Quick Tricks

So many deadlines this week! We’re editing the proofs for the next issue of the magazine, my niece is graduating from high school, and the entries for the International Quilt Festival are due by Friday night.

It’s times like these that a little bit of streamlining comes in handy. I strongly believe in good workmanship, but every once in a while I lower my standards ever so slightly for the sake of efficiency.

Example 1: The pink stitching on the flower behind this butterfly’s antennae.

Detail from The Gathering ©Diane Rusin Doran
Detail from The Gathering ©Diane Rusin Doran

Here’s a more close up view:

Note that the pink stitching goes right through those antennae. It would have been very challenging to start and stop each time the lines went through them. Lucky for me, the antennae are black, and are visually above the flower. This made it very easy to simply stitch those pink lines continuously, then come back in with a Pigma Micron marker and color the pink stitching black. (If you look very closely you may even see where I missed a spot or two.) This would work for any instance in which some darker area is above a light area. It should also be noted that the pink threads are rayon, so they easily accepted the color from the pen. Polyester thread might not be so forgiving.

Example 2: Oops! We all end up with a little bit of bobbin yuckiness every once in a while. Here I was using a very heavy thread in the needle, and a much lighter thread in the bobbin.

Normally I would carefully separate the offending threads and either rip out and resew, or bury the untangled ends. However, in this case the stitching is only a quarter of an inch from where I’m going to trim the edge of this quilt. The quilt is going to have a facing, not a binding, so this little mistake can be very easily hidden. Hanging sleeves and labels are also sometimes handy means of covering up small booboos. Just sayin’.

Example 3: Quilting off the edge. Have you ever noticed how many longarm quilters use “Piano Keys” on the edge of quilts they make for hire? It’s a design that allows fast and easy maneuvering and it only requires precision in one direction. I used the same basic concept here.

The dark area at the bottom of this detail is the binding of this quilt. I sewed the feathers and fronds right off of the edge of the quilt, then trimmed my border after everything was said and done. Being able to work with the extra fabric beyond the border, and not trying to fit a motif precisely in a specific area made the quilting much faster, easier, and fun.

I hope one of these tips comes in handy for you the next time you’re in a time crunch. What are some of your favorite time saving tips?


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