Monday, September 26, 2011

A little more about quilting:

Today, I want to talk to you a little bit more about the process of quilting your quilt! I touched on it briefly last week but didn't go into a huge amount of detail so thought I would spend a little more time on it today. Don't forget to check out Jennifer's post too for her thoughts on quilting!

As I said, there are lots of ways of quilting. Personally, I was always going to use free motion quilting on this one. However, I think it would work really well with straight line quilting also - something like the quilting I did on my Picturebox quilt:

Straight line quilting is a straightforward method to use if you're learning how to quilt. I like to quilt quite densely with my lines close together, using an extra wide foot I have and moving my needle to the furthest point over on each row. I mark the first line, then use that to follow as a guide. I find it important to alternate the direction - so I quilt in one direction then turn around and do the next line in the opposite direction. This can be slow work, if you're using narrow lines. Your machine may also have a quilting guide which fits onto your walking foot and allows you to set the width of your quilting line. This would allow you to quilt wider lines. My straight line quilting is always a tiny bit wonky - I like it like this! The one tip I would give for straight line quilting is to let the machine do the work - use your walking foot and allow the feed dogs/walking foot to control the feed of the fabric through the machine. I just hold/support the quilt so as not to have any drag on the fabric and it will keep your stitch length nice and even.

You could also keep the quilting very simple and just quilt around each block. This would hold the quilt together, and if you wanted to, you could add some hand quilting around the crosses which would be really lovely!

For free motion quilting, I have to say I'm no expert. But I have learned a few things since I've started.

1. The first is practice - I practiced a lot on small squares of scrap batting / mug rugs/ mini quilts etc before tackling a big quilt.For me one of the biggest challenges of FMQing is managing the weight of the quilt and I find this harder when I'm FMQing for some reason.
2. The secret is the balance between the speed of the needle and the speed you move the fabric around. I usually put about 3/4 of full pressure on my foot pedal (if that makes sense) i.e. the needle is moving pretty fast, but I'm not flooring it either! I move the fabric around at a medium speed to give a nice stitch length. This is definitely something that comes with practice and my stitch length is becoming more and more consistent as time goes on.
3. Find where works best to place your hands. I put my left hand under the quilt and I use my right hand to keep the fabric taut and control the movement of the quilt. This works for me - find what works for you! Lots of people recommend gloves. I have yet to try them because I do not like stuff on my hands, but I suspect they would help!
4. Go with the flow. I try to cover areas reasonably logically but I do go where it takes me. I try to work moving the quilt towards me rather than away from me - its much easier to see what I'm doing!
5. Maybe this should be no 1? Prepare your supplies. Have a few bobbins wound up. Have your spools of thread ready. Have a little box to put your safety pins in as you take them out. Have your small scissors for clipping to hand. Try and have a child free, distraction free environment if you can - especially if you are starting out. Constant interruptions do not make for good flow, and flow is really important for FMQ.
6. Don't quilt too close together! The first few quilts I did using FMQ, I quilted very densely with small movements. I realised this was creating work and was unnecessary. Now I try to have a larger meandering pattern which covers more ground much more quickly and looks nice too!
7. Experiment with what you like - sometimes I do loops and swirls. Sometimes I like to not have the lines cross over each other - see what works!

Lastly - check out the links over on the Flickr group and do a bit of googling yourself - there is so much information and inspiration out there! I'll be looking forward to seeing what you come up with!


Canadian Abroad said...

Your quilt is finished! Full frontal photos please! Think I'll be doing FMQ too!

Mrs Flying Blind... said...

Tonight, I have a plan!

Sheila said...

A really good post Sarah - one extra piece of FMQ advice - don't forget to breathe!

Judith, Belfast said...

Love the fmq look! Jxo

Strawberry Patch said...

beautiful, looking forward to seeing it in its full glory. I have been avoiding mine as im not looking forward to basting, it keeps giving me evils from the corner of the room!

Lucy | Charm About You said...

Thanks for all the tips Sarah! That picturebox quilt is really cute

Katy Cameron said...

Thanks for the advice. I have a super duper new machine arriving this weekend, so I hope it will do the quilting for this as its first big job. Think I'll go for in the ditch and echo to start with though!

Lynne said...

Very helpful information for this novice - thank you.