Can you believe that it’s been a YEAR of Terrific Tip Tuesdays?! I can’t! I have been debating what to do to celebrate the year and here it is! I’ve pulled all the posts into one post and organized them by topic. It’s sort of a one stop shop of tips! I edited them down to a brief snippet and photo, but if you want to read the whole tip, just click on the date.
I’ve also put a link up option so that you can share your tips! There are so many great ones out there, so link up with posts old and new. I’m also going to have a little giveaway next Tuesday. If you link up this week, you’re entered. International welcome! Enter as often as you like. Mack will choose a few winners using the random number generator. I’ll leave the link up open through the next year so that we can fill this post with tips!
May 20, 2014: I place washi on vinyl approximately where I need to cut. It’s much easier to see! Then I can cut without trying to figure out where the vinyl is. It also keeps it from sliding!
August 12, 2014: I don’t love turning out the corners. There are tons of tools; I’m a fan of the skewer myself. My solution, dampen the corner! You don’t need to soak it, just slip it under the faucet for a second. Wet fibers are more pliable. But this can work both ways, don’t jam your seam ripper in there and accidentally rip a hole! You’ll be able to work out your corner easily once it’s wet.
September 16, 2014: Towards the end of bag making, you usually have to sew the lining to the outside with a hole for turning inside out. Sometimes one might forget and sew the whole thing closed by accident. I pin all my pins perpendicular to the edge of the fabric, except a horizontal pin to note the “do not sew” area.
September 24, 2014: I really like the look of leather handles and love to use the ones that come prepunched. These need to be hand stitched to attach. Because the pressure points on handles are at the top, I like to start at the bottom and sew one stitch on the right, then one stitch on the left and keep going back and forth. The back will look like shoelaces. This provides reinforcement.
September 30, 2014: This tip is from Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness. When you have loads of interfacing and you’re sewing a corner, clip out the bulk as you would in garment sewing. So simple, but it makes all the difference!!
CUTTING & MARKING
April 6, 2014: If you like to paper piece, you know you have trim up the paper when you’re done with the block. But you also know that using your rotary on paper will dull the blade. So label a second rotary with a P and put your dull fabric blade on it. Each time the fabric rotary gets a new blade, the paper rotary gets the old blade. (And the old paper blade goes in the trash!) If you don’t have two rotary cutters, just put a P on the old blade with a sharpie and switch out the blade when you’re cutting paper.
April 22, 2014: When I cut the same length over and over, I mark my ruler with washi. It comes off easily when I’m done and no residue! I mark a smidge past the line so I can still use the line for alignment.
December 9, 2014: In order to sew accurate half square triangles and flying geese, it’s important to start with a well marked square. I place my pen in the corner and align the ruler next to it. This puts the ruler in the right spot, so that the line goes to the corner and not next to it. I draw the line starting in the middle and going out. This keeps the fabric from bunching. Draw slowly and carefully. Perfect! But if it’s not, don’t be afraid to erase and try again.
May 27, 2014: I love stripe binding! I really like the pattern to align on my stripes as misaligned stripes are quite distracting. I start with my two pieces of binding. Then I take one piece and press a 45 degree angle. I’ve already removed selvages. Align the pressed seam to the pattern of the other piece. It’s practically camouflaged! Although full disclosure, this print has a hand drawn aspect that makes a perfect match impossible. Sew along the line that you pressed.
June 17, 2014: Today’s tip is labels!! They not only offer a polished finish to your project, but also mark the maker. I order from Spoonflower. They’re a great company right here in North Carolina. I just uploaded my logo and set it to repeat. For my pouches and other small projects, I order a fat quarter of twill. My logo is approximately 1 1/4″ wide with plenty of white space above and below. For my quilts, I ordered the Kona cotton base cloth. It’s machine washable. My logo is about 2 1/2″ and I added three faint grey lines for my additional information. I label my quilts with the name, recipient, piecer, quilter and date.
July 22, 2014: Washing quilts can be a real nail biter. You’ve put so much work and love into your quilt, and the idea of color bleeding everywhere makes your stomach turn. The answer…color catchers! They’re found with detergent and dryer sheets at most grocery stores/superstores and often at your LQS. You can reuse them until they’ve turned black. If I have a quilt with lots of brights, I’ll throw in multiple color catchers to ensure no bleeding. I always wash my quilts with them, even after the first washing. When you transfer your quilt to the dryer, add a few tennis balls and it will help the quilt dry fluffy. It will also sound like there’s a marching band in your dryer, so don’t panic!
July 29, 2014: My quilty buddy Dana offered this guest tip! When she makes binding, she makes one whole yard, regardless of what the pattern calls for. That way, she has plenty of already made binding ready for her small projects! So no need to calculate!! Plus, you’ll always have enough binding!
October 7, 2014: Tips on squaring a quilt. I put a chair next to my cutting table to hold the bulk of the weight. You don’t want anything pulling and stretching. Use two rulers: your largest square and you longest rectangle. I start by lining up the square in a corner and trimming. Then I switch to the rectangle. I constantly check the lines of the ruler to make sure they’re “square” with seams in the quilt. I line the ruler up with at least 6″ of already cut area; this keeps me square. When you get to the next corner, switch back to the square and repeat the process.
November 25, 2014: When you’re free motioning (or when you run out of thread in the middle of topstitching), you need to bury your threads. Often times, these are not nice long tails, they’re scraggly short pieces of thread. The best solution: self threading needles. I love these by Merchant & Mills that I picked up at Modern Textiles. Basically, in lieu of threading the eye, you pop the thread in through the tension points on the tip of the needle. They’ll change your life.
January 13, 2015: What to do when the thread is short and you’re trying to bury it?! The answer is to go ahead and stitch your needle. Once your needle is in place, simply thread it. You’ll want to use a self threading needle for smooth sailing.
February 10, 2015: When marking binding, The Guru marks the mitered line to sew on. Sometimes it’s hard to see where the other corner is when marking, so lay your piece near the edge (not at the edge) to use that as a guide.
April 15, 2014: I also use washi to mark my binding as I’m working on it. I stick the needle in to take a break and tape over it with washi. It makes it easy to find my spot and protects the needle from sliding out. AND residue free!
April 22, 2014: This week I found myself binding while I was out and about. My whole world is covered in thread, so it doesn’t bother me at home. But out in the (nonsewing) world, I try not to leave a trail of thread. Insert the wonderful world of washi! One upside down piece of washi and I was in business.
August 26, 2014: We are back with another Carolyn guest post, hand sewing style. When you’re stitching, it’s best to thread the end of the thread that you pulled off the spool first and knot the end you pulled off last. The thread is less likely to knot up on you. Also, this way, you’re stitching in the same direction that the thread came off the spool.
March 4, 2014: The hardest thing about sampler quilts is managing all the little pieces and still piecing efficiently. Making them one by one would take forever. So, I started numbering my blocks. First I made little numbers on cardstock. As I cut, I pile all my pieces for each block and then the number on top. When I go to sew, I sew through the number first and then piece as much as I can for that block. Don’t cut them apart! Then press them. The number is still sewn to it so you know what block it is. Some of these blocks require multiple trips to the sewing machine and iron; the numbers are there the whole time.
March 25, 2014: Today, I’m showing you how I use numbered pins to not only keep my rows in order, but also to show me which way to press. I use them to keep both individual blocks and rows in order. Then, I point the pin in the direction I need to press.
January 27, 2015: Today’s terrific tip is brought to you by my buddy Dana, of Old Red Barn Co. She uses pins to mark her rows by placing the number of pins for that row. Five pins means row five.
March 18, 2014: Does your machine ever bounce when you sew? It makes me crazy when mine does that. And I like to sew fast. So you just take a piece of foamy shelf liner and put it beneath your machine. Since bouncing tends to be a real problem on fold up tables, I like to take a piece to class and on retreats!
April 22, 2014: One unfortunate side effect of sewing among other sewists is losing your tools. Lots of us have the same tools and washi is cuter than sharpie!!
May 6, 2014: It’s unsafe to throw a rotary blade in the trash. It’s unsafe at home but it’s REALLY unsafe when you’re at a retreat or taking a class. Since we all have washi in our sewing kits (right?!), just tape it to some scrap paper. It’s much less likely to injure anyone! All the same rules apply to needles! Just fold a piece of washi around the tip!
May 13, 2014: I write in my own selvage on interfacing. I found when I pinned on the label, they always became separated. I also toss the directions. Using google on my smartphone is WAY faster than me hunting down the directions. Make sure your label is detailed with the name, brand and weight if it’s not something you use often. I also create a selvage for my solids by labeling the brand and color. I keep a micron pen in my bag so I can label it when I buy it. I label every 6-8″.
June 3, 2014: Packing up quilting is always rough. I always end up with one suitcase of clothes and seventeen bags of sewing loot! One thing that’s stressful to pack is already pressed blocks. Who wants to press twice?! Gasp! So I Saran Wrap the blocks to a square ruler. Keeps them flat & happy!
October 14, 2014: Today’s tip is courtesy of Lynn at The Little Red Hen. It was originally spotted on Instagram and she was kind enough to let me share it here! You know those Aurifil boxes that hold twelve spools of thread. Well once you’re done with the thread, look what they’re perfect for!! They can hold machine feet (Lynn is a fellow Bernina lover), bobbins and other notions!
November 4, 2014: I like to mass make binding. This relates heavily to my quest to immediately finish a quilt the EXACT moment I finish quilting. So I needed the perfect storage spot and I had these cool antique spools
that The Guru gave me that I stole from The Guru’s house. Let me tell you how handy it is when you’re attaching binding…you can put the spool on your thread stand and unwind it as you attach it!
December 2, 2014: My trim drawer was a disaster. So, I cut a few comic book boards in half lengthwise and wrapped the trim. Organized and nice to look at!
March 11, 2014: Here’s a tip to get a clean edge. I like to machine piece the wedges and then hand appliqué the Dresden plate down. Using your 1/4″ foot, start sewing about 1/2″ from the edge using back stitch. When you get to the edge, begin stitching forward to the bottom of the wedge. Your thread tails will be 1/2″ from the edge and you’ll have a clean edge for appliqué! This is a great technique any time you don’t want your thread tails peeking out.
April 29, 2014: Belt in your baby!
August 5, 2014: Use Fray Check BEFORE you cut. This will keep the buttonhole looking perfect!
October 21, 2014: Need to pack A LOT of quilts? The best method…the big roll. First I laid them out flat on top of one another. I put a large one folded in half on the top and bottom with all the babies in the middle. Then I rolled them onto an upholstery roll. I tied them off with strips of fabric.
November 18, 2014: No one likes to poke their finger with a pin (or worse yet, sew over their finger), but it is so much worse when your blood gets on your fabric! I’ve found my words get less and less PG the bigger the mess. The best way to clean it, spit on it. Your spit gets out your blood. I’m sure there’s a fancy scientific reason that this works, but details aren’t important. It works.
December 30, 2014: Our tip is from Shirley Bailey of Sew Original. Imagine that you want to make covered cording with no seam, for a strap or tie or something like that. You cut your cording twice as long as you need it with a few extra inches. Sew your bias fabric around the cording as shown. Bias is key to success and it should be the finished length with an extra inch or two. Sew across the fabric and cording in the middle as shown. Now, you skunch (technical term) the fabric. It’s hard to get over the hump, but once you do, smooth sailing.
September 2, 2014: For me, one of the best steps in laying out a quilt is putting all the blocks on the design wall. I want the right balance of color and value. Plus, I want my favorite blocks to shine. A great way to double check is turn the photo into a black and white image. (Or on my iPhone, I just take another picture in black & white.) This really shows the values and I can move around anything that seems off. It’s a great way to check your choices. I also use this trick when I’m choosing fabrics, especially if value is important.
October 31, 2014: This is a display/photo shoot tip. I discovered these little bendy things at Home Depot. They’re technically called rubber reusable twist ties and come in multiple sizes. They look like this and are very pliable.
February 3, 2015: Take your picture outside on an overcast day. Even light looks better than sharp shadows. Before 10 am and after 4 pm are good times. A day with little wind is great. Images taken at these times require less correction. This is an untouched image taken at 4:30 pm on an overcast day. Style your picture. Are there things that should be edited out? If it’s not contributing to your image, get rid of it. Close ups are great! We sure spend a lot of time quilting, show it off!
March 3, 2015: When you buy Poly-fil, you have to work with it or it’s lumpy. Start by pulling out a lump, and pull it apart at least three times. Keep pulling until you get little pieces and then put those in the pillow bit by small bit. This leads to a lump free pillow every time! If you still have lumps, pull it apart more.
July 1, 2014: The appliqué pressing sheet is magical! Basically you can layout all your pieces and press them to one another on this sheet. The back layer doesn’t stick and then you can transfer all the pieces to your project. I know…it’s genius!
July 8, 2014: Sometimes you need to press something, but you don’t want to literally press it flat. This can be true of certain textiles such as seersucker. But for me, it’s always my embroidery projects. They’ve been
stuffed in a bag and wadded up for years stowed neatly for a few weeks with minor fold lines and I want to press them without flattening the stitching. There are fancy pressing cloths for this, but nothing works better than a washcloth! Keeps the stitches “safe” and the fabric pressed!
July 15, 2014: I love the feel of perfectly pressed fabric! It is easier to cut which makes it easier to piece and ultimately means a better result. If you spray your starch (or starch alternative or water or whatever you use) onto the back of the fabric, it will permeate the fabric. Then you press from the top. If you do spray from the top, the starch/starch alternative/water will mostly evaporate without permeating the fabric. It makes sense and when I tested the theory, it proved true!
January 6, 2015: When you’re sewing a triangle to the corner of a larger square or rectangle, you mark a diagonal line and sew along the line. Don’t trim yet! Use the corner to line up your corner as you press.
February 18, 2015: Nobody likes to unsew. Nobody. Unfortunately, it happens to all of us. So, here’s the proper way. First off, ripping isn’t involved. Gently break every 3-5 stitches on one side. Turn to the other side and give the thread tail a tug. Voila!
April 1, 2014: You know when you’re using a specialty stitch and you get everything all set up and then you try to take notes on all the settings, but your notes don’t make sense the next day?! It used to happen to me a lot, then I started taking a phone picture of my settings. Works like a charm! And if you’re like me, it’s also possible that you’d forget to change the settings as well, so I use the post it system for that! I stick a post it with CHANGE SETTINGS to the front of my machine. A simple reminder!!
September 9, 2014: Sometimes things work to where one (or both) of your fabrics need to be a bit scant. You might be trying to keep a point on your triangle or you could just be a tiny bit shy of having a large enough piece of fabric. Shortening your stitch length is a great idea to add stability to the scant seam. I shorten mine to about 2.0. (I normally sew at 2.5.) This will get you the result you want without weakening the quilt top.
January 20, 2015: I’m not much for pressing seams open. That said, there are certainly times when you need an open seam. If you lower your stitch length for an open seam, it will be much stronger. There will be more stitches per inch. I sew on a Bernina and my typical setting is 2.4-2.6. When I’m pressing my seams open, I use 1.8-2.0.
April 15, 2014: You know how unruly monofilament and transparent thread can get. It begins to unravel the moment you open the plastic. I use washi to tape the end to the bottom. Washi doesn’t leave a gross sticky residue like most tapes would! You can actually tape directly to the thread on the spool and stay residue free.
June 10, 2014: Where to put the thread on your machine? Most machines are designed with at least one vertical spool holder and one horizontal spool holder. Thread that is wound with a pattern (like Aurifil) works well on either spool holder. However, thread that is wound straight (like Sulky and YLI) needs to be on the vertical spool holder. This will make for much happier thread which means smoother tension and less breakage.
June 24, 2014: This one is for the preservation of your machine. When you’re going to rethread your machine, clip the thread at the top and pull from the bottom so that the thread moves through the machine in the direction that it’s designed to travel. The discs that the thread travels through control your tension. Repeatedly pulling thread backwards through them causes damage. This is bad. Be kind to your machine!
August 19, 2014: When you put your thread on your machine horizontally, it’s best to put it where the thread comes over. And if you use Aurifil, you can remove the bottom cap and move it! That way, you’ll be able to get the thread the right way.
December 23, 2014: As the spool gets low, sometimes it decides to be noisy. (And super annoying, but maybe that’s just me.) Slip a straw, cut to size, on your thread holder and put the thread on top. Enjoy the sound of silence!