Let's Share!

Friday, November 13, 2009 3 Comments »
Let’s share some tricks of the trade! I certainly can’t claim originality for any of my faves, but I sure can pass them along.

Empty plastic spice jars have a lot of uses. I keep one of the half-sized ones next to my machine to hold dead sewing machine needles. There's a regular sized one in my featherweight carrier to hold pre-wound bobbins. Another regular sized one lives in my desk drawer at work with 3 old bobbins wound in black, navy and white thread, a couple of safety pins and a scrap of felt with several sewing needles.

How about an old, squat jar to keep hold used rotary blades? I think it was a jar of body butter in its former life.

Then there is the tall cylindrical container I bought at an office supple store to hold my rotary cutters on the cutting table. A big coffee can or a cylindrical oatmeal/grits box would work too. I figure it’s the same principle as putting your pens & pencils in a pencil can. Most of the time I remember to put the cutter back in the container so it doesn't get lost under a pile of fabric!

I have a bunch of old cookie sheets/trays that I use to keep my cut pieces for a project together. As I cut, I put the pieces on the tray and use it to bring just those pieces to my sewing station. The cookie sheets really help to organize projects & keep them separate from other projects. If it’s a bigger project, I’ll keep a copy of my fabric cheat sheet (see below) on the tray as well.

My friend Kimberly, started me doing this with her mystery quilts. Whenever I start a project that requires more than 5 brain cells, I make a fabric cheat sheet by using an extra copy of the cutting/fabric instructions, or by using an 8.5” x 11” brown mailing envelope. My preference is the envelope. I draw a grid on the envelope, then tape small samples of each of the fabrics to the grid. The instructions can be stored inside the envelope.

To make the process of hand-sewing binding a little easier, I pre-thread several needles. Many hand quilters do the same thing. Since my eyes aren't so good any more, I use a needle threader; I just have to get it out just once to thread multiple needles. Doing this also helps me to “eat the elephant one bite at a time”. Instead of looking at the huge task ahead of me, I say to myself: “Tonight I am going to sew 3 needles”. When I’ve done 3 needles' worth of sewing, I feel like I’ve accomplished my goal. Maybe tomorrow I’ll do 4.

And here’s the last one, although it’s not exactly a sewing tip. I have a pair of Croc-like shoes I wear when I’m on my feet a lot. They are ugly, but they provide great support and are good for my feetsies when I am spending hours standing at the cutting table (they also offer protection from falling rotary cutters!). SInce they are not made of a breathable material, they really start to stink after a while. I’m not talking a gentle odor, I’m talking offensive stench. My darling sister, who raised a couple of athletic boys and was used to hauling equally smelly athletic equipment in her car, suggested dryer sheets. She puts them in her tennis and refereeing shoes (she’s a jock), and makes her hubby put them in his golf shoes. Darned if that trick didn’t work for my stinky old Quarks. As soon as my feet come out of the shoes, the dryer sheets go in. I bet those dryer sheets would work in other smelly areas (like the dirty laundry section of your suitcase when you are traveling?). Thanks, Sis!

What are some of the little tricks you have for keeping your sewing more organized, or for making life easier?

Love and pieces, Pat


Leah/ Texas/ United States said...

great ideas! i especially love the manila envelope idea. great colors in your design in the photo!

Pat said...

Thanks, Leah! Wish I could take credit for that design, but it's actually a BOM called Keystone Stars from my local quilt shop Country Quiltworks here in PA. Mostly Civil War repro fabrics. It's the first BOM I've done & it's a challenge. The cookie sheets keep the little pieces nice and organized (and somewhat safe from my prowling kitty).

Here's a little shout out to that very nice store:

Kimberly said...

Pat -- Once again, you've come up with GREAT ideas and I'm so glad you've shared them with the rest of us! The spice jars are an awesome idea; and another idea for used rotary blades are the Peppermint Patti mint tins.

I use the envelope/legend idea for every new project I begin; keeps me organized for sure. Thanks for the tip, sistah! And I can't wait to try the dryer sheet on my son's shoes. That's the best one I've heard in a long time.

Ok, I'm now armed with a box of dryer sheets and getting ready to tackle my 15 year old's stinky closet. Gas mask on.....