For a lot of daily tasks, we humans like shortcuts. I think any normal person likes to find a simpler way to perform an everyday task. It’s the same way with quilting. I love to find and share tips and hacks that make your quilting day more fun for you. It’s always a good thing to learn “something new everyday”! So, I will share some of my favorite tips and hacks over the next 2 weeks and I want you to share yours in the comments. This week, I’ll talk about one of my favorite tools to use in the sewing room: tape of all kinds… especially painter’s tape! So read on to see how I use it.
Tip #1 – Keep a roll of painter’s tape in your sewing room. This can be used to mark the line on your ruler when you are cutting multiple strips of the same size. It makes it easier to see find the measurement you are using over and over to save you time.
Painter’s tape is the perfect type to use because it does not leave any residue on your ruler and it’s fairly inexpensive for a roll. You can also use the tape to mark a quilting line on your quilt top if you don’t want to use a marking pencil on the quilt. This works well for wool appliqué projects you need to quilt also.
Tip #2 – Keeping your pieces organized when you cut them is also key to a less stressful quilting experience. If you have your pieces labeled and stacked in the order they are needed, you won’t waste time hunting for that one piece you need to finish the block.
As you can see above, I have stacks of cut pieces separated by which block they are a part of and I have them labeled with a little piece of tape. This is another place you can use painter’s tape. I now use that instead of masking tape because it leaves no residue on the fabric. Just be sure to remove the tape label from the piece on the top before sewing it into the block… ask me how I know to share that tidbit!
Tip #3 – Another labeling tip… I took some pins and made numbered labels for them with pieces of washi tape (you can also use the painter’s tape). I use these pins to label blocks and rows that I am piecing together so I do not lose track of which block or row goes where.
There have been many, many times before I used this tip when I would finish piecing a row and suddenly realize that I had shifted blocks out of order. This might not be a problem in some quilts, but when your blocks are creating a secondary design or you want to keep the same color blocks separated, it’s a good idea to use this tip to stay organized.
Tip #4 – Use painter’s tape to mark the 1/4″ line on your sewing machine. Are you sensing a theme here? This tape really comes in handy in the sewing room! Even if you have a 1/4″ quilting foot, the tape line gives you additional guidance for your 1/4″ seam. Here’s how I mark my 1/4″seam line on my machine:
I lower the needle into the “0” mark on the tape measure. That’s where I line up the left edge of the tape (you’ll see why later). Then I shift the tape measure around so the right edge is lined up with the right edge of my 1/4″ foot and any markings on the machine. Then I use a pen to trace along that edge on the painter’s tape.
That drawn line gives me extra guidance along with my 1/4″ foot to assure that I am achieving an accurate seam. After doing this, test your seams by sewing pieces of scrap fabric together and then measuring the seam to make sure it’s 1/4″.
Here’s the bonus with this tape: you can use it to guide your diagonal seams when you need to sew point to point on a square, like you do with flying geese units! No line drawing needed.
If you line up the point of the square with the left edge of the tape, you will go directly down the middle with a diagonal seam because the tape edge is lined up with the needle.
Finally, Extend the line you drew above down the length of the piece of painter’s tape you placed on the machine. Then, line up the point of your square with the line you drew when you are joining two squares for making half-square triangles. You won’t have to draw lines down the center of all those squares anymore! Simply sew your seam on the one side (which will be 1/4″ from the center), then flip the piece, line the point up again with the line on the tape and sew the other seam.
The last photo above shows the unit ready to be cut in half between the seams for 2 half-square triangles! If you want a scant 1/4″ just shift the point of the unit you are stitching slightly to the left of the line. Your seam lines will be closer together. Then you can trim your half-square triangle squares down to size after you press them.
That’s it for this week. Share some tips and hacks in the comments that you use to make your quilting life simpler. Maybe some of us will learn something new today!