How to Improve Your Quilting Experience

I am still learning quote by Michelangelo

And Why You Should Never Stop Learning

When I began my quilting journey I never gave much thought to any aspect of the process beyond fabric, thread and a machine. Nor did it occur to me that this path would become a life-long learning to experience.

That once you learn the ropes – the basic ropes, you soon realize there are a myriads of other ropes and techniques to learn. The process of learning to quilt and sew is really more of a snowball effect.

Those of us who are “curators of fabric and notions” know exactly what I’m talking about.
Make no mistake, the top three things you need to make a quilt are fabric, thread and a needle or machine. I didn’t mention scissors because there are ways around cutting – not perfect or even mildly desirable ways, but yes, there are ways to get around a pair of scissors or rotary cutter (pre-cut fabric, tearing fabric along the grain).

But once you completely immerse yourself in the process you instinctively begin to search or discover better, faster and more efficient ways of doing things. It is almost a given when you consider the time-consuming process involved when making an any quilt.

If for no other reason than in the interest of keeping your interest, for most of us, it is important that we begin and successfully end a project within a time frame we can live with.

1) Fusible Thread

I don’t know why or it is I’m just now learning about this. No, my finger is not on the pulse of the quilting world however, I’m not living under a rock either!

If any of you happen to know Charlotte Warr Anderson please tell her she is a genius and a life saver.

Charlotte's Fusible Thread by Superior Threads

Once I got my hands on this it was all I could do to contain my excitement! I still had one more placemat from my Minki Kim Pumpkin pattern set to finish and felt this to be the perfect project to try out this fusible thread. But no matter the simplicity of a project, when binding is involved, there is always a risk of it not turning out the way you intend.

Fusible Thread solves that problem.

Edge binding on a placemat sewn in place using fusible thread

Okay… I have to admit the image above doesn’t scream “wow, fusible thread”! However, to those of us that have struggled to get our binding to have this flat, even appearance along a straight edge will be even more excited to see this along a curved edge.

Bonus: using fusible thread is a HUGE time saver.

How I did it: First, filled my bobbin with the fusible thread and sewed the binding (right sides together) to the back of placemat.

If you are one of those that have a slight obsession with ironing you could next use an iron to press the binding away from the seam. Should you try this be very careful – this fusible thread does what it says it will do – it fuses!
Now, here is the fun part! Turn the edge by folding in half then again until the binding looks as it does above. The clips are used to hold in place until it is ironed.
As the binding is fused to the top, remove the clips. At this point you can hand stitch in place or stitch in the ditch. The stitching isn’t visible from the front and only a thin top stitch is visible from the back.

But wait! There is more! The nice people at Wonderfil Specialty Threads have compiled a tutorial describing 7 ways to use Fusible Thread
Be sure to read it all the way through to the end where a link is located that will direct you to their YouTube tutorial.

The only con I have encountered so far – wishing I had found this YEARS ago!

2) Heat n Bond Iron-On Vinyl

For all you lovers of waxed canvas and all things waterproof let me introduce you to fusible vinyl.
Why try a product like this?
It is the easiest way to keep projects like cosmetic bags, pouches, place mats, can get dirty pretty quick. These items are also the quickest to fade and become misshapen when washed. When you consider the amount of money and time spent making a OOAK item, being able to simply wipe it cleans as needed is a bonus!

To see just how easy it is to use this product I located an extra log cabin block on my sewing table. It’s just a 6″ square – not too big if I made a mistake but a good size for a coaster or craft mat if everything turned out well.
Fabric log cabin quilt block, fusible vinyl, batting and fabric for backing

Other supplies I used: silicone mat, fusible batting and backing material.

Here is my process:
1) Sandwiched the batting between the top and back.

2) Quilted – stitch in the ditch

3) Applied fusible vinyl sandwiched between 2 non-stick silicone sheets.
Quilted Log Cabin block before fusing sheet of vinyl

3) Applied the fusible vinyl.

4) Trimmed off the excess

Quilted log cabin quilt block covered with fusible vinyl.

5) Sewed on the binding – here is the finished product – A vinyl covered mat/coaster that is stain resistant, waterproof and basically indestructible!

Vinyl covered log cabin quilt block with fabric binding.

3) A Better Way to Prepare and Store Starch

I never thought I’d be a “fabric starcher” but the moment I was bitten by the starch bug there was no going back.
For those of you still holding out or don’t have a complete understanding of the benefits of starching your fabric BEFORE cutting and sewing I will give you just a quick lesson – Do It!

This message is for those who have and continue to struggle with accurate cutting and piecing, getting those elusive corners to match up, starched fabric will solve all those problems!

It does require a bit more time up front but it is So Worth it!

I wrote a little on this subject almost one year ago.

The first multi-pack of spray starch didn’t seem like a problem. Sure, there was the issue of where to store the all those cans but as time went on and I was starching pretty much every piece of fabric it became apparent the sheer number of cans I could potentially use was alarming.

Then one day while scrolling though my Facebook groups fate smiled upon me and I was introduced to the “better mouse trap”.

This is where I discovered Tiny Orchard Quilts and a better (and much more cost effective) way to starch fabric. She uses a folding laundry rack to dry her fabric.

I prefer to use hangers – specifically trouser hangers:
Starched fabric hanging from trouser hangers to dry.

Naturally, if I were starching larger pieces of fabric, a laundry rack would be the ticket. I haven’t used one yet mainly, to avoid the fold in the fabric. It will iron out easy enough but there are times when I need to use every time saving technique I can.

I began this article a few days ago and since then I have made another discovery
The Zip N Grip bag:

Zip N Grip bag by Sew Yours

The pattern is purchased and downloaded – now to find the right fabric and hardware. This is a bag I can’t wait to try!

I’d love to hear what new discoveries you have made this week!

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