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Quilt Tips From Quilters Around The World


Save your old prescription bottles and put a small hole in the lid and put your hand quilting or applique thread inside. It keeps it clean and is easy to pick up if you drop it. Great if you work when traveling. - Gail in Arizona

Sewing all day can lead to millions of little threads on the floor. Not wanting to vacuum, I put two of the lint rollers on a paint roller and attached the handle to an extension handle. I run this over the carpet, bingo, it's tidy for tomorrow! I store it by hanging it on a hook behind the door. - Jacque in California

I use a nice long napkin holder to hold all of my rulers. I found a wire one that is used for picnic tables, Since it is wire, it can be hung on the wall next to my machine. So with the mobile one and the one on the wall I can always keep my rulers near me and in one spot. - Linda in Florida

Use skirt hangars and plastic bags to organize projects, display Quilt Guild newsletters, etc. - Barbara in Illinois

We recently purchased new drapes. When the drapes arrived, the panels and valances were each in a zippered clear vinyl bag. I cleaned off the sticky residue from the labels and used the bags to store my quilting projects. I put my pattern so I can see it through the clear vinyl and as I accumulate my fabric for the project, I just insert it into the bag. Zip it closed and I'm off to my fabric store to purchase what I still need or off to my guild or class. - Lea in Wisconsin

When I see a pattern that I like, I print it out along with the instructions and pattern then I place it in a clear 8x10 plastic sleeve so that it stays nice and clean. I place it in a hard bound notebook like the one kids use in school for loose leaf paper. - Corena in Missouri

You know those little tubes that contain miniature M&Ms? they're just the size to hold bobbins... I fill about five bobbins, before I go to guild, and they're ready to use, and they don't unravel in your sewing box. - Christine in California

I put all used/broken needles and pins in an empty Tic Tac container... it's clear, so you can see what's in it, then, when it's filled, tape over the opening before discarding. - Christine in California

To save computer space, storage space and also paper when downloading free patterns from the internet. I store them for a short time on my computer and then copy them onto a CD for storage. Each CD is labeled differently. For example, Applique, BOM, Mystery Quilts, Christmas quilts, etc. If there is a particular designer I like or web site that I follow year to year, they get a CD all their own. For example, Block Central has a CD all it's own. You can store a lot of quilts on 1 CD.

Always remember that the patterns you download off the internet are for personal use only and not for commercial use. And always give the designer the credit for their work!! - Truth in Pennsylvania

My very favorite piece of "furniture" in my quilting room is a re-painted, rolling, LOCKING, Craftsman toolbox. (Usually on sale around Father's Day and Christmas.)

The shallow top drawer holds scissors, needles, rotary cutters, and pins -- things I use continuously throughout the day. I work with the drawer open, and put items where they belong -- even if I put items down, just for a moment. It keeps my table from becoming cluttered, and I never lose my tools.

The shallow second drawer holds markers, pens, pencils, glue sticks, magnifying glasses -- items that are used often, but not continuously.

The third drawer, a little deeper, holds templates and rulers that are not hanging.

The fourth drawer holds plastic jars of basting pins, colored pencils, extra rotary blades/sharpeners, Clover iron, and specialty quilting tools.

The fifth drawer holds stacking plastic trays of my thread. The fourth and fifth drawers are deep enough to hold cone thread.

Drawer contents are labeled with stick-on vinyl letters. I use the top of the cart as a pressing station, and as a "staging area" when choosing fabrics. The cart rolls to wherever you need it, and it can lock out family members that might try to "borrow" your good scissors. - kiskat in Texas

I love all the great tips! I copy/paste and organize them in Microsoft Works. I have categories--applique, piecing, machine quilting, fabric, finishing, storage, notions I want to try, etc. I can use bold, italic & underline for key words, or even color code. I can also add the great tips I find in quilt magazines. I print up full page categories and keep in a loose leaf organizer. When I want to try a new technique or just need a reminder, the tips really help. I'm even making a copy for my daughter who wants to try quilting! - Paula in Wisconsin

I store my quilting magazines in empty detergent boxes. They are sturdy, have handles and smell good. They can be covered with contact paper or spray adhesive and fabric. - Rose in Florida

I love the patterns i find on line. when I really like one I print it out and put it in clear plastic sleeves (normally used for school reports), the sleeves have holes already punched in them. then I place the sleeves in a 3 ring notebook. One pattern per sleeve keeps all the pages together until I'm ready to use that pattern plus keeps it clean and protected. - Debra in Kentucky

I save shoeboxes. As I work on different projects, I store my completed blocks in the box labeled for such. I also in my spare time cut out the snips of fabric I need for each project or each block that I plan to do next, place them in the box, then when I plan on sewing it, I just pick up the shoe box and take it to my sewing machine. Its all there and ready to go. So small its easily transported and fits right on my sewing table. - Barbara in Indiana

I have dramatically increased my quilting productivity by setting up a Quilting Journal. I have a 3-ring or spiral-bound notebook resting in a lucite cookbook stand ON MY SEWING TABLE (in my face), so I will always remember to write in it every day.

I divide each page into two long columns, and pre-write the dates/day of the week at the top of the column. I feel guilty about "wasting" the space if I don't write something... and I can't write something if I don't do quilting.

EVERYTHING quilt-related goes into the journal. If I spend 4 hours on the Internet in a quilt "chat", or an hour looking through a magazine, or if I dream a quilt... everything goes into the Quilting Journal. I even attach receipts from quilt-related purchases here, too.

MUCH of quilting is INVISIBLE, but TIME-CONSUMING. If I feel myself getting depressed over not having COMPLETED something, I pull out my Quilting Journal and read that I spent a day pulling fabrics, or I trimmed paper-piecing patterns for three hours, or I sorted scraps, or I washed fabrics, or I unstitched something that was not quite right... and I realize how MUCH I got done.

It's an instant "upper", and I'm off quilting again! - kiskat in Texas

To make rotary cutting easier, l use an old TV stand that swivels (like a lazy susan). No need to move your fabric to turn! - Goldie in Iowa

I tape a brown paper bag to the edge of my table next to my sewing machine for my threads and scraps. When it's time to put everything away for the day, I pull the tape off the table and fold it over so that it's taped to the bag. I can either use it over or just throw it out when it's full. - Carol in Michigan

When trying to get small loose threads off your project, use a roller type lint remover and the threads will come off easily. - Donna in Missouri

When I make a quilt using exchange blocks from other quilters, I subtly machine quilt their name, somewhere into their block. Over time, I can always "recall" who made the specific blocks. THEY are so impressed that you "remembered"! - kiskat in Texas

When you finish making a quilt, use some of the scrap fabrics to make a "pillow case" for the quilt to be stored in when it's not in use. I like to make a zipper closing so that the quilt can't escape. The zippered pillow case acts as a dust cover, but the scrap fabrics help identify what's inside. If the quilt should need repairs, the fabric from the dust cover can be used. - kiskat in Texas

I keep a lint roller (the masking tape kind) by my ironing surface to keep the surface thread clear. - Sandra in New York

I keep a small pair of scissors hanging from an adhesive hook on the front of my sewing machine. That way they are right where I need them and never get misplaced. - Sandra in New York

I keep a magnet close to me when sewing. it helps in picking up dropped pins. even better it holds my needles when i'm doing hand work. i thread several and stick them to the magnet. - Debra

This might not be anything new but I was given a free standing cup holder. Instead of using it for cups, it is perfect for hanging all my scissors on. - Carla in Florida

When ever I see a good tip, I jot it down and then review my tips every now and then.  If I can't remember one of the tips, I just review my list and find the one I want. Works every time. - Elaine in North Carolina

When I am getting ready for a new class or workshop, I throw in several Ziploc bags which can be used for organizing project steps, stowing trimmings, etc. - Maureen in Canada

I use a 24 pack coke box to put my cut pieces in. I can sort my colors, and shapes, and sizes and easily pick out the ones I need to use. Sometimes I match them together and lay them so all I have to do is pick the pieces up and sew them together. - Corena in Bloomfield

I have one of those multi-color wooly pincushions attached to my machine with velcro which is sticky one side. I place two strips on the machine and two strips on the pincushion. I find this very handy and the pins are at my fingertips. - Sylvia in Connecticut

From my florist, I use the netting that comes on the flowers over my spools of thread to hold it all together for storage. No loose ends, everything neat as a pin. - Deborah in Missouri

Rather than digging into a pin box or trying to pull one out of a cushion, I took a flat refrigerator magnet and turned it upside down beside my machine. I keep about 20 pins on each one. They come in very handy and move from room to room when you just want a few. - Bettye in Tennessee

A handy tool that I keep close is a magnetic bingo wand! It's handle is easy to hold and it picks up all those stray needles with just a swipe of your hand! - Kay in Virginia

I've been using a plastic wristband-type pincushion and never seemed able to get as many as I need and hate to have stop to "reload" when working on a watercolor quilt. I was waiting at the car parts store my son works at when I saw the perfect solution!  It's a set of gloves where the whole back of the hand portion is magnetized! You can put a lot of pins on it and it'll even hold small scissors for snipping off stray threads, anything that'll stick! It's recommended for holding nuts, bolts, screws, etc but its great for use when pinning on lots of little squares on a design wall. - Phyllis in California

Ever chased your quilting thread all over the room? You won't do that again with this great tip. Recycle baby food containers, Gerber fruits come in a plastic container with a lid. Simply wash out the container, put your quilting thread in it with about 4-6 inches of thread hanging over the edge and place the lid on the container. You can easily pull your thread out. To make it even better, glue a small magnet to the top of the container to hold your needle when you have to momentarily stop your quilting! Happy stitching! - Debbie in Mississippi

As I read through the manuals/instruction books for my quilting software I highlight the main information on the subjects that I think I will be referring back to regularly. It doesn't take very long to find them again. I use a fluorescent yellow highlighter. - Darlene in Michigan

The old dishwasher was done and before disposing of it, I removed the silverware holder. It had to be good for something!! I hung it on the side of my fabric cabinet, within arms reach of my cutting table. I holds my small rulers, markers, pens and pencils, small scissors, teflon pressing sheet, a small and roll of parchment paper (cover ironing board when pressing fusible web things) and rotary cutters. Very handy. - Judy in Michigan

I use small pieces of colored electrical tape to keep my thread spools and bobbins neat and free from thread tangles. I use 1/2 in tape cut across tape just wide enough to slip over end thread of bobbin and on end of thread on thread spool. When I need to use the tread I take the little peice of tape off and place it on the sewing machine to be put back on spool. - Lorraine in Minnesota

I've made a U-shaped sewing area by placing a 2-drawer filing cabinet on either side of my chair at my sewing table. On the left cabinet I have a 12x18 cutting mat where I can cut strips and trim blocks. Then I can turn to the cabinet on the right, where I've placed a small ironing pad, and press my blocks. I can also store lots of supplies in the filing cabinets! - Joan in California

Go to your nearest "auto repair store" and purchase a magnetic tray for bolts & nuts....Great for needles and pins. - Wanda in Illinois

Scotch tape applied "backwards" to a sponge mop will pick up those wondering threads from carpet, saving your back!! - Wanda in Illinois

I use the travel case from Huggies wipes to hold my pencils, marking pens, and sharpener. Works great for traveling to and from workshops/classes or just to keep things together in the sewing room. - Bambi in Ontario

I tape a small plastic bag on the side of my cutting table with the front open. This way when cutting a pattern the scraps can go in for the next scrappy project. When full, tie the top and put in my scrap box. - Carla in Florida

I like using lots of different fabrics when designing quilts. My current project has about 60 fabrics. I start with one to three fabrics or colors and build from there. To make shopping easier, I use an 8" X 10" post photo album into which I put a draft of my quilt, notes, and 2" or 3" swatches of fabrics I have chosen. I take this album with me when I visit quilt shops and use it as my reference guide. This way I can make sure that as I choose new fabrics, I stay "on theme or color course", properly vary my values and shades, and don't buy the same fabric twice by mistake. On one page might be my reds, marked with the amounts I bought of each and the store that I bought it from (in case I need to buy more). Other pages will hold other colors. When I finish the quilt, I add photos and put these "shopping" album pages into a larger, permanent album that is left at home for display and for history. It's my coffee table book. I am quilting a cover for it to make it even more special. Watch out at quilt shops - your shopping album will be a major hit that everyone wants to look at. I have met and made some wonderful new friends thanks to my album. - Kathy in Texas

A small empty tissue box (the square ones) kept on my cutting table is great for a tabletop wastepaper basket. Perfect for small pieces of thread, etc. - Annette in Florida

When laying out a complicated patched square that is being repeated in a quilt - lay it out but don't sew it up as at this point its not necessary. Put an acrylic or glass square (e.g. a cutting mat or a clear breadboard) over the top of it and use it as a reference. It's now easy to layout another square on top & then sew it up without having to work out what shape goes where each time. Much less chance of error of mixing the directions of the different triangles/squares etc in the block. - Debby in Australia

Use a rubbery foam "toe spacer" (you put them between toes so that you can paint toenails) to keep your wound bobbins in (each "toe" space holds two bobbins)...holds thread in place on bobbins and keeps all bobbins together and its cheap!!! - Kate in Australia

Wondering what to do with that little strip or square of fabric left over after a project? If you have a piece large enough that you hesitate to discard but you can't think how to use it, use the Glad type plastic storage cartons, mark sizes 1", 1 1/2 ", 2" strips or 2", 3", 4" square on them, cut up the remaining remnant to one of these sizes and deposit the piece in the appropriate container. When container is full, sew the pieces together and you'll have a good sized piece of fabric to cut into blocks to make a very 'scrappy quilt'. Great way to use leftover fabric and make a comfort quilt to donate without added expense. - Sydney in California

Be sure you have everything you need together before starting your quilt. That keeps you from making a last minute trip to the fabric store. unless, of course, you enjoy those trips. Ha,Ha! - Twila in North Dakota

Get a nice journal from the craft store and use it to make notes of all the great patterns you will eventually use from the magazines you buy. Write down the magazine, issue #, pattern and page. It is also a good way to shop for fabrics for the project with just one notebook instead of several magazines. You won't have to tear out any pages and preserve the magazines for future generations of quilters! - Kathie in Oregon

I use a shirt size gift box to store my quilt cuts for transport to class. I also use folder labels on the top of each separate group of cuts and tie off in bundles until needed for the current quilt. - BJ in Texas

When I am working on a block of the month project as the one ongoing here on Block Central, I keep small separate containers inside the large container of the project, of certain widths of fabric strips. Such as 2-1/2" and 3-7/8" etc. in case I would need that size again in the quilt later on. It saves me a lot of time and fabric, and keeps me organized, until my quilt is finished. No digging through my scraps to see if I can squeeze another cut out of a pile. - Tina in Missouri

One more reason to buy more chocolate and recycle the container. I use the M&M mini tubes (clear one if I could find them) to store needles, buttons and bobbins. Anything small that could get misplaced. Most quilters enjoy their chocolate, this way they have an excuse to buy more. - Regena in Texas

Use a wall file holder to put your rulers, and rotary cutters in. You can install it on the wall next to your cutting area, and free up counter space for more fabric! - Kathy in Montana

If I have several pieces of fabric at home that will work in a quilt top but I need something more or different, I cut a swatch of each, safety pin them together in the corner and put in in my purse. Then I can swirl them out to lay on a new piece of fabric to see if everything works out well together. Works great. - Marlene in North Dakota

Last weekend I received a lovely bunch of flowers and around the daisy buds were these neat little net socks very much like the ones sold to put around the large spools of quilting thread. These are smaller and fit my spools of piecing cotton thread. And free, too. - Nancy in North Carolina

I have several skirt or pant hangers. I use them to hang up my unfinished wall hangings, BOM's, redwork items, and even some of the paper patterns for my BOM's. This works out great for me. - Sandy in Michigan

I pick up clip style pant hangers at thrift stores and use them to hang finished and unfinished projects so that I don't have to iron crease marks from folding. - Chelle in Iowa

I like to label quilt books with my mail labels, so my books will come back home to me from folks who borrow them. They look neat, too! - Bev in Colorado

To make my sewing machine even handier I have added the following :

  • better thread cutter attached to the left side of the head
  • little spongee thing on the right side to park a few pins
  • cup hook on the right side to hang a small pair of scissors
  • little match box sized holder on the front for thread snips. - Donna in California

I have SOOOOOO many "favorites" on my computer so I bought some floppies. I have one for general quilting, another for favorite retail business, applique, tutorials, mystery quilts, and so forth and so on. It fr*ees up my computer and when I need to find a certain site, I go to the designated floppy. - Nancy in Missouri

I keep an extension cord in my traveling sewing machine case. I never know if I'll need one when I go to a class or a friend's house to sew. - Julie in New Mexico

I store completed blocks clipped to a pant hanger and then hang it in my closet. This keeps my limited shelf space free for other things. - Fran in Wisconsin

I use a peg board that my husband made to keep all my threads spools on. To keep them clean and from fading, I use the small bathroom cups that you get at the grocery store. I punch a hole in the bottoms and slip the open end over the thread. I also write the color and the thread color number on the cups. Works like a charm. - Barbara in New York

I keep all of my rotary cutters in old eye glass cases. Saves a lot of unwanted cuts. - Barb in South Dakota

When you have a small area and you need shelf space, use sturdy cardboard boxes. I took good sturdy boxes and lines them with freezer paper shiny side down, you can glue or tape the paper down. Then lay them on there side and stack your fabric in them. In my space, I can stack 4 boxes. - Marianna in Missouri

I have placed a tape measure on the front edge of my sewing cupboard with wide scotch tape so now I can measure fabric, quilt blocks, etc. without getting out a ruler. Works great!!! I also use sheets whenever possible for quilt backs - no seams - nice fabric!! - Marlene in North Dakota

To remember all the quilts that I have made and given away, I take a photo and cut 2 inch square of all the fabric used then these are ironed to freezer paper. Then these are put in plastic page protectors. Its a great way to really see the true color of fabric 5- 10 years down the road. Of course each page also contains the date, size and who I gave it to, etc. - Kathy

I use an old Bread Slicing Rack to store my rulers etc. Perfect size and gives me a use for the rack I never use anymore. - Dollie in Idaho

I have another use for the cardboards that fabrics are wrapped in at the store. I ask for the empties and bring them home and use them for wrapping my stash of fabrics. When stacked the fabrics are easy to see. By mistake I got some of the extra wide ones, so instead of discarding them I cut them in half and folded short pieces of fabric in half and wrapped them too. - Ferrell in California

Whenever I see a great quilt pattern idea or free pattern download on-line, I copy it to a cd that I keep near my computer marked 'quilt ideas'. Now I have everything 'filed' in one place instead of having papers sticking out of every quilt book with 'must do someday' projects. - Debra in Georgia

Tuck a pad of stick on return address labels in your purse before heading to a guild meeting or a quilt show. Labels save lots of time- and prevent writer's cramp- when you are registering for quilt drawings and door prizes. They are also handy for identifying quilt books, magazines, rulers, mats, and other quilting gadgets! - Dorene in Oklahoma

I do not have a sewing room or, I go to our local pizzeria and buy pizza boxes to keep my blocks in for a project in progress (unused or course, $0.50 each). Then I write on a label (in pencil) the project name and put it on the edge of the box..... since the lid closes, this keeps them clean and dust free.....when they are stacked in whatever available space I have, I can quickly see which box has what in it, and when that project is completed, I can erase the name and write a new one!

The medium sized boxes are good for blocks up to 12" finished and the large boxes are good for even larger can fit quite a few blocks flat in a box, and for smaller blocks, you can layer them to fit even more in!

I also have a panzerotti box beside me to put all my scraps in as I'm trimming and when I need a small scrap of something to complete a block, I know where they all are! - Sherry in Ontario

I love my pets and to keep them safe from licking their feet and swallowing thread, I simply "Swiffer" my sewing area each day. I also keep a rolled piece of packing tape stuck nearby for catching stray clippings, pins and thread. - Joanne in Illinois

Use a toilet bowl brush (dry/clean) to pick up loose threads around sewing area on the carpet. - Barbara in Kansas

I have a friend who works for a chain store. She brings home the boxes that the shirts are shipped in. I find they work excellently for sorting/storing fabric! I also use shoe boxes as well, but the others are wider and more flat. I designate each one a color and then stack them to save space. - Jenn in Pennsylvania

For storage, I like to use clean unused pizza boxes. I have a number of them. Line them with felt. Your pieces won't shift or slide. Great for unfinished projects. I will also use them for storing blocks that are finished and haven't gotten to getting them together for the quilt top. The stack up great and label the out side and don't take up a lot of room. They can even slide under my couch so my project is right there when I get a moment to work on it. :) Endless ideas for uses in quilting! Check in your local pizza place for a new box, some places will give you one! - Dawn in Minnesota

Make a quilted (or not) hanging for your sewing room with pockets for your different sized rulers. Make the pockets about one inch wider than the ruler you're going to put in it. - Margot in Oregon

Some inexpensive waist high book cases (the kind you have to put together yourself) and put a 36" bi-fold door across them for a terrific cutting table. The great thing is that you can stow the door easily in a closet and put the book cases against the wall and you have your room back for guests or whatever!" - Caron in Illinois

Out of fabric scraps I made myself a scrap bag. From 2 pieces of fabric, I make a finished rectangle by sewing them wrong sides together. It should measure about 6X20" when turned right sides out. Turn one end up about 5 inches and whip stitch the sides closed. This is the "bag". On the other end also fold the fabric up, this time about 3" and whip stich all around, not just the sides. But before you get it closed all the way, fill with dried beans.   The "bean bag" part sits on the edge of your cutting table or next to your sewing machine, and the "bag" dangles there, waiting patiently for scraps. I have 2 in my sewing room, and LOVE them!"- Caron in Illinois

After making my quilt blocks for an applique quilt, I store them in clean pizza delivery boxes. My son worked for a pizza shop and brought me a couple of unused ones. They stack nicely on a shelf until I have all of the blocks completed. - Terry in Illinois

When you are cutting several pieces of different sizes of pattern pieces at a time, keep small pieces of paper and pencil near by. Label each pile with how many and the measurements of each. (For example, 5-2" square) It saves a lot of frustration and panic when it's time to sew everything together. - Carol in Montana

I keep a small basket of things like seam rippers, small scissors for trimming thread, a gauge, and tape measure beside my sewing machine for easy access when I am in the middle of a project. No more searching for little odds and ends in the middle of a seam!! - Eliza in Winnipeg

I have a sewing cabinet with only an extension to the left. I have a square card table to my left to help hold up the extension and to use as a cutting table. I have a 2'x4' card table-type behind the cabinet to help hold up the weight of a big quilt (along w/the sq. card table). I also have another 2'x4' card table-type to my right to hold other quilt equipment, etc. and it enables me to put bins under it for more storage. The tables are inexpensive and allows you to configure your work space to suit you. Hope this helps. - Alice in Washington

If you have a sewing room or just an area that you use for sewing, place a small astro turf rug so you have to walk on it before you leave the area or room this will catch all those annoying threads that seem to get away when you cut them. - Donna in Oregon

Every time I purchase a quilt pattern, fabric, and thread I use this trick to stay organized. I put them in a 2 gal.( ziploc or other brands). This way I can see what I have, plus it protects my fabric, pattern, and thread! - Faye in North Carolina

I use those tall storage containers with all the plastic drawers to sort out all my different coloured fabrics-one colour per drawer! I have them all lined up by my sewing machine. - Eliza in British Columbia

Pick up a quilt rack for a good price at yard sales. Use it for all the pieces of quilts or any other articles you are making. You can see at a glance what you have sewn and what is left. - Jean in Indiana

I have a very small house and storage space is at a premium. My quilts seem to keep multiplying and I have found that I can hang them and thus they take up less space. I use the hangers you get when you buy pants, children's clothing, etc. They have a plastic clip on both ends with a metal clasp that pushes down and holds the quilt securely. I fold the larger quilts in thirds and it works really well. I have my daughters saving them as well as friends.  When I am looking for a particular quilt I can find it at a glance. - Jackie in North Carolina

When we go out for pizza, I always ask for a new pizza box and I always get one. I use these to keep my finished blocks. I also use the $1 plastic shoe size boxes to store my cut strips in, so they are always ready to go. - Susan in New Mexico

A good way to keep patterns and templates together is to use a manila folder to hold the papers and to use double-sided tape to attach the template pieces to the inside of the folder. Happy quilting! - Sharon in Montreal

I found an old tool box made of wood with a divider down the middle. It works perfectly for my tools when sewing on the kitchen table. One side holds a small tin, a small canning jar, and a small long basket. I hold my rotary cutters and exacto knife in one container, pencils and quilt markers in another, and in the basket my pins, measuring tape, pin cushion, etc. On the other side, I hold my cutting board and rulers. No running back and forth for items I need for my current project. Saves time when you don't have a sewing room! I love it!!! - Vicky in Wisconsin

I keep a lint roller by my sewing machine. It is great for picking up thread, fuzz and lint from sewing. - Cathy in Pennsylvania

Use a square tissue box for cut threads and small snippets. Place next to your sewing machine and when full, throw it away or empty and reuse. - Sharon in Indiana

Cut a drinking straw to the desired length and slip it on one of the spindles of a thread rack. Slip your spool of thread onto the straw and then the matching bobbin(s) on top. This saves time when starting a project because you have the bobbins ready also. - Stella

When I was setting up my sewing room $$$ was in short supply. To have a design wall the cheapest way possible I bought a flannel backed table cloth from WalMart for $2.00. Wrapped one end around a piece of light weight wood (long dowel, etc.), stapled it to the wood and draped it across a book case and let it hang down. It wraps up easily and can be stored in a closet. - Cheri in Washington

A fishing tackle box makes a great quilt notions case. It has lots of little cubbies, it is portable, and it is very inexpensive. There are lots of shapes and sizes to choose from. They are sturdy because afterall, they were made for fishing and the out of doors. You can use it at home, or take it to classes. I have tried a number of things and this works the best. - Melinda

While sewing, I scotch tape a paper (or plastic) bag to the right of the sewing machine. I can put all my threads and cut off pieces of fabrics (i.e. the selvedge). This keeps my sewing room floor neat and clean. - Cheri in Washington

I have made a folder with several subfolders for all the tips I read or hear. That way I'm able to find it again, when I need it - e.g. wasn't there something about an easy way to make rotary cut easy triangles - I look in the folder for tips - subfolder for rotary cutting tips. I also have a subfolder for paper piecing, english paper piecing, applique, and so on. - Anne-Marie in Denmark

For storing fabric scraps, I use a collapsible ("pop-up") mesh hamper -- available in discount stores often for under $5. Since you can see through the mesh, you can quickly get an idea of what to "grab" when you need a particular color/print. You can store an amazing amount of scraps by just pressing down on the pile, and the contents don't spill out when you reach in and "grab". When you need a large selection of scraps for a project, you can just pick up the hamper by the handle and carry it to your sewing area or to class. The "frame" gives it sturdiness, but the mesh gives a bit of flexibility for easy storage. They come in several sizes, but my 14x14x24 fits perfectly in several "nooks" in my sewing room.  - Cheryl

I used to keep all of my fabric in a dresser drawer. Now I use an old bookshelf. I took my large pieces of fabric and wrapped them around cardboard that had been cut to fit each shelf. Now I can see them ,and find the right color I need without going through the drawers and pulling out fabric. - Kellie in Ohio

I place a grocery bag (handles) under the sewing machine so I can catch my scraps when I cut thread or grade seams. When full, all I have to do is pull off and throw away, then put on another one. - Darlene in Florida

Those 7 day pill organizers, you can get from the dollar store, make great bobbin holders, when getting ready for a project or class. - Linda in South Carolina

I used the old silverware basket out of a broken dishwasher and attached it to the wall behind my sewing machine to hold all my scissors, pencils, etc. Works great. - DeAnn in Texas

From my florist, I use the netting that comes on the flowers over my spools of thread to hold it all together for storage. No loose ends, everything neat as a pin. - Deborah in Missouri

When marking rows to be sewn together I use safety pins. I use the same number of pins in each section or row.  For instance, I use 1 pin on the rows to be joined maybe  on each corner, the next row I will use 2 and so forth.  I cannot see my marking pen or little nips.  It helps keep my blocks in order. - Violet in Mississippi

Make up a list of your UFOs in chronological order (from oldest project to newest). You can also give yourself permission to not ever finish a project.  If you do that, just put the fabric back on the shelf and the pattern where you store your patterns. Then work on a quick project and then a more time consuming one, then an quick project again, etc. until they are all finished.  Keep this list where you will see it each time you are cutting or sewing.  As you finish each project, mark it with a yellow highlighter so that you can easily see how much you have accomplished.  You will be surprised at how many more UFOs you finish with this technique. - Janet in Nevada

I use a set of storage boxes that used to hold the floss for embroidery sold in the stores to hold my threads, chalks,and other notions. My scissors even fit in one of the compartments. You can use one of those clear fronted storage cubes that are sold in hardware stores to hold screws etc to do the same thing. I can see whats inside the drawer but its safe from little fingers. - Deb in South Dakota

When using plastic templates for marking quilts, I use double stick tape on the back to secure the template while tracing the pattern. This works great with large templates as well as small. - Roxann in Missouri

When I get a whole load of scraps from different projects from quilting I seperate them into colour groups and put them in a zip lock bag so if i want a certain colour for applique or a quilt block its at my finger tips. Right now I am getting clear tote boxes to put them in so they will become stackable. - Frances in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

First of all, my tip is to purchase a huge photo album to organize quilt squares. I am part of a Study in Color pass around quilt.  We are making blocks, then pass it to the next quilter and she adds a fat quarter and makes a block and then passes it on to the next. She adds fabric and also uses fabric that has been collected through the exchange and so on and so on and son on!  In the end I will recieve a collection of blocks for a quilt top!  I found it easy to start by putting my finished block into a large photo album and then wrote a short story.  I will be getting my quilt album back soon and have seen it throughout the exchange and the blocks have remained very neat and the stories are ready to put into a journal of my quilt's story. - Lynn in Minnesota

When you look through new quilt magazines, bookmark pages of special interest with bright sticky notes. Add any notes you want for quick references to the sticky note. Then file your magazines in binders by inserting the plastic, 3 hole magazine holders in each magazine. Label the spine of the binder with magazine title. - Carolyn in Texas

The small hangers that come with socks are ideal for hanging strips or binding. Just hang them close to your sewing machine and they are ready to use. - Anne in Ontario, Canada

I purchased a portable tackle tote (from the fishing department)in the sporting goods department of a local department store.  I use all the zipper compartments to hold my sewing/quilting tools that I use for classes or need if I am traveling.  It holds scissors & snippers, rotary cutters and extra blades, thread and bobbins, tape measures, and other necessary items such as change and chocolate!  It folds up very neatly and has handles so you can carry it around with ease. The $10-$15 price was right.  My fellow sewing/quilting friends love this easy way to carry around all their STUFF! - Lynn in Minnesota

This is a tip to help you when you are shopping for the right fabrics to coordinate with a project or stash that you have at home. Keep a business card folder in your purse/bag/or car  and insert into the plastic dividers, a small rectangle or snip of the fabrics you are trying to coordinate. How many times have we gone to get a blue fabric and realized there are hundreds of shades and values of a particular color. - Stella in New York

Organize fabric by color. Wash all new fabric (after basting cut edges), dry, and iron. Use a color wheel for order of arrangement--include all precut pieces (triangles, squares, strips, etc.) in order of size regardless of shade or tint. (For example all shades of red are considered "red"). Put each group of fabric in labeled boxes, on shelves or in drawers. Label by color if necessary. It may take a couple days to set collection in this order, but it saves loads of time later and enables you to not over buy in a color. - Marita in Kentucky

Use old type metal shower curtain rings to hold together your quilting stencils. You can access any single one without removing the others! - Mary Ann in Winnipeg

To keep your sewing and quilting area less cluttered and to have easy access to needed items, (i.e. scissors, tapes measure, quick quarter, small rulers and templates, lotion, etc.) keep a small flat basket by your machine or in the near vacinity of your machine. You would be amazed at the steps you will save and everything is handy. - Lynn in Washington

Photo albums with 5"x7" clear drop into pages are great for storing "Dear Jane" blocks till you have them all made. - Mary Ann in Winnipeg

Whenever I receive my quilt magazines in the mail, I grab an ink pen and a plain white address   label.  I stick this label on the outer back cover.  As I look through the magazine, I jot down the page number and a mini-description of the pattern that catches my eye.  Then when I am ready to start a new quilt project, all I need to do is flip my magazines to their back side and read my labels.  With just a glance I know where a favorite star pattern or scrappy pattern may be in my magazines.  All this is done on the back cover which allows me to keep my beautiful front cover as is! - Marcia in Iowa

When storing your fabric put it in clear plastic drawers or storage boxes and instead of piling it into these containers- file it.  When you go to get a colour it is visible at a glance without emptying everything out. - Bonnie in Ontario, Canada

I bought a metal utensil rack at the hardware store for $2 (like you use in the kitchen for hanging spoons etc.) I placed it on the wall near my sewing machine and hang my rotary cutters, scissors, pinking shears, etc. right beside my sewing machine. No more fussing through the drawers to find these while sewing! - Marcy in Cape Girardeau, MO

I keep swatches of current projects or UFO's in a mini spiral notebook in my purse. I always will be able to match up fabric. And not miss a sale or a "maybe this will work" fabric. - Angela in Indiana

I recently discovered a new use for an old four peg mug stand.  It is perfect for my scissors and rotary cutters.  It keeps them in the open and easy access next to my machine.  Small snips and rotary cutters go on the two lower pegs and full size scissors and cutters on the upper pegs. - Debbie in Florida

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