Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Quilt in ONE Weekend! Part 2

Congrats! You took the plunge and now you are ready to quilt! (If you are just joining us here, you'll want to review yesterday's details to get your project set up- part 1)

There are two major ways of quilting your project-- by hand or by machine. There are people who are fanatical about each method and some who enjoy both. Advantages of hand quilting include a the ability to sit and do your project in front of the tv (or anywhere really) and the freedom to really sew anything you can imagine. The major downside is of course the time factor. Most of us just don't have the time these days to sit and finish a whole quilt by hand. Machine quilting is much faster but it can be a bit tricky to get your stitches to go exactly where you want them to. And, if you don't have a fancy long arm machine, it is a bit of a bear to get your quilt loaded up. That being said, if you actually want to get this done in any kind of reasonable time schedule, you'll want to commit to machine quilting.

 Here are some examples of quilting patterns (see link for many more!) from
As you can see above, for a seasoned quilter, there are hundreds of fabulous shapes and patterns that one can make-- fans, hearts, swirls, and loops to name a few. As this was my first quilting project (and I REALLY needed it to come out decent) I opted for a very, very basic pattern. I suggest that if you, too, are a beginner quilter, that you keep things simple. Here are a few basic quilting choices: straight lines, wavy lines or following a shape in your fabric.

One of the wonderful quilts my MIL made for my youngest.
Note contrasting thread color and fun wavy/swirly random pattern
Reverse of above quilt-- note abstract/random pattern!
I decided to go for following a shape in my fabric. If you'll look below, you'll see that the biggest monkey was in a rectangle. That monkey pattern repeats all over the quilt and so I decided to simply follow the pattern and use my machine to trace over the border of each large monkey square. This did not yield me a super quilty quilt but was enough sewing to ensure that all the layers are well secured and gave a nice pattern to the backing.

If you have a "walking foot" attachment for your machine, this would be the time to put it on! This attachment has grippers that help feed the top fabric while your machine is feeding the bottom, so your layered quilt will pass smoothly through your sewing machine. I did do some quilting with a walking foot and some without. You can certainly do it either way, but there was a LOT less tugging on the fabric while I had the special foot on the machine. I did find that it was a little bit more difficult to load the quilt in though, as it sits lower and closer to the needle plate.

Part 2: Machine quilting

1) To begin, you need to load your quilt into your machine. Once the fabric layers are under the needle, you will want to roll or smush the extra fabric out of the way. Be sure that the fabric on the working area under your needle is very smooth. You do not want to add wrinkles into your quilting! Off to the side you can see I'm using some ordinary office supply binder clips to hold my folds in place.

2) My first bit of quilting was a simple "stitch in the ditch" set of stitches all along the seam between the border and the main front fabric. To stitch in the ditch, you are basically trying to stitch in the center of your seam (or just to one side if your machine is finicky).  I sewed all around the complete perimeter of the quilt. Remember to back stitch one or two stitches at the beginning and end to lock your threads!

3) Pick a place to start quilting. I opted for one corner but you can start in the middle or anywhere you like. If you are making lines, try to begin and end at the border so as to not interfere with the wide binding we'll be doing in part 3.

Note the line of stitches just inside of the brown border that  I did first.

This is the step that will take the most time. Being careful and neat will make your quilt both durable and artistic. TAKE YOUR TIME. If you are getting frustrated, take a break! I did about half my quilting one day and then the other half the next. My shoulders and back really needed a break from wrestling the fabric through the machine.
Front after quilting just each large yellow monkey square.

Back after quilting each monkey square

Tomorrow,  in part 3, we'll tackle adding a large 3" wide binding to finish and add interest to your quilt!

As always, feel free to comment below and let me know any thoughts or questions!
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1 comment:

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