Tips And Tools Tuesday – Don’t buy C.H.E.A.P.

Today, I want to share with you an important lesson that I learned the hard way.

Lesson :     DON’T  BUY  CHEAP!

If it is at all possible, always buy the best product that you can afford. It will actually save you money (not to mention time, aggravation,  and discouragement) in the long run. Yes, I speak from experience.

I’ve come up with an acrostic which helps me to remember to not buy cheap.  Here goes…

C. = Count on

H. = Headaches in

E. = Every

A. = Area of the

P. = Project


I absolutely LOVE hand-quilting, but it takes sooooo long to finish a quilt. Recently, I have gotten interested in trying to do my own machine-quilting. I had attempted it years ago when I was fairly new into quilting, and frankly struggled with it. I pin-basted the quilt as instructed, but it was a real pain to remove the pins as I came to them. They were in the way, and would catch on each other when I attempted to scrunch and smoosh the quilt through the arm of my machine. GRRRRR! So for the last 15 years, I’ve only hand-quilted.

Since starting my quilt pattern designing business, The Lookout Mountain Quilter, LLC, I’m designing and sewing faster than ever. I can’t hand-quilt my designs fast enough and frankly can’t afford to have all of my creations machine-quilted by a professional. So, I’ve started machine quilting once more. But this time, I’ve discovered…

spray basting.

Halleluia!!!!!!   What an incredible invention!

I decided that a baby quilt would be the perfect size on which to practice.

I’d made the top, had it layered with the batting and backing, and pin basted it about 12 years ago. And there it sat, on the shelf, waiting to be quilted. But my previous machine-quilting experience had left me gun-shy to try it again. So, I decided that this little cutie was the perfect project to practice machine-quilting with the spray basting.

I went shopping.

While in the fabric department of a local superstore, I found spray basting products from two different manufacturers. One was about $8 and the other about $15. Both were brand names that I recognized. My thought process was “Why should I spend $15 when I can get the same thing for $8?” Of course, I picked up the $8 can and put it in my cart. ” After all, it’s just a different company.”


Not all basting sprays are created equal!

After spray-basting the little quilt and letting it dry, I got busy. The pattern I came up with had just 10 starting/stopping points for the entire quilt. Below is the quilting design for the 9-patch-in-a-star blocks. The upper left corner of the 9-patch is the starting/stopping point  for the entire block. I used the pattern in the 9-patch to quilt each of the 4 sides of the border. Six blocks, four sides.

My plan was to only start and stop 10 times. Simple. Right?

In the first 9-patch alone I had several lines of skipped stitches and thread breakages.

I was not a happy quilter.

But, I had the thing basted and I was determined to get that little bugger quilted! So, I pressed on.

At first, I didn’t know why my thread kept breaking and why I kept having so many skipped stitches. About a third of the way through, I discovered that my needle was getting gummy from the glue and not allowing the stitches to be completed. It was also, causing the thread breakage. What began as a “simple” little project, turned into a major source of frustration. I kept a small bottle of rubbing alcohol and a paper towel by my machine and cleaned the needle when needed.

Well, I finally finished the machine quilting, but then had to go back and fix all of the sections that had skipped stitches. So much wasted time!




As you can see, my stitches and movements aren’t consistent, but with practice, they’ll improve.





I’m machine-quilting a Southern Belle quilt for a dear friend, and this time, after reading the can thoroughly, I bought the $15 can of spray.

The $8 can said it is a temporary adhesive for sewing, quilting, etc.

The $15 can said it is colorless, odorless, stainless, spotless, won’t gum needles, can be left in quilt or laundered, and is acid free.

Uh, yeah. Why didn’t I notice that before? Honestly, why didn’t I bother to read both cans thoroughly before making a decision? Because I was looking at the price tag.  Such aggravation, simply because, basically, I saw only the price tags.

I spray-basted the Southern Belle and am half-finished machine quilting it. I haven’t had the first skipped stitch or broken thread! Woohoo!!! and the basting is holding all of the layers together beautifully. I’ll post photos of it when I’m done.









I built this frame for spray-basting and the legs fold out so that it stands seven feet high for photographing my finished quilts. I’ll share more about the frame in another post.


Until then…



I hope sharing my experience will help you avoid some of the frustrations that I had, and help make your quilting easier.




6 thoughts on “Tips And Tools Tuesday – Don’t buy C.H.E.A.P.

  1. Diane Mealer says:

    What kind of machine are you quilting on…I need more info before I can start the technique..Have always hand quilted, but husband commented tonight about why not trying it…..Making small quilts for nursing home project. You have great tips and info. Keep up the good work. See you at QuiltingGroup

    • lookoutmountainquilter says:

      Hi Diane,
      Thank you, your kind words are encouraging. 🙂
      Right now, I am machine quilting on my Brother PQ1500SL. It has a 9 3/4″ space between the needle and the neck so bigger quilts are less cumbersome. But, I have quilted on my 39-year-old Singer 5528, too. It’s neck space is 6 3/4″, so larger quilts are trickier, but doable.
      No matter what machine or size neck space you have, just start small (placemats, hot pads, etc.) and practice, practice, practice.
      Have fun!
      See you at Quilting Group,

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