Sunday, June 14, 2009

non-traditional and economical quilting supplies

Many of the supplies and tools that I use in my own work come from the grocery, hardware or office supply store. I'm a firm believer in never looking at only one way to use something. Please feel free to add any other suggestions for non-traditional supplies or uses in the comments. I'm always looking for easier/faster/better ways to do something.

  • Freezer paper - Applique patterns and stencils. Most of us already know of and use this one.
  • Glad Press-N-Seal - Quilting patterns and beading uses. Draw your quilting pattern on the wrap with a water-soluble marker, stick it to the quilt and you have a pattern to follow. You can also stick a piece of the wrap over a beading project. Just put the beads where you want them and stick the wrap over it. You can roll the wrap back a few inches at the time, attaching the beads as you go. Great for just rolling the work up with the beads already in place without losing your placement.
  • Elmer's glue - More uses than I'll be able to remember. A thin line around an applique pattern drawn onto the back of the fabric before cutting keeps the edges from fraying, similar to Fray Chek, but can be washed out. Use instead of Wonder Under to attach appliques until they are stitched down, then wash it out and you won't have the change of hand you get with WU or the bleed-through you see with thinner fabrics. Make your own silk screens by coating a piece of fine tulle with glue in every area where you don't want the paint/dye to show. Use as a resist for dying and batik. A thin wash can preserve colored pencil work on fabric. Elmer's can pretty much be substituted for any use of gel medium or Modge Podge. Add paint or dye to Elmer's and it remains after the glue is washed out.
  • Reynold's Release Non-Stick foil - NOTHING sticks to this stuff! It makes a great palette for paints, protective surface for fusibles, base layer for Elmer's glue silk screens, and "parking place" for adhesive labels.
  • Bamboo skewers - As a pusher when sewing small pieces. No metal flying if you accidentally get it under the needle. Point turner. Paint mixer. I've even used them as hanging mechanisms and surface embellishments for small art quilts.
  • Placemats - Bamboo placemats have a ton of bamboo sticks or slats in each one that can be used as hanging bars for art quilts and embellishments. Fabric placemats can be used as a base for art quilts. They come in a huge assortment of fabrics, weaves and colors. Check out kitchen towels and napkins too.
  • Laser Level - Great for squaring up a large quilt without a long ruler or hanging a quilt straight.
  • Carpenter's chalk line - Another way to square up a large quilt. Also makes straight quilting lines (I only ever use the yellow chalk, red and blue stain some fabrics.) I've seen the suggestion of replacing the chalk with Corn Starch but have never tried it.
  • Sheet rock ruler - 4 foot long ruler that is WAY cheaper than a 4 foot long quilting ruler!
  • Full-sheet adhesive labels - Useful as a carrier sheet to print fabric in your printer.
  • Graph paper - Useful for designing or enlarging patterns.
  • Spring hair clips - Used when hand-turning a binding. Cute decorated ones are 12/$1 at the dollar store or plain silver ones are 18/$5 at the quilt shop. You decide!
  • Spray baste - Of course the intended use of sandwiching quilts, but I also use it for tacking stencils down, tacking patterns to paper/mylar to cut stencils, and to place applique pieces on the background before stitching.
  • Make-up sponges - These make great stencil brushes.
  • Salvation Army store - Clothing, curtains, tablecloths, wedding dresses, etc. have lots of fabric, buttons, and trims for next to nothing in cost. Check out the purses while you're there to use for leather scraps.
  • Plain safety pins - Beyond the obvious uses, you can tie bright scraps of fabric to a handful of safety pins and use them as "look-at-me"s to mark places on your work that need to have thread tails buried, mending, repairs, or anything else that you might tend to forget.

I'm sure there is bunch of stuff that I've left off, but this is a good start on some of the things I use almost on a daily basis that are more cost effective and useful than having a studio full of specialized tools.


Joyce said...

Thanks for the list. I never thought of that use for placemats but my local thrift store has tons of them for next to nothing. Some will be coming home with me next week.

Deb said...

I just bought a bottle of SoftScrub and did some little discharge samples. Sigh - there's plenty left for several bathroom cleanings.

Karoda said...

The bamboo placemats can be used for felting wool and silk paper. thanks for the idea about the reynolds release foil!

Karoda said...

oh, i glue layers of cardboard together as a base for hand made stamps.

jenclair said...

Thanks, some new ideas for items I already use and some new tools that I wouldn't have thought of (like that sheet rock ruler)!

Eugenie said...

Thank you so much for the list!
I'm relatively new in Art Quilt land, so tips & tricks are very welcome!

Love to be a follower of your blog, but I cannot find the button to sign me in. What am I doing wrong?

Jackie said...

What do you use to print a label for a finished quilt? Is there any way to use a normal printer and make it permanent? If I use fabric for the label, should I make a quilted piece and then attach or leave it plain? Should I just blind stitch it?

Obviously I've just finished my first.

Delta said...

If you have an Epson printer, the durabrite ink is permanent on fabric as it comes out of the printer. Any other printer you need to pre-treat your fabric with Bubble Jet Set. When I was making labels for my quilts (I write the information directly on the back of the quilt now with a marker) I just turned the edges under and whip stitched it to the backing. I've never seen a label that was quilted.