Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #18 Addendum

Some of you posted some great questions in the comment section of my last Thread Talk post (#18). I decided that they warranted another post for me to try to answer them. Anything that helps you enjoy domestic machine quilting better, I am there… :)

[Bedazzled – publish pending]

1. Jackie asks… “I was wondering if when you pin and are actually sewing do you remove the pins in the area you are working on or do you just sew around the pins and remove them all once you have completed the quilt?”

My two cents: I remove the pins as needed when I quilt. Watch out for pins in the immediate area outside of your quilting area. If you think they will pose a problem, go ahead and remove them.

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

2. Cathi asks… “Do you still start in the middle when you are doing an over-all design?”

My two cents: I have answered the question here (check out #3). Now, I do try to start from the middle when the size of the quilt is manageable, and when I think it’s favorable to do so. But if not, as long as my quilt sandwich is well basted, I haven’t had any problems starting from the side.

[Jungle Jim and Jane, Fons & Porter Baby Quilts, Fall 2010]

3. Another Jackie asks, “I tend to have problems getting round shapes smooth and not jerky or pointy. Any tips?

My two cents: Slow down, and stitch shorter stitches when rounding curves. That should help. You might also consider using the Free-motion Slider on the bed of your machine. The slider tends to take out the jerks and the kinks in moving your quilt sandwich. Click here for more info on quilt moving and the slider.


I received a most interesting tip from Liane from Brazil about using paper towels to practice free-motion quilting. See picture above.

Liane had given me permission to share her tip, and this is what she wrote: “I was always afraid of quilting. In reading your blog I found, somewhere, the courage I needed to put my fear away. I began doodling with pencil and paper. ThenI decided to use paper towel as “my training fabric”. It worked great, cause I didn’t feel I was wasting my fabrics! Now, when I decide to try a new motif , I always use three or four layers of paper towel as a warm up “fabric” ! ” Liane is quite an innovative quilter, don’t you think?
Do you have handy free-motion quilting tips you would like to share with us here at Ivory Spring? Feel free to leave them in the comment section. Have a fantastic day!


27 thoughts on “Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #18 Addendum

  1. I just want you to know I really enjoy your tips. I am a longarm quilter, but used to do all my quilting (even king size) on my Bernina. Your tips are very helpful for those who want to get good at machine quilting.
    And I do get quilting ideas from you that I use on my longarm.

  2. Just had another question come to mind — do you ever have fabric slip or stitch where you didn’t want it to? And if so, do you remove the resulting stitches or incorporate them into your design?

  3. A friend in America suggested I check your site and what a find … it’s great. Well done. I’m in Australia and will certainly tell other quilting friends here baout you too. This last post is a real help – thank you so much. Regards Di B

  4. Great answers! My practice pieces are the edges I cut off after quilting and just before binding. Not as wide as paper towel, but 4-5 inches wide is enough to practice circles, curves, geometric shapes.

  5. Wonderful post as alwasy Wendy – and so very informative – thank you! Laine certainly has a great tip there. I always have a paper pad next to me and draw heaps and a fabric sandwich to make sure I know what I am doing – Hopefully :)I also sometimes start my shapes drawing with a purple Marvy maker ( which becomes invisible after a while)to make sure I get the shape… and can continue from there without.

    • Keep up the magnificent quality writing, it is rare to see a nice posts like this one these days. I simply must tell you that I like your websites article. I just don’t have any idea what to do now. After seeing your stuff I am scared I will never be the same. Incredibly useful information.

    • You sure have a ton of knowledge on this subject. Thank you for the great post. This blog is magnificent! These articles really make me to think more about my world. This website has a kind of aura surrounding it.

  6. I’m a recent convert to your blog and am loving it! I’ll have to try the tip about practicing on paper towels – if this works for me it will be a god-send. I know I should practice more, but like Liane I don’t like ‘wasting’ good fabric :)

  7. Wow! Thanks for answering the questions about your last Thread Talk. I asked the question about whether you had to start in the middle. I’m starting that quilt today and your answer came just in time. I went back to where you had dealt with this in a former Thread Talk and after reading it, remembered you writing it, but had never done an “over-all” design before, so didn’t remember your advice. This came just in time – the quilt is queen-size and it will be nice not to have to start in the middle. Thanks again! I’ll practice first on paper towels, too!

  8. I enjoy your post because they have beautiful pics of your work and because of ALL THE INFO you share with us.
    I apologize for not commenting – but will attempt to be a better ‘fan’.

  9. no matter how much I stretch the fabric and pin…I still end up with pleats (so to speak) on the back. I am sooo frustrated. I have tried everything. I lay the back down on the carpet…smooth it out and stick pins in carpet..then batting…put pins in it…(on edges) then the top. then I put pins in it all over the quilt… looks great…till I quilt it and look at the back…grrrrrrr



  10. What a great idea to use the paper towels. I am at a quilt retreat right now. I cannot wait to get home and try this. Sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

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