Older Quilting Hints

Everyone has a favorite hint or little secret that makes quilting easier. Here's a place to share yours.

Please use our form to add your special advice to the immediately list.

Date: 2/26/99
From: Loraine at [email protected]

Cheap garden gloves with plastic dots save your hands when machine quilting. To set up an old quilt frame; purchase enough canvas to the length of your frame. Cut into two lengths that are at least 12 inches wide, then tack or staple it to the frame. Baste your quilt securely to the canvas and roll it until it is taut. If you have the space and are fortunate enough to find a ping pong table at a garage sale snap it up. It will fold to a modest size and will save your back when laying out your quilt sandwich or cutting out a clothing pattern. Half of the table may be lowered if needed. Happy and comfortable quilting and sewing. From the Ozarks, Loraine e

Date: 2/17/99
From: Nan, Texas

For years I have bought every thimble and any other device to go on my finger underneath the quilt I'm quilting. None of them worked for me and I've always ended up with sore fingers. Recently I got some paper-like surgical tape and put on the tip of my finger-- it worked! No more sore fingers. One or two pieces will do the trick

Date: 2/16/99
From: [email protected]

I've had a hard time machine quilting - my fingers, wrists, etc. would get really sore from all the pressure needed to move the fabric about. I found rubber finger cots in the stationery section of Wal-mart (near the office supplies). They look like rubber thimbles. Secretaries use them for thumbing through piles of papers so that their fingers "stick" - they also help your fingers to stick to the fabric without so much pressure!!

Date: 2/10/99
From: [email protected]

Go to your local office supply store or warehouse store like
Sams Club or Price Club. I bought a 9 drawer vertical storage unit to keep
supplies handy. I positioned right next to my sewing table. Works very well
for keeping stuff put away from dust yet handy to grab whatever you need.

Date: 2/8/99
From: Cher [email protected]

When I need to make a lot of blocks for a large quilt top, I position
my ironing board just to the right of my sewing machine and lower it to
the same size as the table top where my machine is set up. I use an office
chair so all I need do is swivel my chair back and forth and iron all my
blocks quickly and easily. If you are pressed for time, this works super! I
made 66 blocks (30 for Mom's quilt-dbl bed, and 36 for mine, queen bed) Happy
Quilting, Cher

Date: 1/31/99
From: qylter

Sore fingers

mix together equal parts of: A&D ointment, bacitracin and cuticle cream (get this at the beauty supply house) you can get it in larger quantities. I use the hoof cream cuticle cream.
Put it up in little jars. The A & D ointment feeds the skin, bacitracin helps heal and the cuticle cream keeps your fingers soft. Use during quilting and after a long day I massage my hands and wrists with it, by morning I am ready to go.
It also help lubricate your needle as you quilt.

Date: 1/27/99
From: kathy [email protected]

Once you have your rosettes basted on the paper, startch it really well, then press. you should be able to remove the papers just fine and the rosettes will be real easy to applique onto your muslin. good luck.

Date: 1/23/99
From: marguerite in alaska

cleaning lint & small threads out of my bobbin & feed dog area is easy with a q-tip, especially if there is just a drop of oil on the q-tip. i asked my machine repair guy and he said it was a great idea. good way to clean and a reminder to oil too!!

Date: 1/23/99
From: marguerite in alaska

i made a really simple design wall, that is 6 feet wide and 4 and a half feet tall (you can make yours taller if you want - floor to ceiling even!)

i bought at joannes fabric, 3 yards of craft felt. the bolt is 72" (six feet), and the felt is doubled over on the bolt. i went on one of their big sales days so i saved a lot $$.

i unfolded the 3 yards and re-folded in the opposite direction, then using a craft/repair type electric staple gun (for reupholstering & such) i stapled around the edges, stapling it right to the wall in my sewing room. the bottom edge of the design wall is about 2 feet from the floor and the top edge is as high as i can reach - position yours for your own height. no use having it taller than you can reach! :)

i like having the double thickness, i can slide pins into this "design wall" and the fabric is just "rough" enough to hold blocks without pins!! just press them on!! small tops might need a pin, just pin through the top & felt & then slide the pin along the wall.

easy as pie!

Date: 1/23/99
From: marguerite in alaska

i like to mark intricate designs on my quilt tops and i made my own light table by replacing the top of an old (and sturdy) card table with a 1/4 inch thick piece of clear acrylic that i bought from a local plastics shop (i checked the yellow pages under plastic).

i clip a small lamp to one or two legs and can tape my top right to the plastic. i love this because the lamps can be unclipped easily & the card table folds up out of the way.

it is also the exact same height as my sewing table & in a pinch it acts as extra support for a big quilt that i am machine quilting.

my favorite marking tool is a white pencil (i mark a lot of dark fabrics) made by STABILO and purchased from art supply stores - completely water solvent, and in fact i just wipe the markings off with a damp washcloth.
happy quilting to all

Date: 1/19/99
From: Lynn H.

When I want to hang a small wall quilt, I've had great success using Scotch Brand removable poster tape. Press lengths of tape on the corners on the back of the quilt, remove the paper backing, stick the quilt to the wall. The tape won't harm the wall. When I'm ready to change the quilt, the tape rubs off nicely. I've used it on closet doors and painted walls. Directions state not to use on flat painted walls. I like to put up my small holiday quilts without nails in the wall. I've used this tape on quilts as large as 36x36 and it holds for as long as you want. I even mounted a quilt on a metal cabinet at school.

Date: 1/15/99
From: mlp

When drawing templates on plain freezer paper, I start out by tracing around my 6x12 or 12x12 ruler in order to assure myself that I have 90 degree corners -- that my horizontal and vertical lines are a "true" square.

Date: 1/15/99
From: Judy Baron [email protected]

If the control foot of your sewing machine slides about the floor, try puttin your mouse mat,(the really cheap rubber kind) between the foot and the floor. Works every time!

Date: 1/13/99
From: [email protected]

MACHINE QUILTING W/METALLIC THREAD-----Be sure to use the Schmetz brand needle that is specified for metallics and/or embroidery (if your local shop doesn't carry it, order thru Clotilde or Nancy's Notions or Hancock's of Paducah). The eye is larger than normal, thus reducing stress on the thread and minimizing the shredding & breaking associated with metallic threads. I'd also suggest quilting at a slightly slower speed than you would w/cotton for the same reason. Be sure to use cotton in your bobbin.
Doris in TN

Date: 1/12/99
From: Sammy "G"

I read about this (someplace??) and it really is a helpful hint. Buy 2 of those rubber doorstops, the wedge-shaped ones. Place one under each edge of the back of your sewing machine. This little manuever will elevate the back slightly and present the sewing surface area to your view much better than the completely flat machine will. Another thing I do is buy those narrow (approx. 13 in.) rolls of paper from the chiropractor to use in making continuous line quilting patterns. You can sew through them and tear away when finished. They are quite inexpensive.

Date: 1/11/99
From: Barbara

Hey quilters;

I used the rubber needle grabber disks for over a year. Everytime I moved I would shoot them across the room or lose them in my project and would have to go hunt them down. Now, I use a rubberband from my broccoli bunch, with a long piece of yarn threaded through, I wrap it around my neck and it is always there when I need it, and it's FREE.

Date: 1/11/99
From: Kathy

I use "thimble it" pads. They're
inexpensive and reusable. I like them because
they're plastic and the needle doesn't stick to
them (although I did sew one to my project once).
Some hand quilting experts say don't use anything
--you have to "feel" when the needle comes through
in order to get those tiny stitches. But I say if
it's going to stop you from quilting, use it.

Date: 1/6/99
From: Delores nf. ca.

When you cut stripts for your quilting project or have left over ones,use the sock hangers that comes with sockswhen you buy them.also ask friends to save them for you. It is a wounedrful way to keep your stripts neet,and ready at aglance when you are planing a project. from aquilter who just loves to sew 24 hours 7 days a week ps don'T LIKE HOUSEWORR.

Date: 1/4/99
From: quiltpro to Kathy V.

The ideal marker for any dark cotton fabric or spongy fabric such as wool or felt is the small free bars of soap from motels. They generally have no perfume or dye in them, & they are hard enough to last through marking at least one top. When quilting is done, just immerse in water and swish to rinse out soap lines.

Date: 1/2/99
From: Laurie

I mark my quilts as much as I can with masking tape. It comes in so many widths. I buy 1/4 inch masking tape at an auto supply store. For designs you can trace them onto contact paper then cut out the design and apply it to the quilt then quilt around it. If you are careful you could probably use the same one over a few times.

Date: 12/31/98
From: Melanie Ayers @ [email protected]

To MLP who was making her own quilt labels by ironing freezer paper to the back of her fabric and running them through her printer. She mentioned that the black ink would run when wet. Check with your office supply store to see if your printer company makes a 'waterproof' black ink cartridge. I know that Lexmark does and a number of other companies have begun to follow suit. Hope this helps and I love the idea.

Date: 12/31/98
From: Janice

This may not be news to most but I found Sullivan's basting spray to be cheaper at Hancock's than my local quilt store,almost a dollar cheaper!

Date: 12/27/98
From: Shirley [email protected]

I make a lot of dolls, prarie and amish . When I'm done cutting each dress, etc. I cut the leftover fabric into strips. Ususally 2 1/2 or 3 1/2" wide and put them in a special drawer for storage til I need to make either a doll or baby quilt. Sometimes I find I don't have to do any additional cutting for these projects as they are done and pre-sorted in my storage drawers according to size and color.

Date: 12/14/98
From: Marian Lauffer, Pinehurst, NC

When I start a project that involves several
different blocks usualy 4 inches each;
I use quart size "Hefty" (one zip slider bags).
In each bag I place the pre-cut and labeled
templates, a photo-copy of the block(facing the
back of the bag...so I can see the block pattern)
Then I cut my fabric for each
block and place it in the appropiate bag.
Once this is all done I start my quilt.
I can see what blocks are done and
I'm still organised.
Once the quilt is completed I have the templates
and the photo copy of the block ready for my next
project... all I need is different material!!.

I also use a zip-bag to carry my thread,needles
and scissors, this way I know were everything is.

Date: 12/13/98
From: [email protected]

During the last five years I've packed a small portable quilt-kit with the basics, and a small quilting project with me to work, class, and training out of town.Included are table runners, small wallhangings, baby quilts, and more in a short time. Not only am I surprised by how much I've accomplished over the year, but it's a wonderful way to meet people while I relax and sew on a quilted item.I encourage everyone to set aside a small project to work on during lunch or whenever away from home!!! Happy Holidays.!!

Date: 12/11/98
From: Millie S. Muskegon

If you get sore fingers from quilting
try Surgeon's skin/secret that hand
cream is great. I love it.
www.jamarklabs.com or ask at the drug

Date: 12/3/98
From: mlp

I've tried making my own quilting labels by ironing freezer paper to fabric and running it through by bubble jet printer. A word to the wise however, you must use the color ink cartridge. The black cartridge will look nice, but smears when damp or wet...i.e. steam from your iron or washing the label. For some reason only the color ink cartridge stands up to water.

Date: 12/1/98
From: [email protected]

I think I just did something new. Made a Xmas table topper and
used wonderful fabric for both sides, but I couldn't dream up a binding
that would look good with both sides and I wanted the topper to be
truly reversible, so I cut 1" strips of each color, sewed them together
with a l/4" seam, pressed the strip open and proceeded to use it like a
regular binding--IT WORKED--EVEN ON THE MITERED CORNERS, and I'm really
happy with the looks of this piece. Happy Holidays.

Date: 11/30/98
From: Janis Cortese

This is a hint for getting the pieces of fabric
the right shape and size when you're foundation
piecing. It's a real hassle when you need to cut
uneven shapes, or when you trim what looks like
the right sized piece only to find out that you
didn't leave the right amount of seam allowance
and now you have to pick out stitches.<p>

To avoid having to do that, trace the full sized
completed block onto template plastic, and then
use a channel-burner to burn holes at the
intersections of the lines -- just make a little
hole at each vertex where the lines intersect to
define a shape, just big enough to get a pencil
point through.<p>

Then, put the template over your fabric, and put
little pencil marks at the corners. Join the
marks with lines and voila -- you've got a little
shape drawn on your fabric, just the right size
and sure to fit if you cut it with generous seam
allowances -- and you didn't need to cut any
templates or use freezer paper!

Date: 11/29/98
From: Wendy (again)

I have heard people complain that water soluable (sp?) pens don't really disappear. The ink disappears from humidity in the air and moisture from your hands, but is still there until it gets wet and then is allowed to air dry. If you machine wash your completed quilt, all of the ink reappears when wet, and then becomes permanent if you put the quilt in the dryer. When I am done with a section of a quilt, I spray water on that section before I move the quilt in the hoop. All of the ink reappears when I get it wet, but disappears forever as it air dries. And then, I'll machine wash finished quilts and lay them flat to dry, I've heard too many horror stories of beautiful quilts ruined by permanent purple ink markings.

Date: 11/29/98
From: Wendy in California

Can't get the kids or your husband to leave your good scissors alone? Get a small padlock and lock it around the thumb and finger holes of the scissors so they can't be opened and used without a key! P.S. hide the key and become suddenly stupid when asked about it!
I bought a package of adhesive-backed moleskin from the drugstore (they have it in the footcare section). For about $3, I have several sheets of the stuff that can be cut into any size and stuck onto any sore spots on my fingers while I'm quilting. It can be removed and re-stuck 2 or three times. This works just as well and is much less expensive than anything I've seen in quiltshops or catalogs for the same purpose.

Date: 11/25/98
From: [email protected]

I just made a design wall from two 4 x 4 ft.
pieces of pegboard. Since they already have holes
punched in them, they were easily "laced"
together, so they can be folded for easy storage,
but give me a large surface to work on. I had an
old artist's easel, and the lower ledge for the
canvases is adjustable up and down, so I lowered
it to the lowest level, and now have a design wall
that , once draped with the flannel sheet, is at
the right height, tilted ,lightweight, and
inexpensive. Any tri-pod with a ledge would work.

Date: 11/23/98
From: Cathy from Mackinaw, IL

I like to use the fingertip cut from yellow
housecleaning gloves on my thumb to pull thread
through fabric when hand quilting. The rubber is
thick, so it lasts a long time and really protects
the thumb, too. If you buy large gloves, you can
get 9 "thumbs" that fit snugly.

Date: 11/20/98
From: [email protected]

Regarding the baby powder in the sock hint to pounce a quilting pattern. The powder can be "fixed" by a light spray of hair spray so it won't disappear before you're done with the pattern. Hair spray is also great for getting out ink before you wash.

Date: 11/13/98
From: Rena in Oregon

A couple of summers ago, I was at a family
picnic and someone set a hot pot on my flannel
backed plastic tablecloth. Melted the plastic a
little. I came close to throwing it in the
garbage, but now am so glad I didn't. I ended up
hanging it up with thumb tacks on one wall in my
sewing room with the flannel side out. I got a
designer wall for FREE! Bet you culd find some
great buys in thrift stores.
P. S. I used the quilt basting spray recently
in a machine-quilted quilt, don't think I could
ever go back to safety pins. It was great!

Date: 11/13/98
From: Louise M.

I know this hint has been around forver, but for you
new hand quilters, hot sudsy dishwater is still the
best cure for those sore fingertips...

Date: 11/8/98
From: Faye in Nebraska

To Dot, who has a problem using invisible nylon thread with her 160: I'm a new quilter, too, using a Bernina 150. I also had trouble with the nylon thread when using the horizontal feed. I switched to the vertical spool feeder (included with the machine),and haven't had a bit of trouble since.

Date: 11/6/98
From: Mary Anne in Toronto Canada

Are your scissors always missing and you find them under a bunch of material somewhere on your table? Well I found a way never to lose them again. I stuck a couple of cup hooks onto the front of my sewing machine and just hang my scissors there between clips!!

Date: 10/28/98
From: Joan

I am new to quilting and have fallen in love with paper piecing. Rather than ironing each seam open, I found using a chop stick to "press" works really great. I love all the ideas.

Date: 10/24/98
From: Laurie

I like to use a rubber finger (the kind that is used
to sort mail) on my index finger to pull the needle
through when I hand quilt. I can't quilt without it!
I got a whole box of 12 at an office supply store
for about $2.00.

Date: 10/24/98
From: Anne, Lambourn, England

If you like the idea of using machine quilter's gloves to guide your free motion stitching, visit your local saddlers shop and ask for "dimple gloves". They cost 1.50 - 2 in the UK, about 1/3 the price, exactly the same glove!

Date: 10/21/98
From: Cindy in Tennessee

To Adrienne re: binding. If it is bias binding you need to figure, here is a formula our guild president, who is a math professor, shared with us on hint night. First, figure out the length of your binding, which is the sum of all four sides. Then multiply by how wide you want the strip. For example a 60x80 quilt with a 2.5 binding would come up with a number of 700. Then take the square root of 700, using a calculator with a square root function. The result for the above example would be 26.457. Add a few inches for safety, to 28 perhaps. Your square of fabric to be cut will be 28x28. Good luck!!

Date: 10/20/98
From: Karen in Iowa

Adrienne - Regarding binding, this is how I figure it - For example, if your quilt measures 50 X 70 inches, add this together and multiply by 2 = 240 inches (this give you that length around your entire quilt. Divide by width of fabric (it's usually 40-42 inches here in the US) 240 \ 40 = 6you now know you need 6 strips to go around the quilt. I usually add 1 to 2 additional strips for mitering corners and endings. Now figure how wide your strips will be, I use 2 inch wide strips, so take 8 (strips needed) multiply by 2 (inch wide) and you would need 16 inches of fabric. Hope this helps you.

Date: 10/20/98
From: Roni in Western Australia


When using the invisible thread, don't thread it through the machine. Put the spool of thread in a glass behind your machine, attach a paper clip to the top, and put the thread through that, and then through your needle. It really stops the tangling and breaking.

Date: 10/15/98
From: [email protected]

I am a nurse, so occasionally I have access to an unused disposable torniquet. I cut it into 2" strips and use the strips to grab the needle and pull it through when I can't quite get through those thick layers. I keep my needle, thimble and gripper in a 35mm film canister. It really works well.

Date: 10/11/98
From: Mary /VT

To keep Monofilament Thread contained and "well-behaved" I use a cone thread holder and a special little net called a Thread Net. You can purchase these from a sewing machine dealer or a sewing supply catalog in the serger supply section. It keeps the thread from coming off the thread too soon.

Date: 10/8/98
From: Molly

A cardboard art portfolio makes an excellent and inexpensive case for safely transporting your cutting mat to classes. The portfolio is available in different sizes to accommodate different size mats, has handy carrying handles, and is available at both office and art supply stores. Along with your mat, tuck in your rulers, templates--whatever!

Date: 10/6/98
From: [email protected]

When chain sewing half square triangles from squares,I extend my quarter inch foot feed by carefully placing a thin metal ruler under the foot with the needle in an up position, carefully bend ruler down to machine top. Place masking tape along the outside edge to mark to the front of my machine. You can use the tape to match up both corners at once,and you dont have to mark all your squares. My tape is always left in place.Happy quilting,Doni

Date: 6/28/97
From: dottieb

Did ya know you can have squares and other shapes cut from plexiglass at the hardware store at very reasonable prices? drill ahole for hanging and you are in tall grass,when you begine that new project!

Date: 6/22/97
From: Roberta Spohn

Name of man who does rotary blade sharpening. L.P. Sharp HC3 Box 48A Emily,Mn 56447 I am sending for 10 generic blades 45mm $20. I'll see what they are like. Roberta

Date: 6/21/97
From: Molly, Merion, PA

This is an idea for anyone who wants to make a family tree quilt. Last Thanksgiving, we had all of my relatives from my father's side at my house to visit. Since they live in Ohio and we rarely see them, I wanted to make a quilt to commemorate the occasion. I made a family tree quilt. Each member of the family was given a square. I used the Ohio Star pattern, with the person's name in the center square and a fabric that reminded me of that person as the points of the star. At the top center were my two grandparents. In the row underneath were their four children. The next row had the spouses of each child. The following row had each couple's first child; the next had each couple's second child. One couple had a third, so I put a square for her in the next row and filled the rest of the row with picture squares that mean something special to my family. Since the two grandparents were in the center of the top row, I put a picture square on either side of them. Everyone got a square and the entire family was honored.

Date: 6/11/97
From: [email protected]

The best thing that I have found to organize and sort fabric are the plastic flat trays that you get at the nursery. Wash them off. Fold and sort fabric and then stack them up. I have about five and have divided my fabrics by color into the nursery flats. They sit nicely on shelves and are very portable to take to classes.

Date: 6/9/97
From: Jeannine

OK, just one more tip on what to do with the itsy bitsy scraps (bunny ears) that have a tendency to cover the floor. I too simply can't throw anything away. When my scraps become too small to piece with, I divide them into two categories:
1. Skinny strips. If they are, or can be cut, to appx an inch wide by about 3 inches long or so, they go into a big plastic bag. These are used for a rug base (or placemat or runner etc). They're tied onto a string. The ends create the fluffy top. It takes kazillions of these! Have so far created a long fluffy rope with neat colors, now need to find the directions on how to finish it! But at least they're not thrown away!
2. Bitsy scraps. Instead of the wastebasket (which I never seem to hit anyway), they go into a butter tub by my machine. Then just toss them into your garden. They're 100% cotton so they'll biodegrade into the soil. In the springtime, the birds love coming to get these for their nests.

Date: 6/2/97
From: Connie Henderson, [email protected]

Have you ever admired the lovely embroidery you can find on old handkerchiefs? Use them in crazy quilts or crazy quilt pillows, they work beautifully! I have made a whole quilt out of them, with pale pastel cotton triangles across from each one, but it took quite a few years and many garage sales to save so many.

Date: 6/1/97
From: [email protected]

I have been looking for an inexpensive way to store my fabric stash so that I could see all the colors at the same time. I finally found it - at K-Mart for $8.95 on sale, no less! It is a five shelf hanging storage organizer that hangs in the closet of my sewing room. It was easy to snap together and holds a lot of fabric. If you are lucky enough to have some spare closet space, you might want to try one.

Date: 5/26/97
From: Ann

In response to what is a good quilt marker on dark fabrics. I have found that the soapstone marker is excellent.It has a holder, that you can remove and sharpen the soapstone like a pencil and get a really nice point for thin lines. The markings stay on for a long time, much better than chalk. It is a natural product and rubs off with a piece of cloth. Refills are also available,check out your local quilt shop.

Date: 5/26/97
From: Sue, "[email protected]"

To trace complicated designs onto dark fabric or onto quilts that have already been basted (you, know, where a light table won't work, and you are not using a commercial stencil, or don't want to cut one), trace your design onto freezer paper. With a tapestry needle, punch holes along the lines at intervals, say 1/8-1/4", whatever appears to be a resonable distance for dots. Place your finished "pattern" where you want the transfer. Fill a dish with cinnamon, dip a fat cotton ball into the spice and dab it onto the marked lines. After you have covered the entire piece, carefully lift the pattern, and trace your lines with whatever type of marker you choose for your fabric. Shake the cinnamon out, and quilt. I've found that the cinnamon will stay long enough for you to easily trace your design and it leaves no trace.

Date: 5/26/97
From: Betty

The best ruler I have found is called Square N
Square. You can make your squares in a square any
size you want, plus flying geese and pinwheels all
same size so they fit together in your quilt. All
you do is sew strips. I found this ruler in a quilt
shop. Rolling Hills Quilters Corner in Alexander NY
They will mail it to you. They also are the distributors
for a ruler called "Spin Ruler" They had an article
about the in American Quilters Mag Spring 1997.Have
been playing with that ruler too. Makes real easy
circles, that really make your colors fly.Both rulers
are under $20.00 and have made my piecing easier and fun.
Give them a call 716-591-3606. Happy Quilting.

Date: 5/23/97
From: [email protected]

Bitty Fabric Pieces:
I always felt wasteful getting rid of the pieces that were too small for me to
want to quilt with. But recently I met someone working in a preschool. Now I give
any scraps, including the little rabbit ears to her. The kids glue them on projects,
and just generally have a blast with them. No more waste!

Date: 5/20/97
From: Anthony: [email protected]

Attn machine quilters: when you need to tansfer an intricate design to the quilt top, don't worry about marking. Just trace the drawing on to tissue paper.(The kind used in gift boxes, you probably have some stashed away or can get for free at your favorite Dept store.) Pin the tissue to drawing and sew on the lines. The tissue easily tears away and there are no marks to remove.

Date: 5/20/97
From: [email protected]

In an attempt (read "lesson in futility") to keep my sewing area tidy, I keep a small plastic bowl (like a cool-whip container) on the corner of my ironing board. As I press and trim threads, those pesky corners from triangles, etc. I put them into the container. Then, when I'm through for the moment or the container is full (whichever comes first), I empty it into the wastebasket. This helps (some) and does prevent me from constantly tripping over the wastebasket.

Date: 5/19/97
From: [email protected]

I have found my husbands old leather work gloves make great quilting thimbles. I cut off the salvagable fingers (whole), wash them and with use they eventually form to your own fingers. They are thicker than the thimbles I have purchased and free!Actually it was his idea!

Date: 5/19/97
From: Patty in Holland

Don't throw away those small pieces of batting that are left over after trimming your quilt for the binding. I save even the smallest pieces, keep them in a bag, and when it's time to make those small stuffed Christmas ornaments or small pillows, stuffed animals etc., just split and stuff. Works great and saves time and money too.

Date: 5/17/97
From: BeeBee

I learned from a friend that if you color copy your fabric you can cut out the shapes and make a design out of the paper. It's a great way to see what your quilt will look like when you're done.

Date: 5/13/97
From: [email protected]

So often we purchase expensive and beautiful quilting books and then have to nearly ruin them in order to use the patterns or templates. If you want the book to lay flat on the table next to your machine, you must crack the binding.

I have found that if I take these books to my local Kinkos center that they can put in a spiral binding for about $2.50 - 3.00.

Then, when I need to trace a foundation piecing pattern, traditional templates or applique patterns the book will lay flat and is not distorted. This also helps when photocoping patterns because it will lay flat on the glass of the copy machine.

Date: 5/13/97
From: Carol in Georgia

I use the fingers cut out of latex gloves, the kind you get for painting, cleaning, etc. as finger cots. Generally, i just need one on my index finger. However, I have found a way to make them more comfortable and last longer. I put some talcum powder in a small plastic cosmetic jar (about 1.5" in diameter) and keep it in the squarish plastic food container I use as my portable quilting kit. Stick your finger in it both before you put on the finger cot and again before you take it off so that it gets dusted on both sides. This is a real help for me. Also, I have stuck short pieces of magnet strip to the inside sides of my little box to help keep track of needles.
I love designing and piecing quilts but have little time for that at present. So, I keep my my hand quilting by outline quilting "cheater blocks" which I then turn into pillows which my kids and friends all love. I make them in sham fashion so that the inside can come out and just wash the cover. I have just got connected to the Net and will have to watch myself with the surfing!

Date: 5/1/97
From: Dolores [email protected]

When arranging blocks before sewing into a quilt top, use a safety pin across each block edge where they will be joined. The whole thing can be picked up an taken to the sewing machine. Fold over one row, remove the safety pins, use straight pins to match seams, etc., and chain-piece the whole row. It is not necessary to cut the threads between blocks. When the rows are finished in one direction, turn the piece 90 degrees and join the rows across. For bed-size quilts, divide the top into four more or less equal "quarters and treat each as a separate small quilt. Before sewing, indicate the blocks where all four sections meet such as pinning them with tags 1,2,3,4. If you use this method, your blocks will never become turned around or wind up in a different place after you have carefully decided on their arrangement, and if you are interrupted, they will never get misaligned.

When hand-piecing, eliminate knots completely and back-stitch 2 or 3 times at the beginning and end of each seam, and chain piece to the end of the thread. If you backstitch by inserting your needle behind the last stitch instead of in front, the seam will be locked along its entire length and may even be cut through without coming undone. I use this locked running stitch to piece blocks for tiny miniature quilts that would be impossible to do on the sewing machine. If you enjoy hand sewing as much as I do, you may find that this hint allows you to do things you couldn't do before, such as Seminole patchwork.

Date: 4/30/97
From: Jennifer in Michigan

When I'm foundation piecing blocks for
wallhangings or wearable art, I trace my blocks
on cheap sew-in interfacing. After stitching
the blocks I simply put them in my projects. No
time consuming ripping of paper foundations.

Date: 4/22/97
From: Shirley, Michigan

I have found the gold needles to be very difficult to use - they seem to "stick" in the fabric/batting when I am trying to quilt. I have tried them with polyester and cotton batting.

Date: 4/22/97
From: Shelley on the Wild Prairie

Free fabric scraps (some of them pretty good sized) are often available from the cutting rooms or cutting services of garment manufacturers. I've even dragged home huge bags that were set out on the curb to be picked by the trash truck (ending up in the landfill--what a waste of fabric!). If you are lucky enough to live in a city with a garment manufacturer or two (or many), large or small, check to see what happens to their scraps. Some sell it in bags for maybe $5 or $10 per huge bag. I've even gotten one cutting room to set aside all of their 100% cottons for me, for free. Otherwise, I get a kick out of sifting through a bag looking for treasures, like a silver glitter chambrey I found once, or rayons for yoyo's. Depending on the manufacturer there may be woven plaids, flannels, you name it. Let's keep usable scraps out of the landfills by putting them in our quilting projects!

Date: 4/21/97
From: Kira

Hey, all you cyber-quilters out there! If you put a mini tabletop ironing board on your computer desk, you can surf and iron at the same time! Heehee!

Date: 4/20/97
From: Jane, Michigan

Try out different brands of needles till you find one that works for you. In my quest to own all the tools/gimmicks/supplies that are known to quilting, I have finally narrowed it down to the size I prefer (10 betweens) and my favorite brand, John James. They're not always easy to find, but your local quilt shop should be able to special order. They are wonderful! You feel like you're quilting through butter.

Date: 4/20/97
From: JJ

When quilting, insert the needle in perpendicular or even slightly backward in order to have a small first stitch.
Happy quilting.

Date: 4/19/97
From: lorrie choman

I second a previous hint re: examining table
paper; I asked my Family doc/husband to bring
some home, as I had run out of tracing paper
and our local office supply store had closed
for the day. I can attest to the great
utility of this paper!! Try it; you'll
be surprised.

MY HINT/OBSERVATION: Why remove the paper???
I recently finished a wall-hanging for a quilt
guild challenge project that has some machine
quilting (actually it is almost the identical
project as on the front of Carol Doak's Easy
Machine Paper Piecing) and due to time
constraints, I opted not to remove the paper.
Surprisingly, I've noticeed the wallhanging
hung very nicely, machine-quilted well and
seems more durable than if I had removed
the paper. Obviously, you wouldn't want to
leave paper in a project that you intend to wash
but you may want to consider leaving it in
for a walhanging, etc.

Most importantly: take the time to measure
and trace exactly. Copiers generally DO NOT
produce accurate copies for foundation piecing
I have also not been satisfied with needle punch
technique (i.e. running several pieces of paper
through an unthreaded machine using a master
copy on top), but heh, whatever works for you!!

Date: 4/13/97
From: wendy <[email protected]>

To: [email protected] dated 2/25/97.
Have you tried using old pictures from calanders as envelopes. Just open out an old envelope for a pattern. The last ones I took along to our g roup meeting had Teddy Bears on them and everyone flattened them out after removing their fabric swaps and used the Teddy Bears for patterns for the Quilts of Love we are making. Quilts of Love are to be given to mothers of Still born babies to nurse their babies and then keep the quilt. From Wendy, Cairns, Australia.

Date: 4/11/97
From: Anthony

When machine quilting, wear white cotton gloves (beauty gloves or the kind ladies used to wear to church) instead of rubber finger cots. The gloves cling to the fabric and make it much easier to manipulate the quilt with less pressure and strain on the hands and arms. And they breathe so your hands are more comfortable. Plus they keep the quilt clean.

Date: 4/9/97
From: Nina-Marie, Erie, PA

After many attempts to keep my sewing room organized,
this is the one thing that finally works. As I'm cutting
pieces for a project, I throw all reusable scraps into
a pile. When the top is done, I take a cut down all
the scraps into fat quarters, 6" squares, 5" squares,
3" squares and 2.5" squares. I then put some into
presorted boxes and some into a box to trade. I've
even sorted the boxes for lights and darks. Now when
I need just the right scrap for a project I have it
and its not all around my cutting table!!

Date: 4/3/97
From: Anthony

It's not a quilt until the binding is done.

Date: 3/22/97
From: 'Kathy' [email protected]

The magnet found in old microwaves (you can ask for them from appliance repairmen) is very strong.
Use it to hunt for those pesky pins that are often stuck in the carpet! Watch out tho..it will even pick up your scissors!

Date: 3/21/97
From: Cathy Wetzel

To remove blood stains that are fresh use peroxide. Just dab it on or pour it directly onto the stained clothing. This works wonderful. If the clothing has been washing it's too late. Happy Quilting.

Date: 3/20/97
From: Kathleen Ebert Yaw

If your pieced blocks are not as accurate as you would like, set them on the diagonal. Those mismatched corners and cut-off points will be much less noticable.

Date: 3/18/97
From: Jennifer George, [email protected]

I once had a very large problem. I was always dropping pins and needles on the carpet where they would be lost (until they turned up in someone's foot). Now I have a magnetic pin cushion for when I'm sewing. For storage, I use old medicine containers with small magnets in the bottom to hold my pins. It works great and keeps things neat. Happy quilting!

Date: 3/18/97
From: Renee Schut Yakima, WA

If you're frugal and can't throw away those spendy
sewing machine needles, this is for you! An old
carpenter once tested these needles for strength;
hanging 20, even 30 lb weights on them before they'd
break. "As a nail," he explained, "they make a much
smaller hole in your wall, and there tuffer steel
than regular nails." So, dull needles can have a
second life after all. (If you haven't already broken
it on the machine).

Date: 3/18/97
From: Renee Schut Yakima, Washington

In making Log Cabin quilts, a cork board the size
of a school desk top helps keep the strips organized. Strips can be pinned according to color.
Small note paper labeling the order/sequence should
be @ the top of you strips to keep you organized.
I recommend assembling one entire square, first.
Then pin it up for constant referrence. If you have
a quilt retreat and you want to work on your Log
Cabin, just take your board with you (strips and labels
are already portable!!). Lean the board up against
a chair,if you don't have wall space.
QUILT ON!!!!!!!!

Date: 3/16/97
From: Lynda MacKenzie, Nanoose Bay, B.C.

To stop cats from sleeping on your quilt in progress on your quilting frame, put a long strip of tinfoil across the quilt. Cats will not cross the tinfoil.

Date: 3/16/97
From: Diane S. Keagy, Fernandina Beach, Florida

To make quilting thread tangle less, I got a great idea from a member of our quilting guild. Cut your thread in 18 inches lengths, run it through your bees wax, take a piece of wax paper and fold it over the thread. I cut many different colors before I start. Place the wax paper in a paper bag and with a warm iron, iron over the bag. It makes the wax melt into the thread and makes it very stiff! Hope you enjoy this hint!

Date: 3/14/97
From: Bethany Reynolds

Re: Printing on fabric

If you print on fabric with a black &white laser printer, you can set the ink by giving it 2-3 good coats of Krylon brand artist's fixative (available at art supply stores). This tip is from Jan Cabral. I've tested it with good results.

Date: 3/11/97
From: ALOTTA Hands Quilting Guild

One way to sharpen your needles is to pass them through your hair. The oil will lubricate them. It makes them easier to sew with. Oh yes, have fun surfing the net!

Date: 3/11/97
From: [email protected]

Thank you for your advice on Synthrapol. A friend brought me back a bottle from USA and it is truly magic! Restored my quilt, which was badly stained with colour run, perfectly.

Date: 3/9/97
From: [email protected]

I just purchased four 1870's quilts at an auciton

Fabulous double pinks, indigo's, deep reds, chrome greens you know - the kind you die for! (and i'll be disgusting - the lot only cost me $140) But, as old quilts often are - they had been attic stored, and were musty, dusty and smelly - but not really dirty. Not wanting to risk these beauties to the tender mercies of my washing machine, or the great outdoors (sun fades old fabric, and besides, it's raining!) I plunked one into the dryer and set it to air fluff. Magic! after half an hour the accumulated smells and dust had exited to the lint trap, and the quilt was soft, smell-less and ready to be displayed!

Date: 3/8/97
From: Joy in Virginia

I have trouble finding time to sew due to a very active 4 Yr. Old. So when I find a few minutes to my self, I cut 3"stripsin a varity of colors, and later I can put these together a many different block combos. This is great when you need a quilt in a hurry, such as a baby quilt. 9 patch workd great with this method. It doesn't take much time to sew the strips and set the blocks.

Date: 3/7/97
From: Marci

"Finished is better than perfect!"

Date: 3/6/97
From: Marie

To get blood from fabric, avoid water as it can "set" the stain. Instead use saline solution, as for contact lenses. Of course this works best on fresh stains.

Date: 3/4/97
From: Maria Macksel, [email protected]

when machine quilting 'in a ditch' my hands keep slipping on the fabric and get tired quickly. Now I use two pieces of large grain sand paper, folded into about 1.5 sq inch. I place each piece on each side of the needle and gently pull the fabrics away. No more slipping and it is easier on my hands and shoulders.

Date: 3/2/97
From: Flower Wesselman

Always use clothe that matches.

Date: 3/2/97
From: APP in Georgia

If you prick your finger and bleed on your fabric
while sewing, quilting, etc. the easiest and quickest
way to remove the blood is to use your own saliva.
This is a sure way to remove your own blood stain.
However, only your own saliva will remove your

Date: 3/2/97
From: karen L. clark, Milford, CT.

To keep your foot pedal from slipping,cut a piece of rubbermaid shelf liner a little larger than the size of your foot pedal and place it under the pedal. Works great keeping the pedal in one spot rather then slipping all over on a bare floor or carpet.

Date: 2/27/97
From: meridith johnson, renton, wa

To remove blood from cotton fabrics, soak with a bar of SOAP or soap shavings in cool water to cover or saturate the area. Overnight will generally lift all traces. Rinse and wash normally

Date: 2/26/97
From: DDB in Fresno

When you are stuck for a fresh idea try taking letting a child pick out fabrics. My three-year-old is great for coming up with matches that are not obvious but work well.

Date: 2/25/97
From: [email protected]

When I was ironing some FQ's for a recent swap, and evil little idea popped into my head.
I like to "recycle" envelopes from previous swaps, business mailings, etc. instead
of spending a fortune on heavy kraft envelopes. But the dilemma has always been
how to get the sticky labels off of the used envelopes. Provided they are adhesive
and not lick-n-stick labels, you can remove them easily just by placing them under
your warm iron for a few seconds and then gently peeling away. If any of the adhesive
remains, you can simply cover it up with clear packaging tape. Believe me, this
simple step can save you a fortune in large manilla envelopes!

Date: 2/23/97
From: [email protected]

After reading your tips about printing on fabric
with an ink jet printer, I ironed muslin on
freezer paper and cut it to 8 1/2 X 11. Then I
made quilt labels and pictures using Printmaster
Gold. The fabric fed through the printer easily,
and the printing was great. Colors were vivid.
But when I washed the fabric, all of the color
washed out except the black, and it was a little
faded. I even ironed the fabric to set in the
color before I washed it. Anybody have any ideas
about how to set in the ink colors? I found the
fabric carrier at www.sendit.com, but the freezer
paper worked great, so I don't see any need in
buying the carriers.

Date: 2/22/97
From: Deb Szymanski, Stafford, CT

When creating flying geese units, use sew squares
instead of triangles to the rectangle units. Then,
stitch 1/2" from the original stitching line.
Cut 1/4" from original stitching line, voila, you
have a perfect flying geese, and extra half-square
triangle squares. I use these small half-square
triangle squares to make a wallhanging or tablecover
to coordinate with my original project.

Date: 2/19/97
From: [email protected]

My 1/4" seam accuracy greatly improved when I began using a sticky note pad against the edge of the presser foot. The thickness of the whole pad allows me to run the edge of my fabric right up against the pad without having the stress of constantly eyeballing the edge of the foot to get that perfect seam. The sticky pad can be easily removed when not needed.

When arranging a pieced block beside an unpieced block when setting your quilt, I cut that unpieced block slightly smaller than the pieced one, 1/8 - 1/4" depending on the overall size of the block. Then I sew them together with the smaller one on top. The presser foot will "stretch" the smaller one slightly to fit the pieced block. For me, this technique cuts
down on the little bit of puckering that sometimes comes when joining blocks of unequal amounts of piecing.

Date: 2/18/97
From: Susanne Ellenberger, One Stitfch At A Time, [email protected]

"Buttermilk Recipe"

1 Gallon Water
1 Quart Buttermilk
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

Mix ingredients and soak quilt in mixture. Then was in washer with mild detergent. You won't believe how brilliant your colors will return to. This gets out yellowed age spots.

Date: 2/15/97
From: Deborah

A few years ago I asked for a sewing box for christmas. I wanted a decorative one
to sit in my living room when not in use. My Mother gave me a fishing tackle box
instead - I wasn't specific in my request. It has turned out to be the best sewing
box ever. I put the big stuff in the bottom and the pop-up trays have plastic dividers
that can be adjusted to create spaces large enough for the other stuff. It doesn't sit
in my living room though.

Date: 2/7/97
From: Karen

I use Thread-fuse to attach bindings to my quilts. Use it in the bobbin and regular thread on top. Attach the binding like you would normally. I trim my quilt even with the binding. Then when I flip the binding edges to the back I press it with an iron. The thread-fuse melts adhering the binding to the back. Then at my leisure I can hand stitch the binding down. I don't have to worry about pins (which always find my fingers to see if I can bleed on my quilt) and I don't have to hold my binding down. It works great!!
I also use it for fusing my bias stems to my applique piece. Once again I don't have pins to get me and it doesn't distort my piece like pins will.

Date: 1/29/97
From: [email protected]

For an easy way to applique: Use bridal net (tulle)to gace each applique piece taking a seam width just the amount you would turn under. Make a small slit in the net and turn right side out and press. The tulle adds no thickness to your piece. This would not be feasible to use for very small applique pieces.

Date: 1/26/97
From: Sharon Austin,Tx

For dark fabrics I use Berol Verithin pencils,
#753 silver or #743 Pink. You should be able to
find both at a stationary store. Keepsake
Quilting also has a set of 6 of these pencils in
their catalog. I've never had any trouble getting
these to wash out.

Date: 1/25/97
From: Karen Bush- Richmond, MO

I have a few, so I'll put them on one list:
l. Use a prescription bottle to hold your needles, then label the bottle with size/ make, etc
2. Put a finger nail clipper on l/4" elastic and tie it around your neck, they'll always be handy to clip thread. Leave it loose enough to just pull over your head.
3. Use a poloroid to take pictures of quilts-in-process on your work wall, you'll get a new perspective of your work and colors.

Date: 1/17/97
From: SharonLynn Martinez, Dallas, Texas

A couple of hints that have worked for me: 1. I attached batting and white flannel to the back of my tall chest of drawers, then placed the back of the chest of drawers facing the foot of my twin bed. I can lie in bed and design quilts, consider the work-in-progress as I go to sleep, and enjoy the view first thing each morning!
2. When I want to continue quilting beyond the tolerance of my fingers, I layer several thicknesses of a liquid bandage product called "Skin Shield" on my punctured fingers. It goes on like nail polish, smells like benzoin, provides a barrier for the needle to touch while allowing me to continue making small, even stitches, and it peels off when I wash my hands in warm soap and water. It's available at most drug stores.
3. The quickest healing time for my quilting fingers is made possible by handwashing the dinner dishes after I've finished quilting for the evening. Apparently the activity of working the fingers in the warm, soapy water and the actual time spent in the soapy water seems to speed up the healing time.

Date: 1/17/97
From: Adrian from Inchelium, Washington

I keep several pin cushions at my sewing machine,
one for the different sewing machine needles, one
for hand sewing, and another for craft, etc. type
of sewing including pins. I also have different
cute containers for sizes of buttons, makes it
easier when I'm looking for that certain diameter.

Date: 1/17/97
From: Judy in Florenceville, NB

I use an inexpensive silverware tray in my sewing
drawer. It's perfect for storing marking pencils
pins, needles, and other small sewing notions that
I like to keep at readily avaliable, I no longer seach
for these items that would be otherwise scattered about.

Date: 1/16/97
From: Betty in Oregon

Hi, Office Max has a special ink jet package for
Cannon and HP printers. These have a special ink
and special paper for printing out photos from your
Computer. Around $35 or so here in Oregon
Hugs Betty

Date: 1/15/97
From: Michelle in Michigan

Just wanted to share a great book with everyone.
"Around the Block" by Judy Hopkins. It has rotary
cutting instructions for 200 blocks. Gives instructions
for each block in 6 different sizes!! It's what I
have been looking for for quite a while, and I
thought I'd share it with you all.

Date: 1/15/97
From: ScotFinn

When marking borders, always mark the corners first,then divide the space between them into equal units. Make your stencil fit each unit,then mark it on your quilt. The reason you do the corners first is the more complicated stencils have different length sections on the corners stencils and the measurement would be incorrect if the inside is done first. I teach a course in marking quilts. This is the best method.

Date: 1/13/97
From: Ann

I just found the greatest new product yet!!! It's a fabric carrier suitable for the ink jet printer. All you have to do is cut an 81/2 x 11" piece of fabric, affix it to the carrier and run it thru your printer. It's wonderful!!! Now I can try out all those patterns I've designed for my new quilts before I go fabric shopping. I found it at: http://www.sendit.com/mformat. It's manufactured by the Micro Format Imagination Gallery. Pretty neat product. I've also printed some cross stitch pictures on it to make quilt panels and they look pretty cool. I've used a 50/50 medium weight cotton.

Date: 1/12/97
From: [email protected]

I have just read a marvellous way to take the math out of borders. Take a long piece of freezer/
greaseproof paper the length of your quilt minus the end square. Do the same for the width. Fold into even
sized pieces and draw or trace your block design onto it between each fold. Lastly design the corner

I also use greaseproof (tracing paper) to both free machine and regularly machine quilt as per Sharon's hint.


Date: 1/12/97
From: Sharon from Austin,Tx

When I machine quilt free-motion designs I trace
the design onto tracing paper and safety pin it to
the quilt and quilt on the drawn lines. There are no
no lines to erase when I'm done,just tear away the
paper and I'mdone

Date: 1/12/97
From: mary glover, oklahoma city

when making wallhangings, instead of hand sewing the binding and also the rod pocket on the back I use the narrow stitch witchery on the back. Just sew the binding on the front as usual and fold it over to the back, tuck the stitch witchery underneath ( with your 1/4" folded under of course) and fuse it all around. It looks perfect and is quick and easy.

For the rod pocket I use a large peice of wonder under and fuse. Voila! No hand sewing and it looks great.

Date: 1/10/97
From: Jill/Durban,S.A.

To DEE/NY : The very best marker I have used for dark fabrics is General's Multi-Pastel Chalks - they come in white, light blue and grey and the markings rub out very easily. You have to sharpen with a craft blade or electric sharpener though as the chalk breaks easily. I do all my dark fabric marking with these. They are wonderful. I also use the Ultimate Marking Pencil - marvellous.

Date: 1/9/97
From: Ann

I use a small clothes drying rack (about three feet high with 20 inch wide dowels) for keeping my strips organized when making log cabin blocks. It is parked next to my machine and keeps everything both organized and handy. A pasta drying rack would also work.

Date: 1/9/97
From: ScotFinn

For the people who are having trouble with fabric bleeding. Thre are two commercial products fror this problem. SYNTHRAPOL stops runs and bleeding after they happen. RETAYNE sets color before it happens. Hope this helps! Jill

Date: 1/8/97
From: June at [email protected]

When appliqueing stems I now use Steam A Seam instead
of stitch-witchery or wonder under. It adds less bulk
and is much easier to use. It is now available in
a 1/4" width on a 25 yard roll. I also use Steam
A Seam for iron on applique techniques. It can be
sewn through and does not leave your project hard
and stiff like Heat and Bond and is more permanent
than Wonder Under. The Paper backing can be used
like freezer paper too.

Date: 1/6/97
From: DEE/NY

The Ultimate Marking Pencil for Quilters is the best marking pencil I've tried! It is a mechanical pencil that has a special lead that washes out of fabric - KUDOS to the UMP. BUT.. can anyone tell me what to use for dark fabrics? I love the mechanical pencil and have not found a light colored lead to go in it that washes out of fabric. Any suggestions appreciated.

Date: 1/3/97
From: Lois Doyle [email protected]

When cutting out strips while using the green cutting mat, I find it is easier to visualize the edge of the fabric being cut by placing a piece of a light (contrasting color) piece of paper under the edge of the fabric being cut. In doing so, the edge shows up clearly.

Date: 1/3/97
From: Elisa [email protected]

When appliqueing stems and leaves to a quilttop, I
like to use wonder-under hemtape to hold it in
place (just enough--not too much). This way my
pins won't distort the stem and it'll be nice and
straight as I applique it down.

Date: 12/29/96
From: "Harriette" [email protected]

My favorite method for making labels has become to create a frame the size I wish the label to be with my word processor. Using a nice script type font, add the writing. I am rather partial to Shelley Allegro or Ribbon31 Bd BT. Then, using either clip art or one of the Dover transfer or embroidery designs, add art work. Stabilize the label material with either freezer paper or one of the press on tear-aways for machine embroidery. I use a light box to transfer all of the lettering and artwork to the fabric. I use an assortment of Pigma pens to ink the label. I don't try to fill the artwork but use cross hatching.

Date: 12/28/96
From: [email protected]

Making Quilt Labels.
I have computer clipart for quilters from "Quilt
Clips", its wonderful. It has several quilt
label borders that you can make any size you wish.
After pasting the label I type in the information
that I wish to have on my label, using colors if
I wish.
I then take a piece of prewashed, prepressed, good
quality muslin, cut it the size of an 8 1/2 by 11"
sheet of cardstock. I attach the fabric to the
lightweight cardstock, using a glud stick.
I then place it in my ink jet printer, and print
it. Cut it to size and stitch it to my project
It works great.
Im not certain how many washing it will go thru,
but for wall hangings that do not get washed that
often, it works great. I have used this method
for my larger size quilts also.

Date: 12/28/96
From: M. Richling, Omaha, NE

With regard to Mary Blevins comments on using the computer to generate letters for applique; I took this one step further. Using CorelDraw, the letters were "mirror imaged". I cut my freezer paper to standard size, 8 1/2 x 11 inches. These sheets were placed in my printer, one at a time. I then printed the letters directly onto the freezer paper. Cut them out and they are ready to use for freezer paper applique. My printer is a Hewlett Packard 550C.

Date: 12/28/96
From: [email protected]

For an easy and inexpensive way to hang your quilts
of all sizes, try this method.
Attach a sleeve to the top of your quilt back, being
sure that it is at least 1 1/2" shorter then the
quilt on each side.
Purchase 1" x 1/4" square moulding and cut your
moulding an inch longer on each side then your
sleeve, but shorter then your quilt width.
Drill two holes approx. 3/1" from each end of the
Mark thru the holes on the wall where you want
to hang your quilt. Drive 1 1/2" finishing nail in
Now all you have to do is put your moulding strip
thru you sleeve and then slip the moulding thru
the finishing nails. Your quilt is hung.
This method allows you to take your quilt down
quite easily and replace it with another
if you wish.
I have hung several quilts this way, and it has
proven to be quite sturdy. The quilt hangs flush
against the wall and there is nothing to take
away from the quilt itself.
I would be interested in knowing how it works for

Date: 12/27/96
From: Polly in Texas


Date: 12/27/96
From: Elisa 'n MA [email protected]

I'm was terrible at making quilt labels until I
dreamed this up---now I can't wait to finish a quilt
just to use this! Using a photo from a clip art book
<Dover publishes inexpensive ones and can be found
at any local bookstore with MANY motifs>
photocopy it onto a piece of plain copy paper. Then
using a Sulky transfer pen, trace right over the lines
on the paper that you wish to be transferred. Using
a warm iron, transfer the design onto the fabric
(just like an iron-on) and heat set it.
Personalize it and attach it to the quilt. Non-artists
can now make the most wonderful pictures, borders, etc
and the pens come in many different colors!

Date: 12/26/96
From: Rebekah in Louisiana

Many quilters like to use pinking scissors to prevent fabric from raveling when prewashing the fabric. Next time, try using the WAVE blade for Rotary Cutters. It's quick and it is easy. The large and rounded edges that it produces seems to do a much better job of preventing raveling than does the sharp, short edges produced by "pinking."

Date: 12/26/96
From: Mary Blevins - Cedar Hill, Tx

Want some nice lettering or numbers to applique on your quilt?

I am working on an appliqued Christmas quilt. I wanted to incorporate the word JOY into the quilt. I used my computer graphics software, selecting a lovley bold typeface and printed out the word JOY, in an enlarged print so that each stroke in theletters was about 1/2 inch wide (large enough to applique on the sewing machine) Next I placed freezer paper on top of the lettering and traced the letters. Next iron the paper on to the right side of the fabric from which you are going to make the letters. Then iron two way fusing paper to the wrong side of the fabric. Cut out the letters, peel off the frezeer paper and alsothe back of the fusing paper, and viola, you have perfect letters all ready to fuse to your quilt.

Date: 12/26/96
From: Ann from Huber Heights Ohio

For complex quilt draw your design on transparent material. Then project your design on poster board for a sturdy pattern trace and cut out. Sew till your heart is content. From: PAK from Hilo Hawaii

I may be sharing an idea that isn't new to some, but then again it might inspire others. A daughter of a friend of mine was going away to school from Hawaii. Three friends (including the mother) pooled our ideas, resources and time to make this young lady a beautiful guilt, using her soccer 'shirts' and other memerobilia from High School. She was an outstanding soccer player and is now playing in college. We cut out the designs from these items and appliqued them onto muslin, outlined each square with a border and backed the quilt with the same border fabric. She now has a warm coverlet, plus is always in touch with many of her high school days and memories.

From: Mary Ann in Spokane

If you are looking for old cottons to use in your quilts, one of the best places to check out is your local thrift store. Frequently there are aprons to be had for a couple of dollars (or even less!), and they usually have half a yard to a yard of usable fabric. My theory is that people tend to keep old aprons at the back of their linen closets for thirty or forty years, and then they toss them all at once. The older ones often have typically corny old conversation prints, etc. (Those of you in Spokane: Leave a few for me, ok?)

From: From: Tina in Seattle

I use one of those acrylic cookbook holders to hold my quilting rulers. I prop it right behind my cutting mat and then I can find the one I want. They work well holding a pattern next to the machine also.

From: Sue W.

Weatherstripping purchased in 8-10 foot lengths for your exterior doors works real well as a 1/4 inch guide for your sewing machine. Cut off a piece about 3 inches long and place right up against the edge of your presser foot. Press down to adhere. Can be taken off easily if need be and placed back down. I bought 3/8" thick by 3/4" wide and it works great!

From: Deborah Thorp, Oklahoma

Some muslins ravel badly so if you zig-zag the edges before you wash you will keep from losing LOTS of your yardage. I didn't do this and lost about a quarter yard with shrinkage and ravelling. Boy, was I disappointed!

From: Alene in California

When signing labels or drawing pencil lines on fabric put a piece of sandpaper underneath the fabric. It won't slip and is much easier to write on.

From: THE Expert

Don't use your sewing machine to make "look alike" hand-quilted stitches. It really looks super fake!

From: cynthia from ark

Turning the foot pedal of your sewing machine around 180 will stop all forward movement of the pedal. The pedal will move toward your foot,not away. It does work and works on all type floor coverings. Also run your hand sewing needle across your scalp. You will not beleive the difference!

From: Penny

To free-motion quilt on a machine that doesn't allow you to drop the feed dogs - just take scotch tape and tape over the feed dogs. Take care to leave the thread opening clear. Then attach your darning foot and you are good to go. This allows much more space and "free-motion" than a darning plate does. I have used this with flannel backed quilts with brilliant sucess!

From: Jane from Seattle

I have found two ways to tie off machine quilting that work great for me. If my project is going to be a family heirloom, I pull all of the threads through to one side (top or bottom does not matter). Befor tieing the square knot, I lay down a big tapestry needle to make a tiny space between the knot and the fabric. Next I thread the tails in a regular needle and pull them into the quilt sandwich. The little space made earlier by the tapestry needle makes it easier to get that knot to hide down in the fabric out of sight. When I know that my project is not going to be so precious, I put the last 4 machine stitches very close together so that they won't unravel. I clip the top thread right at the fabric. Next I pull the bobbin so that the top thread and the bobbin thread will leave their "whiskers" on the bottom after the bobbin thread is trimmed.

From: Betty Daly, Dubbo, Australia

My quilting table is a second-hand pool table. I use a piece of craftwood cut to the size of the table top, with adhesive felt on the underside so the table edges don't get scratched. I reasoned that the pool players of the world seldom suffer from bad backs and the height is just perfect. I also use a computer printer table on casters to wheel my machine up to the table, so I can spread and quilt without being cramped.

From: Carol Smith

Free Fabric!...There are alot of clothing manufatures and interior desingers who have fabric samples or scraps, free for the asking. There are other sourses for free fabric. Look thru your local phone book. Soon you'll have more fabric then you'll know what to do with.

From: Shannon M

When I am working with yarn, wether I am sewing knitting or crochetted items, or when I am tying the repairs on Grandma's old velvet blankets, I always thread the yarn needle with a piece of curling ribbon 1/4 inch wide. I just fold it in half and use it as I would a neddel threader. It is much easier than trying to get all four plys of the yarn through the same hole at once. Try it.

From: Joyce L

Don't throw out that old used rotary mat. i use mine to make templates measure and cut them out with exacto knife or other sharp knife. make one cut and then bend back and forth until it snaps. smooth with sandpaper. it works so great. sharp points and thick so you just cut around them.

From: Marianne C. N.M.

I go to my local hardware store, and have them cut a piece of plexiglass into the size square I want, like 12 1/2 inch or such. That way, I can make sure my unfinished blocks are the right size before I sew them into a top. You can actually get several sizes out of 1 sheet, and it'll only cost you about $5!

From: Donna in Ohio

If you are running low on money, a good source of quality fabric is the local furniture store. They often have to throw out high quality discontinued samples, some as large as 2 feet square.

From: Sandy E.

I'm new at quilting , but my grandmother taught me that when I'm doing alot of hand sewing to keep a bar of soap next to me and every once in a while just stick my needle in it . It goes through the material alot easier and smoother . I love to hand sew and use this all the time .So now I save all the small bars that are too small for bathing .

From: PJ Douglas in Illinois

I love to make wallhangings for special holidays and occasions for my front door. We have a metal door, so I sew magnets into the corners and top as needed to hold it in place. There are no holes in the door (my husband is happy) and my wallhangings stay in place very well.

From: Rebecca in Massachusetts

For expectant Moms, Take the new baby's quilt to the hospital to be used as the back drop for the hospital baby photo. I did this for each of my girls and it really looks cute.

From: Jan

Another hint for blood spots on quilts (fresh ones) is to use the hydrogen peroxide that you use for cuts. I keep Q-tips and a small bottle with my quilting supplies in a zip lock baggie. Dab, dab, dab, then use water to wash away. This usually works. Also a hint for applique. I make my pattern pieces out of cardboard, spray some fabric sizing into the sizing cap, dip you fingers in the sizing and wet the edges of your applique. Then take your iron and iron the edges over the cardboard. Let set a few minutes, and remove. I tried this with the plastic sheets (Mylar) that you are supposed to be able to iron, but they eventually curl.

From: Bonnie

When hand quilting, to make the quilting thread go through the fabric easier, rub the thread with a fabric softener dryer sheet. This helps to prevent tangling. This works for on embroidery floss also.

From: Sandra in Minnesota

when you have applied lace to your pillow top and are ready to sew the back of the pillow on, before you place the right sides together, tape that lace into place with masking tape. Easier than pins, and you don't get poked when you turn the pillow right side out.

From: Nicole in Chicago

When piecing my blocks I've found it quicker to set my sewing machine up on the ironing board. That way I don't have to get out of my seat to iron my seams.

From: Annie in Houston, Texas

If you are creating your own fuse and applique wallhanging, quilt, or wearable, lay the fusible web, face up, (fusing stuff towards you) on your ironing board. Then place the fabric right side up, wrong side on the fusible web. Lay wax paper over the scraps to be fused and you can iron to your hearts content and have a 'sheet' of fabric to applique for the future. Just cut out your shapes and the wax paper comes off one side, the fused fabric and removeable paper is on the other. All the time protecting your fabric, iron and board!

From: Phyllis from WI

When pre-washing fabric for quilting, I cut a corner off each side at the selvage edge. this keeps the piece from raveling and also indicates that it has been pre-washed.

From: Erica

If you need some inspiration for quilting designs, try looking at the templates that are sold for drafting and mapmaking They are quite inexpensive at the office super-store type places. I found a wonderful template with all different sizes of circles - with cross-hair marks - to use for marking the "teacup" quilting pattern.

Also: if you machine sew, don't forget to change your needle for every 10-12 hours of sewing! It makes a big difference sometimes.

From: Jeffry D. in Houston

Sometimes getting a sturdy thread through the eye of a small between can be difficult. The eyes of all needles are "punched" by machine, so there is an "in" and "out". Look or feel closely and you should be able to tell. It's much easier to slide the thread the way the eye was punched. <

Also, cut your thread at an angle and it should slide through quicker.

Remember to change position often to avoid back pain- it may be convenient to have the ironing board right there, but if you have to get up every once in a while, it may save you some pain.

From: Marie

If you don't want to finish the backside of the binding by hand and you know that using the machine the stitching will be crooked on the quilt top, just apply the binding in reverse. Instead of stitching the right side of the binding to the right side of the quilt top, stitch it to the right side of the back, fold and press toward the quilt top and sew on the machine. You can see where you are sewing and have the added strength of machine stitching.

From: Apsie in Des Moines

To trace quilting patterns onto a quilt after I've put the quilt in my quilting frame, I use net fabric that you would find in a bridal or craft section of a fabric store. I place the net over the pattern I want to quilt and outline it with a heavy marker. Then I place the net onto my quilt and trace over the design again with a fabric marking pencil, disapearing marker, etc. The pencil marks on both the net and the quilt top. i usually have to go over the pattern on the quilt top because it can be very light, but I've found this to be the quickest, easiest way to transfer a quilting pattern.

From: Sheila

I've been using invisible nylon thread for machine quilting. It's great except it's so easy to lose when you cut it. I attached a small piece of velcro (the hook side) to my machine head. Now when I cut the nylon thread, I press it into velcro and when I'm ready to start another section I don't have to untagle the thread or hunt for the end.

From: Vi

Use your quilttak basting gun to hold applique pieces on your quilt top. This allows you to place piece where you want them and keep them there. It also keeps pins from sticking you

From: Sharon Hughson in TH

I use a ping-pong table with two small tables my DH constructed for my sewing table. I raise 1/2 the p-p table against the wall and use it for a design wall with my portable wall insulation covered with batt. The p-p table is so huge I can leave several projects in cutting stages out on it or UFO's or machine quilt a King size without problem. I love my Bernina with my ping-pong table.

From: Dorie at Quilt Link of Montana

If you are dyeing fabric live near a cattle supply store, you are in luck! These stores sell syringes in every ml. size imaginable!! A "cc" = a "ml". I picked up an assortment of 9 syringes, size 20 to 65 cc's (ml's) for less than $8.00!

From: Alva T.

Need coordinating colors? Find an upholstery fabric or even one of your dresses in a paisley or floral design, one with many colors that you find pleasing. Then, pick colors for your quilt that correspond to those colors. The fabric designer (an expert) has done the job for you!

From: Phyllis V.

Looking for a great cutting table? Buy two kitchen base cabinets (15")and 1" plywood the length you want your table to be and the width of the cabinets. Attach plywood to cabinets and paint or cover with felt. The resulting table is a perfect height when standing (think of your kitchen counters)an when sitting if you use a counter stool.

From: Nancy, Kanata Ontario Canada

Two hints:
1) When hanging a quilt, I sew a 2" casing on the back of the quilt (a smaller casing can leave the appearance of a ridge), at the top, stopping about 1" - 1.5" from the edges. Then, I hang the quilt using a sash curtain rod which is just narrower than the finished quilt. This way, the quilt appears to float on the wall.
2) I don't have wall space for a flannel board which is protected from the sun so I turned my two 6 foot tall bookshelves into a room divider. One side has shelves full of books and the other side has flannel glued in place. This give a very large, movable design board. (Perfect for renters who don't want to fix holes when they move.)

One warning: 1) Putting any kind of fabric through a printer is ill-advised. It will reduce the life of your printer. This is especially true with laser printers because the fabric is coarser than paper and can etch the drum.

From: KC, Minneapolis

My husband is an ardent runner. I use the many running shoe boxes to store left over or small yardage fabrics by color. Experiment with folding, and the fabric fits vertically in the boxes allowing a quick look at what you've got. You can arrange fabric by color, prints, patters, etc. If you're really organized, you can label the boxes and stack them on a closet floor, under a bed, or other small space. It lets you look at a glance what fabric you have on hand.

From: Wendy

If blood is spilled by a pin prick onto your material, sponge it with your own saliva and the stain will disappear. Remember only your saliva will remove your blood

From: Laura H

When quilting shapes such as hearts on my blocks, I cut the shapes from contact paper and stick them onto the fabric. This eliminates the need to draw the shapes onto the fabric and they can be used for multiple blocks. I also have my husband help by printing multiple copies of the shape from the computer. This allows me to have several stencils for tracing which are consistent in size.

From: ??

To hold your narrow spools of thread so that you can see them, take a zip lock baggie and measure the length to fit the spool then sew across the bottom. Cut off the excess and voila you have a storage bag you can see through. Use a different bag for each color family.

From:Joan the quilter

Never quit quilting and all colors go together.

From: Kim T.in Chicago

Printing labels with muslin,or any other light color cotton and Heat'nBond Lite also works on the Apple Color StyleWriter 2400.Skip the manual or help-line tho-they thought I was crazy!Be sure your edges are cut clean.It took quite a while to find that one little thread that jammed it!

From: ??

Cover cardboard (I use 24X24) with a solid flannel. Staple or tape on backside. Form all the quilt block pieces on the flannel. Lean the flannelboard against the wall behind the sewing machine. The pieces will stay put until you take them off to sew together.

From: Charlene of Attica MI

Wanting to use my cutting board in several area's always left me with never having a good surface to work on. So I had my husband cut me out plywood boards the size of my cutting mats and I covered them with the new non skid material they have out. Not only can I store everything easy, my mat stays in place while I cut.

From: Pat, North Vancouver B.C. Canada

To store finished blocks flat for future use ask your friendly neighbourhood Pizza restaurant for a clean large size box. It's perfect.

From: ??

Pick out awesome,cool,exciting,pieces of cloth before you make the quilt and plan out what your quilt will look like before you start qiulting.Hopefully the little tiny hints will help you and your quilt!!

From: mtiernan

Use safety pins to put quilt together before machine quilting. This way, you don't get jabbed and stabbed !

From: Lynn S. in Omaha

Just an idea for those who want to make a special gift for a special anniversary. My parents are celebrating their 45th this year, and I couldn't think of a special quilt that wasn't full size, or a wall hanging. (mom didn't want anything else for the walls.) I decided on a small (12")double wedding ring in mom's kitchen colors It's 4 rings large (24"x24"), so it will fit on her round oak table. I'm cross-hatching the centers, and in the "melon" sections (12 of them) I'm stitching my parents' names, their wedding date, anniversary date, my brother and his wife, myself and my husband, the grandkids, and mom and dad's parents. The project is small and portable- workable in the car; and will be a nice remembrance of a special year.

From: Kathy from New Hampshire

Use the leather thimble when ironing for applique. You won't burn your finger when pressing those small seam allowances.

From: Fee, Holland

Took some hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds (unshelled), on an old towel, rollet it up, tied the ends and put it for up to 2 min. into the microwave. Put it around your neck, takes the tension away and eases headaches. Stays warm for about 30 min.

From: Sandi Kern

I always make extra bias strips when binding my quilts. I have recently found a way to store them. I wrap the strips flat around 3" styrofoam ball to form "rag balls", them keep them in a basket that decorate my sewing room.

From: Debbie C in Richland,Wa

For almost all of my paper piecing and quilting and tracing of machine or hand quilting I have found that the your doctor carries the right weight of paper on the examing table. It will cost only a few dollars and is perfect for the long side borders strips. You won't have to piece the paper as it comes on a roll and is as endless as the possibilities it holds.

From:Mary Jo from Tx

I love to use Plexiglass templates but many times they do not fit the quilt pattern I want to do at the time. When this happens I go to my local glass man and have glass templates cut. He seams the edges to remove any sharp edges. Then I'm off and rotary cutting like crazy! Curves are very easy to do just use the smaller rotary cutter. Be sure to put fabric grabbers on the bottom.

From:Cathy In San Diego

The PVC pipe to raise the tables is a good idea, except you should mention to use a pipe joint coupling (straight) that fits over the leg then glue the pipe into the coupling. The coupling will fit over the table leg and the pipe will support the table leg. Also use "schedule 40" pipe, it is heavier weight and will not break as easily. I suggest you cut the pipe long, put them on the table then adjust for your personal preferences. You may have to remove the rubber stopper on the table leg. If the PVC coupling/pipe is loose, drill a hole in the coupling and thread a screw through. Tighten the screw (large screw) to the leg and your table will be more stable.

From: Sandy

When teaching a sampler class, I provided each student with a large pizza box to hold their completed blocks. In this box was a piece of flannel attached with double faced tape to use a small design wall. This gave them a convenient place to plan the arrangement of pieces when there were choices to make.
Always carry one of those fabric glue sticks in your shopping supplies so that you can attach a scrap to a photocopy of supply list. Thjis helps remember which piece was purchased for what.

From: Mary Anne K

A peep hole (the kind that are used in front doors to see who is there) is an excellent way to look at quilts. It will only show the quilt and you will be able to see the colors jump at you. My teacher told me about it and I didn't believe til I tried it. You should too. It really good for laying out your blocks before you sew them up!!!

From : Yvonne

Our quilt guild is going to buy 10" pieces of PVC pipe to take to our retreat to put under each of the legs of some of the tables to raise them to a height that makes cutting much less painful on your back.This can be done on a table at home too.They are buying 1-1/2" Dia. but you would have to measure the dia. of your table.

From: june

I have never heard of using ammonia on quilts. If you go to the local feed and seed store you can get Orvus paste for about $13.00 a gallon. Or if you have a Petsmart near you look in the horse dept. and it is just as cheap. Also use this on all your laundry: 1 Tablespoon per load, dissolve before you put the clothes in a lot cheper and clothes a lot cleaner.

From: Sherrie G

to remove "thread puppies" from ripped out seams: (this works best on seams before you press) - use a lint roller, like we use for cat hair on clothes, use your seam ripper, separate the two fabrics, lay on flat surface, and roll the lint roller down the seam. It usually picks up most of the short ends of thread on the first roll .

From: Denise

At our quilting group we use pizza boxes to store our finished blocks. The medium size holds our 12" blocks perfectly and unfinished blocks also along with needle and thread. They are usually inexpensive to, most pizza stores will give them to you when you ask.

From: Karen K

For grabbing your needle while hand quilting try using a finger cot on the index finger of your quilting hand.It will always be there and you don't need to stop and pick up anything( like a rubber disk. They can be purchase at most pharmacies for around a nickle a piece.

From: Pam N

Since I am a NEW quilter, I don't know if this is a hint or something that is normally done by all quilters but it has been extremely handy for me. Using sandpaper for all templates and also under the material when marking. It keeps the fabric in place when drawing the pattern and it also helps to make the pattern marks a little darker and easier to read. Sandpaper sheets are quite economical - I find them in the Dollar store.

From: DeSigning Woman

To transfer pictures to fabric for quilting. Take your photographs to a place that can photocopy in color. In lieu of using their photocopy paper, fuse freezer paper to the back of "PosH"or El Dorado fabric, or a fine silk which is more expensive. Trim to 8 1/2 "x 11"and feed this into copier instead of regular copier paper.

When you make the copy the picture will transfer to the fabric. This in turn can be incorporated into a quilt, a pillow, or whatever. It is realy great and it really works. You can also do the same with your computer printer if you have a scanner, although the picture will not be as well, You can also do clip art from your computer in the same manner.

From: Woody

To keep my foot pedal from traveling all over the floor or carpet, I use a mouse pad! Take off the top layer (the design) and place under the foot pedal. Also another item is the weird looking shelf or drawer liner. It's hard to describe, looks like pebbled foam with lots of holes. I though it was fabric. Works great in my cupboards and drawers, now foot pedal doesn't slip and slid! I also use it to open jars of food!

From: Cathy G

When quilting, I find using a band-aid on my finger allows me to feel the needle, and not the pain. Put the band-aid on so the part with the cotton goes over the spot where you are pushing on the needle.

From: Bill T

If you need help holding on to your needle when you are pulling it through your quilt top and don't want to stop and pick up a piece of rubber try 'Tacky Dots'. These are small rubberized dots that stick to your fingertip with a adhesive product. They can be purchased in an office supply store and are intended for prople who do speed sorting and counting of money. They are manufactured by SPARCO and the stock number is 01590. Any office supply store should be able to get them even if they don't normally stock them.

From: Donna

I no longer use detergent or high-priced "quilt soap" to wash my fabrics, or even my quilts, unless they are *really* soiled. Instead, use plain old sudsy ammonia. Use 3/4 cup to a washer load. There will be no smell! Sizing will be removed, and it doesn't fade the colors like detergent will.

From: Dot from Texas

When there is absolutely nothing else you can possibly do with small leftover fabric strips, cut them into even smaller strips and place outside for the birds to use in making their nests. Helpful to the birds and a pretty sight for us to see!!!

From: Brenda

DO NOT! I repeat DO NOT put your fabric scraps outside for birds to use as nesting material. The cotton does not dry fast like hair and grass. Thusly the baby birds get wet, stay wet, get sick and die. A few threads here and there are fine, but limit it.

From: Marie, MA

Working with flannel is fun but remember after each sewing session to clean your sewing machine. Flannel has a lot more lint which can build up and interfere with your machine.

From: Marie W

If you are looking for that piece of rubber balloon to help you pull out a quilting needle and you don't have any, try to cut out a finger off your old kitchen rubber gloves, it should fit perfectly.

From: Norma D

My suggestions are all easy ones, but they've proved helpful to me. I keep my ironing board and iron set up at the same level as my work table to the left of my sewing machine, so all I have to do is swivel a little to iron as I go. Saves time from having to get up and walk across the room to the ironing board, and I've found that I iron more often because of the convenience now. ALSO, I keep a small paper bag taped to the work table, just below the right side of the sewing machine--very convenient for disposing of small thread-lets. Even though the trashcan is right there in the floor, this saves a little time.

And a rather obvious hint, if you're having trouble with 1/4" seams, check your sewing foot. I made a rather seriously-flawed assumption that I HAD a 1/4" foot on my machine already, but was having horrible trouble with anything that required templates, to the point that I had given up on templates pretty much and just did strip sewing. (Thank you, Eleanor Burns!) Finally discovered a 1/4" foot was available from Sears for my Kenmore (for about $10) and it's made a big difference. Just proves that old saw that having the right tools for each job makes it easier IS true!

From: martha v

When machine quilting, I use surgical gloves that fit tight that way I can still fell my tools

From: Cathy C.

I have discovered a "Post-It Note" glue stick. When playing with quilt designs I like to draw my basic block, border, piece, etc. on 1/4" graph paper. I then spread the "Post-It Note" glue on the back. After it dries for about 30 seconds I cut the pieces apart. I can then play with these little paper quilt pieces on a master sheet of paper until I am satisfied with my work. The pieces stick and lift up perfectly and it is often a good start before I start to play on my design wall. Sometimes I colour the pieces, sometimes I just use lead pencil to get the effects of shading. It works well for me!

From: Helen

Besides quilting, I sew a lot of shirts for my three boys. When I'm done cutting out the shirts, I cut the remaining "scraps" down to quilting sized pieces. If there are sections that are large, then I square them off. For the smaller, odd sized pieces, I use a set of templates to cut into usable shapes. Having templates 1-1/2-inch square and small triangles, etc., makes it go fast. I sort these pieces into the plastic containers from kid wipes (they come in various colors). The kids love to help sort the pieces and my oldest son has been designing his own quilt on a flannel board!

From: Jeannette in Vermont

If I'm working with darker fabrics, I prefer using a sliver of soap (those last small pieces you can no longer hold onto in the shower).

From: Juanita L.

When piecing small blocks, or bias squares, I use paper as a foundation so that I am not pulling on the fabric. I place the two pieces of fabric right sides together and put them on a strip of paper. Then I use the paper to hold on to so that I do not stretch out the fabric.

From: Mickey

Having lived overseas for a number of years, I have found that using native fabrics from your host country make wonderful, usable memories

From: Wanda W.

When the owner of my favorite fabric store was getting rid of pattern cabinets, I took one home. The dividers are moveable and they make great storage for fabric.. I have had to give up one drawer to soccer balls and shoes though!!

From: Dorene D.

If you use a wrap or two of the self sticking bandaging wrap found at farm supply stores or vet offices (i.e. Vetrap) on your underside finger you can feel the needle but not get stuck. This same type product is sold in quilting stores already packaged in small squares instead of a roll for more money.

From: Cheryl G

Whenever I come to the end of some fabric, I take the bit that is left over and trim it to a strip either 1", 1!/2", or 2" wide. I then throw it in one of a number of labelled boxes. Next time I need some strips for a scrap quilt, there they are, already cut for me!

From: Loretta T.

I am experimenting with using adhesive backed sand paper, fine grit, in place of finger guards when machine quilting. The finger guards are great although they are in the way for needle threading, using scissors, etc. And some people find their fingers perspiring alot, or the guards are too big or too small. The sand paper can be bought in sheets and then using paper scissors cut them oval shaped to fit you fingers. They grip the fabric nicely, fits everyone's finger shapes and sizes, little perspiring, and they stay on pretty securely. They can be stored on the waxy side of freezer paper or wax paper. My only problem I see is if the size is cut too big for your finger it tends to peel away from your finger. It would be nice to fine adhesive sand paper a little bit more supple and therefore easily bend with the finger. I would like to hear from anyone else who has tried this product. It can be found at your local hardware store.

From: Loretta T.

The washable crayolas are great. I've used them for 2 years now with Machine quilting projects. One piece of advice however is the crayola marks can be set if you mark the quilt, change your mind and spritz the marks away with water and then iron the fabric before marking again. The crayola marks do not set if you iron them after marking your quilt however.

From: Jane O

I use a small piece of fine sandpaper as a needle grabber. Works wonderfully and cheap!

From: Meg in Oregon

When cutting out green fabric on a green cutting mat (or any color fabric that fades into the mat, making it hard to tell where the fabric ends and the mat begins), put down a piece of white paper, and lay your fabric on the paper to cut. Then you have good contrast and can cut accurately.

From: Sharon Hu

Hi! I like to machine quilt and I have found an easy way to do this! First I design a pattern to fit the area that needs quilting using the Super Paint program. Then I print the quilting design on paper that is made by EZ International called Stitch Thru. I pin the paper the top of my basted quilt and stitch. This paper tears away better that any other that I have used.

From: Sandi K.

I have found a way to make my own quilt labels. Iron a piece of clean and ironed muslin to Heat 'n Bond Lite. Do not remove Heat 'n bond backing, Cut exactly 8-1/2 x 11. Run fabric through printer. I have a Canon Bubble-jet 610 and this really works. Check your printers user's manual before attempting this. Iron on the back of your finished quilt.

From: T Hill

Baby wipe boxes also make great and never ending supply for boxes in which to store things in. I store scaps in each box each box contains a colour group or type of fabric.

Also sticky tack (putty like sticky stuff) on the bottom of your 1x6 omi grid ruler makes a fast seam guide.

From: Julie O

Instead of expensive marking pencils or pens, I've been using Crayola Washable Markers. You can buy a box of 8 colors for the price of one 'quilt'marker, and they wash out like a dream. Having the different colors is nice for when you change your mind about a design, too.So far, I've never had any trouble washing them out of cotton or cotton/poly blends.

From: Marcia E

I have found that if I wear slippry clothing while sewing strips it makes things go easier!

From: Kathy H

When working on one of those special blocks that require template cutting, make piecing more accurate by pre-nubbing your pieces. First, draw the shape at it's finished size. Then add the 1/4" seam allowance. Cut out these template pieces. Place one template on another just as you will sew them - look for an extra bit of seam allowance (triangle tip, etc) that you can nub off. This will make lining up the fabric pieces a snap - and much more accurate.

From: Beth Spencer

It is a good idea to use platinum needles to quilt with because they are sharper.

From: Jean R

Many cosmetic companies will give you a free cosmetic bag with goodies for purchasing one of their products, usually for about $15. Those cosmetic bags are just the perfect size to hold needle, thread, pincushion, sissors, etc. to carry around with your quilt. I have several Lancome bags, enough to have one for every quilt I'm working on. Also, I received a large plastic box once from Clinique which I use to hold sissors, tape measures, rulers, rotary cutters, etc. on top of my sewing table.

From: Cathy M

Shortcut to removing knots from your thread--when sewing with a single thread--one end knotted, the other end hanging loose, a knot often develops as the thread enters the cloth. After sewing all my life, at the age of 70, I finally realized the knot is caused by that end hanging loose--it twists around the other thread. All you have to do is seize the end of the end hanging loose and pull it until you can see which one it is as it emerges from the cloth. Drop your needle and pull that thread t hrough alone and the knot will magically disappear. Try it! It works 99% of the time!

From: Jennie J.

To hang a quilted wall-hanging I sew paper clips to the back with just a little big showing at the top. I hang them on plain silver (no plastic head) straight pins pounded into the wall. The pins do not show.

From: Anne in MN

To get a good grip on your hand sewing or quilting needles, wear a "finger cot" (little rubber fingertip cover) that you can buy at the drug store. They come in different sizes and are thin like surgical gloves so you don't lose any feel for what you're doing. Wearing it all the time saves the time it takes to pick up a rubber needle-grabber every time you want to pull your needle through the fabric. They are also very inexpensive.

From: Rose P

Putting 3 layers of masking tape on the "underneath" finger when quilting works really well. You can still feel the needle without a puncture.

From: kkc

WHENEVER I get a piece of fabric out for a quilt I'm working on (I make a lot of scrap quilts) I always cut extra strips 1 1/2" for my log cabin. Then when I'm in the mood for mindless sewing - my strips are ready!

From: Dee

When laying out apliques on top of other pieces of fabric, I use double sided tape to hold them in place. When I have my layout I remove the tape and tack each piece with one loose stitch and tie the loose ends of the thread. This holds the pieces in place while I am hand stitching them. This way I can use a smaller hoop and hold it in my lap.

From: Marijean J

Whenever I cut quilt blocks or appliques, I take all the scraps and put them in a plastic bag with date, pattern, any special tricks or instructions I am using, and put this "bundle" in my quilting closet. If I lose a piece, change my mind, or need any scraps, or perhaps don't get back to it for a month or more, I have everything together. No more frantic digging in my stash, or going from store to store looking for matching fabrics.

From: TJL

As a new quilter I dusted off my 20-year-old Necchi sewing machine to make some baby quilts. Not so easy! Geometric piecing seemed to call for curvy quilting, but the best I could do was random lines: marking the quilt, and trying to see the marks, was driving me crazy. My solution: using ordinary lead pencil and ordinary tracing paper, I traced patterns, pinned them to my quilt sandwich, and stitched right through them. Tracing paper is cheap; I can trace any design that pleases me; the lines are easy to see on any color of fabric, and the paper removes easily. It works with my walking foot, and even with my novice attempts at free-motion quilting.

From: Sue

When ever I'm hand quilting, I always keep a wide elastic band close at hand then when ever my needle gets stuck in a seam allowance, I simply slip the eleastic band over the needle and pull. While I could buy a needle grabber, I've found that the elastic works just as well, is free, and if I lose it, I always have another on hand. :^)

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