Quilting at the Grocery Store

Disposable freezer containers are great for organizing. Use them for:

  • Use the small containers to keep your sewing machine feet and other small tools in one place.
  • Keeping your small paper piecing supplies in one place. Use it for your Add a Quarter ruler, tweezers, 18mm rotary cutter, extra blades, small mat, seam ripper, small scissors, etc.
  • If you have specialty thread with matching bobbins, keep them separated from your regular supplies in one of these containers.
  • Keep a permanent class supply box so you never have to search at the last minute. Put in it a short ruler, rotary cutter, extra blades, seam ripper, thread nipper, pins and pin cushion (or magnet), package of sewing machine needles, an extra light bulb for your machine, a disposable camera, spare thread and at least one filled bobbin. Use an old eyeglasses case for your rotary cutter.
  • Small quilt embellishments, like beads, sequins, ribbons, etc an be sorted into empty spice jars or baby food jars and kept in one place with one of these containers. Put the things you use with these embellishments (like specialty thread and needles, sharp scissors) in the same container.
  • Storing cut freezer paper, press-n-seal or omnigrip
  • Storing cut pieces of fusible interfacing or embroidery stabilzers
  • Small templates and rulers
  • Sorting your scraps by size and/or color

Rubbermaid makes a large fishing tackle box which works well as a sewing box. The divided trays are great for thread. Some have a clear covered box on the top for smaller items and notions. The bottom holds larger thread, gloves for machine quilting, and packages of needles. The closure is more secure than sewing boxes. It is very organized and portable for taking to classes and retreats.

You can also purchase clear plastic boxes in the toy store used for storing matchbook cars. These are great for storing a variety of threads.

Pizza boxes (clean) work great for storing WISPs. They stack nicely and keep blocks flat and neat. Most pizza places will sell them for 50 cents or if you are a regular may even give you a couple. They are also nice to carry projects to and from classes

Coffee Filters can be used for:

  • Applying shoe polish.
  • As a stabilizer when embroidering or appliqueing soft fabrics.
  • Holding dry ingredients when baking or when cutting veggies.. Saves on having extra bowls to wash.
  • Clean windows, mirrors, and chrome... Coffee filters are lint-free they'll leave windows sparkling.
  • Cover bowls or dishes when cooking in the microwave. Coffee filters make excellent covers.
  • Do you think we used expensive strips to wax eyebrows? Use strips of coffee filters..
  • Filter broken cork from wine. If you break the cork when opening a wine bottle, filter the wine through a coffee filter. Also if tea bag breaks, use it to strain.
  • Hold tacos. Coffee filters make convenient wrappers for messy foods.
  • Keep in the bathroom. They make great "razor nick fixers."
  • Prevent a Popsicle from dripping. Poke one or two holes as needed in a coffee filter.
  • Protect a cast-iron skillet. Place a coffee filter in the skillet to absorb moisture and prevent rust.
  • Protect China by separating your good dishes with a coffee filter between each dish.
  • Put baking soda into a coffee filter and insert into shoes or a closet to absorb or prevent odors.
  • Put a few in a plate and put your fried bacon, French fries, chicken fingers, etc on them. It soaks out all the grease.
  • Recycle frying oil. After frying, strain oil through a sieve lined with a coffee filter.
  • Stop the soil from leaking out of a plant pot. Line a plant pot with a coffee filter to prevent the soil from going through the drainage holes.
  • Use them as a spoon rest while cooking and clean up small counter spills.
  • Use coffee filters as blotting paper for pressed flowers. Place the flowers between two coffee filters and put the coffee filters in phonebook.
  • Use a coffee filter to prevent spilling when you add fluids to your car.
  • Use them to strain soup stock and to tie fresh herbs in to put in soups and stews.
  • Use them to wrap Christmas ornaments for storage.
  • Use them to remove fingernail polish when out of cotton balls.
  • Use them to sprout seeds. Simply dampen the coffee filter, place seeds inside, fold it and place it into a plastic baggie until they sprout.
  • Use as a disposable "snack bowl" for popcorn, chips, etc.
  • Weigh chopped foods. Place chopped ingredients in a coffee filter on a kitchen scale.

Next time you are in the office supply store, take a walk down the folder aisle. Regular folders will help you keep track of small block templates, leftover template plastic and pieces of fusible. Expanding folders can be used to hold finished blocks, or block pieces. A large Art portfolio can be used to carry a cutting mat, long rulers and other material to classes

Other items you can buy at an office supply store:

  • Vet wrap is a stretchy, rubberized crinkled material use as an under thimble. Because it sticks to itself, you can use it as a wrap around thread to keep it from unwrapping.
  • Plastic dots for putting on your index finger and thumb to help you pull your needle though the three layers when hand quilting.
  • Rubber finger cots will do the same thing. They are also good for gripping the fabric when machine quilting.
  • Disposable rubber gloves (or garden gloves) will also help with machine quilting.
  • Clear zip folders meant for keeping small items in a three ring binder also work well for keeping patterns, templates, pre-threaded needles and thimbles in one place.
  • Rubberized shelf liner will keep your foot pedal from traveling.
  • Colored pencils are great not only for coloring graph paper (which you can also buy at an office supply store) but also for highlighting or emphasizing directions in complicated patterns.
  • Rubber door stoppers to tilt your sewing machine table by putting them under the back of your machine.
  • For a sewing table, use a computer table from the office supply store. Put your machine into the cut out where the keyboard tray drops down, and you have a large surface almost exactly flush with the machine
  • electric tape. It's a black plastic with something that sticks on the back, so you cut a strip and wrap it around my finger to protect it when quilting.
  • Student plastic report covers in green and red can be used as Ruby and Jade
  • Beholders
  • Tiny post-it notes can help you identify your rows (or block arrangements). It's good to use on rulers or patterns too because it doesn't leave adhesive residue.
  • Make a sewing table by using a door. If you purchase 2 dressers to lay the door on, you can put a large cutting mat on top and have a 36 by 80 cutting area.
  • Save clear 35mm film containers empty Crystal Lite tubes for storing buttons and pins.
  • 2" wide masking/drafting tape for taping down the backs of quilts when basting on a table
  • 72" straight metal measurer -- longer than a yardstick. It has such a wonderful long, sturdy, straight edge
  • wooden molding strips in different widths to use as a guide for marking quilting lines
  • Bicycle clips that quilters use to 'tie up' their quilt while machine quilting
  • freezer tape to mark templates, pieces, and blocks for order placement. ]
  • Instead of scotch tape, use Dermacil paper tape purchased at the drug store. You can easily reposition the tape. will help you keep your template pieces together.
  • large frig magnet to keep my needles and pins on when quilting/sewing.
  • Sandpaper dots for the back of your rulers to help them adhere to the fabric
  • Clear first aid tape to put on the back of your rulers. These are thinner than the sandpaper dots.
  • Use skirt or pants hangers to keep your strips straight until you can use them.
  • Freezer paper makes a wonder stabilizer for machine applique. You can iron it flat, cut it to 8 1/2" x 11" and run it through your ink jet printer to print out templates.
  • brass plated "peep hole" purchased at the hardware store. Use it to look through while designing watercolor quilts and to check out blocks on your design wall. It gives you a different perspective of your design and appears as though you are further away
  • glad press n seal
  • zip loc bags
  • the retractable scissors gadget from the fishing department

Stackable plastic drawers will help you store items for sewing. Use the drawers to store your extra scissors, pinking shears, smaller rulers, chalk, pigma pens, pencil and pencil sharpener.

Save your money for quilt fabric! Here are great tips for using everyday items in original ways to save time and money in quilting.