Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Quilting 101

Yesterday, I cleaned off my sewing table and made my quilt sandwich for my double-sized quilt. I was SO careful to make sure the backing fabric was “taut and smooth, but not stretched” as the books, blogs, and sources suggest. I spray basted and hand basted. I rolled up the quilt the way the same sources suggested (note: I’ve done quite a bit of free-motion quilting, and have actually gotten pretty good at it. But I’ve never quilted anything this large before).

Today, I started free-motion quilting and immediately found myself fighting the quilt, barely able to move it around under the needle. I turned to the wise and experienced members of the Quilt Art list, and without exception, everyone said to do away with that log-roll I had to the right side of the needle. Just that one suggestion helped immensely, and free-motion quilting was a lot easier once I unrolled that log and just smooshed the fabric into the throat of the machine. (The experts gave me some other good advice, as well: get the quilt lifted up level with or above the machine, so it’s not pulling down against the machine, for example.)

After machine-quilting for a while, I turned the quilt over and saw a couple of frustrating tucks. Even worse, the backing fabric was pushing out past the basting I had spent so much time working on. I knew I needed to tear it all out, but I wondered whether it would work to re-baste only small sections that I was about to quilt. Someone I was corresponding with regarding free-motion tips said that’s exactly what she does: she only bastes or safety pins a small section of the quilt at a time, then quilts, stops quilting, presses the backing out, and pins new sections.

I guess there’s just no substitute for experience. But it’s so frustrating to pull out my books and follow instructions that not only don’t work, but that actually hinder progress. Thank goodness for the Internet and the Quilt Art list!

Ok, rant’s over; back to the quilting!


Nina-Marie said...

You know I had the same problems with basting until I a friend of mine gave me a suggestion. What we do is tape the backing to the floor - taunt - not tight. I literally put shipping tape all around it. Then I pin baste it with a fist width a part. It does take forever - but let me tell you it never shifts or tucks on me any more. For my hand quilting I either pay a long arm quilter to baste it for me (worth the $ - I swear) or my husband has been known to baste a few of them.

Approachable Art said...

Hang in there. The way I see it, every mistake gets you closer to the answers you need. I find my newborn quilting skills progressing in tiny increments and it's really satisfying. :D

Gail Myrhorodsky said...

That's right, hang in there. Practice practice practice...then find a long-arm quilter and have them get it done!! (lol) I promised myself I would not do another bed sized quilt on my home machine again in this lifetime.