Category Archives: Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip! Scheduling Projects

It’s time for another Tuesday Tip!

It seems that we quilters/crafters/makers have a lot going on.  We’ve usually got several projects going at once & many times are working under deadlines, even if this isn’t our “work.”

I think I’ve used almost every kind of planning system out there & I’ve recently discovered one that works best for me (so far!)

The post-it note on a whiteboard system (like my super fancy name?) finally gave me everything I needed in one place.

To Do System by Ormond Beach Quilts

I simply write each individual project on a post it note & the note on the upper left hand corner has 1st priority.

On each note I quickly jot down the big bullets of the project & any pertinent notes I need to be aware of. For example, let’s say I was working on a quilt where I making the entire quilt- from choosing fabric to binding.  These would be my bullets:

  • Choose fabric/quilting pattern
  • Piece quilt
  • Longarm quilt- XXXX design
  • Bind quilt
  • Invoice quilt

Whenever I come down to the studio I can quickly assess what needs to be done that day & I can shuffle projects as needed.  I love how this gives me the flexibility to move projects around as deadlines change (which let’s face it, happens everyday).

It’s also very visual for me, a key piece I’ve learned in helping me stay organized.

I’ll add that I got inspiration for this from Pinterest but that I really simplified what I saw.  They made this very complex with different colored post-its, & categories & I have no idea what else b/c at that point my eyes glazed over.  I can see how it would be very easy to make this a “super duper organizing board,” but I noticed that when systems get involved like that, I can’t keep up.  And if my organizing system creates too much for me, well that’s not very helpful is it?  So simple & boring it is.  And it works for me.  Hopefully it might work for you too!

Tuesday Tip: Coffee Filters for Thread Bits

Hey! It’s a Tuesday Tip! It’s only been about 2 years since I posted one of these, but I recently discovered a great way to keep your thread bits contained.

Tuesday Tip: Use a coffee filter to keep your threads contained as you work

I used to use one of those pin cushion/thread catcher things, but you know what- those dangling thread catcher bags are at the perfect height for toddlers to pull down.  Ask me know I know 😉  So now I’m terrible about just throwing threads on the ground.  And since the studio is carpeted, it’s difficult to vacuum & just a mess to deal with really (but that hasn’t kept me from changing my habits any!)

I was recently given a bag of trims, etc for my classes & in there where some coffee filters. My original thought was to use them for my collage classes, but I saw them as I was about to clip a bunch of threads from a quilt that was on the longarm. Bingo! I can put all the threads in a filter & just throw the filter away!

I’ve even started using them for those tiny fabric bits that happen when you trim a bazillion half square triangles for a Bear’s Paw block 🙂

So now I wonder what else I can put in coffee filters to contain small messes.

Tuesday Tip! Slow but Steady

Slow Progress is Better than No Progress

Today’s tip isn’t so much a tip, as it is a bit of encouragement.

If there’s ever a time of year to get “stuck,” it seems to be about now.   It’s the last Tuesday in February & at least here in Northern Virginia, it was snowing again (much to the chagrin of many of my fellow neighbors who ready for Spring!)

It’s also been long enough into the new year that you may find yourself distracted or burned out from your New Year’s Resolutions.  I know I had great plans for the early part of this year- wanting to get several UFOs completed before the baby comes, but reality is I’ve done very little to nothing on those projects.  Something else is always getting put ahead & there seems to be a hundred things on my plate that need to get done this week.  The typical tips to get out of this rut irritate me- encouraging me to “refocus” as though I need a huge priority shift.  While I’ll say yes, sometimes we do need to make large shifts, I’ve found that if I just make a small shift everyday, I can make progress.

Slow & Steady.  These are the words I need to remind myself of in these times.  Instead of looking at that box of Scrapitude pieces & thinking that top will never get pieced before April, I need to start saying “today I’ll work on 15 minutes of piecing, which I can do while dinner is baking.”  Instead of looking at that UFO that’s still not fully quilted, I need to start saying “today I’ll quilt the purple, then tomorrow the blue, etc.”

Slow & Steady.

I may not be able to get as much done in one sitting as I’d like, but little bits over time will make all the difference.

Where can you start making small changes?

(Also, did you notice the new header!!!!  Yes, slowly even the blog/website is being transitioned into something more!)

edited to add: Just found out that Darla, the Scientific Quilter will be hosting her March A Long again! This is a great support group for sewing 15 minutes a day!

Tuesday Tip! How to Keep a Quilting WIP Organized

One aspect I love about quilting is how we take hundreds, sometimes thousands of small pieces & create something beautiful out of them!
One aspect I really dislike about quilting is keeping track of those hundreds or thousands of pieces…..
It used to be simple for me, I mostly worked on one project at a time, either at home or at my LQS during a class.  Then things (as they are wont to do) got complicated fast.  I started teaching more so a project would be interrupted so I could make a class sample.  Then there were the moves, then I started some challenging projects for myself that could only be worked on when I had quiet time to myself, oh & then the retreats started (so I needed easier projects to work on in a talkative group) as well as the block of the month projects (and who can have just one going on at a time?).
Yes, things got crazy fast & I found if I didn’t keep things together in a way I could keep track of, I’d ignore a project just because I had no idea where I was at.
I started with bins.  Nothing fancy, just bins that closed nicely & would fit on my shelves.  I believe they are the 18 qt. bins.
Then I gathered a bunch of empty plastic resealable bags from various projects.  Some came from kits, some from LQS block of the month projects, some from my kitchen drawer, you get the idea.
Then as I was cutting away, I would put all my cut pieces in a bag with a post-it note (or scrap of paper) that gave me a clue as to what was in the bag.
Here are a bunch of notes I wrote for the Scrapitude mystery quilt.  You can even see where I kept track of how many I had already cut & how many I still needed to cut.  (Again, I didn’t go out & buy anything special, I just used what I had around the house):
Then as pieces are sewn into larger blocks, I would put those in a bag & note how many where there & if I needed to sew anymore blocks.  (ok, so there are no notes in these bags, but you get the idea, right?)
All the different segments/plastic bags are kept in the same bin, with the pattern or picture at the top, so I could literally grab a bin & start working!
This became especially helpful for various mystery quilts like Scrapitude where you only received one clue a month.
Then when a quilt top is completely pieced, I sew the binding & the backing & place them in the “to be quilted” pile.  Then I go through the remaining fabric and decide what will be put back in fabric bins & what will be cut down into scraps.  Then the bin is empty to be used for the next project!!
So this is the system that works for me, I hope you can take pieces of it & tweak it into something that works for you!  Do you have another system?  I’d love to hear how you keep track of your WIPs!

Tuesday Tip! Cleaning Your Iron

Tuesday Tip!  Cleaning Your Iron with
I recently noticed my wonderful Rowenta iron was in need of a good clean….

While I do try to treat this iron well & I don’t purposefully get it gunky, over the years there’s been a build up of wonder under residue, some t-shirt quilt adventures, and starch (I *really* love my starch!).

I’ve tried the various frugal methods out there to include: windex (that was so bad I actually thought I might have ruined the iron!) and the dryer softener sheets (made it worse & then I had more gunk to wipe off), but none really cleaned the iron plate.

I decided to actually buy an iron cleaner from the store (gasp!  I typically don’t buy things like this!) & after balking at the price (over $7 in my part of the country!) I was able to find it (specifically “Dritz Iron-Off Hot Iron Cleaner) at a box craft store where I could use a coupon.

I was hesitant (had I just bought another chemical that wouldn’t do anything?), but in the end it worked so well, I can’t believe I spent all that time with the other methods.

The directions were easy:
1. Turn off steam & set iron to High heat
2. Put a dollop of the iron cleaner on a rag (I used an old towel)
3. Iron over the goo on the towel in a circular motion, until all the goo has been ironed into the towel
4. Check the iron to see if you need to repeat the process

Now my iron was really bad, so I had to do this about 3 times, but wow did it come out all nice & shiny!  It now literally glides over the fabric!!

In the end I want to say this tip isn’t about this particular brand of iron cleaner- I just wanted to share how well it worked for me.  It doesn’t actually matter how you clean your iron (I’d be sure to check with your manufacturer first about their recommended cleaning processes though) just that you keep your iron clean so it will last & not damage or leave marks on your projects.

There are many ways to clean an iron out there, I’d love to hear what’s worked for you!

Tuesday Tip! 7 Reasons to Take a Quilting Class & Where to Find Them

7 Reasons to Take a Quilting Class & Where to Find Them

Today’s tip is go out & take a class!

There are tons of reasons of why you should, but here are some of my favorites:

1.  You might learn a new technique that works better for you
2.  You might learn that a technique you’ve always been interested in is NOT your cuppa tea!
3.  You might meet some great people in your class & begin new friendships
4.  You might be inspired to “get out of a rut.”
5.  You might use some precious fabric you’ve been hoarding
6.  You might completely fail (and that’s ok)
7.  You might make something beautiful

So go learn something new- it doens’t have to be a queen size quilt, it could be one block or a baby quilt you end up donating to a local charity- just go try something new!

Where can you find classes?  Here are the places I like to check out:
1. Your local quilt shops (or non-local!  Depending on the class, I’d be willing to drive an hour & half each way.)
2. Online- you’ve got Craftsy (anyone else have classes they’ve purchased & not watched yet? *hanging my head in shame*) or Creativebug
3. Your local (or not so local) quilt guilds ( has listings for the US & Canada)
4. Continuing education departments at local universities or community colleges
5. Art studios
6. Community Centers/Rec Centers
7. Quilt Retreat Centers

I hope you’re inspired to learn something new!  If you do take a class, please share what you’ve learned- I loved to see!

Tuesday Tip! Keep Your Rulers from Shifting

Has this ever happened to you?  You’re going along, cutting all your fabric pieces & then suddenly your ruler has shifted & you realized you’ve made a crooked cut like this?


I’ve tried the sandpaper dots on the backs of rulers, but I don’t like them on “regular rulers” as I feel their opaqueness prevents me from accuracy.

I’ve tried the plastic dots, but I felt they lifted the ruler too high & sometimes the ruler would shift.

I’ve tried the plastic sheets you place to the back, but they were difficult for me to afix them (think of a bad duct tape experience….)

So when I found this technique!  I couldn’t believe how wonderfully simple it was!

Take a 2″x2″ or so piece of non-adhesive plastic shelving liner:

shifting 2

And place it under your ruler:

shifting 3 final
I love this because:
1. Since it’s not permanent, it doesn’t interfere with any markings on the ruler
2. I can use 1 for several rulers instead of buying enough for every ruler

Tuesday Tip! How to Keep from Losing your Tools at Classes

I’m very excited to bring back the Tuesday Tip!

Have you ever been to a class or sew-in or retreat & at when cleaning up to go home, you can’t find your rotary cutter or scissors?

This happens to me all the time!  Somehow it made it’s way to the community cutting table or even someone else’s sewing station!

I used to put my initials on the cutter with “permanent” marker, before I learned it would eventually rub off the plastic handle.

Now I use a beaded fob on the end to avoid any confusion.  I received mine as a retreat gift, but I’ve seen cute ones at LQS’s.  If you can’t find a fob, or if you need one right now for the class you’re going to in 10 minutes, you can take a scrap piece of fabric & knot that around the end!

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday Tip! 4-Patch Trick

Today’s Tip is a quick & easy way to make two 4-patch blocks from two squares!  This is a handy tip to have in your back pocket if you have a charm pack or layer cake laying around or just a lot of square scraps.

Start with two different squares of fabric the same size.  In this example I’m using 5″ squares:

Layer them with their right sides together:

Sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance on right & left sides:

Cut the block in half (so I’ll cut it at 2 1/2″) but make sure your cutting line is parallel to your sewing lines!

You now have two separate blocks:

Press the new blocks open.  I pressed both to the green fabric which was my dark:

This is what they look like on the right side, lay them in front of your so that the center seam is horizontal with the dark fabric on top:

Now take the block on the right side & rotate it so that the light fabric is on top:

Take the block on the right side & flip it over so that it is on top of the left block, with the right sides together:

You’ll notice that the fabrics are now layered opposite each other & the center seam should nest:

Sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance on the right & left sides again.  Your new stitching line should pass through the center seam:

Now cut the block in half again (I’m going to cut at 2 1/2″):

And you’ll have two separate blocks:

Press the seams using the spinning seams trick you now have 2, 4-patches!  If you used 5″ squares like I did, your squares will be 4 1/2″:

I hope you find this tutorial helpful- it’s a great way to use up scraps!

Tuesday Tip! Get a Mouse

Have you ever had that nasty rat’s nest at the beginning of your sewing on the backside?  Maybe it looked something like this?

or this?

This is jumble of threads happens because of too-short threads at the beginning of sewing being pulled into the machine.

One way to avoid this is by using a “mouse”.  (This is what my friend Laurie calls it.  Honestly I have no idea my it’s called a mouse anymore, it’s just a term I use now.)

A mouse is a small piece of fabric folded in half (think a 2″ square size small) that is used at the beginning of your sewing to hold those threads & keep them from being sucked into the machine.  Here is one of my well loved mice:

How it works:
I start with a small piece of fabric that I center under the presser foot so that the needle will enter the fabric about in the center:

Then I start sewing off the mouse & continue until I’ve reached the end:

Now I pick up my presser foot & give a little tug to the mouse to pull it aside:

Now I set my quilting pieces in place to start sewing (Notice I did NOT cut my thread!):

Now it’s business as usual until I’m done sewing when I will end will another mouse.  Next I cut my pieces apart & will trim off the first mouse:

I usually have at least two mice going at any given time- one for the beginning of the sewing & then one for the ending (which is great because then when you’re ready to start again, you’ve already got your beginning mouse!)

I hope you enjoy this & that you find using a mouse as helpful as I have!