Spring Quilt-a-Long: The All-Important Stabilizing Step

Stabilizing Spring Sampler, Lori Kennedy, QAL

Good Morning, Quilters!

Titanium Needles–The jury is still out!

Thank you to all who participated in yesterday’s conversation about Titanium Needles…

The  water is a little murky for me now–Is there a difference between Titanium Needles and Titanium-coated needles? Does one break and the other bend?  Do technicians see more damage? Maybe it’s better if a needle doesn’t shatter–just bends or breaks?  Does Titanium need to be capitalized?  Does the coating make FMQ easier?

These are pressing matters…

We need to get to the bottom of this!

I will check my sources and do some research.

Full report to follow…


In the mean time, YOU have work to do!

We are studying the effects of machine quilting on Half Square Triangles, and Borders with our Spring Quilt-a-Long!




The next step is to stabilize the quilt by stitching along the long axes of the quilt.

This step is very important whether your quilt is a small table runner like ours, our a king size bed quilt.  Stabilizing helps keep the quilt square and prevents shifting of the layers.  Once the quilt is stabilized, you can free motion quilt it in any order.


Choose lightweight thread (50 wt or finer)  in a color that matches either the strip or the triangles. When in doubt, choose a thread that is slightly darker rather than slightly lighter–it hides itself better if it’s darker.

Use lightweight thread in the bobbin, too.

I am trying Aurifil’s new 80 wt cotton on top and in the bobbin.

Stabilizing Spring Sampler, Lori Kennedy, QAL

Use a walking foot or the dual feed on newer BERNINA’s for this step.  It helps prevent the layers from shifting while stitching.

Also, check the presser foot pressure and adjust it if necessary.  Not all machines have this option, but it is a nice feature when stabilizing a quilt.  It helps prevent the bulky layers from shifting.

Stabilizing Spring Sampler, Lori Kennedy, QAL

If you are using a BERNINA “D” foot -be sure to engage the Dual Feed behind the foot!

Stabilizing Spring Sampler, Lori Kennedy, QAL


Start at the top of one of the middle rows–between the top border and the row.  While constructing the top, we pressed the seam allowances toward the sashing strip–that creates a well–a depression between the two rows.

Stitch in the well–on the triangles.

Try a stitch length of 2.5 or slightly larger.

Stabilizing Spring Sampler, Lori Kennedy, QAL

Stitch from top to bottom.

Stabilizing Spring Sampler, Lori Kennedy, QAL

Stop at the bottom border and backstitch to knot.

Stabilizing Spring Sampler, Lori Kennedy, QAL

Do not turn the quilt and keep stitching.–Doing so will cause the layers to twist.

Return to the top of the quilt and stitch the next row to the right in the same direction.

Gently smooth the layers as you go.

Stitch all the rows to the right of the center from top to bottom.

Stabilizing Spring Sampler, Lori Kennedy, QAL

Stitch the right edge.

Turn the entire quilt–so the bottom is now the top…

Stitch the remaining rows from (the new)top to bottom.

Stabilizing Spring Sampler, Lori Kennedy, QAL

Stitch the top and bottom borders.

Stabilizing Spring Sampler, Lori Kennedy, QAL

Perfectly stabilized!

At this point your quilt is stabilized and you can quilt it in any order without fear of twisting the layers.


On larger quilts, the method is the same–it just takes more time.  I recently stitched a queen quilt and the stabilization step took fifteen hours.

Take your time and enjoy yourself.  This is the perfect time for a glass of wine and loud music–or time to think, scheme, plan, daydream…

Stabilizing Spring Sampler, Lori Kennedy, QAL


I like to experiment with new materials and methods on every quilt I make.  I decided to try a technique taught by Cindy Needham.  She calls it ESS–“Every Stinking Seam”

In her Craftsy Class, Design It, Quilt It (25% off HERE)— a class I highly recommend…she recommends stitching in the ditch “every stinking seam” before adding any free motion quilting?

Every single seam? Hmmm….?


I decided to give this technique a try on this little quilt.  Join me, if you like.  If you don’t have time…that’s great, too!


With your walking foot on, switch to lightweight thread in the lighter color and stitch in the ditch on the light triangles.


Even though this quilt is small, this method requires a lot of twisting and turning…now I remember why I hadn’t adopted the “every stinking seam” method!

If this quilt were large–the twisting and turning  would take all the joy out of quilting for me…


Stabilizing Spring Sampler, Lori Kennedy, QAL

I’ll admit–the ditch-quilted row does look nice!

It’s hard to see in the image below–the right HST row is stitched in the ditch and the left side is not…

If you are making a competition quilt…maybe???

Stabilizing Spring Sampler, Lori Kennedy, QAL


While I liked the look, the walking foot method was painstaking.

So I tried my luck with free motion quilting in the ditch.  I lowered my feed dogs and attached my free motion foot….and off I went!

Because the lines are so short, it was easy to stay in the ditch and a lot faster!

This is a method I would consider!

Stabilizing Spring Sampler, Lori Kennedy, QAL

Below is an image of the quilt fully stabilized and stitched in the ditch of “every stinking seam”

You could bind this little quilt and be finished…

Stabilizing Spring Sampler, Lori Kennedy, QAL

Or return next week–when we get to use our myriad of motifs to add a personal touch to this sweet little quilt!

What about YOU?

Are you ready for a new challenge?

Are YOU using this quilt to try something new?  A new thread?  A new batting?  A new method?

Learn something new every day!


PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at lckennedy@hotmail.com.  Thanks!

Spring Quilt-a-Long: Borders and Layering

Good Morning, Quilters!

By the end of today we will have a pieced quilt top and a quilt sandwich, ready for (my favorite part) quilting!

Yesterday, we completed the HST triangles and stitched all the rows together.

Today:  Borders and Layering the Quilt Sandwich


The Spring Sampler has top and bottom borders only–of course, YOU should be your own designer!

Measuring and Cutting the Borders:


My sisters are both excellent quilters and they do not like my method…Use the method that works best for you…

(If it’s my method be sure to comment–so my sisters see who is always right.

If you like their method better–HUSH!  We don’t want them to start a competitive blog…)

MY SISTERS’ METHOD  Measure across the middle, measure across each edge–find the average and cut the border the average width.


I use a no-mark border method for all of my quilt borders–from very large to very small.

In my not-always-humble opinion, or maybe it’s just me…taking three measurements can induce error.

Press the top well.

Lay it out on a table–very straight.  (If the quilt is large, fold it in half lengthwise and fold the border in half lengthwise)

Align the border on a horizontal line in the middle of the quilt.  It must very straight.

Spring Quilt-a-Long, Lori Kennedy

Trim the sides even with the edges of the quilt top.

That’s it!  Perfect border size!

Spring Quilt-a-Long, Lori Kennedy

Place the border on the quilt top, right sides together.  Pin the edges, then the middle and ease the border onto the quilt top.

Spring Quilt-a-Long, Lori Kennedy


When I auditioned the border fabric, it seemed perfect…but once it was stitched in place, I wasn’t so sure…

I hate when that happens…

Spring Quilt-a-Long, Lori Kennedy

Maybe it was too wide…

Spring Quilt-a-Long, Lori Kennedy

Even folded over to a narrower width, it wasn’t singing to me.

Darn it!

I unstitched it and added a solid border.

The solid border looks a little boring now, but once we add the magic of machine quilting…

Spring Quilt-a-Long, Lori Kennedy


Cut the backing fabric 2-3 inches larger than the quilt top.  (More if it’s a large quilt).

Prep the backing by pressing well with a little spray starch or sizing.  This will help the quilt slide while machine quilting.

Secure it–right side down–to a table top.  Use tape or clamps.

Spring Quilt-a-Long, Lori Kennedy

Cut the batting the same size as the backing.

I used Warm and Natural (The Warm Company) cotton batting for my first Spring Sampler and am trying Warm and Plush for this one.  Warm and Plush is described as “the warmest natural quilt batting”–“Perfect for loved ones that can never seem to get warm”–yep, that’s me!!

It will be interesting to see how they compare.

I did not pre-soak either one. (Another day’s comparison.)

Spring Quilt-a-Long, Lori Kennedy

Layer the batting on top of the backing.

Place the quilt top in the center.

Baste the quilt top with pins or spray.

I used Sulky KK2000-It’s odorless, clear and non-toxic.  I felt comfortable using it indoors.  KK 2000 is a temporary spray–it only lasts a few days…but I have found it helps hold things together for a lot longer when I’m quilting a small project.

Spray the back of the batting. Smooth it over the backing.

Spray the top of the batting.  Layer your quilt on top and smooth.

Do not press the quilt top–Ironing removes the adhesive.

Spring Quilt-a-Long, Lori Kennedy


Our blank canvas is ready to quilt!!!

Spring Quilt-a-Long, Lori Kennedy

We will start next Tuesday.

Be ready.

Have YOUR quilt sandwich prepared!

Speaking of prepared sandwiches…

Here’s What Gaby’s cooking!  Looks delicious!

And my daughter made these Moroccan Chicken Skewers said they were fabulous, too!

I must be hungry again…maybe I should eat a better breakfast?


PS… All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at lckennedy@hotmail.com.  Thanks!

Quilting with Annie Smith-Applique

Annie Smith, Applique, Machine Quilting

Good Morning, Quilters!

One of the perks of being a BERNINA Ambassador is attending a yearly “Reunion” at BERNINA’s HQ in Illinois.  We learned all kinds of new things and got to try all the latest sewing machine models.  But–the best part–meeting other BERNINA Ambassadors who have a wide range of interests:  quilting, embroidery, home decoration, clothing construction….


At my first Reunion, I met the very talented quilter, Annie Smith.  Annie has many quilting skills and started the first-ever podcast for quilters.  Check out her website, Annies Quilting Stash–(be sure you’ve already done your daily dose of exercise, because you will be lost in her site for hours!)

One of Annie’s skills is machine appliqué.  I convinced her to let me quilt one of her blocks as a demo for YOU, gentle readers of The Inbox Jaunt. 

This was the step-by-step process–perhaps it will give you some guidance for your next project.


STEP ONEHang the quilt where you can look at it frequently.  This really helps you visually absorb the pattern.  Your sub-conscience can work on it too! (I get some of my best ideas during the night.)

STEP TWO-Avoid this step if possible–Worry that you will ruin the block with your machine quilting….AND it’s not even YOUR own block you will be ruining…This lingers and no work will be accomplished until…

STEP THREE-Set a Deadline-This poor block languished for weeks until I made a deadline.  This works most of the time for me…

STEP FOUR-Perform a leading task–A leading task is some easy, mundane task that will not cause permanent damage to the quilt…choosing thread is a great one…you get to play with thread and color….These tasks really help draw you in and get things rolling…

Annie Smith, Applique, Machine Quilting

STEP FOUR-Start stabilizing or outlining the motifs.  This is just another “leading task”–it’s not creative, and no damage to the gorgeous appliqué block with this step. I like to outline each motif using a closely matched thread.  I stitch on the background fabric–not the edge of the appliqué itself.  This helps the appliqué pop up a little.

Annie Smith, Applique, Machine Quilting

(You can see the placement of the gold stitches around the gold appliqué in the photo below.)

Annie Smith, Applique, Machine Quilting

STEP FIVE-Begin adding motifs around the appliqué. This is when quilting becomes DANGEROUS-especially when you are working on an award-winning quilter’s block!  Your heart is racing…you’re sure you are ruining it…oh dear, dear, dear!

The upside–you will keep your deadline…and that is the only upside at this point.

Annie Smith, Applique, Machine Quilting

STEP SIX-Echo stitching and layering in more details.

Okay, okay…things are starting to look okay…not an epic fail…


STEP SEVEN-Turn on music.  This is starting to be fun…I think she might like it….

Annie Smith, Applique, Machine Quilting

Phew!  I like it!

STEP EIGHT-Mail it back and cross your fingers that YOUR vision was HER vision….

Annie Smith, Applique, Machine Quilting

STEP NINE-Phone call from Annie–she loves it!

Will I collaborate with her on a larger piece for show???


What could I say?  When’s the deadline?

Happy Applique/Quilting!


PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at lckennedy@hotmail.com.  Thanks!