Here's a few tips and tricks I've learned for quilting, rug hooking, wool applique and general crafting.  Do you have a tip you'd like to share?  Just email me at and I'll be happy to include it here!
  • If you use monofilament thread in the bobbin, wind it at half speed. This prevents stretching as it winds and helps avoid puckers on the back of your quilt!
  • When it's time to machine stitch  my quilt layers together, I wear cheap RUBBER-COATED gloves I get for $3 at my local hardware store.  The quilt can't get out of my grip and the gloves are a lot cheaper than the fancy ones carried by my local fabric shop!
  • Ever need matching fabric pieces to repair a quilt you've made?  It's easy!  When constructing your quilt, be sure to hide small pieces of the fabrics you used BEHIND THE QUILT LABEL.  If the quilt becomes torn, you have matching fabric to repair it!
  • I often use a leather thimble so I can grab my needle when I'm quilting or appliqueing, but sometimes the leather feels bulky or clumsy. A great alternative is to cut the finger from a snug latex glove and pull it over my finger. When the latex tip wears out, it's simple to cut another.  Easy-peasy, and cheap too! 
  • I like to cut out my applique shape using a scant seam allowance and then run a basting stitch along the edge of the shape.  Pull the thread slightly and the motif will "cup" and pull the seam allowance inside toward the wrong side of the fabric.  I use pins or washable glue to tack the motif to my block, applique just outside the basting stitch, and then remove the basting thread.  Presto, perfect applique!
  • Although I like to use fusible webbing when I applique, it sometimes makes the pieces too stiff.  To avoid that, I trace my shapes just like normal on the paper side of the webbing and then trim out most of the inside of the shape.  I fuse it to my applique fabric and cut along the drawn line.  Then I peel away the paper backing and fuse my applique shape to the background.  Presto!  Quick and easy with no stiffness!
  • Before I start stitching, I lay out my fabric pieces on a table or design board and take a picture of the arrangement with a digital camera.  The camera has an "eye of its own" and will point out any problems with my arrangement to ensure I'll be happy with the finished design!
  • If you needle-turn applique, cut freezer paper the same size as the applique template.  Iron it to the front of your applique fabric and cut around it, leaving an approximate 1/4" margin.  With the freezer paper still attached, pin it to the front of your project.  As you needle-turn the edges under, the freezer paper as an edge guide!
  • For better quilt bindings, leave an extra 1/8” of batting all the way around the quilt.  When you fold the binding to the back to stitch it down, the bulk of that extra 1/8” will fill in the binding, making it nice and sturdy.
  • Are you a wool dyer?  If you are using acid dyes and need your wool to be evenly dyed, add 2 teaspoons of salt at the time you add the dye solution. THEN add the wool and start the heat on low, stirring constantly and gradually raising the heat to medium (acid dyes don't really "take" until they reach at or near boiling point).  After the wool has taken up most or all of the dye, add a generous slosh of white vinegar and continue to stir and cook for a few minutes longer.  Want your wool more mottled?  Don't add salt or stir constantly. Easy-peasy!
  • When ripping out decorative stitches (the satin stitch is a good example), always work from the back (bobbin) side with a steel seam ripper.  Once you get the back ripped out, the top threads will pull away easily and you won't run the risk of ruining the front of your project!
  • I haven't been unlucky enough to need this yet, but here's a tip to alleviate all the little loose threads when you rip out a seam: Rub a big soft eraser over the tails (on the wrong side of the fabric). They pull right out without fingernails or tweezers!
  • To determine the amount of wool necessary to hook an area, roughly layer the area to be hooked with your wool folded into 6 thicknesses. It takes roughly 6 times the area to be hooked. For large areas, a general rule is it takes 1/2 pound of wool to hook 1 square foot. Share with your friends!
  • Here's an easy tip to find the right side of solid fabric when both sides look the same. Just check the selvage for little holes. The smooth side is the wrong side and the side with the pokey little "bumps" is the right side!
  • For maximum strength for my rug hooking projects, I always cut my strips parallel to the selvage. I make a small cut and then tear my wool to make sure I'm on the straight of grain. I tear my pieces approximately 4" wide. You can then cut the wool into strips by hand (my preferred method) or by machine.
  • Share with your friends! When making quilt blocks that use strips (or if I have lots of left-over strips in the same color family), I use clothes pins (the old-fashioned pinch type) to group the strips together and hang them on a wire clothes hanger. They are ready to use when I need them and can also be hung near my worktable or in a closet, out of the way, until I'm ready to finish my project!
  • Did know that wool tears more easily when it is wet?