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 and quilting 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 nine 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 method 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!
Too much criticism
Do you nit-pick and over-analyze your stitches and points? The best advice to receive when you find yourself doing this is to stop. Stop the criticism and the "if only". You should start by celebrating the fact that you actually made time to sew! Congratulate yourself for finishing a project and be happy that you created something that didn’t exist before.
Piecing a quilt block
Using quality threads will help you enjoy the creative process more
Cutting the same place on your mat
Want a quick way to wear out your cutting mat? Always cut at the same place. Mats need time to heal and cutting at the same position each time is a sure way to wear it out quickly. Move your cutting line regularly, so you are able to use the entire mat and get more life out of it.
Sewing over pins
Sewing over a pin can cause problems. Needles may bend, dull, or worse—break. If you have a habit of sewing over pins because you haven’t experienced issues yet, I recommend you stop before you experience a problem.
Not maintaining your machine
This is the biggest no-no on the list. If you want your machine to stitch well, take care of it. Clean your machine regularly. Change the needle when you see stitch quality decrease or hear a gentle thud sound (that's a cue that your needle is becoming dull). Take your machine to the machine repairman for a service once in awhile. Be good to your machine and she’ll be good to you.
Unthreading the machine incorrectly
We've all heard that you need to unthread your machine in the same direction as cutting it. The sentiment is that if you pull your thread against the flow, you could end up leaving grooves along the thread path. I haven't experienced this myself, however, I've heard from friends that swear their machine required maintenance after one-too-many times of unthreading the machine incorrectly. So I've decided to play it safe and unthread in the same direction as threading. I snip the thread coming right off the spool and pull from the needle.
Using dull cutting tools
This is a no brainer, but sometimes you just hope that the rotary cutter will make it a few more cuts 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 cutting tools can help alleviate a lot of frustration and save time. It's much cheaper to replace a rotary blade than spend the time required fixing a poor cut on your fabrics.
Using low-quality thread and fabrics
You knew this was coming! Low quality threads throw a lot of lint in your machine, break, skip stitches, and aren't much fun to stitch with. Similarly, fabric quality can affect how long your quilt will last and how well the stitches form. A low quality fabric has fewer warp and weft yarns, isn't as dense, and may not be colorfast. Our recommendation to everyone who sews is to buy the highest quality fabric, thread, and notions one can afford. Using high-quality products will make your sewing experience more enjoyable and mitigate problems which can be easily avoided.
Ready to learn more?
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Read our article on How Tension Works.
Read our article on Using the Right Needle.