Our favorite tips for quilting!
If you have a great tip that you'd like to share please email us! If your tip is published in our newsletter, you will receive a free Thank-You gift from Aunt Mag!
Do your bobbins end up in a drawer or box all tangled up? Perhaps you've tried many ways to store them, but then what happens when you just know you have a "matching" bobbin for that spool of thread, but you can't find out – or have to dig through the mess? Our quilty friend Janet shares with us her great bobbin storage idea . . .
Janet shares: I use golf tees to keep my bobbins attached to thread of the same color. I have many threads that are very close in color so I slip the filled bobbins ( usually 1 or 2) on to a golf tee and then insert the pointed end of the tee into the hole in the spool of thread. Tees come in different lengths so check to see which size suits your needs. I use the shortest size and I get the cheap plastic ones in bulk online for a few dollars.
Hanging up Creases
Many of us hang up our projects when they are in progress - especially as they begin to grow and it is such a bummer when they get hanger creases! Here's a great tip ... use a water noodle. You just cut the noodle to the width of your hanger rod, slit the noodle down the leg nth & slide it over the hanger! Voila!! No more creases. Tip: If you use a pants hanger with a removable bar, no need to slit the noodle.
Check those kits out!
Since everyone makes mistakes ... which is a truly humbling experience, this tip is always a good idea. Easy to fix when it's new ....
It's great to set a quilt kit aside for later use, but when you first get the kit, make sure all the fabric is included. When I purchased a kit, I didn't use it right away and when I went to make the quilt I was missing some fabric and when I called the company they didn't have any more to replace it. So now when I purchase a kit, I make sure all of the fabric is included.
This is really a great idea since it's would be a shame to put your quilt kit up and find out a year or to later (GASP! Am I the only one?) that you were missing fabrics!
Here's how Aunt Mag organizes her scraps: I have to say that I was first inspired by Bonnie Hunter - who has a great article on her site for organizing. From that I had an idea of where to start. So ....
The first step: Get a place to store them in some sort of organized fashion. I chose an art bin with seven approximately 3" high x 12 in square bins. These are the kind that slide out and the lids are hinged. I like these because I can haul one to my sewing room – or even to a class & they pieces stay pretty neat inside since they have self latching lids. So, if you don't own something like this, I would encourage you to take a trip to a large craft store & find one you like.
2nd Step: So you found that nice set of bins & they are all pretty and clean … and empty! But not for long!!
When I finish a project I cut my scrap into these sizes for later use & store each in their own bin. You could also separate by color, but that would be too much for my burgeoning scrap bins:
- 2 1/2" squares
- 3 1/2" squares (not as useful for me),
- 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" bricks
- 2 1/2" x 6 1/2" bricks
- 5" squares
- 2 1/2" strips (longer than 10")
- 2" strips (maybe)
- 1 1/2" strips (also maybe - great for pillowcases & also for that log cabin quilt (bucket list project)
- 5" strips (I find these to be incredibly useful because I can do so many things with them!
Organizing Find: One of the coolest storage boxes I have found was at Wal-Mart. It has three containers – they snap together with latches on the side. Each bin is just a tad bit smaller than the 1st. Good news is that when they are not in use (um, right) they will nest together. I have sorted two sets of my strips into light, medium & dark. This will come in super handy when I make that Log Cabin quilt that is on my bucket list. Bonus: These boxes sit very nicely on the closet shelf.
CUTTING THE MADNESS
How to you manage your fabric when cutting out a quilt? Do you struggle when you have a lot of yardage you're trying to wrangle at the cutting table? (This brings visions of me, late at night, in the sewing room with the fabric sliding off the table while trying to get the ruler in place – yes, I give myself much comic relief during my sewing adventures). Our "Quilty" friend Joyce shares with us how she manages that fabric . . .
Joyce shares: For those of us who have limited cutting space and yards of fabric to cut, here is what I have done to wrangle all that extra fabric. At my fabric store I asked for those empty rolls that the upholstery fabric comes on. I then take it home and cut them in half or thirds is they are really large. I then roll my fabric on them. When I get ready to cut strips, I just unroll a small amount at a time and don’t have to worry with all that extra fabric.Another great "green" idea! I am all too sure that the upholstery fabric shops will be happy to share these with you! Bonus, those would stack pretty good in a closet or on a shelf, I'm thinking …. Hmmmm… Maybe a great way to store those yards & yards of quilt back fabric, with no creases?
Aunt Mag shares one her favorite tips ... I used this trick all the time and it works so well - beats chasing bobbins!
If you have a bobbin with only a little thread left & want to empty it so you can wind it with fresh thread use a flower head pin. You hold the bottom sort of close to the bobbin and this will allow you to take the thread off very quickly and easily. Before I used this "pin" trick I would have my bobbin fly out of my hand and then have to chase it down... can't tell you how many times I did that, before I discovered this neat idea!
Getting to the end .... Binding tip!
Aunt Mag ~ Did your New Year Resolution include UFO's? For me the part that I least look forward to and am the happiest when it is done is the binding! My favorite tool for cutting and joining the binding is The Binding Tool, which gives great results – but what about that final stitch-down? Chris shares her technique for that last step ….
Chris shares: "Instead of pinning your binding just iron it. A nice crease will allow you to skip the pins except for the corners. The way I do it is once the binding is all sewn on, iron it on the front. Then turn it over and just make that nice crease or fold in your binding on the backside. Voila! All you will need to pin now is the mitered corners. Saves a lot of time as you sew it down. No clips, no pins, no hassle."
I have always pressed my binding up, but never thought about folding it and pressing again! I'm giving this a try, for sure!
Update: I did give pressing the binding a try - and the last two quilts that I bound stitched down so beautifully that I I was truly amazed! HA! You can teach an "old dog" new tricks!
Aunt Mag's Binding Tips!
How about a FREE download? Yes, a free download of several years of tips to get "perfect" binding!
Aunt Mag ~ "Bind" was always a four letter word to me! I dreaded the task, but have continued to press on since truly you don't have a finished quilt at all without binding. I've even sent binding out to be done because I just didn't like it - but then along came from great tools .... and several years of acquiring tips - and VOILA! Fabulously finished binding (even the corners). I compiled all of this, plus a tip or two from our wonderful readers into this great document! Click here to download your copy of "Aunt Mag's Binding Tips!"
These Feet are Made for Walking
Aunt Mag ~ Many of us have great tips & secrets that help us to get accurate piecing, which is so important & even critical for complex blocks ... nothing like a nice smooth top & that goes together easily! I love to stiffen all my fabric before cutting with Mary Ellen's Best Press. I also use only MasterPiece thread for my piecing. It's a fine cotton thread that virtually disappears! I find it makes it so easy to make accurate seams for intricate blocks! Mary has another great tip:
Mary shares ...
I use my walking foot to do all my piecing. Everything seems to fit better. I also use my walking foot to stitch 1/4 inch all around my quilt top when it's finished. This keeps the end seams from raveling out.
I have used my walking foot a lot - especially when applying binding! It is also great for stitching intricate blocks together - and I particularly love my 1/4" walking foot - as well as my traditional 1/4" foot. If you don't have one of these for your machine, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how great they work! Keep in mind you may still have to adjust your needle position. .
Do you find yourself replacing your rotary cutting mats frequently? Here's a great tip on how to extend the life of our rotary cutting mats . . .
Roxanne shares: "If you're like me, your self-healing mat gets used quite a bit, especially around the holidays. I found myself buying new mats much too frequently! So, here is an easy home remedy to make your self-healing mat, as well as your blades, last much longer.
Directions: Fill your bathtub with room temperature water (not hot, not warm, and not cold). To the water add 1/4 cup of white vinegar and a squirt of dove dishwashing soap for a good lather. Use a mushroom brush (soft bristle brush) and scrub the mat gently getting a good lather with the soap. Then rinse your self-healing mat with cool water being sure to remove all the soap residue. Next, dry it with a cotton towel, or air dry. It does not matter how you choose to dry it. (However, do not dry it in direct sunlight as it could damage the mat).
Why it works: The materials that make the mat self-healing mat actually absorb the water particles and make it supple again. Using this method to clean your mat not make your mat last longer, but it keeps your blades from dulling so quickly because you are cutting into a softer surface. Makes sense right?"
You can be sure that my cutting mats are heading for a bath, how about yours? I do have one question: Does this solve the problem where they are literally rotary cut in two? OOPS!
So your Rotary Cutting Mat is toast? Don't throw it out ... Great recycling tips:
Okay, so you cut your mat in half, or it is totally worn out, so what do you do with it now? Wait ….don't head to the trash so quickly! Lorie has a great tip ….
Lorie shares: "When your cutting mat is too grooved to use easily anymore or maybe accidentally warped by an iron or the hot car on the way home from a retreat...do not throw it away!! These cutting mats are wonderful for making cutting templates! There is usually a lot of usable space left on them in between the damaged areas. They can be cut with scissors or a box knife into squares, triangles, strips, curves or any shape you need. Make your own template set for quilts like Drunkards Path, Storm at Sea, etc. Cutting templates are great when you are cutting multiples of the same shape or need the same curved piece for your project. Great when making multiples of the same project for gifts or guild fund raisers, too!!"
Pressing On - TUTORIAL
Here's a great online tutorial on how to press your quilt blocks. Personally, I love Mary Ellen's Best Press, which I use liberally and love the smell of. It's so nice to have a crisp block when I'm all done!
I am sure most of you have used fusible products with your quilting, especially if you do applique & machine embroidery. I know you have never ironed the "wrong side" before, but I can sure tell you what a mess that made of my iron! Roxanne wrote in a fabulous tip to share with you . . .
She says "Try using a WET Mr. Clean Magic Eraser for cleaning sticky, burned on fusible web from the sole plate of a cool iron. It will come out like a new iron. I tried it ...works great."
So, the next time I create a "fusible" disaster and having tried other methods with little or no success, I'm delighted to have a great idea in my arsenal! Aunt Mag used this after using Fusible Web to join batting & it cleaned our iron to "like-new" condition.Can you spell H-A-P-P-Y?
Are the rollers on your vacuum are totally encrusted with thread? Aunt Mag's are embarrassingly sew! I know all of you find that hard to believe, right? Well, here's a way to keep those threads away ....
Kathleen shares: " I have purchased a toilet bowl brush from the Dollar Store to brush up loose threads off the carpet before I vacuum. That way I don't have to disassemble the rollers on the vacuum."
Boy Kathleen – I really need to heed that advice. Just remember, don't get desperate, just head over to the dollar store & purchase a new brush for the carpet & stash it away.
Wishing all of you a "Quilty" sort of day!