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Friday Tips
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Friday Tips

Every Friday, members of QuiltersBee post their favorite tips. 
Last updated:  03/27/12

Buy the grid grip they sell in stores to put under your items so they will not slip and/or line your kitchen drawers? It looks and feels like rubber with hole running through out the material. You cannot slide anything across it -- pretty stable with an awesome grip. Make a cover out of it for my foot pedal. That way whatever shoes I am wearing or even bare feet may not slip off.

I have started doing some research on the web about sewing tables and sewing room layout. This is some of the interesting stuff I have found for any who are interested.



Sewing Desk plans =============

Keepsake quilting has the plans for a sewing table. If you have someone handy in your life with hammer and wood, then this could be cheaper than a horn or koala cabinet. It looks perfect for quilting on as it has space that back, and it has good viewable storage. Of course this desk is only for a permanent set up, the beauty of a horn cabinet or the like, is they fold away to look like normal furniture. Its only $15 for the plans.

Can someone tell me where I can get the plastic insert bit that goes around the sewing machine into the desk?

======================================================== has the plans for a sewing desk that will fold away.
 A bit more skill required here. Note they also sell the lift mechanism.


Free plans for a very simple sewing desk.


Someone who actually built a sewing table and how they went about it.


Another person who built a sewing table. 
They detail the bit on how to recess the sewing machine into the table.


This one is good. They have plans for cutting tables and the like.


I actually bought this sewing desk, its in the garage not set up at all. Not sure if I will take it back or get my husband to convert it so that it has more table space at the back for quilting. However it is less than 100 dollars and it offers some storage. It does not offer the recessed sewing machine space, and that is the main problem with it for me.


Sewing room design and layout 


Fantasy Sewing Rooms This while short was not bad.


Sew Perfect (never seen this show but found it on the HGTV web site - when is it on?) had a show on the sewing room and this is the support web page for it.,1806,HGTV_3884_9088,00.html


And I just added this book to my wish list at - Dream sewing spaces. I figure I will buy a copy of this before we sit down to convert my sons bedroom into my sewing room. Amazon has several pages of the book up there to look at if you want to see what the book is like.

And then there is the sewing room of the quilting guru Alex Anderson (I have learned so much from watching her and her guests). I saw this episode a while ago, and its worth keeping an eye out for, because it was alot of fun seeing her personal sewing room. Its an addition on her house that she and her father designed specifically as her quilting studio.

In that same show she had someone come in and talk about quilt room set up. 
This also has a rather cool interactive sewing room tour, with little pop up tips.


Myrna's sewing room. Has pictures of her sewing room and a floor plan layout. 
This Myrna turns out to be the guest on Simply Quilts above.

She also has written a book.


Room by Room - Sewing room make over. I have seen this episode a few times and I liked the way they used normal pre-made kitchen cabinets, and stained them and then put the laminate bench on top. It looked like a very economical way to do things. I saw this a few days before I found out I was pregnant and was going to get my husband to do this in the spare room, and it was turned into the nursery instead, the nursery the baby has never used and hes nearly 11 months old now!


Something important to remember when designing your sewing space, ergonomics.

This quilting doctor was a guest on simply quilts and had a heap of wonderful information for quilters to help keep their bodies fit and healthy while quilting. She has written her own book.

I am told by my mother in law, shes also a member of my guild, quilters guild of Plano, I have not yet met her myself though.


Anyway, I found the above links interesting and helpful, hopefully someone else will too.


tip on cutting:  I agree with the tips of the fingers on the ruler, and here is another tip. When using the large square rulers, I find that placing my arm (from elbow down) is the only way to support the big ones.  Elaine

How to say "Merry Christmas" in 71 languages:

Afrikander - "Een Plesierige Kerfees"
Arabic - "I'd Miilad Said Oua Sana Saida"
Argentine - "Feliz Navidad"
Armenian - "Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand"
Azeri - "Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun"
Basque - "Zorionak eta Urte Berri On"
Bohemian - "Vesele Vanoce"
Brazilian - "Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo"
Breton - "Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat"
Bulgarian - "Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo
Chinese - [Mandarin] - "Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen
Chinese - [Catonese] - "Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun"
Cornish - "Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth"
Cree - "Mitho Makosi Kesikans"
Croatian - "Sretan Bozic"
Czech - "Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok"
Danish - "Glædelig Jul"
Dutch - "Vrolijk Kerstfeest"
English - "Merry Christmas"
Esperanto - "Gajan Kristnaskon"
Estonian - "Ruumsaid juulup|hi"
Farsi - "Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad"
Finnish - "Hyvaa joulua"
French - "Joyeux Noël"
Frisian - "Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn
Nije Jier"
German - "Froehliche Weihnachten"
Greek - "Kala Christouyenna"
Hawaiian - "Mele Kalikimaka"
Hebrew - "Mo'adim Lesimkha. Chena tova"
Hindi - "Shub Naya Baras"
Hungarian - "Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket"
Icelandic - "Gledileg Jol"
Indonesian - "Selamat Hari Natal"
Iraqi - "Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah"
Irish - "Nollaig Shona Dhuit"
Italian - "Buone Feste Natalizie"
Japanese - "Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto"
Korean - "Sung Tan Chuk Ha"
Latvian - "Prieci'gus Ziemsve'tkus"
Lithuanian - "Linksmu Kaledu"
Manx - "Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa"
Maori - "Meri Kirihimete"
Marathi - "Shub Naya Varsh"
Navajo - "Merry Keshmish"
Norwegian - "God Jul"
Pennsylvania German - "En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en
Nei Yaahr"
Polish - "Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia"
Portuguese - "Boas Festas"
Rapa-Nui - "Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi. Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua"
Rumanian - "Sarbatori vesele"
Russian - "Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim
Serbian - "Hristos se rodi"
Slovakian - "Sretan Bozic or Vesele vianoce"
Sami - "Buorrit Juovllat"
Samoan - "La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou"
Scots Gaelic - "Nollaig chridheil huibh"
Serb-Croatian - "Sretam Bozic. Vesela Nova Godina"
Singhalese - "Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak
Slovak - "Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok"
Slovene - "Vesele Bozicne. Screcno Novo Leto"
Spanish - "Feliz Navidad"
Swedish - "God Jul"
Tagalog - "Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon"
Tamil - "Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal"
Thai - "Sawadee Pee Mai"
Turkish - "Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun"
Ukrainian - "Srozhdestvom Kristovym"
Urdu - "Naya Saal Mubarak Ho"
Vietnamese - "Chung Mung Giang Sinh"
Welsh - "Nadolig Llawen"
Yugoslavian - "Cestitamo Bozic"

Sharon in Nova Scotia asked about needle marks showing after resewing seams. To remove those needle marks, lightly spray the fabric with white vinegar, gently rub the marks with your fingernail, then more marks. 

Say it isn't scorched your fabric. Spray the affected area with white vinegar, then rub it with a cotton ball. Depending on the severity of the scorch, you may have to repeat the process several times. 

Some seams just won't press flat. Spray the seam with vinegar and press again. Works for wrinkled fabric as well.

I have a fishing bag that I use for hand work. It has two compartements each with a 2 ring binder inside with zipper bags. The bags are not expensive and they are heavy duity. Each compartement also has several compartements for small items. The zipper bags can be removed and projects changed. I can keep this in my room with several projects in it always ready to go or work at home with. This works well for me, i use one side for sewing things and the other for sun lotion or whatever I would have in a purse. The only bad thing is that it looks like DH's fishing bag ( the bag's all look the same ) When we go together I tie a cloth to the handle of my bag to keep them seperate.

And my tip for the day, I keep one of the water bottles with the sippy  gadget on top filled with water nearby, to refill my iron without having to go to the kitchen each time.  The sippy (don't know what it's called) fits into the hole just right and I  never have spills when refilling the iron.

As part of a flannel class a year or so ago, I put together a series of quilts that were all pieced the same (rail fence, simple pattern) out of the same high quality flannel - the Cub Lake series from Moda.

The fabric for one quilt was NOT pre-washed, and used a Hobbs wool batting.

The fabric for another quilt was NOT pre-washed, and used a Hobbs 100% cotton batting.

The fabric for the third quilt WAS pre-washed and used a Hobbs 80/20 (cotton/poly) batting.

The fabric for the fourth quilt WAS pre-washed and used a polyester batting.

Obviously, the fabric for the last two quilts was pre-washed and pre-dried - probably important to note that this was done using a permanent press cycle, warm water wash - and permanent press cycle, warm dry cycle.

The piecing was all the same - the quilting was all the same - the binding was all the same. Then all the quilts were washed one more time using a permanent press cycle, warm water wash, and permanent press cycle, warm dry.

The quilt that shrunk the most was the NON-prewashed quilt with the cotton batting - shrunk 6-1/2%. The next highest shrinkage rate was the NON-prewashed quilt with the wool batting - at 5-1/2%. Both quilts that used the pre-washed flannel and the cotton/poly batting and the poly batting shrunk about 1%.

All the quilts were equally beautiful - and when my students felt the 4 quilts, believe it or not - almost all of them preferred the softness and drapability of the flannel quilt with the wool batting! (Labels with the identifying contents and procedures used were on the back of the quilts, so they didn't know what they were picking until after they felt them.)

Conclusion - match your batting to your flannel. If you're NOT going to pre-wash your flannel, expect shrinkage, and use a batting that will shrink as well. Putting a non-washed flannel backing on a quilt that's been pieced with 100% cotton, pre-washed flannel will match high shrinkage with low shrinkage. Not that it can't be done - but do it knowing that the back may cause puckering that doesn't lay as flat when viewed from the top.

Additional info - all of the rail fence quilts used a lighter fabric next to the Moda burgundy fabric - with no bleeding! YES!!!!

Hope this info helps.... Sharon Little

You won't believe how cute this little bag turns out! Take a fat quarter. Fold over the 18 inch edge to the wrong side, a generous 1/4 inch and press. Now put right sides together and sew up the 22 inch side, beginning just below where the folded edge comes. (Do not sew on the folded part, start sewing just below the raw edge of the fold.) Now you have a tube. One end has a folded edge, one end is raw. From that raw edge, make a mark across the tube 10 inches up, on the wrong side. Press the 22 inch seam open all the way, and center this seam in the middle of the tube. There will be about 4 and 1/4 inches on either side of the seam. NOW sew across on the marked line. Now the line is the bottom of your (lined) bag. Pull the raw edge up all around until it almost meets the top folded edge. Press the top down all around, to form a casing, and stitch right at the edge (there will be an existing opening) and 3/8 inch up from that. Now run a ribbon through the casing. Now turn the bag inside out and pull the points in to form a square bottom, and sew 2 inches in from the point, straight across. Tack these down, on the inside. All done! These little bags will hold goodies from your kitchen, or toys, or toiletries. They sit perfectly square and squatty, all lined! Sandra

From Jean L, here is how to make Rice Bags:  

Bag cut 1 rectangle 17x10 
Case...cut 1 rectangle 18x12 

BAG fold rectangle in 1/2 to measure 17x5 sew wrong sides together..on long side and one short end turn bag RS out stitch down the middle of the bag lengthwise (channels for rice) Fill both channels 3/4s full with rice sew open end

CASE fold rectangle in half RS together sew WS together on long side and one short end turn bag RS out 1/4 hem on open end.

TO USE  place rice bag in microwave and heat for 3 min put heated rice bag inside of case and drape across neck and shoulders. wash the case but *not* the filled rice bag you may add lavender, clove sage the rice... 

The Rice Bag 
This little pillow filled with rice, 
Is such a comforting device. 
Microwave for 2 minutes on high 
And kiss those aches and pains goodbye. 
Apply it to the troubled spot, 
The heat will ease the pain a lot. 
Or warm those little toes so cold, 
You'll find this nice to have and hold. 
Or freeze it for a little while, 
And fix that booboo up in style. 
Instead of a compress made of ice, 
Use this pillow filled with rice.

I have made several of these for myself and as gifts and I use a terry cloth towel when I make them. I either use a hand towel for the smaller ones or a small bath towel one will cover your whole back. Just double towel and sew 1 to 11/2 in strips and fill with rice and sew up top. I usually sew up several and then spend the evening filling them while watching TV.

Subject: do you need to save your Internet Explorer Favorites?  
Don't lose your favorites- save the file to your hard drive or floppy drive. Open your Internet Explorer. Go to the Import/Export . click in the FILE Menu and use the Import/Export Wizard to save your Favorites as an HTML webpage. Export your Favorites to C:\MyDocuments\bookmark.htm or A:\bookmark.htm

If you are having ant problems the following recipe really works! 

  • 4 tsp. boric acid powder (found in the pharmacy, used for eye wash) 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 3 cups water 

Bring all ingredients to a boil, pour into small containers and place near an ant trail. What's really great about this ant poison besides working extremely well and being very inexpensive----- it's also non-toxic to people and pets!   Another deterrent is to use a window cleaner to clean counter tops or where ever these little boogers cross, the window cleaner removes the scent they leave so the others can follow....that is why they are always in such a neat straight line one right after the other. 

When satin stitching, it is best to stabilize the fabric underneath.  You can stabilize it with purchased stabilizers - available in quilt stores  perhaps, but definitely in a sewing store.  
There are many products out there - the lighter the fabric, the  heavier the stabilizers required. You may even need two layers or more, but for  cotton, one is usually enough. The stabilizers come in many kinds - iron on,  stitch and tear, etc. Try different weights and kinds until there is no more puckering.  Adjusting the tension may help with the bobbin thread being drawn to the top.  Loosen the top tension to a setting used for making buttonholes. I 
use Stitch & Tear or other stabilizers on the back of the work to prevent  the puckers. Also, make sure you are using the right needle. An  embroidery needle is perfect for machine satin stitching.

To Start and Finish Machine Quilting: "The way I was taught was to bring the bobbin thread up to the top. Then do a short length of very!! closely-spaced stitches (but not all in the same hole). Then carry on with normal length stitches for  your stipple area. Finish off with a short length of closely spaced stitches again, and clip threads. By bringing up the bobbin thread,
you don't get it caught up underneath. It also makes it a lot easier to clip all the threads!"

Here are directions for a big board you make yourself. MATERIALS: 3/4 inch plywood - 17 inches wide x 60 inches long Two 2 x 2s - about 34 inches long One old wool blanket washed in the hottest water available and dried in dryer - this will mat the wool. (NOTE: ONLY USE A PURE WOOL BLANKET - can usually be found for a reasonable price at a next to new shop, second hand shop, Goodwill etc etc.) 1 large terry bath sheet folded into thirds length wise Muslin for top. INSTRUCTIONS: Lay plywood on floor - lay ironing board on top of plywood and mark lines where to screw 2 x 2s so that your ironing board fits in between them. Screw 2 x 2s into plywood. Turn plywood right side up, layer wood blanket (folded as necessary so it just covers the top, then folded bath sheet, allowing a little to overlap edge of plywood - fasten all down around edge with staple gun. Then, lay muslin on floor, lay board, top side down, on top, pull edges of muslin taut and staple with staple gun all along underside of board. Turn finished board over, lay on top of your ironing board - VOILA! - you now have a 'Big Board' and space wide and long enough to iron huge pieces of fabric. I cannot take credit for these, but I have them saved for when I can have a sewing room too. Barbara in WA an ironing station with a big board. buy one or make one. size to suit yourself and your room. Lets you press your blocks, tops, and yardage without fabric constantly pulling and falling on the floor. It can double as a layout board.

I am making Stairway to Cat Heaven and am thinking about how to applique the cats and moon. I have never done this before except for a wallhanging. Shall I use some kind of stabilizer on the cats or "just" stitch them on the background with zigzag stitches?  I think a stabilizer would make them stiff but will they keep still and look nice during the stitching and after without a stabilizer? I am going to machine applique. And what kind of stitch will look best?

  • Option 1 - use a fusible. After you have traced you image to the paper side of the fusible, take an exacto knife and cut out the inside, leaving a scant 1/4 inch of fusible inside the cat outline. Then ensuring that the image is lying perfectly flat, iron the fusible to the wrong side of fabric. Then I would use a satin or buttonhole stitch to stitch around. I would use a tear away stabilizer on the back to keep those stitches nice and smooth. Once stitched, then tear away the stabilizer on the back and it's done.

  • Option 2 - non-fusible. There are many ways to prepare appliqué (anything that works for hand appliqué - other than needleturn works for machine) so pick your favorite. Then you can use monofilament on the top and a bobbin/lingerie on the bottom and using a TINY zigzag or blindhem stitch (length - 1.5 and width 1.5) stitch around. The stitching is invisible!!! I would practice before on some scraps if you unfamiliar with some of the above.

  • I just finished my first machine appliqué project and it went smoothly. First I fused the appliqué pieced onto the backing. I used a satin stitch (very tight zig-zag) for the appliqué but first I pinned a piece of typing paper to the back. After stitching the paper almost fell away but it added stability while I free motioned stitched around the shapes.

  • I have just finished some applique and I had an idea that worked beautifully. Instead of needing a light box to trace the shapes in reverse, I just photocopied it on clear plastic. Then I just turn the transparency over and bingo it's reversed. You can now make a paper copy of the reverse.

I am trying to quilt with metallic thread. I am using the Metallica 80/12 needle and have the upper tension down below 3. However I sew very slowly and stop every few stitches and pull a little more thread thru the tension wheels. I still had the thread separate a few times, which meant that I had to re-start. I have also tried using some Sliver thread on it, with less luck than the metallic. Does anyone have any other hints on how to easily quilt with such thread.

Have you tried using a jeans needle, maybe 90/14? Or a topstitching needle? I've had good luck with those. Lowering tension is a good idea, sometimes even more than what you have but try the different needles first I'd think. Also a line of some of the silicone lubricators on the metallic thread might help too.

I tried sliver several times and found it fights back! Superior Thread makes a great plastic thread very similar to sliver but it is much more sewing machine friendly. You shouldn't have to sew that slowly and definitely shouldn't have to pull the thread.

A thread stand is another suggestion.

I use a size 90 needle, loosen the tension to below 1, used a small 'hook' that is on the back of the pull up handle on the machine, skipped the last hook before running the thread through the needle, did not sew too fast, and I got along great. I had done some other things with metallics on some of the individual blocks and wish I had known all of these tricks at that time

I got a pattern to do some redwork. Now what do I use for the background? I have Kona Snow, some white pima, Kona natural. Are any of these better than the others? Do I need to use bleached muslin? Should I use a hoop to do the embroidery? The block is 6 in finished. I am going to use a thread named Cotty 12 instead of floss. I haven't liked floss to work with, do thought I would tryl this instead. Any suggestions on technique?

I sure wouldn't use pima, it's really tough to embroider on, very tight weave. Yes, I would use a hoop but would be sure to take it off when not actually working.

Use some kind of stabilizer either another layer of the same fabric or some other fabric. I would stitch a little design first to see how it will look first

I would also cut the squares larger than the finished size by 1" or more. After the embroidery is finished you can square up the block and have it perfect. The actual embroidery can cause the block to draw in a little and by cutting it larger and squaring later it insures accuracy.

I use a smaller hoop and move it as I need it. I also trace all the lines with a washable marker and have seven to a strip. That way I thought I'd have fewer straggly threads. I am making 49 six inch blocks of botanicals. I have three more to do and I plan to 'attic windows' them.

I drew the designs on the background with a fine red permanent pen, Pigma .01 or GellyRoll. That way, if your stitches aren't quite perfect, the error is not quite as noticeable.

Click here for more redwork tips

I have made a number of photo transfer quilts.  I wanted to share some ideas for anniversary quilts: 

  • One of my quilting students made the pattern Nan's Garden. She placed a photo transfer of her parents wedding picture in the center. Then she found someone with an embroidery sewing machine and had the name of each of the children, husbands and grand children embroidered into the other blocks. In the setting triangles, she had the names of the cities where her parents had lived embroidered. To fill up the extra squares, she had wedding related things - wedding bells, rings, etc. It was quite effective and her mom cried her heart out over it. 
  • I have made a birthday quilt for a lady. We took photos of all her family, the dogs, children, etc. and placed them in the center of a star. It was personalized with her name and all stars i.e. Elaine's All Stars. With love - your home team. 
  • Use any pattern with a large area - snow ball, or even just the picture with some fabric around it, with an alternating square block is nice. This one would be nice and balanced, but you can also do a style similiar to Ami Simms where the pictures are all different sizes and you fit them together with fabric. I've made one of those and it is a bit tricky to line up everything, but very nice. 
  • If you have mementos from a wedding, they can be transferred onto fabric. Pieces of the wedding dress???
  •  The other thing is to collect signatures and put those together in a quilt. Could be family members, neighbors (past and present), etc. 
  • The other thing is to make a story of their life. Logos of the organizations they belonged to, the churches they belonged to, family events - weddings, deaths, births, etc. places where they worked. AGain use actual pictures or logos or something to represent. 
  • What about adding their hobbies - actual pictures or something else.

Use a 6" square of fabric in the back of a quilt (can be the label) and before sewing it closed on the 4th side, insert a piece of each fabric used in the quilt and a square, if possible. Baste them all together, insert inside the label and sew closed. That way, if anyone ever has to repair the quilt, they have fabric to use and a square (if you have an extra).

I am trying to do machine appliqué using the invisible thread. I have problems with the thread on the bottom back lashing leaving a small nest on the under side.  Any ideas on what I am doing wrong? I have the same thread in the bobbin as on top.  

If you're using invisible thread, DO NOT use it in the bobbin. It's intended only for the top spool. A few things I do for perfect machine applique are to adjust the tension until no bottom thread comes up - tighter bobbin tension, loose on the top. Also, to prevent 'nesting' put your first stitch in, pull needle up slowly and PULL UP THE BOBBIN thread to the top. Make a few stitches IN PLACE (feed dogs down) and then continue your sewing. You can later pull it back to the other side and trim it, or trim it on the top. Works like a charm

Sounds like your top thread partially unthreaded itself. THe clear thread is especially good at working itself loose from the take- up lever on most machines! (That's the part that moves up and down on your machine's thread path!) Just rethread the machine and I think your problem will be solved. Just remember this for thread tangles...loops on the back are top thread, loops on top are the bobbin thread! Wherever the loops show says where the problem is 99% of the time. This is one of the first things I teach my students when they learn quilting: If the thread acts up, rethread the machine!

 I'm working on an altar frontal for our church and it is to have autumn leaves on it. We were going to applique them on using a metallic thread, which would look good, I think, but we put the unfinished product up yesterday (to celebrate Earth Day) and the leaves were just held on with a dab of fabric glue on the back. Several people commented on how having them loose around the edges was quite effective. So--my question is this: do you have any suggestions as to how this could be done?

  •  I thought about fusing two layers of the leaf fabric, wrong sides together. Would the fusing be enough to keep the edges from fraying? And if not, what would you suggest to use to finish them? And how would we attach them? I thought of stitching a line to look like the vein of the leaf might work.
  • Fusing 2 layers of fabric to each other would be just fine. The 'glue' will bond the fabric and keep the edges from fraying. Another suggestion is to place 2 shapes wrong-sides together and sew a seam around the egde, leaving a small opening to turn. Some people use this method for their appliques - a light-weight fabric for the back could be used or you could use 2 layers of the same fabric.... Tomi 
  • I do a lot of dimension work of this type with my miniatures. I find the best way to do things like this that will last through tons of washings and wear is to put 2 pieces of fabric right sides together. Trace my pattern on to the back of one and sew completely around the whole piece. Clip one of the pieces and turn right side out then hand sew with a ladder stitch the small hole closed. Now you can hand stitch or machine stitch on to the item you can even stitch any details on to it prior to attaching. if you want an even more dimensional look layer a piece of flannelette or pellon on the bottom of the pieces prior to sewing. You then cut a small slit in the top fabric and this tucks all the seam allowances under the pellon on the inside also..  Sharon 
  • A technique that the bridal veil makers use to make dimentional leaves is very like what you have described. It is do-able. You may use any fabric from organdy to felt. Use wrapped wire zig-zaged to the shapes which have been cut to suit the area to stiffen the edges of leaves. The veins of the leaves maybe simulated the way you described. Wrapped wire zig-zaged to suit the shape will also give the leaves structure..... Diana 
  • the way I learned was to sew 2 pieces of fabric, lined with a USED dryer sheet, wrong sides together, almost all the way around, and when nearly done, turn them right side out and sew up the rest of the seam. Dimensional, no raw edge, and you could tack them down by the "vein".... Sharon in Montreal 
  • I've seen the following done with flower petals and also butterfly wings so I don't see why it couldn't be done with leaves. . I have a Husky Rose embroidery unit but I am sure freemotion work would turn out ok too. You use two layers of felt and then embroider your leaf design onto it. You then cut the leaf out of the felt and, voila, a three dimensional leaf. it can then be glued or stitched, etc. to your background.... Maya 
  • Actually, others might want to know how to do it too. Have you ever seen Joan Shay's Book on this type of applique? She does just what you described. She fuses fabric together and fastens them to the background with stitches to look like veins. You can also put right sides together, sew around the outside edges, leaving a little to turn or stitch all the way around and cut a slit in the fabric that will be on the back and turn, press and stitch on the background as in veins. I like this method best as you can have different colors or shades of the same color on the back and you could also let some leaves fold over on purpose.... Geneva 
  • I use this technique quite a bit. I just make sure I use a heavy duty Steam a seam to fuse the 2 layers. You can see this technique in a book called Petal play. What is really neat is when the 2 layers are fused you can heat with an iron and curl the edges...they stay curled when cool.... ElsieD 
  • Fusing would work, but I would satin stitch the edges to make sure that there is no fraying. You could fuse the two fabrics together, draw your leaf outline on and satin stitch then cut very close to the stitching. I like the idea of attaching them by "the vein," Using a dark and light fabric would also add dimension to the leaves.... Ranny 
  • you probly have this idea already, but it's worth sending you just in case. cut two pieces of your leaf fabric, and place right sides together. sew a scant 1/4 seam around. leaving a small opening for turning. clip tight curves a little and turn, using a chopstick or some such to get all your points back out. using decorative thread, top stitch around the outer edge, closing the hole in the process. place on quilt, and use decorative thread to stitch veining and attach leaf to quilt at same time. this way you aren't depending on fusible to stand up to heat, humidity, storage, aren't worried about edges fraying from handling or washing, and you get a little quilting too. I'd also suggest a care label stitched to the back saying 'hand wash, gentle, tumble dry low' or whatever fits your final product..... Laura
  • I love, it's called Grandmother's Garden Quilt by Eleanor Burns. It shows flowers to make flat or dimensional. Everything you need to know to make these flowers it there... It's a GREAT book. very informative!... Helen  Not only is the Eleanor Burns book fantastic, but so is the matching set of pre-printed templates and fusible web you can get. I'm so excited to start this project!!

MATH - Quilty Facts QuiltSizes - BattingSizesTo Buy - mattress sizes - numbers of squares and triangles in a FQ - Yardage Charts - The approximate number of strips from this amount of fabric - Enlarge and Reduce Patterns Photocopier Settings - Clark County Quilters is a non-profit corporation in Vancouver, Washington  

MATH for Determining Yardage - strips, squares and triangles Determining Yardage to Choose at the quilt Store or from your Stash and standard sizes for bed quilts. -The WorldWideQuiltingPage How-To's 

"Template Stamps are mounted rubber stamps made with the cutting line and piecing lines. They are primarily used for charm quilts (where every piece of fabric is different) or hand piecing. Use fabric inkpads for the best results. Complete template stamping instructions are included in every package. Image sizes are noted. Add ¼" to each dimension for fabric sizes. "

Knowing Sewing Machine Needles
"Having the wrong type of needle in your sewing machine or a bent or dull needle can cause problems."

Change your sewing machine needle regularly! I change mine with every new project (unless it is just a small wallhanging or something...then I change every 2 -3 projects).

Take the time to clean the lint from the screens the hoses and vents for your dryer, even if you have to get a helper do do it for you.  This is a VERY common cause of house fires.

If you can't find a half hoop to quilt the border of your quilt, you can take a piece of muslin and 
baste it to the edge of the quilt. Making a place for the hoop to hook on to. Then you can quilt all the way to the edge of your quilt. Julianne

Tips for your sewing machine


Border help:  First, when adding the borders, never precut the borders as indicated in the cutting instructions. I've see lots of people buy a fabric, cut it and when it came time to put on the quilt, they did not like that choice for the border. So wait to cut the borders. Then when you actually get to cut, do not cut the length that is indicated in the instructions. Cut the strips whatever width is required and join them as necessary. I use a diagonal seam to join rather than a straight butt. It looks nicer and your eye glides over rather than stops at the seam. 

Then to get the length, measure through the center of your quilt on the longest side. This is usually a vertical measurement. Do not measure the actual sides, but right down the middle. The edges may have stretched and this will cause wavy borders. Then taking that one measurement, (I sometimes measure the sides just to see how much the quilt has stretched), cut the two side borders (again sides tend to be the longest and best to do the longer border first). Then finding the center of the quilt on the long side and the center of the border by folding each in half lengthwise and pinch press (with your fingers) to mark the midway point. Lay the quilt out flat and matching up the pinch presses and pin. Then I pin each end. 

From there, I pin the rest of the border, easing in either the top of bottom as necessary. Then sew and do the same with the other side. Then press towards the border. Repeat on the other two sides of the quilt, This time, when you measure through the center of the quilt horizontally) you will also be including the two side borders you just put on.  Repeat process for as many borders as you have. Do the borders one at a time and this is for square corners, not miters.

Here's my Friday tip on Thursday. I don't remember where I heard this...but  I love it and I've been doing it for a long time!  When you've finished your quilt label, tuck some fabric scraps from the quilt between the label and the quilt then stitch your label on. This way, the fabric scraps get relatively the same amount of wear and tear and washing as the rest of the quilt PLUS you will have the perfect repair fabrics right with the quilt if it ever gets a boo boo.

Quilt identification should be put on the quilts somewhere that can not be removed easily. Usually a label can be removed, but writing actually on the quilt itself is much harder to take off. We are all resolved to write under the sleeve for hanging, before attaching it to the quilt. Somewhere where it is not obvious.  You can always sew a fancy label on too,- to confuse the thief. Sign your name and date in embroidery or quilting right on the front of the quilt, in the lower right hand corner. Put a label on the back with complete information about the quilt, before I quilt so  that the quilting will go through the label.  I attach my labels on the reverse side before I quilt, and the  quilting lines go right through my label. That way it's secured two ways. I  think it looks kinda neat, too :)

I have seen many antique quilts with the name and date of the maker written in ink right on the back of the quilt, usually in a lower corner. This is a wonderful discovery for a quilt collector to find  and I can't imagine why it wouldn't be the same, for anyone coming across one of our signed quilts in the future.

I just read in the Featherweight book to use white kerosene to clean the old oil and gunk out of your machine.  I would be extremely careful. The singer repair man who fixes my old 99K said the biggest mistake most people make is putting oil/grease in the wrong places in some machines

What is the best way to get tree sap off a Christmas tree skirt?

  • Try a citrus based product called 'DeSolv It'  which you can get at many grocery  stores, hardware or Home Improvement stores, Wal-Mart, etc.
  • You can try Simple Green (an auto de-greaser) and see if it will take it off. Just be aware of strong fumes to this product. It's not toxic, just  smelly.
  • You could try freezing the skirt and see if the sap will peel off.
  • I know they make a product to  take sap off your car (I had to use it once), but I don't know how it 
    would work with fabric.

In order to ensure that there is no "w" in your cut strips, it is best to only fold the fabric once and have that fold closest to you and obviously the selvedges farthest away. You need to square off the end of the fabric. And when you cut and this is the most important - make sure that you have a right angle between the fold on the bottom and the straight edge of the fabric. If no right angle -  you WILL get a bend strip. It is also important to resquare off that edge every 6 inches or so. As the fold on the bottom shifts (and it does - trust me), the right angle will disappear and cause you grief.

I made Guardian Angels for my Crones on-line group. I found a fabric with widely separated and cute angels and used them as the centers for crazy patched blocks which were quilted just a bit and inserted in a card meant to send a photo in. I was happy to discover that I could mail them
with just one 34 cent stamp!

Crazy Quilt Stocking
Make a pattern of your stocking on heavy paper. Mine is about 18"  tall.
Mark around pattern on muslin. Cut out leaving 1/4" seam allowance. Starting from the toe, using the sew and flip method, sew strips of varying width of fabrics working the strips up to the top of muslin stocking. I use Christmas fabrics as well as lames, satins, velvets, etc. Anything that will give it a crazy quilt look. When done with the strips, you can embellish with beads, ribbons, charms, buttons, lace, embroidery, etc. Trim to 1/4" marked seam line. Cut another stocking, with s/a, for backing piece, and two for 
lining. Sew front of stocking to back. Sew together lining pieces and slip in
stocking. You could add a cuff of fabric or lace, or you could just finish off
with binding. Add a loop for hanging.

A quick gift is a pot pourrie jar. Take one string of 25 clear Christmas lights put them in a quart size canning jar and add holiday potpourri. In this case I would start with something red and white for Valentines day or blue and yellow for spring. place a fabric swatch for the upcoming holiday or a battenburg lace type doily on top and secure with a rubber band then a wide ribbon to cover the rubber band tied in a bow. Make sure the cord is out to plug in. As the lights heat the potpourri it gives off a lovely scent.

Painless and quick ways to remove the paper when doing paper piecing foundations

  • Use a small stitch length, but a larger needle, for example 90/14 so that the paper rips
    off easily just by grabbing the sides and sorta jerking it like you would a steering wheel 
  • use a spray bottle with water to moisten the paper--- depending on what paper you use, it should  then just flake off. Doesn't work as well with freezer paper.
  • If you run the point of a seam ripper along the stitching, the paper will pull away easily.
  • fold the paper along the stitched line and it should tear more easily. Also using very short stitch length is helpful.

Rice Bags:  20 to 24 inches by 4 to 6 inches should give you a useful size. half fill the tube with long cooking rice. don't overheat - I use 1 to 1 1/2 min in microwave [rice can catch fire and before that smells terrible]

I made a rice bag for a gift exchange today, 8 x 18". I used flannel and lined it with interfacing. I used two pounds of rice, 0.5 oz of peppermint, 0.25 oz lavender flowers, 0.25 oz spearmint, 0.25 oz sage leaves, and 0.25 oz eucalyptus leaves. Between the cost of the rice, flannel, interfacing, and herbs I spent a whole $5 to make it!
neck pillows -- look at the blue cashew shaped one ; buckwheat hull pillow for "neck support"; rice or buckwheat "heat packs' 
Pain relief: microwave heating pad vs electric heating pads

Rice Pillow Poem
This little pillow filled with rice 
Is such a comforting device. 
Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes on HIGH 
And kiss those aches and pains good-bye. 
Apply it to a troubled spot. 
The heat will ease the pain a lot. 
Or warm those little toes so cold. 
You'll find this nice to have and hold. 
Or freeze it for a little while 
And fix that boo-boo up in style. 
Instead of a compress made of ice, 
Use this little pillow filled with rice.

Needle Case: Make a rectangle (about 5" x 8") crazy-quilt style, or do silk ribbon embroidery on moire fabric, whichever seems most fun at the moment. Then pipe, line & turn inside out (usually a firm fleece type batting). Then make several "pages" out of nice lightweight wool, which I've pinked on the edges to finish. The pages are cut a little smaller than the finished folder, then stitched down the center to the>folder. I've used heavy diaper-weight flannel for the pages at times, too.  

Your own card holder: I think you could do a little sampling and make a good pattern for yourself; if you don't find a pattern. Take 1 - 6 or 8 inch square [or whatever size you think will hold the cards best] and 2 - 2 1/2 inch squares. Fold the two squares on the diagonal and put the 'cut edges' on the bottom corners of the 6 or 8 inch square and pin them together. Sew them to the next unit as one piece. This will give you photo corners to hold your cards. If you don't think that will hold the cards securely enough you could use two more folded squares in the upper corners. When you put the hanging sleeve on the wallhanging try putting a second small light dowel halfway down the back as well to keep the quilt from folding in on itself.

A "couch potato gift" for teenagers and sports fans potato sack with pop corn or popping corn; chocolates Tins of soda or Hot chocolate mix and for adults a "bit of cheer." other treats for in front of the TV a TV guide and a Video or Gift certificate for a Video store and if you are really ambitious a lap quilt

Here is a cute little poem which makes a quick gift with a smile:
To Naughty Nelly and Ned
You've not been nice,
So I'll give you the scoop.
All you'll get

Print the poem on the computer along with a graphic of a snowman, cut it out with decrative scissors, and glue it to colored paper. Tie the card to a ziplock full of mini-marshmallows or "Whoppers" candy for reindeer poop.

When finishing machine quilting a motif, you do a few small stitches to lock the threads as usual. Then do one more a bit longer stitch, lift the presser foot, and pull on the top thread until a loop of the bottom thread pulls up. Now clip both the top and bottom threads. Voila - no threads on the back to clip.

There were 36 replies to this question:  what do most quilter's use for the backing of their quilts -- plain white or off white muslin or a colorful -- matching fabric backing that goes with the fabric on the front of the quilt? The results were:  Plain backing only -- 5; print backing -- 21 and both -- 10.  Generally, those who preferred plain
white/off, white or plain colors were hand quilters who like to quilt with less seams and try to get the extra wide quilt backing in the plain colors to show off  hand stitches. The quilters who machine quilt seemed to prefer anything from "busy" prints, to pieced fat quarters and "anything" in the scrap basket to piece for a backing. Those who said that they use both plain and prints are machine quilting and hand quilting and use the plain color fabric for hand work and prints when using a machine. Most everyone thought that it was great to use more than just white color thread and all agreed that colored thread on white backing would look great.

Another good tip for that needle or pin if you don't have a pin cushion at your fingertips at the moment you need both hands is to put it in your shirt just below the left shoulder if your right handed. Many a time I'll  clip a safety pin, or straight pin or needle with or without thread there  because
eventually you'll remember it's there or someone will remind you. Barbara in FL

In order to keep my rotary cutter from slicing someone accidentally, I went  to a thrift shop and bought a soft, vinyl eyeglass holder. Whenever my  cutter is not in use, I slip it into the eyeglass holder.

Also, I used to store my rolls of polyester batting just on the opposite side of my ironing board. Do you know how fast that stuff melts????   I never EVER put batting near my iron anymore.

When cutting with the rotary cutter, I make a conscious effort to look down at the ruler and cutter--AND MY FINGERS--before ever executing a cut. And if someone talks to me while I'm cutting, I make sure to finish the cut, close the blade, and set it down before I look up or answer.

Always, always put that needle or pin in a pin cushion or holder rather than setting it down someplace. I have wasted more time and energy  searching for a stray needle that I absent-mindedly set down, hoping I would find it  with something other than somebody's bare foot (or paw). When one has 
gone astray, the best help in finding the rascal is my magnetic pin holder.

My safety tip is also an annoyance-avoidance tip.  Always, always put that needle or pin in a pin cushion or holder  rather than setting it down someplace. I have wasted more time and energy 
searching for a stray needle that I absent-mindedly set down, hoping I would find it  with something other than somebody's bare foot (or paw). When one has  gone astray, the best help in finding the rascal is my magnetic pin holder.

Hi Bees,
Here's my safety tip of the day: Don't sew the kitty to your quilt. 

I thought that a safety tip posted by a fellow Bee several months ago  could be repeated--the tip--- put a padlock through scissors handles and  have a designated place to always put the key.

I am thinking out loud, again! I've gotten all your kind e-mails about paper piecing Grandmothers Flower Garden patches.  I have tried freezer paper, plain paper and mylar templates.  I've spent a fortune on the Brandy's mylar but they are just too cumbersome for me. And they don't bend, which I have found it necessary to do for comfortably whipping the ray seams together.  So I've been playing/experimenting, and this is what I've come up with.  

  • Plain paper ------ I need to press the seam allowances over the edge before basting, but sometimes I fold the paper into the seam allowance, changing the size and shape. It is all too slippery. Not for me!
  • Freezer paper, wax side to wrong side of fabric. OK. Holds the fabric in place while I first press the SAs over the edge to hold until I can baste, but just a tad too flimsy and lightweight for my taste.
  • Freezer paper, wax side up. Pinned on with a sequin pin until SAs are pressed to stick to them, and then basted easily with no slippage. Good, but could be better. Still too lightweight for my taste.
  • Two pieces of freezer paper, one up, one down.  This is how I plan to do it:
    • 1. I'm going to draw my hexagons in strips (not tessellating) on the dull side of one piece of freezer paper.  
    • 2. I'm going to stick that dull side to the dull side of another sheet of  freezer paper. There are a couple of ways to do this. A. Spray adhesive (my choice since I am a picture framer, have a spray booth, vacuum press, and lots of the best spray adhesive on the market. B. Continuous lines of "ATG tape" (adhesive transfer tape -- double sticky, on a peel-off carrier,available at art supply stores, maybe office supply too). I've got a gross of rolls of this, too. 
    • My choice will probably be the spray adhesive and vacuum mounting, but you really wouldn't have to use a press if you didn't have access to one. (By the way, it has to be a cold press, not a heat press, or you'll have a mess with the waxy side stuck to everything.) You could just use a roller (brayer) to make sure you had a flat tack.
    • Then I'll use my dedicated-to-paper rotary cutter and cut them apart,
      wasting little triangles of paper, but not having to cut around any angles.

Here's how to make a blue jean quilt.  Start collecting old jeans.. cut them into squares (don't forget to add seam allowance... sew them together Wrong sides together (use a larger seam allowance so that the seams will fray) then use polar fleece to back it.. (no need for batting) the denim will be heavy enough. (Don't forget to use the correct needle in your sewing machine a heavy duty Denim needle). you can either machine quilt (I would put x in the squares or tie the quilt with pearl cotton.  Another tip for quilting your denim quilts is to use the belt loops across the corners of some of the blocks (bar tacking on both ends leaving the loop open as a place the kids can hook things to. Also the pockets can be sewn around leaving a great place to put toy cars, Kleenex, etc.

Pizza Boxes - the next time you pick up a  pizza and/or an order of breadsticks, ask for a couple of the new "clean"  boxes. Our local Pizza Hut (NAYY) is usually good about this... I don't get  strange looks anymore, either.

Bobbins - whenever I start sewing blocks or  quilting a quilt, I always wind 2 or 3 bobbins ahead of time.

Sometimes when I have a lot of one size fabric strips to cut, I will position masking tape to the left of that 
measurement on my ruler, I am less apt to make a mistake cutting the wrong width, I  don't have to keep
searching out that placement, and it esp. is handy with those 5/8 and 3/8 marks which are smaller usually.

Use a great iron and have it close by.  Breathe. There's nothing you've done that can't be undone...this is  supposed to be fun! If you give your quilt as a gift and the person picks it apart (seams not straight, 
colors, etc.) TAKE IT BACK they don't deserve it.

When you drop a pin or needle, stop right then and find it. If you can't find it, right a note so you'll know 
there's a pin or needle on the floor. Keep that note until you can account for the pin. Otherwise you or your pets or family will step on it later.

Best Hint for me is to ALWAYS have a ziploc bag packed with parts of an ongoing project . . . sometimes I only get 5 minutes here or 5 minutes there to stitch, but those few minutes add up,  especially since I am a busy Work-at-Home mom with 3 kids (2 teens, 1 toddler), a DH, a cat and a dog -- every minute of the day is usually spoken for, so having a few minutes of "vacation/stress reducer" while out playing  "mom's taxi" is essential.

I use a round wooden toothpick for needleturn  applique. The tiny fuzzies on the wood catch those recalcitrant fibers which do not want to turn when you use a needle.  I use freezer paper for Eng. paper piecing.  I keep my ironing board in another room. No  kidding. Why? I have a history of blood clots in the legs, so  this makes me get up and walk a bit to keep things flowing. :)

I believe in buying the best quality fabric that you can afford. It might cost more in the beginning but your quilt will  love you for it.

I like to use masking tape or post it notes to mark my rulers with or sewing machine. It gives a edge for the fabric to slide against.  Take care of your sewing machine, keep it oiled,  and new needles in it.  Keep a new blade in the rotary cutter, you work  less with a sharp blade.  When doing hand quilting, put a small amount of  fingernail polish on your  under finger tip, it will help those needle  pricks. I use sandpaper on the back of my templates when ever possible. The template wont move when you trace around it. A sand paper  board is nice as well.

 Look after your sewing machine.  Put a new needle in at least every 8 hours.  Buy enough fabric - if it is that good - it won't  last long.  Be creative and don't agonize over every little  mistake - it's not worth the
time and effort.

I make my 1/2 triangle blocks by adding 1" (not  7/8) to the two squares. After they are sewn, I can trim down (using the  center seam as a guide and my ruler). I find with the 7/8, I was always off  and had to rip out the seams to make it fit. With the inch - I never  have to do that. Saves tons of time and the extra fabric is so minimal.

As I am sewing, I often check the size. And square up from time to time. This depends on the block I am doing. As an example, when doing log cabin, I would square up the block after doing two strips of light and two strips of dark. Why you are asking would I do that??? Well  it is not always easy to get the 1/4 seam and if you are not BANG ON, then  when it comes time to square up the block at the end, you may have to 
cut off quite a bit from the last row and it will look odd.  I always square up my finished blocks before I 
sew them together. I get straight seams on the finished product.

I starch the heck out of everything before beginning a project with piecing, and add more starch as I go along.  Keeps the fabric from slipping around, and I think my corners match  better. Be sure to wash the
quilt when it's finished, because starch will  yellow fabric over time.

In addition to your pattern/quilt idea file,  keep a file of postcards, magazine pictures, vacation photographs, wrapping paper, yadda yadda with great color combinations, for future reference.  And look through it every now and then. :)

My best quilting tip is "KEEP IT FUN" !! This is a hobby and we should enjoy every minute of it. If any part of it is  work, change your attitude, change your technique. Life is too  short!

This is a list of some of them.  This Friday Tip is courtesy of my friend ShirleyJean.  She bought some cheap plastic tablecloth on a roll with a checked pattern and put it on the wall with the flannel side out.  You can just see the lines from the other side...Instant design wall!

My Friday Tip is try tearing some fabric today.  Its good exercise for the fabric, and will give you a straighter grain than you ever had before. 

Well after I read Jo's Friday tip yesterday about tearing the fabric for an even strip I had to give it a try today.  Tore 4, 3 1/2" strips lengthwise after TEARING the selvage off first and then I carefully measured them all and guess what??  They were all a PERFECT 3 1/2" strip with no jagged edges.  This was also inexpensive fabric so wasn't really sure how it would turn out but believe me, I am a true believer.  Thanks Jo. 

 This is the second best tip I have ever received from this list.  Border day on Monday; now I can hardly wait. You know, these tips are absolutely invaluable if you only give them a try.  I always jump in with both feet and haven't regretted it yet!!!  Thanks so very very much Jo!!!!  p.s.  Okay if you must know, the best tip for ME, was dabbing a bit of glue to the intersections to make them stay in place                    

"The lengthwise grain has no stretch so long border strips will look better and will be easier to sew to the quilt if they are cut lengthwise".                    

Here's my tip for Friday.  To help me be sure to put the fusibles such
as Wonder Under correctly on the fabric, I have a saying--To get it right
you have to do it WRONG-- that is the fusible goes on the wrong side of the
fabric and when it's turned over, there is the appliqué piece right and
ready to fuse to the background.

My Friday tip:
Never, ever, walk away from a piece of material in a fabric shop simply
because you don't know what you could do with it.  As soon as you get
home, you will realize that it would be perfect for some such project or
other, but when you go back to get it, it will be gone.  Better to have
an overflowing stash than regrets!

It is Friday and I have a tip for anyone that uses bias bars.  A cheap source
of these bars are the plastic ties that are used in construction.  (The kind that you thread one side through the round end and pull tight and they stay tight.)  Well they come in many sizes from very fine to about 3/8 to 1/2"  They can be ironed over, they get hot, but not any hotter  than the commercial ones.  Bias bars can be used to  create stems for applique or long pieces for Celtic work.

I read Tina's post on stuffing applique work after taking out the paper from  behind it. Years ago, I appliqued a mariner's compass quilt (they come out perfect that way!) and after I removed the paper from the back,  I stuffed the compass just a little and it turned out so nice.  I used pieces of 100% cotton batting cut just a hair smaller than the applique piece and tucked into the slit and worked it into  all the little corners  until it layed nice and flat.  I really like what it does to the design and texture of the quilt. And it is easier than one might think.  Happy Friday to All!

Hey appliquers!  Learned this tip from a workshop I took from Pat Campbell a few months ago.  Buy those large, tropical floral prints (you know, the really large and obnoxious ones you look at and think, what would I *ever* do with this?)  You can cut leaves and flower petals for your applique work from the large ones on the print, and the shading is already there! 

My tip, probably a repeat, but it works.  In doing needleturn applique, use a round wooden toothpick to turn the fabric. The roughness of the wood snags those little tiny, short, fibers and rolls that fabric right under. Then you can do the needlework. :) 

My tip for Friday would have to be - Teachers check, check and recheck all the measurements that you write on your handouts to students and for students to check and recheck  the measurements are correct too, particularly when things are not turning out right and you know darn well they should be.

Friday Tip: Use cut-up straws to keep your bobbin & spool of thread together when not using them.  It's much more economical than buying the bobbin   attachers they have on the market now.

My tip is to use a seam ripper to open or close the safety pins.  It sure is easier on fingers and nails (which always seem to end up getting sore during the pin opening/closing job).

A grapefruit spoon is useful in pinning a large quilt. Just put it under the pin part and close the pin. Saves on fingers.

Friday Tip - if you buy your safety pins from your dry cleaner, you don't have to
worry about your pins ever rusting. Think how much steam is in a dry
cleaners! Our guild members all go to their own favorite cleaner and ask for
#1 pins, 10 gross, open. (the open part is important. Otherwise, you'll not
only pay more to have them closed, but you'll have to open every one of the
1,440 pins). We get charged $10.80 per box. All our local cleaners get their
pins from the same distributor. Defender, nickel plated steel pins. I always
leave my pin boxes open, because I've always got a project that I'm taking
pins out of little by little - the two boxes I have are 9 years old, and no

Am not sure if I posted this tip to this list or not, if I have forgive me...
I'm suffering from mental pause.If you are apaper-piecer, try using deli paper.
The paper is as thin as wax paper, and will fit your printers.The paper has a
slightly waxed side, so watch which side you feed thru the printer.The paper
will tear like a knifethru hot butter.Here in Canada, I bought a box of 10,000
sheets for$26,I'm set for the next lifetime.

When you take the basting safety pins from your top, leave them open for the next time.  I just toss mine into a wooden cigar box
open and when I need some again, I dump some out and the pins are already opened for me!!

My tip is really basic. If you don't own a pair of thread snips, get some! They are very
useful tools, but for the machine I am enjoying the thread cutter which I attached to the
side of my machine. (It's an old one and didn't come with one like the newer machines
do.). Not only does it make fumbling for snips or scissors unnecessary, it
insures that the threaddoes not pull out of the needle when I start stitching again.
Well worththe $4 it cost just to not have to rethread the needle so often! And it can
also snip between pieces when I have done chain sewing.

Tip Friday - I'm a hand quilter and I get so frustrated when having all those
little strings and not knowing what to do with them, as well as keeping my
thimble,thread, extra needles, scissors, etc.  Now I pin two ziplock bags on
the quilt where I'm working and into one goes all those darned threads and the
other one holds all the things I need.  They are all there together.  When
I'm through for the day, I unpin them both and put them on the top of the
quilt before I cover it for the night then it's all there in the morning,
nice and neat.

Cutting 2" bias binding strips using the tube method. Start with a BIG square  and use
the leftovers on smaller projects. 
21" square =         196" strip
24"                          256"
26"                         324
29"                        400

Don't throw away those empty wooden spools when the thread is gone.    Most thread these days are on a plastic product.  Collect the wooden ones in a large canning jar and place on a bookcase/shelf or the window sill of your sewing room. Add some fabric to the cover, pink the edges and tie with a scrap of fabric, ribbon or decorative trim.  Makes a great decor.  While your at it,  do the same with your buttons.  Practical and very inexpensive.     Another cute shelf item is a jar of "quilter's jelly".  I have a pint size
canning jar nearly full.  The ingredient for quilter's jelly is those little triangle snippets from trimming half square triangles.  It looks really neat next to the jar of buttons.  I like to toss a few drops of nice pot pourri oil (Claire Burke's Original is my fave), in with
the snippets and leave the lid off the jar.  Gives a nice bit of perfume for a long while and can be refreshed when it starts wearing out! 

Here's my tip for Friday. To help me be sure to put the fusibles such as Wonder Under correctly on the fabric, I have a saying --To get it right you have to do it WRONG --
that is the fusible goes on the wrong side of the fabric and when it's turned over, there is the appliqué piece right and ready to fuse to the background.       

If the edge of your sewing table has gotten rough, use a length of clear self-sticking corner protector  to make it smooth. The fabric glides over this perfectly and it is very inexpensive.

After a project is completed, I take the time to clean the fuzz and lint from the sewing machine, apply a bit of oil to the bobbin case, and treat my machine to a new needle. When it's time to start a new project, my machine is ready to go.

When sewing together a block with a lot of pieces use removable stickers or Post-It notes to number the pieces. 

If you have cut your batting too short or need to piece batting together, butt two pieces of batting together on your ironing board, then cut a narrow strip (two inches) of light fusible interfacing and fuse them together. Turn the piece and fuse the other side the same way. It needles nicely and is a great time saver.

Help in putting your quilt together:  

  • To adjust the size of a pieced border to match a quilt, either take in or let out a few seams just slightly until it fits.  
  • If your quilt plan calls for multiple mitered borders, stitch all the strips together first, then apply and miter them as a single unit.
  • Cut squares for corner and side triangles 1/2" to 1" larger than directed; trim them down only after your top is pieced together.
  • Cut background pieces on the generous side. You can trim them later, but you can't make them bigger if they're cut too small!


When piecing curved seams, you sometimes end up with little tucks and pleats in your seam.  I have a simple way to end this problem. I call it pin pulling.  Pin your curved seam in the  normal manner, using a lot of long pins, with the points of the pins coming out of the fabric on the top.  As always, place your pinned pieces in the machine with the pins on top. Sew about a 1/4 of an inch, and grab the first pin. Using even pressure, pull the head of the pin towards you, keeping the pin in this position, continue to slowly sew to the pin. Just as the pin hits the presser foot, ease the pin out.  Grab the next pin and repeat the process with all the pins.  Pulling the pins will flatten any tucks or pleats the form on the
other side of the curve.  If you are careful and use even pressure, and not too much pressure, the bias edges of the  curve will not distort.  Once your block is sewn, place it right side up on your ironing board, using your fingers gently  finger press the seam flat and into place.  Press well with your iron, and trim block to size.     

> My second hint--never put a pincushion where a kid can get at it. Never
> mind the part about the danger to the kid.  Just be mindful about losing
> your needles into the depths of a pincushion, never to be seen again.
> Don't ask me how I know this. I don't want to talk about it. Sandra

Which leads me to my hint! If you have worn out your pincushion
(I'm on #3 myself...but then again, I'm a professional seamstress!)
before throwing out your old one, cut it open. I usually find at
least 10 lost needles in there that are still sharp and usable plus
many that aren't. Waste not, want not you know!

  Okay...I hope that I can explain this.
Last night I was standing at the ironing boardwith my sewed together fabric strip, pressing it in half lengthwise for binding...fold, press...fold, press.  My Mom came along and said "honey, there is an easier way to do that" she then took a large safety pin and pinned it to the ironing board so that there was quite a large space in between, and she fed my fabric strip through it and  pulled it.....Voila!!!! the strip was now folded in half
almost perfectly...all I had to do was press it with one hand and pull with the other. This was so easy... Hope I explained so that you could understand.     

Always choose the right, and good quality tool for a job.
Good needles for one thing. When piecing or quilting a good,
unbent, needle with a sharp and straight point means a lot
for the finished product. So what if you change needles
on your machine every week? If hand piecing or appliqueing -
so what if you change your needle every day? I really spent money on that small
pair of scissors I have in my travelling tin. They are the very best pair of small scissors I have ever had and they  mean the world of difference in my threading of needles,
so now I'm happy I spent the money.  Or the tiny applique-pins. They have meant that applique has become ... do-able LOL.  Or good thread. I have just bought some YLI cotton-thread for piecing. What a difference good thread makes!Or rotary-cutter
blades. Changing them when they start to dull. Yes, they are expensive, but your arms and hands are more so :-)  A good, unchipped ruler is worth gold when rotary-cutting :-)
Or ... well. I could go on and on and on. My point is choose good tools. They will last longer and give you more enjoyment.   Spending money on the good quality will give more enjoyment and last longer.         

Tips for 

  • making a "flat" quilt
  • binding a quilt

Following are some URLs which should help with the first two questions...  

Quilts don't lay flat for only a few reasons...all of which are your fault.

  • 1. You did not cut the fabric the correct size or on the lengthwise straight of grain.
  • 2. You stretched the fabric while sewing.
  • 3. You stretched the fabric while pressing.

If the above URLs don't provide the answers, ask the folks at the quilt shop where you bought your fabrics.   They should be able to provide a demonstration. Better yet, join a guild...someone there will show you how. Be aware, not everyone binds a quilt the same way so ask several people until you learn a technique you like.
I always have success with my method, but it wasn't the first one I saw.

Tips for choosing a sewing machine:
1. Don't buy a used machine unless it comes with a written warranty that satisfies you. 2. Don't buy a low-end model. You will NEVER be satisfied with it. Instead, continue to save money until you can buy what you want. You may have to wait a year..."all good things come to those who wait"...rather than "a fool and his money are soon parted." DON'T buy a machine the same day you test it...wait and consider. 3. Plan to spend two to four hours at the store. Go early in the day so you won't feel rushed because they
want to close up for the day. DON'T buy a machine the same day you test it...wait and consider. 4. Be assertive...ask for a different sales person if you aren't getting the attention you deserve. DON'T buy
a machine the same day you test it...wait and consider. 5. Put the machine through its paces. Test every feature and every stitch. Don't let the dealer rush you.
Don't feel pressured into making a decision because another customer wants to test the machine you're
using. Offer to test it together. Another customer could provide you with additional insight you wouldn't get
from a sales person. DON'T buy a machine the same day you test it...wait and consider. 6. Take fabrics with you for testing. Challis is my fabric of choice for clothing, and the dealer won't have
any for testing. Actually, what they will have is stiff, full-bodied swatches, and any machine will do well on
those. Also test on leather strips and several layers of denim. DON'T buy a machine the same day you
test it...wait and consider. 7. Take setups with you for whatever you do most ... quilt blocks in various stages to see how well the machine goes over seams, fabric-batting-fabric ready for quilting, fabric-interfacing-fabric ready for buttonholes, lengths of fabric pressed and ready to hem. DON'T buy a machine the same day you test it...wait and consider. 8. Don't become fixated on one machine or one brand until you've tested all machines and all brands.
Keep a journal of what you liked and disliked about each machine. DON'T buy a machine the same day you test it...wait and consider. 9. Be sure you have all the features you want and that a wide variety of attachments are available before writing out that check. Can you lower the feed dogs? What about special feet? Will it stop in the needle-down position? DON'T buy a machine the same day you test it...wait and consider. 10. Sewing machines these days cost more than my first new car...make an informed decision so you won't have regrets later. DON'T buy a machine the same day you test it...wait and consider. 11. Study the warranty. Can the machine be serviced and repaired locally. DON'T buy a machine the same day you test it...wait and consider. 12. Finally...DON'T buy a machine the same day you test it...wait and consider. You will have that machine for many, many years...make sure it's the one you want. If necessary, just to be safe, leave your checkbook and credit cards at home.

Did you know that you can buy PLAIN steel wool in various "grits" very inexpensively in most hardware or paint stores.  If you make a pincushion out of this, You can get better "sanding"  I would use 0000 [4 OT] steel wool. 

Got another tip for you for separating embroidery floss  from itself without
tangling (every time) I'll see if I can describe it  to you.
Cut whatever length of floss you need. All six  strands. With your left hand
hold the 6 strands at the top. With your right hand  separate just the top of
one strand. Now with your right hand holding the one  strand at the top,
squeeze your two fingers on left hand holding the  remaining five strands.
Pull the one strand out keeping your fingers kind of  tight on the other 5
and it should slide right out. 

I've been waiting for Friday and almost forgot!  Here is my tip:  What
do you do with those chunks of fabric that just aren't "you" anymore or
someone gave you, etc.?  Make them into quilt storage bags.  Sinces quilts
are supposed to stored in plastic or next to wood, put them in a cotton
bag and they can breathe and say dust free.  You don't need anything fancier
than just a pillowcase type bag, easy to sew.  Just make sure you take your
quilts out occasionally and refold them.  If you really want to do something
simple, use that fabric just to wrap around the quilts.Julie in Idaho    Friday tip...  First READ the directions on the spray can
Second KNOW what you iron sole plate is made of.
  the TIP
after reading the directions on the Oven Cleaning Spray can I sprayed the
bottom of my very gunky,scorched,yucky iron...with Oven cleaner...(I had
tried other stuff but to no avail)---only left it on for a couple of
minutes..... and Wonders of Wonders...I have the nicest, cleanest,iron in
the town or at least on my street....I have not shared this with this all are the first...BUT please do READ the directions on the not use on aluminum sole plates....
p.s....yes I know using  capitals mean I am shouting but I am so
excited.that yes I am shouting.just Read first and spray later


A while back I purchased a Hera marker for quilting.  (For those that haven't heard of it, it is a little tool that looks like a very short bladed knife.)  I just loved it and I could even mark crosshatching on the black Amish quilt I am currently working on.  It marks the fabric, but it by pressure not with an actual mark that needs to be washed out. I misplaced the little beggar and was desperate to find it so that I could continue.  I found one of those old fashioned can openers that you puncture the can and then work your way around by leverage.  This worked just fine, the line was a little thicker, but okay.  However, it was very rough on my plastic ruler.  It cut little slivers from it.  I should have used my wooden yard stick.  A dull butterknife (no serrations) would probably work as well.Well, yesterday I bought another Hera, and if I ever find the original I will send it to my sister.   

Hey appliquers!  Learned this tip from a workshop I took from Pat Campbell a few months ago.  Buy those large, tropical floral prints (you know, the really large and obnoxious ones you look at and think, what would I *ever*
do with this?)  You can cut leaves and flower petals for your applique work from the large ones on the print, and the shading is already there!    Those of you who still struggle with the scant 1/4" seam allowance and jiggle with the 1/4" foot.....forget it! What I do is use the standard zig zag foot and move the needle position one step to the right. Line up the edge of the foot with the fabric and go. Scant 1/4" every time! This tip also works for the BERNINA 1130 for quite a few I think.  Super tip when you find out.  Just remember to put that button and move the needle
every time you turn on the machine.

I've been waiting for Friday and almost forgot!  Here is my tip: What do you do with those chunks of fabric that just
aren't "you" anymore or someone gave you, etc .? Make them into quilt storage bags. Sinces quilts are supposed to stored in plastic or next to wood, put them in a cotton bag and they can breathe and say dust free. You don't need anything fancier than just a pillowcase type bag, easy to sew. Just make sure you take your quilts out occasionally and refold them. If you really want to do something simple, use that fabric just to wrap around the quilts.

Karen in nh asked about a hankie/butterfly quilt.  I took a workshop in making butterflies out of hankies.  Let's see
what I remember.

1. You either cut the hankies in half diagonally (corner to corner) or fold them in half.  Your choice.
2. Position the triangular hankie on a square of material (your background material) with the long side facing the top
corner of the background material.
3. About halfway along the short sides of the triangle, lift the hankie edges and fold under.  This should form the lower half of the wings.  The remaining corners should "take in" or move down to form the upper half of the wings. You just have to play with the hankie until it looks good to you.
4. Sew along the edge of the hankie with very thin thread (50 wt.?) and a very small sewing machine needle.  On
hankies that have a frilly edge, sew further in so the frilly edge still frills.  On a straight-edge hankie, sew a
loose zig-zag stitch over the edge.  On a scalloped edged hankie, follow the edge with the same stitch.
5. Using embroidery floss, stitch a head and antennae for each butterfly.

I used a blue background since most of my hankies were white, with white sashing and pink points (squares) on the
sashing.  Then used the same blue background for the border.  It turned out great.  I had Bonnie Hunter (Needle
in a Haystack) machine quilt if for me.  She did a wonderful job, changing thread color from the blue, pink and white.

You should put the side borders on first so the eye travels up and down the quilt. There is a rule of thumb for the width of borders. I've heard that the borders should be at least half the size of the blocks. If you have 12-inch blocks, your borders should be at least 6 inches.

My Friday tip:  When you've got your fabric length folded into fourths and are ready to cut strips, go to the top edge that has the selvages. Put the cutter about 1/2" below the selvages and cut upward to the edge.  Next go to the bottom where the folds are and being CAREFUL not to give yourself a do-it-yourself hysterectomy, start about 1/2" up and cut, bringing the cutter toward the bottom folds.  Then cut again starting at the bottom folds, cutting away from yourself and finish cutting the strip.  This will prevent the distortion that all the upward pressure can put on the top part of your cut strip.  It also works well when cutting strips into pieces.

I have a tip I have been using for several years.  I collect quilting stencils and like to have them at my fingertips so to speak.  They come with holes in them for hanging but I have found that stapling a bread bag tab on one end works much better.  I can put the bread tab over the nail or peg and thumb through the stencils and remove the one I want easily without taking the pile off the nail.  I am also recycling! I also do this for extra zippers used in garmet sewing, except I hang them from a metal hanger.

Well my tip for Friday would have to be to concentrate on your sewing and if  you must stick your pins in your mouth while you sew then  make sure you put the head in your mouth and not the sharp end - darn that was sore!!   Still my Drunkard's Path block didn't look too bad in the end.

Does anyone have any good links for pincushions at all?  I am wanting to get some ideas preferably with patterns or pictures.  Have seen some animal ones but I just can't bring myself to stick pins into animals - it just doesn't feel right. 

My tip is really basic. If you don't own a pair of thread snips, get some! I keep a pair by my machine and a pair by my hand sewing. (For those who don't know what they are-They are little spring loaded thread cutters. The advantage is you don't have to fit your fingers in them like you do scissors. You just pick up and cut.) I thought they were kind of silly until I got some as a gift. Saves a lot of time fumbling around with the big scissors just to trim threads. I find that  my work is a lot neater now.

  One tip I learned on QB was to plug in the iron in a plug in the ceiling, or to run the cord up on a hook so it is out of the way. Helps me alot!!!

I have a tip I have been using for several years. I collect quilting stencils and like to have them at my fingertips so to speak. They come with holes in them for hanging but I have found that stapling a bread bag tab on one end works much better. I can put the bread tab over the nail or peg and thumb through the stencils and remove the one I want easily without taking the pile off thenail. I am also recycling!I also do this for extra zippers used in garment sewing, except I hang them from a metal hanger.

Instructions for Christmas tree skirt

  • Fabric  45" wide x 1 1/4 yd(45")
  • 2 pieces   one each for front and back
  •  buy extra  to use  for binding   or ruffle if desired.
  • batting 45" circle.

Fold fabric in half lengthwise of fabric then again the other way.   You now have a square 22 1/2"  Cut this into a circle using yardstick to measure from center point to outer edges and marking the circle you will be cutting off the corner.***** CORRECTION   while folded it will measure 22 1/2" but when opened into a circle it will measure 45" diameter. Cut on one fold line from outer edge to center point.  look at pattern to decide which way you want circle to lay around tree so print is not upside down.  Cut will be back of skirt.  Cut 4" circle from center for tree post.  Layer:1. fabric, 2 batting 3 fabric. Right sides of fabric are visible top & bottom.  I put binding on outer edge, back slit and center opening.  You may choose to put a ruffle around outer edge or assemble it wrongside out and stitch outer edge and turn inside out.  At this point machine or hand quilt  it.  I put binding on first you may choose to quilt before finishing outer edge.  Put velcro tabs on cut edge to fasten closed.  This tree skirt could also be used for table top as is,sitting a bowl or decoration over opening.  You could make it with out cutting slit and center opening just a complete circle and use for seasonal throw or table top cover.  

Here is the math for your triangles

To make 2 "3-inch" "half square triangle units
Cut a square that is a total of seven/eights of an inch bigger than the finished size of the block.  That is 3 7/8 inches. Mark the diagonal and sew 1/4 inch on either side of it. Cut the triangles apart by cutting from corner to corner. Press the unit open and trim it to 3 1/2 inches That gives you the 1/4 inch seam allowance on each side of the unit.  The "VALUE" is always 7/8 OF AN INCH bigger than the dimention of the square.

I picked this tip up in an old quilting magazine:  Spread out the batting, then the backing (front side up) on top, smoothing, etc. and pin enough to hold it together (corners, some on the edges and in the middle -- but not as many as for quilting).  Turn over and spread the top, front side up, and pin or baste as usual.  Much easier dealing with just two pieces at a time!   I have also read that some people hang the three layers from a clothesline and then pin baste -- but I haven't tried this one!

To change the the size of  block, keep basic math in mind:    
(block size wanted / current block size) =  X 100 = your multiplier. For example:
Example 1:  Current size = 5" and you want a 7" block:  (7/5)  X 100= 140%
Example 2:  Current size =7" and you want a 5" block:  (5/7) X 100= 72%

I just had to share my latest revelation on ironing (yeah, right!). We had a major session marbling yesterday, and the amount of ironing pre, during, and post is sometimes daunting. I kept griping for two days about how hard the new fabric was to iron. (Yes, we actually tried a new bolt, knowing we had lots of orders, and then I laid awake most of the night, worried if the color would run right off the fabric - which it has done on other supposedly good cotton).

So I was ready to blame the fabric. But dh, who loves to iron (a keeper, fer sure!), kept grumbling about how the fabric would always still to the ironing board. So after dinner we decided to get a new ironing board cover - we couldn't remember when we had replaced this one, and it was looking pretty grim. And at 8 bucks, we figured not a major expense.

Voila!!! I ironed the rest of the evening in a breeze - no sticks, fabric was great, didn't need much sizing. Moral of the story - sometimes it's those little tools we take for granted that need to be replaced - like the poor ironing board cover! 

I try never to have my label match my quilt.  I keep little 2 inch strips of fabric, and piece together odd lengths of them, cut and re-cut, sew, and re-sew until the whole effect is a choppy chain of approximately 2 inch squares or less.  Then I cut a 6 inch square of white, sew 2 sides with the scraps, press, and sew the other 2 sides on.  This way I have a picture frame.  I write in the center, and sew the label on in a way that it will read right side up when you pick up one corner.  Usually this is on the diagonal then, and upside down.  But I want someone to pick up a corner of a wallhanging and say "See the >funky label she sewed here?"  :*))  On my labels I always put the date and my email addy. I never want anyone to accuse me of making a sophisticated label.

Here are some links for handquilting tips. 

I thought I would share my method of No Fusible machine applique. I have done several childrens quilts and they are doing just fine. I am using the technique on Rose Sample Supreme at the present ( I had too many hand applique projects to add another one- 4 blocks done so far).

No Fusible Machine Applique

First Starch your fabric. It should be crisp, not soft or limp. Cut out your shape. Using washout glue stick, put glue over the back of the applique piece - use stick in a middle to edge motion. The entire piece does not have to be covered with glue, but the edges must. A bit in the middle is all that is needed.

Place on backround. Allow to dry for a few minutes. Put paper underneath - I use old sheets from my printer with the ink side down.  Using a zigzag stitch go around the edges with the needle just off the edge of the piece. I use width of 2 and length between 1/2 and satin stitch - on a Bernina.   

  • Corners - inside corner stop with needle down on the inside of the piece, pivot and continue. outside corner stop with needle down on the outside of the piece.
  • Points -  decrease width going to the point , pivot with needle down, increase width going away from the point. When all the appliqué is done in a particular area, tear off the paper. The glue and starch will wash out on the first wash, or you can soak them in water to remove.

A COMPUTER TIP, To send those favorite quilting sites you have bookmarked to a friend. 

Find FAVORITES using the FIND option in the START MENU {Mine are stored in a folder called Favorites in C\Windows} Choose the short cuts you want to send.  Click on them one at a time while holding down the Control button.  Pull them into a new email message.  Now send this message to your friend in the regular way.

Is it too hot to do much piecing? Try using a small travel iron for pressing individual block seams. It will radiate less heat into you sewing area but the perfect amount right where you need it!

Bonus #1 It reheats very quickly, so you do not need to leave it on. I keep mine right on my work table with a pressing mat. I chain piece a group of blocks, turn the iron on, press them alland then turn it off again, repeat.....

Bonus #2 It's small size and light weight make it perfect to carry to quilt-ins or retreats.

My tip is a simple one. Free template material from your bacon. When you remove the bacon it sits on an opaque plastic that is perfect for templates. Just wash it and dry it well. It can also be used for fussy cuts because it is opaque and can be seen through. This means more money for fabric right?

I bought one of those small flannel covered bulletin boards from an office supply store (mine was on sale for 12.99) and I lay my block, my pressing, my chain pieces, whatever - from my cutting table onto it and carry it to my sewing machine, where I have all my pieces in order. An added bonus! You can iron on it. So its like a mini design wall-everything sticks to it!!! Try it, you'll like it! 

I have a square ironing pad in my sewing room that I got at Joann's. After a while it starts looking pretty scorched from ironing in the same area all the time. Since it is not very big that is not hard to do. I have made several standard size pillow cases (maybe cut a little more roomy) and I just cover it with that. When there is starch build up or it just gets dirty I put another one on. Eventually those pillow cases look bad too, so I just make some more. That way I always have a clean ironing surface. I use inexpensive sale cottons for the pillow cases.

Suggestions on how NOT to get your quilting fabric all tangled up in the washer/dryer

  • 1. snip off all four corners
  • 2. wash in sink/hang to dry
  • 3. wash in a mesh laundry bag
  • 4. serge or zigzag the edges
  • 5. use pinking shears
  • 6. the dryer sets wrinkles (makes sense-hmmmm)
  • 7. slash the selvage about every 6 inches or so. (fold fabric for less time)
  • 9. hang to dry, or iron to dry.

Boy, I was ROTFLOL on this one! I do know how to stop the tangles in the washer and dryer but I don't want too!!! VBG I have a large clear plastic box and I've been putting all my thread tangles in it for years. One of these days I'm going to use the tangles in a project but for now I'm just enjoying the box with all it's lovely colored tangles! This is sort of like saving "Quilter's Jelly"----I know some of you will understand! LOL

Friday Tip...If you find a block on the internet that you like but it is too small or too big, you don't have to be Goldilocks to get just the right size.  Choose which block you like best (some designs are better than others). Place your mouse over the image and right click. Select "copy." Open MSW Word (sorry, I only know how to use MSW programs). On a new page, click the "paste" button. After the image appears, left click on it. The image will be  surrounded by a black box containing eight nodes (little square boxes). Move your cursor over the lower right node until the cursor changes to a diagonal double arrow. For a larger image, hold down the left button and drag your mouse down and to the right until you have the desired size. For a smaller image, drag your mouse up and to the left. Remember, you are limited to the size of your printer and paper.

Some one talked about marking a large quilt for cross hatching and the suggestions were very good. I have a friend who loves to cross hatch and she uses a long piece of molding because it's light weight, straight and easy to use.

Here is a quick way to sandwich small quilts (baby quilts, doll quilts). Instead of regular batting use Thermolam fusible batting or fleece from Pellon and fuse this to the wrong side of the backing. Next cut strips of Wonder Under about 1/4" wide and fuse these diagonally onto the front of the batting about 1" apart in rows. Remove the paper and fuse the quilt top onto the batting and you can machine quilt or tie your quilt. Believe it or not, once washed it is soft and wears like iron! A friend developed this method and her quilts are Blue Ribbon winners in many quilt shows (she has shown at Houston!) and she even does big quilts this way!

My tip is that if your finger is sore from quilting, or stabbing, lol! you can put Desitin (baby rash ointment) on it at night and by morning it's no longer sore.

If you are right-handed, hold the appliqué piece down with your left thumb and appliqué counter-clockwise around the appliqué piece (do the opposite if you are left-handed).

if you go to any discount store and buy a pair of men's support hose...cut the tops off at the beginning of the heel and fold the long cuff over in 2 have a perfect support for your wrists while playing/working at the computer .... if you want to be extra frugal  (el cheapo) could share the cost of a pair with a friend and each take one sock...

I have a solution for warped cutting boards.  I put my warped board on a flat cookie sheet and put another cookie sheet the same size on top of the board. I preheated the oven to 200 degrees F. I put the cookie sheet (s) in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. Then I turned off the oven and let it cool. (I never once checked the board or opened the oven door) When I came home from work tonight, I had a perfectly flat cutting board.

Applique Tips

Some fabrics are just frayers.  When I have those little hairs sticking out I dip my needle tip in a glue stick (just a bit) and it will push those hairs underneath. I only use 1/8" seam allowance so shortness is not necessarily the problem. I also find that solid fabrics for whatever reason even the expensive ones seem to fray in everything. 

When turning the fabric, use the side of the needle (ideal needle is long thin milliner's) and not the tip. The tip will create frays as well.

I'd recommend just not handling the fabric too much. Starching lightly might help, too. If she bastes the pieces down about 1/2" from the edge, and leaves the edges flat until she's ready to stitch in that particular area, it should help. I usually turn under about 1" in length at a time, finger-pressing under about 1/8 - 1/4", hold it down securely between thumb & middle finger, then stitch several stitches before moving on. Stitch length is about 1/8". 

I like to work with pieces that are cut on the bias, if possible (like leaves & stems).

Regarding the applique problem of fraying. I was taught to always cut my applique on the bias. This eliminates fraying. Also I use a turn under of 1/8" to 1/4". Too much of a turn under gives you considerable bulk and is hard to manage those deep curves and sharp points.

Tips on working with metallic thread

  • Needles - using a special needle was a nearly unanimous suggestion. Size 80 Metallica or Metafil were the brands recommended. They have a larger, specially treated eye which helps the thread flow more smoothly. A size 90 embroidery needle or quilting needle is also a possiblility.
  • Thread tension - it often makes a difference if you loosen the top tension by as much as necessary. This can evidently be quite a lot or just a little, whatever works. It may also be necessary to adjust the bobbin tension. Some quilters keep a second bobbin case especially to use for tension adjustments, so they don't have to muck around with their normal bobbin case setting.
  • Thread position - the spool should always be vertical (up & down), rather than sideways. It may help to sit it in a small container next to your machine instead of putting it on the spool holder. The direction it feeds off the spool can matter, too - if it's not working, try flipping the spool over so the thread feeds off in the other direction.
  • Lubrication - putting a FEW drops of special silicon thread lubrication (Sewer's Aid?) on your spool of thread can help it pass through the machine more easily. The more sophisticated machines may have a problem with this kind of lubrication, though. Some quilters prefer to use Lube-it-All, which sits in the thread path and lubes the thread just before it passes through the needle.
  • Thread - Sulky thread is highly recommended. You might also try one of the "lookalike" poly or rayon threads to get the metallic effect. They are easier to work with. One quilter mentioned that she had heard of feeding two strands of thread through the eye simultaneously, one monofilament and the other metallic. 
  • Stitch length, speed and pressure - use a slightly longer stitch length than normal when doing echo or in-the-ditch quilting or anything with the walking foot. Try to keep a steady, constant speed without many starts & stops. Put just a tiny bit of pressure on the foot when doing free-motion quilting so that it compresses the quilt sandwich slightly, while still allowing it to move around freely.
  • Obstructions - check your thread path and bobbin case for bits of thread that might be catching the metallic as it feeds through. See if your needle has developed a burr or if there is a rough place elsewhere that is shredding the thread. Make sure it's not catching on the thread slot as it comes off the spool. Rethread both the spool and the bobbin threads to be sure they're flowing smoothly.
  • Quilting "from the back" - putting the problem thread in the bobbin and regular thread on the spool is much easier on the thread and requires little or no adjustment in your settings. Try it for allover or enclosed areas where you don't need to refer to the design on the quilt top. Or make a quilting plan on tracing paper, pin it to the back of the quilt, and stitch through the paper. 
  • And last, but not least, keep practicing and adjusting until you get it right!

To gift wrap with fabric: 

  1. Use instead of wrapping paper if the recipient also sews or quilts. Fasten with scotch tape or paper clips. 
  2. Make gift bags with drawstring closures so the wrapping can be used again. 
  3. Make a tablecloth or napkins and wrap gifts with them, then the recipient also has the new linens. 
  4. Put gift in a basket or bowl or box, then place in the center of a fabric square, bring the corners up and fasten with ribbon, fluffing out the top. 
  5. For a baby, serge or hem two pieces of flannel into a receiving blanket and wrap the gift in the blanket. 
  6. Wrap a quilt gift in a drawstring or pillowcase bag so the bag can be used to store the quilt when it isn't on the bed (like that would happen at my house). 

Lynn West of Eugene Where it's always pieceful

If you thread your needle from the other end of DMC floss it won't tangle.  It has a directional twist.  The same with separating the strands pulling from one end the thread bundles up and the other way it comes apart really easily.   Diana, Nova Scotia, Canada