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Before beginning a machine applique session, set up your machine with the thread you plan to use. Cut some scraps of your fabrics and use them to test the tension on your machine before you sew on your actual quilt pieces.
This tip is so practical, it can be used on most quilt projects. It is a good idea to do a test block if you are doing a big project. If you use scraps, you can see if you like the construction or if there is a different set of directions that might suit your needs better, or even a different pattern if it is cumbersome initially. If you save your test blocks, you will be able to save them, put them together & make a sampler to give to charity or to a friend. I was making a charity quilt & I selected a pattern that looked easy but took too many hours to make. It was a real time saver as well as a money saver. I didn't struggle with the project, got it done on time & didn't waste a lot of fabric, particularly since some of the fabric was out of circulation.