This week I want to talk about some essential steps before you start any Studio 180 Design Project or just any sewing project at all. Doing these steps will help you make your projects a success.
Step 1: Read through the pattern
Skill Level - Ask yourself, can I make this pattern? Is it at my current comfort or skill level?
Tools Required - Do you have the tools, and do you know how to use them if the pattern requires them? If you are using the Studio 180 Design tools and haven’t used that tool in a while, you may want to read through the tool or technique instructions. You can also refer to the Studio 180 Design YouTube page for more help in using the tools.
Fabric Yardage – The fabric yardage is usually on the back and on the first page of any pattern. You also should look at the Width of Fabric the pattern is based on. Many patterns these days use 40” – 42” width of fabric. This is important when you go shopping for fabric because if you buy 40” wide fabric and your pattern using a 42” width. You may want to add a little more yardage to that required amount, just to ensure you have enough.
Step 2: Prepare
Now that you have a grasp on making the project let's talk about preparing your sewing area, sewing machine, and fabric for cutting.
Sewing Area – I recommend cleaning your sewing area if you have one. I know many of you out there just don’t have a dedicated sewing space, so you are just setting up a space to sew. Now, if you have a dedicated space, let's put away those projects you are in the middle of. Better yet, finish those projects first. That way, you don’t have any UFOs sitting around. Then once complete, clean your area and put everything away that you will not need for the next project.
Sewing Machine – prepare your sewing machine. Make sure it is in good working order before you start any new project. Ask yourself these questions as you prepare a sewing machine for a new project.
- When was the last time you cleaned it? You should be cleaning it every time you start a new project, or if you are in the middle of a couple of projects, clean every couple of weeks. Trust me, it will need it.
- When was it last serviced? My local quilting shop recommends getting your sewing machine serviced every year. This also depends on how much you sew. You want to take good care of those machines.
- One more thing you need to do to your machines is to oil (if required) and change the needle. I change my needle when I clean my machine. The sharper the needle, the better the project will be.
Fabric – The biggest debate is whether to pre-wash your new fabrics. Now, I will say that I pre-wash all my fabrics before starting any new project to remove any chemicals, dyes, and wax on the fabrics. I do this because I have seen quilts after the first washing, and some have bled. The only fabric I do not pre-wash is the pre-cuts because I really don’t want to shrink this fabric too much. However, I feel the decision to pre-wash or not is up to you, the quilter; it is really your choice.
One more thing you must do with your fabric, regardless if you pre-wash or not, is to make sure your fabric is pressed and all the wrinkles are removed. Ironing your fabric before you start will help with accuracy when you rotary cut your fabric.
Step 3: Gather your Essentials
Special Tools and Tool Instructions – Layout any special tools or tools, such as the Studio 180 Design tools that your pattern calls for. Now I recommend that you have InvisiGrip™ on the back of any tool. InvisiGrip™ is a thin clear plastic that you place on the back of your tools to help prevent them from slipping on your cutting mat while you are cutting. The plastic adheres to your tool by static cling, so there is no adhesive element used. This makes the product easy to change out when it gets dirty and needs replacing.
Quilter Magic Wand - is a wonderful tool that provides you with an exact 1/2″ reference. In addition, this ruler has an etched line running down the middle that gives you an accurate 1/4″ on each side.
Marking Tools - When it comes to marking tools for your project, I recommend using fine lines mechanical pencils, such as Sewline Fabric Pencil, or a fine pen such as the Ultra-Fine Pigma Micron 01 pen. Make sure your marking tool is easy to see and will give you a nice fine line at the same time.
Rotary Rulers - These thick acrylic rulers are made primarily to be used with your Rotary Cutter and Cutting mat. In addition to the Studio 180 Design tools, it is recommended that you have standard rotary rulers that measure 6″ x 24″ and 6″ x 12″. The 6″ x 24″ ruler is great for cutting strips that are the Width of Fabric (WOF) and for large blocks. The 6″ x 12″ is excellent for sub cutting all your strips into squares. I also recommend having a 12″ x 12″ or larger square ruler for squaring up blocks.
Rotary Cutter and Mats - A good quality rotary cutter and mat are highly recommended for any quilting project you do. When I cut out my pieces for my project, I prefer to use a 45mm rotary cutter with a new blade. I recommend closing or retract the edge every time you set your cutter down on the mat. Safety first!
Iron and Ironing Surface - An excellent clean iron and ironing surface is key to getting a crisp seam and making the blocks lay flat. I use a lint roller periodically over my ironing surface to keep the loose threads from fusing to it. Each day before you start, check your iron before turning it on. Wipe off any excess dirt and lint. If your iron plates are dirty, refer to your iron instructions to clean the surface.
Additional tools and Accessories – Beyond the specific tools above, you’ll need some general quilting items such as a 100% Cotton 50 wt. Thread, needles, 1/4″ piecing foot, scissors/snips, pins, seam ripper, etc. Remember when buying your supplies to look for the best quality equipment you can afford. Doing this will make you happier with your final product.
Now that we have completed all the steps, we are ready to start our projects. Please remember that organization is a critical element in making your projects a success. I will be covering this topic soon.See you next Friday, with a new tutorial on the latest Block Party Block.