Favorite Things

My Magnetic Field

During the past few weeks I have been in several quilters' studios. Seeing the spaces where other people work is fascinating. I was able to see different organizational systems and how they worked. As I thought about my own organizational system, I realized I have a few tips and tricks. The surprising thing to me is that magnets and Ikea components are the common denominators in my system.

First, magnetic knife holders are fantastic. I have two of them to hold my bobbins.  One is pictured here:

An Ikea knife holder corrals my scissors, screwdrivers, allen wrenches, and other assorted things.

Next up are these metal plates, also from Ikea. Several of them hung up end to end comprise my "inspiration boards". Notice the clothes pins holding up much of my junk? They are regular clothes pins with magnets from the dollar store glued to the backs.

Metal plates are also hung in another corner of the room. On those plates are magnetic jars (also from Ikea) with clear tops that hold extra pins, needles and chalk.

Finally I cannot recommend the product below enough. The magnet is small and strong. The coils are tight, but not too tight.

I use one of these holders on top of my longarm machine to holster my scissors. Since I have started putting my scissors in their holster I have misplaced them 90% less than I did before they had a convenient home.

Thanks for taking the tour. Please notice that I did not clean up for your visit. We're all friends, right?

"Quilting" Apps

Like any other industry, there are many apps targeted toward quilters. What apps on my phone do I use most for quilting? Not the ones designed for quilters. The two I use most often: 1. The Sirius Satellite Radio app. While quilting on my longarm I listen to Sirius and many different podcasts.

2. The flashlight app. Why? Because it is dark under my quilting frame, and I want to check on the stitches on the back of the quilts that I am working on.

Since I almost always have my phone on me (see #1), it is very easy to turn on the flashlight and check underneath to make sure my tension and stitches are still complying to my wishes.

This is what I see when I crouch down and peer underneath the quilt. (Although the flashlight isn't actually on here, because my camera flash was enough light to see what was going on.)

I am pretty sure the inventors of the flashlight app did not envision illuminating quilting stitches to be one of its uses!

Do any of you use the apps that are really designed for quilting??


Thread, Thread, and More Thread

Organization and systems work. Until suddenly they don't. Sometime in the last few months I could not stand my thread organization any longer. For 8+ years I have been holding my cones of thread in back-of-the-door shoe holders and that has worked just fine. Here is the "before" photo. (Also, be sure to admire my new dimmer switch in the middle of the peeled off paint.) Recently, cones have been migrating to other places in the room and seemed to spend more time spilling out of their holders than actually nestled inside. Last weekend I had enough. I went to JoAnn Fabrics while their thread racks were 50% off and bought 5 racks (I already had one). The clerk asked me, "How much thread do you HAVE?" A lot, my friend. A lot.

At this point I enlisted the help of my six-year-old. She got the job of sorting cones by color while I drilled holes and screwed in my six thread racks onto the back of the door. She made it about 3/4 through the sorting before she decided it would be more fun to play in her room. Who can blame her?

Now I have plenty of room for each cone, and room to grow, and I am ridiculously happy with the new arrangement. It is my new favorite "quilting thing".

There is still a shoe holder on the inside of my closet door, where cones used for winding bobbins are stored. The only reason I didn't add thread racks to that door is that I am afraid that the dowels will snag on the big rolls of batting I keep in there. Luckily it's easy to close that door and ignore what is inside.  Sorting through the closet is my next big project...



I often get asked about specific tools I use when quilting, so I am going to share some of my favorites. Besides my sewing machines, the tools I use most often are my Gingher scissors. I have a few different styles, but the most useful are the 4" embroidery scissors.


Three pair live at my house. One stays with my longarm, one with my Bernina, and the third travels with my hand stitching box. Their sharp, really pointy ends get to the base of  pesky threads, and they are small enough that I have no problem getting them into tight spaces.

When you drop them on concrete and the tips gets bent (ask how I know!) or they need to be sharpened just send them to Gingher and they will fix them for $7.50. And that includes the shipping fee to return them to you.

Just watch your toes when you drop them off of the quilt you are working on...they really are sharp.