Wednesday, February 1, 2012

ABC of Quilting Post # 18

Today's first topic is

Super Simple Stitching : Machine quilting, straight line and FMQ

Quilting helps give the quilts texture and also adds to the durability of the quilt.

Most of the quilts can be quilted at home on a regular sewing machine! You can use one of the two basic techniques : Straight-line Quilting (if you can use a walking foot, it will be more even) or Free motion Quilting using a Darning foot.

Machine quilting is much quicker than hand quilting but the preparation has to be more thorough. If the layers are not basted together carefully, unsightly folds will be caught on the underside.


I would recommend moving your sewing table against the wall if it is not. That will prevent your quilt from hanging over the side and increasing weight and pressure. I use the same table for cutting and sewing so when I actually quilt I have a large area!

To ease the process of quilting, you must keep your quilt sandwich on the table - the entire thing and all the time! The easiest way is to roll the part you're not quilting (it'll also be easy to maneuver it through your machine).

 I usually start straight line quilting from the center and free motion quilting from one side.

Straight Line Quilting

Using a walking foot for straight line quilting is highly recommended. Your sewing machine has feed dogs that pull your fabric as you sew. But they are only on the underside. With a walking foot, you have feed dogs on the top too! That results in a much more even feeding of fabric and hence even quilting... The bonus : no puckers!

Here's my example of Straight Line Quilting

Free Motion Quilting

Fit your machine with the darning or free motion quilting foot. Set the stitch length to zero. I also reduce the tension, just a little bit. Lower the feed dogs. Now you're ready to go!

With your quilt in the machine, manually bring the needle down and then up again. Pull the bobbin thread up to prevent any entanglement on the back of the quilt. Now make several stitches in place to create a knot.

Begin to move your quilt sandwich, stitching in your chosen pattern. When you do a few inches, trim the loose threads. Always stop the machine with the needle in the down position.

Continue quilting by moving your quilt sandwich stitching in your desired pattern. Remove safety pins as you encounter them. (Keep a bowl ready and you can keep them in it as you remove them, dont bother closing them, I never do! After all, you're going to open them up to use them again so why waste time?)

As you work you'll start getting a feel for the right balance between the speed of the machine and the movement of your hands. I personally find using my machine's top speed and moving my hands at their top speed works!

Try it on scraps until you are absolutely comfortable. Free Motion Quilting can actually be fun once you get the hang of it.

Here's my example of FMQ, I think this is my best. :)

And this one too...

For this quilt, I flipped the quilt over so that the back was on top while quilting. I outlined the shapes on the fabric on the back with a thread that contrasted the front fabric. It is one of the favorite quilts I ever made!

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