Quilting is a social hobby; it’s been proven to improve your health and it leads to some gorgeous results—but sometimes you just want to make things a little easier. With quilt tricks, you can indulge in the occasional shortcut without compromising on quality (saving yourself some headaches, too). Whether you’re a novice or a stitcher for life, try out these tricks to make your next project easier—and more enjoyable.
1. Rotary Cut Strips
When needing to cut super long border pieces, use the latest in rotary cutting equipment. This makes cutting borders easy and precise when you are making a quilt.
2. Pin It
Pins are any quilter’s tool of choice, but when it comes to measuring the edge and borders, always mark the centers and pin right there. This easily prevents “quilt stretch” or a border that’s not on mark. If you have a sewing machine that feeds a little too fast or slow, stretching can occur and ruin the entire project. Avoid this disaster before it strikes—it takes seconds to pin and you’re guaranteed a flat end result.
3. Wind Neutral Bobbins in Advance
This is a huge time saver, especially if you’re taking a class. Simply keep a storage collection of pre-wound bobbins in your case, and you’ll never have to pause (or scramble to catch up with your quilting group). A full case can last days, and if you’re not up for doing this yourself, an “investment” of pre-wound bobbins from the store is well worth it. This is perhaps the driest of all quilting tasks, but there’s no reason to deal with it if you don’t have to.
4. Own Chain Piecing
If you chain piece, you won’t just save loads of time, but you’ll also help save thread. It’s easy—just set some pieces of fabric together, but stop right before the edge of the seams. Don’t remove the fabrics from your pressure foot, and prep/add another set to the feed. Start sewing without clipping the threads, and you’ll notice the chain pieces go faster when stacked. You’re ready to sew in groups now.
5. Test Seam Accuracy
The number one skill any quilter can have is the ability to sew an exact ¼-inch seam. Maybe your machine has ¼-inch settings, but is it accurate? Test it now, before you’re relying on a promise that might not stack up. Sew, then measure the width of a seam with an acrylic ruler—this is a simple but easy way to check the setting. Your machine may allow for manual customization, and if that’s the case, repeat testing until it’s right on the mark.
Quilting might reduce stress and calm your nerves, but when you’re battling a pesky situation or your machine’s off target, it can be maddening. Engage in a few planned tricks to make life simple, and get back to loving everything about your hobby.
Jillynn Stevens, Ph.D., MSW