Monday, September 3, 2012

Quilting Tips

I have finished quilting my Newby Quilting Bee quilt and thought I might share some tips with you as you are starting to quilt your top.  
You will want to quilt your long sashing strips first, this anchors your quilt into nice little sections and makes it easier to get a cleanly finished quilt top.  I elected to do all of my stitching on this quilt in the "ditch" with the exception of the Dresden Fan Block, that block I echo quilted.  I also elected to utilize a clear thread for my top and a muted gray brown for my bobbin thread.  You can do what ever you wish.  There is no right or wrong way.

NOTE:  Before you start:  Make sure your machine is clean, well adjusted, you have the correct thread and sharp quilting needles.  Use a quilt sandwich made from the same materials you are using in your quilt to practice and adjust your stitches before you start quilting your actual quilt.  Good time to adjust your pressure foot also if you need to.

When you are stitching in the ditch, it's nice to have a clear thread so that your stitches do not show.  This method of quilting a quilt, let's your blocks do the talking.  Also, if you are making a quilting to toss over you, you will find that it gives you a softer finish for a more snuggly quilt.  The more you stitch your quilt, the less flexible it will become.  Lots of detail quilting is pretty for an art quilt that you will not actually lay under (a beautiful bedspread that you fold up at night rather than sleep under) or a wall hanging, or a table runner.  Check your quilt batting to see how close you need to stitch to secure the batting and keep it from shifting as you use your quilt.  This is important.  It's not fun to go to all the work to make a beautiful quilt top and then to wash it a few times and notice that all the batting has shifted and you have a lumpy quilt.  All that can be avoided.

Okay, so here is a picture of stitching in the will notice that my needle is right in the seam or "ditch".  I use my longest straight stitch and practice on a quilt sandwich before starting out, making any necessary adjustments to tension that may be necessary.  It's good to get all those things sorted out on your practice piece rather than on your actual quilt.  

NOTE:  Take one stitch and bring your bobbin thread to the top as shown above!  Always do this.  You don't want a mess on the back of your quilt to try to sort out later.  This easy step will help you to have a secure and beautifully finished top.  

You will find, as you are working on your quilt, that it will help you to roll up the portion of the quilt that is passing through the neck of your machine as shown above.  It's very important as you quilt that you not have anything dragging on your quilt top.  Sometimes I toss the quilt over my shoulder to support it.  Make sure that it moves easily and that you have sufficient table space surrounding your quilt that it is NOT hanging off the table.  You want fluid motion, not drag.  If you are working on a very large quilt, or have thick batting, you may want to get a couple bicycle clips to hold your rolled quilt in place, back away from your work area.

Once you have quilted all of your sashing, starting with the long strips and then the short strips and the outside, you can then quilt each of your blocks without worrying that things will shift horribly. If you are quilting a large quilt without sashing, just do the same thing, divide it up into sections and get those sections secured, then quilt off those sections.

What do you do with all those threads on the top of the quilt now.  Well, don't just cut them you wash your quilt, your quilting will come undone.  We don't want that.  Take a moment and tie each of the threads into a knot, thread them through a sharp hand needle with a large eye and insert the needle right where your knot is, weave your needle through the batting and out about an inch or two and pull it back up on top, give a gentle tug and your knot will slip into the inside of your quilt and be buried in the batting.  Carefully clip your thread at this point.  See the pictures below. 
Tie a knot close to your top, do not clip threads!
Thread a sharp hand needle with the remain threads.
Take the needed and insert it right where the threads came up and weave it into your batting, do not go all the way through to your backing.  You want to weave out for about an inch or so and then pull the needle and threads up to the top of your quilt again.
Now give a little tug and your knot will bury it self into your batting.

CAREFULLY clip your thread, it will draw back into the batting and should be invisible now.

The next thing we need to do, it prepare our quilt top for binding.  You do this by squaring up your corners using a square ruler and trimming off the side bits that extend out from your top.  (remember, we gave ourselves plenty to work with.)  Use your ruler to measure your side carefully as your are cutting with your rotary cutter and mat. 
Use a square up ruler to square all four corners before you trim off the sides.

Okay, you have this beautiful trimmed quilt, ready for binding and a nice little stack of scrappy stuff left over.  DON'T TOSS THAT OUT!  I will show you what to do with that in a bit.  Don't waste!  Fabric is expensive and you already have the makings of something fun here.  

Before I close...this is by NO means a tutorial on quilting.  Just some quick pointers that work for me.  There are tons and tons and tons of books and websites that offer advanced tutorials and instruction on quilting.  It's an art, it takes practice.  Don't be impatient with yourself, practice does make perfect.  And remember, we have seam rippers, nothing is beyond repair.  Quilting can be and enormous frustration or it can be an exercise in's your choice!  Put some beautiful music on that you enjoy and get into the groove!

One last picture...this is the backside of my quilt!  I didn't want to go into town to get backing fabric, nor did I want to spend the money.  The strips are left over from cutting the top and a couple extra blocks, cobble them together and you have the back.  Your back may be one solid fabric, or you make choose to do something fun on the back.  It's always your choice!  

We will be meeting this week on Thursday and Friday September 6th and 7th from 9am to noon to help you get your tops quilted and ready for the final step of binding!  Then the following week, on Friday September 14th from 9am to noon, we will tackle binding and inserting sleeves if you wish to display your quilt.  You are almost finished!!!

The Seventh Annual Colfax Outdoor Quilt Show will be held on Saturday October 6, 2012 from 10am -4pm in the little town of Colfax, CA.  Entries must be submitted by September 21st to be considered for the show.  Your quilt must have a 4" rod pocket and there is a $5.00 entry fee.  I hope you gals will consider entering your quilts in the show.  It's lots of fun to see your quilt on display and to hear the lovely comments from folks as they walk by.  If you are interested,  I will have entry forms at the meeting Thursday and Friday or you can contact me and I will get one to you!

Here is a link for the Whistle Stop Quilt and Sew Shop:

They have a great calender of events coming up and some really lovely fabrics in their shop.  If you have been wondering about machine maintenance, they have a special class you can take. Suzanne Maguire and her husband Larry have just celebrated their 5th year in business at that location.  Please support them when you are in Colfax.  

Remember these?  Well read below to see what you might do with your trimmings!

Here is what I did with the left over scraps from trimming the batting and backing from my quilt.  I cut all the pieces 12.5 inches long.  Took a piece of fabric from my stash for the back and laid the strips and the batting down until I covered what I wanted.  Then I flipped only the fabric strip over and stitched them right sides together all the way through to the backing. Your bits of batting will be secured with the stitching, you can just butt them right up to each other and pin them in place until you get them stitched.   When it's all covered the size that you want, trim it up and bind it.  You can make a fun table runner or book cover this way...or even a piece of fabric that you could use to make into a tote!  The possibilities are endless.  Just have fun!  

Trimmed into 12.5 inch strips

lay them out in a pleasing manner.

Stitch them to a piece of backing fabric, bind them and you will have some fun snack mats.

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