Preserving Rulers "I learned basic quilting in 1996 in a guild in the Catskill Mountains that had only 12 members. The one thing they all agreed on is that I should cover my rulers with clear contact paper on the back and add little sandpaper dots to prevent slippage. I still have my original Omnigrid ruler. All the lines are still on it. I have never had to replace the sandpaper dots. I did the same thing to my Judy Martin rulers which I have been using for years!. Best use of contact paper ever!" Aileen Kline
How to Make a Simple Design Wall "You'll need 2 firring strips cut to your desired length, 1 flannel tablecloth or flannel yardage, the size of your choice, and 2 wall screws. Drill a hole at each end of the firring strip, about 1 inch from the ends.Make the hole large enough for the head of the screw to slip through easily.Place the screws on the wall, your desired height, to coordinate with the holes on the firring strip.Attach the flannel piece to the firring strips with a large staple gun, quite close together, on the top and bottom. Hang the firring strips on the nails, and you have a very portable design wall.If you want, paint the screws same color as the wall, and they will hardly be noticed.For extra stability, you can also use the screws on the bottom to hold it taut."
Cutting Down on Sewing Machine Noise "Place your sewing machine on a thick felt pad (formerly used under typewriters) It will buffer the sound of the machine and you can stick your pins into it."
Use a Clapper to Enhance Pressing "After setting the seam and pressing, use a clapper. This enhances the pressing of your patchwork."
Using Clips to Store Strips and Other Things "To store strips or any small longish work, use small binder clamps and a hanger for ties or belts. For several years I have been making long narrow strips of flying geese to border a quilt someday. I clamp several of these strips together and use one of the clamp's metal handles to hang them on this hanging rack. Larger binder clips are everywhere in my sewing room, eg one clasps my Point Trimmer so that I can find it easily on the pegboard instead of rooting through a drawer." Muriel Middleton
Preventing Ruler Slippage "Here is a very easy solution to the ruler slippage problem. A piece of rubber grippy stuff (like the one put under sewing machine foot pedals) can be cut into a variety of shapes, such as long and skinny, small and triangular, whatever. If I am cutting a 3" strip using a 6" ruler, I place one grippy at each end of the long ruler on the table, (not on the fabric). This both helps to hold the ruler AND avoids any see-saw effect while you're cutting.When trimming a bunch of bias squares, I tape a little grippy to the ruler, on the part I will not use to measure, and again I don't have to lean very heavily on the ruler to avoid the see-saw and slippage."
Sewing Room Uses for First Aid Tape "I've found several great uses for 3M Nexcare waterproof first aid tape in my quilting studio... I cut small 1/2" square pieces and apply several to the underside of my rotary cutting rulers and other slippery plastic templates. I apply them about 1 inch in from the corners, and a few in the middle - depending on the kind of pieces I will be cutting. This first aid tape feels a bit like skin... rubbery, but not too, and sticks very well. So far (been using for over 4 years), have not seen it do any damage to ruler markings, and peels off easily. I tried a couple of other tapes, but nothing seems to work as well as this skin colored tape.
"I also find that a small piece cut about the size of a fingertip and stuck on my index finger sure makes it much easier to grip a needle when hand quilting, applique or piecing! Provides just enough friction, but not too much sticky. Really gives those overused joints a break, and I find myself reaching for the hemostats to pull a needle through a tough spot a lot less!" Karen Alexander
Storing Plastic Templates"I recently purchased an expensive set of Double Wedding Ring templates. I made a sample block and turned it into a bag. I now store the templates in the bag. It made great protection for the templates, and I can see in an instant what pattern is in the bag."
Pin Basting Before Quilting "I finished my granddaughter's quilt top and needed something to stretch everything so I could pin before quilting. I had my husband buy 2 sheets of pegboard and 'bolt' them together at the right width (just a couple of bolts through the holes). Using the 3" black clips from Office Max (Bulldog Clips). I then clipped the three sides at the edges. I used bolts with a good-sized hex head to hold the clips at the fourth side by stretching the clipped edge as far as possible and putting the steel loop over the bolt which went into the nearest hole in the pegboard. Now I can change the width for whatever size quilt I make and the length will work as well."
Judy's note: Maybe a large washer under the bolt would help on the fourth side when the hole is too far from the edge of the quilt.
Organizing Scrap Strips"While visiting my family in Minnesota, I started to make Log Cabins for my grandchildren. I cut the strips for both girls in their favorite colors, but was having trouble keeping the strips in order --(also at home, my drying rack was stored somewhere from our move.) In desperation, I found skirt hangers and hung one kind of strip from each clamp...then hung each hanger on the hook provided. Three are the max I could put together and find what I wanted. I hung them on the back of chairs since I did not have a clothes rack."
Dealing With Shrunken Selvedges "Here's what works for my students and me. Clip 1/4" or so into the selvage at regular intervals. Now the fabric lays flat rather than cupping. Use close cuts when the fabric is very cupped and more widely spaced ones for fabric that's just a little tight.
Store and Transport Filled Bobbins "In the make-up department, those lovely little cases which have a snap top and a mirror for your lipstick case . . . are wonderful for storing and carting filled bobbins for your machine when going to a class. The bobbins can't roll around loose, and time is saved by not having to untangle a big mess when in class!"
Keep Track of Plastic Templates "Mary Sorenson teaches applique, and her technique for keeping track of plastic templates is to use double-stick tape inside a manila file folder. Simply line the templates up on the tape in numerical order! They peel off easily when you need them, and go back to stay when you are done!"
To Butt Together Batting on the Sewing Machine "Cut 1" strips of sheer curtain fabric. Apply one edge to the edge of the batting using a zig-zag stitch. Butt the other edge against the first so that no space is between them. Sew again with zig-zag stitch. Trim. You may have to reduce the presser foot pressure, or the top tension. I am chair of our guild's service projects and need to use ALL the batting. I found this to be the best way to use the leftover edges of batting from the quilts we donate to charity. I have used this method for table runners, and wall quilts. There is no ridge to contend with and does not interfere with hand or machine quilting. To butt a piece to a quilt in progress, or "oops I cut too soon". Align the edges of the batting and the piece you want to apply, you may need to fray the edges a bit. Cut a 1" strip of iron-on interfacing. Follow the directions regarding the interfacing and press on to the area to be mended. I found this method, too, does not interfere with hand or machine quilting."
Make Ripping Easier "When piecing by machine, use a thread of slightly darker color in the bobbin. Doing this will make your ripping (if necessary) easier."
Preventing Distortion When Ironing "I have found after many, many yards of ironing the best hint is to NEVER iron over the edge of the board. Many times, the edge of the board and the padding is either harder or softer than the middle and can cause distortion of the fabric when the iron slides over it. I always iron up to about 1"-1-1/2" away from either edge. So I only iron 28" of my fabric in one sweep instead of a full 30". So what! It all gets done in the end and I don't have to fight the distortion!"
Preventing Loose Threads "To prevent those threads (and not waste fabric), I long ago adopted a hint from one of my many quilt lists. I have a rotary cutter with a pinking blade. Before pre-washing, I rotary cut a sliver off the cut ends. It REALLY cuts down on threads and tangling. It's amazing how little you need to cut to get those little zig-zaggies, and how well it works." Muriel Rusk
Keeping Fabric From Tangling "I put my fabrics in a mesh zippered bag and the fabrics don't get tangled."
Preventing Sick Sewing Rooms "Several years ago my sewing room was making me ill, truly ill. I talked with a friend about this and she suggested although I didn't notice odors from fabric finishes, such as formaldehyde, because I didn't pre-wash my fabrics this could definitely be the cause. I am a true fabriholic and have a very large stash. I removed and washed my stash. That must have been the reason for the headache and sick feeling because now I am free to go in there and I feel OK when I do. Now nothing goes upstairs to my sewing room until it stops in the laundry room and is washed!!"
Keep Fabrics From Running "Try one of the new Dye magnets. I'm on my second one. You can mix colors and whites in the same load and this little gadget keeps the dye from bleeding to other fabrics. I even got pink out of white socks where the pink wasn't supposed to be. It just looks like an oblong washcloth and I never wash my clothes or fabrics without it being in my washer. When it is dry, I make sure to put it back in the clothes hamper so I won't forget to use it. Here in Texas it costs about $5 plus tax. Check it out and try it."
Listening for the Straight Grain "Another way to tell the grain on a small piece of fabric is to "pop" the fabric in each direction by grasping the fabric on opposite sides and tugging firmly. First "pop" it in one direction, then rotate the fabric (and your hand grip) 90 degrees and "pop" it again. Listen to the sound the fabric makes. The straight grain will be the higher or shallower sound and the cross grain will be the lower or deeper sound. Why? Because the cross grain stretches more and so it resonates more! I have used this method reliably on pieces so small there are no visual clues. Try it! It works!"
Drafting Tip "Whenever you draft an original pattern or make changes in an existing pattern, always work without seam allowances. After you figure the math (or drawings) on your borders, blocks or whatever, then add seam allowances. This will minimize confusion and let's you concentrate on design."
Beth Donaldson, author Block By Block and Charm Quilts
Keeping Templates Organized "A hint for other hand piecers who might be tracing and cutting out many of the little templates: Type up a chart with all of the template numbers listed with their size and a box to check. When you cut out a certain template, check off the appropriate box. It saves time when you can check your list and quickly see whether or not you already have that template in your ziploc bag. I was really pleased to find your website and want to thank you for sharing your creativity. Back to the piecing...I'm thoroughly addicted!" Linda White, Tillsonburg, ON
Keeping Track of BOM's and Lessons "I'm going to set up a notebook just for your B-O-M's and Class Notes."
Sherri Starr, Gleneden Beach, OR