For many years, Laurie Turik offered tips and advice to members through a column in our Fine Stitches newsletter. We are reprinting some of the original question and answer exchanges and will be adding new ones as new questions are submitted. If there is something you have always wanted to know about quilting, please approach Laurie at one of our meetings or use the Contact Form on the Contact page and enter Ask Laurie in the Attention box.
Sometimes as I'm sewing my blocks together, one is slightly larger than the other. What is your recommendation?
This is such a common problem among quilters and I have a hint that may be helpful. You might like to place a few pins in strategic positions such as intersections or where design features have to line up, then position the block that is slightly larger down toward the bed of your sewing machine. Sewing from pin to pin (definitely not over the pins) you will find that your machine's feed dogs will magically absorb that little extra fullness. Any time I have pieces that don't quite fit, I let my feed dogs go to work for me. You'll find they do the trick. Give it a try!
Bonus tip: Whenever I am sewing a bias piece to a straight-of-grain piece, I always place the bias piece down toward the feed dogs. You will notice that there is far less stretching of the bias and the piece will maintain its shape if you follow this simple tip.
I am a hand quilter and I managed to get a few drops of blood on my quilt. How can I get them out?
I'm sure many of you have heard of the solution to this problem. And it couldn't be simpler! Your own saliva will do the trick. That's right -- spit on it! Not your husband or your kids or your neighbour...you spit on it. Your saliva contains an enzyme that neutralizes the proteins found in your blood. Just wet a cotton swab with your saliva, dab it on the blood stain and watch it disappear.
I’m confused when selecting a sewing machine needle to use for piecing or to use for machine quilting. What are your recommendations?
Firstly, here is some basic information on sewing machine needles that might help you to determine which needles are best for your project.
Always purchase high quality needles. Inexpensive needles are usually weak, can bend and break easily, can cause skipped stitches and can even damage your machine and your fabric. Remember: A CHEAP NEEDLE IS A FALSE BARGAIN!
It is an excellent idea to change your needle often. They DO get dull or can develop a burr that can ruin your machine or your fabric. A good rule of thumb is to treat yourself to a new needle after 8 hours of sewing.
If you have a needle that has been used but still has some hours of use left, do not return it to its original container because your will then be unable to identify the new needles from the slightly used needle. I would suggest that you purchase one of those little red tomato pincushions that are partitioned. Clearly mark each partition with the size and type of needle, e.g., “Embroidery 14”, then store your used needle in that section. You will always know that a needle in that particular partition still has some life in it when you again need an embroidery needle, size 14.
Keep checking our Ask Laurie column for further information on selecting needles, threads, fabric, equipment, etc.