Tips/Techniques

12.  On the Cheap Pieced Backing 
One way I'm dealing with some of the cheap fabric in my stash is that I use it for backing. I have what seems like tons of cheaper cottons from my mom and quite a few others who have "gifted" me with their stashes. I used to buy muslin for backing but pieced backing is in vogue, so why not go with it?  Now I know that other quilters use the same quilting cotton fabric for both sides, but there's really no need to spend the extra money.  If the fabric is as heavy as muslin and can be pieced, it works. I just piece the backing to the size I need. The trick to use monochromatic colors so that there's a cohesive feel to the backing. In the case below, I tried to stick to blues but found a couple of gingham fabrics in navy and beige, so adding some beige worked fine. Notice that I cut the really big pieces down so that the sizes work together also.



11.  DIY Filling
If you have scraps of batting left over, repurpose it by cutting into slim little strips, then chopping into tiny crumbs. It can be used to make pincushions, small dolls, and pet toys. It takes a little bit of time and a sharp pair of scissors, but it's not difficult and is a great way to save on the costs of making small items for gifts and goodies.  If you can use a rotary cutter but not scissors, consider cutting skinny strips to use in the bottoms of baskets and gift bags.

10.  Making Good Color Choice
Unless you’re making a scrap quilt (and maybe even if you are) you’ll want the colors in your quilt to coordinate.  Here are some options and ideas to keep in mind.
·         Option 1: choose a fabric line and use the coordinating fabrics (the easy way)
·         Option 2: choose a focus fabric and find fabrics that coordinate—those should pull colors from the focus fabric and should not vary much from it, especially if it has many colors or really bold ones
·         Option 3: go mono!  Use a monochromatic theme—choose one color and use different tones, tints, and shades.  You can add one or two additional colors for interest, but in moderation, meaning slivers not slices or chunks.
·         Option 4: use the 60-30-10 rule of interior design.  60% of the dominant color, 30% of a secondary color, and 10% of an accent color.  


9.  Clamp it up.  Use heavy duty carpenter's clamps to attach things to a surface.  They make great hooks when attached to a horizontal surface: just clamp it on and use the handle as a hook.  I also use them when I want to attach something like a basket and it not be easily moved.  Just put the handle into the open area  


8.  Label children's clothing to make dressing easier. Children remember that labels go to the back and often check to make sure that clothing is put on correctly by checking to make sure the label is not in the front. The problem with handmade clothing is that we don't put in labels.  To help my grandchildren, I've started putting in a small piece of white silk ribbon. The white means we can label the item size or child's name/initial. The silk means the soft ribbon won't irritate little skin. To insert the ribbon, I cut a three inch length of 3/4 width ribbon, fold it in half on the length and pin it in place.  When I make the seam, the ribbon is stitched in and ready to wear.

7.  Long arm organization: attach two curtain hangers to the bottom of a large organizer so that it can hook onto your long arm and hold all those tools you need close at hand but out of the way. For the tutorial, click here.


6.  Hand-me-down Storage: Almost anything will work as a place for storage.  When hubby's late grandmother was redoing her laundry room, she decided to toss this old cabinet.  It was in horrible shape, but my husband sanded it and painted it to match other restored cabinetry in the studio.  Now it's beautiful and people ask me for it often.  Check out the old glass pulls.  Plus, it's a piece of family history.   The green bottles on top are from my late mom.  I've decided to clean it out and use it to store family items and a few photos of my boys.  Now to find the time.


5.  Lazy Susan: Put a turning office supply organizer near your machine.  It's a great way to store all the small items you want nearby but because long items are standing up, the footprint is quite small.  A real plus for the sewing table!


4.  Lost Items Come Home: I made a basket cover using scrap muslin to hold the small items that I keep at my work table.  When I put things down, I spend too much time looking for the items.  I tried the basket at first, but the points got hung in the weave.  This is the perfect solution.

3.  Stash Sewing Supplies:  I use old jars and clear candle holders that I've washed out to store some of my vintage sewing supplies.  To clean adhesive from the jars, I use a product called "Goo Gone," which requires only a few drops and a few moments to work beautifully.  After cleaning off the adhesive, I put the glass in the  dishwasher.  They come out sparkling clean and make a beautiful display.  My daughters-in-law love the expensive candles that I give them for special occasions.  They keep the container and lids for me when the candles have burned out.  They've also given me baby food jars for very small items.  I paint the lids or cover them with fabric.  I also like jelly jars and Tostitos dip jars.  Again, just paint or cover the lids.

2.  Trash the Thread: use wide tape formed into a loop to keep small pieces of thread and fuzz off the quilt as you work.  Attach the bottom of the looped tape to the top of your machine, then just stick any snipped off pieces of thread on the tape as you remove it from the quilt.  I remove the tape when I finish the quilt so the adhesive doesn't get gummy, but that is easily removed with orange cleaner or "Goo Gone."

1.    Keep track of your long arm tools: use hook and loop tape (Velcro) to keep your small tools always within reach.  I used the tape with the adhesive backing.  The loop or fuzzy part is taped to the front of the machine head.  One section of the hoop part, which is rough and scratchy, is attached to my small scissors and another is attached to the tweezers that I use with this machine.  Now, as I move from one side of the quilt to the other, the tools follow me and I always have a place for them.