Now we’ve reached my favorite part of the quilt-making process – machine quilting!! This step will be broken up into 2 parts so that it won’t feel so overwhelming. The quilting design I’ve chosen – random crosshatch, is actually very easy to do, but it can be a bit time-consuming if you like your quilting to be as dense as mine.
My favorite designs to quilt are those than can go all the way across the quilt without starting and stopping. That way I don’t have to worry about tying off and burying my threads. The random crosshatch above is basically a series of straight lines quilted across the quilt in both directions with a walking foot. You start and end each line of quilting in the batting, and that will get all trimmed up later once you add the binding.
I also don’t want to stress too much over thread color. I prefer to use 1-2 colors for the whole quilt, if possible. My thread of choice is Aurifil 50 weight cotton because it comes in any color I need. It’s thin but strong and blends into the quilts I make rather than being the star of the show.
Because this quilt has so much color in it, I chose to use threads from my new Variegated Thread Collection. I used #4650 Leaves for the top of the quilt. Although it will show up on the gray sections, by the time I add lots of texture, it won’t be that noticeable.
I like to “audition” my thread choices before I begin quilting.
For the bobbin, I used #3852 Liberty since it reads more pink. For 95% of my quilts, I use the same thread in top and bottom. But every now and then I’ll use two different colors when it makes sense.
The thread will still be visible on both sides, but with so many different colors (in the fabric and thread), these were the best choice. I make a practice piece with leftover scrap fabrics and tested both threads to make sure I’d be happy with the results before I started quilting my quilt.
#3852 Liberty and 4650 Leaves can both be found in my Variegated Thread Collection from Aurifil.
Machine Quilting – Stitch in the Ditch
To break the quilting into easier, doable steps, this week we’ll focus on just stitching in the ditch in both directions. This will secure the quilt for further quilting later, and will also evenly distribute the bulk of the quilting across the quilt. You can also decide at any point how lightly or densely you’d like to quilt the rest of the lines.
Here’s a short video clip showing how I deal with the quilt as I stitch in the ditch. I’m using my BERNINA dual feed foot which works the same way as a regular walking foot. I have an open toe so I can see what I’m doing and I reposition the quilt a lot so that my quilting lines are smooth the entire time. Also, pressing my seams open makes it sooo much easier to stay in the ditch!!
Notice in the video below that when I quilt an area without seams, I just eyeball the straight-line I’m stitching. Because it’s never more than 2″ that I have to eyeball, it works pretty well.
First, I started quilting from the right side of the quilt towards the middle. I quilted in the ditch every 2″ since that’s the finished size of my strips. I quilted all of the vertical seams first, then rotated the quilt and quilted all of the horizontal seems to create a quilted grid.
It’s easier to work from the side of the quilt towards the middle, because that’s less bulk to deal with at the beginning. By the time it gets too bulky, you’ll be halfway across the quilt and you can rotate the quilt, continuing from the center to the other side.
Here’s another video of me quilting from a wider angle. I really just scrunch and smoosh the quilt however I can, re-shifting whenever necessary.
Once I “anchor” or stabilize the quilt with ditching in both directions, I go back in and quilt randomly spaced lines, using the edge of my foot as a guideline for spacing. That will be our goal for next week, so I’ll see ya then!
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