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Quilt Tips From Quilters Around The World


After wearing out one Dear Jane book completely I bought a second one and had the spine removed and have slipped each page in a page protector and keep them in a big notebook. There is room to slip each pages blocks inside the page protector so you can see at a glance what you have done and what you can still do. I do this to all the softcover books I buy anymore that I will use a lot. - Gail in Arizona

I use the overhead projector sheets in my computer printer to print out the templates for my Dear Jane and other miniature quilt blocks. - Gail in Arizona

I took a cross stitch picture with me on the last cruise we were on and had threaded needles with the different colors of embroidery floss I needed and used a needle dome to carry them in my purse. Yes, I went through airport security with them. I had to open my purse and show them what it was and I was told to go on through. I just did my embroidery and left hanging threads until we got on the ship and I could get my scissors (round nosed ones) from our checked luggage. - Gail in Arizona

Don't forget to share your quilting projects with everyone you know. You never know when someone (usually the person you least expect) will become interested in quilting and want to learn this wonderful craft. - Cassie in Louisiana

I like the patterns that come in the small plastic bags, but they are not always the size I want to make. So when I figure out what I need, I neatly write it out on a paper that fits into the bag. So in the future I already have it all worked out. - Cheryl in Minnesota

Since I have a busy life this is way I save a quilt project so I can work on it at my leisure. I have a large piece of felt that I have thumb tacked to one of my sewing room walls. I put sections of the quilt on this felt and can add blocks of the quilt when I have a hour to slip in and make one block and admire my work. Before long I have completed a quilt! - Merilee in Indiana

If your thimble is a little too large for your finger, remove the thimble, lick your finger and put the thimble back on...your thimble will not fly off your finger again. - Diana in Washington

I have been cutting "charms" (only ONE of a shape), and have discovered that I can avoid the large "overcut" of the rotary cutter by switching to the *TINY* 18 mm rotary cutter for the corners. The blade is SO small that it does not OVER-BITE (and ruin) the uncut fabric.  Often, for the main cut, I still use the larger cutter, but switch to the 18 mm size JUST for the corner. - kiskat in Texas

Fresh blood on your quilt can be removed with your own spittle on a piece of thread. - Coby in the Netherlands

Sunday evening is not the best time to search a small town for sticky back stabilizer for the embroidery hoop. So, on my way home I decided to save some money, for fat quarters, and hoop tear away stabilizer. I was working on fleece and it's to thick to hoop. I used a clear glue stick and wiped the stick across the top, bottom and sides of the hooped stabilizer and place the fleece on top of the hoop and off I went. Fleece did not move and I had a perfectly embroidered butterfly on my Granddaughter's blanket. - Pauline in Arizona

I keep a small cutting mat on my ironing board, along with my 28mm rotary cutter and a small rotary ruler. To keep the mat from sliding I use a small piece of particle board. It also works great for marking small pieces of fabric, much better than sand paper. Next time I'm at the hardware store I'm going to buy a large piece of particle board to put under my big cutting mat. - Charlene in Oregon

I make my own variegated thread in ANY two- or three-color combinations I want. I just thread all of the threads through my machine and through a #14 JEANS NEEDLE. (It has a large hole, and is very sharp.) If you do not have extra spool holders on your machine, just place each of the extra threads in a heavy mug near the back of your machine, and thread the machine in it's usual manner. I use my "usual" thread, but embroidery thread is thinner, if you would prefer that. The results are so exciting! - kiskat in Texas

If you prick a finger and get blood on your quilt, use your own saliva to remove it. - Carolyn in New Zealand

Glue small pieces of sandpaper on the backs of your rulers to keep them from slipping on the fabric when rotary cutting. - Marti in Mexico

I love to paper piece, which produces a lot of empty thread spools. I take these to local schools for the art teachers to use with their students. - Belinda in Missouri

Rubberized shelf protectors are wonderful to prevent your sewing machine foot pedal from slipping all over the place. Just cut a piece larger than your foot pedal and place it underneath the foot pedal. Also, if you have trouble with your sewing machine 'walking' across your table, this same product will help. - Joan in Tennessee

For the people who carry their thread with them to applique while traveling. With a black marker, mark the spot on the thread spool where the thread hooks in to secure it from raveling. At a glance you can see where to start the thread from and where to hook it back. - Joyce in Ohio

Here is an inexpensive way to make templates. Trace the shape onto freezer paper, iron it onto thin cardboard from around the home. Food boxes, coloring books etc.. , then cut them out. If you use gridded paper, the grids are all in 1/4 measurements and you can easily include your seam allowance without having to mark the inside line. - Barbara in Indiana

I use blunt tipped Fiskars kid scissors for snipping threads. No
chance of accidentally snipping through the fabric but the blades
are sharp enough to easily snip threads. - Carolyn in British Columbia

A great way to keep your cutting mat clean, just a sponge/scour pad you can get at the dollar store. 10 for a $1.00. The scouring pad works great for cleaning the little threads left behind. Just be careful you don't scrub off the lines on your mat. - Bambi in Ontario

I've been pinning flannel fabric to the top of whatever I'm wearing that covers me from shoulders to past my knees and it catches a considerable amount of loose threads helping to keep a lot of the threads from falling on the floor. - Carlene in Illinois

Use rubber matting, like you use under your fine china....double-stick tape a piece to the underside of your sewing machine pedal to prevent it from sliding across tile floors. - Carol in New York

Sometimes as I am making a rag quilt, I will use three layers of flannel to give it that full appearance. I find in doing this it isn't as heavy as one with batting in the sandwich. The middle flannel is usually one of an accent color. I do this with any appliques I put on the quilt also. - Lisa in California

I have a new way to check seams on my rag quilts. After I have washed and dried the quilt, I take it outside and hang it on the clothesline. If you hold it up towards the sun the light will shine through the open seam. It also helps with trimming off the lose threads that tangle themselves. Relieves pressure on the arms and hands, I think. I hope this helps any one who tries it. - Lisa in California

After I have sewn a square to a rectangle, I sew another seam one- fourth inch from the original seam between the seam and the outside corner. Thus I have a half-square triangle and one fourth of a pinwheel square. - Nancy in Indiana

I came up with this idea when I had a small quilt that I wanted to hang on my closet door in my sewing room, of course! I got out my plastic hooks that hang over the top of the door that I hang my Christmas wreaths on. You will need two of them. My husband finished a dowel (cut about 4 inches longer than the width of the quilt-he even put fancy ends on it) and I slipped it in the sleeve on the back and placed the rod in the hooks adjusting them to fit. My hooks are clear plastic and you can hardly seem them. This makes it very easy to change your quilts. - Judy in Nevada

Those pesky cards that come in all magazines make good "emergency" templates. - Kathie in Oregon

A sampler quilt covers my bed in my sewing room/guest bedroom. I lay a sheet over it and use the top to lay out my blocks during assembly. Keeps my quilt from being covered in strings. I can fold up the sheet if guests are expected. - BJ in Texas

Create your own fabric! Just put whatever you want on top of your color scanner/printer, put a piece of white fabric over it (it will have a white background, or if you want put a piece of colored fabric over it and really spice it up!) Iron a piece of white muslin to freezer paper, cut down to 8 1/2" x 11" put it in your printer and you have now created your own fabric. You can use pictures, fruit, anything that will sit on the printer area!!!! It works great!! - Cheryl in Tennessee

When using freezer paper templates, it works best if you make a tin foil board. Take a piece of thin board (paneling is good) and cover with tin foil. Then make a sleeve out of muslin to slide over the whole board. the freezer paper sticks really well from the iron on top to heat coming back from your tin foil board. Works like a charm. - Jackie in Ontario, Canada

When making quilts for children (or friends) add a secret pocket with a little love note in it...only you and the recipient will know where it is if you disguise it well. This is lovely for grandchildren, you can add a new note each time you visit them. - April in Ontario

Stay-stitch bias edges of setting pieces before assembling blocks into quilt top. This prevents stretching. I read this a while back and didn't try it until recently...what a change! I draw a line through the centers of the square and stitch about 1/8" on either side before cutting. - Susan in Michigan

For quilters who like to keep the bobbin and thread spool together when storing, I have an idea that works and costs you nothing. I have purchased many gizmos for keeping the correct bobbin with the top thread spool. One day I found myself in need of one of those gizmos and all of mine were in use. Instead I took a twist tie which came with my garbage bags and ran it up the hole in the thread spool and then through the bobbin center hole and gave a twist. Now I use nothing but this method and save myself a lot of money. Any quilter who has had to dig through their stash of bobbins to match the top spool will appreciate this as well. - Kathy in Indiana

Keep your old rotary cutter and mat if you buy a new one. I use the old one to cut paper patterns, photos or other craft things. - Leslie in Nebraska

When I have small strips or odd shapes of fabric, I go ahead and cut them into 2 1/2 or 2 inch squares. I keep separate bags and then I will make little doll quilts for our grandchildren. A quick project always ready. - Rachel

To get excellent and clear pictures of my quilts, I take them outside on a heavy overcast day or in deep shades. This way the sunlight won't fade the colors. - Kaye in Oklahoma

Heard this one from aunt who has quilted for over 50 years. She uses those vinyl place mats for templates. I took her advice and they work. A good time to get them is buy the holiday ones on sale for great prices after the holiday is over. - Alice in Montana

When your small cutting mat has a kink or wrinkle, turn on your oven 250 degrees for 10 minutes, shut it off, then put in a cookie sheet upside down with the mat . You need to keep it in for a short time and it will be nice and flat. - Nancy in Missouri

For ripping out stitches: I find if you take your seam ripper and cut every fourth stitch on the stitching line, when you pull the two pieces apart it goes really fast. - Terri in Kansas

Make the sleeve in two pieces, having a 1 inch opening in the center. Place your rod through, the opening will accomodate a nail to hang it from. This works well for the small items as well as for the larger ones. - Carolyn in New York

A tip to save cats from thread dangers...I use a coffee can that has a plastic top. I take the plastic top and cut out a circle in the center of the top that is big enough for my hand. A circle seems to be more discouraging for a cat to put its paw through than a square. I put this by my sewing machine, take it to sit & stitches, carry it around the house and put threads in this container. The cats never bother it. I empty it into the larger trash can and make sure other trash is on top or discard it only on trash days. However, for an additional tip, if you use it through an entire quilt and keep punching the thread down in the can, at the end of the quilt you will have what looks like a bird's nest. You can actually stitch this down onto a contemporary quilt or put it where the birds can find it. - Linda in Virginia

In order to view your quilts or blocks etc. from a distance, use a monocular or binocular turned backwards. Makes everything farther away instead of closer. - Dollie in Idaho

I use those inexpensive little thread snips by my sewing machine, rather than scissors, to cut the threads when I am at the end of a seam. This works faster for me than fumbling around for the thread cutter at the back of my machine. - Cindy in California

Keep your wall hangings laying flat by making a sleeve on the top and bottom large enough to put a freebie weight yard stick portion through. You can cut these light weight sticks to size with an old steak knife on your cutting matt. No need for a saw. Wrap stick with plastic wrap to protect the cloth. - Rhonda in Washington

I use rotary cutter for taking seams apart instead of a seam ripper, much easier to find when needed. - Ada in New Hampshire

While traveling, use a tooth floss container to cut your thread. - Pam in Indiana

My tip is a follow-up after finishing your quilt. When making a dust ruffle to compliment your quilt, use an old, worn contour sheet as a base for the ruffle --- put the sheet on the box spring (as though the spring were a mattress. Your ruffle will never slip around even if the mattress is pushed around on it. I don't even consider doing mine any other way. - Dorothy in Montana

It's easier to make half-square triangles slightly larger size than the finished requirement, and then square them to size. - Rusty in Georgia

Keep a roll of duct tape handy. Just roll a piece sticky side up around 4 fingers. Great to get all threads when you have to tear out stitches or remove pet hair. - Carlene in Pennsylvania

I loose track of time while sewing so I use my clock radio to pace myself. I "hit" the sleep button which will play music for one hour. When the radio shuts off I know I have to get up, stretch, look off into the distance, etc...maybe even speak to my family and put the dogs out! - Julie in New Mexico

For many years I have used my sewing pins for hanging lightweight pictures. Just clip the thin point off. I have found they work great for Quilted Wall Hangings because you can insert the pins in each top corner and just push them into the drywall (not plaster!) The tiny holes are not noticeable in the wall. - Kay in Michigan

To resharpen your rotary cutters, fold up a piece of silver foil so that you have several layers and then just cut through it several times and your cutter will be resharpened.. Works great!! - Beverly in Australia

Here's a simple way of hanging seasonal quilted wall hangings. Make your hanging pocket in two pieces so there is a center opening. Take a yard stick or piece of wood strapping and cut it to the width of the quilt. In the center of the stick either drill a hole or attach one of those jagged picture hangers. I don't know the technical name for them but they look like a strip of metal with jagged teeth on them. You can buy packets of them at the hardware store or where they sell picture frames. Slide the stick through the pocket and have the picture hanger or drilled hole showing in the center pocket opening. The people who get the wall hanging can just take another picture off the wall and hang the wall hanging for the holiday or season without having to buy any fancy rods. After the occasion they can take it down and just rehang their picture. One thing I did find is the little nails that come with the jagged picture hangers are a little long for a yard stick so I had to bend them with pliers, but it worked. - Mary Ann in MA

Use a small piece of the self-adhesive sand paper that is sold for skate boards to keep your rulers from slipping on the fabric. I made neat little circles with a paper punch and placed one in each corner of the ruler. - Kay in Michigan

I made my daughter some placemats. I used Mary Englebreit fabric. After I finished them I had a lot of good sized scraps so I took 2 pieces with some Warm and Natural in the middle and drew with a permanent marker a teapot for coasters. I zig-zagged around it and cut them out. If you accidently cut the thread put clean nail polish on it so it doesn't ravel. You can use any shape for a template and enlarge small one. I even drew around real maple leaves. Spectacular to decorate with too. - Virginia in Washington

I use a 12 inch see-thru ruler to do all my cutting of fabrics when making a quilt. - Karen in Michigan

When using freezer paper for templates, cut a little nip along a long smooth side. You know the line is straight and when you go to remove the paper after ironing and cutting out you have a spot to hold on to the fabric and lift the freezer paper without any problem. Keeps from damaging edges of paper and fabric. - Pat in Connecticut

Rubberized shelf protectors are wonderful to prevent your sewing machine foot pedal from slipping all over the place. Just cut a piece larger than your foot pedal and place it underneath the foot pedal. Also, if you have trouble with your sewing machine 'walking' across your table, this same product will help. - Bettye in Tennessee

I love to paper piece, which produces a lot of empty thread spools. I take these to local schools for the art teachers to use with their students. - Belinda in Missouri

Uses for broccoli rubberbands...use to put on wheel of sewing machine for better grip when positioning needle. Also for a needle grabber when hand quilting. ~ Pam E. in Central Texas

If your sewing machine is not in a stand or you carry it to quilting classes, use the rubber type shelf liners to put under the machine to keep it from moving while sewing. - Kathie in Pennsylvannia

I am a new quilter who finds that the threads and scraps were ending up on the floor and being dragged around my house.  I purchased a small basket to sit by the side of my machine so that I can put my trash in works great and no more loose threads floating around the house! - Johnna in Connecticut

I scan my templates into computer and then print out using photo quality paper. I not only have accuarate templates but they are as strong as plastic templates without the hassles of tracing.  It works every time. You can also set scanner to increase the sizes for different finished size blocks. - Jenny in Queensland, Australia

My husband bought a 5 ft. section of kitchen countertop at our local home improvement store. It was in the "cutoff" section for about $20. I placed in on top of a couple of 2 drawer metal file cabinets (just center it)and I placed my cutting mat on it. On the other end, I laid batting down and bought a piece of that silver ironing cloth on top. Presto! A very cheap but very functional sewing station! - Marcy in Cape Girardeau, MO

I was trying to determine the size needed of quarter square triangles for a 12" block. I was unable to find a pattern that size, but in looking at my pattern books I discovered that you only need to add 1.25" to the size of the finished block. So, I cut my 13.25" squares, cut into four pieces, and they made perfect 12" blocks when pieced! - Debbie in Georgia

Do you have a baby or child's quilt that you use as a wallhanging and on the bed? If it has a hanging sleeve, little ones can get their arms or hands caught in the sleeve's opened ends when on their bed. To prevent this, I added velcro strips to the open ends of the hanging sleeve. While used on a bed, the velcro securely holds the openings closed and keeps those little arms and hands safely outside the sleeve.  - Rae in Arizona

At quilt shows when you can't stand back far enough to appreciate the patterns on the larger quilts, use a door peep-hole.  This lets you stand up close and see the whole quilt. You will be amazed at some of the secondary patterns that emerge. - Anne in Ontario, Canada

Save those flat tins that the new AOL cds come in! You can use them to store your plastic templates in! The cd its self is just the right size to make a yo-yo pattern but the tin will hold other templates! Don't like the cover? Take a swatch of your favorite fabric and glue to the top! Be sure to label it with the contents! - Liz in Virginia

While quilting a white on beige whole cloth pillow, I pricked my top index finger and (you guessed it) got blood on the fabric.  A little hydrogen peroxide on a q-tip and daubed on the spot gets the blood right out of fabric. - Bonnie in Oregon

Wet the eye of the needle, not the thread to easily thread the needle.  Works on sewing machine needle, also.  - Alice in Tennessee

I save all my scraps of fabric and give them to the local kindergarten for the childrens handcraft work - Ernestine in New Zealand

If you want to use fabrics paints or fabric pens to decorate a quilt block, try stabilizing it first by ironing on freezer paper to the backside.  The plastic side of the freezer paper will temporarily fuse to fabric by ironing it on, and it will peel right off when you are done.  This is also great for making quilt labels. - Clarissa in Arizona

I made my own portable ironing board to take along to class. Just wrap and glue leftover cotton batting around an empty fabric bolt. Cover with flannel and glue edges. It's  very handy and light too. - Judy in Florida

Since you can't take scissors on the plane take your dental floss container along to cut your thread.  It really works!!! - Judy in Indiana

To make a portable lightweight ironing board, cut the cardboard tube that fabric comes on in half lengthwise. Cover it all around with batting or terry toweling. Now cover with fabric by pinning in place with glass head pins or T-pins. Great to keep by the sewing machine for those little quick ironing jobs! - Angela in Indiana

Shaped confetti in litte bags make great sequins for crazy quilts!  - Mary Ann in Winnipeg

I keep a little wad of "sticky tack" - the stuff you use to hang posters - near my sewing machine.  I have a small piece on top of my machine to hold my seam ripper, a small piece on the upright area holds a magnetic strip to stick pins on as I pull them from seams while sewing. You can use it to stick your pattern instructions onto the wall for quick reference.  Doesn't harm surfaces and comes right off. - Nancy in Texas

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