Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #15

Good day, my friends! I hope you are doing well. I decided to answer a few more questions from the ones you have posed on this post:

[Cascade of Leaves, featured in Quilter’s World, October 2010]

#1 Cathy Cameron: I also would like to learn how to regulate your stitch…

My two cents: Regulating your stitches (i.e., length) is probably the bulk of the work associated with free-motion-quilting. The challenge then lies in stitching your quilting stitches (whether long or short) evenly so that the overall look is pleasing to the eyes.

The newer Bernina machines do have a stitch regulator for free-motion quilting purposes. My Artista 640 is such a machine. But I have found that I still need to figure out for myself how to move my quilt sandwich in order for my stitches to come out right with the stitch regulator.

[Sunshine in my Soul, featured in The Quilter, September 2010]

All that to say (from my experience) … #1 the stitch regulator does not necessarily work as a fool-proof genie, #2 ultimately it is you the quilter that master your machine to achieve the stitches you expect (and I might add, sewing machines are like people in that each comes with its own quirks… you have to get to know your machine to get it to do what you want, weird but true).

One thing I have found that really helps (with or without stitch regulator) — move and stitch slowly! VERY slowly especially if you are starting out. When I first started free-motion quilting, I literally took one stitch at a time so that I could master how best to move my quilt sandwich for me. The progress was painfully slow, but well worth the effort. So, if you have used the fine threads like I had suggested in previous posts and your stitches still look yucky, try slowing down (I mean REALLY slowing down) and see if your stitches start to improve. Read about the Supreme Slider that helps you move your quilt here.


[Publish Pending]

#2 Didi Fuller: Do you mark your quilt top before quilting? If so, what do you use to mark? Does it come out easily?

Becky Kelher: Do you use anything to mark the quilting pattern, or do you do all those motifs off the top of your head?

Laurie in Maine: How to mark so it comes out afterward!

[Publish Pending]

My two cents: The mark or unmark issue is addressed here. As to what to use for marking so that it comes out later… I have always used the blue washable fabric marker by Mark Be Gone (Japan), and never had any problems with my marking not coming out upon spritzing or washing with water. I normally wet my quilt to square it before I put my binding on. So, the fabric washable marker to mark my quilt works out nicely. I do have to caution you… sometimes the “blue” would come back if I didn’t get the marking out well enough the first time. If that happens, I just wet my quilt again and again until the blue quits coming back.

[On a side note: Sue wants to know if I hand or machine stitch my binding. I use my machine to attach the binding onto my quilt, and then hand stitch it down at the back.]

I have also used a “mark but not mark” method using freezer paper. Read more about it here.


[publish pending]

#3 Jocelyn: I would like to know how you handle a larger quilt. Do you start in the middle and work your way out?

My two cents: I think as long as your quilt sandwich is pinned and stretched well, it really doesn’t matter where you start. I would normally start where it’s the easiest, which is generally the side for a larger quilt. But if I think that it is just as easy to start in the middle, I would go ahead and do that. I have read somewhere Diane Gaudynski said to start where the quilting isn’t the focal point to get some warming up before moving to the focal point. I think that’s really good advice.

That’s all for today’s post! Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a wonderful day. Do let me know what you are thinking! :)


14 thoughts on “Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #15

  1. It’s all great information Wendy. I think there was a myth years ago that you had to go flat out with speed, I only got better when I slowed way down so I could have time to think and get better stitches.

  2. Thanks so much for all of that great information. Your quilting is really awesome.

    I would like to know a little about how you choose thread for machine quilting. Do you use a neutral thread on top?

  3. I love the way you explain things.I had one of my readers ask me about even stitches and I had a go at explaining how it works for me, but then I saw this post and sent her the link here.
    I hope that is OK

  4. I’m one of the ones following Leeanne’s links. And I’m drooling over your stitching – it’s gorgeous! I think I’ll be spending a fair amount of time visiting you here!

  5. I always enjoy this line of posts that you do. I cannot believe you quilt circles w/o any templates! I’m not sure if it is even possible on your machine, but the larger sit-down quilting machines (I am thinking of the sit down HQ16) can use 1/4″ acryllic templates to outline shapes.

  6. There are some fabulous tips about machine quilting in this post! Even though I still haven’t attempted free motion quilting, every time you post one of these how-to pieces I am a little more encouraged to try. Thank you!!

  7. Pingback: Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #18 Addendum « Ivory Spring

  8. Can you do a post on how you block your quilts before binding please. I really struggle to do this in a small table space with standard sized rulers. Even my new 20″ square isn’t that helpful.

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

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

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

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