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Things quilters use that weren’t meant for quilting…

Quilters are known for being resourceful and I have noticed many things designed for other uses being hijacked for use in quilting, and to prove it, I’ve decided to share six of my favorites with you.

Some are because they are just really great for the purpose, but some are because they are cheaper, and hey, we can all use more money to spend on fabric, can’t we?

1. Freezer Paper:

Originally used before plastic bags were invented for wrapping food to put in the freezer, or for layering between frozen goods to keep portions separate.

Now we find it the perfect paper for cutting shapes for needleturn appliqué, and for cutting parts of small, one-off pieced blocks (e.g.  in a “Dear Jane” quilt).

Freezer PaperThe paper is waxy on one side so trace the designs onto the other side and cut out; place the waxy side against the fabric and iron it and it forms a temporary bond with the fabric.  Fabric can then be cut out with a seam allowance added. Shapes can be peeled off and re-used several times.

In America it can be bought at supermarkets, but in Australia it is generally only available in patchwork shops.

2. Baking Paper:

We all know this is what stops the cookies sticking to the tray.  But it also stops all those lovely fusible products from sticking to the iron.

Baking PaperWhen using fusible webbing (e.g. Vliesofix, Steam-a-seam etc) for appliqué, or an iron-on stabilizer (Vilene, Pellon, Parlan etc) you can put a piece of Baking Paper on your ironing board to stop it sticking to the board, and another piece on top before you iron, and your iron will stay clean as well.

You can also assemble an appliqué, ironing it onto the baking paper piece by piece, and then peel off the baking paper and iron the entire appliqué onto the background at once.

3. Bicycle Clips:

Bicycle Clips for Quilting

Quilting with a domestic sewing machine can sometimes be a challenge.

Quilters have discovered one way to control the large area of quilt is to roll it and slip a few bicycle clips (the sort cyclists used to use to keep their flappy trouser legs from getting caught in the chain) over the roll.

This will stop it unrolling, but it is still easy to slip the clip around and unroll it as you go.

4. Snap Hair Clips:

These are the ones little girls wear in their hair all the time, except they don’t need the little flowers and bows and other decorations on them.

Snap Clip for quiltingThey are great for holding down the binding around the edge of the quilt, first as you sew it on, and then as you fold it over and sew it down later. Less pin-pricks in the fingers, and no dropped pins to find later!

5. Gardening gloves:

Yes I know you can buy special quilting gloves with grippy bits on the fingers, but I have found I can buy almost the exact same thing in the gardening department at half the price!

Gardening GlovesMy favorites are the ones which are made of lycra so they fit nice and tight and they “breathe”, but they look as though the whole palm of the hand and fingers have been dipped in latex, which gives a super grippy finish.

I can get them in my favorite color (Pink), there is much less strain on my wrists and fingers and I can quilt for longer!

6. Templates:

Plastic Milk ContainerOur Grandmothers used cardboard, and we use template plastic, but have you thought of looking around for less expensive options?

Milk and juice often comes in straight-sided bottles which are transparent or semi-transparent, which are great for cutting small templates from.

Old X-Rays are also good for templates.  And I’m sure we have all used bowls, lids and coffee cups for drawing circles!

I’m sure you could think of some other options too.

I would love to know what you use for quilting which was meant for something else.

Happy Quilting!

Mez Signiture

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113 Responses

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  1. Marzetta says

    I just pieced my first quilt, tacked it and put binding. It is not a normal quilt aa I cut the pieces from a Marine uniform shirt and cam jacket retaining names, pickets and patches from the garments. There are other unique points also and I can not believe I have completed it. It was a request from my mom who just passed. She requested it for her youngest grandson. Now that I have accomplished this I am excited to try other quilting projects. The great ideas from all you ladies inspire me to keep thinking and working ‘out of the box’. Thanks!

  2. Marzetta says

    I just pieced my first quilt, tacked it and put binding. It is not a normal quilt aa I cut the pieces from a Marine uniform shirt and cam jacket retaining names, pockets and patches from the garments. There are other unique points also and I can not belive I have completed it. It was a request from my mom who just passed. She requested it for her youngest grandson. Now that I have accomplished this I am excited to try other quilting projects. The great ideas from all you ladies inspire me to keep thinking and working ‘out of the box’. Thanks!

  3. Fran Sancroft says

    Pipe Cleaners – a package of 50 is only a dollar or so at the dollar store!: Cut in half. Thread your bobbin and matching thread onto it. fold over the ends and they are ready to store. You always have a matching bobbin and thread handy.

  4. Karen says

    I use a new toilet bowl brush to pick up the little threads on my carpet under my sewing table. I also use those magnetic dishes sold at the auto parts store for my pins. They are deeper than the sewing ones and hold more pins.

  5. Kay says

    I love all these great tips, I’ve been doing patchwork for about 15 years but there is always something new to learn every day, thank you everyone for sharing.

  6. Virginia says

    I find all the comments very interesting and have used many of the tricks suggested. I do machine quilting on my regular sewing machine. Lots of fun. Straight line between clobks is easy, but when you want circles some help is needed. So, I use the cap of a 1 quart canning jar. When making your circle always use a washable pencil or pen. The circles are fun as you can make any design you want. I have made animal designs using different size caps. Try Micky Mouse for an infant quilt. I don’t use plastic for templates. I am 88 years old. As you know skin become thinner as you age. Plastic cuts old fingers very quickly. Sorry to blow your suggestiions, but must preserve my skin for another day.

  7. Nola says

    I use sand paper for templates. It grips very well to the fabric, and seldom moves around. My mom used to use them.

  8. Robbin Neff says

    Prisma colored pecils. I’ve marked all my quilts with them, and they have all washed out. Short embroidery needles for quilting are nice and tiny with a longer eye. Command hook on side of sewing machine to hold small pair of scissors. Nonskid shelf liner to keep sewing macine where I want it, without migrating. Child benches for stuff, 2 stacked behind sewing machine. Tiny silver curtain hook clip to hold bag of prewound bobbins with scissors on command hook. Small barbs pipe cleaners from tobacco shop for cleaning. Nail cleaning brush on ironing table to remove little threads in a sweep.School glue for basting. Mason jars of all sizes for storage. Lits mire too.

  9. Robbin Neff says

    My cell phone and tablet for patterns, instuctions, shopping for still more fabric, and great websites like this.

  10. Robbin Neff says

    Used dryer shgets as stabilizer
    Mr Clean sponges and electric stove top cleaner wipes to clean iron

  11. Robbin Neff says

    A narrow, hokeless doir, covered in ugly blankets and ironing board silver fabruc by the yard, stapled to make a long, wider ironing surface over 2 bar stools, 2 drawer cabinets, or 2 other level supports. Left both ends free, painted them, to hokd stuff. One end has a child bench on it to store even more stuff, lije a lamp higher for better light. Spectrum correct/daylight energy efficient bulbs to see colors correctly.

  12. Wanda Johnson says

    Slivers of soap to mark dark fabric. My hubby’s old dive weights for pattern weights.Cosmetic eyebrow shaper shavers for seam rippers.Dollar store manicure scissors for cutting the tiniest stitches.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Cleaning Out My Bookmarks… Again | Eric The Quilter linked to this post on November 16, 2013

    […] Things Quilters Use That Were Not Meant For Quilting … Quilting Gems […]



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