Tuesday, July 8, 2008

10 things all quilters should know

Our June meeting was a treat because we got to learn 10 things all quilters should know. Thanks to Debbie who taught us some great tips, tricks, and showed us some great tools.

So here they are:
Fabric quality - the quality of your fabric will determine the outcome of your quilt, buy good quality fabric
Thread - also buy good quality thread. She referred to an article in a quilting magazine all about thread. The article said that you should use thread that will make the overall project turn out correctly. If you are making a quilt for your college daughter that will be washed 15 times in a year, use a nice polyester thread that will move and stretch with the use, abuse, and washings. If you are making an heirloom quality thread or a wall hanging that will never see use, abuse, or a washing machine, use that wonderful nice cotton thread.
Needles - change your needle! Your needle should be changed (for a new one) before every new project or around every 8 hours of sewing. WOW! Why are we sewing with dull needles?
Cut accurately - to have a project turn out accurately, you need to start with accurate pieces of fabric. Debbie showed us some orange stickies that are made to adhere to your ruler to prevent it from slipping when you cut fabric.
Accurate 1/4 inch seams - you need accurate 1/4 inch seams to make your project turn out nicely also! No cut off points! Debbie suggested something called a Q tools sewing edge. You can put it on your machine and mark that 1/4 inch and prevent the fabric from moving over that tool resulting in a seam larger than 1/4 inch. She said that Kim Shannon sells these tools on her online store - http://www.noveltyquiltfabric.com/.
Matching seams - make sure those seams nestle together nicely when sewing them together. The true term is called abut, but nestling sounds good too. If you don't understand what this means, ask Debbie at the next meeting.
Pressing - be sure to set your seams with the iron. This means that you press the seam flat before you press it to either the left or the right. Setting the seams tells the stitches where they are going to live for the rest of their lives in that fabric. You get a much crisper product if you set your seams first. Press not iron! There is no rubbing the wrinkles out, there is only pressing up and down in a very nice way! Debbie brought a pressing tool that in the past has been used for making clothing, but is becoming a quilting tool. It is called a clapper or a wooden iron and it is a piece of wood that you can use as an iron for a crisper pressing job. After you press your fabric with your normal iron, press with the clapper and the steam from the fabric is absorbed by the wood and makes a crisper press.
Borders - there is a wrong way and a right way to adding a border. The wrong way is to cut a piece that is far too long, putting it on the quilt and sewing until you hit the other side, then cutting off the remaining border fabric. That is such the wrong way and it will make HUGE waves in your quilt. The correct way to add a border is to measure the width of your quilt in 3 places, the top, the middle, and the bottom. Take the average of those 3 numbers and cut your border piece to that number. Pin one end of the border piece to your quilt, then the other end of the border piece to the other end. Match up the middle of the border piece with the middle of your quilt, and then you make the rest fit. You might have 1/4 of an inch that you need to ease in, but that is MUCH MUCH better than making the Atlantic Ocean out of your borders!
Quilting - Debbie talked about a cute quilting pattern she found in a Fons and Porter magazine for 9 patch blocks. It is called lady bug quilting and to make a nice continuous quilting pattern, you pretend you are a lady bug, climbing stairs, climbing walls, and crossing ceilings. I will see if I can find the issue for you.
There is also the joke of 'there are 3 ways to quilt - by hand, by machine, and by check.' If you are a by check lady, make sure you look at the links on the right side of the page for our amazing local machine quilters.
Binding - I can't remember what she said about binding but she loves a great trick for joining binding edges once it is sewn to the quilt. It is a little hard to describe here, but once again, ask Debbie at the next guild meeting.
These are just the notes I took from Debbie's lesson. Please feel free to add or correct in the comments section! Thanks Debbie for a great basics of quilting lesson!! Thanks for all the quilting and sewing patterns too Debbie!

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