Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tool time with Benita and her Quilting Tools from Around Your Home

Hi! My name is Benita Skinner, and in case you don't know who I am, let me introduce myself.
I'm an independent quilt pattern designer and I offer my patterns exclusively online, through my site Victoriana Quilt Designs.

This year I'm celebrating the sites 10th Anniversary!

When I saw the special tool theme Madame Samm had planned for us this month, I emailed her right away to ask to do this post.

It's always fun to buy the neat, newest gadgets for our quilting, but I adore finding uses or 'reuses' for everyday items you probably already have around the house.

This harkens back to the 'frugal' roots of patchwork, being raised by
parents who went through the depression and WWII, and also fits nicely with
my personal green off grid lifestyle :)

I hope you have fun gathering these as your newest quilting tools!

1. A Thread Catcher Tip.

Make this thread catcher to catch the thread bits that you clip or pick off your
patches as you sew.
It's easy to put together with a large covered button, you might already have in your stash.

I removed the shank on the back, cut a circle of cotton batting,
and put this thread catcher together.

Now it sits in front of my sewing machine, and magically holds the threads until I'm ready to move the batch accumulated, into a large 'tiny fabric bits' tin, which I save to stuff
pet beds (older pillowcases) to donate to my local animal shelter!

2. To Draw on Fabric or Quilt Blocks.

Use a sheet of fine grade piece of sandpaper and tape it to a cardboard with masking tape.
Your fabric does not move around and you get better results.

3. Finger Press.

Long before I got the wooden finger press you can purchase from a quilt shop
[The one pictured above was only recently found in a local thrift store,
as part of a trim/embellishment package],
I used the half of a wooden clothespin pictured...It works as good!

4. Paint Brush.

This clean, fluffy paint brush makes a great tool to remove the dust that
hides in the nooks of the sewing machine.

5. Cardboard/Box Board for Templates.

Every home uses food products that come in cardboard boxes, known as box board...Think cereal, crackers, etc. This cardboard makes great template material for your quilting.

Trace your shapes onto the cardboard with transfer paper or glue the printed paper template down, and cut out the shape with a craft knife.

6. Repurpose an Old Tin.

I really like reusing items like tins, as storage for my sewing items.

I found this tin perfectly holds my large spool of basting thread,
so I turned the lid upside down, on a piece of wood, and hammered a nail
gently through the centre of the lid.

I pull the thread through the hole, as I need it, and now the
spool stays dust free and looks much prettier!

Do you already use these?
If you have others I didn't mention here, be sure to share them in the comments below!

And now for some giveaway fun...

Visit my Pattern Page, pick the quilt pattern you would like to win.
There are many to choose from and I'm sure you will find one you'd love to make.

To enter post a comment with the name of your pattern choice on my Facebook wall.
Or you could also sign up for my newsletter, and then email me
[benita@@victorianaquiltdesigns.com] to let me know your choice.

I'll draw the winner a week from now ~>Thursday, January 12th...Good Luck!

And be sure to check out the other quilty items I offer, including
the complimentary patterns, printable quilty bookmarks and calculator charts that are available to you as a Thank You for visiting.

Plus start collecting the new design of the week available throughout 2012.


(((big hugs)))

Benita Skinner
Victoriana Quilt Designs


  1. Hi Benita. Thanks for a great post - lots of useful tips there.
    I use a paint brush to clean my machine and there is NEVER any cardboard around the cereal because I utilise it ! Afraid to say I use the floor as my thread catcher so I like that idea (must try and be more tidy!)
    I love your Victoriana Album pattern. It's gorgeous:)

  2. I use plastic for templates too. The lids from yogurt or cottage cheese containers, covers off old school reports etc. And I love to use pretty tins to store things - buttons, safety pins, needles, threads. I do need to make some kind of order to them though.

  3. I like using bamboo bbq skewer as a stiletto to guide fabric under feed dogs. I love the thread catcher - I really need one of those!

  4. Wonderful tutorial! Thank you! I use the sandpaper trick and love it! Interetsing idea with the clothpine, i will have to try it!

  5. Thanks for your awesome tips. Yes it´s easy to buy these gadgets instead of being inventive with the things around us.

  6. Great tools and wonderful tips1 I especially like the first and last.

  7. Good Morning Benita...well my fav is indeed the thread catcher button..pretty cool. the tin for your threads ideal..way cool...
    thanks for dropping in ..

  8. What great ideas Benita! Thank you for sharing them with us.

  9. Thanks for the great ideas. I have been using an old paint brush to get out lint for some time. The stiff bristle one seems to grab the lint better.

    I reuse medicine bottles to drop used needles and bent pins so they don't stick someone once I toss them in the trash. Also a prescription bottle (some of them) are the perfect size for a spool of Gutterman or Aurifil thread and a matching bobbin - no loose threads AND it keeps them together.

  10. Very cool ideas. I especially like the half a clothes pin press.

  11. When we go to our local Asian restaurant, I always ask for a set of their disposable wooden chopsticks. Then when we get home, I sharpen one end in a pencil sharpener and use it as a stiletto. If I lose it, break it or misplace it, I always have plenty of spares.

  12. Benita: I love it when we can repurpose things we have instead of throwing them away. Here's one of my favorites. Save the cotton batting you trim off the sides of your quilts and use it as dust cloths. They pick up the dust beautifully and You don't have to wash them.

  13. I'm so glad to wake up and read how much you are enjoying my post.

    I love all the extra ideas...Thanks for posting them!
    -Plastic lids from Janet
    -Bamboo bbq skewer or chopsticks for a stiletto (Quiltalicious & Karen)
    I've heard of using a chopstick to hang very small wallhangings :)
    -Medicine bottles to hold thread & matching bobbins from Gene.
    -Gene...Yes, my brush does the same.
    -matate...I do use those scraps for that purpose, too!

    Keep the great ideas coming...


  14. I love hearing about people's favorite tools! I am going to make a thread catcher this afternoon!

    In stitches,
    Teresa :o)

  15. Hi Benita! I love to repurpose, too! But I have to save them for "my day" of sharing! lol That covered button would be a great little "gift" for my quilting friends! Thanks for the ideas! Great tut!!

  16. What wonderful ideas Benita - I have used a couple of them but I love the button thread catcher and the clothespin for a finger press. I do use the sandpaper - have glued it inside a manila folder and keep it on a shelf above my cutting table/drawing table. I have a store-bought thread holder similar to the one you made but it's much too small for my big rolls of embroidery thread so I'm going to be on the lookout for a larger tin! Thanks so much for these ideas. blessings, marlene

  17. Always great ideas for repurposing everyday trash. I like glass jars in fun sized and cool shapes for storing buttons. I once received a sample CD in a tin which I now use for small applique cutouts that didn't get used.

  18. Wonderful ideas, Benita! I especially like the wooden clothespin for pressing those small seams. And what a pretty way to store your thread and keep it dust-free --- I'm going to be watching to see if I can find a tin like that! Thanks for a great post!

  19. Love all the ideas from everyone. I do use the sandpaper for marking. Need to make on of the thread catchers today..Also like the idea of dusting with left over batting..Everyone have a great day

  20. Hi I just love tins I have all sorts in different designs and sizes to keep all sorts of bits and bobs I even have one that belonged to my Father during the last war that I keep really special things in. love your site. Margaret

  21. Love these ideas! I put a strip of scrap batting in front of my machine to catch my threads. I made a couple of "fancy" thread catchers for gifts by putting a small around a rectangle of batting and gave them out at a guild workshop as "prizes" I think I'll make some buttons now

  22. Thanks for the refreshing "make it do" style post. We repurpose many household items for quilting. None of our magazines have stiff inserts as they are paper templates for basting my hexagons! Packing paper becomes foundation paper for piecing.

  23. I love the ideas that you have shared... I have reused my Plastic Yogurt or Sourcream container as a small table top garbage bin for trimmings.. Easier to hit when picking up.. You can see a pix of how I cut out the top at my blog. www.quiltmonstercloset.com under organizing here post :)
    Thanks for all the extra tips too..I like the Chopstick stiletto :) Happy NEW YEAR!

  24. Some wonderful ideas here and with the savings (not spent on tools), I can buy more fabric. tehe! Thanks for the great post.

  25. Hi Benita, thanks for sharing such great ideas. I love to repurpose, and who doesn't love to save money! I use rubber door stops under the back of my sewing machine to tilt it toward me-easier to see what I am doing.

  26. Well, ladies, and Gent, I have learned more from this post and your comments than all the blogs I've read in a week!! Love the clothespin for a press!! I use the sandpaper and I make a little larger thread catcher by folding over a rectangle of pretty scrap fabric with matching size batting as a second layer (I trim it about 1/8 smaller than the outside fabric cover) Fold and Voila!! Great portable thread catcher.
    I use one of those mint containers with a snap lid to hold my thread.
    Great ideas. I've visited your blog before...love it
    Gmama jane

  27. Thanks for the tips! I also use a brush to get to the nooks and crannies of my sewing machine. I explored your site and really love the Tumbler Star pattern. I will have to do some more in-depth exploring of your site. Looking forward to it!

  28. Thank you for sharing these wonderful tips. Although I am not a quilter I do sew and each of these will work for me quite well. Blissful and Creative 2012...

  29. So many pretty patterns!! I really love the Celestial Wonderings!! Beautiful! :-)

  30. I love the little sewing kit! Thank you for the giveaway!

  31. The winner of the pattern is: Pat Vetterlein
    Pat chose my Father Christmas - She wrote "I have always loved your Crazy Quilt Father Christmas. It's my favorite of all your patterns!" ♥

    Thanks Everyone who Entered!



You think they are just words...they are sew much more than that...your wee messages tell me, you are kind, smart and important...