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I guess you can call this blog a continuation of my blog "Little things that I had forgotten and new ones I've learned". I'm not writing these thinking I know everything because I don't. I'm writing them because I love to help others and share what I've learned. I'm going to be brand naming some thread and tools and I am in no way promoting or getting a kick back from them. I'm naming them because they are what I've found to be the best for me but keep in mind everyone has their own opinion.


Going to start with threads. For years I used Coats & Clarks, although it may be a good thread it left lent everywhere and I would have to stop piecing and clean my machine several times. Yea that got aggravating very fast and sometimes discouraged me. But at times it was the only thread I could afford. I have now discovered Superior Threads Masterpiece by Alex Anderson. It's a #50 Extra-long staple Egyptian cotton thread and I absolutely love it and will not be going back to my old thread (although I must have every color of the Coats & Clarks). This thread by Alex leaves absolutely NO lent and "looks" like it just melts into your fabric and comes in every color imaginable. It's a little pricey at $7.95 a spool but it's like everything else...you get what you pay for!


On and upwards! Some are going to think I'm crazy on this one but I use a 60/8 needle in my machine for piecing. Why? Well because it leaves the tiniest hole in your fabric when you have to rip. You can barely see where the original seam holes were and I don't like seeing huge needle holes in my blocks or quilts. For me the 80/12's just left a hole way too big for my taste so I tried others till I found the 60/8, now I won't piece with anything else. Give them a try you might just like what you see!


Now I'm going to talk rulers. Good grief there are so many on the market that I don't see how newbies are able to decide which to purchase. I have used the Omni Grids for years and have never been satisfied with them because they slide all over the fabric and all those yellow lines are very distracting to me. I've even tried the ones that are all green lines, a no go for me. Then I found the "Creative Grids" and I am in absolute heaven. They stay put and the white lines on them are very easy on the eyes. I just finished replacing ALL of my rulers with the "Creative Grids". Again everyone has their preference, you'll just have to find the ones that are right for you!


Ok now I'm going to talk about a couple of little hints that I didn't mention in my first blog about these things. Using the right thread and using the same thread through your quilt is very important! There are different weight of threads and even if the threads are the same weight one could be thicker than the other. And believe you me.. this will and can throw off you block size. So whatever thread you start with..finish with it. I found that the Coats & Clarks even though the same weight as the Superior Thread was visibly thicker than the Superior and it was actually throwing off my block size.


Another thing I do is "SET" my seams on every piece I sew before I open it up and press the pieces open. I have found that taking that extra half second to set the seam makes a world of differences. Setting the seams seem to settle the thread into place and makes pressing your block pieces open alot smoother.


Lastly, let's talk cutting. Over the years I have found out the hard way that if you don't cut each strip/piece the same way you did your first one, you're going to be in trouble. I always make sure that (let's say) my 2 1/2" mark on my ruler is on the very edge of the fabric piece I'm cutting and I do this through out my cutting. If you cut one where the ruler is on the edge of your fabric then cut the next where the cutting line is right on your fabric you're pieces will not be the same size. A thread can make a world of difference! And we all know that will cause major problems when piecing and trying to put your quilt blocks together. Yes you can square your blocks but if your block is a lot smaller than your first then you have to start making decisions on whether to sq all blocks down to the smaller size or make new blocks. Because you all know you can trim a large block but a smaller one isn't so easy. I also cut from left to right, this way I know exactly how big/small my strips/pieces are.


Well I think I've given my two cents on just about everything LOL By no means am I an expert and I still make lots of mistakes. Not as many as before but it still happens...it happens to the best of us unfortunately. I do hope this helps some of you and I wish you all a very happy quilty day!




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Comment by Maria Carroll on October 7, 2011 at 10:42am
Setting your seam means... before you open your two pieces that you've sewn together...set your hot iron on the seam itself (just for second) then open up your pieces you've sewn to press them.
Comment by Mawna24 on October 3, 2011 at 9:11am
What does "Set" your seams mean?
Comment by AidaCJ/NH on October 2, 2011 at 4:04pm

I have been using Connecting Threads threads and I find these very good with both machine and hand quilting. For variegated threads I use King Tut.  Good idea about donating unwanted threads to the school. 

One thing I have learned is to replace the cutting mat when it has too many knicks.  The mats do get brittle and when one warps it just doesn't work well.  I also bought the square mat that turns so I don't have to lift whatever I am cutting, specially small pieces.  And even though it's nice to store fabrics in a see-through plastic bin to readily see what you have, it's still safer to store in a colored one so that the fabric doesn't fade, or as an alternative, store fabrics away from light.

Comment by Prairie Quilter Jan/NE on October 2, 2011 at 12:22pm
It's always great to share tips & tricks.  I love it when the light bulb (finally) goes on over my head after I've struggled with something for a time.  Then it's usually a "duh" moment when someone teaches me some small trick that you'd think I could have figured out for myself.  Just getting a fresh perspective can make all the difference. 
Comment by Gayle/La. on October 2, 2011 at 11:16am
Great tips and hints Maria.  I think I am guilty of not being precise about the cutting of my strips and will have to try to be more accurate in the future.
Comment by Pam/NY on October 2, 2011 at 8:27am
All great advice...I too switched years ago to superior thread and like you had every color of coats and clark. I called the local middle school and donated all of it to the home careers (home ec) dept. I donate all my scraps to them for various projects that some kids can't afford.

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