Unconventional Quilting Tools
page 1 - page 2 - this is page 3
Quilting Forum discussion is so interesting
that I feel it should be saved for more to read.
This is Part Three of this Thread
To carry on with the paper piecing tips - I have found it helpful to tape down my first piece of fabric. Pins just seem to distort when going through fabric and paper. The tape keeps it nice and flat and after the seam is sewn for space #2 or #3 the tape lifts right off. If you find that the tape is sticking too well - pulling threads or ripping the paper upon removal - just stick it on your jeans one time before using it to cut down on the tackiness.
One of the handiest tools I have that is a non-traditional sewing tool is a nut pick. I use the hooked end to turn things and the smooth rounded end to ease seams into place after they have been turned. It is about the same size as a pencil eraser but it is smooth metal and glides nicely around the fabric.
I read somewhere that in order to keep pins from rusting, you should use plain soap-- nothing with moisturizer or lotion in it.
If you don't like to pin when PP'n, I know I don't, you have got to try the Purple glue stick.
I get it at Office Depot. It is washable, acid free, and non-toxic. I use it constantly when pp'n, on the first piece of fabric, and on the other pieces after they are stitched and then flipped. NO PINS REQUIRED...!!! I just finger press open and stick, add the next piece and sew...
I really think you will like it...!!!
I use two things that are similar to what you mentioned. A plastic school supply box is perfect for holding rotary cutter, scissors, and pins for taking to classes.
Also, Russell Stover has a smaller tins that comes with four chocolates. The tin is a great size for pins or bobbins. Gosh darn, you just have to eat those four chocolates before using the tin! What a sacrifice!
I use a bar of soap for my needles too. I also use a sliver of soap as a marking tool when I am sewing clothes. Just don't use the ones with a lot of additives, perfumes, etc. Plain old white or Ivory soap works fine. No problem with marking tools that way, marks just wash out. That's all my mom ever used. I used soap with diaper pins, too. Mothers of today don't know the frustration of cloth diapers, pins and those horrible rubber pants. Now we've both dated ourselves. LOL
Keep Q-Tips handy for cleaning the dust and lint in and around the bobbin case. You would be amazed at the amount of fuzz a dry cotton swab will pick up. I've made it a habit to give a quick swipe every time I change the bobbin. (I do a more thorough cleaning between projects.)
I use all kinds of shaped cookie cutters and ordinary wall and window stencils for quilt design templates. The design can very easily made in a continuous line design.
I also use these for applique templates.
I use unwanted CD's to draw a lot of small applique patterns on for solid templates then cut with scissors around the design.
I use CD and DVD cases that have a damaged center and won't hold the CD's any more. I break out all the rest of the center. Then make two one color thin mini quilts to fit in each side of the DVD case and one only to fit in a CD case. Cover the inside of the case with craft super tacky glue and press the quilt onto it. Let dry well. You can now use it to store you needles on.
The handle of a toothbrush is also a good mini iron. The brush part end to catch the little threads after ripping seams.
I use an empty ketchup bottle to dispose of old pins and
needles. Just pop open the top and drop in. The bottle is a good size for me
because anything smaller I would lose it.
Mary Ann from Winnipeg
the associate at Joann's today told a customer that if
she put a damp towel in the dryer with the batting for a few minutes, that would
do the trick too - haven't tried it, so I can't take the credit or the
I am continually switching thread types in my machine. I
have cotton thread and blends and what not.... some are the same colors.
I got tired of trying to figure out which bobbin when to which spool.
On my thread rack I keep the bobbins with the spools but for near my machine it was a pain....
UNTIL... VOILA... the bottom of an egg carton. It holds
six spools and six bobbins... I put the matching bobbin in the dimple in front
of the right spool. COOL.... works great.
Jane in Austin
I always use non traditional things for quilting. I use a small vanity makeup and lingerie travel bags for storage. Most of them were free w/purchase of makeup, etc. A larger travel bag hangs on the door of my sewing room. I paid $12 for it. It has pockets in back that store my mat and larger square rulers.
My most used tool was purchased at the dollar store. It
is a plastic travel tray with bins or either side. It sits over my lap and I use
it constantly when I am cutting, trimming or pinning blocks. It is my mini
portable quilt studio.
I keep a large soda bottle filled with water for my
iron. The small opening on the bottle makes filling the iron much easier and I
don't have to run to another area of the house if the steam gives out.
two non-traditional items from Wal-mart:
shelf liner (made by duck) called easy liner for $4. i
cut out a piece big enough to go under my machine and the surrounding area. easy
liner is textured and keeps bobbins, scissors and other stuff from
falling/rolling off my sewing table and also stabilizes the machine.
a half-yard of medium-weight clear plastic tablecloth
covering (comes on big rolls) for less than $1. i cut it into 1"x6" strips to
put around my spools of thread to keep the thread from coming off the spool and
also to protect the thread from heat/humidity.
two uses for velcro:
I stuck a strip of adhesive velcro to the bottom of my sewing machine pedal and stuck the other side to the floor to keep the pedal from sliding around.
also stuck a strip of adhesive velcro to the bottom of a plastic food container and stuck the other side to my sewing table. i keep small scissors, seam ripper, tweezers, etc in it. I'm less likely to lose small items like this when they're in a little box stuck to the table.
This isn't an unconventional sewing tool, but I have two
rotary cutters - one for fabric and one for paper. When the blade is dull in the
fabric cutter, I move it to the paper cutter. I mark each cutter as to its use,
so I don't end up ruining a new blade on paper.
I use a fine tipped permanent marker to draw the design first. Make your cuts in straight lines until it curves were you want it. Don't try and cut to big of a piece at once. Then you can file or sand down the tiny points. Just experiment. There usually is a lot of those AOL free CD's kicking around.
Another thing I use is a golf tee to hold my bobbin of matching thread to the small spools of Mettler or Gutermann. Put it through the bobbin then insert at an angle into the end that you don't wrap the thread end on.
I use "BOBBIN BUDDIES" on my bobbins so they never come
unwound even if dropped on the floor.
Mary Ann from Winnipeg
see, I use a pump-up plant mister for starch (I use 1/2 liquid starch and 1/2
water). I buy soapstone markers at the hardware store (welding supplies). Pieces
of Sticky sandpaper rolls to make non-slip rulers. A piece of fine grain
sandpaper to hold pieces of fabric for marking ie:half square triangles. Have to
have masking tape for all kinds of things. Zipper plastic bags for you name it.
Keep thread and matching bobbins together, tuck applique pieces, sissors,
thread, needles etc to take along, and on and on. A metal tape measure, have my
own purple one that my DH doesn't use. Little glue brushes from the hardware
store (9 cents each) for cleaning my machine. Also a small regular paint brush
for dusting it off. Dryer sheets to help pins go in easily and clean off the
iron. Samples of tempur foam for pin cushions. WD 40 for cleaning my machine and
bobbin case. An old sock as a pounce powder bag. I'm sure there are more but
can't think of them now.
One thing I use for threads that I haven't seen here is:
using an empty butter/margarine container or the container that, oh, maybe a
pint of salad would come in, to hold thread, etc. By slitting an X in the
lid....when you push the threads in with your finger, the thread doesn't come
out when you pull your finger back out. I also keep one of these containers
handy for snipped threads from hand quilting.
This has been an informative thread alright! I use scrapbook stencils for hand quilting. They are cheaper than quilt stencils and perfect for small wall hangings and borders.
I also keep a plastic silverware tray on the end table
where I quilt and watch TV at night. It holds my marking pencils, needles, pins,
scissors, hand cream, etc. Thanks for starting this delightful thread!
I keep a watering can like you use to water house plants
in the sewing room to fill the iron. Used it the first time because it was
handy. Liked it so well I bought one just for the sewing room.
I keep a basket by the sewing machine with all the things you would need to do the frog stitch or to do some hand work comes in handy when you want to go to the living room and be with the family. I can just pick it up and the spool of thread I am using and if I have put things back when I use them :-) I can make it in one trip.
I have used this method with the towel in the dryier and it works great. Just be sure to lay it flat some place when you first remove it from the dryer and let it cool down or you will have more wrinkles than when you started. Bet you know how I know this.
I save plastic grocery bags in my sewing room, to tape
to the side of my cutting table for scraps of tiny fabrics, and threads that
need to be thrown away..at the end of my sewing day, I just take the bag off,
and tie it up and toss it out.
When foundation piecing on paper, my favorite
unconventional tool is a post card or one ot those "ad" card you find in most
magazines. I use it as an edge for prefolding seams lines on the foundation
papers. This speeds up the process when trimming seams before adding the next
My "help me" note: I use the self-adhesive velcro, eye
glass case, attached to the washer. I put a pair of scissors in it. That way I
have a pair handy when washing that fabric and need to cut threads... OF COURSE
my house is child free.......
My DH is going to add shelves, the kind that has the
channel brace, and you use the L arms in the slots.. That way I can move them
around for short/tall objects. I use a vehicle trash bag, the cloth one with the
knob hole. I put it on the drawer knob of my sewing machine cabinet.. I put my
scissors, etc... in it.. keeps 'em handy and I out of the way of the top.
X-ray film is very useful. I get the ones that have been over exposed ( I believe that's right) very easy to see thru no shadows.
They make great templates for piecing and applique,
stencils for marking quilts & if I want a design really BIG I copy onto film
with grease pencil then go to the library & use the overhead projector to blow
up shape as large as I need....onto freezer paper or newspaper roll ends or
paper used for doctor exam tables.
I have a supply of x ray film I use in place of cardboard to make a tote bag or purse "stiff" on the bottom. Most places are not using x ray film any more. They are doing digital x rays. Get the film while you can.
I like to use the clear plastic containers that fresh mushrooms (and other veggies) come in for carrying my sewing supplies. I keep my scissors, thread, little pincushion, needles, threader, etc. in the clear box and off I go. Sometimes I can sneak in a little sewing at the kitchen table, or go in and join the kids in another room. I have even packed it in my tote with the folded blocks tucked in on top. I have a smaller one for scraps that are too big to throw out and too small to go into the fabric pile!
Other times I have used take-out containers to keep my freshly cut strips and pieces flat and separated. I try to think twice before it goes into the recycling bin.
I also use little glass artichoke jars for my safety
pins. Those jars can be stinky so they go in the dishwasher a couple times