Thursday, January 17, 2008

Beginner Tips

I have been quilting for about a year and a half.  There are quite a few tools to really help beginners like me "succeed" with their first quilts.  I've posted a picture of my first quilt (a twin size).  I used a pattern I found from Quilting on partial seams, which is a great technique to learn.  There is Lilo, our cat, "helping" with the project.  And here is my list of supplies:
  1. A good sewing machine.  True, you may only be sewing straight lines for the most part.  However, if you can get a machine with presser foot pressure control, half-speed settings, needle stop down position, needle threader, thread cutter, feed dogs that are easy to drop and excellent fabric feed, it will be worth every penny you pay.  Also, my machine allows me to wind a bobbin without unthreading, which is handy.
  2. Patchwork foot with edge guide. Bernina foot #57 is such a foot, but I use a generic one. This foot produces fool-proof 1/4" seams by using a metal (or plastic) guide, which holds the seam allowance in place as you sew.  And most quilters know that if you're even 1/8" off on piecing, your pattern may not work in the end.
  3. Edgestitch foot. Similar to the patchwork foot, this foot has a metal guide down the center of the foot.  You line up the guide right in the ditch, and you've got perfect in the ditch quilting.  Bernina foot #10 is the one I use.
  4. Rotary cutter, mat and ruler.  For those of us who tend to be spastic, this tool is a huge time saver.  If you cut your pieces accurately and use your piecing foot, it's hard to make a mistake.
  5. Shape Cut by June Tailor.  I cannot live without this template.  It's a large plastic template with guides for your rotary cutter.  It's simple to get right angles, on the grain of the fabric, as well as perfect strips.  It saves time and effort.
  6. Mettler silk finish 100% cotton thread.  I have to go to my sewing machine dealer or local quilt store to find this thread.  While it may cost more than Coats & Clark, it's worth the investment.  My sewing machine rarely jams with this thread.  It comes in every color you could want, andholds up well to washing.  It just produces a gorgeous stitch.  My aunt, a woman who has been quilting for years, says if you're going to put the time into it, use products that make it worth your while.
  7. High quality fabric.  You can see my post on fabric hoarding here.  For those of us who are fabric collectors, finding a good deal at Walmart may seem like a good idea. However, imagine putting hours and days or even weeks into working a quilt.  Then, the first time you wash it, it fades.  My approach is to suck it up and support your local quilt shop.  I won't even look at the fabric at Walmart anymore.
  8. Good quality needles.  I have to say, I love Schmetz needles.  I use the top stitch size for free motion quilting, and they work like a charm.  Make sure you actually change them at least at the beginning of any project.  This really makes a difference!
  9. Moda bias binding.  I could not live without this product.  This is not to be confused with any other brand of quilt binding (though I hear Michael Miller has some on the shelf, which might be worthwhile).  Purchased by the yard, this pre-folded double binding makes it simple to finish your quilts.  It's so easy and convenient.  I didn't know about it when I did my first quilt.  But now--oh, so worth a trip to your local quilt store!
  10. 505 Temporary Fabric Adhesive spray.  Manufactured by J.T. Trading Corp, this time saver really assists in basting.  I still use pins to baste, but applying a light coat to the cotton batting (it doesn't work as well with synthetics) reduces puckering, especially in free-motion projects.
Well, this is my current top list.  I hope you enjoy.  Are there any other products you love and can't live without?  Please post them here.  I look forward to seeing your replies!

No comments: