You have invested time and expense to create a work of art – a quilt. The decisions you make now will reflect your skill and how the quilt will wear. If you used our QuiltBlocks program, read through the Quilt Blocks Setting Kit instructions. This is our final kit that ‘sets’ your 12 blocks together. You’ll see that you need to make choices about the batting, backing, and quilting designs. We’ve decided to start a series to guide you through those decisions. First up, quilting!
Hand quilting will make your quilt an heirloom. The stitch is a running stitch, through all three layers. Spending a little time every day is the key to finishing. Mark a portion, hoop it, and find a show to watch to make the time fly. Hand quilting is portable, you can move to more comfortable seating, lighting, or take the quilt with you wherever you go.
Hand Quilting Tips
Start with a needle size No. 10 Between. A No. 12 is the smallest, but can be hard to handle and thread. There’s a saying that goes ‘the smaller the needle, the smaller the stitches’ – it’s true! Hand quilting thread is usually glazed to prevent twists. A thimble on the middle finger will help rock the needle thorough the layers and prevent sore fingertips. A large embroidery hoop will hold the layers together. There are specialty hoops and stands to invest in as your skills grow. Just like machine quilting, practice before starting on your quilt.
Machine quilting on your home machine is the choice many quilters make. The quilt will be durable, especially if your quilting coverage is heavy. Use a walking foot to stitch in the ditch around the blocks to start. Your machine may have a special walking foot with a guide ‘blade’ designed to help keep the stitches exactly in the ditch. A darning foot can be used to add free motion designs later. Visit our Quiltologie YouTube video to learn more about machine quilting.
Machine Quilting Tips
Sew at a slow speed with the walking foot, and faster when doing free motion. You will be moving the quilt under the needle, so will want a good grip and clean surface to support the large quilt. Always do a little practice to warm up and to check feed dogs, thread, bobbin and needle. For smooth free motion curves, sew in one fluid motion to a stopping point, then continue to the next point.
For thread, cotton thread specifically for machine quilting in a matching color, or slightly lighter is always a good choice. Polyester threads will be stronger, which some prefer when doing free motion quilting. Rayon comes in many colors and has a nice finish, but needs to be knotted and may not wear as well. Usually the bobbin thread should match the backing fabric, but if your stitches pull up the thread and create dots of color on the front, match the bobbin to the quilting threads.
Long Arm Quilting
Sending your quilt to a professional quilter has become a popular option. Always take a look at work they’ve already done, and ask for recent references. Let them know how you will use the quilt, if you want to enter it in a show, or are you sending it off to a college dorm room (!) Discuss in detail what you expect to see, bring the suggested quilting reference, but also be open to suggestions. Some will charge extra for marking straight lines, others will let you choose pantographs or all-over quilting for a reduced fee. Before you drop off your quilt, be sure to check one more time that your quilt is flat and square, and check your backing, too.
Another option is to rent time on a long arm machine and DYI. Check around your area and see if this is a possibility – sounds like fun, right?