Linda Danielzik

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        Here I want to share with you some of my personal tips and observations that I believe make my quilt-making more efficient and give me the results I want. Perfect results are a habit carried over from my dressmaking days and hoped for in all of my hobbies. Both my parents where very talented and very particular, so I give them credit for my abilities, and blame them for being called "picky" by my sister.

        I also like my students to thrive for perfection and to be their own biggest critic. Never mind, that someone else may not see or care about a mistake or imperfection - they themselves know and that what's important.The satisfaction of a job well done is the biggest confidence builder.

        I hope you'll try some of these tips, maybe even improve upon them - Any tips and/or comments you have, please e-mail me. I learn from my students and I'm always interested in new tricks.

Happy Quilting,
Linda D.

  • Pre-washing Fabric
  • Cleaning
  • Finger Pressing
  • Pressing
  • Bulky Intersections
  • Seams
  • Threads
  • Chain Piecing
  • Projects
  • Fabric Stash
  • Change Sizes
  • Lighting
  • Equipment
  • Cutting Mats
  • Rulers
  • Machine Quilting
  • Children
  • Binding


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            Buy fabric at a quilt shop or a good fabric store. With fabric you get what you pay for. Learn the difference in quality by feeling and touching. Look through the fabric against a light to see the thread count. Too much sizing is also a sign of poor quality, so is the poor colour contrast along the selvage. Look for the word "copyright" along the selvage. Often it means that this pattern was popular and the right to use this pattern was sold to another companny and often printed off-shore on a lower grade of cotton.

            I never pre-wash my fabrics and never had any problems. If you are in doubt, sew a small swatch to a piece of white fabric, test it in hot soapy water to see if it runs. If any of the dye is transferred to the white fabric, don't use it. Red and black fabrics sometime bleed.

            The problem with pre-washing is not the washing - but the ironing afterwards. Its hard to iron a large piece of fabric without distorting it. Ironing on the cross grain or bias will do that and even worse if using a steam iron.


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            Unless your quilt is really dirty, don't wash it too often. If you do - use a front-loading washing machine only, cold water and a quality quilt or fine wash soap. Or take it to a good dry cleaner that specializes in quilts. Remember the cost and effort you put into that quilt. Do teach everyone in your family to treat that quilt with love and the respect it deserves. It they don't - take it away

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            It should be called Finger Nail Pressing (FNP) Using the soft fingertips will not give enough of a crease, and it can transfer oils from your hands to the fabric. To get a sharp crease without a hot iron, use the tip of the thumbnail to run along the right side of the seam. This will pre-press the seam but still leave that little ridge you need for matching the seams without pinning. On bias seams use short strokes and be careful not to stretch out of shape. After a while you'll learn how much pressure to apply.

            If your nails are not strong enough, use the edge of a coin instead. Learning to use the right FNP saves you many trips to the ironing board.


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            Use a dry iron only during construction of a quilt. Steam can change the shape of a block and set in permanently. Only a completed top should be steam pressed by section, but let to cool completely before moving to the next section. An ironing board with a suction motor speeds up the cooling process. A cold hairdryer also works.


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            Intersections with many seams like in Kaleidoscopes become a thick and bulky. Pressing seams open is some help, use a hard surface to iron on really works. A tailor clapper or a clean wooden cutting board. But the best I found is a piece of hardwood stair-railing. Place it rounds side up, press seams and intersections exerting lots of pressure. Compare it with seams pressed on a normal ironing board and you'll see difference. But remember a DRY IRON.


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            Traditional quilt seams are pressed to one side - first to make the hand sewn seams stronger, second to help with butting-up seam for easier matching. The downside of that is the ridge that appears along the seam and even more in the intersections. Pressing as described above helps somewhat, but I found that pressing the seams open makes a nice flat quilt top. As quilts are backed with batting and backing, any strength lost by the open seams is restored and further strengthen with machine quilting. Wallhangings are perfect candidates for pressed-open seam construction.


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            Rule #1: For piecing never use a thread that is stronger than your fabric (e.g. Polyester). If your seams rip under a strain, the thread should break not your fabric - making repairs possible.

            Rule #2: Always use a contrasting thread for piecing. I mostly use off-white, even on black. It will make it easier to see, when you unsew!! If you ever tried to take out a black thread on a black fabric in the evening, you know what I mean. Take time to test your seams on a scrap of your quilt fabric, adjust the tension of your machine until the thread cannot be seen when the seam is pulled apart.

            Rule #3: Keep all your threads in sealed jars or plastic zip-lock bags to prevent them from drying out.

            For hand quilting I use only one colour(usually off-white) for the whole quilt. One of my favoured is the DMC Tatting thread Size 80. I use the black for the Stained Glass Poinsettia. It shows up nicely and many colours are available. (See Link-I use it for tatting too)

    But for machine quilting l like to use thread in matching colours or close to it. The new variegated threads give a nice result too. I do suggest trying it first on a sample. Some time one or two of the colours show up too much. The new invisible nylon thread are great and now withstand the heat of an iron. I use them on top or back and sometime on both sides. You'll get the texture without seeing the thread.


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            Most important is a well maintained machine. You should clean the bobbin area each time you refill the bobbin. Oil you machine according to the machine's manual or at least after 8 hours of sewing. At that time do a thorough cleaning too. Lint that has accumulated under the throatplate will cause trouble every time.

            Use the "Needle-down" position at the end of the seam, automatically or manually, then push the next piece right up against the needle and the first stitch will grab the fabric on the first stitch, thereby avoid "eating" it.

            Use pre-wound boobins, available from your sewing machine dealer, they have a lot more thread on them than the ones you wind yourself. There are different threads and colours available. You can also order them from ""

            ONE MORE THING - Practice good housekeeping and neatly cut your thread on both ends every time you finish a seam and discard the thread - thus avoiding thread-ends peeking in the seams and having a piece looking like a shag carpet.


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            Keep each project in see-through storage boxes and in sight until finished. If you're like me with many projects in the works - having them in your face and nagging you, will remind you to work on them whenever you have time. Next thing you know, it's done.


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            I keep most of my fabrics on shelves, folded and sorted by colours and covered with curtains to prevent fading. Lots are on bolts and in boxes in the basement. If only I could remember to use the fabrics I have, and not to buy more shelving.


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            Starting a quilt is based more on inspiration than on need. Only a general size, large or small is known. Depending on the outcome it will then be left at that or continued on. Unless the quilt is made from an actual pattern or a special gift like a wedding present, the size of the project in not planned. The following are some ways to change the size of a quilt.

            Setting your blocks on point will make your quilt half again as big. Add a setting block of a complementary fabric if you don't have enough. Adding Borders, plain or pieced will make any top larger.


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             Good lighting is very, very important. As one gets older, more light is needed to see. Buy the best "daylight" light that you can afford and let it shine directly at your work and not in your face. I have splurged on a "daylight therapy light and it's wonderful.

            Black and dark fabrics are best worked at during sunny daylight hours. If you're straining to see, put your work aside until you can.


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             By now you know that I am a fan of "Pfaff" sewing machines. Whatever your choice of brand, buy the best you can afford and buy a machine that lets you do what you want. Some of the so-called conveniences turn out not so convenient. Good things to have are a needle up&down options, build in even-feed and an accurate 1/4" seam. If you never embroider anything, don't waste your money on an embroidery machine.

             If you are occupying the dining room table to quilt, invest in a cabinet for your sewing machine - or - instead of your family buying you all kinds of useless gifts have them put their resources together to give you something that you will use forever. The selections are so great- look at the "Horn of" website to see what is there.

            There is an affordable new portable table on the market. Go to "" and have a look- it could be the answer to you prayers. I have two and highly recommend getting one if you are are short on space and/or money. I go nowhere without them and use them to sew on my sundeck in the sommer.


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            The grid side of the mats are great to check if the strips are straight or for other squaring-up - but not good for measuring and cutting. Use the blank side and your ruler for cutting. Using the grid side for repeated cutting on the same spots will eventually ruin you mat. These mats are self-healing, but not indestructible.


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            I'll try any ruler that makes my cutting easier and more efficient. However, stick with the same brand of ruler for a project, to make sure the the measurement are compatible. "Omnigrid" rulers are the basics no one can do without and just about any kind of cutting can be done successfully.

            There are many specialty rulers on the market. I think I tried them all. See the selection available at your quilt shop. Every new project will tempt you to by a new ruler. First try the rulers you have on hand. These rulers are not cheap; buy them only if you plan on using it for many future projects..


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            If you are lucky enough to own a long-arm quilting machine, you are the expert and could tell us a few things. Now us mere mortals with our domestic machines are somewhat limited in the sizes of quilts. A domestic frame is nice to have, if you have the space. I have a "B-Line" frame that is very sturdy and I'm happy with it. I have used it for a while now - meandering is really the easiest thing for me and the fastest. As for pantograph quilting - only a max of 5" width is comfortable.I use it on borders sometimes . The company now has patterns that are specially made for the B-Line. I still need to practice so I use it for rush projects and smaller quilts. However all my large and special quilts will remain in Rose Momsen's capable hands for that professional touch.


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             "Bouncing Baby Girls and Boys" - we love them dearly. Childred love to bounce on any soft surface, like your couch and on your bed with your quilts on it. Your mattress can stand it but not your quilts. It will break the stitches or worse - rip the fabric. Let them have their fun, but remove your quilts first.


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            A poor binding job on a beautiful quilt makes me almost cry. All that work and it is ruined by wavy edges.

            Not all quilts are created square. Bias blocks, cross grain sashing and borders, uneven seams and heavy quilting in some areas - all can contribute to a lopsided quilt. At this point the binding is the last chance to make is square.

            It always amazes me, that of all the instructions I have seen in the books and magazines I have, not one of them suggests measuring the binding. It says to measure the quilt,so why not the binding?. Also most of the bindings are on a bias, which is ok on rounded or curved edges. But if its a straight edge, make it a straight binding, best cut on the length of grain. So please measure the binding to match the measurement you have taken through the centers so that all side have the same measurement.I have devoted a whole class on the subject.

          It may interest you that I sew most of my binding to the back first and then finish by machine on the front of the quilt. All machine stitched makes for a very strong edge.

           Call or write and I will send you detailed instruction.


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