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Bad Habits Quilters need to Quit

Posted: 19 March 2016 at 6 a.m.

Bad habits quilters need to quit

Have you heard the story about the woman that every time she makes a roast she cuts off the ends because that’s the way she saw her mother cook it?  The truth was the mother had too small of a cooking pan and cut the ends to accommodate.

Sewing can be like this too.  You’re taught or observe someone doing something and figure that’s the way to do it.  But there are some sewing and quilting habits that could be hindering your sewing experience.  Here are 10 habits we recommend quitting:

Not organizing your fabric scraps

Will you ever use fabric scraps if you can’t even tell what you have?  Our favorite thing is to organize scraps by colors.  If you don’t have them organized, you might as well throw them out because they won’t be used and they’re taking up precious space!

Overly criticizing your work

Do you nit-pick and over analyze your stitches and points?  Stop it.  Seriously, just stop.  You’re not doing anyone any favors and especially yourself by trash talking.  Why not celebrate that you actually made time to sew?  Congratulate that you finished a project.  Be happy that you created something that didn’t exist before.  That’s pretty cool.

Putting water in your iron          

We might all be guilty of this one.  Water in the iron (with the exception of distilled) can corrode your iron.  Or worse, a leak could leave a spot stain on your fabric.  Get a spray bottle of water to help with misting needs.

Cutting the same place on your mat      

Want a quick way to wear out your mat?  Always cut at the same place.  Mats need time to heal.  Here’s a little more on how to care for your mat.

Sewing over pins

Sewing over a pin causes problems.  Needles bend, dull, or worse—break.  If you have a habit of sewing over pins because you haven’t experienced issues yet, please stop now.

Not maintaining your machine

Clean your machine regularly.  Change the needle when you see stitch quality decrease or hear a gentle thud sound.  Take your machine to the mechanic once in a while.  Be good to your machine and she’ll be good to you!

Not completing your projects   

Having too many unfinished projects is discouraging.  If you find you have a project you started, but haven’t returned to in years, probably you’re discouraged or simply not interested.  This is a great opportunity to donate your half-done project to your guild or a friend who might love a head start on a new project!

Unthreading the machine incorrectly

When you change a spool color, the first thing we normally do is just pull the spool off the machine and pull the thread backwards through the tension discs.  Easy? Yes.  Bad for your machine? Yes.  Time to break the habit and cut the thread at the spool and pull it out through the needle.

Using dull cutting tools

This is a no brainer, but sometimes you just hope our rotary cutter will make it a few more squares or that the frayed fabric edges from your shears aren’t that bad.  Sewing is much easier with crisp edges and choosing to use high quality sharps can help alleviate a lot of frustration and save time.

Using low-quality thread and fabrics

You knew this was coming!  Low quality threads shed lint, break, and may not stand the test of time.  Similarly, fabric quality will affect how long your quilt will last.  We recommend buying the highest quality you can afford.  This will make sewing and quilting much more enjoyable.

Are you guilty of any of these habits?  Are there others that should be listed but aren’t?

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  • 61. Patricia Sneesby (11 June 2017 at 3:42 a.m.)

    I hate wasting materials and thread especially as they're so hard to find where I live (Cordoba, Spain)- only one shop sells reels of cotton thread in colours other than black/white!
  • 60. Patricia Sneesby (11 June 2017 at 3:38 a.m.)

    Dethreading machine: am cutting thread and pulling it down (not through eye of needle). I started dropping these threads in one of the transparent disposable beakers I use to keep small things from getting lost in the fray. I now find I have an ideal length of thread for sewing on a button or closing a small gap etc. I hate
  • 59. pat forrer (27 May 2017 at 8:22 p.m.)

    My husband told me that the reason the instructions on irons suggest using tap water only is because distilled water is much hotter and spits & steams when ironing. My Rowena says use tap water, but I have always used distilled water in my irons. I have just learned to be careful. The 'use tap water only' instructions are in place as a safety feature .
  • 58. Elisabeth Loehrlein (19 May 2017 at 1:16 p.m.)

    Same with my good old Rowenta! A spray does not always do the trick.
  • 57. Rita (26 March 2017 at 8:06 p.m.)

    One more bad habit not mentioned: Never, ever hold pins in your mouth. They can be inhaled into your lung, requiring surgery to remove. If not removed, they can puncture the lung, cause poisoning or worse. It's not worth it!
  • 56. Linddylou (15 March 2017 at 7:47 p.m.)

    Oh my gosh!!!! I am sure all of us have committed some of the crimes at one time. But give it a break, do what is fun, and enjoy!!!
  • 55. Diane (02 February 2017 at 10:48 a.m.)

    Rowenta irons normally say to use tap water in the instructions.
  • 54. Chandra (02 February 2017 at 12:19 a.m.)

    I don't put water in my iron, I use a spray bottle instead. It gives me much more control over how much and where the water goes. I don't have to worry about leaks from the iron, water damaging the iron, or running out in the middle of pressing a big item. It's great!
  • 53. Nancy (25 January 2017 at 6:31 p.m.)

    A finished quilt is much more enjoyable and rewarding than a perfect unfinished one !
  • 52. Debbie (18 January 2017 at 10:13 a.m.)

    I did use distilled in my Rowenta and it spewed black water all over my projects and ironing mat. Now I just use tap water and it works fine for me. I need steam when I'm sewing, my fabric does so much better using steam as compared to spritzing with water. Thanks for the tips.
  • 51. Marilynn (14 January 2017 at 2:18 p.m.)

    OMG! I am guilty of each and every one of these...some I knew better then to continue doing a few I never knew at how to unthread your machine....didn't know that but always wondered if there was a better way for the I know and thank you...
  • 50. Suzanne (14 January 2017 at 7:10 a.m.)

    Love you Superior Thread! I have learned so much from you about thread, tension, needles, etc. I only use Superior Thread for all my sewing and quilting. I have learned that quality thread, needles, and equipment makes all parts of making a quilt much more enjoyable! Thank you!
  • 49. Susan (13 January 2017 at 11:08 p.m.)

    I started my first quilt 21 years ago. Although I was an accomplished seamstress, I had never quilted before. I became so frustrated with this project, that I threw it in a box, and never looked back. A couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time to revisit it. Now that I have many quilts behind me, I understood how to fix the problems with this quilt. It ended up turning out so beautiful, that I am now in the process of making four more identical ones to give as Christmas presents next year.
  • 48. Joy (13 January 2017 at 4:16 p.m.)

    I have a 20 year old Rowenta that I've always used tap water with & no problems, even with water that gives me kidney stones.
  • 47. Anne (13 January 2017 at 5:59 a.m.)

    Found this post thru Pinterest. Very helpful! I mix distilled & softened tap water in my irons & that works well. Oliso says NO all distilled water in their irons. Also Purple Heart will take ALL fabric scraps, leftover batting, etc. They use them for beds for Humane Societies, etc. In our area in Michigan, they will pick up at your house!
  • 46. Marie (13 January 2017 at 3:04 a.m.)

    I see the quilt police are still active, advice is fine but there are no rules/
  • 45. Shirley (12 January 2017 at 12:53 a.m.)

    I'm glad to hear about changing spools. I'm probably 1 of many that just tak e spool & pull it right off. Will remember to cut at the spool & pull away from the needle! Thanks a bunch!!!
  • 44. Diana (11 January 2017 at 10:32 p.m.)

    I've used water in my iron for the last 28 years with no problems. In fact it has been on daily for probably last 27 years.
  • 43. Carla (11 January 2017 at 10:21 a.m.)

    Thanks for a couple of great ideas. As to scraps, I have found a wonderful use for them--I donate them to a lady at a church who makes quilts for the needy. Helps keep my scraps to a minimum and keeps someone else warm.
  • 42. Susan (10 January 2017 at 6:18 p.m.)

    P.S. I will try Superior Threads!
  • 41. Susan (10 January 2017 at 6:13 p.m.)

    Guilty as charged! I have a couple of these bad habits. Your info has fueled me to change. I didn't know the proper way to pull the thread when changing. I will start doing that right away. I am my own worst critic. In this new year I will "lighten up". Thanks for the encouragement.
  • 40. Lisa (10 January 2017 at 4:10 p.m.)

    You can use water/steam. the trick is to empty the water after you're done ironing! I get years of use out of an iron, and I iron work shirts as well as quilting use. It takes a minute to do.
  • 39. Margaret (10 January 2017 at 6:02 a.m.)

    Actually, don't pull your thread through the needle! Unthread the needle and pull it from just before the needle.
  • 38. Sandie (14 June 2016 at 12:06 p.m.)

    May I have permission to reproduce this article for our newsletter. I will also include a link to your website.
  • 37. Nani (11 May 2016 at 8:15 a.m.)

    Re:Scraps. We all give our bags of scraps to our local Baby Lock dealer who fills pillow cases with them for use at our local Humane Society. No mess....No Guilt!!
  • 36. Nani (11 May 2016 at 8:13 a.m.)

    Re:Scraps. We all give our bags of scraps to our local Baby Lock dealer who fills pillow cases with them for use at our local Humane Society. No mess....No Guilt!!
  • 35. Nani (11 May 2016 at 8:12 a.m.)

    Re:Scraps. We all give our bags of scraps to our local Baby Lock dealer who fills pillow cases with them for use at our local Humane Society. No mess....No Guilt!!
  • 34. Anne Crabbs (30 March 2016 at 8:09 a.m.)

    I learned to cut the thread at the spool and pull the thread out at the needle at my Bernina class. U use water from the door of my refrigerator that is filtered and have no problem. Thanks for your tips.
  • 33. Anne Crabbs (30 March 2016 at 8:08 a.m.)

    I learned to cut the thread at the spool and pull the thread out at the needle at my Bernina class. U use water from the door of my refrigerator that is filtered and have no problem. Thanks for your tips.
  • 32. Aleeda (28 March 2016 at 10:08 a.m.)

    If you have a dehumidifier or A/C, the water generated by those is distilled. Not changing your needle regularly is another bad habit I often observe. Change your needle every eight hours (a post-it attached to your machine with the numbers 1-8 makes it easy to remember) AND whenever you start a new project. Needles are an inexpensive way to keep your machine happy.
  • 31. Susan von Gunden (26 March 2016 at 2:06 p.m.)

    Yea, I am guilty of a few of these bad habits. I don't organize my scraps. When they pile up, I make small cage mats for the local SPCA. The animals have never complained. It gives me more sewing room, plus gives me a chance to practice free motion quilting. They don't critique my work. My irons, well what can I say. I don't buy expensive ones because my husband irons his clothes too. The irons have died not from distilled water but from falling on the floor. I do do maintenance,put new needles in etc. Thanks for the tips. Oh on lady told me she flushes her iron with vinegar to rid it of the deposits. I have not tried that one.
  • 30. Marlene (26 March 2016 at 11:48 a.m.)

    I was surprised that my expensive steam iron with boiler says do not use distilled water. I live in area with a lot of calcium in the water so whenever I go to a nearby town that has high rated good water, I take empty plastic bottles and fill them for my irons. I am guilty of some of the bad habits listed. I do sew my scraps into crumb quilts and other scrappy quilts - all queen sized. However, scraps grow continually and you can only use so many scrappy quilts. It is handy to have lots of scraps when you just need a small piece of red or blue or some other colour in an applique.
  • 29. Jo (26 March 2016 at 10:29 a.m.)

    I do lots of pant hems (100's) so years ago, I bought a plastic cutting board 1/2 inch thick and 18"x24". I use that to cut pants, not my olfa mat. I can 'scrub' it just like the Olfa and even wash or bleach it if need be. Turn it once a month to let it heal.............
  • 28. Jo (26 March 2016 at 10:20 a.m.)

    HOW do YOU clean an iron, i/o?
  • 27. Jan (25 March 2016 at 8:37 p.m.)

    In the class for my new Bernina, they told me to pull the thread backwards and not through the needle.
  • 26. Lorniki (25 March 2016 at 5:56 p.m.)

    I use Brita water in my Oliso. Also, have no space to sort by colors. I sort by light and dark.
  • 25. Lorniki (25 March 2016 at 5:55 p.m.)

    I use Brita water in my Oliso. Also, have no space to sort by colors. I sort by light and dark.
  • 24. Christa Stegemann (25 March 2016 at 2:23 p.m.)

    Thanks so much for these tips. Did not know the one about pulling thread backwards. Love the scraps tip. Am working to organize them at last. :-)
  • 23. Rae Shatwell (25 March 2016 at 11:23 a.m.)

    My machine has a removable bobbin case. I was taught to clip the thread next to the bobbin case when changing bobbins, instead of just pulling the bobbin out with long thread tail through the tension guide. 35 years later, that machine still sews a perfect stitch, and I have had no problems with the bobbin case in that time. This is the same principle as cutting the thread at the spool.
  • 22. Ruth (25 March 2016 at 10:51 a.m.)

    Why you should clip your thread at the spool then pull the thread through the machine: thread has a twist intended to flow through the tension discs in one direction. Pulling backwards can damage your tension discs and the thread path because this actually tears the thread and can leave thread "gunk" where you don't want it.
  • 21. Jane (25 March 2016 at 10:06 a.m.)

    But WHY is unthreading 'backwards' bad for the machine?
  • 20. Tina (25 March 2016 at 8:01 a.m.)

    I did not know the thread statement about changing thread. My scrap fabric is a mess. Also I have too many UFO guilts. When I started to take classes, I thought that I needed to learn everything at once. Twenty years later I now know that isn't true. I love Superior Threads.
  • 19. Sandy D (25 March 2016 at 7:56 a.m.)

    Great tips I am guilty of quite a few of them. Will change my habits.
  • 18. Donna (25 March 2016 at 6:50 a.m.)

    Guilty of the thread thing, will stop that now. Also guilty of the scrap thing, too much to organize, but I do go on digging-fests often when doing "junk blocks". I mostly only use the spray bottle anymore, not steam.
  • 17. Susu (25 March 2016 at 6:40 a.m.)

    Thanks to Superior Thread, I knew some of these. My fabric scraps are usually a mess but I do use them as I like to make scrappy quilts. Maybe I will sort them and keep them that way.. I adore Superior Thread, threads, needles, advice is the best!
  • 16. Lois (25 March 2016 at 6:04 a.m.)

    I was using distilled water in my Built-in boiler steaming iron. When I emptied the water after use, it was like grey glue. Reread the instructions and you are never to use distilled water with these irons as it may lead to damage inside the boiler. They should also be cleaned every 2-3 months.
  • 15. Diane (25 March 2016 at 4:03 a.m.)

    Did not know about untreading machine will start doing it the right way. Thanks
  • 14. Becky Ezra (25 March 2016 at 12:51 a.m.)

    I love Superior, even I live in Europe, that is the only thing that I order by mail from you guys. I learn a lot tips and tricks and facts from you. Thank you!!!!
  • 13. Janie (22 March 2016 at 8:40 a.m.)

    I'm also a superior thread fan! I clean out all lint when I change bobbins but am very guilty of trying to make needles and cutting tools last past their normal useful life. And that unthreading new one for me....will implement that immediately!
  • 12. Kathy (21 March 2016 at 12:25 p.m.)

    I only use a dry iron and Mary Ellen's Best Press. I use Superior Thread, top and pre-wound bobbins...only, ever and forever more. I love the pre-wounds. I do sort scraps by colour NOW and better still...I sew with them all the time. It is like a free quilt...who am I kidding, even scraps are worth the $20+ a metre that I paid for them originally. I do change my needle everytime I change that pre-wound bobbin that contains 180 yards of thread, and clean out the lint with a machine oil soaked q-Tip. Thank you for this list to remind us that we are doing some things right and give us the grace to work on those that we don't.
  • 11. Mary D (21 March 2016 at 9:43 a.m.)

    I always use tap water and haven't had a problem and only 3 irons in 44 years! Will pull my thread out properly I promise, change needles more often and make a date for a checkup (for the machine, not me
  • 10. Kris (20 March 2016 at 10:56 a.m.)

    Did not know the thread thing. Yes I have to many unfinished projects and I want to finish them all. I. sew. over. pins. to. get. the. perfect. point. That is why I use .002 dressmaker pins. Won't stop either.
  • 9. Susan (20 March 2016 at 8:20 a.m.)

    In my irons i use filtered water from a Brita stored on my studio shelf. Furthermore, when.I need a cup of tea, good water is right there for me
  • 8. Jane Reents (20 March 2016 at 5:42 a.m.)

    I have to many scraps. I now give them to free cycle so someone less fortunate can use them.
  • 7. Sallie (19 March 2016 at 11:13 p.m.)

    Must break my habit of pulling thread backwards when changing threads and using needle way past it's useful life. Thanks for the reminders!
  • 6. Pamela (19 March 2016 at 8:51 p.m.)

    Did not know some of these. But I had a rowenta iron and I used only distilled water. Died on me after only 2 years. Bought an inexpensive iron and use spring water this time around. Working great!
  • 5. helen (19 March 2016 at 7:50 p.m.)

    Yes I am guilty of a few but I am trying I am project in progress after all if i was perfect i would be boring as h--l. Thanks for the tips
  • 4. Debbie (19 March 2016 at 5:08 p.m.)

    I use distilled water in my irons. Mom's advice. no black gunk has ever come out of my irons. That includes my Rowentas.
  • 3. Cindy (19 March 2016 at 11:10 a.m.)

    Thanks so much for the tips to break! I'm guilty of a couple..... Will change....
  • 2. Mary (19 March 2016 at 10:09 a.m.)

    Not all irons require distilled water...interesting information.... LOVE Superior Threads thread BTW!!!
  • 1. Ro (19 March 2016 at 10:08 a.m.)

    Thanks for the reminders.

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