I found these tips on Quilter’s Connection magazine blog-site, wanted to pass them on, with some comments from myself:
1. Purchase a rubber jar opener and place in under your sewing machine foot control to prevent it from moving around on you.
I actually have a Velcro mat under my foot pedal, which was a gift a few years back, and I love it. No more hunting around to find that pedal! This sounds like a perfect idea – or use some of that non-slip rubber material if you have some on hand. Anybody that has a trailer or motor home probably has lots of it!
2. Before doing any hand sewing, run your thread through a dryer sheet to prevent knots.
Oh, those knots! Gotta try this one – I knew there was a good reason for those dryer sheets!
3. To keep your rotary cutter in tip-top shape, take it apart and clean off the lint after cutting all the fabric for a quilt.
A great tip – and works for almost everything sewing-related. Clean up that lint on your cutting board, under the bobbin on your sewing machine, stuck to your scissors. Makes everything hum along the way it should.
4. Place a couple of dabs of clear nail polish on the bottom of your cutting rulers & sprinkle with salt. Let dry. This will prevent slippage on your fabric.
Gotta get me some clear nail polish! Years ago I was given some non-slip plastic backing, which covered the two rulers that I used the most. But since then have purchased a few more rulers, this sounds like it will work at a much lower cost!
5. Never use canned air to clean your machine – it can blow the dirt and fibers into the mechanical parts and do more damage, and has moisture which could cause rusting.
And don’t blow into the bobbin space, same thing! Use a brush to pull the lint out, or try to get a vacuum attachment that will suck it out safely.
6. If your local shop offers free classes when you purchase a new sewing machine – take them, even if you are an experienced sewer/quilter. You’ll learn something new, guaranteed.
Absolutely a necessity! My friend, a sewer of many years, purchased her first machine in over 20 years. All the new tricks, gadgets, extras, feet…..opens up a whole new world. And every new machine comes with something better than the last one.
7. To help with free-motion quilting, doodle in a notepad for practice.
Apparently this is to aid hand-eye coordination, and makes for smoother sewing. Can’t say I’ve tried it much, because I get bored with doodling after a very, very short time!
8. Have several different size thimbles on hand for hand quilting/sewing – your finger size changes depending on the time of day/temperature.
I just really don’t like thimbles, makes me feel even more clumsy than I already am, but this does make sense for those that use thimbles.
9. Wash your cutting mat regularly with mild soap and water – it’s amazing how dirty it can get.
And just like anything else,keeping it clean will extend its life
10. Regularly wash your sewing scissors in warm soapy water & dry immediately. And, after each use, wipe away dust & lint with a clean dry cloth. They’ll stay sharper longer.
See # 3 and # 9
11. Use a thread colour that matches your applique piece, NOT your background fabric.
Oh, yes, unless you want the satin stitch or blanket stitch to stand out! Like on these:
12. When hand quilting/sewing, ‘pre-thread’ six or more needles so you don’t have to stop to re-thread, and lose your momentum.
Personally I like to stop and rethread, changes my position, and eases the tension in my shoulders
13. Paper piecing? Shorten your stitch length so the paper will tear off easily when your done.
And use paper that tears easily, like the soft craft paper available in dollar stores (kind of beige in color), not printer paper
14. Can’t decide on a layout? Put the blocks on your design wall and take a photo. Each time you change around, take another photo, then pick your favourite.
It’s amazing what you see in a photo that you don’t see otherwise. To concentrate your eye, try using a peep-hole – you know the ones that are in apartment doors, available in almost any hardware store – or circle your fingers and place over your eye.
15. Take photos & keep receipts of your important quilts. Will help in evaluating them, and for insurance purposes.
Photos, photos, photos. Nothing better than a photo for proof of ownership. Not sure how much more value insurance will give a hand-made quilt over a retail purchase, but keeping the receipts can’t hurt. I never thought of this before, but it IS a good idea!
16. Refold stored quilts periodically to prevent permanent creases and damage.
Some say refold with each new season, or at time-change. It’s at least a target date to be able to remember when it was last done and needs to be done again.
17. When laying your quilt top onto the backing and batting, always ‘pat’ the top down, never ‘smooth’ it out. Smoothing could stretch the top so it doesn’t lie straight.
Actually I think sometimes I need to ‘smooth’ to get it lying straight again. Those big quilts never lie down straight for me!
18. Did you know one side of the eye of a needle is bigger than the other? If you have trouble threading your needle, try turning it around.
This really does work – I’ve had to do it time and time again!
19.The best height for your cutting table should be between 34″-36″ (that’s for an average height female) high to prevent strain and injury on your back when standing to cut fabric.
Okay, so what’s an ‘average height female’? I think each person needs to experiment a bit. Recently I’ve discovered my dining room table works really well for me, when I’m wearing my new slippers with the 1” heel. I’m not bending over as much, and I’m lifting my shoulder the way I have to if I use the kitchen island. To raise a table to a good cutting height, there are lifts available out there – try Wal-Mart – or sometimes a handy husband works too! This was discussed on Sew Many Ways blog some years ago
20. Cutting same-width strips from multiple fabrics (ie. for log cabin)? Save time – layer the fabrics and cut them all at once.
Be careful, too many layers and they can slip on you. Some quilters have said to me they cut up to 8 layers at a time. I find 4 layers is safest for me.
21. A 3-ring binder stores all your loose patterns. Put pattern envelopes in a page protector. Use dividers to separate ie: applique, stack n’ whack, etc.
For patterns already in packages, magazine holders make for perfect organized storage.
22. Make a habit of cleaning your sewing machine after every project. Follow the mfgr’s instructions, and don’t forget to change the needle too. Your machine will love you for it!
No comment necessary – see #3, 9, 10
23. If you’re hand basting your quilt, thread your needle & leave the other end attached to the spool – that way you never run out of thread! Just gently pull it through the fabric as you need more.
Are you kidding? If I tried this, I’d have a ‘gathered’ quilt for sure! But then, I’ve never tried it. I can’t see me crawling around on the floor to accomplish this
24. Giving the gift of a quilt to a friend or family member? Don’t forget to include washing instructions.
25. Having troubles with the values of your fabrics? Photograph them in black & white – the darks, mediums, and lights will be much easier to spot.
This really does work, and helps too when trying different layouts.
Happy tips! Blessings, Peg