Machine Piecing Quilt Tips


To help my strip piecing, I prefer shorter strips, because long strips tend to go wonky/wavy.
Plus, to keep them straight, as I'm stitching, I add magnets - as stitch guides the strip can flow through, behind the presser foot.




If you have trouble threading the needle of your sewing machine, holding a white piece of paper behind makes it easier.......Submitted by Cordelia




I keep an old used/empty tissue box by my sewing machine to drop thread scraps and fabric trims in.
The plastic film keeps them in the box and not floating around my projects......Submitted by Marci




I glued anti slip material to the bottom of my sewing machine pedal, which keeps it from slipping!...............Submitted by Ellen




Paper Piecing Tip: Tweezers help remove the paper. If you can find these pointy kind (medical supply) they work great for getting into those tiny angles and popping out the paper!

Paper Piecing Tip




To use larger spools of thread, add an empty pen case or straw to extend the spool pin.




My Tip for Using Your Seam Ripper:

The Seam Ripper & How to Use One

I learnt how to sew, by making clothing - beginning with doll clothes, and eventually making my own.
The way I was taught to use the seam ripper, was exactly the same - from my home ec teacher and even in the tailor shop, where I worked summer & weekends for a few years -
Cut the thread with the ripper, pull a few stitches and start pulling the thread out until it breaks...take the backside thread and pull it until it breaks, and so on. This crinkles the fabric, stressing it, and can do some damage to your fingers as you pull.

Perhaps this is okay for clothing, but with small patches for quilts, there's a better way, that doesn't pull at the fabric at all.

I stitched this sample to show you how.
I wouldn't normally stitch black thread on white, but did, so you could easily see this.

With the ripper, cut the threads every 3 to 4 stitches, all the way along the seam needing to be removed.
When complete, pull the thread on the back, which will easily pull out as a whole.
There will be little threads that need cleaning up, but this goes quickly - picking them up with your fingers, or you could use a lint brush/roller - if you have one.




I'm now using the small roller that came in a wallpaper kit for 'finger pressing', instead of the little wooden tool.............Submitted by Karen




When machine sewing I like to use an easy stitching project as my anchor cloth.
This is a stack of them, held by a clothes pin, waiting to be pressed.

Anchor Cloth Project

On the Glossary page of my site I describe an 'Anchor Cloth' as: A scrap piece of fabric sewn through, before and after chain piecing.
It anchors the threads and prevents the machine from eating up the edges of your fabric.
Sewing over a scrap is a great idea and saves you from the 'beginning' problems that can happen when you start sewing.
Even better is to have an ongoing project (like my Loving Our Earth Tiny Scrap String Project), which you sew, instead of the scrap fabric.
You cut/prepare the patches in advance, and keep them by your machine to use each time you sew.
That way, eventually, you have a bonus quilt put together.

Since I've started collecting fabrics I have cut a strip off of each and sewn them into these blocks.
I now have one finished double sided quilt and enough blocks to do another.
And I love the way I am able to adore bits of each of my fabrics by looking at this quilt
[This pattern is available on the site as my Charm Quilt.]




I attached a long ribbon to a small pair of scissors and tied it to the handle of my sewing machine cabinet. Now when I have to snip those threads or do a little cutting I have a pair of scissors handy. No more scissors that always walk away.............Submitted by Laurie




The holder of a stack of CD's or DVD's can be repurposed as a large spool holder, beside your sewing machine.........Submitted by Karen




I never liked the idea of changing my sewing machine needle with every project. Instead I sharpen them by sewing (without thread) through a piece of fine sandpaper. It gives me a fresh needle everytime........Submitted by Anne




When you set up a new stitch on your machine that you think you might want to use again, stitch a sample of it on a square piece of plain fabric. Be sure to mark the stitch settings & other details in fabric pen below the stitch.
You can stitch these swatches into a small book.......Submitted by Kim




Use the white pages of an old telephone book as foundation paper for string pieced blocks.......Submitted by Karen




I like to reuse the plastic tube from miniature M&M's as a travel bobbin holder......Submitted by Carrie




To keep your different sized sewing machine needles organized and at easy reach, try labeling a tomato pin cushion using a fabric marker, keeping each needle in the marked section of the cushion .........Submitted by Amber

Needle Organizer Pincushion Tip




A good substitute stabilizer for machine applique or embroidery, in a pinch, are round paper coffee filters........Submitted by Tina




Before I embroider a design for the first time, I sew it on a scrap of fabric so if it doesn't work well I haven't ruined the garment. These test squares I use to make pillows, a lap quilt, a pot holder or hot pad for casseroles for church sales or other charity events.......Submitted by Sandy




I put a piece of sticky back velcro on the bottom of my machine foot pedal, sticks on the carpet so I'm not chasing it all over.......Submitted by Carmen




When I do paper piecing I only print one copy of the pattern. I then take pattern to sewing machine and a stack of paper (8 to 10) and sew the lines without thread (using an old needle and regular stitch length). This gives me copies with double the holes to tear off, making it easier.......Submitted by Dolly




I have a great tip for paper piecing. Pre folding all of the lines before sewing a block makes it very quick to line up your pieces and you use less fabric. It also tears off easier when removing it later.......Submitted by Carol




To help you sew sew a straight line get some tape from the hardware store that is about 1/16" thick. Cut 3 or 4 pieces about 4" long and put them on top of each other. Place on your sewing machine at the ¼" mark and glide your fabric against it as you sew.......Submitted by Joyce




I find that pipe cleaners are the absolute best for fishing dust bunnies out of my sewing machine. They seem to be magnetic and the best part is they go around corners!.......Submitted by Penny




When chain sewing anything, especially half square triangles, take an old plastic thread spool and put a small seam ripper into the middle hole with the point facing up. This allows you to use both hands to quickly seperate the pieces. Works great and is nice to finally put that old seam ripper that came with your sewing machine to good use!......Submitted by Stephanie




Masking tape helps when "unsewing". Tape a piece over the seam that needs removing, and has been clipped every few threads. Lift carefully off and all the little thread pieces come with it......Submitted by Gail




I prefer to use a wooden skewer than a metal stiletto. This way I won't break a needle or knock my machine out of time if I hit it.........Submitted by Pat




Use half of a wooden clothespin for finger pressing your seams. You can decorate them and gift them to quilting friends..........Submitted by Francis




Old phone books work well as the base for string quilts. They remove from the finished block much easier than old flyers or mailers.........Submitted by Diane



To keep the sewing machine foot peddle from slipping, place it on a mouse pad ....... Submitted by Jeanine




For a clearer view of your stitching, try using the small rubber door stops under the back of your machine while sewing.  They tilt the machine just the right amount, and cost far less than the expensive "tilt boards" that you can buy.  Plus, the rubber helps keep your machine from slipping around. .....Submitted by Bonnie




If your machine is not set up to handle the large cones of thread, simply drop it into a largemouth canning jar and thread it to your machine. Works great!....Submitted by Melissa




Here's a way to make a similar quilt to your String Pieced Charity Quilt. Use flannel or cotton batting as the foundation. Cut out the backing a bit bigger than the size of block. Attach the fabric in the same way you describe ( foundation piecing), then attach the blocks together to form a quilt top. A backing is applied, and instead of binding the quilt, sew the front and back together (each facing the other) on 3 sides, flip it right-side out, then whipstitch shut. 
I've also heard them called "strippy quilts" and "popcorn
quilts" ('cuz you can't make just one!)...Submitted by Tanya




If you are paper piecing a block that is larger than letter size paper, use a large sheet of tissue or wrapping paper...Submitted by Marie




To stop the foot pedal of your sewing machine from slipping, cut a square of rubber shelf liner the size of the foot pedal and place it under.





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