Tools for Quilters Tips

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When should I change my sewing machine needle?

When Was the Last Time You Changed Your Needle?

If you are a machine piecer, it is especially important to change sewing machine needles frequently. A dull needle will drag on your fabric and may pull your seam allowances out of line. Machine quilting through batting dulls needles even more quickly--be sure to change needles after each project.

   
Do I need scissors if I use a rotary cutter?

Are Your Scissors Sharp Enough?

Invest in a pair of good quality, sharp dressmakers shears even if you plan to do the bulk of your cutting with a rotary blade. Keep them sharpened or you will quickly find yourself frustrated.

   
How do I prevent knots in my threads?

Try This Trick to Prevent Knots

Threads of all types have a grain to them. To cut down on those annoying knots, you should be knotting the end of the thread closest to the spool. If you will remember to first thread the eye of your needle onto the uncut spool of thread, then cut and knot the freshly cut end, you will save yourself much frustration.

This tip will work for threads of all types, including embroidery floss.

   
Are there any basic tips for using rotary cutters?

Spare Blades

Be sure to keep a supply of spare rotary blades on hand. Trying to cut with a nicked or dull blade will lead to nothing but frustration. You may also be tempted to press too hard and have the blade slip and cause an injury.

   
What color thread is best for piecing?

Thread Colors

If your quilt contains a wide selection of colors and values, try using a light grey or beige thread for piecing. These neutral colors will blend with just about every fabric.

   
How can I check my templates for accuracy?

Check Your Templates for Accuracy

When using paper or cardboard templates, check your cutting accuracy by tracing around the templates with a pencil. If the pieces don't fit together smoothly on paper, they wont' fit together in fabric either.

   
What can I do to prevent rusting of pins or needles?

Easy Needling

To make your pins and needles smoother and drag-free, stick them in a plain bar of soap when they are not in use. The soap will prevent rust and the needles will glide through even multiple layers of fabric and batting. Keep the paper wrapper intact to catch the inevitable soap chips that come from repeated use of the bar of soap.

   
Can a rotary cutter blade be replaced?

Rotary Cutter Blades

Be careful to avoid pins when using your rotary cutter. Hitting a pin will surely cause a nick in the blade and your cut will not be perfect. The damaged blade will not cut wherever the flaw has occurred to dull the blade. If you drop your cutter, be sure to check the blade for nicks.

   
Quilting needles?

Needles for Quilting

The needles commonly used for hand quilting are called 'betweens.' They are available from several manufacturers and in a range of sizes. Sizing is done using numbers. The larger numbers are given to smaller and thinner needles. Experiment to find the size that you find most comfortable.

   
How do I thread a needle?

Threading the Needle

If you have problems threading your hand sewing needles, try cutting the end of the thread at an angle. The small point should be easier to aim into the eye of the needle. Holding the needle in front of a white background will also make it easier to see the opening.

   

Accurate Rotary Cutting

When rotary cutting, it is important to have your holding hand near the cutting hand to keep the ruler from slipping. If you are holding the ruler in place at one end and cutting at the other end, the ruler can
slip. Also, if your arms are tired from too much measuring and cutting, it can lead to inaccurate cutting that you will have to fight when you sew the patches together. A way to avoid arm fatigue is to do two projects at once: one cutting and one quilting or machine piecing. Then, when you start to tire, you can switch to the other project.

   
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Jerry Mayo