Wow, it seems that I have been ignoring my blog! True…but for good reason.
I’ve undertaken a new process, that has really kept me pretty busy the past couple of weeks. In fact, it’s occupied all of my free time this past week. I’ve founded a service organization called Hands Craft Hope. Our mission is to reach out to individuals in need through sharing our hand-made gifts. You can read more about the organization at www.handscrafthope.org.
The first project for the group is to sew/knit/crochet washrags and handtowels and collect Dawn dishwashing liquid to supply the animal rescue workers involved in clean up following the Gulf Coast oil spill. Through the handmade rags and towels that we are supplying, we hope to not only fill a physical need for the workers (the supplies), but show them how much we appreciate their efforts in saving our environment and all of its inhabitants.
If you are interested in volunteering, the washrags and handtowels are 10×10 and 14×27 inches, respectively, and should be made of 100% yarn or cotton. The deadline for receiving your items is July 10. Check out the organization’s website, www.handscrafthope.org for specifics on the project including the address the items should be sent. In the next day or two I hope to post a couple of pictures of items I am receiving and some that I have made myself.
Okay, this post should really be titled ‘Improve MY quilting!’. This is an ongoing list that I am compiling of tips to improve my quilting. Be sure and send me an email or post a comment if you have a really great tip you’d like to share. It’s my hope to grow this list and grow my skills!
Ways to Improve Your Quilting:
- Use the right tool for the job. Quilting tools may seem expensive, but most will last a long time and will pay for themselves in accuracy and quality of workmanship.
- Take care of your tools. Oil and clean your sewing machine often, and insert a new needle with the start of each project. Keep scissors and rotary blades sharp and nick-free. Store your rotary mat away from the sun and heat.
- Whether sewing by hand or machine, get good light on the subject. You need to see what you’re doing in order to do it well.
- Set up your sewing area for comfort. You’ll be able to work longer with better results if you feel good.
- When choosing fabrics, remember that variety in scale, value, color, and pattern add interest to the appearance of a quilt.
- Always use the best fabric, thread, and batting you can afford. Good quality materials will give you the best results.
- Step back from your work as you progress and look at it from a distance.
- Always iron your fabric before cutting your pieces. Using a light starch can make your cutting easier and more accurate.
- Measure twice – cut once to avoid mistakes and wasted fabric.
- Cut the largest or longest pieces – like borders – first. You are less likely to find yourself short of fabric.
- When cutting or marking around templates, apply spray-on glue or rubber cement to the back of them so they will stay in place while you mark
- Use the same ruler throughout a project. Not all rulers measure exactly the same.
- Whenever possible, cut patches with the grain of the fabric. The stretchiness of bias makes it difficult to keep the pieces true to shape.
- Press seams to one side as you progress through your project. If abutting seams are pressed in opposite directions, they will match up better.
- Measure and/or square-up your pieced units from time to time during the project to be certain they are the correct size plus seam allowances.
- Before beginning a project, test your marking tool of choice on your fabrics to be certain it will wash or run out.
- Check the back of your quilt from time to time to be certain your quilting stitches are getting through all the layers. If machine quilting, be sure your bobbin thread is sewing correctly.
- When you need to take out a few handquilting stitches, use a fine, steel crochet hook, rather than a stitch ripper. The rounded tip removes the stitches easily without catching threads of the fabric.
- If, after removing stitches, you find a row of tiny holes left in the fabric, dampen a cotton swab with warm water and rub it gently over the holes to make them disappear.
- If the work table for your machine is small, arrange other tables around your sewing machine so your quilt fabric is supported while you quilt. This avoids “drag” on the quilt that can pull it in the wrong direction.
- Putting a busy print fabric on the back of your quilt will help to hide those rare imperfect stitches.
- Be creative with the back of your quilt. Make it from leftover fabrics or blocks, use soft flannel for a lap or bed quilt, or piece your label into the back.
- To get an interesting quilting design without marking, use a print fabric on the back of the quilt and stitch from the back, following the design of the fabric.