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Choosing a machine quilting stitch to complement background fabric

by Sarah Vanderburgh

The stockings are almost ready to hang! Well, it might be a bit early to be that excited, but I’ve had a lot of fun seeing these stockings come to life. In yesterday’s post, we designed two of our stockings using the Sequence Creator in the PFAFF performance icon. Today we’ll quilt the background fabric for the stockings using the different options available on the PFAFF performance icon.

The holiday stocking banner can be reversible, so I decided to only quilt the stocking side. This meant using a stabilizer as the bottom layer of the quilting sandwich with the stocking background fabric on top and batting in the middle. I cut some of the INSPIRA Fast & Easy Tear-A-Way Light for the back of each stocking square.

To quilt the background of the red paisley print, I selected a stippling stitch from the menu of 17 built-in stippling stitches. The PFAFF performance icon makes it easy to find a stitch for almost any purpose, including quilting.

Computer screen on a sewing machine that shows 17 different stippling stitches; PFAFF performance icon

Stippling Stitches menu

I used red thread for the quilting so it wouldn’t compete with the paisley print. Instead, it gives a great texture to this square. In the photo below, you can see the stabilizer as the bottom layer of my quilt sandwich. You can also see how much harp space there is on the machine to the right of the needle and how bright the LED lights are!

Red stippling quilting stitches on red paisley fabric; PFAFF performance icon

Stippling stitch 2.2.13 on the paisley print background

In this square with the stocking completed, I used ivory thread and a hand look stitch to secure the edge. Once all the stitching was done, I tore away most of the stabilizer from the back and trimmed the layers to a 7” square. I think it turned out cozy and cute.

A cream-colored stocking fused and appliqued on red paisley fabric with the word Joy printed on the top

Joy and Radiant Stitched cream stocking fused and stitched to a quilted background

The large floral stitches on the cream stocking look a bit more formal on the paisley row patterned fabric. The background was quilted with red thread in straight lines beside the striped rows of print before fusing and stitching down the stocking with ivory thread.

Large red floral stitches on a cream-colored stocking appliqued to red paisley-patterned fabric

Large floral stitches on the stocking and straight-stitch quilting on the paisley-patterned background

The next stocking up, is one of the paisley print ones on a cream background with a large swirling loop print. I decided to edit one of the built-in looping stipple stitches to mimic the print, and use the ivory thread to blend the quilting into the background. I used the Stitch Edit feature and adjusted both the length and density of the stitch until I liked what it looked like on the Multi-Touch Screen.

Computer screen on the PFAFF performance icon showing a stippling stitch

Stippling stitch on the Multi-Touch Screen edited for length and density

This was the first time when I was stitching out a built-in stipple, that I moved the fabric around instead of quilting in a straight line. I don’t know why it took me so long to try this – it actually felt a lot like free motion quilting, but I didn’t have to worry about making the loops as they were part of the stitch. I did get a bit carried away and ended up with some puckering at the end, but I think this was because I changed my plan while stitching. I really like the way this stippling turned out on this square. Remember, on this one I fused the stocking to the square first, so I quilted around it.

A red paisley-printed stocking appliqued on a quilted cream print background fabric

Paisley stocking with quilted stipple on the background fabric

I used this same print with loops on it for another stocking square and decided to use an even serpentine stipple stitch for this one.

An image of a serpentine stitch showed on the Multi-Touch Screen on the PFAFF performance icon

Small even serpentine stitch on the Multi-Touch Screen

This time I stitched across the fabric and stopped and started as I got to the fused stocking. I used the Cut function each time I got to the stocking to tie off the threads. Then, I just pushed the square under the needle until I got to the other side of the stocking and started stitching again. Each time I started a new line, I pressed the Stitch restart button so the serpentine rows lined up.

A red stocking appliqued on quilted cream print fabric

Serpentine stitch quilted across the stocking square

For the last cream background, I used the ¼ inch Quilting Foot for IDT system and did echo quilting around the stocking with ivory thread.

Three cream-colored squares quilted and each with a red stocking appliqued on top

Echo quilting on the third cream stocking background

One more red background to go! I did free-Motion quilting on this one using the Open Toe Free-Motion Foot and red thread. The Open Toe Free-Motion Foot attaches with the screw at the back of the presser foot ankle.

An Open Toe Free-Motion Foot with red thread on the PFAFF performance icon

Open Toe Free-Motion Foot

I’ve gotten more comfortable and confident with free-motion quilting thanks to this foot. I quilted loops around the ovals of dots on the background fabric. I think it added just enough to make a playful design in the background for this stocking square.

Free-motion quilting on red fabric with a cream-colored stocking appliqued on top

Free-motion quilting loops around the oval design on the background fabric

Now that all the stocking squares are quilted, all that’s left to do today is to tear away the stabilizer, trim the squares to size and match them up with their backing fabric. The PFAFF performance icon made it easy to custom quilt each stocking square using different built-in stitch options, presser feet and free-motion options. Check back in tomorrow to find out how to put all these squares together to complete a festive holiday stocking banner.

This is part 4 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 3: Creating your own designs on the PFAFF performance icon Sequence Creator

Go to part 5: Connecting the pieces to complete a reversible quilted banner


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