Yesterday, I kept track of everything and was able to put all those squares together without any reverse sewing thanks to those great organization tips I used. They sure made life much easier. I’ve put the borders on and now it is time to think about quilting this masterpiece. There are 7 questions to ask yourself before quilting a quilt.
When I first decided to outline the pieces with the dark teal bias tape I wasn’t so sure about it and really wasn’t sure I would like it but I love it. It adds to the quilt and makes the fabrics and shapes pop. Now just to add it to the circles in the border.
As you can see I have an uneven border. I’ve always wanted to make an uneven quilt but this one is still symmetrical. It could result in issues with binding but I’ll leave that conundrum for another day.
Now it’s time to get on with the quilting and answer those 7 questions.
Question 1 – Will the quilt be washed?
If the quilt is an art quilt then more than likely it will never see the inside of a washing machine but if it’s a kid’s quilt then it may see the inside of the washing machine many, many times. If the fabrics were not pre-washed then it’s a really good idea to add a dye catcher to the first couple of washes to catch any excess dyes and prevent dye running into lighter colored fabrics.
I have had great success with the Dylon Dye Capture sheets which I picked up at my LQS. Here’s one that has turned pink as it caught the red dye circulating through the wash water.
Also if you’re going to be washing the quilt this will determine the amount of quilting being done on the piece. For overall even shrinkage you don’t want the quilting lines to be any further apart than 6″ – 10″. This is also dependent on the type of batting being used. I tend to stick with closer quilting lines when I know it’s going to be washed.
Question 2 – What type of thread?
Cotton, rayon, polyester? Thread that matches or contrasts? I tend to use a variety of threads. For this piece I picked out a few spools in teals and browns, cotton and rayon.
I decided to use one of the lighter brown Sulky rayon threads in 30 wt as I want the background to lighten up slightly as I find it very dark. By using a lighter colored thread I’ll get a high contrast which will take away from the dark background and show off the quilting lines. The rayon thread will add a shine to the background as well.
A great way to test the color on the fabric other than just lying a piece on the quilt is to put a little sandwich together and sew a few lines. This will give you an idea of whether you like it or not and whether it provides the contrast you’re looking for.
My favorites are the two darkest. And here I thought I was going to go with a lighter thread for contrast. Now I’ll have to rethink what look I want.
The bobbin thread I tend to match to the top thread – it may or may not match the backing fabric. I also tend to use a 50 wt cotton thread such as Gütermann in the bobbin no matter what is on top.
I like to use backing that goes with the front of the quilt and the thread may or may not blend in with the backing. If a busy background is used then the stitches on the back of the quilt will blend in with the fabric more. If a plain backing is used the stitches will stand out more. It all depends on the look you want and whether you want to hide your stitching.
Question 3 – What type of batting?
There are many different battings on the market. There are cotton, blends of cotton with either bamboo, polyester or wool, pure wool (one of my favorite), bamboo, silk and polyester to name a few. Batting is very much a personal preference and can be project specific.
For this project I’m using a 100% cotton because I don’t want it to have much loft. If I wanted loft I could use one that is a blend 80% cotton and 20% polyester. Loft is puffiness. Children’s quilts look great with some loft as do bed quilts.
Wall hangings and art quilts tend to look best with a very low loft or thin batting such as cotton, silk or bamboo.
Question 4 – How should it be basted?
The key with all three is to make sure the quilt layers are not going to move when quilted. There is nothing worse than finding puckers and folds in the backing after going to all that hard work of quilting a quilt.
Follow the directions on the spray adhesive – some need to be ironed to set the layers while others don’t. And some don’t work very well with polyester fabrics such as Minkee fabric.
With pins, my rule of thumb is to have them a fist width apart. This ensures nothing moves as it gets sewn and manipulated through the sewing machine.
Question 5 – Walking foot or free motion quilting?
This depends on what you’re most comfortable with, what the quilt is for and what most suits the quilt design. For this piece I’m going to do echo quilting with the walking foot to fill in the large open spaces. I could do the echo quilting with the free motion foot but I have much more control with the walking foot and the stitches remain perfect and even. With echo quilting it’s important to have control in maintaining even spacing for the result to look good.
Question 6 – What marking tool to use?
Oh there are so many different marking tools on the market. My favorite are 3 from Clover.
The Clover Chaco Liner which comes in several different colors and has a wheel that dispenses a chalk line as it moves along the fabric. The chalk usually disappears when sewn over but if not it can be wiped away with your hand.
The Clover White Marking Pen which is awesome on dark fabrics. Just remember that it takes time for it to show up after you draw the line. To get rid of the line just iron over it. This will work perfect on the dark brown background fabric.
The Clover Blue Water Erasable works on medium and light fabrics and can be erased with the eraser pen or with water.
It’s important that all marking tools be tested on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure that they’ll come off once the lines are no longer needed especially on the lighter colored fabrics.
Question 7 – Is there going to be embellishing?
Embellishing should be added after the quilting is done if it’s in the form of buttons or beads as they are hard to quilt around. If the embellishing is in the form of couching then it may be part of the quilting and can be added along with the other quilting. I’ve got some cording and yarn that may do the trick.
I haven’t decided if I will embellish this piece or not. I see that I took out part of the design from my new layout yesterday which I wish I had kept in the open areas between the corners and the wagon wheel center so I may put some couching or applique in there once the piece is quilted.
I’ve got all my answers to the 7 questions to ask yourself before quilting a quilt so now I can get to work on quilting this piece.
This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: 4 tips for keeping your quilt pieces in orderGo to part 3: How to face a quilt in 12 easy steps