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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tip Time

Following are a number of tips shared by our members at our monthly meetings. I will add to this list each month with the most recent tips at the top of the list. This list is by no means complete... if you gave a Tip this year at one of our meetings, could you please get in touch with me so I can add it here.
You can easily access this post at any time by clicking on "Tip Time" on the sidebar.

 * Do you have cones of thread that are impossible to use on your sewing machine because they wobble so? If you take an empty plastic spool apart, and insert the spool end into the cone until it fits snugly, the cone will sit perfectly on your spool pin without wobbling. ~ Linda H.



* If you have trouble threading clear monofilament thread into your needle (it IS hard to see!) simply colour the tip of the thread with a black marker. Problem solved!  ~ Linda H.

* Keeping a good magnifying glass such as a philatelist's glass by your sewing machine makes  threading easier. ~ Jane S.

* If you find your legs and feet tire quickly when standing at your cutting table or ironing board for long sessions, consider buying the interlocking foam squares that you see for children's play areas, to stand on. The childrens' ones are usually brightly coloured but you can also buy plain colours. They come 4 in a pkg, and include the edge strips for a straight edge, at Canadian Tire, Home Depot, etc. Two tiles with straight edges added measure about 25" x 48".  ~ Linda H.

* If you have ever melted a plastic bag onto your hot iron, you have a mess! Scrape off as much as you can while it is warm and soft. Then spread a generous amount of table salt onto a piece of old fabric and rub the iron back and forth over the salt. This should remove all the remaining melted plastic. ~ Linda H.

* Placing a sticky note on your machine with the needle type and size is so much easier than trying to read the size of the needle ON the needle. Of course you must remember to change the sticky note when you change the needle.  ~ Lee M. 
Another suggestion is color coding your needles with colored markers, similar to what Schmetz now does. ~ LaVerne D.

* During her demo at our April meeting Jean showed us how she "quilts in thirds" cutting her batting into three sections and quilting one section at a time, to keep the bulk more manageable. She cuts lightweight fusible interfacing in strips approximately 1.5" wide, and uses a light touch with the iron to bond the sections of batting together. ~ Jean K.

 * If you have a spare bed that is not used often, it is a great place for "storing" extra quilts and wallhangings. Just spread them flat on the bed and pile them up! You may even want to cover them with a sheet, to keep light from fading them and protect them from dust. So much better to store them flat rather than folded which creates hard-to-remove creases. ~ Jean K.

* Lee keeps her guild nametag in her car, so if she "forgets" it when packing for a meeting, at least it is as close as the parking lot! Great idea! ~ Lee M.

* When planning to make a quilt larger than what your pattern states, give it some thought. Many simply think "I'll just make more blocks." But it could be much easier to increase your block size slightly. Sit down with graph paper and pencil and sketch out your block in a larger size and see how it can "fit your bed." It's not hard to cut strips 1/2" wider, or whatever size you need, and much quicker than making many more blocks.
I once taught a workshop for a lap quilt with a log cabin variation block. Strips were cut 2" wide, yielding a 6" block. 63 blocks were needed (7 blocks wide by 9 long.) Two students wanted to make it double bed size - one contacted me, one didn't. I "did the math" and calculated if strips were cut 1/2" wider, it would give an 8" block and a double bed size quilt with the same number of blocks (63). The other gal who thought "I'll just make more blocks" was not happy when she realized she would need 117 (6") blocks to cover the top of her double bed! So it's worth it to take the time and do a little planning. Making a slightly larger block is much quicker and easier than making many more blocks. ~ Linda H. 

* If you are a Princess Auto shopper (now open in Fredericton, near Costco) you might want to pick up one of their rotary cutters. It may not be quite as sturdy as an Olfa or Fiskars, but for under $7.00 it would be great for crafting, cutting paper, etc. For that price, worth it just for the blade! It is a standard size, 45mm blade. ~ Marj D.

* If your machine bobbins have very small holes to thread your thread end through (such as a Pfaff) you might find this helpful. "Eez Thru" floss threaders by Gum, found in the dental products aisle, are perfect for helping to get threads, especially fine ones like Wonderfil, pulled through the small bobbin holes. ~ Jean S.

* When Lee explained an issue with getting rows of laid out blocks from the floor to her sewing area, Lois suggested the use of an old sheet. Lay blocks/rows out on the sheet. Roll it up from the bottom, just leaving the top row of blocks exposed. Unroll as you progress with sewing the rows together. Barb F added a picnic tablecloth with a flannel-like backing also would work well. ~ Lee M, Lois M, Barb F



 * This product was purchased and tried recently and found to work very well. You can find it at Bed, Bath and Beyond. We likely all should have this in our sewing areas- who has not gotten her iron yucky with some sort of fusible product? ~ Sandi M.


* Another product to consider having on hand is Shout Color Catchers or something similar. These pick up and hold any stray colour/dye molecules that are floating around in your wash water if something in the load is bleeding colour.



* If you find the eyes of needles seem to be getting smaller these days, and therefore harder to thread, you might want to try these Spiral Eye side-threading needles. The thread slips in easily from the side. Easy Peasy!  Available from www.spiraleyeneedles.com ~ Linda H.


* Many useful items for our sewing spaces can be found at retail outlets other than fabric shops and quilt shops. Jane gave us an impressive list of things she buys at "other" stores, for use while sewing/quilting such as: cording from a fishing supplies store, tips for ends of cording, heat shrink tubing and dental picks from Princess Auto, and large clips for holding your quilt on a frame from the Dollar Store. She also reminded us that clear nailpolish will work if you are out of Fray Check. ~ Jane G.


* Insul-Bright is a product now available locally which is great for use in potholders, oven mitts, hot pads and even placemats! It is a poly batting with an insulating metalized film layer. ~ Deanna M.


* Stencils/templates are now available for marking grids!  Gail showed us a stencil for marking multiple parallel lines without moving the stencil. It would work well for marking cross-hatching.
~ Gail M.



* Have you ever tried glue-basting? Some use it on their bindings. Lee suggested another use. We all like our seam allowances to lie nice and flat when we press our tops before sandwiching. Sometimes when there is bulk at intersecting seams, the pressed seam allowance will flip or twist when you sandwich the quilt, so a tiny dab of school glue along the length of the seam in the trouble spots followed by pressing will tame it into submission and make it behave!  ~ Lee M.


* Ziploc bags are so useful for storing many things in our sewing areas. Finally, ziplocs are now available with tabs which make them easier to open, especially for arthritic fingers.  ~ Jean K.

* Looking for a way to store quilts without folding them? (Folds leave creases that eventually become difficult to remove...) Try rolling them around pool noodles if the quilt is not too large. If it is a bed size quilt, visit your local flooring/carpeting business. They often have large rolls from linoleum that they'll be happy to part with. Wrap the roll in a clean old sheet, then roll your quilts on, then perhaps another sheet to keep the dust off, tie to prevent unrolling, and store under your bed. ~ Donna Y.

* The soft foam "toe separators" for doing your own pedicure are perfect for holding a few bobbins if you are going to a workshop or class, and don't need to take your entire bobbin collection. You can find these at the Dollar Store. ~ Susan D.


* Recycling is smart these days, we throw away so much plastic! I try to re-purpose as much plastic as I can.
Fererro Rocher containers: the 200g. size are the perfect size to hold 2" and 2.5" squares (or rectangles) that you may be cutting for a scrap project. They take up very little room at the back of my cutting table.

 The larger size (8.5" square) is great for holding balls of perle cottons (nicely contained, well fitting lid, easy to stack and see through so you know what you have.)~ Linda H.



* The little plastic "tables" from a take-out pizza box make handy bobbin holders when turned upside down. I sometimes use a lighter weight thread and want to keep those bobbins separate from my normal bobbins, as it's difficult to tell just by looking at them that they are "different", so stacking them on these little holders works well, I know at a glance that those are my finer threads for my Miniatures. ~ Linda H.

* Temporary Sleeve.  If you are planning to put a sleeve on a bed quilt for our upcoming show, you might want to consider a temporary sleeve, if you had planned to remove it after the show. This method is quicker to do and easier to remove after as well. Prepare your sleeve as usual - cut a strip of fabric 12.5" wide by the width of your quilt minus an inch or two. "Hem" the ends by folding in 1/4" twice, press and stitch- this finishes the ends nicely and assures your sleeve will be just a bit shorter than the width of your quilt. Now fold the sleeve right sides together and stitch the long seam. Press seam open and turn sleeve right side out. Pin sleeve to wrong side of quilt across the top edge, assuring the top edge of your sleeve lies just above where your binding meets the backing (but not so far up as to show on the right side of quilt.) Now turn to the right side and, by machine, stitch in the ditch between binding and quilt with clear monofilament thread (or thread to match quilt top) and a stitch length of about 3-4 (8-10 stitches per inch). This secures the top edge of the sleeve, and now you only have to hand-stitch the sleeve's bottom edge across to secure it.
~ Sue R.

* The super dooper sticky rollers (which are washable to restore their stickiness) are wonderful for removing threads, pet hair, etc. from quilts as well as your clothes. Wash them with Blue Dove liquid dish soap to restore their stickiness.
 ~ Linda H.

* There are small pads of 1/4" graph paper on the market now, they measure 4" x 6" - great to have in your purse when you're out and about and see inspiration for a quilt block. It is so much easier to sketch it out on graph paper. I got mine at Targets, but they are no doubt available elsewhere. Mine were two pads in a pkg. for about $5.00. ~ Linda H.

* Recycling. If you are cutting up scraps into squares, rectangles or other particular sizes/shapes, they can be stored in plastic salad greens "bins". These are "free" storage units - once you've had your salad, just  rinse out, let dry and they are ready to re-purpose in your sewing space. You can sort by color, size, or shape.
~ Lois M.

* Mitred Corners.  Most of the time we use mitred corners to finish edges on projects such as tablecloths, with the mitre on the underside.  But if we use the mitre on the top and insert another fabric or fabric/batting combination, we get another version of this technique.  A one metre cut of nursery print, with wide borders and mitred corners, is the perfect backdrop for a piece of Minkie tucked under the borders.  Top stitch the inner edge of the border and you have a quick baby blanket that is soft and cozy. This method is also an alternative to binding placemats and is great for co-ordinating fabrics.
~ Jeanne Kaye S.

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