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Favourite Tips and Hints

Posts from anyone who has a favourite - or two - tip or hint which has been a huge help to them with their patchwork

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Winnie the B.O.L.B26/01/2012 13:54:58
3360 forum posts
190 photos
1 articles
Hi there everyone. As a very new member of the group, I'm not sure if this idea has been posted in the past but even if it has, perhaps there are enough new ideas to make it worth while. Of course there will be ideas that will be duplicated and/or ones which many of us may already know but we did it at my group back in Edinburgh and everyone said that they had got a lot from it. So here goes with some very 'simple" ones.
1. If you are making HSTs or QSTs and you only know the FINISHED SIZE OF THE SQUARE i.e. once it has been sewn together etc - here's how to calculate the cut size you need. For HSTs, take your finished size eg 4" -and ADD 7/8" to that -therefore size to cut is 4 7/8". For QSTs add 1'' to finished size -therefore size to cut is 5". I was also told to ADD another 1/8" to that size and then trim back when joined. although it is an "extra" step, it makes it so much easier to be accurate.
2. This one most people probably know - if your eyesight is not a perfect as it used to be, then, when threading your machine needle, hold a little square of WHITE paper behind it and - hey presto - the thread goes through no bother at all - it even makes it possible to thread up "invisible" thread - well almost!!
3. When chain piecing, start off with a small square of fabric at the beginning which allows you to feed your first piece of quilt fabric under the foot without risking "grunging" it up at the edge. Similarly, run onto a square at the end of your "line" of pieces which pute a square in place for the next "run"
Hope this may be "news" to even one or two of you. So come on, why don't you add some of your own.
Katy26/01/2012 14:49:57
8902 forum posts
5365 photos
898 articles
My tips are quite obvious but
1) ALWAYS fill your bobbin full before you start!
2) Change your needle more often I do
3) Have as many pairs of scissors in as many locations as possible, cos they will never be handy when you need them
4) If you're just starting out, buy the biggest mat and ruler you can
and whenever anyone expresses an interest in learning how to make patchwork, please make sure you tell them about rotary cutters! I used stupid cardboard templates and scissors for cutting out squares for my first quilt because I didn't know that there was any other way!

pamela jeffrey26/01/2012 14:52:48
3192 forum posts
114 photos
Another tip.
Keep tea or coffee away for work place.
I have learnt this to my cost, only did it once though.
bye Pam
Tessa26/01/2012 15:11:03
5766 forum posts
485 photos
13 articles
Ok, here goes...the best thing my daughter ever did for me:
Bought me a 1/4" seam allowance foot for my seams were as crooked as a back road in the fells, but now they are all on the straight and narrow.
Also Margaret, I've tried the HST with the extra 7/8", but I always find that if I go to the next nearest inch....if I'm making 4" finished, I go and cut a 5" square for the diagonal cut...that little tiny bit of extra fabric sometimes is needed. I'd rather cut a sliver of fabric off my square then look at it and wish I'd made it bigger.
Also, when cutting and trimming HST, using my 6 1/2" ruler with the diagonal marking on it is a life saver.
Winnie the B.O.L.B26/01/2012 15:13:28
3360 forum posts
190 photos
1 articles
Thanks Katy and Pam for starting us off - couldn't agree more about the scissors everywhere one - I can spend an awful lot of valuable stitching time just looking round to find them!! The others ones are very good too - must remember the changing needle one - I keep meaning to but can never remember how long the current one has been in (or perhaps that's just a euphemism for lazy!!??) - maybe I can devise a way of making an obvious note of it.
Pam - No coffee is an absolute must - I've never done it with my sewing - luckily - but my best friend did it with her COMPUTER!! A very expensive way to learn a lesson and I've never let a coffee cup within a mile of my quilting since then!!!!!
Winnie the B.O.L.B26/01/2012 15:32:10
3360 forum posts
190 photos
1 articles
Thanks to you as well Tessa.
Couldn't agree more abou the 1/4" foot - what a wonderful invention it is. My son also just gave me a "straight stich" throat plate for Christmas - I have a Bernina Artista - it has a single small round hole instead of the wider one in the "universal/zigzag plate" and that has helped my straight line stitching even more - also avoids any possibility of the fabric being "dragged down" into the hole in the plate as sometimes happens with fine fabrics. Totally agree with you about that extra 1/8" - i.e. adding 1" instead of 7/8" - as they say, you can always trim off but you can't add on!!!
Mal-A26/01/2012 15:38:49
1210 forum posts
168 photos
Oh I have spilt a glass of wine over my computer keyboard - to my cost (a new keyboard).
I agree about getting bobbins ready, and scissors handy.
Yes Tesa a 1/4 foot or maybe a Walking foot for sewing machine although its expensive, I use it so often, could not be without it now, eases the slipping of fabric and keeps the fabric straighter.
Also anyone doing embroidery in the hoop - a pair of curved end scissors are very handy.
I also have an extra thread holder outside my sewing machine as it gives better tension, the one built in my machine does not hold large thread cone bottoms and they either slip or are too tight depding on the thread cone size.
Fiona26/01/2012 16:14:59
3138 forum posts
486 photos
Learning about chain-stitching was a revelation! It also saves thread.
My new 1/4" foot is brilliant too as it's clear and also has a single hole for the needle.
I've also learnt to use a thimble after years of avoiding one - currently I like a metal one by Clover, which is adjustable and has a lip which I can use to "lever" the needle if need be.
I also splashed out on a new walking foot last year as it had an open-toe and allows me to use it when I use a decorative stitch to quilt. I use it when I blanketstich applique  - 2 jobs done at once!
I keep a seperate iron for my patchwork, just the very cheapest value version, and NEVER put water in it. That way, I can leave it on for ages and not worry. If I want steam, then I use a seperate water spray bottle, currently a small child's garden spray from Homebase. I also use a sillicon cover thing on the irons so that any accidental bits of bondaweb or pencil marks wipe off easily. Mine was a pound from Store 21 but they are cheap in Dunelm Mill or Wilkinson's. I also have a portable ironing board from the latter as it's bigger than my pressing mat but not as in-the-way as the full-size version.
And finally, after a long session of handsewing, I make sure I use some handcream - not before, in case there is any residue! My current favourite is Hand Food from Soap and Glory at Boots, as it absorbs quickly and a little goes a long way.

Edited By Fiona on 26/01/2012 16:18:00

Winnie the B.O.L.B26/01/2012 16:33:22
3360 forum posts
190 photos
1 articles
Yes Mal - wine actually sounds like a much more likely accident for me to have whether it be my fabric or my computer!!!!!!!
A walking foot is a marvellous tool - I got my first one a long time ago when I was sewing a lot of PVC coated fabric for a wee business that I had and it was a godsend - it is now the same godsend with patchwork fabrics.
I keep meaning to get an extra thread holder but was never sure how useful they were - will now investigate.
Winnie the B.O.L.B26/01/2012 16:49:22
3360 forum posts
190 photos
1 articles
Thanks for all that Fiona - lots of very useful stuff there.
The idea about the "basic" iron is a great one - all of the points you make ring so many familiar bells!! One thing I would add is NEVER get an "auto switch off" model for patchwork -they are great and very safe for ordinary ironing but a pain in the neck for patchwork where you are stopping and starting all the time - these types of iron switch off automatically if they are left stationary for longer than a couple of minutes.I got mine when I was living alone as I have epilepsy and was frightened about the danger of a fire if I had a seizure when I was ironing. However, , withI then discovered that it it a real nuisance with my patchwork. Luckily, after 5 years of failure with drugs, they found an effective one and my epilepsy is now under control so no fire danger remaining, I'm going to follow up on Fiona's suggestion !!
Also the "wee" ironing board is very smart thinking - my "main" one is huge and really gets in my way when I am flipping between machine, cutting table and ironing board. I'm going to follow that all of that through ASAP.

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