This week I decided to cover some useful tips that I think are beneficial to every quilter. These are things that I do every day when I am quilting, so I thought I’d share them. You may be familiar with some of these or they may be new to you. Whether it’s a review or new information, I hope you enjoy this week’s installment. Let’s go!
These first few tips are for my appliqué friends.
Tip#1: I like to save time when appliquéing a project by having all my tools close by in a container. I have a magnet affixed to the inside cover and keep a stash of needles threaded with the colors I am using in the project. Once I pick up a needle with a particular color, I will re-thread another with that color so it’s ready to go when I need it.
Other items in my container are my needle threader, threads, a small scissors and a small Roxanne’s glue. This storage box helps to make my appliqué projects portable as well. I like to stay busy stitching in cars, waiting rooms and while sitting watching TV, to name a few places. By having my supplies all together like this, I can just grab this container with my project and I’m all set.
Tip #2: For my wool appliqué friends, a tip I like to share it to layout the complete motif and fuse/glue everything in place before stitching. Like my block below:
By laying everything out, I can get the motif positioned within the area designated and be assured that no part of the design ends up in the seam allowance. If you look at the edges of the block, you can see a line I have drawn that indicates the boundary for my design.
And like for the fabric appliqué, you can have all your wool stitchery supplies in a small container to make these projects portable too.
Tip #3: To store the whole project for travel, including the small box with the stitching supplies, you can make use of those zipper bags that new sheet sets arrive it. If you have read my blog for a while, you know that I like to upcycle and this is a one of those opportunities.
Another alternative to package your project for travel is this handy container called an Art Bin:
Now onto some of my favorite tips for quilters.
Tip #1: I have spoken before about measuring your units and blocks as you go to make sure they measure according to the pattern instructions. This is so your quilt goes together smoothly in the end. Part of achieving that is proper pressing.
Whether you press your seams to one side or press them open, flat seams are important for your stitched units and blocks to measure accurately. I like to press my seams open, I find it gives me more accurate measurements. Either way you choose to press your seams, make sure no fabric is bunched up anywhere and the seam lays flat on both sides of your piece.
The seam on the left was not pressed so it lays flat on the bottom and the top. You can see the red strip is creased a bit over the seam. The photo on the right shows the seam pressed correctly. That red strip is now flat with no fabric creased. Now this block will measure correctly.
Tip #2: This ties into tip #1. To get seams pressed flat, use a wool pressing mat. I purchased one when they came on the market and said “where has this been my whole quilting life!”. Here’s mine:
The heat from your iron penetrates these 100% wool mats. Because of that, it works to press your unit on both sides at the same time! No flipping of your piece is needed. It also helps to reduce stretching or distorting of seams because of the cushioning provided by the mat. Because of this you can press down harder with your iron when pressing your blocks or units on this mat, as opposed to a regular ironing board, without crushing your piece.
Tip #3: This also helps with piecing accuracy and units measuring correctly. Use a stiletto or other item to keep the units you are stitching together straight as you feed them under the presser foot.
Whether you use a stiletto or not, as you are guiding your fabric through make sure you are not pulling it towards you or holding it too tight because that can cause the top layer of fabric to move slower than the bottom layer is moving across the feed dogs making your seams uneven.
Pulling or pushing your piece (photo on the right) will also result in seams that don’t measure the exact 1/4″ that you need for your unit or block to measure correctly.
Tip #4: This is a time saving tip… at least for me. I like to get projects done, so I look for time saving tips all the time. The ultimate time saver? Chain piecing! If you have to piece together a lot of the same units for blocks you are making, chain piecing is the way to go… as long as you don’t run out of bobbin thread in the middle of it!
To get your pieces ready for chain stitching, stack them as I show in the photo on the left. You can also stack up block units this way (photo on the right) to chain piece blocks.
Well, that’s it for this week. These tips are in no way all the tips and tricks I use to make my sewing experience more fun and relaxing, but they are ones that I use the most. Let me know in the comments some of your favorite tips.