- Look around you for ideas for quilting designs or color combinations. The lamp base, photo above, shows a great idea for circular feathers.
- If your machine sits down in a cabinet/table with a plexiglas surround, get it positioned correctly with the surround in. Then remove the surround and use a pigma pen to draw "corners" on the base of the cabinet around the corners of the machine where it sits. Then every time it is lifted or removed from the cabinet, you can easily place it exactly where it needs to go for the surround to slide in perfectly.
- If the tension goes very tight very suddenly, it could be because the thread is twisted around the needle. Take it out and re-thread. If the presser foot is up and you pull the thread, it should come through very freely. The tension is applied when the foot is down. If it feels very tight with the foot up, something isn't threaded correctly, and a twisted thread around the eye of the needle or the thread spindle may be the culprit.
- I know many like to listen to music while you machine quilt, but it can block out critical sewing machine noises. As you get experienced in machine quilting, the slightest noise differences from "usual" will alert you to something wrong, a dull needle, a burr, a machine that needs oiling, bobbin that is running low, thread that is sticking somewhere, etc. I do play music but softly so I can still listen to the "music" of my machine.
- Natural unscented, nothing-added clay cat litter is great for slippery sidewalks, non-toxic, inexpensive, and bio-degradable. Won't kill the grass or stain your shoes. Sweep it away in the spring. Keep a rug at the door for track-ins.
- If you get build-up of starch on your iron, wipe it off (when iron is cool) with a rough terry towel soaked in white vinegar. It will come clean beautifully. I use a length of muslin or a muslin cover for my ironing board and wash it frequently. One student suggested putting the starch in an old pump hairspray bottle for a fine mist. I like the sprayers from the beauty section in the drugstore - they deliver a very fine mist.
- Try adding some of your own ideas to quilts in the quilting designs--trace your children's hands, write the year you made the quilt, sketch and quilt a simple outline picture of your house, your children's profiles, your cat's footprints. Every thing the quilters did 100 years + ago is still valid and makes for our own folk art. You will find it amazing that even as a beginner you can quilt your signature quite easily. Then try other words and get the rhythm of machine quilting without all the anxiety. Your brain knows what you want it to do when you write your name and it makes free motion so much easier.
- Have fun with your quilting. Always include something that makes you smile when you are quilting. You should not be hunched over the machine like a gnome, frowning, quilting.
Stay warm, and keep quilting.....