Tips and Tidbits

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It’s actually been many years ago now that I received my first lessons in quilting from my grandmother, and many of the tips she shared with me on that sunny afternoon are bits of information I use daily in my quilting…twenty some years later. Here is a round-up of my favorite tips and tidbits to share with new quilters: these are review for seasoned quilters but are simple steps that can make a big difference for new quilters just joining in and learning all about this amazing past time.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

This was the first thing I learned from my grandmother and one of the tips that helps me most in my daily quilting. It’s a simple rule, but it really does work. A good start…including accurate cutting and measuring…is essential to a good finish.

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Know Your Seam Allowance

My grandmother also told me to use a 1/4″ seam allowance for all of my quilting (unless directed otherwise by a pattern), but it was a few years later while taking a class at a local quilt shop that I learned what this really meant. A wonderful teacher showed me that my seam allowance was actually a thread or two bigger than 1/4″ which resulted in some of my piecing being just a bit off (those 1/16″ inch variations can really add up in a big quilt)! So measure your seam allowance periodically to make sure you’re on track. You can adjust your needle to the right or left if necessary, obtain a 1/4″ seam guide, or use painters tape to mark the true 1/4″ line on your machine.

 

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Keep it Together: Pin and Mark

Somewhere along the line pins seem to have received a bad reputation. While it does take a little longer to pin…the results can be wonderfully surprising. Although it isn’t necessary to always use pins, if you’re having trouble with matching seams or getting a lot of different points to match up, pins might be the best solution. While I don’t always use pins for simple chain-piecing, I always use them if there is something that needs to be lined up.

Properly marking is important, too. Use a pencil to mark on the wrong side of light fabrics or chalk for darker fabrics to mark lines for half square triangles and corner square (“flip and sew”) corners. While it often looks like it’s going to be just fine if you “eyeball” it, marking can also improve accuracy by leaps and bounds.

 

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Fabric Prep

Fabric preparation is another step some quilters like to skip: after all, most quilters love fabric so much they just want to jump right in and sew. But your fabric may need pressing before cutting, and this can be especially important when using pieces from fat eighth and fat quarter bundles. Just think of it as a little extra time you get to spend with the fabric!

Some quilters like to use steam when pressing their fabric for the first time. This can cut down on shrinkage later on–an important step especially when working with lots of pieces or smaller pieces. An additional step many quilters use is to both starch and press their fabrics before beginning any project. Whether or not to pre-wash your fabrics is another decision to make before beginning. Although I pre-wash only when I’m going to use fabric for garment construction, there are many others who pre-wash all of their quilting cottons.

 

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Handle with Care

Fabric can be stretched, and if your fabric is stretched enough your blocks might end up distorted. Use care when handling bias edges: don’t fear working with triangles for half-square triangles, quarter-square triangles, and flying geese … just handle with care to prevent stretching.

 

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I do have one final tip, and it’s my favorite one to share. Enjoy yourself while you are sewing and quilting. Your projects are yours, and they should bring you great joy while you’re working…quilting is the best hobby!

What is your favorite advice for new quilters…?

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10 comments on “Tips and Tidbits

  1. Pinnylea says:

    Great tips thank you 🙂

  2. karenfae says:

    some really great quilting tips you share here – thanks!

  3. joanne alburger says:

    wind 2 bobbins before you start to sit and stitch, will help you to keep on pieceing and save time

  4. Melanie Rudy says:

    My favorite advice for new quilters – take a good class.

  5. Wendy says:

    My advice for new quilters: Leave fear outside the sewing room. This is not brain surgery, it is just fabric! Have fun, jump in with both feet, relish in your mistakes because these will ultimately make you a better quilter.

  6. Jacqueline says:

    My tip is to change your rotary blade and needle often.

  7. Mina says:

    Life is to short to waste on cheap fabric

  8. Debbie Y says:

    Invest in the proper tools. I recently taught a quilting class,one lady brought just scissors to cut out the pattern. Start with the basics and add as you go.

  9. BeckyLeeSews says:

    Advice to newbies? There’s a lot of snooty quilt shops out there but don’t be intimidated or deterred to quilt. If you don’t feel comfortable in one, it’s not you, it’s them. Spend your money in the one that inspires you to quilt and want to come back. Small town? Order online. There are tons of great online shops that are giving the snooty brick-n-mortars a run for their money.

  10. bbutty12 says:

    We offer fresh cut bank instrument for lease, such as BG, SBLC, MTN, Bank Bonds, Bank Draft, T strips and others.
    Mr. Bernard butty
    Email: leasebutty.bg@gmail.com
    skype: butty.bernard

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