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Quilting Hints

Everyone has a favorite hint or little secret that makes quilting easier. Here's a place to share yours.

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Older hints posted by our users.

1999 Hints

2000 Hints

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2003 Hints

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This area of the WWQP is for hints only - Thanks

Date: 5/24/5
From: Debbie Haskins

When I was shopping at a high end department store, there was great sale. I found a toothbrush holder with a design on it that went perfectly with my Garden themed sewing room. I bought it for half price. (Under $5) and use it to hold my fabric marker and seam reversers. (okay rippers).

Date: 5/18/5
From: Carol at

To keep your sewing machine foot pedal from skooting around on the floor, place a piece of rubber mesh shelf liner on the floor under it and it will stay put. Works well under the sewing machine itself too on top of the table/desk.

Date: 5/17/5
From: Melissa from Ohio

To make straight lines for quilting, instead of drawing with pencil or disappearing ink, I use blue painter's tape. It doesn't leave the fabric sticky so I don't have to wash it out afterward

Date: 4/20/5
From: auntderanged

Since I am about to embark on some hand sewn piecing I thought I'd pass on my easy way to keep a 1/4 seam when hand piecing. I am basically right handed so on my left thumb I place s hort piece of 1/4 inch masking tape. When I hold the pieces in my hand, I line up the edge of the fabric with one side of the tape and aim my needle for the other edge as I make my stitches. Seems to work well. I've used this with my quilting students including children and it does help;

Date: 3/15/5
From: Jenny from Iowa

I wanted to make a full sized pink snowball quilt. I made a snowball quilt using a very busy and pretty pinky flowerey print with a soft white background for the snowballs and a million(well alittle exaggerated)pinks for the nine patches. When I got ready to hand quilt the snowballs after cross hatching the nine patches I found i couldn't see my markings for the snowballs. After trying everything I could find on the market from disappearing ink to water markers and etc to pencil I was not happy. So I did the disappearing marker(very tedioustly and unhappy)for 3 blocks, until...I discovered upon making a knot on the back of quilt that I could see exactly where i was quilting with no problem. I had already quilted the nine patches so I could see where I was. I had a brain storm and quilted all the snowballs from the back. This is one quilt that it didn't matter what the pattern was because the fabric was so busy you can't really see it anyway. I learned a lesson on fabric and marking all in one.

Date: 3/6/5
From: Pat in Flint

To help clean the interior of my sewing machine
I take the machine outside and use my bicycle tire pump to blow out the dust bunnies. Have been doing this for years and seems to work really well. I do clean my machine after every major project and if I have been sewing anyting flannel, I clean after every project.

Date: 3/3/5
From: Nancy

Here's a good site with Prairie Point instructions:

Date: 2/27/5
From: Elaine

Basting a quilt can be a very boring chore, and probably the least favorite part of making a quilt. I combine my two favorite hobbies, reading and quilting, when I baste. I simply use cassette audio books. Now I find that basting is no longer a chore, but an enjoyable part of quiltmaking.

Date: 2/9/5
From: Carol

I read a tip to put a dab of saliva on the back of your sewing needle to thread it easier. I have been putting a little saliva on the back of my sewing machine needle and find it works as well.

Date: 12/16/4

Instead of drawing my applique pattern on my backing material, I center and draw my pattern on a peice of interfacing the same size as my backing. Then I baste the interfacing pattern to the top of the backing centering it. I lay the piece I am going to applique between the interfacing and the backing matching it to my interfacing pattern. Using freezer paper method flip back the interfacing and applique the piece. I continue doing appliquing my pieces. When I am finished I remove the interfacing. Because the interfacing is soft, I can take my applique anywhere, but I don't have lines on my backing material.

Date: 12/16/4
From: Judy R Western MA

For applique work, I'm eternally cautious about using stick-um products on my fabrics (anything with glues or starches or whatever) as I don't feel the long-term effects of these products are known yet. Did some applique work recently and found that spraying my pieces with water and then folding under and ironing the edges down with my (not on steam setting) iron worked really well to hold the turn-under in place long enough to pin in place and sew by hand--even days later. Just be careful not to burn your fingers!

Date: 10/31/4

Someone recently suggested plugging all your sewing room appliances on ONE surge protector to make it easier to turn them on at once. Surge protectors do fail occasionally and computerized sewing machines are so expensive to replace blown parts that I prefer to keep my sewing machine on one surge protector and everything else on another. And irons should ideally be on another circuit or fuse. Call me 'fraidy cat!

Date: 10/9/4
From: Susan, Sanford,FL

Sometimes I have to use many pins in a quilt project. I got tired of pulling pins out and "placing" them on my magnetic pin cushion. I found this way is so effortless that I had to share;
Place the magnetic pin cushion behind your machine and as you come to a pin, just "flick it off" onto the pin cushion. You don't even have to aim. :)
I read some of the hints and will start using them right away. Thanks quilters!

Date: 9/18/4
From: momma diane

I have trouble keeping my lines for measurement marked on the ruler so I use small pieces of colored electrical tape to mark my measurement spot.

Date: 9/15/4

To Christine When hand stiching a quilt you do a single knot and put that in about 1" (in) from ware you are coming out at and pull very gentle. when the knot goes in do you stiches. just do not pull hard for next 2 or 3 stiches. it works for me as well as it did for my grandmother and mom. good luck

Date: 8/18/4
From: Vicki Shwartz

I found that using Gloves In A Bottle cream while quilting helps tremendously - my dry cuticles are smoothed out and don't snag the delicate fabrics, as well as the rest of my hands are very smooth and it is much easier to work. Also, as the lotion holds your moisture inside and is not greasy at all - hands don't sweat and aren't slippery, while being protected. It's a true find! You check it out at their website

Date: 5/18/4
From: Mary Kaye

No matter how experienced a sewer/quilter you are, there are always times when you must rip out seams. There are all those little pieces of thread that must be picked off. I take a piece of packing tape and wrap it around my hand with stickie side out like you do to pick up lint and simply pat along the seam. It pulls them out quickly and easily.

Date: 3/30/4
From: Mary

I found that putting little sandpaper dots on my ruler for rotary cutting keeps it from slipping. That's wonderful for those of us who are just learning!

date: 3/19/4
from: peg , kentucky quilter

when i am basting my quilt top, back, and batting together i use a circular upholstery needle. it catches all three layers. basting is a snap. enjOY

Date: 3/8/4
From: Waikoloa quilter

Two tips:
Run out of Sewer's Aid and your needle is gummed up? Not to fret, just grab some WD 40, spritz it on a scrap and give your needle a rubdown. Also, try spraying the spool of thread you are using with it.Sails right through your machine, even metallic thread!
Next time you need a third hand, try using an orange stick, you know, what you use when you give yourself a manicure? Long ones, about 6", are best and can be had at your local drug store.

Date: 3/7/4
From: Lu Anne

This is actually three hints. First, date your thread, month and year, so you can use up the oldest spools first. I'm still using thread I bought five years ago!! Second, don't buy thread just because it's on sale and you might need that color "someday". Thread does rot, though it can be sometimes be "revived", but there will always be another sale! Always!! Besides, if you only need a small piece for applique, your friends may be able to help or you can help them. Third, many scrappy quilts are "thread guzzlers" using 12 bobbins (or more) and are great for using up those funky colors you bought five years ago.

Mom was right, it's not a bargain if you can't use it up before it spoils.

Date: 3/3/4
From: Bryn in Massachusetts

After seeing a “used sharps” container for safe disposal of used needles in my doctor’s office, I made one for my sewing table. I took an empty white plastic aspirin bottle, drilled a small hole in the cap, and stuck on a bright label that says “used sharps.” Now I can safely dispose of broken needles and bent pins, right through the hole in the top. For something larger, such as used rotary blades or razor blades, I can unsnap the top. When it’s full, I can safely throw the whole container away.

Date: 2/1/4
From: DonnaH

My husband and I made an ironing table using a piece of plywood he had laying around in the garage...and an old ironing board...he attached the plywood onto the ironing board using wood screws so the screws went flat into the wood...I then covered it with leftover cotton batting...I used two layers...and cotton pillow ticking... now I have a surface wide enough for ironing 45" fabric easily and all it cost was is asjustable in height and is easy to stash in the is a little heavy but I love it... Donna

Date: 1/30/4
From: loreen

For those of you using x-ray films... As a radiology person the "black ink" is not ink it is a form of silver and the "ink" is also contain developing chemicals so be aware what you are washing off. In a hospital or clinic these are treated as hazardous materials, and the silver components are recycled during the developing process. Be aware what you are washing away. Perhaps it is best to use the blank ones.

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