Did you know that the most important thing you can do to ensure good quality stitches when you are free motion quilting is to have a perfect needle? Because there is no way to visually tell when a needle is damaged or worn out, it is recommended that you discard your needle after 4-6 hours of sewing. (For free motion quilting–I would err on the side of 4 hours.) A damaged needle will result in poor quality stitching and-worse yet-can damage your sewing machine. If you can’t remember the last time you replaced your needle–it’s time!
Hope you have time to stitch today! (with a brand new needle)
Please join us this Friday for a group discussion about needle selection.
If you’re like me, once you finish a quilt top, you want to start quilting as soon as possible. I hate sewing the back of a quilt. I dislike basting a quilt, and I will do anything to avoid marking my quilts. I use the seam lines from piecing as my “rails” whenever I can, and I often design free motion quilt patterns that fit within each block. However, some marking is usually necessary.
I have a few tools that I regularly use. I like stencils for drawing parallel lines. I use SCL-461-00 and SCL-457-10 from the Stencil Company frequently and I use these vintage yardsticks regularly as well. They are great for the long straight lines.
On all of my quilts, I use a system I call Divide and Conquer. You can read more about Divide and Conquer HERE.
I begin by drawing a square in the middle of the quilt–or a rectangle for rectangular quilts. Then I divide the square into quarters, and then divide the square diagonally…see image below. Next I add a few borders…
And then I pull out my rulers (I have many odd shapes I’ve collected over the years) and I continue to subdivide the space. On a large quilt, I will draw a few borders around the edges and a few squares in the center of the quilt and then I begin quilting. I divide the space more as I go along.
In a small quilt like The Valentine Quilt (see HERE and HERE) and the Shamrock Quilt HERE and HERE. The Pumpkin Quilt –-see that quilt HERE--I drew a few round shapes around the square so that I can see that they are fairly evenly space and to make sure the composition appears balanced. That’s it! I look at my sketchbook or my samples and I begin quilting. When I run out of ideas, I go back through my samples…
My goal is to keep the quilting balanced in each of the sections.
This minimal marking method works well for me. What do you do? How do YOU mark your quilts? I’d love to hear!!
Thank you to all who participated in last week’s Open Line Friday discussion about marking pens and pencils. I have placed an order for several new markers to try!
We have a lot more quilting in November! We are going to work on a series of “Winter Leaves” and next Friday we’ll be discussing needles! Let me know if there is anything YOU would like to talk about on Open Line Friday–when it comes to quilting…I can talk all day!