I have been taking advantage of the extra time that I have had lately to try out some helpful tricks and make use of a couple of handy tools. I had seen a couple of these ideas on blogs and YouTube videos but up until recently had not taken the time to try them out to see if they would work for me. Well I have to say that each one has proven to be a game-changer! So the lesson learned here is to take the time to try out these fun ideas because they will most definitely save time and give you a better result in the end.
The first trick I tried was to press my 1/4” seams open instead of my usual method of pressing to one side. It was right after I had mentioned in a blog that I NEVER press my seams open that I decided to give it a try. The lesson learned there is to never say never! I was constructing 6” star blocks and I had huge issues getting the 27 seams to lay flat - yes I said 27 seams. It was amazing how nice the block looked when I pressed the seams open. Although I will still press the majority of my seams to one side I now have another option in my arsenal of techniques in case I need it.
I think the reason that I was not a fan of pressing my seams open in the past was because I was doing it with my regular sized iron. With the 6” star blocks I used a travel iron and it worked so much better. The small iron also worked wonders when I was making ties for masks as it was so much easier to maneuver along those thin strips. By lowering my ironing board, setting it right next to my sewing machine, and using the travel iron I was able to streamline the process of making masks.
Another tool that I made great use of when I was making masks was my Mini Sewing Clips. I had used them for the first time a few months ago when I was making a facing binding on my Dream Big quilts and they worked so much better than pins. For the masks I used them to hold the ties and elastic to the sides while I was stitching. They also worked well to hold the pleats in place.
Another tool that I highly recommend is called That Purple Thang. Every quilter needs one of these just because it has a fun name if for no other reason! I recently used this stiletto-like tool when I was working on my five-year English Paper-Piecing quilt to hold down the corners of the diamonds when I was appliquing them to the borders. There are two different shapes on the ends of this tool. One is a flat square shape and the other is a curved narrow shape. I found myself using both ends on this project with great success.
The final trick that I tried was to change the thread on my long arm quilting machine without first removing the entire cone that I wanted to replace. I had seen this demonstrated on a YouTube video and I can’t believe that I waited so long to try it. I first snipped the thread on the first cone right after the thread mast. I then removed that cone and replaced it with the second cone. I began to rethread the machine until I came to the thread from the first cone and tied them together. After removing the first thread from the needle I pulled the two threads through the machine and snipped off the first thread. It was so much faster than rethreading the entire machine and made changing thread colors multiple times a breeze.
Have you found some new tips and tricks lately that have given you more success with your hobbies?