Last week I shared tips & hacks on one of my favorite tools to use in the sewing room: painter’s tape! (click here for that post) This week I’ll talk about some random tips & hacks I’ve used, or have seen others use, that I think you’ll like. As we get closer to Christmas, I like to keep my posts light and fun. After this week, I am going to do a three week series on wool appliqué. I’ve done series on fabric appliqué in the past, but realized I haven’t done the same for wool. Be sure to enjoy that over the holidays! Time to get started on this week’s fun!
New use for Scrap Fabric (or not scrap)!
Use scrap fabric and strips to wrap a sewing themed gift for your favorite quilter. Here’s a package I have wrapped.
For the package I wrapped, I used a fat quarter so the receiver of the gift actually has a usable piece of fabric after opening the gift! In the above photo, I just wrapped the fabric around the box and tied it on both ends with fabric strips.
Below, I wrapped it traditionally and used a large basting stitch to sew the ends. That way I can put a bow on top and it looks like a paper wrapped present!
Another Fabric Storage Tip
If you follow my posts, you know that I like to fold my smaller cuts of fabrics like fat quarters and half yards and store them in plastic tubs. Another storage option is to store your fabrics in a filing cabinet, like files. You can get some acid free cardboard and wrap your cuts of fabric as shown below and “file” them in a drawer!
I used a small binder clip to secure the piece of fabric to the cardboard. An advantage of storing the fabric this way is that it takes up less space than when the fabric is folded. When you open a drawer full of fabric, you can find the one you want easily. You can even wrap a yard of fabric around a piece of cardboard for easy filing too!
Hanging Quilt Blocks
I have shown you in past posts how I use skirt hangers to hang finished smaller quilts in my closet for storage. However, the hangers can also be used for blocks that you are piecing for a quilt top!
This will help keep your blocks from turning into a jumbled mess while you are making all the blocks for your project. Instead of them laying around stacked on your sewing table or cutting mat taking up space, simply hang them like this, out of the way, until you are ready to piece them into the quilt top.
Sewing Machine Needles Facts, Tips and Hacks
Moving away from fabrics, here’s some sewing machine needle facts and some tips.
Tip #1 – Sewing machine needles need to be changed often, not only when you break one. Needles get dull and develop damage not visible to the naked eye. A good rule of thumb is to change the needle after you finish piecing project. If you sew with a needle that should be changed, you can cause damage to your fabric. A dull or damaged needle can snag fabric and break your thread. Needles are fairly inexpensive so stock up the next time you are at the quilt shop and change it often!
If you have not used up the needle but need to change it to do something else, put the partially used needle back in the case with the flat part of the shaft facing up so you remember which is used.
Tip #2: Use the right needle size. Most piecing of 100% cotton fabrics can be done with a universal 80/12 needle, and I generally use this size. Ever wonder what those 2 numbers mean? They represent the two sizing systems: metric (or European) and Singer (or American). The “80” is the metric and the “12” is the Singer. All you need to know is the numbers refer to the diameter of the needle. The lower the number, the finer the needle. Light to medium weight quilting fabrics can be pieced with a needle from 75/11 to 90/14. Most needles made for machine quilting on your home machine are 90/14.
Tip #3 – When I am machine quilting, I change my needle to a quilting needle:
Looking closely, you can see the difference. The quilting needle is sharper and more tapered to go through more layers and through seams.
Bonus Tip! – If you have a hard time threading the machine needle (if you don’t have an automatic threader on your machine), use my tip from last week’s post and try clipping the end of your thread at a 45 degree angle for easier threading!
So that’s it for this week! Now for the fun. If you commented on last weeks post or you comment on this week’s post with some interesting tips & hacks you use in the sewing room, you will be entered into a drawing for my pattern, Kaleidoscope!
The drawing for the winner will be on Monday, December 20th. **We have a winner! Congrats, Tammy Earl!**
Using a quilting needle when quilting really does make a difference.
Regina Bohannon says
Thanks for the tips. I find putting my finger or a small piece of white paper behind the eye of the sewing machine needle helps me see where I’m aiming!
Good idea. Anyway to make the eye more visible is a good thing!
Eileen Maher says
When I change my needle, I have an old medicine plastic bottle to store those old needles, no pricked fingers!!
Carmen N says
I cut the fingers off a heavy duty rubber glove (about 1 1/2” long) to use a my thimble. My joints are large and make it difficult to use a regular thimble. They don’t last forever but are easily rotated and finally can be replace with another finger. Once all the fingers of the glove have been used, I cross cut the rest of the glove into 1” wide large “rubber bands”.
This is an interesting use of an everyday item! I can’t use a thimble either. I may try this.
Gail S says
I like to hang my quilt tops on skirt hangers while I consider the backing or quiting designs. This keeps the quilt tops from getting wrinkled and crushed, and it keeps them somewhat visible while I ponder the next step.
Love the idea of wrapping a present for a quilting friend in a fat quarter!
Love these tips. I keep my stash in a closet lined with shelves. To store it, I fold my length of fabric in half lengthwise (selvedge up to fold). Then I accordion fold it at 9”. They are stacked by color darkest on the bottom up to lightest on the top with the folds to the front so I can easily see them.
If, say I need 2 yards of fabric, I’ll look for 4 folded edges, 1 yard would have 2 folded edges. It sure saves me from pulling out fabric only to find I don’t have enough. My FQs are stacked on a separate shelf.
Glad I found you…Your patterns are lovely.
I really like the idea of counting the folds to determine how much fabric you have without unfolding it. Smart!
Dinah Banton says
I take an empty needle package and place a piece of painters tape on it. I put used needles in it and when it’s filled I toss. I do the same with the plastic case rotary blades come in. No one will get cut by rotary blade nor pricked by a used needle.
Spice jars with the small holes for sprinkling work great for used needles. Just slip the needle through a hole. I reuse the needles to hang pictures; no noticeable holes left in the wall.