Tuesday Tip – SID Machine Quilting Hint

SID is short for Stitch-in-the-Ditch. The “ditch”, in quilting terminology, is the seam line between two patches on the right side of your quilt top. When quilting the top, stitching in the ditch will make your patches stand out and give crisp and clean lines to the finished quilt.

When SIDing, the object is to have your quilting be as invisible as possible. Since seam allowances are generally pressed to one side, you sew on the ‘low’ side (the one the seam allowance is NOT lying under), as close to the seam line as you can. When the fabric relaxes after the quilting process, those stitches will lie somewhat underneath the ‘high’ fabric and hardly been seen.

The general thinking is to use a thread color that matches that low side fabric. Let’s say my ‘low’ side is black and my ‘high’ side is cream. Most people would use black thread to do the SID.

What I’ve found, however, is if I accidentally stitch up onto the ‘high’ side of the ditch, the contrasting thread is really obvious.

I now prefer using a thread color that matches the ‘high’ side. Since I’m sewing right next to the ‘high’ side, the lighter thread is not obvious on the dark ‘low side’ fabric. And if it does jump up on the ‘high’ side fabric for a few stitches, the mistake can hardly be seen.

Since you often have multiple fabric colors, or the low side of the ditch shifts from dark patches to light patches depending on how the seams were pressed, you won’t always be able to choose the ‘perfect’ thread color. And many people like to use invisible or monofilament thread to SID. But perhaps this will give you something to think about next time you choose thread for SIDing. Let me know if it works for you!


Tuesday Tip – MacGyver to the Rescue

Do you remember the 1980’s TV show MacGyver? Richard Dean Anderson played the title character, a resourceful secret agent who could get out of any sticky or dangerous situation with little more than a Swiss Army knife and a roll of duct tape.

I attend a quilting retreat twice a year. While the 16 or so participants generally bring almost everything in their sewing rooms, occasionally someone will forget one or two little items. Usually you can borrow that item from someone else, but once in a while it requires a bit of ‘MacGyvering’ to accomplish a task.

I took these photos at last October’s retreat. I don’t quite remember who came up with this idea, but I think it was Melissa. She had some thread on large cones that she wanted to sew with, but had forgotten her cone thread holder. No Swiss Army knife was involved here, but it DID require duct tape, a drinking glass and a safety pin:

Duct tape the safety pin to the handle of your sewing machine. Set the cone of thread in a drinking glass, feed it through the small circular end of the safety pin before following your normal thread path, and you’re ready to sew!

The duct tape also comes in handy for taping power cords down to the floor so you don’t trip over them. So every well stocked sewing kit should now include duct tape. Hmmm, they make it in lots of different colors now, including clear, tie dye, zebra and camouflage – do you think we could convince them to team up with Moda or Timeless Treasures to print it in the latest fabric designs???? I know I would buy more duct tape if they did!!

Tuesday Tip – “Out Damn’d Spot, Out, I Say!”

Have you ever oiled your sewing machine,  then started sewing on your project again, only to realize that some of the oil has now transferred to your project?? Or had your longarm machine drip some oil where you didn’t want it?? Today’s tip is how to remove sewing machine oil from your quilt. Cover the oil with cornstarch, rub it in gently, and let sit for an hour or two. Vacuum or brush off the cornstarch, and the oil should be mostly gone! Repeat if necessary.

Speaking of sewing machines, look what followed me home last week:

I stopped at an auction on the way home one night, and practically stole this machine! I had always wanted a treadle to add to my collection. It’s not in bad shape, considering it was ‘born’ in 1913. (I hope I look as good when I’m 97 years old – assuming I make it to 97, of course!)

So how do I know what year it’s from? Did you know if you have the serial number of an older Singer machine, you can find out when and where it was made? More information can be found on their webpage, or call them at 1-800-4-SINGER.

Besides my ‘new’ treadle, I have a 1955 Featherweight, three older portables (two have those curved wooden covers), a 1958 Singer 201 in a walnut cabinet (I even have the original bill of sale for this one!), my late 80s/early 90s J.C. Penney’s model which was the first machine I ever bought, and my 1995-ish Bernina that is my main machine. Then of course there are the two longarms. And maybe eight or so older toy machines.

So how many sewing machines do you have?????


I’ve corrected one step I left out in the previous Tuesday Tip – Making Bias Binding Part 2. Please be sure you read again, and understand that in the first photo, where I folded the fabric selvage to selvage, that was only until I trimmed the raw edges perpendicular to the fold. You then need to unfold the fabric and work with a single layer in the second step. My second photo showed this, I just left out the sentence that made that clear. I’m sorry for the omission. Did anyone ruin any fabric because of me? I hope not, but if you did, leave me a comment below and I’ll make it up to you.

Tuesday Tip – Making Bias Binding Part 2

First I need to apologize for the quality of the photos. I thought if I used a plaid fabric, it would be easier for you to see what was bias and what was straight of grain. This was a rather small woven plaid, and unfortunately, digital cameras don’t like them very much and make them come out looking like moire instead of plaid. Hopefully you can get the idea, though.

Once you’ve determined how big a piece of fabric you need, we’ll fold it so it’s easy to cut. First press it to remove the fold that’s formed when the fabric is doubled on the bolt. Then re-fold, lining up the selvages so the two layers of fabric lay smooth and flat with no puckers. The cut edges will probably NOT be even – don’t worry about that, just trim them off so they are even and perpendicular to the selvages. You DON’T really have to start with a square of fabric (it can be a rectangle), but you DO want the sides to be at a 90 degree angle to the selvages.

CORRECTION – AAAACCCCKKKK! I left a step out. You only fold selvage to selvage to trim the cut edges perpendicular to the fold/selvage. Then you need to unfold again before the next step!!! I had my photos correct, but left out that sentence in my written instructions.

AT THIS POINT YOU SHOULD ONLY BE WORKING WITH A SINGLE LAYER OF FABRIC!!! Now take the top right corner and bring it down and to the left, aligning the edges along the bottom. This should give you a nice 45 degree angle (see how it matches up with the 45 degree angle mark on my mat?).

Then bring the bottom right corner up and to the left along the 45 degree fold you just made.

It’s still too big to cut comfortably, so bring that bottom right fold up over itself:

And the extra little ‘flappy thing’ at the top gets folded also:

You can fold again if needed to have a nice neat package. Basically you just need to get it small enough to fit the size ruler you’re going to use.

I’ve now rotated the package 45 degrees clockwise, this will make it easier for me to cut.

Then I trim off the fold:

And start cutting my 2-1/2″ binding strips:

And voila – perfect bias binding strips!

I used to use the ‘tube’ method where you sewed one long seam to make a tube, then marked and cut the tube into a continuous piece of bias binding. I was never all that happy with that method – seems like I had to do a lot of ‘fiddling’ to make it come out right. So now I prefer this way. How do you like to make bias binding?

Tuesday Tip – Making Bias Binding

Becky asked how to make bias binding. This will be more of a tutorial than a tip, so I’ll break it up into several posts over the next few days.

The first step is to determine how much binding to make, and what size square of fabric you will need to start with.

To determine the perimeter of your quilt, add the length plus width in inches and multiply by 2. Then add about 12 inches.

formula:     (L + W) x 2 = perimeter

example:    (90 + 108) x 2 = 396 inches + 12 = 408 inches

This means you will need to make 408 inches of binding to go all the way around your quilt and have enough to join the ends. Now multiply that number by the WIDTH of your binding strips – most people cut a double fold binding at 2-1/2″ wide.

408 x 2.5 = 1020

Finally, take the square root of that result to know the size of the fabric square you will need to start with. (I don’t know how to type a square root symbol, so just pretend that I did, okay???)

Square root of 1015 = 31.94

I prefer to have a little extra than not enough, so I would start with a piece of fabric about 33 – 34 inches square.

Whew!! Is your head spinning yet from all the math??? Do we need something to clear our heads?? How about a look at some lovely new wide backing fabrics??

See the pretty colors?

Can’t you feel how soft they are?

There now, don’t you feel better? There’s nothing like a fabric fix to make everything okay……

Stay tuned – next installment will be how to easily cut the strips on the bias.

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A *REAL* Tuesday Tip

I didn’t want you to feel cheated by the tip in my last post. ;-), so you get a second Tuesday Tip this week:

When using fusible web, often times some of the glue ends up on the soleplate of your iron. (Note to self – you really need to check which side of the fusible web is up before you smash the hot iron down on top of it – yuck!)

There are products you can buy to remove the gunk, but try this first. Save your used fabric softener dryer sheets. Not the kind that are like foam rubber, but the kind that are more like an interfacing material (I use Snuggle). Wait until your iron is warm (not hot, you don’t want to burn your little fingers!), and rub the dryer sheet over the soleplate. I then like to finish up by rubbing with a paper towel. You might have to put a little elbow grease behind it, but it works pretty well for me. Let me know if you try it.

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