Open Line Friday–Questions and Answers

Scissors, Questions and Answers


I would like to try something new today.  I’m calling it Open Line Friday--a chance to answer questions and a place where we can bring together the collective knowledge of the group.  The following are questions that have popped up in the last week or two.   Please add your input to the following questions:

Rebecca at Cheeky Cognoscenti   writes:  You know, I always thought that “free-motion” quilting was done completely freehand, without any markings on the quilt top. Looking through your tutorials, I am struck by how many different motifs require (or at least greatly benefit from) marking lines to guide spacing, etc. My question is, at what point would you do the marking if this was a big quilt instead of a small sample? Do you mark the entire quilt top before you layer it and baste it for quilting? Or do you mark the quilt sandwich as you go, and if so, how do you keep your lines straight when you’re drawing on a puffy quilt sandwich? Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful tutorials, by the way!

Lori:  Free Motion Quilting refers to stitching with the feed dogs lowered or disengaged.  (When the feed dogs are “up” the sewing machine will advance the fabric–in a more or less straight line–  When the feed dogs are “lowered”  the fabric will only move when it is guided through the machine)  This allows the quilter to move in any direction and stitch motifs and patterns, not just straight lines.  Perhaps there is some confusion because it sounds a bit like “free hand drawing”.  Some marking is essential on almost all quilts.

As for marking:  I use the stitched seam lines created by piecing as my “rails” or guidelines whenever I can–in order to avoid marking.  In large quilts, I do a combination of marking methods.  I usually don’t mark until after the quilt is pinned–I like to use chalk and if the quilt is being moved around a lot the chalk comes off.  Even if the quilt batting is bulky, I am usually able to add enough markings.  I also add markings as I quilt.


Chris:Dear lori do you have any problems with your foot jumping is there anything I can do to stop this I have a Bernina 440 and love it.

Lori:  I’m not sure what you mean by the foot “jumping”…Perhaps you need to increase the presser foot pressure? Also, don’t forget to lower the presser foot–that can cause the foot to jump. Send more details…Maybe some other readers can help?

Bernina, Feed Dogs

Feed Dogs, Offset quilting foot


Ruth at StitchSewQuilt     I would like to try FMQ with a thicker-looking cotton thread as I have feeling it will last longer and look better, and not eat through my cotton patchwork??? Is that true? I keep snapping needles in my practice FMQ; really not sure why, I think the tension’s okay. That’s another reason I want a thicker thread, so it will match a thicker needle and hopefully decrease the possibility of snapping when I cross a seam.     Are all of the retailers that have been mentioned on here American? I live in Britain and am hoping to be able to find the supplies you are discussing. Thanks.

Lori:  I don’t think the problem is the thread or the needles.  Most of the time when I break needles it is because I am pulling too hard on a heavy quilt.  Make sure the area you are stitching is free to move. Also, an improperly threaded machine can break needles.  Have you had your machine serviced lately?   Are you using quality needles like Schmetz 80 or larger?    (Note–check out Ruth’s blog where she has a few images of her work.)  Most of the products I have recommended are available from online retailers.   We have a lot of followers from the UK–can you help Ruth with local retailers?

Marking Tools

Thank you to the readers who offered questions. Please help these readers with YOUR input!

We will try this again in a few weeks, if anyone has a question they’d like answered.

How to Cover a Textbook

How to Cover a Textbook

In honor of the back-to-school season, I have a little quiz for you.

Lori has six children. Five of her children have finished high school and one has finished grammar school. If there are two semesters/year and if each child averages five textbooks per semester, then Lori:

  • A)  Has covered nearly 5000 textbooks
  • B)  Is an expert on covering textbooks
  • C)  Has made nearly 1,000,000 bag lunches
  • D)  All of the above

If you answered D, you are correct!  You get an “A” on today’s quiz.   Congratulations, keep up the good work!

Because I am an expert on covering textbooks, I thought I’d offer this photo tutorial.

How to Cover a TextbookCut a seam down one side of a bag.

How to Cover a TextbookRemove the bottom of the bag and discard.

How to Cover a TextbookNow you have a long piece of paper to use as the textbook cover.

How to Cover a Textbook

Fold over three to four inches on the length of the bag–toward the printed side.

How to Cover a TextbookPlace the textbook just below the folded edge.

How to Cover a TextbookWith the textbook in place, fold  up the bottom edge of the paper bag and create a crease.

How to Cover a TextbookFold the bottom edge of the bag on the crease line determined above.

How to Cover a TextbookPlace the textbook in the middle of the folded bag.

How to Cover a TextbookOpen the front cover of the textbook.  Fold over one side of the prepared bag and thread the cover into the slot created.

How to Cover a TextbookThis is what it should look like.

How to Cover a TextbookThis is what it looks like on the inside of the front cover.

How to Cover a TextbookWith the textbook closed, trim the right side of the bag if necessary.

How to Cover a TextbookFlip the textbook over.  The back of the book is now on top.  Again, with the textbook closed, crease the paper at the textbook’s edge.

How to Cover a TextbookThe arrow above shows the creased line. Slide the back cover only to this line.

How to Cover a TextbookAgain, slide the back cover into the paper bag. The back cover requires a bit more finesse to slide into the proper position.

How to Cover a TextbookThe back cover now looks like the photo above.

How to Cover a TextbookFinally, add tape to the top and the bottom of both the front and the back of the textbook.

How to Cover a TextbookIMPORTANT: The tape is on the paper bag only.  Do not tape it TO the textbook!  

How to Cover a TextbookThat’s it!  A perfectly covered textbook—no end of the year “damaged book charges”!

How to Cover a Textbook

If you have a lot of books to cover, you might consider buying a roll of brown wrap available at craft and office supply stores.  One roll lasts forever and doubles as emergency gift wrap!

The above was the “Boys version“…If you have girls, you can use any pretty bag and washi tape and stickers and colored pens….

How to Cover a Textbook

Work In Progress-Polka Dots and Aprons

Apron, Sewing

This Wednesday’s Work In Progress is a skirt apron–for all the cooking and baking I’m going to be doing…??? (It is sooo hot in Minnesota right now that no one even cares about eating! )  Maybe I will wear this cute little apron while I am stirring the lemonade!

I found this free pattern at my local quilt shop a few weeks ago.  Once I saw the polka dot fabric, I knew it was coming home with me!  Who doesn’t love polka dots–especially on red!

Apron, Sewing


I could not obtain the pattern for you, but if you Google “free apron patterns” there are many options available online.

Apron, Sewing


Apron, Sewing


TIP:  If your pattern calls for interfacing the waistband, replace the interfacing with lightweight batting and free motion quilt it in place.

Apron, Sewing


The result is a much more comfortable waistband–and more importantly, you get to practice one of your favorite free motion quilting motifs!  WIN! WIN!

(NOTE–You don’t need to have a backing fabric when you free motion quilt.)

Apron, Sewing


Apron, Sewing

This is the closest I get to garment sewing these days–and I thoroughly enjoyed the process.  I think I will look for a few more apron patterns…I need a full apron next time–I’m known to splash the flour around a bit when I bake!

Apron, Sewing

What are YOU working on this week?

In Stitches,