Christmas kits. Still time to order before the big day.

Yvonne's Top Tips

Planning

1. When you are choosing your next project and see a quilt that you like, don’t be distracted by the colours. Just take a black and white photocopy of the quilt. You will then be able to see the grey scale, which will make choosing your own fabrics much easier, as you will be able to see at a glance where the light, medium and dark fabrics are placed.

2. If you are looking for templates for simple, bold appliqué shapes, there is nowhere better to look than in a child’s colouring book.

Needles

1. ​On a quilting needle, the eye is positioned a little further up the shank , which makes extra room for the machine to form the stitch through the thickness of the quilt sandwich.

2. Having difficulties threading your needle? Remember...embroidery needles have larger eyes and are a little longer, but are still fine enough for intricate sewing.

Rotary Cutting

1. When cutting, don’t use the markings on your cutting mat to measure your fabric. For maximum accuracy, always use the markings on your ruler.

2. Make sure your rotary cutter’s blade is vertical when cutting. If it is at an angle, you risk altering the measurement of the piece, or pushing against the ruler and making it slip.

3. Spray your fabric with spray starch before cutting small squares and triangles. This will stabilize the fabric and help to make your work more accurate.

Machining

1. Always cut and sew one quilt block before cutting everything out. Then you will know if something is not quite right before wasting all your fabric.

2. To achieve better accuracy, and to avoid it slipping, have your walking foot on your machine when attaching your binding.

3. When winding a bobbin, make sure your machine is at full speed. This will avoid a “spongy” bobbin and tension problems.

4. Love your sewing machine! Always change the needle after each project. This can avoid all manner of problems, such as missed stitches and tension issues.

Pressing

1. Use baking parchment instead of a Teflon sheet to keep your iron clean when bonding appliqué.

2. When you are joining seams that meet, always press them in the opposite direction. This will reduce bulkiness in your work, and allow more accurate machine piecing, because they will ‘nest’ together.

Piecing

1. When making ¼ square triangles, cut the original square 11/4” larger than the finished square. Don’t forget to starch the fabric before cutting to give it extra stability.

2. When you are cutting half square triangles, cut the square 7/8” larger than the required finished square. So for example, if you need a 6” square made up of two triangles, cut your original square at 6 7/8” and then cut it diagonally to yield two triangles.

General

1. Photocopying a copy will can result in slightly distorted images, so where possible, always photocopy from the original.

2. Before marking your quilt, always test marking pens/pencils on a scrap of the fabric used in your quilt top, to be absolutely sure that it will wash, iron or rub off.

3. Cheap thread knots, breaks and tangles all the time, and messes up the tension on your sewing machine. Why not build up a stash of good quality thread, and avoid sewing machine stresses. Also, always store your thread away from dust and high temperatures.

4. If you prick your finger when sewing and get blood on your fabric, don’t despair! Spit on it, and the enzymes in your saliva will break down the stain. Sounds gross, but it really does work!