Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #14

Hello, and welcome to another of my Thread Talk installment! Today, I shall attempt to answer a few questions from the pool of questions you had asked about home machine quilting in this post.

[Americana Florals, featured in The Quilter, January 2011]


Cathy: Do you stitch in the ditch after or before doing your fancy quilting?

My two cents: Definitely before. Stitching the straight lines in your quilt serves to stabilize your quilt sandwich so as to minimize distortion from moving your quilt sandwich in all possible directions underneath that little throat area of your home machine when you free-motion quilt.

(i) To me, it’s important to quilt along the straight lines of the major sections of your quilt, i.e. quilt center, sashing, and border. That way your quilt is well-defined for adding free-motion quilting later.

(ii) Since home machine quilters don’t have the luxury of stretching and securing one’s quilt across a frame, I think it makes it even more important to quilt along the straight lines to stabilize the quilt.

(iii) If you don’t want to see the straight lines in the midst of your free-motion quilted motifs after your quilt is finished, you can always quilt the straight lines with water soluble threads just to anchor the quilt, and wash away the straight lines later.


[Quilting Around the Pieced Block, featured in Quilter’s World February 2011]

Sue Farrell: I would love to know how you decide to do the densely quilted feathers in the quilt above (picture of quilt shown above).

My two cents: I decided to quilt dense feathers in the border of the quilt above because feathers are beautiful to show off (design and texture) on a solid/mottled print. I normally don’t quilt feathers like that unless I know the feathers will be readily noticed (vain, I know!)

Now, in my beginning days when I was just cutting my teething in this feather quilting business, I did quilt on busy print quilt tops with beige backing fabric. I figured the busy print would hide my feathery mess well if I botched things up. Using a beige backing fabric allowed me to inspect my designs on the quilt back.


Kristen N: I would like to start doing free motion quilting but have no ideas where to start!

My two cents: Start with your current quilt project. Start thinking now about how you might want to quilt it. I don’t normally have a practice piece. I just jump right into a “real” project – I feel like that way, under the pressure of not wanting to mess up a “real” quilt, I tend to perform better. Even if it doesn’t turn out, you can always break out your trusted seam ripper. Trust me, I have!

[publish pending]


Diana: I would love to have more information about how to decide what designs to use when quilting a quilt.

Check out this link and this link for glimpses of my thought process. This article (part I in a two-part series) in Quilter’s World is a systematic approach to answering the “What to Quilt” question. Part II of the series is going to deal with quilting around applique shapes — due out in the April 2011 issue of Quilter’s World.

[publish pending]

That’s all the time I have to answer your questions this time. Let me know if my answers make any sense. If not, keep asking away! Talk to me!

[publish pending]

Thanks for stopping by. I think I am going to snooze for just a little bit while my Miss Baby is having a date with the Zzzz-monster. I have had less than 8 hours of sleep combined in the last 48 hours (by the way, that’s my answer to Anna’s question “I want to know where you find the time to get so much done!!!!) I think sleep is overrated anyway… ;)

Have a fantastic day!


19 thoughts on “Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #14

  1. Thanks so much for your two cents…I love it. I mainly have fear….but I just plunge right in myself….so I have to break from my stippling and just do it…thanks for the info.

    • I am going to like you on Google. I even found myself shocked and dismayed by how people reacted. Have you tested this theory? It’s really simple, yet really effective for some people. This article is a bit too advanced for me so is there something you’d recommend for someone just starting out?

  2. I am always at awe of your incredible talent, Wendy. I love your feathers and the fill lines in between, it is beautiful. Thanks again for sharing the process!

  3. Yes some days it would be great not to have sleep, as it gets in the way!!
    love your post, so informative and full of the most beautiful pics.
    please excuse me if you have already posted this, but as I am a new comer to your blog I think I can ask……do you use a domestic machine for your quilting???

  4. Oh – I just love your 2 cents worth! Its always a pleasure to catch up on your quilting. They were wonderful answers to the questions – and a great way to understand how you do things.

  5. Thanks for sharing. In the pinkish close-up I noticed you “chased” the darker splotches in the fabric, to include them inside the feathers. Or did I just imagine that? Very inspirational!

  6. Simply gorgeous! Thank you for all the information. I don’t know if I’ll ever be as good as you, but I would really love to learn. You have an amazing talent, but I know that practice figures in prominently.

    xo -El

  7. Pingback: Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #46 | Ivory Spring

  8. Wendy your quilts are beautiful, I have noticed you do not stitch in the ditch on all seams. Some quilters promote doing this but on a heavily piced quilt it is such a big chore. I would love to know what your thoughts are on this subject.

  9. Pingback: Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #59 | Ivory Spring

  10. Pingback: Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #60 | Ivory Spring

  11. Hi I am in awe of not just your talent but also of your creativity. I am a newbie and so I am just plugging aling trying different things all the time. I love the way you change the pattern constantly it’s fantastic. My question is do use a lot of trapunto ?

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