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We are always looking for ways to save a little time when we quilt aren't we? Occasionally, I'll give myself a leisurely amount of time to make a quilt but usually I have a deadline. I've noticed there are four categories where you can save a little time by shifting your routine a bit. Let's dive in!
- This might seem obvious, but I think everyone needs this reminder - get your machine in for regular maintenance. I take mine in every year regardless of the number of quilts I have made. This will help you stay ahead of any issues with your machine and prevent you from being without your machine for long periods of time for a costly repair! (yikes!)
- Change your needle! Or maybe I should first say... use the right needle for your project! Most needles made for quilting come in a "quilting" set. The lighter weight needles 70/10 or 80/12 are best for piecing. The heavier weight 90/14 are best for quilting. Choose your needle and then change it after every project. That sounded like a lot to me at first, but it makes a huge difference in the efficiency of your machine. I've been using this Universal Set of Needles.
- In addition to changing your needled you should also oil your machine. Check your manual to know exactly where your machine needs oil and then put a dab on after every two bobbins. I also take this moment to brush out any lint! After you have put the oil in, run a piece of scrap fabric through your machine to get that oil spread around and make sure no oil gets through to your thread.
Choose Quality Materials:
- Start with good thread! I have used all kinds of thread. If you are using old or low quality thread it will break MUCH more often. My favorite thread is Aurifil 50 wt Thread. There are a million colors and it is super high quality! It even leaves less lint in my machine and also doesn't bleed onto my fabric when washed.
- I bet you can guess the next one - good fabric! Choose quality fabric. I love working with solids and my favorites are Art Gallery Solids. I have sewn with others that are considered high quality, but they feel stiff and tend to bleed. I have never had any issues with my AGF Solids bleeding and they get softer with every wash. You could also choose precut fabric which saves tons of time! However, these bundles aren't always fit for every pattern.
- Lastly, I prefer to prewash and press my fabric. Maybe this adds some time on the front end, but when I prewash it makes piecing easier and more efficient. The fabrics tend to slip less when you're sewing because you have washed off that outside finishing coat from the manufacturer. (If you prewash the top don't forget to prewash the backing too so that all the fabric is starting from the same state!) Another step you could add here is starching your fabric so it's ready to stitch and stay put!
- Invest in a high quality rotary blade AND change the blade. I have tried several rotary blades since my very first one bit the dust. My absolute go-to is this Olfa 45mm Rotary Cutter with the 45mm Endurance Blade.. A quality blade will allow you to cut once and move on!
- My next time saver is this Fiskars 14" x 14" Rotating Cutting Mat. This baby saves SO much time when trimming. I even use this to trim while we watch TV in the living room at night.
- Rulers make another time saver difference for me! I use this Creative Grid 6 ½" Square Ruler on every single pattern. It's a great size for trimming down small pieces and squaring up blocks in the Playroom Quilt Pattern and Perfect Placement Quilt Pattern. Another ruler I just discovered is the Creative Grid Stripology XL Ruler. This makes the Living Room Quilt and the Leaded Light Quilt SO much faster to cut.
Staying Organized While Sewing:
- Organization is key. This makes the BIGGEST difference of all to me. I usually start a quilt and don't get back to it for a few days. When I do get time to sew again I want to be able to jump right back in where I left off and not need to get reoriented to a project. I use labels, a design wall and chain piecing to keep everything together. Read more about that here!
The Leaded Light Quilt Pattern includes labels you can pin to your piles while you sew to keep everything organized!
- My favorite design wall I have used is this Portable Design Wall I found on Amazon, but I think I might try some of these felt wall tiles next. Right now I need something I can set up and take down which is why I'm using the portable one. But in the future if I want to install something permanent I'll give the wall tiles a try.
Those are just a few of my favorite ways to save a little time! Do you have any tips or tricks you use to save a little time? Tell me in the comments!