Please join me in welcoming today’s guest blogger, Melissa Stramel of Lilac Lane. She’s sharing some sewing and quilting tips with us. Be sure to also check out her basics of quilting series; it’s fantastic. Readers can also save 30% off Melissa’s patterns using the coupon code below.

Hi everyone! Thanks so much to Michele for inviting me to share with you all today.

Over at Lilac Lane, we’ve been spending the last couple of months learning the VERY BASICS of quilting. If you’d like to check that out, it’s there for all time, or until Blogger breaks down. haha Anyway, it goes through step-by-step everything you need to know to quilt. Everything from supplies to choosing colors and patterns and sewing.

As a pattern designer, I want everyone to learn how to sew! But not just so you can buy my patterns. I think there is such a sense of accomplishment when you create something yourself.

I thought today I would give you some tips that will help beginning sewists, but might also be new to more advanced seamstresses.


The iron is your very best friend in sewing. Until I figured that out, my projects were pretty cruddy. If you think about it, the iron flattens wrinkled fabric, turns back seam allowances, sets seams and does a myriad of other things.


  • Never iron with your iron. No, we want to press, a simple up and down motion. Ironing — moving the iron from side to side — can stretch your fabric.
  • Use a lot of steam. Some will disagree, but I LOVE steam. It’s the easiest way to get rid of wrinkles. I love how it sets seams.
  • Sewing is full of gunky adhesives, fusible interfacings, wonder under, etc. All of these things can really gunk up your iron. And that stuff can get transferred to your fabric. Take a dryer sheet and rub it on the plate of your iron while the iron is hot (I use an oven mitt) to remove all that gunk. It works like a charm. Just make sure to remove the greasy stuff before using it on your fabric again. I rub the iron on a scrap of fabric and then you’re ready to go!


I love knits. To me, they are the easiest fabric to make garments from. After all, you can usually skip the buttons, zipper and finishing seams. But there are a few tips to keep in mind.


  • Prewash! Knits shrink A LOT the first time you wash them. Wash exactly as you intend to wash the finished garment.
  • Use a ball-point needle. They’re available everywhere and won’t snag your knits.
  • I sew with a long, thin zigzag. Just enough so that you can barely tell it’s a zigzag. This allows the knits to stretch.
  • While we’re talking about stretch, don’t forget to use polyester thread!


Rotary cutters and rulers are such time savers for a quilter and for a garment maker. We’d be lost without them. If you’re new to quilting, you can get by with a good 6″ x 24″ ruler.


  • Keep your blade sharp. The duller the blade, the harder you have to push, which can lead to nasty accidents.
  • Line your body up with your cutting table. It helps to put your cutting mat on a corner. Then you can always cut “straight on”.
  • Keep firm pressure on the ruler with your left (right if you’re left-handed) hand. Try to focus the pressure downward so the ruler won’t slip.
  • While we’re talking about slipping, always cover the fabric piece you are cutting with the ruler. If you do slip, you won’t ruin your good piece, just a bit of the extra — and it will be fixable!

My Number One Tip for Quilters:

Invest in a quarter inch foot with a guide along the side! These are usually fairly inexpensive and will make a world of difference in your quilting. After all, in quilting, size does matter. Of the seams that is!

And if you made it this far, I’m happy to offer Quilting Gallery readers a coupon for 30% off my patterns with the code QUILTINGGALLERY. Just visit my store at Coupon is valid for one month (until Feb. 19th 2012).

Melissa Stramel patterns



Guest Blogger: Melissa Stramel is sharing sewing & quilting tips

2 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: Melissa Stramel is sharing sewing & quilting tips

  • January 20, 2012 at 6:18 am

    Thanks for the tips! Now I’m off to check out your patterns– I haven’t done garments yet, but I like what you showed and the bags, too. The family tree pattern really caught my eye!

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