Tips-as-we-go quilting (3)

Day three of quilting ‘In the Cool of the Evening’. Hum! There is a hint of something about a day three, curious but true (for me anyway!) with regards to changing habits and the like. Take a new organising or diet regime… day three is usually when the going gets tough. So I shouldn’t be surprised that all that re-found love for my quilt has been sorely tested today!

This mornings task was to add more quilting to the paths. I’m aiming to have quilting stitches about 2″ apart across the quilt. It’s good practice to have quilting stitches spread evenly over a quilt so that it keeps it’s shape after washing, rather than the layers scrunching up in some areas and getting puffy and loose in others. (That said, it’s a ‘rule’ and what are they for? 😉 )

Keeping the machine with the walking foot, stitch length set to 2.5 and using the dark gold Aurifil 2975, I completed echo stitching along the paths, ½” in from the flower beds (I’ll put a picture of the pattern here just in case there’s anyone coming in late on this series and wondering why on Earth I’m quilting the paths in my garden?).

In the Cool of the Evening
KEY: The paths are in tan, the hedges in green, the flower beds are shades of blue and the ponds are mauve.

I spent a while looking at the paths and particularly the intersections, noticing the wide open spaces devoid of quilting. I’m not sure it looks quite right but I decided to stitch along the centre of each path. I drew faint lines using a Sewline pencil. To create a bit of interest in the square, pond-less, intersections I made and drew around a square cardboard template. Set ‘on point’ these squares echo the ponds in the other intersections.

Template in place – the Sewline pencil lines are just visible.
Quilting completed – rumpled fabric in evidence 🙁

This is when my three day blues set in 🙁 I could see the patchwork top was getting a bit rippled and the fabric in some of the quilted squares looked quite baggy. Grrr! Took me back to an incident with another quilt – I wrote a blog post at the time titled ‘Quilting and the Monster in Me!‘. All that smoothing, gentle stretching then careful pinning to create a wonderfully flat quilt sandwich but as soon as the quilting begins the fabric still manages to shift about! The rising frustration was compounded by that old chestnut, my bobbin thread ran out six inches from the end of the final stitching line *sigh*. I stayed calm, refilled the bobbin, completed the stitching and THEN walked away from the quilt!

Quilting tips and techniques:

  • Work hard to keep the bulk of the quilt on the table to your left and behind the sewing machine – it’s asking too much of the feed dogs to lift a quilt up out of your lap and on to the machine! IMG_3474
  • Make sure the section of quilt you’re working on is ‘relaxed’ under the needle – not being pulled and distorted by the weight of the rest of the quilt – be prepared to spend quite a bit of your quilting time readjusting the position of the quilt.
  • Recognise when it’s time to ‘walk away from the quilt’ and give yourself a break 😉
  • Quilting rulers are really useful aids if you need to mark stitching lines on to your quilt.
  • Do check that any marking pens/chalks you use will not stain your fabric.
  • Check out Jan’s helpful tip re. adjusting the foot pedal to maintain an even stitching speed, ‘If your machine foot only has one setting, place or tape a piece of foam to the back of it. This gives you much more control of the foot and therefore the speed, as it stops the foot/treadle from going all the way down’.

Footnote to all the above: I’ve spent a peaceful hour sewing all the loose thread ends into the quilt and now I’m thinking it doesn’t look so bad… I mean quilts aren’t supposed to be FLAT, are they?

Linking with Myra for Finished or Not Friday.

Links to the previous two posts in this quilting tips series: Post 1; Post 2.


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