steadily and smells like burning leaves. The ash is soft and
-Wool smolders and
sputters when near flame. It doesn't burn easily and smells
like burning hair. It produces a crisp, dark ash which
crushes easily and turns to powder. Wool will also dissolve
in chlorine bleach.
-Silk burns slowly
and smells like hair or feathers burning. It burns slowly
with a grayish ash which crumbles easily.
-Linen is very similar
but it takes longer to light and smells like burning paper.
-Manmade Fibers (acrylic, nylon, polyester, rayon, etc.)
will melt when exposed to a flame and the ash will form a
hard bead (except rayon which disappears.) It smells
slightly acidic. This test is not as reliable with blends.
pencil/marker on scrap fabric before using it on your quilt!
If it's too late and
you are having trouble removing the marking lines on your
quilt, try mixing this recipe together:
- 3 oz rubbing
- 1 oz water
- 4 drops clear
liquid dishwashing detergent
Take a clean,
soft-bristled toothbrush and dip it in the solution and
brush onto your fabric. Blot dry.
tsp of baking soda dissolved in 1/4 cup water will
neutralize a blue marker to make it easier to remove.)
About using a
dye magnet in your wash.
A great dye magnet
to use would be a piece of un-dyed, untreated terrycloth.
Untreated cotton will absorb escaping dyes, so the piece of
cloth will collect all the dye in your wash water.
Once it is
saturated, you can just bleach it all out and keep using it
in your future washes. Old, well-used, white, 100% cotton
terry washcloths, towels, T-shirts, and underwear will work
just as good too.
NEVER expose your dye magnet cloth to fabric softener.
Fabric softener will coat the fibers and will interfere with
the cloth's ability to absorb dye.
Make your own chenille.
Layer 4 to 8 layers
of fabric (cotton, rayon or silk) with the brightest and
boldest fabric on top. Spray baste between each layer, or
pin baste when you are done.
Mark a diagonal
line on the bias crossing the center of this piece.
Using your walking
foot, stitch all layers along that line, then stitch 1/4" to
1/2" on either side until the entire piece is quilted.
between the lines, without cutting the bottom layer of
fabric, using shears, a slash cutter, or a specially
designed mat with your rotary cutter.
To make the
chenille bloom once it has been slashed, throw it in the
washer then dryer.
Stabilizers and how best to
use them. Stabilizers are designed to support, and
sometimes replace, fabric under the stress of dense and
multi-directional machine stitching. They can be
applied in many ways, but are commonly used with an
embroidery hoop to hold fabric as flat and inflexibly as
Best for any fabric that cannot be hooped easily (especially
quilts!) like shirt cuffs or collars, socks, bags, etc.
You stick it to the fabric on one side, while the other is
covered by protective sheeting. You can either put the
stabilizer in your hoop with the sticky side up and place
your fabric on top or place your fabric on the stabilizer
and then hoop it.
Best used for light to medium weight woven fabrics like
cotton, canvas, silks, sheers or satins, and corduroys and
any embroidery project that is "in-the-hoop".
Considered a soft stabilizer for lightweight fabrics but it
does come in different thicknesses. Consider it
temporary support that is faster and easier to use, just
realize each needle hole lowers the stability. Choose
a bi- or multi-directional tear-away for the easiest
removal. If you are doing a lot of stitching (large
design) it is probably best that you use two layers of
tear-away, it will help with stabilization, but when you are
done, only tear one layer at a time away. If you have
little bits of stabilizer left behind after tearing, either
use tweezers to pull them out or, if more difficult to
remove, a permanent felt pen the same color as your stitch
thread to colour over them.
Best used for stretchy and more unstable fabrics like knits,
stretch denim, velvet, corduroy, fleece or towelling.
This is more of a medium weight stabilizer as it is consider
a more permanent support that should last through wearing
and laundering. Again, if you are doing a larger
design or using a lot of stitching, it is probably best to
use two layers of cut-away, but it is a better choice for
larger designs or ones with more stitches. Cut away
any excess stabilizer once you are done. This type is
also great for any project to be framed - because you don't
see the back!
Most commonly used because it is good for most fabrics,
especially lightweight ones, but can be used for medium- to
heavy-weight knits as well. It's not good for designs
with tightly packed rows of stitches though because it would
make it difficult to remove. It is a paper-based
stabilizer with a waxy film that irons on the back of your
fabric. You can use iron-on stabilizer with tear-away
if you want more stabilization. It's good for
getting proper hooping. You should tear or peel off
any excess once you are done. If you avoid ones with a
lot of glue, you will have less problems stitching because
it will not gummy up your needle.
Best for any free standing lacework design or for top ups on
towelling, corduroys, velvets or knits because it can be
used on top or underneath fabrics and any excess should wash
away in water. It is great for use on top of towelling
to ensure the fabric nap does not poke through your
embroidery designs and also for more intricate designs where
it might be more difficult to tear or cut away the
stabilizer. Note: store in zipper-lock-type
baggies as this type tends to stiffen with continued
exposure to the air.
There are a few
types available. The most common being a plastic-like
film and soluble paper. Both can be used with hoops.
There are also adhesive-backed and heavier films which are
great for embroidering lace and Richelieu, as well as
cutwork and designs. Also there is a type of brush-on
liquid as well as a spray-on that makes the fabric firmer
than starch without the build up or scorch. These last
two aren't really stabilizers, but you can use them along
with tear-away for things like appliqué projects.
Best for projects that are very delicate or can't be washed.
You can only use this on fabrics that will not burn, as heat
removes it. Good for use on off the edge stitching
techniques. You should really only use this type when
your fabric is too delicate for tear-away, too sheer for
cut-away, is not washable, or when you're working with
special techniques like making lace at an edge.
Note: store in zipper-lock-type baggies as this type
tends to stiffen with continued exposure to the air.
There are two types
of heat removeable stabilizer. Woven or a plastic-like
film. The woven turns brown and flakes when heated
with an iron, and the flakes can be gently brushed away. But
be careful because the chemical it uses to do this is
water-soluble, so a steam iron wouldn't be appropriate.
film heats and melts. It is used more for topping so
stitches don't get lost in dense nap or pile. It stays
under the stitching to support it during washings. Any
excess around the stitches disappears when you use a hot dry
iron. Just touch the surface, don't slide the iron
across the film. Then you can just wipe away any beads
on the iron with a paper towel or fabric scrap.
A few last
A lot of
stabilizers look very similar. If you remove the
original packaging and label information, it's in your best
interest to put some kind of note labelling its type to ease
You can use more
than one type of stabilizer in the same project in some
cases. It can simplify a more complex project where
you might use wing-needle stitching on a soft fabric with
stabilizer before hooping the fabric with a sewn-in
tear-away from a digitized design.
If you do a lot of
embroidery, sometimes it is good to keep samples on
different types you've done to make it easier to figure out
what type to use for future projects.
Some fabrics just
aren't good for embroidery, so no stabilizer will help that.
As long as your
fabric doesn't show holes, sometimes you can also use pins
or baste stitches to hold the stabilizer in place on the
fabric for a better result.
Wondering if you
should use tear-away or cut-away? The general practice
is that if your fabric stretches, use cut-away. If
not, then tear-away.
How to use
stabilizers and adhesives more cleanly:
Get an empty container (tailor the size to your project),
cut off the bottom and top.
Now when you want
to spray something, set the container over the area and
spray away! Residue clings to the inside of the
container, not your hoop or cutting table.
project doesn't always happen in one sitting and can take
several hours. An easy way to remember your
quilting settings is once you've determined your project's
stitch number, tension setting and length, write them down
on the quilt backing selvage in pen. The information
will be where you can see it when it’s time to start
quilting again and won't show up on your finished project.
Are you having
If knots are appearing on the top of your fabric, try
loosening the upper tension. If there are loops on
the bottom of your fabric, tighten the upper tension.
Anytime you find unexpected bird's nests
on your fabric, check that upper tension!
Free Motion Tips
- Doodle on
paper as often as you can. Set your pen down and don’t
pick it up until the page is filled with a single line
of pseudo-stitching. It is a great way to get your mind
in gear for machine quilting and to come up with new
- Have a small
fabric and batting sandwich by your machine at all times
to use as a warm-up and testing cloth. Use it every time
you begin to quilt to test your thread tension and to
get into the flow of movements that you will be using
for your quilt.
- Practice on a
charity quilt. Throw together a bunch of scraps or pull
out that quilt you started ten years ago and can’t stand
the sight of any more. There is someone in a nursing
home right now that will greatly appreciate a nice warm
Cleaning - Keep your sewing machine in good working
order by using cotton swabs or pipe cleaners to clean the
lint out of all the nooks and crannies including the area
around and under the bobbin case. To clean thread tension
discs, run a length of cotton thread that has been dipped in
alcohol through them.
If all else fails,
contact us for help with repairs!
Want to increase your
accuracy? Set your machine on a slow setting if
you have a tendency to sew fast. Slower sewing improves
accuracy and control.
Prevent your fabric
from stretching as you mark
it by placing it on 220-grit sandpaper.
embroidery design. Simple =
Beautiful. A simple design is much better than an ornate one
because you are using solid thread colour, not shades like
in a painting.
Also, for best
results, your lettering should be a least 1/4” in height.
Smaller is usually illegible.
Since the Christmas Season is one of the busiest times of
the year. I figure we could use some time saving ideas as
tips this month.
Save time looking for the things you need to start a
We all have magazines, books and pictures of inspiration.
Store them for quick reference in those cheap cardboard
magazine holders (you can buy them in Staples.) Organize
them by the season of the quilt.
You may want to organize them by title or something else,
but when you want to make a quilt for Christmas, you'd have
to look through a lot of different holders for something
specific. Storing them by season/holidays makes it much
easier and quicker to find what you're looking for.
If you want to get creative, you could also use up extra
fabric you have lying around by gluing it to the front of
the holders to match the decor in your room, or the season
Looking at your stash pile and wondering what to choose or
where to begin? Take a couple of hours one day and get all
the patterns together that you want to start. Then, since it
is the Christmas season, buy some of those 11x17" gift boxes
(or wait until they go on sale Boxing Day!) and start
matching things up. Using these boxes to store your projects
will keep things neat, clean, dust-free and organized.
Gather the fabric for each project and fold it nicely into
the box, add your book/pattern, cover with the lid, and put
a label on the front with all the info...pattern name,
fabric name, colours, etc.
ABOUT MATTRESS SIZING
Here is some
information about standard mattress sizes and likely quilt
sizes. The actual size of a quilt will vary depending
on the drop (how much hangs over the edge, usually 21") and
the pillow tuck, as well as personal preference.
Pillows can vary in
size, too. A standard size pillowcase is usually
20" x 26", a queen size is usually 20" x 30" and a king size
20" x 36". A pillowcase made with all seams enclosed is
quick and easy and makes a great gift.
26" x 48"
36" x 60"
48" x 72"
60" x 60"
90" x 90"
102" x 102"
39" x 75"
63" x 88"
81" x 107"
39" x 80"
63" x 96"
81" x 115"
48" x 84"
74" x 98"
90" x 120"
54" x 75"
80" x 88"
96" x 107"
60" x 80"
86" x 93"
102" x 112"
78" x 80"
104" x 93"
120" x 112"
72" x 84"
100" x 98"
120" x 120"
determining the quilt size you will need for your type of
bed, be sure to add 6" to both the width and length of the
measurements when determining how much batting you will
S = Stash
E = Enhancing
X = eXperiences
(also known as a
F.A.R.T. = Fabric Acquisition Road Trip!)
If you have
pin basted your quilt together, you
must remove the safety pins as you approach them. Do not,
under any circumstances, attempt to stitch over a safety
pin. Not only does stitching over them make them difficult
to remove, but it's dangerous! You could easily break your
needle, sending a fragment of the needle into your eye.
quilting for advanced projects.
To do free-motion quilting, you need a
special presser foot called a darning or free-motion foot.
This type of foot has a rounded toe that travels just above
the surface of the fabric.
Because you feed the quilt through the
machine manually, free-motion quilting requires you to
disengage your machine's feed dogs:
- On some machines, you disengage the
feed dogs by turning a knob, which lowers them out of
- On other machines (especially older
models), you don't lower the feed dogs to disengage
them. Instead, you cover them with a metal or plastic
plate. You will find this plate in your machine's bag of
Refer to your machine's manual to see how
With free-motion quilting, you do not need to adjust the
length of the straight-stitch on your machine at all. The
speed at which you are sewing combined with the speed at
which you move the quilt around under the needle determines
the stitch length. This is why practice is so important
before attempting a large project in free-motion quilting.
After inserting the darning foot and disengaging the feed
dogs, thread your machine and bobbin as you would for
straight-line quilting. Place the quilt under the presser
foot with one hand positioned on each side of the quilt, 2
inches or so from the presser foot. Use your hands to guide
the quilt in the necessary direction under the darning foot.
If your fingers feel dry, or if you are having trouble
moving the quilt under the machine because your fingers are
sliding on the fabric, cover the first and index finger of
each hand (four fingers in all) with a rubber fingertip from
the office supply store.
Slowly begin stitching, taking two or three stitches in the
same spot to secure the thread at the beginning. As you
stitch, move the quilt, guiding it with your two hands, so
that the needle follows your marked quilting lines or
designs. Keeping the machine at a steady speed, move the
fabric slowly and smoothly so you don't end up with gaps or
overly long stitches. Slow and steady is the key here!
Free-motion machine quilting takes some time to master.
Start on small projects, such as pillows, placemats, or wall
hangings, before progressing to larger projects. Stipple
quilting is a great first-time use for free-motion quilting
because you are not required to follow a set pattern.
Instead, you learn to maneuver the project under the darning
foot and get some much-needed experience.
purchasing your machine, an experienced sewer can get
away with a more basic machine. A beginner sewer,
however, will benefit from a higher-end machine with more
If you are
quilting a large project,
such as a bed quilt, be sure you have a large surface to the
rear and to the left of your machine to help you support the
weight of the quilt. Large-size projects are very heavy and
can easily pull your machine right off the table and onto
Prepare any quilt larger than 36 inches x 36 inches for
quilting by rolling it as follows:
Lay the basted quilt on the floor and roll
the two sides towards the center, leaving 12" unrolled. This
is where you will begin machine quilting. Secure the rolls
with safety pins or bicycle clips.
You can find bicycle clips at the sporting goods store and
at some quilting stores. Bicycle clips are flexible metal
rings with a small opening. They hold your pants leg against
your body while cycling so that your pants don't get caught
in the bicycle chain. Bicycle clips function the same way on
a quilt. Just think of the rolled edges of the quilt as the
"leg" and put the clip over this rolled leg, holding it
securely in place.
Begin by inserting an even-feed presser foot in your
machine. These presser feet are also known as walking feet.
If your machine did not come with an even-feed foot, make a
trip to the sewing center to get one. Bring your machine's
manual with you so the clerk can help you find the right
foot for your model.
An even-feed foot makes machine quilting smoother and
pucker-free because it feeds the layers of the quilt through
the machine evenly. Without it, the feed dogs (those teeth
under the needle) will only feed the bottom layer of fabric
through the machine, leaving the batting and top layers open
to puckering because they're not being fed through the
machine at the same rate.
To start machine stitching, thread the top of the machine
with a coordinating shade of all-purpose thread. If
you would like the stitching to be invisible, use clear
nylon monofilament as your top thread.
Load the bobbin with all-purpose thread in a color to match
or coordinate with your backing fabric.
Set the stitch length on the machine at 6 to 10 stitches per
Place the unrolled center area of the quilt in the machine
and take one stitch.
With the needle up, stop and raise the presser foot. Pull
the top thread tail so that the bobbin thread tail comes up
through the hole in the stitch you made previously.
You now have both tails on top of the quilt.
Lower the presser foot and begin stitching by taking two
stitches and then stopping.
Put your machine in reverse and take two stitches backward
to secure the thread. You are now ready to stitch your
Continue stitching normally (without reversing) along your
marked lines or however you have decided to quilt your
project. When you get to a corner that needs to be
turned, lower the needle into the fabric and raise the
presser foot. Pivot the quilt in the other direction and
lower the presser foot again. Continue stitching.
When you reach a spot where you need to stop stitching, take
two stitches backward to secure the thread, just as before.
Remember, you need to secure the thread at the beginning and
end every time, or you run the risk of the stitching coming
undone at these starting and stopping points, resulting in
an unsightly 1/4 inch or so that is unstitched.
After you finish quilting the area you unrolled, remove the
project from the machine and unroll the sides to expose an
unquilted area. Continue stitching until you have quilted
the entire quilt.
quilt binding. Double the
width of the size of your binding. Fold it in half
lengthwise and treat it as single piece.
binding gets the most wear and tear. If you double it,
it will be stronger and last longer.
You know those
cardboard that bolts of fabric are wrapped around?
A lot of times they are thrown away. You can use them
for the base of bags. They can even carry the weight
of most sewing machines!
Swifter (spelling mistake on
Cut your leftover batting into appropriate
sized pieces and use them on your flat floor cleaner.
It is cheaper than buying name-brand refills and they do
great job on both the floors and walls to remove dust and
loose threads in your sewing room.
lint roll-sticky pet hair remover
sheets are great for more than just getting stray stuff off
your clothes! Use a sheet at your sewing table.
Rip one off at the perforation, fold a corner down and stick
it against your sewing table. Then, any snips of
thread, put them on the sticky sheet! No tiny threads
to clean up off the floor, table or project.
Use a computer mouse
pad and put it under your floor pedal to stop it from
walking away on you. (Tip...buy one at the dollar
Doing a lot of quilting, both stippling or
specific quilting designs, you tend to go through
washable marking pens at
a high cost. Use washable fine tip marking pens! You
should always test with the different colours of course, but
they should all come out of cotton fabrics quickly and
completely when washed. (Crayola fine tip washable
markers are cheap and most colours will work on light or
If you are a machine quilter, you probably buy queen- or
king-size cotton quilt batting.
After you sandwich your bed quilts, save any left over
batting pieces. Use old rotary blades in your rotary cutter
when cutting the batting. Straighten out any uneven edges,
then butt two pieces up together using a wide zig-zag stitch
in matching thread to sew the pieces together to make the
This will works well for baby quilts, table runners, wall
hangings, etc. You can also use this method on larger quilts
when the batting is just a little short; add strips that are
slightly larger than needed, then cut to size.
About types of
sewing scissors. Some are for general use when working
with fabric; others are for specific tasks.
Buttonhole Scissors: After you sew a buttonhole, these
specialty scissors enable you to cut it open safely and
Pinking Shears: These give a zigzag that will not unravel.
Thread Nippers: The design makes these extremely convenient.
Slip your fourth finger through the loop and use your thumb
and forefinger to pinch the ends together.
Tailor's Shears: At 10 inches, these make longer cuts than
standard dressmaker's shears. Some are heavy-duty enough to
work with thick upholstery.
Eight-Inch Dressmakers Shears: These are classic shears for
cutting fabric. (Tie a ribbon around the handle as an
indicator that this pair is for fabric only or simply write
the word "fabric" on their side with a permanent marker.)
The bent-handled design makes it easy to cut along a flat
Embroidery Scissors: These are ideal for embroidery and
other needlework, as well as for snipping threads and doing
Appliqué Scissors: Use the flat, curved plate to lift the
excess fabric to be trimmed from appliqué work.
When you guide fabric over the throat plate, you should keep
your fingers at least one inch away from the presser foot at
If you're going to pause between stitches, you should take
your foot off the foot controller so that you don't
accidentally set the needle in motion.
If you are taking a longer pause, turn the machine off
Nothing worse than when you are hard at work and the thread
breaks! There's usually a fixable reason for this
happening. When it breaks, it is either a snag
or it's at its stress point.
Try these solutions...
1. Most basic...are you using a
quality thread? There are lots of inconsistencies in
quality and strength in the poorer threads.
2. Try a different cone of thread. Bad spools (or
sections of one) do happen, even with high quality thread.
If you use the same type of thread for your replacement
spool as your spool that is breaking, then your first cone
has a bad section. Pull off several yards and try again, or
get a different spool.
3. Still happening? Try a
thread that you have had good success with in the past. If
it sews well, then we need to look at the thread path,
tension, or thread quality.
4. Still happening? Re-thread
the machine. Go back to the thread cone and start
over. Floss the thread down into the tension disks.
Do not be lazy with this step...but if it still happens:
5. Insert a new needle. Sometimes the eye of a
needle can be very sharp and shred and cut your thread.
6. That didn't work? Loosen
thread tension a lot - top and bobbin.
Loosen the top until the disks are almost flopping and the
bobbin case until it falls to the floor. Just try to get
your machine to sew without tension. Don't worry about
how ugly the stitches are. You're basically trying to
eliminate possible issues.
If the thread does not break with the loose tension, tighten
the top again, a half turn at a time, testing quality each
time. Do the same with the bobbin to fine tune the
Thread can break easily if tension settings are too tight
for the thread. Starting from loose and tightening the
tension will produce better results than from a tighter
7. No...? Change the thread path next.
Turn the cone over to reverse the feed. Thread coming
off the cone in a clockwise direction should follow the
normal threading procedure with the thread wrapping through
the 3-hole guide near the tension disks in a
counter-clockwise direction (back to front). However, if the
thread exits the cone counter-clockwise, try turning the
cone over to reverse its feed.
Or you could try weaving it through the guide instead to
take away some of the twisting that can break thread.
From the rear hole, down the middle hole, up through the
third and then to the tension disks.
8. If it's still breaking, examine the thread path for
You could have a burr somewhere, even if you've never broken
a needle but have had near misses thanks to bulky seams and
such. Even one tiny scratch can shred and break your
Age and wear over time can cause this too.
Use a magnifying glass to check the area the top thread rubs
against. Use a fine emery or crocus cloth to smooth it
out (400 grit or better.)
Check the pigtail thread guides, needle
plate hole, hook assembly and retaining figure and the
tension check spring for grooves or burrs.
Grooves in the guides can come from the
heavy polyester ones, metallics and invisible threads.
It's a good idea to keep a few spare guides on hand so you
can replace them easily.
Temporarily, you could loosen the screw
holding the guide in place and rotate the guide 180 degrees
so the thread rubs on a different part of the guide.
The top thread can rub on all sides of the needle hole in
the needle plate. If you've scratched the plate with a
needle, the top thread will break. Use emery cloth to
smooth it out, but careful not to enlarge the hole.
The hook assembly also has several areas where the needle
could strike it and cause burrs. Check your machine's
manual for information on Hook Maintenance to see how to
care for the hook assembly and retaining finger.
9. Really?!?!? Still happening?
We've got you covered!! Call us. We'll help you
best we can! Let's get you back to your quilting as
quickly as possible.
Keep a small snipper close by your machine
and snip both threads (top and bottom) right from the last
stitch point. This keeps the tails you normally snip later
and discard on your machine and ready to be the starting
thread of your next stitching row!
Saves 50% of the thread
you would normally snip off later AND you save the time too!
- sometimes the perfect thread for a sewing project comes on
a spool that is not sized properly for your sewing machine.
To solve this, place the spool in a heavy mug and position
it on your work surface directly underneath the spool pin.
Take hold of the thread end, and hook it over the spool pin
before threading it into the machine as usual (the thread
should form a 90-degree angle). The thread will
unravel smoothly as you work.
To keep a
button in position as you sew it on, start by looking in
your desk: A piece of translucent tape can secure the button
to the fabric. Make the first two stitches through the tape,
then lift the tape away. Finish sewing the button.
If you need to
straight line through woven fabrics, like linen or
cotton, tease a few threads loose at the place where you are
going to make the first cut. Pull those threads loose,
gently, to create a path of aligned holes in the fabric. Use
that path to guide your shears!
Before investing in a sewing machine,
consider buying one that suits your
A basic sewing machine may suffice for a
beginner, but intermediate and advanced-level sewers may opt
for more complex machines that can perform more tasks.
Beginner Sewing Machine - A simple mechanical sewing machine
can perform all basic tasks for beginner projects.
Intermediate-Level Sewing Machine - If you're at the
intermediate level, consider a slightly more complex
Advanced-Level Sewing Machine - If you're an experienced
sewer, there's a good chance you incorporate more
complicated techniques such as embroidery into your
projects. Consider investing in a high-end embroidery
machine that allows for greater precision.
We have all levels of machines for you to try at USC.
Come in and talk to us about what you need...anytime.
Do you get
batting poking through your
quilt back? Want to prevent it?
Seeing little white tufts of batting on the back of your
quilt can be very frustrating! Causes include:
The needle is dull or has a burr.
Switch to a new needle, preferably from a different package.
If a dull needle is to blame, you’ll see the batting pokies
on nearly every needle hole on the back of the quilt.
The needle is too large for the batting type.
Heavy, dense batting is hard to penetrate. When the needle
encounters one of the thick areas in the batting, it tends
to punch its way through instead of separating the batting
fibers. A smaller needle may pierce the batting more
cleanly. However, the needle size must correspond to the
thread thickness. If your needle is too small for your
thread, it will present additional problems like thread
breakage and tension imbalance. Don’t go smaller than a 3.5
The batting is in upside down.
Your batting may have a right side and a wrong side.
Your quilting needle should penetrate the batting on the
right side. Load your quilting frame with the batting’s
right side facing up. To find the right side of the batting,
study the surface carefully. The right side will have more
indentations or "dimples” where the manufacturer’s
needle-punching machine pressed the fibers together. The
wrong side of the batting will typically be rougher, with
more small "pills” or balls of batting. It will look like a
worn sweater that needs a shave. Heavy, dense
batting's right side will be the dirty side.
The backing fabric is loosely woven.
Backing fabric with a low thread count allows the needle to
punch both the batting and the thread through the backing.
For best results, use high quality fabric for the backing
with a thread count of at least 78 threads per square inch.
The batting is the wrong colour.
If your backing fabric is dark, but you’ve selected a light
coloured batting, you may suffer from an Oreo effect. This
is when you can see the batting (the filling) inside the
hole made by the needle. In this instance the batting hasn’t
actually poked to the back of the quilt, but your backing
seems covered with small light-colored dots. While the
needle holes will often close up once the quilt relaxes or
is laundered for the first time, the best solution is to use
dark batting in the first place.
For your own
Any table or countertop used for crafts or sewing projects
will be improved by the addition of a measuring tape along
the edge, just as you see in fabric stores. Purchase a metal
measuring tape backed with peel-off adhesive from a home
center, hardware store, or craft shop. Apply tape around the
perimeter of the work surface, uncovering the adhesive as
you go. Snip excess tape with utility scissors.
How to sew
on flat buttons (top holes) with your sewing machine
While there is a presser foot that is designed for attaching
buttons, you don't necessarily need it for these types of
What you do need to do is drop your feed dogs so they’re out
of the way. Those are the metal bars with the ridges that
come up from the metal plate below the needle. You don't
want them to pull on your buttons.
If you don't have the option to drop them, you could do a
quick fix by taping an old credit card down (or something
with some strength to it) over them, but you'll have to make
sure to drill or hole punch a hole where the needle would
normally go through and be wide enough for your zig-zag
Decrease your stitch length to zero so that the needle
doesn’t advance forward at all and make sure you are on the
straight stitch setting.
Place the button under the presser foot and line up the
center of the button with the center of the presser foot.
Lower the needle down with the hand wheel to see if the
needle hits down at center, but do not sew because the
needle will break. This is just to reference the button in
Being careful not to move the button at all, switch your
stitch setting to zig-zag and adjust the stitch width.
Start with the stitch width at the largest setting. When you
hand-lower the needle, you'll see if it needs adjusting.
Adjust the width as required until it is centred over the
Lower it right into the hole by hand and drop your presser
foot down to clamp the button in place. Advance your needle
a bit more, look from the top to make sure the needle is
centred over the hole, and slowly lower the needle down.
Turn the hand wheel a couple of times to ensure that it goes
in the hole each time and then start sewing. Hit each hole
about 7-8 times to make it secure.
Once you are done, lift up the pressure foot and go back to
the straight stitch setting. The needle will go back to
centre. Reposition the button under the foot so that one of
the holes is right under the centre. Lower the needle down
into the hole like before, lower the presser foot and sew
with your pedal about 4-5 stitches.
Lift up the foot and place your needle back into the hole,
but in a slightly different spot. Lower the foot and sew
another 4-5 stitches. This will lock your threads in place.
Lift up the foot and pull your fabric out. Trim the threads
to tidy up.
(If sewing those last few stitches with your straight stitch
didn’t lock your threads in place, thread any loose ends
that are coming out the top onto a hand-sewing needle and
thread them back down through the button holes. Tie the
loose ends in a knot from the bottom side.)
For 4-hole buttons, start the same way. After you do two
holes, lift up your presser foot, but don’t pull on the
thread too much. Rotate your button (and fabric) until the
second set of holes are lined up and repeat.
Once you've done this a few times and learned what to do,
it's not a long process and will probably save you time over
Do you save all
those tiny thin strips that are left after trimming down a
block? How about making a rag rug from the cut off edges by
tying them together into a continuous strip and use them to
weave rag rugs!
Have some pieces that are too thin? Wrap
some leftover yarn pieces around them.
You don't even need to have a loom - use a
huge piece of cardboard to weave!
Hang Your Thread
A neat way to hang
your thread, is to go to the local hardware store and buy a
piece of wood about 18' x 24" (or whatever you determine.)
Buy long nails and
nail them at a slant and hang all your spools of thread.
You could even
paint the wood or cover it in fabric or a quilt pattern
before driving in the nails to match your sewing room!
You can nail it to
the wall or use picture hanger wire on the back of the wood.
Ponytail holders - use them to attach a bobbin to its
matching spool of thread. It keeps them paired, but it also
keeps the thread from unwinding from either spool.
Glue stick - use a glue stick to hold fabrics
together when using a straight pin is not practical. Like
when stitching down the back facing over a gathered seam.
Usually you have to press under the seam allowance, pin it
in place, and then stitch in the ditch from the topside
hoping that you catch that facing. Use a little gluestick
instead, and it’ll all stay flat while you’re topstitching.
Just be sure that the glue is dry before you stitch through
with your machine. Sticky glue in your machine workings
would be bad. A glue stick is also helpful for keeping bias
tape in place when you’re topstiching it down around tight
Water sprayer - use it when you need a little steam
to press fabrics. Instead of pouring water into your iron
and spilling it all over just spritz the fabric with the
water. Much easier and you don’t have to empty the water out
when you need to iron with dry heat. It’s also helpful when
removing erasable marker.
Erasable fabric marker - use for temporary marking on
fabric. It’s also great for teaching children to sew – just
draw the stitch lines on the fabric with the marker. It’s
easier for a child to line up the stitch line with the
center of the presser foot than to keep the fabric straight
and align the edge with the seam guide on the side of the
face plate. Can also be used when measuring elastic for an
Sharpie - to make a mark that’s permanent. Use them
to write on the top of bias tape makers, the size of the
finished tape that it will make and the size of the strip to
cut to keep that information where you can see it easily.
Thin craft stick/popsicle stick - use this to help
poke out corners and curves when turning something
Scrapbooking bone folder - same use as above, but has
a slightly sharper point. Use this when you need corners
sharper than what the craft stick can do.
Old TV antenna - to turn some long fabric tubes. It
telescopes out for longer tubes, but pushes together smaller
for easy storage.
Packing paper - use for pattern-drafting paper. (You
can also use discounted wrapping paper after Christmas when
they go on sale!)
Misprints from your printer - those extra sheets of
paper that get printed by accident when you print out a
website or a recipe. Save and use as scrap paper or for
drafting smaller patterns, like doll clothes
Large mailing envelopes - store self-drafted patterns
in large mailing envelopes. You can usually find them
inexpensively at the dollar store. They’re large enough for
clothing and purse patterns, but still organize neatly with
Baggies - for smaller patterns. The smaller pieces
are easier to see and retrieve from the smaller baggies, as
opposed to the larger mailing envelopes. Use the Sharpie to
How to get
pet hair off of your quilts
When it's okay to wash:
• Green washing products are
excellent for hair and dander removal from quilts that can
• Adding a bit of washing soda to the cycle seems to
help the hair slide off.
Homemade Washing Soda
Ingredients: Baking Soda (that's it!)
1. Fill a wide baking dish with baking soda.
2. Heat in the oven at 400 degrees until all the baking soda
becomes washing soda. Occasionally mix it so that this
process happens faster and more uniformly.
3. Use as needed!
• Don't over-pack the wash tub, and
be sure to use an 'extra water' setting if available.
• Removing as much hair as possible before throwing
items into the wash helps, too.
When it's not possible to wash your quilt, these tools can
• Pet Hair Lifter Sponge - a little yellow sponge that
is more dense than your typical sponge. It grabs
almost all hair in its path when you slide it across a quilt
surface. It won't harm fabrics and it's not too
• Make a pad from cloth-like paper towels and dampen
slightly -- not soaking wet, just a bit damp. Swipe the
fabric and watch the paper towels grab the hair. Dry paper
towels work, too. Make sure you use a fairly strong brand
though otherwise they'll just fall apart.
Quilt Storage Solutions
1. Store Quilts on an Unused Bed - It's easy to store
multiple layers of quilts on an unused bed, and that method
allows a fold-free storage solution that prevents permanent
a) Separate quilts with white cotton sheets or pre-washed
unbleached muslin to keep them from rubbing against each
other, a process that could contribute to wear and produce
marks from crocking.
b) Cover the top quilt with another white sheet, and finish
with any type of sheet to help protect the top quilt from
fading that occurs in light.
2. Roll Quilts for Storage - If you have a safe place to
store a long tube, roll your quilt for storage, again
eliminating folds. Place a white sheet on the quilt top and
roll towards the sheet layer; the backing will still be
visible. Finish by rolling the roll in another white sheet
and store flat in a clean, dry location. Turn the roll
occasionally to prevent a 'flat spot' from forming. Try to
find acid free tubes and roll quilts around the tube.
3. Fold the Quilt for Storage - Fold the quilt with as few
folds as possible using a white sheet against the front and
the backing. Store in a dry area. Cooler is better,
but dry is critical. Unfold the quilt from time to time and
refold, changing the position of the folds.
Note: A quilt that's been left folded the same way for
a long time may develop permanent lines. Try not to
fold the quilt along seam lines as they can tend to become
flat. If you can't help it, refold the quilts even more
Also, don't stack too many quilts on top of each other.
The weight of the top quilts can flatten quilts at the
bottom of the stack.
You might be able to keep the folds less flat by inserting
logs made from acid free tissue paper in those areas. Acid
free boxes are also a great choice.
4. Store Quilts in a Dark Place - Sunlight and interior
lighting will fade fabric colours over time.
5. No Plastic - Try to avoid storing quilts in plastic.
Plastics release vapors that can eventually lead to fabric
However, if you're moving, if storage is temporary or you
worry about flooding, plastic bins can be used to keep out
water and dust. Just don't plan on them for long-term
storage. And MAKE SURE quilts are absolutely dry before
placing them in any storage solution.
A Few Quilt Storage Cautions - Don't store an unwrapped
quilt on an unsealed wooden surface. Avoid storing
quilts in areas that might be prone to mice or insects, like
the garage or attic. Not only do you have to worry
about creatures, but the moisture in these areas is not good
for your precious creations.
About backing up
your computer data.
It always seems like 'it will never happen to me', but
then...POOF! Everything you've ever put on your
computer can disappear in moment. Sometimes you'll be
lucky and only a quick computer repair and few hundred
dollars will save what you've lost. Other times, it's
more serious and you're looking at $1000s worth of data
recovery (if it's that important to you.)
Pictures, reference material, emails...I highly suggest
you back it up to a source other than your present computer
at least once every few months, so you don't end up in a
position of greater loss. We don't often print
pictures anymore. So many memories can be stored on
your computer. And lost forever, in a heartbeat.
Types of storage:
1. Back up your data to a CD or DVD (if your
computer has that hardware.) You can purchase external
CD/DVD recorders as well if your computer doesn't have one
and the discs to burn the information to.
2. Use a USB stick drive (can be purchased almost
anywhere these days) and copy the files from your computer
to the USB.
3. External hard drive. If you have a great
amount of data, you can purchase an external hard drive.
Just remember that this can go too, so while it's great for
a lot of storage, I still recommend an additional method
once or twice per year, just in case. You connect it
via USB cord to your computer and just copy files from one
to the other.
4. Online storage. A lot of people are opting
for this in today's world. Many types are free, at
least up to a certain amount of space. Look at
https://www.google.com/drive/download/ as one example.
Or just Google "free online storage" for others.
In any case, I highly recommend doing this and not
putting it off. Take it from one very sorry and
wallet-drained web designer...it can happen to
Five common issues that lead to quilting errors.
A good bit of all common quilting errors involve accuracy.
Quilt-making accuracy isn't about a single skill or
technique, it's dependent on how the entire set of skills
used during construction flow together to create a project
that's just right at its completion. Take the time to learn
how to make these skills work together and your quilts will
come out looking as you planned.
1. Mixing prewashed with unwashed fabrics - not
because of colourfastness, but because of shrinkage. Quality
cottons do not shrink much, but when you mix unwashed
fabrics with prewashed fabrics a slight amount of shrinkage
could distort patches the first time a quilt is laundered.
properly sized pieces and use correct seam width.
There are a few exceptions, such as paper piecing
techniques, string quilting and a few quick piecing methods,
but most seam allowances used in quilting are 1/4" wide.
It's important to set up your sewing machine to sew a
correct seam, but at the same time recognize that inaccurate
cutting can result in components that are the wrong finished
size, even if seams are perfectly fine. Practice
cutting and be sure to prep your machine. Test the results
to figure out exactly where to position matched pieces as
they flow under the presser foot.
3. Timid or aggressive pressing. Make sure to
gently work the tip of your iron into the seam allowance.
Firm pressure and slow and controlled movements are key.
"Press, don't iron."
4. Sewing too fast. Quilt-making is not a race.
If your seams seem to become more narrow as you reach their
endpoints, slow down and that will help correct that issue.
5. Starting with a difficult pattern. Learning
doesn't need to be hard! Don't get so frustrated with
your pattern that you stop working on it and decide quilting
is not for you. If you choose a pattern that is
simple, when it's complete, you'll feel good about the
process and maybe ready to tackle a quilt that's just a bit
more involved. Simple isn't boring. A lot of
contemporary patterns are simple and beautiful. A
great first quilt would be one that's made of straight-edged
pieces, no triangles.
Caring for an old quilt
Quilts are a beautiful addition to any home whether you use
them on beds or as art for the walls. Antique or heirloom
quilts require special care to be preserved for generations
to come. For newer quilts, both hand-quilted and
machine-quilted, always follow care instructions carefully.
1. Before you clean your vintage quilt, you'll need to
repair any rips or tears in the fabric. Spread the quilt out
on a bed or on top of a sheet on the floor and examine
carefully for any worn patches, tears or stains.
2. Old quilts require special care during cleaning. Do
not dry clean or machine wash an heirloom piece. Dry
cleaning chemicals can permanently harm old fabrics and the
agitation action of a washing machine can cause fibers to
Instead, air your quilt outside on a sunny day to restore
freshness. To remove dust, vacuum with a nylon stocking over
the end of vacuum hose and hold the hose slightly above the
top of the quilt. If the quilt has beading, embroidery or
appliqué, do not vacuum because you could damage the work.
3. If you feel that you quilt must be washed, begin by
checking the fabric for colorfastness. Testing is simple,
wet a piece of white cloth with cold water and gently rub it
over each different color or fabric in your quilt. If there
is any color transfer to the white cloth, don’t wash your
quilt at all. Washing will result in discoloration and
If you have hard water or iron bacteria in your water
source, you should use distilled water for washing your
quilt. You don’t want to risk having minerals stain your
To hand-wash, fill a deep, laundry sink or bathtub with cold
water. Be certain that the sink or tub is very clean and has
no residue from cleaning agents that could cause damage to
the quilt. Use a liquid detergent that is gentle and free of
dyes and perfumes. A liquid detergent will disperse in the
water and leave less residue on the fabric. Add 1/2 cup
vinegar to the water to both brighten colors and soften the
Place your quilt in the water, being certain that the entire
quilt gets wet. Gently move your quilt around in the water.
Allow the quilt to remain in the water for about 10 minutes.
Next, drain the wash water and fill the tub again with fresh
water. Repeat draining and refilling the tub until the water
and quilt are soap free – clear water and no suds.
4. If washing the quilt did not remove all of the
stains, you can remove most stains by mixing a solution of
oxygen-based bleach and cool water. Follow the package
directions as to how much product per gallon of water.
Completely submerge the quilt in the solution and allow it
to soak for at least eight hours. Check the stain. If it is
gone, rinse well and dry. If it remains, mix a fresh
solution and repeat. It may take several soakings to remove
the stain but it should come out.
5. Proper drying is key to keeping your quilt at its
best. Wet quilts must be handled gently. Pulling can break
seams and cause damage. The quilt will be heavy and should
be dried flat. To lift the quilt from the tub, use a white
sheet to create a sling. Allow the excess water to drain
than place the quilt on a bed of heavy towels. Cover with
more towels and roll up to absorb water. Move the quilt to
another bed of dry towels, spread out flat and allow to dry.
Placing a fan in the room will help to speed the process.
If you have space, place a sheet on the grass outside and
spread out the quilt. Cover the quilt with another clean
sheet and allow to dry. Do not dry in direct sunlight, which
can cause fading, without the top sheet in place. Never
suspend a wet quilt from a clothesline. This causes too much
stress on seams and cause tearing and can displace batting.
6. If you plan to store your freshly laundered quilt,
be certain it is completely dry. Allow an extra 24 to 48
hours for drying before storing. One of the best ways to
store a quilt is on an extra bed. Keeping the quilt flat
will eliminate creases and wear on folds. Simple cover the
quilt with a clean sheet or bedspread.
If flat is not an option, store the quilt in a cotton or
muslin bag or in boxes sold for archival storage. These are
usually made of acid-free paper and are perfectly safe to
use. However, if you are concerned about the box getting
crushed, purchase a plastic storage box. The box must be
made of cast polypropylene to be safe for your keepsakes.
Do not store in the attic or basement where moisture and
temperature levels will fluctuate. Before you fold the
quilt, use acid-free tissue paper as padding to prevent
sharp creases. You can also roll your quilt around an
acid-free tube and slip it in a cotton bag.
If you are storing your quilt in a wooden box or dresser,
wrap it in the acid-free tissue to avoid contact with the
wood. Oils and acids in the wood can cause spotting and
damage. Once a year, bring your quilt out of storage to air
and to check for damage. Refolding will also prevent
permanent creases and damage.
Proper care of your beautiful quilt will insure it will last
for generations to come.
Looking for ways to
speed up your quilt-making process?
Use precut fabrics because When the majority of cutting has
already been done, you can get right to sewing.
Use a quilt kit. All of the fabrics have been chosen and
beautifully coordinated for you.
Let the fabric do the work. Choose patterns that incorporate
large pieces where you can show off a favorite fabric or
collection of prints as the focal point. Less blocks to sew.
Some quilters like to start and end every session of
chain-stitching with another project cut from scraps that
otherwise might have been thrown away. Trim your leftovers
into useable squares and strips before you put them away and
you’ll accumulate enough scraps for another quilt in no
Machine quilting is much quicker to do than traditional hand
quilting and can add depth and dimension. Apply some
creative walking foot quilting to add graphic texture to
your quilts with straight or gently curving lines.
Use a die cutting machine. Finish a quilt made from fused
and machine-appliquéd circles. It takes no time to cut all
the circles with a die cutter and they're perfectly round.
Some things to
know about quilting
There can be a lot to learn about quilting in the
beginning...lingo, techniques and all the different ways
people have of doing things!
The best way not to
become overwhelmed is to realize you will discover which
methods work best for you as you become more experienced,
and that takes practice and time. Some of these skills
however will help you sew accurate quilts from the
1. Learn About Fabric
Fabrics are the backbone of our quilts, but you might be
surprised how many people begin to assemble their first
quilt without putting fabric characteristics to work for
them. It's much easier to make a quilt once you understand
how to care for your fabrics and why quilting patches are
cut using specific guidelines. The 2 more important things
are understanding fabric grain and the pros and cons of
prewashing. Talk to us at USC and we'll help you
2. Sew a Quarter
Inch Seam Allowance
Beginning quilters, especially people who are accustomed to
sewing garments with 5/8" seam allowances, sometimes have a
hard time visualizing and sewing the 1/4" seam allowance
used to make quilts. There are tricks to help you get the
seam just right -- but you do need to do a few tests before
you start sewing patches for a quilt.
3. Develop Rotary Cutting Skills
Rotary cutting is a technique that every new quilter should
master, because it allows us to bypass the time-intense
method of constructing templates to mark and cut individual
pieces of fabric. You'll love the freedom that rotary tools
provide, and speedy cutting is fantastic motivation for
4. Learn Strip & Quick Piecing Techniques
Strip piecing and other quick piecing techniques let you sew
large chunks of fabric together, then slice off sections to
create pre-sewn units. It is so easy! Learn the basics and
you'll be able to create a quick pieced version of just
about any quilt block you see. Ask us about the different
techniques you can try!
5. Get Pressing Basics Down Pat
Your piecing accuracy will improve immediately when you take
a bit of time to press your quilt blocks as you make them.
You might think extra pressing will slow you down, but
you'll find that you actually save time when your quilt
blocks fit together just like they should, without grabbing
the dreaded seam ripper.
6. Don't Pitch Those Quilt Blocks Just Yet
We've all sewn quilt blocks that aren't quite accurate. Most
often, they're smaller than they should be, perhaps because
we've either sewn a slightly large quarter inch seam
allowance or haven't pressed adequately. Don't feel
discouraged if that happens to you, because a high
percentage of 'off' quilt blocks can be rescued. Bring
them in and let's see what we can do...
7. Measure and Sew Borders
Adding one or more borders to the edges of a quilt does more
than provide an attractive frame for your work, it offers an
excellent opportunity to square up slightly skewed edges. It
isn't unusual to see beginning quilters determine border
length by measuring along the outside edges of a quilt. If
the quilt is skewed, that technique ensures it will remain
skewed. You can learn how to make great borders in our
8. Be Sure to Try Mitered Binding
Sewing mitered binding to the edges of a quilt has developed
a bit of a reputation of being difficult, but is actually a
very easy technique.
9. Become Familiar with Quilting Lingo
Keep a basic quilting book around when you're making a quilt
or reading quilting articles. When you encounter a term you
don't understand, look it up. It won't be long before you're
familiar with all the terms you need to know in order to
follow quiltmaking instructions. The internet is also great
for looking up the lingo and even seeing examples and
demonstrations of some words.
10. Don't Obsess Over Errors
We've all made one of those "what was I thinking?!?!"
quilts. No matter our intention, it turned out awful
because of bad colour choices or the wrong type of fabric.
We are more than happy to help you out choosing colours and
We all make errors, both technical and in our choice of
fabrics, but our boo-boos nearly always lead to a better
understanding of the quilting process. Mistakes are really
just learning experiences, analyze them and tuck that
knowledge away for your next project. Your skills will grow
with every new quilt you sew.
Maintaining your machine
Remember to periodically clear any lint and oil the bobbin
case of your machine. A well-maintained machine is one that
will provide years and years of trouble-free sewing. One
easy way to regularly take care of this routine maintenance
is to clean and oil after you have emptied five bobbins
(keep empty bobbins together so you know.) Most
manufacturers recommend a regular cleaning once a year.
Bring your machine into the Ultimate Sewing Centre for a
“spa” day! We'll treat it right!
For appliqué, use thread that matches the colour of the
patch, not the background fabric. It will turn out
Also, if you have a special thread you bought because it
looked so pretty, you can showcase it on your quilt by
increasing your stitch length a little to leave more thread
on the top of your quilt.
Make your thread
To make thread behave for appliqué or regular sewing, run
your needle and thread through a fresh, folded dryer sheet.
Voila! No tangles or nasty little knots.
Now that the colder weather is coming, fleece is great for a
lot of cuddly projects. It is a knit though, so tends to
misbehave when using it with a sewing machine.
Fusible tapes can take all the fuss out of hemming fleece.
They give a perfect fold and minimize stretching during
First, cut your fleece to the desired size. Remember when
buying your fleece, you will probably need to trim off the
selvages and even up the cut edges.
Tear off a length of the tape you can handle easily and
align it to the edge of the fleece. Fold the edge over the
width of the tape.
Set your iron to THE lowest temperature that produces steam
because fleece is synthetic and can melt. (If you have a
scrap, test the heated iron on it first to ensure it can
handle it.) Place your iron on the folded edge and steam,
leaving about 2" at the end unpressed to work in the next
section of tape. Keep going all the way to the corner's
edge. Resume the taping process at the folded edge. Go all
the way around the perimeter.
You don't have to, but folding the edge over twice will give
a heavier edge (think blankets) and hide any cut edges. If
you're using the fleece for a garment, keep to a single
Grab your universal needle (one you'd use for medium to
heavy weight fabrics) so that you don't skip stitches. A
zig-zag or a staggered zig-zag stitch will do the best job.
Stitch down the center of the fold. Just before you get to
the corner, fold the next edge over a second time (lifting
the foot manually to get it up over the thick corner) and
continue until you reach the starting point.
Quickly mark a
seam allowance by putting an elastic around 3 pencils
together for 5/8" , or 2 pencils for 1/2". Trace the edge of
your pattern piece for a perfect seam allowance every time.
Did you know that
thread matters if you're using older fabric?
You should only use cotton threads when stitching any older
fabrics because synthetic threads will most likely damage or
cut your precious stash.
Is your bottom thread
laying flat? Check if:
- there's lint in the
bobbin tension spring
- if your bobbin is
- if the tension isn't
- the upper thread
tension is too loose
- your machine isn't
Is your fabric puckering?
- your top or bottom
tensions are too tight
- the bobbin's too full
or poorly wound
- you're using the right
size bobbin for the case
Is your top thread laying
flat? Check if:
- there's lint in the
upper disc or bobbin tension spring
- the upper tension dial
is too tight
- your machine isn't
- you have a
- your bobbin tension
isn't set correctly
- the thread isn't in
the the tension spring
Is there loops on the
bottom of your quilt? Check if:
- you have any burrs on
- your machine isn't
- the top thread tension
is too loose
- your thread isn't
flossed in top tension disks
This month's tip is
a simple one. When you need to stop, make sure your
needle is in the down position in the quilt before shifting
the quilt for further stitching. This will help to keep your
over textured fabrics, fur or leathers
Next time you’re sewing over lumpy fabric like terry
cloth, fleece or fur, use a plastic bag. Place it over
the fabric you are sewing and watch that presser foot glide!
If you're using a grabby material like leather, use wax
Use wax paper for grabby fabrics like leather!
Sew over piley/fur/lumpy fabric.
Do you want a smoother stitch with
Waxed thread will
sew smoother if you run it under an iron first. Do this on a
brown paper bag though, so you won't get wax on your ironing
board. This is good for sewing buttons on and for any
Bees wax is the
best, but any wax will do in a pinch. It really stiffens the
Working on a large quilt?
If you fold the majority of your quilt into folds (like an
accordion) and use clips to hold it together, you can make
it much easier to work with and manoeuvre your quilt!
Did you know it's good to have
alcohol on hand while you're working?
No, no, no...not
that kind. Alcohol pads! Like the kind you'd
find in medical first aid kits.
Keep some of those individual alcohol prep pads near your
sewing supplies. They come in handy when you need to clean
off the glue or fusibles from your needle!
Hairspray to the rescue!!
Need your thread to stay straight to get
it in the eye of the needle?
HAIRSPRAY the tip!
What's in a pin
There are lots of things that get put into a pin cushion.
BUT! If you want a really good pin cushion and are
making one of your own, we highly recommend using steel wool
as stuffing. This keeps your pins and needles super sharp
because every time you poke them back it, the steel wool
acts as a sharpener!
Want to make it even MORE effective? Use rice (yes,
rice!) in the filling as well. Those uncooked grains
are amazing at absorbing any excess moisture.
How to find the grain?
If you clip into
your selvage (a very small amount) and pull on a loose
thread, it will tug at your fabric and gather a little.
Carefully pull it all the way out.
The line this
thread left behind is what's called your cross-grain and is
perpendicular to your grain line. (When you fold your fabric
in half this line should match up on both sides.)
For more great
the creative crew at Ultimate Sewing Centre!