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50 Helpful Hints for Quilting


  • For ladies who sew a lot and have bits of spools of thread left: Save them to use when piecing a top or doing appliqué.
  • Take quilts that are faded and frazzled at the edges and add a new brightly coloured binding. It does wonders to revive an old quilt.
  • Try putting a piece of white paper behind your needle's eye for easy threading.
  • Put all the pieces for one block in a plastic sandwich bag and label it. The bags are easy to carry to the beauty parlour, doctor, etc.
  • To keep the edge of a heavy cardboard pattern from wearing, edge it with cellophane tape.
  • Don't throw away those one-inch strips of material. Sew them together to knit, braid, or weave into rugs to go with your quilts.
  • To mark quilting designs a block at a time, use a needle like a pencil to leave a track on the cloth. The mark is easy to see for a short time.
  • Instead of binding quilts, you can put rickrack between the top and lining edges. The jumbo size makes a lovely finish.
  • To make a pattern from a finished quilt, lay a piece of waxed paper over the block and use a pin or needle to draw the outline of each piece. When cutting, correct any lines and add seam allowances.
  • To prevent knots in your thread, thread your needle with the end coming off the spool, then cut and knot the end.
  • Baste an extra strip of fabric to the border edge of your quilt to help hold it in place on a hoop as you quilt the edge.
  • Quilts made from wools and corduroys make perfect quilts for cars and campers, because they are warm and don't show soil easily.
  • Making a Crazy Quilt is one good way to use scraps of knits or bonded materials.
  • Stick your quilting needles into a bar of still-wrapped soap. It will keep them sharp.
  • When basting a quilt, lay the lining on the floor (or on four large tables pushed together). Fasten it down around the edges with masking tape. This prevents it from slipping while you lay on the batting and top.
  • If you want a thick quilt, use a Dacron batt. The Dacron gives a puffier effect than cotton and will be easier to quilt through than two layers of cotton.
  • Use small leftover pieces of hand soap to mark quilt patterns on dark fabric.
  • Use a cookie cutter for a quick and easy quilting design.
  • A thick, puffy batt takes up some of the dimension of a quilt. Make the quilt larger than you want the finished size to be.
  • Dull needles may be sharpened by rubbing the point against an emery board.
  • To miter a corner, draw a line from the inside corner to the outside corner on both border strips. Match the two pencil lines, sew, and trim away excess.
  • Start your hand quilting thread at a pieced seam so the knot pulls through the seams and stays underneath the patchwork.
  • To have no knots in your hand quilting thread, cut the thread twice as long as usual. Take a backstitch at the middle of the thread, leaving half the thread as a long tail. Quilt with the other half and end with backstitches. Continue stitching in the opposite direction with the remaining half
  • Wrap a gift for a quilt friend in a piece of freshly ironed fabric.
  • For quilt-as-you-go, sew several blocks into a unit before quilting instead of quilting each block separately.
  • Use long strips of masking tape to mark straight parallel quilting lines.
  • Dark linings can show to the front. Use dark or printed linings only on quilts that have equally dark colours in the top.
  • Quilt a thread above or below your quilting lines drawn with pencil. If you sew through the line, the thread will get dirty with lead.
  • Your best [hand] quilting can be done when your fingers are hard and calloused, so quilt before you wash dishes or clothes, which could soften your skin and lead to pricked fingers.
  • Baste quilts with white thread. Dark colours may leave unwanted marks.
  • Your appliqué work will be better in the end if you can adopt a free, spendthrift attitude toward using and wasting cloth in the interests of experimentation and learning.
  • If you have a fluff or air cycle on your dryer, you will keep quilts dust-free and fresh much longer by putting them through this cycle periodically.
  • When you give a quilt away, write out the laundering instructions on muslin with indelible ink and appliqué to the back of the quilt. Include a muslin bag with swatches of all the materials to be washed with the quilt to insure equal fading. The swatches can be used for repair if needed.
  • The best way to square a corner of a quilt is not to square it at all, but to round it instead. The binding goes on like a charm.
  • The impact of a fancy quilted design will be lost if the background is left unquilted.
  • A medallion quilt is the perfect choice for the busy person who can't quite imagine making plans for a whole project before any actual work can be enjoyed. Add borders as the mood and time allow.
  • The triangles on the edge of a quilt should be cut with the long edge on the straight grain of the fabric so the edge does not stretch when you bind it.
  • You can unify many different blocks in a sampler or friendship quilt by sitting them together with strips in a neutral colour.
  • Match your quilting thread to the fabrics on the quilt top, then choose a print for the lining fabric which contains most or all of the colours.
  • When you are making a scrap or sampler quilt, it is always best to complete all of the blocks before beginning to set the top together, so that you have a chance to distribute the colours uniformly.
  • Mark your quilting pattern on a piece of net with a waterproof marker. Pin the net to the fabric and mark the design with a water-soluble pen.
  • Learning skills and techniques is like practicing scales in music; the more you practice, the better you are.
  • An old quilt is a very special gift from the past, and giving it the tender loving care it requires is a great responsibility.
  • If an idea is compelling, if a vision sticks in your mind, if something is calling to you - follow it.
  • You'll quilt longer and more comfortably if you frequently get up and move around.
  • It is good for children to know that someone wanted them to have a quilt just for being born - not for being good, just for being.
  • If your time and energy and quilt-making skills are of value to you, then buy yourself the best materials you can afford to purchase, and make your quilt the very best it can be.
  • Pass on your knowledge of the craft to the nearest child around. Teach a kid to quilt today.
  • To make the most efficient use of the time available, work on two quilts at the same time, one in the quilting stage and one in the piecing stage.
  • Plan quilting that really does justice to your work. You'll have an heirloom quilt of which you can always be proud.