In today’s post of the Triangle Quiltalong, I will talk about the quilting process. There are lot’s of different ways to do this and there is no real right or wrong technique, just what you find suits you. I’m definitely no quilting expert, so some of my skills could do with improving, but as they say ‘Practice makes Perfect’ and like any craft, the process of learning and doing is just as important as the end product.
I think the quilting stage has been my favourite part of making this triangle quilt so far because once it’s done the quilt really gains so much personality. As a sewist/sewer I used to be very intimidated by this stage of quilt making, but thanks to a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way, I feel much more confident in my skills now.
Read on to see how…
Before you start quilting you need a back fabric panel and some batting (the bit that goes in between the front and back), both need to be slightly bigger than your quilt top.
Choosing your batting:
Your choice of batting will depend on how warm and lofty you want your quilt to be, as well as your budget. There are lots of types commercially available as well as some options you may not have considered.
Cotton, bamboo, or cotton/bamboo blends are light to mid weight and not very thick. An ideal option if you are just starting out as it’s not to heavy to get through a machine. Machine washable with about 3-4% shrinkage will give a nice crinkled effect.
Wool is good if you want more warmth, a little heavier and thicker gives a loftier effect after quilting. You’ll need to hand wash or the batting may felt up. One of the more expensive options.
Polyester is the cheapest option and usually very thick and fluffy. It’s a synthetic fiber and the really thick stuff is quite hard to quilt, sometimes the fibers can pop through the fabric. Not a great choice for beginners but does have it’s use in some projects.
Combinations like cotton/poly, wool/poly and such may suit your budget as they are a little cheaper than 100% natural fiber options.
Other alternatives include an old woolen blanket, thick cotton flannel, polar fleece (I’ve used it) or maybe you may choose to use no batting at all if you want a super light quilt.
If you need help the staff at your local quilting store are very knowledgeable and can give you great advice on batting choice.
Depending on how large your quilt front is you may need to piece a back together. Extra wide quilt back fabric is available but in the spirit of using remnants I choose to cobble some pieces I had laying about together. Sheets are a good option for a quilt back but make sure it is not worn as it’s likely to tear with repeated use.
Time to make a quilt sandwich by layering your batting between your top and back, then you baste.
Basting is the term for joining your three layers together so they don’t move around whilst quilting.
There are a few ways to do this, a traditional way is hand sewing long ‘basting’ stitches (like a long running stitch) across the quilt in a star like pattern radiating from the center. These long stitches are removed after the quilting is done.
Others like to use lots of safety pins all over the quilt and remove them as they go along.
My preferred option is to use a Basting Spray. It’s a water soluble glue in a spray can that makes your fabric tacky and sticks the layers together. It can be a little noxious to use, so I recommend working in a well ventilated area and/or using a msk. I actually have applique spray here, but I think it’s pretty interchangeable. The adhesive washes out or wears off with use.
Work on a protected area because over spray can be an issue. I wasn’t too worried about my wooden floor because if just comes off with a damp cloth, but I imagine carpet would be harder to clean.
I like to fold half of the fabric over, spray the batting working from the center out and smooth the layers together, then do the other side. Follow the directions on the can in regards to coverage and spray distance. Flip over the quilt and repeat.
Finally it’s ready to quilt. Decide on your design and you will need to start working from the center out. Roll the sides of your quilt up to help it fit under the arm of your machine.
Load up plenty of bobbins, there is nothing more annoying than having to re load bobbins mid session. I have no advice on which thread or needles are best apart from 100% cotton thread is less damaging to fabric in the long run. In saying that I’ve used polyester thread as I wanted my stitching to be neon.
Time to sew. You may want to test on some scraps to adjust your presser foot pressure and tension. A medium stitch length is ideal. Start from one end and sew. I used my triangles as a stitching guide so the design was pretty simple to create. You will need to help guide the quilt through as it will be too heavy for the feed dogs to pull through on their own. Talk regular breaks, it can be hard work if your quilt is very large (especially when its 36 degrees! I’m dedicated).
If you have a walking foot, use it. These are great as it helps feed the top layer of fabric at the same rate as the bottom. It helps prevent puckering and pulling. Some machines come with these as a bonus, so you may have one floating around the bottom of your sewing accessory kit, otherwise they can be purchased as optional accessories. A walking foot is certainly worth the investment.
You will get the hang of it after a while, just be mindful that the layers don’t move around when you are sewing. Keep repositioning the quilt as you go. Sometimes when stitch lines cross each other you can get some puckering where they meet, it happened to me a couple of times but luckily it wasn’t too noticeable.
This was the finished quilting design. I love how the stitch lines intersect to form little stars.
And this is the back.
Here is one of the flaws in the quilting where the fabric has puckered as the stitching overlapped.
I’m super happy with how it turned out, and it has been my most successful attempt at quilting so far. The texture the quilting adds really enhances the design in my opinion. What do you think? Have you ever been intimidated by the quilting process?
Next time I’ll show you how to bind and finish the Triangle Quilt. Nearly done!
Do you feel like joining in? I’d love you to leave a comment with links to any pictures of your progress, or just hashtag #TriangleQuiltalong on Instagram.