On the third blog post of this mini unofficial QAL for the recently released Cutting Corners Quilt pattern, I will be talking about the quilting stage. Yes, that part of the quilting process that many fear but that it doesn't need to be that way :) Also, if you are dealing with a very big quilt, you can always send it to a long armer. There are many business dedicated to quilting quilts and they do an amazing job!
You can see me here using a long arm machine when I was living in Amsterdam. I rented it for a day on my birthday. Best day ever!
HOW TO QUILT YOUR QUILT
Now, if you decide to do the job yourself using your domestic machine, you will need to choose between quilting your quilt using a walking foot or opting for FMQ (free motion quilting). Here I explain both options:
Machine quilting uses a walking foot (that strange looking presser foot that always reminds me of something from Star Wars) or the IDT System (integrated walking foot present, for example, on some Pfaffs, like mine below). It is the best option for beginners and if you want to go for straight lines and curves without rulers on your design.
Free motion quilting or FMQ is an art on its own right and requires practice. The feed-dogs on your machine are down allowing for total freedom of movement when quilting. It is great for straight lines, curves... any design; with or without rulers. It also requires the use of a special presser foot.
If you are starting your quilting journey, I would strongly recommend for you to go for the machine quilting plus walking foot option. There will always be time for FMQ and more fancy designs in the future :)
TIPS FOR MACHINE QUILTING
Below, you can find a list of tips for domestic machines that have helped me a lot in the past and that still do:
- Needle: go for quilting or topstitch types and sharp. Recommended size 80/12 or 90/14.
- Tread: choose a weight of 40-50 wt. (wt stand for weight which is actually length measurement. A thread is labeled 40 wt. when 40 kilometers of that thread weighs 1 kilogram). Use the same colour for top and bottom. When starting, opt for lighter tones to hide mistakes.
- Stitch length: between 2.5 and 3.0mm. 8 to 12 stitches per inch.
- Thread tension: loosen if necessary to avoid the creation of winklers.
- Pressure presser foot: lower it as you have more layers to go through. The more pressure, the more chances for the fabrics / layers to move.
- Speed: go slow to avoid puckers.
- Start outside of the quilt top, on the batting, so that any thread is nested out of the quilt top. Don’t reverse stitch.
And here some other things good to consider:
- Quilting stitch density corresponds to how far apart you can quilt without your batting or wadding falling apart. This is the same as the distance between lines of stitching. The appropiate number can be found usually on the batting packaging. The closer the quilting lines are to each other, the less stress there is on each individual stitch. 1’’ apart is considered densely quilted; 4'', sparsely quilted. To decide your stitch density consider:
- Comfort and texture: a design with less lines or sparsely quilted means a softer, fluffy quilt. If you opt for a design with more lines or densely quilted, the feel will be rougher, denser.
- Durability: are you making it for a bed? Go for medium density. Is it for a wall or just deco? Go for sparse.
- Batting / wadding material: check the manufacturers suggestions.
- Time for quilting: don't give yourself too big of a job. If you just have a certain amount of time to finish your quilt, go for a more simple design.
- Have a quilting plan. Sit down to think about the design, doodle and practice first on paper. You can also take a pic of your finished quilt top, print it out or use a software and check how the design will look with the design you have come up with. Break quilt into sections.
- Sit correctly and take breaks.
- And try to work / sew on a big table.
Last, I want to recommend you two books from quilter and author Jacquie Gering. I have both and they are great for machine quilting using your walking foot. They are called 'Walk: Master machine quilting with your walking foot' and 'Walk 2.0: More machine quilting with your walking foot'. They are both packed with tips and tutorials from the most designs to much more complex designs and incredibly well explained :)
Now, are you ready for some quilting?