Saturday, November 27, 2010

Batter Up!

Here's the next quilt to step up to the sewing machine...

It's our friend Jim's quilt and it just got spray basted on the basting wall this morning. Less than 20 minutes to baste the quilt top, batting and backing together for quilting--I LOVE spray basting on the wall.

That's a $1 shower curtain under the quilt sandwich; it will be in the washer soon to remove the excess adhesive spray. More on this quilt soon.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quilting with a Walking Foot plus Basting

Today, Vicki from the blog Sew Inspired asked a question about how to avoid shifting of the quilt when doing straight line I thought I'd blog about the answer to that question.

It's best to use a "walking foot" or "even feed foot" to sew many layers together. When using the walking foot (below) to quilt the quilt sandwich together (top, batting and backing fabric), it gives another set of feed dogs on top of the fabric; it helps to move those three pieces through smoothly, as one piece, while you quilt.

The white arm of the walking foot (top right) is placed over the needle screw on your machine, so that while the machine is running, the arm will go up and down and make the walking foot work.

The next important step is to baste your quilt very well. There are quite a few ways to baste:

1) Thread baste using a long needle and thread. I feel that basting should be no more than 3" apart to avoid shifting. Starting at the center baste horizontal and vertical lines.
: works well Con: Takes forever to do it, knees hurt like the dickens if you're on the floor

2) Pin baste using safety pins. I pin baste with no more than 4" between my pins.
Pro: works fine Con: Takes a long time and pins must be removed as you quilt (this can be tricky)

3) Send it out to a long arm quilter to baste.
Pro: Easy Con: not all long arm quilters will do it and it usually costs at least $25

4) **My favorite way to baste: Spray basting. Here is a video by the wonderful Patsy Thompson on how to spray baste a quilt on a "insulation" wall (my insulation wall is 8' x 8' in the garage). The only thing I do differently is to use a shower curtain instead of newspaper to cover the wall first. The shower curtain can then be removed from the wall and washed to eliminate the excess adhesive.

Spray basting can also be done on your clean driveway. Lay down the backing fabric (wrong side up) and tape it down so that it's completely flat with no lumps. Then spray it and use a buddy to help lay your batting on top. Start at the center and, a little at a time, press it down (see the video). Then do the same with your quilt top.

My favorite adhesive is 505 Spray and Fix
. It sticks like no other spray baste. If your spray isn't sticking, use that spray for another project and do as I say :) and buy the 505.
Pros: fairly easy once you have a wall, very quick, excellent basting if done right with a good spray adhesive Con: ***wear a mask & don't breathe in the spray***, the wall method doesn't work well with high loft (thick fluffy) batting; this method requires a dense, low loft batting--thin cotton batting works great (thick does too but it's soooooooo heavy to sleep under).

I have spray basted 3 lap quilts with newbie students this week and each one took less than 20 minutes to baste. How great is that?!!!

The most important part of quilting is the basting, so choose a method that works well for you. If the quilt is not basted well, it will shift while sewing and you will have a long, frustrating headache.

Okay, now on to straight line quilting. Now that you have basted your quilt well and you have a walking foot...

1) Use the edge of the walking foot when you can as a guide for straight lines (follow a straight line on the quilt). Otherwise, mark the quilt with straight lines before starting

2) Start in the center of your quilt, especially if it's a large one, and work outward.

3) Don't be afraid to use your walking foot for wavy lines...

This miniature (about 10" x 12") was quilted edge to edge with a walking foot and pivoted when necessary to make sharp points, like at the bottom of the quilt. Practice to see what you can do.

4) Edge to edge quilting can be done on wall quilts too. The one below (approx. 24" x 30") was quilted edge to edge, but in doing so each line had to be sewn in the opposite direction from the last. See this blog entry for a better description.
Pros: there's no need to bury knots in edge to edge quilting because the stitches are run off the side into the excess batting & backing.

Here's a quilt that was free motion machine quilted in the windows and "straight" stitched with waves using a walking foot in the sashing and borders (sorry that the picture doesn't show all the quilting).

Hint: If you're going to stitch in the ditch, only do it using a stitch-in-the-ditch foot. Using a walking foot to stitch in the ditch will be frustrating and bring on stiff shoulders and a headache.

Last hint: NO BACKSTITCHING on a quilt top, please. Leave longish threads, make a knot, and use a self threading needle to bury those knots. Your quilt will look oh so pretty with no backstitching on it.

Let me know if you have questions.


Saturday, November 20, 2010


Today Catalina and Lola were here for the Beginner Quiltmaking class and they started to machine quilt. Mary stopped by to spray baste her quilt. This is Lola's quilt...

...and this is Catalina's quilt.

While they worked I was able to finish the binding on my little blue wall quilt, so it's finished!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Another One Quilted

On Tuesday I free-motion machine quilted this small rail fence quilt. It was made using the string piecing method (with tapered pieces of fabric, rather than strips of fabric).

The binding is not on yet, but I'll get to that this weekend. This piece measures about 30" x 24".

Here's the quilting close up...

The thread color was perfect because it didn't take away from the quilt design.

I was also invited to give my "Stretching the String" program/lecture to the Yellow Daisy Quilters in Stone Mountain, GA this week. Jessie is showing a couple of her quilts below...

The Yellow Daisies are a lively group of fine quilters.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


This weekend I quilted the Blue Water string quilt which will be a base for applique and embellishment...

Using the walking foot, I quilted it edge to edge.

This quilt is at least 30" wide, so when quilting edge to edge on a large quilt, be sure to change sewing directions with each line: sew from left to right on one line, then sew from right to left on the next line, and so on. Otherwise the quilt will warp as you sew.

I haven't quilted the borders yet and I'm not sure what to do there, so after the binding is sewn down I'll hang it on the wall for a look-see.

These corners were at odd angles, but our mitered corner method still works...

Today I'll put the borders on this piece...

The colors go from light yellow to dark green, but purple seems to work well with them all.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Machine Quilting Thread Trick

Isn't it irritating when the bobbin runs out as you're machine quilting and you have no idea? Makes me crazy.

So, this week I figured out that if I wound two bobbins with quilting thread and put one in the bobbin race and one where my top thread should go, that they would run out of thread at about the same time.

It worked!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

He's Home in Germany!

We had some wonderful news this afternoon from Germany...our son, who is in the Army and has been deployed to Afghanistan for a year, just arrived home in Germany after being en route out of the war zone since November 6th.

I can't tell you the relief I feel after 5 1/2 years of worrying about him. This should be his last deployment as he'll be out of the Army soon.

I'm giving a big woooooooo hooooooo! Welcome home, Bry! We've missed you .

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thanks to our Veterans and Troops

Words are never enough on this special day of thanks for our veterans and troops...but thank you.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rainy Quilting Day

With Native American flute music playing in the background and gray and rainy weather outside, I finished quilting this attic windows wall hanging today...

The windows were quilted months ago, but today I quilted the rest of the piece. Below is a photo printed on paper on which I drew the quilting lines to see how they'd look...

There's minimal quilting, but I like it that way.

One top quilted...fifteen to go.

Today the unquilted tops came out of storage and into my studio to get in line to be quilted. The blue water quilt will be next.