Sewing Secrets From the Biggest Names in Craft: Part 2
Last week we revealed 38 must-read secrets from some of the world’s best quilters. Afterwards we felt much better about ourselves and our own quilting shortcuts… And now in Part 2 we share a few more sewing secrets to comfort you even further! As well as inspire to keep going with these tricks from the trade.
Chris Jurd’s Sewing Secrets
1. I never press any seam allowances until a block is finished.
2. I love, love, love Aurifil 50wt thread for hand and machine piecing, machine quilting and appliqué.
3. I use freezer paper on the wrong side of appliqué pieces. The fabric is turned under against the firm edge.
4. I cut a slit in the wrong side of appliqué pieces to remove the paper.
5. Freezer paper makes the best templates. When ironed to fabric it stays in place while cutting, unlike template plastic.
6. I’m a real fan of steam in your iron. It softens and flattens bulky seam intersections.
7. I always cut appliqué background squares 1in bigger than needed and trim to size later.
8. You can get away with 1/8in seam allowance when foundation piecing. It saves unpicking those smaller stitches!
9. When I’m foundation piecing, I’ve been known to sew on a ‘patch’ when fabric doesn’t quite cover an area.
10. I never use a hoop when hand quilting, just lots of safety pins.
Find out more about Chris Jurd:
Natalie Bird’s Sewing Secrets
1. I never pre-wash my fabric. I’m far too impatient. Once I choose fabrics for a quilt, I want to get into it right away.
2. I ‘jump’ between areas in my stitcheries, again, because I’m too impatient to tie off and re-start. The back of my stitcheries are very messy, and would definitely have incurred a rap across the knuckles in the old days.
3. The only time I change the needle on my sewing machine is when it snaps.
4. Sometimes I use whatever colour bobbin thread I have pre-wound and ready to go.
5. I love patchwork and I love quilts, but I don’t like the ‘quilting’ part of the process. I do, however, love to see how it has turned out when it arrives back from the professional quilter!
6. I cut paper templates with my good fabric scissors.
7. I have never read a manual for any sewing machine I’ve owned.
8. I have been known to hold pins in my mouth!
9. I can’t live without coffee while I’m sewing. I have spilt coffee on a project (maybe a few?) and had to ‘antique’ it, to disguise the stain. “Of course it is meant to look like that.”
10. I hate to pack away my sewing while I’m in the throws of a large project, so I’ve just bought a bigger table. Easy fix.
Find out more about Natalie Bird:
Jemima Flendt’s Sewing Secrets
1. I quilt/sew everyday – I am obsessed.
2. Some days, I sew so much that before my family gets home I have to run around and quickly pretend that I have done housework all day instead.
3. I love hand sewing the binding on quilts – in fact, I love all hand sewing.
4. I hate pictures of cats on quilts.
5. I am not a sewing gadget person.
6. I have way more fabric that I can ever sew but it never stops me buying more – actually that is probably not a secret!
7. Poor thread drives me crazy: why do people spend all that time sewing not to have the thing that holds it together do a very good job of it?
8. I don’t change my rotary cutter blade as often as I should.
9. I’d rather stay in and sew on a Friday night than hit the town.
10. And finally, I love ironing/pressing – it is one of the parts of the quilting process that appeals to my OCD nature.
Find out more about Jemima Flendt:
Claire Turpin’s Sewing Secrets
1. I’m a pin snob: don’t come to my class with dressmaker pins or nasty cheap ones with plastic heads.
2. I love creative chaos. My sewing room is pretty much always in a mess. It is much more comfortable to work in and I drop threads on my floor even though I made myself a very fancy thread catcher.
3. I have 360 stitches on my sewing machine and I only ever use four of them – but I do have three different 1/4in feet, and I use all of them.
4. I don’t understand why anyone would want a cheap sewing machine; it’s like riding a bike uphill with no gears.
5. I have a bad habit of working with a fairly blunt rotary cutter blade, and I’m always surprised by how much easier it is to cut with a new blade. (And I can’t believe that I’ve owned up to that one!)
6. I have favourite fabrics that I use in most of my quilts and I get a little bit panicky when they are getting low. I actually have a green stripe fabric from Sarah Fielke’s ‘From Little Things’ range that is almost gone, and I’m very sad.
7. I can use a rotary cutter in both my left and right hands and I can use the sewing-machine pedal with either my left or my right foot – very handy!
8. I can’t find my quilting mojo. My heart is in the design process and definitely not in the quilting.
9. I love to use fabrics from lots of designers in one quilt. I find working with just one design range a bit challenging.
10. In spite of the fact that I have a list of quilts to make, I am shamefully distracted by a coffee invitation.
Find out more about Claire Turpin:
Megan Fisher’s Sewing Secrets
1. I use up hideous, ‘what was I thinking?’ fabrics on the back of my quilts and I think it’s fun to do so.
2. I don’t press my patchwork, I iron it – with the steam set on maximum.
3. I have a preference for using high-loft polyester batting. (Can you still respect me now that you know that?) It gives my quilts some substance while remaining oh so light, and you can toss the quilt into the washing machine. What’s not to love?
4. I press all seams open, not to one side. It keeps my blocks wonderfully flat and since I sew over pins (see #1), I don’t rely on the seams butting together to achieve matching points.
5. I have owned my Bernina sewing machine for 25 years and have never taken it in for a service or oiled it myself at home.
6. I sew over pins – always. It’s how I get my points to match, and I like matching points.
7. I have never bought or used a jelly roll or layer cake. I like making scrappy quilts with lots and lots of fabrics, so the thought of using just one range of designer fabric in a quilt fills me with horror.
8. I have a stack of five cutting mats, one on top of the other on the carpeted floor of the lounge room, and use them to cut fabric while I kneel. I mean, how else would you cut fabric other than kneeling on the lounge-room floor? (And I actually like cutting fabric. Does that make me officially weird?)
9. When cutting fabric, I pull the rotary cutter towards me, even though it’s said to be much safer to push it away from you. I think I achieve much better control of my cuts by pulling – and I’ve never had an accident and cut myself.
10. I don’t make ‘wonky’. I make a lot of my quilts to give to non-quiltmakers, and I’ve always been concerned that if I made wonky blocks, they’d just assume that I wasn’t a very good quiltmaker. And, I know I’ve already said it, but … I LIKE matching points. Accuracy makes me happy and points that match perfectly make my heart sing.
That concludes our Sewing Secrets feature, we hope you’ve enjoyed learning from the best of the best!