Phoebe Moon Quilt Designs

Designed for Fun!

Quilt Tricks, Tips and Techniques

Like it?  Pin it!

Even more tips are here

When doing a lot of thread cutting while at the sewing machine - I put a waste basket on both sides. This way I have less mess on the floor. 

Coins for quilts: Place a penny/quarter/half dollar on top of your sewing machine as you stipple or meander your quilt in order to remind your hands how big your curves should be. This really solved my "progressively larger" problem! It can also be used by hand quilters when echo quilting - rather than mark all those echos, keep a dime handy and run it along the existing outline to remind yourself how far the next line of stitching should be! 

I use the wooden chopsticks for a stiletto. Most Chinese restaurants offer these for free with the meal. The chopsticks can be sharpened in a pencil sharpener and if they break or dull they can be resharpened. Best of all they are FREE! 

If you like paper piecing and don't like to use expensive paper what if find and works great are used dryer sheets like Bounce, just iron them, and then with a ruler and find tip felt pen put your pattern on and this can stay on.

I have begun to make my own quilting motif stencils by piercing holes in quilting template plastic sheets but found it difficult to apply the design to the quilt until I began using a cosmetic sponge (the dense little wedge kind) dipped into quilter's chalk, and rubbing it over the design.

When ever you buy a paper pattern it is best if you laminate it and keep it and the picture filed away in a file box. This way when you use the pattern and instructions over and over then it does not wear out. Also if you make any markings while using the pattern or instructions you do with a magic marker and it will then wipe off and keep your pattern and instructions like new thru the years.

I bought one acrylic cutting guide with a guard on it so that you don't cut yourself by mistake some time ago. When I was unable to find another I bought a long strip of clear hard plastic corner door strip, cut it the length that I needed and hot glued it in place on my other cutting guides. Now I will be safe from cuts no matter which cutting guide am using. 

To store work in progress projects I went to the dollar store and bought dish pans....they actually were 2 / $1. and I put my fabric, pattern, and threads if I bought for this project specifically in it and then put a index card on the outside of the dishpan and can stack these in my closet......great easy way to keep projects all together. Also use these for storing my bom's I receive in the mail till I can get to them......and they are all together when I am ready for them!

My tip is to find a child that's selling candy bars for their local dance studio.  My niece gets these terrific boxes with a plastic handle and made of rugged cardboard. they are great for taking a project to class, or keeping pieces together for a specific quilt project. They are smaller than a pizza box and the handle is a plus. Help your children have fun shopping in quilt stores with you by turning it into a treasure hunt. Give them a list of items to find and reward them when all have been found! Pictures or words, make up your own rules....use your imagination! Our family loves it! 

I keep a large chip clip (for holding closed bags of chips) near my work when doing hand sewing. I get interrupted quite often and I just clip the chip clip over my needle and the area I am sewing so that the cat or my husband (or a child) won't accidentally get stuck with the needle if they happen by or should pick it up. It also takes me right to the place I left off, when I return.

Busy moms have a hard time finding time to sew. By the time I get organized its almost time to quilt. So! I find I get more accomplished and reduce my frustrations looking for what I need for a project if I do the following:

I find it easier to cut out 2 or 3 projects at one sitting. I choose several different size projects. Maybe a paper piecing project in one, a baby quilt or charity quilt in a second, or maybe the fabrics for that block I wanted to try. Maybe its a quilt that needs binding, or that UFO I really wanted to finish, etc. I put them in project bags you can get at your local quilt store. Include in the project bag matching thread, directions, or the book that has the pattern, and anything else you might need for the project. Then when I only have 20-30 minutes to sew, I pull out a project bag. Everything I need is right there!

Clean your machine!! Clean your machine every time you use up the thread in a bobbin. Every other time take out that bobbin case when you clean and give the mechanism a drop of oil. Don't forget to change the needle often too! You and your machine will be happier.

Tie a piece of ribbon to your fabric snips or small scissors and attach it to your ironing board so when you are pressing you can grab your scissors quickly and snip any unwanted threads right away.

Clean your rotary cutting mat with a lint roller. It picks up all those little threads easily.

I like to use nets for my thread when traveling to and from classes. I have found that florists receive these same nets on small budded flowers and throw them away when removed. I talked to the owner and now they save the nets and hand them out at no charge on request. When I run out all I have to do is stop in and pick up what I need.

I purchased two mirrors from the Dollar Tree (Locker Mirrors), and snapped the plastic frame off. I then taped them together on the short end and taped around the outside with plastic tape (for protection from the edges). I carry the mirrors with me to fabric stores so I can check the fabric print to be used for Stack-N-Whack or Dresden Plates. I store the mirrors in a plastic coupon holder to keep them from breaking in my purse. Really comes in handy!!

How to mark a quilting pattern on a small project without using pen or pencil: Use the unsharp edge of a butter knife using a ruler to "indent" lines onto your fabric. Try it, you'll like it

A scrap piece of batting will pick up loose threads off your sewing room floor, quick as a jiffy. Scratchier type batting works best.

On the quilt frame, I tie a string from one side to the other with the various quilting threads threaded onto the string. I just move the spools across the string as I move across the quilt. They don't roll off the quilt frame and i don't waste time looking for the thread.

When sewing a sleeve for your quilt, take strips of fabric that are in your quilt and sew them together to make the sleeve. Then you have this fabric to repair your quilt if necessary. More information on making a quilt sleeve is here.

I use old aspirin bottles with child safe covers to store my razor blades that I use to scrape paint from windows, etc. We have numerous empty mediation bottles in the house, and one day as I went off to sew Linus Quilts, my bobbin spools were so tangled, so I decided to put them in a plastic medication bottle, and they stayed so neat.

No matter how experienced a sewer/quilter you are, there are always times when you must rip out seams. There are all those little pieces of thread that must be picked off. I take a piece of packing tape and wrap it around my hand with sticky side out like you do to pick up lint and simply pat along the seam. It pulls them out quickly and easily.

Wax coats and clark sewing thread by soaking it in paraffin to quilt with.....It will not knot and if it does, it pulls out easily...It is all I use for my hand sewing and quilting.

I use rounded pant hangers to organize each quilt project in my sewing room closet (for those "rare" times when I have more than one project in progress at one). I place backing, borders, and large uncut pieces on separate rods of the hanger, and then put any cut pieces, finished blocks and instructions in large envelopes. I punch holes through the envelopes and slip them through the top of the hanger. If it will be a long time until I finish the quilt, I put a sheet around the hanger to keep dust off.

Stressed spelled backwards is Desserts!!!

To quilt without marking on your quilt-top, use Glad Press 'n Seal. You can draw your pattern directly on the Press 'n Seal, then stick it to your quilt-top for either machine or hand-quilting. You can quilt right through the paper, and the paper tears away easily once you're done.

Use an A-Z expandable file to store quilt block instructions, patterns, templates, etc. It's an efficient, one-stop filing system that's as easy as ABC!

When I have completed a quilting project, I cut remaining fabrics in 1 1/2 inch strips, and place them in a plastic box. Then when I have enough, I make scrap log cabin blocks. These can be used for anything from pot holders, to full size quilts. Some come out with rather unique color combinations.

My tip is about getting a good looking satin stitch. Draw your bobbin thread to the top of your work, take a few stitches in place to anchor it, then satin stitch over the beginning stitches. This avoids any bumps and lumps on the wrong side. Also, set your needle for the down position, you will rely on your needle to anchor while pivoting and repositioning your work.

Use a small suction cup bath soap holder as a catch all on the side of your sewing machine. I suctioned it on the side of my machine, and I leave my seam ripper, small sewing scissors, extra bobbins, and whatever else gets gathered into that little thing.

For fast and easy clean up, I keep my handheld vacuum cleaner next to my cutting board. It has a small brush on the suction end that cleans bits of fabric out of my cutting mat to help it "heal" itself. Plus, cleaning up little fabric scraps and threads keeps them from being tracked through the rest of the house when I leave my sewing room. Also good to clean up threads around the sewing machine and ironing board.

To keep your ironing surface clean, press freezer paper to the top of your ironing surface (shiny side down) when you are (1) fusing fabrics or (2) paper piecing with papers that were created on a printer/copier. The freezer paper can easily be removed when you are done.

I have found that using a mechanical pencil is the best tool that I keep at the sewing machine. I use it as a pen to draw fine lines on fabric and can use the eraser to remove the marks if I make a mistake, also the eraser is good to push the fabric to the needle and I unclick the pen to use as a stiletto. Thank you and I hope you fine this a useful tip. I sure love it and all of the ladies in my stitch use it.

I don't have hot flashes- I have power surges!!!

If you have a very large piece of backing which must be prewashed, try this trick to prevent twisting and fraying as it is washed and dried. Open up the large piece of fabric and machine baste the top and bottom edges (not the selvedge edges) together. Place this in your washer around the center spindle. Wash as desired. When removing from washer dry in clothes dryer and then remove the basting stitches.

On a computer, size is measured in bytes. 1KB (kilobyte)is 1024 bytes. 1MB (megabyte) is 1024K, or 1,048,576 bytes. 1G (gigabyte) is 1024M (1,073,741,824 bytes.) 1T (terabyte) is 1024 GB (1,099,511,627,776 bytes.)

When sewing on binding, use fusible thread in the bobbin. Then you can fuse the binding to the back for a quick finish.

When sewing on a binding, use your walking foot and lengthen your stitch for a really flat seam.

Keep a three ring binder for all of those free patterns from the internet. You won't have to wonder where you saw it or if that web site is still functioning. You already have a handy copy of it! Gretchen

I carry individual packets of moist towelettes in my quilting container in case my hands get greasy or dirty. I can clean them and not get my quilt block soiled.

when sewing the center of a six or eight piece star, I sew up to the center and then go through each center point at the seam allowance, and go all the way around to where I started. Then pull the thread real snug before going on across to the opposite side. This draws all the points together and forces them to match. Barbara

I use a cosmetic brush to clean my sewing machines. Also lower the feeds and brush and at the same time, take off the throat plate and brush there too. When you use canned air, Point it out from the top. I also use q-tips to clean around the bobbin area. Geneva

The best in the world pin holder is a fridge magnet. They come in handy when you have to travel and you don't want your pins all over the place. Karen

Are the I lines on your ruler getting hard to read? Spritz a little window cleaner on it and wash it off before you invest in a new ruler. Vicky

To stop my neck and shoulders from aching while I'm sewing, I tilt the machine toward me - you could use inexpensive rubber door stop under the back of the machine to tilt it. Lisa

"Quilters make good comforters" Bonnie

When cutting fabric-check twice and cut once...and the same goes for sewing...check twice and sew once... Judy

The black fabric/Velcro back braces sold at wholesale clubs such as SAMS Club are great for quilters- The added support helps prevent backaches for us quilters sitting for long periods of time at the sewing machine. Maddy

CD holders are a great way to store Fat Quarters, stack the holders or hang them, organize the fat quarters by color or theme. Eye catching!

When cutting fabric-check twice and cut once...and the same goes for sewing...check twice and sew once... Judy

Getting blood out of a quilt when you have pricked your finger. Use Peroxide and then dab with a q-tip to the area after it foams up. Hydrogen Peroxide is used by a lot of quilters that prick their fingers when sewing and will not fade other materials. Nancy

A good and easy way to remove blood stains from quilts from a pricked finger is using a little saliva. Do not know why it works but it does. Nancy

When storing ribbon for embellishing quilts, use empty toilet tissue or paper towel rolls. Sharon

When making a rag quilt with wide seams use a fat rubber band around the bed of your sewing machine and make sure to change it every once in awhile. Also try using a walking or even feed foot instead of the regular foot. It seems to make sewing go faster especially over bulky seams and you get less stretching or distortion of the fabric. Jody

When you receive a lot of FQs from a swap and are not sure if they have been pre-washed...serge or zigzag them in a stack of 8-10 and wash. After drying rotary cut the edge and remove serging, no ravels and pressing is a breeze.

Use the little clips on nasal medicine bottles on your bobbins to stop your thread from unwinding. Susie

When stitching and your needle is full and hard to pull through use a pencil eraser to grab the point and pull it right through.

When using your lap frame, set your ironing board up and put it at a height that is comfortable and put your frame on it to quilt.

When making a log cabin or any quilt with a lot of strips, hang them on an old fashioned wooden clothes rack. You can have darks on one dowel, lights on another etc. Anonymous:-((

I sometimes get too many stitches on the needle and instead of wrestling with it I poke the point in the end of the eraser and it helps me pull it right through.

Those empty film containers come in handy to store your quilting needles and can be labeled with the size needle when you need a certain size. When throwing away sewing needles use those empty tic tac containers so no one gets stuck when handling the trash

Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.

I use the fat scotch tape by my cutting table...it's great for picking up stray threads and frays of fabric

To get rid of ink on fabric or clothing, just spray with hair spray then wash as usual. Ink will disappear as you watch! Judi

Before saying farewell to that old dishwasher save the utensil basket for storing scissors, rotary cutters, etc on your work table. Ellen

To keep threads off the floor as you quilt and snip, keep an empty plastic butter container with a hole cut in the lid to put your threads in as you clip. You can use the resultant nest on your next project as embellishment. Delilah

Use the mini M@M containers to hold threaded bobbins

Design Wall -- portable, easy to modify, easy to put up and take down, easy to store. There is a product that holds rugs to carpets. It is a foam base with sticky stuff on both sides. It comes in many sizes. I purchased the 4'x6' and cut it into 2'x3' pieces. You remove the plastic from one side, place that on your wall. Then remove the plastic from the side facing you. It does not mark the wall, you can remove and store it by placing the plastic back on. It can be found at hardware stores.

to avoid creases on medium size scraps or fat quarts, roll the fabric on paper towel rollers, fasten ends with clothes pegs. the rolls can be put upright on baskets.

For small applique projects, I use one gallon zip lock bags to store the pieces, however, I also use the clear (non-label) side of the ziplock bag to draw my design for placement purposes as this size bag is approximately 10 1/2inch by 10 1/2inch. Use a sharpie pen on the outside (non label side) to draw the design. Put all your pieces and pattern inside the bag and while appliquing, when you need to see if placement is right, you only have to stick your fabric square inside the bag and work the pieces into place. For those carry around projects, this works great and you have a multi-purpose carrier that serves a dual purpose. I also use the bag later to store the pattern. Mary

Use a large flat plastic container with a lid to keep your ongoing quilting projects in. They will stay clean and no lost pieces. Keeps our UFO's organized. Lorraine

Make a small pin cushion 2x4 or so with elastic fastened on one side and with hook and loop tape on the other to fasten around your sewing machine, on top or the side.

When I'm doing a charm quilt I keep my sample fabric in small photo albums. That way I can carry them with me to fabric store or class to exchange or buy new fabric and not repeat what I already have.

Empty film canister is just the right size to store bobbins for a featherweight machine.

To keep track of different size sewing machine needles, use a pen to write on the different segments of a tomato shaped pin cushion. Example - one section holds my machine quilting needles.

when sewing strips and then cutting squares or half square triangles together, I save the scraps, which I then sew together to make 1/2 square triangles and put them in a basket. Later I just trim them all to the same size and sew them together to make a scrappy quilt. Barbara

To keep flies away from your door, hang a plastic ziploc bag with some water in it on your outside doorway--the flies think it is a hornets nest.

Paper pattern pieces that are used over and over last longer if you cover them with clear contact paper. Works best if you cover them before you cut them out

The heavy, zippered plastic bags that curtains and other linens come in, are great for storing small projects, stacks of quilt blocks, or fabric swatches to take to the store. Camille

If you need to store a project away for a while (holidays coming, deadline for a new project, etc), make sure to put all of the essentials for that project in a box or baggie. That includes extra fabric, the pattern, and notes on changes you made and where you left off! Saves a lot of time and frustration later--and it's easier to get going again if you're ready. Nancy

I use a large plastic clothes hamper in front of my cutting area to pick up scraps that did not go into a small wastebasket. With the large rectangle hamper it catches almost everything. Glenda

The best way to hold up a pattern from a book is to use a plate holder. they are cheap and when you are done with the pattern, just put your decorative plate back on display. Cut a medium chenille stem in 3 pieces (4inch) and put through the bobbin and then in the hole of the thread spool. I have bobbins rolling around my sewing box--this will stop it and I can find the bobbin to match the thread quickly. Joyce

For handy storage of quilt projects: buy new (never used) pizza boxes, either from a supply house or carry out pizza store. These boxes store flat, but once folded into shape will hold an entire set of quilt blocks. They stack nicely, and you can write what the project is right on the box. They are small enough to carry along in the car or wherever. I even add embroidery thread, thread, needles, scissors or whatever for an all in one project box.   You could also use a large ziploc bag.'

Does your rotary cutter blade have a nick? Put TWO older blades in your rotary cutter at the same time. Rarely are the nicks in the same places on both blades, and you can extend the life of your blades substantially.'

To change the the size of a block, keep basic math in mind:
 (block size wanted / current block size) = X 100 = your multiplier. For example:
Example 1: Current size = 5" and you want a 7" block: (7/5) X 100= 140%
Example 2: Current size =7" and you want a 5" block: (5/7) X 100= 72%'

I bought some surface savers used to protect your furniture or keep things from sliding. They are little round felt disks with a sticky surface on the back. I got mine at the dollar store, but you can find these in department stores or probably office supply stores. I applied one in each corner of the ruler and the ruler would not slide at all when I tried.'

A grapefruit spoon is useful in pinning a large quilt. Just put it under the pin part and close the pin. Saves on fingers.'

When foundation piecing, use removable tape to hold the fabric onto the paper. Please be sure to remove the tape before pressing. The tape can reused several times before discarding. Deborah'

While in a mad rush to make a quilt for granddaughters kitten, I noticed a small hole in the backing. I grabbed a roll of lightweight fusible hem tape to keep it from fraying but then got the idea to tear off small pieces and lay about the batting, spritz with water and voila! instant fusible batting! The tape was lightweight enough that it didnt show thru and held everything in place while I quilted like a maniac..'

when washing your material to test for coloring fastness.....put in a plain piece of muslin.....even if the water turns color it doesnt mean that the dye will run.....but, if the muslins picks up the color then you will know that it will attach itself to other fabric.  Mary Ellen'

Store small projects in decorative tins or hatboxes - they blend with your decor as well as serve for extra storage! Karen'

When holding your quilt ruler down, use just the tips of the fingers - not the palm. This way when you pick your hand up to move it on the ruler, there is less chance of moving the ruler.'

When I am machine piecing tiny squares onto another square for diagonal sewing, I always iron the smaller square to the matching corner, then turn to my sewing machine and sew. Ironing keeps the tiny square in place and if I have cut the proper measurement, my corners come out neat and crisp every time. Mitts'

Have lots of scraps and they are over loading your sewing room? Collect them and call the local elementary school or Head Start or even the local child care center. They will take them off of your hands to make collages from. The children love the bright colors, odd shapes, and even better, the teachers love not having to use their precious resources to tear up paper for this project

I love to burn candles in my sewing room, but am always concerned about a fire. I now use a warmer that is intended to keep you coffee warm while drinking it. I put my candle-in-a-jar on the warmer and it fills the room with the fragrance. Lynn '

I make lots of miniature quilts and how I hang them without damaging the walls is buy using Poster Tape - available where regular scotch tape is sold. You use it on painted walls and wallpaper. I am always changing my quilts throughout the year and rearranging so this is the best way to hang them. Lisa'

When you start or stop a chain sewing project - instead of sewing on a scrap - sew two blocks together and then later sew the third to those two - soon you will have a nine patch with little effort. Related tip: When sewing strips and then cutting squares or half square triangles together, save the scraps to sew together and make 1/2 square triangles. When you have enough, just trim them all to the same size and sew them together to make a scrappy quilt. Barbara'

When clipping threads or ripping out seams, have a piece of batting to put the clippings on and they wont stick to your fingers. Marilyn '

I keep my water bottle with the pull on cap next to my ironing board, less messy for refilling the water when I am in a quilting frenzy'

Quilting at the supermarket - try Glad Press and Seal. It can be used for appliqué, transferring quilting designs and as a stabilizer. The thin film tears away easily, and you can even print your designs on it with a printer.

Use painters tape to keep your thread wrapped with no dangling ends. its cheap and leaves no residue  jessie

My favorite way to "corral" my foot pedal is to use a mouse pad under it! Sure stops the slipping and sliding and stretching to get to the pedal after a while sewing!  P.S. I also have used a new product, called a mammo-pad. I had never heard of it until the last couple of times I went in for a mammogram. They are similar to a mouse pad, just larger because they have to cover the entire plate on the mammogram machine!  Valerie

An unused mouse pad works well to anchor the machine's foot pedal!  Marilyn

The scissors fobs are great to attach to a day planner zipper or a ski parka. Also to identify luggage and umbrellas.  Marilyn

Hand appliqué: My hands are too big for the regular appliqué needles…found a great one to use that is sharp, strong, and long enough for my hands…Straw Needles by Petal Play.  Betsy

If you have never used bees wax while hand sewing you are missing out of some smooth sewing. Try it, you’ll love it.  Betsy

Anything is Possible. All you need is Confidence and believe in yourself.  Carol

The little boxes that the Tic-Tac candy is sold in make great boxes to keep by your work area to put old pins and needles in. When full just snap the lid closed and throw away.  Carol

When sewing triangles to squares start by aligning the square corners of the triangle and square. The point of the triangle will extend beyond the other end of the square by 3/8”, not just the ¼” as you might expect. This is necessary in order to create enough allowance for the next seam.  Betsy

Apply rubber cement to the back sides of pattern templates. Allow it to dry very well, of course. It will help the templates to stay put when you marking around them.  Betsy

The little boxes that the Tic-Tac candy is sold in make great boxes to keep by your work area to put old pins and needles in. When full just snap the lid closed and throw away.  Carol 

I found an old rack like the ones that come with a bread maker at my local thrift store and it works wonderful for holding my rulers. The slots are just wide enough to hold them upright and it only cost me $1.00.

Have another trick to offer? Send it me, and I will add it here. 


More tips, tutorials and techniques are available at http://phoebemoon.com/tutorials/
Copyright Phoebemoon.com. All rights reserved.