picking up all those loose threads.

Date: 9/17/2
From: Barb

To get an overall view of your quilt or project, look through the "Wrong" (large) end of binoculars.

Date: 9/17/2
From: Barb in VT

To pull a sticky needle through tough fabric, I use my small scissors (not the blade part!) as pliers to grip the needle.

Date: 9/16/2
From: Diane in Melbourne

To transfer quilting designs to your quilt top, place a piece of white net over the design and trace it onto the net with a fine permanent pen. Then position the net over the area to be quilted and trace over lines with a washable marking texta. Great if you have to trace a design after basting!

Date: 9/13/2
From: Renee

Yesterday I discovered a unique way to mark quilts for hand quilting. Would like to share it. I put an old storm window on top of my quilt frame and am using it as a light box to trace the quilting pattern on my top. It is the right height for working and I can put my Ott lite under the frame when it is necessary. Although I am just marking individual blocks, I would think this could work well even on a full size quilt.

Date: 9/7/2
From: Pat

If you make a block with many pieces, and when you iron it, it won't lay flat, put it on a folded bath towel, then iron it. It always lays flat after that!

Date: 9/5/2
From: Valerie, Florida

Just read the note from Suzanne re bifocals. A few years ago I thought my yardstick was warped in the middle but when I glanced to the right and left, the "warp" moved - a definite curve. I've mentioned this to two different optometrists since and they scoffed at me. I've had two more pairs of bifocals since - still the same problem. Now I have a pair of prescription reading glasses (to the prescription of the lower part of the bifocal lens)and they work great - only problem is I have to take them off when I want to walk around.

Date: 8/25/2
From: Nancy

I found the best pin-up and design wall and knowing others are looking for the same thing, thought I would share! It is made by a company called "The Quilter's Husband" and they have an online store where you can buy it. www.quiltershusband.com. The material comes in squares that are 2 feet by 2 feet and it is great for design' layout and assembly. It is similar to bulletin board material but doesn't rip or tear like foam and cork. They have other neat things too!

Date: 8/21/2
From: Mary from Upper Michigan

I am using all my UFO's! I am using all my unfinished projects to make quilts for the Linus Project. Helping kids in crisis. Just search on the internet for a group in your area and help the kids. New babies through teenagers. It feels so good to think someone young will receive a hug.

Date: 8/8/2
From: Jenny, Saudi Arabia

To get a great view of your quilt, and instantly see if any of your fabrics 'clash', purchase a 'peeper' from the hardware store. This is the spy hole thing, that fits in to your front door. One end of it will reduce the size of your quilt, so you can view it all in one eyeball. Couldn't be without it!

Date: 7/20/2
From: Gabrielle from Warrior, Alabama

I make quilt "needle-pullers" from balloons. Many of us have them around the house and if not, they are cheap and one little bags will supply many quilters. Can be used forever, even with holes.
Thanks to everyone for sharing, I wrote down several ideas. I have cleaned my cold iron bottom with a damp washrag and a little baking soda. A favorite idea I had was for VBS to cut 12" squares of muslin and put fabric paint in a styro dish and paint the kids handprint and press on fabric. Write their name with a paint pen in contrasting color. Iron to make permanent and then sew together for a quilt. I made extras for the Moms and Grams and made a few wall hangings.
The kids LOVED it and each wanted their own!

Date: 7/16/2
From: Suzanne in Kelowna

Bi-focals are annoying, especially when your eyes are still changing! The specialist, who knows that I sew for a living, gave some great tips. #1 if you wear CONTACT LENSES take out the weaker one and leave the strong one in. It's a little odd at first but he says that women adapt very quickly ( sorry guys). I was given the go ahead to drive this way as we only need vision in one eye for our licence here. You assign one eye for distance and the other for close up. Check with your specialist first but it works for me!

#2 There are bi-focal contacts

#3 Wear both lenses and buy a pair of inexpensive magnifying/reading glasses from the drug store (approx$10). I do this too!

Make certain that the fit of the lens is correct. If it floats on the eye to much it's tough to focus but if it's to tight the oxygen supply to the cornea is cut off and long term often irrepairable problems.
Quilters and sewers alike use their eyes to excess in the middle of the night, when we are tired and just have to get it done now but take care of your eyes.

Date: 6/22/2
From: RGreatlyloved

I recently did my first quilt. I ended up in the emergancie room with part of my finger cut through my nail. It was bad. Just after that I found a great leather finger glove. It is great for rotery cutting. I always put my fingers on the ruler to hold it in place and I don't want to cut myself that bad again. You can find them at wal-mart in the quilting section for about $1.00

Date: 6/19/2
From: Kim Reed

I use between needles and colored quilting thread to sew beads on my quilts. The thread is stronger than regular thread and comes in more colors than beading thread. The between needles go through seed beads and being shorter are less awkward than longer beading needles.

Date: 4/28/2
From: Valarie

If you have problems with the carpel tunnel syndrome, arthritis, neck stress, forefinger pain, when using a rotary cutter, you need to get the new Ergo 2000 45mm Rotary Cutter. A 92 year old lady who had her shoulder replaced was told she could never cut again but came across the Ergo 2000, now she is cutting up a storm. So she is spreading the word.

Date: 4/3/2
From: Chris in VA

To remove smells(smoke,pet odors, etc.) place your
item in a plastic bag(size depends on item) with a bar of
DIAL DEODORANT SOAP, wrap the soap in tissue paper,
seal the bag. Leave in bag for a few days, it will
come out smelling fresh and clean. This hint passed
on from a woman who works with textiles in Colonial
p.s. a few days in plastic will not hurt textiles.

Date: 3/20/2
From: Lois Willingham,Rainbow City, Alabma

I was making a heart applique quilt from "AYear of Wall HAngings", And it said to cut knotches on the curves after I had put the interfacing on the front of the heart. Well I thought to use my old trusty Pinking Shears to go around the unit, then I clipped a hole in the interfacing and turned it right side out. The curves really lay better than ever and it is so much easier to get a nice neat curve.

Date: 3/13/2
From: norma in Alberta Canada

I use an old tea wagon for a sewing machine table. I made a holder for thread spools by nailing large nails into a board that fits into the space where the tea tray should be. My thread is easily accesible and stays tidy. Recycling is a good thing.

Date: 3/12/2
From: bgramie05@hotmail.com

Since my fingers are always moist while hand quilting, I had trouble gripping the needle to pull through the quilt. I have found that you can go to an office supply store and purchase "rubber fingers" (for the ends of your fingers). These allow me to pull the needle through the fabric with no slipping. They are also great for using on all your fingers to improve control during free motion quilting!

Date: 3/6/2
From: loreneebeanie@msn.com

My two favorite aunts came up this summer from the south. They both showed me how to make tac quilts. Instead of using material for the backing they showed me that a full flat sheet any color seamed riped apart would make either a full or a queed quilt. The full flat sheet before seamed riped apart equals 5 yards of fabric.
one of them aunts was irene she's gone now but not in my quilts or my heart. I write this for her.

Date: 3/4/2
From: Darkseid

As far as I Know, I'm the first male to post here. While quilting for my Senior Project in High School, I discovered this site. Thank You very much for all your hints and the like.


Date: 2/25/2
From: Cathy S.

To make a label for my sister's wedding quilt, I scanned her wedding invitation into my computer, added additional text (my name, etc.) and printed it out on white fabric. I used Bubble Jet Set 2000 to set the ink. This made a beautiful, personalized label for her quilt.

Date: 2/12/2
From: Connie

The chemicals on fabrics are many and formaldehyde is so prevalent in almost everything we purchase today that many have become sensitive to it. Ever notice you have more eye and sinus irritation when cutting or ironing your fabrics. I have found a product called Atmosklear which helps take out the formaldehyde. I have no financial interests in this company. You add it to the wash water a few minutes after the wash cycle has begun. The surfactants in your detergent disolve the formaldehyde but the atmosklear then neutralizes the water and reduces the formaldehyde being reabsorbed onto the fabric.
You may want to wash your ironing board cover in this as well and the foam board pads also are full of harmful chemicals which you may want to replace with towels. There are many with fm and cf or mcs who are quilting and may wonder why the pain increases at times. This may be one of the causes.
This is found at Atmosklear.com

Date: 2/10/2
From: Susan

Use a pin cushion instead of a box of pins, and you won't get pricked.

Date: 2/7/2
From: Grimalkin

This one's a little wacky but it helps me a lot! I'm very nearsighted, so if I'm having a hard time telling which color values go best together, I take my glasses off and look at it that way. The tiny details and the different colors all blend together so I can see the tone and value without being distracted or having to look at it from a distance.

Date: 1/18/2
From: Nan

I like having various quilts in progress but keeping organized was a problem. I've seen those pricey $5 heavyduty plastic project bags but felt it was a touch spendy. In my local dollar store I found sweater bags at 2 for $1! They work great, you can see what is in them and they also have more room which equals less squish and wrinkles.

Date: 1/13/2
From: Pam in KY

You can make your own grid/graph paper by photocopying the gridded template plastic found in any quilting/fabric store.

Copies great! And the graph paper has the 1" (heavy line), 1/4" (thin) and 1/8" (dotted) lines clearly marked.

Date: 1/13/2
From: Pam in KY

When pinning a quilt sandwich for machine quilting, I use a dozen or so 2' lengths of yarn to lay out my quilting design on the top of the quilt *before* pinning.

That way, I know where the pins need to be, and where they *don't* need to be.

Date: 1/6/2
From: mahlum@nemontel.net

I'm a new quilter and have caught the bug bad. After months of gathering materials, tools, and various gadgets I jumped in and just finished my very 1st quilt...a wall hanging. Now I'm onto my next project. I actually have a hint to offer. Actually I had two but Sheila posted one of them on 3/6/2001. It was holding a piece of white paper behind the sewing machine needle so you could see the hole to thread. Works great. My other hint is when pinning using the beaded pins, I was always poking my thumb when I reached in to get a pin. This got old real fast and my thumb was full of holes. I took a magnetic seam guide and used it to pull the pins out of the container. Surprise, the sharp ends of the pin were attached to the magnet and the beads ready to be retrieved and no prick to the thumb and fingers. Thanks from someone new the the quilting world.....your hints are wonderful.

Date: 1/1/2
From: Almaterese

At our family gathering the summer before my parents' wedding anniversary, I gave each child/grandchild (and my parents, too) a 12" block of unbleached muslin. I asked each to make a picture/design that represented Mom & Dad's lives together. We used fabric paintmarkers to draw our pictures. Even the youngest preschooler could participate. I then assembled the blocks (with added sashing, etc.) into a quilted wallhanging. Have also done a similar quilt with a school class, having the students draw their blocks on paper, using Crayola iron-transfer crayons. I then ironed the designs onto fabric squares.

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