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!