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Group Post II–Favorite Tips: Practical, Technical & Inspirational!

Our first group post was so well received–and so much fun to do–that we decided it was time to do it again. So here, in no particular order, we each weigh in on a favorite tip. Watch for future group posts; we’ve got some really fun things planned for the next few months!

Laura: I can’t think of many (any?) stitchers who enjoy “reverse sewing,” but if you must, this little trick makes the task so much easier. For years I used a sharp seam ripper (love the one by Clover btw!) to carefully and painstakingly cut through each and every unwanted stitch. While teaching a class one day, I saw a student cut through every fifth stitch or so on one side of the joined fabric pieces.

Next she turned the fabric to the opposite side and used the seam ripper to gently pull “up” on the thread.

Like magic, the thread pulled away, removing all unwanted stitches. I still use this technique, and get lots of  “ah-ha!” moments when I share it in classes.

Christie: Twyla Tharp’s book, The Creative Habit, documents her successful philosophy for fostering and maintaining creativity.

In one of my favorite sections, Twyla talks about facing fears. While teaching classes and working in a fabric shop, I’ve heard numerous comments on this topic. Here are a few of the most common, along with Twyla’s response (the third one is my favorite):

I’m not sure how to do it.  If it doesn’t work, try a different way next time. Doing is better than not doing.

It will cost money.  Are your creative efforts worth it to you and is it something you really want to do? If so, money is there to be used and who better to invest in than yourself?

It’s self-indulgent. So what? You won’t be of much value to others if you don’t learn to value yourself and your creative efforts.

Make sense? I love how Twyla thinks and have tried to incorporate these tips into my own creative life. Therefore, I won’t hesitate to buy those fabulous new fabrics, or to take the time to create something wonderful. And I might just eat a cupcake too!

Take the time to enjoy the creative process – you’re worth it!

Cupcakes stimulate creativity!

Jennifer: Ah, thread balls. As I recall, no sewing teacher I had as a child ever mentioned how to vanquish those pesky tangled threads that clogged up the underside of the fabric I was trying to feed through the sewing machine. It took adulthood and many years of experience with sewing and quilting before I found the answer to this age-old problem. Thanks to Alex Anderson, from whom I was taking a class on making Star blocks (from her classic book, Simply Stars), I finally learned how to stop the madness.

So unbelievably simple: Grasp the top and bobbin threads, then depress the foot pedal to feed the fabric through the machine. Holding the threads blocks that sucking action that causes the threads to snarl. Alex also demonstrated feeding a “starter scrap” of fabric into the sewing machine as a prelude to factory-sewing mode (aka chain piecing) to keep thread balls at bay. Ever humble, she attributed the technique to Jean Wells.  So, whoever it was . . . many thanks!

Grasping both the top and bottom threads as you start, feed a folded scrap of fabric through the machine to vanquish thread balls and to limit thread waste.

Darra: I’ll keep this short and sweet. Have you ever returned from a workshop with someone else’s scissors? Try this creative solution that I’ve shared with many quilting friends and students over the years. Simply I.D. your precious shears with a “ribbon” of a favorite fabric. You’ll recognize them quickly every time!

Photo courtesy Alden Lane Nursery

Finally, one last tip from all of us: If you’re going to be in the SF Bay Area this weekend (September 24 – 25), and would like to spend a few pleasant hours viewing quilts outdoors in a beautiful setting, be sure to stop by Quilting in the Garden, the quilt show at Alden Lane Nursery, in Livermore, CA. Admission to the show is FREE; there are fees for optional lectures and workshops. Guest artists this year are Verna Mosquera and Rob Appell. Click here for more info.

Do you have a favorite tip you’d like to share? We–and our readers–would love to hear about it! Please leave us a comment below.

Until next time, happy stitching!

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