I have started blogging a tip of the day on our blog and on our Facebook page. I am also going to post them here. I would like to invite each of you to share your tips (daily, weekly, every so often, whenever!) so we create a wealth of knowledge in this thread. It will be a great place for new and old quilters alike to come and access a treasure trove of knowledge!
07/25/11 Tip of the day: Go to your local hardware store and purchase a metal peephole (that goes in a front door). Use it when you are laying out your quilt. Looking through it will create an illusion of more distance between you and your design surface, helping you see the overall picture and the impact of individual fabrics.
7/24/11: Tip of the day: Some folks like to put their ironing board next to their sewing table, low enough to iron while sitting, so they can sew and iron without ever standing up. However, I like to get up and walk to my ironing board and give my muscles a good stretch every now and then. Ultimately I can sew longer and get more done if I keep myself moving. Where do you keep your iron?
If you don't have one of those door viewers, you can take a picture with your digital camera. Then you can view it in black/white to check your values. You'll have to play with your camera settings... but some of the newer digitals also have a sepia setting which works the same way.
Awesome Denise! I've never thought of using photos in Black and White to look at color value. Great tip!
Diva Designer Tip 7/26/11: When cutting out pieces of fabric for a quilt, use the lines on your ruler, rather than the lines on your cutting mat, to measure. The lines on your cutting mat can become distorted over time and sometimes they aren't accurate to begin with.
No new tip here. I am already doing all that have been mentioned. You can also scan your fabrics if you have a flat deck scanner to print in black and white to see the contrast.
Also an extra on the tip of keeping moving. From the book: RX for Quilters break your sewing time up into hour sections. 50 minutes of sewing, then a mandatory 10 minute break to get away from the machine to have a glass of water, go to the bathroom and have a quick six minute walk. You'll be all refreshed and ready for the next hour. I have no problem remembering this at the machine but I harm my body when I hand stitch. Suffering a new repetitive strain injury.
The use of the ruler for all measuring means that you will have an accurate 90 degree angle. When I taught classes I would have them turn over the mats to the blank side, if it had one, so that the lines could not tempt them.
I read this somewhere yesterday - but can't find it anymore!! - anyway, if you make your own stencils to use pounce powder on, an dyour stencil has little bumps on the back from punching your holes, use fine grit sandpaper on the back of the stencil to smooth off the bumps - your pounce powder will have a much easier time actually landing on the fabric in a neat line.
If I figure out where I read it, I'll post the credit link.
Awesome tips Gerda and Agnes! It always amazes me how much we can learn just by conversing with fellow quilters.
Diva Designer Tip: Don't have wall space for a design wall? Tape batting and/or flannel to the back of a door for a makeshift small design wall. You'll be surprised how handy even a small design wall can be!
I wish, Jess -no room here (well, I could use my sewing room door, but then it would be closed all the time - not exactly welcoming to DH LOL)
My design wall is either the living/dining room floor or our queen size bed - works for me - on the floor makes me bend over and stretch, on the bed means I'm walking from one end of the apartment to the other and back - also exercise lol
All that being said, I do miss my design wall from a few years back (flannel tacked to the wall). I also have a flannel sheet tacked onto a 2x2 piece of lumber, but it won't fit on these new shelving units I have - it slides right off! and it won't work across the room either (from one unit to another) - everything would fall off and I'd have to move it every time I go to the laundry room to cut or press.
My design wall is a big piece of flannel hung on a curtain rod over the closet door in my sewing room. When I need it I just pull it across the door; when I'm done I push it back into the corner. I have to pin pieces to it (they don't stick very well), but it's nice to be able to move it when necessary.
My design walls are very portable. I stretched flannel over large pieces of foam core or similar board. I use binder clips to catch the nails if I hang them, can lay them on the bed, stand them on the floor, etc. The project I am working on dictates how I use them. I also have mini boards that fit inside my bins so I can lay block pieces out and stack in layers. These carry easily anywhere in the apartment and they do travel a lot. I much prefer them for most projects over baggies.
A couple of years ago, I covered two of those cardboard folding cutting boards with some warm and natural. I had my DH put a few of those tarp size grommets in the top and sides of them, so I can hang them from hooks if I like. they are portable, fold up small, and can be set side by side for larger projects. The cardboard allows me to pin into them if the fabric doesn't want to stay put.
I've also used those flannel-backed tablecloths to keep things together, I can lay it on the floor, and then when I need to quickly put the project away, I can roll it up and tuck it away until I'm ready to work on it again.
I'd love to make one of those design walls that is on like a roller shade that pulls down from a window cornice. (they were at our quilt show)... but I really don't have a wall space that is large enough near my machine. (unless I give in to DH and get rid of the treadmill)... but he'd just put something else in it's place....
I have a 2x4' piece of pegboard and hooks for it - hubby made it for me some years ago, and it hangs behind the door to my sewing room. I hang my rulers, rotary cutters, patterns in baggies, and odds and ends from it. I was going to mount it behind my sewing table, but even being tall like I am, I would have had trouble reaching the top, so it's behind the door. He cut some 1x2s for the mounting frame on the back - very simple - and used L hooks on the back to either slip over the nails in the wall or I can run a ribbon/rope through them to hang from one nail.
I ordered and received yesterday the book Quilting Designs from the Past - 300+ Designs from 1810-1940 by Jenny Carr Kinney (ordered through The Book Depository - so no shipping, and the cost was below US retail) and she says if you are thinking about how to quilt grids and how they might look on your quilt, to use a bunch of chopsticks and lay them out. You can change the layouts (just remember to take pictures) - I should think you could also use bamboo skewers (a large pack would cost maybe $1 at a dollar store).
So this last week, I've been working on a variety of blocks.... some for charity quilts... some baby blocks that need to be sent.... some guild blocks.... and my sewing area is a jumble of bits and scraps.... all different colors, fabrics, etc. It's time to do some straightening...
I've been trying for the last year to sort and cut my smaller pieces as I finish up projects. I've been using the Bonnie Hunter scrap sorter system.... squares and bricks in an assortment of sizes that work well together.... I then try to sort by color family.
Any strips that are left from trimming that are between 3/4" to 1 1/2" go into a drawer for strip piecing. That drawer is overflowing..... I swear they multiply.
1 1/2" squares are the smallest I keep. anything over 6" square goes in a drawer by color.... and if it's over a FQ, it goes back on the shelf by color.
Love the skewer tip Gerda. I've always got some of those around!
Denise, does Bonnie have a book about scrap sorting? Mine are all in one bin... :-(
Most of us know not to store our rotary boards in direct sunlight, since it will warp them. Also, store them flat (not on end), or you may warp them anyway. Same rules apply to rulers, since they will also warp and distort.
Mine are all shapes and sizes, they get tossed into a basket or tote - I haven't used much of them, then again, it seems lately I'm sewing for the shop and taking the leftovers back to them - and when I cut for swap or baby blocks, I cut exactly, so no scraps. everything just gets folded up and put back on the shelf. One of these days, I will have to go through, iron and sort and put into small boxes or something. I have a bunch of little scraps given me, that I have to wash and iron dry - I have no idea if these local ladies prewash or not.
Diva Designer Tip: When cutting triangles, patterns may have you cut some squares once diagonally and some squares on both diagonals. Do you know why? It depends on where the triangle is going to land in the project; the designer is trying to make the straight of grain land on the outside of the block or quilt top.
When binding a quilt, you usually have a leftover length. Use that leftover piece to make a hanging sleeve for your quilt.
This tip is thanks to Jenny (Jennifer Reynolds) of Elefantz.
I think it's a GREAT idea, myself, and plan to use it in future.
When working with fusible appliqué, use parchment paper to protect your ironing board cover and other surfaces from the fusible product you choose to use. (I like Steam-a-seam and sometimes Misty Fuse, and I try to cut out the center of the fusible and only fuse the edges of the pieces for a softer end product.)
Diva Designer Tip: Quilters used to use cooking ingredients like cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder, and corn starch to pounce mark their quilts for quilting. In a pinch, out if chalk? You might have something in your pantry that will do! (Be sure to test it on a scrap of fabric first, as you would do with anything you put on a quilt to mark it.)
Good question, Jess, I hadn't thought it through, though if you open up your double fold (2 1/2-3" width, folded once) binding and press it flat, you should have enough width to make one easily. A sleeve does not have to be double. I was just passing on a tip I read - made sense to me - it would match (IF there was enough left over lol)
Ladies, I have already learned so much from these tips of the day! Thanks for joining in with me. I told my sewing bee this weekend about the scrap organizing method Denise posted a link to, and they all want the link. So, I'm off to find the link for that to share on Facebook. Woohoo!
My tip for today..... KISS..... sometimes we overthink what we are working on. This little monkey quilt is for a baby.... I wanted it to stay soft and cuddly.... so a lot of quilting was not the answer. I also didn't want to quilt through the applique monkeys.
Many of us have many decorative stitches on our machines that NEVER get used..... I chose my serpentine stitch, adjusted the width to it's widest posibility and the length to the longest choice. I'm really happy with the results..... It sort of has a ripple effect.... It will be fun to see what it looks like after a good washing. ( still working on the binding.) I used "SOFT and BRIGHT" batting. it lays flat like a warm and natural, but it has a nice loft, and is lighter and more cuddley than the warm and natural.
Using my walking foot.... this process was fast! (I think actually faster than stitch in the ditch, because it's much more forgiving!
I am going to take a leap and assume that this new young mom, (first time mom)... is going to be overwhelmed, and not wanting to worry about loose seams, diagonal quilting pulls with multiple washings and dryings.... The serpentine stitch floats along the seam lines.... This helped to catch both sides of the seams.
I think it depends on what you are hanging. A small wall quilt? then I hang it on a small curtain rod, and a smaller hanging sleeve would work. (Although I like to catch mine in the binding when I stitch it down, then I only have to stitch the flappy side down.)
If you are entering a quilt in a show.... or plan to hang a larger quilt, a 4" finished sleeve is usually the norm. You want to make your sleeve with at least a 9" wide piece of fabric.... and to keep your quilt hanging flat and not "rolling" at the top.... you want it to have about a 1" tuck or pleat to accommodate a 2" hanging pole. I'll look for the tutorial I have somewhere..... The little tuck really does make a difference. (Ask someone who has hung several quilt shows.... there is a HUGE difference in flat sleeves and tucked sleeves). There is nothing worse than having a sleeve that is so tight, that the pole barely fits through it. For those of us up on the ladders... we love it when the quilt glides right onto the bar.
Diva Designer Tip: Instead of marking the line to sew on the backs of tons of squares, try using wide sticky notes as a sewing guide. I used the same two sticky notes to sew over 300 seams and saved a chunk of time!
Always "set" your seam first, by pressing it the way it was sewn before pressing the seam one direction or the other. This sinks the thread into the fabric and reduces the bulk of the seam (which is really nice when quilting!).
My tip of the day:
Use knitting needle tip protectors on the tips of your small scissors - protects them and you from pokes. I hear some quilt shops and yarn shops sell them, but I bought mine at WalMart - other discount stores with a craft section should have them too. Very handy, and not expensive.
Ever have wavy borders after quilting? Check to make sure you have a consistent density of quilting over the entire quilt surface. If not, the borders (or the entire quilt) may appear wavy. Go back and add more quilting where needed and your waves should calm down a bit!
When removing a bobbin (with thread still on it) from the bobbin case, clip the thread tail right next to the case and then remove the bobbin. Pulling a long thread tail through the bobbin case can mess up the spring and/or tension on your bobbin.
Thanks Jess, There's a long arm vendor at the state quilt guild meeting this weekend. I've been telling them my woes. He even offered to come to my house and go over my machine if they have time...he lives out of state and they're leaving early this afternoon. So far, he hasn't called to say he'd be here, so if the tension keeps going wonky on me, I might try sending you a pic. It's not really terrible all the time, just sometimes on the pointy corners, it has a bauble. Thanks again for your offer of help. Sandy
Jess - 2011-09-23 11:09 AM When removing a bobbin (with thread still on it) from the bobbin case, clip the thread tail right next to the case and then remove the bobbin. Pulling a long thread tail through the bobbin case can mess up the spring and/or tension on your bobbin.
same deal with your top thread too, jess! when changing my top thread, i cut somewhere near the spool, then pull the "tail" thru the eye of the needle - pulling that thread "backwards" can mess up the top tension just as much
Use the blank back of your cutting mat to cut your fabric. This forces you to measure with your ruler, rather than the lines on the mat (which are more likely to be distorted and less accurate). Have an awesome quilting day!
QUILTER’S TIP OF THE DAY: Make your own reusable quilting stencils with nylon tulle. Trace the design onto the tulle with a permanent marker. Secure the tulle in place for your design with pins, then retrace the design through the tulle with your marking tool of choice. And if you put the tulle in an embroidery hoop, turn it over so the tulle is flat to the quilt, you can mark the design easily and move it as needed without pinning. Happy quilting!
I bet several of our forum members do this, but just in case, here's an excellent tip:
If you have a favorite quilting book that gets a lot of use, take it to your office supply store and have them put a spiral binding on it. Reinforce the covers by laminating them first. It will lie flat when you're using it and increase the lifetime of the book.
I need help! I marked a quilt top with the Chaco marking chalk and can't get the chalk off (short of washing it). Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to get this chalk off? This is the first time I have ever used Chaco.