Today, Vicki from the blog Sew Inspired asked a question about how to avoid shifting of the quilt when doing straight line sewing...so 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.
Pro: 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.