Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #46

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Hello Friends!  Welcome to my 46th Thread Talk installment.  It’s been absolutely fun to share with you all that I have learned in my machine quilting journey.

Some of you had written and asked me to share my thoughts on “evenness” in quilting.  I shall attempt…

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#1  Evenness, or rather the visual perception of evenness in quilting density, plays an important role in allover quilting.  Evenness in allover quilting gives the viewer a sense of continuity, and uniformity.

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#2  The quilting density has to do with the spacing between individual quilting motifs.  The spacing can be tight or loose, but as long as the overall scheme in spacing is even, one gets the visual sense of a well-quilted quilt.

You can see that the spacing between motifs tends toward “loose” in the following image:

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And this one tends toward tight in the spacing:

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#3  I think the difficulty in achieving even allover quilting (quilted on a domestic machine) comes in when domestic machine quilters have to contend with the very limited visibility afforded by the small quilting area under the small throat area of the machine.

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Here are a few thoughts that might help you achieve happy evenness result:

a.  Start with training yourself to quilt even echoes free-hand!  I have written specifically about echoes here.

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I encourage beginners to start with mastering the technique of echoing.  To me, quilting echoes is the starting point for free-motion quilting — and it is a major point of emphasis in my online machine quilting class “Learn to Machine Quilt.”

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Quilting echoes free-hand trains the quilter to master moving her quilt sandwich, as well as to use the eye to gauge distances.  If you haven’t tried this before, try quilting echoes roughly 1/4″ apart as a practice to get you used to gauging distance solely visually.  Now, you will notice that the spacing between your echoes is not always going to be exactly 1/4″, but close enough when you find that your echoing effect is starting to look good.

Being able to gauge the spacing between motifs when quilting will help you quilt your motifs evenly.

b.  You might doodle on paper the quilting motif roughly the same size as you would quilt on the quilt.  That gives you an idea how many repetitions of the motif you will be able to quilt in the quilting area afforded you by your machine once you get the quilt sandwich under the machine throat area.

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c.  Make sure you know your motif well before you actually stitch/quilt it on the quilt.  There is nothing more frustrating than not knowing where to go next during the actual quilting process.  If that still happens when you know the motif on paper better than your own name, that’s not the end of the world — just stop and take a deep breath and do a bit of surveying as to where you would go to fill up the immediate quilting area.

d.  I generally have to spread my quilt out on the floor from time to time on to see if I miss any area that still needs to be quilted.  I see this as a fact of life when one quilts with a domestic machine.  I have made mention of this point in this Thread Talk post.

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I hope this helps you gain more confidence in achieving pleasing quilting results in your quilting journey.  Click here, here and here for a few Q&A posts I have done in the past.

Thanks for stopping by!  I plan to share a recent magazine quilt before the weekend ends.  My latest featured projects are slowly making their way back to me!  Have a great day!

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13 thoughts on “Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #46

  1. Thanks for another wonderful Thread Talk! I haven’t yet begun to FMQ but I love, love, love seeing your beautiful quilts and reading all your tips (and the Q&A’s). I’m certain that when I do take the plunge, I will be a “loose” quilter. Though I applaud the amazing skills of those of you who use the “tighter” quilting method, it appears to take away from the “comfort” factor I would want my quilts to have. To each his own, I guess. Perhaps I’ll change my mind one day. After all, it’s not as though a person can’t enjoy both techniques.

  2. Thank you so much. Isn’t it funny how you can dislike,or not exactly like, a particular block. But when you see the same block done in more modern colors, or colors you like, all if a sudden you think to yourself ‘hey I really do like that block, it was just the colors I didn’t like!’

  3. Great Thread Talk topic and I’m delighted to know that you go in-depth on this topic in your online class. This is definitely an area I’m not great with and I know many quilters that do FMQ on a domestic machine also feel challenged with it too. Thanks for sharing your insights here….and in your class too!

    SewCalGal
    http://www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com

  4. sewing on a mid arm, rather than a regular machine is still difficult. I have the frame, but still only get about 6-8 in to work anykind of design. It’s not want I want, but it still works for me. I don’t have the room for a long arm, and was unhapppy with the machine quilting.

  5. Such a good post on this tough subject. Even with the extended area of vision, I still find it challenging to quilt an even pattern on the Sweet Sixteen. That’s another reason for my love of feathers……I find it easier to judge spacing when doing that motif. I prefer a little tighter ‘cuz then when it’s washed it crinkles so beautifully!! And it always comes down to practice, practice, practice…..hugs, D

  6. Great post, Wendy….as usual. I must confess your Thread Talk posts are the most helpful and interesting to me….of course, I LOVE the pictures of your quilts too. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and love of quilting with strangers. It really speaks of what a lovely person you are. Blessings….

  7. Thank you Wendy for all the wonderful tips. I always love your Thread Talk posts. I’ve never thought about evenness in quilting because I think I’ve just done it automatically. I can always use improvement.

  8. Well, I received my machine quilting course from my husband for Christmas, and finally today, I have rounded up everything, gotten my material, and made copied the different styles to work on. So I am ready to go and hope to get started tomorrow. I can hardly wait. This thread talk should be very helpful as I work on this course; and yes thank you for taking the time to write these posts!

  9. Hi –

    Thank you for sharing your vast quilting knowledge with us! Do you know the pattern name of the first quilt in this email? The one with the green trees? Love that pattern!

    Thank you so much,

    Gail Albers

  10. I really enjoy looking at the quilting you have done. I just wish I was able to quilt with the evenness that you have in your quilts. I only have a regular sewing machine (not a big quilting machine) but, I am also handicapped and it is a little hard for me to manipulate the quilt through the machine but I keep trying. I would really love to be able to take one of your classes, you do such great work. Thank you for sharing your work with us.

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