Welcome to part four of my QAWM series! If you’re playing along at home, we’re now up to the stage where we are ready to quilt our basted quilt!
Over the past three parts to the series, I’ve been writing up a pattern/info sheet for you to download and print off… This time around, I’ve decided to put all of the information, tip, tricks and ideas for quilting in a blog post!
So let’s start off with the three main ways you can quilt your quilt:
The first is the most traditional way – hand quilting. This is a form of quilting where you sandwich your basted quilt into a large hoop, usually wooden that can some times be attached to a frame. Then using a short hand-quilting needle and waxed or non-waxed cotton thread, you sew a short running stitch through all three layers of the quilt. The technique takes quite a lot of patience and practice to get used to and can take up a lot of time, depending on the size of the quilt and the design you plan on quilting.
Another way would be to simply quilt on your own domestic sewing machine. The way you choose to do this is completely up to you! You can stick to straight vertical lines like I have or even explore Free-Motion Quilting where you lower the bottom feed dogs on your machine and move the quilt top in any direction you like using an embroidery/darning/spring-loaded foot! This form of quilting can also be known as ‘stippling’ and can be a little tricky to master! My advice would be to practice on some scrap batting and fabric to get a feel of the motion and direction before trying it out on your quilt.
The third way to get your quilt quilted would be to take it to a long-armer. This form of quilting is seen as a more ‘professional’ way to finish a quilt, with the end result looking absolutely beautiful, clean and perfect! You can usually find long-arm quilting services at your local quilting store or you can find a private quilter in your area.
Personally, I prefer to quilt my own quilts. The reasons for this are:
1. I have a fairly limited income and so can’t quite afford to pay someone else to quilt my quilt.
2. I’m a control freak and love that I have free reign on how I get to quilt.
3. I love the romance of my quilts being purely made by my self. That my hands, my heart, my efforts and my time, with nobody else’s, have constructed and finished a quilt. Sometimes this notion can come back and bite me in the butt – especially when time is a major factor – but on most occasions, a huge rush of accomplishment crashes over me and every gruelling, challenging and sometimes soul-changing step is totally worth it!
Okay, let’s now move onto how I get my sewing machine ready to start quilting. (Obviously, this information would only be relevant to those of you who wish to quilt their own quilts!)
– First, I change the foot on the machine from my 1/4″ foot to a walking foot. A walking foot features a set of ‘feed dogs’ that work together with the feed dogs on your sewing machine to help feed all three layers of your quilt through the machine all at once. The foot prevents the top layer of the quilt from moving forwards, keeps stitches even, stops the layers from puckering and it creates a smooth surface for you to quilt over.
– Next, depending on the last time I changed my needle, I’ll replace and put in a new sharp needle. I usually use a 90/14 universal needle as I find them to be the perfect strength for quilting.
– When it comes to threads, I’m pretty non-fussed about using a particular weighted thread or one that is marketed towards quilting. I mainly use a Gutermann polyester thread for all of my sewing and quilting as I find they’re strong and versatile, there’s a bigger colour range to choose from and they can sometimes be a little less expensive than quilting cotton threads. (Remember, I’m on a limited budget here!) Now don’t get me wrong, I love using cotton threads and fully understand the reasoning behind why it’s best to use cotton thread in patchwork etc. But I just personally find that polyester works best for me and that’s okay.
So in this quilt I’ve chosen to use a purpley-type-colour in the bobbin to match the purpley-type-fabric I’ve used for the backing: Gutermann polyester thread in the colour: 247. For the top thread I’m using an off-white-but-not-quite-cream Gutermann polyester thread in the colour: 111.
– The last thing I do to my machine is change the stitch length from 2.5 to 4.5. I find that when using a longer stitch length the machine feeds it through faster thus getting the quilt quilted faster! I also love how the long stitches leave this beautiful tactile surface effect making the quilt look fresh, modern and insanely mesmerising!
To test out what the stitch length will look like on your quilt, place a scrap piece of fabric along one edge of the quilt and sew lines at different lengths until you find the one that looks the best! Note the stitch length down and always remember to set it back to that every time you turn the machine back on! (If you have one of those really fancy sewing machines, program the stitch length in so that it’s easier to come back to!)
Setting up the the space around you:
– Make sure where you’ve set up is comfortable, spacey and has good light.
– Choose a comfortable chair that supports your back and allows you to be front-on with your sewing machine.
– Have essential tools beside you like thread snips, extra thread for the bobbin, water and some snacks if you really need them! I also like to have my phone close by incase I want to take some Instagram photos!
– Lastly, put on some good music, a movie, audio book or podcast to help you get into ‘the zone’!
My quilting technique:
– Before I start quilting, I make sure the surface of the quilt along with the batting and batting layers are lying flat, with no immediate tucks, folds or chances of puckering.
– I sew the first quilting line through the centre on the quilt, ditch-stitching along the seam of the middle sashing strip. This line will become my marker or guide to follow as I sew the rest of the lines.
– Beginning from the top edge, I gently feed the quilt through positioning my hands on top of the quilt at either side of the needle and walking foot, keeping the layers taut as they are fed through.
– I allow the sewing machine to feed the quilt through at it’s own pace. Don’t push or force the quilt through as this may result in skipped stitches, puckering and fabric shifting.
– Placing an extension table alongside your machine will help to control and feed through the quilt.
– Have the quilt hang into your lap as you feed it through to prevent the quilt from dragging and placing strain on you and your machine. Allowing the heavy weight of your quilt hang from your machine may result in skipped stitches and wonky quilting lines.
– To help ease the trouble you may have with the quilt hanging down from your left side, place a chair or ironing board along this side to prop up the quilt, easing the strain placed on you and your machine.
– If you’re quilting straight vertical lines, place the edge of the walking foot alongside the previous line you’ve just sewn and use it as a guide. If you want to make the space between your lines wider, insert a quilting guide-bar into the back of the walking foot, set it to the width you wish to use and place the bar alongside the previous line instead.
– Most importantly: take your time! Be patient with the process and always learn from the mistakes you make! (Remember: it’s okay to make mistakes! They make us better at what we do, even though you don’t think so at the time!!)
So I think that’s everything I wanted to share with you in regards to quilting!
If you think I’ve missed a crucial step or if there’s a technique or way you love most to do, comment below and share your knowledge with us!
Don’t forget to keep sharing photos of your fabric choices, finished blocks and quilts if you’re following along with the series! I absolutely love seeing what you’re making and how you’re interpreting the pattern!! You’re all so wonderfully creative!! You can easily tag me on Instagram and Twitter using the handle: @3and3quarters or you can simply upload a picture to my Facebook page!
I hope that you’ll join me soon for part five where I’ll be teaching you how to make and attach a simple double binding to your quilt – the second last step to the finish line! Yay!!
Happy Quilting, Friends!!
The Quilting Answer Book by Barbara Weiland Talbert