Friday, May 3, 2013

Quilt Making Tips

We had our first class last night on making the small quilt. My brain would not turn off when got home and I started documenting tips I've learned over the years. I thought it would be a good post for the blog. Beware it is a long post and is strictly my opinions from what I've learned over the last six years.

- a pink lead quilting marker is great. It will show up on lights and darks

- a wooden iron is a great little tool for manually pressing short seams

- always have a sharp seam ripper

- a 1/4 inch sewing foot is a must

- invest in good quilting rulers. Creative Grids is the best brand I've seen. They have something on the back to help it not to slide on the fabrics, have down to 1/8th inch marks, and most have angle lines which can be very useful

- a handy tool for pressing and cutting when you take classes is the quilters cut & press. It has a padded side for ironing and a cutting mat on the other side

- Olfa brand is the best self healing cutting mats I've used. Seem to last lots longer than other brands

- my Omnigrid rotary cutter (45mm) has lasted through over 100 quits. Blades can be purchased at Walmart, Joanns, and other places

- a good retractable metal tape measure (about 8-12 feet) will serve you well if you move on to making bigger quilts. You'll use it for cutting backing fabric and measuring across the center of your quilt for adding borders. I never use a regular tape measure

- I recommend hand quilting thread for hand stitching down bindings. It is stronger than regular thread so there is no need to double it

- Printed Treasures makes a paper backed fabric that can be used for labels made on a computer. You create your label in a word processor (Word, WordPerfect, Pages, etc.) using the fonts, sizes, and colors you like, add photos, and then run the paper backed fabric through your inkjet printer. Cut it down to size, peel the paper off, rinse it in cold water, iron it dry, turn down the raw edges, and hand sew it on the back of your quilt

- when in doubt on how to do something quilt related, search YouTube. Most likely someone has made a how to video about it. An Eleanor Burns YouTube video taught me to sew on a binding with mitered corners.

- high quality fabric brands/lines are Moda, Robert Kaufman, Riley Blake, Wilmington,

- "squaring" up blocks makes them go together much easier

- when learning how to machine quilt, it is often a good idea to use monofilament thread. It will not show on your quilt. However, if you practice first, and are comfortable with your skill level, use regular cotton thread that blends with your fabrics. Often a tan or medium grey is a good color because it will not show up too dark on the light fabrics and not too light on the darker fabrics.

- when putting pieces together to sew, pin the corners, and if one piece seems a bit longer than the other, place it on the bottom when you sew. The feed dogs on the machine will ease the extra fullness in.

- a walking foot will make the quilt sandwich feed easier when machine quilting. A free motion foot allows you to move and turn the quilt sandwich in any direction when machine quilting. A stitch in the ditch foot is good for machine quilting directly in the seams.

- Lots of quilting patterns are designed to be used with precuts; it saves having to pick lots of different coordinating fabrics.


Pre-cuts - various sets of color coordinating sets such as charms, layer cake, jelly roll, etc.

Charm pack - color coordinated set of (typically) 5" squares

Jello roll - set of 2 1/2" inch width of fabric (~42") color coordinating strips

Layer cake - set of about 42 color coordinating 10" squares

Fat quarter - 18" x 21" inch cut of fabric; a regular fourth yard cut is 9"x 42"

Fat eighth - 9 "x 21" cut of fabric; a regular eighth yard cut is 4.5" by 42"

Quilt shop quality fabric - has higher thread count than cheaper fabric; is softer and made from long staple cotton thread; cheaper fabric will seem thin, and often stiff

Places to buy quilt shop quality 100% cotton fabrics: My experience has been most all quilt shops sell high quality fabric. Etsy- search "quilting fabric"; order name brands, and I only use sellers with a 100% positive rating. You can pay with PayPal or a credit card. I've have very good experiences with Etsy. Normally a bit cheaper than regular high end quilt shops.

I am sure I will be adding to this list of tips. My plan is to have copies of it for our class members at our next meeting.


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