November 2021 – Tips of the Trade

Our guild held its November meeting on Nov. 9th, 2021. We had an in-house speaker for the first time in almost 2 years!  We started our meeting promptly, and our Program Chair, Teresa R., introduced our special guest. Check out the pictures from our November meeting in addition to the ones included below.

Business topics were discussed after the speaker (see the bottom of this post). There was no time for Show & Tell this month, but we did have refreshments. (Thanks, Gail vH. and Kathy R.!)

Our Speaker: Lee Chappell-Monroe

Lee Chappell-Monroe is “nearly local” – from Winston-Salem, NC. She is trained in graphic design.  Her blog and website are at (May is the name of her grandmother, who taught her to sew.)  Lee’s book for beginners is “Jump Into Sewing.”  Lee was a wonderful speaker and shared over 50 tips with us.  She started and went very fast so I got as many as I could!

[Thanks to Sylvia H., who acted as scribe for the following lists of “Tips of the Trade.”] Go to the Members Only section of our website to access Sylvia’s printable list of Lee’s tips.

Lee brought a PowerPoint Presentation


  • Easiest way to pick your colors for your project is to pick the main fabric and then look at the selvage edge to choose your other colors. 
  • Selvage colors can be a row of inks which were used to print the main fabric. 
  • Printed selvage can be used on patterns to show the position that you want to use that color in. 
  • Paint chips can be used to take shopping with you to show the right shade that you are looking for.
  • Take a black and white picture with your cell phone to see the value of your fabrics. 
  • Starch should be sprayed on the back of fabric first and then turn to front and iron.
  • Lint rollers are great for picking up the fabric dust that often comes with pre cuts.
  • Put your pen down first when marking corner to corner then slide ruler to pen.
  • Have a pressing plan, draw block on graph paper to choose which seams need to be pressed to help them nest and interlock.


  • Use Washi tape on your ruler to mark your cutting line when you are cutting several pieces that are the same size.
  • Instead of buying more rulers, stack your rulers side-by-side to make larger cuts.
  • Use a used rotary cutter blade to cut paper (for foundation piecing).  Or dedicate a separate rotary cutter for use on paper projects.
  • Lee’s favorite ruler brand is the Bloc Lok rulers.
  • When cutting small pieces of fabric, use washi tape and tape the small piece down to your cutting mat for cutting correctly.


  • When using a special decorative stitch on your machine, take a picture of the setting and the project to refer back to later.
  • When using special stitches, sew at half speed and the stitches will be nicer.  Set your speed with the button and hold the pedal all the way down for consistent sewing (like cruise control).
  • For quilting or top-stitching, light thread blends in and dark thread highlights.
  • You can use thread of any color for piecing, as long as it has the same “value” as the fabric.
  • Buy large cones of thread to save money. 
  • Make small, numbered pieces of paper to sew into your chain pieces to help organize your groups of chains.
  • Put tick marks on sashing where the blocks should align.
  • Sometimes pieces are not quite large enough for a standard seam allowance.  When this happens, shorten stitch length to 2.0 to make the stitching more secure.
  • If you are pressing your seams open, use a shorter stitch length.
  • When sewing half square triangles, use Washi tape on your machine as a guide. 
  • When sewing Dresden’s together, start down ½” and reverse to sew back to the beginning (to hide the string tails).
  • Lone Star block, use a pin and make a hole at ¼”. Sew to hole.
  • Sew until presser foot is on top of pin before removing it.
  • When sewing points – sew half way through the point to make sure it will match.
  • Make sure that you have an accurate ¼” seam
  • App on phone- Layout, make one block, take a picture and then you can “make” as many blocks as you would need to visualize your finished quilt.


  • Cross wound thread should be loaded horizontal and straight wound can be either horizontal or vertical.
  • Use a straw to lengthen your spool holder.
  • Never pull your thread backwards through the tension discs.  Cut it off at the top of machine.
  • Use foam shelf liner to prevent your machine from moving.
  • When you break a needle use the new needle to lay beside the pieces to make sure you got them all. 


  • Put your ruler on your quilt to quilt straight lines.
  • Wind a bobbin 95% full and then another one 100% full to use in the bobbin so you can tell by the top bobbin how much thread is left below. 
  • Label your quilts.
  • Permanent and colorfast markers can be used to make labels. Sharpies are not colorfast.
  • Overlap binding the same width to join perfectly.
  • Lick your needle before you thread it.
  • When hand sewing, thread needle as the thread comes off the spool.
  • Use self-threading needles if you have trouble seeing.


  • When traveling with your machine, use the seat belt through the handle to secure.
  • Pre-thread needles for hand sewing (so you won’t have to do it while moving).  Fold each into a Post It Note.
  • Wrap pressed blocks together with plastic wrap.
  • To get wrinkles out of vinyl, wet a fat quarter and iron it dry on top of the vinyl.
  • Use clip to connect all rulers together.
  • Wrap trim around a comic book board.
  • Scraps- sort by size to make finding the size you need easier.
  • Use paper towel tubes to label stabilizers and interfacings.

Trunk Show

The speaker then showed us several of her quilts.

Scrappy Star (on right)
Carolina Quilt
Designer Star
Blooming Dresden

She sold us some of her patterns and then we closed the meeting after a short business meeting.

Business Meeting Topics

Most important was electing our 2022 Board of Directors (officers and committee chairs). Mary conducted the business of elections, where the slate was formally adopted as presented. (The Boutique Committee still needs a leader.) Congratulations to all who stepped up to lead! (See names of 2022 officers and committee chairs.) Mary also noted that she was waiting for more members to respond to the survey she had handed out last month to find out preferences for future programming.

Lisa and Sheila spoke about the next Boutique/Raffle event, which will be at the Mebane Arts Center on November 20.

Sylvia gave an exciting report from the Hospitality Committee about the upcoming Christmas Party. The Guild will be collecting unwrapped gifts for Christmas Cheer. Toys for older boys and toiletry items for older girls are items that are most needed. We will be having an ornament exchange (Dirty Santa) – bring this item unwrapped also. Ann A. will set up a tree and each ornament will get a number. Sign up for appetizers. Wear festive attire. Another item of entertainment is the “Seasons and Holidays Challenge,” sponsored by the Programs Committee. Prizes will be awarded. See details in the newsletter.

As a newly-elected leader of the Retreat Committee, Enola collected input from members via a survey about what kinds of events we would be interested in for next year. Speaking of Retreats, a big Thank You! goes to Ann A. for organizing two fall retreats – one at Lake Gaston and one in Denton (just completed). Too bad there was no time for Show and Tell at the November Guild Meeting, but look for retreat-related blog posts!

Ann L. reported on the 2022 “Art Feeds the Soul” Quilt Show. Forms are now available to enter your quilts. Rules and Entry Forms are also in the Members Only section of the website. Start planning your entries, as we hope everyone will participate!

There will be a Sew Day on Saturday, Nov. 13.

[The End]

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