WFMW–Storing Stabilizer Rolls

It seems like all my tips are about storage and organization. Can you tell it’s a hot topic in my current small, cramped quarters? 🙂 I buy stabilizer for machine embroidery off the bolt at my LQS, and I can’t see folding it up when I get it home to store it like I would if it were fabric.

I know you can iron stabilizer (well, depending on what kind of stabilizer it is anyway), but why put fold lines in it to begin with when you can just leave it in a roll and cut off what you need to use? Problem is, how do you store the rolls so that they don’t get squished flat by other things and have mega creases in them anyway?

Enter the waste bin. Yup, a medium size basic white plastic Rubbermaid 21 quart waste bin does the trick. You can sit it straight up in a corner and toss the rolls in it, or use it on it’s side on a shelf, and rolls of stabilizer, fusible web or freezer paper are contained and easy to access. If you’re into colored bins that go with your decor (I’m not, but that’s another story), Rubbermaid’s got you covered in either Blueberry Frost or Bisque.

Stabilizer storage

Longaberger baskets sometimes work well for this task too, but obviously Rubbermaid is the budget-wise choice. For the ultimate in organization, make tags or labels for the rolls so that it’s easy to tell what’s what, since in my experience many stabilizers look frighteningly similar. If you need medium weight tear-away, a wash-away stabilizer might cause some problems in your project, right? I’ve had moments in the past when I’ve had to use some water to try to figure out which was which…

(You might notice that there are no labels on my rolls. I said “for the ultimate in organization” and I’m not quite there yet, but hey, it’s the thought that counts, maybe? It’s on my list of things to do…maybe later today…) This works for me!

Have a WFMW tip you’d like to share with the blogosphere? Find out more about Works-for-Me-Wednesday at WFMW headquarters at Rocks in my Dryer! Basically, the idea is that on Wednesday you post a little tip you’ve learned on any topic–anything that has “worked for you” in making your life easier. Visit Rocks in my Dryer for great tips on everything from kids to money on this Works-for-me-Wednesday!

WFMW–Storing Quilting Stencils

Note: Works-for-Me-Wednesday is hosted at an alternate location today, because its usual mistress is away in Africa!

Thanks to comments from Kim and Kristin, I was able to finally come up with a solution for storing quilting stencils. I ordered binder rings from the States (I had to order a box of 50 to actually get someone to ship them here! No idea where to find them here, but they seem to be readily available at office supply stores there. Sheesh!). I already had a flat Rubbermaid tub that’s big enough to lay most of the stencils out flat on the bottom and I used four or five of the rings to group the stencils by size and type.

Binder rings to organize quilting stencils

When I need a stencil, it’s easy to flip through what I have and then just open the ring and pull them off. Someday maybe I’ll even have the time to make some snazzy embroidered tags so that I can easily tell which group I need to pull out of the box when I’m looking for a certain stencil. They’re flat, they can’t get dusty, and there’s plenty of room for more! 😀 Thanks ladies, for all your helpful suggestions!

Quilting stencils in the tub

Have a WFMW tip you’d like to share with the blogosphere? Find out more about Works-for-Me-Wednesday at WFMW headquarters at Rocks in my Dryer! Basically, the idea is that on Wednesday you post a little tip you’ve learned on any topic–anything that has “worked for you” in making your life easier. Visit Rocks in my Dryer for great tips on everything from kids to money on this Works-for-me-Wednesday!

WFMW–Storage for slightly used needles

What do you do with sewing machine needles that have been used, but aren’t ready to be thrown away? If you have to change the needle for one of a different size, where do you put the one you take out of the machine? It’s best not to put it back in the package with the new needles, because then when you need a really “new new” one, you won’t know which ones are new and which ones have been used already.

Here’s the quick, easy and cheap fix:

Tomato pincushion for used needles

Stick your slightly used needles into a tomato pincushion, which can be found almost anywhere for about $1.00, or you can get the extra large model for a bit more. You can make it even easier to re-use these needles at a later date if you mark the pincushion on the top with numbers using a pigma pen, so that you can organize the needles by size. Read More

WFMW–Sizing images for your blog

Adding pictures to the posts on your blog is a good thing, providing interest and illustration and giving readers a glimpse into your quilty world. Sizing images correctly is a must though, since images that are too big for the layout of your page will cause other elements like sidebars to move around and end up out of position, and pictures that are too small are just difficult for readers to see. Here’s a quick tutorial (I use Photoshop Elements, but the theory is the same for any graphics program):

Open the image in Photoshop (or whichever graphics editor you use) and edit the color, fix red eyes or crop the image to delete any unnecessary background from the shot. Once you’re satisfied with the image, you need to know the size of the space where the image must fit, in pixels. That’s the important part here. Inches mean nothing, it’s all about the pixels.

I generally worry more about the width of an image, because that’s the dimension that will cause the layout of my pages to break if it’s too big. I use a tool called MeasureIt, which is an add-on for the Firefox Browser. When you have MeasureIt installed, you can click on the icon and then click and drag on your screen to measure an area in pixels, like this:

Finding the pixel size of an area with MeasureIt

I’ve measured the width of my post area, and I know that my image can’t be wider than 491 pixels. I usually stick with about 450px, because I like to leave a little room around the image, and it’s an easy number to remember when I’m sizing the images in Photoshop.

In Photoshop, there are two ways to size the image properly. You can use Image>Resize>Image Size, and then enter the width in the Width field, making sure that the box next to “Constrain Proportions” is checked at the bottom, and that the drop down menu next to the Width field says “pixels.” Once you enter your desired pixels for the Width, the Height will change automatically if “Constrain Proportions” is checked. Click “OK” to resize the image and save it. Read More

WFMW–Basting quilts with a tagging gun

For many years I’ve used plastic tags and a tagging gun to baste quilts together for quilting. In fact, this is the only method I’ve ever used, since I purchased the tagging gun when i was making crafts to sell (BQ) and needed to tag them with prices and info. When I started quilting, I heard about the tagging guns and tags that had just become popular with quilters, so rather than going out and purchasing hundreds of safety pins to baste my quilt, I dug out the tagging gun and tags I already had.

Tag on quiltThere was only one small problem: the tags I had were 3/4″ and had a fat end and a skinny end, instead of 1/4″ with two skinny ends like what was sold for quilts. If I’d used them the way other quilters were using them, straight through the quilt from top to bottom, my quilts would have been quite unstable, with too much potential for movement between the layers. I decided to try putting the tags in like you would use a safety pin or a straight pin, into all the layers and back out again, so that both ends of the tag are on the top of the quilt.

It worked great, with the added bonus that I didn’t need to buy one of those funny grid things that lifts the quilt up slightly off the table or floor that you need if you use the shorter tags, since you have to put them straight through the quilt. I could always tell if the needle (and thence the tag) went all the way through the quilt because I could feel when the needle hit the floor or table under the quilt.

The quilt is secure and the layers don’t shift any more than they would with safety pins. Both ends of the tag are on the top of the quilt so they are easy to see and quilt around and the tags are easy to remove without digging around under the quilt for the other end after you cut it apart. Cutting the tags out of the quilt is safer too, since they’re longer and you can keep the scissors farther away from the quilt surface.

One thing I must point out: You may find that the needle on the tagging gun makes a bigger hole than a safety pin might, or causes a snaggy looking bit on the fabrics. I’ve been told this repeatedly over the years by quilters who tried the gun and don’t like it. Yes, sometimes it can do that, but I think the trick is to be very careful with your needle, and replace it at the first hint of a burr or bent tip. Treat the needle very carefully, just like you treat the needles on your machine; maybe even more carefully, since they cost much more per needle to replace. Read More

WFMW–quilting stencil help!

WFMW at Rocks in my DryerWFMW (Works-for-Me-Wednesday) is a “blog carnival'” hosted by Rocks in my Dryer (great name for a blog!). Basically, the idea is that on Wednesday you post a little tip you’ve learned on any topic–anything that has “worked for you” in making your life easier. I liked the idea, and I thought I’d give it a try with a bit of a quilting slant every week. This week happens to be the “Backwards theme” week at WFMW, so instead of sharing a tip that has worked for me, I’ll throw out an issue or question that has stumped me, and hopefully you’ll all leave some super suggestions to help me (and anyone else who reads this and has the same problem) out!

So here goes: I have about a bazillion plastic quilting stencils, and I can’t figure out a good way to store them so that they’re sorted by type (small block, large block, border, etc.), easily accessible, and not bent or mashed into un-usability. Tall order, isn’t it? They’re all different sizes, some of them quite large and others really small, though they do usually have a hole or holes at the top for hanging. Short of mounting a giant piece of pegboard on my wall and hanging each one of them up (we absolutely don’t have wall space for that), I’m stumped. How do you store all your quilting stencils in your sewing room? Help me out here people, please!

Then head over to WFMW headquarters at Rocks in my Dryer for great tips on everything from kids to money on this Works-for-me-Wednesday.