Welcome back !! It’s the final week of our PaintBox QuiltAlong and this is the week to finish off your quilt top.
Last week we pieced the triangles and also stitched the rows together to complete your quilt top. You can review Week 5’s post right here!
This week, I’m going to share some insights, successes and some fails (at least for me) into machine quilting your Paint Box quilt top on your domestic sewing machine.
Full disclosure now! – I am “the world’s worst free motion machine quilter” (at least that’s what I think) and because of that – I own a longarm machine and 100% prefer my quilt tops machine quilted on my longarm with an overall pattern or for something fancier, sent to a professional machine quilter like Teresa Silva of Quilting is my Bliss for some of her gorgeous free hand long arm machine quilting – however, I know that not everyone can afford long arm services or a long arm machine or may just prefer their tops not to be longarmed, so hence this week’s blog subject about quilting your top on your domestic home machine!
However before moving on and in case you are taking your PaintBox quilt to your favorite longarm machine quilter, pictured below is the pantograph all over quilt design I use on most of my PaintBox samples – it’s called Monsoon and I love it!
On the other hand though sometimes a nice straight stitch will do the trick.
One of my favorite books out there for ideas on using your walking foot and straight stitch machine quilting is Jacquie Gering’s “Walk” – I highly recommend this book as it’s a terrific reference on straight stitch machine quilting and is chocked full of different ideas and designs that you can quilt on your tops using just the walking foot and your straight stitch on your domestic machine.
The designs she offers range from very simple to very complex but all are accomplished with just a straight stitch and your walking foot (or even feed foot), and best of all no lowering of feed dogs or feeling totally out of control (my problem with the process). Also the sequel to this best selling book, “Walk 2.0”will be released in May, so both books together would be a terrific reference pairing for your quilting library!
When I do choose to quilt my tops on my domestic machine, I prefer the control and regimented pace I feel when using my walking foot/dual feed foot, keeping the feed dogs up and just using my straight stitch across the top. That doesn’t mean I don’t make a design though. Here’s some “curvacious” quilting I just completed on this single ModCat wallhanging. My feed dogs were up, I set my machine to the straight stitch and used my dual feed foot (which is similar to a walking foot). I then gently moved the quilt top from side to side to create the gentle curves.
And some more quilting I did on a ModTiki – again nothing fancy – just straight stitch quilting and making a wonky chevron look. Beautiful and looks fancier than it really is!
First things first – Get a plan!
You should have an idea of what pattern or stitch you might like to machine quilt on your quilt top before beginning. I like to have a plan before I begin quilting. Instead of marking your top and then erasing and marking and erasing, why not take a picture of your quilt top and print out the picture on your printer.??
Now you can draw on the printout your ideas for patterns or lines across the quilt top and see how you might like to quilt your top. You can do this just once or print more copies and try out a whole bunch of different ideas. Penciling in your quilting ideas before beginning will give you an idea of what the design will look like on your quilt top and also provide you with at the very least a starting point – a good thing! Here’s a few examples of the quilting ideas and plans I drew before starting to quilt my PaintBox quilt top. The first one is just some simple straight up and down gridding…..
….and the second drawing plan had simple diagonal cross hatching plus a squarish design within the blocks…
Basting Your Quilt Top with the Batting & Backing Fabric
Next get ready to make your quilting sandwich – meaning baste your quilt top with the batting and backing. For this project, I spray basted my batting to my backing fabric and then again, spray basted the top to the batting. This was my first time spray basting a larger quilt like this and I used the 505 Temporary Adhesive Spray . It worked great – no safety pins needed.
It did take quite a bit of patience though and I had to roll the batting (and then the quilt top) accordian style and work on only basting about 1 foot at a time. I just kept smoothing and smoothing the fabric or batting across the surfaces and then gave it a really good pressing before starting to quilt the top.
If you like using fusible spray to baste your quilt – please check out Christa Watson’s tutorial on basting your top. She actually spray bastes small to queen size quilts with her method, and machine quilts all of her tops on her domestic machine with no problems!
Marking and the First Stitches to Stabilize
I chose to diagonally cross hatch my quilt top referring to my 2nd plan above. I wanted to stitch a 1/4″ to either side of the seam lines so that it would be like a double stitch line, but I needed to mark in some of these lines first. I did use my Frixion pen to make the markings BUT BUT BUT – I am fully aware that my pen markings may reappear sometime in the future as this is the chance I take when marking my lines with the Frixion pen. If you are not ok with this, please do use a washable marker or water soluble pen.
I also threaded my machine with a 90/14 Microtex Needle and King Tut 40 weight thread in the color of Alabaster. This particular thread color is a wonderful variegated neutral and works marvelous with almost any fabric collection.
Since I don’t like to ‘fight’ with my quilt when I machine quilt I rolled up the sides of the quilt diagonally toward my first center seam lines to be machine stitched. The first lines I stitched were what I call the “main veins” of the quilt. Since I was cross hatching on a diagonal, the first seams I stitched were the long diagonal lines from top left to bottom right and vice versa thus stitching what you might call a large “X” across the quilt.
The main “veins” of the quilt have now been stabilized and I can now cross hatch and stitch my diagonal lines working always out from the center “main veins” of the quilt to the outer edges.
And I kept stitching and stitching……
…and stitching and stitching……
…and then I decided to stitch 1/4″ to either side of the vertical and the horizontal seam lines….
And I kept stitching and stitching……as you can guess, although simple to do, this process can take a long, long, long time. Just cross hatching 1/4″ to either side of the seam lines on this 48″ square top took me almost 7 hours of straight stitching with just a few short breaks to stretch here and there.
Next I thought I would try my idea to machine quilt the ‘square within the square design’ I had drawn on my quilt top photo (see below) —
I marked a center square in the middle and tried out my idea…..
Well – time again for another full disclosure! I hated it! It just didn’t ‘sing’ to me and frankly I was having a hard time keeping the stitched squares even with the sewn squares – it just looked sloppy! 😦 So out came the seam ripper and time to reconsider what to do next.
Eager to finish the quilting as I was now in hour 8 of machine quilting, I decided to carry on with the diagonal and straight seam quilting and halved the distance between those lines I already stitched.
The results as you see was a nice effect even though some of my stitching was a bit wobbly due to the evening wearing on and I was getting tired!
Life Lesson 101! Which reminds me to remind you of one big life lesson – be kind to yourself – I have to remind myself of this all the time! We are our own worst critics! But let’s face it – we are not perfect and guess what – your machine quilting will likely not be either….its only fabric and it is a handmade item. Also believe me on this one – your quilt top always looks 200% better after you remove all of your drawn lines (that you may or may not have stitched on when quilting your top) and after the quilt is squared down and trimmed.
Once I was completed with my machine quilting, I trimmed the batting/backing edges square to the quilt top and cut the binding from my remaining sashing fabric and sewed it on.
Viola! All done and ready to grace our dining room table…
…or be taken on a nice picnic outside on this beautiful Spring day in our desert oasis!!
This now concludes our PaintBox QuiltAlong – send me your pictures so we can see your gorgeous PaintBox quilts!
Until your next colour fix – happy quilting! Linda & Carl xxoo