Thursday, September 17, 2015

Thursday Tip #9

{Thursday Tip: A regular weekly feature sharing my quilting tips. There are no rules in quilting, these are just the things that work for me and might help you. There are no quilt police, so use them as a guide; no ones watching :) There is no wrong way to do anything......just relax, experiment, learn, create and have fun. }
Choosing how to quilt your project is half the fun. Quilting on your domestic machine is made easier and enjoyable with lots of practice and a positive attitude. Make sure you are relaxed and enjoy the process, but most importantly, don't be too critical of your work. You have to start somewhere and perfect results are unrealistic. It's important to remember, you are learning a new skill and injecting a whole lot of love into one of your projects.
I have a post planned on free motion quilting which I will share later but for now, here are a few tips for basic machine quilting:

  • Begin with smaller, more manageable projects, such as cushions or placemats. They are easier to work on and completing smaller projects gives you more encouragement to keep learning and quilting.
  • For straight line quilting, its best to fit your machine with a walking foot which acts as an extra set of feed dogs on the top of the quilt. It works with the lower feed dogs to grab and pull the three layers of the quilt evenly through your machine and eliminates puckers etc.
  • Good preparation is key. Ensure your machine is free of lint and dust and have a good stash of bobbins wound and ready to sew. Whilst quilting, make sure your feed dogs and bobbin case are cleaned at regular intervals: I give mine a quick clean every time I change bobbins.
  • Ensure your machine is fitted with a new quilting needle and choose a thread that suits your needs; I prefer to use machine embroidery threads for quilting: they have a lovely sheen and they blend more with the quilt instead of dominating.
  • Decide on how you wish to quilt your project and mark your lines using a hera marker, a chalk pencil, masking tape or a water soluble pen. You can also use a guiding bar, which usually comes with the machine and is inserted in the side of your needle shaft or the walking foot, to ensure your quilting stays evenly spaced. 
  • As a rule, I always mark a 1/4" line around the raw edges of my project so I can see where the binding will go. I mark my quilting lines using this as a guide so my cross hatching and straight line quilting is even throughout the quilt.
  • To begin quilting, position the quilt, under the needle, where you intend to start and take one stitch. With the needle up, lift the presser foot and pull the top thread tail so the bobbin thread tail comes up through the stitch. Lower the presser foot, take two stitches forward, then two stitches in reverse to secure the thread and then begin quilting. You will also need to do this at the end of quilting to secure the thread.
  • If you are beginning or ending your quilting at the raw edges of the quilt, its generally not necessary to secure your stitches, the binding will secure these for you.
  • For basic straight quilting, quilt 1/4" from each of your sewn seams. To pivot in corners, on small projects only, lower the needle into the project, lift the presser foot and pivot the project, lower the pressure foot and continue to quilt.
  • When quilting larger projects, avoid pivoting the quilt as you work. It is much easier and more manageable to quilt in one direction, tie off, then turn the quilt and start again in the new direction. This will redistribute the weight of the quilt better and will alleviate any puckering.
  • Ditch stitching is great for around stitcheries or applique blocks. Stitch as close as you can to the folded seam; I open mine just slightly with my fingertips, as I quilt, to expose the seam and when it relaxes the ditch stitching is barely visible. Keep a close eye on the needle as you sew, to achieve a lovely even finish.
  • If you have pin basted your project, be sure to remove pins as you approach them to avoid hitting them with your machine needle.
  • Take your time. Its far better to quilt slowly and accurately than having to unpick rows and rows of quilting :(
As with every new skill we learn, practice makes perfect. I look back at some of the first projects I machine quilted and they are not perfect but it doesn't make me love them any less. I probably love them more, because I sewed them from start to finish, all by myself with lots of love, sweat and tears and maybe a few swear words :)

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