Quick Tip Tuesday – Cutting with Templates

Usually I glean these tips from whatever I happen to be working on at the time. Right now I’m making a modern version of a double wedding ring quilt – I’m woefully behind! I rarely use templates, but with this pattern I couldn’t imagine cutting it out any other way. The problem with templates: they like to slip. Then my sister gave me this fabulous tip: rubber cement! WOW! What a difference. Just apply a fairly thick coat to the outer edges of the templates – especially any corners or points. Let it dry thoroughly. Place the templates with the rubber cement facing the fabric and cut. Amazing!


Quick Tip Tuesday – Ripping …

Ripping, reverse sewing, frogging, whatever you call it, it’s by far my least favorite part of quilting – does anyone enjoy it? I am always open to trying new techniques and am still searching for the silver bullet. However, I do have two go to techniques. The first is the standard: use a seam ripper to take out every third or fourth stitch and pull the thread from the in-tact side. It works pretty well and applies to just about any circumstance.

ripping seams - std

The second technique is relatively new to me (I learned it from a friend a few years ago). It involves a rotary cutter and a steady hand. It’s the fastest way that I know to rip out a lot of seams. I do not use it if there are bias seams involved because I think it would distort the fabric too much. The key is to keep the rotary blade parallel to one of the fabrics while gently pulling the other fabric away from the stitching. Gently push the blade against the thread, barely rubbing against the thread – it doesn’t take much pressure.

ripping seams - rotary

As if the ripping isn’t bad enough, just when you think you are done you are left with all the tiny pieces of thread to take care of. I’ve tried all kinds of things to help with this: tape, fingernails, tweezers, etc. Then I tried a plastic eraser (it has to be the type of eraser that doesn’t leave any residue – when you rub your thumb across it, pieces of the eraser don’t rub off) – amazing. Just gently rub the eraser across the threads and it will pull them out. It’s fast and efficient.

ripping seams


Quick Tip Tuesday – Prepping Circles for Applique

I like to have handwork on hand – something to work on while I’m waiting for kids, at a guild meeting, or watching TV with the family. The problem is taking the time to prepare it – I like to have seams turned because I never know when or where I will be working. I randomly came across a YouTube video a few days ago about a technique to prepare applique. I modified it to work better for me. Here goes!

circle prep 1

Pre-press four sheets of freezer paper (freezer paper shrinks a little when you press it which will cause it to ripple a little if you press it together without pre-shrinking – so I pre-shrink). Then layer them one at a time and press them together to create one four-layered sheet. Cut out a circle that is the finished size of the applique.

circle prep 2 a

Cut out the circle fabric about 1/2″ larger than the finished size.

circl prep 3

Press the fabric to the waxy side of the freezer paper template. Lightly spray with starch.

circle prep 5

Place the circle on top of a piece of foil.

circle prep 6

Holding down the template, pull up on the foil easing the seam without pleating. Then push down the foil (about 1/2″ in from the edges), rubbing it smooth. Don’t worry about the extra foil in the middle.

circle prep 7

Make sure the edges are smooth. If not, just smooth them over.

circle prep 8

Run the edges of the circle under a hot iron – be careful the foil will get very hot. Set it aside to cool down while you work on more circles!

circle prep 9a

Once it has cooled, pull back the foil and remove the circle. If you have more circles to make of the same size, leave the foil as it is (don’t flatten it). Then it will work kind of like a making a covered button, just push the next circle in and it will save you some time.

circle prep 10

Peel off the freezer paper (you can reuse it over and over) and you are ready to applique – either by hand or machine.

circle 11

If you are working on circles of varying sizes, you can stack them and then spray them with starch – the starch only needs to hit the seam allowance. This method will work for any convex shape – any shape without inside corners or curves. I hope you like this method as much as I do!



Quick Tip Tuesday – Binding Auditions

Sometimes a print fabric is just the right choice for a binding. The problem is envisioning what that fabric is going to look like as a binding. Prints have lots of possibilities especially if it has a distinct pattern or repeat. Here is how I look at my options!

I took a scrap piece of chipboard – any sturdy, heavyweight paper will do, or just  a piece of paper in a pinch! I like the chipboard because I can use it over and over and it’s not apt to end up in the recycling bin by mistake! I cut a piece about 6″ x 15″. Then I cut out a slot a little less than 3/8″ the length of the board leaving about 1″ on each end. I chose this width because my binding ends up a little over 1/4″ on the front and you can always see the rolled edge. The best tool I have found for cutting chipboard: a rotary cutter with a blade that is reserved for paper – or a blade that you are ready to throw out.


I lay out the fabric that I am auditioning and move my window around varying the angles to see what I can find.

This Kaffe Fassett print would add plenty of color to a binding and would hide the seams well.


binding kaffe

There aren’t a whole lot of variations with this fabric. However, it would add some interest to a binding without adding much color.


binding rings


Of course, stripes are versatile – horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. This stripe is unique because it has an ombre effect and would add a lot of character to the right quilt.binding stripes


These trees act a lot like a stripe – but you wouldn’t have to worry about matching it up!binding trees


This herringbone has a lot of possibilities – careful cutting is the key. Chevrons work in a similar fashion.

binding herringbone


These diamonds are a lot of fun!

binding diamonds


If you want a specific pattern – like in the diamond – you can use chalk to mark the edge that you want closest to the quilt. Then cut 1/4″ from the edge. Then cut it to the width that you prefer.


Quick Tip Tuesday

I’ve tried many different ways to join the ends of my binding over the many years that I’ve been quilting. I’ve pretty much settled on the method I’m going to share today. It’s fast, easy, accurate and requires no special tools – just a pair of scissors! This post is pretty long for a ‘Quick Tip’ – just because I wanted to include plenty of detail. It will take you longer to read the post than to use this method!

Leave about 12″ of space between the stitching of the start and end of your binding and leave plenty of extra binding for overlapping – at least 8″ on each end. On to joining the ends.

Step 1: Lay the ends of the binding over each other.


Step 2: Lift up the top piece and cut the bottom piece, making sure that the top piece overlaps the bottom piece by 3″ or more (this depends on the width of your binding).


Step 3: Lay the top piece back down.


Step 4: Take the scrap that you cut off in step 2, open it up, place it on the top piece so that it is lying perpendicular to the binding. Match the edge of the scrap to the cut end of the bottom binding (you can’t see it very well in this picture because they are exactly matched so you can’t see the edge of the bottom binding – but essentially you want to mark an overlap that is the same size as the width of the binding.). Cut the top binding at the opposite edge of the scrap.


Step 5: Put the binding right sides facing at a 90° angle. Stitch at a 45° angle – just as you would join binding pieces.


Step 6: Stitch. Open and check it just to make sure everything looks good!


Step 7: Trim the seam allowance. Finger press the seam open. Refold the binding and stitch the binding down! Voila!