Thursday, 25 August 2016

Four Steps to Machine Quilting!

We are thrilled to have a guest blogger today!

About our author:
Annette Millard is passionate about sewing and has worked in the sewing industry for many, many years and is always happiest with needle, fabric and thread in her hands. She currently enjoys supporting the Coats & Clark community writing blog posts about products and projects for the Coats Sewing Secrets Blog.

Four Steps to Successful Machine Quilting

Quilters have been machine quilting their own quilts since the 1800’s and there’s no reason why you can’t join them! It’s a wonderful way to extend the creative expression you enjoyed in your quilt top and, while it does take some practice, Machine Quilting isn’t hard! Any machine will work, just make sure it is one that you feel comfortable with and know how to adjust. Take a little time to read and follow these four, friendly steps and you’ll be ready for success!

1. Consider Your Choices
A few minutes of planning will pay off in a big way as you begin to quilt. Experienced quilters may want to try Free Motion Quilting while newbies will enjoy beginning with straight line or stitch in the ditch. Think about how your quilt will be used, who will own it and what style will enhance the block designs. For more help, click here for a Quilting Tidbits post that offers lots of options for your quilting designs!  

2. Patient Preparation – Thread, Needles, Feet

As with all sewing and quilting, the thread you choose is foundational to the success of your project. Coats and Clark makes amazing Machine Quilting threads for you to use but, before you head to the store, you’ll want to think about color. To choose colors, try stitching together a mini-top using small squares or strips of the fabrics in your top. Create a quilt sandwich and, using your stash of regular threads, try different colors by stitching through each fabric one thread color at a time. You’ll quickly see the color or colors that will be the best choice for your project. If you’re a beginner, matching colors to your fabrics may be the best choice. Once you gain confidence you can play with contrasting threads to enhance the quilting design you’ve chosen.

You’ll find three styles of Coats Cotton Machine Quilting thread at your local quilt shop. These 30 weight threads are spun from high-quality, 100% Mercerized, Extra-Long Staple, Egyptian Cotton that produces very little lint.  They’re lustrous, smooth and have little to no stretch - perfect for your Machine Quilting needs! Coats thread, after quilting, can be washed in hot water, dried on high heat and ironed on a cotton setting. And, you can use chlorine bleach or dry clean if needed. I love the easy care and durable properties of this marvelous thread. We put our hearts and souls into our quilts so they should last forever, or at least for a very, very long time!
·       Click here to learn more about style S975 in 29 luscious solid colors on a 320m spool.
·       Click here to learn more about styles V34 in 23 contemporary solid colors on a 1097m tube and V35 in 8 beautifully variegated colors.

Machine Quilting needles are tapered with a slightly rounded point. That point pierces your fabric more easily, prevents skipped stitches and makes a positive difference in your stitch quality. A size 75/11 is great for piecing, but the larger eye of a 90/14needle may be best for your heavier quilting thread while stitching through the layers of your quilt sandwich. Keep lots of needles on hand. Frequent needle changes are crucial to preventing quilting tragedies!

Your sewing machine should be free of lint, oiled and set to a slightly longer stitch length than you would use for general sewing. Simple, elegant straight line stitching is best done with a Walking or Even-Feed Foot. This magic foot helps to keep all the layers of your quilt moving along the feed dogs at an even rate. If your machine came with a seam guide it will now be your treasured quilting BFF! Stitch a line, re-positioning the guide on the previously stitched line and repeat to keep your quilted lines evenly spaced. If you’re new to Free Motion Quilting and would like to try it, click here to read a post on Coats Sewing Secrets blog full of hints for beginners.

Finally, you’ll prepare and baste your quilt sandwich - a technique you may already know. A delicious quilt sandwich begins with the stitching and preparation of your top. Use consistent .635cm seams and clip all loose threads to create a top that will lay as flat as possible. If you haven’t mastered the quilt sandwich, click here for a video that will show you everything you need to make yours yummy!

3. Practice, Practice, Breathe
Take a little time to practice stitching before beginning to quilt an actual project. It’s worth the repetition it will take to master Machine Quilting. As Heather Thomas suggests in her excellent video, create a Machine Quilting “scrapbook” as you practice. Click here for Heather’s video and keep breathing!

Start with good stitching habits from the beginning. To keep thread tails on the top, take one stitch, gently tug on your top thread and bring the bobbin thread tail to the top. Repeat this each time you begin or end a line of Machine Quilting and secure your stitches with a couple of stitches in reverse.  Corners are easy! Leave the needle down, raise the presser foot, pivot the quilt, lower the presser foot and off you go. Beginning in the center, quilt a 30cm square section, take the quilt off the machine, unroll a new section and continue.

Many stitching problems can be solved with a needle change. Be sure to start with a new needle of the correct size, replace it if you hit a pin and listen for “clunking” that may indicate it’s become dull. Other solutions include adjusting your tension, checking for proper threading and making sure that your backing is not being held too tightly.

Mark stitching lines with water soluble or chalk markers designed for cotton fabric. Try out your marking and removing on a scrap of fabric first. Lead pencil markings are difficult to remove and should definitely be avoided. Marking your design lines one section at a time will also keep your markings fresh and sharp.

4. Pick a Fabulous Project
Coats and Clark are privileged to have paper crafting king, Tim Holtz using his incredible, artistic skills to design gorgeous collections of 100% Cotton fabrics! This Compass Design quilt from his Correspondence One collection is perfect for Machine Quilting and offers many options for sections to quilt. The downloadable PDF includes print-at-home templates and excellent step-by-step instructions. Click here for the pattern, plan your stitching and enjoy your new skills in Machine Quilting!

1 comment: