Quilting and the monster in me!

For the past few weeks I have been working on a child’s quilt.  Of the two main prints one is of monsters the other of aliens.  I’ve merged two patterns from Connie Ewbank’s book, ‘Quick & Easy Quilts for Kids’ and I’m really happy with the way this quilt top has developed.

Monsters and Aliens.
Monsters and Aliens.

Whilst I was designing, cutting and piecing this quilt I could definitely relate to the cheerful demeanor of this alien:


My mood changed when it came to the quilting though; the angry monster emerged:


There are lots of stages in the making of a quilt: designing, chosing fabrics, cutting, piecing, sandwiching, quilting, binding, labelling. My favourite stage is piecing, my least favourite is basting the three layered sandwich and the stage that causes me the most grief is quilting. Quilting small items such as bags and cushion covers is fine, I enjoy adding texture and new patterns to the patchwork and encounter few difficulties with the stitching. But with larger projects, puckers and pleats take much of the pleasure out of the quilting stage for me.

A bunch of fabric as one quilting line intersects another.
A bunch of fabric as one quilting line intersects another.
Little pleats appear at many of the points where quilting stitches cross.
Little pleats appear at many of the points where quilting stitches cross.

Most frustrating with this particular quilt is that the back looks pretty good:

The stitching on the back of the quilt.
The stitching on the back of the quilt.

Puckering and pleating; so, so frustrating! Does anyone else encounter the same problems?  Has anyone found ways of overcoming them? I would be very very grateful for any suggestions as to how I can avoid these, please. I need to banish the quilting monster!

The Monsters and Aliens quilt has 100% polyester wadding to suit it’s use as a child’s quilt.  I cut the wadding piece from a queen size pack of Hobbs Poly-Down and was a bit disappointed with the quality of this particular pack – the thickness varied quite a lot through the wadding and some of the thicker parts felt lumpy.  Have you ever noticed how the layers of polyester ride over each other if you move them between finger and thumb?  Maybe this adds to movement between the layers of a quilt sandwich and increases the chances of fabric puckering?

Most of my UFOs are parked at the quilting stage.  Off the top of my head I can think of four quilts tops with backings all ready but abandoned as I worry about spoiling the tops with my less than perfect quilting!

Looking forward to receiving your experiences of quilting issues and how you’ve overcome the monster…


Linking with Lee at Freshly Pieced for Work In Progress Wednesdays (even though it’s Thursday, again!)


14 thoughts on “Quilting and the monster in me!

  1. Hi Allison, I can understand your frustration. Looking at your photos above I’d suggest you look into decreasing the pressure of your machine presser foot while quilting. Practice on some quilt sandwich scraps. There will be an adjustment somewhere on your machine. Another important option is looking into buying/using a walking foot which will reduce the drag which can cause puckers (especially any on the back). Maybe you could look into spray basting if the batting is proving slippery – although I’ve not tried this myself. Hope these are helpful.

    • Thanks very much for these suggestions Karen. My machine is a Pfaff with an integrated walking foot so that should be ok, I’ll try adjusting the presser foot 🙂 I have used spray baste in conjunction with pinning in the past but I’m not too keen on it despite the reassurances it will wash away and not leave a trace!

  2. The quilting monster comes to busy me too . I find if I always quilt in the one direction that helps . I used to Drop my feed dogs but now that wrecks my tension altogether so j don’t do that anymore
    I always hope the non sewer will think it’s intentional !

    • I’m not the only one with a quilt monster lurking within then! I think there is a lot to be said for stepping back from the close up view we get at the sewing machine and seeing our work through non-sewers’ eyes!

  3. Allison, I also have a Pfaff machine with built in walking foot. When I’m layering my quilts I start the pinning in the center of the quilt and work in circles around that, smoothing the quilt out and pin basting. Also as I’m quilting I use my hands to stretch the fabric so you won’t have the bunching on the intersections. I have the best luck quilting on the diagonal. If you will e-mail me I can link you to a web site showing a man who did that and has many prize winning quilts in the archive place in Nebraska.

  4. I struggle with poly batting too when I was quilting on my domestic machine. It slides so easily between the fabrics. I had my best luck with cotton batting. BTW, your quilt is adorable!

    • Thank you! I’m falling back in love with it now the quilting is done! I think if I want to use poly wadding again I will have to splash out on Quilters Dream Poly it really does look, feel and ‘behave’ like cotton wadding.

  5. Hi Allison, I think that the batting is part of the problem. I’ve never used that type of batting but the way you have described it’s characteristics – sounds like trouble. I do use the gloves and as Jean mentioned I also smooth out the areas I am about to quilt as I go. Even that crib quilt I quilted with waaay too much foot pressure didn’t have any puckering. If you haven’t pre-washed the fabric, those puckers may shrink-up and disappear , fingers crossed 😉

  6. I was hoping you would get plenty of help with your quilting problem, Allison, and it looks like more than a few quilters made suggestions. I hope all worked out well for this quilt and any future ones. Your fabric is adorable and I think it’s great you used large pieces to get a nice view of it.

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